And they call it… Puppy Love…

“It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”

—Martha Graham, as cited by Orphan Black‘s Tatiana Maslany in today’s NY Times.

 

So as you all know, the Hugo noms are out. My first reaction was relief.

As reactions go, it was selfish even by my standards. I wasn’t on the ballot, and I wasn’t expecting to be: I expected to be crushed by better works in a year that was full of them. Gibson’s first SF novel since the turn of the century. Leckie’s much-praised followup to last year’s home run. Scalzi. Liu. Walton. Weir, if they ever figured out the eligibility thing.

Vandermeer. Dear sweet Jesus, Vandermeer: I can’t remember the last time something exploded across the landscape like that.

There was no way I was going to make it against those guys. Hell, Blindsight wasn’t up against that kind of a slate back in ’07, and it came in dead last even then. So I knew Echopraxia wouldn’t come close; and further, that it didn’t deserve to.

sad_puppiesAnd then a funny thing happened; with Leckie as the lone exception, none of those other contenders made it to the finals either. Something to do with this Sad Puppies campaign I’d caught the occasional whiff of, but never really paid attention to. A bunch of right-wing Baen types, apparently, campaigning for a return to good ol’fashioned meat-and-potatoes SF in a world where all the awards were apparently going to noodly boring literary crap. I’m not sure I buy the puppies’ analysis— a Harry Potter novel won a Hugo not so long ago, and you’d be hard-pressed to describe that as “literary”— but whatever.

The outcry was immediate and deafening. My Facebook feed continues to erupt with outrage and despair (Twitter too, I’m told, although I don’t twit). Essays and post-mortems sprout like mushrooms across the blogosphere. The Hugos are all about politics now. The Hugos have lost all credibility. The barbarians are at the gate.

And yet, like I say: relief. It’s one thing to know that you washed out because you flubbed the jump— but that ache of inadequacy vanishes like morning mist when even the superstars miss the same bar. The Sad Puppies have neutered the Hugos, turned them into the genre version of CBC’s Bookies: awards, sort of, but hardly meritorious. I beat out Emily St. John Mandel for one of those; Caitlin beat Margaret Atwood. Does anyone think that actually means anything?

(On the up side, Leckie must be feeling pretty smug now; she’s all-but-guaranteed another Best Novel rocket. And it’s grand to see Mixon make the finals for Best Fan Writer on the strength of her RequiresHate takedown, especially since that particular troll is already spawning a new brood of brain-dead minions only too happy to outsource their critical faculties to L4.)

And yet, the more lamentations I read, the more I start to wonder if people doth protest too much. Have the sad puppies really done anything that hordes of authors don’t do as a matter of routine, albeit on a smaller scale? Are we talking a change of kind, or merely of degree?

We all know the needy guy who opens every con panel he sits on by arranging copies of his books on the table before him, urging the audience to the merch room. During awards season it sometimes seems as if the only way to escape an endless barrage of FOR THE CONSIDERATION OF THE HUGO COMMITTEE and !!!THESE ARE MY ELIGIBLE STORIES!!! and ONLY TWO WEEKS LEFT TO VOTE FOR ME! is to rip your modem out of the goddamn wall. If you’ve taken a creative-writing night course taught by some hard-up midlister, you might even have come across an Aurora nomination form on your desk at the start of your last class, while your teacher smiles disingenuously and murmurs Technically I’m not supposed to do this but… Such incidents are legion, and every one of them reflects an attempt to get friends, fans, and strangers to vote for a work whether or not those folks have actually read it.

The thing is, we’re encouraged to act this way. We’re expected to: by agents, by publicists, by publishers who can no longer be bothered promoting their own authors. I know of one case where an agent explicitly refused to represent an author simply because that author wasn’t pimping herself on Twitter. It’s now considered unprofessional to eschew constant tub-thumping. Nobody takes you seriously if you don’t stand out from the crowd— and the only way to do that, apparently, is by doing exactly what everybody else is doing, only louder. Which is how someone who markets herself as a Fearless Progressive Speaker of Truth to Power can beg off boycotting an event over a clear matter of principle by saying “Nah, I’ve got a book to hustle” with a completely straight face.

Pimpage comes first, ethics run a distant second, and the Sad Puppies are not the only gang to run under that flag.

In fact, if you squint a certain way you can almost see how the Sad Puppies’ campaign is actually more honorable than the relentless self-promotion that’s somehow come to be regarded as de rigeur in this business. Put their reactionary motives aside for the moment; at least the puppies were, for the most part, advocating for people other than themselves. All other things being equal, whose opinion generally comes seasoned with less conflict-of-interest: the foodie who raves about the little hole-in-the-wall she discovered last Friday, or the chef who praises his own bouillabaisse to the heavens?

Which is not to say, of course, that self-promotion doesn’t work. It obviously does. (I don’t know if anyone in the genre has won more awards than Rob Sawyer, and offhand I can’t think of a more relentless self-promoter.) Then again, no one’s really questioning the effectiveness of the strategy that’s riled up the current teapot. It’s the underlying ethics that seems to be at issue.

So, sure. If you’re an end-justifies-the-means sorta person, then by all means decry the block who stacked the deck and got-out-the-vote in pursuit of their antique right-wing agenda; praise the more progressive folks who try to get you to eschew straight cis white male writers for a year. But if the road matters to you as well as the destination, don’t lose sleep over the fact that the bad guys played a better game this time around.

Give a thought to the rules that promote such strategies in the first place.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Sunday April 05 2015at 07:04 pm , filed under ink on art . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

112 Responses to “And they call it… Puppy Love…”

  1. I’m not ruling out Goblin Emperor winning. We just read it in the Sword and Laser forum on Goodreads, and the discussion there and in the reviews section is FULL of “Nothing happens, but I really liked it!”

  2. I’m liking this analysis, Peter. I’ve read a decent amount of commentary on both sides in the past few days, but I like the questions you’re asking. Thanks.

  3. Yeah, I pretty much agree with you, Peter. I see a lot of people on both sides bellyaching and claiming to be victims in all this, while mostly just talking past each other, taking umbrage, and not listening.

    Awards never really mean much of anything, aside from what we read into them. But, for what it’s worth, I think ECHOPRAXIA was one of the best novels of 2014.

  4. Idealism is seldom a winning strategy, because people with agendas have no problem manipulating any system to the service of their agenda.

  5. Echopraxia. Phyl-Undhu. Now there’s challenging and interesting. All the rest scrambling for awards…

    How disappointed are you really not to be counted among them?

  6. I’m disappointed that nothing I nommed (including you), save for a few in the comics/film categories made it. 😛

    I’m especially disappointed that my first ever Hugo Voters packet will be filled with largely with crap and a few vocal homophobes and racists (although, it should be noted not everyone nominated by that slate is a bad person by any means, I’ll give them this much, they did nominate a few people who would normally have nothing to do with them). I was looking forward to possibly getting some free novels that I missed out on, like some of the ones you mentioned as possibly more deserving.

    Although I disagree with your characterization of “if you’re an ends-justify-the-means sort of person, by all means decry…” and think the comparison that followed is a false equivalence. The world isn’t, or shouldn’t be, “ends justify the means,” but the means aren’t the ONLY thing that matters either. There’s a balance, and some means need to be judged more end-dependently than others.

    To me, the SP slate was the ultimate in ends-justify-the-means thinking. “We want to get on, so we’ll vote in lockstep to dominate the awards.” I hate that, and I’d hate it regardless of which ‘side’ it’s on. I nommed the stories I thought were the best, on my own. If I’m still able to nominate next year, I’ll do that too.

    In voting for this year? I’ll try to give things a fair read, but I’ll also be ruthless with my No Award vote, because in my book (even if not by the technical rule book), the slate-noms were cheating, and punishing that is both an end and a means I support… the best nominees were left off the ballot, and a choice of what’s left, in the shorter fiction categories especially, is not a fair choice.

  7. Yep. Just yep.

  8. I got the impression from the Interzone editorial this month-ish that the nomination rules for the Hugo (and others) lead to a problem common to Simple Plurality voting systems: any bunch of fanatics with a sufficiently cohesive support base will tend to beat out the more fractured and diverse majority (although, keeping to type, the puppies imagine themselves to be the majority and everyone else to be the fanatic interlopers). It might therefore be an idea to look for solutions similar to those proposed for the SPV problem, such as run-offs, preferential voting or whatnot, if saving the Hugos from being another casualty of America’s idiotic culture wars is important to enough to warrant the effort, which, I’m of the view, it isn’t .

    Tis true hating on the puppets for gaming the rules entirely as they are allowed to is silly. I however reserve the right to hate on them for being a pack of subliterate, High Frontier Fascist, Social Injustice Warrior, whining manbabies with a pathological sense of entitlement (at best).

    Feel free to delete any part of this comment you fear may spark a walrusalanche.

  9. Very accurate. On the moral and ethical side of the matter (I can’t even tell them apart in this particular case), what would be the moral/ethical approach for an author who submitted a story to a newly founded magazine a couple of months ago, found its editor among the Sad Puppy nominees on Saturday, was apalled by the Sad Puppies’ opinions, and now found their story accepted? Does it mean that reasonable people should now distance themselves from the whole magazine? I guess that most of the authors published there don’t feel any sympathy to the Puppies either and it may be unfair to attribute it to them. And for an author who needs every penny, it would not be responsible to decline an acceptance with their pay rates. Colleagues and family advised to let the story be published…

  10. If I could really be better to get that actively involved in all this massive farce, it would look pretty much like this. Either way, I agree.
    Now let’s all get back to reading and writing what we enjoy. :)

  11. A local writer attended a con a few months back and was on a few panels. Told me that during one of them, the moderator turned nearly every question into something to do with his book that he was promoting similar to what you described above though I think it was more about selling copies than awards. The panel had to basically mutiny in order to get a word in edgewise. It’s puppy eat puppy. Suppose selfishness is a virtue in a dystopia. I often marveled how BS always sold better than meat-and-bones expertise in other business sectors, pretty much without fail due to the psychology of most buyers, despite the rate of problems such choices more than oft created.

    As for feeling under-appreciated, yeah…know dat. And yet you are, very much.

  12. I agree with much of what you’ve said here, and appreciate your long-view approach, but: “Put their reactionary motives aside for the moment”–why on Earth should we? To me, the “foodie” analogy doesn’t really work for this situation, unless amended to “a foodie is upset that her favorite holes-in-the-wall aren’t getting nominated for awards, and is convinced that the feted restaurants have been recognized due mainly to their political affiliation, so gets all of her friends together to vote for less-recognized restaurants whose chefs also happen to share a particular political viewpoint.”

    I’ve long felt that the Hugos are nothing like what they could or should be, but I don’t see how this improves things. Is there *any* sort of award that wouldn’t potentially be subject to these sorts of conflicts, when so much of the ire boils down to “stop liking things I don’t like”?

