Is feminism skeptical? (or: are ninjas awesome?)


Meme: "We should be more skeptical of feminism. Who knows, maybe women aren't people after all"

Credit for this r/atheism meme to SallyStrange!

Every damn conversation we’ve had over the past several years in our respective atheist/skeptic communities that even approaches the topic of feminism, or discusses women in any way, seems to attract the sort of person in our communities who demands that we prove that feminism — the idea that women are human beings and should be treated with basic human dignity — is skeptical. Who evidently believes that the natural overlap between skepticism and feminism is insufficient for the topic to be broached. That the feminists in the skepticism community are not turning a skeptical eye to their dogmatically held beliefs that women shouldn’t be systematically mistreated or disadvantaged by any social structure that we humans have built.

This is, to put it bluntly, bullshit. To put it less bluntly, it is a category error.

Asking “is feminism skeptical” is identical to “are ninjas awesome”.

Bear with me. I have a point. Yes, many ninjas, in fiction and in reality, are awesome. Some ninjas are not, though — they exist merely as cannon fodder for the good guys in a piece of fiction. They are nameless set-piece drones designed to prove how awesome the main character is. Many fictional ninjas are given magical powers that don’t exist in the real world, and many ninjas are cast as evil murderers out for blood and mayhem. There are ninjas who will move in silence and infiltrate the enemy base unseen, and there are ninjas who will totally pull a full-frontal assault where they uppercut people and make their heads explode while a wicked guitar riff squeals in the background. There are also, like in Mock The Movie: Laser Mission, ninjas who inexplicably turn up in a garden and are killed seconds after being introduced. And I’m certain the Venn diagram of all real-life ninjas, and all awesome people, probably overlap to a significant degree. But then, there are many real-life people who practice ninjutsu who are simply incapable of effecting any change in this world.

Likewise, there are some feminists who come by their feminist ideals dogmatically, who advocate for social change that would not actually fix the disparities endemic in our system. There are some feminists who are feminists because they believe in egalitarianism and they see the pendulum swung too far toward patriarchy at the moment. There are probably even some feminists who, yes, hate men. (I’ve never met one personally, but I hear that’s what all of us are, so maybe there really is one somewhere.)

Does that mean every feminist is dogmatic? Or egalitarian? Or misandrist? Of course not. Like ninjas, feminists are a diverse group. They are tied together by one common thread — the practice of ninjutsu, or the belief that women are worthy of basic human dignity, respectively. Whether you’re skeptical or not is in fact a separate question. Just like one can be an atheist without being skeptical (think Bill Maher), or a skeptic without being atheist (Pamela Gay springs to mind), one can be a skeptic without being a feminist or vice-versa. And one can, most certainly, be all three of these things — feminist, atheist and skeptic.

The people who are asking “is feminism skeptical” are not, in fact, asking whether or not feminism itself is skeptical, they are asking whether being a feminist is compatible with being a skeptic. Given the vast number of people who claim both, I’d say so.

I’d even go so far as to claim that if you’re anti-feminist, if you like the gender roles or the patriarchal society we live in just fine, or if you just want people to shut up about how women are oppressed, you are in fact evincing an unskeptical attitude in your unwillingness to examine your personal cognitive biases.

Yeah, that’s right, that’s what I said. Soak it in. It’s more skeptical to be a feminist than it is to act contra feminism.

The Bride, from Kill Bill

"I know I haven't given you all a name yet, but could you please stop defining me in terms of what I am to Bill?"

Just like the Scumbag r/atheism meme image I included at the top of this post, evincing skepticism about whether or not women should be treated as fully human beings, is actually a terrible display of overwrought skepticism of the sort that leads to denialist hyper-skepticism. If we present evidence of ways that society — squishy and soft a science though it is — is actually creating a chilly climate for women, and we offer ways to improve society so those effects don’t happen any longer, the correct route is to question the evidence we present, and after interrogating that evidence to your satisfaction, accepting it. Being a skeptic involves actually accepting evidence when it is presented, not denying that evidence on specious grounds because it does not say what you want it to say.

We go through the identical procedure when someone shows us evidence for Bigfoot — they give us grainy footage of a guy in an ape suit, we’re going to say that’s insufficient, bring us something with a bit more meat. But if they bring us a corpse, or a live Bigfoot, or even a whole family, that should be sufficient evidence to accept that Bigfoot is real.

When someone shows you a study that women are asking for raises but not getting them, you don’t go on to repeat the trope that women aren’t asking for raises as often as men — that sort of assertion not only lies about the problem, but it creates a second problem in placing the blame on the victims of the misogynist behaviour.

When pointed to behaviours that disadvantage women disproportionately, you don’t balk at the use of the word misogynist — that sort of objection ignores the grievous crime against women, acting as though the crime of poor language (if it is even poor language) supercedes or is more important than the misogynist behaviour at hand.

When shown behaviours that are damaging to women, acting like your objections to the side points are more important than the objections to the behaviour itself is demonstrably unskeptical. Sometimes, pulling out the side concerns and discussing them is warranted (and usually more productive if done in isolation from the main concerns), but often, when taking the microphone on a topic for which someone has opened their private property to the public as a forum is seen — and rightly so — as derailing tactics, as a way to get everyone to stop talking about the really bad thing that the host really wanted to discuss. Derailment is unskeptical — it is avoiding the original topic because you, personally, and your personal biases, couldn’t handle that topic to begin with.

