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Jul 09 2013

Just checking in…

I haven’t had time to add any sparkling new content (or even sludgy prose) to this blog for a week or so, normal service should resume shortly.

In the meantime, a couple of pieces of mine have gone up elsewhere this week.

In the Guardian, I reflected on what Andy Murray’s victory at Wimbledon might mean for the people of Dunblane, where Murray himself survived the 1996 school massacre.

Men from central Scotland are not known for our smiley, flamboyant extroversion at the best of times. In Murray’s case one senses that he has constructed a thick protective wall around himself. Perhaps he cannot easily let emotions spill out, because with only the smallest crack, the deluge would be overwhelming.

 

And today in the Independent I cover the astonishing survey from the Royal Statistical Society which revealed just how grossly skewed is our typical assessment of the state of the nation, from benefits and the economy to crime figures and religious affiliations.

our impressions of society are formed by looking at individual factoids and scare stories as if through a long thin tube, only ever seeing a snapshot rather than the full panorama. We then depend upon cognitive biases and heuristics to fill in the gaping blank spaces.

Your thoughts on either of these would be welcome. Or alternatively just continue arguing about all the other things you’ve been arguing about on all the other threads which, let’s face it, is exactly what you’ll do anyway.

76 comments

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  1. 1
    carnation

    The motivations of some participants in the online gender wars could not have been better summarised than this:

    “Our impressions of society are formed by looking at individual factoids and scare stories as if through a long thin tube, only ever seeing a snapshot rather than the full panorama. We then depend upon cognitive biases and heuristics to fill in the gaping blank spaces.”

    Both excellent articles, Ally.

    I remember Dunblane well. I also remember the legislation that followed, banning certain firearms. Perhaps an example of a reactionary law that worked?

  2. 2
    B-Lar

    Or alternatively just continue arguing about all the other things you’ve been arguing about on all the other threads which, let’s face it, is exactly what you’ll do anyway.

    I came here for the feminism, but I stay for the little gems like this.

    Your second point is one that find fascinating. The problem of how to make decisions based on the truth of a matter when the truth is being reported by a third party is a multi faceted one. The central facet appears to me to be that people more readily accept information from those who they trust, and as humans we make decisions on who to trust on very spurious grounds.

    Identifying trustworthiness is an entire module’s worth of Critical Thinking 101 which sadly is not yet mandatorily taught in schools across the country. Hopefully in my lifetime though…

  3. 3
    A Hermit

    A good example of the distance between popular perceptions and economic reality is here;

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

    The gap between what Americans see as the ideal distribution of wealth, what they think the distribution is and the actual distribution is profound…

  4. 4
    Jacob Schmidt

    Or alternatively just continue arguing about all the other things you’ve been arguing about on all the other threads which, let’s face it, is exactly what you’ll do anyway.

    Ooohhh no. Over 600 comments is plenty, thanks. No need to start more.

    our impressions of society are formed by looking at individual factoids and scare stories as if through a long thin tube, only ever seeing a snapshot rather than the full panorama. We then depend upon cognitive biases and heuristics to fill in the gaping blank spaces.

    This is the reason I think we need to, in general, accept the experiences of others at face value, unless we’re given a reason not to. Otherwise, it all just get’s filtered through our lenses and, let’s face it, we suck at filtering well.

  5. 5
    Bill Openthalt

    As far as statistics are concerned, and as an (erstwhile) statistician, let me assure you that statistically, people are staggeringly ignorant about and bad at statistics (as well as probability).

    Journalists are worse than average, though. And let’s not forget how unreliable official statistics are.

    JS – while I have no problem accepting people’s experiences at face value, I am far more reluctant to accept their account of their experiences. as it is filtered through their lenses…

  6. 6
    sheaf

    Journalists are worse than average, though.

    You think? Most people I know fail pretty hard.

  7. 7
    karmakin

    @Jacob: Actually, the study, and studies like it (let’s be honest, this is isn’t anything close to new), show the exact opposite thing..that we take too much out of individual stories. The way I would describe it, is that we’re looking at one pattern in a mosaic, and instead of seeing all the different patterns that might exist, we assume that all the patterns are the same as the one we can see.

    Because of that, individual stories are pretty bad in setting an accurate sense of scale of any particular issue. Now, I’m not one to discount the value of these stories..I think they’re important in telling us how and even sometimes why something is happening (although I do think that we all have our stories to share, and they’re all important), even if they don’t tell us much of how much something is happening.

  8. 8
    Bitethehand

    Men from central Scotland are not known for our smiley, flamboyant extroversion at the best of times. In Murray’s case one senses that he has constructed a thick protective wall around himself. Perhaps he cannot easily let emotions spill out, because with only the smallest crack, the deluge would be overwhelming.

    On the other hand maybe becoming a Grand Slam winner at Wimbledon and a world champion takes more than a little single mindedness.

    And for the record I’ve seen him display his emotions in public lots of times, as have millions of others.

  9. 9
    Bitethehand

    our impressions of society are formed by looking at individual factoids and scare stories as if through a long thin tube, only ever seeing a snapshot rather than the full panorama. We then depend upon cognitive biases and heuristics to fill in the gaping blank spaces.

    Rather like your assessment of Andy Murray’s character then?

    How many times have we seen him in tears on tv; how many times lambasting the umpire with crude obscenities (never seen Federer do that) how many times abusing his racquet on court?

  10. 10
    Jacob Schmidt

    karmakin

    Actually, the study, and studies like it (let’s be honest, this is isn’t anything close to new), show the exact opposite thing..that we take too much out of individual stories. The way I would describe it, is that we’re looking at one pattern in a mosaic, and instead of seeing all the different patterns that might exist, we assume that all the patterns are the same as the one we can see.

    You’ll note that I said to accept their story, not to extrapolate from them. Peer review trump personal anecdotes, even if you have 20 of ‘em (though I may need to steal your description of the matter).

    Bill Openthalt

    JS – while I have no problem accepting people’s experiences at face value, I am far more reluctant to accept their account of their experiences. as it is filtered through their lenses…

    I’m usually willing to accept some interpretation on their part (not all communication explicit after all), but I always take them with a healthy bit of salt.

  11. 11
    Ally Fogg

    @BillOpenthalt

    Journalists are worse than average, though.

    Mean, median or mode?

    (seriously, doubt they are worse than average, but since they have much greater need to be better than average it is more of a problem when they’re not.)

  12. 12
    tomhuld

    In your Independent piece, nearly all the misconceptions pull in the direction of the right wing, that is, believing them makes you more likely to vote to the right. If peoples’ misconceptions really mostly pull in that direction, it is a strong indication that they are not just random but the result of a deliberate campaign of lying to us, whether it be by politicians, the media, or various lie-tanks.

