The Constraints of Time, The Limits of Reason

 

As a postscript to my previous entry — and as a case study to the current one — I spent a little while over this weekend doodling the outlines of a fake nature documentary riffing off the old “Hinterland: Who’s Who” vignettes that used to run on CBC.  Mine was called “Internet:  Who’s Who”.  It was about Trollus microcephalus — “the Small-headed Shrike”, and it was shaping up pretty well…

“Despite their loud and piercing calls (which frequently seem designed to garner outside attention), shrikes are by nature a tribal and xenophobic species … difficult to study in the wild, as outsiders wandering into their territory are immediately set upon and pecked to death…”

“Here we see one of the more common threat displays of the small-headed shrike.  By pointing out that none of her antagonists are pursuing her own agenda more effectively than she is, she can make them appear hypocritical and/or ineffective while completely avoiding the fact that neither Callan, Watts, nor Bakker explicitly set out to “stop a sex trafficking ring”.  This is the logical equivalent of criticizing a pharmacist because they didn’t perform an appendectomy — but the shrike flourishes its plumage so distractingly that potential prey hardly ever notice.”

And so on.  It would, of course, have been profusely illustrated by quotes from acrackedmoon herself.

There was just one problem.  It was taking time and effort, and — as I’ve finally realized — acrackedmoon is worth neither.  As even her advocates have pointed out here, she’s not interested in dialog; only diatribe.  She is worth only as much time as it takes to scrape her off the sole of your boot.

I wrote a column for Nowa Fantaskyka a few months back that explored the question of dealing with those uninterested in reason.  It’s relevant and it’s out of exclusivity, so I present it here (lightly edited to remove irrelevant Poland-related references).  It begins right after the following public-service announcement:

Public Service Announcement: for the benefit of those who got sick of the last post’s comment thread before reaching the bottom, I’ve invoked a new policy.  I quote:

“Comments which make legitimate points will be allowed, even if they piss people off. Comments which (in my sole judgment) are designed primarily to piss people off — shots about rape, race, the usual incendiary stuff — will be disallowed. Any such posts which are already up will remain, in evidence as to why I have to do this (except for that last post by Lanius, which kinda yanked the scales from my eyes).

I have tried to keep a free hand here. When people have crossed the line I have asked them nicely to step back. I haven’t had to pull this kind of heavy-handed shit since Squidgate, and then only because that particular event lured in mouth-breathers and knuckle-draggers that would normally never have found this place.

So, one more time: if you’re going to be offensive, make sure it’s for some reason other than to give offense.)”

 

The Limits of Reason

We are broken as a species.

I encountered my first evidence to this effect back in 1986, although I didn’t have the wit to realize it at the time.  A pair of Jehovah’s Witnesses appeared at my door, bursting with all sorts of good news about Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior.  They took a literal view of scripture and a dim view of Darwin: evolution was a lie, they said, and not a very convincing one.

It was the moment I’d been waiting for.

I was trying out a new technique, you see.  Rather than lecture these misguided souls — rather than explaining Natural Selection and molecular genetics — I would use their own arguments against them.  I would grant them their claims, and see where it took us.

“Well,” said I,  “I guess that pretty much wraps it up for Noah as a righteous man, doesn’t it?”

They frowned, and asked why I would say such a thing.

“Well, we know there are dozens of sexually-transmitted disease that exclusively infect humans and no other species,” I explained.  “And if evolution is a lie, then all those STDs must have existed since creation— and the only way they could have survived the Great Flood would have been inside Noah and his family.  So logically, Noah’s whole brood was more rotten with the clap than the lowliest hooker in Gomorrah.”  The logic was inevitable.  There was no way on earth these bible-thumpers could avoid it.  I had them.

It didn’t even slow them down.

“No,” they explained patiently, “God afflicted us with those diseases to punish women for the Original Sin.  God can do whatever He wants.”  (Did I mention that both of these missionaries were female?)

I realized, at that point, that you just can’t reason with some people.  It wasn’t until much later that I began to understand why this should be so.  I think it comes down to the oft-revisited theme that natural selection has shaped our brains not for logic but for inclusive fitness.  We can use logic when we want to, of course.  We have tools of reason at our command; but according to at least some experts[1] we have those tools not to glean truth from falsehood but to help us win arguments; to make others do what we want; to use as a weapon.  It’s rhetoric and manipulation that evolution selected for: logic just tagged along as a side effect.  Sweeping oratory, rational debate, it’s all just a way to bend others to your will.

In that light, it shouldn’t surprise us that our brains have developed countermeasures to so-called reasoned argument.  A seemingly-endless list of cognitive glitches compromise the brain’s inability to perceive reality— but maybe they aren’t so much glitches as adaptations, meant to counter the pernicious effects of the silver-tongued.  Confirmation bias, for example, leads us to cherry-pick facts which support our own beliefs;  the Semmelweis reflex makes us automatically reject findings that contradict our expectations.  And perhaps most radically, the Backfire Effect.  You’d think a rational person, confronted with evidence contradicting their beliefs on a given subject, would at the very least grow less confident in those beliefs.  In fact, such contrary evidence often reinforces the very belief being undermined.

These adaptations, if that’s what they are — these defenses against social manipulation — would make rational discourse difficult enough.  But it gets worse.  We know from the work of Kruger and Dunning[2] that not only do people tend to overestimate their own smarts, but that this effect is especially pronounced among the incompetent. Furthermore, incompetent people tend not only to regard themselves as smarter than everyone else, they tend to regard truly smart people as especially stupid, even when shown empirical proof that they are less competent than those they deride.

It explains so much, these counter-rhetorical biases.  It explains why climate-change deniers dig their heels in even deeper with each new study confirming the reality of climate change.  It explains the ease with which religious fundamentalists dismiss the mountains of evidence supporting evolution in favor of unsubstantiated and idiotic creation myths.  It explains the prevalence of bumper stickers proudly proclaiming  “God said it.  I believe it.  That Settles It.”, the profound distrust of education so endemic among the North American conservative movement.  We’re even starting to see how such hardcore closed-minded types can have such a disproportionate influence on society at large:  network analysis by Xie et al[3] suggests that a belief held by as few as 10% of a population  can, over time, become a majority belief so long as that original 10% is sufficiently closed-minded and fanatical.  (It’s a ratchet effect, basically: the more open-minded you are, the more willing you are to entertain the notion you could be wrong. So when a fanatical believer tries to sway an open-minded nonbeliever, the latter is more likely to give ground— which increases the proportion of believers in the population.  Which increases the frequency with which open-minded nonbelievers  encounter believers.  You get the picture.)

Of course, no one’s immune to these biases; I’ve caught myself cherry-picking data on more than one occasion.  To that extent we all live in glass houses.  But there are ways of error-checking yourself, if you care to use them.  The scientific method, at its heart, is a set of tools explicitly designed to break through bias and shine a light on the empirical information underneath.  Recognizing our prejudices, we can overcome them.

But one thing we cannot do — and it has taken me so very long to realize this — is reason successfully with those who reject such tools.  Logic doesn’t matter to a Jehovah’s Witness.  Fossils mean nothing to a creationist.  All the data in the world will not change the mind of a true climate-change denier[4].  You cannot reason with these people.  You can not take them seriously.  It is a waste of energy to even try.

All you can really do is mock them.  All you can do is subject them to scathing and intense ridicule, publicly if possible.  So the next time you see some idiot waving a picture of a fetus in front of an abortion clinic, or pass some bible-thumper screeching that God Hates Fags — don’t engage them, but don’t ignore them, either.  Toss them a peanut and make monkey sounds.   Take their picture and laugh.  Speak amongst yourselves in loud stage whispers, use them to illustrate to your children what inbreeding looks like, mention that you hadn’t realized that research into human-animal hybrids had progressed nearly this far.  You will never win them over; but at least you can have some fun at their expense.

It took me far too long to realize this consciously.  But I think my subconscious had the right idea even back in 1986, when the missionaries at my door accused me of thinking I was smarter than God.  “Oh, I don’t think I’m smarter than God,” I blurted out, without really meaning to.  “I just think I’m smarter than you.” Granted, it was a low bar to clear.

Have fun with them, while you still can.  Because they’re winning.  And if Xie et al are right,  time’s running out for the rest of us.

 


[1] Cohen, C.:  “Reason seen more as weapon than path to truth.”  New York Times, June 14, 2011.

[2] “Unskilled and unaware of it: How difficulties in recognizing one’s own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 77(6), Dec 1999, 1121-1134.

[3] “Social consensus through the influence of committed minorities.”  Phys. Rev. E 84, 011130 (2011)

[4] As opposed to professional climate-change deniers, who simply espouse whatever Exxon and the Koch Brothers pay them to regardless of their own opinions on the subject.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Sunday February 19 2012at 11:02 am , filed under rant, scilitics, sociobiology . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

352 Responses to “The Constraints of Time, The Limits of Reason”

  1. You are saying that you find it okay to allow
    posts by self-professed war criminals, murderers, rapists, thieves, illegal-arms manufacturers who claim to have conducted completely unethical and dangerous experiments on their children?

    As long as they say something interesting? You are not disgusted by an obvious psychopath who claims to have served in one of the most notorious military units of all history, in an organisation whose very initials cannot be written today in many places?

    You are okay with that?

    I am shocked.. shocked. I thought that while you are a somewhat sadistic and offensive person..

    Ah. Never mind.

  2. Word!

  3. @Lanius:

    No, I am not okay with that. New policy, remember?

  4. Lanius, I’m pretty sure you’ve been trolled.

    Setting aside the whole dispute, this is a particularly cogent summation of the problems with internet discourse (and, well, dialogue between opponents everywhere), and I can see it being cited quite a bit in informal discussion.

    I’ve worked in research on political rumor control — how to prevent notions like ‘Obama is a Muslim’ from circulating in the population. There are a few directions open but it seems really, really hard. The Internet just speeds the process and helps build connection between sources of disinformation.

  5. Thought I’d throw this into the mix…

    604. In a court of law the statement of a physicist that water boils at about 100°C. would be accepted unconditionally as truth.

    If I mistrusted this statement what could I do to undermine it? Set up experiments myself? What would they prove?

    605. But what if the physicist’s statement were superstition and it were just as absurd to go by it in reaching a verdict as to rely on ordeal by fire?

    606. That to my mind someone else has been wrong is no ground for assuming that I am wrong now.–But isn’t it a ground for assuming that I _might_ be wrong? It is _no_ ground for any _unsureness_ in my judgment, or my actions.

    607. A judge might even say “That is the truth–so far as a human being can know it”. But what would this rider achieve? (“beyond all reasonable doubt”).

    608. Is it wrong for me to be guided in my actions by the propositions of physics? Am I to say I have no good ground for doing so? Isn’t precisely this what we call a ‘good ground’?

    609. Supposing we met people who did not regard that as a telling reason. Now, how do we imagine this? Instead of the physicist, they consult an oracle. (And for that we consider them primitive.) Is it wrong for them to consult an oracle and be guided by it?–If we call this “wrong” aren’t we using our language-game as a base from which to _combat_ theirs?

    610. And are we right or wrong to combat it? Of course there are all sorts of slogans which will be used to support our proceedings.

    611. Where two principles really do meet which cannot be reconciled with one another, then each man declares the other a fool and heretic.

    612. I said I would ‘combat’ the other man,–but wouldn’t I give him reasons? Certainly; but how far do they go? At the end of reasons comes _persuasion_. (Think what happens when missionaries convert natives.)

    —————————

    What these passages (from Wittgenstein’s On Certainty) bring out, I think, is the difficulties involved in communicating across communicative divides — divides characterized in terms of differing ‘presupposition contexts’ (my term), i.e., epistemic contexts defined by that which is (in some sense, i.e., perhaps not explicitly) ‘taken for granted’ within the respective contexts.

    If a person is ‘unreasonable’ in the sense you talk about here, then of course ‘reasoning’ with her in that way will not work. The only way to make progress would be to _convert_ her to your way of looking at things — to your standard of ‘reasonableness.’ And this cannot be done ‘reasonably,’ for acquiescing in ‘reasonableness’ is a precondition for being persuaded on the basis of such reasons.

    (I don’t think that this should be taken as some sort of pernicious relativism, but rather as an attempt to capture, descriptively, some elements of how we human beings — ‘broken’ as we are — actually get on in the ‘game of giving and asking for reasons.’)

    Personally, I think we should hesitate as long as possible before succumbing to the temptation to denounce ‘unreasonable’ people as “fools and heretics,” for “persuasion” (conversion) can sometimes work. But such hesitancy has its limits, to be sure!

  6. Here is a side comment — the fact (yeah, we need to admit it, Peter’s right) that “humanity is broken as a species” it makes the “Civilizations all destroy themselves” argument for the reason for Fermi’s Paradox less likely.

    If there are a million intelligent species in the Galaxy:
    1.) Some are more “broken” than humanity, and might destroy themselves through stupidity and irrationality) more quickly than humanity.
    2.) Humanity might be stupid and irrational enough to destroy itself. Or might become more stupid and irrational over time and destroy itself than. Or it might become (or a branch of humanity, maybe a space colony) might become less stupid and irrational — more sane — better able to cope with reality — survival value! And last longer. Or maybe indefinitely.
    3.) Maybe one or two of the million species would start out saner (less stupid and irrational) than humanity, and survive to colonize the galaxy.

    So maybe most civilizations destroy themselves quickly, but a few smart, sane ones might last indefinitely.

    Ponder the implications for Fermi’s Paradox…

  7. As an acquaintance once put it: “You can’t reason someone out of a position that they didn’t reason themselves into”. If someone believes something as a matter of faith – which involves the explicit rejection of reason and evidence – then reason and evidence are probably not the tools to use to change their ideas.

    A lot of populist explanations of behavior refer to the notion of group cohesiveness: because belonging to a stable group conferred an evolutionary advantage on us monkeys, lots of what we do is about promoting and preserving group membership. Many religious codes can also be read this way: theft, adultery, and internecine murder cause internal conflicts that weaken the group and make its members easy pickings for That Group Over There (or lions, or whatever).

    Faith has a lot to do with group membership: by believing in this God or that political party or that football team you are identifying yourself with a group. If some nasty-minded marine biologist comes along and tries to undermine your faith with logical arguments, what he’s actually doing is trying to peel you away from the group that makes you feel safe and secure. Sure, he promises to enroll you in his group of People Who Reason and Learn, but that sounds like hard work and it might be a trick anyway.

    The use of reason – which, as you say, is only one of the tools in our intellectual arsenal – takes second place to the survival instinct that urges you to cling to the group at any price. If we’re “broken as a species”, maybe it’s because we have two useful survival strategies (reason, group cohesion) that have come into conflict, and the one that always worked well in the past is still trumping the one that would probably serve us better now.


  8. As an acquaintance once put it: “You can’t reason someone out of a position that they didn’t reason themselves into”. If someone believes something as a matter of faith – which involves the explicit rejection of reason and evidence – then reason and evidence are probably not the tools to use to change their ideas.

    This +5..


  9. Sure, he promises to enroll you in his group of People Who Reason and Learn, but that sounds like hard work and it might be a trick anyway

    People are lazy and complacent and like routine. Even I sometimes find myself not bothering to change something. That’s why to have a highly-critical and perfectionist mate who can engage in rational discussion..

    Also, I’ve found out that in the presence of a suitable mate, my laziness and bad habits tend to disappear almost completely.

    Love may be just chemistry, but it has it’s uses!

  10. I have been thinking on this very subject quite bit, Herr Professor Doctor Watts.

    It puts us (by us I mean those of us living in the US, primarily, since we seem afflicted with this worse than many other places in the industrialized world) in quite a bind.

    There’s a lot of talk about how the environmental movement has stalled, and how we need to find common ground to move forward. But how do you find common ground with people who quite literally cannot see sense, or face facts, or whatever cliche you prefer to use?

    And what do you do when those people carry significant media and political clout? When they will go on the teevee and howl with indignity at the temerity of attempting to do anything at all they disagree with? What then?

    Especially given that the US public at large is distrustful of the educated, of ‘godless academic liberal elites’, and may tend to side with the defender of the Jeebus in a heated public debate?

    Last year I went to conference (written about here: http://env-sci-blog.blogspot.com/search/label/SXSWEco), and no one seemed to want to think about these things. It made the whole thing seem sort of farcical, in the end.

    And I still don’t know what to do. As an individual, mockery is a fine response, and one I sometimes endorse. But when it comes to achieving policy goals… what then?

  11. @AngusM

    Therein should lie a more effective tool of combating entrenched irrational beliefs – offering alternative, antithetical group/tribal affiliations. Slipstream groupings tend to bypass the neurological mechanisms which often prejudice us heavily against reasoned argument. Observe the rise of such odd chimera as the Green Christian movement. On the other hand, perhaps sustained ridicule could break eventually our postmodern tribal bonds? Admittedly, I no longer watch the clock for 4:20, so there must be something to be said for such an approach.

  12. I think you’re short-selling your last point, Peter.
    Beyond its obvious (and in itself sufficient) cathartic value, mockery and satire, when done right, can shape into a trojan horse for rationality.
    Reasoned discourse and the scientific method are demanding compared to faith and gutosophy [that by which truthiness is created]. As Peter points out, reason is sort-of-unnatural, and even those who consider it a primary virtue will acknowledge it’s usually an acquired taste.

    That’s why reason and scientific thought need to be sexed up, and not just in the Hollywood way of the cute spectacled nerdette, but by dangling appetizing bait in front of the unsuspecting and then lure them into our basements to check our collection of rocks, or somesuch.

    Humor: makes uneasy things sexy since the invention of shame. The best kind is smart, because it nearly always boil down to shining light on some previously non-obvious truth, yet also compelling, because it’s usually set up as a narrative, with a sense of revelation and recognition, which we — haters of uncertainty — crave.
    Much humor is about challenging expectations and makes us laugh because we’re slightly unsettled, albeit in a tickly rather than prickly way, while wit is often regarded as a telltale sign of intelligence, without the negative connotations of pretentiousness.

    One of many things that leads me to cautious optimism is how, of all people, in this massively cognitively dissonant country that is the ‘merika, Jon Stewart was polled “Most trusted newsman in USA” a few years ago. And why was that ? Because he’s not selling an ideology, and genuinely trying to help people get the factual news behind the charade of partisan gesticulations, which as some have pointed out he’s welcome to do only because he’s emphatically not a newsman.

    Stewart and his team are acting analysts of media, politics and social life, and essentially pedagogues, but the only reason it works (in a culture that can’t decide which it loathes more, of educators or intellectuals) is because it’s fun to watch, first and foremost.
    The Daily Show method is to point and laugh at the contradictions, fairy tales and absurdities of politics, media and society, yet not in the antagonistic way of sectarian ‘comedy’ that essentially states my god is better than your dog, but rather suggests after a good laugh: “Seriously now, what would a reasonable person think, based on the evidence ?”
    By reductio ad absurdum and spoofing, Colbert is doing the same service, and both amount to inoculating people against bigotry and anti-intellectualism, four times a week.

    So humor and satire are powerful tools for education, awareness raising and propaganda… stay tuned for our 5’o’clock special: “Water found to be wet !”

    The point here is that rationality and scientific thinking aren’t just another opinion/faith/party, and although they enjoy the theoretical advantage of being backed by such cool toys as verifiable truths, the laws of physics, and well… Reality™, rationality comes with strings attached: being the reasonable one pretty much rules out the option of going apeshit at the slightest provocation, or to call people nazis or terroriss’ to win an argument about which movie to watch tonight, or what’s the best energy policy for the US …until now.

    Well, maybe not Sarah Palin crazy, we have Richard Dawkins and Bill Maher to show how things can go wrong when you get too sure you’re Reason Incarnate, and lose track of where exactly self-righteous bigotry starts, but with a bit of effort and the help of snarky and unforgiving enough friends, I posit it’s possible to inoculate enough people (20% solution of Rationaline, excipient: lolage) against extreme willful stupidity to achieve relative herd immunity, and at least contain the spreading below pandemic levels.

    Now, somebody else get on that if they feel up to it — personally I’m cool with our species ending itself through idiocracy, and I’m too much of a pompous ass to be much help anyway.
    …I’ll still take that Nobel Prize if we make it, though: got a killer speech in mind. ;)

  13. Seems like everyone is convinced they have the moral high ground for one reason or another, and every side is using a set of criteria to condemn.

    Perhaps a more fruitful conversation would be about these criteria themselves?

    Surely it would be far more interesting to ask questions about ways in which women feel men talk them over, how narratives support or breakdown negative stereotypes, the balancing of false positives and false negatives, examples of other sites that engage SF from a political perspective, how to properly use fictional worlds to make political points, or even why the Criteria Question is valid or invalid.

    Otherwise these tempest in teacups lead to nothing but some chances to share some high-fives between in-groups without any worthwhile dialogue.

    goes to look for people to high-five with,

    sciborg

  14. Hm… well, doesn’t “broken” implies that there was some previous wholeness of function that has been disturbed. Weren’t we always like this, heck, before the Enlightenment there wasn’t even a scientific method to use.

    If we want to acknowledge that logical thought and analysis is a spiffy little hat sitting on top of big hairy ape brain, I’d buy that one. We are what we are.

  15. Roger Eichorn said:

    If a person is ‘unreasonable’ in the sense you talk about here, then of course ‘reasoning’ with her in that way will not work. The only way to make progress would be to _convert_ her to your way of looking at things — to your standard of ‘reasonableness.’ And this cannot be done ‘reasonably,’ for acquiescing in ‘reasonableness’ is a precondition for being persuaded on the basis of such reasons.

    Word.
    …and is what I was trying to get at, above: maybe humor is our kind of evangelists proverbial foot in the door.

  16. It is a weird effect that might be good for survival in some circumstances, but horrible in others. An artefact of the balancing act between dying because you are re-inventing the wheel all the time, or dying because you cannot adapt when circumstances change.

    One energy-sucking difficulty is the self-examination needed to check whether I am stuck in the trap myself. Am I dismissing arguments because they clash with a worldview I do not want to change, because the argument is silly and beaten to death, or because the arguments are made by someone not interested in dialogue?

    That is one of the irritating things about this mess, am I dismissing someone because of tone (but I do enjoy PZ Meyers at times), because of hurtful truths (perhaps), because I’ve seen the arguments before, because the lack of dialogue (if I am not the one stopping it)?
    It is not a problem I have solved yet, but getting stuck in a stockholm syndrome be being someone of privilege and not allowing yourself into the discussion is not a solution.

  17. Hljóðlegur said:

    Hm… well, doesn’t “broken” implies that there was some previous wholeness of function that has been disturbed.

    broken used for ‘faulty/flawed’ is a flourish/colloquialism, common in the hacker/SF culture. It’s borrowed from kidspeak, and substituted for a more appropriate vocabulary such as “ontologically fucked up”, which the naive persona that is played for comic effect (a young child or its robotic analog) wouldn’t be expected to use.

  18. @AcD: that’s one of the reasons I think RoH is fairly successful. Lampooning people has always been a great way to get messages across. Comedians have often been on the forefront of normative changes (or at least have been a clear harbinger of it).

    Doesn’t even have to be mean spirited humor like RoH uses, though that has its uses as well.

    Michael Moore was far more effective as a liberal talker when his shows were funny. Funny is a way to listen to someone say something that is uncomfortable to that person and allow it to subvert traditional mores. One might argue that’s the reason we laugh – because it is uncomfortable.

  19. Strangely relevant and related:

    http://www.sociopathworld.com/2009/01/what-is-sociopaths-weakness.html

    Don’t think it’s a coincidence; that guy is probably lurking around here ever since you linked to him.

  20. We know from the work of Kruger and Dunning[2] that not only do people tend to overestimate their own smarts, but that this effect is especially pronounced among the incompetent. Furthermore, incompetent people tend not only to regard themselves as smarter than everyone else, they tend to regard truly smart people as especially stupid, even when shown empirical proof that they are less competent than those they deride.

    Are we sure that is what this study shows – the study evaluates subjects’ estimation of their competencies, not of their intelligence. Competence and smartness aren’t really the same thing, are they?

    AcD says, It’s borrowed from kidspeak, and substituted for a more appropriate vocabulary such as “ontologically fucked up”

    Thanks. A little confusion as to what “ontologically fucked up” means in this context? Ontological means having to do with state of being, right? So, the state of being of mankind is to be fucked up?

  21. As an acquaintance once put it: “You can’t reason someone out of a position that they didn’t reason themselves into”. If someone believes something as a matter of faith – which involves the explicit rejection of reason and evidence – then reason and evidence are probably not the tools to use to change their ideas.

    Don’t agree. I worked my way out of unreasoned faith and I am not exceptional. Therefore a lot of people probably have. I don’t have three eyes or something.

  22. Surely it would be far more interesting to ask questions about ways in which women feel men talk them over, how narratives support or breakdown negative stereotypes, the balancing of false positives and false negatives, examples of […]

    derailing for dummies parodies the typical discourse.

  23. Sorry, didn’t link, http://derailingfordummies.com/

  24. “derailing for dummies parodies the typical discourse.”

    True. That is a funny site btw.

  25. Sperber and Mercier’s (first note, Cohen, NYT) conclusion is not that reason just is seen as, or even used as, a “weapon” by its users (though of course it can be) but (more accurately, I think) that even persons sincerely interested in finding the truth are subject to cognitive biases such that they pick up on evidence much better if it seems to them to support their position. And, even if we are reflective, biases still remain–either due to the high cognitive load of getting rid of them or just because they are unmovable (I don’t think they address that though). The issue is confirmation bias, not emotional rhetoric.
    We’re also better at picking out flaws in opposed arguments than formulating flawless ones of our own. So, if we take the view that reasoning evolved as an inherently social function, we should expect groups of persons who are interested in getting at the truth will do better if each offloads much of the critical, reflective work onto others. Of course, the outcome is not always agreement or true beliefs–often you get stalemate. On their view, reasoning is like an adversarial legal system or medieval disputationes–they work, within limits.
    But all this is just to say that you examples of creationists and Jehovah’s Witnesses and climate-change deniers are just example of people who have no interest in getting at the truth (at least truths about our publically accessible shared world) or establishing chains of inference in which each step is relevant. They’re like an angry relative of the victim who smuggles a gun in the courtroom and tries to kill the defense attorney.

  26. @ M.S. Patterson, who wrote, in-part: There’s a lot of talk about how the environmental movement has stalled, and how we need to find common ground to move forward. But how do you find common ground with people who quite literally cannot see sense, or face facts, or whatever cliche you prefer to use?

    Regarding the environmental movement here in the States, there is a growing movement which has some roots deeply set in the Evangelical movement. I seem to recall they call themselves “Creation Conservation Movement”. There are some lines in Leviticus (Lev 25:23-24) to the effect that the Israelites are not to consider themselves the owners of their new land, but refugees and tenant-farmers, and that they must provide for the redemption of the land. This, the Creation Conservatives argue, gives a divine mandate that if the Israelites must consider themselves only caretakers of the land who must leave it in good condition for whomever comes after, any people — even who are not of the Chosen People — must do the same wherever they live. More or less, why dishonor the Creator by failing to do your best to maintain the Creation.

    Sometimes it isn’t an issue about people not wanting to face facts… sometimes it’s about finding what they consider to be facts which support your argument.

    If you want the really tricky debate, try the Creation Conservation basis for environmentalism, versus the “Dispensationalist” arguments, which once led former US Secretary of the Interior, James Watt, to make a declaration often badly reported as “I’m not worried about conservation because once we cut down all of the trees, it’s the end of the world and then Jesus can come again”. Yikes.

    @Peter Watts: Ah, look at it this way, IIRC Charlie Stross once took a story there (AI takes over the world and begins to Transcend to deity status, but it wouldn’t have been the first to try that).

    Logic, although admirable and ideally to be the central tenet of the individual’s interpretation of the world around them, can be perverted. An ideal tactical deception will surround the intended target with extremely credible information, and the target’s own best assessment will lead them logically to position themselves to their own greatest disadvantage. Logic, in such a case, causes the target to provide the spring for the enemy’s bear-trap. In such a case, anyone thinking “sure it seems reasonable, but my gut feeling says we need to do something else” is more likely to live to have kids. Repeat enough times, and we have selection for people who ignore logic and go with their gut feelings, belief system, big book o’ traditional fables, etc etc.

    Of course it’s not always going to be beneficial to go with the pre-convictions or gut feeling. But that’s evolution for you, mindlessly tuning into balance with the surrounding conditions, and mindlessly “needing” to always be able and ready to do that tuning.

  27. I always think in the back of my mind that our species is more than likely going to become a statistic in the Drake Equation. Too many of our numbers are just that reckless.
    And it doesn’t help at all when we have people who believe in waging holy wars at the helm. I’m sure if circumstances appeared right to them, they wouldn’t have very much forethought about sending us into nuclear war.

    The way the electorates are taking shape in America is fucking scary. These people want nothing more than to throw everything back 500 years, or more.

    If it were within reason, and as easy as fiction, I’d found a secular colony on another planet with the most rational people I could find.

    Then again, we’re only human… but I can only hope and dream.


  28. Sperber and Mercier’s (first note, Cohen, NYT) conclusion is not that reason just is seen as, or even used as, a “weapon” by its users (though of course it can be) but (more accurately, I think) that even persons sincerely interested in finding the truth are subject to cognitive biases such that they pick up on evidence much better if it seems to them to support their position. And, even if we are reflective, biases still remain–either due to the high cognitive load of getting rid of them or just because they are unmovable (I don’t think they address that though). The issue is confirmation bias, not emotional rhetoric.

    Cannot this be avoided by working in pairs and trying to pick flaws?


  29. I always think in the back of my mind that our species is more than likely going to become a statistic in the Drake Equation. Too many of our numbers are just that reckless.

    Not a problem. 95% of humanity is superflous. I believe that if you somehow killed off 90% of the dumbest people, the rest would have far better prospects.

    Not only would the average IQ shoot through the roof, their decision making would no longer be constrained by the bovine mass of humanity that is so easy to exploit for sociopaths, lying patriarchs and such vermin.

  30. There are two obvious questions:

    1) If the purpose of reason is to win arguments, what was the purpose of the arguments in the first place? In other words, why pay any attention?

    2) Why are you bothering to argue the point?

    In any case, we see similar logical errors in slime molds. As far as I know, slime molds are not the stars of debating teams.

    One possible reason for the human tendency to look for examples instead of counterexamples is that counterexamples are mostly useful for judging universal statements of the form “for every…” and I suspect such statements were less useful during most of human prehistory than existential statements of the form “there exists ….” (“There’s tiger over there!” was somewhat more important than “Every tiger has stripes.”) On the other hand, the preceding sentence was a universal statement and therefore must be tested with counterexamples.

    In today’s society, I think universal statements are more important. It might be time for a bug report.

  31. @ Joseph Hertzlinger, who wrote, in-part: There are two obvious questions: [ … ] 1) If the purpose of reason is to win arguments, what was the purpose of the arguments in the first place? In other words, why pay any attention? [ … ] 2) Why are you bothering to argue the point?

    Let’s see… I seem to recall that the FOXP2 gene — which in a certain form is linked to the human ability to form tense and syntax — goes back only about 30KY-35KY or so. As I understand it (I am using cautious phrasing here) there would not have been any arguments prior to the point where this very modern mutation swept through the species, leaving alive pretty much nobody who didn’t have it, this change taking place in perhaps ten generations or less. The point of bothering to argue the point is that you can argue the point. Those who cannot argue the point might easily be considered as those who could not verbally articulate hunting strategies… and perhaps the object of the game would be those who could not verbally articulate much of anything. Perhaps it’s no great surprise that Neandertal vanished almost globally, practically overnight in the evolutionary/geologic time-frame, right about the exact time when FOXP2 in the modern form proliferated throughout the anatomically-modern human race.

    Which brings us back to question (1)… what was the purpose of the arguments in the first place? The most simple explanation is that debates were to determine the best method to hunt prey, whether the prey were perhaps non-semantic humans (lots of meat there, if you don’t know about prionic diseases) or perhaps squirrels or even swine. One person might exposit on the matter of how to run a hunt, someone else might elaborate or another person might contradict. Even if the ultimate result of the argument were to be that the strongest (or most-experienced) speaker would prevail in direction of the hunt, one might see that over time, we would have exposition, perhaps even digression, counterpoint, and commentary. In the end, probably we would have enough resolution so as to allow deployment of staff, so to speak, to assigned position, all with a specific role with specific task. But however they might need to vary tactics in the heat of the moment, they’d all have a strategy which was developed as a result of the “many heads are better than one” theory/process.

    Of course, given the ability to discuss prey movements, we probably inevitably see the ability to discuss political movements. ;)

  32. @ Eric, who wrote, in-part: We’re also better at picking out flaws in opposed arguments than formulating flawless ones of our own. So, if we take the view that reasoning evolved as an inherently social function, we should expect groups of persons who are interested in getting at the truth will do better if each offloads much of the critical, reflective work onto others. Of course, the outcome is not always agreement or true beliefs–often you get stalemate.

    I would counterposit that where you say “[…] groups of persons who are interested in getting at the truth […]” you might better say “leader” or “leadership cadre”, who might be less interested in getting at the “truth” and more interested in analyzing the problem of the instant. Or to invoke the aphorism in bad colloquilism, “them as proposes might not be them as disposes”. Yet your point is worth remarking: if some leadership-figure makes some pronouncement, perhaps of medium-value as rhetoric or tactical logic goes, criticism on either/and/or tactical/strategic grounds may be very useful, especially to issues of survival of underlings. And without support of underlings, does the leadership survive? And without leadership, do underlings survive?

    This is all very debatable… (think a little bit and the pun will come to you).

  33. “All you can really do is mock them. All you can do is subject them to scathing and intense ridicule, publicly if possible.”

    In other words, acrackedmoon had it right.

  34. I think the greatest appeal of the non-reason side is that as long as you argue within the quasi-logical (ideological? ;) ) framework of a given noxious belief system, it offers you “debate buttons” that are “instant win” from the perspective of your in-group.
    So you can be an expert debater as far as opinion of in-group is concerned (of course, the outgroup will think you’re a knuckle-dragging moron, but – hey, fuck those guys!)

    You just need to be part of the in-group which happens to believe that things like “your mind is clouded by Ze Devil, ergo your argument is invalid” or “you’re speaking from position of privilege, ergo your argument is invalid” or “you have [insert organ name here], ergo your argument is invalid” are actual forms of argument, and not truckloads of figurative shit, and BAM, you’re like fucking Spinoza, winning shit left and right! That feels great!
    It’s like cheat codes. Only instead of giving you a gun with infinite ammo, it gives you a conviction that you’re motherfucking Spinoza, and a bunch of sycophants that share this conviction with you.

  35. Also, Peter, I see you’re not a fan of my unsubtle word games :D

  36. They’re winning? No they are clearly not. Take a look at history 50 years ago (no gay rights, rampant sexism and the KKK still active), or 100 years ago, or 200. Don’t forget that there are fanatics for democracy, reason, and equality too.

  37. When the various cognitive biases and the proclivity of various people of preferring faith over reason and various neurological studies that seem to show underlying structural basis for these behaviors are all put together, it seems to map out what (if it weren’t so very widespread) would almost certainly be labeled a type of mental illness.
    Suppose for a moment that the above listed biases and tendency towards faith were very rare–at a rate of less than 1% of the population. Then, the very rational thing to do would be to study the problem and attempt to find a cure.
    Unfortunately the prevalence of one or more of the biases seems to be much much higher. An interesting study would be what percentage are actually fully “afflicted” with bias and which are just easily convinced and along for the ride, so to speak.

  38. Cap’n Falcon:

    In other words, acrackedmoon had it right.

    Good one. But no: I’m advocating the mockery approach as a last resort after reason has failed. Even acm’s apologists admit that she has no interest in reasoned debate; her whole schtick is predicated on going for invective right out of the gate.

  39. Can someone clarify for me. Were we working on the assumption that if we just explained our reasoning slowly enough, with enough repetitions, people who disagree would go “Doh!’ and change their minds?

    Statistically speaking, how often is that effective. In my experiences at work, where we aren’t even talking about topics close to the heart, people will agree to go with a course of action, but are unwilling to admit that the other person is correct about the underlying assumptions even if they have agreed to a plan flowing from those assumptions. I’m finding that, mostly, people either agree in the first 5 seconds or they are not going to agree in the short term at all. Are others finding different behaviors, or am I working with contrarians? (Understanding and cataloging the other person’s POV seems to be the best choice if I have to work with them again.)

    And why is mockery the next step after the careful explanation tactic fails. Is it more convincing – if I mock your POV, will that change your mind? I’m not sure i understand the function of this tactic. Or are we just throwing up our hands?


  40. no gay rights, rampant sexism and the KKK still active),

    I would give my right fucking testicle If I could live in a racist, sexist, elitist society which had sane finance, enviromental and industrial and scientifc policies.

    Where well-desgined nuclear reactors provided 90% of the power, trips under 30kms were undertaken on bicycles, the country had a dense network of electrified railways and so on.

    Human rights are sometimes detrimental to efficiency of a society!

    Sure, gays and women would have to fight for their rights, but at least they could do so in a society that is not completely batshit insane on everything else but the silly human rights!

  41. @Hljóðlegur: psychologically people are more likely to confirm their own views when confronted by conflicting information in a reasonable way. It’s far more often ineffective than effective, and tends to be effective only in certain specific areas where rationality and reason are able to be validated and considered without personal weight, ie sciences and math. And even then, not always.

    Mockery tends to work a lot better because mocking excludes from a group, and that’s a lot more effective a way to indicate lack of fitness. If someone considers themselves a feminist and all the feminists mock them, for instance, they’re a lot more likely to change.

  42. Also, I believe it is better to fight for something to gain it, than to have it handed on a plate…

  43. “”In other words, acrackedmoon had it right.”

    Good one. But no: I’m advocating the mockery approach as a last resort after reason has failed. Even acm’s apologists admit that she has no interest in reasoned debate; her whole schtick is predicated on going for invective right out of the gate.”

    Ah. But this gets to the heart of (one of) the problems here: the privilege threshold on whose upward slope you stand, while acrackedmoon is kept on the other. She has to throw her insults much harder. Yours, and Scott’s and Pat’s rolls downhill.

    People, who live in other parts of the world, with a different gender, a different skin colour, a different sexuality, and the decreased status due to these things which pile atop each other in a grinning pyramid of skulls, HAVE tried plan A first. They’ve been doing so for generations. And colonialism, imperialism, the worst aggressions of a hypermarket western capitalism, have spat in the face of their *rational* arguments. Denied that they have an equal share of the treasures and burdens of our interlinked world. Denied that their narratives and voices, should be not just listened to, but sometimes allowed to rise up and drown out our own.

    They have been taking a rational approach, endlessly tacking into the wind of our disregard, and paying a price in far more than coin. Bodies tossed over the side, left and right. In hate, in burning crosses, in strange fruit hung from the trees. In having threats tossed at them, and often carried out, for speaking “out of turn.” Talk reason to a canon someday and see what it has to say back.

    So. RoH is not coming out of her gate on a frothing horse just as you fire your starter’s pistol, it’s that we’re reaching this stage in HER journey (and let the burden of proof if you dispute her gender or ethnicity lie on you) at the end of a long, tiring run. And end isn’t the right word. She’s not even there, and likely her race will keep going, across an obstacle course that is always sloping up. She’s tired of having to say everything twice, and twice as cleverly, to get one tiny fraction of the respect. What would you do?*

    *And why do *I* have to be the one to even say this “for her.” What right do I have? I have all of them. That’s the way the world currently works.

    I know what I’d do. I’d say “fuck it.” I’d speak my piece, I’d make a loud noise and go for the throat and eyes because nothing else is going to make a dent. The people she’s tossing bricks at don’t live in glass houses, they live in fucking tanks. Supertankers and jumbo jets. They carpet bomb nations. They run the banks. They run the grid. Oh, and they write books. They are mostly, for now, for the recent past among those reading this right now in the language we’re both using, us.

    Not her. She’s engaged in asymmetrical cultural/sexual warfare because that’s what happens when every avenue of polite and reasonable diplomacy has been exhausted. I’m just glad she uses filth and humour instead of predator drones.

    So I for one am willing to listen, to pick through the shards and brick dust. I don’t agree with her on everything. She makes me deeply uncomfortable on a number of issues, but for reasons not necessarily always to do with her being wrong. But I’m listening, if for no other reason then we’ve been the ones hogging the conversation for such a long time. We expect to hear our own voices, endlessly looped, and their comfortable drone is in danger of putting our collective lights out, permanently.

  44. HEY!!

    That is not me. That is Naue posting as me.

    Now I am getting scared…
    Fuck.

  45. @Lanius: “Human rights are sometimes detrimental to efficiency of a society!”

    I didn’t know representatives of the PRC posted around here.

    “I believe it is better to fight for something to gain it, than to have it handed on a plate…”

    Right. So Bakker shouldn’t be handed his title of feminist either. This is his fight. And so far he’s kind of losing. Oh well. Better luck next time.

    @Watts: “I’m advocating the mockery approach as a last resort after reason has failed.”

    Reason failed when Bakker gave his answer to the interview question regarding allegations of misogyny directed at his work, a segment that was quoted in the ROH blog. His answer was a non-answer, one that placed women on a pedastal, one that was reflective of a viewpoint that is patronizing to many people. He has spent a considerable amount of time trying to defend his reputation rather than address the concerns that were raised, or even to ask for clarification about those concerns. This attitude is dismissive, an assumption that simply his intent to be feminist makes him a feminist ally. Because of that “tone” (if you will) in his replies, I see very little room for effective engagement.

    @E.M. Edwards: Burnin’ up the dance floor, right there.

  46. I think, if nothing else, to deny the reason flag to Moon is to deny it to what seems a significant group of women/minorities/queer-persons who feel like they are not being heard.

    Now, if the charge is that she is doing it all for attention, then there’s a simple solution – Don’t bring her up at all. Just bring up the issues. If she turns out to be a white dude from Nebraska, which of her points would be invalidated?

    Every time she has brought something up, from books to people, others of varied backgrounds have agreed, at least partially if not wholly, with her. There are other people to engage with without invalidating the very premise of privilege and narrative reinforcement of prejudice, which I think this “The Constraints of Time, The Limits of Reason” unintentionally does.