Or let’s say you’re assuming that the gender roles as enculturated into you by society are just fine and don’t need to change, that they can’t possibly be causing any of the problems we face in society where men are expected to be breadwinners and warriors and women are expected to be homemakers and baby factories; that boys like blue and girls like pink; that boys can play with LEGO and the regular plain old minifigs and girls need minifigs that look like dolls and LEGO blocks that are pastel colored. Those ideas are implanted into your psyche through long years of enculturation. If a feminist challenges these ideas, it is grossly unskeptical to not hear hir out. And it’s especially unskeptical to, rather than hearing hir out and examining the evidence for yourself, merely suggest that they have not done so then call it a day. Your work is not complete by merely calling someone unskeptical. If it was, we wouldn’t have a skeptics movement.

I don’t even need to get into how unskeptical it is to march into a conversation with a person who self-identifies by a single label and assume that they must, de facto, believe any number of things outside of the core tenet of that philosophy. To walk up to any feminist on Freethought Blogs and assume you must be talking to a clone of Andrea Dworkin is probably on par with marching up to a random theist and assuming they believe in the Abrahamic god and transsubstantiation and the inerrancy of the King James version of the Bible. You don’t know any of those things from the single fact that they believe there is one or more divine entities in this cosmos. You don’t know that we share any of Dworkin’s beliefs by our self-identification as feminists. You don’t know that we share all of, say, Christopher Hitchens’ ideals by knowing that we’re atheists. You don’t know that we share all of, say, DJ Grothe’s perspective, or priorities, by knowing that we’re skeptics.

You don’t know terribly much, in point of fact, about any person by looking at only one label with which they self-identify. Taking those labels in aggregate, you can find out a lot more about them. Knowing that a person is feminist means you know they are more likely to believe certain things, but does not mean you know for certain that they do. If you’re confused about this, try asking us. It’s the surest way to learn whether a given feminist is skeptical or not.

Don’t try this with ninjas though. If you happen to offend one of the awesome ones, you might get your head exploded by a super ninja uppercut.

Comments

  1. michaeld says

    Teehee ok best part to take out of context:

    “… feminists are a diverse group. They are tied together by one common thread — the practice of ninjutsu…”

  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    I can’t locate it any longer, but at the time of Andrea Dworkin’s death I read a reminiscence by a (male) reporter who interviewed her and found her polite, reasonable, and witty.

    With feminists in particular, we have to be particularly careful at distinguishing between the realities and the media images. Just sayin’…

  3. says

    Pierce: and I’m fairly certain her views on pornography did not translate into a hatred of sex or certainly of men. There’s a lot to her legacy that is, by all appearances, made up. Certainly her most inflammatory book, Intercourse, doesn’t actually say “all heterosexual intercourse is rape”, though the anti-feminist crowd surely love to claim so.

  4. says

    I’d need citations before I believe any of that, frankly. Psychoticism and schizotypy, owing largely to cultural biases against mental disorder, are largely stigmatized outside of the realm of feminism, and I would strongly suspect more people, in general, would believe the former rather than the latter. But I believe neither, because you’ve presented no evidence. Which was my point.

  5. says

    I will admit that I’m just skimming these, because I’m at work, but so far you’ve shown in those links that creativity is linked to psychoticism, and that men are more often psychotic, but you have not shown that most geniuses are men, or that most men are delinquent losers or insane.

    I assume the latter isn’t what you were trying to prove, but evidence of some past butt-hurt where some feminist was mean to you once?

    Is there any kind of proof that MORE geniuses are men, even if you don’t say “most”? Also, define “genius” in a way that is more arbitrary than “received accolades during their lifetime”, please.

  6. Marshall says

    You say it’s a simple historical fact that more geniuses are men, and then when asked for evidence of this you simply repeat ‘history’. That’s not providing evidence, and if the definition you’re using for ‘genius’ is “received accolades during their lifetime” (I’ve not read the other citations yet, so I could be wrong about this) I would think that this might be more adequately explained by historically prejudicial attitudes towards women, because we have numerous examples of, for example, female scientists being passed over for awards and accolades that are instead given to their male colleagues. So I’d really like to know what evidence you can pull together to show that what you’re saying is true.

  7. says

    [Chris] doesn’t just need to define “genius,” he/she needs to define “psychoticism.” Unles I see a working definition of that word, the whole thesis is bullshit.

  8. says

    I believe Eysenck’s theories have merit, for the record — it could very well be that psychotic behaviour and creativity are strongly linked, because both are brain functions. That does not mean that a) most geniuses are psychotic, or b) most psychotics are geniuses.

    If you have some form of psychosis and you’re arguing that this means you’re a genius, you might be too close to the issue to make that sort of judgment. Your psychosis might also create other antisocial behaviours that people have called you on before. I haven’t seen particularly enough of you to make the judgment that you’re also exhibiting (or excusing) any sort of sociopathic behaviour, but I’d advise you strongly to leave your baggage at the door.

    I would also like to know how any of this invalidates the point of my main article — that feminists are a diverse group and that you cannot determine a particular feminist’s skepticism merely by questioning that there’s any sort of overlap between the circles on the Venn diagram at all.

  9. says

    Additionally, what Marshall said (hello to you too, Marshall!) has a great deal of merit here. How do we know that, historically, other patriarchal institutions (e.g. only men can be educated until very recently, only men will be recognized for scientific achievement until very recently) disadvantaged women systemically so that the expression of their genius is underrepresented?

  10. Marshall says

    Think “greatest scientists of all time” and list the first ten names that immediately come to mind.

    In what way would that show that more geniuses are men? Is it not possible that I could OVERLOOK the contributions of female scientists?

    Incidentally, denying that accolades generally mean anything at all in science or mathematics denies that these fields have shown progress in any sense because those who are eventually most recognized and honored in science tend to be those with the best theories.

    Did I deny that accolades mean anything at all in science or mathematics? I just think that, IF you are working from that particular definition, the explanation ‘women have often been passed over for deserved accolades that are instead given to their male colleagues’ is more likely to be true than the explanation ‘more men are deserving of accolades than women’.