  13. I’m curious as to whether this politicizing of the Hugos will lead to their (financial) irrelevance. If a Hugo no longer means much other than a sort of battle in the cultural cold war between the Puppies and the Progressives, will the phrase “Hugo-Award Winning” mean anything to readers? Will it sell books?

  14. Peter D: The world isn’t, or shouldn’t be, “ends justify the means,” but the means aren’t the ONLY thing that matters either. There’s a balance, and some means need to be judged more end-dependently than others.

    Jeff: “Put their reactionary motives aside for the moment”–why on Earth should we?

    Yes, of course. I didn’t mean to suggest that we should ignore motivation entirely (I did, after all, only suggest that we do so “for a moment”). I’m simply saying that, regardless of motive, the puppies aren’t really doing anything new. As for the foodie analogy, I’m only saying that a third-party recommendation has more intrinsic credibility than an author singing her own praises; it was aimed more at your garden-variety self-promoters, and it’s why I myself try to minimize my connections with social media in general.

  15. One of the puppy nominees declined the nomination and wrote a detailed take-down of the puppy thesis. A Detailed Explanation. I’ve not finished reading it, but so far I am thinking of nominating it next year.

    I might come back to your post and point out where I disagree if I have anything insightful to say*. Right now I don’t. I’m too busy being annoyed. The hugos have utility to me. I might see a nomination for an author or work I never heard of. In this alternate universe I have heard of all the novel nominees but not all the novellas or short stories.

    * I ambivalently disagree with your promotion bit. and possibly your “nothing new” bit.

  16. Everywhere on the internet, it’s Atheism Plus all over again.

    I’ve got over nine thousand privilege units (as defined by SI) for living in a place where true injustice exists, not only the imagined kind, so I hardly see these rainbow haired folks railing about nonsense… Yes, I am *so* privileged.

  17. Peter Watts: a third-party recommendation has more intrinsic credibility than an author singing her own praises

    I think I get why you say that, and I think it might hold up well in general, but when illuminated by cases like this one, where we know something of the motives and thinking of the group “recommendation”, it strikes me as a possibly flawed assumption–or at least a really interesting one. (I certainly have to admit that I’m partially motivated by an anti-Vox-Day prejudice, though. That fuckin guy.)

  18. uncertain writer,

    As you say, not everybody on the List is really a bad person, there’ve been a number of people who claim they didn’t realize they were on it until they were officially nominated and that they don’t agree with what they said. It’s possible that the magazine in your case is one of those, and even if it’s not, not everybody’s equal. My own opinion, take the money, get published and, especially if you might consider submitting there again, research more into it. If they seem like reasonably decent people (even if you might disagree with them politically), leave it at that. They’re someone who liked your story enough to pay for it, and might do so again… that’s all it needs to be. I don’t think, with maybe one exception, that it has the potential to tar you with guilt by association.

    Personally if I found after the fact that Vox Day published my work, even if it was my first story and I was previously really excited about it, I might still take my money (if I needed it), but burn my bridges after and announce to all and sundry how I thought it was just a new magazine, I’ll never submit there again after knowing what I do now. Not because of a fear of being labelled as part of his camp (although I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t also be worried about that), but because I wouldn’t WANT to submit there ever again.

    Congrats on the sale, whatever the circumstances, though. I really need to get back in the game and get up the nerve to submit again. 😛

  19. The Sad Puppies have neutered the Hugos, turned them into the genre version of CBC’s Bookies: awards, sort of, but hardly meritorious.

    Bullshit.

    Hugos were always crap, on account them being popularity contests.

  20. What’s with the inferiority complex with respect to Emily St John Mandel? (And it’s not just you: Christopher Priest is at the same game.) Station Eleven was pleasant, forgettable and without a single ounce of gravel in its guts. Much like the Vancouver it tangentially celebrates, the dirt is sanitised before it touches you.

    On the Sad Puppies business, I generally abhor the politics of the protagonists. However, what I abhor even more is the type of groupthink that disgustedly refuses the claim of truths that run against the narrative. For the sad fact is that, when you run the stats on human nature, it is often exactly those truths that are staring back.

  21. Y.: Hugos were always crap, on account them being popularity contests.

    Dude, I’m comparing them to the Bookies. Crap is relative.

  22. Peter Watts: Dude, I’m comparing them to the Bookies.Crap is relative.

    Okay. Hugos are only 30% crap, but IMO it’ll get worse. Especially once they get drawn into the culture wars and supporting memberships explode in numbers.

    I’ve looked at the list of past winners – it’s not that bad. Diamond Age got one, on the other hand, the execrable ‘Hominids’ got one too. (that one was imo 45% fractally wrong). Scalzi has won ‘best novel’, Greg Egan has come up empty-handed, except for an award for Oceanic. Which I suspect only won because it pushed the right ideological buttons, namely religious skepticism and gender shenanigans.

    Peter Watts
    And it’s grand to see Mixon make the finals for Best Fan Writer on the strength of her RequiresHate takedown, especially since that particular troll is already spawning a new brood of brain-dead minions only too happy to outsource their critical faculties to L4.)

    I have to admire her strategy. Provide a good excuse for people to engage in mobbing and sadism while bamboozling her followers into thinking that what they are doing is actually virtuous. And help her own bottom line while blowing off a lot of steam. And people say evil can’t be beautiful..

    Peter Watts
    Give a thought to the rules that promote such strategies in the first place.

    Unless WSFS abolishes voting on Hugos, such strategies are unavoidable. Rating art seems futile to me, what objective standards are there?

  23. Peter Watts: Dude, I’m comparing them to the Bookies.Crap is relative.

    Which is, I think, part of the Sad Puppies point. If 1,000 people like X, and 100 people like Y, why do the Y people get to decide what’s good? It’s like all the world’s Michael Bay fans decided to crash the Cannes Film Festival (if Cannes had open voting).

    Y.: Unless WSFS abolishes voting on Hugos, such strategies are unavoidable. Rating art seems futile to me, what objective standards are there?

    Exactly. Voting-awards only sort-of work if everyone agrees on the “rules.” But SP has shown that a lot of people don’t agree on the rules.

  24. As a relative outsider to the scene, I’m finding it hard to get worked up over the sad/rabid puppies. It might be that I’m just not aware of all the pertinent details, but I haven’t seen any real criticism of the nominees’ works themselves. Instead, the controversy is focused on the puppy-organizers politicizing the event.

    The thing is, if the nominations are fairly stellar, isn’t that simply proof that the Hugos were already politicized? It’s a fan-voted award yet the squabbling seems to be over who the real taste-makers should be, which is a bit silly.

    For what its worth, I think Echopraxia was definitely worth a nomination. I suppose I can’t complain as I didn’t cast a vote, but it was probably more worthwhile to have bought the book when it came out (which I did, and recommended to others alongside Blindsight).

    Great AMA, by the way; sorry I missed it while it was taking place!

  25. […] Watts suggests people upset over the Puppy gaming of the Hugos would be best served addressing how to discourage future gaming rather than gaming […]

  26. “Which is how someone who markets herself as a Fearless Progressive Speaker of Truth to Power can beg off boycotting an event over a clear matter of principle by saying “Nah, I’ve got a book to hustle” with a completely straight face.”

    Hah, didn’t know you heard about that incident. Seems to be a small world after all.

  27. Do the Hugos suck? Historically, the record seems pretty good. Jo Walton reread about 10 years of nominees and compared the results to other (non-fan) awards, and concluded that the Hugos did at least as well in selecting winners with value that continued to be recognized with the perspective of decades. Whether things have changed in the last 10 years is a difference issue, that perhaps can only be addressed with quite a bit more perspective.

    But it is important to separate issues of nominating from issues of the final voting. The instant runoff procedure is quite resistant to being controlled by minorities. I may think some recent Hugo winners were lousy, but I can’t argue with the fact that the majority of the voters liked them.

    Nominations, however, are easily manipulated by minorities. From last year, it appears that the majority of Hugo voters think Theodore Beale’s writing is at about the level of “Eye of Argon,” correctly in my view. But here he is with multiple nominations. In contrast to the final voting, a properly organized 15% or so of those submitting nominations can control almost the entire ballot. Someone who revs up their fan base with a “Vote for meeeee” post gets at most a handful of slots on the ballot.

    There is also a difference between vote-pimping that gets nominations based on respect (possibly misguided) and nominating based on hate and spite. It is well documented that the SPs were motivated my wanting to punish those they hated. Nominating an author because you believe in the value of what she is saying rather than the quality of the work is arguably outside the spirit of the award, but nominating works because it will make other people angry and upset is a different thing.

    The SF community has a history of inclusiveness, and there is no war against good writers who happen to be politically conservative. Sometimes they win Hugos, as can be seen by looking through the historical lists. Hugo winners have tended to be more to the left because that represents the set of Hugo voters. Never before has a minority of nominating voters organized to take control from the hands of the majority and done it out of malice rather than a desire to promote what they believe are worthy works.

  28. Re: Lodore

    Peter is probably concerned that his books are too interesting :)

    But don’t you think it’s somewhat annoying stuff like Atwood’s Oryx & Whatever is considered a “serious and relevant” work of fiction while it’s just a pile of hippie crap with a bunch of good ‘ol sci-fi cliches in pretty wrapping of fanciful language?
    I can certainly get behind the annoyance.

    If anything, Station Eleven, inert and eventless as it is (and my oh my, I did force this work upon myself just to see if it eventually will pick up steam. In vain), is way, way way better than Late Atwood.

    Speaking of the last part of your comment, I can’t make head or tail of it.
    What truths about “nature of human” are being talked about, and what narrative do they run against?

  29. Peter, in case you didn’t see it you got mentioned in a sort of alternate-universe list of nominees for a Hugo in the best novel category at Crooked Timber – http://crookedtimber.org/2015/04/05/sucky-hugos/#comment-624211

  30. Mark Russell,

    You do realize that in your analogy, the Puppies are the 100, right?

  31. jcr: The SF community has a history of inclusiveness, and there is no war against good writers who happen to be politically conservative.

    [citation needed]

    Good writers. Okay. So no one’s willing to kill the Golden Gooses, like Simmons or Card.

    But is there truly no war? Or is it like in academia, where there is ‘no war’ against conservatives because there the conservatives lost it( link pdf). Something like 15% of US academics are conservative, and in the social sciences the conservative percentage doesn’t go above a single digit.

    See here:
    http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/were-only-human/74794.html

    So why are only three out of a thousand raising their hands when asked? Apparently, it’s because conservative social psychologists perceive the field as hostile to their values. And it’s not just perception. The more conservative respondents were, the more they had personally experienced an intellectually unfriendly climate. Importantly, self-defined liberals do not see this—or believe it. The hostility is invisible to those who don’t run into it themselves.

    The writer Sarah Hoyt claims that there is anti-conservative bias in the publishing industry.

    After that I lived in a state of fear

    I imagine it was similar to living in one of the more unsavory periods of the Soviet Union. You saw these purges happen. Whisper-purges. You got the word that someone was “not quite the thing” or that they associated with so and so who associated with so and so who was a – dropped voice – conservative. Suddenly that person’s books weren’t being bought and somehow people would clear a circle around them, because, well, you know, if you’re seen with a – dropped voice – conservative they might think you’re one too. And then it’s off to Neverland with you

    I found a few other conservatives/libertarians (frankly, mostly libertarians) in the field, all living in the same state of gut clenching fear.

