The Mended Drum


Discworld Emporium

Discworld Emporium

This is The Mended Drum, the thread for off-topic conversations on Pharyngula. Talk about whatever you want.

Previous thread

Comments

  1. Nick Gotts says

    rq@185,

    Yeah, I know about the trolling campaign, but I can well imagine Putin, enraged at the “provocation” of the NATO exercises, choosing this as a response.

  2. Lesbian Catnip says

    It was Canada Day yesterday. My idea of patriotism is “Hurray, we’re probably slightly less shitty than the alternative.” It was also the first Canada Day I had off, since I recently landed a job with government and am now expendable. Yay, expendability. I get like, holidays and shit.

  3. The Other Lance says

    What the heck is up with Bernie Sanders drawing ridiculously large crowds to his campaign rallies!?!?!?! He’s really tapped into something here.

  4. Arren ›‹ neverbound says

    Ragutis:

    Thanks for the Aristocrats post. A pleasant surprise to see Bryan Beller via Pharyngula, of all places. His stellar bass was an important part of the living, breathing antidote to early-aughts rock that was Keneally’s band. Good memories.

  5. says

    Finally, my computer is fixed. There was some static somewhere in the system that took a bunch of turning off and unplugging of components and turning on and repeating until I manages to work it out.

    Some fun articles.
    Group discussion improves lie detection

    Males may contribute to offspring’s mental development before pregnancy
    The more I read about epigenetics that more the more committed I become to people being treated better. I suspect that a lot more of our problems are passed on to our descendents then we think.

    Human brain may contain a map for social navigation
    I’ve actually been tentatively pretending this was true for a couple of years now because of this review and how consistent it was with my experience. We mentally model physical reality, temporal reality, social reality and conceptual reality using the same underlying systems. I think this helps to explain analogies, metaphors and other interesting things.

  6. consciousness razor says

    Brony:

    Human brain may contain a map for social navigation
    I’ve actually been tentatively pretending this was true for a couple of years now because of this review and how consistent it was with my experience. We mentally model physical reality, temporal reality, social reality and conceptual reality using the same underlying systems. I think this helps to explain analogies, metaphors and other interesting things.

    Interesting. If you’re a certain sort of reductionist, you’d say any veridical concepts about actual stuff in the physical world (i.e., matter in spacetime) must be representable somehow as positions of said stuff (not necessarily exact positions, but within small regions). There’s always a “map” of some kind, because all there is is a territory. In other words, the only fundamental thing to say is that something is somewhere at some time, while anything else (mass, charge, the taste of chocolate to you right now, liberal democracy) has to come out of some horrendously complicated analysis of where the fundamental things are and how those things change. There’s not much of an issue with deriving such things from a complete understanding of fundamental physics (that we don’t actually have), because we have good-enough ways of knowing some such things without such a derivation. So, leaving aside questions about our access to it or what makes sense methodologically, that’s just a view of how the world is.

    But when you bring up analogies or metaphors in this context, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to imagine the brain is doing. I mean, is this an indication that we have some kind of “inner physicalist” who wants to map things (to make the claim sound maximally implausible)? Or what are analogies/metaphors supposed to be? They’re always kind of stretching/distorting the truth in some way, or coming up with some approximate replacement for or idealization of the truth, right? I mean, if it’s going to map something like a social relationship well, it needs to be doing that part right (but not necessarily anything else, which can basically be ignored). You can misrepresent or fake some parts, or just leave them out, in the service of getting other stuff right. It’s still not really clear to me how that explanation is going to go, if it’s sort of on the right track.

    But generally, it doesn’t seem surprising to me that brains use those spatiotemporal tools on “other” problems that aren’t “obviously” spatiotemporal. Like I said, if that’s all there really is, why wouldn’t those be some of the most powerful/versatile/useful kinds of tools that brains have?

  7. ragdish says

    For all you Yes fans, my heartfelt condolences to the passing of bass guitarist Chris Squire. One of the few artists who could carry on a bass solo and keep the audience thrilled for several minutes. A sad loss to prog rock. With Chris gone and sans Anderson and Wakeman, will Yes be able to carry on? I think they should now bow out gracefully.

    Parting words to Chris:

    Nous Sommes du Soleil

  8. says

    I sometimes wonder if this crap is ever going to end. I’ve lived in Canada since 1997, and I can honestly say I see just as much sexism in the wild here as I did in the United States.

    Women Editors are Fleeing the Globe and Mail
    “They just don’t get it. They think of themselves as post-feminist guys, friends with women, and so on. But they actually are a tight little homogenous boys’ club, and there isn’t a lot of room for women at The Globe to really make a mark.”

  9. says

    @consciousness razor 7
    I’m both a reductionist and whatever the opposite is because you have to be both to figure out how the brain works. It’s more like having separate “bottom to top” and “top to bottom” ways of figuring out something. There is a lot of in current views that deal in “maps” that blend and connect to other “maps” in different places. The results do end up very complicated but the basic principles upon which the brain makes the mind are going to be useful for interpretation of social reality. It’s a matter of increased accuracy that makes a best global understanding easier to find.
    I tend to pay a lot of attention to issues in brain science that have to do with something I sometimes think of as “sensory overflow” because I experience it. Things like synesthesia for example. I envision a series of stacked and/or nested simulations of reality connected to memory and perception.
    [Physical reality simulation]
    | | | | | | | | | |
    [Temporal reality simulation]
    | | | | | | | | | |
    [Social reality simulation]
    | | | | | | | | |
    [Conceptual reality simulation]

    As we experience reality and store associations and rules for how we feel about what we see, and what we should do with what we see, that information is stored in a map somewhere. There is probably the potential for some sort of “computational consistency” to exist between association and rule maps (what is in the brackets) that can result in inference connections between the association and rule sets (lines between bracketed simulations). So you get associations between the body and a social situation that results in someone saying that one person “hammered” another. Or associations between the ideas of “high” and “low” for short and long wavelength sounds for high notes and low notes in music.

    This is conceptually similar to how synesthesia works with sound-taste or word-color mixes of sensory/conceptual information. It probably has to do with the fact that anatomy will be doing the same kind of computation in each of the simulations.

  10. consciousness razor says

    I’m both a reductionist and whatever the opposite is because you have to be both to figure out how the brain works. It’s more like having separate “bottom to top” and “top to bottom” ways of figuring out something.

    Well, I don’t know what you’re trying to say here, but it just isn’t the case that P and not P, and I tried be explicit that “figuring things out” is not what I’m referring to (or anything epistemological like that). There is some definite way that the world is. Whatever that may be, it’s either a reductionist’s type of world or it’s not. And, at least in the terms I’m using, it can’t be both or neither or something else.

    I don’t understand why you’re distinguishing between “physical reality” and “temporal reality.” Isn’t time a part of what you mean by describing/representing/simulating/mapping something physically? If not, what is that about? I’m also happy to claim and make it clear that “social reality” is a subset of physical reality, and I don’t generally get how/why you’re carving any of that up the way you’re doing it. To me, my experiences seem to be that there are plenty of things about the “non-social” pieces of the world that are relevant for how I experience social interactions. So I’m not sure how seriously we should take the idea that a brain functions by drawing any sharp lines like that or works differently in such cases.

    I mean, these are words that we certainly find useful for categorizing things, but my experiences very often don’t align in any obvious way with the kinds of descriptions or conceptions that I (or someone else) can make up about them. And one key point of that research, from my point of view, is that some of those categories that we like to come up with aren’t terribly useful for describing how the brain actually works, even if by introspecting our experiences of them seem different in ways that are sometimes hard to pin down, because in fact brains function similarly for all of these “different categories.” Which isn’t surprising, given that we had made all of that up before knowing anything about research like this.

  11. CJO, egregious by any standard says

    Brony, you might be interested in linguist George Lakoff’s ideas about the Embodied Mind. The subject of his book Philosophy in the Flesh. In his view, language, and by extension a lot of our higher-order cognitive activity, is metaphor all the way down. The Embodied Mind idea is that the body and its spacio-temporal setting are the basic ground of cognition and language which seems similar to the ideas you’re exploring.

  12. unclefrogy says

    I am by no means an expert in how the brain works though I do have one. I am getting something a little different from the idea that the brain uses maps in its processes to understand and describe reality.
    all of our understanding and experience of reality is shaped and constrained by what our senses “see” we hear a certain range of frequencies, we see a certain range of frequencies, our sense of smell is only so sensitive our sense of touch is very sensitive. We do not feel the magnetic pole. All that shapes how we see reality and what areas we prefer.
    So too if the brain is using some form of mapping to think about all of this would there not be some preferred type of mapping that would influence how we see reality and how we interpret what our senses “see”. It sounds like a description of another type of bias to be cognizant of when we ask questions.
    How we use maps would influence what questions we would tend to ask and what answers we would recognize as answering those questions. We might miss something significant.
    uncle frogy

  13. says

    The Other Lance

    What the heck is up with Bernie Sanders drawing ridiculously large crowds to his campaign rallies!?!?!?!

    A lot of people are sick of having to vote for right-wing shitheads who are ruining the country would be my guess. That’s certainly why I support him.

  14. AlexanderZ says

    Nick Gotts #183 (previous thread) and #1 (this thread)

    I’m not sure quite how incorporating several former satellite states and three ex-soviet Republics, and more recently refusing to recognise the Ukrainian and Georgian annexations, signing economic agreements with Ukraine and imposing economic sanctions amount to “servile appeasement”.

    They refused to recognize the annexation of Crimea and Ossetia? That’s… quite literally the least they could do. Even popping a monocle requires moving a muscle. As for the sanctions, while it’s all nice and good (I mean, the history is so rich in examples of sanctions solving military problems), it’s too little and far too late. The sanctions imposed in March 2014 were against people and entities who had little to no dealings with the EU, meaning the sanctions weren’t effective at all.
    The current forceful sanctions were placed after the downing of MAS17, meaning that the sanctions have less to do with Russia’s military adventures than with ethics in anti-air defense.
    So why do I call the EU servile? Because of all the EU powers only UK (likely following US’ lead) pushed for sanctions, while France was inconsistent and Germany and Italy tried to maintain their friendly relations with Putin. Germany acted particularly repulsive (Germany is a bit like Lenin – when we say EU we think Germany, when we say Germany we think EU) since its economic policy was harsher to EU countries than to Russia. That’s what I mean by “servile” – when smaller EU members (together with UK) were begging for help, France was indecisive and Germany and Italy, due to their lucrative deals with Russia, made sure that the response was first as ineffective as possible and then, when the proverbial shit hit the fan, was too late to make a difference.
    Oh, and former Soviet states joining the EU is a red herring. Those countries fully joined in 2004 when Russia was still considered weak, and their membership process began much earlier, when Russia was in worse state than today’s Greece.