    Are all of the people who gather at RoHate to be dismissed as irrational? Is every woman who thinks she has a point utterly wrong?

    The challenge is that when each side decides it is on the side of reason in addition to possessing the moral high ground, to the point that entire groups can be written off and laughed at, it’s hard to see why Captain Falcon is wrong.

    After all, from the other shoe’s perspective, as Edwards points out, it looks like many people who agree with Moon feel like they’ve been trying the path of reason for a lot longer time.

  47. E. M. Edwards said:

    [About two metric tons of post-imperial guilt and rationalizing of hateful nuttiness coming from our vengeful victims]

    I have good news and bad news for you.
    The good news is your British Empire is so long past its prime it’s barely able to stand upright, much less stomp anything under its boots or books. As for the N-A one, it may well take the world to hell as it crumbles, but I’m confident those you so charitably raise your privileged voice to represent will be fine with such eschatology: not caring for reason, I’ll venture they expect the sky fairies to do them justice right after the apocalypse, unless they’re good with their own demise if it takes their enemy with them.

    Now, for the bad news…
    The worst kind of chickenhawk western imperialists currently in the business of wrecking our common habitat, and autocrats of all creeds and colors share exactly the same rationale you advocate. They assume whomever they ever wronged, humiliated, exploited or otherwise diminished and denied elementary decency and rights is out for bloody revenge, and that’s exactly what justifies “preemptive” wars, selective application of human rights and end-of-times pillage capitalism.

    “Listen, I’m not happy about the situation we’re in, but there’s no going back now: either we put the browns/females/muslims/libruls/chinese/proles/gays/terroriss’/[yni] in their place and show them we mean bizniss, or they’ll hang us with our silk ties by the cojones, and I just got a new pair from BAE last week. Like it or not, it’s them or us.”

    …cue the killer drones and transports full of uniformed ‘middle-class’ kids trying to gain health and education benefits.

    And yes, there are people who don’t see another way but lashing out, and for each one of those, there’s one or three trying to get by and make ends meet, and then there’s another one who wants to rework the system to better ends, confident that they, with our assistance — however patronizing or selfish — will eventually outsmart and outplay ‘us’ and hijack the controls from our self-complacent, morbidly obese ruling class.

    I don’t know who will win that one, but of the many scenarii where we all lose and the game resets itself without (much of) any of us, quite a few hinge on your violent fantasies being vindicated, so maybe that’s good news, and more good news for you after all. ;)

  48. @E.M.: Hello again.

    Dude, you do know how to make a point. I’m not going to pretend you’re wrong about any of it.

    I can add some things, though.

    While acm comes at this from the perspective of tribal demographics, I instinctively come at it from the viewpoint of individual people. I expect you’ll say that’s because I can afford to do that, that the very attitude that allows me to ignore politics arises from my own privilege; I won’t argue. But when I spoke out, I was not taking on a Thai LBGT female; I did not know her nationality, I still don’t know her orientation, and I didn’t (and don’t) care about her genitals. For all I know she could have been some kind of AI, or a nerdy white boy like me; I would have said exactly the same thing, because I was not reacting to a group-level political struggle. I was reacting to an unwarranted personal attack by one individual against another. I saw one party trying desperately to keep calm, to argue rationally, while another party hurled abuse; I saw him shat upon for his temerity in referring to acm as “the dude”, while the kind of vile epithets being slung at him — “roach”, ” misogynistic piece of subhuman garbage” — went unchallenged. I spoke up — ironically, against perceived injustice. I would do so again.

    I don’t deny my own insanely good fortune; I don’t begrudge the rage of those who’ve been stomped on as far as anyone can remember. I probably would use predator drones if I could get my hands on them (at least, the protagonists of my novels have a tendency to go down with their teeth in the throats of their oppressors; although those oppressors generally fall under the “1%” heading, regardless of ethnicity). And I’m sure acm would shit all over my own claim to rage, but I’ve suffered physical violence at the hands of certain paranoid authorities; I found myself facing trumped-up charges in a foreign court, saw all sorts of invisible hands working to force a guilty verdict regardless of the evidence, witnessed the collateral harassment and abuse of one of the jurors who dared speak out in public about the corruption she witnessed. I know, I know: cry me a river of tears, white boy. I’m bringing this up only to establish that I nurse my own share of rage, that there are demographics that I take a very dim view of. It is difficult to feel especially privileged while handcuffed wet and half-naked in an unheated cell, blinded by pepper spray. As a group, I trust cops about as far as I could throw a semi.

    But when a cop tries to be reasonable with me, I can still be reasonable back. I’m still on pretty good terms with the occasional LEO. The population mean may be a reasonable default, barring data on the individual; but that mean derives from a whole shitload of data points, and they cover a lot of space. At some point, you gotta stop arguing with the demographic and start talking to the face in front of you.

    I don’t know what kind of abuse or discrimination acm might have suffered, and it doesn’t even matter if she’s suffered none at all; you don’t have to be a victim of abuse to speak out on behalf of the abused. I even recognize the historical disparity that people use to justify the one-sidedness of permissible invective, although it gets really old being told your pea-shooter is off-limits when the other guys keep showing up to the party with Kalashnikovs. Which is why, in my initial post, that incendiary “rabid animal” bomb was immediately followed by me stepping back and explicitly examining why I had stooped so low, so fast. I did it to call attention to acm’s use of “self-important little roach”, and other bits of choice invective; and when she showed up on this blog and started arguing, I argued back. I treated her challenges with respect; I answered her points; I even dialed down on someone who called her a troll, said let’s see where this is going.

    I was still a nerdy white boy. I was still a product of privilege (although as I understand it, so is she); but I was trying to engage. I thought we might be getting somewhere. And at this point, I would expect a reasonable person to forget about the mean and start talking to the individual.

    As it turned out, all acm was interested in was mining my responses for ammunition. She spread the rabies bomb far and wide and left the context behind. She accused me of not getting the consent of an abuse victim without mentioning that I’d thought that person long dead. Today I see she’s linking to one of my stories while highlighting the quote “These poor savage things will never embrace salvation. I will have to rape it into them.” — for all the world as though this makes me an advocate of sexual violence.

    I had to laugh when I saw that. People will follow that link to Clarkesworld, and the first thing they’ll see is the shitload of awards that story was nominated for (it even won a couple). They’ll read the story itself and realize that the offending words belong to a shapeshifting monster that can in no way be regarded as any kind of role model, that the story itself is (among other things) a metaphor for that pernicious missionary instinct to colonise and convert that acm herself would rail against. The story itself undoes her attempts to misuse it.

    What all these actions say to me that whatever systemic injustices acm started out railing against, all she wants to do now is pursue character attacks. I agree with many of the point you made, E.M., but I do not believe they apply to her at this point. There’s nothing political in these attacks. It’s all personal. It’s not just angry, which I could understand: it’s deliberately dishonest, and there’s no agenda of social justice being served here. It’s just RunsOnHate, being an asshole.

    Fortunately, at least some of her followers have started noticing that.

  49. **“As an acquaintance once put it: “You can’t reason someone out of a position that they didn’t reason themselves into”. If someone believes something as a matter of faith – which involves the explicit rejection of reason and evidence – then reason and evidence are probably not the tools to use to change their ideas.”

    Don’t agree. I worked my way out of unreasoned faith and I am not exceptional. Therefore a lot of people probably have. I don’t have three eyes or something.**

    Absolutely. This is one of those cute little internet chestnuts that gets trotted out a lot because it sounds smart and succinct (even to me, at first) but really is just self-congratulatory bullshit. Plenty of people reason themselves out of positions reached other than through reason. Me, for example.

  50. Me too, for that matter.

    I was raised by Baptists. Dad was a minister: founder of the Baptist Leadership Training School in the Canadian Bible belt, worked his way up to General Sec of the Baptist Convention of Ontario & Quebec by the time he retired. I can’t say he ever tried to suppress my inquiring mind, but I certainly wasn’t actively encouraged to question the faith I’d been raised on.

    Somehow, I managed.


  51. Don’t agree. I worked my way out of unreasoned faith and I am not exceptional. Therefore a lot of people probably have. I don’t have three eyes or something.**

    So, you say you first found Jesus by yourself, and then left him on your own accord?

    I bet you were just spoon-fed that ancient tribal claptrap since birth..

  52. Forming opinions that are not liked by your parents… is nothing exceptional.

    Only natural.

  53. I happen to have a high degree of immunity to sob stories, E.M. Also, the emotional part kinda breaks down for me when you mention “aggressions of hypermarket capitalism” (excuse me, but at that point you were one inch from “living in harmony with nature/stop raping the earth” people)

    As to burden of proof as to anyone’s claimed ethnicity – excuse me again, here be the Internet. Here, the default state is that anyone’s gender, ethnicity, and other background are a just-so-story. I may be a disillusioned jewish dude helping several banks outsource their IT woes and hating his people’s “traditions” with the fiery passion of a newborn sun, or a bunch of very smart corvids taking advantage of an abandoned laptop till the battery runs out, or a teenage bisexual girl in France who likes to screw with people’s heads with personas and proxies, or even ‘cracked entity in all scandalous glory, engaging in some twisted internet-debate-as-performance-art act.

    It takes a nontrivial effort to establish, beyond reasonable doubt, that a particular set of messages in this wonderful sea of default-genderless (or rather, arbitrary-gendered, arbitrary-backgrounded) discourse was transmitted by a machine that belongs exclusively and specifically to you and is ipso facto “yours”, in the sense words are “yours” in more traditional venues. That’s the price you pay for communicating through numerous semi-independent machine middlemen that could in theory answer to anyone (or no one!).

    Usually, that’s not a problem (perhaps it is a feature – if identity is not established, the very concern of discrimination based on background becomes a wild goose chase…).

    As long as I don’t make arguments that hinge on my identity as a bird gestalt, nobody should care as to what my skin is like, or what do I like to poke where in my spare time, or whether I am even conscious human being.

    Things change when you try to carve yourself some kind of piece-of-internet by claiming you’re specialsauce based on repressed status, historical circumstance, or a Phd in Smartology you got from that college over there (yeah, the Einstein one)
    When you start taking background stories of anonymous strangers all too seriously, it’s just a matter of time till hilarity ensues

    So pardon me if I remain skeptical of people wanting to carve themselves a special mode of discourse and special attention based on background, in a medium that is very unfriendly to them backgrounds, where the only background you start out with is “someone or something with capacity to send correct HTTP requests” ;)

    Now that origin stories and my alleged ravenhood are out of the way…

    This whole “I am X and a woman, hear me roar” shtick is not contributory to any form of reasonable solution and, quite frankly, is a dramatic exaggeration.
    A dramatic exaggeration every single group with a weak argument base is using

    Like, you know, how skymonster cultists like to whine that “secularists” are silencing and persecuting them, so they HAVE to behave shitty in debates to be heard. Yeah. Sure we are :D

    Our dear allegedly female friend was silenced exactly how? Is there some kind of internet filter that would pwn her blog if she behaved a little bit less…unhinged ? Or perhaps there is a murder squad of elite mercenaries going after people who dislike specific midlist scifi authors so she HAS to remain secret and is stressed out of being constantly on the run ?

    I somehow doubt that. I also doubt there is a tradition of discounting well-mannered and well-articulated criticisms by anonymous entities (since, by default, everyone here on the net is kinda anonymous)

    The need for rage here is not because through rage-filled (and unfunny) comments dear cracked entity somehow assures access to reasoning or persuasion facilities otherwise unavailable – in fact, hostility and insults rarely motivate anything other than return hostility.
    The need for rage here is due to the fact that, as you have already pointed out in another thread, the best civilized argument about books in question would be along the lines of “in my honest opinion, depictions of fictional settings with this kind of gender attitudes does not help fight real world misogyny, ergo author does not succeed in his intent” (exactly why it ensures altercations will be seen later, or so I hope :) )

    And, as my dear friend already noted, there’s no way to establish the truth-value of such statement. Thus, it is predictably doomed to turn into a “I THINK YES – AND I THINK NO” debate. Which in turn is bound to evolve into accusations and culminate in a victorious “NO U!”.

    Thus, an utter lack of possibility for making a decent argument beyond “opinion” drives the subject to attempt to at least offend, to at least take a stab at the disagreeing party.

    It’s a free net, so the ‘cracked entity is fully in her right to do so.

    And I am free to be both amused and repulsed by her lack of basic good manners and crudeness of her hateful diatribe, as well as mock the fragility of arguments underlying her most outrageous outpourings in a myriad of dry, screeching avian calls. AWK! AWK!

  54. This may come across as wrong or woefully idealistic, but I figure I should just get this off my chest.

    People who have been or still are the victims of abuse, big or small, have a right to be pissed as hell and to strive to end that abuse. No one, ultimately, has the right to become an abuser, no matter how justified they may feel to do so. To do so is to become no better than the thing you fight against, just another bully attacking those they feel they can get away with, whether it’s with a bomb or a blog. It stops being about justice and just becomes revenge with a mask of righteousness to hide behind. In the end, you likely end up putting more people into the same position you started out in. Just more misery, on and on…

    If you must fight, then fight, but remember WHY you fight. If you ever forget, if the day comes when you go into battle simply for it’s own sake, then you’ve already lost.

    That’s all I had to say, for what little it’s worth.

  55. It’s hard to guess why some kids can’t stop asking questions, while some just crave answers and will latch on whatever’s in range so to avoid uncertainty. Even with the same background, hell, in the same family… I wonder if aversion to certainty — or doubt, for that matter — can be evidenced by brainscans ?

  56. @ Captain Falcon

    Right. So Bakker shouldn’t be handed his title of feminist either. This is his fight. And so far he’s kind of losing. Oh well. Better luck next time.

    Ah, so you’re the feminist gestalt entity ?

    Great to meet you! I kinda thought that I’m only emergent group-reasoning entity in this festering pit of rancid individualism they call “the Earth” (more like “the Dirt”, lol)!

    Please pardon possible typos, it’s hard to type with many beaks at once (I could use a single bird as type-component, but you know how inefficient hunt-and-peck is!)

    So, how is being the joint reasoning faculty and inclusion/exclusion judge of entire feminism is working out for you, fellow gestalt?

  57. I wonder if aversion to certainty — or doubt, for that matter — can be evidenced by brainscans ?

    Hm. Could be. It seems to me that if we are talking about this in relation to faith, that uncertainty is agnosticism, and atheism or deism are closer to choosing certainties. Notice how asking questions as a kid, including questioning your faith, can lead either to losing your faith or coming back around to it, so loving uncertainty, or at least, questions, can tip a person in all sorts of directions.

  58. I never finished reading the last thread, and I think whatever I have to say has been said as well by a patchwork of many others. If you want me to clarify, I can reply. I’ll probably check the thread tomorrow. I do not have a lot of time or energy or, well, to be honest, spoons to use commenting on the internet.

    six comments I think are worth pullquoting:

    Saajan Patel : “Seems like everyone is convinced they have the moral high ground for one reason or another, and every side is using a set of criteria to condemn. Perhaps a more fruitful conversation would be about these criteria themselves? [. . . . . ] These tempest in teacups lead to nothing but some chances to share some high-fives between in-groups without any worthwhile dialogue.”

    Hljóðlegur: “If we want to acknowledge that logical thought and analysis is a spiffy little hat sitting on top of big hairy ape brain, I’d buy that one. We are what we are.
    [ later post ] if I mock your POV, will that change your mind? I’m not sure i understand the function of this tactic. Or are we just throwing up our hands?”

    E. M. Edwards: “RoH is not coming out of her gate on a frothing horse just as you fire your starter’s pistol, it’s that we’re reaching this stage in HER journey (and let the burden of proof if you dispute her gender or ethnicity lie on you) at the end of a long, tiring run. And end isn’t the right word. She’s not even there, and likely her race will keep going, across an obstacle course that is always sloping up. She’s tired of having to say everything twice, and twice as cleverly, to get one tiny fraction of the respect. [. . . . ] She makes me deeply uncomfortable on a number of issues, but for reasons not necessarily always to do with her being wrong.”

    Saajan Patel: “The challenge is that when each side decides it is on the side of reason in addition to possessing the moral high ground, to the point that entire groups can be written off and laughed at, it’s hard to see why Captain Falcon is wrong.”

    Peter Watts: “What all these actions say to me that whatever systemic injustices acm started out railing against, all she wants to do now is pursue character attacks. I agree with many of the point you made, E.M., but I do not believe they apply to her at this point. There’s nothing political in these attacks. It’s all personal. It’s not just angry, which I could understand: it’s deliberately dishonest, and there’s no agenda of social justice being served here.”

  59. Cannot you people just forget acrackedmoon?

    Discussing her does not help. Just bury her. Forget about her. She deserves oblvion.. no written mention. Just keep pretending she does not exist.

    She would not like that at all.

  60. “and there’s no agenda of social justice being served here”

    This is what I don’t get as an argument.

    How many critics are there that are looking at SFF – all of it, from the fathers on down – and showcasing the inherent misogyny and sexism that runs rampant?

    Furthermore, this isn’t some magazine writer. She isn’t beholden to anyone; she’s making a comment about someone else’s interview – someone who is in the public eye.

    I just don’t understand how this is somehow wrong; should we not get upset when someone says in an interview a deeply stupid thing?

    Also:
    “As it turned out, all acm was interested in was mining my responses for ammunition. She spread the rabies bomb far and wide and left the context behind. She accused me of not getting the consent of an abuse victim without mentioning that I’d thought that person long dead. ”

    This is pretty disingenuous of you, Peter, given that acm got most upset when you outed that person as an actual person with her full name, and that you screwed up there. Heck, you admit that you screwed up. She didn’t have to mine very far to get you to go there and I don’t think it’s all that charitable to blame her for your fault; no one forced you to admit anything about her or bring her up at all.

    Tell me, Peter – if you were a minority and someone called you a racial slur, would you engage them particularly charitably? If you started out calling someone an asshole and they responded by a racial slur, do you think that’s the same value? To my view that’s a clear escalation on the slur part.

  61. @Saajan Patel

    “I think, if nothing else, to deny the reason flag to Moon is to deny it to what seems a significant group of women/minorities/queer-persons who feel like they are not being heard.”

    Well, not to rain at anyone’s parade, but it is not inconceivable that any sufficiently tightly knit group will have its own very special “cluster of irrational members”. Who will feel suppressed even if nobody is suppressing them.

    Hm… you know what…

    Interestingly enough, the most militant, most ideologically “pure” members of many groups, including distinctly non-minoritarian groups like whites, “hardcore” skymonster cultists and crazy PUA motherfuckers all have this weird “being silenced / conspired against / suppressed” narrative going on.

    It seems to me that, while being silenced definitely has to be a feature of a genuinely suppressed minority experience, it’s also a part of any “ideological core” experience irrespective of whether it is core of a minority group or a supermajority group (U.S. and Russian Christians, the eternally “silent” loudly shrieking supermajority, are a great example)

    One has to wonder why…

  62. Lanius said:

    “Cannot you people just forget acrackedmoon?
    Discussing her does not help. Just bury her. Forget about her. She deserves oblvion.. no written mention. Just keep pretending she does not exist.
    She would not like that at all.”

    Jealous much ?

  63. Hljóðlegur said:

    Hm. Could be. It seems to me that if we are talking about this in relation to faith, that uncertainty is agnosticism, and atheism or deism are closer to choosing certainties. Notice how asking questions as a kid, including questioning your faith, can lead either to losing your faith or coming back around to it, so loving uncertainty, or at least, questions, can tip a person in all sorts of directions.

    Well, a true catholic would argue that uncertainty is proof that you feel the presence of god and just can’t quite embrace his grace (yet), while a true agnostic would answer mu to the question of god’s existence …and an atheist would just get pissy about it, but let’s not nitpick. ;)

    I wasn’t talking about ‘loving uncertainty’ (which would be an aesthetic preference) but about ‘being averse to certainty’, which could be either a philosophical/cultural bias, or the symmetric cognitive trait to that which has (according to studies on decision making processes) most people favor known evils over unknown {tbd}.

    In this understanding, and short of a personal visitation by the invisible man in the sky (as confirmed by the data of serious lab equipment), being functionally unable to accept anything as true but on a provisional basis (and knowing it) also makes it extremely unpractical to “com[e] back around to” any sort of faith.

  64. Darn, consider the first paragraph above as properly “quoted” for it should have been if I didn’t have butter fingers.

  65. @AcD: I want whatever you’re having.

    ” I’m confident those you so charitably raise your privileged voice to represent will be fine with such eschatology: not caring for reason, I’ll venture they expect the sky fairies to do them justice right after the apocalypse, unless they’re good with their own demise if it takes their enemy with them.”

    EM Edwards was speaking out on behalf of religious suicide bombers? Was that the implication?

    “They assume whomever they ever wronged, humiliated, exploited or otherwise diminished and denied elementary decency and rights is out for bloody revenge, and that’s exactly what justifies “preemptive” wars, selective application of human rights and end-of-times pillage capitalism. ”

    That may be the line offered to the public, but I doubt that those in power who make these types of decisions actually believe it. For one, it usually isn’t a good idea to broadcast your intentions to the world, in politics. It makes you vulnerable when others see too plainly what you fear.

    Those in the general populace might have those kinds of fears that you describe, but I don’t see it coming from people with Edwards’ worldview. More commonly (in the U.S. anyway), for those that do have those fears, the enemy’s actions are explained away as fanaticism, rather than as a desire for justice.

    “I don’t know who will win that one, but of the many scenarii where we all lose and the game resets itself without (much of) any of us, quite a few hinge on your violent fantasies being vindicated, so maybe that’s good news, and more good news for you after all.”

    Do you agree with the chickenhawks then?

  66. BROTHERS, SISTERS, SIBLINGS OF NO DISCERNABLE GENDER

    Don’t you see what is happening here!?

    Caught between the reactionary repression of the GTO-SFF Cabal and the ruthless, implacable terror of the neo-Leninist, gendre-frei genre deconstructionists, it is US, the rank and file net-bourgeoisie who must suffer in the relentless crossfire of this fury that signifies NOTHING.

    And so I ask you:

    gendre-frei siblings

    fellow gestalt entities,

    WHAT IF THEY THREW A FLAME-WAR AND NOBODY SHOWED UP?

    Ponder my question, search deep in your soul, and then bring back Thomas Naue.

  67. “Well, not to rain at anyone’s parade, but it is not inconceivable that any sufficiently tightly knit group will have its own very special “cluster of irrational members”. Who will feel suppressed even if nobody is suppressing them.”

    I don’t think it’s a question of outright suppression, but rather asking ourselves about the power of narrative to confirm or change the worst aspects of society.

    I don’t agree with Moon’s conclusions in “Prince of Misogyny”, but controversial fiction will elicit controversial responses especially when/where we hit the question of the ability of narrative to shape perception.

    As someone who knows/understands little about things like rape culture, I figure as a decent human being I should try to learn where I can. The issues matter more than the teacups.

    It seems like Peter could do a post on such things, for example.

  68. I also like the comparison that a person saying that someone else is misogynistic or is a sexist is comparable to a suicide bomber.

    This was asked over at Bakkerverse, but I’m curious here – why is it such a deathly insult to be labeled as a misogynist? It’s clearly not a death sentence in the fantasy/sci-fi world as plenty of misogynists and racists have been writing popular works for a long time without any issue. It doesn’t even appear to be a significant drop in sales, and anecdotally may provide sales help via publicity and by like-minded people wanting to read it. Plus, the number of women that read fantasy/sci-fi is fairly limited to begin with.

    So why is this such a big deal? Why is it so important to disprove instead of ignore? I mean, if someone calls you an asshole do you get your friends to come in on your side and tell everyone that you’re not an asshole, or state for the record that you can’t be an asshole because you volunteer at the local kiwanis club?


  69. Jealous much ?

    Nah. Today, I managed to befriend and impress the inventor and engineer of the best current handgun in the world, the Boberg XR9s. Now I have him in my gmail chat. : :D :D :D

    I also managed to completely and utterly humiliate a longtime net nemesis of mine, one heavily armed Blonde Objectivist Bimbo who is like 5 years past her expiration date!

    I have also in mind suggesting to him to join with two another similar companies to his to create a common dunno..what. Create a full market line, save costs by cooperation, stuff like that. Looks like a good idea to me, but then I am just a three-time uni dropout whose last job involved temp work for 2$ in a spring factory.

    What do I know? I am the living, breathing proof that you really, really need that college degree and MBA to amount to anything!

    Seriously.. acrackedmoon? Who was she?

  70. Captain Falcon said:

    @AcD: I want whatever you’re having.

    Looks like you didn’t wait on my say. ;)
    …’fraid you overdid it a smidge, though.

    AcD said:
    ” I’m confident those you so charitably raise your privileged voice to represent will be fine with such eschatology: not caring for reason, I’ll venture they expect the sky fairies to do them justice right after the apocalypse, unless they’re good with their own demise if it takes their enemy with them.”

    Captain Falcon said:
    EM Edwards was speaking out on behalf of religious suicide bombers? Was that the implication?

    No it wasn’t, that’s a combo of selective quoting and creative reading on your part. As far as I can tell, religious suicide bombers don’t bring about the apocalypse, typically: they kill 6d100 NPCs from an outgroup to scare them into believing, and get brownie points and a VIP pass to Neverland for their trouble.

    If you read me again after my shrooms have left your system, you may find the missing line from my comment you accidentally edited out when replying [italicized for your pleasure]:

    [I have good news and bad news for you.
    The good news is your British Empire is so long past its prime it’s barely able to stand upright, much less stomp anything under its boots or books. As for the N-A one, it may well take the world to hell as it crumbles, but] I’m confident those you so charitably raise your privileged voice to represent will be fine with such eschatology: not caring for reason, I’ll venture they expect the sky fairies to do them justice right after the apocalypse, unless they’re good with their own demise if it takes their enemy with them.”

    There, all fixed.
    As you can see, I was running with the notion that the ebil western empires might very well lead the world to his destruction (meaning not very nice to inhabit for anyone), aka apocalypse, and I wished for those whose voices are apparently channelled through E.M. Edwards — and who according to him have rightfully renounced Reason™ — that they instead find solace in transcendent spheres (aka sky fairies) until the day they upload or something, lest they face a life of terrible existential angst and dread, supported by neither rational nor irrational thinking.

    Protip, in case you ever mean to snip a quote mid-sentence, so we know it’s not accidental, use: […]

    Kalon said:

    I also like the comparison that a person saying that someone else is misogynistic or is a sexist is comparable to a suicide bomber.

    Yeah, me too, but in fairness, you can’t claim all the credit for this mindbender, Cap Falcon did all the groundwork, so share, please. :)

  71. Actually AcD I was talking about this gem by 01:

    “Interestingly enough, the most militant, most ideologically “pure” members of many groups, including distinctly non-minoritarian groups like whites, “hardcore” skymonster cultists and crazy PUA motherfuckers all have this weird “being silenced / conspired against / suppressed” narrative going on.

    It seems to me that, while being silenced definitely has to be a feature of a genuinely suppressed minority experience, it’s also a part of any “ideological core” experience irrespective of whether it is core of a minority group or a supermajority group (U.S. and Russian Christians, the eternally “silent” loudly shrieking supermajority, are a great example)

    One has to wonder why…”

    Wasn’t even thinking about what you wrote. Sorry for the confusion.

  72. Re: Kalon

    I think the reasons for why we see what we see are twofold.

    On one hand, Bakker seems to have very little idea of what internet shitwars are like and how to deal with one (PROTIP: You don’t).

    On the other hand, being accused of something as flexibly-defined as misogyny kinda sucks, because if you really believe it is important an issue or really dislike misogyny-as-you-understand-it, you will have a very hard time proving you are not, in fact, misogynist-as-opponents-understand-it.

    It’s not like when someone accuses you of stealing forty cakes.

    Re: oppressed masses taking revenge, “deserving” special place in debate…or something ?

    Incredibly paranoid and somehow anti-reasonable in an insidious way.
    Guys, this thread is starting to read like Time Cube: The Sequel or Gyraxiom Theory.

  73. “On the other hand, being accused of something as flexibly-defined as misogyny kinda sucks, because if you really believe it is important an issue or really dislike misogyny-as-you-understand-it, you will have a very hard time proving you are not, in fact, misogynist-as-opponents-understand-it.”

    I agree. At the same time, it’s probably a good thing to (as Joe Abercrombie puts it) stand back, close your mouth, open your ears, think dispassionately about it as best you can and see if you can learn something”.

    And this ‘being accused of misogyny’ implies this odd court thing. Like he’s on trial, and if found guilty will have to wear a scarlet M. Or that he’ll be forced to pay child support. Being labeled a misogynist by people doesn’t carry a whole lot of weight; if I went to a party and told everyone that Bakker was a misogynist they’d probably shrug or maybe ask why; if I told everyone he was an asshole that’d be a lot more damaging. Heck, I’ve already seen a bunch of people on his blog specifically post that thanks to all this talking on the internets they were going to buy or had bought his books. Or had bought Neuropath, since they hadn’t bought PoN. Anecdotally being accused by a feminist troll seems to have only helped his sales. It’s like 2 Live Crew being called obscene; that just means Bakker’s books have to have the very BEST sex scenes, right?

    In all seriousness, my gut feeling is that being labeled a misogynist hurts when your personal perception is that you’re anything but. When you think that you’re some really awesome guy who is a feminist and not at all sexist and is a champion of equality – and that gets punched in the nose by a woman telling you that no, you’re acting as bad as a wifebeater. I think that that’s a common reaction when you think you’re part of a group and that group says ‘nope, sorry, not welcome here'; the fear of ostracism when you self-identify is a very powerful motivator.

    So you lash back out, or get friends to back you up, or spend a lot of time defending yourself…when it’s probably a better idea to just listen to what they have to say. Especially when so much of what you say ends up being misogyny bingo

    The reason I say that is because that’s pretty much what happened to me a few years ago. When you think you’re this bastion of liberal support, were raised by a single hippie mom and couldn’t possibly be racist or sexist, it hurts when a PoC says that you’re a racist and worse than a skinhead because you’re better at hiding it and better at perpetuating the shitty system. It stings, man. But if you stop…and think…and consider…there’s a lot of truth to what they’re telling you. And the best part is that you don’t have to significantly change; you simply have to recognize certain facets of the world for what they are, and understand what your place in the world has been.

  74. @ Kalon

    “How many critics are there that are looking at SFF – all of it, from the fathers on down – and showcasing the inherent misogyny and sexism that runs rampant? ”

    Personally I am aware of more of those than of critics/reviewers that can properly put an epic fantasy work within the context of the field. Which is as it should be, epic fantasy can take care of itself while equality is worth fighting for.

    The point about the reviewers I am aware of is that they are having the conversation, and convincing the perspective of (part of) the community. Even when they are often tired of repeating the same thing time and time again. Even if the inherent sexism everywhere still means that some things are not picked up until one of the privileged (usually a white man) repeats what has been said time and time again. They are changing, slowly probably too slowly, the consensus.

  75. Kalon: “How many critics are there that are looking at SFF – all of it, from the fathers on down – and showcasing the inherent misogyny and sexism that runs rampant? [. . . .]
    I just don’t understand how this is somehow wrong; should we not get upset when someone says in an interview a deeply stupid thing? [. . . ] Tell me, Peter – if you were a minority and someone called you a racial slur, would you engage them particularly charitably? If you started out calling someone an asshole and they responded by a racial slur, do you think that’s the same value? To my view that’s a clear escalation on the slur part.”

    rm3154: “WHAT IF THEY THREW A FLAME-WAR AND NOBODY SHOWED UP?”

    Saajan Patel: “As someone who knows/understands little about things like rape culture, I figure as a decent human being I should try to learn where I can. The issues matter more than the teacups. It seems like Peter could do a post on such things, for example.”

    Kalon: “I also like the comparison that a person saying that someone else is misogynistic or is a sexist is comparable to a suicide bomber. [ . . . . ] I mean, if someone calls you an asshole do you get your friends to come in on your side and tell everyone that you’re not an asshole, or state for the record that you can’t be an asshole because you volunteer at the local kiwanis club?”
    03: “On one hand, Bakker seems to have very little idea of what internet shitwars are like and how to deal with one (PROTIP: You don’t). [ . . . .] On the other hand [. . .] if you really believe it is important an issue or really dislike misogyny-as-you-understand-it, you will have a very hard time proving you are not, in fact, misogynist-as-opponents-understand-it.”

  76. Just to be clear – my point was that Peter seems to have had a lot of experience with those who are victims of abuse/assault. His viewpoint would be one of interest to me, though I recognize it is only an indirect one.

    I guess I just burned out on the TV-show questions: “Is Moon X? Is Bakker Y? Stay tuned for tomorrow’s episode where even answering these questions resolves nothing in RL!”

    Even from a narrative perspective, I think a compare/contrast of Le Guin and Atwood’s misogynist settings with grimdark or even other female authors would be interesting.

    How do you clue the reader in without showing too much of the author’s hand? How do you present the sexist society with enough cues that the reader can see it’s our society being criticized, instead of relying on the prejudice-die-horribly-for-their-evils trope?

  77. “It seems to me that if we are talking about this in relation to faith, that uncertainty is agnosticism, and atheism or deism are closer to choosing certainties.”

    Maybe if by atheism you mean only strong atheism, the kind that says, “There is definitely no god.” The kind of atheism that says, “I see no convincing evidence that god(s) exist(s)” doesn’t consist of dogmatic certainty any more than any other provisional conclusion, of which there are many in science. The idea that agnosticism represents the middle way of uncertainty is very much akin to the (I think peculiarly American) idea that there are two apparently unchanging and equally wrong extremes of political thought and “the truth lies somewhere in the middle,” which requires the jettisoning of critical thought to be plausible.

  78. Peter – perhaps it’s best to remove all the parts of these conversations that can be used to trace back the victim’s name?

    Apologies for posting this here and on the last post, it hit me after reading someone else’s comment and figured it was important enough to “troll” about.

  79. @01: “Ah, so you’re the feminist gestalt entity ?”

    Because I have an opinion on feminism?

    Maybe people here aren’t sure how oppression and totalitarianism work. Someone may think that L. Ron Hubbard was a good writer. I may disagree. I’ll state my opinion on the matter, and I’ll most likely stick to it. That doesn’t make me part of any entity with authority to make determinations that others must abide by under threat of law. However, I will continue to state my opinion wherever I can.

    When someone voices disagreement with you, it doesn’t make that person your oppressor.

    @AcD: “As you can see, I was running with the notion that the ebil western empires might very well lead the world to his destruction (meaning not very nice to inhabit for anyone), aka apocalypse, and I wished for those whose voices are apparently channelled through E.M. Edwards — and who according to him have rightfully renounced Reason™ — that they instead find solace in transcendent spheres (aka sky fairies) until the day they upload or something, lest they face a life of terrible existential angst and dread, supported by neither rational nor irrational thinking.”

    Brevity is the soul of wit. Who exactly do you think EM Edwards was raising his privileged voice to represent?

  80. @:Hljóðlegur:


    And why is mockery the next step after the careful explanation tactic fails. Is it more convincing — if I mock your POV, will that change your mind? I’m not sure i understand the function of this tactic. Or are we just throwing up our hands?

    Not exactly. We’re giving up on trying to change the minds of the Westboro Baptist Churchgoers and the Rick Santorums and the crackedmoons of the world; they’re a lost cause. But out past the hardcore Republicans and the hardcore Democrats there’s this little group of Independents watching from the sidelines, waiting for the dust to clear. Highlighting the profound silliness of the Santormoons might have an impact on them.

    @Saajan Patel:

    As someone who knows/understands little about things like rape culture, I figure as a decent human being I should try to learn where I can. The issues matter more than the teacups.

    It seems like Peter could do a post on such things, for example.

    Saajan, I’m not going anywhere near that. I’m sure at this point you’ll understand why. I’m not even familiar with the term “rape culture”, so I’m not going to presume to lecture anyone on the subject.

    I never come at this stuff from a political perspective, and my refusal to take that scale into account does get me into shit now and then. I think of such things either personally (i.e., trying to guess what’s going on behind the face across the table), or as a biologist (i.e., trying to understand human behavior in terms of brain-stem responses and the neurology of broken machines). Anybody who’s read my backlist can probably infer the visceral rage I have against oppressive political and social systems of any stripe, but that doesn’t mean I’m any good at talking politics (or even being especially social, I suppose — although I’ve been fortunate enough to accumulate a fair number of friends who don’t hold that against me).

  81. @Peter – Understood. Really, I figured any subject that perhaps engaged questions of society and narratives of privilege with respect to gender, class, race, sexuality, having an able body would lift the decision above the person.

    Of course, it isn’t necessarily your desire to delve into any of that but I figured I’d throw out options beyond the personal.

  82. Watts, you are a complete and total asshole.

    Sorry. Just wanted to test your new rules. Which doesn’t really detract from my point, but you already know that.

    Logic and reason, which I am sure that we both, and anyone who went to Guolp, and everyone on earth for that matter, thinks they are gifted with, is something that none of us are really good at. We all think that we are but we are all biased.

    We think that the JWs and the christians, and any other group that believes in some sky-fairy, some heavenly being, some satanly hell, is delusional. And I would agree with you. But I also hate to admit that the nicest people, the ones I would trust the most, are the ones that are deeply religious, that simply want to make sure that they live their lives according to their beliefs, not force others to them. These people are rare but they should not be dismissed when you run into them.

    I guess my point is that the same traits (beliefs?) that can drive you crazy are also the most treasured ones in people when you don’t combine them with hipocrisy

  83. @Watts: There’s a saying: “The political is personal.”

    An addendum to that could be: “…except for the privileged.”

  84. Captain Falcon said:

    Brevity is the soul of wit.

    And it’s ok to mutilate my words, because you enjoy the privilege of wit while I’m ponderous ? Was that the implication ?
    Also, are you calling me fat to my face, really ?

    Who exactly do you think EM Edwards was raising his privileged voice to represent?

    Your guess is as good as mine… what do you reckon ?

  85. @AcD: I didn’t mutilate your words. I cut out the first part because it wasn’t part of the question. The second half was the half that mentioned the people that Edwards was speaking out on behalf of, the part that mentioned sky fairies and people who are “good with their own demise if it takes their enemy with them.” I was asking who those people were, not who you think will destroy the world.

    “Your guess is as good as mine… what do you reckon ?”

    People who expect sky fairies after the apocalypse? I thought you had a group in mind since you went ahead and characterized them.

  86. Captain Falcon said:

    @AcD: I didn’t mutilate your words.

    Typical word-purge denialist… who are you tell me which of my words aren’t ‘relevant’ and can be ‘trimmed’ ? First you hurt my verbal integrity, and then you get to tell me how I should feel about it ?

    “It’s an art to live with pain… mix the light in into grey.”

  87. @ Captain Falcon

    My dear friend, nobody called you an “oppressor” (it would be hard to “oppress” a flock of birds over the internet, don’t you think :) ? ).

    You did,however, make a claim that implied a degree of consensus as to who, or what, is a “proper feminist” while in reality said claim was your mere personal opinion.
    Assuming you are not, in fact, feminism’s emergent groupmind, it might be perhaps worthwhile to clearly indicate your opinions as, you know, opinions of yours, and not some universal truth / organizational policy.
    Have a nice day.

  88. @ Kalon

    Actually AcD I was talking about this gem by 01:

    Sorry, I kind of lost your response and can’t find it. Megathreads can be so confusing :(

    Care to restate your response / inquiry ?

  89. Oh for goodness sake, AcD, Captain Falcon quoted a part of your section. The entirity of what you wrote is still above; anyone can see it. Quoting only part of your (many many paragraphs) did not alter the meaning of what you said.

    I’m sure Captain Falcon is now very, very sorry they didn’t put ellipses before the quote, but if you really feel so betrayed that someone had the temerity to quote you, maybe internet forums are not for you.

    Get back to what you really care about, and stop ranting about someone MUTILATING and PURGING and such. I can’t even tell if you’re trolling, at this point.

  90. I think Newton deserves credit for being classy, on topic, and informative:

    http://markcnewton.com/2012/02/09/efforts-to-avoid-racefail/

  91. We’re giving up on trying to change the minds of the Westboro Baptist Churchgoers and the Rick Santorums and the crackedmoons of the world; they’re a lost cause. But out past the hardcore Republicans and the hardcore Democrats there’s this little group of Independents watching from the sidelines, waiting for the dust to clear. Highlighting the profound silliness of the Santormoons might have an impact on them.

    Well, it is my raison d’ être to contradict you, but on this one, I can’t. T’would be lovely if people were on balance dispassionate, unbiased and rational assessors of things close to their hearts, but they aren’t. Rude fun-making is effective in applying social pressure, and we are social animals. The only danger, I suppose, is that everyone can see and be seen, not just sidelined observers, so one might start to look like the rabidly frothing people one opposes. Hard to say.

  92. by now I have extended the allegorical troll ecology to include the other types of trolls. and by now I think the shrike troll is less annoying than the other kinds.

    I haven’t worked out the world design (not being much of a world builder) but I think it involves parasites, mimicry, grooming, cow birds, prisoners’ dilemma, and cheating.

    I can’t make up my mind whether to have a marsh type of setting or whether I should switch to underwater given ‘trolling’ and ‘trawling’.

    so the way I want to frame this

    (kind of ignorant about shrikes. I remember from Dan Simmons Hyperion books that the Shrike was the most kick ass monster. inspired from shrike birds that stick prey on thorns? dunno. I dunno if they groom. whatever).

    so anyway

    we have trolls like the respondents in here who are re-enacting derailing 101. They are the T. gondii of this world, or a fungus that grows on the skin. They are the ones who troll on purpose. The fungus spreads to non trolls and then takes them over and has them mimic troll behavior.

    over here you got some birds and varying levels of stress in the environment. they like to groom each other to keep diseases away. like the creeping fungus. really continuous high levels of stress and you’ll end up with cognitive subspecies maybe? and maybe some of them start overgrooming. you’ll end up with zombie pidge.