    You aren’t providing evidence that more men are geniuses than women, you just keep stating that it’s a fact and then when pressed to SHOW that it’s a fact you try to dodge that request. Again, please provide EVIDENCE that what you are saying is true. Evidence that fits the same standards we would ask any other evidence to fit.

  11. Marshall says

    How do we know that, historically, other patriarchal institutions (e.g. only men can be educated until very recently, only men will be recognized for scientific achievement until very recently) disadvantaged women systemically so that the expression of their genius is underrepresented?

    EXACTLY.

  12. says

    Okay, for the first time I’m understanding why you’re considered rude and possibly sociopathic in other forums. First, I said “I’m at work, I’m just skimming your articles”. That means I am not privileged with your body of research and therefore what arguments I make are off the top of my head — they are the prima facie issues I have with YOUR ARGUMENTS, not with what Eysenck has said. That you evidently think this means you are a genius and I am a simpleton, says a lot about how you think I should drop my real-life work to do extensive research to prove you wrong about something that I’ve said might actually have merit.

    Show that the patriarchal institutions that prevented women from getting educated or being represented in the sciences has NOT had an appreciable effect in the expression of their genius. Please.

  13. says

    Bear in mind also that the calibre of evidence we use to make our assertion that women are underrepresented as “geniuses” unfairly, is identical to the calibre of evidence that you’re using to say that more men who are psychotic are thus geniuses.

  14. says

    No, our evidence for the patriarchal systemic disadvantaging of women is the historical refusal to educate women and the historical reappropriation of women’s contributions to scientific endeavors to men.

    That is the same evidence you use: that historically, more men have been lauded as geniuses.

  15. says

    Because I’m blunt.

    No, because you think, as I said already, that I should drop everything and research every one of those PDFs which prove that a link exists between creativity and psychosis, before I’m allowed to say that your hypothesis that it is the reason why most geniuses are men is bullshit because of the obvious influences that the patriarchy has had on the education of women. It is because you honestly think that your needs, here on this web forum, supercede my actual real life.

    And what’s worse, it’s working. You’ve dragged me away from work to have a discussion with you on what you’ve said, and you’ve made it about the disparity in our levels of ready knowledge on the subject. It is not because you’re blunt, but because you have absurd expectations of others.

  16. says

    In other words, it’s perfectly fine to start calling people “fuckwits” without provocation if they’re on your side.

    I can call you a fuckwit because it’s my forum. If you call me a fuckwit, you’re risking my taking away your microphone.

  17. says

    Very well, which PDF should I read first? Which one contains evidence suggesting that most geniuses are men? Which one shows evidence that the patriarchy has *nothing* to do with it?

  18. says

    No, in fact. You made that comparison. Are you having trouble differentiating between what you said and what I said? That could pose a problem in our discourse!

    You see, if someone called Bill O’Reilly a fuckwit to his face in an interview, I’d say “yeah, cut his mic off”. That’s justified. If he called someone a fuckwit to his face, that’s par for the course, and he probably wouldn’t be punished for it.

    But I guarantee if you took Jon Stewart’s mic and unleashed a vitriolic tirade at him, your mic would probably be cut off too.

  19. says

    What other names have you posted on FtB under, pray tell? Considering what you posted over at Xblog, I get the feeling we’ve crossed paths before, and you called this place Free From Thought Blogs then too. Which gives me the impression of sockpuppetry, changing your name to make your case sound stronger than it is. That’s a gross undermining of the idea of freedom of speech, isn’t it?

  20. says

    I am perfectly willing to evaluate that evidence, I have simply not, as I’ve said three times now, had time to do so. Typing one of these messages takes me thirty seconds; digesting a PDF (or a whole book) takes significantly longer.

  21. Marshall says

    Your argument boils down to “members of group A have historically been more widely recognized and awarded for their scientific and intellectual contributions to society than group B, therefore group A contains more geniuses than group B”, and if someone has to explain to you why that’s a bad argument, it won’t be me because I value my time.

  22. Marshall says

    What the fuck ever. I’m sorry you went out of your way to collect articles before I even showed up just for me to read somehow, and you don’t understand those other words I never wrote that you’ve been misrepresenting, but the content in your communications with ME sounded a hell of a lot like what I wrote above, so when you get done being speechless at how pitifully stupid the mere mortal that stands before you is, would you kindly explain how that is NOT the argument you made to me?

  23. says

    And compare:

    1. “You have to prove that the patriarchy has absolutely nothing to do with female under-representation before I believe anything else causes it.”

    2. “You have to prove that God does not exist for me to believe in evolution.”

    There’s a significant difference between these two statements, actually. Instances of patriarchy under-representing women are abundant both historically and can be confirmed with study even today. On the other hand, there has never been any evidence of a god or gods, while there is ample evidence against most gods.

    The difference is that in the first statement, one is asking you to prove something that demonstrably existed and still exists does not influence a situation which is by our current understanding of the facts definitely influenced. The burden of proof is on you, in this case, because you are making an outstanding claim. In the latter case you are being asked to disprove something that has no evidence for it in the first place (and is further defined as being able to exist without leaving evidence, besides). The burden of proof is not on you because the other person is the one making the outstanding claim.

  24. says

    I thought for a moment that your cries of “I’m getting thrown into spam really often” were some sort of preemptive climbing up onto a cross, then I looked in spam and sure enough you are actually landing in there for some reason. I suspect a big part of it is that you morph your email address, your IP, or your name, but never all three at once, but keep saying the same sort of stuff. I don’t think Akismet (the cloud-based software that automatically protects most WordPress blogs) likes that behaviour. Nor do I, frankly, but I can kind of understand why you might start to feel like we’re “all out to get you”. Especially given your repeated disregard for other people being fully-realized human beings with differing levels of engagement with your proffered reading materials.