    I can well imagine Putin, enraged at the “provocation” of the NATO exercises, choosing this as a response.

    Imagination is a strange thing. We can imagine all kinds of weird things. For example, I have imagined that you’d try to portray Russia’s statement as a reaction to NATO rather than a direct threat as part of their continuous aggression well before you wrote your #183 comment.
    Funny that.
    _____________________

    Dalillama #15

    A lot of people are sick of having to vote for right-wing shitheads

    I don’t see how HRC fits that bill. In fact, I share The Other Lance‘s bewilderment. From what I could gather HRC’s position isn’t fundamentally different than Sanders’.
    So why are you supporting him over her? Do you trust him more to implement his promises?
    (I’m genuinely want to know because I’ve never heard of the guy. He’s like Obama all over again)

  15. consciousness razor says

    AlexanderZ:

    I don’t see how HRC fits that bill. In fact, I share The Other Lance‘s bewilderment. From what I could gather HRC’s position isn’t fundamentally different than Sanders’.
    So why are you supporting him over her? Do you trust him more to implement his promises?
    (I’m genuinely want to know because I’ve never heard of the guy. He’s like Obama all over again)

    Well, you can and should gather more than just what’s in their agendas on their websites. (You’re not in the US, right? If so, I’m not saying you personally ought to worry much about gathering such information.) There’s a long history there that puts things into a different perspective. I simply don’t trust Clinton to try to follow though on many policies, as much as I trust Sanders, even if they said precisely the same thing.

    But even comparing just those agendas, you should pay attention to the fine print, not vague impressions that they look kinda similar generally. Some differences aren’t even that obscure or hard to comprehend. For instance, here’s Clinton:

    Defend the Affordable Care Act and reduce health costs

    We will slow the growth of overall health care costs and deliver better care to patients. And we will ensure that the savings from those reforms benefit families—not just insurance companies, drug companies, and large corporations.

    Compare that to Sanders:

    Health Care as a Right for All

    The United States must join the rest of the industrialized world and recognize that health care is a right of all, and not a privilege. Despite the fact that more than 40 million Americans have no health insurance, we spend almost twice as much per capita on health care as any other nation. We need to establish a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system.

    Clinton’s idea that some kind of “reforms” (like what?) are not meant to benefit just families but also insurance companies, drug companies, and large corporations … that’s highly suspicious to say the least, even though of course we can all agree that the part about lower costs and better care would be good (however that’s supposed to happen). And that’s also not anything like a right that everyone has or a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system.

  16. consciousness razor says

    Sorry, there’s no promise of “lower costs,” but one to slow the growth of costs. That is, overall costs…. and now that we’re talking in those terms, I don’t know which ones aren’t going to be slowed down while overall growth slows down (because of some reform, if that were to actually happen).

  17. consciousness razor says

    Okay, I take back my retraction. There is a “reduce health costs” in the header. But also a “slow the growth” thingy in the description. Since both can’t be true… then…. ????

  18. Owlmirror says

    Brony@10 (and consciousnessrazor too, I guess):

    I’m both a reductionist and whatever the opposite is because you have to be both to figure out how the brain works.

    In Gödel, Escher, Bach, Hofstadter contrasts reductionism with holism.

  19. says

    @consciousness razor 12
    First let me apologize. I did not think carefully enough when choosing my words or make sure I had your meaning right, and I left a lot of context out of my original comment. The way I answered your reference to reductionism is more of a tangent. I’m in my “danger zone” linguistically speaking.

    You are right about my reference to “physical” being too imprecise. I would make the social a subset of the physical, I confused the processing of the “physical body” with processing of a representation of sensory input while commenting with too little time.

    The Sciencedaily article I linked pointed out evidence of structures that can map what equates to part of how we might map “social space” and that reminded me of that review and I did not express that well. The actual way that review worded the parts of cognition was:
    “perceptual space” (concrete objects)
    “temporal space” (imaginary parameter)
    “social space” (objectified self-other agents)
    “conceptual space” (objectified abstract concepts)
    I would also agree not drawing sharp lines. These four categories could be a subset of something else or an artifact of how we process reality at this point in history or other things. For now they are useful placeholders. I’m always happy to sacrifice a word or phrase for a better one or a new one when required.

    I was thinking of how those kinds of space would be represented in real-time and that there are elements to metaphors and analogies that act like some sort of “logical bridge” between those kinds of space. My choices for examples were also not quite clear though I might work on them a bit. A better example might be the expression “high on drugs”. Why would elevation be associated with intoxication? There seems to be a perceptual-conceptual link there. I have reasons for my curiosity that contributed to the chaos in my previous comment.

    @CJO 13

    In his view, language, and by extension a lot of our higher-order cognitive activity, is metaphor all the way down. The Embodied Mind idea is that the body and its spacio-temporal setting are the basic ground of cognition and language which seems similar to the ideas you’re exploring.

    That is very consistent with my experience of language. I really like “metaphor all the way down”. My relationship with language is complicated in a very “embodied” way. I’ll pickup a copy. Thanks!

  20. says

    @Owlmirror 20
    The contrast of reductionism and holism is an interesting contrast, thanks for pointing that out. I had something like that in mind with what I was trying to say. I had in mind an approach to figuring out how the world works that I compare with how the research in the origin of life is done from my perspective.

    There is what I think of as the “top down” approach where one looks at the world as it exists today and tries to piece together how the past may have looked based on what survives today biochemically and geologically. And there is a “bottom up” approach where we try to set up conditions as they may have existed and see what evolves in the test tube. Between the two a reasonable picture of how life evolved will hopefully be found.

    Trying to use brain science to understand my psychology feels something like that. Maybe that is why I got somewhat confused.

  21. consciousness razor says

    Or associations between the ideas of “high” and “low” for short and long wavelength sounds for high notes and low notes in music.

    This isn’t quite right. I skipped over it before, and I wanted to look into it again, since I could only half-remember vague bits that I learned a long time ago….

    Some trivia, for your enjoyment: In ancient Greece, there was some talk about scales/modes being higher or lower in some sense. So, you could talk about Hypolydian (a scale) which is literally “below” Lydian (another scale), but for various reasons that certainly wasn’t expressing the straightforward pitch relationships that you have in mind. First of all, it can’t be that those are just transpositions of one another, because nobody has dreamed of equal temperament yet, so changing modality in that way (if that’s all they were thinking) is a more complicated sort of operation on multiple pitches in different “directions.” (To complicate things further, I do mean the ancient versions of Hypolydian and so forth, not the medieval church modes, which also weren’t equal, although by that time they did use “high/low” in basically the modern sense.) Also, their Greek poetry was mixed in there because those arts weren’t really conceived or practiced independently of one another, so the use of that apparently had to do with how words were accented metrically or otherwise. And I guess it might have also depended (at least for some) on how they arbitrarily decided to draw their scale diagrams…. Really, you look into this a bit, and there are plenty of different theories demolishing the precious hypothesis. One of them is enough, and I’m no expert to tell you which ones really hold up, except that mathematically the first I mentioned does at least have to be right (if not all the rest).

    Anyway, generally, their whole convoluted system makes a big mess out of the lovely idea that they must have used the vertical-axis metaphor in the same simple way that we do. Still, that probably was, in an extremely roundabout way, the original motivation (in European history) for talking about pitches like we do now — it was apparently one of the metaphors that was already sort of floating out there in music theory land to express who-knows-what, so people grabbed that and started using it in a new way.

    Also, keep in mind that we started using our current metaphors well before we knew about wavelengths or other fancy acoustic physics like that. They’d relate that to lengths of strings and tubes and such, which is obvious just by observing sizes of instruments and how they sound, but they still wouldn’t have been picturing any waves until they had some physics telling them about what was going on. However you think of it, saying it’s vertical is still just kind of mysterious — you have an idea about a length of something, sure, but why are you saying it points that way? What’s it pointing at?

  22. Rob Grigjanis says

    cr @23:

    However you think of it, saying it’s vertical is still just kind of mysterious

    Not so sure it’s that mysterious. Hum some notes. High ones ‘feel’ in the nose, lower ones ‘feel’ progressively lower, down to the throat, no?

  23. Lofty says

    cr

    What’s it pointing at?

    I’d imagine a common occurence would be pouring water/wine/oil into tall vessels and as the level rises so does the note.

  24. says

    Brony @21

    A better example might be the expression “high on drugs”. Why would elevation be associated with intoxication?

    That… that’s a really good question.

    Best guess from this stoner?

    Some drugs — shrooms, acid, and other reality-altering substances (and sometimes really dank weed) — can make you feel like you’re floating or even flying. Hell, I’ve seen people so fucked up they had to hold on to the floor (to keep from flying away).

    Needless to say, your mileage may vary, and your play experience is going to be unique to you.

  25. says

    http://www.newnownext.com/watch-this-hilariously-awful-anti-gay-marriage-psa-by-a-catholic-group/07/2015/

    Holy shit. Christian martyr comples redux. “I’m afraid people might not like me when they find out I’m a homophobic bigot, but I even let my gay friends use the bathroom!”
    But watch the diversity. The RCC is better than most secular organisations…

    +++

    Some drugs — shrooms, acid, and other reality-altering substances (and sometimes really dank weed) — can make you feel like you’re floating or even flying.

    Ibuprofen!
    Though that’s probably just me ;)
    Also, body language: When you’re feeling good and confident you keep your head high, when you’re feeling bad, you keep it low. When you lose you’re beaten down. Your spirits are lifted. The physical heavily intersects with the metaphorical.

  26. Ragutis says

    I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess that most of us here aren’t making $156,000? Apparently, we would be if middle class incomes had grown at the same rate as the 1% over the last 30-odd years.

    @Arren ›‹ neverbound:

    BB is amazing. I saw him and Keneally in Vai’s band on a couple of the G3 tours. Marco was drumming for Satch on one of them, IIRC (which is always an iffy proposition). Crazy how some special musicians can do things like this one day, and then this the next.

  27. John Morales says

    Brony @10:

    I’m both a reductionist and whatever the opposite is because you have to be both to figure out how the brain works.

    Remarkable.

    Whatever you intended to express, I cannot decide whether this sentence’s violence towards logic exceeds its violence towards epistemology, grievous though both be.

