CONvergence – Evolutionary Psychology panel audio

Okay, this is not the greatest recording in the world. As it turns out, a Google Nexus 4 appears to only be able to record at 8000Hz mono. If I’m going to keep doing this, I’ll have to invest in a better sound recorder. Or maybe use my old iPhone, because that’s literally the only thing the iPhone has that my Nexus has not been able to duplicate or improve upon.

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(download mp3)

Panel, left to right: Amanda Marcotte, Greg Laden, Stephanie Zvan, PZ Myers, Indre Viskontas

Panel, left to right: Amanda Marcotte, Greg Laden, Stephanie Zvan, PZ Myers, Indre Viskontas. Photo by Anne Sauer of Mad Art Lab.


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Strawprivilege

How many times ’round this particular bush must we beat? The latest spate of intentional misunderstandings about what privilege is and is not has spurred me finally to post my thoughts on this matter, though to be quite honest I’ve made a false start at this particular post about a dozen times now.

Privilege as a term used in social justice circles is fairly well understood. In fact, it strays not one whit from the dictionary definition, regardless of which dictionary you use:

noun

  • a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people

– Oxford English Dictionary

Definition of PRIVILEGE

: a right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor : prerogative; especially : such a right or immunity attached specifically to a position or an office

- Merriam-Webster (presently 19th most popular word on online lookups!)

And even law dictionaries, referring to specific legal privileges, scan in plain english:

A particular and peculiar benefit or advantage enjoyed by a person, company, or class, beyond the common advantages of other citizens. An exceptional or extraordinary power or exemption. A right, power, franchise, or immunity held by a person or class, against or beyond the course of the law.

- Black’s Law Dictionary

The concept is a solid one in sociological circles, describing existing behaviour. There are books of essays by sociologists, books by sociologists exploring how privilege interacts with viewpoint, and books of theory by sociologists who are cited often in religious discussion — it’s not exactly fringe science, and it’s certainly better supported and better explored than the present state of evolutionary psychology. It involves no just-so stories, it describes reality as observed by impartial observers, and provides an explanatory framework for how these power imbalances aggregate and perpetuate themselves without any necessarily immoral behaviour by any individuals. It is a powerful framework and it is well evidenced by thousands of years of recorded history aggregated across all our cultures.

The objections to the use of the word “privilege” are once again coming from the same quarter of our community that regularly forestalls progress (and, honestly, even discussion) with regard to social justice causes. Once again, a “leader” of our respective movements has spoken up against the terrible feminists who are “silencing dissent” with our horrible bullying tactics like “blocking people on Twitter” or “disagreeing with them on their own blogs” or “asking them to kindly stop actively talking for just long enough to hear someone else’s perspective”. This leader, and the people rising up to support and defend said leader’s words, fight tooth and nail against these feminists. By attempting to poison the well for this concept, by attempting to sap away our ability to use the concept to describe reality as it exists, they are attacking by extension everyone who happens to think that women are in a disadvantaged position in our society as a whole, and therefore by extension every woman, whether they recognize or do not recognize same.

Some of this leader’s defenders are motivated reasoners; some have a skeptical blind spot when it comes to the possibility that our communities could reflect the same background levels of misogyny and bigotry. Some are Men’s Rights Activists, who run around attacking feminists under the guise of working for the same men’s disadvantages which feminism also addresses by undermining patriarchy (while, naturally, largely ignoring men’s disadvantages altogether). Still others are onlookers, fence-sitters, people who don’t care to attempt to sort out the competing claims, people who’d really rather we return to the very serious work of being rude only to Ray Comfort and Sylvia Browne.

You’ll note I haven’t stated exactly whom I’m talking about yet. There’s a reason for that.
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Scicurious and Kate Clancy destroy the “deep-thinking hebephile”

Well, what was left of him after Stephanie provided the science that shows that practicing hebephiles actually do, demonstrably, harm the children they victimize, anyway. (Yes, I’m late to this game too. The blogosphere is a busy place and, like I said recently, I’m playing catch-up right now.)

Jesse Bering of Bering In Mind made several mistakes in tackling the subject of hebephilia as presented by a reader. He took a number of things at face value, and did not delve deeper into the quandry presented regarding sexual “moral panics” and whether there’s any good reason to excoriate this writer despite his seeming attempt at honest discourse. There were many red flags in the original letter, and Bering missed them and did not take the opportunity to interrogate those red flags, and for that he got raked over the proverbial coals by the blogosphere. Bering wrote an addendum, which did much to provide us with a mea culpa and put the focus back on the letter-writer and the topic at hand. Which is good, because there were many, MANY loose threads in said letter left by Bering in his original coverage, which really needed to be tugged at. And Bering’s addendum, too, needed further interrogation.
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Bingo Cards for Evo Psych blog comments

Quick, print out a copy of this card, nicked from The JAYFK, and try it out with Bering in Mind‘s pedophile-enabling nonsense. Oh, sorry, hebephile. Which is like pedophile, only the middle-aged adults are kind enough to wait for these children to enter puberty, which limits the kids to 8 at the absolute youngest. How generous of them!

Evolutionary Psychology Bingo Card

If you haven’t gotten a Bingo hit by the end of the post, see Gross Anatomy’s comments over at Stephanie’s. I’m sure you’ll be a winner by the end of the thread! The loser: your sanity.