    But before concluding something like this it would be nice to know if there were other questions where people were less badly informed, or if they were equally badly informed on policy-neutral questions or questions that would make them more likely to vote left wing? For instance, do people have an inflated idea of bankers’ or CEO pay? Were such questions even asked? I tried to look at the RSS page, but it was not clear if this was the result of a much larger study.

    Now, I’m perfectly willing to believe that most of the misinformation comes from the right wing, such as the Daily Heil, but it would be nice to have it confirmed rigorously.

  13. 13
    Ally Fogg

    that’s a fair question, tomhuld. Don’t know the answer I’m afraid. I’m presuming the questions reported are the only ones that were asked.

    Would be interesting to think what delusions people might have in the opposite direction. Bankers’ salaries is a good one.

  14. 14
    Dunc

    If peoples’ misconceptions really mostly pull in that direction, it is a strong indication that they are not just random but the result of a deliberate campaign of lying to us, whether it be by politicians, the media, or various lie-tanks.

    It doesn’t have to be deliberate – it can simply be the result of the interaction of a number of structural factors and institutional forces, as in the “propaganda model” described in Chomsky & Herman’s “Manufacturing Consent”.

  15. 15
    Ally Fogg

    Had been deliberately avoiding namechecking the Chomsker coz it always sends things wonky, but yes Dunc, I wholeheartedly agree

  16. 16
    angharad

    As an actual statistician every time I hear that ‘lies, damn lies and statistics’ line I want to dig Mark Twain up and slap his corpse (I know he didn’t originate the phrase, but he popularised it). Many people are not just statistically or mathematically illiterate, but proud of it.

    Also @Bill Openthalt, I disagree with you about official statistics. In the absence of obvious corruption they’re no worse than any other source, and in many cases considerably better.

  17. 17
    Bill Openthalt

    @ tomhuld

    In your Independent piece, nearly all the misconceptions pull in the direction of the right wing, that is, believing them makes you more likely to vote to the right. If peoples’ misconceptions really mostly pull in that direction, it is a strong indication that they are not just random but the result of a deliberate campaign of lying to us, whether it be by politicians, the media, or various lie-tanks.

    Hmmm… Ipsos MORI interviewed 1,015 adults between 18 and 65. There is only time to ask so many questions, and the formulation of the questions drives the outcome of the poll, so it’s probably fair to say the results reflect the political convictions of the researchers (or those who commissioned the poll).

    I think we’re all confirming our biases here :).

  18. 18
    Bill Openthalt

    @ angharad

    I’ve been involved in a lot of supra-national statistical data gathering (with emphasis on trade, business and production statistics), and it’s a struggle to get people to report. Plus, we get a lot of bad reporting due to misunderstandings of, and problems with, the code lists (cf. recent changes to the HS). Maybe I’m too cynical, but I helped produce them, and I don’t trust them.

  19. 19
    carnation

    @ Tomhuld
    @ Ally Fogg

    Good question Tom – this is slightly off topic, but plumber salaries were grossly overstated in the press about ten years ago, couple of anecdotes about lawyers quitting to plumb because it paid more.

  20. 20
    John Morales

    angharad @16 wrote:

    @Bill Openthalt, I disagree with you about official statistics. In the absence of obvious corruption they’re no worse than any other source, and in many cases considerably better.

    Bill responded @18:

    I’ve been involved in a lot of supra-national statistical data gathering (with emphasis on trade, business and production statistics), and it’s a struggle to get people to report. Plus, we get a lot of bad reporting due to misunderstandings of, and problems with, the code lists (cf. recent changes to the HS). Maybe I’m too cynical, but I helped produce them, and I don’t trust them.

    I see that angharad’s claim remains to be addressed by Bill, and therefore remains unchallenged.

  21. 21
    N4M

    Hi Ally, just out of curiosity, this gig thing you’ve got planned tommorow,
    http://t.co/QSoGtfJBhv
    will it just be an excuse to be fawningly sycophantic towards feminism, or do you anticipate being brave enough to. like. actively challenge it on some level?

    Timothy Garton Ash (surprisingly high-pitched voice, for a man with such a big beard) says today:

    The way contemporary democracies work, they excel in aggregating the special needs of interest groups, both monied interests (corporations, sectoral lobbies) and electorally important ones

    Some might say the fem-lobby rather fits into that sort of category, and therefore need to be questioned as to what they do with the influence, rather just saying ‘Oh wow, you’re all great; you can do no wrong; it’s always about equality innit?’, etc, etc.

  22. 22
    Raging Bee

    Or alternatively just continue arguing about all the other things you’ve been arguing about on all the other threads which, let’s face it, is exactly what you’ll do anyway.

    If you’re not satisfied with the quality of your regular commenters, maybe you should consider disinviting some of them. That’s what several other FTBers have done, and it’s made their comment threads a lot more useful and pleasant than the mini-Slymepit you seem to be attracting. You may be worried about stifling free speech, but — in cyberspace as in meatspace — a productive discussion forum requires a lot of discretion regarding who gets invited to participate, and who gets excluded for behavior that hinders the flow of ideas or drags the level of discourse downward. You give good OPs, you deserve good responses, not a lot of mindless freeloaders who shit all over your carpet and make normal people want to steer clear of you.

  23. 23
    Jason Fischer

    I really appreciated the Independent article. I am not a statistician, but it has always annoyed me how much people rely on anecdotes in forming their worldviews. Anecdotal evidence has its uses, but by itself it’s essentially useless in determining overall societal trends (unless there’s a sufficiently large sample size, of course – and no, “my wife and I and several of my neighbors” is not a large enough sample, unless you’re simply measuring the views of people on your street.) I especially love it when people reject well-formulated studies if the conclusions reached by those studies don’t match their anecdote-fueled preconceptions. [Sorry, that was an awkward sentence.]

    This all ties into the fact that most people just don’t know how to evaluate sources of information, and they tend to just cling to the studies that reaffirm what they already believe – regardless of how unreliable and poorly formed those studies may have been. (See all the anti-gay types proudly holding up that Regnerus study as “proof” that they were right about gay parents all along – never mind the crippling methodological flaws and never mind the many other studies that have come to very different conclusions.)

    (I don’t exclude myself from any of this, by the way – we’re all susceptible to bad thinking. I just think it’s important to be as aware of these logical traps as possible.)

    I’ve long thought that critical thinking and basic statistics should be required courses for every high school student.

    Two of the most useful classes (as in, the ones that taught me life skills that I still use to this day) I ever took in high school were AP English Language & Rhetoric and Basic Statistics. In the former, the teacher spent an entire unit teaching us how to identify the various logical fallacies, providing real-world examples from politicians, political columnists, etc. In the latter, we learned about all the ways that the media and politicians distort research and statistics to their own ends (among many other useful things.)