    So I started reading some of the literature you linked. I also went on to research the general literature on creativity. And you know what I found that was particularly interesting? That Eysenck’s critics generally criticized him on his definition of creativity being pretty close to useless (where a neuro-atypical person could produce word salad in a free association and be deemed “creative” where someone else who actually comes up with real but novel associations would be deemed less so). Apparently this is something worth checking out, if you happen to have access to a library (I don’t at the moment). Sternberg apparently gives better and more useful definitions for creativity.

    Sternberg, R. J. (1999). The theory of successful intelligence. Review of General Psychology, 3, 292-316.

    I also found some interesting correlations between these other, better definitions of creativity, and depression: http://www.disabled-world.com/artman/publish/article_1717.shtml

    And depression has, historically, been more a problem for women than men.

    Therefore, am I arguing women are more likely to be creative? In fact, I say there’s still insufficient data! More than your hypothesis of creativity and psychosis, predicated as it is on outdated models of creativity, but there you have it.

  25. 'Tis Himself, OM. says

    [Chris] #55

    To be a bit more direct, am I going to have to spoon-feed you?

    Yes, you probably should.

    I read the book excerpt you gave in #51. It was full of terms like “Myers-Briggs Type Indicator” and “J-P index” which are just meaningless noises to non-psychologists. I have no objection to jargon being used by professionals writing for other professionals, but you shouldn’t expect non-professionals to understand the jargon.

  26. Brownian says

    I’m still wondering why this:

    “Men score higher than women on inventories of psychoticism / schizotypy.”

    Evaluate it with this in mind first: “This makes men more likely to be delinquent losers, or simply insane.”

    Now evaluate it with this in mind: “The link between psychoticism and creativity is well-attested and so this also means that nearly all geniuses are men.”

    was thought to be relevant by the poster, other than as a shoehorn in which to shit out a bunch of links he’d had waiting for the chance to show all those uppity bitches who told him off.

    First of all, that’s playing pretty fast and loose with relationships. Even if psychoticism leads to genius, that in no way means genius is limited to psychotics.

    Secondly, who actually said either of these? A feminist is supposed to prefer one statement over the other? And if one feminist were to agree with either, what does that say about feminism? Say whatever you like in response to this asshole, Jason, you’re one datapoint. Surely, Mr. I’ll Bury You in Links can understand what that means.

    Thirdly, asshole, have you considered that you’re not being told off because you merely disagree, but because you’re a fucking asshole? (Excuse yourself by calling yourself ‘blunt’ if that’s your preferred delusion.) What good is genius if you’re no more able to read the writing on the wall than those you excoriate?

    But, now that you’re running out of links to spam and are now resorting to whining about mistreatment at the hands of the feminist Stasi, I see others are noticing your errors:

    There’s a significant difference between these two statements, actually. Instances of patriarchy under-representing women are abundant both historically and can be confirmed with study even today. On the other hand, there has never been any evidence of a god or gods, while there is ample evidence against most gods.

  27. says

    A feminist is supposed to prefer one statement over the other? And if one feminist were to agree with either, what does that say about feminism? Say whatever you like in response to this asshole, Jason, you’re one datapoint. Surely, Mr. I’ll Bury You in Links can understand what that means.

    Surely he won’t, because that was the entire point of my original post, Brownian.

    (Everything else you say, FTW.)

  28. smhlle says

    Don’t try this with ninjas though. If you happen to offend one of the awesome ones, you might get your head exploded by a super ninja uppercut.

    Feminists are armed with the sharp and shiny shiruken of feminist lingo!

  29. niftyatheist says

    Loved this excellent post, Jason.

    Many thanks to Marshall and Brownian for adding spirited comments.

    I check your blog every day, Jason!

  30. says

    Let me play around a bit with these two lines:

    but you have not shown that most geniuses are men

    That’s a simple historical fact.

    Let’s try:

    but you have not shown that most geniuses are white

    That’s a simple historical fact.

    or:

    but you have not shown that most geniuses are middle-class at least

    That’s a simple historical fact.

    But it’s easy to do:
    -Take a data-point (fossil record goes from simple and small to complex and bigger)
    -Come up with an explenation you like (It’s all animals running from Noah’s Flood)
    -Ignore all the research done on the subject so far (evolution)
    -Bingo!

  31. Stevarious says

    Aww, it looks like he left. Obviously since we don’t agree with HIS brilliant interpretation of the data, we’re ‘Free From Thought’.

    Not because he’s wrong.

  32. says

    There is no burden of proof on me to prove a negative.

    So you’re saying denialists NEVER have any burden of proof? Sorry, but that’s just pure transparently self-serving bullshit. If you wish to deny a theory or assertion that’s backed up by large amounts of documented observation and experience (like, oh I dunno, “women tend to face serious discrimination in most human societies”), then yes, you DO have a duty to provide some countarvailing evidence.

    Also, I notice this obnoxious pahllocrat spent lots of time bloviating about various subjects, with generous helpings of bluster and name-calling, but then refused to spend any time just re-pasting a one-paragraph definition of the word “psycoticism,” even though that word is crucial to the thesis he’s trying to support. That says a lot about his argument style, his command of the facts, and his honesty.

    Andwhile I wouldn’t call him “sociopathic,” he’s certainly quite obnoxious, self-important, thin-skinned, and dead-set on belittling women and pretending he can’t see any real unfairness against them. I can see why he gets banned from at least some blogs.

  33. says

    Stevarious@67: just to be perfectly clear, in case someone suggests it, I did not throw him into moderation, he’s simply disappeared now that he’s not just arguing against a guy who was unable to immediately spend the half hour it took to find other literature that disassembled his argument.