  28. says

    Giliell

    Ibuprofen!
    Though that’s probably just me ;)

    Nah, there’s a fair number of pharmaceuticals (OTC and prescription-only) that can have similar effects. Benadryl, for some reason, really fucks me up.

    Also, body language: When you’re feeling good and confident you keep your head high, when you’re feeling bad, you keep it low. When you lose you’re beaten down. Your spirits are lifted. The physical heavily intersects with the metaphorical.

    Good point. I’ve noticed that I get anxious when my body is spastic. Of course, my body gets spastic when I’m anxious, too, so… *shrugs*

  29. says

    @29 John Morales

    I’m both a reductionist and whatever the opposite is because you have to be both to figure out how the brain works.

    Remarkable.

    Whatever you intended to express, I cannot decide whether this sentence’s violence towards logic exceeds its violence towards epistemology, grievous though both be.

    Remarkable.

    I cannot decide whether the condescension of your response exceeds its redundancy, grievous though both be.

  30. Ragutis says

    ragdish

    2 July 2015 at 11:49 am

    With Chris gone and sans Anderson and Wakeman, will Yes be able to carry on? I think they should now bow out gracefully.

    Actually, with their history of squabbles and resulting line-up changes, I’ve thought for a long time that Yes should become a “perpetual band”. Bring in new members as others drop out or skip tours, but a band with a commitment to making lush, extravagant prog. It would be a sad day when there were no members left from the most recognizable eras, but the dream would go on. Yes could become an idea, an ideal, rather than just a band. Fuck, I’m starting to sound all new-agey like Jon.

  31. John Morales says

    Brian Pansky, you make an admission when you claim my comment was redundant, given mine was the first overt expression of that which I found remarkable

    How you imagine it’s condescending is obscure to me*, though you clearly think my comment was remarkable.

    (I was trying to be tactful, but as you note, I have apparently failed in tone if not in substance)

  32. consciousness razor says

    Rob and Lofty, those are nice stories, but sadly there’s no evidence that any of that was relevant. Instruments (but not people with voices) are arranged in all sorts of ways, not just with higher notes being in the “up” direction, so you’d still need to explain why this or that one was supposed to be special.

    The punchline, which I forget to tell, is that it’s apparently not a built-in feature of human perception (an illusion we all “suffer” from, you might say). We learned to perceive sounds that way. There’s some weird collection of cultural or historical accidents (in music/math/physics circles and maybe elsewhere) which led us to where we are now. People a few thousand years ago didn’t think of it that way at all. And those are people with perceptions who we want to understand just as well as ourselves.

    Rob’s idea about the phenomenology of different vocal registers does look like it could be a claim that it is a fixed biological feature of how we’re all put together, but I don’t know that anybody in the ancient world made any observations like that. As I said, when the Greeks started talking that way, the first actual evidence I’m aware of, they couldn’t have been talking strictly about pitches. It’s also not like you see them writing anywhere “by the way, to avoid confusion, we don’t mean this sense of high/low, but some other thing.” Because that just wasn’t on their minds.

  33. consciousness razor says

    Rob’s idea about the phenomenology of different vocal registers does look like it could be a claim that it is a fixed biological feature of how we’re all put together, but I don’t know that anybody in the ancient world made any observations like that.

    One thing that might help to explain why they didn’t observe something so “obvious” to us…. Today, we’re used to listening to music that spans over a fairly large range, even in vocal performances. When going from way “down” there to all the way “up” there, in a short span of time, then if you’re paying close attention you can notice differences about the resonance of your voice and where that seems to be coming from (your head or your chest). But most (if not all) ancient music wasn’t like that, not until developments much later in history. Even going into the Baroque period, it wasn’t all that common that a vocal part exceeded an octave, and it was often much less than that. So, if you’re just singing a note then move more or less stepwise to a fifth above that (for example), then it’s really hard for most people to notice anything about the how the “location” of their voice changes.

  34. consciousness razor says

    Brony, don’t take it too hard that Morales can sometimes be less than tactful. I wanted to be clear about the sort of reductionism that I tried to describe way up there, which has to be different than the kind you meant. Given the sense I was using, it seems like that would put some very general constraints and make some very general predictions about the way brains work. And I was kind of thinking aloud about how we could interpret the research you mentioned in that sort of a framework. (Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think that’s a totally wild framework to have.)

    I do actually think that it’s okay to be fairly pluralistic (in some ways) when it comes to things like epistemology. It’s not anything-goes (we do have to worry about pseudoscience, mysticism, etc.), but there may be more than one good/reasonable way of knowing or explaining the same fact. I don’t see what’s impossible about that. Your different theories just need to be equally good in all relevant respects, and if that’s the case, I don’t see an argument why we have to think only one of them is epistemologically acceptable. The world does still need to be only one way, so they can’t strictly speaking both be true. Saying both aren’t true is a different kind of claim from saying they’re “observationally equivalent” or “equally appealing to us” or some such thing. You’re saying something about the world in the first case, not what we can know about the world or how we think we should deal with it.

    As I tried to say about the reductionistic view I’ve got in mind (not very explicitly I have to admit), you’re not saying people should go around learning about democracy (or whatever) by tracking the locations of all of its particles. That would be a really bizarre thing to say. There are much more useful and practical ways of learning or experiencing such things, and in fact we can’t do exactly that even if we wanted to. It still is the case in fact, the claim goes, that it is made of particles moving around (or something along those lines), and anything else you want to say about anything that’s actually true of the world could (not should) be represented in those terms. And since what brains do is represent all sorts of things about the world, then….

  35. Rob Grigjanis says

    John Morales @29
    I saw no violence in Brony’s sentence, just a recognition that phenomena at different levels (usually determined by spatial/temporal scale) are governed by different principles. Saying that everything comes down to quantum mechanics (or string theory, or whatever) is reductionist, isn’t it? But recognizing that that is not very useful for studying most macroscopic phenomena is just practical. Maybe the term Brony was looking for is ’emergence’.

    That’s how I read it, anyway.

  36. says

    @consciousness razor 39
    This series of exchanges has been very complicated on my end (but also kind of amusing because I am always amused by this stuff), and other than a momentary irrational feeling of being challenged I did not take John Morales’s comments badly. I can see how it might look like that given my past behavior.

    The argument that I had with them earlier involving criticism (and other ways of looking at it) I treated as something worth fighting about because of larger issues involving people I care about. This situation was just between me and John Morales. It’s turns out that when it’s just me it’s very difficult to offend me because I’m used to having to dial back my reactions. Too often my “demon” treats a simple contrast as a challenge. Also I’ve spent so much time looking at how different people experience language that when there are no other larger issues at stake I try to act like that stuff matters more since it’s a thing that there is little social awareness of. Most of the rest of the time it’s an issue I have to strategically ignore for larger concerns.

    Maybe there is something there that society needs to work on because many people can’t separate criticism of their beliefs and behavior from criticism of their whole persons, but I could see that John Morales was speaking of the metaphorical violence that I was doing to how these issues are typically discussed. I was essentially appealing to holism as the opposite of reductionism but without being aware that this was the general philosophical term. I can be really bad at picking up a technical version of something often discussed in other ways (It’s like the correct meaning is in there but choosing the right word is complicated).

    The little bits we reduce the brain to have to be made to fit into how we experience brains as they make minds so I see that pursuit of reality as a tension between the two contexts. I see myself as holding both standards (so “being both at the same time”) to a problem as best as I can and the result points to the best provisional solution. We provisionally define “objects” (I would call them “variables”) like “maps” and see how accurately those objects fit into the context of reality. As we determine how well the fit is, the objects get redefined until they fit best (established theory unlikely to be replaced).

    So with respect to epistemology (I have a horrible time remembering that term) I tend to be comfortable treating more than one thing as hypothetically true on an experimental basis than many people might be comfortable with because I’m used to having to be highly experimental to figure out social situations with as much tact as I can. It’s a matter of using a learned behavior in a different context and oddly enough I was not really concretely aware of it until this set of exchanges made me think about what I was doing.

    There is always going to be a place where I am “linguistically off” in both text and speech (it’s actually symbolism more broadly but I don’t know how to generalize that one well). My language system is constantly being “tugged on” by rule-based processes that lack inhibitory processes compared to the “average person”. This entire subject of conversation is one that has to be non-literal on many levels because we are still studying the reality. Science says I am “impaired” with respect to non-literal language, but the better description would be that my interpretation abilities are biased in a particular direction and I need to consciously consider the other interpretations. For example many of the words I have to be the most careful with are the ones that society fights with. Either they have little emotional impact, or extra intense emotional impact or the logic of how I sense them is altered. Philosophy is particularly challenging because I learn it best functionally when it’s applied by others because that helps me to see how the original is interpreted, but I can still often be wildly off the mark in how a particular person is using it. Philosophers tend to be pretty non-literal.

    You are partially right about me not telling people to use physics to understand democracy (I realize that this was a rhetorical measuring device). However I would suggest that the knowledge that there exist regions in the brain for creating social maps can be useful for context when thinking about what people do in democracies as a means of thinking about individual examples one encounters. It’s functionally the same as knowing that valance, intensity and social factors strongly alter how emotions are processed. Or knowing that humor is often used by a person to suppress fear, sadness and/or anger with respect to the content of the humor. The trick is that none of it can be an expressed assumption without observed supporting evidence.

  37. AlexanderZ says

    consciousness razor #17-19
    No, I’m not in the US. This is why for me Sanders comes out of the blue.

    I simply don’t trust Clinton to try to follow though on many policies, as much as I trust Sanders, even if they said precisely the same thing.

    I used not to trust Clinton too, but my antipathy was based on her husband’s presidency. When I saw her work on her own, both in the senate and in Obama’s administration I didn’t see any reason to distrust her (at least not anymore than anyone else in the Obama administration).

    Clinton’s idea that some kind of “reforms” (like what?) are not meant to benefit just families but also insurance companies, drug companies, and large corporations

    The charitable explanation is that she’s demonstrating realpolitik and explaining how she will build a coalition of interests (mind you, Obamacare passed because it had support from insurance companies) as opposed to a more utopian approach by Sanders. But, naturally, this explanation relies entirely on whether you trust HRC or not.

    And that’s also not anything like a right that everyone has or a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system.

    That’s true. But, again, I doubt that anyone in the current US political landscape can guarantee this right, and proclaiming it as such can be seen as wishful thinking rather than hard politics.