  24. 24
    johngreg

    Ragibg Bee (http://freethoughtblogs.com/hetpat/2013/07/09/just-checking-in/#comment-5729) said:

    If you’re not satisfied with the quality of your regular commenters, maybe you should consider disinviting some of them. That’s what several other FTBers have done…. you deserve good responses, not a lot of mindless freeloaders who shit all over your carpet and make normal people want to steer clear of you.

    Or, to put it more succinctly: Moderation, editing, deletion, and banning encourages free speech and free thought. Free and open discussion without moderation, editing, deletion, and banning encourages censorship and suppression of free thought, open discussion, and constructive debate.

    War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.

    I think Ally is doing a very good job, the best on FTB, of encouraging actual, meaningful discussion and debate, with lots of healthy disagreement, and opportunities for learning and change on all sides. More power to him.

  25. 25
    Raging Bee

    Or, to put it more succinctly: Moderation, editing, deletion, and banning encourages free speech and free thought.

    Yes, actually it does, when it’s done with the aim of keeping out lies, insanity, childish behavior, spamming, trolling, threadjacking, harassment, threats, and other noxious actions that make it much harder to have a healthy grownup dialogue than it needs to be (if not impossible). The blogs where the freest and most productive exchange of ideas take place are the ones whose owners are prompt and consistent in keeping bad commenters from driving out good ones.

  26. 26
    Raging Bee

    I think Ally is doing a very good job, the best on FTB, of encouraging actual, meaningful discussion and debate, with lots of healthy disagreement, and opportunities for learning and change on all sides. More power to him.

    Nice bit of preemptive brownnosing there. Feeling a bit threatened all of a sudden?

  27. 27
    Steersman

    Raging Bee (#26):

    Looks like you’re the one more threatened by open discussions on topics where the evidence is not so favourable to your position.

    As for “healthy grown-up dialog”, that’s a real hoot coming from someone who seems to have supported a blog where porcupine jokes and the free use of “asshole” were condoned if not made de rigueur.

  28. 28
    John C. Welch

    It’s okay, i’m used to Bee saying this kind of thing. After all, Bee only wants constructive dialogue.

    You know, where people who don’t follow your views on feminism to the hilt are called cowardly versions of a spree killer.

    Or, when a shopkeeper does something stupid related to religion, and owns up to it, because they don’t apologize for everything that religion has ever done and convert, sobbing to atheism, you fling that apology back in their faces, and demand that everyone “fuck them into the ground”. Only after you’re a few hundred miles away. While you’re in the same building, you of course, say nothing.

    Or, when someone disagrees with you, you threaten to kick their asses, and try to trigger their combat-related PTSD.

    Or, you stalk them to find out the email address of their employer and email them to try to force their employer to silence them.

    You know, the kinds of helpful, rational, thoughtful methods of discourse that ensure “normal people” won’t want to steer clear of you.

  29. 29
    Parge

    I couldn’t help myself. I usually can, but I’m feeling a bit surly this week:

    Or, to put it more succinctly: Moderation, editing, deletion, and banning encourages free speech and free thought.

    Yes, actually it does, when it’s done with the aim of keeping out lies,

    Lies can be disputed with facts. Disappearing lies doesn’t make them go away. The Internet is funny that way.

    insanity,

    Ablism? Tsk, tsk!

    childish behavior,

    Your delusions of superiority are showing. I prefer to give everyone a fair shake. Equality rulz.

    spamming,

    You have a point there. Commercial advertising has no place in a serious discussion forum.

    trolling,

    That’s one of those terms that gets bandied about willy-nilly without giving much thought to what it means. Methinks you assume too much to think that people who disagree with you are not invested in their opinions.

    threadjacking,

    Is this a thing? Is debate only fair if you are able to shout louder than your opponents? I suppose it’s all a matter of perspective. Given the opportunity, people are going to voice their opinions. Look at me, here, right now, voicing my opinion. And if a lot of people have strong opinions about something and are given the opportunity, they’re going to come to the thread and voice them. That should be ok. Unless it’s like this Craigslist R&R thread where this dude submits post after post, week after week of some really vile racist stuff. That dude is insane. Oops. I’m not qualified to make that assessment.

    harassment,

    Another buzzword that tends to get misapplied quite a bit. I suppose it may feel like harassment if you’re unable to squelch disagreement. It’s all about controlling the message, isn’t it? Do you know we ‘pitters think that the name “Freethought Blogs” is incredibly ironic? That’s really one of the only things we all can agree on over there. The rest is just a mess of a free and productive exchange of ideas and insults.

    threats,

    I think employing law enforcement officials works better than moderation for threats. I could be wrong.

    and other noxious actions

    Noxiousness goes both ways. Pro tip: civility and charity are like the Febreze® of online discourse. Shit! I just spammed there, didn’t I?

    that make it much harder to have a healthy grownup dialogue than it needs to be (if not impossible).

    Again with the delusions of superiority. It’s indicative of not being interested in healthy dialogue. Where does infantilization fit in the big book of fallacies? Well poisoning? Straw-manning? You can never go wrong with Ad Hominem. That’s what I always say. Actually, I’ve never said that before, but I’m going to start.

  30. 30
    Steersman

    Ally said (OP):

    Or alternatively just continue arguing about all the other things you’ve been arguing about on all the other threads which, let’s face it, is exactly what you’ll do anyway.

    :-) Time for me at least to genuflect – somewhat – to that OP before going off on a tangent of one sort or another. But part of the problem is, I think, that, as the aphorism has it, when you go to change something you find it connected to everything else in the universe. And relative to your “skewed” comment, I’m reminded of something from Michael Shermer’s The Believing Brain that I’ve quoted here before:

    As we saw in the previous chapter, politics is filled with self-justifying rationalizations. Democrats see the world through liberal-tinted glasses, while Republicans filter it through conservative shaded glasses. When you listen to both “conservative talk radio” and “progressive talk radio” you will hear current events interpreted in ways that are 180 degrees out of phase. So incongruent are the interpretations of even the simplest goings-on in the daily news that you wonder if they can possibly be talking about the same event. [my emphasis]

    And, as another somewhat more amusing example, I’m reminded of a scene from one of my favourite movies, Annie Hall where both Diane Keaton and Woody Allen are at their individual psychiatrists who each ask them – in split screen – how often they have sex. And she says, “Continuously. About twice a week”. And then he says, “Hardly ever. About twice a week”. Largely or substantially the same set of facts but some very different interpretations due to personal if not “gender” idiosyncrasies.

    Bit of a real problem in itself, and one that tends to preclude much in the way of resolution of many others. Tends to cause everyone to ride madly off in all directions.

    But, as a bit of a segue, I might mention that I enjoyed listening to Reap Paden’s interview of you the other day. And while I found your comments about consciousness interesting, and those about “structural issues” (I think that was the phrase or concept at least) intriguing though problematic and questionable, it was, of course, your comments about “The Great Rift” and not having a dog in the fight that seem most relevant here.

