“… And an Almost Fanatical Devotion to the Pope”: or, Truthiness Goes Technical

Okay, let’s do this. The author is Satoshi Kanazawa. The Journal is the Social Psychology Quarterly. And the paper is “Why Liberals and Atheists are More Intelligent“.

Ignore for the moment that first stirring of doubt (more intelligent than what? Isn’t that kind of a glaring omission in a title?) because after all, it comes clear soon enough: smarter than conservatives. Smarter than religious types.

And doesn’t that just feel right? I mean, forget Sarah Palin. Forget Death Panels. Forget the hysterical screams of the boneheaded creationists demanding that we “teach the controversy”. Just last month the legislature of the staunchly right-wing South Dakota House of Representatives decreed that their schoolchildren must be taught that “astrological” forces affect global weather. Seriously. You can’t make this stuff up.

Liberals and Atheists are more intelligent than these guys? Seems like a no-brainer. The real puzzler would be how anyone could possibly be dumber.

So you have to love Kanazawa, even if he’s only put numbers to something we all knew anyway. You have to love him for his audacity in just coming right out and saying it, and saying it in a peer-reviewed journal at that. The tubes and the papers have already jumped on it, pro and con, given it the kind of profile that’s bound to have the Limbaughs and the Becks of the world spluttering in delightful, inarticulate outrage. Yes.

There’s just one problem. Kanawa’s basic premise sucks. And his data don’t support it—

Two problems. His premise sucks and his data don’t support it. Also, he contradicts himself within the same—

Three problems: his premise sucks, the data don’t support it, he contradicts himself, and his analysis—

You get the idea.

Start with Kanazawa’s “Savanna Principle”1: “the human brain has difficulty comprehending and dealing with entities and situations that did not exist in the ancestral environment”. Fair enough. We have in-built behavioral subroutines to deal with recurring issues — mating, predator-avoidance stuff, and so on — that we don’t really have to think about. But then there are these other problems, novel challenges that our basic behavioral repertoire didn’t evolve to deal with, and that’s what we need general problem-solving intelligence for. So: enter the “Savannah-IQ Interaction Hypothesis”, which predicts that smarter people will be better than dumber people only at the kind of novel problems that our ancestors didn’t routinely encounter on the savanna: smart people will not have an edge when it comes to more familiar ancestral challenges like mating, interpersonal relationships, and “wayfinding”.

Sounds plausible, even obvious, until you read the examples Kanazawa cites to bolster his premise. Dumbsters have more kids than smartsters because modern contraception is “evolutionarily novel” and the dumbsters therefore just can’t get the hang of it. Smartsters “stay healthier and live longer than less intelligent individuals possibly because they are better able to recognize and deal with evolutionarily novel threats and dangers to health in modern society.” And my favorite of the lot: criminals have low IQs; the violence they habitually practice is a tried-and-true Pleistocene strategy for acquiring mates and resources; Law Enforcement is “evolutionarily novel” and thus harder for the dumbsters to get their heads around, so that

“…it makes sense from the perspective of the Savanna-IQ Interaction Hypothesis that men with low intelligence may be more likely to resort to evolutionarily familiar means of competition for resources (theft rather than full-time employment) and mating opportunities (rape rather than computer dating) and not to comprehend fully the consequences …”

By now, we know at least one of the lecture slots that Kanazawa fell asleep in during his undergrad career: the first session of “Stats 101”, the one where you learn that correlation is not causation.

Maybe, for example, dumbsters have more kids not because they don’t understand birth control, but because their religion frowns upon its use. Maybe some people are smart because they’re healthier and longer-lived, not the other way around — raised in a clean environment, unstunted by lead in the pipes or PCBs in the light fixtures, the workings of their minds uncompromised by malnutrition or disease. And maybe — just maybe — the “lower intelligence” of the criminals cited by Kanazawa is not what got them into a life of crime, but what got them caught so that a bunch of sociologists could cluck and worry over the stupidity of the criminal element in society. Such sociologists, trying their hand at fisheries science,  might drag a net through the water at a quarter-knot and then— confronted with a haul of creatures too slow-moving to amble out of the way — conclude that dolphins and sharks couldn’t exist because everyone knows nothing swims that fast.

Just maybe, some of society’s bad apples were smart enough to get into a job where violence was its own reward. Maybe some of them went into (oh, I dunno) law enforcement. Maybe some of them stayed on the wrong side of the law, but were smart enough to cover their tracks. Maybe the really smart criminals are the ones with the corner offices in much nicer digs than mere sociologists could ever afford.

Kanazawa does cite some interesting findings from previous research. I hadn’t been aware, for example, that dumb people tend to respond to the characters in TV shows as if responding to real friends, but that ” individuals with above-median intelligence do not become more satisfied with their friendships by watching more television.” Still, I’d feel better about those findings if they hadn’t come from two other papers by the same guy.

Continuing with his set-up (yes, dear reader, we’re still doing introductions — we still haven’t actually arrived at the study part of the study), Kanazawa makes a startling claim:

“The Savanna- IQ Interaction Hypothesis can potentially explain why more intelligent individuals are more open to new experiences and are therefore more prone to seek novelty.”

In other words, smart people are not just able to deal with evolutionarily novel challenges, they will actively seek such challenges out. This is especially remarkable given that the examples of “novel” challenges he’s cited to this point — droughts, brush fires, flash floods — are all things that would be actively avoided by anyone with more than two brain cells to rub together. But no. Smart people are open to new experiences. Smart people embrace novelty. Nobody’s ever chugged Drano? Now there’s a novel experience. Get Stephen Hawking over here. Anyone ever glue their penis to an acacia tree before? No? Where’s Craig Venter when you need him?

You can see where this is going. Liberalism is “novel” since it involves reaching a helping hand out to people in far-off lands— in contrast to the me-and-mine kin-selection of Pleistocene-era conservatism. (Personally, I don’t see why you couldn’t turn that around: Liberals treat people in far-off lands as kin because they’re locked into a primitive kin-selection subroutine they can’t change in the face of vaster populations.) Religion is a primitive trait resulting from paranoid pattern-matching, the tendency to see active agency in inanimate forces as part of a conservatively-erring predator-avoidance strategy; to not be religious is therefore “evolutionarily novel”. Vegetarianism and male pacifism are also singled out as smartster traits.