    –snip–

    Conventions were nerve wracking because I watched myself ALL the TIME. And you never knew how much you had to watch yourself. Suddenly, out of the blue, at a World Fantasy the speaker, a well known SF/F writer went on about Howard Dean, our next president. The room erupted in applause, some people stood to clap, and I sat there, frozen, unable to actually fake it to that point but too shocked to even put a complaisant expression on my face.

  32. Not to merely pile on the agreement, but . . . yeah, I agree. It’s a problem increasingly endemic to all levels of creative endeavour. I’ve noticed it for instance with the local music scene in my city (Edmonton), and I assume it’s the same through much of Canada and North America in general, and likely large swaths of the world. Anyone below the age of about 25 is guaranteed to be a rather shameless self-promoter, especially on social media, and anyone over that age is sorely tempted to do the same (many give in, although the fraction varies from “nearly all” to “a vocal few” depending on the specific sub-scene).

    You combine that incentive and culture with an easily-gamed plurality voting system and this kind of result is inevitable. So even if we’re okay with the minor examples, if we’re not okay with this one then we should understand that the system and/or attitudes themselves need to be reformed before anything will change.

    If only we could have a widespread punk (style) resurgence, but it’s hard to rebel against the monolithic, greedy system when instead of being a looming set of giant corporations dominating the landscape it’s consisting of individuals who have been pressured to become in effect their own agents and PR machines. The deleterious effect of the pursuit of profit and success over all else is easy to see when you contrast an independent artist against a multinational corporation, but it becomes far less clearcut and far more philosophical in a social media world.

    I mean, myself I’m on the side of idealism. But then again, I’m over 25.

  33. PhilRM:

    You do realize that in your analogy, the Puppies are the 100, right?

    Nope. I called SP the Michael Bay fans of scifi. And Michael Bay films sell a lot more tickets than the best of Cannes. Certainly Larry Correia feels that his readership is large and underrepresented by the scifi gatekeepers.

    Now, I would take issue with that analysis, on all sorts of levels. But I think it is reasonably close to how Correia and friends feel.

  34. Mark Russell,

    Ah, sorry, I read “Which is, I think, part of the Sad Puppies point…” as implying that you thought the SPs had a legitimate point, as opposed to what they think. BTW, some relevant numbers on that:

    http://www.jasonsanford.com/blog/2015/4/yes-people-do-read-the-novels-up-for-the-hugo-and-nebula-awards

    Y.,

    Sarah Hoyt may claim that, but that doesn’t constitute evidence that it’s actually happening anywhere outside her head.

  35. PhilRM,

    Sorry if I sounded brusque. I find it hard to get tone right online sometimes.

  36. Mark Russell,

    No worries, Mark.

  37. […] And they call it… Puppy Love… – April 5 […]

  38. PhilRM: Sarah Hoyt may claim that, but that doesn’t constitute evidence that it’s actually happening anywhere outside her head.

    I’ll quote the report on the study of liberal discrimination in academia:

    The more conservative respondents were, the more they had personally experienced an intellectually unfriendly climate. Importantly, self-defined liberals do not see this—or believe it. The hostility is invisible to those who don’t run into it themselves.

  39. Err, Poe’s law and all, but this just has to be satire

    http://blog.sadpuppies.org/

    I mean, “chinese cartoons”, “a great man like Vidkung Quisling”, Nazi cosplay…

  40. Thing is, the Puppies campaign started as an open self-promotion campaign by Larry Correia and was exactly that for the previous 2 editions. Very blatantly. He got what he wanted last year (the nomination), he knows he has no chance in hell to win this year, so he could afford to play modest now and refuse the nomination (but of course he made sure to get enough votes for it so he can brag about it).

    Besides, I am not sure “Vote for my buddies’ work” as Torgersen and Correia did with a lot of their choices this year, is any better than self-promotion.

  41. “But if the road matters to you as well as the destination, don’t lose sleep over the fact that the bad guys played a better game this time around. Give a thought to the rules that promote such strategies in the first place.”

    I would be interested in your thoughts on how the rules ought to be changed. The idea of “fewer nominees than the ballot” (ie, 4 noms per voter, top six go on the ballot) plus dropping the price of an supporting membership ($10? $5?) seems plausible.

  42. Y.,

    Well, when you define “intellectual hostility” as “anyone being allowed to express disagreement with me”, it’s pretty hard to avoid, difficult though it may be to imagine how anyone could possibly disagree with the reasonable, open-minded people who comprise the conservative movement today.

    Quote: The hostility is invisible to those who don’t run into it themselves. But there you’ve hit on the root of the expressed grievance of the Torgersen wing of the SPs in a nutshell: when the protagonist is white, male, and straight, and women are just ornaments/prizes for the hero, that’s just the way things are. Write anything else, and now you’ve made it political.

  43. Reminder that Y is a straight up fascist. He has gone off in previous threads trying to claim that the Nazis were not fascist but left wing socialists (and then downplayed any problems someone would have with the Holocaust), argued that fascism (particularly the Italian subtype) is a good thing, and has expounded at length about James Watson and white supremacy being correct.

    Y is the poster boy for the puppy slate, and is entirely not worth your time engaging.

  44. jcr: Someone who revs up their fan base with a “Vote for meeeee” post gets at most a handful of slots on the ballot.

    I’m going to assume that you meant “a handful of slots toward the ballot” there, since getting a handful of finalist slots wouldn’t be a modest “at most” sorta proposition. I don’t think I agree; I know of at least one case in which someone made a final ballot entirely on the basis of votes tendered by students in their creative writing class. Granted this was for the Aurora, which is pretty dick-ass next to the Hugos– but then again, I’m led to understand that the Hugos are dick-ass next to Locus Polls, going simply on the size of the voting pool. And in the present context, several folks have already pointed out how easy it is for a small number of people to “hack the vote” (although I resist that term, since it implies some sort of misuse of the process, and as far as I can tell the process has always involved a healthy dose of leaning on people to vote a certain way).

    jcr: There is also a difference between vote-pimping that gets nominations based on respect (possibly misguided) and nominating based on hate and spite. It is well documented that the SPs were motivated my wanting to punish those they hated. Nominating an author because you believe in the value of what she is saying rather than the quality of the work is arguably outside the spirit of the award, but nominating works because it will make other people angry and upset is a different thing.

    This is certainly the narrative I understood when I started paying attention to this whole thing. But another part of the narrative was that the puppy slate consisted entirely of straight white male conservatives, a claim that was repeated as fact in Entertainment Weekly, which then recanted/apologized for spreading what it admitted were blatant falsehoods. One SP ringleader who’s married to a black woman has been decried as a racist. And a recent piece in Salon resorted to setting up a false dichotomy in order to make its point, which isn’t the sort of thing you’d expect from someone with an unassailable case to present.

    I’m also on a private Sf writers discussion group in which at least some authors have spoken out in defense of this Correia guy, describing him as angry and perhaps misguided, but utterly sincere in his efforts to fix what he sees as a broken system— and these people are not anywhere close to what I would call right-wing. So I’m increasingly suspicious of this whole “narrative” thing.

    As far as I can tell, the People’s Front of Judea has split off from the Judean People’s Front, and there’s a certain confusion of the two. Everyone seems to agree that Vox Day and the Rabid Puppies are assholes; there may be a bit more nuance in the other faction. I don’t know.

    jcr: The SF community has a history of inclusiveness, and there is no war against good writers who happen to be politically conservative. Sometimes they win Hugos, as can be seen by looking through the historical lists. Hugo winners have tended to be more to the left because that represents the set of Hugo voters.

    Again, I don’t know— but I’d draw a distinction between Hugo Winners and the SF community at large. A recent piece in the Guardian described the SF community as traditionally right-wing. Certainly Heinlein, Niven, and Pournelle didn’t seem to fare too badly.

  45. Y.,

    According to Wikipedia, Michael Flynn had 5 Hugo nominations before garnering one on the SP slate. He was a raging foam-at-the-mouth conservative last I looked and no A-list publishing powerhouse like OSC. He deserves a Hugo, though I haven’t read the recent piece (I have 6 of his books). His most recent nom in 2007 was an entry in the non-human-finds-Jesus subgenre the SPs are so enamored of. Looks like his novels are published by Tor and Macmillan and the recently nominated story was in Analog, so no special Catalia love required.

    “The hostility is invisible to those who don’t run into it themselves.” Does that sound like a conservative or a SJW to you?

  46. Lars: Peter, in case you didn’t see it you got mentioned in a sort of alternate-universe list of nominees for a Hugo in the best novel category at Crooked Timber

    Huh. That’s nice.

    Y.: I’ll quote the report on the study of liberal discrimination in academia:

    This is purely anecdotal, and perhaps I’m nowhere near representative (my entire post-secondary academic career has taken place in Canadian institutions, which— Harper’s best efforts notwithstanding— may well be left of their American counterparts)— but across two decades spent in Academia, I have to admit the social environment I experienced was pretty left-wing. In fact, I explicitly remember the first (and possibly last) time I met an avowed Reaganite post-doc, up from Texas. He looked kind of like a cross between St. Nick and Col. Sanders. He was a very nice guy, but I honestly didn’t know what to make of him. I mean, he voted for Reagan. What was up with that?

    I like to think we didn’t discriminate, but we were certainly in the majority. In the bio sciences at least.

    Nestor: I mean, “chinese cartoons”, “a great man like Vidkung Quisling”, Nazi cosplay…

    Wow.

    Although, I have to admit I like “Fire can’t vote itself immune to water.” And it’s hard to argue with the Kaczynski quote.

    Steve: Besides, I am not sure “Vote for my buddies’ work” as Torgersen and Correia did with a lot of their choices this year, is any better than self-promotion.

    I can’t disagree. It largely comes down to motivation, as jcr rightly pointed out upstream; are you voting for something worthy, or against something you object to? But I do think that that kind of antivoting happens on both sides of the fence— and when you ignore inner motives, the external actions aren’t as easily distinguishable as they might seem. I grant the point that slate-voting does act to shunt aside the competition: but so does me-me-me voting, whether intentionally or not. Tub-thumping yourself onto the ballot means that you’ve excluded someone else by definition; the difference here seems to be a) the scale of exclusion, and b) whether that exclusion was mere collateral damage, or the very point of the exercise.

    And yeah, those differences are significant ones. Point taken.

    keranih: I would be interested in your thoughts on how the rules ought to be changed. The idea of “fewer nominees than the ballot” (ie, 4 noms per voter, top six go on the ballot) plus dropping the price of an supporting membership ($10? $5?) seems plausible.

    I like that first thing. Except, instead of limiting nominees to 4 out of 6, how about cutting it all the way back to 2? Your favorite and your runner-up. I think that might be productive.