    There is a “reduce health costs” in the header. But also a “slow the growth” thingy in the description. Since both can’t be true…

    They can if one is in absolute costs and the other is in relative costs. If healthcare cost rise at a slower rate than the rise of real income than their growth would be slowed and the costs reduced.

    Anyway, I found this piece showing the Sanders is the most liberal senator (the article is about HRC, but it’s the best comparison of HRC’s and Sanders’ ratings I’ve found), and he’s also unafraid to call himself a social-democrat. That said, HRC isn’t far behind him on the liberal scale and it’s not fair to imply she’s a “right-wing shithead”.
    _______________

    Owlmirror
    Thank you for explaining how to create a killfile.
    I have a question. Suppose, for example, I want to block someone named “Chris61”. Would your code distinguish him from “AntiChris61” or “Chris616”? I.e. does your code views the commentator’s name as the whole string or as part of a string?

  38. Owlmirror says

    @AlexanderZ, #43:

    Suppose, for example, I want to block someone named “Chris61″. Would your code distinguish him from “AntiChris61″ or “Chris616″? I.e. does your code views the commentator’s name as the whole string or as part of a string?

    Um. I think you’re using the word “code” in a way that most people would misunderstand — it usually implies “software or a executable script that someone has written”, whereas what I posted was a method on how to use a particular addon (and I didn’t write that addon) to filter comments.

    But to answer your question:

    1) When anyone creates a login for this site, the system requires that that login be unique.

    2) When anyone posts a comment, the HTML that is generated includes a class name for the comment as a whole that uses that unique login. That class name is what is being used as a filter.

    3) As best as I understand it, Adblock Plus does see that class name as being an exact string.

    So if you filter on comment-author-chris61, a different user with a similar login (such as “chris616”, in your example) would not be blocked.

    Just to be clear, I think it is possible to use wildcards and/or regular expressions to filter on all users with names that are similar to a given one, but I cannot think why you would want to do that on purpose (morphing trolls use wildly different usernames, usually).

  39. says

    AlexanderZ
    That same article describes her as “squarely in the mainstream of the national Democratic party in America,”, and this is accurate as far as the party organization goes. The thing is that a lot of actual Democrats (and a lot of Americans registered with third parties or not registered at at all) are considerably to the left of the Democratic party platform, especially on economic issues, as the Democratic party is a center-right party at this time. The fact that Clinton is the 11th most liberal Senator shows just how far right the Overton window has been pulled over the last several decades, which (along with gerrymandering, voter suppression, etc.) has led to a massively right-wing Congress, with effects that the whole world can see.

  40. Owlmirror says

    @Brony (and consciousness razor, and anyone else interested):

    Another point to consider regarding reductionism is Dennett’s phrase greedy reductionism.

    Using the terminology of “cranes” (legitimate, mechanistic explanations) and “skyhooks” (essentially, fake—e.g. supernaturalistic—explanations) built up earlier in the chapter, Dennett recapitulates his initial definition of the term in the chapter summary on p. 83: “Good reductionists suppose that all Design can be explained without skyhooks; greedy reductionists suppose it can all be explained without cranes.”

  41. John Morales says

    … then there’s the question of whether there’s a difference between knowing how something works and knowing why it works how it works.

    (Also, whether that something may be only imaginary is a problem; we know how phlogiston worked, for example)

  42. John Morales says

    Brony @42, I do admire your attitude.

    Maybe there is something there that society needs to work on because many people can’t separate criticism of their beliefs and behavior from criticism of their whole persons, but I could see that John Morales was speaking of the metaphorical violence that I was doing to how these issues are typically discussed.

    I’m in accord with your first clause, and would be with your second had you written ‘coherently’ rather than “typically”. But yes, I was looking at that sentence in isolation, and referring to it not to you.

    So with respect to epistemology (I have a horrible time remembering that term) I tend to be comfortable treating more than one thing as hypothetically true on an experimental basis than many people might be comfortable with because I’m used to having to be highly experimental to figure out social situations with as much tact as I can.

    That’s methodology, not epistemology.

    Misuse of jargon is a giveaway.

    This entire subject of conversation is one that has to be non-literal on many levels because we are still studying the reality.

    You might care to consider that the concept of innate maps for social navigation is not an observation nor even a provisional inference, but rather a conjecture.

    To rely upon it is unsound.

  43. John Morales says

    Rob Grigjanis above,

    Maybe the term Brony was looking for is ’emergence’.

    That’s how I read it, anyway.

    Or maybe it was ‘synthesis’.

    (… or maybe it was something inchoate ;) )

  44. Nick Gotts says

    AlexanderZ@16,

    That’s a load of dishonest crap. The EU didn’t do as much as you wanted, so you absurdly describe what they did do, as “servile appeasement”.

    They refused to recognize the annexation of Crimea and Ossetia? That’s… quite literally the least they could do.

    Servile appeasers would have recognised the annexations, as the servile appeasers of 1937-8 recognised the annexation of Austria and agreed to the seizure of the Sudentenland.

    The sanctions imposed in March 2014 were against people and entities who had little to no dealings with the EU, meaning the sanctions weren’t effective at all.

    Serivle appesers would have imposed no sanctions.

    The current forceful sanctions were placed after the downing of MAS17, meaning that the sanctions have less to do with Russia’s military adventures than with ethics in anti-air defense.

    Servile appeasers would have accepted the Russian claim that Ukrainian forces shot down the plane.

    Oh, and former Soviet states joining the EU is a red herring. Those countries fully joined in 2004 when Russia was still considered weak, and their membership process began much earlier, when Russia was in worse state than today’s Greece.

    You placed no time limits on your accusation of servile appeasement. And Russia has at all times had enought nuclear weapons to turn the whole of the EU into a wasteland. AFAIK, Greece doesn’t.

  45. Sven DiMilo says

    I used not to trust Clinton too, but my antipathy was based on her husband’s presidency. When I saw her work on her own, both in the senate and in Obama’s administration I didn’t see any reason to distrust her

    Here‘s the case against Ms. Clinton. It’s pretty damning.

  46. says

    It occurred to me, while watching Alien (and yelling at the screen), that there is a subset of horror movies that, if you dig into the subtext, are essentially about rape.

    I’m not talking slashers, serial killers, ghosts, or goblins, though there are plenty of morality plays involving them (and more).

    I’m talking parasites.

    Parasites from space.

    Specifically, the Alien franchise.

    The entire concept, the entire premise of this franchise, is about the horrors of rape and forced pregnancy.

    First off, the Facehuggers look like a giant vulva with legs and a tail. Come to think of it, there are a lot of things that look phallic (and yonic) in this movie. Some of this, no doubt, was intentional. (Come on, this movie is the Trope Namer for Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong, ferchrissake!)

    Second, the Facehuggers do exactly what it says on the tin — “hug” your face. For… certain values of “hug” that involve oral rape.

    Third, they implant an egg in your chest. I repeat, they implant an egg in your fucking chest. That egg is gonna hatch. The thing inside it is going to be hungry. It’s going to eat the first thing it can find — namely, YOU. And it’s going to devour you from within before exploding your chest wall and entering the world with a big, bloody, splash. Yeah, they named the Chest Burster trope, too.

    Think about the level of bodily violation that’s happening there.

    Sure, on the surface, Alien is a sci-fi action flick with some squicky effects.

    But it’s so much more when you read between the lines.

    Of course, Cracked has a far more in-depth exploration of this topic.

  47. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Sven DiMilo,

    Interesting essay on Hillary Clinton, thanks.

  48. says

    Watched Malificent. A crushing disappointment. In Disney’s famous animated Sleeping Beauty, most everyone was fascinated by (and often rooting for) the self-described Mistress of all evil, Maleficent. Maleficent was a strong, confident, powerful, beautiful, mature woman, who embraced utterly her wickedness. She was beyond grand. In the current movie, Disney has managed to completely neuter Maleficent (and Diablo, too), transforming her from an entrancing and complex character into a bland, soppy, one-dimensional cardboard cutout of a girl, a la Aurora. Gone is the woman prepared to fight to the last, with the words: “Now shall you deal with me, O Prince, and all the powers of Hell!” and transforms into a huge dark dragon. And with this squishy mess of a movie, Disney once again hammers home the idea that anything a boy/man does is of such import as to not only change the life path of a girl/woman, it completely changes her personality, too. (Oh, that dastardly true love’s kiss!) Bleargh.

  49. AlexanderZ says

    Owlmirror #44
    Thanks.
    ______________

    Dalillama #45
    Understood.
    ______________

    Sven DiMilo #51

    Here‘s the case against Ms. Clinton. It’s pretty damning.

    Thank you. You’re right – even if half of it is true (I don’t trust the author entirely because his description of the Obama administration is somewhat dishonest) it’s still very damning.
    ______________

    Caine #57

    “Now shall you deal with me, O Prince, and all the powers of Hell!” and transforms into a huge dark dragon.

    Looks like she broke two of the Evil Overlord rules: “Never stop to pose dramatically and toss off a one-liner” and “Don’t turn into a reptile – it never helps”. I haven’t seen Sleeping Beauty. Does it still hold today?
    ______________

    Nick Gotts #50

    Servile appeasers would have recognised the annexations, as the servile appeasers of 1937-8 recognised the annexation of Austria and agreed to the seizure of the Sudentenland.

    You know what’s dishonest? Putting words in my mouth. You’re the one bringing WWII, not me.
    As for EU’s non-recognition, it’s not different than that of almost all other countries, including Russian allies like Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Hell, even Belarus, a country that was even considering join the Russian ruble, didn’t truly recognize the annexation.
    So save me the lecture about dishonesty. EU’s initial response was to do nothing.

    Serivle appesers would have imposed no sanctions.

    Servile appeasers would have accepted the Russian claim that Ukrainian forces shot down the plane.

    When all of eastern EU and UK (and US, externally) were pushing for tougher action? Please. The EU decided to do as little as was politically possible. If for you nothing short of unconditional surrender can be considered appeasement than it’s your problem. Mind you, Putin continues to reach out to Germany. He still thinks they’re buddies. I wonder what gave him that idea…

    And Russia has at all times had enought nuclear weapons to turn the whole of the EU into a wasteland. AFAIK, Greece doesn’t.