Oh, and the sex. “[T]hroughout human evolutionary history, men have mated with several women while women have mated with only one man”, Kanazawa claims, suggesting that he is unaware of the evolutionary significance of the Giant Human Male Penis2. Male gorillas, for example — members of a truly polygynous species — have teensy little needle-dicks, because they don’t need anything larger; the dominant males are the only game in town as far as the females are concerned, because other males are excluded via physical force.

So why would we human males need big dicks? Two words: sperm competition. The only reason our sperm needs the added push of a big gun is to get it past all the other sperm that could be swimming upstream through the same plumbing. Hell, most of our sperm isn’t even designed for fertilization; most of those little guys just act as linebackers to block the competition.

The very existence of our proud and mighty male members is proof positive that human females are sluts. Kanazawa seems to kinda sorta acknowledge this in a footnote, but judging by the main text it doesn’t really seem to have sunk in. His prediction: that smart/liberal males will be more open to monogamy than conservative/dumb males, but that females in both camps will be pretty much the same.

So having set up the model, having set up his predictions, Kanazawa describes his actual research. His data: the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (follow-up questionnaires delivered to young adults who were previously surveyed as adolescents) and the General Social Surveys, administered by the University of Chicago. In both cases we’re talking about a series of 5-point scaled responses (agree strongly – disagree strongly) to questions about beliefs both religious and political, with the usual gamut of demographic data thrown in to give the X-axes something to do.

General Intelligence — the critical variable — was measured in two ways. For one part of the study Kanazawa used something called the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT), which is evidently a measure of “verbal intelligence” that doesn’t correlate especially well with measures of “general intelligence”. Check the actual paper for the ugly details; here, suffice to say that correlations of 0.22 for first graders, 0.52 among third graders, and 0.52 among fifth-graders are described as evidence that “the PPVT becomes a better measure of general intelligence as children get older” — even though none of those correlations are very strong, and two of the three points are identical.

For a different aspect of the study, intelligence was measured, I shit you not,”by asking [the subjects] to select a synonym for a word out of five candidates” ten times. And even this lame-ass index was only done for half the sample!

So, big surprise. Kanazawa’s results bore out his predictions. Kind of. For example,

“Correlation between adolescent intelligence and the value on sexual exclusivity is r = .0572 among women, and r = 0.0849 among men. The correlation is statistically significantly larger among men than among women…”

And yeah, it is. But it’s also really, really weak. A perfect correlation is r=1.0. An r of 0.6 or 0.7 would be pretty damn good in a field ecology study. r=0.057? Dude, that’s a speck of dust on my binoculars. And when you consider how sloppy the measurement of “General Intelligence” was in this study, it’s really impossible to take any of these results seriously, no matter how nicely they line up with my own cherished preconceptions:

And then, sweet smoking Jesus, the discussion. I’ll limit myself to one example. Look at the following two quotes:

“Despite the fact that past studies show that women are more liberal than men (…) and blacks are more liberal than whites (…), the results here show that …”

And

“…despite the fact that past studies show that women are much more religious than men (…), adolescent intelligence is twice as strong an influence on adult religiosity as sex…”

Did you catch that? If Kanazawa’s conclusions are legit, then these two findings— that women are both more liberal and more religious than men — imply that women are both smarter and stupider than men (and that blacks are smarter than whites, but by this stage, who’s counting?). Kanazawa does not explain this contradiction. He does not address it. He gives no indication of even being aware that it exists, even though he wrote these sentences less than a page apart.

I have wrung myself dry. There is more to criticize, but I have made my point. So let me conclude by reminding you all that Satoshi Kanazawa works at the London School of Economics and Political Science — and if his work is any indication of the field in general, I can certainly see why economics is referred to as “the dismal science”. The science is, indeed, absolutely dismal.

It’s a shame, though. I really wanted to buy into this.

*   *   *

You may not be hearing from me for a while. Trial next week, and all. Hopefully, I shall come out the other side unscathed. If I haven’t posted by this time next week, release the hounds.

————————

1Or Hagen and Hammerstein’s “mismatch hypothesis”, or Burnham and Johnson’s “evolutionary legacy hypothesis” — they all seem to be pissing on pretty much the same rock here.

2Or perhaps it is only suggestive of the possibility that he himself is unaware — for reasons I will not speculate upon — that human males even have relatively Giant Penises.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Saturday March 13 2010at 07:03 pm , filed under ass-hamsters, evolution, scilitics . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

91 Responses to ““… And an Almost Fanatical Devotion to the Pope”: or, Truthiness Goes Technical”

  1. If we don’t hear from you, we’ll release those predator hounds.

  2. Oh gee, what’s the appropriate response for an epic and sweeping destruction of someone else’s work…ummm…oh yeah, PWNED!!!!!!!

    Also “Trial next week, and all. Hopefully, I shall come out the other side unscathed. If I haven’t posted by this time next week, release the hounds.”

    It’s on my calendar. The bombers are fueled and ready.

  3. Keippernicus: “It’s on my calendar. The bombers are fueled and ready.”

    Shhh! “The hounds” was supposed to be a code name and now you’ve blown our cover. Crimsone code is up and our plan is doomed.

  4. Kanazawa is infamous for this kind of research. Check out
    http://www.cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/weblog/566.html

    PS
    good luck with the trial.

  5. This truly puts a whole new spin on Dumbster Diving. . .

  6. Far more convincing is the fact that Europeans in the most developed nations (on the UN index of human development) are less likely to be religious, and their social structures are more socialist.

    US: – Democrat * Conservative
    EU: Socialist * Liberal –

    It also handily circumvents the pitfalls of intelligence and just gets straight to social structure.

    The more unequal your nation, the more likely people submit to religion, the more equal, the more freedom of thought and development, hence less religion.

    I’m pondering wether an imaginary religiously scientific nation would be better yet then a modestly apathetic religious free nation such as a North European country?