    Of course, I haven’t been thinking about it very long…

  47. Everything is being politicized and polarized. The news media practice of depicting two things as being equal {because it’s what they do in Hollywood screenplays with protagonists/antagonists in order to heighten the tension–it’s about selling a story, not educating/informing the public} has bled into the real world in most aspects of our lives. IOW, there probably is both “liberal” and “conservative” discrimination in the publishing industry as well as most other industries. I use quotes because I don’t think those labels have much meaning anymore except in some trivial tribal sense. Just a lot of “Ugh!” and “Myuk-myuk, looka-looka!” leading to the same general place with different colored curtains and carpet.

  48. Nestor,

    Satire or not, I looked up the domain ownership, and it’s proxied:
    Registrant Name:On behalf of sadpuppies.org owner
    Registrant Organization:c/o whoisproxy.com Ltd.
    Registrant Street: Plaza Level,41 Shortland Street
    Registrant City:Auckland
    Registrant State/Province:
    Registrant Postal Code:1010
    Registrant Country:NZ

    but doesn’t David Gerrold claim ownership of the nym “Noah Ward” ??

  49. Re Y, on precious conservatives being hurt

    You know what those texts remind me ?

    The stuff on (notoriously unfalsifiable) microagression “theory”, especially claims of microagressions against “secwave-feminist” proponents in social sciences.

    Exactly same structure, exactly same notion of a vague form of hostility that can not be reliably empirically measured and is absurdly subjective (and thus is “essentially invisible” to “independent observers” and whomever is unfortunate enough to be appointed as “the aggressor”), exactly same insinuations with regards to fundamentally ideological nature of this weird “Russel’s offenses” in “academia” that are “invisible to those who don’t run into it themselves”.

    It’s basically secondwave/sexneg/radfem whining, but with “patriarchy” replaced with “liberals” (do note that “modern” secondwaivers do dislike liberals as much as your most rabid conservative).

    It might be, of course, that there is a certain substance to this complaint regarding “academia” (which is, mind you, a rather nebulous construct including everything from Cato Institute to MIT to Institute of African Studies) – both on part of rad/secwave people and conservatives (both of social and economic variety), but it seems to me that it is far more likely that their ideas don’t mix too well with the way this whole “empirical/falsifiable science” business goes, rather than some ideological conspiracy to “oppress” these folks.

    This nicely explains why two such different groups of people have such apparently similar complaints.

    It just so happens that both those groups are rather fond of ideas that are either unfalsifiable (to the point that their claims of “institutional hostility” include unfalsifiable events that are “invisible to those who don’t run into it themselves” 😀 ), notoriously devoid of solid evidence, or outright fucking wrong.

  50. 03: Exactly same structure, exactly same notion of a vague form of hostility that can not be reliably empirically measured and is absurdly subjective (

    Seems to go somewhat beyond that. However, insufficient data abound, and I’m somewhat skeptical of Hoyt’s claims.

    03: It might be, of course, that there is a certain substance to this complaint regarding “academia” (which is, mind you, a rather nebulous construct including everything from Cato Institute to MIT to Institute of African Studies) – both on part of rad/secwave people and conservatives (both of social and economic variety), but it seems to me that it is far more likely that their ideas don’t mix too well with the way this whole “empirical/falsifiable science” business goes, rather than some ideological conspiracy to “oppress” these folks.

    You are wrong – conservatives are the least-underrepresented in hard sciences and engineering.

    Social sciences are notable for pushing the notion that stereotypes are totally inaccurate. Everyone thinks so. Not true.

    03: , rather than some ideological conspiracy to “oppress” these folks.

    You don’t need that. The basic human tendency to shit on outgroups makes a conspiracy superfluous.

  51. jcr: “The hostility is invisible to those who don’t run into it themselves.” Does that sound like a conservative or a SJW to you?

    The study on academics was done by a couple of liberals(one even an Obama campaign staffer). Ditto for the report.

    Mister_DK: Reminder that Y is a straight up fascist. He has gone off in previous threads trying to claim that the Nazis were not fascist but left wing socialists (and then downplayed any problems someone would have with the Holocaust), argued that fascism (particularly the Italian subtype) is a good thing, and has expounded at length about James Watson and white supremacy being correct.

    If you’re going to go this way, at least get your facts straight, ok? So far your ‘hit’ rate in the ad hominem is about 12.5%. I am in agreement with James Watson.

    If you’re in favor of the theory that in the in the ~200 K years of separate evolution nothing of substance could have changed in the human animal .. you’re welcome to try to suggest how that might have happened. Bear in mind that Ashkenazi Jews managed to raise their average intelligence by almost 1 SD in ~1500 years.

    And that there’s evidence of a quite strong genetic bottleneck after the invention of agriculture, likely reflecting unequal mating success between those savvy enough to succeed in the new era and those who weren’t.

  52. Dude, I nominated you for Echopraxia. It’s better than Lock In by a long chalk, don’t get Scalzi envy, that’s VD’s problem.

    The SP2 slate basically ranged from unreadable world salad (VD/TB/infectious disease of the day) to workmanlike entertaining pulp (Warbound), mostly clustered around the bottom end of the range. The non-SP2 but non-genre nominations were much better written, but still got no awarded by me – sticking in a genre sentence at the end of your story doesn’t mean Hugo to me… And there was at least one politically driven win in the related category, which again I didn’t vote for.

    I should be in the SP/RP wheelhouse, as I’d love to see more hard SF on the nominations, but I suspect SP3 has barfed up another bunch of sub-literate crap.

    If they were genuine about putting interesting and challenging works on their slate, I’d have more sympathy, but one guy getting 7 nominations? Inconceivable! Even when Seanan McG got that many, they were spread out (and she was ranked down ballot by me, too).

    So it looks like I’m No Awarding the slate this year, then walking away – life is too short to deal with fanatics.

    Ironically I started voting again due to the piss-poor quality of some winners (Blackout FFS? you invent time machines but lose the ability to make mobile phones?) but didn’t get very far.

  53. Peter Watts,

    …this Correia guy, describing him as angry and perhaps misguided, but utterly sincere in his efforts to fix what he sees as a broken system… Assume that this is 100% accurate – I’m not trying to hint that it isn’t, I know next to nothing about Correia; in fact, it would be precisely nothing if not for the whole SP thing. My reaction is basically “So what?” “I should have got the Hugo! may be what Correia honestly believes, but that doesn’t count as evidence that there is a conspiracy by Those People to deny him the prize he deserves.

    The Hugos have at best an indifferent relationship with actual merit; given that it’s basically the People’s Choice Award of SF, with the “people” being made up of some variable but small fraction of fans who have purchased memberships in Worldcon, this is hardly surprising.

    And I find it very hard to square Correia’s alleged goal with the actual implementation of SP3/RP (the latter slate, which substantially overlapped with SP3, was even more effective at packing the nominations than the SP3 slate), which used the loophole of slate voting to largely fill the Hugo ballot with rancid crap. This isn’t “Let’s get more hard SF on the ballot!” (No Echopraxia? No A Darkling Sea? No The Three-Body Problem?), this is “Let’s stick it to Scalzi and the SJWs!”

  54. There’s one major difference between a slate and self-promotion.
    When you self promote you are asking people who’ve read your books/stories to vote for them. With the SP/RP slates this is not the case. The SP/RP slates contained five names on each category, the maximum allowed number of names/works you can nominate. I can’t know for sure, of course, but I have a deep suspicion that most of the people who nominated according to these slates have not read all or most (or even any) of the works/authors in question.
    The Hugos have been a popularity contest for a long time now, but this isn’t even about popularity, that’s ballot stuffing, plain and simple.

  55. Well Peter I enjoyed reading your piece, and it again makes me realize I’m a writer of little means. So I’m going to post a blog soon and put link to this post in. My only consolation is that I paid good money to buy Firefall in hardback, because you’re worth it.

  56. > at least the puppies were, for the most part, advocating for people other than themselves.

    I don’t agree. I think a nuance here it that there are two slates that are advocating for each other.

    And Vox Day’s Rabid Puppies are certainly self-promoting, his publishing company is all over the ballet.

  57. Peter Watts:

    Lars: Peter, in case you didn’t see it you got mentioned in a sort of alternate-universe list of nominees for a Hugo in the best novel category at Crooked Timber

    Huh. That’s nice.

    One comment was a little negative and said it was only on par with Egan.

    hey, nice negativity there. that’s pretty positive.

  58. PhilRM: “Let’s stick it to Scalzi and the SJWs!”

    Well, what can you do? To a lot of people, it looks like the SJW’s are asking for it. Outsiders consider almost the entirety of the contemporary SJ movement to be one giant ‘status game’ ,a contest about who can adopt the most moral position, irrespective of the facts.

    I have respect for people who try to help out with social justice in the real world. For example, a German charity built a road in a war-torn region of Congo. (http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/the-history-of-a-congo-road-built-using-german-aid-money-a-1023494.html)

    Endless whining and chiding in the press and online is, I believe, counterproductive. As are ‘diversity’ seminars.

    Thus you get people outraged about how ‘racist’ Ferguson police dept. was disproportionately targeting black people in traffic stops, or arresting black people. Meanwhile, someone ran the numbers and found out Ferguson (2.8:1 black/nonblack arrest rate)was ‘about average’ in this, ‘, way less racist’ than,say, the Berkeley (9.1 black/nonblack arrest rate). Only 173 out of 3538 municipalities had rates <= 1.0 …

  59. Not to get too off topic, but I for one am getting tired of the “SJW” tag. Not that they don’t exist (#FireColbert was a pretty idiotic example) — but the Internet is full of mobs of every type. Way too many people like to grab the victim label because they’ve bumped into one of those idiot mobs, rather than recognize they’re just the junk DNA of the online world.

    I think GRRM’s latest post does a pretty good job of fact-checking the Sad Puppies specific Hugo complaints:
    http://grrm.livejournal.com/418285.html

  60. Y.,

    Wow. Just wow. I had to look up some of the acronyms, players involved, etc., used in the responses to this post. I’m just not a fan of the politicization of every damned thing under the sun, and an endless news cycle largely filled with politically-slanted crap.

    It is not generally an area that I want to add more heat and noise to. Regarding “ran the numbers”, though, there is one narrow area where I can take a neutral position, yet possibly contribute something useful to the discussion. I’m not accusing you of anything unethical, but statistics have been used and misused on both sides of every argument since roughly forever.

    The social sciences seem to contain the most egregious offenses, though no field of study seems to escape blame. Search on ‘reproducible science’ or similar for some recent, and horrific, results.

    Again, I make no accusations. But you are stating fairly precise numbers, with no link to their source. If it is a news outlet, it is immediately (and highly) suspect. A scientific paper, even a peer-reviewed one, is no guarantee, either, but it can at least be closely read, with particular attention to the ‘Methodology’ bit.

    I assign any degree of transitive trust, at all, to a statement like “someone ran the numbers” only if I know the person making that statement very, very well. Usually, that would be a colleague. Particularly in today’s world, that seems the only rational position to take.