    I couldn’t decide on the ecology. I thought perhaps it would be better to have something where a cowbird starts to overpeck ticks from a different animal vs grooming other cowbirds. or maybe there could be some different fungi that are fine but the bad fungi start to mimic it so as to get more food.

    ok, comment too long to keep up

  93. and to be clear, the disingenuous behavior from the rage performance artist is bad, but the subsequent trolling and disingenuous behavior from the other thread participants here is now just as bad.

    everything sucks.

    also, should I consider cognitive biases and stupidity features not bugs? We aren’t dead yet.

    also, it bugs me that I like to speculate based on cog sci research then I find out about poor lab ethics and/or inabilities to replicate or lack of replication. probably many of the results will hold, but it is interesting to ponder whether I would come to the same conclusions about the state of the mind if some of what we think we know falls by the wayside.

  94. You did,however, make a claim that implied a degree of consensus as to who, or what, is a “proper feminist” while in reality said claim was your mere personal opinion.

    seriously? that is so dorky. but at least you got me thinking about ways you might want to operationalize sexism. perhaps using implicit association methodology.

  95. Hljóðlegur: “The only danger, I suppose, is that everyone can see and be seen, not just sidelined observers, so one might start to look like the [ . . . ] people one opposes. Hard to say.”

    Sheila: “everything sucks.”

  96. Sheila: Your cognitive landscape is weird, but interesting.

    Val: Are you saying that everything floats down to the lowest level, so once the shouting, name-calling, and cruelty starts, everyone adopts it as a strategy and then everything begins to suck?

  97. Your cognitive landscape is weird, but interesting.

    heh. remember keanani who used to post here? she had an even more interesting cognitive landscape.

  98. @ Sheila

    Well, I don’t know.

    Arguing with anonymous/pseudonymous strangers who are several thousands kilometers away is kinda dorky in itself, no ? :)

    Anyways, my point stands, people too often try to speak on behalf of “fuzzy” movements like feminism (“fuzzy” in the sense that there isn’t like, a Central Committee of Feminism that decides on all issues) and / or implicitly position their humble personal opinions as if they were some form of formal and well-research common stance.

    The idea of operationalizing sexism through IAs is kinda cool, but IMHO it will end up like that webcomic where dudes wanted to create a standard to unify 14 competing standards :)

  99. @Peter Watts, responding to Saajan Patel: Saajan, I’m not going anywhere near that. I’m sure at this point you’ll understand why. I’m not even familiar with the term “rape culture”, so I’m not going to presume to lecture anyone on the subject.

    Peter, living as you do in the generally civilized parts of North America, you wouldn’t likely encounter “rape culture” other than as a clearly criminal context/event. We could leave out of the argument Susan Brownmuller‘s notions from Against Our Will, I don’t see that as either ubiquitous in scope or deep in scale here. Scattered dark pockets of it remain, but that’s generally deeply associated with religious extremism or criminal subculture (often both). But that’s just here in North America, the UK, “Western Civilization” at least as far as I have any depth of knowledge wherefrom to opine.

    Brownmuller’s comparison of rape as a sort of terrorism in the war between the sexes isn’t misapplied in many parts of the world. For instance, the restrictions on women seen under certain less-civilized parts of the Islamic world (I mean no insult to Islam, the Quran, nor to the Prophet (“PBUH”)) might be argued from some viewpoints to empower and protect women from the depredations of men, and the argument might very well carry if we look back at a time and to cultures where women were effectively or actually chattel property on a pretty global basis. Whatever their status under the “modern” system, it may indeed be a vast improvement on whatever they had before the imposition of sharia.

    I’m not clear at all on the matter of “Women’s Suffrage” in the Commonwealth nations but here in the States it’s been in place not quite a century. A more true egalitarianism has barely been won over the last 50 years or so, although in most places in the States it might be thought to have been mostly in place for the last 30 or so years.

    In the war zones of Africa, for example, it’s an effectively non-existent concept. Even in various parts of Mexico (deeply rural and pretty indigenous), there is still some ongoing tradition of rapto or bride-stealing.

    Now, if you wanted to discuss the most seriously broken aspects of the human condition, that whole “me Tarzan, you Jane” element and all of the social constructs that devolve from that, that might be a good place to start.

    Then again, if there wasn’t a lot of vive la difference still being around, there would be not much left to write about. IMHO.

  100. @Sheila remember keanani who used to post here?

    :)
    *sigh* Yep, the Hawaiian lady. I miss her.

  101. @Hljóðlegur: “Are you saying that everything floats down to the lowest level, so once the shouting, name-calling, and cruelty starts, everyone adopts it as a strategy and then everything begins to suck?”

    yes.

    @Thomas Hardman
    I’ve been silent for a while, but your comment set me off.
    I think you’re confused as to what rape culture is.
    Your subtext is showing. I don’t know if what you’re saying is what you meant to say.

    Not going to reply or get into a conversation, because we’ll may just end up screaming at each other. Just thought I’d tell you what I saw because you might like to know. Not like there haven’t been other things said here I disagreed with, but I usually ignore them. Getting fed up.

    All of these bits
    “civilized parts of North America” “Scattered dark pockets” “religious extremism or criminal subculture (often both)” “less-civilized parts of the Islamic world” “war zones of Africa” “Mexico” “(deeply rural and pretty indigenous)”
    are quick sum up as to why the gestalt I’m getting is that you’re saying rape culture is a those people over there problem.
    What then is restriction of women’s access to reproductive health care and the politicization of women’s bodies? What then is the blame the victim chant of don’t walk there and don’t wear that? What then are horror movies and the consumerization of sex?
    the “vive la difference” part seems to be an argument that = feminism is trying to make men and and women the same

    So you can see it too, perhaps, I’m showing you what I see. I’m too tired to have an argument or reply to try harder to get my point across.

  102. The idea of operationalizing sexism through IAs is kinda cool, but IMHO it will end up like that webcomic where dudes wanted to create a standard to unify 14 competing standards :)

    ha, my impulse to reply to you was to bring up the web comic about the definition of a pile of sand.

  103. arg. that is, my *first* impulse.

    anyway, the ‘you don’t speak for’ etc is derailing you from talking about more interesting things. (or more like, derailing me from being able to read about interesting things)

  104. it’s nice to be living in the future where I can ask myself what the hell webcomic I’m trying to remember where they talked about grains of sand and a heap, or was it a pile? probably it was something like xkcd but I think it was the other geeky comic, maybe abstruse goose. man, what the hell am I going to search on?

    let me tell you, webcomic about the grain grains is perhaps the stupidest search string ever but I was kind of curious if it would work.

    yay wikipedia and person who linked to dinosaur comics.

    that’s the one. I feel like t-rex kind of. that’s why my reaction is ‘that’s dorky. just go do a statistical survey and arbitrarily decide something or the other and get on with the conversation about something else. next?’

  105. I think Hieronymus Bosch should paint this thread.

  106. I refuse to pose with a flower stuck in my posterior, no offense to Heiro. ;)

  107. I think this thread doesn’t qualify for Bosch. If not for a certain identity-disclosure gaffe that emerged as result of a certain provocation by a certain… malign individual, this entire kerfuffle would be downright boring in its predictability.

    Sadly, the take home lesson here, one that seems especially necessary for Mr. Bakker, is “DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS” (something Bakker is painfully insistent on doing)

  108. Small note regarding the comments of Thomas Hardman and demoscene Val on rape culture, since I’ve studied it/been active with groups attempting to curb it.

    Both are technically correct, but are using different definitions/applications of the term with different limits. The term itself not having any single universally agreed upon definition/application, beyond being the normalization(sociological) and frequent occurrence(what exact frequency is required is disagreed upon) of sexual violence/rape(simplified definition).

    Application can range from the use of rape as threat/weapon/punishment during war or societal/political control, to similar use inside prison systems, or in criminal/spousal events; to the use of sexual objectification to assert inequality, or to encourage/excuse/condone certain behaviours. It can also include “indirect” consequences, such as access to healthcare, reproductive rights, etc. (Also simplified definitions, limited to some examples across a spectrum in which there are very many).

    Usually it discusses only the effect on woman(and this is what is more commonly known/accepted in broader/popular media society), though there is(fairly rare) some related writing/application on the effect on men(e.g. similar objectification, similar reasons for not reporting rape, or the “men can’t be raped” concept, etc).

    With the different applications and various disagreements, there’s also limited agreement on to what extent any nation/religion/group/etc can be defined as a rape culture or to what negative degree such would be. Because of that as well, methodology in studying rape culture is usually proprietary to the authors of works discussing it(and to put in one point of personal opinion here, sometimes the methodologies are absolutely terrible/highly inaccurate).

    If anyone wants to know more, there’s tons of material online(recommend university sources, check authors methodology, not popularity) which often have reading lists, etc.

    Note: As stated, most of this is a very simplified explanation, as it’s an incredibly varied/still evolving subject/disagreement runs rampant, and it’s likely that certain definitions/applications may even disagree with this attempt at simplification, so consider some caution when discussing the subject.

  109. W-wait, proprietary methodology? As in, “if you use this questionnaire of rape culture assessment, my lawyer will rape you” ? Oh… patents on human genes and treatments look outright pale now…

    P.S.:
    On an entirely different and unconnected note, if I recall one of 03’s rape lectures (she… has an interest in that stuff) there’s no agreed-upon definition of objectification, or at least wasn’t circa ~2000. Did anything change since then ?

  110. “If anyone wants to know more, there’s tons of material online(recommend university sources, check authors methodology, not popularity) which often have reading lists, etc.

    Note: As stated, most of this is a very simplified explanation, as it’s an incredibly varied/still evolving subject/disagreement runs rampant, and it’s likely that certain definitions/applications may even disagree with this attempt at simplification, so consider some caution when discussing the subject.”

    If you have time and could get us started with some links, I know I would be appreciative.

    thanks,

    Sciborg/Saj

  111. 01, I don’t know about the methodologies referred to, but think for example of the Hare or Myers-Briggs inventory. I think those are copyrighted (or trademarked).

  112. goblinface said:

    “I can’t even tell if you’re trolling, at this point.”

    That’s your problem, right there…

  113. @ Sheila

    Well, what matters is whether they are subject to a legal apparatus that is limiting their use and explicitly backstabbing users (they way most software I work with is licensed ;) ), which is the implication I got from Echo.

    If that’s the case, then…that would be pretty terrible.

  114. @Saajan Patel

    I’m honestly a little concerned about providing links because there is such disagreement/variety in approaches and concepts and it’s such a complex topic, which is itself an amalgamation of many sub-topics/topics. It’s actually a rather good idea to find the pages for university departments for women’s studies/feminism and extract a reading list/articles from there, you’ll likely want at least one university from a number of geographical areas. If I recall correctly a good sampling is the USA(I think, UCLA is prominent), Canada(think McGill is prominent there), the United Kingdom, Germany and Sweden(sorry, don’t recall University names for the last three).

    That said, to give at least a start, this (I believe) is a good source of information
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/feminism-topics/#TopFemOveEncSub
    And specfically
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/feminism-objectification/
    And
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/feminism-rape/
    (with the caveat that I haven’t read the pages since they’ve been updated)

    I’d also just say, again, be very careful in evaluating what is read. There is definitely inaccurate material out there, including material which advocates for a “new” privilege structure wherein the only change is the participants roles within it(there’s evidence of that school of thought fairly frequently in the comments/collection of threads surrounding the main incident here, actually =P).

    Hope that helps.

    @01

    Sorry, was using the word as it gets bandied about in software circles, basically I meant the method/way of doing what they’re doing is usually exclusive to the author in one or more ways, there’s no real standard of evaluation or standard methodology.

    (As a side note though, I have actually read arguments for encouraging privately funded research which included that methodology/methods be granted protections, which extended to not being able to criticize such without a license, as one would not have access to the methodology without a license.)

    That somewhat actually relates to your P.S. question. As far as I’m aware, there’s no universal agreement on objectification, or at the least, the definitions are pretty fluid(the objectification page I linked above might be useful though?). It’s perhaps why methodology is so scattered as well.

    There’s varied amounts of agreement on other terms/subjects too. One that comes to mind is sexual violence. I’ve seen arguments that suggest media representations of sexuality(especially modified occurrences, e.g. photoshop changes to material) be classified as forms of mental sexual violence. Or as another example, a rather well known one, is that all forms of pornography should be outlawed as it encourages objectification(actually saw this once, as a rather surreal/strange instance where a religious extremist and woman supremacist were nodding in agreement with each other).

    If you want to see a very prominent example of difficulty with definitions, the allegations of rape against Julian Assange make a good one, where leading figures/organisations that oppose sexual violence/rape/rape culture are in disagreement. The primary topics there are(off the top of my head): what are the requirements of rape through intimidation and/or deception, whether consent can be revoked retroactively, what grants consent/implies consent for an act and whether rape occurs if there is no indication of consent being revoked during the act after consent was granted/implied to begin the act(or to phrase it another way, what are the responsibilities in confirming consent throughout the act before it is considered rape).

    I’ll try and leave the topic at that though, considering this has almost definitely veered into a tangent from the thread I think.

  115. Question:

    If I sock-puppet myself with the name trollface, is that bad? What if I am really really polite and agreeable when posting under that moniker?

    Ah, poop. I’m exhausted and need to go home – g’night all you creatures. :)

  116. Thanks Echo, much appreciated.

    -Sci/Saj

  117. Another source of a definition for rape culture is here.

  118. People, Patel is a sycophant of acrackedmoon, or her sockpuppet.

    DO NOT FEED!

  119. @01: Well, what matters is whether they are subject to a legal apparatus that is limiting their use […]

    You have to purchase a license to administer the MBTI, for example, and you cannot purchase the materials for it without being certified. faq.

    Hare gets a royalty when people use his psychopathy inventory. wiki note.

    it’s a strange world.

    but from Echo’s reply, it doesn’t seem he meant the same thing.

  120. @all…I have been busy/tired and didn’t get back to comments on the last thread. I think that thread is dead, now and I’m still busy/tired…so less up for an argument than normal. Sorry to @AcD, @03 and @01, maybe?.

    This thread…yeah….I’m with @TheEchoInside. Rape culture discussions bring the yell.

    @Kalon thanks for that link. I would also add this one. Two quite large, peer-reviewed studies on rapists I didn’t see in a quick look there. I’ve been wanting to read them, but they are not available on-line. The results are discussed here. They might be in one of @TheEchoInside’s links too. I haven’t got there…

    http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2009/11/12/meet-the-predators/

  121. @Peter…I think your blog ate my comment…

  122. Barfed up now!

  123. @demoscene Val: You wrote, among other things, and I am as tired as you are and don’t want to do the screaming-at-each-other thing:

    All of these bits […] “civilized parts of North America” “Scattered dark pockets” “religious extremism or criminal subculture (often both)” “less-civilized parts of the Islamic world” “war zones of Africa” “Mexico” “(deeply rural and pretty indigenous)” […] are quick sum up as to why the gestalt I’m getting is that you’re saying rape culture is a those people over there problem.

    Val, did you miss me saying that, at least where I am living, there is still a problem here, but it is mostly relegated to criminal subculture? Here, I suppose, is where the screaming will start. Can’t you understand the word criminal? Because that is what it is. We do have it here but like decent people anywhere we are trying to stamp it out, put it behind us, eliminate it as soon as is practical without sending out death squads… to summarize, we really don’t like it and it is on the way out however much we need to kick ass and take names. The most horrid problem of dealing with certain Old School…lingerings… is that they actually think they are “in the right”. It takes something somewhere between an ass-kicking and quiet-negotiations to get people to understand. And to anger you deeply, as it should anger anyone anywhere, these people are totally wrong… but they are in a sad way just perpetuating their traditions. Sad as it is, but I said that, didn’t I. And no part of it is more sad that than those women who accept this, and further (this is the most sad part) teach their daughters that this is what men are want.And that as good daughters seeking to perpetuate, they should want men who want this. Please understand that I am conflicted and believe that whatever my opinions or feelings, educating women as to the alternatives to the Old School is the business of other women. As a man declaring “abandon the submission to Patriarchy, I as a patriarchal man do demand it” can be read only as some some kind of insanity or command to execute oxymoron.

    Val continues: What then is restriction of women’s access to reproductive health care and the politicization of women’s bodies? What then is the blame the victim chant of don’t walk there and don’t wear that? What then are horror movies and the consumerization of sex?
    the “vive la difference” part seems to be an argument that = feminism is trying to make men and and women the same

    Ah, Val, please don’t misunderstand me. To digress, as of today, it is official French policy to deprecate and commit to dis-use the word “mademoiselle” and now they will officially use “madame” for all official correspondence to females, to omit any consideration or implication of marital status.

    I don’t know if you know this, but I certainly support absolute global access to birth-control regimes, of whatever may seem reasonable to the consumer, for everyone. Please understand that I am one of those “there are just too many people for the world to support” types. For men or for women, if you don’t want to have children, I approve at the most basic level. But of course it is your decision and I as a man have no say about that matter, or at least I should and ought to have no say in a woman’s control of her own reproductive system. Please remember, if I have mentioned it, my own mother’s personal practice and many decades of public works to ensure access to birth control for all US women, as well as her efforts to increase the membership of women in leadership roles in the rather-libertarian east-coast-US Presbyterian church. I don’t react against that, not at all! Personally, I think it is all for the best that women, and especially their reproductive tracts, are politicized only to the extent that women do so desire. If you, as a woman, want to politicize your reproductive capacity, go for it. Do please try to not drag me into a debate which is, for me as a man, not my personal concern outside of supporting freedoms which should attach to any individual.

    As to this nonsense of “if you didn’t dress like that, you wouldn’t have a problem (“women should avoid dressing like sluts, (Sanguinetti, Constable Michael, TO CA PD )”, all I can say is that however you want to politicize your attire is just fine with me, but to be more direct and to the point, (1) you ought not to give a rat’s arse about what I think on this matter, (2) howsomever you might wear (or not) your hemline is my right to comment in the fashion pages of the local _Post_ or in the pub, but otherwise not to say or do fuckall. Do what you want, is all I have to say. Please don’t blame me for the idiots in the Virginia US electorate about their vote on forcing ultrasound on women seeking abortion, my vote in Maryland US hasn’t any force of law on their decisions at the polls on the other side of the river, however much I might decry it. As it is, it is a moot point there, as of now.

    But I must hasten to add; and this is most important: As to consumerization of sex, horror movies etc., ah, whatever. It’s not my decision for people in the industry to make such ventures in what they consider to be their profession and art; it’s only my decision to buy it and let them make a profit. You are empowered about this decision, unlike the women of Afghanistan.

    Seriously: Do as you think is best.

    It’s really hard to fail to support a reasonable person doing what they think is best.

    About “vive la difference”… wouldn’t it perhaps be a shame if half of the people in the world were to abandon their particular subculture or culture? Would women be pleased if all men stopped being men? Cannot we both of our genders seek to accentuate the positive and strive to eliminate the negative?More importantly to seek to discuss to define what is thought to be positive or negative?

    My apologies about any lack of clarity, this has been a “drunker than the lord of lords” post. and thus it’s from the heart. apologies for any typos. And @ Peter Watts: I bought a hardcopy of “Maelstrom” and it is kicking my arse with much big fun.

  124. But I must hasten to add; and this is most important: As to consumerization of sex, horror movies etc., ah, whatever. It’s not my decision for people in the industry to make such ventures in what they consider to be their profession and art; it’s only my decision to buy it and let them make a profit. You are empowered about this decision, unlike the women of Afghanistan.

    Personally, I never understood what’s so bad about “consumerization” and “commodification” of sex. They are only “bad” if somewhere, deep inside, you believe sex to be “special” among human bio-social needs. I find such position… parochial in the extreme…

    Re: Echo and Sajan

    The horrible definitional and theoretical promiscuity, as well as extreme methodological lenience flexibility is what, in a way, has “turned me away” from gender studies.
    As most “social sciences”, GS often play hard and fast with things like rigor, parsimony and falsifiability (come on, even Jungean and Freudian make-believe abominations are still twitching and kicking, though at this point more un-dead than “alive”), but it is extreme politicization combined with aforementioned “hard and fast” attitude that makes the field extra-hard to navigate (IMHO).

    A few breadcrumbs I’d like to leave for Sajan:
    Watch out for people claiming “damaging narrative” or somesuch. There is very little work on rigorously establishing any kind of connection between “larger” narratives and any relevant metric (that is, there is very little evidence that reading, oh, I dunno, Tolkien or Howard increases Rape Myth Acceptance or somesuch ;) )
    Oh, and RMA stuff is itself very interesting – since there seems to be a connection between rape myth acceptance and proclivity to rape in studies done on college students, but very, very little signs of any RMA differences between convicted rapists and “vanilla convicts” (Marolla, J. A., & Scully, D. “Attitudes toward women, violence, and rape: A comparison of convicted rapists and other felons”) as well as between convicted rapists and cops (Feild, 1978, “Attitudes toward rape: A comparative analysis of police, rapists, crisis counselors, and citizens”) the latter finding being darkly ironic.
    There were of course attempts at explaining this by the fact that rapists might be lying and whitewashing themselves, but hey, anyone who seriously believes that college students would refrain from risk-free trolling a tenured professor by bullshiting on anonymous inventories should buy my brand-new bridge. It’s discount season (and a horrible way of building a sentence, I know :D).

    I also had a nice small .pdf by S4 (The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality) about how people claiming a positive connection between pornography and rape are full of shit, but I can’t find it.

  125. @Lannius: Do you think Moon would ever say Bakker’s work approaches literature?

    Heh, I suspect that Hell would finally see the ever approaching cold front before that happens.

    Minorities aren’t a hive mind, believe it or not. ;-P

  126. @03, “Watch out for people claiming “damaging narrative” or somesuch. There is very little work on rigorously establishing any kind of connection between “larger” narratives and any relevant metric (that is, there is very little evidence that reading, oh, I dunno, Tolkien or Howard increases Rape Myth Acceptance or somesuch ;) )

    The studies that detect threat stereotype affects could demonstrate falsifiable claims. As well as give some metric. e.g. performance on some test compared to control group.

    I’m not giving up on ‘soft’ sciences due to their frustrating methodologies. I want the researchers to keep inching up the slope of rigor.

  127. frustrating methodologies, claims based on, etc.

    for example, there’s a lot of literature out there showing that our brains suck at statistics, demonstrate how bad we are re conjunctive fallacy; but I also remember a paper where you can reframe the same questions in terms of frequency rather than probabilities and the performance improves!

    so what gives? see? you try and understand the brain and think you’ve operationalized something to get at what you want, but operationalize it some other way and poof.

  128. One can only advance at something if one at least tries to, and I get a weird feeling that social sciences circles, especially gender/feminist studies, have little interest in inching up the slope of rigor.

    Doing that seems like a hard thing. “Sounds too much like work”, as a certain friend would have said :)
    Meanwhile, the festering torrent of arbitrary unresolvable arguments that is bound to arise when everyone and their dog brings their own specialsauce definitions and methodologies to the table is quite comfortable, as long as it does not endanger tenure (I have the impression it doesn’t, but will be glad if I am wrong).
    It provides ability to engineer little niches where everyone can accommodate their prejudices, biases and peculiarities without the need to confront unpleasant and confusing reality.

    You know, a comedian whose name I don’t recall once proposed creating a plurality of mutually isolated TV systems, with content fine-tuned to cater to tastes of different political parties and religious groups, so everyone could experience a reality they would enjoy, avoiding conflicts, doubts, angst and discomfort. The sheer number of possible “technically correct” definitions of basic feminist concepts suggests that the field has somehow adopted that very development philosophy.

  129. @01, “One can only advance at something if one at least tries to, and I get a weird feeling that social sciences circles, especially gender/feminist studies, have little interest in inching up the slope of rigor.”

    Since I disagree I’m not sure there is a point for me to make. My experience has been different. As an undergrad I helped with memory experiments and went to lab meetings in the psyc department.

  130. @Thomas Hardman…I’m a white, well-educated, relatively wealthy Canadian woman living in a small city with, like, amazing social support systems for pretty much everyone. The medical system will, literally, pay to fly me to another part of the country if I need an abortion! And yet, women get raped here. We actually have a very high rate of reported rapes and of domestic/sexual assaults. The last well-publicized local case taken to court alleged two (white) off-duty members of our national police force raped a women who was drunk and high after a party. They were acquitted. The white, well-educated, job-holding alleged victim left the region.

    I don’t think many men rape…I think, based on what seem to be the best research I can find, that rapists represent A SMALL percentage of men. Like Demoscene Val, I do not believe that rapists are confined to a criminal underclass/some minority group(s), even if criminals who rape seem to be overrepresented in (the quite small number) of cases that get to court/are prosecuted/end in jail-time. I don’t go around fearing rape every moment AT ALL, but I am reasonably convinced that potential rapists, in my community, include men who look and act a lot like me.

    I understand that this is not at all your problem, of course. You do seem to have very strong opinions about this however, and you appear to be willing to spend internet time on this issue. Would you be willing to look for, review and link some studies of rape/sexual assault statistics from your country? Some on-line government public service rape prevention sites/tips from there would be helpful too. They might reflects the scope of the problem and I would expect them to be based on the documented experiences of women, and of the people in health, justice and social services fields who deal directly with victims and perpretrators.

    I don’t think I can avoid rape by only hanging out with white, well-dressed men who share my accent and it seems that won’t work in Canada. Rape is a terrible thing, though and maybe I just haven’t looked hard enough/in the right places. If you have research or other convincing evidence that this works as a rape avoidance strategy somewhere, I would love to see it.

  131. Okay..the 12:21 message at @Thomas Hardman is me…

    I wrote fast and didn’t fill out my info.

    Sorry folks!

  132. @ Sheila

    Since I disagree I’m not sure there is a point for me to make. My experience has been different. As an undergrad I helped with memory experiments and went to lab meetings in the psyc department.

    Well, it is of course wonderful that some of the folk on the soc-sci spectrum are doing the good job :)

    My stab was predominantly at GS folk though, as indicated both in the beginning and the end of my post, and those seem to have a strong streak of fuck-rigor fellows among their ranks (I recall one rape-researched of the “sex negative” feminist streak went out almost as much as claiming that experimental evidence is largely irrelevant in policymaking, and his… product of creativity still got published. I can ask 03 to track down the dude and the quote if you’re interested)

  133. @ Yukon Val/Anonymous of 12:21, who wrote in-part:

    Like Demoscene Val, I do not believe that rapists are confined to a criminal underclass/some minority group(s), even if criminals who rape seem to be overrepresented in (the quite small number) of cases that get to court/are prosecuted/end in jail-time.

    I’m sorry, either you or I are being a trifle unclear. ;) When I say criminal subculture I mean exactly “subculture”. This cuts across race/ethnicity/religion and frequently across bounds of wealth or poverty. Please don’t understand it or misconstrue it as some sort of racial slur.

    I’ll try to explain it. My late father, back when I was a kid, was not the sort of man who told bad jokes about women, though I’m not sure at all that he didn’t know any, as he was a Navy veteran. It may have been that he didn’t want me to repeat it to anyone where it would get back to my mom or sisters, because there would have been hell to pay. At any rate, I didn’t grow up with misogyny, at least not in the form of jokes told around the dinner table. I have known people, since we were all kids, who grew up with such jokes at the dinner table and they tell such jokes to their own kids at the dinner table. In mixed company. The females don’t have much to say or do other than to roll their eyes. And I must add for clarity that back in the day when I was a kid hearing filthy and/or deprecating jokes about women and their alleged attributes or flaws, this neighborhood was lily-white and staunchly middle-class.

    It’s definitely not lily-white any more and in any case I lived for many years in various cities around the States and have lived and worked with non-whites and non-Christian folks both from North America and elsewhere. Whatever stereotypes I may have had (generally few) were replaced by an understanding that one has to take individuals as individuals… but there are certain aspects of their cultures which flavor the individuals, in many cases.

    That’s where this sub-thread got started, remember? It was with Peter Watts saying something to the effect of he hadn’t heard of “rape culture”. I was trying to get across the idea that it can range from deeply entrenched religio-cultural notions that are even admitted to the law and exercised in courts. (See also somewhere in the Old Testament about the difference between whether an adultress was to be stoned to death or not all hinged on whether the judge believed that she cried out against it.) Or it could be a father telling foully misogynistic jokes to his son and friends… though the majority of the surrounding families would never do such a thing and would object if they heard it. That majority wouldn’t be a “rape culture”, but that family might constitute “a local irruption of rape-culture”. Especially if, having grown up laughing at horrid ideas, one employs them in real life.

    Yet you yourself bring up the point, even in the most prim-and-proper circles imaginable (and that would be Canada, eh?) still there are men who rape, singly or as part of a group. Barring any rare cases of actual insanity of the type that would get someone brought to a mental hospital after judgement, rather than sent to prison, such rape might be thought to be either the result of a failing on the part of the individual personality (criminal mindset, sociopathy, etc.) or perhaps somewhere in their personal acculturation, how they were raised, ideas they got from their peers or elders, they got the idea that there are times when it’s a good idea to take a woman against her will. As in, permitted activity.

    Usually the phrase is “she was asking for it” or “served her right”. Except that’s not acceptable because one cannot excuse the inexcusable. Yet it’s important to continue to understand that “inexcusable” has a basis which differs from nation to nation, state to state, and subculture to subculture.

    Re: Statistics… well, you could search under usdoj.gov which is Department of Justice, and they have everything from the official statistics to reams and reams of white-papers, advisories, etc. Also, the criminology and sociology departments of any university will have such things, probably in even greater quantity and detail as does the government.

    In the States, depending on jurisdiction, you may find different statistics on a more local basis. But beware, for example in my state of Maryland, the age of consent is 16, but in Texas it’s 18; Texas might have a higher rate of convictions for rape than does Maryland, but that would be most likely due to more prosecutions of statutory rape and might not be an indication that an adult woman would be more likely to be raped in Texas. (Or otherwise.) You need to read the studies from which the published statistics are drawn, of course, if only to sort out “status offenses” from actual criminal intent cases.

    Additionally, there’s a phenomenon ongoing here in the States and presumably elsewhere, as the cities and especially the established suburbs become generally more safe, the smaller towns and newer suburbias are increasingly violent. Theories and purported explanations abound, so many that it would take me days of reading just to find and link to a fair spread across the spectrum of opinions. And there’s the endless debate about whether there is more sexual violence or simply better recordkeeping, or more willingness to report on the part of victims of sexual violence.

    Regards,

  134. @Thomas Hardman…I’m not looking for advice on how/where to research this stuff. I have been looking/reading. I posted a few links, myself upthread just after @TheEchoInside’s helpful rape culture links. I was looking for links or other references from you.

    I got a strong “rapists belong to this group” vibe from your comment, not what I have come to understand from what I read/statistics/etc. Thank you for clarifying that you aren’t saying they belong to a particular community/ethnic group/economic class. That helps.

    I’m still getting a strong “rapists are a special group” vibe from your response, though and my understanding is more “small percentage of men in pretty much EVERY group” with raping as a specialized behaviour, I guess. If you are aware of or can find research to support your opinion that they are somehow different/easily identified as a group, that would be great.

  135. Judging by the dead silence here, I would imagine that many of the participants to the “rape culture” sub-thread decided that rather than wait for any links to be forthcoming, they’d simply go to their favorite search engine. Either that, or Our Kindly Moderator is enforcing his new rules. ;)

    So, here are some links, and I expect that due to the heavy content of links, the anti-spam ‘bots will red-flag this and it may never be seen. However:

    Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_culture
    “[…] Rape culture is a term or concept used to describe a culture in which rape and sexual violence are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media normalize, excuse, tolerate, or even condone sexual violence. Examples of behaviors commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, sexual objectification, and trivializing rape. Rape culture has been used to model behaviour within social groups, including prison systems where prison rape is common and conflict areas where war rape is used as psychological warfare. Entire countries have also been alleged to be rape cultures.[1][2][3] Although the concept of rape culture is a generally accepted theory in feminist academia, disagreement still exists over what defines a rape culture and whether a given society should be considered a rape culture. […]”

    [1] Sommers, Dr. Christina Hoff. Researching the “Rape Culture” of America. Accessed 4 March 2010.

    [2] Rozee, Patricia. “Resisting a Rape Culture”. Rape Resistance. http://www.raperesistance.org/research/rape_culture.html. Retrieved 11 January 2012.

    [3] Steffes, Micah (January 2008). “The American Rape Culture”. High Plains Reader. http://hpr1.com/feature/article/the_rape_culture/. Retrieved 11 January 2012.

    ——

    Moving right along, from Somewhere In Academia Or So It Seems:
    http://www.marshall.edu/wpmu/wcenter/sexual-assault/rape-culture/

    Examples of Rape Culture:

    * Blaming the victim (“She asked for it!”)
    * Trivializing sexual assault (“Boys will be boys!”)
    * Sexually explicit jokes
    * Tolerance of sexual harassment
    * Inflating false rape report statistics
    * Publicly scrutinizing a victim’s dress, mental state, motives, and history
    * Gratuitous gendered violence in movies and television
    * Defining “manhood” as dominant and sexually aggressive
    * Defining “womanhood” as submissive and sexually passive
    * Pressure on men to “score”
    * Pressure on women to not appear “cold”
    * Assuming only promiscuous women get raped
    * Assuming that men don’t get raped or that only “weak” men get raped
    * Refusing to take rape accusations seriously
    * Teaching women to avoid getting raped instead of teaching men not to rape

    ——

    Personally, I have had some experience, thankfully outside of getting raped yet it’s still intrusive and unfortunately all too popular, bullet-list item “Publicly scrutinizing a victim’s dress, mental state, motives, and history”. As in, Who TF are these people and who elected them judges? I don’t mean to seem overly touchy but the phrase “court of public opinion” is meant to be a figure of speech, not something you see every day as having real power despite the general lack of qualifications.

    Which takes us back to the original topic of the comment thread: how the hell do you have any sort of debate with a pack of batshit-crazies? Especially when they grossly outnumber you?

    ——

    Shit gets really deep and stinky too:
    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/end-rape-culture-now—shut-down-sigma-phi-epsilon-vermont-gamma/

    A bit of info: A member of UVM’s Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity recently sent a survey to his brothers, in which the final question listed was: […] “If you could rape anyone who would it be?”

    ——

    Seriously, folks: Culture Wars are out there, and I think that most of us could easily agree, even if we don’t feel the need to stand on the street-corners and scream at the world (or even post to the internet), that some cultures or subcultures need a nice healthy and well-delivered dose of utterly epic FAIL.

    Just my humble opinion, of course.

  136. An example of rape culture:

    using the word rape as an expression of dominance in a video game. This is fairly common, has nothing to do with specific cultural traits other than ‘play video games’ and is widespread throughout the world now.

    A second example:

    in video games, when you beat an opponent you teabag their corpse.

    This is just a tiny, wee example of what Yukon is refering to as rape culture. Other things, such as the likelihood that a rape victim will never go to police. That the vast majority of rape victims were raped by someone they know. That 1 in 5 college men professed to some form of nonconsensual intercourse and were willing to admit to this non-anonymously. That 1 in 6 women in the US have been sexually assaulted. That rape is amazingly hard to prosecute successfully, even with clear DNA evidence. That unlike almost any other crime, rape accusers have a massive stigma. That unlike any other crime it is a common thought that the accuser is outright lying right off the bat (think about this compared to something like theft, for example). These things are not isolated bits. These things are not part of some misogynistic jokes told around the table. These things are not due to a cultural misunderstanding. They’re part of the general culture in the US. And the worst part is that compared to a lot of other places, the US is actually pretty decent.

    But that’s relative. Non-relative, it’s still horrible.

    Something Bakker said a while back still rings very telling to me. He was talking about why he chose to use sexism and misogyny as one of the objective values that the God has. I asked him why not racism, or why not hatred of shrimp? Both are supported well by religious texts. His answer was that in the US, he could not write a book where black people were considered objectively worse than white people. It would never get published.

    But he could write a book where women were objectively worse than men.

    What does that say about our values about women? Where something like this is acceptable as a topic? Why is misogyny acceptable but not racism? That’s part of the rape culture.

  137. Rape is advantageous.. that is why it will always be with us, as long as we are just products of evolution.

    I mean, you may spread your genes, no need to care for the offspring. A great deal, except that it is rape.

    Solution: have every female train with a handgun. A tiny little pistol like a .380 ACP pocket one.. in the hands of a skilled user can easily stop any guy.

    With a Makarov, I personally could easily kill three people with a single magazine from 10m away. Three shots to the chest each, in under 2 seconds. They’d either have their hearts punctured, or just multiple sucking lung wounds.

    Set up targets that way last time on the range.. easy peasy. If you hold the Mak right, it is easy to triple tap with it.

  138. EPITAPH

    Burn After Reading

    CIA Superior: What did we learn, Palmer?
    CIA Officer: I don’t know, sir.
    CIA Superior: I don’t fuckin’ know either. I guess we learned not to do it again.
    CIA Officer: Yes, sir.
    CIA Superior: I’m fucked if I know what we did.
    CIA Officer: Yes, sir, it’s, uh, hard to say
    CIA Superior: Jesus Fucking Christ.

    Even in an anonymous, text-based medium such as this, gender retains a surprising amount of potency; c.f.; the “cried like a girl” comment in
    http://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=1889

    On the other hand, it is hard to say

    Jesus Fucking Christ

  139. @Lanius:

    Rape is advantageous.. that is why it will always be with us, as long as we are just products of evolution. I mean, you may spread your genes, no need to care for the offspring.

    Um, no. I mean, yes and no: yes it’s good to spread your seed, and yes it’s great if you can get out of having to take care of the sprogs (this is one of the reasons that mammals tend to be more promiscuous than birds; birds figured out how to get the embryo out of the mom and into the real world at an early stage of development, so all of a sudden the male has an interest in protecting it as well.) (Not that birds don’t get divorced too, of course.) I’ve read that there’s some evidence that sociopaths are more reproductively successful than baselines, although as I recall it was based on self-reporting surveys with all the difficulties those imply.

    But rape being advantageous? I don’t think anyone in the field has seriously believed that for thirty years or more.

    For one thing, rape reduces fertility; the odds of insemination go down dramatically with an unwilling mate. Uterine peristalsis, lubrication don’t kick in — Hell, even something as minor as post-coital cuddling increases odds of fertilization, and I’m guessing that such behavior generally isn’t a feature of rape. There’s also the fact that human males have big penises relative to other primates (gorillas, for example) who use force to maintain access to mates. Big penis size is a kinda sperm-cannon competition, which is at least consistent with a lot of female mate choice in our evolutionary past. (It would also be consistent with a lot of gang-rape too, I suppose, but the physiological evidence weighs against that.) It’s utterly plausible that there’d be an adaptive trend towards at least some women liking rough sex — that doesn’t seem to be an especially rare trait, and it’s not difficult to imagine why at least in a handwavey sense — but “rough” or “violent” in no way implies “nonconsenual”. Different people are just wired up in different ways.

    None of which is to say that rape in our “civilized” past isn’t endemic, or embedded in the culture. Only that as a reproductive strategy, rape is one of the least effective. It’s at best a last resort for complete losers in the gene pool.

    Sorry I don’t have the actual sources to cite on this. It’s just, that whole rape-is-adaptive schtick was put to bed so long ago I never thought I’d need to keep them around.

  140. @ Kalon

    “using the word rape as an expression of dominance in a video game. This is fairly common, has nothing to do with specific cultural traits other than ‘play video games’ and is widespread throughout the world now.

    A second example:

    in video games, when you beat an opponent you teabag their corpse. “

    Excuse me, but unless there is objective evidence that those things increase the likelihood of real-life sex crimes or at least significantly affect jury behavior or reporting, including those into rape culture is absurd and totally unjustified.

    “Something Bakker said a while back still rings very telling to me. He was talking about why he chose to use sexism and misogyny as one of the objective values that the God has. I asked him why not racism, or why not hatred of shrimp? Both are supported well by religious texts. His answer was that in the US, he could not write a book where black people were considered objectively worse than white people. It would never get published.

    But he could write a book where women were objectively worse than men.

    What does that say about our values about women? Where something like this is acceptable as a topic? Why is misogyny acceptable but not racism? That’s part of the rape culture.”

    I’d say that it only indicates that USA is absurdly hypersensitive to racism.

    Hypothetical fictional world where “black people are inferior” does not necessarily equal racist propaganda.
    Besides, the “Abrahamic-myth-as-true” would have whites, blacks, and every other kind of non-jew inferior, IIRC :D

    P.S.:
    Would you please kindly locate that Bakker quote? Imma curious

  141. It’s just, that whole rape-is-adaptive schtick was put to bed so long ago…

    Thank you! That’s right; it was. And here we are, forcing into tucking it back in one more time. It disheartens me that this crappy idea is still floating around.

    None of which is to say that rape in our “civilized” past isn’t endemic, or embedded in the culture. Only that as a reproductive strategy, rape is one of the least effective. It’s at best a last resort for complete losers in the gene pool.

    Amen. It’s also the last resort for men who unjustifiably feel they are entitled to stuff they aren’t getting – power, sex, respect, whatever.

  142. Although in all honestly, Genghis Khan might be a counterexample. He certainly seems to have spread his genes far and wide throughout the population. Not being any kind of student of history, though, I have no idea what his bedside manner was like. Just as a guess I’d imagine he didn’t easily take no for an answer.

  143. hey hey HEY!

    Not to be contrarian, but I recall a friend showing me at least 2 peer-reviewed article, one of which proves improved fertility in cases of rape-conception in humans, and other had something to do with vaginal response to dread.

    I’ll poke 03 to track those two down for ya…

  144. Please do. Those are complete news to me.


  145. Thank you! That’s right; it was. And here we are, forcing into tucking it back in one more time. It disheartens me that this crappy idea is still floating around.

    Just because you do not like something, does not mean that it has to be crappy.

    Rape as adaptive.. that is quite unsettling. How could something like that evolve? I mean.. rape is usually a good way to avoid inbreeding, especially if you rape random strangers. Could it have been that way?

  146. @Yukon Val, who wrote in-part: I’m still getting a strong “rapists are a special group” vibe from your response, though and my understanding is more “small percentage of men in pretty much EVERY group” with raping as a specialized behaviour, I guess. If you are aware of or can find research to support your opinion that they are somehow different/easily identified as a group, that would be great.

    I found one page which claims to be based on sociological and criminological research but unfortunately doesn’t cite any of it. Yet it seems well-enough reasoned through as it characterizes four psychological profiles of rapists. I think that the subcultural notion I was using would fit in with the “anger-retaliation” profile, where the rapist is more looking for an opportunity than for a specific victim, and the “anger” would have been supplied by acculturation to misogyny.

