Karen Stollznow and the Ben Radford case – Why it matters.

(EDIT: This was blog post is a massive disorganized creation that just flowed at 3 a.m. I may come back to correct some grammar.)

I noticed some blogs are creating timelines of Stollznow/Radford case. Each one is subjective. Advice: If you are going to construct an non-subjective timeline, consider constructing an accurate timeline with ALL events.

Let me make this perfectly clear: sexual harassment is a crime, like many, I have zero-tolerance for such behavior. I think that it is natural for many of us to adopt zero-tolerance against sexual harassment, that even the slightest claim by someone is enough for us to crucify them. This scares me, because this was my mentality for quite a long time and I see this mindset in many current colleagues. Our zero-tolerance for sexual harassment causes many of us to become the judge, jury, executioner, leading us to cut off the head of the accused in our mind’s guillotine the moment we hear of such criminal behavior. This thinking that is multiplied in many minds builds pressure that the accused is simply exiled – or the accused exiling himself/herself. The sequence germinates from one accusation, much of the time without knowing/listening to all the facts. A sort of group-fulfilling prophecy.

Many many years ago, there existed a normal man, a kind fellow who occasionally struck up intellectual chats (that many of us could not entirely comprehend) when walking his dog along our neighborhood streets. The elders were fond of him while much of the younger adults perceived him differently in their minds; from a ‘crazy white guy,’ to a ‘weird teacher’ – nearly all of us saw him differently. He always seemed cheery and greeted us with a smile, even helped a few of us, like shoveling the snow out from under my aunt’s beat-up 80s Toyota Cressida or handing tools to a greasy neighbor who worked on his car on the curb while they chatted. He was a quiet fixture in our neighborhood for many years and our general consensus was that he is simply a ‘cool guy.’
One humid summer day, rumors scoured the atmosphere of our neighborhood that the ‘cool guy’ messed around with a teen daughter of a lady that lived in the house down the corner from the opposite side of the block. Upon hearing the ‘news,’ it quickly spread like wildfire among our circle of friends. Almost immediately, years of unwritten thoughts started to spew out of their mouths: “I knew that fucker was creepy!” “I knew that motherfucker was odd, his face tells it all!” “Molesting son of a bitch!” “I knew it all along, crazy fucking white guy!” Anger boiled faster than a kettle pot on a gas stove set to high. “Dirty rotten motherfucker!,” I steamed in.

The ‘cool guy’ evolved to ‘motherfucker guy’ within a fraction of a millisecond.

I’m no psychic, I did not perform any scientific analysis with gadgetry, but gauging the facial expressions after a simple stroll through the neighborhood the next day, it was clear there was distress, as if some unknown biological disease swooped in, stagnating the very air they breathe in. As we sat in the front steps of a friend’s house in the opposite block with our testosterone brewing in midst debate, a few elders walking like zombies stopped and turned to face us. They stood there, without saying a word, holding on to the old wooded fence as their chests and heads looked directly at us. It was as if they were communicating to us telepathically. Without uttering not even a whisper, their long quiet faces thundered: “you know what you need to do.” We all ‘felt’ it.

A few hours later, from the corner of an eye our friend noticed the ‘motherfucker guy’ down the corner. “…that son of a bitch,” he yelled. In a synchronous manner, we all mechanically looked toward the corner, without having knowing which direction to look at. It seemed that the ‘guy’ was arguing with the lady; we can see him shrugging shoulders and putting his hands up in an aggressive manner. We started to head there, but right before we arrived, a group of neighbors shooed him away. We listened to the group on how local people ignored his calls, his chats, and how businesses told him to “get the fuck out of their store.” One person said, “what if he didn’t do it?” He was met with a stadium of voices from many neighbors throwing angry thoughts at him: “how dare you say that?! Who are you going to believe, him or one of our own?!” The neighbor responded, “isn’t he one of our own?” I can’t remember exactly what was said to him with so many angry voices firing off, but I do remember the question of a woman that tapered the crowd to a still – “didn’t you go fishing with him sometime ago? How often do you hangout with this guy?” Faces turned to him and raised their eyebrows in convicting curiosity. I never heard crickets chirp in our noisy filled neighborhood until that very moment. My mind was racing, “this motherfucker hanged out with that molesting son of a bi..” but before my mind could complete the sentence, the questioned neighbor exclaimed that he never hanged out with the guy and only let him borrow his fishing pole after the guy stated his was broken. The chirps were drowned out with the angry voices resuming on how to deal with this, while the ladies went and took care of the victim and her mom.