    I’d still love to know what he thinks of the women > depression > genius link. Or that I’m not endorsing it as “probably true” the way he did with Eysenck’s theories from 1993 which have since been superceded.

  34. Marshall says

    Let me play around a bit with these two lines:

    but you have not shown that most geniuses are men

    That’s a simple historical fact.

    Let’s try:

    but you have not shown that most geniuses are white

    That’s a simple historical fact.

    or:

    but you have not shown that most geniuses are middle-class at least

    That’s a simple historical fact.

    But it’s easy to do:
    -Take a data-point (fossil record goes from simple and small to complex and bigger)
    -Come up with an explenation you like (It’s all animals running from Noah’s Flood)
    -Ignore all the research done on the subject so far (evolution)
    -Bingo!

    Absolutely. And then:

    You say it’s a simple historical fact that more geniuses are men, and then when asked for evidence of this you simply repeat ‘history’.

    Think “greatest scientists of all time” and list the first ten names that immediately come to mind.

    I am certainly NOT trying to be willfully ignorant. Why would I want to? So I did a little looking around, and it seems (and once again, I could be missing something) Eysenck only proposed a CORRELATION between psychoticism and creativity, NOT a causal link. So even if I then simply ASSUME for the sake of argument that there IS a correlation, and that psychoticism IS more prevalent in men than in women, that alone does not in any way indicate that we should find more geniuses among men than women. Considering that the only other evidence he seems to want to present that men are more likely to be geniuses than women is that more men have been lauded as geniuses throughout history than women, I think my reformulation of his argument is pretty damn accurate. But if I’m wrong, I would like to know. I will admit I am not a professional, and I’ll also say that I’m a bit new to all of this, having been educated primarily through fundamentalist Christian homeschooling, so if I’m incorrectly reformulating his argument I WOULD like to know, and I’d certainly appreciate any insight I could gain from the crowd here about this. But clearly [Chris] is still completely fucking speechless that I would DARE to reformulate the argument in that way, and instead of helping me to understand the case he so desperately wants to make (which I’m almost convinced now is just him trying to find a way to make it okay to be an asshole to people) he has decided instead just to huff and puff about how clearly stupid I am. So really, if I’m making a mistake here, can someone please point me in the right direction? Because THIS:

    Think “greatest scientists of all time” and list the first ten names that immediately come to mind.

    Is, as far as I can tell, equivalent to:

    Members of group A have historically been more widely recognized and awarded for their scientific and intellectual contributions to society than group B, therefore group A contains more geniuses than group B.

    In any event, HI GUYS. I like this crowd. I think I’ll stick around.

  35. Stevarious says

    I’d still love to know what he thinks of the women > depression > genius link.

    Well, I imagine since it doesn’t match up with the supporting arguments for his presupposition, “Men are smarter than women”, that he doesn’t have an opinion on it at all.

    It’s enough for him that to observe that men are more historically remembered as being smarter than women. To him, the best reason (and the only one worth seriously considering) is the one that he already believes.
    Never mind (warning – incoming personal anecdote!) several times back when I used to work in Corporate America, I would see female coworkers pitch good ideas that would be ignored, and then male coworkers pitch the exact same idea, word for word, and be praised for their cleverness and insight!
    Never mind (departing personal anecdote country) that several Nobel Prizes have been given to men for the work of their female coworkers/partners/assistants, and some women who did win were not even given permanent, paid positions until AFTER they had won the prize! (See Nobel Prize Women in Science: Their Lives, Struggles, and Momentous Discoveries by Sharon Bertsch McGrayne for an excellent treatment of this subject.)
    Is it because men are actually smarter? Or has their been, historically, an intense pressure upon women, geniuses or no, to shut up, sit down, and let the MEN get on with it? Inquiring minds want to know! ([Chris] does not – his mind is not inquiring on this subject, only seeking confirmation for his bias.)

  36. Stevarious says

    So really, if I’m making a mistake here, can someone please point me in the right direction?

    The ‘mistake’ he was pointing at is simply that you seemed to be presenting that as his ONLY argument, when in fact it was one of two arguments he was presenting (the other argument being that men = more likely to be crazy, crazy = likely to be genius, therefore men = more likely to be genius).
    The two arguments don’t actually support each other, so I don’t really consider it a mistake to discount one in refuting the other. But HE did, and he actually considered the other argument to be more persuasive, thus the hysterics. He was upset you weren’t even addressing his (what he thought to be) more cogent primary argument in your (perfectly accurate) dissection of his secondary argument.

    At least, that’s how I saw the exchange.

    In any event, HI GUYS. I like this crowd. I think I’ll stick around.

    Welcome to the party!

  37. Marshall says

    Never mind that: unless I can prove that lower female creativity DOESN’T owe ONLY to gender roles, which is what I’m being asked here everything else I’ve said, which my opponents don’t even have to try to comprehend, is COMPLETELY irrelevant.

    BULLSHIT.

    You made very specific claims and very specific arguments, and when people pointed out that there might be things you aren’t taking into consideration you started playing martyr instead of addressing the substance of your opponents’ objections. If you want to deny that there has been (and in many cases continues to be) significant bias against women in academic arenas you are free to do that, but don’t then go on to accuse people of being willfully ignorant unless you WANT to be seen as a hypocrite. All you’ve done here is make two arguments, one of which is fundamentally flawed, and one that you’re doing a piss poor job of linking to your premise that more men are geniuses than women.

  38. says

    Your citations, in an easily readable form, since it’s the sort of thing that someone with an “expertise” in this research instead of a cherry-picked list of studies really ought to know: http://www.personalityresearch.org/papers/porzio.html

    Note not only the criticisms of Eysenck’s measure of creativity, but also criticism of psychoticism as a construct. Additionally, other measures of creativity don’t reproduce the same link to psychoticism. So you can go ahead and say, “extensively replicated,” but if you don’t acknowledge all of these problems, you’re either incredibly new to the field yourself or appallingly dishonest. Personally, I’m going with new, since you had to abandon your pomo/critical theory line on feminism after someone bothered to argue it out with you.