    When the eastern countries were taking their steps to enter EU the main fear was that the nuclear weapons would leak out of Russia, not that it would use them. Even in 2004, when the eastern countries fully joined the EU, Russia made no claims on the eastern countries, its relation with the US were still civil (though they’ve started to cool down) and its relationship with the EU was excellent.
    There was no need for any appeasement since nobody, including the Russian government, thought that Russia is still capable of being a threat. It all changed after the war in Georgia in 2008.
    (As an aside: I still remember the shocked faces of news reporters and political officials when the war begun. They all thought that it would turn into another Chechnya or Afghanistan. It’s laughable now, but even Russians forgot that they still were a large military power)

  50. says

    #61:

    Don’t know.

    I think I’m still awake because I’m in Cambridge (MA) for a bit, and people are _still_ firing off fireworks somewhere not far enough off.

    In a moment, I’m going to try to cover it with white noise from a fan and hope for the best, I guess.

  51. Nick Gotts says

    I withdraw the word “dishonest” in my #50, and apologise unreservedly to AlexanderZ and the commentariat for its unjustified use. I haven’t yet read any further than #50 in this thread.

  52. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    It’s 29°C in the kitchen and it’s barely 9 in the morning. A whole 1°C less on the west side.

  53. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    On a whim, checked on the Women’s World Cup Football (everyplace but USA/Canada) score. The US women were up 4-0 twenty minutes into the game. *facepalm*

  54. What a Maroon, oblivious says

    Nerd 66,

    The final score was 5-2, and while I’m generally wary of patriotism in international sport, I’m always happy to see the US women’s team succeed as it reflects the success of Title IX. (And I will continue to call the game soccer regardless of what the rest of the world calls it, because rugby is also football, as is Australian Rules, Gaelic, the Canadian game, and the US game.)

  55. consciousness razor says

    Just catching up, after a busier than expected weekend. Happy belated 4th, my fellow murkins.

    AlexanderZ, #43:

    The charitable explanation is that she’s demonstrating realpolitik and explaining how she will build a coalition of interests (mind you, Obamacare passed because it had support from insurance companies) as opposed to a more utopian approach by Sanders. But, naturally, this explanation relies entirely on whether you trust HRC or not.

    I wouldn’t say that part’s about trust for me — on the assumption that she keeps her promises and does exactly the most charitable interpretation of this that you can imagine, what I’m saying is that it’s still a substantially worse policy than a single-payer system. And I don’t think it’s reasonable to call the latter “utopian,” since stable/functioning societies with such systems already exist.

    That’s true. But, again, I doubt that anyone in the current US political landscape can guarantee this right, and proclaiming it as such can be seen as wishful thinking rather than hard politics.

    Okay… “it can be seen” a lot of ways. I’d like to vote for somebody who has in mind some tangible way to make things better, even if for that’s only a long-term goal (that we’d better be unambiguously aiming for) which we have to work toward one piece at a time. Again, actual real-world countries, with “hard politics” and so forth, seem to work just fine with single-payer systems, and they haven’t yet blown up. Why can’t we do that?

    If all that needs to change is the current US political landscape, so be it. Considering how toxic it is, I don’t see why I should be satisfied with it or resign myself to doing nothing about it. And I think the part of the landscape concerning healthcare would be changing in the right direction if it went Sanders’ way.

    If it goes Clinton’s way, then it’s not at all clear that she’ll try to do anything to put any of the (smaller and more realistic) pieces into place to get us moving that way, much less do anything like accomplish the whole thing once and for all. If anything could be said to be moving about that, it looks more like going in circles to me.

    I’m sure that isn’t enough to sway everyone, but doesn’t that count as a reasonably clear example of an issue that people like me can raise against that part of Clinton’s platform and in favor of Sanders’?

    Owlmirror, #46, quoting Dennett:

    “Good reductionists suppose that all Design can be explained without skyhooks; greedy reductionists suppose it can all be explained without cranes.”

    Yes, thank you. Dennett has lots of helpful metaphors like that. Hopefully it’s clear that I was avoiding “greediness” (trying to at least). There probably aren’t many greedy ones out there, or they’d have a hard time staying that way for very long.

  56. Hj Hornbeck says

    Ooo, I haven’t posted over here in a while, let alone this fancy new thread.

    Anyway, when I heard Shermer was presenting at TAM again I got so pissed off I vowed to redo my “Skeptical Analysis of a Sexual Assault” guest posts, this time incorporating all the revelations that came after Oppenheimer’s article. The ink is newly dry on the last* installment, so I’m ready for some feedback! If you want to start from the beginning, try here; if you’re short on time, the meat is in part four. While you shouldn’t do this, those really pressed can skim down to the very end where I give a number.

    * I’m thinking of tacking on a part six, where I do something more Bayesian/Neymann-Pearson. I doubt the conclusion will change much, but it’s worth covering that base too.

  57. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Sadly, the US never seems to get through a July 4th without someone dying from a firework-related injury.

    This year, the one that attracted my attention is in Maine.

    The decedent’s brother wants you to know something though: this was an accident.

    It had to be an accident, you see, because

    Devon was not the kind of person who would do something stupid. He was the kind of person who would pretend to do something stupid to make people laugh.

    Words fail.

  58. Tethys says

    Philea has found evidence of microbial life!

    Evidence of alien life is “unequivocal” on the comet carrying the Philae probe through space, two leading astronomers have said.

    The experts say the most likely explanation for certain features of the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet, such as its organic-rich black crust, is the presence of living organisms beneath an icy surface.

    Rosetta, the European spacecraft orbiting the comet, is also said to have picked up strange “clusters” of organic material that resemble viral particles.

  59. Tethys says

    Rob Grigjanis – There is a much better article over on the Guardian that rebuts the idea that the black crust is evidence of microbial life, or that Philea is unable to detect the chemical signature of life.

    Life is quite picky about which chemicals it utilises; therefore, if life were present on the comet, this would recognisably boost a number of key molecules. COSAC and the PTOLEMY instrument on Philae could measure this enhancement. “We can thereby well distinguish between the biological and astrochemical formation of organics,” wrote Meierhenrich.

    It goes into some details about Chandra Wickramasinghe’s unconventional ideas now, and in the past.

    Wickramasinghe has a history of claiming to have detected extraterrestrial microbes. In 2001, he claimed to find extraterrestrial microbes in stratospheric dust collected at 41km in altitude. In 2003, he suggested that the SARS virus came from outer space. None of this work has been accepted by the mainstream.

    However, an earlier hypothesis of Wickramasinghe’s that the molecular building blocks of life could have been brought to Earth by comets is now widely thought plausible. Evidence to back up this claim has been amassed by independent investigations, of which Rosetta and Philae are the latest round.

    However, Wickramasinghe appears to see this acceptance as a weapon to be used against his bolder ideas. In a paper published in 2014, he wrote that the acceptance and promotion of this idea by scientific journals, “serves as a deliberately chosen device to keep the full force of evidence for ingress of extraterrestrial life from coming to the public’s notice.”

    I am bemused at his opinion that wide acceptance of his idea that life could have arrived on earth via comet is somehow a weapon being used against him.

  60. Esteleth, RN's job is to save your ass, not kiss it says

    chigau:

    What’s happening?

    I’m somewhere beyond tipsy and watching old Monty Python sketches on YouTube.

  61. chigau (違う) says

    I’m watering the garden.
    That is to say, I am watching the sprinkler and internetting.
    Tipsy is also involved.

  62. Esteleth, RN's job is to save your ass, not kiss it says

    Today (my day off) went like this:

    9 am: go to dentist. Get told by confused receptionist that my appointment is at 11:30. Awkwardly wander out.
    9:30 am: put deposit on new apartment.
    9:45 am: return home, remove pants.
    11 am: re-don pants, go back to dentist.
    11:30-12:15: listen to a speech from the hygienist re: generational poverty, racism, classism, sexism, and homophobia. My dental hygienist has apparently read Marx. I was unable to say much of anything, what with my mouth being occupied with sharp pointy instruments.
    12:15-12:20: have a brief chat with the dentist about (1) my molars (2) egg rolls and (3) women’s World Cup soccer.
    12:30 pm: return home, remove pants.
    4 pm: meet a friend at a new brewpub in town. Immediately conclude that a bar whose beer list is 13 legal-sized pages long is impressive. Also immediately conclude that any establishment that does not sell either fries nor burgers (plus one that has decided that a “bratwurst sandwich” is a thing) does not deserve to be called a “brewpub.”
    4:30 pm: get startled by a text message from the friend sitting next to me, suggesting I ask for the bartender’s number. Apparently the bartender had been flirting with me? I decide that she (1) was and (2) is cute. I then wrestle with the fishing for tips + uninterested vs genuinely flirting conundrum for awhile, during which time the bartender in question clocks out and leaves. I then get sad and order another beer. Which I probably shouldn’t have done. I’m now wrestling over whether or not I should return to this place (good beer, truly terrible food, possibly interested staff) or not. With my luck, she’ll turn out to be unavailable and/or straight, and I’ll discover this after spending an embarrassing sum.

    So that was my day. I’m currently drinking tea.

  63. chigau (違う) says

    The Hotel we were at has a Whisky/Whiskey Bar with ‘over 140 varieties’.
    (I think the whiskey/whisky thing is cute.)
    Their menu is centre-justified, which makes it unreadable, which does not prevent the ordering of many kinds of Scotch, which explains our bar-tab at check-out this morning.
    meh
    It was worth it.

  64. Owlmirror says

    @Esteleth:

    meet a friend at a new brewpub in town. Immediately conclude that a bar whose beer list is 13 legal-sized pages long is impressive.

    ! ! !

    Also immediately conclude that any establishment that does not sell either fries nor burgers (plus one that has decided that a “bratwurst sandwich” is a thing) does not deserve to be called a “brewpub.”

    ? ? ?

    Maybe the fries were called something else, like “tater slivers”?

    Also:

    Once, many years ago, I went to a McMenamin’s brewpub and got a pint of something. Nitro stout, maybe?

    When there was maybe a half-inch left in the glass, I made some sort of clumsy move that resulted in that small amount of beer spilling across the table and down the opposite (empty) seat. I got up and grabbed some napkins and started cleaning up the mess.

    The bartender helped me, and then brought me another pint, saying that like Carvel had a replacement policy for dropped cones, they had a replacement policy for spilled beer.

    I wonder if the bartender was being entirely truthful . . . ? ? ?

  65. says

    @68

    I’m always happy to see the US women’s team succeed as it reflects the success of Title IX

    Umm, probably not. The US women’s team succeeded because they had the best players and the right strategy and a little luck (although they probably didn’t need the luck). Germany has two Women’s World Cup Titles without a Title IX equivalent, and most (don’t have the exact number) of athletes on the US women’s national team were extremely high performing athletes before they entered college. Amy Rodriquez, as an example, played for US National teams well before she attended USC.