    And while I can sympathize with you about not wanting to be drawn into what at least plausibly looks rather like internecine warfare and sectarian violence – in any war the first casualty is the “Truth” – I think there are a number of issues there where you already have a dog in the fight. And the primary issue is, I think, the question of your moderation policy which I commend you for, but for which many, Raging Bee’s comments being a case in point, want to rake you over the coals.

    But your moderation policy seems to be the complete antithesis of many others on the FTB network – notably Myers’, Benson’s, Zvan’s, Carrier’s and Thibeault’s – as they tend to ban individuals for rather specious and spurious reasons – which is, itself, one of the primary reasons why “The Pit” tends to be critical of them: “the price of freedom is eternal vigilance”. And while I think there is a bill of particulars in that regard that is, as the saying goes, as long as your arm, I think one recent case will illustrate the rather odious nature of the beast.

    Now while I don’t know – though would be interested to learn – your views on evolutionary psychology, there was a recent conference panel discussion with Zvan, Myers, and several others that has generated a fair amount of discussion, and which illustrates or highlights the problems engendered by several FTB moderation policies that produce little more than echo chambers and which tend to propagate no end of problematic propaganda. More particularly, the biologist Jerry Coyne wrote a post (1) in response to several comments by Myers, which in turn produced this response by Zvan (2), and my response (3), among others, in the Pit largely because I’m banned on Zvan’s blog.

    Now you might reasonably criticize my response as not holding all that much water, but it seems that you might also reasonably ask yourself if Zvan has banned me and banned someone else on that thread for not particularly creditable reasons then what does that say about her credibility and Myers and the network itself. Personally, I think those blogs are frequently engaged in little more than yellow journalism. And, in that particular case I quite agree that, as Coyne said, “… the opposition to evolutionary psychology from these quarters is ideologically rather than scientifically motivated”. Considering the historical evidence of the consequences of such motivations – that I expect you’re fully aware of – one might suggest you already have a very large dog in that fight.

    —-
    1) “_http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2013/07/07/a-defense-of-evolutionary-psychology-mostly-by-steve-pinker/”;
    2) “_http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2013/07/09/how-weird-is-evolutionary-psychology/#comment-252240”;
    3) “_http://slymepit.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=109130#p109130”;

  31. 31
    AndrewV69, Visiting MRA, Purveyor of Piffle & Woo

    @22, Raging Bee

    Just out of curosity, who would you ban?

  32. 32
    Bitethehand

    @25 Raging Bee

    Whenever a comment like yours appears I always ask for concrete examples – in this case from the many contributions to the articles here. After all one person’s “childish behavior” is likely to be another’s humour and yet another’s biting sarcasm.

  33. 33
    Lucy

    “our impressions of society are formed by looking at individual factoids and scare stories as if through a long thin tube, only ever seeing a snapshot rather than the full panorama. We then depend upon cognitive biases and heuristics to fill in the gaping blank spaces.”

    Two thoughts:
    1) it shows the lie of people telling fantasy from reality. A theory that is advanced in support of misogynist and violent propaganda via porn, horror, gaming, music and the wider media. For those who didn’t know this already.
    2) the exaggerated perceptions of statistics, for example immigrant and Muslim population reflects the significance of the feeling it engenders. What they really mean is that they are noticing/care about Muslims in Britain to the tune of 25% of maximum. It would be interesting to know what the representation of ethnic minorities and Muslims is on the BBC, it might tally to 10% and 25% of prime time coverage, respectively.

  34. 34
    N4M

    Oh, sorry, Ally, just realised the event I linked to is on Saturday, not today! But I do hope you will ask some searching and critical questions of these people & not just go with the flow. In theory you’d imagine that if lots of left-wing liberal people got together, it could never be anything but sweetness & light, yet as we have seen from certain facets of British journalism, like-minded people joining forces to reinforce their own prejudices and pre-conceived beliefs can often be bloody dangerous in many respects.

  35. 35
    Raging Bee

    John C. Welch: ALL of your accusations about me are false. Every single fucking one of them. You just proved you’re nothing but an amazingly immature, self-important, pointlessly malicious, rage-filled idiot who can’t even distinguish one person from another, or remember how a particular well-publicized exchange actually went. And you came all the way here just to post this crap? Maybe you should stay in the Slymepit instead — this place is a bit above your level.

    But anyway, thanks for giving us a concrete example of the kind of behavior that can, and should, be kicked to the curb to enhance the quality of any kind of gathering, in cyber- or meat-space. Now go back to the kids’ table and stop pretending you’re the equal of people who are clearly more honest and mature than you.

  36. 36
    Raging Bee

    Lies can be disputed with facts…

    Tell me, do you consider yourself obligated to address and refute every lie someone tells you whenever he tells them to you, even when you’ve already refuted the same lies before? Or do you eventually decide to just cut the liar out of your life, so you can stop wasting time and energy dealing with someone who has proven himself useless at best? That’s the principle I’m applying here, and it’s the principle EVERYONE applies when they organize any kind of party, symposium, discussion forum, or other meeting, on- or off-line. It’s a very simple and indispensible principle, and I have a hard time believing you really don’t understand it. Either you’re pretending to be ignorant, or you really are that ignorant and unfamiliar wtih grownup interaction. In any case, you’re not worth talking to and no one needs you in any kind of meaningful discussion of anything.

  37. 37
    Raging Bee

    Personally, I think those blogs are frequently engaged in little more than yellow journalism.

    I’ll take that seriously when I see you offering better factual content than their OPs. You’ve had plenty of opportunities to do that, and you’ve failed every time.

  38. 38
    Ally Fogg

    N4M

    As I understand it, the format of the day is going to have me speaking simultaneously on different tables with people moving between them, so in terms of the other contributors, I don’t think I’ll have the chance to argue with them much! But to be fair to the organisers, we had a good chat about my beliefs and politics and where I stand on stuff, and they wanted me there precisely to provide some diversity.

    I will of course be using my own little platform to speak my mind as usual, and I expect there will be a few folks there who are less than enamoured with my take on things, so will be interesting to find out.

    But thanks for the plug. I believe there are still a few tickets available if anyone is in or around Manchester!

  39. 39
    Gjenganger

    @Raging Bee 22

    If you’re not satisfied with the quality of your regular commenters, maybe you should consider disinviting some of them.

    I do not think he will. He keeps saying he wants an open discussion that includes all kinds of very different viewpoints (bless him!). Here is what I try to do to deal with the situation:
    - If some poster is not interesting to read, skim or ignore his posts.
    - If some poster is not fruitful to debate with, do not answer his posts.
    - Write your own posts so that other people find them interesting to read and fruitful to debate, even if they disagree with you. That might heighten the general level.
    - If you think the forum has to much chaff and too little wheat, leave it and hang out somewhere else.