  7. Keippernicus:
    “It’s on my calendar. The bombers are fueled and ready.”

    Be quiet, you fool! “The hounds” was supposed to be our secret code name for our bombers.
    Now whistle and act in an unsuspicious way and hope the crimson alert won’t go off.

  8. I have to say, this is very depressing to me. My atheist mind wants to believe so bad that I’m finally vindicated in thinking that the lunatics that appear on the sunday news are actually just dumb as hell. It would make it much easier to not despise humanity if I could just relegate the entire religious right to the “Pile ‘O Idiots” section of my thoughts.

    On the other hand, I am fairly conservative in my political leanings, so it looks like I’m another one of those stupid and smart folk. Believable, I would imagine, to anyone who knows me. I am smart enough to understand advanced math and physics, but not -quite- smart enough to check the scalding coffee before lighting my esophagus on fire.

  9. Despite your unqualified “The very existence of our proud and mighty male members is proof positive that human females are sluts.” I wish you luck at the trial.

  10. “Despite your unqualified “The very existence of our proud and mighty male members is proof positive that human females are sluts.” I wish you luck at the trial.”

    I could be remembering it poorly, but I believe the thinking on that was that it’s genetically advantageous for a woman to cheat. Something about being able to settle down with a good provider, but have the children of a better -genetic- male. It allowed them to pick a male that was not so highly sought after and would therefore be more devoted, but trick him into thinking that the higher ranked male’s child was his own.

    Again, Peter would probably have to authenticate me on that. I believe I read about it in “The Red Queen”, but it’s entirely possible I made all that up.

  11. Well spoken! This is exactly why ‘The Crawl’ is one of the first things I check when I get up in the morning.

    Hope all goes well next week, Peter!

  12. I think there’s a simpler explanation than low IQ (which would be hard to explain given consanguinity between conservatives and liberals) and that is delusion. A deluded person defends a fixed idea with arbitrarily crazy excuses, because the excuses don’t matter, only the defense. Add more intelligence, and they will just convolute their excuses. The “astrological forces” and so forth aren’t dumb ideas, they’re an expendable cloud of flimflam. They relate to reality only via mimicry.


  13. The very existence of our proud and mighty male members is proof positive that human females are sluts.

    What about alternative theories?
    Perhaps, big members are advantagous to rapists..

  14. @Allister01: You did read it in The Red Queen.

  15. “Dumbsters have more kids than smartsters because modern contraception is “evolutionarily novel” and the dumbsters therefore just can’t get the hang of it.”

    This is dumb. Contraception is evolutionarily novel, which means that our genes do not yet inhibit us from using them. In the long run, those individuals, who tend not to use contraception (for whatever reasons) will tend to have more children, than those who tend to use contraception. This means, of course, that if there’s a genetic element here, it should be the opposite: it’s adaptive to be averse to contraception, and it’s maladaptive to be positively inclined to it.

    This means in the long run people are condemned to a kinda malthusian nightmare, because no matter how bad it is for the greater good, it’s still ESS to have as many children as possible – unless those children are dying of malnutrition, in which case using contraception might be a good idea.

    So the best strategy is somewhat mixed: if you’re starving, don’t have more children, if not, have as much as possible. If there’s a Social Security or anything like that, have as many children as possible, if there is not, don’t.

  16. Good luck tomorrow, Dr. Watts. We’re all cheering for you.

    *breaks out the pom-poms and starts bouncing with them*

  17. @The Doctor:

    “*breaks out the pom-poms and starts bouncing with them*”

    Good idea. Distract the jury. Or judge. Or prosecutor. Somebody.

  18. Hope there are lots of objective eyes
    watching this trial, not just an empty courtroom.
    You can hire a courtroom reporter if you think it’s too podunk.
    Gotta wonder, what happened to that video?
    Don’t underestimate the cops’ ability to lie creatively and
    convincingly.
    Remember, they’re pros.

  19. dont go to far down the more children is more better path. That strategy might work pretty good for fish, insects and reptiles, but for more energy intensive beasts it’s important to have only as many children as you can take care of. If you’re children dont breed you might as well not yourself.

  20. @Seruko: “more energy intensive beasts it’s important to have only as many children as you can take care of”

    Which I also mentioned. Maybe my “unless they’re starving” limitation was a bit too lax, but basically this should mean something that severely impacts their reproducing capabilities. However, this is not a very strong limitation in your average European society. First of all your average developed country family will have resources to give more than enough food and clothes to their children even if they would double the number of children (and education and healthcare are provided by society at large), and second of all even if you didn’t have the resources society would give you some more.

    So in Europe it’s evolutionarily adaptive to have way more children than people do have these days. Regarding the US I’m not so sure (but probably for a family at least middle class or higher up the social ladder it’s still adaptive), but all this can only be true if living standards are way above subsistance levels. Once you drop back to subsistance (malthusian society), birth control will have its evolutionary merits.

    My point was that not reproducing cannot be thought of as an evolutionarily adaptation in a society where more children basically equals more grandchildren, because, well, because we’re all well above subsistence levels.

  21. Gabor Varkonyi said:

    “First of all your average developed country family will have resources to give more than enough food and clothes to their children even if they would double the number of children (and education and healthcare are provided by society at large), and second of all even if you didn’t have the resources society would give you some more.”

    This seems kind of strange to me. Couldn’t you also think about it that more children equals more workers for the family? Essentially, I’m thinking of some sort of efficiency of scale arrangement working out. For instance, you can’t generate much food on your own with your wife and one child working on a farm, but maybe with a larger amount of children it starts to pay back it’s cost?

    Not sure if this is logically sound at all, but I’m just trying to rectify the habit of developing countries having ridiculously high birth rates. As I understand it, this approach to having children has been going on for a long time back in history. Maybe it’s just a leftover.

  22. @Allister01: I wrote a very long answer for you, but it’s essentially offtopic, so I just saved it.

    The essence is, that you’re onto something, but I think I’ve thought way more about it, so I have a more sophisticated theory about it.

    But the future will be malthusian, one way or the other.

  23. Good luck tomorrow.

  24. @Gabor:

    I don’t see where evolution is relevant in this particular cultural development (I may be missing something!). It’s ghastly that the paper even mentioned that.