  61. Of some relevance on the current topic:
    http://james-nicoll.livejournal.com/5302561.html

  62. “Put their reactionary motives aside for the moment; at least the puppies were, for the most part, advocating for people other than themselves. All other things being equal, whose opinion generally comes seasoned with less conflict-of-interest: the foodie who raves about the little hole-in-the-wall she discovered last Friday, or the chef who praises his own bouillabaisse to the heavens?”

    I don’t know about this, man. How many awards is John Wright nominated for? How about Vox Day’s Castalia House publishing? I hadn’t even heard of the latter. And they’re nominated for like 6+?

    It seems to me that advocating your own work in a protest one year out from being nominated and losing is tacky even by the Sad Puppy standards, but that doesn’t mean that’s exactly why Correia started all this.

  63. I’m with Imran here: SP3 consists of Torgersen’s pals. Beale’s RP slate is entirely dominated by works published by his own publishing house. Kind of drenched in conflict of interest.

  64. PhilRM,

    ETA: SP3 consists mostly of Torgersen’s pals.

  65. PhilRM,

    ETA2: And of course, Correia not only appeared on the SP3 slate, he got a Hugo nomination by doing so – which he turned down.

  66. gregm: I assign any degree of transitive trust, at all, to a statement like “someone ran the numbers” only if I know the person making that statement very, very well. Usually, that would be a colleague. Particularly in today’s world, that seems the only rational position to take.

    I forgot to mention the source: USA Today. Owned by the same company that owns NBC, CBS. Hardly Fox News. Source of the data is FBI, from reports they received from local police forces.

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/11/18/ferguson-black-arrest-rates/19043207/

  67. uncertain writer,

    uncertain writer,

    I believe I know which magazine you are referring to. I’ve worked with the editor and found him to be a very reasonable person. In my opinion, you should accept the publication offer. Your story must’ve resonated with him or else it wouldn’t have sold. I don’t think being published by a magazine means that you endorse everything the publisher stands for but your publication does mean that the publisher thought that you wrote something worth reading.

    If you have concerns then please communicate them to him first before making your decision.

    I will never care if a book by Dr. Watts receives a nomination or not. I’ll keep reading them. “The Things” is still one of my all time favorite short stories and orders of magnitude better than the prequel movie.

  68. Peter,

    I just wanted to bring your attention to Blindsight’s appearance in
    John C. “involuntary lobotomy” Wright’s book nominated in the Hugo “Best Related Work” category in which he singles you out for a special place (in hell presumably),

    “Of the final stage, the pure nihilism I here call Anarchy, I can think of only one representative in science fiction, Peter Watts, and at that only one of his books, Blindsight.

    There is no discussion of morality in Blindsight: all decisions are at first merely a matter of expedience, and then, after the universe eliminates the uselessness of human consciousness as an evolutionary excrescence, no decisions whatever are made. The meat machines merely carry out their inbuilt programming.

    This is pure quill nihilism. For the Anarchist, life is meaningless, and destruction is the only creative act. The destruction of human life on Earth is part of the necessary evolutionary process to eliminate the ineffectiveness called the soul. Only the vampires are left, sleek and efficient and not human in any sense of the word, not even self-aware.
    In the Anarchist world, (1) the only truth is that there is no truth, (2) vice and virtue are interchangeable, equally meaningless, and human action is an epiphenomenon of biological motions, (3) beauty is ugly and ugliness is beautiful. Here we have reached the mere opposite of the world of High Fantasy. Here we have reached the abyss. In the anarchist world, no act is meaningful except to throw a bomb, and blow up the innocent.

    Now we can see what the modern world is missing, aided by the admirable clarity of the Hindsight of Blindsight. The Anarchist is rightfully devoted to destroying everything in the world, including himself; for if in fact there were no truth, goodness, nor beauty in the world, or no way to achieve them, then destruction is desirable. If we were all just programmed meat machines, suicide is the noblest option.”

    Sorry to post this drivel on your page. I just thought it was amusing to (hate) read the tedious sermonizing work of one of the puppies writers and to see your name appear in the screed. I hope it gives you a sense of accomplishment that your work gets hated on by asshats like this guy.

  69. Watts tell me why should we praise people who want us to read books based on the authors gender and race. Hoe could a person recommending that possibly be thought of as part of the good guys.

    In fact Larry Correia did an excellent job addressing her absurdity.
    http://monsterhunternation.com/2015/02/23/the-social-justice-warrior-racist-reading-challenge-a-fisking/

    Y.: I forgot to mention the source: USA Today. Owned by the same company that owns NBC, CBS. Hardly Fox News. Source of the data is FBI, from reports they received from local police forces.

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/11/18/ferguson-black-arrest-rates/19043207/

    Tell me are there by any chance statistics comparing the arrest rates between men, women, whites, asians, blacks, hispanics, indians, atheiest, and religious persons. Preferrably across different countries and continents.

    If racism is the cause, it should follow that those who are supposed to have the most power “white males” should have the fewest arrest, and it should be distributed in such a way that the more discriminated a group is, the more arrest follow. Meaning for example, black females should be arrested more then black males, and certainly white males. After all they are black, and female. I look forward to the statistics. And it should differ across cultures off course. Or even cstates depending of the race of those in charge and in the police force.

  70. In other news, a retired Oxford professor with a strong background in paleogenetics has all but said that he has evidence of the survival of another hominid species into the 19th century, and most likely to this day.

    I really wish he’d say more, or better, publish the anomalous DNA so people who’re into population genetics could take a gander at it.

  71. A few quick points:

    As a relatively unbiased observer, IMO Y is owning this discussion.

    Untangling RP and SP3 is important before ascribing motives to Correira and Torgensen. Mashing them together in order to bludgeon SP3 with Vox Day is sloppy and wrong

    I’m not sure if this debate is going to help or hurt the perception of SF in the public forum. It certainly isn’t helping Tor. Maybe it will bring new fans…

    Finally while I would have loved to see echopraxia make the ballot, I suspect it was a difficult read for many (somewhat reinforced by the Peter’s reddit AMA). Peter’s doctoral training was on full display in Blindsigh and Echopraxia. I guess he could have chased the masses by dumbing both of them down, but from a selfish perspective I am *very* glad he did not.

  72. PlagueisTheWise,

    I dunno, it seems like a fair cop. It is a nihilistic as fuck book. :) The guy’s mistake is argumentum ad consequentiam but he does seem to have got the gist of it accurately enough.

  73. Chris S: If they were genuine about putting interesting and challenging works on their slate, I’d have more sympathy, but one guy getting 7 nominations?

    PhilRM: And I find it very hard to square Correia’s alleged goal with the actual implementation of SP3/RP (the latter slate, which substantially overlapped with SP3, was even more effective at packing the nominations than the SP3 slate), which used the loophole of slate voting to largely fill the Hugo ballot with rancid crap.

    Michael Grosberg: When you self promote you are asking people who’ve read your books/stories to vote for them. With the SP/RP slates this is not the case.

    Imran: I don’t know about this, man. How many awards is John Wright nominated for? How about Vox Day’s Castalia House publishing? I hadn’t even heard of the latter. And they’re nominated for like 6+?

    et al

    I think my revulsion for the whole relentless self-promotion thing contaminated my message; I gave it too much prominence for visceral, not logical reasons. And fair enough; you guys read what was written. I should’ve written it better.

    What I’m trying to say is not that the Puppy slate is no different from going the me-me-me route, and I certainly don’t mean to defend their strategy. What I’m saying is, it’s not exclusively their strategy. Anyone could’ve pulled this off, because the system’s vulnerable to that particular exploit. The fact that the Puppies got there first‐ or at least, got there with greater success— is, I think, little more than a historical accident.

    Consider that no-straight-white-boys challenge put forth by this Tempest person. Suppose that a big chunk of fandom took her up on it, consciously excluded straight white cismales from their reading lists for an entire year; those folks would be unable by definition to nominate any of the aforementioned swcms, by virtue of not having read anything by them. It’s not far-fetched: suppose Tempest had got together with Requires Hate and her minions back in that troll’s heyday. One or two of those tentacles would have extended all the way up into the halls of Tor.

    So what’s the difference between the Puppies’ explicit advocacy of a specific slate, vs. Bradford Tempest’s explicit call to exclude a swathe of writers based solely on the basis of gender/ethnic demographic? Is anyone going to argue that the moral high ground automatically goes to the side that was least effective at putting their aspirations into action?

    Personally, I don’t trust either extreme as far as I could throw a minke whale. But if you’re going to rail against one side adopting objectionable tactics, the only reason not to rail against the other side doing the same thing is if you really do subscribe to a ends-justify-means philosophy.

  74. PlagueisTheWise: I just wanted to bring your attention to Blindsight’s appearance in
    John C. “involuntary lobotomy” Wright’s book nominated in the Hugo “Best Related Work” category in which he singles you out for a special place (in hell presumably),

    Yeah, but he raves about my technical skill:

    Peter Watts my superior both in prose style, sharp characterization, and in imagination, all three. I do wish Mr Watts would use his great skills in the service of good rather than evil, but his choice of the dark banner to follow does not make the prowess of the black knight any less impressive.

    I’m the “Black Knight”! How can I possibly not love the man?

    Lemangrass: Watts tell me why should we praise people who want us to read books based on the authors gender and race.

    Personally, I don’t think you should. I think Tempest’s challenge is deeply misguided. But she gets to do that, just as the Puppies get to do what they did— and if you object to one, you probably shouldn’t give the other one a pass if you want to be taken seriously.

  75. Peter Watts,

    …those folks would be unable by definition to nominate any of the aforementioned swcms, by virtue of not having read anything by them. Oh, I completely agree with you on this – there’s a huge difference between “Hey, maybe you should try to expand your reading from the usual” and “Don’t read anything by anyone who falls into this group based on race/gender/orientation”, and I found the latter fairly obnoxious.

    I do think it’s fair to point out that there is a huge comment thread (~ 500 comments) over at Making Light about how to change the voting scheme used for the nomination process to make it harder for a slate – any slate – to game the ballot.

  76. Peter Watts,

    I’m the “Black Knight”! How can I possibly not love the man? Careful with that analogy – you could really cut yourself! “I’m not dead yet!”

  77. Ack – that should have been “It’s only a flesh wound!”

  78. Re: Y

    I am curious as to what constitutes being “least-underrepresented” in in hard sciences and engineering.
    (mind you, I am not necessarily disagreeing, if anything, the cons being “less-underrepresented in in hard sciences” compared to critical-theory supporting leftards would be rather unsurprising).