    Additionally, from a link you yourself did post:

    Listen. The men in your lives will tell you what they do. As long as the R word doesn’t get attached, rapists do self-report. The guy who says he sees a woman too drunk to know where she is as an opportunity is not joking. He’s telling you how he sees it. The guy who says, “bros before hos”, is asking you to make a pact.

    The Pact. The social structure that allows the predators to hide in plain sight, to sit at the bar at the same table with everyone, take a target home, rape her, and stay in the same social circle because she can’t or won’t tell anyone, or because nobody does anything if she does. The pact to make excuses, to look for mitigation, to patch things over — to believe that what happens to our friends — what our friends do to our friends — is not (using Whoopi Goldberg’s pathetic apologetics) “rape-rape”.

    Change the culture. We are not going to pull six or ten or twelve million men out of the U.S. population over any short period, so if we are going to put a dent in the prevalence of rape, we need to change the environment that the rapist operates in. Choose not to be part of a rape-supportive environment. Rape jokes are not jokes. Woman-hating jokes are not jokes. These guys are telling you what they think. When you laugh along to get their approval, you give them yours. You tell them that the social license to operate is in force; that you’ll go along with the pact to turn your eyes away from the evidence; to make excuses for them; to assume it’s a mistake, of the first time, or a confusing situation. You’re telling them that they’re at low risk.

    And the “special group”, as you put it, is basically the guys who come together to form “the Pact”. And how do you spot/identify them, or perhaps more what you were trying to communicate, sort them out from the people who look and act just like them? As that link says, listen… though frankly it might have to be men, men that you know you can trust, who do the listening for you. Because the ones to really worry about might be the ones who talk like that amongst themselves when you’re not around, but keep their conversation clean when potential prey is near, lest you be warned.

    Other than that, I don’t know. We haven’t had any luck convincing them to wear t-shirts that say “predator”.

    @Peter Watts, 01: I can’t recall the names of the papers or authors, either, but I have seen enough to summarize that theory. Additional reading of a scholarly nature might include A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion. Thornhill, Randy. Palmer, Craig T. MIT Press. 2001.

    One of the theories is that extreme levels of emotion — which might be anything from the elation of a wedding to the trauma of severe abuse — prime the uterus for implantation. This of course presupposes that there is an egg around somewhere waiting to be fertilized, and a breakdown of the odds of rapes resulting in pregnancy is found in Evolution, gender, and rape. Travis, Cheryl Brown. MIT Press. 2003. It’s a collection of essays on the subject, and in one called “Female Sexuality and the Myth of Male Control” (Drea, Christine M and Wallen, Kim) say “We propose that rape has minimal reproductive benefits because (1) human females conceal ovulation and (2) are notoriously infertile (Short 1976).”

    For what anecdote’s worth, I’ve known women who were scrupulous about their birth-control who claimed that they knew from sad experience that they would get pregnant with one unprotected intercourse… and I’ve known others who said they had unprotected sex with their lover for months or years, but as soon as they were angry enough to break up with their partner, that is when they got pregnant. Hardly a scientific study, just some self-reported data.

  147. Re 01

    Okay, I’m here and have the following to say about rape and fertility

    First, as to the issue of conception after rape, there’s this famous article:
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/wp5cnp43k6byxj4d/
    Basically, yes, Virginia, you are more likely to conceive from a rapist (ceteris paribus).
    (I think it was even mentioned on this blog before, though I am not sure whether it was mentioned by me, you, or our friend who was still around then.)
    Now, the jury’s still out as to why does that happen, but it happens so strongly that the effect is detectable even if you don’t control for the fact that some victims were using persistent birth control at the time of incident.

    Now, I’m not sure about response to dread (maybe you’re misremembering), but the fact that female arousal as indicated by genital response and as indicated by the woman’s subjective claim don’t correlate all that much is pretty notorious http://www.springerlink.com/content/f8162672t32hu531/

    There’s also this little thing about response to rape cues specifically (it’s not the best study possible, could use a bigger sample size, but otherwise – decent)
    http://pss.sagepub.com/content/22/2/159
    Long story short: women, at least as far as mean standardized genital arousal goes, tend to have similar magnitude of response to all sexual cues, including those that involve distinctly non-consensual intercourse. However, instrumentally assessed genital arousal does not correlate with reported subjective experience.

    Also, there exist reports of orgasm during rape ( http://www.journals.elsevierhealth.com/periodicals/yjcfm/article/S1353-1131%2803%2900153-6/abstract ) exact rate is documented as about 5%, but that’s the lowest of lowest estimates since shame which victims experience as a result of having an orgasm during forced sex is quite likely to do a number on reporting of such phenomenon. One study implies a figure closer to 25%, but the questionnaire was quite vague.

    All that, if you think about it long enough, is pretty damn terrifying, because it’s almost as if one’s body was conspiring with the rapist (but, I hope all this body horror will serve as a fertile ground for Peter’s new novels )

  148. Re Thomas Hardman

    Well, Natural History of Rape is about 90% bullshit (provisional lower end estimate, likely more)

    For starters, it proposes that women who advertise sexual availability, esp. through clothes, are more likely to be raped, despite the fact that every study since, oh, 1970 or somesuch suggests that there is no link between rape and any what is usually considered provocative behavior (incl. but not limited to clothes), and most recently indications that rapists actually preferentially target shy and insecure, with “concealing” clothes being a likely shyness-proxy for them (the relevant link was provided right on this blog recently by my pal )

    Such massive litreview fail on part of this book’s authors has completely turned me off from reading it.
    Seriously. Why. Don’t. People. Do. Their. Homework?

  149. @ Lanius

    One thing to keep in mind – there does not appear to be a strong direct inheritance pattern for proclivity to rape (03 correct me if I am wrong), and rape is a complex social construct involving behaviors that are very hard to “evolve” as hardwired instincts.

    So, even if rape is a viable (not necessarily dominant, second-best is good enough to “stick around) reproductive strategy, you don’t get a straight “rapists breed little rapemonsters” pattern a-la the Cuckoo Blindsight Vampire hypothesis in the Jukka thread.
    You probably get people who have heritable traits that slightly predispose them to being rapists at most (I dunno, poor impulse control or whatever)

    P.S.:
    To me it seems that biggest limit to rape’s efficiency as repstrat is possible risks of female failing to survive or refusing to care for “abuser offspring” after childbirth.

    03, is there any data on maternal abandonment of children conceived as result of forced intercourse in primitive societies ?

  150. Can’t say from top of my head.

    Probably no.

    I don’t see a way to reliably study such a phenomenon without, you know, setting up a concealed observation network and waiting for some poor primitive people to get raped or something, which is kinda…cold.

  151. All that, if you think about it long enough, is pretty damn terrifying, because it’s almost as if one’s body was conspiring with the rapist

    Oh, baloney. Friction is friction. If you have practice achieving orgasm via penetration, and you apply penetration, it is stupid to assume that for every person inhibitory signals from the brain would over-ride that genital-spinal-column circuit just because the brain says, “No.” There are just some forms of friction that, once you have practice, reliably cause orgasm.

    In addition, your body can “conspire” with the rapist? Because, you know, deep down, even when women say no definitely, they really just need a good dicking? O.o If a man gets raped, and during the incident, he is manipulated to orgasm, is his body “conspiring” with the rapist? Do we really wanna be saying nonsense like that?

    @01: Not to be contrarian, but I recall a friend showing me at least 2 peer-reviewed article, one of which proves improved fertility in cases of rape-conception in humans, and other had something to do with vaginal response to dread.

    One which proves improved fertility? A lone paper can settle a scientific question by itself once and for all? Also, sampling problems, sampling problems, sampling problems, and let’s say there _was_ an effect of improved fertilization because of the novelty effect – rapist is a new man, after all – see above Peter’s comment about maternal care, and the possible deleterious effects on the mother. Fertilization doesn’t guarantee live birth or babies living to adulthood.`

    This whole thing annoys me because it’s politics thinly disguised as science, it’s media-circus headline-grabbing disguised as science. If we do a paper on how rape is good and natural and has Poppa Darwin’s blessing, that’ll stir the pot, make us famous. Erk.

    I’m going home. You all carry all.

  152. One which proves improved fertility? A lone paper can settle a scientific question by itself once and for all? Also, sampling problems, sampling problems, sampling problems, and let’s say there _was_ an effect of improved fertilization because of the novelty effect – rapist is a new man, after all – see above Peter’s comment about maternal care, and the possible deleterious effects on the mother. Fertilization doesn’t guarantee live birth or babies living to adulthood.`

    Well, as provided by 03 above, the the statistics are pretty solidly in favor of increase of conception rate in rape cases

    Whether that is due to novelty effect or due to something else is largely irrelevant within the scope of this discussion.

    As for maternal care and deleterious effects on the mother, 1) they are not part of the fertility question 2) I specifically mentioned those as possible limits to efficiency of rape as repstrategy in my response to Lanius

    This whole thing annoys me because it’s politics thinly disguised as science, it’s media-circus headline-grabbing disguised as science. If we do a paper on how rape is good and natural and has Poppa Darwin’s blessing

    There’s a name for the process of drawing moral statements from discoveries about “natural” state of the world.

    It’s “naturalistic fallacy”.

    Anyone who tries to make claim “X is evolved / is natural, THUS good” is a blithering moron irrespective of whether X is really evolved or natural.

  153. @all…just stepping back in and how cool is this? A real live rape culture discussion with respectful debate, new links and everything! Crawlers rock.

    @Thomas Hardman…thanks for the links. I’m looking forward to getting into the stuff here I haven’t seen before.

    I am not going to say much else right now. I have to run my dog and want a chance to read/think as well.

    @Peter Watts I think GK had tribute wives/concubines/what-have-you from, literally, every geographical area/community that was conquered/made vassal kingdom during the establishment of the empire.

  154. Re Hljóðlegur

    “Oh, baloney. Friction is friction. If you have practice achieving orgasm via penetration, and you apply penetration, it is stupid to assume that for every person inhibitory signals from the brain would over-ride that genital-spinal-column circuit just because the brain says, “No.” There are just some forms of friction that, once you have practice, reliably cause orgasm.”

    Well, first and foremost, some lawyers and judges indeed used to think that “for every person inhibitory signals from the brain would over-ride that genital-spinal-column circuit”, and it’s not unlikely to be tried by the defense every now and then in low-profile cases.

    Second, the presence of arousal and even orgasm in a rape case renders the suffering more severe precisely because the inability to, as you put it, “over-ride that genital-spinal-column circuit” aggravates the extreme experience of loss of control over one’s own body, causes confusion (since victims aren’t usually educated as to possible physiological responses to rape, the default expectation on part of the victim is lack of arousal), doubt, and greatly exacerbates self-blame.

    So yeah, for someone not educated to expect that kind of effect, encountering it is quite akin to being betrayed by one’s own body.

    That’s actually a relatively common way for victims to describe the experience (I think I might be able to find you, I dunno, a paper with interviews or at the very least an interview from public section of an online survivor support group, if interested)

    “Do we really wanna be saying nonsense like that?”
    Well, like I said, it is a fairly common – and not entirely inaccurate – way of describing the experience. You see, the fact that genital response is not an indicator of consent or desire does not alleviate the additional helplessness, confusion and guilt such a response causes to the victim.

  155. You know what… just a crazy thought – a flight of fancy if you will – but can’t one infer the “retention rate” of rape babies from the rate at which modern women chose not to abort pregnancies resulting from rape ?

    I mean, I realize that probably a strong bond is formed after birth so the retention post-birth would be higher than modern non-abortion, but perhaps we could make a ballpark guesstimate from current figures, no ?


  156. Anyone who tries to make claim “X is evolved / is natural, THUS good” is a blithering moron irrespective of whether X is really evolved or natural.

    What clouds the issue is that lot of evolved characteristics are adaptive.

    I mean, take aggressivity. While feminists decry it, being aggressive is essential in most arenas.

    Wallflowers are rarely successful. Maybe posthumously.

  157. And not also adaptive… I meant not immoral, useful, and unjustly maligned.
    Like violence. Crucial in the past, not so important now, but still useful. Everyone who cannot dish it out is an easier victim. Not an issue in Canada, but Detroit…that is a place where if you report and armed robbery at your home after the perps have left, the police will trashtalk you.

    Why have you bothered them? They can’t do anything. On the other hand, if you present to them a couple of thugs well riddled with buckshot, they’ll say ‘good job’. (Detroit justifiable homicide rate is 2000% above national average)


  158. Anyone who tries to make claim “X is evolved / is natural, THUS good” is a
    blithering moron irrespective of whether X is really evolved or natural.

    Also, weird. Doesn’t the Squid call Mother Nature a bitch at least once per book?

    I think it is obvious that if there is a creator, he’s one sick puppy. Candiru fishes anyone? Parasites?
    The alternative is better.. evolution as not guided at least gives one hope …

  159. @ 03: All that, if you think about it long enough, is pretty damn terrifying, because it’s almost as if one’s body was conspiring with the rapist (but, I hope all this body horror will serve as a fertile ground for Peter’s new novels ), and 01 To me it seems that biggest limit to rape’s efficiency as repstrat is possible risks of female failing to survive or refusing to care for “abuser offspring” after childbirth.

    Clearly I’ve been in online debates on this subject far too often and far too long. Like the unfortunate subject itself, it just won’t go away… nor should that debate. Yet this isn’t a subject in which one would want to be thought expert. If economic is “the dismal science”, that would be “the wretched distinction”, such expertise. But unfortunately my memory is fairly good, and while I am far from a genius, my mind keeps returning to worry at inconsistencies and things otherwise unexplained. My apologies if any of this upsets or outrages anyone.

    Preface over… While doing some reading on the Roman Empire, possibly in Gibbon, I ran across something to the effect that after various of Rome’s sacks (probably the big one by the Goths in 415 CE if memory serves) the Roman pagan women would mock the Christian women because their religion forbade suicide, which was considered nearly a requirement of honor in cases of pregnancy after a rape. (IIRC the pagan women would then do the suicide in the bathtub thing, take poison, whatever.) This would solve any questions about taking care of the infant by removing the mother from the situation prior to birth.

    As best I can tell, that’s pretty much the cultural norm around the world, “death before dishonor” and if death isn’t possible before dishonor, death afterwards seems to be considered fitting in both or either the mother or the child.

    Yet in a less science-based world we might see widespread notions of “like father, like son” and while it might seem to those who entertain such notions, that at the very least you’d want to keep close watch on the son of a rapist, what expectations might be had of the daughter? And if a woman does give birth to a child of rape, it might be less easy to hate a daughter than a son.

    For the rapist, rape is probably not a very likely successful reproductive strategy. Yet for the female (and here is where it gets “wretched”), as far as evolution is concerned, any offspring are better than none. We’re not talking social values or morality, just evolution and perpetuating the line of descent. Active selection for choice mates might work very well for Helen of Troy as she gets her pick of anyone in any of the 1000 ships her face legendarily launched. But what of, as “James Tiptree Jr” wrote, the women men don’t see?

    Again to evolution, and let’s take this back 10KY-30KY ago: looking again at Tonic Immobility, the basis of that is playing dead for a predator. Yet if the predator is more interested in attempting reproduction than on killing dinner, a propensity to TI might be conserved if the TI is in the female and it successfully allows her to survive and furthermore reproduce a child that itself lives to reproduce. All basic biology however wretchedly unpalatable to our modern mores. Very strong contortive TI will foil the rape (and possibly get the victim killed), very weak or nonexistent TI will potentially leave the victim fighting sufficiently to foil the rape, and possibly getting the victim killed. A moderate TI leaves the victim alive in more cases, thus, and thus to the degree it’s genetic, it’s conserved into the next generation.

    Comparably, a strong post-trauma emotional reaction which leaves the disconsolate victim huddled on the ground in about the same position as is recommended by reproductive specialists to those seeking to conceive, will also tend to be conserved more than would an emotional reaction of, say, jumping up and running as fast as you can to take a bath at the nearest source of water. (Remember, we’re still talking about pre-civilization timeframes.)

    Leave all of this going on for 20KY or so, and conservation for mild TI and strong post-trauma emotional reactions is increased. Other traits such as genital arousal response even to objectionable sexual stimuli also get conserved, etc. There is a summation to this line of thought that I refuse to state directly, as to which way evolution is working and in whom; it’s that unpleasant.

    The attitude of the Roman pagan women is starting to make more sense by the minute, sad to say. Their way to fight rape culture, so to speak, is to apply a suicidally lethal dose of “cheaters never prosper”. The mate selection is done after the fact, a uniquely human approach so far as I know, at least among mammals. Yet despite the likely availability of herbal or medical means to abort, the Roman pagan women took themselves out of life as much as they denied life to offspring. One must of course wonder at their reasons for considering this the honorable course of action… and of what antiquity such lines of reason might have been for the practice to have been so widely distributed and deeply entrenched among perhaps most human cultures.

  160. @ Lanius

    Again, you can’t make leap from “adaptive” or even “contributory to survival” to moral.

    I kind of used to think that “contributory to survival” = “moral” but a close friend has introduced me to the concept of “Hume’s fork”.

    You simply cannot derive the moral statement of how things should (from moral perspective) be from any number of observations about how they ARE.

    So, even if rape is a reproductive strategy (let’s auto-concede that it’s a kinda meh, second-rate one, just to drop some tension), that will tell us exactly zilch about the ethics involved, and isn’t particularly likely to affect policy in any meaningful way.

    P.S.:
    I thought Detroit is ghost city, inhabited primarily by wailing lonely shadows of times long past… no ?

  161. Hljóðlegur said:

    In addition, your body can “conspire” with the rapist? Because, you know, deep down, even when women say no definitely, they really just need a good dicking? O.o If a man gets raped, and during the incident, he is manipulated to orgasm, is his body “conspiring” with the rapist? Do we really wanna be saying nonsense like that?

    That’s not the way I read 03’s comments at all. I read it as a comment on (apparently) real physiological responses, a comment that conveyed a quiet sense of ironic horror.

    This whole thing annoys me because it’s politics thinly disguised as science, it’s media-circus headline-grabbing disguised as science. If we do a paper on how rape is good and natural and has Poppa Darwin’s blessing, that’ll stir the pot, make us famous. Erk.

    I haven’t yet followed the links. I haven’t yet read the papers. But what you’re saying here is It mustn’t be, therefore it isn’t, and that’s bullshit. We’ve been over this on the ‘crawl before, I think.

    I am perfectly willing to be shown evidence to the effect that rape is “natural” (and I’m equally willing to let Thomas’s argument convince me that those arguments are fatally flawed). But I am not willing to agree that “natural=good”; how many goddamn times do I have to trot out the tired old line that we won’t merit our own self-erected pedestals until we learn to control our instincts instead of making excuses for them? How many of the horrible things that happen in my novels can be traced back to the legacy of our own Pleistocene biology? Do you really think I’m excusing such events because they’re “natural”? Why then, Hljóðlegur, do you characterize Natural=Desirable as some kind of given?

    Seriously. I thought we’d been through this.

  162. I have to give you guys props, in addition to MC Newton and Daniel Abraham, for really putting out a lot of thoughtful information/discussion!


  163. I kind of used to think that “contributory to survival” = “moral” but a close friend has introduced me to the concept of “Hume’s fork”.

    I did not say that. I hope so. Many assholesish survival strategies abound.
    Not disputing Hume there. A lot of stuff that is ils not good.

    I could make an argument that the fact that women are bodily smaller and less assertive is detrimental for them. If they were as big as men, and more assertive, there would be less domestic violence, they would be less likey to be targets of crime. (has anyone ever apart from CBP tried to mug the Squid? I’d be surprised)

    Then one could argue that society that can increase female body size and other traits(like Naue suggested, but not so drastically), but chooses not do so, is in fact immoral, because it could lessen suffering of certain women, but chooses not do so, because they do not want to tinker with nature or whatever..

  164. @ Peter Watts, who wrote in-part: I am perfectly willing to be shown evidence to the effect that rape is “natural” (and I’m equally willing to let Thomas’s argument convince me that those arguments are fatally flawed). But I am not willing to agree that “natural=good”; how many goddamn times do I have to trot out the tired old line that we won’t merit our own self-erected pedestals until we learn to control our instincts instead of making excuses for them?

    Peter, I am not sure to which of my arguments (I guess I am the only “Thomas” posting here?) you refer, unless it’s the one I see here as “awaiting moderation” and it might be best to leave it that way as it could be incendiary. Or, if you’re reading it as I suppose it ought to be read, “regardless of natural adaptation in either/both male/female to rape as a reproductive strategy, a cultural tendency in raped pregnant women to fall on a sword or leap off of a cliff tends to make that natural adaptation moot”.

    But that sure would tend to suppress any natural selection in that direction. Which I think we will all agree might in fact be natural, but definitely not good.

    And yes, whatever our instincts, we do need to control them, and sometimes we control those best when we understand them better.

  165. @Thomas:

    Oh, no, I wasn’t ragging on you at all. I was ragging on Hljóðlegur, who was in turn ragging on 03. I was just setting my own rag up by citing those links about rape-as-fertilization-enhancer vs. your sloppy-research critique as opposite positions I’d be equally happy to subscribe to (depending on where the data led); my main point being, regardless of which side you come down on, there’s still no legitimate grounds for objecting to scientific findings on political grounds, or equating “natural” with “good”.

    Sorry for the confusion.

  166. Well, Peter, that is the nature of science. For better or worse, it’s one of the best tools we can have for pointing us to “Truth” (or just the fact and reality), and sometimes that “Truth” can be unpleasant. See also your recent post on the search for the truth of whether or not someone’s got colon polyps. ;)

    Getting back for a second to the main thrust of the original post, there has been a remarkable lack of screaming and name-calling here! I guess people took you seriously.

    And I am still working through Maelstrom and it’s especially fun because I keep having to put it down and google and learn stuff. But this is why we read your stuff, or at least it’s one reason I read it.

  167. @AcD: I tried so hard and got so far.

    @O1: “You did,however, make a claim that implied a degree of consensus as to who, or what, is a “proper feminist” while in reality said claim was your mere personal opinion.”

    I shouldn’t have to overtly state something like that. If I were to say, “Peter Watts is a good writer,” it is obvious that the statement is subjective. In comparison, “Peter Watts is not a Canadian,” is objective and can be proven false.

    “Proper feminist” is a label like “good writer” because it is subjective and up for debate, even when that opinion may be expressed by a large group of people all at once.

  168. Something important. I won’t get into the whole gun debate, but it’s important to have the correct information and I feel compelled to correct misinformation, especially in vital areas such as this.

    In the face of rape, a weapon is not the best means of defence, the following is:

    The best means to defend yourself, especially against close proximity crime like rape, is the aptly named basic self-defence training(or if you cannot find a program specialised to that, hand-to-hand training). The express purpose of which, is to temporarily and rapidly disable/stun the attacker and allow escape.

    Please note, this is important: Escape is your best defence once you are attacked.

    The longer you are in any situation, or if you attempt to engage your attacker directly, the higher the risk and chance of it going badly(or turning fatal) for you.

    It’s not possible to provide much in a blog comment in the way of assistance, but programs are available in tons of places, usually offered through universities, community centers, or non-profits(e.g. womens shelters) for free or for a small fee. They can be as short as an hour(though I’d recommend the longer ones) and are well worth the time/effort.

    Non-comprehensive list of things a good program will cover(behaviour training is as important as the physical):
    Avoidance (the best defence of the best defence, walking in groups, brightly lit areas, etc)
    Public versus In Home attack (e.g. in the case of an in home attack, your house is no longer the safest place, don’t hide in the bathroom unless you have no choice, get out and get seen by neighbours/anyone else)
    Make others aware (e.g. Shout a lot, the noise itself is intimidating and will get you seen. Shout things like, “Help” and/or “Fire”, avoid shouting, “Rape”; cultural shame actually means people may not come running for the latter)
    Breaking free (which should cover breaking free of various holds, the effective soft point strikes in a variety of positions, in this technique will trump your attackers strength. May include getting out of bindings, if not, search the net for how to get out of zip ties at least)
    Don’t go down (doing everything you can to avoid being forced to the ground)
    Keeping yourself aware (keeping your senses keep to avoid attacks, and just as importantly keeping your wits about you if you are attacked)
    In case of a weapon (what to do when threatened with a weapon, may include disarming the attacker)
    How to prevent escalation while still attempting escape (reading the situation/attacker so the attack doesn’t escalate to become fatal)
    What to do if you have been attacked (getting yourself cared for, what to do to help catch the offender, resources, etc)

    To be blunt/reiterate, take a defence course. Relying on a weapon may do more harm than good, it’s usually just a feel good/pride myth.

    Source: My own training for various volunteering which included contact with security companies, training experts and law enforcement. Easily confirmed with internet searches.

  169. rapists more trustworthy than atheists. also, conjunctive fallacy.

    I’m catching up on some of my brain and psyc rss feeds. One of them linked to Anti-atheist sentiment rooted in distrust, not disgust, study finds. It’s closed access so I don’t know much about the methodology beyond what they say in the news article.

    In three follow-up studies, the researchers tested liberal college students for unconscious bias. The students read a story about Richard, a man who flees the scene after backing into a parked car and later steals money out of a wallet. The students then rated which was more likely: that Richard was a teacher or that he was a teacher and an atheist.

    Logically, it’s more likely Richard fits just one category (teacher) rather than both (teacher and atheist.) But thanks to a cognitive quirk known as the conjunction fallacy, people will tend to say someone is more likely to belong to two categories if they think the additional category fits the person’s description.

    Study participants made the conjunction fallacy for Christians just 4 percent of the time, compared with 15 percent for Muslims, 42 percent for rapists and 48 percent for atheists. This shows that many people think that being untrustworthy is characteristic of atheists and rapists, but not of members of various religious groups, says Gervais. Using this technique, the researchers also found that people view Jews, gays and feminists to be more trustworthy than atheists. Of all the groups the researchers asked about, only rapists were thought to be as untrustworthy as atheists. The researchers also found that people with strong religious beliefs and those who think moral behavior is rooted in religion were the most likely to show anti-atheist prejudice.

  170. atheist + self defense: Sam Harris on self defense.

    (too bad it is not a tri-fecta of awesome, there being only two)


  171. The best means to defend yourself, especially against close proximity crime like rape, is the aptly named basic self-defence training(or if you cannot find a program specialised to that, hand-to-hand training). The express purpose of which, is to temporarily and rapidly disable/stun the attacker and allow escape.

    Bullshit. I know people into martial arts. Even a skilled female artist have a hard time disabling a stronger opponent. Can you imagine a 5’6 female disabling someone who is 6’5? The guy has more reach, twice as strong etc.

    Pepper spray to the eyes may work, but seriously, what the fuck is wrong with a rapid lead donation. That one provably works!

  172. @ TheEchoInside, who wrote, to paraphrase, “forget weapons. Learn to fight” and gave other generally good advice.

    Jennifer Lopez was in a rather good film called Enough. I recommend it to any female who has been abused or feels they are at risk of being abused or otherwise assaulted.

    I should point out that as a part of the regime of the woman training to be no longer a victim, but rather a victor, there is some use of what might be thought of as hypnosis. This is very downplayed yet it’s something to consider. Part of being abused, or other victimization, is “learned helplessness”. Add to this that most “civilized” people have been trained from early age to stop and think things through before reaction, and that is a recipe for paralysis in the face of fast-unfolding situations, something not far removed from a mild case of Tonic Immobility. In this film “Enough”, the element of hypnosis is used to help overcome this tendency to suppress rapid reactions. Sometimes, as they say, flying off the handle is exactly what’s called-for.

    I’d add that the best weapons you have are your voice, your legs, and your wits, in roughly that order.

    To add to “Echo”, basically you need to keep in mind that being quiet and polite won’t help you; your assailant may be counting on your being quiet and polite. First, scream, then roar, and it doesn’t matter what you scream or roar. Make noise. Attract attention. Raise hell.

    As “Echo” said, keep on your feet if at all possible and if you are knocked down, get up again and get moving. Seek motion and seek places where you have the greatest opportunity for motion. A room is better than a closet and a large room is better than a small room. As you run, try to think of this and try to think about how to get to places which are both large and populated. And if you have the wind for it, don’t stop yelling and raising hell. A woman running down the street with a man not far behind attracts little attention. A woman running screaming down the street with a man not far behind, that attracts not merely attention but a following crowd.

    Your mind can be your best ally here but as it doesn’t exist in physicality, you need the physicality of running screaming down the street so that your mind can steer you to the best place for that following crowd to catch up with the assailant as you reach a place to take a stand. Consider that police advise you that there are scammers who drive beside you and tell you that there’s something wrong with your car. If you stop to see, you may have just pulled over into a trap. Thus, police say, drive to the police station parking lot to inspect your vehicle. In an almost zen sort of way, many strategies proceed from considering this.

    If you decide to fight, keep in mind that in all probability you have just changed the nature of this contest. It’s probably no longer attempted rape and it may very likely be a fight for your life. (Do not in any way misconstrue this as advice to submit to the first to avoid the latter. Unless that’s what you decide to do… but resolve to never do that as the unconsidered default.)

    In what may seem like a truly ridiculous suggestion, I advise you to watch some Three Stooges slapstick. “Moe” is a secret master of awesome gung-fu. Note that everything he does causes a reaction, which reaction provides for and defines the next stage of offense. Larry gets a poke in the eyes and he covers his eyes… and can’t see what’s coming next. Go straight for the eyes, while the eyes are defended go straight for the throat, if both are defended, box both ears as best you can. Seize on all advantages and generally have the notion that “Echo” suggested: all of this is just to break away and get running. As always, don’t forget to roar and raise hell as you do.

    If you’re a lady with nails, feel free to break them slamming them points-first into the jugular veins just above and outside of the tip of the “wings of the larynx”. If nothing else, it hurts and startles, if your nails break off jagged, so much the better for raking. Remember that at this time you aren’t fighting to defend your virtue but rather to defend your life. Three hits and the attacker should start to defend, go for the eyes again, when the eyes are defended just keep trying to hammer and gouge the larynx. If you don’t have nails, just try to sink in your fingers, and pinch any veins or arteries in the neck. (This might or might not have much instant effect, but maybe they’ll clot at the site and throw the clot and stroke out later. In any case it will startle.) Even if you’re flat on your back with someone twice your weight on top of you, keep your knees moving like you were up and running. If you do get up, you won’t have to think much to be down the street. If down, knee for fun spots like right under and to the attacker’s left of the sternum, which might tend to unsettled their cardiac rhythm. Dig both thumbs into the liver and, well, twiddle. Hard. Like you were kneading bread.

    If at all possible, bite and bite hard. A bite from a human being is particularly nasty as it carries all sorts of germs that flourish in human flesh. Don’t bite and hang on, bite sharp and hard and then pick another spot on another limb or zone and bite and bite again, changing places as fast as you can get some skin penetration and then move. (Go for the eyes and throat etc etc in between.) If possible, bite in places that will require professional treatment. The inside of limbs, back of underarm, fingertips are always a fun and very primate thing to nip off. Ears are a bit gristly to damage quickly so forget about them. Anyplace you can find bare skin, rake with your teeth; it will all have a nasty infection and here we come once again to your first, and final weapon, your voice.

    Name names. Even if you are running in full flight, if you know your assailant’s name, yell it as you run. Yell “get the police”. And when you do get to the police, use your voice to convince them to stake out any place your assailant could get treatment for all of their bites and scratches… and know that almost any professional who sees human bites on someone won’t wait for the police to call them, they will themselves directly summon the constabulary.

    If you resist, resist hard, resist loudly, resist on the move, and though you stick to this basic plan, throw in enough effective randomness to bollix any notions of a structured and systematic assault by your assailant.

    Hope this helps and have a nice day,

  173. @01: “Excuse me, but unless there is objective evidence that those things increase the likelihood of real-life sex crimes or at least significantly affect jury behavior or reporting, including those into rape culture is absurd and totally unjustified.”

    It’s a symptom of rape culture – from the link above, it represents:
    Trivializing sexual assault (“Boys will be boys!”)
    Defining “manhood” as dominant and sexually aggressive”

    Let me ask you this, 01 – let’s assume that you can have some empathy and try and can vaguely identify with someone else. Let’s say that you were raped. When someone else in a video game says ‘lol we totally raped him” or “OMG get raped” how do you think you’d react?

    Let’s assume you’re bothered by it. If you said something, do you think that the people would apologize? Or would they tell you that you shouldn’t take it so seriously lol.

    It’s part of rape culture. The language we use regularly is definitely part of it. Would you use something like lynch?

    You don’t need to show a correlation between it and more rapes. Aside from the notion that this is just an absurd thing to ask for in general, it’s very clear it’s part of the definition of what a rape culture is.

    “I’d say that it only indicates that USA is absurdly hypersensitive to racism.” – Except Bakker didn’t get published in the US first – he was Europe and Canada. So it’s a a pancultural thing.

    It was in the Bakker and Women threads. It’s hard to find, but I’ll see if I can find it.

  174. Also, on rape being ‘effective’ for breeding – kind of absurd. Aside from the poor effficacy of conception, it’s estimated that only 1 in 4 attempted rapes actually result in rape.

    Also, the notion that rapists are doing it to spread genetic material is both largely unsupported by psychological studies (rape is most often used as a means of power) and by criminology (rape occurs primarily by people the victims already knew). Serial rapists aren’t nearly as statistically dangerous as casual rapists.


  175. Also, on rape being ‘effective’ for breeding – kind of absurd. Aside from the poor effficacy of conception, it’s estimated that only 1 in 4 attempted rapes actually result in rape

    Have you read this thread at all? Rape is at least as good as cons sex, possibly better for conception, and .. how many cons sex attempts result in procreation?

    And I am not talking about the evolutionary utility of knocking up an unwilling victim.

    That is almost as sweet as facehuggers :-)

  176. @TheEchoInside

    Thanks for taking the time to post this info

    It might be the best single post in the entire thread — a definite improvement to the signal/noise ratio.

    @Kalon

    Your remarks about rape vicitims apply equally to victims of other types of crime: property and violent alike

    How do victims of assault feel about Grand Theft Auto?

    What about the “drug culture”? How do parents with a kid in rehab feel about we’re at the bar doing shot shots and popping bottles in the ice, like a blizzard

    Not too say that these songs are in any way extreme, probably not even the best examples to illustrate my point.

    It’s just there are many dimensions to “sensitive” and a lot of adjectives one can reasonably put in front of “culture”, including “victim culture”.

  177. @TheEchoInside

    How valid is that part of advise to that majority of rapes that take place in ‘safe’ environments, or are by people known by and even trusted by the victim?

    Someone from the SF community who has written a lot of sensible things on the subject (rape, rape prevention, rape in fiction, sexual harassment etc.) is Jim C. Hines.

  178. Having been carjacked, I can say I found GTA not very bothersome at all. I probably wouldn’t have wanted to play it for a few weeks after the event, but I didn’t even connect the two until I read the above post.

    I think the simple truth is that sexual assault is far more pervasive and far more accepted.

  179. Er, and thus rape culture is far more problematic.

  180. “Your remarks about rape vicitims apply equally to victims of other types of crime: property and violent alike”

    When 1 in 6 people in the US can expect to be assaulted or to be carjacked, I’ll consider it equivalent.

  181. Well, in Canada, anwyay, the rate of violent non-sexual assault is about ten time the rate of sexual assault overall (and the vast majority of reported sexual assaults are level 1, or the least severe; the aggravated assault rate is more like thirty times the aggravated sexual assault rate) , annually, so either the same people get assaulted over and over again, or a lot more get assaulted than get raped. . . .

  182. @ Joris M, who asked, in-part, of “TheEchoInside”:

    How valid is that part of advise to that majority of rapes that take place in ‘safe’ environments, or are by people known by and even trusted by the victim?

    The wikipedia article on rape has some scant statistics, but here they are:

    Current or Former Intimate Partner, 26%; Another Relative, 7%; Friend or Acquaintance, 38%; Stranger, 26%.

    More detail: Contrary to widespread belief, rape outdoors is rare. Over two thirds of all rapes occur in someone’s home. 31% occur in the perpetrators’ homes, 27% in the victims’ homes and 10% in homes shared by the victim and perpetrator. 7% occur at parties, 7% in vehicles, 4% outdoors and 2% in bars (Abbey, A., BeShears, R., Clinton-Sherrod, A. M., & McAuslan, P. (2004). Psychology of Women Quarterly, 28, 323–332.”Similarities and differences in women’s sexual assault experiences based on tactics used by the perpetrator”. Retrieved 10 December 2007.)

    A lot of statistics get thrown around but are repeated in incomplete form, for example one might hear that half of all rapes occur in parking garages. Yet it might be better said that one half of all rapes by strangers occur in parking garages, only 13% of the total.

    But yes, rapes by friends or acquaintances are the most commonly reported, and the incidence might even be higher, if there is less reporting due to (one assumes suddenly ended) previous friendship.

    Further (from wikipedia, same study “[…] only of rape victims that were female and reachable by phone) reported detailed findings related to tactics. In 47% of such rapes, both the victim and the perpetrator had been drinking.”

    It’s not clear at all to me whether the breakdown of alcohol use relates to type of assault (stranger, acquaintance, whatever).

    @Dominick Grace: Good point. Whenever comparing statistics one does well to look at the jurisdictions and the way they’re compiled. The FBI methodology used to exclude all types of rape other than forcible rape. Now it includes the other types, but for generally reported statistics, lumps it all together so it is difficult to use the official figures to get a clear picture of prevalence or distribution of categories.

  183. And there is also male on male rape. Quite prevalent in the US… I know of a guy who was raped while hitchiking.

  184. (at least in prisons….)

  185. @Lanius

    I get the impression you approach this in an entirely different mindset than the actual situation requires.

    Martial arts is very different from self-defence training, their objectives are entirely different, as is their approach. One is about direct confrontation in what is effectively a sport with limited combat application. The other, is about breaking free and delivering enough shock to allow escape. And yes, even the most petite can accomplish this.

    The objective is not to disable or directly engage in a battle of superiority, that would be foolish. It’s to do enough to get away.

    Also, you seem to assume a scenario where reach is a concern, or where a carried weapon is still accessible, which is rarely the case. Attacks are usually only recognized once they’ve already begun. And in close proximity, a gun is almost always a liability. And as you yourself mention in a contest of strength, such as over control of a weapon, the victim is likely to lose.

    @thomas hardman

    Some good advice, I’d just say to those reading it’s still best to get the training and see it in action. Both to ensure the most effective use of tactics, but also to allow for a comfort level/mental preparation, which is as you mentioned, vital.

    @rm3154

    My pleasure =) I’m happy if even one person finds it useful.

    @Joris M

    Not entirely sure of which part you’re referring to, but if you mean the escape part, as far as I’m aware, it’s still very applicable. If the attacker is someone known and it occurs in their house, as an example, they victim should do whatever is needed to get out and be seen. Witnesses are often the best deterrent, even if they don’t end up helping directly, their presence will effect the attackers resolve.

    The training is meant/hoped to be rather universal, it can’t cover every possibility/scenario, of course, but the principles and techniques I’ve seen taught should work for most.

  186. Sadly, one of the things I was taught as a great self defense tactic on rape is to completely void your bowels and bladder if at all possible.

  187. @ Kalon

    “Also, on rape being ‘effective’ for breeding – kind of absurd. Aside from the poor effficacy of conception, it’s estimated that only 1 in 4 attempted rapes actually result in rape. ”

    That’s actually not that inefficient at all, especially if you bear in mind that
    1) rape-like behaviors have no reasons to be an “exclusive” strategy – not like rapists have to possess a divergent phenotype, like those “extra” genders of Side blotched lizard.

    2) the efficiency of both stranger-rape and acquaintance rape was quite likely higher in ancient societies, especially if you consider tribal societies of more than 2000 years ago. For the love of squids, what we now consider rape was quite likely considered Tuesday several thousands years ago (BTW marital rape was considered Tuesday in USA less than 50 years ago)

    “Also, the notion that rapists are doing it to spread genetic material is both largely unsupported by psychological studies (rape is most often used as a means of power) and by criminology (rape occurs primarily by people the victims already knew). Serial rapists aren’t nearly as statistically dangerous as casual rapists.”

    You seem to imply that rape-as-reproductive-strategy requires some kind of sex-centric (as opposed to power-centric) motivation on part of the rapist, and/or a highly specific hardwired “rape instinct”.

    That does not appear necessary at all.

    Genes don’t care why you spread them. They don’t care about anything at all, in fact.

    Basically, all you need is a conglomeration of personality traits at least some of which are at least somewhat heritable, and which predisposes subject to committing rape when opportunity presents, combined with a female population that does not leave forcibly conceived children to the wolves after they are born at least some of the time.

    It’s a symptom of rape culture – from the link above, it represents:
    Trivializing sexual assault (“Boys will be boys!”)
    Defining “manhood” as dominant and sexually aggressive”

    Excuse me, but I’m gonna disagree with ya definitions here.
    As far as I understand, “Boys will be boys!” is an attitude when you condone sexual violence because of assumption of normality. It’s basically why it took USA almost a hundred year to outlaw marital rape, and still struggle with prosecuting it.

    Folks referring to especially skewed and humiliating fight outcomes or use of greatly disproportionate force to take down a helpless opponent as “rape” does not appear to be causally related to that attitude. At least, you’d need some srs evidence to back up a causally link between such comments and generally dismissive attitude towards sexual crimes.

    As for it indicating a generally violent outlook on male sexuality, I’m not sure using rape as a reference to acts of overwhelming force is male-specific or that much sex-related.
    It’s very much gallows humor, yes, but you don’t get to call baby corpse jokes “death culture” or “indicating a death-centric outlook” or somesuch.
    And dead babies are a pretty terrible thing, you gotta agree. Good audience, tho – careful listeners.

    “Let me ask you this, 01 – let’s assume that you can have some empathy and try and can vaguely identify with someone else. Let’s say that you were raped. When someone else in a video game says ‘lol we totally raped him” or “OMG get raped” how do you think you’d react?”

    I’d say it depends on how good my shrink is, cause good rehabilitation would be supposed to achieve a pretty calm response to off-hand mentions like that.

    Given that we’re nowhere near being able to ensure such high-quality rehab for victims, it would likely be a pretty serious trigger.