    It’s more likely the cultural development in itself is the unit of context for having less children. It overrides the evolutionary urge to an extent that having children comes later and later (due to careeer and personal development), hence making it rather difficult to have a lot of children, by sheer physical law of women’s declining fertility.

    Or just choice?

  25. So do all evolutionary psychologists try to shoehorn poorly analyzed data into their crappy theories like this? It sounds like he wants to write some books with snappy titles like Why Men Gamble & Women Buy Shoes …..oh wait he did that already. Hey, listen, I am a big fan of science, I just don’t think that is what this guy does. Strip all the charts and figures and blah blah blah from his work and it belongs on the shelf next to Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus….

  26. So I’m a slut, am I?

    Well you go kick ass in that courtroom and then come right back.
    And then have I ever got an ASS-KICKING to hand out to you. Like, RIGHT AFTER THE TRIAL…

    I shit you not. I *WILL* kick your ass. That’s just one more reason they shouldn’t put it away.

  27. Good luck at the Trial, Peter.

  28. “Dumbsters have more kids than smartsters because modern contraception is ‘evolutionarily novel’ and the dumbsters therefore just can’t get the hang of it.”

    Or maybe fame and fortune, loads of free money and being able to afford cosmetic/plastic surgery motivates one to have a litter of little ones a la
    Octomom? Why not? Society through its struggling taxpayers will be forced to pay for this. Seems to be a smart move.

    “So why would we human males need big dicks? Two words: sperm competition.”

    Two words: female pleasure.

    Two (more) words: eye candy

    “The only reason our sperm needs the added push of a big gun is to get it past all the other sperm that could be swimming upstream through the same plumbing.”

    See above. Also, are you inferring that human females like to play with big guns?

    And more than one at the same time?

    Some human females just go to the Sperm Bank and use a turkey baster.

    “The very existence of our proud and mighty male members…”

    Is this proud and mighty appendage you speak of also known as the
    one-eyed purple trouser eel?

    “The very existence of our proud and mighty male members is proof positive that human females are sluts.”

    This presumes that the state of slutitude is predicated upon a big dick fetishism preference. Is this inherent hardwiring, learned behavior or some sort of evolutionary adaptation for the best reproductive strategy?

    Besides, it would only apply to those of us human females who are
    actually into and dig men, and find the proud male member of the human male mighty swell.

    There are a whole lotta women who are not into human males and their proud and mighty appendages. Some have actually paired with men at first but switched sides to play with the other team, finding human females without no mighty stick to speak of as floating their boat and rocking their world.

    Were these women sluts to begin with when they thought they were into men but ceased to be so when their sexual radar honed in on women?

    Are we to believe, right off the bat, stick, or appendage, evolutionarily speaking, that human females and their ancestors consciously picked the fella with the big dick? Is that what Lucy did? Out there on that Savanna? Was that a smart move?

    We have big old rocks in Hawaii of a graphic phallic nature that Hawaiian women used to sit upon or straddle in the hope of being fertile. The rocks were carved and shaped by men. Hmmm?

    Finally, who says that being a slut is a negative state of being?

    Are you inferring that human females who love sex and that fifth human male appendage makes us slutty?

    I’m with Leona on this one. Someone with the intials “PW” and owner-author-creator of this website blog, is in need of a serious ass-kicking sometime when his ass is available for such action.

    Perhaps Kanazawa could more effectively get his point across and
    llustrate it by doing something like Isabella Rosselini.

    I saw this recently in a woman’s magazine. Why isn’t anyone talking about this?

    I give her big kudos for strapping on all that paraphernalia and making a public example of herself in teaching everyone about the birds and the bees. She actually tries to be scientifically accurate.

    It is all quite colorful, sciencey and educational. Entertaining with lots of action too. What’s not to like?

    Warning: Primarily for adult eyeballs only.

    Green porno 1, 2 & 3:
    http://www.sundancechannel.com/greenporno/

    Green porno “on land”:
    http://izreloaded.blogspot.com/2008/05/isabella-rosselini-shows-how-critters.html

    Green porno 2 “underwater”:
    http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/03/green-porno-2-isabella-rossellini-sex-lives-marina-animals-oceans-television-sundance-channel.php

  29. Break a leg, Peter…

    And, for your post trial entertainment I will send the Stewart/Yukon 2010 river itinerary for your consideration. Bears, weather events and wolves are expected, but cannot be guaranteed…

  30. Scary, no sign of the man. What if the DA freaked out in the face
    of low odds for victory and extraordinarily rendered him to
    Waterboardistan??
    That would be freaky.

  31. @Leona, et. al.

    Before you open the can of whoopass, you might want to go reread the section about the mighty male member. It’s pretty clear that Dr. Watts is paraphrasing what he things Kanazawa is arguing, and not what he himself thinks.

    I read an interesting take that holds that the male unit being more visible than primate bits is an adapted display meant to impress and intimidate OTHER MALES.

    Just goes to show that evoPsych takes you down pretty much whatever road you were on when you started.

  32. @Gabor Varkonyi

    I would be pumped if you still had the response and could be troubled to email it to me. It’s an interesting concept and I’d definitely like to hear more about it.

    e-mail is Allister01@gmail.com

  33. Reactions of people to Kanazawa make entertaining reading..
    http://d-squareddigest.blogspot.com/2008/03/show-me-alpha-male-and-ill-show-you.html


    In the Evolutionary Adaptive Environment, out on the African savannah, it was obviously vitally important for hominids to have a mechanism for identifying bores, weirdoes and nutters within the tribal group, and sloughing them off onto other tribes. Not only did this increase the reproductive fitness of the kindred-group, by getting rid of low-quality or dangerously insane group members, in the long run it helped to weaken the gene pool of rival groups by a kind of reverse eugenics.

    We can see the modern descendant of this primeval behaviour in the struggle in our comments section over the evolutionary psychologist, academic racist, genocidal fantastist and general-purpose embarrassment[1], Satoshi Kanazawa, on the general subject of everyone with a perceived national, institutional, disciplinary or academic connection to him desperately trying to backpedal and claim that he’s one of you lot, not one of us lot.