  40. 40
    FloraPoste

    I believe that bloggers generally really appreciate unsolicited advice about how to manage their comments section,so let me just say that I think Ally should ban every fifth commenter on alternate Tuesdays. That should keep us on our toes!

  41. 41
    Parge

    Tell me, do you consider yourself obligated to address and refute every lie someone tells you whenever he tells them to you, even when you’ve already refuted the same lies before?

    I have 3 answers to that:
    1. Yes, because that’s how grownups behave. (Forgive me for throwing that back at you, but since you keep flogging it, I thought it might help your perspective)
    2. If you haven’t already successfully refuted a lie, you can’t convincingly claim to have refuted it. You may have convinced yourself that you’ve refuted it, but chances are you’ve missed some nuance or framed in a way that misses the point. Reasonable people will be able to judge for themselves. If they aren’t flocking to your defense, there may be something wrong with your argument.
    3. Some lies you care about. Some lies you don’t. Lies of the he said/she said/yada yada yada petty drama sort, that sort of thing is easily ignored. The ones you care about need to be addressed even in the face of willful antagonism. Defamation, for example. Lies that threaten your credibility, your good standing in the community, your career, can’t be dropped and swept under the rug. Vile accusations. They need to be refuted ad nauseum.

    Or do you eventually decide to just cut the liar out of your life, so you can stop wasting time and energy dealing with someone who has proven himself useless at best?

    This is wild speculation here, but it sounds like you’ve had to deal with this in your personal life, and it’s bleeding over into your public life. If that truly is the case, you should be aware of the effect. While everyone is trying to come to some conclusions about the subject at hand, you’re battling demons from your past.

    That’s the principle I’m applying here, and it’s the principle EVERYONE applies when they organize any kind of party, symposium, discussion forum, or other meeting, on- or off-line.

    I think that’s wishful thinking. Those of us interested in rational discourse wouldn’t think of abandoning our values around freedom of engaging people with our thoughts on a level playing field. Locking out dissent is a dishonest way of getting your ideas out there. I reiterate: it’s controlling the message. Propaganda, if you will.

    It’s a very simple and indispensable principle, and I have a hard time believing you really don’t understand it.

    I understand it. I just think it’s misguided because it undermines your credibility.

    Either you’re pretending to be ignorant, or you really are that ignorant and unfamiliar with grownup interaction.

    More infantalization. Someone on the ‘pit posted this wonderful series of YouTube videos by TheraminTrees about Transaction Analysis. Look it up. I highly recommend it to you. You might get some insight into the “game” you’re playing here. If you do watch the videos, you’ll understand what I mean by “game”.

    In any case, you’re not worth talking to and no one needs you in any kind of meaningful discussion of anything.

    You’ll understand that I can’t agree with you on that one. I’m not sure how you came to that conclusion, but I suppose you have your incentives. I won’t expect a response. Definitely watch those videos though. Ten minutes a piece. Quality stuff.

  42. 42
    Raging Bee

    Gjenganger: those are all valid responses (except for the last, which basically amounts to “stop complaining and let the pond-scum take over wherever they show up”). The problem is, if a comment thread is too gummed up with massive quantities of raw sewage, then finding and following one person’s more worthwhile comments in the midst of all that crap becomes much more time-consuming than it should be, and ultimately not worth the trouble. I can have a good discussion with one commenter in a thread of 60-odd comments with little trouble; having the same discussion in a thread of 600-odd comments is noticeably harder, and a lot of people (lurkers as well as commenters) who could learn from and contribute to such discussions would be more likely to just give up, leaving the thread to sink to cesspool level. There may be some good arguments somewhere in the Slymepit, but why bother sifting through thousands of ridiculously vile comments to even see if they exist?

    There’s also an embarassment factor: I can’t speak for Ally, but I’m pretty sure he’d want at least some people recommending his blog to others — but who would want to steer his friends to a mini-Slymepit and then have to try and explain why Ally should be taken seriously when he has such disgusting idiotic followers? If I recommend this blog to anyone, my sentence will end with “…just don’t bother with the comments!” What’s the point of a blog if it comes with such a caveat?

    Another problem is that if Ally really wants diversity of opinions in his blog, he needs to understand that he’ll lose it if he allows one faction to behave so disgracefully that others will simply give up trying to contribute. The result will be that one side contributes nothing but nonsense and the other sides contribute nothing at all — is that really your idea of “an open discussion that includes all kinds of very different viewpoints?” I can bring vodka to mix with fruit punch, but I won’t bring it to sanitize a steaming turd on the living room rug.

  43. 43
    Raging Bee

    Parge, you’re getting so absurd I’m beginning to wonder if you even take yourself seriously…

    1. No, that’s not how grownups behave. Grownups choose their associates as carefully as they can, and don’t let toxic time-wasters gum up their lives. Trust me, I’ve met enough grownups to know this is true, and it works for them as well as for me.

    2. So if some idiot gets in your face in a public place and keeps on spouting stupid bullshit, you would have to refute every one of his falsehoods, every time he repeated them, otherwise that would be an admission that you can’t handle his arguments on a “level playing field?” Do you really believe you have no right to shut such people out of your life, or to not invite them to your parties? Do you really believe that shutting him out and ignoring or avoiding him is in any way wrong or invalid?

    The ones you care about need to be addressed even in the face of willful antagonism. Defamation, for example. Lies that threaten your credibility, your good standing in the community, your career, can’t be dropped and swept under the rug.

    Actually, it makes perfect sense to prevent such lies from getting an audience in the first place, rather than force the victim to upend his life trying to “address” them; and to make sure your forum doesn’t become a platform for lies.

    This is wild speculation here, but it sounds like you’ve had to deal with this in your personal life, and it’s bleeding over into your public life…

    It’s a perfectly valid cyber-to-meatspace analogy, and your failure to answer it speaks volumes about your honesty. I suspect you’re dodging the point because my analogy is making you realize how lame your arguments are.

    Those of us interested in rational discourse wouldn’t think of abandoning our values around freedom of engaging people with our thoughts on a level playing field.

    Those of us who value rational discourse understand that keeping unqualified or dishonest people out of our discourse is a perfectly rational thing to do, and doesn’t compromise anyone’s basic rights in any way. (And no, there’s no basic right to crash a party or barge into a conversation when you’re not willing to behave respectfully and/or have nothing to contribute.)

  44. 44
    johngreg

    The Angry Bumble said:

    Those of us who value rational discourse understand that keeping unqualified or dishonest people out of our discourse is a perfectly rational thing to do, and doesn’t compromise anyone’s basic rights in any way.

    Ha ha. Well, yes, ahem, sure. The problem is that for you the difference between “unqualified or dishonest people” and “people who disagree with me” is quite negligible, as is the difference between “Those of us who value rational discourse” and “Those of us who value parroting each other”.