    At the highest performing end of women’s althetics Title IX has likely had zero effect. Title IX or not, Amy was going to end up playing professionally and then for this national team. I played youth and high school hockey with one of the original members of the US Women’s hockey team – she was one of the best players on our team and was going to go on and play at a high level regardless.

    What Title IX has done is improve opportunities for average to below average college athletes as more programs opened up. None of the people in this category, I’d be willing to bet, are currently playing for the US Women’s National team.

  66. says

    Tom Weiss

    Germany has two Women’s World Cup Titles without a Title IX equivalent

    You know, maybe Germany doesn’t have a Title IX equivalent because we didn’t need one because we tackled the problems differently? And have a different sports culture?

  67. says

    You know, maybe Germany doesn’t have a Title IX equivalent because we didn’t need one because we tackled the problems differently? And have a different sports culture?

    No argument from me. No doubt the German women’s success is a result of different cultural factors – ditto for the Japanese, and ditto for the American team. I just don’t think Title IX was one of those factors.

  68. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I just don’t think Title IX was one of those factors.

    Any evidence to back up that assertion? Because the null hypothesis is that it is/was a factor.

  69. Rossignol says

    Because the null hypothesis is that it is/was a factor.

    Why? Shouldn’t the null hypothesis be that there isn’t a relationship between two things unless there’s evidence otherwise?

  70. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Shouldn’t the null hypothesis be that there isn’t a relationship between two things unless there’s evidence otherwise?

    Simple, title 9 has been the law since 1972. The US women’s soccer team didn’t become competitive until after that.

  71. says

    Any evidence to back up that assertion? Because the null hypothesis is that it is/was a factor.

    As with any counterfactual assertion, I can’t prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the US Women’s Team would have won this tournament without Title IX. You, by the same token, cannot prove to the same standard of evidence that Title IX was the decisive factor. And I agree with Rossignol that the null hypothesis should be the absence of a relationship.

    That said, I offered evidence in my original comment. Amy Rodriquez is one example of a highly talented athlete who played at a national level prior to entering college and being directly affected by Title IX. As one of a small number of incredibly talented high school players, it is unlikely that she benefited from the increase in the number of women’s sports programs on college campuses post Title IX. She was always going to play soccer in college/professionally because of her rare talent. I went to high school with another example of a female athlete who played on boys teams because she was better than we were. Women’s college hockey programs didn’t start up in 1970 as a result of Title IX, they started and grew because of pioneers like her.

    The people playing on the women’s national team are the best of the best, and most if not all of them have been the best of the best since high school. They would have played college or professional soccer, I contend, whether Title IX existed or not.

    Additionally, the absence of a Title IX-like function in other countries is evidence against your hypothesis. As Giliell ably points out, other cultural factors were likely at work in the fantastic German women’s soccer successes of recent years. If Title IX was either a contributing or a decisive factor in American women’s sporting success, then it should follow that other countries who achieve a similar level of success should have a similar mechanism.

    What is clear from participation numbers pre- and post-Title IX is that the numbers of female college athletes has grown significantly. What part of this improvement is due to Title IX is a matter of debate. I tend to think we’d have roughly the same (perhaps slightly less) number of female college athletes today without Title IX but that is an untestable hypothesis.

    What you would have an even harder time proving, I suspect, is the notion that Title IX has had any affect at the top end of women’s athletics. Name a major university which would cancel their women’s soccer program tomorrow if Title IX were somehow stricken from the books. Wouldn’t happen. Might happen at a smaller university with less resources or a mediocre to bad team, but none of the people playing for the women’s national team would be affected because of their extremely high level of talent.

  72. says

    Simple, title 9 has been the law since 1972. The US women’s soccer team didn’t become competitive until after that.

    Lol, the US women’s soccer team didn’t exist in 1972. FIFA’s Women’s World Cup was founded in 1991. Women’s soccer became an Olympic sport in 1996.

    So I guess technically you’re right…the US Women’s team wasn’t comtetitive before 1972…

  73. Nightjar says

    Shouldn’t the null hypothesis be that there isn’t a relationship between two things unless there’s evidence otherwise?

    Simple, title 9 has been the law since 1972. The US women’s soccer team didn’t become competitive until after that.

    Which has nothing to do with Rossignol’s question, has it?

    FFS, Nerd. Argue your point or don’t, but challenging something you don’t agree with simply by contradicting it and calling your position the null hypothesis is just lazy. Especially when it isn’t the null hypothesis.

  74. Old Gnumann plus says

    Hi all!
    Sorry for the slight morph – I’ve been lurking for a while, and now I find myself strangely unable to post under my old nick. I’m not aware of any henious crimes I’ve committed. Has anybody (or possibly PZ) any idea why?

    Login works fine, preview works, but posts won’t appear.

  75. chigau (違う) says

    Old Gnumann plus
    Send a note to the Tech Issues people.
    There’s a tab on top of the page.

  76. consciousness razor says

    Tom Weiss:

    What Title IX has done is improve opportunities for average to below average college athletes as more programs opened up. None of the people in this category, I’d be willing to bet, are currently playing for the US Women’s National team.

    I don’t see why that hasn’t had a positive effect on better-than-average athletes as well. It seems like having programs in schools and universities all over the country, along with other non-professional players/teams, provides a large base of support and enthusiasm for women’s sports in general (along with being the right thing to do). Professional players/teams, or whoever counts as the really “good players”, aren’t excluded from those benefits in any way. Some of the best might still be playing somehow with none of that in place (hard to see how that would work), but that’s different from saying they got nothing out of it at all.

    Besides, Title IX is supposed to cover discrimination in all aspects of the education system, not just sports. If you’re in a society that doesn’t give women fair treatment when they want to become literature professors, that’s also not likely to be the sort of society that will treat individual pro female athletes fairly (not “would still pay to see a few of their games” — treating them fairly), no matter how talented they may be. Nor is that the sort of society that gives women as a group such opportunities in general. You also have to ask yourself how many in that sort of environment would have the confidence or disposition, which is independent of talent and not independent of the environment you’re in, to even try to look for any opportunities which may still be available to them. Some might still be useful to “us” in certain situations (e.g., women factory workers in WWII) and get some limited “opportunities” that way (for a time at least), but that’s not even close to what you get with a universal system of fair treatment or equal opportunity, no matter who they are, how good they are, or what they want to do with their lives.

  77. Rossignol says

    Simple, title 9 has been the law since 1972. The US women’s soccer team didn’t become competitive until after that.

    Post hoc ergo propter hoc? Really?

  78. carbonfox says

    A Reminder of Why SJWs Are so Important

    TRIGGER WARNING

    My little sister finally filed for a restraining order against her abusive partner. Her request was denied on the grounds of “insufficient evidence of violence,” despite eye witness affidavits of the abusive behavior (I’ll spare you the graphic details). The judge, an interim judge filling in for the usual judge (who is on vacation), said that if she really was in so much danger, she should just call the police. (ZING!)

    My sister now has no faith in her ability to escape her abuser. It took so much buildup and courage for her to file, and now she is now completely demotivated. She has been so stressed that, at her friend’s house (she can’t go to her apartment because the abuser is there, although she must continue to pay the rent, as the abuser refuses to help), she has developed a hemipelagic migraine with the associated paralysis, drooping, loss of bowel control, blindness, vomiting. (Ever since the abuse started, the migraines, which she’d never had before, began coming monthly. One time, she was trying to go to work with a migraine — her boss warned she would be fired if she was absent, and my sister, who pays all her own bills, needs the job — and she defecated on herself as she staggered through the store’s front doors. Her abuser, who had driven her to work, began laughing at her. He videotaped the incident, zooming in on her drooping eye, the brown on her legs, and forwarded it to the entire family. He’d never seen anything so hilarious, and being so generous, he wanted to share the fun with us all.)

    The same day she was filing for her order, my sister — another victim of abstinence “education” (although I’ve discussed protection with her, she was convinced she’s sterile because she didn’t get pregnant after her first episode of unprotected sex) — learned she was pregnant. Her abuser, of course, had tried to get her pregnant so that she “couldn’t ever leave him.”

    Helpfully, the “nurse” at the public health clinic urged my sister not to file an injunction request because “this child will need a father, and you wouldn’t want to burn bridges.” She explained that abusers stop abusing the moment their partners get pregnant; she knows because her husband used to assault her, but they lived happily ever after when she became pregnant. She warned my sister that if she aborted, then by law, the father would be notified — and if the father is actually abusive as my sister “claims,” then what would he do when he heard that she “killed” their child? One can only guess at many lives has this nurse has endangered with her propaganda. My sister nearly fell for it. Hopeful, she called me to explain the nurse’s claims. She didn’t really want a baby, but…could it really fix her abuser? I told her the truth: a miraculous turnabout was extremely unlikely, and in fact, the abuse would probably worsen.

    I live 600 miles away from my sister. Our adult relatives will not be helpful; they will be overjoyed to hear that my sister is pregnant (they’ve been nagging all of us young women about babies, “God’s little gifts,” for years), even with a remorseless abuser, even when my sister desperately does not want this child, even when she can barely support herself. The only ally I have on the ground is my 17-year-old little brother. We’re scrambling to figure out how to protect her and get her an abortion: thanks, Florida legislators, for passing a stupid waiting period law! My sister works several minimum wage jobs and has no health insurance: two long drives plus two physician fees will be a substantial burden on her. My brother has a minimum wage job and lives on a friend’s couch. Even if they were inclined to help, my adult relatives survive off of welfare and food stamps (and somehow vote Republican). I can only hope Planned Parenthood’s financial aid (assuming she qualifies) is enough that the three of siblings, combined, can afford it.

    As bad as it is, my sister’s case isn’t the worst. I think we will figure it out. But this is a good reminder of why we need to fight so hard for reproductive and victim protection rights. I’m very proud of my brother for, independently and with no help, relentlessly pursuing the truth, and in doing so, shedding the Christianity and conservatism into which he was born and brainwashed. One year ago, he would have disowned my sister for even considering an abortion — which he used to call a surefire street to hell. As for my sister, I’m very proud of her for leaving her abuser, for working so hard to support herself, and for against the odds, staying on track to receive a bachelor’s degree next May. They give me hope for the future, and remind me to continue — against abusers, against forced birth liars, against conservative relatives, against court systems tilted against victims — to fight the good fight.