    The Americans are pointing out that he works at LSE; the Brits that he did all of his studies in America. The sociologists want to make it very clear that he’s a psychologist – the psychologists that his PhD is in sociology. I have noticed that he actually works in the Managerial Economics and Strategy Group (ie he’s a business school type) and am staying bloody quiet about it in the hope that nobody else will twig.

  34. […] For a very interesting comment on the Kanazawa theory, see rifters.com […]

  35. “Tuesday, March 16, 2010
    Peter Watts Trial – Part One: Jury Selection
    Port Huron, MI – A jury is now seated.”

    Blog report here:
    http://uplinktruck.blogspot.com/2010/03/peter-watts-trial-part-one-jury.html

  36. @Flanders: bless ur cotton sox for trying to defend PW. But I vaguely know what his general stance is on this one, in real life, based on some other studies; point taken, but whoopass can stays open and ready to pour.

    @keanani: thanks for the report/link. It’s all quiet round here without Pee Dubbyah himself, hope all is going well. I should prolly google for more news…

  37. @Leona: Well, upon rereading it myself, I’m unsure if our guy is telegraphing being humorously curmudgeonly, genuinely misogynistic, needlessly inflammatory, or making a serious point using unfortunate verbiage. So have at it (as if you needed my permission).

    It’s just that his argument that big dicks give some sort of evolutionary edge by mechanically pushing one’s sperm past those of a competitor is, er, unique in my experience (which, I confess is limited to reading Gould and Dawkins). Most male social mammal species in which the females are nonmonogamous adapt not by developing big penises, but by growing bigger balls. See, for example, bonobo monkeys, or the primate big nut champ, the chimpanzee. It just does not seem to make sense, I mean wouldn’t Big Unit just push Little Unit’s sperm further along during mating? I guess I was too eager to ascribe wrongness to the idiot evoPsych pundit. Who remains an idiot.

  38. edit: delete “telegraphing.”

  39. @Leona ~ You are most welcome. (I still think your offer to whoopass is right)

    The Times Herald, Port Huron, Michigan
    http://www.thetimesherald.com/section/NEWSFRONT2

    News blurb with comentary
    http://www.thetimesherald.com/article/20100316/NEWS05/100316012/-1/NEWSFRONT2/Jury-trial-for-Canadian-author-to-start-this-afternoon

  40. @ Flanders: Dolphins have big dicks (at least Tursiops has. I’ve seen it).

  41. http://www.thetimesherald.com/article/20100317/NEWS05/100317008/Watts++trial+to+continue+at+1+30+

  42. keanani bespoke:
    “This presumes that the state of slutitude is predicated upon a big dick fetishism preference. Is this inherent hardwiring, learned behavior or some sort of evolutionary adaptation for the best reproductive strategy?”

    Could this not be one of those strange situations that arise where females start selecting for some essentially useless characteristic? In a strange comparison you could almost think of large male penises as peacock feathers (a more horrifying bird I will never see). I think the argument for how peacock feathers came about was because it allowed a male to show he was fit, simply because he was wasting so much energy on maintaining a ridiculous display. Mayhaps the largely endowed male is making a similar statement?

    also,
    “There are a whole lotta women who are not into human males and their proud and mighty appendages. Some have actually paired with men at first but switched sides to play with the other team, finding human females without no mighty stick to speak of as floating their boat and rocking their world.

    Were these women sluts to begin with when they thought they were into men but ceased to be so when their sexual radar honed in on women?”

    Would women who chose to pursue homosexual equations really enter into an evolutionary equation? Neglecting modern day times, I would imagine it could be rather hard for procreation to take place allowing for the passing on of their proclivities (take -that- alliteration). Anyone have any links on this? Or is the current argument that homosexuality is more a psychological development as opposed to a genetic one?

  43. @Allister01: “Or is the current argument that homosexuality is more a
    psychological development as opposed to a genetic one?”

    First off, you really made me laugh and think, thanks. (I would like to
    address the male Peacock as an illustrative equivalent of human male
    proud members, but first this…)

    I am going out on a limb (the primate that I am) without any backing,
    support or evidence and assert that sexuality is fluid, but preference
    disposition, for the most part, is primarily genetic. As in nature (genetic,
    inherent) prevails over nurture (environment, psychological, conscious
    choice).

    The first, foremost question I would ask is “why in the world would
    anyone consciously choose to be homosexual, in a society, culture or
    tribe, that condemns it ranging from social ridicule, marked pariah status
    to death?”, as we see in Uganda that stupid law being proposed that
    homosexuals should be hung (because religion deems it an
    abomination).

    What about transgendered human beings? Little children who know that
    they are the wrong gender? What about hermaphrodites? Was the
    Greek Culture that permitted homosexuality based upon social freedoms
    or natural tendencies of some humans to be homosexual or bisexual?

    I have read quite a bit about this issue of nature vs. nurture. But I cannot
    cite to anything concrete.

    From my own experiences with humans that run the gamut of “human
    sexuality”, I have been immersed in the cultural acceptance of what we
    say in Hawaiian as “mahu”. In Polynesian cultures the shemales are
    quite accepted as a part of society. Samoa is known for their females
    who are really men. Some are transgendered and some are
    homosexual but both want to be of the female gender.

    Frankly I do not give a baboon’s behind whether someone is heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, transgendered or transvestite. As long as people are consenting adults.

    I have and have had friends, relatives and acquaintances of all sorts of
    sexual orientations, races, ethnicities, religions, no religion, educational
    levels, nationalities, etc., and I really don’t care what is what as we are all
    human beings.

    It is really about what I like to say the inner person, content of character
    and the usual treacly words of mind, heart and soul (uh-oh).

    I have had women friends who were either lesbian or bisexual try to turn
    me to their ways. But it is not my choice to join their team. That is not for
    me. Either you are or you are not.

    I have been reading a lot of womany magazines that have pointed out
    this trend of women who were with men into their 30s or 40s, and then
    they just switch sides. For some, it may be a choice, but I think some did
    not really know or suppressed their true nature and only came out when
    they were mature enough to realize that life is short and reached that
    point where they could say “I don’t care what anyone thinks, this is my life
    and I am going to live it real and true, and not some farce according to
    societal norms”.