  45. 45
    Raging Bee

    The problem is that for you the difference between “unqualified or dishonest people” and “people who disagree with me” is quite negligible…

    And you say that based on…what? A desperate urge to avoid an obvious reality?

  46. 46
    Parge

    Do you really believe you have no right to shut such people out of your life, or to not invite them to your parties? Do you really believe that shutting him out and ignoring or avoiding him is in any way wrong or invalid?

    I made no such assertion. I’m trying not to mischaracterize what you’re saying. Please give me the same courtesy. If I’m unclear, I’ll gladly explain further. My assertion is that you are framing your opponents in an unfair light. For example:
     
    “toxic time-wasters” – self explanatory
    “some idiot gets in your face” – implies a level of anger and/or violence that generally isn’t there
    “spouting stupid bullshit” – your opinion not theirs
    “unqualified or dishonest people” – I don’t think you’ve researched their qualifications. Argument from authority? The Courtier’s Reply?
    “crash a party” – party crashers. I understand why you want to kick them out and lock the doors.
    “barge into a conversation” – barging… more violence implied. A public forum affords no privacy.
    “not willing to behave respectfully” – respect is a funny thing. Everything beyond common courtesy needs to be earned, generally with recipricol respect. With such a low opinion of your opponents, I can understand how you can mistake opposition as a lack of respect.
    “nothing to contribute” – your opinion not theirs
     
    You may assume that they are trolls and that they are only in it for the lulz. You may believe that they are being willfully antagonistic. You’ve implied that you believe that your opponent’s opinions aren’t valid, so therefore you shouldn’t be exposed to them. I’m certain your opponents don’t feel that way about their opinions.
     
    But to answer your question, I’d never assert that you have no right to ignore them. I will say that you have no right to determine if I or anyone else should be forced to ignore them or if we should deem their input valuable or not. My point is that you are trying to be the judge of what people can and can’t see. I assert that anyone who sees themselves as that sort of judge is far from impartial.

    Actually, it makes perfect sense to prevent such lies from getting an audience in the first place, rather than force the victim to upend his life trying to “address” them; and to make sure your forum doesn’t become a platform for lies.

    I didn’t say that anyone should be forced to address lies. That should be up to the target of the lie. It’s not for me to say how a person must deal with an antagonist. It’s not up to you either. We can offer help. But ultimately it’s up to the person being maligned. Opting out is always an option.

    It’s a perfectly valid cyber-to-meatspace analogy, and your failure to answer it speaks volumes about your honesty. I suspect you’re dodging the point because my analogy is making you realize how lame your arguments are.

    The question was if I should decide to cut a liar out of my life. I think I got a little long winded in my answer, but I did answer it. Three times. With numbers even. I broke the question into two because the second half seemed to betray a bit of your personal history that I assumed was clouding your judgement.
     
    I made a point of listing out the evidence of your low opinion of ‘pitters and their ilk to make a point about how that also clouds your judgement. You speak of thier lack of respect while you betray your own lack of respect for them. Quid pro quo, I’m sure. As they say, an eye for an eye leaves the world blind.
     
    Now, you may be right in that some input is so egregiously offensive that it should be shut out of the conversation. Unfortunately, we can’t all agree on how low the bar should be set. One person’s bile is another person’s valid opinion. Sure, you can choose not to engage someone, but if you do, it’s only fair that you let them respond. All too often, a person, say a ‘pitter, posts an opinion or a question. Sometimes, the moderator or blog owner will ban that person, and then respond after the ban, denying the banned person the ability to rebut the response in context and proximity. That is a lack of respect, I’d say.

  47. 47
    Raging Bee

    I will say that you have no right to determine if I or anyone else should be forced to ignore them…

    Not letting someone comment on a blog is not “forcing” anyone to ignore them; any more than not inviting you to a party is “forcing” anyone to ignore you. And I’m not “determining” anything here, I’m making a recommendation. This single blatant misinterpretation of my arguments shows that either your reading comprehension is crap, or you have no common sense about human interaction, or you’re being deliberately incoherent, not to mention childishly self-centered and entitled.

  48. 48
    Parge

    You sure do pack a lot of assumptions and misconceptions into a little package. Very unfruitful. I don’t know you, so I have very little incentive to try to shoehorn a coherent thought through that cognitive filter of yours. I hope you find happiness.
     
    Watch those videos, though. Entertaining and informative.

  49. 49
    Pen

    The problem with demographic/crime/economic statistics and the media is that they’re not very newsworthy. They’re not the sort of thing that gets people all excited and commenting wildly on online articles. But they’re important and national/local variations are also important. It would probably be better to find some other way of disseminating the same information and to encourage people to look for it. Minimally maybe school children could be encouraged to look at those statistics, think about what they mean and why they matter and be made aware of the fact that they can change. That might do more good than an extra maths class.

  50. 50
    johngreg

    Don’t worry about it Parge. Da Bee is simply incapable of rational, meaningful, and coherent discussion/debate with anyone who disagrees wit’ da Bee. Gish gallops, misrepresentations, word salads (with dressing!), and other rhetorical tricksy sidesteps abound. Take an historical cruise through Da Bee’s work on other FfTB blogs (and this one), and you will see that that is so.

  51. 51
    Ally Fogg

    OK, I was trying to stay out of this, but let me spell out where I stand on moderation of comments.

    First of all let me point you to my guidelines above

    I’ll reiterate that if anyone finds a particular comment personally abusive or intimidatory, please point it out to me and if I think it is a reasonable request I’ll comply. If people are using this blog to conduct personal vendettas against anyone, whether another commenter on this blog or a completely different person elsewhere, I’ll take a dim view of it. Hasn’t happened much here, if at all.

    What I will not do is moderate comments or ban users because I don’t like the opinions or the personality of the person behind it. And I am certainly not going to attempt to restrict this blog to those holding certain views or who express themselves in a particular fashion.

    On other threads this week my most dedicated and prolific MRA-esque commenter has been complaining bitterly about being “mobbed” and “bullied” by his opponents here. What he means is that they have been refusing to accept his opinions as given, arguing back and laughing when he says things they (OK, we) find laughable. I’ve had another MRA regular saying he won’t comment here any more because people argued back against him too much and it was doing his head in. That’s a perfectly reasonable course for anyone.

    I do not expect my blogs to get an easy ride here. I want my opinions to be challenged and to be forced to defend them with argument and evidence. I expect the exact same of my commenters. If your arguments are good and your evidence is strong, you shouldn’t have much to worry about here.

    The other thing I have noticed here, very strongly, is that you people, collectively and without many exceptions, tend to be quite polite and constructive with those who are polite and respectful to them. Those who call each other stupid, morons, baboons or whatever tend to end up getting a bit of a rough ride back in response.

    If you don’t like other people being rude to you, your best bet is to not be rude to other people. If you want to be rude to other people, don’t be surprised if people are rude back.