    However, as pointed out by rm3154 , the “might trigger PTSD responses in actual victims” argument is bogus and a red herring.
    By that kind of logic, military-themed media should be discourage because it might trigger PTSD symptoms in actual war veterans and civilian survivors.

    “I’d say that it only indicates that USA is absurdly hypersensitive to racism.” – Except Bakker didn’t get published in the US first – he was Europe and Canada. So it’s a a pancultural thing.

    Europe isn’t even a united cultural space, please.
    Then again, fantasy dwarfs, as well as those ugly-faced little aliens from Star Trek (keep forgetting the name) are more often than not stereotypical Jew caricatures (small, avaricious yet cunning and technologically gifted beings of questionable morals) and nobody raised much stink, so perhaps Bakker has slightly exaggerated opinion of modern publishing’s sensitivity.

    And anyways, I take a dim view of fighting racism by suppressing vaguely-racist imaginary constructs in narrative about fantastic hypothetical worlds.
    I generally doubt the possibility of (legally sane) people becoming antisemitic because of being exposed to Jew-like vaguely unfriendly depictions of dwarfs in a fantasy setting, and becoming less antisemitic due to no longer having access to such media.
    Such an approach would need to have some incredibly solid evidence to be justified.

    “It’s part of rape culture. The language we use regularly is definitely part of it. Would you use something like lynch? “

    Well, if the in-game event resembled a violent and unjust mob trial based almost entirely on non-case relevant features of the target and culminating in violent execution of the target, and I saw a way to make it sound comical, I probably would.
    Thing is, there are relatively few cases when such would be thematically appropriate, let alone comical.

    “You don’t need to show a correlation between it and more rapes. Aside from the notion that this is just an absurd thing to ask for in general, it’s very clear it’s part of the definition of what a rape culture is. “

    Whaaaa…. cough.

    Excuse me please, but what exactly is so absurd about asking people to show solid evidence that the effect they claim (cause and effect link between thematically relevant make-believe stories of lands that never existed and dynamics of real world crime) ?

    I mean, right now your position sounds a little bit like the position of Craig A. Anderson who claims that violent movies and games “just have to” cause real-world violence increase simply because it is consistent with his favored theory of learning, and keeps pushing despite overwhelming in-the-field evidence against such claims (and even in favor of a polar opposite claims). Instead of, you know, considering his favored theory of learning falsified to the death.
    Admittedly, unlike Mr. Anderson you don’t have to contend with overwhelming in-the-field evidence in favor of a claim that is polar opposite to yours, but a request for in-the-field evidence of a positive correlation is far from absurd, IMHO.

    P.S.:
    Now I sincerely wonder how a dark satire of racist beliefs draped in a fantasy revolving around “god made blacks less of a people” fare.

    Too bad I can’t write for shit.


  188. The objective is not to disable or directly engage in a battle of superiority, that would be foolish. It’s to do enough to get away.

    Martial arts are crap. Fleeing is crap. Crapping your pants is ..uh..crap!

    Killing the assailant by any means is not crap and prevents future reoffense.
    Also sometimes improves the gene pool…

  189. But what you’re saying here is It mustn’t be, therefore it isn’t, and that’s bullshit.

    Nah. I’m not saying that. What irritates me is inherent in how the media and how science labs work, at least the reports I get from someone who works in science labs. My view of the media is outside only.

    Of all the things we might pick to investigate, there’s a bias toward work that will get me grant money now and in the future. It’s very competitive, and I’m only as good as the last grant.

    So there is a tendency to pick studies that get press, and one way to pique interest is to do something with a tang of controversy or heroics to it, and sex, violence and death, they engage the emotions? Then the media picks it up, sensationalizes it, misinforming the public and raising the profile as a topic. I mean, too hot and no one will give me money, but a little controversy is like PR for me – hey, fund this! It’s hot right now! As you know, the money-givers got agendas.

    This exasperates me, especially when it’s my ox getting gored. If I believed that RL scientific research were as dispassionate and agenda-free as it is sometimes portrayed, I’d be more caj about it – hey, science figured out something that disadvantages me, eh, what can you do? But I don’t believe that. So I am left with the idea that the researchers knew what the political and even moral implications were, but they did it anyway. Picking as a topic, “Yes, rape has the stamp of approval of evolution!” done without blushing. Ew.

    I am perfectly willing to be shown evidence to the effect that rape is “natural”

    Unless you have changed your mind about the supernatural, it’s all natural. Granted. But is it wrong, even though it’s what people do. I have to say, yeah, wrong. I’m sure you do, too.

    But I am not willing to agree that “natural=good”;

    Neither do I. The implication of certain statements are there in the politics of a thing, even if not stated directly. And the unaddressed implication of claims around reproduction is that they are not remediable, “Just the Way They Are.” Homosexuality got a big boost in acceptability when gays could claim that Nature Made Me That Way, because it implies that no one should do anything to change it, but deal with my behavior as is.

    (Not that gay sex is like rape! Just to forestall that. What I mean is, politically, if I can claim biological substrate around sexual practices, it validates that practice to some degree.)

    how many goddamn times do I have to trot out the tired old line that we won’t merit our own self-erected pedestals until we learn to control our instincts instead of making excuses for them?

    I hear ya. I guess until mankind becomes better behaved?

    Do you really think I’m excusing such events because they’re “natural”?

    You, personally? No!

    Why then, Hljóðlegur, do you characterize Natural=Desirable as some kind of given?

    The implication of Natural = Inevitable there, whether we explicitly endorse it or not. I sincerely hope Desirable isn’t part of the equation.

  190. @01, “Folks referring to [“Boys will be boys!”] especially skewed and humiliating fight outcomes or use of greatly disproportionate force to take down a helpless opponent as “rape” does not appear to be causally related to that attitude. At least, you’d need some srs evidence to back up a causally link between such comments and generally dismissive attitude towards sexual crimes.”

    I don’t have access to “Lights on at the end of the party”: Are lads’ mags mainstreaming dangerous sexism?. Feel free to check it out.

    (I’m not interested in this enough to dig. if you are, have fun going forward and backwards in the citation tree, looking at the authors’ publication history and affiliations, etc.)

    (speaking of trollface, H, I’m can’t answer your question exactly. I’ve had friends change names on their posts for fun (and I chuckled), and I’ve had friends who have done it (and I thought they were jerks). Depends on the context. Interrogate your doubts.)

  191. Re Hljóðlegur

    “This exasperates me, especially when it’s my ox getting gored.”

    You’re in a field dealing with sex crimes ? Forensic psychiatry ? R-C?

    Do tell more =))

    “Neither do I. The implication of certain statements are there in the politics of a thing, even if not stated directly. And the unaddressed implication of claims around reproduction is that they are not remediable, “Just the Way They Are.” Homosexuality got a big boost in acceptability when gays could claim that Nature Made Me That Way, because it implies that no one should do anything to change it, but deal with my behavior as is. “

    Well, given that modern penitentiary system sucks at preventing re-offense on part of sex criminals (Is someone still trying ? Last time I checked, managing recidivism in that crowd was a giant boatload of fail), we can already be said to be dealing with rapists and their behavior “as is”.

  192. @01:

    “Genes don’t care why you spread them. They don’t care about anything at all, in fact.”

    But our brains do. I guess what you’re trying to say is that it could have evolved as a power thing, but that speculative at best and silly at worst. Ultimately we can only talk about what people’s motivations are now. The evopsych crap about why we rape is basically unprovable and often hugely offensive.

    “Folks referring to especially skewed and humiliating fight outcomes or use of greatly disproportionate force to take down a helpless opponent as “rape” does not appear to be causally related to that attitude. At least, you’d need some srs evidence to back up a causally link between such comments and generally dismissive attitude towards sexual crimes.” – Sheila linked as such. And I’ve absolutely seen use of terminology such as this to be ‘boys will be boys’ – as well as the casual use of misogynistic terms, using female slurs against men to show weakness, use of homosexual slurs to denigrate men, etc. It’s all connected.

    “As for it indicating a generally violent outlook on male sexuality, I’m not sure using rape as a reference to acts of overwhelming force is male-specific or that much sex-related.
    It’s very much gallows humor, yes, but you don’t get to call baby corpse jokes “death culture” or “indicating a death-centric outlook” or somesuch.
    And dead babies are a pretty terrible thing, you gotta agree. Good audience, tho – careful listeners.” Which is completely stupid. People aren’t comparing getting pwned in video games to dead babies.

    It’s a male-centric culture. It’s par for the course for it. Check out some of the messages on Fat, ugly or slutty as examples. Frankly this strikes me as stupidly dismissive – that you’re comparing what’s actually being said to something that you made up as something you might use sometime.

    “However, as pointed out by rm3154 , the “might trigger PTSD responses in actual victims” argument is bogus and a red herring.
    By that kind of logic, military-themed media should be discourage because it might trigger PTSD symptoms in actual war veterans and civilian survivors. ”

    It’s not hard to avoid violence in media; there are a lot of warnings. It’s much harder to avoid mention of rape. Especialy when it’s used completely out of context of, ya know, rape.

    And honestly? There’s nothing wrong with discouraging violence in media. I think that’s probably a lot more healthy, and the bizarre dichotomy of us allowing scenes of war for 13 year olds but they can’t see a breast is pretty stupid.

    “Excuse me please, but what exactly is so absurd about asking people to show solid evidence that the effect they claim (cause and effect link between thematically relevant make-believe stories of lands that never existed and dynamics of real world crime) ?” It’s an absurd claim because it’s the type of statement that cannot be proven in any way. You can at best show sociological evidence that this is harmful and that cultures with more rape also showcase more examples of rape culture (which have been done several times). If you like I’ll link to that. But asking a very specific ‘does saying the word ‘rape’ cause more rapes in society’ is both missing the point and being way too specific for any reasonable discussion to take place. So yes, it’s absurd. Would you want a scientific proof that people using the n-word create a less welcoming environment for PoC? That’s absurd.

  193. @ 03, who asked: Well, given that modern penitentiary system sucks at preventing re-offense on part of sex criminals (Is someone still trying ? Last time I checked, managing recidivism in that crowd was a giant boatload of fail), we can already be said to be dealing with rapists and their behavior “as is”.

    Ah, it depends on how you define recidivism.

    From the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Office of Justice Programs (USDOJ), from a paper which the jerks have moved since I cited from it to my wiki:

    ” 1. Sex offenders were less likely than non-sex offenders to be rearrested for any offense –– 43 percent of sex offenders versus 68 percent of non-sex offenders.

    2. Sex offenders were about four times more likely than non-sex offenders to be arrested for another sex crime after their discharge from prison –– 5.3 percent of sex offenders versus 1.3 percent of non-sex offenders. ”

    @ All: That above-mentioned BJS OJP has an announcement “below the fold” that a new and comprehensive survey and study (PDF) would be done. Additionally, they recommend taking a look at their sub-site, Criminal Victimization, 2010.

    For those who want to take a look at it across the last decade or more, note that this is just the latest in the Criminal Victimization in the United States Series. Of course, see also their section on Rape & Sexual Assault.

    @ TheEchoInside: all good clarifications and thank you. For those who are interested in self-defense though perhaps not so much in martial arts, Krav Maga is excellent as it’s specifically designed for self-defense and emphasizes an ability to speedily assess your situation and respond both appropriately and effectively.

    For those who want to learn something which is a bit more military-oriented (though less “martial arts” in the classic sense), and may prove difficult to learn as teachers with bona-fide skills may be hard to find, Russian Systema. As the folks reading and posting here probably wouldn’t have any problems understanding “biomechanical concepts”, you might prefer Kadochnikov’s Systema to the “less intellectually inclined” Ryabko’s Systema. I should hasten to add that either of these will seriously fuck up most non-military assailants in very short order. There’s some great video of all of these on YouTube, for the Systema search also for “sistema”, if you can search with Cyrillic characters, so much the better.

    The history behind that is very deeply fascinating but wow did I digress. ;)

  194. @ Kalon

    “But our brains do. I guess what you’re trying to say is that it could have evolved as a power thing, but that speculative at best and silly at worst.”

    I doubt that heritable predisposing factors are neatly compartmentalized in “sex” “power” “nutrition”, etc., and yes, of course it is speculative. But it has just enough measurable “weird stuff” associated with it to warrant additional inquiry. Who knows what we might eventually uncover ?

    “The evopsych crap about why we rape is basically unprovable and often hugely offensive. “

    While I myself am not fond of evopsych “adaptation narratives” (aka just-so-stories), and as you might see, am not particularly pushing for any specific evolutionary “narrative” for rape (merely saying that yes, it might have had reproductive merits and might have some predisposing factors that are, to a degree, heritable) but I just can’t help finding stuff like that conception-rate weirdness…fascinating (probably contracted this attitude from prolonged exposure to 03 ;) )

    As to offensiveness, I find the idea that a question should not be pondered due to being offensive to be, itself, hugely offensive.

    “Sheila linked as such. “

    Expect me or Third to respond soon. I think 03 would be best to address it cause she’s the girl with a huge rape-library.

    “And I’ve absolutely seen use of terminology such as this to be ‘boys will be boys’ – as well as the casual use of misogynistic terms, using female slurs against men to show weakness, use of homosexual slurs to denigrate men, etc. It’s all connected. “

    “It’s a male-centric culture. It’s par for the course for it. Check out some of the messages on Fat, ugly or slutty as examples. Frankly this strikes me as stupidly dismissive – that you’re comparing what’s actually being said to something that you made up as something you might use sometime. “

    The problem with gamer culture is that it’s so jaded that there is basically no word sequence in any language that could be expected to actually burn a non-minority player without “trigger” issues. And there’s this constant griefer game-in-game behavior centering around being an asshole to other players and fucking up their experience, which was going on approximately since online games started.
    Combined with any degree of actual sexism / racism / whatever that makes for a rather unfriendly mix, but the core attraction of rolling a ball of misogynistic and racist slurs and randomly throwing them around in a gaming session setting is that minorities and maybe some women are perhaps the only folk “out there” who your average pissed 13yo has any chance of verbally upsetting in any significant way (but women and minorities seem to be catching up with the baseline gamer lack-of-sensitivity rather well).

    BTW, kinda reminds me my forays into online dating at…let’s say… four-letter dating sites. The kind of stuff people were sending is worth a trilogy.
    I wonder, would people call me out or sue if I publish the PM exchanges with minimum redactions (cut the names and faces)…

    “It’s not hard to avoid violence in media; there are a lot of warnings. It’s much harder to avoid mention of rape. Especialy when it’s used completely out of context of, ya know, rape. ”

    Hm, avoiding violence on the satnews… nope, pretty impossible to avoid footage of wars and whatnot. Also, what to do with extra-contextual mentions of violence and murder in UGC-media online ?
    You really can’t foresee all possible trigger issues in all possible victims of all horrible crimes, so the obvious route here is better rehab, not trying to make media “fuzzier”

    “And honestly? There’s nothing wrong with discouraging violence in media. I think that’s probably a lot more healthy, and the bizarre dichotomy of us allowing scenes of war for 13 year olds but they can’t see a breast is pretty stupid. ”

    While I agree that ridiculous sensitivity of media (esp. US, I’m told) to sex and nudity is absurd, I tend to not agree with you on the “discouraging violence” angle. The benefits, beyond “maybe we can make a group of people with poorly managed PTSD who should really be provided with better psych coverage marginally more comfortable”, seem quite elusive. Well, as long as you are not a fan of “media directly and predictably shapes minds” hypothesis, which I have a huge axe to grind against.

    “You can at best show sociological evidence that this is harmful and that cultures with more rape also showcase more examples of rape culture “

    So, you can break down the concept of rape culture into a set of measurable variables, and establish links between those variables, isolated or in combination, and various measurable effects ? Perhaps even manipulate some of those variables (since, after all, the point of this research is finding variables most connected to actual, you know, offenses)?

    But that’s pretty much exactly as showing whether “cause and effect link between thematically relevant make-believe stories of lands that never existed and dynamics of real world crime” (assuming those stories can in turn have “rape culture related variables” measured for them with any degree of certainty)

    “does saying the word ‘rape’ cause more rapes in society”

    I don’t believe I asked for something as narrow as that.

    “Would you want a scientific proof that people using the n-word create a less welcoming environment for PoC?”

    Actually, this is a fairly interesting line of inquiry. It would not, I think, be problematic to show that systematic use of this term correlates with various actions (or, in some cases, inactions) that is directed against people who have Negroid features, and possibly other racial groups.

    Demonstrating that such use of the term plays, in fact, some kind of reinforcement or causal role for racist attitude (and thus banning the term from discourse would cause measurable attitude improvement) would be problematic, not unlikely because no such relationship exists.

  195. @ Sheila

    Thanks, me and/or 03 will comment on it soon

  196. @ 01 who wrote, regarding use of “the n-word”:

    Demonstrating that such use of the term plays, in fact, some kind of reinforcement or causal role for racist attitude (and thus banning the term from discourse would cause measurable attitude improvement) would be problematic, not unlikely because no such relationship exists.

    You maybe typed something incorrectly here? Couldn’t see the keyboard because your head was someplace it ought not to have been?

    I don’t think it would be hard at all to demonstrate a far lower incidence of racially-motivated violence among people who fastidiously avoid the use of that word in everyday conversations, than is seen in people who are less fastidious.

    Heck, if the US government had a dollar for every time some white racist uttered that word as they launched a violent physical attack on a black person, they could probably build a few more MLK Jr Memorials.

    Or were you trying to be more specific than I am able to read through my astonishment?

  197. @ Thomas Hardman

    “I don’t think it would be hard at all to demonstrate a far lower incidence of racially-motivated violence among people who fastidiously avoid the use of that word in everyday conversations, than is seen in people who are less fastidious.”

    Hey hey, that would be consistent with the hypothesis that people who use the word in question are more likely to be racists, hence ,the higher incidence of RMV with them. I said as much.

    However, such a finding does not establish a cause and effect relationship, be that its presence or its direction.

    That is, it does not answer the question of “will KKK be less of a KKK if we make them operate in an environment where they, at least in public, will have to use polysyllabic synonyms of the Slur of Choice”.
    Personally, I’ve gotta express doubt that banning a word from public discourse would somehow make a racist reconsider a deeply held conviction regarding the value of non-white people and withhold from attacking, or otherwise abusing.

    I think there’s this funny…idea… memeplex, if you so will, which asserts that humans are so susceptible to verbal trickery that you could predictably, precisely mold and re-mold their minds with crude trickery like eschewing specific words.
    I find this idea far-fetched in the extreme, much for the same reasons I tend to find the idea that a particle collider operating at a fraction of energies involved in normal space-background interactions could produce a horrible planet-ending phenomenon to be utterly preposterous.

    If that were true, life would have ended long before I was born.

    If someone finds a reliable way to socially engineer mankind though interventions as trivial as expunging a word or two, we, as a civilization, and we, as “kind people gathered herein” specifically, will be so fucked that most fictional apocalypses (including those imagined by our kind host) will look like a birthday party.

  198. @01, “Thanks, me and/or 03 will comment on it soon”

    Thanks, Even if I did chase down the article, I wouldn’t have enough background to give a good analysis. (it was a bit of an accident that I even found it. I wasn’t digging for it. It popped up in my rss stream from one of the BPS research blogs I read)

    I don’t know if either of you are familiar with stereotype threat with respect to education. I haven’t dug in to that topic either — only read about it in passing via blogs or news article. It seems that you could get measurable results by trying out different priming interventions and measuring results on exams. but when I read people debate (the comments in the post are more valuable than the post itself) on whether or not they can replicate this priming result for walking to an elevator (for an example of how hard it is to try and measure those types of results — holy shit!) I can see how incredibly hard it might be to try this. but I wouldn’t write off behavioral science as a loss (are you?).

    (first learned about the elevator result very recently from a keynote at lcaconf2012 given by Paul Fenwick.)

    (I hope this is not derailing the thread too much. I am more interested in a bigger picture than just cultural behaviors and their influence or not on rates of sexual violence. It’s a bigger topic than just sexual violence. and, overlaying this, is the difficulty of trying to do experiments to figure this stuff out. so I don’t think it’s a derail, but I feel free to shut up about it)

  199. @01: let’s just say that you can look at it either way: the word is used by disrespectful people, or you could as easily theorize that hearing that disrespect from the disrespectful might breed new disrespect in people who didn’t already have it. I’ll go with both, as an explanation of how hatred feeds across generations, or between individuals.

    As to whether mere words could re-shape minds, I don’t know if any of the Holocaust survivors would take the side of the argument you seem to be proposing. How could a silly little disgraced corporal use mere words to organize an entire nation to the task of eradicating entire ethnic groups, conquering (however temporarily) several nearby countries to facilitate that task (among others)? It sounds unlikely. It also seems unlikely that some itinerant carpenter with a fair for interpreting Scripture would spawn one of the great world-changing religions which would have influence in everything from charity hospitals to the conquest of the Americas by European powers. Don’t underestimate the power of either words/epithets or the ideas they can symbolize.

    See also Orwell’s famous essay on Newspeak, to go the other way.

  200. “I think there’s this funny…idea… memeplex, if you so will, which asserts that humans are so susceptible to verbal trickery that you could predictably, precisely mold and re-mold their minds with crude trickery like eschewing specific words.
    I find this idea far-fetched in the extreme, much for the same reasons I tend to find the idea that a particle collider operating at a fraction of energies involved in normal space-background interactions could produce a horrible planet-ending phenomenon to be utterly preposterous.”

    Then you’re going to have some hadron problems, because that’s exactly how it appears the brain works.

    Some examples: an experiment was given that had food scrolling by and the participant was supposed to say whether or not the food looked tasty. One had the food scrolling left to right. The other top to bottom. Food items and order were identical. The finding was that significantly more people found the food going top to bottom more appetizing. After doing this with other types of things (faces, words, etc) the finding was that because people were simulating the act of nodding they were more agreeable and positive about the food. Doing this with a culture that shook their head for affirmation also backed this up.

    Another experiment: people were told to hold a pen in their mouth – some holding it out with their teeth, others letting it droop with their lips. Then they read cartoons. The people who held the pen out with their teeth thought the cartoons were funnier. Why? Because the act of holding the pen in their teeth made their muscles ‘grin’.

    In both cases (and many, many others) the act of doing something was then rationalized into a feeling and thought later. We think that what we do is a reaction to what we think, but most of the time it’s the opposite – what we do comes first, and then we rationalize it .

    So yes, I absolutely can believe that if you banned people from using racial slurs that you would get less racism.

    However, it’s very hard to test one way or another. At best you can find correlations between use of racist words and racist actions. Which…they have. Same with misogynistic terms and misogynistic actions. So I’m not sure what you’re really arguing, except maybe that Bakker should be able to say whatever he wants because hey, it’s just women.

  201. And really, at the very least banning people from using racial slurs means people are using fewer racial slurs, which is a pretty good end in and of itself.

  202. Who’s got the best, most concise set of arguments against free will?
    I have to contend with a metric buttload of Americans who just do not get it..


  203. So yes, I absolutely can believe that if you banned people from using racial slurs that you would get less racism.

    Yeah. Sure..those pesky Canadians.
    (those who do not know, Canadian is obfuscation equivalent for ‘Nigger’ in PC places in the US inhabited by people who do not love their fellow black men…

  204. “(those who do not know, Canadian is obfuscation equivalent for ‘Nigger’ in PC places in the US inhabited by people who do not love their fellow black men…”

    Grats, Lanius. Misogyny and racism? Wow – you’re quite the winner here. Does Peter Watts keep you around as some form of affirmative action for people from the 19th century?

  205. Re: Hitler and Jeebus
    Thomas, can’t help but point out that Hitler by no means “engineered” or “created” the German “fascism” as it is known. Long before his rise to power, a significant portion of German population already were antisemitic, homophobic, nationalistic, and harboring notable “humiliated national pride” issue. Germany post-WW I was chock-full of various völkisch nationalists, so the Nazi PR machine was definitely not in the business of “organizing an entire nation to the task of eradicating entire ethnic groups” – the nation was already looking for a cause and a method to do such a thing, and Hitler merely convinced those people that his methods and causes were superior. It’s the equivalent of convincing a crowd of alcoholics to prefer a particular brand of liquor, not arranging for people to become alcoholics de-novo.

    As to Jebus, I happen to be partial to the Jesus Myth theory, that is, the concept that there are too few reasons to claim, with any degree of certainty, that a real historical figure more or less corresponding to Jesus actually existed. It is entirely plausible that Jesus as we more-or-less know him was a composite character.

    Re: Sheila, article.

    Well, it’s an interesting article, and some of the findings might have interesting remote implications.
    However, it does not attempt to establish cause-and-effect relationship (does FHM-like drivel actually induce the beliefs in question).
    The alternate hypothesis, specifically, that misogynistic men (of whom rapists are but a small subset) seek out and have a preference for, literature that grants a degree of approval to their existing beliefs, is pretty much still hanging and quite consistent with the findings (though admittedly, the study was more focused on descriptive aspects, so it’s not really its “problem”)

    However, it is still interesting in the sense that, since rapists are very likely to be strongly misogynistic, and misogynistic men seem to be more likely to peruse such literature and find it accurate (irrespective of whether direct C&E link exists), strong perusal of such literature is a good avoidance sign (especially since strongly misogynistic non-rapists are still questionable ;) dates).
    I wonder as to magnitude of shitstorm that would happen if a piece of advice like that was published within a more or less reputable medium, lol :D

    As to priming… well, tome it seems pretty much like those “subliminal frame” things, really, initially there were some fascinating results, but reproducibility shenanigans, measurement issues (Salmon science ftw) and confounding variables (including researcher and participant bias) pretty much turn everything into an untidy, if academically attractive, mess.
    I am kind of worried about Tom Stafford’s quote from the post you linked. I wonder if the kind gentleman realizes that such framing renders priming hypothesis essentially unfalsifiable (to be honest, I’ve long since started getting a weird feeling that psych folks might have some insidious and unacknowledged dislike for Popper’s criteria. See mirror neuron falsifiability arguments for more examples)

    Re: Kalon

    I think that the issue that 01 is trying to draw attention to is twofold.
    First, there is the issue of whether one can reliably claim that some narratives are unconditionally “damaging” in any meaningful way
    Second part is whether Bakker’s work qualifies for such a narrative.

    Not sure we can investigate those two (especially the latter) beyond “tastes differ”. I mean, claiming that The Darkness that Comes Before is actually an anti-woman “slur” is not unlike claiming that the eventual fate of Desjardins is a “slur” against nice and responsible BDSM practitioners.
    I mean, such an interpretation is conceivable, but from where I sit such interpretations are also silly (subjective opinion warning).

  206. Re: Lanius

    First ask them to define free will. In like 40% of the cases, fireworks start right away.

  207. @03

    Thanks. Will try that again… when my 30 day tempoban runs out. Seriously, some people are so confused on eugenics?

    ZOMG nazis, while it is simply good breeding. I mean, if I plan loving physically only smart, athletic and pretty women, I could be accused of eugenics… right?

    [Ed. insert: OK, I haven’t been participating much in anything lately because I’m in mourning over the death of Banana, but we’re going to have one more shot at a so-called “teachable moment” here. Sometimes Lanius is just a dick, and says things which are calculated to do nothing but give offense (and might be completely irrelevant to boot). I’ve taken to banning those comments entirely, after asking him nicely to stop. Other times — like right here — Lanius makes a legitimate point: “eugenics” is basically another word for controlled breeding, and we not only do it to cats and dogs and cobs of corn, but we also do it when we choose a mate for certain characteristics. You can’t use the word these days because it’s so tied up with the Nazis; but we still do it, all the time.

    The problem is that Lanius generally buries such points in in-your-face-trollism designed to push everybody’s hot buttons, and he does it not to examine those buttons in any empirical way but out of sheer shit-kicking glee.

    I do not know exactly how to deal with this. I’ve said before that I hate censoring comments (and the evidence of that lies in my passing of that rip-your-scrotum-with-a-rusty-nail comment directed at me a few posts back, which (judging by the timing) might have been courtesy of an acm minion putting my open-mike policy to the test). I’ve since started banning comments that contain nothing but offense; I allow comments that are substantive but potentially-offensive by virtue of legitimately challenging established paradigms. But what do you do about someone who makes a legitimate point and then goes out of their way to amp up the offensiveness of that point for sheer offense’s sake? Do I throw out the baby with the bathwater? Do I impose an Emily Post Courtesy standard? Am I really at the point where I either have to dictate other people’s behavior to them or watch the crawl sink into the swamp? I’ve managed to avoid that until now.

    Maybe I should take a vote.

    End Ed. Insert.]

  208. Because, I’m explicitly trying to make sure my progeny is superior to those of others. That is eugenics.

    Ethical question: since this is happening naturally, as smart people often gravitate together, will this not cause social trouble later on?

  209. @ 03

    Well, you know… I had a very very unpleasant (and hard to articulate) feeling when I reached the place where Desjardins goes totally loco – to the point of closing the ebook and counting to three. But I don’t expect a book that touches upon issues like sadism, role of guilt in human functioning, nature of the mind, etc. to be always nice and easy on a reader. After some contemplation, I have concluded that it is not a jab at S/M folk in general and a plausible development of the story (though I still somewhat wonder why Lubin didn’t develop any ummmm…. let’s say, “major quirks”, due to lack of guilt responses)

  210. But what do you do about someone who makes a legitimate point and then goes out of their way to amp up the offensiveness of that point for sheer offense’s sake?

    One might sigh, then acknowledge that one is dealing with a person whose reasons for posting are both deliberately instigating offense and prodding/testing to see how far he can push that contentless offense before he gets slapped down. See: saying out loud that he will try again after his “tempoban” is lifted. That sounds like a teen saying he’d love to break the house rules, but he has to lay low until he’s no longer grounded. Wtf. On average, I think any actual content is way low in the toxic mix he’s spewing.

    It’s your house, your rules, and you have been more than reasonable and polite.

  211. @01:

    (though I still somewhat wonder why Lubin didn’t develop any ummmm…. let’s say, “major quirks”, due to lack of guilt responses)

    That’s easy. Achilles was a closeted sadist from the start; he just didn’t act on it because he was afraid he might hurt someone. Guilt Trip didn’t create that drive; Guilt Trip only let it off the leash. Lubin, in contrast, never had such a quirk to begin with.

    I do think I kind of blew it at the end there, though. Quoting from an interview I’ve just completed for a French site:

    Of course, that was one of the points I was trying to make: there are certain circuits vital to the state we think of as “Humanity”, and if you strip them away what’s left cannot be regarded as Human. By the end of the story the moral being had basically turned into a walking Id with the world’s highest security clearance, and that’s entirely consistent with the themes I was exploring and the arc of the character. But while I think the character succeeds if you look down across his entire arc, I think he fails there at the end because he is so one-dimensional. Even if the whole point is that Humanity can be undone — even if Desjardin’s descended final state makes perfect sense — there must be some better way to paint that portrait than by going into mustache-twirling territory. I just wasn’t a good enough writer to figure out what it was. I’m probably still not, although I’d have to sit down and revisit the story in depth to know for sure.

  212. @Kalon: While I have no love for Lanius’ style, and he may or may not be a racist in general, this particular point you’re attacking him on seems to be missing the point. Or perhaps I’m the one who’s missing it, and you’re getting it exactly. But the point I’m reading into it, is a valid one, IMHO…

    The reference to Canadians, I think, wasn’t to imply anything about black people, or Canadians, but rather about how people who are going to be racist, and indeed people who aren’t, use words. If you make one word so taboo that it can’t be used, they’ll just use other words to the same effect.

    When I was a kid, I remember hearing you weren’t supposed to use the R-word. They were ‘special’ kids. You know that caught on when the kids wanted to mock another kid and accused him of being ‘special’. When ‘mentally challenged’ was the acceptable word, people would call each other ‘mentally challenged’, or call themselves it. And of course, it’s not just calling people outside the group the words, it’s easy to call somebody by the ‘accepted’ term for their group and make it clear that it’s an insult. The problem isn’t that kids are throwing around bad words – it’s that they’re insulting and belittling people, not just the ones being accused of being ‘special’, but the ones who are being made INTO a slur.

    That doesn’t stop when you ban the word. It potentially can help, in that telling people not to use the word awakens them to the issues around it, but if you make that your focus I think you’re making a mistake.

  213. Dear editor,

    My advice is to talk to Charles Stross. He banned Lanius. Since Stross is running a blog, and since you are running a blog, it would probably be worth your while to get his opinion. (if you are getting to the point where you are even tempted to take votes from readers)

    My contribution:

    I don’t care if Lanius has anything interesting to say. Other people have interesting things to say, I’ll follow those conversations.

    I discounted any Lanius interaction when I saw him show up in the offensive squid forum trying to recruit people to go troll Dan Simmons, where he had also been banned. Then I also saw that he got banned on Stross’s blog.

    Ps. snarky but mostly okay discussion of Anil Dash’s take on the subject

  214. @ Peter Watts

    Well, I guess I should have worded it differently. I sort of get why Lubin didn’t start going around cutting up women and taking over the world (because he wasn’t a sexual sadist), but IMHO it stands to reason that he should have developed some other major anomalies (not as horrible as D’s, of course, that would be kinda gamebreaking), at least if guilt plays any major roles in establishing “normal” behavior in non-sadists (Of course, I can’t attest that it necessarily does…)

    And, concerning D going one-dimensional, well… one could say that a dimension of human condition was stripped away from him, so the glove fits

  215. @ Sheila

    Strange, I kinda thought Simmons and Lanius would get into a bromance if they ever met :D

    Humans. I don’t get them sometimes :(

  216. @01:

    Oh, Lubin did have issues; the whole reason they stuck him at the bottom of the ocean “like radioactive waste” was because he’d started gaming his own cookie-jar reflex, started subconsciously getting sloppy so that he’d be justified in tying up “loose ends” with extreme prejudice. Although granted, he wasn’t wired with GT exactly (although he was wired with something similar). And it went south long before Spartacus came on the scene.

  217. @ Peter Watts

    I meant de-novo issues as result of Spartacus, of course (I kind of omitted mentioning that due to the fact that everyone in RT has “initial” issues)

  218. I hope I am not derailing the thread too much :D

  219. @Peter:

    re: Lanius.
    Personally, I’ve demoted him to NPC a while ago. His scripting is way too predictable to even be funny, and on the rare occasions his signal/noise ratio squirms left of the third decimal, the output files right into Captain Obvious chronicles.
    I find the strategically offended types as — if not more — irritating as the easily dodged juvenile internet-ninja provocations of Lanius, which wouldn’t find much purchase where it not for the concourse of PC-idiots jumping on the fake outrage bandwagon to derail discussions.

    Which segues nicely into Sheila’s suggestion to poll Charlie Stross on the Lanius matter. I’m not sure it translates, considering the massive cultural differences between your place and Charlie’s, where commenters are expected to follow a much less fuzzy party line than here.
    Not to say Charlie doesn’t care about free speech, but he seems to be of the school of thought that cares for people’s feelings first, open debate second, and he doesn’t make much of a mystery of his not suffering fools gladly.
    In fairness, he manages to keep a pretty decent conversation going, and even though it’s not no holds barred by any means, it’s easy enough to figure the limited set of themes and attitudes that don’t fit in the local scene.

    Basically, you’re facing the eternal issue of grief play re: community management, and there are only two ways to handle it: either decide anything’s fair game, and then expect it to turn, at best, into something awful, or accept that your being a tad discriminative about who/what you welcome (and not) in your pub doesn’t make you a nazi.

    Trying to find the sweet spot in between by expecting people to show some decency while they engage hot button topics is hoping way too much from the Homo Intarwebus species: you’ll be drowned between displays of fake outrage and genuine horror, and will eventually drive to extinction anything that can’t thrive in the most toxic ecosystem.

    Generally speaking, I’d suggest putting in basic troll-mitigation devices: at least moderate pseudonymity via openID or registration, and setting ground rules, even if only:

    “Don’t be an ass — Peter Watts will be the judge of that”

    Then enforce them hard and fast, pointing why you deleted/disenvoweled/banned such and such, for the education of the rest.

    Alternatively, you can always go the way of multiplexed selective agnosia, by allowing discretionary mute/block of and by your readers/commenters (hint: it works, but it makes for a very weird and rough beginner experience for newcomers).

    With that said, I don’t really mind if you want to keep Lanius around as a troll mascot, as long as you take care not to let him breed and shit all over the place — understanding it’s your call, obviously, and all anyone could reasonably do otherwise is exercise their foot-voting privilege.

    GL&GG

  220. @AcD,

    Re Stross. I don’t think it matters that he has a blog of a different flavor. I think it would be useful to take a survey of people who deal with similar problems (having a blog with posts that have a lot of comments where you might want to ban problem users). I think he should survey authors with blogs with interesting comment threads.

    See what works or doesn’t for other people, experiment with same.

  221. @ Sheila:
    I didn’t mean to suggest asking Charlie isn’t a good idea in general, I just pointed that his and Peter’s takes on what they instinctively see as ‘moderation’ and ‘censorship’ (respectively) may be too essentially different for Charlie’s experience to readily translate in Peter’s practice.
    Sorry if that was unclear.

    As a sidenote, I’m personally more in favor of Charlie’s “my house, my rules” approach in practice, although our respective selections of (un)acceptable topics and behaviors may differ significantly and bring me closer to Peter’s views.

    At the end of the day I’m with the late Pierre Desproges to think (loosely translated):

    “You can joke about anything, just not with anybody”

  222. @sheila… It is not trolling if purpose is to churn stagnant and fetid pools of sycophantic groupthink. Simmons forum is full of people who see Steyn as insightful.

  223. @ 03, who responded to me with Re: Hitler and Jeebus
    Thomas, can’t help but point out that Hitler by no means “engineered” or “created” the German “fascism” as it is known. Long before his rise to power, a significant portion of German population already were antisemitic, homophobic, nationalistic, and harboring notable “humiliated national pride” issue. Germany post-WW I was chock-full of various völkisch nationalists, so the Nazi PR machine was definitely not in the business of “organizing an entire nation to the task of eradicating entire ethnic groups” – the nation was already looking for a cause and a method to do such a thing, and Hitler merely convinced those people that his methods and causes were superior. It’s the equivalent of convincing a crowd of alcoholics to prefer a particular brand of liquor, not arranging for people to become alcoholics de-novo.

    As to Jebus, I happen to be partial to the Jesus Myth theory, that is, the concept that there are too few reasons to claim, with any degree of certainty, that a real historical figure more or less corresponding to Jesus actually existed. It is entirely plausible that Jesus as we more-or-less know him was a composite character.

    All of this may be, but it’s argument effectively at right angles to what I was trying to get at. “Lanius” effectively says “words can’t affect attitudes” or something to that effect, and I was responding that words certainly can; I used the historical or pseudo-historical references for easy recognition by all that in fact words to matter, and can in fact get a heck of a lot of people killed (or abused to lesser degree etc.).

    When you are arguing about whether or not any particular person was the one who said those words, that’s nearly a strawman and in any case nearly irrelevant. Whether Jesus the Nazirine said what’s attributed to him is less relevant than what are the words which have come down to us. Seriously, does it matter if it’s Descartes or Fred Flintstone who says “I think, therefor, I AM”? No, it’s the concept and not the speaker that’s ultimately important unless you want to make it an issue of it being a Cult of Personality. One of my main disagreements with much of modern Christianity is that it is making it all about “who said it” rather than “what was said”.

    As to whether it was Adolph the Genocidal Pipsqueak who created German National Socialism wholecloth or he simply provided the narration to pull the various threads all into one big overview that went simultaneously batshit-crazy and expansively militant all at once, I don’t think it matters that the various threads were extant, nor that it was he who spoke the words that pulled it all together. The fact was, it was words — whomever’s words and speaking to whomever — but it was words that launched the whole big ball of wax.

    Especially highly-weighted pejoratives can have a great power to evoke raw emotion of the sort that can’t easily be appealed by reason. If I wrote a book called “the Bell Curve” that would certainly cause a lot of debate, regardless of the circles in which discussion took place. However, if I were to just jump up and yell that “n-word” three times fast in a variety of different crowds, on the one hand it could get me lynched and on another hand it could get some black folks lynched. Even if no lynchings took place, a lot of anger would flood up and any debates would likely be more heated and less rational than any had over “the Bell Curve”, though that book should really be seen as more troublesome because it masks and purports to be actual science and thus more worthy as a call to action.

    @ folks deconstructing Starfish/Maelstrom/Behemoth etc… HEY! I’m still reading Maelstrom! How about some “*spoiler alert* warning! %-|

  224. @Peter : I personally think that accepting Lanius’ comments not only degrades the conversation in general (at best he gets ignored, at worst he succeeds in getting a rise) but seriously damages your credibility and value as a blogger and writer for accepting it happen.

    His presence also effectively excludes certain others who would like to go to an author’s blog and not see racist or misogynistic slurs – both used against them (as Lanius did) and in general. I guess it’s up to you to decide whether their presence would be more desired than Lanius, but from what I’ve seen of him here and elsewhere his value is essentially negative wherever he goes.

    Charitably, Lanius is a troll who uses words and phrases that genuinely harm people. I don’t see why this should be tolerated in our society any more, anywhere.

    @Peter D: to your point about getting it or not – I got his point. I just don’t agree at all. Changing from ‘n-word’ to ‘Canadian’ would not be so bad. For starters, it’s amazingly stupid. “OH no, we’ve been called Canadian! Now we have national health care and a reasonably strong economy!” Secondly it’s not you who are the offended party here; many many people have specifically stated ‘do not use the n-word’. Period. By doing so it’s offensive to them because of specifically what that word represents. It’s possible that something else would fill that void, but does it matter? Someone who has been hurt by the use of a word has asked you to stop. Lanius doesn’t. Ultimately his intent of why he refuses to stop is immaterial.

  225. @Kalon

    Kalon said:
    “Secondly it’s not you who are the offended party here; many many people have specifically stated ‘do not use the n-word’. Period. By doing so it’s offensive to them because of specifically what that word represents. It’s possible that something else would fill that void, but does it matter? Someone who has been hurt by the use of a word has asked you to stop. Lanius doesn’t. Ultimately his intent of why he refuses to stop is immaterial.”

    Oh dear…
    I’ll probably regret engaging, but I’m willing to accept you’re not meaning to troll and are genuinely trying to show us the path of light and great justice, only doing it with your center of consciousness up your nether regions.

    tl;dr: context matters, so does intent.

