I Am Now In A Venn Diagram

I can’t recall anyone ever before constructing a Venn Diagram that included me personally, but that changed yesterday. Someone went to the trouble of creating the diagram illustrated below and posted it on Twitter, tagging the three named people (David Silverman, Andrew Torrez and myself).

Venn Diagram sent to me on Twitter
Venn Diagram sent to me on Twitter

I don’t think it’s an especially impressive effort, but this diagram seems to be saying two separate things about me. One of the issues raised relates to alcoholism, and the other relates to sexual misconduct. The person who sent the diagram to me has never met me and doesn’t know me at all, so the allegations don’t bother me. Against that, I do wonder about the psychology of people who would go to the trouble of creating diagrams in order to make accusations that they have just invented out of thin air. What on earth motivates people to behave in this way? It’s really very strange.

I don’t mind criticism, and even very harsh criticism, about points of disagreement. In the past, such criticism has changed my mind. However, this is quite different from just inventing false allegations out of whole cloth. Within the psychology of people who behave in this way, I would be really interested to know what they think they achieve in making such accusations.


The original tweet in which the diagram was sent to me, referred to Andrew Torrez and “his journey to beat alcoholism”. Alongside this comment about alcoholism, the Venn Diagram was posted to include the statement that Andrew Torrez drinks whiskey like me. The clear message is that I too have a problem with alcoholism.

It is certainly true that I enjoy Irish whiskey. I took a course on the subject, which was really fascinating. Once every two weeks I appear on a podcast with my good friends Seamus, Martin and Barry. More often than not I drink some Irish whiskey during the podcast. It’s a lot of fun and I always look forward to it. It seems that the author of the diagram is an avid viewer of many such podcast episodes, but the idea that I have a problem with alcoholism is entirely invented and without any basis whatsoever. What kind of psychology just fabricates ideas like that, and then resolves to diagram their thoughts and send them to someone that they have never met and don’t know at all? It is really very strange behaviour indeed.

Sexual Misconduct

The composer of the Venn Diagram has several fans of their own, who were keen to make their views on the matter known too. One tweet that was sent to me stated as follows:

“Sadly John seems to be missing the opportunity right in front of his nose. Just put the minor differences with Silverman aside, join forces with Torrez, & takeover AAI. It’d play to the team strengths: whiskey, making women uncomfortable, hostile takeovers …”

Quote from a tweet sent to me about the Venn Diagram

The allegation being made by this correspondent is that as a member of their imagined team, one of my characteristics is “making women uncomfortable”. Again, this is just entirely made up and it immediately prompts questions about the kind of psychology that would manufacture such ideas and post them in public.

The Venn Diagram states that I defended David Silverman against “credible accusations of sexual misconduct”. It is true that when David lost his job over what became known as SacrumGate, I stated that Atheist Alliance International as his employer did not treat him fairly. I still believe that about AAI. David was accused of “sexual assault”, but I didn’t think that the accusation was credible. This was not least because even if every highly dubious detail of the accusation was accepted as being entirely true, it still wouldn’t constitute “sexual assault”.

Everyone can easily make up their own minds on this issue. This podcast episode includes audio of David’s accuser outlining her side of the story in her own words to a judge, within a courtroom setting. The female judge listened carefully but she clearly didn’t think that the accusation was credible either. She denied the petition for a restraining order.

Perhaps some people will listen to the details of that accusation against David, and feel that it is credible. Perhaps some people will consider the specifics, and decide that it was proper and correct when David lost his job at AAI following this allegation of “sexual misconduct”. I would disagree, but perhaps reasonable people could disagree on that point in good faith. Notwithstanding any differing opinions on that topic though, it remains pure invention that “making women uncomfortable” is a characteristic attributable to me. This again gives rise to questions about the kind of psychology that would contrive such ideas on no basis whatsoever, and then post them on Twitter.


I am not a psychologist and I am not competent to arrive at any kind of diagnosis with respect to this very strange behaviour. There was however one tweet sent to me about the Venn Diagram, which did allow me to arrive at a pretty safe conclusion. I received the following instruction from another commenter who was supportive of the diagram:

“Just remember who the real bad guys are, John. The AAI. Not people who sexually assault women. Stayed focused. I know you can do it.”

Quote from a tweet sent to me about the Venn Diagram

Here is yet another pure concoction, where an utterly baseless allegation about my attitude towards people who sexually assault women, is just made up out of thin air. It is amazing that some people feel comfortable in fabricating entirely untrue accusations on that topic, in such a flippant manner. However, perhaps more can be learned about this very strange behaviour by following the logic of the message. The proposition is that I must make a choice between either opposing the current so-called Board of AAl, or else opposing people who sexually assault women. Apparently, within the mind of this correspondent, the concept of a person both opposing AAI woke employment policies, while also opposing the sexual assault of women, has simply remained forever outside their grasp.

I have come to the conclusion that sometimes a person says a really dumb thing, because they are a really dumb person.

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