    Also, I’d like to point out that even if conservatives are the “least-underrepresented” in those fields, they are still underrepresented which a) is not consistent with me being “wrong” :) and b) is consistent with my initial proposition that typical conservative ideas don’t mix too well with the scientific process (even if there are groups that have an even less compatible mindset)

    Also, I don’t quite get what stereotypes have to do with this (I know that statistical accuracy of certain racial stereotypes is your hobby-horse :) I just don’t see how it mixes and matches with the topic at hand)

    Re: Y, on Askenazi and whatnot

    Oh well, here we go again…

    First and foremost, for a slow breeding mammal, 200K of separate evolution is rather fucking little unless the evolutionary pressures are being very precisely set up to cause maximum divergence (and it’s extra hard to cause meaningful divergence of a “widely applicable” adaptive trait such as the “general intelligence” as it is usually defined)

    Second, the claim that divergence of genetic determinants of this elusive g is negligible between currently surviving populations is not synonymous with claims that “nothing of substance could have changed in the human animal”

    Third, the Ashkenazi shtick is, in the face of current evidence (that is, precious few “intelligence-related” alleles are identified despite scrutinizing the hell out of relevant genomes, and they account for less than 1% of standardized test performance) an example of “connect the dots” rhetoric intended to manipulate the audience into accepting something that merely appears to be relevant evidence (but isn’t)

    It’s a low-brow, intellectually hollow bunco which only the likes of Evgeny Morozov should ever stoop to.

    Please don’t do that, it’s an obvious ploy and it reflects poorly on your (entirely scientifically plausible) hypothesis.

    If you claim that Ashkenazi possess inheritable biochemical structures that account for their performance and which have somehow avoided identification by previous research, then the only way to settle this for good, in an intellectually honest and productive manner, would be to identify said structures and present them (hey, here’s a free idea – maybe it’s a mtDNA mutation! mtDNA has a gene for a protein that had something to do with neuron apoptosis, if memory serves me right! And it’s strictly matrilinearly inherited, which is relevant to Ashkenazi shenanigans).

    P.S.:
    About that paleogeneticist… did he, by any chance, suddenly vanish without a trace after foolhardily enterprising a remote expedition (thus leaving the protective confines of angle-riddled cities :) ) ?

  79. 03: Also, I’d like to point out that even if conservatives are the “least-underrepresented” in those fields, they are still underrepresented which a) is not consistent with me being “wrong” and b) is consistent with my initial proposition that typical conservative ideas don’t mix too well with the scientific process (even if there are groups that have an even less compatible mindset)

    Conservatives rate family higher, thus are more likely to go into more lucrative and reliable careers than science. Engineering, particularly. Physicians also seem
    Here’s a graph on liberal vs conservative jobs:
    https://abonica.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/occupational_rankings1.jpg

    Engineering seems split, politically, however most think both parties are crap:
    http://machinedesign.com/news/politics-engineers

    ___________________________________________________________

    03: First and foremost, for a slow breeding mammal

    Slow breeding? Maybe ecologically constrained populations, hunter gatherers, and the like . Farmers in a mostly unoccupied land breed very quickly. Consider the early Americans colonists, or the Amish.

    03: unless the evolutionary pressures are being very precisely set up to cause maximum divergence

    What do you think happend to the Jews in medieval Europe? They were all banned from owning land, and crafts (due to guilds). They had no choice but to engage in finance or management. It’s not hard to see how under such an arrangement, children of successful traders would be far more likely to survive. Furthermore, they were socially isolated and did not intermarry with outsiders. And this went on for ~800 years.

    03: If you claim that Ashkenazi possess inheritable biochemical structures that account for their performance and which have somehow avoided identification by previous research, then the only way to settle this for good, in an intellectually honest and productive manner

    What ‘previous’ research? There’s none, really. No one was looking into that, I believe.There is right now ongoing research into genetics of mathematical ability, being conducted by Chinese.

    What’s suspicious is that Jews have all these peculiar genetic diseases tied to the nervous system and at the same time are suspiciously smart. Yet they’re not as much plagued by non-brain genetic conditions as other bottlenecked populations (Amish, for example).

    03: About that paleogeneticist… did he, by any chance, suddenly vanish without a trace after foolhardily enterprising a remote expedition (thus leaving the protective confines of angle-riddled cities

    Nah. AFAIK, he’s still at home, doing god knows what. I’m tempted to hitchike to Oxford and extract the genetic data from him at gunpoint. The guy is such a tease.

    He’ll be going to Tibet with Reinhold Messner. Or maybe not. Sykes possibly bungled mtDNA analysis of some bear hair, leading him to concluding there is a rare bear species in Tibet. Can’t make sense of the arguments.

    Anyway, the interesting DNA is the one collected from Abkhazians.

  80. Re Y:

    Interesting infographic, though using repeat PAC contributions does probably introduce quite a bit of biases, some of which are mentioned in the post (also, I do find using “Professors” as a singular occupational category to be highly problematic, and for the love of Baphomet, what the hell is going on with corpse lawyers in this particular dataset, eh ? :) )

    Anyway, as to “Physicians” specifically, do look on the bars on that particular item, the 40-60 are fuckhuge for “Physicians”, and kinda skewed to boot.
    I would refrain from making any claims about that lot from a result like that.

    If anything, “Defense aerospace contractors” do seem to be more well-suited for supporting your specific position here.

    Also, I consider your proposition that engineering is reliably more lucrative than science to be dubious (that greatly depends on what kind of engineering versus what kind of scientific profession are we talking here)

    Y.: Slow breeding? Maybe ecologically constrained populations, hunter gatherers, and the like . Farmers in a mostly unoccupied land breed very quickly. Consider the early Americans colonists, or the Amish.

    Humans, as a species, are slow breeders (compared to, say, rats or rabbits) which does not bode well for any rapid emergence of genetically divergent traits, let alone of a divergence in a trait that has a very wide and environmentally flexible positive effect on fitness.
    Also, genetic bottlenecks (for which there is considerable evidence) would likely contribute to lower genetic variance overall, so they do not bode well for the “highly divergent human animal” claim.

    As to Jews specifically, 800 years of oppression are exceedingly unlikely to be enough to provide meaningful selection for a complex cognitive trait (not to mention the fact that relevant mutations had to already be present in the population, which would be one hell of a lucky genetic drift )

    It’s not impossible, of course – but it’s not something that’s guaranteed to happen, and not something that’s very likely to happen and thus your confidence is quite jarring and peculiar.

    Anyway, if Jews (or any other human population, for that matter) happen to have an unusual concentration of particularly “smart” alleles, the one right way to go about it is to find the relevant genes and demonstrate the presence of causation between the alleles in question and unconventionally “high g-factor”/”standardized test success rate” phenotype.

    Concerning “what previous research”…

    there have been rather large studies investigating genetic components of intelligence. They are a technical success (the best kind of success 😉 ) in that 3 interesting genetic variants were found, but overall the results are somewhat underwhelming because those variants account for about 1% of relevant phenotypical performance
    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/340/6139/1467.abstract
    http://www.nature.com/mp/journal/v19/n2/full/mp2012184a.html

    So while intelligence is technically heritable, “high yield” genetic variants that would give one a “boost” worth writing home about are yet to be found (and, like I said, it’s entirely plausible that some alleles pertaining to unusual intelligence are in extrachromosomal genetic material – which would make properly identifying them a little bit trickier)

  81. 03: As to Jews specifically, 800 years of oppression are exceedingly unlikely to be enough to provide meaningful selection for a complex cognitive trait (not to mention the fact that relevant mutations had to already be present in the population, which would be one hell of a lucky genetic drift )

    Are you sure:

    This is from the paper presenting the original hypothesis:

    Quantitative traits like height or IQ are influenced by many genes. The response ofquantitative traits to selection is described by the fundamental relationship R = h2S(1)where R is the response to selection, S is the selection differential, the difference betweenthe mean value in the population and the mean value in parents, and h2 is the narrowsense heritability of the trait. This simple robust formulation is applicable to animalbreeding, laboratory experiments, and evolution in natural populations (Falconer, 1981;Lande, 1976). Estimates of the narrow-sense heritability of IQ vary, but generally range

    Page 7

    between 0.3 and 0.5 in children (Devlin et al., 1997) up to 0.7 or higher when measuredin adults (Jensen, 1998). Heritability must vary between populations since it is sensitivedemographic phenomena like assortative mating, the extent to which spouses are similarto each other with respect to IQ, and inbreeding. Assortative mating increases IQheritability. Inbreeding lowers offspring IQ and so could contribute extra variance to theIQ distribution, lowering heritability. With its high heritability, IQ should respond rapidly to directional selection according toequation 1. Assuming, for example, that the narrow-sense heritability of IQ is 0.8 and thatthe parents of the next generation have an average IQ one point above the populationmean, the average IQ increases by 0.8 points per generation. In 20 human generations,about 500 years, it would increase by 16 points—slightly more than the differencebetween average Ashkenazi IQ scores and average European IQ scores. Change of thismagnitude over historical time is not at all implausible.

  82. 03: So while intelligence is technically heritable, “high yield” genetic variants that would give one a “boost” worth writing home about are yet to be found (and, like I said, it’s entirely plausible that some alleles pertaining to unusual intelligence are in extrachromosomal genetic material – which would make properly identifying them a little bit trickier)

    Are you really arguing that it’s impossible to breed for intelligence, whether by design or by nature?

  83. Well, a lot of numbers in the original hypothesis (BTW, as courtesy to third parties reading this in the indeterminate future, here’s the link http://web.mit.edu/fustflum/documents/papers/AshkenaziIQ.jbiosocsci.pdf , hope you future persons still have PDF in the future :) ), like the fitness effects of intelligence (which are actually rather complicated in a society where wealth and security are inherited through a social convention), and 0.8 NSH of “intelligence” looks just inappropriately huge from where we are now (It might have looked better when the paper was initially published).

    Also, the neurobiology behind the intelligence effects of mutation in question looks very dodgy (fortunately, this is the most falsifiable/verifiable part of the hypothesis, so no big deal )

    I guess I’ll just leave a fairly decent competing article to more eloquently illustrate some of these points

    http://qr.net/smartjws

    All in all, my point isn’t that it is impossible, merely that it is rather unlikely and the hypothesis is somewhat weaker than you want to present it (which does not mean it’s wrong – after all, the claims regarding the effects of sphingolipid disorders and DNA Repair Cluster disorders on intelligence are definitely a falsifiable affair, so it’s a hypothesis one can work with)

    It’s perfectly fine for authors of a hypothesis to try to position it in best possible light and spin some dodgy assumptions to make the point stand out even stronger.

    Its quite less fine to try to present an (interesting) hypothesis as some kind of demonstrated truth about the world, especially when most of the involved neurobiology is about on par with Peter’s vampires (and if we’re going to use those as arguments in policy discussion, I pledge allegiance to vampire overlords, TA! 😀 )

    Y.: Are you really arguing that it’s impossible to breed for intelligence, whether by design or by nature?

    Are you really reading what I write :) ?

    03“So while intelligence is technically heritable, “high yield” genetic variants that would give one a “boost” worth writing home about are yet to be found

    Currently known alleles with confirmed effect on standardized test performance (do note that test performance is a correlate of g-factor aka general intelligence, which we still don’t know how to measure “directly”) have an underwhelming effect magnitude.