  44. Thousands of starfish litter UK beach~ it must be a sign
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8572924.stm

  45. Looks like Peter got a chance to testify yesterday – it sounds to me like initial confusion on his part was interpreted as hostility by the guards, and when it escalated he had a normal human response (when attacked, try to defend yourself). The border guards had the type of response I would expect law enforcement to have (making sure an apparently hostile person is under control).

    It’s the type of thing that, if it happened on the street/at a party/in any other situation, it should have ended with both sides apologizing for not being a bit more careful about their words and actions. Frankly, that’s how this should have ended (from what I’ve gathered). Instead, we get the circus that resulted and a massive waste of time. Such is the current state of the US…

  46. Meant to add the link:
    http://www.thetimesherald.com/article/20100318/NEWS01/3180304/1002/Writer-takes-stand

  47. http://www.thetimesherald.com/article/20100318/NEWS01/3180304/-1/newsfront2/Writer-takes-stand?GID=HOV2N/7Mahli2rkS7t5wVHWBoyQmmHEp8r3SD3+nU/8%3D

    I laughed at the “…in Canada that sometimes means hello.”

  48. @Allister01 ~ Also, some of the commentary (I am assuming is from people living in Michigan) is quite telling. The mentality of some of the posters regarding “science fiction” as some sort of joke…

    Is it any wonder the level of education in the U.S. has significantly gone downhill? Is it any surprise that the arts and creativity is placed on the backburner?

    I am guessing that some find Beavis and Butthead a lot more interesting, and true to their lives, than fiction renedered in hard science and poetical philosophical musings.

  49. Yes, I noticed some of that. It’s strange that some of the posters there seem to be using Peter being a science fiction writer as some sort of indication of guilt. Because, you know, science fiction is long known as the form of writing with the least respect for customs officials. I considered posting on the thread, but it struck me as more of a futile gesture than anything else.

    Also, yay for being off moderation! I can post with impunity now! Time to reveal my secret hardcore baptist agenda.

  50. @Allister01 ~ “It’s strange that some of the posters there seem to be using Peter being a science fiction writer as some sort of indication of guilt.”

    Exactly. Somehow, someway, someone who is a wirter, who writes fiction about science is not into reality, therefore his version of what happened is a fiction of science, in other words, he is just telling a fictional story…

    Funny how people can be so narrow-minded and limited in their view, as if they have never really thought to crack open the covers of a book and read. But such is life, gotta have the ying with the yang, the good with the bad, and the numbynuts with the good nuts. I do like my nuts, though…

    You were on moderation? Huh? Scandal!

  51. No scandal. It was the same as when you were on moderation. Some sort of glitch where my alias matched one that was on filter. Looks like Peter isn’t paying attention in court and somehow managed to fix the glitch. Or it resolved itself.

  52. Sadly, I don’t think the Herald commentary is even that sophisticated. It’s more like a knee-jerk put down than a reflection of some sort of opinion. Like if I were to say to Keanani: “Say hello to Keanu, dude, bogus.” I don’t have any opinion, shallow or not, about Keanani; I just notice a slight resemblence between the name and Keanu Reeves, add more ubiquitous pop reference and pow, I have a zany (brain dead) put down for someone I hardly know. (That was not directed at you, Keanani; if I ever try to insult you, I will make sure to put some thought into it.)

  53. Interesting thought: if the Blindsight aliens “sensed” the need to insult something, is that how the process would go.

  54. Apparently jury deliberation is under way. I guess we should know the verdict here in a few hours.

    http://www.thetimesherald.com/article/20100318/NEWS05/100318008/UPDATED-Jurors-deliberating-Watts-case

    FSM help us all if the prosecution used the Chewbacca Defense.

    http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/103454

  55. FYI, jury is deliberating.

  56. @PrivateIron ~ “(That was not directed at you, Keanani; if I ever try to insult you, I will make sure to put some thought into it.)” :)

    But of course, your mark was way off and you did not make a dent at all. :)

    Speaking of “cool breeze”, aka “Keanu” (Ke + Anu), he is actually like my mother, who like Keanu Reeves, is of Hawaiian, Chinese and British English ancestry. But my mom is also part Scottish, Irish, Welsh and Cornish. So that makes me a bunch of fractional bits and pieces of this and that. Therefore I possess the ability to atomically distintigrate and then reform myself, whenever a cyber-insult is coming my way. :)

    “Keanani” is not my real handle; “Kea” + “Nani” translates to “white, light” + ~cough~ “beauty”~cough~, ahem.

  57. Did the second witness ever testify? I’m interested to know who it might have been…

    /nosy

    Also, was the announced footage of the incident ever shown?

  58. “Also, was the announced footage of the incident ever shown?”
    That, my friend, is the 64,000 peso question.
    Juries love videos.

    But , he did file a motion to get the courtroom TV footage obtained, I think,
    based on the last time I took a peak at the docket around 11 AM.

  59. @Alehkhs ~ “…was the announced footage of the incident ever shown?”

    I was wondering about that too. I thought there was a FOIA request that was not fulfilled, due to “ongoing investigation” reasons.

    The news stated two defnese witnesses, but was it two witnesses and Peter or was Peter the second one being referred to?

    Well, now the jurors are deciding…and the news web posters keep going on about how the border guards were right and that they are obviously telling the truth, no matter what….

  60. Ugh. I couldn’t help myself. I ended up posting on one of those threads. Lets hope that the jurors are a little smarter than the average poster on that rag.

    @Keanani
    No scandal. It was the same as when you were on mod for a bit there too. Apparently the filter caught something in my handle that matched one that was actually on moderation. Apparently Peter is able to take time out from fighting off assault charges to fix his blog. Add that to his apparent immunity to pepper spray and we have ourselves the makings of a super hero.

  61. Forget OJ, this is the real nail biter.
    Jury still out as of four minutes ago:

    http://www.thetimesherald.com/article/20100318/NEWS05/100318013/-1/NEWSFRONT2/Jury-still-out-in-Watts-case

  62. Sigh… five bucks down says that if someone FOIA’d the footage once this trial is done, it won’t be anywhere to be found… -_-

  63. Well, as a rule, the longer a jury deliberates, the more likely they are to acquit (Usually the extra time is taken talking down the one “if he was arrested he must have been doing something wrong” guy that’s on every jury). However, my optimism remains extremely guarded. The US Criminal justice system really is set up more to punish the guilty, and the assumption that the one in the dock is guilty is a hard barrier to overcome.

