Friday, January 30, 2015

Where Have All the Skeptics Gone?

I realized yesterday that only four Jewish blogs on my list post regularly anymore, and they all belong to frum people: DovBear, Rationalist Judaism, Fink or Swim, and one I started following only recently, EmesV'Emunah. The rest post infrequently, if at all, and most have been defunct for years. Even Frum Satire, the site through which I discovered the blogosphere way back when, is a shadow of its former self. There was a time when  almost every time I looked, there was a new post from someone. Now it seems the blogosphere is dying.

When Unpious started up it subsumed a lot of the Chassidshe skeptic blogs, like "A Hasid and A Heretic,"  and "Penned In," (both which are gone now) and of course "Hasidic Rebel." It published essays by those and other bloggers, but Unpious hasn't posted anything in almost a year.

A year ago also there was a short-lived blog, "Diaryof a Jewish Skeptic," which looked promising, but there were only four posts, and nothing for the last year. Two years ago " Divrei Ben Zoma," stopped posting.  It was a blog by a frum guy with a skeptical tendency that explored theological questions. Around the same time a blog I particularly enjoyed, " coin laundry," also stopped posting. Its author was a firmly atheistic Jewish woman from Toronto who was interested in Orthodox practices. There were a lot of interesting conversations over its two-year run.

Three years ago "Orthoprax" stopped posting. He was one of the original skeptic blogs, and ran for five years. He posted once a year ago, but I think it's safe to say his blog is finished. Another of bloggers who was around when I discovered the blogosphere, "FrumHeretic," also stopped posting then. As did two blogs with an academic-ish flavor, " Baruch's Thoughts" and " Textuality." "ThePraxy Project," a collaborative blog belonging to two college-age guys exploring Jewish theology and the mechanisms of belief also ended three years ago.

Four years ago saw the end of the great XGH's blogging career with the deletion of his latest blog, "OrthoModerndox." It was also the end of another of the greats, the " Da'as Hedyot" blog which ran for six years and included many interesting posts, not least of which were his interview series with a diverse group of people who had left the frum world. He posted once two years ago, but that blog is likely also finished. At that time " onionsoupmix," an orthoprax women - and one of the few female Jewish skeptic  bloggers - who had also been blogging for six years decided she didn't care enough about the foibles of the frum world to post anymore. Two of the smaller blogs, " TheSkeptitcher Rebbe" and "Sitting on the Fence" also stopped posting then. And there was a short-lived blog which lasted for less than a year but caused a lot of interest and controversy, "The Orthoprax Rabbi'sBlog."

Five years ago "Frustrated Ortho Jew," "DivreiAcher," and "Notes on Nothing" stopped posting. So did a blog I really enjoyed, "Lunacy Log," which lasted a little less than two years and picked apart the rantings of the Jewish blogosphere's resident troll.

Six years ago "Baal Habos," another of the blogs that was around when I first found the skeptic blogs, ended his run.

And there are others over the years, some interesting, some not, which lasted for a few months or years, then were abandoned, made private, or deleted.

There are a few that still post occasionally, like "UndercoverKofer," "Wolfish Musings," and "Atheodox Jew," but there's nothing like the volume there used to be. Nor do the blogs that stop posting get replaced by new ones like they used to.

So, where is everyone?


  1. In my case it just took too much time that I'd rather spend doing other things. Also difficult to come up with topics that haven't been discussed ad nauseum (although it is nice to see that there is still interest in the old posts.) I do miss Gideon's postings and sort of resent his removal of two blogs of interesting material and comments.

    Highly recommended - although it has a fairly singular focus so far - is

  2. I'm assuming fh is frum heretic. Let me just take the opportunity to thank you so much for the very interesting posts and the work you put into them. I miss your blog perhaps the most, but totally appreciate your reasons given here. All the best!

    G*3 - thank you for the good summary and the memories. How unfortunate I got into the skeptic world around 5 years ago - when many of these blogs were ending. I enjoyed catching up on those that didn't delete (cough cough), but missed the live aspect of them.

    I think it is as fh said - those who blogged moved on and the topics have been discussed so much. I do wonder what it will be like for people entering the skeptic world now, it will probably be a different experience.


  3. First, the blogosphere in general is shrinking as people migrate to other social media sites like Twitter and limit their expressions to 140 characters or less.
    Second, I always found the skeptic blogs repetitive. While frum blogs build on things the skeptics focused on complaining about how lousy their former religious lives had been, how they "figured out" that religion in false and how much fun they were having being non-believers. No big thoughts. No philosophical insights. Just those three things. So having finished their complaining, is it a shock that they moved on?

    1. 1. A few years ago, I tried to create a blgo that would compile the posts of the skeptic bloggers. I expected, as you said, that there would be a lot of repetition. The idea was to have a place where you could easily find multiple people's experiences of the same things. Instead, I found that there was almost no overlap.

      2. Running out of things to say explains why blogs end, but doesn't explain why there are virtually no new ones.

      3. There were plenty of philosophical insights.

      I think that real reason is your first sentence. Blogs in general are dying, killed by Facebook and Twitter. I wouldn't mind so much if Facebook had a decent comment system, but as it is, it's disappointing.


    No longer take comments - but did debate at several Face book locations, until some religious Jews reported my fake ID and got me booted.

    An excellent blog is

  5. Most of em got tired of the hate mail, hate spouting. Some just dropped the whole thing and became either frummer or ditched Halacha completely.
    A few got divorced, (sigh) one died.
    Besides in reality its the same spouted crap just repeating itself again and again and again and again.......
    How many times can a guy listen (read) the same BS?

    From a former blogger Chasid yingerman

    1. > Most of em got tired of the hate mail,

      I've heard about hate mail, but I've never gotten any. Should I be relieved to be spared that experience, , or upset because it means that no one reads what I write?

      The real question isn't why bloggers stop writing. People lose interest, or run out of things to say. The real question is why there are no new blogs replacing them, the way there used to be. It used to be that blogs would come and go, but there were always a good number putting up new posts. Now it seems that the blogosphere is fading away.

  6. "Frustrated Ortho Jew" author here . . .

    I had used the blog as an outlet for some of my issues. One being that I was afraid to tell my wife about my skepticism. Once she found out and we worked through stuff, I found I didn't need that outlet any more and could talk to her more openly about these issues.

    Although, i really did enjoy some of the back and forth from some of the sites you mentioned and i'm feeling a little nostalgic now. I too wish that some of them would have continued or that there were more newer blogs that took their place.

    1. Now that you mention it, I remember you posting about your wife finding out... and then you disappeared.

    2. Yep, but it was a "good" disappearance. It wasn't a situation where she told me to stop. In fact, she encouraged me to continue if that is what i felt i needed as an outlet.

  7. Here are a few of the more interesting newer blogs (bearing in mind that most of them link on FB and get many more comments there)

    But all sorts of blog like activity is occurring on FB albeit in the shorter form with its limits

  8. Just stumbled across this post. Atheodox Jew here. I frankly got tired of the anonymity thing. Decided to put my efforts into Biblical scholarship, and putting out more "edgy" material in my own name. Over time, I've managed to get more comfortable in my own skeptical skin.

    While I'm here, I should take the opportunity to thank you for your blog, as well as your reliably incisive comments on my AJ posts. So... Thanks, and wishing you well.