The next evening, a friend was running towards us, yelling something we could not understand. After reaching us and through his muddled breathing, we understood that the guy had another confrontation a few hours earlier with the lady and is now trashing her stuff near his place. How dare this SOB molester keep harassing the woman, we were pissed! Our loud voices were fill with undomesticated thoughts, kicking metal trashcans in the process. As one tumbled over, a glass bottle fell out and my eyes followed it as it rolled forward before being stopped by the wooden fence. When my eyes glanced up, a single elder man was there, listening the whole time we chatted. He was the same elder as the prior day. We all turned our eyes toward his direction, observing his speechless Eastwood stare, but this time complimenting it with a facial nod, before walking away. We interpreted that nod as, “it’s time.”

We knew what had to be done. We were like kindergarten Generals and Commanders, trying to plot what we needed to do. Truth is, we had no idea what we were doing. We have never done anything like this before. Is it like the movies? Do we wear black ski masks and black pants? Do we use walkie talkies? “Doesn’t matter, we don’t got none of that shit,” said another, “we just go in an hour when its more late.” My heart was racing and I’m sure theirs was too, but like men, we suppress those emotions. While we waited, a friend started to talk how his younger female cousin was friends with the victim, how they hugged her, and how much their friends cried knowing that such a heinous act happened, worrying if it might happen to them. Listen to this was like liquid steroids being fueled through our veins. Enough, our tanks were filled, it’s time to go.

We walked towards the guy’s block. He lived on top of a short business building that had 2 businesses on the first floor, a tax place on the right and withered shoe repair place on left. On the right of the building was a tall apartment complex with a diversity of tenants. To the left, was a 2 floor building that had a large garage door adjacent to his side of the building. As we got closer, we can smell and listen to the infusion of cultures, aromas of Jamaican cooking, Latin cooking, and Polish cooking massaged our nostrils while our ears listened to Middle Eastern music. When you reside in a diverse neighborhood for a long time, you’ll become an expert in identifying food aromas. Soon enough, we saw the guy, coming down the stairway entrance that was directly in the middle of the 2 businesses. He was throwing boxes, shuffling them around and going up to repeat the cycle.

We decided to hang out on the left side of his building, as there was a short alley in between the building and the dock looking garage to the left. The plan was that as soon as he goes back up, we will walk into the ally and wait until he comes back down again. That’s it, that was our plan. Before I knew it, we were in the alley way, with each of us taking turns to peep out the alley to monitor the guy. Unlike the movies, this was a well kept alley, with a nice bright concrete paved floor and a large floor flower pot, with a dying frayed plant in it. I was nervous. The whole time I’m thinking “who the hell goes to a shoe repair store,” before being disrupted by a “shhhh, that’s him.” We looked at each other with large owl eyes, as if “what next?,” but we answered our own question by emerging from the alley like bears and dragging the prey into our dark cave.

He looked up, only to be met by our feet on top of him. We began to shout, “why did you to that to the girl??!,” “who the fuck do you think you are?!,” “do you think you was going to get away with this shit?!,” “how dare you fucking violate MY cousin’s friend!!!!?” In the few seconds of his mumbled response, a punch landed on his face. A moment of silence cast over the alleyway, as we knew we were entering unchartered territory, but without a map, our animal instincts took over. We kicked and punched this guy repeatedly. I sometimes thought I was missing his body and hitting the concrete in the flurry of combined punches, but I realized that it was my knuckles feeling his skeleton. Cracking, crunching, and thumping were the sounds that occupied that alleyway for what seemed like fifteen minutes. We grabbed him by his shirt, raising him up in an inclined position, his face glossy with blood..flowing into his mouth, gurgling, and we didn’t go further. We let go of the shirt, his face plopped into the flower pot, with his oozing blood watering the frayed plant. We ran to our homes.

The next day, we learned that he was taken to a hospital and that the police met him there, since the police had finally been alerted by the mother accusing him of sexual abuse. After he was patched up, he was released into police custody, taken to jail, where he sat until his court date, found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Where we wrong? I don’t know, but fuck it, he was a molester and we felt our community was now safe and it seemed that people were able to breathe better. For nearly a year, the lady and her teen daughter received all sorts of support from emotional to materialistic. Life resumed its normalness for the succeeding years and the events that occurred were all slowly stricken from the community’s memory.

But then…

….then about 12 years later, the titanic fell out of the sky and landed hard in our decade of calm oceans, in my personal ocean. A splash so massive that I’m still fighting and trying to swim out of its waves.