  64. Oh, and PW said the footage isn’t very good: http://file770.com/?p=3324

  65. Yeah, but on the bright side, without
    a video the case descends into he said/she said which generally
    leaves they jury wanting something more substantial.

  66. What Peter’s attorney pointed out was the fact that the intial report statements by the border guards does not match what is being said in court, therefore the guards got their stories straight in order to make sure they pinned Peter like a moth on a board.

    This is exactly what I was suspecting. No matter what, even if they are wrong, even if they are harming an innocent man, they will unite and back each other up, even if it is not the truth or whole truth.

  67. PW said there was a video, but that it wasn’t very good. http://file770.com/?p=3324

  68. PW said there is a video, but that it wasn’t very good. Apparently you can’t post links here, but his comment’s at file770[dot]com/?p=3324.

  69. The he said they said scenario involves a bunch of border guards who “got their stories straight” against Peter and his witness or two witnesses (but the news did not mention anyone else).

    I just hope that the jury is not influenced by the “automatic absolute authority side-taking the prosecution and badged people are always right no matter what” mentality that some posters on the webnews are so tunnel visioned to take…

  70. No verdict. Tommorrow another day of it…

    http://www.thetimesherald.com/article/20100318/NEWS05/100318013/Jury+still+out+in+Watts+case+

  71. Tommorrow another day of it…

    AAAARRRRGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
    AAAARRRRGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
    AAAARRRRGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

    CAN’T STAND MUCH MORE OF THIS

    MAKE IT STOP

  72. Again, the longer they deliberate, the more likely they are to acquit. That they’re taking their time means they’re seriously reviewing the evidence and taking their jobs seriously.

    That said, fingernails! Yummy!

  73. And I seriously use the serious word “seriously” too much. Seriously.

  74. “the longer they deliberate, the more likely they are to acquit.”

    Hopefully this becomes reality.

    Hopefully this means that they are combing and comparing the differing report statements (closer to the incident meaning that memory is fresher) by the lying beegeez who then testy defy in court months later (meaning they had so much time to get their stories straight and all same same, hint hint wink wink, pants on fire) as a unified bully front in order to “look like” they are telling the trooth, cause, hey, there are more of them telling the same thing, and they gots the badges to proove that they is above the law, anyway, they outnumber Peter and his witness, so they must be telling the trooth… even though the pants are all aflame fire…

  75. @Hljóðlegur

    the wait is indeed unbearable… But I guess it won’t hurt if the jury deliberates some more…

  76. It continues tomorrow… Hopefully done before Halloween or better yet, Easter. :)

  77. @Allister01 ~”Could this not be one of those strange situations that arise where females start selecting for some essentially useless characteristic? In a strange comparison you could almost think of large male penises as peacock feathers (a more horrifying bird I will never see).”

    I really wanted to address this, but I am quite tired and not in the mood at the moment, sorry, but I do like how your comparison makes an analogy between pea-cock feathers (yeah, lame pun intended) and proud and mighty male members…sigh..alright onto something easier for me to process…

    Allister01 revealed: “No scandal. It was the same as when you were on mod for a bit there too. Apparently the filter caught something in my handle that matched one that was actually on moderation.”

    Well, as we can see, you are smarter than me and could ascertain what was happening, being quicker to process it rationally and with calm reason, but me, well, what can I say, I went down that moody emotional path….must be that strong right brain of mine.

  78. Hmm, perhaps Peter was right about the whole human females are sluts things and the spermy competition and pipes stuff…well, comparing primates to fruit flies~

    “Glowing fruit fly sperm yields real time results”

    “US researchers using genetically engineered fruit flies with glowing sperm have tracked the seed’s progress inside the female, in real time.”

    …..

    “’Knocked us out’
    In nature, monogamy is often the exception, promiscuity usually the rule, the BBC’s Matt McGrath reports.

    But whenever a female of any species mates with more than one male there is a battle between the sperm of the potential fathers as they attempt to fertilise the eggs.

    Scientists regard this type of sexual selection as a very important force for evolutionary change.”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8575648.stm

  79. @01 –

    argh.

  80. Well, we should take a moment to unpack the extremely loaded term “slut.” If “slut” means “a female who engages in sexual intercourse outside of monogamous pair-bonding,” then enough women qualify to make sperm competition an evolutionary issue. I’m still not clear how the size of the unitage (though experts agree we are BOSS OF THE PRIMATES) is supposed to give a sperm-competition advantage. I’m more sold on the display theory.

    The question is, if women are, indeed, “sluts,” well, so what? If male sex drive is an evolutionary bonus, impregnating as many females as one can to make sure one’s own extra-special genetic mix gets passed on, would not female sex drive also be an evolutionary bonus, in terms of securing the best sperm to add to her own half of the mix? Keep in mind that the “duping monogamous men into raising children who aren’t theirs” is probably a non-starter; because of communal child-raising habits of early modern humans, the women would have wound up raising all the kids anyway, no matter who their daddy was.

    GAH!! DO YOU SEE HOW EASY IT IS TO LAPSE INTO EVOPSYCH WANKERY?????

  81. @Flanders: “because of communal child-raising habits of early modern humans”

    We don’t really know what those child-raising habits were, we can just guess. On the other hand, as far as I know, people do get married in all traditional societies I’m aware of, and husbands tend to give more food and protection and care to their wives (and their children) than to other people’s wives, and mothers tend to give more food and care and protection to their own children than to other people’s children.

  82. If I remember the studies on “slut-ness” (the actual scientificatical term), it indicated that some women are more likely to commit adultery at peak ovulation and only with men who are substantially more desireable (for whatever criteria they prioritize) than their regular mate. It also indicated that the long term mate still had an 80 or 90% of having children with that woman because the longer duration/more numbers of ahem, encounters generally trumps the one time “golden shot” on one month’s peak time. So the long termer might be duped on one child, the woman might score with one child who has star power genes instead of ho hum ones, the one time gets a small shot at another kid and no resource drain; however, generally, the long termer has better odds on that particular child and on her children in general, plus the kids get a stable provider. Ain’t sociobiology great, folks?