  39. Marshall says

    Evidence that modifying gender roles will increase feminine levels of the (highly heritable) trait of psychoticism, please.

    I can assume my conclusions too, you know. I just think it’s a bad idea.

  40. Marshall says

    Why exactly would a change of gender roles modify largely inherited genetic traits?

    NOBODY IS ARGUING THAT IT WOULD. Show how you get from this:

    Women exhibit lower levels of psychoticism (and are therefore less likely to be creative)

    To:

    Most geniuses are men

    And then link that to your argument that it’s a historical fact that most geniuses are men because more men have been lauded for genius than women.

  41. Marshall says

    Because, as I’ve pointed out repeatedly, psychoticism is a necessary ingredient in creative genius.

    i.e. if you lack a certain level of psychoticism, you are bound not to be a creative genius.

    EVEN IF THAT’S TRUE, and I certainly don’t think that you’ve thoroughly shown that psychoticism (which, as others have pointed out, is a trait that has received criticism from peers, and since I don’t know enough about the subject to say whether or not that criticism is founded I’m going to put that term right in the ‘not enough information’ file) is a NECESSARY ingredient in creative genius, why are you assuming that there are not other contributing factors that play a role in a person’s level of creativity, and that when you take those factors into consideration it paints a different picture?

    Would you EVER want to get around to addressing the other argument you’ve made? Because you seem to be avoiding it, and if you’re going to do that, I’d prefer that you concede the point so that we can move past it. But to be perfectly honest, I’m hesitant to even continue this, because you didn’t come here to have a rational discussion and present evidence for a claim you want us to consider. You came here with an agenda. You came here to smack down all the stupid feminists. You came here so you could flaunt your immensely mighty and bewildering powerful brain. You came here to insult and deride people that you perceive as inferior to you. That is the only conclusion I can draw from the way you have conducted yourself, which is to say that you have acted like a self aggrandizing jackass. As evidence of this, I submit the following:

    who unlike his opponent, is so brilliant he matched his level of knowledge using Google for about half an hour.

    Instead you’re going to mouth off like you had my substantial command of psychological literature before I came along here.

    How highly you must think of yourself. How kind of you to step out of the palace and walk with the common rabble to dispense to us your wisdom.

    I’m not surprised you’ve been called an asshole. Frankly, I’m not surprised you’ve been called sociopathic, but I will leave it up to you to make your own diagnosis, because this poor ignorant peasant surely does not possess your assuredly gargantuan understanding of the literature regarding sociopathy.

    Yeah, I think it’s about time I recognize a fight not worth fighting. $10,000 says your next comment calls this an ad hominem, entirely missing the fucking point.

  42. [Chris] says

    [Removed after legal threats sent by the poster]

    (This post included some especially tasty libel against the owner of this blog!)

  43. says

    I’m sorry, you screamed at me about ad hominems because I suggested that people probably banned you because you were acting extraordinarily antisocially, and then you went off on me with a huge rant containing an absurd number of ad hominems in the real sense of the word by telling everyone that my argument was wrong because I’m an idiot. And/or by suggesting that I’m claiming expertise that I have never claimed.

    Additionally, you’ve got such a huge axe to grind against Freethought Blogs because you’re this asshole who decided to show his extreme distaste for Pharyngula by spamming the fuck out of it with German lyrics, causing PZ to change his commenting policy to stop you from abusing them.

  44. says

    Sure you’re not a linguistics student, Chris: [Removed after legal threats sent by the poster – university page showing Chris’ full name, with user-supplied information including the email address used to spam PZ Myers] Better tell your college.

    We haven’t told you “there are…problems.” I’ve told you that the validity of psychoticism as a construct is questionable. If you’ve managed not to come across that information in your deep, deep research that truly wasn’t all done in the last week or so, I can tell you why as well. Jason has told you that the measures of creativity used by Eysenck haven’t been validated and that more valid measures produce different results when studied. Those are serious problems with this theory, and all of the “Ooh, somebody else said something positive” doesn’t change those.

    Nor does throwing citations around willy-nilly add to your apparent expertise on this subject. So you know what Janet Davidson and Robert Sternberg had to say about Eysenck. That makes you actually dishonest about the implications for women and your statement that “psychoticism is a necessary ingredient in creative genius.” Here is the very next sentence in that book:

    Most research that has attempted to identify the personality characteristics associated with creativity has found a great deal of variability among creative individuals, suggesting that the ability to create problems and solve them in a way that is considered useful and original may vary greatly from domain to domain.

    Moreover, the research by Kaufman that was cited in this book is research in writers in which female poets were found to be significantly more likely to suffer from mental illness than male poets.

  45. says

    Moreover, the research by Kaufman that was cited in this book is research in writers in which female poets were found to be significantly more likely to suffer from mental illness than male poets.

    Hmm. Interesting. Especially considering it’s called “The Sylvia Plath Effect”. I wonder if one of the mental illnesses covered was, oh, say… depression?

  46. says

    Let me get this straight.

    You are [Removed after legal threats sent by the poster — refers to information Chris freely gave in this thread], and post from [Removed after legal threats sent by the poster – IP referenced in the post Chris supplied]. Under that nym, you used the email address [Removed after legal threats sent by the poster – email address used in that post]. Under that exact IP/email address combination, you spammed the hell out of Pharyngula under the name of Chris (among other names). You also posted under that email address here, calling yourself Chris [Removed after legal threats sent by the poster – poster’s last name, part of an email address used elsewhere], and in Stephanie’s link in the University of [Removed after legal threats sent by the poster] directory. You additionally posted at Stephanie’s with the email address [Removed after legal threats sent by the poster — from the aforementioned university]. And you posted this [Removed after legal threats sent by the poster – refers to the psychosis Chris described himself as having] under that name.