The teen girl, the girl that was sexually assaulted by the ‘cool guy,’ came forward with a wild story. She stated she could not live with the guilt anymore because there’s an innocent man in jail because of her and of all the attention she and her mother received because of it. She said that her mother falsely accused the ‘cool guy’; there was never any sexual assault. The mom was struggling at one point due to monetary reasons and asked the ‘cool guy’ for a small loan. The guy was kind enough to give her $600 when only she asked for $500. Sometime later, after squaring away with all her responsibilities and having extra money to pay back, the mother decided the money would be better spent on her. She concocted the sexual assault story as a way to not pay the guy back.
At first, many of us thought she was lying, on drugs, angry at her mother… something. But then we started thinking and thought that the guy somehow had a friend of his try to harass her in the outside world. She was firm in her story. In fact, she went straight to the police to detail the story. The guy was later exonerated.

SPLaaaaaassssssshhhhhhhhhh!

Little extra stuff started to pop up like gremlins. A splash of water and they were popping up everywhere. Like for example, the neighbor who asked “what if he didn’t do it?” lied; he DID go fishing with the ‘cool guy’ a few times and believed he didn’t do it. But succumbed to the community’s pressure in fear that he and his family would be an outcast of some sort. A few of the then teen daughter friends came forward and said they knew the girl was lying, but people didn’t care what those girls said. People had selective hearing in the stories they chose to listen to and accept. The ‘cool guy’ throwing boxes that night, it wasn’t him throwing out the lady’s stuff, it was him packing his own stuff to move out. He was self-exiling himself. Nor was he ‘fighting’ with the lady in the prior day before that. He was gesturing his hands in the air pleading with the lady that she doesn’t have to lie, that she could keep the money. A business owner came forward, stating that he refused to serve the ‘cool guy’ on the basis that he feared he will lose the business of the whole community. Similar “confessions” sprung up.

How could this be? How could this have happened?

There is a funny thing about anger. If it is not checked it can be contagious and spread rapidly. Anger for the most part, is one sided. When I watch a boxing match, a hockey game, or any other sports event with two teams, I will never cheer for both. One side gets the anger and the other side I cheer for. When this anger state is multiplied across many, becoming a whole side, it takes on a life of its own. When you are part of this group, you really don’t care for any other side. Don’t believe me? Walk into an all-Giants pub on a Monday night wearing your Jets shirt. You will understand the power of pressure a group can generate.

This sort of pressure extends in the real world, a sort of group think fallacy. “You’re either with us, or against us.” It is dangerous.
I realized that all the rumors, all the stories, everything that floated within our community was created by us. We never once considered asking if ‘cool guy’ was innocent. We simply believed in one of our “own” before anything else. All the stories were generated from one single lie, because an individual didn’t want to pay back $600. Stories that snowballed around the neighborhood and added new chapters to the original false story. Almost like if we were hungry to be writers instead of actual readers.

What angers me most is not that the lady made such a horrible lie, not that much of the community were ready to burn a witch at the stake, not that there were people who thought he was innocent, not even that we all believed what we wanted to believe, but the alleyway event in that summer night – this is what bothers me the most. The animals within us that were revealed that night haunts me. I have nightmares from that evening since the girl came forward. I still have scars on a fist from that awful night. I want to amputate that hand. I rationalized with myself that the scars will serve as a reminder due to my own ignorance, ignorance that caused the devastating harm to a kind person, ignorance that permanently damaged someone’s reputation and livelihood for the rest of their life.

This is why I don’t have that mentality anymore. No matter what the accusation, I will want to see both sides and let me come to my own conclusion – a conclusion that will be made logically.
This is why I believe the Benjamin Radford and Karen Stollznow case is important. To me, it represents anger being multiplied in the minds of many and taking sides. If people side with Radford, it seems that anger is intensified should a member of the opposing side personally know the person siding with the opposite side. To me, it represents a ‘fight’ between two “skeptics.” Well, one side must be wrong, and one side must be right? Right? It seems people have to choose a side, and those that need a side to ‘belong’ too, go to the side that is affialiated with them in some way…a friend, a favorite blog, etc.

Karen Stollznow abused her privilege at Scientific American and published a lengthy post via their site regarding sexual harassment. In it, it contained words that move you, words orchestrated that appeal to you, heck, they moved me. It had a stock picture of woman with the heads between her legs in a sad manner, a Drew Carey analogy, words that paint the accuser like a horror freak, “this man is a predator who collects girls of a certain ‘type’” and words that claim years of harassment. She develops the story to hit you where it hurts, how she was chubby, shy, lonely, and insecure, and this ‘predator’ preyed on her. She also left it a mystery, laying out all the clues, so that people get hungry and head to the internet to play detective. A skillful writer.
I must admit, I got angry reading it. The words ‘sexual harassment’ triggered an animal in me. Humans must do no harm to any woman! Then I looked at the scars on my fist…and remembered what anger does to the mind..what it does across a community.