    From my POV as judge jury and executioner, I will also be more inclined to give a lot more protection to those who are polite and respectful to others. If you’re dishing it out, I expect you to be able to take it back in return.

    Here endeth the lesson.

  52. 52
    YouthRightsRadical

    A beautiful sentiment, Ally.

    I tend to follow you because about half the time you seem like you’re the only person making sense, and the other half I’m yelling at my monitor calling you an idiot. That seems like a just about perfect balance for exposure to other points of view while being repeatedly reminded that you respect the person on the other side, even if you disagree with their view in this particular instance.

    Keep up the good work.

  53. 53
    Bill Door

    Ally… but…but… do you just expect me to just scroll past comments I dislike? What about my carpal tunnel? Check your privilege, sir! Consider my predicament: I’m a totally committed and righteous feminist who won’t take shit from anybody, but I’m too lazy to keep hitting ctrl-f to find comments I like amidst the Scum-Pit. Remember, good citizens, all theses nasty comments I dislike are just impediments that distract you from what really matters: the opinions of me and my friends.
    P.S. This is a friendly reminder that now would be another good time to check your privilege. Also, remember to triple-check it every 6 months; I do it right after changing the battery on my smoke detectors.

  54. 54
    Ally Fogg

    52

    “I tend to follow you because about half the time you seem like you’re the only person making sense, and the other half I’m yelling at my monitor calling you an idiot”

    My work here is done.

  55. 55
    YouthRightsRadical

    I’m glad you took that in the spirit it was intended.

  56. 56
  57. 57
    PatrickG

    @ Ally:

    I’ve had another MRA regular saying he won’t comment here any more because people argued back against him too much and it was doing his head in.

    Too much to hope this was Sid, I suppose. I might actually start reading the comments again. :)

    I really enjoy your posts, but he (and to a lesser degree a few others) do tend to dominate the discussions here. On the Dear Paul Elam post, my rough count is 126 comments by Sid*. Out of 534. Almost a quarter of all the comments by someone you yourself seem to find more amusing than interesting. Now, far be it from me to deny people the pleasure of batting around idiots, but I can’t see how allowing such derailing advances any kind of thoughtful discussion.

    Your blog, your rules, of course. Just my 2 cents.

    * Note: Methodology involved using a complex algorithm involving “Find Next” and mental count. Potential error obviously none, as no human error could possibly have interfered.

  58. 58
    unfamiliar w/ your ways

    @57. PatrickG

    Seconded. I don’t know that I feel banning Sid would have been appropriate, but at least having a moderator point out to him on the side why he was getting such a hostile response could’ve been useful, as a warning that could perhaps be graduated to a ban if he kept failing to engage meaningfully. Idunno, I started getting somewhat calm responses from him for a while (though I suppose I was always being lumped in with the baboons he kept meme-spamming), but it didn’t seem to help, in the end.

  59. 59
    YouthRightsRadical

    Seems to me that defending Elam was perfectly on topic for that thread, so I could hardly call it derailing.

    He may have been attempting a filibuster, but that was an entirely on topic filibuster.

    And really, Sid’s not wrong in noting that Ally directly compared the 30 years of fabricated studies to Elam’s abrasive activism in Maelstrom pt 2.

    “My contempt for the feminists who have actively obstructed efforts to help men is matched by my contempt for those men who seek to actively undermine women’s services with sneering, paranoid references to a ‘domestic violence industry’, or violently misogynistic reactions to any perceived provovation.”

    His use of the word “matched” is saying they’ve inspired equal outrage, whether that was Ally’s intent or not. Ally has since claimed that he never made any comparison of the severity of the two, but I think it might have helped cool Sid off for there to be an acknowledgement that that was a valid reading, and could have been clearer if Ally didn’t intend to make that sort of comparison.

    That seems to have been what really set Sid off, even if he wasn’t particularly effective in communicating it.

  60. 60
    PatrickG

    @YouthRightsRadical:

    Seems to me that defending Elam was perfectly on topic for that thread, so I could hardly call it derailing.

    Admittedly, I didn’t read much of that thread. But from my whimsical post-counting, it seemed that Sid was much more interested in calling people names / defending himself from name-calling than any sort of reasoned defense of Paul Elam.

    He may have been attempting a filibuster, but that was an entirely on topic filibuster.

    I don’t think applying parliamentary opposition tactics to a comment thread is appropriate. A filibuster in the legislative sense is to block action, so I can only assume that a filibuster in a comment section is to block discussion. But then, I think that’s precisely what Sid is trying to do.

    But hey, it’s Ally’s blog. If he likes batting Sid around, more power to him.

  61. 61
    John Morales

    YouthRightsRadical:

    “My contempt for the feminists who have actively obstructed efforts to help men is matched by my contempt for those men who seek to actively undermine women’s services with sneering, paranoid references to a ‘domestic violence industry’, or violently misogynistic reactions to any perceived provovation.”

    His use of the word “matched” is saying they’ve inspired equal outrage, whether that was Ally’s intent or not.

    Nope. You are confused, since the quotation you provided shows the reference is to contempt rather than to outrage; since your claim hinges on a flawed premise, your conclusion is not justified.

    (The two are not synonymous!)

  62. 62
    N4M

    Oh no Ally, looks like they hid your lastest G piece pretty quickly after people started making rude comments about the Guardian and “metropolitan elites”. Plainly they must all be UKIP voters ;-)

  63. 63
    John Morales

    N4M @62, in what sense is it hidden?

    (I just re-loaded the page, it’s still there, just no longer on the front page)

  64. 64
    Ally Fogg

    N4M

    if they removed all the pieces when people start making rude comments about the Guardian and metropolitan elites there would be nothing there at all.

  65. 65
    YouthRightsRadical

    @John Morales 61

    Eh, equal contempt is still damn problematic given what’s being compared.

    Like I said, if he never intended the two to be compared, the word “matched” was an aweful choice.

    And that’s pretty clearly what set Sid off.

  66. 66
    FloraPoste

    Actually if this blog is going to be a safe space for a self-identified pedophile (YouthRightsRadical) to “just ask questions” about why we shouldn’t treat children like adults, I won’t be participating.

  67. 67
    Ally Fogg

    FloraPoste

    Is that something that has happened here? It’s not something I would allow to stand on this blog if I’d noticed. .

  68. 68
    FloraPoste

    Ally, I had a discussion with him on the Fathers4Justice post where YRR was making the case that having different expectations for children vs adults for rational decision-making, impulse control, etc was discrimination based on arbitrary age barriers. Then he links to his blog in his last comment there. It’s on his own blog where he identifies as a pedophile, not here -though you can pick it up if you read between the lines.
    Raging Bee seems to have been a couple of beats ahead of me in picking up something off about his posts, YRR responded to a comment of his (Bee’s) by saying he would prefer to debate his sexual orientation on his own blog.