    Lanius is a counterproductive poster and troll not because he uses bad words or evokes shocking images, but because of what he means to achieve by doing so.

    You, on the other hand are wrong in your claim that words that may (or verifiably do) hurt anyone’s feelings (whom you think should’t be subjected to irritation) shan’t be uttered, ever.

    Your belief that perception trumps both intent and context is misguided and is the accelerant of book-burning festivals.

    Long version below:

    On who’s degrading the conversation:

    Lanius is exploiting the convention of free speech (highly valued by our host) for the purpose of annoying people rather than to further any interesting-if-controversial point. What he does is detrimental to the quality of conversation.

    You and your fellow Paladins of Bowdler are trying to protect select people from getting their feelings hurts by sterilizing the discourse with Napalm of Righteousness +5, secure in your belief that by virtue of you standing up “for the children/women/oppressed” you can do no wrong.

    In any case, you’re making imperative calls to decency to steer the conversation away from topics or views you don’t condone: essentially you’re trying to guilt trip people to subject to your views, damned be facts if they don’t agree with your preferences. What you do is detrimental to the quality of the conversation.

    On intent:

    Whether you are in fact exploiting the victims you purport to defend, or merely are overzealous in your care for presumed aching sensibilities everywhere is purely a matter of interpretation — which is why, ultimately, intent and whys are not immaterial when analyzing discourse.

    Words come with baggage, and yes, some may be painful as they evoke things we’d rather didn’t exist. I’m certainly not advocating the notion it’s even remotely acceptable to use nigger instead of PoC or whatever is in fashion this year when discussing current affairs, addressing or mentioning PoC, but your line of reasoning is what leads some well-meaning and lazy idiots who can’t be bothered with actually teaching history to children (nor to read their own schoolbooks and consider intent) to expunge the N-word from friggin’ Huckleberry Finn.

    Here’s how Twain responded to a librarian asking him to defend his book, which was then (1905) facing a ban from Brooklyn Public Library:

    “I am greatly troubled by what you say. I wrote ‘Tom Sawyer’ & ‘Huck Finn’ for adults exclusively, & it always distressed me when I find that boys and girls have been allowed access to them. The mind that becomes soiled in youth can never again be washed clean. I know this by my own experience, & to this day I cherish an unappeased bitterness against the unfaithful guardians of my young life, who not only permitted but compelled me to read an unexpurgated Bible through before I was 15 years old. None can do that and ever draw a clean sweet breath again on this side of the grave.”

    Questions:

    • Was Twain’s contrition genuine in this letter ?
    • Does his intent matter in interpreting his words ?
    • Shall we rejoice that he seemingly approves of the decision to protect “the children” from his filthy, filthy book ?


  226. Lanius is exploiting the convention of free speech (highly valued by our host) for the purpose of annoying people rather than to further any interesting-if-controversial point.

    Easier to accuse anyone of that than to address any point they’ve raised.

    Like, is mainstream culture not deranged for not seeing eugenics is nothing negative, in fact widely practised on a natural basis (3/4 of smart guys I went to school with chose smart women).

    Those who don’t.. well… I see them as being stupid. Future is going to be nasty, creative & smart progeny is a must.

    You won’t address this, because you cannot. You are an adult, therefore, you cannot really learn. Your brain has ossified, you are unable to change your ways of thinking.

    Extended kittenhood is important in people who actually do stuff. Technology changes so often one must not ‘grow up’, ‘get serious’, because that risks ‘growing up’ into a corner. 90% of very smart people I’ve known would be considered ‘very immature’, by most of their peers.

    Like that calculus professor at Comenius university.. very passionate about calculus, very silly jokes and to boot is involved in reenactment of K&K military marching band.

  227. “You, on the other hand are wrong in your claim that words that may (or verifiably do) hurt anyone’s feelings (whom you think should’t be subjected to irritation) shan’t be uttered, ever.”

    that’s not my claim. If you like, I’ll state my claim.

    White people shouldn’t use the n-word almost ever. If you think there’s a reasonable question about it – the answer is no, you shouldn’t.

    Mark Twain is often brought up as a way of showing ‘see, it’s awesome’ – so perhaps I’ll amend it to this: if you’re a shithot writer who is as good as Mark Twain and is using the n-word in a historical context, that might be okay. If you’re a writer attempting to write realistic dialog of racists, sure, that might be okay. If you’re trying to show how bad it actually is – well, good luck, but chances are you’re going to fuck it up. In any case, that’s not what I was talking about.

    If you’re a shitstain troll who desires nothing but to piss people off and doesn’t actually care about whether he literally hurts someone? No, it’s not okay.

    You tell me, AcD: of what value is there in using the n-word on a message board or blog? that’s the context we’re talking about and I assumed fairly obviously that this was what was being inferred. Since I was talking about a blog, I thought this was clear. My apologies, though it let you get a nice strawman going. But do you see value in that free speech (sidenote: hate speech is not protected speech, just fyi) on a message board? Does it have any single redeeming value whatsoever?

    As to your questions, other than them being fairly immaterial –
    was his contrition genuine? I don’t know. I’d probably say no, and that he was trolling the librarian given what I know about him.
    Does his intent matter? For what – the apology? Huck Finn? It matters and it doesn’t. If you’re the nicest person in the world and you jokingly call a PoC a n-word, your intent doesn’t really matter much at all to the person you just spoke to – because the important thing is the pain you’re actually causing. I think it can matter when it’s in certain contexts, but I also think it’s often going to cause more harm than good and can be easily interpreted as endorsement.
    Shall we rejoice? No, I don’t think so.

    Now, a question of my own:
    -Why do you want to use the word?

  228. Also, AcD, I’m curious – what am I steering the conversation away from? Lanius being a dick? People flippantly using the n-word? I didn’t realize that this conversation was about that.

    Your view that everything should be up for grabs and you should be able to say whatever you want makes it so that people who view these words as hostile actions, threats and triggers essentially are unwelcome. But hey, I’ll actually recognize that you’re not claiming that because I can somewhat infer that you’re trying to take something of a middle ground. Would have been nice if you had given me the same courtesy, but so it goes.

  229. @Kalon
    The n-word, I suspect, is most flippantly being used by highly melanic people. The same here with gypsies. They call themselves ‘gypsies’, yet when one long suffering neighbour dares to use the G-word, they’re painted as racists*.

    Everyone is. Look at this example of Vox Populi: some USian asked reddit while Europeans do not like Roma..
    http://www.reddit.com/comments/d3hax/why_does_europe_hate_the_roma_so_much/

    Either you believe it is a gross exercise in nazi sockpuppetry, which seems like a conspiracy theory, the evidence is that redditers have had overwhelmingly negative experiences with Romani people.

    *Which is accurate. According to Czech polls, ~82+% of non-Roma do not like them. And 45% would like them stripped of citizenship and expelled from the republic. Shocking numbers, right? Note that nazi parties get like 3% of the vote at most.

    Why? If you discount the multicultural niceties spewed by wide-eyed people who believe every culture is equally ‘good’, the answer is: Roma culture is not suited for modern society. It is good for nomadic tinkers, fortune tellers and opportunistic thieves (do not try to contest this, their reputation for petty theft from others is legendary and a byword in most European languages)

    Furthermore, they are tribal. If one group of gypsies is doing good, mostly employed and so on, they detest worse off group and do not try to help them…

    It may have something to do with Roma culture. According to most Roma legal traditions, stealing from ‘others’ is OK, as long as not too much is taken, and no one is physically harmed. And even Romanis who are not part of their ‘culture’ are viewed as ‘outsiders’. If they, for example, report a fellow Roma to police. Result: most poor Romanis are exploited by vicious loansharks. Whom they protect and never report to the police.

    Of course, present day Roma activists widely deride this. I suggest finding some scholarly articles on Romani legal traditions. Preferably older ones, when people still had balls to write the truth..

    When on 2am on 1st of january, a local businessman was stabbed in the head from behind, somehow survived that and killed one and heavily wounded another Roma, the assorted Roma activists were busy proclaiming the shooter ‘executed them’.

    http://www.google.cz/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ix=seb&ie=UTF-8&ion=1#hl=cs&output=search&sclient=psy-ab&q=tanvald%20shooting&pbx=1&oq=&aq=&aqi=&aql=&gs_sm=&gs_upl=&fp=476023ec3bdba1cd&ix=seb&ion=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.r_qf.,cf.osb&biw=1384&bih=826

    When police, three eyewitnesses and examination of wounds (yep, this guy has been attacked from behind with a knife. His head has great big cuts on it..) has lead to police not charging anyone* and ruling it a self.-defense shooting, said activists have not apologised at all, nor retracted their slander..
    *no idea whether the surviving Roma youth will be charged with robbery or attempted murder. I mean.. how dumb can you get? Stab someone in the skull? Deserves removal from the gene pool for gross stupidity…

    Last time someone dared to collate crime stats by ‘ethnicity’ (1990), and not the stated one but determined by officers themselves, the 5-7% strong Roma minority was responsible for majority of petty larceny, a third of all robberies and a good part of burglaries.

    That tradition worked okay while they were travelling around. These days, ‘not too much’ over enough time makes people erect Gitmo-like fences and buy attack dogs. Last time, in a locality heavily targeted by nearby Romanis (every house that doesn’t have a Rottweiler or a Dobermann in the yard has been burgled repeatedly) , people who’ve had too much stuff stolen fired at shadowy figures.. who were police conducting a search. They were looking for Roma thieves.. at least no one was hurt or charged.

    Dogs themselves are sometimes stolen and eaten by Roma. Probably the dogs were insufficiently paranoid. This is not common, just dozens of cases per year in 5 million strong country (Slovakia).

    One wonders why exactly the Romanis left India. Because these days when I see a well dressed ‘Roma’ person, it is most likely an Indian programmer from IBM.

    Note that there is a minority of Roma who work and are productive members of society. Majority is illiterate, prone to gambling, alcoholism and completely unable to raise their own children..

    @PW
    I swear I am not making this up. Roma steal and eat** dogs.

    http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=1948361

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1362901/Mayor-Slovak-town-causes-outrage-solution-stray-dog-problem-inviting-gypsies-eat-them.html

    **If they are stray.. I am ok with that.
    Stray dogs are a nuisance like feral cats and a danger to people and wildlife. Cats eat anything that has protein in it and they can catch..

  230. I’m a nigger, you’re a nigger, she’s a nigger, we’re a nigger, wouldn’t you like to be a nigger too?

    bottom line: BE A NIGGER

    Drifting lazily down the mississippi of discourse we drift past Genderville, turn the bend and see Raceville on the hazy horizon. The river doesn’t represent freedom as much as it implies freedom. The everflowing river IS change, and change IS freedom. Everyone on the raft is a nigger, is a faggot, is a cunt. Why? Because I say so. I like the simplicity of the arrangement.


  231. The fact was, it was words — whomever’s words and speaking to whomever — but it was words that launched the whole big ball of wax.

    Words. Yeah.

    I imagine Hitler’s genuine political talent and tens of thousands of dedicated followers had nothing to do with it.

    Nor did the support he recieved from conservative parties, whom saw him as a counterweight to the formidable German commies.

    Yeah.. it was just his psychotic ramblings .. is all.
    Come on. Hitler suceeded, because he was a crafty sumbitch at exactly the right place in the right time. Had the 1929 crash never happened, he’d never have suceeded. Support for his party was waning before the crash.

    If I said earlier that words. do not matter.. I take it back, but words are not all.


  232. Lanius is exploiting the convention of free speech (highly valued by our host) for the purpose of annoying people rather than to further any interesting-if-controversial point. What he does is detrimental to the quality of conversation.

    How can you know? I am not sure what my own motives are
    . I like annoying people, that is true, however, for the past couple of weeks, Dr.Watts has been gracious enough to filter my comments, so only the better ones make it through.

    I find it good practice. Learning how to debate stuff without causing coronaries or foam at the mouth in other parties is a valuable skill and I greatly appreciate Dr.Watts for having the patience to moderate my comments and thus allow me to post here.

    Even better debate than at Stross’s place, where there are too many fuzzy-headed liberals. This place is darker, edgier, has more scientists and more interesting…

    Can you believe it, that when Stross banned me, some sycophant who never learned any Latin chimed in that I am politically aligned with the Legate Lanius of Fallout: New Vegas ?! (yeah, I’m a neo-roman might-is-right slaver supremacist…(rofl))

  233. A lot to think about here. Thank you all.

    My perspective on the whole free-speech issue has been massively influenced by a little book called “Kindly Inquisitors”, by Jonathan Rauch: it comes out in favor of free speech at all costs and argues persuasively against hate speech legislation, despite having been written by a man who is both gay and Jewish and might therefore be expected to know something about the impact of bigotry. Rauch abhors the “words are bullets” mindset; he argues that the way to overcome the various isms is not by banning words, but by beating the shit out of pernicious ideas in the course of public debate. Censorship confers a measure of martyrdom; dragging some klansman’s opinions into the light of day for all to see, in contrast, makes them wither and die. My policy for the crawl has always been informed by this perspective. I’ve subscribed to it for as long as I can remember.

    But that was before the Republican caucuses made it so clear that sometimes, the more batshit-crazy an idea is, the more it seems to catch on. That was before we discovered that words, while not bullets, are nonetheless actions. They rewire synapses. I haven’t read the specific experiments Kalon cites above, but I’ve read others like them (neurolinguistic hacking figures prominently in Echopraxia), and K has a good point: words matter, physically. Not to mention the additional nontrivial fact that I want this place to be a forum for lively debate, not a fetid backwater you can’t visit without getting a bad taste in your mouth.

    We also need to retain the ability to give offense when warranted. I recoil from “nigger” (although apparently it was not always considered offensive), because it denigrates entire clades based on trivial and irrelevant characteristics; but I rejoice in taking shots at bible-thumpers and tea-party types because those groups self-assemble, deliberately coalesce around ideas and philosophies that deserve ridicule. And I absolutely reserve the right to call someone an asshole, or a rabid animal — again, based not on some irrelevant trait like gender or ethnicity, but on behavior of the individual.

    But I’m starting to think that I’m wrong about the whole anything-goes philosophy. I don’t feel good about reserving the right to give offense unto myself, while still banning the things that I find offensive. This is something that’s going to take some thought, and I’m not in a great place for that right now — but I am thinking about it, and I’ve come to realize that as long as people insist on peeing in the pool I’m going to have to impose some restrictions. For the moment, I’m doing that by the seat of my pants; but soon I’ll work out something more formal, and I’ll let you all know when that happens.

    Thank you all for your patience and your input.

  234. Neurolinguistic hacking,…. isn’t that the crock of $hit the sad pick-up artist crowd keeps selling to gullible schlemiels?

    Oh. That’s neurolinguistic programming. Same thing or not? (gotta go now, can’t look it up)

  235. Take the basic idea, give it seventy years of further development, put it in the hands of a clade of transhumans who’ve used tame cancers to rewire their brains.

    Less shit, more substance by then.

  236. @Kalon:
    Lots for me to answer in your last couple comments, and too much in fact for it to fit the format here: as far as I can tell, we’re both holding to the assumption the other is not actively trying to be an asshole, yet the best we seem to achieve is try hard not to talk past each other, and largely fail at it.

    My suggestion is we take that to a private channel, work out our handshake protocols, then come back here with a better S/N ratio ?
    Can’t find an email contact on your blog/profile, but mine is available, so please: either poke me by email, or let Peter know if you’re OK with him passing me yours.

    Cheers,
    AcD.

  237. @ Peter Watts, who remarked: But that was before the Republican caucuses made it so clear that sometimes, the more batshit-crazy an idea is, the more it seems to catch on, and in a temporally close-spaced additional space remarked on the SF concept of a clade of transhumans who’ve used tame cancers to rewire their brains:

    I wouldn’t go so far as to call Rick Santorum “transhuman” but with his epic rant (3:17 on) about “people of faith being excluded from the public square” (not this more calm and actually reasonable presentation), one might wonder how exactly he’s coming up with some of his campaign positions. Perhaps you’re more on-point than you know, even if splitting your point across responses. ;)

    @ Bad Words v Bad Intentions: I take the position that we should all understand that words do have power, sometimes extreme power, yet of course sometimes extreme power (or mere emphasis) is what’s needed to get a point across, or to make a point stick in the mind long enough to influence future debate. Sometimes, or for some people, kind words of reasoned eloquence go in one ear and out the other, so to speak.

    Perhaps if there’s to be some editorial “suppression of the inherent right of limitless free speech” (sophomore campus protests, anyone?) perhaps it should be limited to what’s clearly outright attacks on other folks here, which have reached the level of name-calling or flinging around buzzwords rather than pressing an argumental point? While I don’t have a horse in this race (again, so to speak) as I am not a black man, still I think it’s uncharitable to use language associated with oppression or violence unless it somehow becomes absolutely necessary.

    My point? Should people be allowed to use the “n-word” here? Freedom of speech says “of course”. Should people use it here? Other than to demonstrate that freedom of speech, I can’t see any reason anyone could want to use it. There are better words. But honestly that’s really a matter of personal taste and trying to act cultured in most cases… unless of course it’s clear that these are the only words that some people know. In that case they might be banned from the board until they have sufficient vocabulary as to be able to meaningfully participate.

    /me wanders off, tongue deeply in cheek


  238. because it denigrates entire clades based on trivial and irrelevant characteristics;

    If black people themselves use the words, why does it denigrate them?
    For example, some weeks ago, a blonde Objectivist bimbo called me a ‘slavic trust fund baby’. Now while initially, it kind of stung, I decided that it is accurate… I have far more free time than the usual young person due to having only work to have money to spend shooting guns and drinking stuff… so it is kind of accurate and have since been jokingly using it in ‘occupation’ on various fora.

    If groups black** people themselves call each other ‘nigger’, which is insulting in some contexts, but they are not meaning to insult themselves by it, why should the word be considered insulting?

    Should they not just ignore racists who try to use that as an insult? I find it admirable if someone can reclaim an insult and use it normally.

    Better than legislate stuff so anyone who says the wrong thing gets in trouble with the law.

    Many insult reclamation efforts are out there.. from faggots to sluts.
    Why should black people stay behind? By reclaiming the word, you are adopting a position of strength. The petty insults of others.. do not matter.


    Take the basic idea, give it seventy years of further development, put it in the hands of a clade of transhumans who’ve used tame cancers to rewire their brain

    Bah! Techlepathy will likely be with us in 30-40 years, after that, we’ll have conjoiners… and engineering always beats biology where speed is concerned. And if you have speed, it is easier to have strategic momentum..

  239. This article was published just recently and it ties in perfectly with ‘The Limits of Reason’. A case study:

    “Few lives better illustrate the self-destruction that ensues when a great brain falls victim to irrational thinking.”

    In 1981 the National Film Board of Canada agreed to finance a feature-length documentary on the game of chess. For the “Great Chess Movie” the producers decided to approach the reclusive world champion Bobby Fischer.

    Camille Coudari describes the harrowing encounter in this remarkable historical document. In part two Camille describes the religious background that caused Fischer to think and behave the way he did.

    Chess history: Nineteen Hours with Bobby Fischer – Part 1
    Chess history: Nineteen Hours with Bobby Fischer – Part 2

  240. I think that I have yet again underspecified the claim – of course I’m not claiming that words don’t have “any” effect (fo’ starters, words manifested as sounds or written symbol patterns have distinct physical properties ;) and of course have a capacity for conveying information and soliciting certain explicit responses).

    However, as I have already said, I take offense at the peculiar memeplex which asserts that humans are so susceptible to verbal trickery that you could predictably, precisely mold and re-mold their minds with crude trickery like eschewing specific words. Idea that preventing people from using the word ki… the k-word will somehow make them more mellow and accepting of my heritage (instead of just inventing a new word or sardonically assigning an euphemism to use behind my back), that a fairly normal person exposed to Gor books will somehow become less normal and more misogynistic (good thing I never managed to down more than three books despite my ex’s admonitions), and that playing Gears of War will make one into a killing machine (if only it was so easy…), and reading Turner Diaries would slowly, insidiously reshape the reader into a racist doucheroo. The idea of “unconditionally toxic narratives”.
    I think that it, while conceptually conceivable, simply has no basis in current observed reality and is rooted primarily in our desire to believe that we can meaningfully control development of ideas and beliefs on the level of cultures and societies, that our language has an inherent power over the world. Simply put, we’re yet to see a good “neurolinguistic sploit”, and claims that can be considered adjoining to the “toxic narrative” concept (computer games are a risk factor for violence, violent movies are a risk factor for violence, porn is a risk factor for sexual violence and/or misogyny, etc etc etc) have repeatedly failed reliable verification despite intense “intuitive appeal” and ideological support both in academia and in political critter offices.

    My position is simple: until we (more or less) rigorously establish the existence of “unconditionally toxic” narratives and criteria for classifying a work as such , we can’t seriously start discussing what existing narratives are “inherently and unconditionally toxic”, let alone unilaterally and arbitrarily ascribe this property to any particular work.

    @ Peter Watts

    “But that was before the Republican caucuses made it so clear that sometimes, the more batshit-crazy an idea is, the more it seems to catch on.”

    With all due respect, Peter, I think that there’s no reason to believe the amount of crazy in USA is increasing.
    It was always sky-high, but various historical circumstances prevented it from being so apparent.
    None of the republican positions are new, and a solid chunk of them are in fact yearning for return of what was status-quo several decades ago, so, if anything, there are reasons to believe that “craziness” in USA is at an all-time low (which incidentally may serve to make the remaining vocal creeps more apparent)

  241. “we’re yet to see a good “neurolinguistic sploit””

    Ah. It’s a shame you didn’t read any of what I linked or what I said. There are many very simply neurolinguistic exploits; the easiest one to show immediately is the repeated use of a person’s name to establish trust and happiness. This also happens with the arousal principle, and essentially whenever you hear your name almost everyone gets a little tingle – of excitement, adrenaline, whatever. And that’s used to tie a person’s trust to the person stating it.

    There’s just oodles of evidence showing that words have physical effects on people. It’s a shame that you’ve so far refused to actually read it. That doesn’t actually change the fact that it exists and is there; as Tyson puts it Science is cool because it doesn’t change whether you believe in it or not.

    Also, 01, perhaps it’s easier to go about it in a different way. People have said repeatedly that use of the n-word bothers them. Quite heavily in some times, to the point where they do not feel welcome going to a place that it’s used. What is the purpose on a message board of deliberately using a word that bothers others?

  242. Just so there is no confusion….

    It’s not hard to recognize bigotry and racial prejudice and to condemn it for the drivel that it is. Persecution of minorities is not an abstract, theological kind of evil, but more of the day-to-day, “this is what sucks about the world we live in” kind of evil.

    It’s not easy to write about such things. Even acknowledging racist ideas sometimes feels like defeat. Does mockery help? Do word games? I am not sure.

    Some things I am sure about.

    Literature does not answer to an outside standard.

    Language is a living, changing thing and breaks the rules and boundaries imposed upon it.

    Does that make hateful speech acceptable? I don’t think so. We all have to live with the consequences of our actions and our words.

  243. @kalon

    > White people shouldn’t use the n-word almost ever. If you think there’s a
    > reasonable question about it – the answer is no, you shouldn’t.

    > People have said repeatedly that use of the n-word bothers them. Quite
    > heavily in some times, to the point where they do not feel welcome
    > going to a place that it’s used. What is the purpose on a message
    > board of deliberately using a word that bothers others?

    Think about the implications of this for a moment.

    There are _white_ people and there are _black_people.

    Group 2 people are allowed to say “nigger”

    Group 1 people should refrain.

    We do this so that we can all get along: group 2 people won’t get angry if group 1 people would only be polite.

    Ooops….. I called the _white_ people “group 1″ and the _black_ people “group 2″

    Another faux pas. So sorry.

    How about this instead?

    Segregating people according to their skin colour or cultural origin is not a valid concept. I reject it. I hope you do too.

    “Nigger” like all the other racial epithets is an anachronism. If it’s not, then it should be. Incorporation by reference, the “N-word” word, validates that anachronism, gives it power in a perverse way.

    Politeness, so-called, is not the be-all and end-all quality of useful and interesting exchange. A great virtue no doubt, but not so great when charges of “rude and inappropriate conduct” begin to stifle expression.

  244. “Some things I am sure about.

    Literature does not answer to an outside standard.”

    Literature can not exist without outside standards. The best thing about literature is its effects on and interactions with those outside standards. Even kids’ stories show this. You might have meant that there is no objective standard that literature exists on, but that’s not a reasonable argument against talking about specific works being harmful or helpful at a specific time period for specific people.

  245. People have said repeatedly that use of the n-word bothers them. Quite heavily in some times, to the point where they do not feel welcome going to a place that it’s used. What is the purpose on a message board of deliberately using a word that bothers others?

    You just said it – It’s a metaphorical land-grab. If they can get you to leave, then they become the norm, they are more comfortable, and further discourage people like you from coming back.

    This either gives them a new home, or in some cases, the exercise allows them to feel they have Won Something, even if it’s not something they want permanently. Bullies, for instance, bully because the act feels good to them, not because they specifically want whatever it is you have – the taking is the thrill. What they get may or may not be as sweet.

    Lanius is this kind of toad – winning an argument is putatively his aim, but the primary one is to conquer, to express dominance in a zero-sum way. That’s why it’s necessary to escalate his aggressiveness, rather than give ground when you make a contrary but good point. The dominance expression is only delicious when you’re made uncomfortable. Kind of like one of the ST creatures who feed on emotions.

  246. Re: 01, Desjardins, etc.

    Oh, it’s perfectly reasonable for you to be unsettled by Achilles’s tragic fate, but don’t worry, maybe a decent, honest human being is his own safeguard
    ^_^

    Re: Lanius, 01, Kalon, on brainfuckery

    I doubt that the pale stuff described in “Not So Smart” qualifies as “exploits” (But 01 should definitely clarify what a “good” exploit is, he’s the Machine God after all). Also, while MoA is a fairly decently established (and, in my humble opinion, fairly un-hackish) phenomenon, not all research cited by Kalon is equally good. For example, the pen-thingie is (A) stretching the paradigm of MoA out of shape almost to some comical extreme a-la “manipulating the doberman’s tail to make it happy” and (B) fails to examine the confounding variables, such as differences in effort involved when holding something with your mouth in different relative positions ( I sort of get why white-hetero-males would miss this one though ;) ).

    Dwelling on how studies with similar methodology (and worse yet, studies involving “subliminal effects” as anything other than the subject of research itself, of which there was at some point quite a bunch) can be affected by indirect clues from researchers and various other parties would be outright mean and bound to open a can of fat, angry worms.

    On the other hand, Blindsight has further reinforced my preference for tall, pale men with sharp teeth and an attitude, so there’s that ;)

    On whether literature is subject to outside standards, that seems to be yet another definition/context game (it definitely is subject to certain standards in North Korea lol), but being subject to standards and having interactions with them is definitely not the same thing, so stating that “literature clearly interacts with, and affects, outside standards” does not strictly contradict rm3154’s claim.

  247. Re: Hljóðlegur, metaphorical virtual landgrabs

    I think that Lanius is not the only party engaging in such a strategy.

    For instance, dear ACM’s proclamations about how she happens to be a woman (gasp! ) and Thai (gasp!) and lesbian (gasp!), which is supposed to imply that talking to her with the same attitude and language as she routinely employs is unacceptable (because everyone knows that lesbians are superior lifeforms and should be paid proper respects lest a fate worse than death befalls us :D) is exactly the same kind of stuff, but pushed from a different end:
    instead of aggressively using a term that makes you uncomfortable, thus forcing you to leave, the subject passive-aggressively asserts that you are being a meanie racist betentacled monster for using (fairly banal) words against the subject, and claims hypersensitivity to said words.

    If you cave in, the subject just ups the ante and picks different word targets.

    Rinse + Repeat

    You can use both provocative rudeness and demands of politeness as rhetorical ploys. And you can combine both for massive damage.

    P.S.:
    Found this googling for something unrelated http://i.imgur.com/lniNi.jpg

  248. @Hljóðlegur
    A toad?

    And frankly, am I oversuing offensive words? I remember Watts being outraged about some or other ethnic slurs i used in a joking manner.. but seriously a thread or three back.

    @Kalon


    “(those who do not know, Canadian is obfuscation equivalent for ‘Nigger’ in PC places in the US inhabited by people who do not love their fellow black men…”

    Grats, Lanius. Misogyny and racism? Wow – you’re quite the winner here. Does Peter Watts keep you around as some form of affirmative action for people from the 19th century?

    I am kind of wondering how you managed to glean that I am a racist from that statement. I was merely relaying what I read and heard elsewhere.. that is, if you ban ‘hate speech’, people will get creative.

    Also, I am not a racist. People ought to be judged on merit, not race.
    Believing that various ‘races’ (not a good concept, since due to mixing there is a ~continuum) differ in their traits is not racist, it is merely sane.

    You would not try to argue believing that people who claim superior sprint performance in west africans that is due to different muscle fiber ratios are racist.

    Just si you would not say that someone who points out pygmies who live in hellish, humid conditions and are thus smaller to improve cooling should be called a racist..

    Racism explicitly demands discrimination based on race.

    And misogynist? Am I a misogynist for seeing the obvious, that women are not men? Different biochemistry, different evolutionary drives, different everything. Women are not men with balls.. they’re different in


    That’s why it’s necessary to escalate his aggressiveness, rather than give ground when you make a contrary but good point.

    Can you provide an example of me doing that?

  249. @AcD: sorry, I don’t feel particularly comfortable giving a random stranger my email after they’ve decided they want to argue with me further. Bring it up over at the Westeros forums or something like that.

    @rm: similarly, group 2 has been abused for centuries by group 1, killed because of the color of their skin and a certain word has been used to identify with said violence. Shockingly, a lot of them don’t like group 1 using it. In fact, you can put it much more like this: the word itself is not a problem; it is the word being used by the people who cause pain with it being a problem.

    And I’ll ask you what I asked AcD: why do you want to use the n-word? What does it gain you? Why do you have such a fetish towards it? Why can’t you accept that because of history and culture when you use it it causes others pain? Why would you want to be so selfish that you would ignore that request and use the word anyway?

    @03: “not all research cited by Kalon is equally good” – that’s certainly true and a good point that isn’t brought up enough; neuroscience and psychology are fraught with all sorts of issues right now. However, there are enough experiments related to this sort of thing, enough brain scan data, enough demonstrations of the action->rationalization core that it seems to be a strong indicator of the direction. If you don’t like that hack, there are plenty more like that around; they’re easy to find if you bother looking.

    “the subject passive-aggressively asserts that you are being a meanie racist betentacled monster for using (fairly banal) words against the subject, and claims hypersensitivity to said words. ” I don’t think passive aggressive is a term well associated with ACM – she’s quite aggressive without any passivity. She’s happy to tell someone they’re being a racist entitled douchebag. Can’t get much more active than that.

    The land grab is interesting; however, with ACM it’s entirely explicit. She outright states that she does not want anyone like Lanius coming by and talking there; she has no desire to go through all the reasons he’s a racist asshat or a misogynist and no desire to make anyone hurt by racism or sexism unwelcome because of his asshattery. She outright states as such on the blog. It is certainly a landgrab. It is however her site; this seems to be akin to blaming her for growing a certain type of flower on her property and not growing a flower you happen to really like. You’re correct, but so what?


  250. On the other hand, Blindsight has further reinforced my preference for tall, pale men with sharp teeth and an attitude, so there’s that

    I’m tall, dark, gaunt, have an attitude. But my teeth are ordinary. If I filed them, would you appreciate that ;-)

    (rofl)


    cultural origin is not a valid concept

    You’re saying that official bodies should not pay any heed to cultural differences when considering various groups?

    When was the last time an agnostic had his daughter killed for dating the wrong guy? Why do most women in Netherlands, who are in abuse shelters and the like come from muslim backgrounds? Islamic attitudes towards women (not misogynistic, no siree, only people like Lanius** can be misogynistic. It is not misogynistic if it is scripture, right..)

    Cultural origin needs to be kept in mind. Pretending everyone is s basically nice person is a stupid idea.

    **whose worst offenses against womankind involve awkward dating attempts and scaring the bejesus out of some women with his proclivity for silent, brooding lurk-fests in the dark…

  251. @ 01, who wrote, in-part:

    With all due respect, Peter, I think that there’s no reason to believe the amount of crazy in USA is increasing.

    With all due respect, “we beg to differ”.

    You appear to be referring, as is Peter Watts, to the political contest now ongoing. Actually, it probably has been crazier, notably the election that brought Mr Obama into the office of POTUS. Yet it was along the same political thrust axis: Leanings to Theocracy v. Rabid Progressivism. Now, with a nod to people from other places, such as Canada or, well, most of the rest of the world, I realize that what passes for “rabid Progressivism” in the States is about what Canada (and most of the rest of the world) had in place since the near aftermath of WWII. Universal healthcare, cradle-to-grave socialism providing at least a limited Full Welfare to anyone who needed it, even if the dole amounted to a handful of stale crackers and a monthly vitamin shot in the arse and immunizations for the kids. Nobody would like it much but nobody would starve or die of whooping-cough or smallpox.

    Yet for most of us in the States, the old-school ideal was closer to the Republicans of the 1960s, and much farther from the Democrat ideals or Republican ideals of the modern day. The old-school Republicans who are probably the majority of that party haven’t had a candidate to stand for them since Bob Dole lost the primary in 2000 or whenever that was. He was pretty middle-of-the-road and one of the last Centrists leaning to the right. Although a strong supporter of “right to work” and lower taxes but far less tax-loopholes, he was also one of the authors of the Americans With Disabilities Act, one of the most far-reaching and deeply Progressive laws ever passed here in the States. At the time he got the ADA passed and stuck around to ensure funding for compliance enforcement, he was considered a great statesman. Now he’d be considered a “flip flopper” by both main parties and the Libertarians have been howling for the blood of the ADA since it was enacted. But enough of this.

    What we have here is an increasing case of “law of the excluded middle”, and the middle is where you find compromise, that essential precursor to peace; and in the increasing absence of compromise and failure of peace, we hear the drums of war, not so loudly or deeply as to yet launch the Second Civil War but frankly a lot of people here see it coming. Let gasoline get up around $5 or $6 a gallon on average, let Great Recession Part II really come in, with a fall-down in the EU and with China’s rising middle-class suddenly rising up to be well-and-truly crushed by the old-school hardliner Communist leadership — with concomitant paralysis or destruction of the PRC commercial-industrial manufacturing and processing base — and we have no cheap goods, no way to get around, no way to transport food, and no fuel to refrigerate or cook it. Everyone here who is not a complete dimwit feels this in their bones, even if they can’t directly articulate it as such: and they feel it coming. The only thing that can forestall this is a moderate and in-drawing center, but our political contests and zero-sum-game nature of our political system makes that conciliation almost impossible. And everyone here knows it. Thus Teh Krazee is rampant. I have to deal with this ridiculous crap every time I go out to buy groceries, and sometimes it seems to me as if there are powers, movements, and causes all afoot pretty much looking for idiots to whom to give loaded guns. I am not quite ready to get up on the soapbox and screech “weep and wail, head for the hills so that you can feed the people who got there first” but the longer it is before it happens, it becomes — so to speak — more of a case of “the longer it takes the bigger it gets, and the bigger they are, the harder they fall”.

    Sorry to go all TLDR on what probably doesn’t interest perhaps most of the posters here, but I have to flatly contradict anyone who thinks it’s getting more sane here in the States.

  252. Re: Lanius

    The studies supporting significant neurological differences between male and female humans have been found to suffer from a swarm of methodological issues (there’s like, a whole book about how those studies are full of shit and what kind of shit that is. I can find it if you want, it must be somewhere in my “links of interest”). So at this point in scientific development the jury is still out as to what, if any, are the “congenital” behavioral differences between men and women. Also, even in far more observable realm of plain physiology, the distribution curves for trait distribution in males and females very significantly overlap

    Human sexual dimorphism is kinda “meh” ;)

  253. @03

    Thanks for the link above, it’s a perfect in-a-nutshell illustration of the point in your post, and of what’s bound to go wrong with any attempt to engage non-entirely-bland topics in a public space.
    Also of the general issue of public discourse in societies where bigots of all cloth have happily co-opted the rhetorics of postmodernism to try and drag the scientific method down to their level, and reduce science to just another equally-(un)acceptable belief in the open market of crazy cults.


  254. So at this point in scientific development the jury is still out as to what, if any, are the “congenital” behavioral differences between men and women.

    How about physical aggression. to state the bleeding obvious. What is the rate of violent assault in men and women?

    How come very few women enjoy confrontative games? How come they have their own bloody chess league?

    And how come their IQ distribution is less extreme.. has that been rebutted?


    (there’s like, a whole book about how those studies are full of shit and what kind of shit that is.

    Yeah, well, the ‘Mismeasure of Man’ was a book too and it sucked.

  255. @Kalon:
    Sorry you feel that way, mate: my point was precisely for to try and argue less, or at least in a way that gets somewhere (as opposed to pebbling each other over semantics without much actual content).

    You do make some good points, including many I happen to disagree with, but I feel the political and tribal posturing is getting in the way of us exchanging in any meaningful or interesting enough way to warrant the overhead for me.
    I’ll keep listening, but you’ve discouraged me from trying to reply to you with that much noise on the line.
    I trust you won’t count that as a win, as it doesn’t seem to me that’s what you’re going for, but that’s the result nonetheless.

    Cheers,
    AcD.

  256. RE “metaphorical land-grab” – Lanius is not the only party engaging in such a strategy.

    It’s a fairly common practice.

    I do think we should call naked power-grabs what they are, though. If an angry Thai national wants to claim Peter’s e-homestead in the name of Lesbos or whatever, I feel it’s his call – Peter, your call – whether she gets run off. It’s his house. Nice that he asks us, as his guests, what we think, but ultimately the feel of this place is his call.

    Lanius, yes I was ad hominen, but for some reason the visual on you is a toad. Kinda green, near the edge of the woods. It’s what I picture?

  257. @kalon

    Why do _you_ use the “n-word” word? What does _that_ gain _you_?

    “nigger” has powerful associations, some of it painful – no argument there.
    However, the use of the “n-word” word (I am not talking about “nigger”, but literally about N-WORD) is not without consequence.

    Consdier: Sh-t, g-d, the “f-word”, a-hole, the “frak” of BSG fame, the bleeps and white noise that get inserted into broadcast television. All such usage is heavy with connotation and begs to be subverted.

    And another thing… what with NWA drifting into the realm of the cultural icon, nigahiga all the rage with the pokemon set, and “trophy nigger” a heart-felt recommendation I just wanted to point out that the world has kind of moved on.

    The above notwithstanding, the word retains a lot of potency – no argument there. Occasionally it’s used by people to stir up sh-t (pardon my french) and to divide people. (It wasn’t me who dropped “nigger” and “n-word” into the present thread BTW)

    All I want to say is that, if we are going to start calling people nigger (and “nigger” isn’t just about skin colour, it’s also about one’s place in society), then I’m a nigger. I volunteer.

    My apologies for belabouring the point.

  258. @03, I had open access to the paper linked here Neuron – The Trouble with Sex Differences but it is now redirecting to a closed access site. I guess it was temporary.

    That article had some really good examples for why it is important to have good science journalism — I book marked it for that reason (I am a member of a hackerspace with people interested in open science and at the first meeting we discussed skills we have — some people mentioned that they are writers). But the examples were about reporting and gender differences. Merely one paragraph:

    Beyond these global differences, sex differences in specific brain structures have been more difficult to verify. One widely publicized notion is that the corpus callosum is proportionally larger in female brains. It began with a tiny postmortem study (DeLacoste-Utamsing and Holloway, 1982) showing a statistically marginal effect, which was nonetheless published in Science and made famous by TIME Magazine, Newsweek, and other popular media. Though thoroughly challenged by a meta-analysis of 49 studies, which collectively showed no significant sex difference in corpus callosum volume or splenial shape (Bishop and Wahlsten, 1997), the claim lives on among sex difference entrepreneurs like Michael Gurian (see also http://www.girlslearndifferently.com), often as an explanation for females’ mythically superior “multitasking” abilities. Similarly, the planum temporale, a structure involved in receptive language, is often claimed to be more symmetrical between left and right sides of the brain in females as compared to males, when in fact, meta-analysis of 13 studies found no significant sex difference in its symmetry (Sommer et al., 2008).

    Perhaps you already have access to the article (otherwise talk to me), or perhaps the examples are all old news.

    I recently bought Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference, and I hope it is not completely political and will cover interesting science.

  259. @Lanius:

    How about physical aggression. to state the bleeding obvious. What is the rate of violent assault in men and women?

    You know, I’m not even sure you’re right on this point. I used to date the manager of UBC’s domestic violence lab, and they’d acquired some surprising data to the effect that the most physically-violent relationships were — wait for it — lesbian couples. Even more violent than gay male couples, which surprised everybody.

    Huge caveats: this was twenty years ago, and the data were (at that time) unpublished. I don’t know if those correlations held up over time, or if the study ever made it into the peer-reviewed literature. But if nothing else, it drove home tome that generally speaking, male-on-female violence is also bigger-on-smaller, stronger-on-weaker violence; it may not be necessary to invoke gender at all to explain the difference. If we were all sapient whiptail lizards, you might well get similar violence patterns whenever you had partners of unequal size.

    I’d wonder about stats from prison populations, but that would be replacing one confound with a thousand.

  260. btw, the Lubin/Desjardin thread is really interesting, so if anyone dropped that because they thought it was a derail, I hope not. pick it back up again. I’m curious as to what 01/03 think would be possible outcomes of pathology in someone like Lubin vs. D.

  261. @rm3154, you are reminding me of the Patti Smith song “Rock ‘n’ Roll Nigger”. It rocks, but it is highly problematic for me because I think I see the point but it seems self indulgent and pretentious in some way I haven’t figured out. If I examine that reaction, perhaps it would drop away. If you haven’t heard the song, take a listen.

  262. (Listening to the song again. man, I love that song)

    Love the interview book that lead me to Patti Smith. “Across the Wounded Galaxies:
    Interviews with Contemporary American Science Fiction Writers”. I was young and impressionable and one of the authors I loved mentioned “Horses” by Patti Smith as an influence. immediately bought it.