Something didn’t quite feel right when reading it. Something was just off. I brushed the thought away.

In the weeks that follow, many fellow skeptics wrote long blog posts on the matter. The comments, forget about it. Stories after stories. Many with anger that only multiplied. Barely did I see anyone ask “what if he didn’t do it?” or “what if she is lying?” How dare we ask such questions.

Like I stated in my first paragraph, sexual harassment is no laughing matter. I see this as a crime.
What struck me odd, is that such a long post made by Stollznow over “four years,” but yet no mention of a complaint filed with the police. She made her ‘complaint’ on Scientific American. Scientific American later removed that post, based on a complaint of her other claims.
Way later, Benjamin Radford placed a lawsuit against Stollznow for fraud and defamation. He later created a website uploading numerous amounts of evidence. This further angered the opposite side.

A man’s life is jeopardize. She publicly created a long post on harassment that almost severed Radford’s credibility overnight. But yet she and others are upset that a website exists over much of the interaction with them over the last few years? They called Radford “dirty” and a “pervert” for posting a semi-nude photo of themselves? The photo revealed nothing, just a couple on a bed. She’s angry, but yet she can post a public blog detailing alleged incidents regarding Radford?

The website needed to be done. The material he put forth needed to be published online. The photo needed to be published. Everything he put on that site needed to be done. Why? It is his only defense against many that know him, from friends to business associates. The claim of harassment tainted Radford’s life and this site is a source for those that want to see the big picture regarding Stollznow claims. As much as that ‘bed’ photo seems tasteless, it needed to be done. All of the information combined, her sexual side, her deviant side, her troubled side with her own husband, her desires to have an affair (and did so), her lying, is all documented on that site which paints a different picture on things. Way different than the picture she created in the minds of readers who read the Scientific American post.

Carl Sagan once wrote, “in order to understand the present, you must understand the past.”

It’s funny, that despite all of the documented emails that Radford made available on that site (which has been verified by a forensics group), despite evidence that Stollznow made false claims elsewhere, despite the personality that is revealed about Stollznow, many people simply focus on that one bed picture, even stating it shows proof of Radford forcing Stollznow into doing something awful. Despite her hidden arrest record and domestic violence against her own partner, despite that she altered dates on Radford’s emails, many only believe that Radford is bullying her. Hah. It reminds me of the groupthinking mindset my old neighborhood formed against an innocent man. People want what they want to believe, which only becomes reinforced and many are not ready to give up what they believe in.

Many say Stollznow is being bullied. How????? Radford placed a legal lawsuit. That’s not enough, people say “uh, Radford hired a dog lawyer that takes no prisoners.” Radford had an independent forensics team check out his emails and verified they check out; there is simply NO way a user can alter Google mail messages date or time. Yet, people believe the forensics team that Radford hired somehow waved a magical wand and made it appear that way, that somehow they hacked into Google and altered dates/times on Google servers.
Stollznow remains slightly quiet, but just like her long crafted original story, she releases tidbits, that keeps the reader in suspense, but you just don’t know what is going on. The reader creates the rest of the story in their minds.

Harassment can be tricky, because it is difficult to track stuff like this. That said, with such a long post that Stollznow created, a sexual harassment claim that lasted over four years after she was *chubby, lonely, and insecure*, she has yet to provide the tiniest bit of proof except altered emails that she cherry-picked and removed them from their context. A lengthy public post, but on twitter she states, “I’d like to say much more, but loose lips sink ships.” Or “skeptics should be more ‘skeptical’.” After reviewing everything that is currently available from both sides, I believe that Stollznow is a pathological liar, a sexual manipulator, a psychopath with a PhD that knows how to cull the publics’ mind.

Not only did Stollznow not reveal any evidence, but it’s the mysterious lack of simple stuff. For example, she and her hubby stated that she doesn’t keep copy of old emails, that she deleted them. Hmm, that is so simple. I do know this, if someone harasses me over four long years, I’m bound to save all that correspondence.

The biggest factor of this case is that Stollznow and Radford were lovers for quite a while. This changes the tune, big time. Most of us had a relationship that started great and ended up not so great in the end. I *believe* this is the case here. 2 people who fucked each other and now one just wants to fuck the other one over.