  79. AlexanderZ says

    carbonfox #97
    That’s horrible. That judge is a vile piece of victim-blaming scum. No better than her abuser.
    It’s good that your sister has your and and your brother’s support and I hope she’ll manage to see this through.

  80. AlexanderZ says

    Sorry for the late replies.
    Nick Gotts #63

    I withdraw the word “dishonest” in my #50, and apologise unreservedly to AlexanderZ and the commentariat for its unjustified use.

    I personally don’t find the word “dishonest” a grievous insult as far as insults go, but I would like to apologize for using it against you as well. Also I would like to emphasize that I only disagree with your analysis and by no means wish to attack you or imply any dishonesty on your part in any way.
    ____________________

    consciousness razor #69

    what I’m saying is that it’s still a substantially worse policy than a single-payer system. And I don’t think it’s reasonable to call the latter “utopian,” since stable/functioning societies with such systems already exist.

    I didn’t make my point clear. I don’t call the single-payer system utopian nor do I think that the current US mishmash of approaches to healthcare is any better (and I would know since I live under a single-payer system).
    My point was that trying to pass a better system when the Congress and Senate are filled with frothing-at-the-mouth Republicans, particularly when you don’t have the support of the big insurance corporations, is so optimistic that it might as well be utopian thinking. Unless you believe that the Democrats would achieve a super-majority in both houses I can’t see how anyone could pass any progressive legislation that does not appease the big businesses.
    However, it’s a moot point since Sven DiMilo #51‘s article shows why Clinton is not to be trusted.
    ____________________

    Nightjar #91 and Rossignol #96

    Especially when it isn’t the null hypothesis.

    Please forgive me ignorance, but why not?
    I thought that the null hypothesis should be the default state. Title IX (I don’t know anything about it beyond what Wikipedia says, but I don’t think it’s relevant because this is a question about the null hypothesis) has been active since 1972 and predates the Women’s Mondial by almost 20 years. As such it is now a default state and Tom Weiss‘ arguments against it relevance should be supported by evidence, whereas he mostly offered anecdotal evidence and hadn’t addressed the additional effects that Title could have, which were explained by consciousness razor #95.
    Basically, Tom Weiss #83‘ initial argument:

    Umm, probably not. The US women’s team succeeded because they had the best players and the right strategy and a little luck (although they probably didn’t need the luck). Germany has two Women’s World Cup Titles without a Title IX equivalent, and most (don’t have the exact number) of athletes on the US women’s national team were extremely high performing athletes before they entered college.

    At the highest performing end of women’s althetics Title IX has likely had zero effect. Title IX or not, Amy was going to end up playing professionally and then for this national team.

    What Title IX has done is improve opportunities for average to below average college athletes as more programs opened up. None of the people in this category, I’d be willing to bet, are currently playing for the US Women’s National team.

    Can be summarized as:
    1. Title IX probably has no effect on the performance of the US team.
    2. Title IX does not provide a relative advantage against other countries.
    3. High tier women athletes do not benefit from Title IX and since they are the only ones to play in the US team, Title IX is irrelevant.

    These arguments can be transformed into:
    Repealing Title IX is unlikely to have any effect on the performance if the US team in the Women’s Mondial.

    As such, that’s a testable statement whose null hypothesis is that Title IX does have an effect.

  81. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Post hoc ergo propter hoc? Really?

    Some of you appear to not understand the context of title 9. When I was an undergraduate, where I attended there were 22-25 men’s varsity teams, and 5-6 women’s varsity teams. When title 9 passed, women’s soccer was added by many colleges/universities as there was and interest by women in participating. Besides, they could play on the unused football practice fields, so it was cheap. A quick, small search showed 3/3 Team USA stars on winning women’s World Cup Teams attended college, and played on the teams there. Evidence that title 9 did its job of promoting women’s athletics, even to a world scale. So the null hypothesis, based on evidence, is that title 9 did what it was expected to do. No presuppositions, just solid evidence it worked. Problems with that?

  82. chigau (違う) says

    Got a phone-call from Sibling:
    “I survived.”
    Surgery was sucessfull.
    Missing a foot but it’s all good.
    Maybe overnight my teeth will unclench.

  83. Ragutis says

    @ chigau (違う)

    Whoa. That’s a hell of a phone call. Don’t know if I missed the backstory on an earlier thread or if that was out of the blue, but my best wishes for your sib and your teeth.

  84. chigau (違う) says

    Ragutis
    Out of the blue for this thread, not for me.
    Thanks for your wishes.

  85. says

    I don’t see why that hasn’t had a positive effect on better-than-average athletes as well. It seems like having programs in schools and universities all over the country, along with other non-professional players/teams, provides a large base of support and enthusiasm for women’s sports in general (along with being the right thing to do)

    Althletes of the caliber that won the Women’s World Cup are typically identified/made/developed by the time they’ve graduated high school, if not earlier. This is a testament to the quality of the diverse youth soccer programs and coaches around the country, not to Title IX. I agree that it’s the right thing to do. I don’t think it has resulted in a broader base of support/enthusiasm becuase legislation doesn’t work like that.

    Besides, Title IX is supposed to cover discrimination in all aspects of the education system, not just sports. If you’re in a society that doesn’t give women fair treatment when they want to become literature professors, that’s also not likely to be the sort of society that will treat individual pro female athletes fairly (not “would still pay to see a few of their games” — treating them fairly)

    The original claim was Title IX was in some way responsible for the Women’s World Cup victory a couple days ago, and that is the claim with which I took issue.

    I don’t know the numbers of women unable to become literature professors because of unfair treatment. I was a literature major in college and my professors were, almost exclusively, women, so I’m not familiar with the evironment you describe.

    I also don’t understand your argument about professional female athletes, Title IX has no impact on them.

    And this…

    You also have to ask yourself how many in that sort of environment would have the confidence or disposition, which is independent of talent and not independent of the environment you’re in, to even try to look for any opportunities which may still be available to them

    …is a variation of a quite sexist argument that women, somehow by their very nature, lack some element of “confidence” or “disposition” and they won’t even look for opportunities unless they’re presented on some silver platter. I find that argument repugnant.

  86. consciousness razor says

    I don’t know the numbers of women unable to become literature professors because of unfair treatment. I was a literature major in college and my professors were, almost exclusively, women, so I’m not familiar with the evironment you describe.

    It was an arbitrary choice, and the number of people who are an X is not a measure of their fair treatment.

    I also don’t understand your argument about professional female athletes, Title IX has no impact on them.

    You apparently don’t understand. It does impact them, for the reasons I described, as well as many others most likely.

    And this…

    You also have to ask yourself how many in that sort of environment would have the confidence or disposition, which is independent of talent and not independent of the environment you’re in, to even try to look for any opportunities which may still be available to them

    …is a variation of a quite sexist argument that women, somehow by their very nature, lack some element of “confidence” or “disposition” and they won’t even look for opportunities unless they’re presented on some silver platter. I find that argument repugnant.

    Maybe you don’t understand the meaning of the phrases “in that sort of environment” and “not independent of the environment you’re in.” Those rather explicitly and repeatedly don’t describe people (or women or anybody or anything) by their very nature. Also, having a fair and just society (which was clearly my premise here) is not having things presented to you on some silver platter, jackass.

    It hasn’t happened often for me as a man, to literally have things presented to me on such a platter — at Christmas parties sometimes, but not when given a job for example. However, the fact that I’m a dude does give me “fair” treatment relative to all other dudes (at least, if I’m not mistaken, they also don’t get the silver platter treatment in such circumstances, which is one stupidly simple way of defining how fair things are for us relative to another). That’s the kind of treatment I’m saying should be legally enforced, to apply to women (or a person of whatever gender) as well: fair and equal treatment. If we ever do get any such thing, then so should they, all other things (besides dudeliness) being equal. If you still don’t fucking understand it, now is when you combine that with the simple claim that doing so has been beneficial to a specific set of them in a specific way. So you can shut your repugnant fucking trap and think for a fucking minute, until that somehow sinks its way into your brain, not before.

  87. says

    carbonfox
    Fuck
    I’m really sorry to hear about your sister.

    Chigau
    Wishing your sibling a speedy recovery

    Tom Weis

    I don’t know the numbers of women unable to become literature professors because of unfair treatment. I was a literature major in college and my professors were, almost exclusively, women, so I’m not familiar with the evironment you describe.

    So your personal experience of n=1 is more important than tons of statstical data?

    …is a variation of a quite sexist argument that women, somehow by their very nature, lack some element of “confidence” or “disposition” and they won’t even look for opportunities unless they’re presented on some silver platter. I find that argument repugnant.

    Bullshit. The argument is about doing something about the fucking hostile climate against women. You know what, there’s tons of studies that show that boys do indeed get way more encouragement than girls. Wanting a level playing field is NOT asking for special treatment because we’re delicate flowers.

  88. Nightjar says

    AlexanderZ,

    Title IX (I don’t know anything about it beyond what Wikipedia says, but I don’t think it’s relevant because this is a question about the null hypothesis)

    For the record, I didn’t know anything about it prior to this discussion either and I’m not familiar with the situation of women’s sports in the US, which is why I’m staying away from the main argument. And I also don’t think that which position one would choose as the null hypothesis has any bearing on which one is more likely to be true. Obviously. It was a pointless and lazy move by Nerd. Comment #100 is how he should have started, although I think he’s still misusing it (“So the null hypothesis, based on evidence, is that…” ….really?).

    Anyway…

    As such it is now a default state and Tom Weiss‘ arguments against it relevance should be supported by evidence

    These arguments can be transformed into:
    Repealing Title IX is unlikely to have any effect on the performance if the US team in the Women’s Mondial.

    As such, that’s a testable statement whose null hypothesis is that Title IX does have an effect.

    “Repealing Title IX is unlikely to have any effect” makes more sense to me as being the default state/null hypothesis. It’s “if we remove this variable, things will stay the same”. And yes, that’s sort of a testable statement that in theory you could go on about trying to disprove (by repealing it and observing if the US women’s soccer team keeps having the same success), which is why I think it should be the null hypothesis. If disproved, then we have evidence for the alternative hypothesis, which would be that Title IX is having an effect on the women’s US team success.

    But, as I said, this isn’t really relevant. Also, there’s probably a difference between “what if we repealed Title IX now” and “what if Title IX had never existed”. I’m not entirely sure which one Tom Weiss is arguing about.

  89. says

    Tom Weiss:

    What you would have an even harder time proving, I suspect, is the notion that Title IX has had any affect at the top end of women’s athletics.