    That is not a statement on all intelligence-modifying alleles that might exist now, let alone on the diversity of all conceivable mutations and all conceivable new genes that might arise (naturally or artificially).

  84. Oh, screwed up a mite up there.

    Should read

    Well, a lot of numbers in the original hypothesis (BTW, as courtesy to third parties reading this in the indeterminate future, here’s the link http://web.mit.edu/fustflum/documents/papers/AshkenaziIQ.jbiosocsci.pdf , hope you future persons still have PDF in the future :) ) are brown, like

  85. 03: Currently known alleles with confirmed effect on standardized test performance (do note that test performance is a correlate of g-factor aka general intelligence, which we still don’t know how to measure “directly”) have an underwhelming effect magnitude.

    How is that a problem? Suppose there isn’t 1 allele that gives 10 IQ points boost but 20 that each give 0.5 extra points, or any number of these.

    Also..

    the absence of any evidence that success in business required anything more than average intelligence.

    I find it hard to take that guy seriously. Is he really trying to say that an IQ of 100 is enough for finance and trade, and extra smarts are of no help.

    That’s a bold suggestion, I believe.

  86. 03: Its quite less fine to try to present an (interesting) hypothesis as some kind of demonstrated truth about the world,

    That hypothesis is just one thing.

    However, present day liberals demand that no one even attempts to contradict their position that the innate intellectual gifts of mankind are all equal, and that human cognition has failed to evolve in response to changing material and cultural environment..

    They want us to believe the nervous system has been in a complete evolutionary stasis for the last ~250,000 years.

    And on that basis all present-day policies in the ‘nice’ countries are being formulated.

  87. Re: Y

    I did not say that it is a “problem”, did I ?

    It’s not a fundamental research problem – the correct research approach is “just keep on truckin, ’tis all!”

    It is a problem for your rhetorical stance, cause because we also do not know the actual polygene group size for the elusive “general intelligence”, as well as whether any of its members have pleiotropic properties.

    That’s not like, a showstopper – more research on the genetics of intelligence (and attendant biochemistry) is definitely warranted.

    What isn’t warranted (outside sci-fi) are far-fetched claims and policy decisions.

    Re: Y, success in business

    Well, again, IQ is a correlate of intelligence, not its distilled essence so it’s hardly a particularly bold statement.

    Also, as long as we treat “success” as a binary, he’s quite plausibly right even for general intelligence proper – even in finance, since not all “finance” is equal.

    For instance, pawnbroking isn’t very sophisticated, and is more sensitive to stuff like “reputation”, connections (both legal and, shall we say, shady), a well-established and tested procedure, and a very narrow subset of cognitive skills that are often called “emotional intelligence” (which is way more important to turning a pawning profit than abstract/mathematical reasoning proper)

    Re: Y, on Present-day liberals suppressing scientific progress, or something.

    Given that research into intelligence genetics is going hunky-dory, and that you’re discussing this whole thing on a liberal’s blog, your claim that liberals demand that no one contradicts “their” position appears to be rather meritless (yeah, a bunch of severe leftards may have their panties in a bunch. And a bunch of conservitards have their panties in a bunch over stem cells. Some particularly crazy antigloboos are upset about LHC for some utterly insane reason. Hey, someone probably has panties in a bunch over your/mine/our kind host’s/etc. sexual preferences and clothing tastes – but as long as they can’t persecute us or shut down crucial research, that’s perfectly fine)

    Also, beliefs regarding intelligence heritability mean precisely zilch policy-wise as long as you don’t have a workable understanding of genes/alleles involved and the biochemical pathways their products constitute (which we don’t).
    Not entirely sure there would be a lot of policy implications when we finally attain such knowledge, but given current state of research (several speculative hypotheses and a handful of alleles that are far from overwhelming in their properties) trying to formulate a policy decision based on current “state of the art” would be tantamount to funding a Blindsight Vampire Appeasement Committee

  88. 03: That’s not like, a showstopper – more research on the genetics of intelligence (and attendant biochemistry) is definitely warranted.

    Of course. But at present we already know that intelligence is very heritable, and amenable to natural selection or breeding.

    03: Also, as long as we treat “success” as a binary, he’s quite plausibly right even for general intelligence proper – even in finance, since not all “finance” is equal.

    Life’s not chess. Success is not binary, and pawnbroking was likely one of the less cognitively intensive occupations in the middle ages. Traders, tax farmers, moneylenders, estate managers.. etc. Those were all roles very often filled by Jews.

    03: Given that research into intelligence genetics is going hunky-dory, and that you’re discussing this whole thing on a liberal’s blog

    Ever wonder why the research is taking place in China? And it’s conducted by Chinese and Chinese Americans.

    03: whole thing on a liberal’s blog

    Dr. Watts is a rather atypical liberal, I believe.

    03: Also, beliefs regarding intelligence heritability mean precisely zilch policy-wise as long as you don’t have a workable understanding of genes/alleles involved and the biochemical pathways their products constitute

    Really? However, do you not think it’d be eminently fair, if intelligence is so heritable, to stop bloviating on racism every time someone brown isn’t performing as well as they should according to the intelligence stasis theory? US famously banned the use of IQ testing because a nuclear power plant wanted to make sure it has at above-average maintenance workers. Any test that is heavily g-loaded produces the so-called ‘disparate impact’ in hiring, and is thus ‘racist’. (happily, this kind of insanity is mostly a US problem. )

    Or the various misguided attempts to eliminate elite schools. You know, the ones that don’t have stupid kids who don’t want to learn, like grade schools. Brits abolished such state schools. In Germany, they want to do the same. Because teaching a very diverse group of kids is so much more efficient.

    03: Hey, someone probably has panties in a bunch over your/mine/our kind host’s/etc. sexual preferences and clothing tastes – but as long as they can’t persecute us or shut down crucial research, that’s perfectly fine)

    Are you sure they don’t want to shut down crucial research? There’s already been student calls for abolishing freedom of expression on campus. I can’t imagine people campaigning for that would let someone else carry out research they don’t like.
    This is now. I wonder how is it going to look like once the ‘trigger warning’ generation is entrenched in academia.

    I’ll quote a liberal rhetorics teacher on this …

    Personally, liberal students scare the shit out of me. I know how to get conservative students to question their beliefs and confront awful truths, and I know that, should one of these conservative students make a facebook page calling me a communist or else seek to formally protest my liberal lies, the university would have my back. I would not get fired for pissing off a Republican, so long as I did so respectfully, and so long as it happened in the course of legitimate classroom instruction.

    The same cannot be said of liberal students. All it takes is one slip—not even an outright challenging of their beliefs, but even momentarily exposing them to any uncomfortable thought or imagery—and that’s it, your classroom is triggering, you are insensitive, kids are bringing mattresses to your office hours and there’s a twitter petition out demanding you chop off your hand in repentance.

  89. > we already know that intelligence is very heritable

    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/beautiful-minds/2013/10/17/the-heritability-of-intelligence-not-what-you-think/

  90. “… Whatever wisdom constituently is, it is like a seedless plant; it may be reared when it appears, but it cannot be voluntarily produced. There is always a sufficiency somewhere in the general mass of society for all purposes; but with respect to the parts of society, it is continually changing its place. It rises in one to-day, in another to-morrow, and has most probably visited in rotation every family of the earth, and again withdrawn.

    “As this is in the order of nature, the order of government must necessarily follow it, or government will, as we see it does, degenerate into ignorance.

    ” … by giving to genius a fair and universal chance; … by collecting wisdom from where it can be found.

    “… As it is to the advantage of society that the whole of its faculties should be employed, the construction of government ought to be such as to bring forward, by a quiet and regular operation, all that extent of capacity which never fails to appear in revolutions.”
    —————————————–
    Tom Paine, The Rights of Man
    http://www.ushistory.org/Paine/rights/c2-03.htm

  91. Re: Y, on success

    Well, for starters there appear to be way too many different ways to measure and express “degrees” of business success, and if we simply go by monetary criterion, the relationship between fortune size and reproductive fitness seems to be a complicated one (there is, at the very least, a kind of “law of diminishing returns” here, as well as severe distortions introduced by inherited wealth that would make sustaining a selective pressure beyond the “first fuckoff rich” generation problematic)

    The best move is not to play this “evolutionary reconstructionism” game and just keep studying actual, you know, genetics and biochemistry of the brain.

    Oh, and pawnbroking is very much a medieval jew thingie. Stereotypically :) so (not claiming it was the only finance-related profession available, merely providing an example of a profession that is lucrative, finance-related, but not very dependent on abstract reasoning skills)

    Re: Y, China

    The research isn’t “taking place in China” (some of it does, but that is neither damning nor surprising).
    Specifically, the two studies I quoted above (and those are rather huge studies with sample sizes one better not shake a stick at, also they are successful studies in that relevant polymorphisms were actually found) happen to have drawn expertise from numerous research centers from all over the world (including Australia, USA, UK, Netherlands, Sweden and shit whatnot).

    Where do you even get this “China is the only country with major cognitive-genetics efforts underway” shit from ?

    Re: Y, on “black people”

    There is currently not enough empirical evidence to rule out the role of social/environmental factors as explanations for the so-called “racial” IQ gap, as well as effect of genetic factors that do not directly pertain to “g-factor” proper (just as a hypothetical example, impulse control is not what one would consider equivalent to “general intelligence”, but there are many ways in which reduced impulse control could undermine performance in standardized tests. Impulse control is also a trait that could have considerable genetic components)

    Given that our understanding of intelligence genetics (and, for that matter, intelligence proper – we can’t even directly measure intelligence for fuck’s sake) is currently poor, and our experience with human genetic engineering limited, social / environmental interventions are the only ones that currently make sense.

    Also, given that considerable reduction in said gap was achieved, social/environmental intervention are provably not without merit :)

    Of course, when we finally figure out the biochemistry of it all, we’ll be able to just patch everyone up to the max, but that’s not a capacity we have right now

    Re: Y, on IQ test “ban”

    This is just a bold-faced lie, and I kind of think you know it’s a bold-faced lie.

    IQ tests are not “banned” in the USA (The Goo is famous for administering a fuckhuge battery of intelligence tests of, as far as I know, their own devising. Also, police, but for entirely different reasons)

    IQ tests during hiring of workers in professions that do not have a functional merit for higher IQ preference is banned.
    Which makes sense.

    Is there evidence that construction workers are better at their job with increase IQ ? Like, research ?
    Nope ?
    Then using IQ tests during hiring of construction workers is senseless bullshit, irrespective of racial issues. Case closed.

    (surprisingly, there is evidence for certain correlations between performance and scores in some cognitive ability tests in hockey players, that’s why NHL happily applies a test of that kind to the players without much issue)

    Re: Y, on trigger warning generation

    The trigger warning generation started in academia.
    It’s not, to the best of my knowledge, based in serious clinical psychology/psychiatry research on rape recovery, but it is endemic in “softer fringes” of social sciences and traces back to a whole load of crappy, fuzzy and ill-researched “media effects” claims

    So in order to enter the academia, those types would need to exit it first, and boy wouldn’t it be glorious if that were to happen, if only for a little while.