Their relationship also has ties. Work related ties. During the end of the relationship, it seems it became problematic for work they both appeared on and other matters since they both work in the same skeptic circle. It also seems the seriousness with a newer relationship further dwindled the sexcapades they had. What better way than to simply yell “sexual harassment” to start a new slate?
I’m not part of the ‘skeptic community’ nor do I affiliate myself with any one side or group. I simply learn more about science the academic way. I’m no personal friend of Radford, but I have followed him for quite sometime, since he is one of the very rare few of the ‘skeptic’ community that actually produces worthy material of reading. In other words, he does work and research, instead of just hanging out in some doubtful news website and stalking bigfoot forums to generate material.

I must admit, I almost unfollowed Radford upon reading Stollznow’s harassment article. A part of me said “I knew that Kojak looking motherfucka looked creepy.” These are my natural inner animals that were created in a younger life of not thinking. Demons, that if not checked, they are ready to conquer. I looked at the scars on my hand and remembered what anger can do. I did not take sides. I read what both sides state, which really isn’t much. Radford provided a site along with a lawsuit against Stollznow. The documentation of both revealed a much bigger picture, the context of everything. Is Radford REALLY bullying Stollznow by placing a lawsuit and hiring an independent forensics firm? Or is he fighting to save his crumbling reputation and livelihood based on a lie? I believe the latter.

I also noticed that Stollznow created a crowdfunding thing online complete with a video. I must say, that video is crafted to appeal to the viewer but again, provides nothing. I have noticed a theme in Stollznow writings that also appears in the video. She meticulously appeal to the public not individually, but by making it seem on a larger scale. For example, Stollznow made the claim that Radford harassed her, but she speaks in a broader appeal, such as the title in her video, “give a voice to harassment victims.” It makes it seem as she is the voice, the savior, for all harassment victims. Instead of saying “give me money for my legal defense,” it says “give a voice to harassment victims.” I feel guilty just reading that and want to give money to victims, who wouldn’t? No surprise she received lots of money because of this. If you carefully listen to her words, they are senseless. At one point she states that the bully lawsuit from Radford and other attention has caused “…false public edits being made to my Wiki page.” I burst out laughing. Here’s a woman who created a long harassment claim via the prestigious Scientific American website that has million of readers, tarnished the credibility of a human, but yet she’s worried about her “wiki page”? Hmmm. I had to check the wiki page. I see nothing “false” in the ‘sexual harassment’ section of her page, not even in the talk page. Just a few things with no proper source (i.e. lawsuit document via a government site). She lied about this. I’m being super biased and super subjective when I say this, but after taking many courses in psychology and dealing with real world cases, I believe she is a psychopathic manipulative liar.

Raising money does not give you a “fighting chance” against a “bully lawsuit.” Evidence and facts do, and that is something you don’t need money for. So far, I read nothing but weaseling lies from Stollznow. It is only getting reinforced by some of her supporters who write stuff like “why I believe her..” but are based on nothing but stories.

All this said, should Radford really have ‘sexually harassed’ Stollznow, I’ll kick him out the door. Question yourself and question both sides. Who has a lot to win and a lot to lose? Who makes broad dangerous claims followed by “lose lips sinks ships?” (Whatever the fuck that means.) Is this the first example of a ‘skeptic’s lover quarrel’? One must be right and one must be wrong? What does this say about the skeptic community who takes sides? What does it say when one skeptic cannot give up their position based on truths? Can skeptics be conned themselves?

 

If I tell you there is a dragon with two heads in my backyard, who does the burden of proof rest upon, you or me? It would be stupid of me to tell you prove me wrong, when it is my job to show you proof of my claim…something…anything. I would sound stupid if I say “well, the dragon flew away, so I threw out all the food, I chopped down all the trees it burned, I threw away its old shedded skin and nail clippings, and I had a few large sized scales but I threw those away too.” I would be making excuses for every little thing that could have been supplied of evidence. What if I published a full page layout in a major national newspaper describing my 2 headed dragon in detail, but never reveal anything else when questioned and instead call those who don’t support my claim “bullies”?  This case matters, because it is a case that is now ‘trending’ among many skeptic blogs and it has to do with sexual harassment, it matters because someone is fucking lying, it matters because sexual harassment cannot be used as a tool or an escape mechanism of any sort, it matters because it seems the witch hunting days aren’t over, but evolved into a new digital witch hunting sport. I hope that these people online taking sides, falling prey to group think fallacy/pressure, recruiting others into their hate groups, etc. do their own thinking. In fact, take Stollznow’s own advice, “skeptics should be more ‘skeptical’”.

 

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