  83. To uselessly elaborate: the woman optimizes her sluttiness: it is limited in order to pose the least potential disruption to her long term strategy, but configured for best possible results if successful. (The woman is always key: I remember David Brin making a jerk of himself by saying that near-sightedness indicated the nerds stayed behind from the hunt and got busy (fantasy time, anyone?); someone else pointed out quite sagely that it could just indicate that gatherer/planter/stonesmith women could afford to be near-sighted and it was their genes that were getting passed on, not some putative Poindexter manque.)

  84. @Flanders

    AH!! DO YOU SEE HOW EASY IT IS TO LAPSE INTO EVOPSYCH WANKERY?????

    Yes! It’s a way of telling a neat lil story to confirm ones already tightly-held biases. Unbelievably flexible that way. If it didn’t exist, I’d have to invent it.

    And “slut” is an insult.
    Seriously. Whether it’s accurate is beside the point, because the word is loaded with assumptions that underlie the old-timey power structure. Several ladies have volunteered to kick our host’s ass later for use of it. They mean it metaphorically, but the sentiment that “slut” might be a poor choice of words is right, by my lights.

    But let me not be indirect – Peter, duder, “slut” is a loaded word. Do you have to tar all of womankind with it? Thanks.

  85. The term “slut” may or may not be an insult, for it depends on the receiver and intent of the person utilizing it. That being said, my understanding is that here, “slut” means, in this case here “a sexually promiscuous woman”, but it also means “a prostitute” or “a slovenly woman”. Therefore, all three may be inferred, whether intentional or not.

    I notice that in popculture slang, this word, along with ho, etc. are utilized in ways to describe things other than human females. I would prefer a term that wasn’t so loaded. As well as the fact that an equivalent for human males is quite lacking as to insult and impact.

    A male newscaster has utilized it twice describing his dog Jake as “what a slut”. Right there on the morning ABC News, World News.

    Never having been called or labeled this particular term myself, I would most likely find it offensive just by the fact that so many words exist to make female sexuality a negative or “sinful” thing.

  86. Verdict is in. Guilty, sentencing in April, possibly late April.

    Sorry, whatever your name is. Did my best.

  87. And doesn’t that just feel right?

    It would be if conservative equaled homophobic creationist Christians – or whatever stereotype ‘conservative’ means in your brain-housing group.

    But I’ve met way too many conservatives who are not homophobic creationist Christians to think that.

  88. Interesting post – and no, I didn’t take offense at the “slut” bit, despite being a fairly ardent feminist and not particularly interested in “reclaiming” the term. I thought its use here was pretty obviously tongue-in-cheek.

    One thought that occurred to me when I first heard about this study, before reading any of the details, was that despite being decidedly not an atheist myself (I’m actually a member of clergy in my chosen faith), I would not be at all surprised if it did turn out that atheists, on average, were more intelligent than religious people on average (assuming, of course, that there existed such a thing as a universally agreed-on, non-problematic measure of intelligence, which to my knowledge there currently isn’t). This, of course, is not the same as saying that any specific atheist would automatically be more intelligent than any specific person of faith.

    My reasoning is that relatively few people are raised as atheists — a much larger number are raised within one religion or another. And while I don’t think that either atheism or religion, or any specific religion for that matter, is necessarily a more intelligent choice in itself than any of the alternatives, I do think that making a choice is more intelligent than simply continuing to believe whatever you were raised to believe without questioning it. So because atheism is less established on a society-wide basis, there are probably a disproportionate number of atheists who consciously chose that worldview after going through a period of questioning than there are adherents of most religions (or at least, the more established/traditional ones) who made a similarly conscious choice, and that is going to skew the overall numbers.

    Obligatory conflict-of-interest declaration: I’m a member of a decidedly non-traditional religion myself, so the logic I’m applying to atheists would probably apply there too (as in, it usually involves making a conscious choice — so I suppose this line of thought isn’t really anywhere near as altruistic as it sounded in my head when I started it. :-)

  89. I am both heartened and disheartened by this post. Disheartened, because you have absolutely confirmed that (some) liberals believe themselves to be better and smarter than conservatives. How can you have such a view of your neighbors? Have you met them? The reasonable ones, not the idiots.

    Heartened, because you rejected this nincompoop’s ridiculous pseudo-science.

    By the way, I am a hardcore conservative, and irreligious. I am also horrified by the stories of your encounter with our border patrol, and fairly amazed at your conviction. So please, put that into your worldview and give it some consideration.

    I’m amazed that none of the jurors simply said “I don’t think this guy did anything particularly wrong, he was treated horrificly, he doesn’t deserve jail or felon status…to hell with the judge’s instructions, this guy’s not a criminal!” If you enforce (and this goes for law enforcement or jurors, in my opinion) an unjust law or an unjust action, you have endorsed it. The law is well and good, but humanity is paramount.

    Good luck with your case as things progress. I’d love to see you appeal and win; you might have more luck with a panel of judges.

  90. Fedaykin98 said: “I’m amazed that none of the jurors simply said “I don’t think this guy did anything particularly wrong, he was treated horrificly, he doesn’t deserve jail or felon status…to hell with the judge’s instructions, this guy’s not a criminal!”

    Exactly! :)

    Fedaykin98 said: “If you enforce (and this goes for law enforcement or jurors, in my opinion) an unjust law or an unjust action, you have endorsed it. The law is well and good, but humanity is paramount.”

    This is what those of us who do not so easily give those involved (border guards, prosecutor, judge and jurors) slack are saying.

    Well, I suppose junk sociobiology is too past any really meaningful discussion…

    Bummerdooz.

    So I will add an interesting article link regarding something that does relate, at least to what Peter was pointing out about human females.

    Really old toys!
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/essex/8589766.stm

    French toys, but of course!

  91. Just FYI, Peter, I’m going to use this example with my students in a research methods class today.

    Yes, a sociology one.