    But you’re not Chris [Removed after legal threats sent by the poster]? Very well, mistaken identity. You’re probably not Horsa or Wotan either, are you?

  47. says

    Chris[Removed after legal threats sent by the poster]@98: have you considered that perhaps you are endorsing a statistical link between green jelly beans and acne by imagining that the entire field of psychology has been mostly static since Eysenck and that nobody might have built on his work since?

  48. says

    Additionally, the high tail in men on IQ tests hasn’t been demonstrated empirically. Despite that, some theorists (also the theorists doing racist IQ research) insist that there must be a high tail because a low tail has been measured. The researchers attribute the low tail to learning disabilities.

    If such a tail exists, it’s likely a statistical anomaly based on the fact that the tests are gender balanced. That is, the tests are designed not to demonstrate differences in gender. Assuming equal normal distributions of male and female IQs, and effects on test-taking of learning disabilities, you end up with a male IQ distribution that is spread out and slightly shifted to the low side. Because the test must be balanced, a pro-male bias must be introduced to compensate for the lowered mean. That, in and of itself, could produce a longer high tail for men than women have. All without changing the underlying equal distributions, just the tests.

  49. says

    Considering your IP address has changed a great number of times already, I’m well aware you know how to use a proxy, Chris. You’ve just left us enough breadcrumbs to piece together who you are and correlate your actions with a large number of other sockpuppets elsewhere on FtB. And Skepchick, too, now that we have a Skepchick expat in our midst to correlate that bit of info.

    You have a hatred for feminism, and you’ve got cognitive biases out the wazoo, and you think that your research into your own issues gives you a unique perspective with which to smite all those delusional wimminz. Seriously, give your overzealous hyperskepticism a rest. This can’t be good for your stress levels. Just let women exist, and be treated with human dignity.

  50. says

    Yeah, um, “schizotypy” runs into exactly the same problems as a construct that “psychoticism” does. And you still haven’t addressed the problems of measuring creativity. Those who have found links to actual mental illness, which includes depression, diagnosed more frequently in women.

    Perhaps you should take a step back and think through what you think you’ve got to say based on the evidence here. Right now, you’re just throwing out a self-contradictory (but nonetheless self-congratulatory) muddle. Really, as someone who has spent time on psychology research methods and design, I can tell you that you and your argument are a mess.

  51. says

    See, there you go again, Chris. First you present a bunch of studies that rely on NHST, then you decide it means nothing as soon as someone presents studies you don’t like. Can’t you even see how that undermines everything you’ve had to say? You’re all but coming straight out and saying, “It’s only valid if it supports my idea.”

  52. says

    The relevance of the racist IQ theorists is that they already have a long trail of bad design and sloppy reasoning. It doesn’t invalidate anything they say, but it does provide evidence that you should look at their statements closely and critically before basing any argument on them.

  53. says

    You know, I’m kind of happy to let this thread sit exactly where it is. I think Chris has shown every card he has in his argument at this point, and I think objective observers have a good enough idea exactly what he’s arguing and where the flaws might be in his reasoning. And I think, on rereading the entire thread, there’s honestly precious little he could do to better his case short of becoming more and more abusive of his hosts.

    That’s not to say I’m going to shut it down, but to you, dear readers, if you folks honestly think there’s going to be any exciting revelations from this point on, I hope you’re as surprised as I am if/when it actually happens.

  54. says

    I’d ask you where the hypocrisy was, considering you’re still free to continue to abuse me, but you’d probably just make up some more nonsense about how I’m claiming expertise that I definitely did not.

    Your past exploits are very relevant, Chris. They’re part of pattern recognition. They explain a good deal about your motivations for posting, and the cognitive biases you have.

  55. Marshall says

    Jesus, you have dug yourself one hell of a hole here. What makes you think you get to throw ultimatums around, you arrogant fucking weasel.

  56. says

    a) I didn’t sell your information.

    b) My sidebar says:

    I reserve the right to publish any contact, especially if it’s hateful or ridiculous.

    c) You pointed me to information showing that you were the same person as who was spamming PZ’s blog. Your information was already public.

  57. says

    You need citations for the fact that schizotypy and psychoticism are both multi-factor constructs, with the factors having different relationships to gender and creativity? Really? Some expert.

  58. says

    Chris, if the information Jason has “released” is inaccurate, than how can he be in violation of these terms of service that you imagine apply here?

    When you trolled my blog, I deleted all of the shit you wrote (I think … did I leave anything? Let me know, I’ll go and delete that too). “Releasing” information about you is not a violation of terms of service, it is rather a service to humanity.

    Personally, I hope Jason scrubs you into oblivion, though if he does, I would feel sorry for oblivion.

  59. says

    So tell them that you pointed me to evidence that you posted using your real name in one of hundreds of spam comments aimed at another blog, and I put two and two together using that publically accessible knowledge. I’d strongly recommend you make your next contact from your lawyer, rather than on this forum.

  60. says

    You posted as Chris at Pharyngula here at Freethought Blogs. Thousands of witnesses. Your IP and email address which were used for the attack were posted after PZ cleaned up your hundreds of spam posts.

  61. says

    At this point, I note that you have not engaged your lawyer. Your options, that I’m giving you here, are:

    1) I delete the content of every post by you, including under other names in the past in past threads where I know they were done by you (e.g. Pisstoff vdH), and I delete every reference to your LAST NAME ONLY; I also put you into moderation under every of the multiple proxies that you’ve sent messages to me through, and every email address you’ve sent messages to me through, to enforce that you never contact me again, knowing full well that you could continue to circumvent it with your Mad Proxy Skillz.