  263. Re: Desjardins vs. Lubin. (Could be considered derailing. But let’s give our host a break on creating a new thread).

    I’ll start. It’s not as if this hadn’t been on my mind for some time now, though I haven’t read those books in quite some time nor do I think it entirely relevant for other reasons.

    Let’s assume each is, separately, confronted by an armed, maniacal woman demanding some thing or other that to a sane mind just doesn’t seem practical, logical nor really helpful.

    Desjardin. Achilles would, once let off the leash, go through a well-planned abduction followed by carefully considered psychological inquiries AKA torture. Of course, he is telling himself that he’s “helping”, whether that comes down to helping the world by ridding the world of her, well, see Lubin, below, or helping the individual as he does Alice, well that seems disingenuous as well, doesn’t it? His victim is not going to walk away from what he’s doing to her.

    Which means it is more likely to prove something to himself while at the same time satisfying a need that dates back at least to his childhood, to inflict pain because somehow, most likely sexually, it makes him feel pleasure. That motive being part of the equation and the impossibility that his torture can actually help the person in question, calls into question whether the other motives are real at all or merely a way of justifying the extended stay at Chez Desjardins.

    Lubin. Ken would shoot the bitch or snap her neck. He might use his training to get close, even subterfuge, but that would just be a means to an end: to rid the world of a PITA.

    Now, is that “sexual” on Lubin’s part? Not sure. Freud conflates (whether it’s correct or not) any sort of pleasure with sex. So, if “taking an aspirin” (which is what Lubin seems to me to be doing…removing people because they give him a headache or otherwise fall into the category of what his conditioning have placed them: threat) is pleasurable, then I suppose one could make that argument. Also, as Peter noted, he got sloppy on his old job, his superiors think intentionally, though perhaps unconsciously, in order to be able to kill more.

    Additionally, he seems to know it, or at least know once pushed on it that him taking out Desjardins was him “off the leash.”

    I would point out one other things about Lubin, though. The mercy killing of the diseased sea lion on a beach. That implies that he does not enjoy seeing suffering. In fact, I think I may be making the argument that that is what triggers his kill switch: that he would rather quickly remove “a threat” rather than let it linger. Perhaps his sloppiness was the result of seeing those who he would otherwise let live as threats, and it just spiraled.

    As for mustache-twisting, I’d have to disagree with the author on that. If so, Thomas Harris sure did a lot of research for his Hannibal series and he seems to have come to some similar conclusions. I’d argue that about the only thing that made Ted Bundy more than a one-dimensional person in real life was his ability to charm, for example, the judge in his own trial, and the extreme self-discipline it took to lose so many pounds (was it 50?) in order to escape a jail by climbing through the air vents. Apart from that, he was a rabid animal himself, biting and killing for pleasure.

    Lechter seems to think he is also doing the world a favor in eating “lower lifeforms” and doing things like arranging the death of an Italian policeman in a way consistent with the man’s own family history. *The Talented Mr. Ripley* series (haven’t read them, merely perused the text on jackets) involve things like Ripley murdering gauche neighbors and using them for fertilizer in his garden. Some sort of poetic justice that also fits with his “code.” Then there’s Showtime’s *Dexter*.

    But all or most of that is fiction. As Thomas Harris points out with the sequel to *The Silence of the Lambs*, there are things much scarier than serial killers and some of them “make sausage” so to speak. That is, it’s rampant greed and corporatism without any stops or regulations, no checks and balances. I tend to agree.

  264. @E.M. Edwards

    You seem to be an aspiring author. Just a quick note from a big reader. You should NOT get on side with / defend a non-entity, raging troll, (who has shown time and time again that it cannot properly argue its way out of a paper bag) and hope that the public you one day will be taken seriously. This will not happen. Sadly, in a fledgling career you need to be aware of how you market yourself. When you use your intellectual nature (and it clearly IS such) to defend the purposes of someone who actually embraces something called “Performance Rage” (an activity that if ACM were not beyond the “anonymity veil” and stood in a room full of the very people it shouted at…it would have much more to answer for) whatever that is…you essentially become a minion, a caricature, an offshoot of ACM themselves. So while you might feel it is “just” to ride along in ACM’s sidecar and shout your intellectual banter and responses, you will unfortunately come off looking much worse for the wear. I have noticed that you have made you way around to all of the posts concerning ACM on various blogs and said your very verbose piece, and I can’t help feeling that it’s not helping your cause to support academics and yet defend an obvious troll who refuses to respond to any of the real arguments made against them. I have half a mind to create a blog in which I point out every single rebuttal ACM has made (as various personages) and how none of those represent any form of debate other than nonsensical things like “hahaha no” or “buttmad” or “neckbeard”. Aside from which, ACM uses the terms “whitey”, “sexist” and “racist” as carte blanche catch-alls for anyone who disagrees with ACM. Said person (who’s actual race, gender, location ect.) stays hidden behind their anonymity veil and throws insults around and is essentially all of the very things said person argues against.

    Just a little friendly advice from a reader. You want to be taken seriously, don’t associate with trash and trolls.

    Authorial Note: I have referred to ACM as “it” since no one, not even ACM themselves, can tell anyone else what their particulars are when they hide their identity so fully on the internet. ACM answers no one, because ACM doesn’t want to, nor would ACM have the stones to say anything like it says on ROH (or twitter) in person to people…because human beings IRL don’t stand for that kind of crap. But on the safe internetz, “it” gets away with such things.

    @ Peter, I have never read your books, but I certainly will do so now! Thanks, your blog is quite interesting!

  265. @rm3154

    “Consdier: Sh-t, g-d, the “f-word”, a-hole, the “frak” of BSG fame, the bleeps and white noise that get inserted into broadcast television. All such usage is heavy with connotation and begs to be subverted.” Except that shit, fuck, asshole and frak are all things that apply equally to all human beings. The n-word originated and was used for over a hundred years specifically to divide humanity and degrade one particular section of it. So when you use the n-word, what exactly are you trying to say? Why exactly are you using it?

    “And another thing… what with NWA drifting into the realm of the cultural icon, nigahiga all the rage with the pokemon set, and “trophy nigger” a heart-felt recommendation I just wanted to point out that the world has kind of moved on.”
    Has the world moved on? When the black first family is still compared to monkeys, when black Americans still function in a society whose cops pull them over more often, whose justice system incarcerates them more often and with harsher sentences, whose health system provides them with lesser care, whose hiring systems interview and hire them less, where hate crimes based entirely on the color of ones skin still occur? You know for a fact that using the n-word hurts people. You’ve been told so repeatedly. Why do you persist in hurting people? What are you gaining by using the n-word in speech, or blog posts–or even art–that’s so incredibly important that you have to harm others?

    “All I want to say is that, if we are going to start calling people nigger (and “nigger” isn’t just about skin colour, it’s also about one’s place in society), then I’m a nigger. I volunteer.”
    Great. Feel free to also accept the hate crimes, lower health, lower income, lower savings, generations of disenfranchsiement, and higher incarceration rate that come with. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

    Here’s my point: when you incorporate rape, or hate speech, or any thing else that actually exists in the world and harms people (possibly even the very people reading your book/blog post/what-have-you…what, you think no rape survivors or black people read fantasy?), there is a responsibility (if not a legal one, then a moral one) to do so for a reason beyond “I can.”

  266. Re: Lanius

    “I’m tall, dark, gaunt, have an attitude. But my teeth are ordinary. If I filed them, would you appreciate that “

    Well, yeah, as long as you refrain from making them into odd tribal shark-teeth. Moderation is key when modding ye teef :)

    BTW, in case you aren’t kidding (who knows…) and seriously consider any further advances, I have to inform you that 01 will be taking active part in whatever might result.

    “How about physical aggression. to state the bleeding obvious. What is the rate of violent assault in men and women?

    How come very few women enjoy confrontative games? How come they have their own bloody chess league?

    And how come their IQ distribution is less extreme.. has that been rebutted?”

    Thing is, good luck untying “congenital” component from social one. I mean, it’s pretty damn tough to demonstrate what part of violence gap is due to neurocognitive determinants, which part is due to gross difference in average strength (though lack of upper body strength is less of a problem for a first-strike attacker in, say, a mugging…;) ), and which is deeply ingrained social conditioning.

    Also, specifically domestic violence is split pretty gender-equally, but under-reporting on part of male victims, certain bureaucratic biases, and social prejudice against male victims make it sorta-appear as if most perps were male if you’re using police and hospital samples. However, due to males being, on average, stronger (and likely, on average, better trained), male perps are more likely to injure female victims.

    IQ distributions are so full of confounders it’s almost hurtful to discuss – there are all kinds of issues that make untangling the “congenital” component a huge PITA.

    Re: Sheila

    “That article had some really good examples for why it is important to have good science journalism — I book marked it for that reason (I am a member of a hackerspace with people interested in open science and at the first meeting we discussed skills we have — some people mentioned that they are writers). But the examples were about reporting and gender differences. Merely one paragraph:

    Beyond these global differences, sex differences in specific brain structures have been more difficult to verify. One widely publicized notion is that the corpus callosum is proportionally larger in female brains. It began with a tiny postmortem study (DeLacoste-Utamsing and Holloway, 1982) showing a statistically marginal effect, which was nonetheless published in Science and made famous by TIME Magazine, Newsweek, and other popular media. Though thoroughly challenged by a meta-analysis of 49 studies, which collectively showed no significant sex difference in corpus callosum volume or splenial shape (Bishop and Wahlsten, 1997), the claim lives on among sex difference entrepreneurs like Michael Gurian (see also http://www.girlslearndifferently.com), often as an explanation for females’ mythically superior “multitasking” abilities. Similarly, the planum temporale, a structure involved in receptive language, is often claimed to be more symmetrical between left and right sides of the brain in females as compared to males, when in fact, meta-analysis of 13 studies found no significant sex difference in its symmetry (Sommer et al., 2008).

    Perhaps you already have access to the article (otherwise talk to me), or perhaps the examples are all old news.”

    sadly I don’t have free access to this one.

    I recently bought Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference, and I hope it is not completely political and will cover interesting science.”

    It’s kinda good. It does have an agenda, quite palpably so, but the author usually isn’t too vicious. It is, quite frankly, a compendium of “your study is bad and you should feel bad about it”, and as such it succeeds (but of course focusing strictly on the “failed” participants of a specific side of the debate do make it a mite biased). I heard there was a bit of interesting kerfuffle between the author and one of the researchers being criticized, but don’t recall the details.

    Re: Kalon, brainfuckery

    “that’s certainly true and a good point that isn’t brought up enough; neuroscience and psychology are fraught with all sorts of issues right now. However, there are enough experiments related to this sort of thing, enough brain scan data, enough demonstrations of the action->rationalization core that it seems to be a strong indicator of the direction. If you don’t like that hack, there are plenty more like that around; they’re easy to find if you bother looking. ”

    Well, while we’re waiting for 01 to clarify what a good hack is, I’d like to remind that we’re talking about linguistic hacks, which leaves a lot of cool shenanigans (subliminals, esp. visual and auditory ones, etc.) out of the pool.

    Now, let’s run a quick and dirty thought experiment.
    Let’s assume that neurophysiology involved in processing of written language allows for easy construction of texts that could more or less reliably “alter” the listener / reader in a specific manner.

    Just exactly how would such a text work, from a neutral bystander’s perspective? Such a thing would appear to work a bit like Necronomicon from Cthulhu Mythos, in that mere fact of sufficient exposure would impose specific behavior modifications on the victim (in case of Necronomicon, just read it too much and you will go insane, the content of your psychosis being conspicuously related to Old Ones described in the book).

    However, as far as I know, nothing currently documented has any properties that would be even remotely “Necronomicony”. Of course one can claim that in the future (TM) such constructs will be discovered. Very well may be – but the argument at hand is not about what are theoretical limits on “linguistic hacks”, but whether something akin to “toxic narratives” is already discovered and present in the wild.

    And to that effect there seems no solid evidence. In that, toxic narratives remind me of neuromarketing shenanigans that were very popular with corporate types a year ago or so.

    Re: Lubin&Desjardins

    Obviously, Lubin, not being a sadist, didn’t have much drive for torturing people.
    However, it seems interesting to ponder what role (beyond being co-opted into “leak plugging response” :) ) did “natural” guilt (and related experiences like remorse, which Spartacus also purged) play in his life (and, by extension, plays in the lives of, well, more baseline folks with no unusual inclinations).
    I mean, guilt, remorse, and other such things probably (this is a hunch at this point) get involved in various aspects of decision making and socialization in pretty much everyone, except maybe some hardcore sociopaths… Oh, and…BTW, unlike “proper sociopaths” who socialize with somewhat similar anomalies, Lubin would have the “guiltless and remorseless” state without prior experience in such state, which should be… fucking shocking experience, really.


  267. I mean, it’s pretty damn tough to demonstrate what part of violence gap is due to neurocognitive determinants, which part is due to gross difference in average strength (though lack of upper body strength is less of a problem for a first-strike attacker in, say, a mugging…;) ), and which is deeply ingrained social conditioning.

    No extant matriarchal or female dominant societies to consider too?

  268. Re: goblinface

    “Here’s my point: when you incorporate rape, or hate speech, or any thing else that actually exists in the world and harms people (possibly even the very people reading your book/blog post/what-have-you…what, you think no rape survivors or black people read fantasy?), there is a responsibility (if not a legal one, then a moral one) to do so for a reason beyond “I can.”

    Oh for the love of angry skyfairies, learn some compartmentalization, will ya ?

    By your logic, there has to be some vapid moral justification for including scenes of firearms, firearm use and murder in books, because you know, those things tend to hurt people even more than rape (one shot from AA-12 to the face, and all the counselors, psychiatrists and support groups in the world will be powerless to help, mate)

    Hell, there probably has to be vapid moral justification for stories that involve lesser crimes – detectives dealing with theft or somesuch. Theft sucks royally if you’re on the wrong end of it (though less than being on the wrong end of a shotgun or being raped, of course)

    Being interesting is cause enough (of course, usually “interesting” happens as a result of exposing and dealing with the interesting aspects of those issues, but come on, don’t you find war narratives with massive battle scenes inherently appealing, even if not much new ground is trodden idea-wise ?)

    Also, I’m kinda sick and tired of n-word. It’s like some dumb attempt at linguistic hackery when you don’t want to be associated with people who oftentimes use this word, but want to say it nonetheless, so you shift responsibility by writing a crude reference term, making the reader “say” it in his internal monologue (good I don’t have one, so your plan is foiled ;) ) and, presumably, make the reader feel bad about it, while you get to feel okay because you wrote a much more polite word.
    Humbug, I say. If you want to say nigger, say nigger and don’t try to sugarcoat it.
    Saying “n-word” instead of “nigger” is the language equivalent of strawberry-tasting condoms (you’re still sucking a dick, but if you close your eyes you can pretend to be… I dunno, gargling a sausage-shaped strawberry)

    Not that I approve of its widespread use when not specifically intended to insult.
    I mean, it has become, almost exclusively, an insult, so should be, on average, treated like other insults.
    Like, for instance, motherfucker.
    People who just randomly strew “motherfucker” and similar terms into their speech are not welcome in a polite company, so why should people who randomly drop “nigger” be welcome there? I see no reason. BUT!
    But…
    that means that people of African descent won’t be able to use it while remaining in a polite company too, mkay ? :)

  269. Re: Lanius

    “No extant matriarchal or female dominant societies to consider too?”

    That could be comparatively studied with enough rigor to make claims about biologically determined aspects of human behavior in general ?

    I think not.

  270. Re: Kalon, passive-aggression in ACM live specimens

    The part where Cracked gets passive-aggressive is where the allegations of gender and origin are brought out. The whole point of the act (as illustrated by some very upset writer who takes her origin story all too seriously) is to shun people for giving ACM a taste of ACM’s own medicine (perhaps in a more dilute form, by the way – since no one so far has suggested that ACM should die on a wall of syphilitic penes or somesuch).
    ACM does not explicitly demand special treatment, but relies on (racist and sexist) implication that people with vaginae, darker skin and non-European face features should be treated in a manner different from treatment of all the other human beings, thus moving in for a kind of passive-aggressive acquisition of elevated status in a debate.

  271. 03, ooo oo oo did you read Inducing Disbelief in Free Will Alters Brain Correlates of Preconscious Motor Preparation The Brain Minds Whether We Believe in Free Will or Not? neuroskeptic also covered it. I think I posted it on Peter’s facebook wall and then maybe he talked about it at some point in the blog but I can’t remember.

    They reduced RP by having subjects *read* a neutral, positive, negative text on the subject of free will.

    Abstract

    The feeling of being in control of one’s own actions is a strong subjective experience. However, discoveries in psychology and neuroscience challenge the validity of this experience and suggest that free will is just an illusion. This raises a question: What would happen if people started to disbelieve in free will? Previous research has shown that low control beliefs affect performance and motivation. Recently, it has been shown that undermining free-will beliefs influences social behavior. In the study reported here, we investigated whether undermining beliefs in free will affects brain correlates of voluntary motor preparation. Our results showed that the readiness potential was reduced in individuals induced to disbelieve in free will. This effect was evident more than 1 s before participants consciously decided to move, a finding that suggests that the manipulation influenced intentional actions at preconscious stages. Our findings indicate that abstract belief systems might have a much more fundamental effect than previously thought.

    btw, wearing a lab coat might improve my concentration? wtf. I just saw a post about the effects of wearing lab coats on students.

  272. @03 (and indirectly Sheila):

    So, perhaps that’s the answer to the “shock” question. Lubin would have known he lost remorse and guilt AND know he was no longer operating under free will at the same time. Not only do you not *feel* remorse but you separate yourself from *thinking* that it’s you doing the action in the first place, which reinforces the change.

    (And, yes, I don’t see why wearing a labcoat *couldn’t* affect concentration. Bouncing a ball can help problem solving. It’s all mind tricks, self-hypnosis sorta; distracting oneself our host might say/have once said, in order to distract the consciousness from screwing up what the rest of the brain has planned).

  273. (And yes, I should probably stop using ‘our host’ lest Peter start calling us ‘my parasites’.)

  274. No, didn’t read that one, but I suspect I can lift it off a psychiatrist friend when he finally calls back. He has a ton of subscriptions.

    From abstract and tidbits available, my (provisional :) ) opinion is the same as my opinion of scary subliminal afro-Americans study.
    Interesting phenomena might be very well going on there (assuming no methodological fails) but the implications are pretty much unknown, the exact effects of those phenomena is not apparent, and the possible interactions with confounding variables are a bit mind-boggling to assess.

    Kinda like that

  275. I always maintain that belief in free will is a necessary illusion…

    I mean, if you accept the position the free will doesn’ exist, punishing people for crimes appears to be more shaky proposition for those of weaker intellects, because it appears you are punishing them for doing something they had no real choice in, acting according to their nature.. which is of course BS.


    Our results showed that the readiness potential was reduced in individuals induced to disbelieve in free will.

    What does that mean in plain speech? Lack of belief in free will makes you like those Inshallah folks who believe it’s all down to god and proper jet engine maintenance is optional, because ultimately Allah decides whether the jet will fly or plummet…

  276. Um, no.

    It means only that readiness potential was reduced in individuals induced to disbelieve in free will.

    There is no explicit reduction of meaningful function, unless comparing the magnitude of readiness potentials is the new competition strategy among males, or something :-P

    As to punishing criminals, you don’t need to believe in their responsibility. Only in that they pose a threat to other citizens (hence isolation) and can be returned to normal functioning (hence our crude and lame attempts at pretending that we are trying to correct criminals :( )

  277. @ Peter Watts, Re: that comment

    Did I go too far with the strawberry-scented sausage thing :) ?

  278. @Sheila

    Thanks for the pointer. Great song. Patti Smith!!!

  279. @ACD: “I’ll keep listening, but you’ve discouraged me from trying to reply to you with that much noise on the line.
    I trust you won’t count that as a win, as it doesn’t seem to me that’s what you’re going for, but that’s the result nonetheless.”

    I don’t count it as a victory; I’m not trying to shout you down, and if you took it that way I apologize. I just don’t have a lot of trust in giving people who are starting from the vantage point of disagreeing with me on a loaded topic my email address. I’m PMable on westeros and other places and if you want to, PM me over there and I”m happy to continue. That being said, I tend to find that nonprivate conversations have more value than private ones; they tend to be more polite and lead to other interesting things.

    @03: I’ve been told by PoC multiple times over multiple contexts that they prefer using the term n-word if I have to use it (or accurately, refer to it) at all. So I’m doing so. The difference between that and your analogy is that ‘n-word’ might refer to the same thing but both lingustically and physiologically they are different. I’m not saying that this is an experiment, but I think you can follow this: imagine that you were beaten every time you heard a specific word. Then you have the choice of reading or hearing that word again vs hearing something redacted – do you think that your brain processes it the same way? Do you think you’ll get the raw emotional reaction? I don’t. that’s not how brains appear to work, especially with sounds.

    “but relies on (racist and sexist) implication that people with vaginae, darker skin and non-European face features should be treated in a manner different from treatment of all the other human beings, thus moving in for a kind of passive-aggressive acquisition of elevated status in a debate.”

    I don’t think she’s implying this at all – she’s outright said as much. There is definitely some entitlement to her use of prejudiced and stereotypical terms, in her bigotry. She regularly refers to white people as honky and cracker and things like that, probably because she wants to provoke and antagonize and get them to respond in kind (and thus reveal their racism). or because she’s a troll. But there’s nothing passive about it.

    I also think that by the time she’s gotten around to someone her mindset is that they’ve already been the person who started the racist, misogynistic slurs in some form or another, so she’s now entitled to fire back.

    It’s definitely rude and hard to have conversation that makes sense with, but passive? Not even remotely.

    @rm:
    “All I want to say is that, if we are going to start calling people nigger (and “nigger” isn’t just about skin colour, it’s also about one’s place in society), then I’m a nigger. I volunteer.”

    You don’t get to do that. Not without all the other baggage, as Hljóðlegur stated. Sorry. That doesn’t give you the right to use the word, or think that it’s some kind of badge of suffering honor, or anything like that. This seems really unsympathetic – that you think just because you use a word to describe yourself that it means the same thing as having that word used while you see your sister beaten or your family evicted or a cross burning on your lawn.

    The word by itself isn’t an issue. The word is associated with damage. When it’s no longer associated with that, then we’ll talk. Otherwise you’re just being an entitled white guy deciding that because you were born with some issue that makes you understand someone else’s reaction to it. (note: I don’t understand someone else’s reaction to it either, but I recognize that I can’t and won’t try to take that away from them.)

  280. @PW

    Interesting quiz… scored 121/200 on neurotypical, 97/200 on asperger, with marked adeptness at hunting?
    Gotta read the evaluation.

    (you get a big octagonal diagram where various traits are on the spokes of the octagon..)

    The quiz has extensive notes on it, studies, with some reference to neanderthal ancestry. Can’t be bothered to read it, gun engineering beckons.

    Looks interesting…

  281. Quiz:
    http://www.rdos.net/eng/

  282. Wow. The guy running the site seems to imply neanderthal DNA is the one responsible for stuff like technological civlization and classical music…

    Contrasts the cold adapted neanderthals and the warm adapted homo sapiens sapiens.. cannot be bothered to read the whole bloody site, but from what I gather, it looks like his theory is that autistic traits are inherited from neanderthals…

    What is the prevalence of autism in Africans, who have little neanderthal admixture?

    This guy claims there are not many of them:
    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/my-life-aspergers/200902/the-myth-the-black-aspergian

    Wow. The site author may be onto something…(thinking)


    In Africa, music and dancing is mostly tied to rites, that are performed in certain social contexts, and they are exclusively aimed at social activities. 29 This is also evident in black music in America, where social relations are the main theme, while complex music and instruments are typical of non-African music. In Africa, the main instruments are drums and the human voice, while outside of Africa, there is a variety of complex instruments, dances and music, that are more aimed at entertainment, creativity and perfection. 90,000 – 100,000 years ago Neanderthals had phalange whistles. 41 of them have been found in Prolom II in the Crimea. 70,000 – 80,000 years ago there is a flute in Haua Fteah, Libya, which has been found together with Neanderthal mandibles. Finally, 40,000 years ago there is another flute in Divje Babe 30 Neanderthals are also believed to have sang. 31 Interestingly, both the phalange whistles and flutes seems to have been evolving gradually up until recent times. This seems to indicate they originated in Neanderthals, and where taken over by AMH or hybrids. It’s probable that Neanderthals primary use of musical instruments wasn’t for entertainment or music, rather as a way to herd animals. This tradition is still seen in today’s herding societies.

  283. @PW

    Many people with AS are face blind. This is likely because the specialized circuit for analyzing faces is adapted to recognizing Neanderthal faces rather than modern human faces. Aspie-quiz have found that autistics rate Neanderthal faces as more attractive than neurotypicals. 233 It’s very interesting that face blind people often use hair and hairlines to recognize people, and very seldom facial features. When they look at faces, they seem to just be blank.

    Hmmm… curiouser and curiouser..


  284. The guy running the site seems to imply neanderthal DNA is the one responsible for stuff like technological civlization and classical music…

    To explain myself, I believe asperger spectrum people are better at technology. And besides, how come so few original tech came out of Africa?

  285. @kalon

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hhp3KWMEhJU

    incorporation by reference

    Is that allowed?

  286. @kalon

    what about

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VS78MX8Zmdk

    is that OK? Just aksing, cause I don’t want to offend

  287. @rm3134: I’m not the one being offended. How about you ask some PoC if you using that is okay? Actually engage the people that it might matter? I’m not the police or the judge that matters. I can just tell you what PoC have told me.

    It’s up to you whether or not you think that their opinion matters, though it seems pretty painfully clear that it doesn’t.

  288. Also, rm3154 – are you seriously comparing yourself to Nas and John Lennon? I think they’ve earned a bit more cred than you have.

    Again – why do you need to use the word? Why is it so important to you that you’ll ignore other people’s requests for you not to use it? Why do you feel that you’re so entitled to it?

  289. Re: Kalon

    “I’m not saying that this is an experiment, but I think you can follow this: imagine that you were beaten every time you heard a specific word. Then you have the choice of reading or hearing that word again vs hearing something redacted – do you think that your brain processes it the same way? Do you think you’ll get the raw emotional reaction? I don’t. that’s not how brains appear to work, especially with sounds. “

    Okay, creepy unverifiable background claims time on this side of debate :D

    I’m algolaniac. Pretty heavily so. Thus my attitude might not be typical. My attitude towards violence, and pain, is sure as hell not typical.

    But, if a word, by virtue of emotional association, would be really, profoundly hurting me, I would seek professional help.

    If a specific word sequence drops me into PTSD or just makes uncomfortable enough to back out despite lack of physical threat (and we all know that fists don’t work over internet), then the problem is as much with me as it is with the douches trying to leverage that against me.

    Of course, seeking recourse from local public or moderators is an option (and in case you’re interested, the term in question is a very very rare guest on this blog’s comments), but that would not fix the fact that I would be among the few people who can actually be hurt over them nets by just reading them words. And there’s a shitton of people who would like to hurt you over the net just for shits and giggles, not because of your race or anything.

    “She regularly refers to white people as honky and cracker and things like that, probably because she wants to provoke and antagonize and get them to respond in kind (and thus reveal their racism). or because she’s a troll. But there’s nothing passive about it.”

    Well, definition game time, cause I’d describe pattern of {A: You dumb nigger! B: fuck off, honky faggot! A: Hey, ye racist too, and homophobic to boot!} as pretty passive-aggressive :)

  290. @Kalon:
    Went to Westeros, even registered, only to find the PM service has an impressive <10% uptime, so is essentially fubar (and has been for a while, according to the many threads on the topic).
    I took a walk about down a few threads to get the lay of the land, and I'm starting to feel like I've been rickrollled.
    Points to you kind sir, that'll teach me. ;)

    On a side note, it took about 3 minutes of googling to find some of the "other places" you were so helpful in directing me to, and I stumbled on 2 of your presumably working email addresses in the process, while not looking for that (none of which I shall use, obviously, since you indicated you're not much for it, and I seem to care more about respecting your privacy than you do — see below).

    FYI: For someone so worried about being harassed by strangers, who also is in the computing trade and presumably not entirely naive about intarwebs mischief potential, you seem awfully casual about your privacy protection policies.
    Maybe you ought to do check on that and get rid of the most obvious public ties between your various online personae and your meatspace self.

    The offer for you to poke me over email stands, but the ball is in your court:
    I'm not going to beg any further for an audience with your reclusive self, while knowing you're happy to soapbox in the mall strip with your email tramp-stamped just above your plush thong.
    And no, I'm not going to register in WoW for a chat with you, either. :P

  291. Kalon says:
    The word by itself isn’t an issue. The word is associated with damage. When it’s no longer associated with that, then we’ll talk. Otherwise you’re just being an entitled white guy deciding that because you were born with some issue that makes you understand someone else’s reaction to it.

    When we let people get away with calling people “niggers” or “kikes” we are consenting to the words and all the ugly toxic streamers of filth that stream out behind them. We can’t neatly surgerize the word from its implicit meanings.

    Silent implies consent.

    I do not consent.

    There are no conditions under which white people should refer to anyone as a nigger, and no conditions under which non-jews should refer to anyone as a kike. Period. I do not consent.

  292. @ rape and sexual violence thread: Now here’s a guy who might be thought to have been pursuing a “rape as reproductive strategy” course of action. It definitely didn’t pay off for him.

    This guy finally pleads guilty to cases occurring years before the acts that originally got him locked up for 3*life+50. He may have been active even before that time but there’s no way to tell so far as I know. He was definitely the absolute terror of my neighborhood in the early 1980s. And now he’s just been sentenced to three more life sentences after pleading guilty to three rapes from the mid-1970s linked to him with DNA testing.

    @N-Word thread: I have to admit that I am curious how many of the people participating in this thread live in or were raised in the US. Quite a lot, I’d guess; that would explain how folks can casually fling around words that aren’t just about racism, but about slavery.

    Most of the black folks I know who will use that word — and I have heard it from plenty — aren’t referring to any old black person, but to someone who is “perpetratin’ the stereotype”, more or less acting the fool or otherwise carrying on in a way that confirms any bad expectations others might have of them. Usually it’s attached to an explanatory phrase. Some poor and very uneducated black person from rural Alabama who is misbehaving might easily be referred to as a “triflin’-ass Bama n****r” but frankly I hear it more from black folks talking about other black folks that have done them wrong in some way, i.e., “I can’t tell you how many times I been took for bad by that sorry-ass n****r but he too slick about it for me to catch up to him yet”. Usually it’s more to describe character than race, as best I can understand it, at least when it’s coming from black folks talking about black folks, though they might use the same word for white folks who are also “perpetratin’ the stereotype”.

    And BTW “cracker” specifically refers to the Irish/Scots-Irish primarily in the southern Appalachian states. Before the Civil War a job cracking a whip was about the only job they could get. This is where the use of that word gets really problematic, down South between Appalachian whites and the black folks who have ancestry from back in the day. Think about it a little bit and you’ll understand the anger that attaches.

  293. Apologies, for typo and for double-posting! That should read:

    @N-Word thread: I have to admit that I am curious how many of the people participating in this thread live in or were raised in the US. NOT a lot, I’d guess; that would explain how folks can casually fling around words that aren’t just about racism, but about slavery.

  294. Peter, is there a page somewhere online that contains only your Limits of Reason column (in English) without the introductory paragraphs re: the recent kerfuffles? I really want to share this with my friends & family without distracting them with the context of you posting this. It’s such a superb column…

  295. Hi Barry,

    Not online. I can e-mail you a word doc, though.

  296. @Thomas Hardman:

    That is, in some ways the point. *Lack* of the use of the n-word by white racists has actually allowed them to move underground and to use “code” (such as we’ve seen from the GOP candidates references to food stamps and forcing kids in school to clean the restrooms, and the aforementioned Orwellian Southpark ‘Canadians’, etc.).

    @the thread

    Now, is it bad to drive it underground? Not sure. It’s easier to ridicule when it’s overt. But maybe driving it underground is a step in the right direction toward extinction. Or maybe it just gets re-branded and re-used because it cannot be helped (is brain wiring).

    But I would argue that wasting time and energy complaining about its use in literature is largely going to make things worse. There are plenty of *real* examples in life. Why do we need to focus on and try to say that literature is somehow causal? Especially literature written by people who are trying to point out how much of our behavior is not choice-driven. It’s an attack on free speech via mob mentality.

    Does GI Joe make boys violent, or do boys buy / watch GI Joe because it sells to them, they like it? Will not offering it as an option eliminate the behavior? The very thoughts?

    Or would it find another outlet? Would it drive it underground? Would it cause a roofie epidemic?

    http://www.mendeley.com/research/flunitrazepam-involvement-date-acquaintance-rape/

    It must be examined, discussed, debated, researched and revisited time and again so that it’s in the public discourse. Fiction is one *safe* place to do that. People cannot avoid bad things if they don’t know they exist.

    And you cannot do that if there’s a mob waiting to attack people who are, among other things, trying to say or at least examine “we’re violent as a species” and why that might be.

    (Which has nothing or very little to do with the original thing where acm is concerned, just mostly the apologists trying to justify what she did).


  297. There are no conditions under which white people should refer to anyone as a nigger, and no conditions under which non-jews should refer to anyone as a kike. Period. I do not consent.

    That said, can we, please move on?
    This outrage thing is beyond boring, beyond useless, and just plain wrong.

  298. 03, feel free to contact me somehow if you want the text of the neuron paper.

  299. Good idea.

    Let’s talk *Blindsight* since the Lubin/Desjardins thing didn’t pan out.

    Taking the notes and events regarding Helen Keeton using opoids to trigger the mother-love response from Siri…

    Well, imagine how that could be used. What if a futuristic Sarah Palin got ahold of that and was able to distribute it to the masses? Imagine all the fun that a demagogue would have with absolute love and loyalty out of her followers?

    (Not to mention the fun she might engage in while flying back and forth between DC and Alaska in her helicopter. Is there something in that general geographic location? ;) ).

    I guess what I’m asking is what could you do? What if (I am assuming it was sort of like a love potion…employing Clarke’s first law and getting science to do mythology’s work… it was based on who Siri *saw* while breastfeeding or bottlefeeding) he instead got attached to a nurse? Or someone else? What if she thought he was attached to her and misinterpreted what was happening (like those AI’s who instead of identifying vehicles in photos were instead learning something about shadows and shading in photography)?

    How would Helen “fix” that?

    Anyway, I find that a much more difficult problem to crack than the Lubin/Desjardins question. It’s also one I’ve dedicated some time to, even when I don’t want to. Seems to creep up and jump on me when I’m not looking. I hate unsolved puzzles I guess.

    (Sorry if this is derailing.)

  300. @AcD: you’re right; I’ve been somewhat casual on my email privacy. Unfortunately I don’t have the ability to scrub much of it, and one of my personal views is that my online persona should be related to me, personally (and treat it as such). That’s probably an unreasonable conflation; I can’t be both private and me. If you like, by all means email me through wherever you’ve found my address.

    I didn’t realize the PM system on westeros was problematic. I’ve had a couple PMs in the last week from folks. It wasn’t meant to be a black hole.

    @03:
    “And there’s a shitton of people who would like to hurt you over the net just for shits and giggles, not because of your race or anything.”
    Sure. My point is that those words are a lot more likely to make someone uncomfortable. Why would they bother posting somewhere that is that uncomfortable? That might be on them – that they don’t like going there – but do you blame them?

    “And you cannot do that if there’s a mob waiting to attack people who are, among other things, trying to say or at least examine “we’re violent as a species” and why that might be.”

    I think that’s true – but I also think that if you’re going to do it, that’s what the subject should be about. As Abraham said (paraphrased) – you can’t include sexual violence in a book without making the book about sexual violence. You can’t include racism in a book without making the book about racism. If you don’t do that you’re not discussing it so much as adding it in as flavor. This is what I think Bakker got wrong – that he did try to do too much in his book, and his book is about neural cognition, about free will vs. determinism, about modernity vs. conservativism, about religion, and about some of the origins and depictions of misogyny. All of that gets muddled together and all becomes background to a fantasy story that really has nothing to do with any of it; it makes it too easy to assume endorsement (because why would this rape stuff be in my fun D&D adventure otherwise? The book isn’t about rape after all) and makes any messages much harder to get. It creates the Archie Bunker effect all over again.


  301. As Abraham said (paraphrased) – you can’t include sexual violence in a book without making the book about sexual violence. You can’t include racism in a book without making the book about racism

    Yeah. Sure.

    Have you read Ellroy? Both racism and sexual violence abounds, yet the books are obviously not about racism or sexual violence.

    The books are noirish 50ties detective stories. Racism and sexual violence were just landscape there.

    And you know what? I don’t care. Would prefer the 8% economic growth and the technological progress of the 1950’s to the current day BS about social equality, racism and so on.

    Blathering about racism solves nothing, not even the racism itself.

  302. “This is what I think Bakker got wrong – that he did try to do too much in his book, and his book is about neural cognition, about free will vs. determinism, about modernity vs. conservativism, about religion, and about some of the origins and depictions of misogyny.”

    Which is, as you already know, a far cry from what acm said. If she was trying to “say” that as a spokesperson, may I suggest a pink slip and job ads on Craigslist for a new face? Because all she did as far as I’m concerned is knock a tiny spec out of my overall sympathy for people who are more articulate… largely because they defended her.

  303. @kalon

    > Also, rm3154 – are you seriously comparing yourself to Nas and John
    > Lennon? I think they’ve earned a bit more cred than you have.

    No of course not. But I did quote an excerpt from a Nas song by way of a dual response to the strange mixture of naked bigotry and stifling political correctness featured in some upstream posts. At this point, I don’t have the stomach to get into the whole “RAP etiquette for the white folks” bullshit. Feel free. I won’t respond.

    > Again – why do you need to use the word?

    For the same reason you use the “n-word” word.

    > Why is it so important to you that you’ll ignore other people’s requests for > you not to use it? Why do you feel that you’re so entitled to it?

    These questions are bullshit. More like accusations framed as questions. Just because I have a point of view and express it, does not mean that I am not sensitive to the viewpoint of others. Entitled? I am sorry, I don’t want to go there any more.

    The discussion is yours to wrap-up kalon. I’m done.

  304. @RM3154:

    “For the same reason you use the “n-word” word. ”

    No, I don’t think so. I’m using that specifically to reference what you’re taling about. I didn’t bring it up. I’m trying to do it with reasonable sensitivity while making some sense; using something like ‘that offensive word you keep using’ would be problematic and confusing.

    You’re using it because…I don’t know. Because you want to seem edgy? Because you’re trying to get a rise out of people? Because you think you’re the equivalent of John Lennon? Because you think you’re special and entitled? Because you’re ignorant of what it represents? I don’t know.

    “These questions are bullshit. More like accusations framed as questions. Just because I have a point of view and express it, does not mean that I am not sensitive to the viewpoint of others.”

    No, RM – it’s that you choose to express that viewpoint and apparently do not care that other people do not like you to use those words that makes you insensitive to the viewpoint of others.That because you’re a special snowflake you can decide to call yourself a racial slur despite being apparently a white male. That’s what makes you insensitive.

  305. “Which is, as you already know, a far cry from what acm said. If she was trying to “say” that as a spokesperson, may I suggest a pink slip and job ads on Craigslist for a new face? Because all she did as far as I’m concerned is knock a tiny spec out of my overall sympathy for people who are more articulate… largely because they defended her.”

    I never said that that was acm’s argument, and since she wasn’t reviewing the book but a guy’s interview, I’m still confused by this conversation.

  306. Ears are a bit gristly to damage quickly so forget about them

    Not necessarily. I had a (male) roommate who once got set upon by six or seven guys, and managed to escape by biting off one’s ear — the screaming and blood spray distracted the other assailants long enough for him to run. He explained to me afterward: “Merely biting won’t do it. Bite, then fall down. Your body weight will tear the ear off.”

    Obviously, such tactic should only be used if you are certain you will be able to get up quickly.

  307. Oh boy, the directions this thing took while I was trying to organize appeasement of an ancient automation miscarriage (I think figuring out stuff made by extraterrestrials would have been easier. Likelihood of space-faring morons is, after all, relatively low, so you can at least reasonably expect shit to make some sense)…

    Anyway, some random responses before this one falls asleep

    @03

    “Oh, it’s perfectly reasonable for you to be unsettled by Achilles’s tragic fate, but don’t worry, maybe a decent, honest human being is his own safeguard
    ^_^”

    Mayhaps, but there’s always the disturbing possibility that I’m really no different than any other guy

    // hehe, had to fish around for that one.
    I wonder if the “talk with quotes of Watts characters” game will catch on //

    Oh, and 03, nice job spooking Lanius :D

    Hmmm… what else…

    @ Kalon

    “Ah. It’s a shame you didn’t read any of what I linked or what I said. There are many very simply neurolinguistic exploits; the easiest one to show immediately is the repeated use of a person’s name to establish trust and happiness. This also happens with the arousal principle, and essentially whenever you hear your name almost everyone gets a little tingle – of excitement, adrenaline, whatever. And that’s used to tie a person’s trust to the person stating it.

    There’s just oodles of evidence showing that words have physical effects on people. It’s a shame that you’ve so far refused to actually read it. That doesn’t actually change the fact that it exists and is there; as Tyson puts it Science is cool because it doesn’t change whether you believe in it or not.

    Since 03 has taken enough stabs at scientific and methodological aspects of this thing, I feel no need to add anything to her takedowns (but nonetheless have to express doubt as to whether the name-trick really falls under purview of misattribution of arousal and whether the shenanigan indeed ups trust specifically, or just serves to get the listener’s attention where you need it. Got link to relevant paper specifically? because my searches are turning up a lot of marketing-shmarketing cruft)

    As to 03’s request for clarification as to what a good “neurolinguistic sploit” (do note the term sploit, which is bastardization of “exploit”, not just mere “hack”)… an exploit, to keep it short, is a phenomenon that allows an attacker to reliably take advantage of a system, and a “good” exploit is usually a remote one, ideally a remote one that allows arbitrary execution of code on the affected system, or at least some kind of denial of service.
    Extrapolating that upon discussion of texts and languages, a “good” neurolinguistic exploit would have to be delivered without special means or personal interaction, and would reliably cause measurable, significant changes in the victim irrespective of victim’s desires or context in which it operates (so you can’t avoid it’s effect by, say, resisting consciously, or being from a slightly different cultural background)
    Basically, a good neurolinguistic ‘sploit would be a Universal Joke that is funny to all people who can read it and the laughter from which cannot be suppressed by social context (so one could just flypost it around a graveyard for some serious IRL trolling).
    Or a pattern of words that reliably causes people who can read them to fall unconscious.
    Or a book that, if read, reliably, measurably rewires the exposed reader to be misogynistic/homophobic/violent/what-have-you (which has been ascribed to a fuckton of books and other media, but never really demonstrated in the wild)

    That kind of shit.