    Oh, and they can want to shut down research all they all the way to sunday (the antigloboos do want to shut down the LHC allright, so fucking what ?), as long as they can’t do that, I’m perfectly fine.

    We can have a civil disagreement about the merits of such research, as long as the outcome is them having to fuck off and research proceeding as planned :) Same for various skycritter cultists who have stem cells issues

    Re: Y, weird teachers

    Wait a moment, liberal students will have issues with… criticizing consumerism and capitalism? LOLWUT

    Also, how come blanket bans on student/teacher “relationships” are part of “liberal” orthodoxy (it’s also very much a part of most conservative/rightwing orthodoxies, lol!) ?

    And what exactly is so horrible about a bunch of whiny fucktards protesting Laura Kipnis? Laura Kipnis handed them their assess gift-wrapped.

    A bunch of dweebs whined a whole lot and demanded that Kipnis be “reprimanded” (also of note – the protesters were so unoriginal they used Sulkowicz’s mattress performance, which has jack all to do with student/teacher sex… those people can’t even come up with their own visuals, lol).

    Result?

    Kipnis was not reprimanded, and got some free press coverage at the expense of outraged parties.

    There is no empirical evidence as to whether protesters have cried themselves to sleep afterwards, but that appears to be a plausible hypothesis.

    If this outcome causes “palpable fear” in an education professional, the issue isn’t so merely with the protesting assholes, but also with a certain someone’s hide. It needs to get thicker.
    There always will be people who are out to get you. Well, unless we really pull off a biosphere-ending global war, cause then there won’t be people, fullstop :)

  92. 03: The best move is not to play this “evolutionary reconstructionism” game and just keep studying actual, you know, genetics and biochemistry of the brain.

    I agree, however, soft-sciences academics think that kind of research is pointless. Even are willing to say so on camera.

  93. 03: Where do you even get this “China is the only country with major cognitive-genetics efforts underway” shit from ?

    BGI’s cognitive genomics project? The biggest such project to date?

  94. 03: This is just a bold-faced lie, and I kind of think you know it’s a bold-faced lie.

    Honestly, I did not know that. Assumed cops had an extemption.

    03: IQ tests during hiring of workers in professions that do not have a functional merit for higher IQ preference is banned.
    Which makes sense.

    Problem isn’t higher IQs, problem is you can’t not hire mentally retarded under such laws.
    Also, how do they determine functional merit?

  95. Re: Y

    They may very well think that.
    Doesn’t seem to help much.

    And the BGICG isn’t the biggest project currently. It’s one of the biggest national projects, sure, but the international Social Science Genetic Association Consortium are the ones with biggest guns… errr… I mean, sample sizes now (also cool name. Everything with “consortium” in it becomes cooler – much like dressing a dude in a black business suit, but for an organization :) )
    BGI have some pretty unique research specifically into the unusually high-IQ variants though, if memory serves, and good sample sizes for a national project.

    Now, as to not hiring “mentally retarded” you definitely can – if you mean actual clinical syndrome.
    As long as you can present a reasonable case for given mental trait being needed for a given work (say, construction workers must have reasonable capacity to memorize and understand construction codes and safety regulations), you can use various testing (including cognitive aptitude testing) in USA, or their various proxies.

    Cuts both ways though.

    If you can present a case for high IQ being problematic in a given work, and the court deems it “reasonable”, you can refuse to hire high-IQ people due to them being “too shmott”.

  96. 03: BGI have some pretty unique research specifically into the unusually high-IQ variants though, if memory serves, and good sample sizes for a national project.

    They’re looking specifically into comparing elite mathematicians from wherever and the like with a control group to find out what makes the math geeks tick. Teople working on it are not just Chinese, Chinese-Americans too and so on. But as it’s an effort by a Chinese company I guess it’s national then.

    03: As long as you can present a reasonable case for given mental trait being needed for a given work (say, construction workers must have reasonable capacity to memorize and understand construction codes and safety regulations),

    In the case that set the precedent, the court declared that an atomic power company had no right to use cognitive test to pick not-dim maintenance personnel. Even though I can’t really think of a place that ought to be kept moron-free more than a nuclear power plant. Maybe an ammunition dump.

  97. Re: Y

    Nope, the court declared that company has no right to screen for intelligence of personnel for positions where there is no demonstrated benefit of being extra-smart (and where certain demographics might thus become impaired in what is otherwise a rather neat career fit for them).
    Construction work at a nuclear powerplant isn’t, in that regard, different from construction work on a skyscraper or a large bridge.

    If anything, I would have made the language of that ruling way stronger, making balls-to-the-walls scientific justification of all hiring practices mandatory, irrespective of industry and demographics involved.
    At least such stronger wording would have ended the multidecadal shame of “lie-detector” bullshit (not only does that fucking machine not work, when operating on “non-naive” demographics, it actually may have a false-negative rate that exceeds false-positive rate)

  98. 03: Also, I consider your proposition that engineering is reliably more lucrative than science to be dubious (that greatly depends on what kind of engineering versus what kind of scientific profession are we talking here)

    Well, as one data point, I can attest that pretty much any branch of Engineering is likely to be more lucrative than Marine Mammal Ecology…

    Y.: I find it hard to take that guy seriously. Is he really trying to say that an IQ of 100 is enough for finance and trade, and extra smarts are of no help.

    I dunno. Mitt Romney seems to have done just fine in business without any discernible “extra smarts”. Maybe there’s something lacking in our definitions.

    03: Given that research into intelligence genetics is going hunky-dory, and that you’re discussing this whole thing on a liberal’s blog,

    Uh, I think I’d object to this characterization. Given an arbitrary left/right choice I guess I’m left, but I’d have severe reservations about anyone whose political beliefs can be adequately summarized along a single dimension.

    03: If you can present a case for high IQ being problematic in a given work, and the court deems it “reasonable”, you can refuse to hire high-IQ people due to them being “too shmott”.

    I believe this is in fact the case. In Connecticut, at least, low IQ is a prerequisite for certain types of police work.

  99. I think this might interest you folks:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFR9TYxAVZQ

    1995, Harlan Ellison bitching that “technology has finally caught up, people actually went on the Internet and begged for votes”…

  100. Ben Stein made a big deal some years ago about tenacity being much more important than IQ for success in trading and investing. I don’t know how scientific his opinion was or if it was somehow politically motivated {or just cuz he wrote a book} he talked a lot about about smart poor and average rich he interacted with over the years.

    And then there’s the now defunct but previously longtime WSJ practice of using a dartboard and comparing annual results with the top trading cos. Usually performed about the same overall.

  101. 03: Construction work at a nuclear powerplant isn’t, in that regard, different from construction work on a skyscraper or a large bridge.

    Maintenance work, not construction.

    03: If anything, I would have made the language of that ruling way stronger, making balls-to-the-walls scientific justification of all hiring practices mandatory, irrespective of industry and demographics involved.

    And if there is no science on certain subjects? HR practices today are so screwed up that they might as well be reading chicken entrails.

    Peter Watts: I dunno. Mitt Romney seems to have done just fine in business without any discernible “extra smarts”. Maybe there’s something lacking in our definitions.

    You truly think Romney is of average intelligence? That’s possible, but not that likely,

    Peter Watts: Uh, I think I’d object to this characterization. Given an arbitrary left/right choice I guess I’m left, but I’d have severe reservations about anyone whose political beliefs can be adequately summarized along a single dimension.

    There’s more axes to politics. Permissive/restrictive social policies, liberal vs planned economics, statism vs anarchism. Probably a couple of more.

  102. In other news, Gamergate misogynists are harrassing another woman. And trying to get her fired.

  103. Re: Y, no science

    Then get back to the drawing board and get science done :)

    Pick applicants randomly in the meantime – which would actually be better than bullshit vodoo methodology.

    Re Y, GG:

    Yawn. That’s so 2014

  104. Also, on Mittens, it is remarkable that there is absolutely no public source on his IQ (there is speculation that he’s 130, but that’s just brown numbers)

    None of his little business schemes are his own invention, and it doesn’t really take a genius to stand upon the shoulders of the giants… and steal their earrings while you’re at it.

  105. 03:
    Also, on Mittens, it is remarkable that there is absolutely no public source on his IQ (there is speculation that he’s 130, but that’s just brown numbers)

    None of his little business schemes are his own invention, and it doesn’t really take a genius to stand upon the shoulders of the giants… and steal their earrings while you’re at it.

    What was his SAT?

  106. Never officially released.
    There are numerous rumors about it being preposterously high (as well as about it being implausibly low), but materials pertaining to specifics of Mitten’s educational achievements have not yet been officially published, as far as I know.

    So we don’t know what Mittey’s SAT is. Given how that election had looked like, the fact that he didn’t publicize his SAT far and wide it is probably not something worth writing home about.

  107. Also, apparently the comment before my previous comment got eated, so here goes…

    Re: Y, no scientific methods for assessing skills in some fields

    Then get back to the drawing board and get science done :)
    Pick applicants randomly in the meantime – which would actually be better than bullshit voodoo methodology.

    Re Y, GG:
    Yawn. That’s so 2014

  108. 03: Given how that election had looked like, the fact that he didn’t publicize his SAT far and wide it is probably not something worth writing home about.

    US is anti-intellectual. No reason to publish it one way or other, I believe. Usually though, the data can be found, as in case of Bush and Kerry.

  109. Y., when you think about intelligence, how do you think it relates to the cultural ways we process information and to the biological ones?

    And when you think about intelligence in those two senses, how do you think it relates to deception, modeling the thinking of others for one’s own self, and deceiving those others?

    And when you think about deception and deceiving others, how do you think those things relate to making money?

    I hope these are not softball questions, but I don’t know if I’m supposed to read between the lines some sort of way or if I’m misunderstanding what’s going on.

  110. @Y: Romney was born with both money and contacts. In such cases intelligence is not exactly relevant for achieving anything.

  111. Charles R: And when you think about intelligence in those two senses, how do you think it relates to deception, modeling the thinking of others for one’s own self, and deceiving those others?

    Important for all things. Dumb liars get caught more easily.

    Different kinds of intelligence there too. A lot of successful ‘leaders’ where people not so good at abstract thinking but with very good intuition* regarding the emotional dispositions of others.

    *what is intuition? My take is that it’s the result of subconscious mental procesess.

  112. Looks to me like there’s two camps:

    Sad Puppies who are fairly bitter that Worldcon had lied about the Hugos representing the best of all of the community. And the existence of a liberal community with liberal in-jokes and liberal thought, which they feel excludes non-liberals. That community also blogs about how terrible right-wingers and Sad Puppies are.

    Anti Sad Puppies who think that Sad Puppies are hateful, resentful, right-wingers that are also racist, homophobic, sexist, transphobic, etc. And find the time to write snarky blogs about how childishly bitter Sad Puppies are, and how provocative and insightful the new diversity in SciFi is.

    I just read what I like, but is the Hugos and the greater scifi blogscape actually like that?