    2) You realize that YOU BROKE YOUR OWN PRIVACY, and BROKE THE LAW MULTIPLE TIMES, own up to that fact, and move along before the Streissand Effect hurts you too badly. You can even continue your discussion with Stephanie at that point if it’s really important to you, since you seem to be getting thoroughly drubbed and I’d like to see that continue.

  62. says

    The saddest thing about this whole mess is that Jason’s original post is really very good, yet the majority of the comments have nothing to do with that post.

  63. Marshall says

    The saddest thing about this whole mess is that Jason’s original post is really very good, yet the majority of the comments have nothing to do with that post.

    True, but I almost don’t think you could have asked for a better living, breathing example to drive the post’s point home, really…

  64. Marshall says

    I don’t even need to get into how unskeptical it is to march into a conversation with a person who self-identifies by a single label and assume that they must, de facto, believe any number of things outside of the core tenet of that philosophy.

    Followed by:

    Here is a fact I’d like to evaluate from two different perspectives, as a feminist:

    “Men score higher than women on inventories of psychoticism / schizotypy.”

    Evaluate it with this in mind first: “This makes men more likely to be delinquent losers, or simply insane.”

    Now evaluate it with this in mind: “The link between psychoticism and creativity is well-attested and so this also means that nearly all geniuses are men.”

    From which angle do you think a feminist is most likely to accept this fact?

  65. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Just dump the spammer, Jason. He’s arguing in bad faith, he’s trying to play silly legal games, and he’s an asshole. Pretty soon he’s going to start posting German song lyrics so he can prove he’s an asshole.

  66. says

    He picked option one, but not in so many words. I am proceeding apace with deleting his posts. I apologize to anyone who was following this thread, that I allowed him to spam us for as long as I did. I have an absurd tendency of feeding trolls when I should, really, just moderate from the get-go. Too bad I believe too much in free speech, and Chris opted to go with “burn his words to the ground” rather than continuing dialog.

  67. Marshall says

    Mmmmmmm… Tasty libel…

    This was an excellent post, and it IS too damn bad that it had to be sidetracked by spam and bullshit. That you were as patient with the guy as you were is only admirable in my eyes, for everyone knows patience is a clear sign that you are dealing with a TRUE ninja.

  68. says

    Hey, listen here you. Ninja are certainly not an internet fad that stopped being clever five years ago. They’re a movie fad that stopped being clever thirty years ago, and have surged in waves ever since like so much shuriken fodder, continuing to soak our entertainment in their blood like Berserkers, driven forever onward through sheer force of awesome.

  69. says

    Yes, RagingBee: the guy who spammed Pharyngula with German song lyrics approached our domain registrar and tried to get them to shut down Freethought Blogs because I pointed out that the email address he used to spam is found elsewhere on the internet very easily.

  70. says

    Ed agreed that it honestly didn’t look like it had any teeth behind it. I just nuked him from orbit because it was a fitting end to his dishonest argumentation, and it was what he wanted — to have his personal details scrubbed. That meant, in my mind, everything he posted.

  71. Utakata, pink pigtailed Gnome of death says

    This is what happens when one of PZ’s dungeon’d trolls gets loose on someone else’s blog. /sigh

  72. SallyStrange (Bigger on the Inside), Spawn of Cthulhu says

    Wow! This thread is totes awesome, especially with Chris’ bullshit removed! I’m not really sorry I missed it, just reading the responses is plenty of context for me.

    Also, that’s MY r/atheist scumbag meme! Go me! Score!

  73. smhlle says

    @140

    I also thought it would be cool to talk about the ideas in Jason’s post. The derailment here was a classic example and should be nominated for the derailment hall of fame.

  74. says

    After witnessing a significant amount of research cross-referencing this guy’s various dealings on the internet with the feminist skeptic/atheist blogosphere by Stephanie Zvan, I’m pretty close to deciding to restore all the comments here. I saved them before I turfed them.

    I also checked out various privacy policies for various hosting platforms and there’s nothing against republishing someone’s personal information that they handed to you themselves, in public, on the internet, where that information is still available publicly on the internet despite the fact that this person has every ability to remove it.

    In other words, this guy’s been bleeding personal information throughout the intertubes and he’s only pissed off at me for putting it together and realizing he was the same guy.

    So yeah. Those comments will probably be restored as time allows.

  75. badgersdaughter says

    Jason, it occurred to me that if you restored Chris’s comments, this thread would be preserved as an effective counterattack against the unfounded assertions he’s trying to make. That is, people Googling for the elements he was trying to assert would be likely to be directed to this thread. It might be eye-opening to someone on the edge of accepting those assertions.

  76. says

    I agree — but I took a stab at this once and it would have involved cutting and pasting a *lot*. No easy way to pull these comments back from the PDF I made of it. One day… one day.

  77. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Jason Thibeault #166:

    No easy way to pull these comments back from the PDF I made of it.

    There’s the “pdftotext” command to dump to ascii.

    Then you could throw together a regex scraper for whatever you want.

  78. Pubturtle says

    Without jumping into the fray entirely, I do think that when it comes to feminism “the devils in the details”. Any critical thinker worth they’re salt will recognize that women and men should have equal treatment. (logical exceptions being areas where specialized treatment is required, eg. Women’s health care is more complex). However, there is a problem in the details of feminism. It goes too far beyond equal in into special treatment. I’ve actually read a post elsewhere today that stated “Don’t even use the word ‘bitch’ it demeans all women. It just makes you look like a dick”. I say let rational thought dictate everything including equality and lets stop turning everything into a “movement”.

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