    Trickery dealing with very mild effects which are oftentimes subject to a fuckton of confounders and then some are not “good” sploits.
    In fact, they are hardly exploits at all (but I might be willing to grant some of those the title or “lame sploits” just out of goodness of my heart)

    Of course, attacks get better with time, yada-yada. BUT. Currently, there is no book that could be seriously considered “socially dangerous” in the sense people claim Mein Kampf or what have you is “dangerous”.
    There are simply no confirmed narratives that would “subvert” an unwilling or at least savvy audience (anyone with two and a half brain cells to rub together is not gonna become more rightwing or more misogynistic from exposure to high levels of Ringo).
    And of course, there are no individual words that reliably subvert an audience in aforementioned manner – and thus no reason to believe that expunging suspect words will alleviate any issues.
    For all the cleverness of the Newspeak essay, it’s a work of speculative fiction ;) not a repository of rigorous evidence, and ability to manipulate societies through reshaping language remains elusive.

    “Also, 01, perhaps it’s easier to go about it in a different way. People have said repeatedly that use of the n-word bothers them. Quite heavily in some times, to the point where they do not feel welcome going to a place that it’s used. What is the purpose on a message board of deliberately using a word that bothers others?”

    You see, I am not in favor of using it, at all.

    It is an insult and like my dear Third said, insults are not something we want being flung lightheartedly around here.

    I am merely pointing out that expunging it is likely to achieve nothing at best, and make racists more skilled with sarcasm at worst :)

    Also, the argument is not about calling people “niggers” specifically, because the “let’s expunge X word / Y narrative / Z trope FOR THE BETTERMENT OF SOCIETY” isn’t specific to slurs. The argument deals with this pervasive idea that by reducing amount of rape scenes and “plot-utilitarian” uses of sex crimes we will actually reduce the number of sex crimes or at least improve victim outcomes, that violent games/books/TV somehow insidiously increases violence (despite the fact that epidemiological evidence points to the contrary), and all the related annoying shitfuckery.

    It’s a little bit like people claiming that “fertility support” tax cuts actually improve fertility in a population, despite there being no empirical evidence for such a claim (typical response, believe it or not, is that “the effects are too small to be seen via statistics”… lol), however, the “toxic narrative” thingies are even less rigorous and much, much more pie-in-the-sky.

    I’m a mite sick and tired of people trying to suggest, via insinuation and brave extrapolation, a need for policy intervention without solid, heavy-duty proof on their hands.
    This seems to be common among the “humanities” folks and some psych folks, with people involved in gender studies seemingly being the most pernicious offenders in this regard.

    @ Hljóðlegur

    “There are no conditions under which white people should refer to anyone as a nigger, and no conditions under which non-jews should refer to anyone as a kike. Period. I do not consent.”

    Why would you want black people and Jews to strew around what amounts to ethnic insults ?

    I’m a Jew BTW. Would it be okay for me to throw words like “kikes” around for shit and giggles ? Maybe troll other Jews with it ? :D

    I say neither Jews nor non-Jews have any good reason to use ipso-facto ethnicity-based insults in a civilized company. That’s gauche as fuck.

  308. @ Kalon

    “As Abraham said (paraphrased) – you can’t include sexual violence in a book without making the book about sexual violence. You can’t include racism in a book without making the book about racism.”

    Care to elaborate ?

    Because on first approach, this sounds like “truth-y” bullshit.

    There are plenty of books which include murder in the plot, but are not about murder. Plenty of books that involve wars, but not about warfare.

    I doubt that the thesis “every book that invokes rape in the plot is automagically about rape from there on” can be proven, but am looking forward to being surprised.

  309. I’ve been throwing them peanuts

    This: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_Oj0-splZw

    easily turned into this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WO34pIRlwIE

  310. Dunno what those videos are about (can’t parse that kind of spoken English all that well) but the position itself looks like… well, let’s say it is anything but “sexually prohibitive”

    Seriously, do US “social conservatives” have sex at all, or do they pollinate ? (note to self – when in US, wear respirator. Just in case there are Limbaugh’s gametes flying around)

  311. “I doubt that the thesis “every book that invokes rape in the plot is automagically about rape from there on” can be proven, but am looking forward to being surprised.”

    Check out his post himself; that’s what he’s found. That for a multiple of reasons inclusion of rape in stories makes the story about the rape. The example he brings up is Covenant. There are others. He compares it to curry, which I thought was a good comparison – that once you add curry to a dish the dish is going to taste like curry or (at best) something else even more overpowering.

    So yes, there are books that have rape in them that aren’t about rape – they have stuff that’s even worse to talk about. If you don’t have that, then the book is going to be that fantasy novel where people get raped. I think his point is that some issues are big enough that when you bring them up they are pushing a button – whether you meant to or not, and for many people that’s unavoidable. For them, the book will now be read in a very specific way.

    Bakker remarks on this in the interview he gives too – he complains that there is a subset of people who will read ‘ciphers as flags’ no matter what he does. What I think he fails to understand or accept is that this is a pretty predictable response to certain stimuli.

    On neurolinguistic sploit: perhaps something like this video?

  312. @everyone
    I’m not spooked. Perhaps by that Naue guy.

    Everything I post has to get the Squid’s sucker of approval, therefore, only about a third of it is deemed worthy of posting, and sometimes it lingers in queue for a day before it gets posted.


    Seriously, do US “social conservatives” have sex at all

    They do have. They also like net porn, some wag who correlated porn searches with regions found out most come from places that are socially conservative, such as Utah..

  313. I think what he states is an interesting observation, but by no means some kind of rule. Malice is, perhaps, not a very good example for the point he’s making, because the serial killer shtick is perfectly consistent with…how to put it… design philosophy of the product.

    The viewer is EXPECTED to go “whoa, this is gonna be a serial rapist-killer story! Pass me that popcorn ASAP!” and the screenwriter then goes “… Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down – Never gonna run around and desert you…”. The process repeats several times in a row, till the movie finally reaches its conclusion, to no small relief on part of the viewer who, halfway into Malice might have very well begun to suspect that the train of red herrings, random U-turns and “clever” twists would never ever end.

    It’s not about serial killers.
    And not about malpractice.
    It’s about screenwriter showing off 1337 ski11zors and the audience being intellectually (which automatically makes it a niche movie ;) ) challenged by a complex and confusing jumble of events which are only partially logically connected and are obscuring both the “true mystery” and one another. Which incidentally makes some people in the audience displeased and frustrated – and they have a point, because for the love of all eldritch gods, if I wanted to spend an hour and a half picking apart a complicated tangle of confusing constructs, I would have spent those 100+ minutes reverse-engineering obfuscated code. Or reading post-modernist philosophy.

    Malice is a bit like Basic, but Basic is so bad it becomes sorta good, and IMHO was definitely less frustrating, probably because just 20-30 minutes into the story I realized that the damned movie was there just to fuck with me (and thus I should try to relax and get some pleasure out of it)

    But, incidentally, Abraham, by his own take on Malice, illustrates another point. There will always be people, in any audience, who will see a work in a manner notably different from author’s intent, and for that matter different from all competing interpretations.
    And I doubt there is a way to put an upper limit on the number of such shenanigans. My doubt comes from the fact that there’s an interpretation of Red Riding Hood as a pedophiliac rape narrative.
    //
    BTW, if someone shrugs this off as easymodo for crazy crazy world of literary criticism, here’s a pro challenge – reinterpret Gor clusterfuck as a profoundly feminist series which exposes the evils of The Patriarchy and is so important for equality movements that it outshines the Handmaiden’s Tale :D. Take your time, fellow gentlepersons ! I’ll wait
    //

    There’s no avoiding it (I doubt that even having genderless slug aliens for characters would guarantee safety), though outright having certain elements decreases the amount of effort needed to interpret them as “central”.
    If one is to acknowledge all interpretations as “equally valid or at least more or less equally valuable” (which some schools of criticism sort of do, AFAIK), discussing literature becomes outright painful.

    As to the video – well, something like that, but with much more -linguistic to it ;) in it and deliverable via plain printed text could be a good start for developing a more or less workable neurolinguistic ‘sploit. But I doubt such an undertaking is within the abilities of modern science.

  314. What’s wrong with Gor series?

    I found it profoundly boring and probably aimed at the teenage pocket-mining sadist demographics.. but my father (not a misogynist, at least, gets on very well with women, possibly because he has many markedly female characteristic. Like a tendency towards fearfulness and histronics, squeamishness – he doesn’t like realistic violence in films much and so on).

    Also, he is not a sadist as far as I can tell, his porn stash** contains only somewhat vintage not very good vanilla porn.

    He read the whole series, pronounced it mildly amusing and good entertainment, but I doubt he’ll ever re-read it.

    **I am a bad person, but I just cannot resist trying to locate hidden things. I blame growing up on RPG’s…

  315. Oh, you’re right – it’s not a rule. Just an observation, albeit one I found very astute. And it’s important to understand, too – that certain things are flags for people, and it won’t matter what else you write about if you write them in. And if you’re wanting to write a book about feminism, perhaps throwing in a bunch of flags that explicitly say ‘NOT FEMINIST NO NO NO NOOOOOOOO” is a poor choice.

    Mostly, I agree with Abraham that rape is hard to do well and rarely gets what you want it to do, and there are a lot better ways to do what you want. If you want someone to want revenge – you don’t need it. If you want to make someone hurt or angry – there are better. If you want someone to feel PTSD – there are better. The lazy argument resonated a lot better with me than many others.

  316. Well, I’m no literary critic so I can’t wield postmodernism and literary theory with mad skills needed to actually reinterpret Gor like that, but I think that if I combine what I know from your ex’s stories, from your occasional jokes, and what I learned from my own limited encounter with the series that dares not be written well, I could be able to propose a sequel which does something like that.
    A sequel that retroactively reframes this entire collection of bread-and-water try-at-home BDSM scenario prefabs as a somewhat feminist narrative (to the extent preceding books can be considered narratives, of course ;) )

    Would that get me a consolation prize or something ?

  317. Re: Sheila

    okay. Hm. So… how do we go about this thing ? Guess I’ll have to make a disposable mailbox for that purpose. Hm…. TURINGTESTthird {at} angelic {dawt} com :D

  318. “I am a bad person, but I just cannot resist trying to locate hidden things. I blame growing up on RPG’s…”

    Yeah, they do tend to have that effect (they did with me anyway). It’s a Pavlovian conditioning kinda thing. If “I search for traps” doesn’t become part of your vocabulary very fast your characters won’t last very long.

  319. 03, I sent you a link.

  320. @ Lanius

    Well, my opinion of Gor is pretty hard to debride from my opinion of the somewhat annoying ethos that surrounds it (admittedly learned from interacting with a very small isolated sample of its carriers). But let me try doing it anyway, and formulate a statement that will not be too obviously subjectively tainted… Gor is poorly written (Duuuh), it suffers from Heinlein Bullshit Politics Syndrome, and it’s characters are incredibly shallow.

    @ 03

    Would you kindly entertain the masses ? (and yes, there is a consolation prize. I think I put it somewhere in the cellar :D)

  321. Re: Sheila

    Thanks :) Downloaded, will read.

    Re: Kalon

    Well, given how fractured and internally conflicted feminism is, it seems that the task of ensuring that a given text has no parts that might be judged as anti-feminist “flag” by a particular subtype of feminists is almost intractable.

    Especially if some people are srsly out to find something to be displeased about (I distinctly recall one reviewer claiming that Rifters trilogy implies normative status of male-on-female abuse because there are so few female-on-male abusive and non-abusive relationships depicted there. I shit you not. I can find the link )

    As to rape… you know, for all the hate the (admittedly tired and a bit hackish, thus attracting the under-inspired and the lazy) cliche of rape as “just add water” instant motive / character definer gets, it’s pretty effective.
    Much like its sister shtick of “death of loved ones as “just add water” instant motive / character definer”.
    Probably those two tropes touch upon a deep-seated fear most human beings have, and provide motive structure that majority of audience can at least partially relate to.
    “X did horrible thing Y to Z, protagonist deeply cared for Z” is a formula that has worked since… oh I dunno, since Greeks or so, I suspect. There are only so many horrible things that you can use in Y without turning the entire thing into buffoonery, with murder and rape being on top of the list (okay, sci-fi might also have things like “microsurgically rearrange Z’s brain so that a new person is formed “, but that’s quite exotic and might be considered “a bit of both” ;) )
    I would even endeavor to say that rape is fascinating in the sheer emotional response you can squeeze of an otherwise smart-ass and jaded audience, something that can reliably fast-track the character(s) responsible to the status of inexcusable shit-bag(s), which murder simply doesn’t cut THAT well unless it is something gratuitous and nazi-esque.
    But, well, there’s a big problem with rape – the victim is usually alive (otherwise it would have been rape and murder) which does not allow to simply discard the character without uncanny exposure of this tired trope’s internal clunky mechanics. And that would damage suspension of disbelief, kill mood and cause outrage in feminist circles :D. Which kinda makes rape a lot trickier than murder, as far as such plotbuilding and characterization things go.
    Also, the fact that the usual victims are female is of course somewhat misogynistic and just plain wasteful, since there are untapped mother lodes of discomfort potential in “X on male” rape.

    Now, one could of course argue that rape is so heinous and horrible that an author needs a kind of “special narrative permit” to use it, but honestly, I don’t buy that (like I said, a shotgun discharge to the face is oftentimes quite demonstrably worse) and am generally not hot for “special permits” in literature.

    As to accuracy of depicting victim’s experience… oh yeah, it would be nice if some authors took a course, or something, as well as some reviewers. It would be generally nice if people familiarized themselves with peer-reviewed literature on subjects they touch upon in their writings, whether those are original works or reviews or whatever (background research work, and a commitment to sharing it, is one of the things I profoundly respect Peter for)

    Re: Lanius, Gor

    Poorly written. Cliched. And, frankly, as far as “inspirational literature ;)” goes, just too damn weaksauce for my tastes.

  322. Poorly written & Cliched … you just named 95% of popular literature.

    Same could be said of.. perhaps Alastair Reynold’s Pushing Ice. Clichés abound, writing is not so good… still, read that book three times or so for the sheer coolness. (and because it’s optimistic outlook: two hundred monkeys on a frozen moon just a couple of hundred kms in diameter, no technological base, being whisked away was a welcome antidote to Blindsight)

  323. @03: “Well, given how fractured and internally conflicted feminism is, it seems that the task of ensuring that a given text has no parts that might be judged as anti-feminist “flag” by a particular subtype of feminists is almost intractable.”

    I don’t think it’s that easy. It’s not about feminism; it’s about things like rape. It’s about things like misogynistic language and features. It’s about having your main characters that are women all be either whores or concubines. These aren’t flags for feminists; these are often flags for women. In the original Bakker and women thread a lot of women – very few who would describe themselves as feminists – talked a lot about how uncomfortable the book made them and a lot of the threads were trying to figure out why. Others were more easily able to figure it out.

    “Now, one could of course argue that rape is so heinous and horrible that an author needs a kind of “special narrative permit” to use it, but honestly, I don’t buy that (like I said, a shotgun discharge to the face is oftentimes quite demonstrably worse) and am generally not hot for “special permits” in literature.”One big difference is that it’s a much larger segment of the actual, real population that is likely to be affected by rape; using it as a foil for the victim’s lover (and not addressing the victim’s feelings) is marginalizing and poor. Given that 1 in 6 women in the US will be sexually assaulted, I think the elicited emotion is a lot different than what people actually think it’ll be.

    I don’t think that anyone needs a permit – but I do think that it’s a very reasonable thing to call out when an author is lazy and insensitive in their writing about this.

    Anyway, rape wasn’t the only thing that Bakker does that adds flags. And the thing is that he knew it would add flags; he specifically put them in the book to point them out. He just thought that they would be obviously shown as ‘bad’. When to a lot of readers, his book just read as ‘another sexist fantasy book’.


  324. It’s about things like misogynistic language and features. It’s about having your main characters that are women all be either whores or concubines.

    That’s probably because housewifes rarely do interesting shit. Unlike whores or concubines.. lots of intrigue possible there.

  325. Re: Kalon

    “I don’t think it’s that easy. It’s not about feminism; it’s about things like rape. It’s about things like misogynistic language and features.”

    Those too are highly subjective, and in many cases the conflict becomes pretty much unwinnable for the author (heroine is physically attractive ? Reinforcing heteronormative standard of beauty. Heroine is not physically attractive ? Crippling a powerful female figure with ugliness :p)

    “it’s about having your main characters that are women all be either whores or concubines.”

    Societies where these would be the professions with most interesting narratives existed, and as long as the author doesn’t go out of his way cheering for such an order, I see nothing particularly broken about a fictional middle-age to be exactly this way.
    Of course, the author might have bothered to go out of his way to provide a slightly less middle-age normative female character and quell possible complaints, but calling lack of such a contrivance “misogynistic” is like saying that early Bolo books endorse mental enslavement of kind and chivalrous artificial beings ;) (yes, such reading is conceivable and internally consistent. Nonetheless, I maintain that such reading of those texts is pure silliness)

    One big difference is that it’s a much larger segment of the actual, real population that is likely to be affected by rape; using it as a foil for the victim’s lover (and not addressing the victim’s feelings) is marginalizing and poor. Given that 1 in 6 women in the US will be sexually assaulted, I think the elicited emotion is a lot different than what people actually think it’ll be.

    I don’t think it’s marginalizing, but I agree that it is not particularly skillful (which I said explicitly in my post).

    Now, about that “much larger segment of the actual, real population that is likely to be affected by rape” thing…
    I just don’t get how that makes sense.

    Would it become less-okay to use murder of loved ones as a “motive hook” or a characterization “trick” if murder was a more common crime ?

    Would it suddenly become more-okay to use rape as such an explicit “just-add-water” narrative tool if it suddenly became much less common ?

    If answer to any of the above two questions is “Yes”, then there’s some kind of weird underpants-gnome logic at work.

    “He just thought that they would be obviously shown as ‘bad’. When to a lot of readers, his book just read as ‘another sexist fantasy book’.”

    Frankly, this is reader’s problem as much as the author’s.
    If the reader has an unspoken assumption that a fantasy novel is supposed to present an escapistically-attractive environment (and thus all the stuff there is intended to be interpreted as “good”), the author has little recourse beyond either just rolling eyes at such readers, or going out of his way to paint bad things over-the-top bad and shove this point down reader’s throat at every turn (It can be hard to paint something as a dystopia when your reader either has a different belief about what a “dystopia” is or has weird assumptions as to whether a given type of narrative implies a normative stance)

    Re: Lanius

    Gor isn’t cliched as say Reynolds or Garrison’s works are. It is cliched the way Doom backstory is. Perhaps we need a separate word for a particularly bad case of uninspired, tedious cliche-stacking.

    Not that it’s much of a problem if you read it as a kind of kinky roleplay scenario collection, which is where Gor pretty much shines (well, not for me due to being too vanilla, but I certainly can see the appeal for the more shy and insipid folks out there)

    Re:01

    Actually, it’s simple as day :D
    In the sequel, Just Add Lovecraft.
    Basically, the gist would be that there’s a Mysterious Alien Thing buried somewhere on the counter-earth, which causes all the Gorean social shenanigans through spooky-action-at-a-distance brainwashing which keys on genetic sexual dimorphism. Same spooky para-physical influence is actually what makes Gorean space bugs and those other aliens so fucking loony and nonsensical – implying they were more okay before they got exposed.
    The mysterious lovecraftian macguffin should also be huge and phallic, to drive home the point that it’s plain-bread metaphor for the so-called “Patriarchy”, poisoning people’s minds through contrived and ill-defined means.
    Heroe(s) will probably blow it up in the end by puncturing its testiclesfuel tanks or something.

    As you can see, retroactively rewriting stuff via sequels is totally rad :D. Too bad Norman is unlikely to entertain this plan (even if it is somehow brought to his attention)

    I better find the prize when I finally come back, 01 ;)

  326. And, I broke one of tags somewhere :( Peter, would it be possible to add one of those “highlight and poke a button to wrap tags” thingies sometime in the future ?

  327. @03:

    I can get those? They exist?

    Sorry about the overall clumsiness of the way this ‘crawl operates; I’ve turned off moderation entirely except for specific flagged individuals, and a bunch of you are still getting queued even though you shouldn’t be. I’m still trying to work out the problem, but given my schedule I can only afford a certain amount of time per day on blog maintenance, and dealing with actual comments and posts always takes higher priority. And then I’ve got to spend time working on some lecture or story that’s always due too soon, and it all just gets left.

    Still on it, though. When time permits. Fixed that tag — and if someone could point me to the add-in button 03 mentioned, I’ll happily install it.

  328. They do, Peter. There are several “richer comments” shenanigans that allow wrapping tags, insta-blockquoting posts, and other such trickery.
    There is a lot of stuff that exists for WP, some of it more important than other (I keep forgetting to mail you about the… relatively important trickery).
    BTW, while I’m not exactly a WP-guru (but I doubt it’s something you need certificate for :) ), I could lend a helping hand if you need it.

  329. @ 03

    LOL, that’s copypastish enough to pass for authentic Gor ;)

    However, you’re unfair to the S/M part – I distinctly recall existence of okay flagellation scenes, despite the fact that Norman wasn’t into sadist/masochist stuff that much (he’s more of a D/S dude as far as I can tell) – in his “sex advice book” he even advised replacing actual flagellation with hand claps within roleplay scenarios (yeah, surprisingly prudish for a man with his kind of backlist :D )

  330. @03:
    Sorry if I gloss over some of this; I’ve had a lot of these arguments in the past with Bakker himself, so a lot of it is pretty worked out for me.

    “Those too are highly subjective, and in many cases the conflict becomes pretty much unwinnable for the author (heroine is physically attractive ? Reinforcing heteronormative standard of beauty. Heroine is not physically attractive ? Crippling a powerful female figure with ugliness :p)”

    Yes, they are. There’s no objective misogyny handbook, or objective sexism book, or whatever. However – when you combine a world that objectively rates women as worse than men, when all of the main female characters are sex workers, when misogynistic language is running rampant, when the lead bad guys are rape demons, when you deliberately create a world modeled on real history except you remove all traces of women in power or even women as anything other than sex worker…it’s harder to see that as subjective, and a lot harder to claim ‘but I didn’t mean it this way!’ or ‘the reader is clearly wrong for interpreting it that way!’

    Now, where Bakker fucked up, IMO, is that he could have written a fantasy novel that had all these things and it would have been a feminist masterpiece if that’s all it was about. But no – he made it background. It’s just kind of there, like flavor. And when you do that – when you don’t emphasize the wrongness of it – it becomes much harder for readers to determine whether it’s endorsement or anti-endorsement you’re doing. Or really, what your central message is at all. (as it turns out, his central message is fairly misogynistic, though he’d probably argue otherwise).

    “Societies where these would be the professions with most interesting narratives existed, and as long as the author doesn’t go out of his way cheering for such an order, I see nothing particularly broken about a fictional middle-age to be exactly this way.”

    Sure. Except his books are modeled precisely after the first crusade, complete with exact replicas of the people in power…save the women. Yes, you can write a fairly good feminist tale about sex workers. But if the story is not about sex workers and you just happen to have all the women as sex workers, what does that say about women? What do you think it’s implying? What’s a reasonable thing to think it implies?

    And again, that’s just one aspect. If everything was otherwise basically normal but the text had sex workers as the main female characters, that’s probably not a big deal. When it has that, and rape demons, and excision of actual historical female figures, and lots of actual rape in the text, and misogynistic terms, and the world literally values women less than men…etc, etc. It’s just one piece.

    “Would it become less-okay to use murder of loved ones as a “motive hook” or a characterization “trick” if murder was a more common crime ?

    Would it suddenly become more-okay to use rape as such an explicit “just-add-water” narrative tool if it suddenly became much less common ?

    If answer to any of the above two questions is “Yes”, then there’s some kind of weird underpants-gnome logic at work.”

    I don’t see that this is weird logic at all. It would become less okay to use murder as a hook if it was something that likely affected more people. It has become less okay to write fiction about war during wartimes, as an example – at least explicit fiction. If rape were very uncommon it would be more reasonable to use. That doesn’t mean it would be reasonable to use – just MORE reasonable.

    “Frankly, this is reader’s problem as much as the author’s.
    If the reader has an unspoken assumption that a fantasy novel is supposed to present an escapistically-attractive environment (and thus all the stuff there is intended to be interpreted as “good”), the author has little recourse beyond either just rolling eyes at such readers, or going out of his way to paint bad things over-the-top bad and shove this point down reader’s throat at every turn (It can be hard to paint something as a dystopia when your reader either has a different belief about what a “dystopia” is or has weird assumptions as to whether a given type of narrative implies a normative stance)”

    Yes, but it’s very stupid to think that it’ll be any different if you’re an author. If you know that this is going to happen, blaming the reader when they read something that you knew would elicit that reaction is pretty silly. “OMG, the reader thought that just because the entire world has tons of rape that there is misogyny here! OMG!”

    It’s not a matter of escapism either; it’s a matter of reader expectations about a book in general. When you have a book that has all of these things but they’re just in the background and not the main subject, the reader is trained to assume that this is just the worldbuilding – as very few writers are trying to make a point with the fantasy novel’s worldbuilding (characters, situations, sure – not the actual worlds themselves). So then you look elsewhere, and you have basically a grim gritty grimdark fantasy tale with the same sorts of things in a lot of books – the skeptical wizard, the barbarian, the awesome gary stu. And there are small differences, but really the story is about them and their awesome tales; it is very much escapist fantasy.

    So how do you reconcile when you have Escapist Fantasy tropes with A Very Special Message tropes? Especially when the Very Special Message is essentially background and doesn’t appreciably change for 5 books? Which of the two do you think most readers pick up on? Which of the two is more implied?

    And that’s not talking at all about the other themes in the books – the neurological stuff, the social manipulations, the modernity vs. tribalism stuff, the drug use parables, etc. Bakker has said that it’s a very dense book with a lot of stuff, and that’s true – but the end result to me is that nothing gets a strong message and many of the messages will obviously have to be misinterpreted.

    That we have gone 5 books into the series and still have not gotten the payoff for all the misogyny (and will likely not in the next book either) is also pretty bad, at least for a book that Bakker claims is so obviously feminist.

    There’s another problem in that his other two published books deal with many of the same themes and do so in many of the same ways. Now some of that is genre – he picked a psychological thriller for one, a detective novel for another, so misogyny is pretty rampant in both cases. And some of it comes from his notions of how biology governs interactions between the sexes. But the end result for me was that Bakker just can’t do anything different and that he doesn’t understand how to come across as something other than a writer of misogyny.

    On the Gorean theme, the lovecraft solution is elegant. Another is to simply have the Gorean world be the product of biological selection; women were continually selected for submissive qualities, men for dominant ones, and then something in the long histories tried to change this politically. Except by that time everyone was already fairly biologically bent in liking things a certain way, so the political part worked but only on the surface.

  331. Flagellation? People whipping each other up?
    Seriously, what the fuck..?

  332. “Flagellation? People whipping each other up?
    Seriously, what the fuck..?’

    Don’t knock it til you try it.

  333. I’ve tried it, a good way to drive the stupid out and score some major endorphins but.. when my mother walked in on me, she got faint and had to spend five minutes on the floor while I kept reassuring her that her pulse is okay..

    But whipping an SO?

  334. Re: Kalon

    Expect a more in-depth response on a later date (much stuff to do), but it seems to be slowly moving from “misogyny problem” to “audience fine-tuning” problem.

    Re: Lanius

    mmmmmhhhmmmmmm… if both you and SO enjoy it, what’s the problem ? :D

  335. I’d just like to thank the surviving members of this thread and the last one. The debate seems to have got a lot less acrimonious over time (which kind of confounds my expectations). And I’m learning a lot, even though I can’t contribute much because of other obligations.

    So, you know. Carry on as long as you’d like.

  336. Some people like it, Lanius. the difference between pain and pleasure is not so strong as you’d think. You don’t need to be Algonaic like 03 to enjoy it even.

    An analogy I’ve used before might be illustrative. Have you ever swatted the butt during sex? Ever had a lover bite you as they come? Or scratch their nails into their back? That’s all ignoring the psychological aspects of it too, in terms of both enjoying it or giving it.

    Sexuality is a really complex thing for humans. The most reasonable thing in my mind as far as that goes is to go with sane, safe, and consensual. As long as everyone can legally consent, as long as there are not specific physical dangers and as long as all people are in the right mind things should be good to go.

  337. @Kalon

    Heh. I’m a 28 year old virgin. Comes from having high standards(and also having severely delayed puberty. I mean, I only started to need to shave at age 23 or so), I’m just interested in dating only the finest** specimens of females out there, and if they’re not available, I play patient bear (is ready when you are).

    A girl has to be smart, have good bone structure, some sense of humor, an affinity to exercise and not be a bitch.

    Fortunately, persistence has paid off, or will pay off.

    **best way to find ones: OKCupid, then med schools.. those are full of smart women. And you get a very personal physician too.
    The thing is, you have to be interesting too, smart women are kind selective.

  338. Hey, are my comments even getting through anymore ? Daymn chinese internets…

    [Ed. Insert: they all ended up in the spam folder; and there is nothing about any of your posts or your address that mean my custom spamify criteria. Maybe Askimet has flagged your ISP or something…

  339. Lol, tried using a working email and the blog ated all the comments. I wonder if the email change or the chinese shitty ISP is to blame…

  340. Such a wide-ranging discussion, but I wanted to add that the sexist background of the Earthsea world crafted by LeGuin (women can’t do magic, are largely unimportant, are temptresses, or too close to the darker powers, &c) takes a very long time to resolve into some change. Rape is threatened once in that series, and done in a very menacing way without needing to be explicit. But I’m unaware if there is/was a backlash for the misogynistic background she used: presumably because people accepted her ability to write conscientiously about race and gender was itself already established with her other series of Hainish things. But its undeniable: the sexism of the Earthsea novels is in the same mode of being ‘background’ and doesn’t get resolved for a very long time. Decades. But are there such accusation against LeGuin?

    I think it isn’t so much *that* it’s background or such. There’s something to the construction even when it is background, and something to what one believes about the author’s sharing of the struggle. Minority folk are more likely to hear a person out if they know the person knows the struggle and, most importantly, shares in it. You cannot share in it if you don’t even know it, and knowing it isn’t automatically sharing it. But once you’re in the in-group of those whom the out-group comprises, then you can use all the slurs and epithets (stories and images, jokes) we reclaim from the oppressor. I think, as experience does show, different out-groups have their own geographic/ideological subspecies-reasons for what’s permissible, but the boundary crossing allows one freedom to use the hurtful language/imagery of the oppressor in the oppressed’s healing/bonding situations. But it has to be that: healing/bonding in the way they understand it.

    LeGuin gets the pass because she has the cred for different reasons, so a purely structural account of what happens narrativally is not enough.

  341. @Charles: to my knowledge Earthsea does not have the universe value women less than men. Nor does it have the only female characters be sex workers. Nor are there no women around when there should be. Nor is the language particularly misogynistic.

    There was a LOT of stuff in that background; comparing Bakker to Earthsea is kind of like comparing scat porn to a nipple slip.

    I don’t think LeGuin gets a pass, exactly, but it’s certainly not the overt culture that Bakker does, not by a longshot. That LeGuin has done other works that are decidedly feminist or LGBT friendly or race-friendly and has interviewed well helps as well; Bakker not only has not defended his works or his position well on the internet, many people have actively gotten angrier at him because of his posting. So you’re right in the sense that LeGuin had earned some cred that Bakker has not.

    Finally, all three books of the Earthsea trilogy are as long as the first book Bakker wrote – and they did have something of a good ending in the sexism scale. Bakker’s gone through 5 and we’re not getting anywhere.

  342. Kalon, it’s increasingly obvious to me that you should’ve written Scott’s takedown, not acm; you’re way more familiar with his work than either acm or me.

  343. There was a reason that acm quoted me in that writeup, Peter :)

  344. Kalon, my appreciation for the correction. I’m not aware how the background in Baker’s stories go.

  345. Just to add, but I was thinking beyond just the three: Tehanu, the short stories, and The Other Wind significantly change the world of Earthsea. This doesn’t entail the world/universe valued women less, but it does make an admission the world as it had been was divided wrong. No acknowledgment is made in Wizard that the magic of women is not otherwise than corrupt. The Old Powers are presented there as evil, but over the series this notion changes along with affirming how women have been maligned. But I concede I prefer the soft to the snuff.

  346. Re: Kalon

    Well, you see, basically, with that degree of subjectivity, it’s pretty damn hard to maintain a coherent discussion, as long as subject work isn’t hellbent out of shape in proselytizing a position on gender issues.
    But I guess what you consider “making it all about it” to render a “feminist masterpiece” is where I start thinking that a work is busy proselytizing an idea set.
    It appears that the difference between how I see this stuff and the way certain people see this stuff is that people with high degree of concern over gender issues kind of see a work as either for us or against us with very little space left for works where there is no clear attempt to shovel a clear political stance into the reader’s face (BTW, if you ever trolled the misandry/male rights/PUA blogs, which is often great fun, you know that this attitude but with inverse value sets is common there, up to and including claims that ridiculously hypersexualized female death machines common among computer game characters are an “emasculating” radical feminist message. Srsly.).

    You know, it seems to me that to some readers (you included :) ) misogyny and other such issues just can’t be “background”, they have, when present, to be part of a narrative construct intended to meticulously hammer the reader with just how unfavorable those things are, and anything less is a tacit sign of approval towards those social phenomena.
    I think that such an attitude undermines the distinction between misogyny as constructed within narrative’s virtual continuity (which also happens to include dudes almost-succeeding in unleashing an Eldritch Abomination, among other things ;) ) and actual authorial attempt to advance an ideological stance upon the reader (of course, there are cases where author himself undertakes an effort to take down this distinction, but I doubt that’s Bakker’s case)

    I do, however, think you’ve got a pretty solid point when you say that gender message of the series is not reliably discernible. It really isn’t that clear, beyond vague implication that misogyny, crazy cultists and EA incursions correlate :). Thing is, you seem to imply that there has to be a kind of core “gender message” in a work that invokes those issues. I’m not so sure that a clear, refined “message on the issues” is strictly necessary for a work to be a “good book”.
    It would be perhaps fair to say that Bakker’s works aren’t feminist in the sense they don’t contain any reliably detectable feminist message.
    I’d say same is true about misogynistic message, that is, there hardly is a reliably conveyed misogynistic message, or any message on these issues at all (beyond that rape is apparently a popular pastime among Krazy Kultists. Because just “merely” working to bring about an apocalypse is not evil enough, or something.)

    As to Bakker’s management of this issue, he could have done better, sure, but he seems to be generally not very keen on this whole “managing intertube outrage outbreak” business. He generally seems blissfully naive in regards to how trolling works, which is kind of less than good for someone in his shoes.

    Now, the thing about appropriateness of using various atrocious acts as plot hooks being dependent upon how common are they IRL… … sorry man.
    I just don’t “get it”.
    Perhaps I hail from very different culture, or maybe my brainmeat is missing a chunk of necessary tissue, or whatever.

    I just don’t get how that works. I really don’t.
    It’s some kind of weird alien quasi-logic to me, worse than Pascal’s Wager (which at least makes a kind of superficial sense till you start thinking hard about it, and conservatively extend its application to other exotic hypotheses)

    To wrap up this ranty and not entirely well-structured response… what it boils down to for me, is that Bakker really, really can’t fine-tune his works in a manner that would make a certain (very predictable, at least in retrospect) class of criticisms bounce.
    Whether tweaking one’s work just so that one can better handle a certain class of complaints about the work is something authors should do is of course open to debate, but, pragmatically, it probably is (at least due to time saved on participating in kerfuffles and increased audience size), though of course, only up to some arbitrary and ill-defined ;) “sanity point” (for instance, IMHO it would be plenty silly to put a “normal happy family” among secondary characters of Rifters just to prevent complaints about it normalizing dysfunctional relationships or something)

  347. 03: I think the problem I have most with Bakker is that his intent was, in his words, to create a feminist masterpiece. That was one of his set goals. This is entirely why he put in all these things, so he says. That one of his goals was to problematize gender relations but to show the horrors in order to display a feminist message.

    As you say, I think that this failed because there’s no discernible message there.

    Furthermore, I agree that for a lot of people if you include all of this stuff it will automatically be flagged. Period. For them, if you aren’t making a clear message that it’s bad and thus put them in the mindset of an ally, it will automatically be a turnoff. Note that for many it won’t be an endorsement; it’ll just not be something enjoyable for them to read in any reasonable way. That makes a lot of sense to me.

    And as it turns out, a lot of those people are women.

    In that respect I think it’s a big failure; writing a story with the goal of having a feminist message but both not having a discernible feminist message AND actually alienating women is a pretty bad miss. That people not only don’t get the message but actually think that this was good because it’s realistic is even worse; that to me means that he’s potentially doing more harm than good, and that bugs.

    Also, me personally: it’s not a big deal. I can see a lot of it and am aware of all of these things, but it doesn’t hurt me or bother me or stop me from reading. At best it makes me roll my eyes and go ‘Bakker, did you really have to have a woman fall in love and forgive her rapist? Really?’ but I still keep reading – though to be fair, I’ve stopped reading the rest of his non-fantasy novels because they’ve got similar problems without being nearly as entertaining to me.

    I also don’t think that one needs to tweak their book to avoid complaints or handle them better. That being said, I think that if you don’t tweak your book as such or do decide to have all the stuff I talked about, you should expect and understand the amount of complaints you’re going to get. That it shouldn’t be a surprise, and you shouldn’t get all pissy about it. This is one of Bakker’s biggest failings, IMO – that he understands that he basically trolled feminists, knows how he did, did it purposely – and then gets upset when they call him on it.

  348. Well, I think that the main reason behind a notable fraction of readers being Bakker-averse is that our culture used to condition women to be avoidant of violent and “shocking” content and there is a notable degree of inertia in this regards (recruiting female friends to go to a Halloween horror movie marathon is still incredibly hard work). Bakker’s fantasy stuff is both violent and quite intentionally shocking, so it’s a no brainer some female readers would go “ewww”.

    I don’t think he “trolled” feminists (or rather, a certain subset of feminists) as much as has near-zero experience in dealing with online breakouts common to such folks (and online outrages in general), and didn’t quite succeed in forming a discernible gender message beyond a vague association between rape and demonic horrors, which isn’t good, but isn’t terrible or “damaging” as well. I think we could agree on that ;)

  349. Yeah, I don’t think that is correct. In fact, I think it’s sexist bullshit.

    One of my friends wanted to read the books because her husband and a lot of her friends recommended it. She didn’t like it because of the rampant, continuous misogyny. It just wore her down. This was the same person who watched Requiem for a Dream and laughed her ass off through the whole thing. Who made fun of Seven. She reads GRRM and tons of other fantasy crap and tons of other books far more disturbing than this. What bothered her wasn’t that it was icky or shocking; it was that she felt she was being berated over and over for being a woman. There were a lot of similar reactions in the Bakker and Women thread.

    I think he specifically set out to troll feminists. Not just online; I don’t think that occurred to him at the time (though now he’s going after all sorts of folks and trolling with gusto, which again…dude, you’re a writer, not a troll. Stop doing this), but specifically in his books. He says specifically that he wanted to problematize gender relationships and state them without any political correctness and see what reaction he got; that’s a troll, in my mind. Especially when his position is essentially that men have a biological impetus to rape and apparently women have a biological impetus to be raped. That he’s doubling down and having characters not only forgiving their rapist but falling in love with them, well, that’s not exactly vague, now is it?

  350. Well, I gotta go out on a limb here and say that that one can be both a writer and a troll – it’s not like you have to hand in your troll card before signing a publishing contract ;). Not sure if writing about an imaginary world which has intentionally over-exaggerated traits you consider unfavorable is, strictly speaking, a troll act.

    As to “forgiving and loving the rapist”, isn’t that more or less consistent with traumatic bonding / Stockholms ? Okay, perhaps (IANABS) Bakker didn’t accurately describe a textbook case in terms of course, symptoms or timeframe, but then again, I suspect that actual traumatic bonding doesn’t always proceed in exact accordance with most common documented course, timeframe and symptoms).

    P.S.: BTW, could you please link me to someplace where Bakker elucidates his opinion on biological origins of rape? I’m curious as to where exactly is he relative to this particular fence…

  351. Re: Kalon

    Well, IIRC, difference between female and male responses to shocker material is a marketing fact (but the gap has been closing in recent decades, suggesting its pretty much our weird sexist culture being weird)

    I can’t agree that intentionally problematizing stuff is trollish (again, author / book distinction, which is something people aren’t quite willing to grant authors). It appears to be a rather interesting experiment, though I do think he could have pulled it off, I dunno, more gracefully or something. Still, this is not something worthy of throwing a weird “rage act” about, at least as long as Bakker doesn’t go out of his way to point out that yes, that fantasy indeed reflects and expresses his normative stance.

    @ 01
    Well, one could perhaps consider it a case of sorta-kinda Stockholms, though Stockholm Syndrome usually requires uninterrupted and extended (for a fairly flexible definition of “extended”) contact with abuser. I wouldn’t instantly write that scenario off as “technically implausible sexist fantasy”, however, I am not enough of a rapespert to comment on nitty-gritty details of psychopathological (im?)plausibility (perhaps it should have been written as more explicitly pathological to prevent people from interpreting it as some kind of kinky porn thing)

  352. Oh and First, can you please give me a cool gravatar? Like, I want a Cenobite, too!