  69. 69
    HeadOverHeels

    If they removed all the pieces when people start making rude comments about the Guardian and metropolitan elites there would be nothing there at all

    Yes, exactly, Ally, that’s why I think they’d have done better to roll with the punches, rather than pull it from the front page as soon as the going got a bit tough.

    It seems a bit pointless, really: perceptions around the so-called ‘liberal-left,’ the Guardian and the Labour Party (and the attitude of all three of these towards working-class males) are not simply going to vanish, just because they’ve been brushed under the carpet for a short while.

  70. 70
    carnation

    YouthRightsRadical identifies himself as a pedophile in the first paragraph here:

    [REMOVED BY AF]

  71. 71
    Ally Fogg

    OK everyone, thanks for bringing that serious issue to my attention.

    Having read the blog (previously) linked to above, and re-read the comments from YouthRightsRadical on the F4J thread in the light of that, I have now banned YouthRightsRadical from this blog, which is a first for me. Have never banned anyone before.

    If YRR is reading this, and for everyone else’s benefit, I am open to freethinking discussions about issues such as age of consent laws and diverse sexuality.

    I am not willing to allow this blog to be used as a platform to promote ideas (and blogs) which actively reject meaningful recognition of adult, informed consent in a sexual context, particularly from someone who not only actively self-identifies as a pedophile but makes it quite overt that he is evangelical about converting other people to his dangerous beliefs.

    I’ve deleted the comment which included a link to the blog and edited carnation’s post above, because, as I say, this is an issue about platforms.

    I have chosen to leave the rest of the posts in place as a lot of the conversations are mixed up in other debates. If anyone feels that is a misjudgement please say so, because I’ll happily give it further consideration.

    Thanks again,

    Ally

  72. 72
    SallyStrange

    Geez, Ally. Why do you hate FREEZE PEACH??

  73. 73
    johngreg

    Ally, I’ve got some questions for you. Should we not, as skeptics and critical thinkers, ensure that we both allow and enforce the generally accepted difference of definition between pedophile and child molestor? By which I mean, an individual can be a pedophile without being a child molestor — sexual orientation does not require follow-up action (so far as I understand it).

    As has been argued very strongly for several decades now, we do not choose our sexual orientation/drives. We do choose whether or not to act out on those drives, but we do not choose the drive.

    Some of you, who are old enough to do so, will recall that when homosexuality was completely illegal in Canada, Britain, and the US, many gay and lesbian individuals simply did not have an active sex life (beyond fantasy and masturbation) because the social/career risk of being caught was far too high — so far as I know, there are still some sexual acts between men and men, and women and women, and even between men and women that are deemed illegal in some states. It is also my understanding that many individuals diagnosed as pedophiles are fully cognizant of and observant of the moral and social “wrongness” of their affliction, and do whatever the can to ensure they do not act out on it — beyond fantasy and masturbation — and actively seek counselling to help ensure that they do not so act. My understanding is that they understand that they cannot change their orientation, but they can curb their desire to act out.

    I am not in any way whatsoever endorsing or supporting the act of pedophilia. I think sex with prepubescent kids is about as bad as it gets, nor am I sideways saying being afflicted with or diagnosed with pedophilia is “A-OK; go with it”; however, I am saying if we want to actually understand it and try to find ways to overcome it for those so afflicted, then we are behooved to discuss and debate it. Of course, I know that such a comment flies in the face of decades of valid arguments against trying to understand homosexuality for the purpose of trying to curb it.

    All that being said, I understand that such discussions are not the focus of this blog, but an out and out banning of someone so afflicted just because they are so afflicted, and regardless of their commentary here (unless, of course, they are actually condoning acting out on the orientation, and if he’s done that I missed it), strikes me as hypocritical and contrary to the process of skepticism and critical tought.

  74. 74
    Ally Fogg

    johngreg

    As I said, I have no problem discussing sexual diversity, sexual pathology and sex offending, and the politics of these issues.

    However there is a difference between that and providing a platform for the advocacy of child abuse. I will not provide a platform for people to argue that consensual paedophilia is in any way reasonable or acceptable, or that it is somehow distinct from child molestation and abuse. Paedophilia is abuse by definition.

    YRR’s beliefs and arguments are politically dangerous or ideologically dangerous, they are a literal and immediate threat to children. His writing may provide rationalisation and justification to those who do, or may, abuse children themselves.

    Had YRR been more circumspect and measured in his approach, had he made clear that he knew his tendencies were wrong and harmful and that he was seeking answers to move beyond it, I would be a lot more cautious. However since he was quite clearly both proud of his tendencies and convinced that they were morally right, most of what you say above simply doesn’t apply.

    Anyone making a ‘moral’ case for corrective rape of lesbians would get the same treatment. Anyone making a ‘moral’ case for the exterminatiion of gay or trans people would get the same treatment. However pseudo-intellectual the package they present it in.

  75. 75
    FloraPoste

    There’s a difference between making a comment identifying oneself as a pedophile, and a pedophile coming in to a conversation about custody rights and posing as a youth rights advocate in order to engage in denialism of developmental psychology.

    Ally, thanks for responding so quickly.

  76. 76
    johngreg

    Ally (http://freethoughtblogs.com/hetpat/2013/07/09/just-checking-in/#comment-5933) said:

    I will not provide a platform for people to argue that consensual paedophilia is in any way reasonable or acceptable, or that it is somehow distinct from child molestation and abuse.

    Certainly. I do not, and did not, disagree with that. My understanding was that you wanted to ban him simply because he admitted to being a paedophile in orientation. If I was/am wrong in that, I acknowledge as such.

    If he had admitted to being a paedophile in orientation and acting out that drive and then arguing pro that action, I certainly would not defend or support that in any way. But I did not read his site in-depth, and like Sid’s comments, I tended to just skim his comments here because I did not see their particular relevance.

    Paedophilia is abuse by definition.

    Well, yes, but it is also, by definition: “… a psychiatric disorder in persons 16 years of age or older typically characterized by a primary or exclusive sexual interest toward prepubescent children (generally age 11 years or younger, though specific diagnosis criteria for the disorder extends the cut-off point for prepubescence to age 13).”

    link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedophilia

    Which is a definition that does not, as it stands, demand or require that said individual need act upon those drives.

    … had he made clear that he knew his tendencies were wrong and harmful and that he was seeking answers to move beyond it, I would be a lot more cautious.

    Got it.

    Thanks for the response Ally.

    FloraPoste said (http://freethoughtblogs.com/hetpat/2013/07/09/just-checking-in/#comment-5937):

    There’s a difference between making a comment identifying oneself as a pedophile, and a pedophile coming in to a conversation about custody rights and posing as a youth rights advocate in order to engage in denialism of developmental psychology.

    Absolutely. Excellent point. Thanks for pointing that out.

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