    Umm, probably not. The US women’s team succeeded because they had the best players and the right strategy and a little luck (although they probably didn’t need the luck)….

    At the highest performing end of women’s althetics Title IX has likely had zero effect.

    What Title IX has done is improve opportunities for average to below average college athletes as more programs opened up. None of the people in this category, I’d be willing to bet, are currently playing for the US Women’s National team.

    Such ignorance. Title IX didn’t just increase the number of women playing college sports – it required equity across the board in all sports programs at federally funded institutions (including high schools and elementary schools). (And no, programs didn’t just all happily agree to this – court battles have continued for decades.) This has meant vast improvements in facilities, equipment, training, administrative support, academic support, team travel and housing support, publicity, medical/injury support, scholarships, coaching staff wages, protection from discrimination and harassment,… This has had an enormously positive impact for top women athletes in the US and their ability to compete internationally.

  90. says

    I also don’t understand your argument about professional female athletes, Title IX has no impact on them.

    If you don’t understand an argument, how can you be sure of your assertion about Title IX?

    The above-quoted statement is typical of the willful stupidity of libertarians.

  91. Esteleth, RN's job is to save your ass, not kiss it says

    There’s also the bit about how a girl with the first glimmers of talent might be able to develop that talent because her school has a Title IX mandated team, until she grows up to be a professional-level talent, when otherwise she’d not have the opportunity.

    What did you think that Olympic medalists and World Cup winners spring from holes in the ground?

  92. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    chigau,

    Best wishes for your sibling’s recovery.

  93. says

    Today’s blog-work: outlining a harmonization between dual process theory and the concepts of “rules” and “associations” as they are used in brain science, in order to introduce a reader to papers having to do with experiments measuring phenomena involving eye movement control, time production and estimation, and rule-based language control.
    End goal: a Powerpoint presentation explaining cognitive enhancements to children and adults with Tourette’s Syndrome and their families.

    @Owlmirror 46
    Thanks for posting that. I remember reading about “cranes” and “skyhooks” a while ago. It’s worth revisiting it.

    @John Morales 47
    But should not things typically be coherent? ;)

    Thanks for the compliment. Your communicative style certainly puts me “through my paces” so to speak. It’s not the most pleasant thing but very useful (the whole discussion around that paper really). I’m prone to the more harmful version of tangential thinking and often leave out too much context or land a little off-target in my word choice. Thanks for pointing out my errors. I’m probably too “philosophy avoidant” in ways I don’t realize.

    I tend to be obsessed with symbology and “inchoatepsyche” seemed to be a fitting url. So to make sure that my “filing cabinet” is organized properly would you consider methodology an “output” or “product”of epistemology?

    You might care to consider that the concept of innate maps for social navigation is not an observation nor even a provisional inference, but rather a conjecture.
    To rely upon it is unsound.

    I’m going to do a long reply because this stuff is really on my mind and tangentially related to some writing I’m planning on doing. It’s worth getting my ideas and intentions straightened out.

    I would agree that relying on the results of a single journal article showing the results of hypothesis testing as a source of information to take concrete actions would be unsound. The things that I tend to mine for beliefs that prompt actions come from review articles or the introductions of those experimental articles and I try to always make sure that I can tie those things to other theory and observed reality. I did not really separate my process for interacting with the world from my process for mentally “playing with” the results of experimental articles.
    When I mentioned inference above I was speaking of a hypothetical logic between a hypothetical “social map” and other kinds of maps to generate symbology that includes analogies, metaphors, hyperbole and similar. Such maps could contain:
    *Embodied (as in having to do with the physical anatomy)association and rule sets
    *Perceptual association and rule sets
    *Temporal association and rule sets
    *Social association and rules sets
    *Conceptual association and rule sets
    …and those individual associations and rules could have characteristics with logically or rationally consistent elements. So witnessing a fight (perceptual) can lead to the recall of hitting (physical) something with a hammer (conceptual) leading to the phrase “they hammered them relentlessly!”.

    So while it’s all very interesting, that would not be the sort of thing I would functionally include in anything like an argument with at person.

    @WMDKitty 54
    I will never see the Alien series the same way again. The themes meant to scare men and males with rape are obvious now as I think back on it. That’s actually really fascinating. I love the VG Cats reference.
    Also damn you for posting that time-sink tvtropes.

    @Nightjar 58
    I fear the mental compartmentalization that politicians probably have to often maintain. At least it’s rhetorically useful.

    @Hj Hornbeck 70
    Thanks for linking that. I’ve been meaning to wrap my brain around an example of some proper ways of applying skepticism to sexual assault issues so I can get more efficient in arguments.
    Also damn Steersman is annoying. It’s like he waves logical structures around with his reasoning related to social conflict instead of discussion. I suspect they picked the name to describe how they don’t give a fuck about anyone’s concerns but theirs so they steer any way but where you want to go.

    @carbonfox 97
    Your example is precisely why I choose to attack the way that SJW is used and assume the term wherever I go on the internet. That term is little but a way to mentally shield someone from thinking through what another person is saying about social justice and speak of hated examples of social justice in echo chambers. I wish you and your sister good fortune.

  94. AlexanderZ says

    chigau #102
    Best wishes to your sibling.
    ___________________

    Nightjar #108

    Also, there’s probably a difference between “what if we repealed Title IX now” and “what if Title IX had never existed”. I’m not entirely sure which one Tom Weiss is arguing about.

    Agreed. However, the difference should be miniscule if one is arguing that the program has no noticeable effect.

    “Repealing Title IX is unlikely to have any effect” makes more sense to me as being the default state/null hypothesis. It’s “if we remove this variable, things will stay the same”

    Looking around the web I’ve found several definitions of null hypothesis (H0). I’ll ignore the more complex statistical definitions, which leads to three possible statements:
    1. H0 should be the opposite of your alternative hypothesis (H1). In this case both Nerd and Tom Weiss should have opposite H0s and should both disprove their H0.
    2. H0 should be the common accepted explanation/hypothesis. For example, Copernicus’ H0 was that the Sun revolves around the Earth and Galileo’s was that heavier objects fall faster. In this case only Tom Weiss should disprove his H0 since the law is already in effect, and the fact that it passed means that the majority of legislators thought that it would have an effect.
    3. H0 should state that there is no relationship between the measured phenomena. This is the approach that you support and that means that only Nerd has to disprove his H0.

    The first position isn’t very interesting and far too time consuming. The third approach is extremely useful in statistical analysis and when you’re designing an experiment, however it’s not useful in every case. If Copernicus had taken this approach his H0 would have been that there is no correlation between the Earth, the Sun, their movements or the lack of thereof, and Galileo’s would have been identical to his H1 (namely, that the weight of an object has no bearing on the speed of its fall).
    As noted above, the general position is that laws have an effect, so the second approach is the one supported by current scientific thought. I mean, when you make an already accepted scientific claim you don’t go around rejecting the H0 anew, since you assume that the current approach is already based on a previously rejected H0. Only when your position is at odds with current thought, or when you make a novel discovery, is when an H0 is needed.
    Besides, in this argument no experiment is proposed. Instead we have a “what if” claim that isn’t very wieldy. It has to be modified somehow to test it. The easiest test is the most obvious one – what would happen when Title IX is repealed? Here Tom Weiss’ H0 is far simpler than Nerd’s H0. Any statistically significant effect (for the moment I ignore what you’ve said about the additional effects of repealing since that too is a claim that could be challenged) would disprove Tom Weiss’ H0, while only negative effects (something that also needs to be defined) would disprove Nerd’s H0.

    tl;dr – Nerd represents the current consensus and the easier approach, so his position should be the H0. All Nerd had to do was to cite one source that supports his claim to show that his position is the H0.
    ___________________

    Raging Bee #112

    The above-quoted statement is typical of the willful stupidity of libertarians.

    That’s Tom Wiess’ mode of operation. See an example here.

  95. Nightjar says

    AlexanderZ,

    Nerd represents the current consensus

    Ok. I wasn’t thinking of it in that sense you outlined in 2. But yes, I agree that Nerd’s hypothesis should be the common accepted one and even the most likely, logically. I still don’t think calling it the null hypothesis adds anything to the argument in this case, but I will admit that the “Especially when it isn’t the null hypothesis” bit of my comment should have been left out as it implies it can’t be posited as such.

    The third approach is extremely useful in statistical analysis and when you’re designing an experiment, however it’s not useful in every case.

    Agreed. I’d even say it’s not particularly useful in this case because we’re not actually going to do any experiment, but if…

    what would happen when Title IX is repealed? Here Tom Weiss’ H0 is far simpler than Nerd’s H0. Any statistically significant effect (for the moment I ignore what you’ve said about the additional effects of repealing since that too is a claim that could be challenged) would disprove Tom Weiss’ H0, while only negative effects (something that also needs to be defined) would disprove Nerd’s H0.

    I think I’m lost here with the H0s. Any statistically significant effect would disprove the hypothesis “Repealing Title IX has no effect”. Right? Which is what I was suggesting as the null hypothesis in this hypothetical experiment, precisely because it is the easier approach. Are we agreeing on this point or am I misreading you here?

  96. consciousness razor says

    Brony, #115:

    So to make sure that my “filing cabinet” is organized properly would you consider methodology an “output” or “product”of epistemology?

    I won’t speak for John, but I wouldn’t. (I wouldn’t say it’s either, if you think “outputs” and “products” have different meanings.) Methods are how you go about producing certain outputs/products, not the products themselves. If you want to use some very simplified computer imagery, it’s like a program that’s running, by taking inputs and making outputs based on those. The mechanism which transforms the latter out of the former is your methodology. (It could also be some more vague constraints that give you a flavor of how things work, not necessarily the exact process which determines exactly that one output with one exact input.) You might also say it’s analogous to the lifecycle of a plant, not the produce (or seeds, extracts, etc.) which you could get at a grocery store. The produce is the collection of factual statements about the world (given your theory) which your methodology is supposed to have generated for you based on some empirical data (if it all works as you think it does). Maybe it’s taking the analogy too far, but the idea is that the data is the ground/air/sunlight/etc. or the environmental/historical conditions the plant starts with, in the context of which it’s growing (or being grown) to give you the produce you wanted. The produce may not be what you wanted or expected (or maybe isn’t used properly once you have it), but whatever happens, methods are simply how you got from A to B.

    However, I might be answering the wrong question. You might mean to ask something else… As an epistemological issue, you can ask what are the ways (which processes/methods/etc.) to know or learn or justify or explain things. (You could also ask what are good/reliable/reasonable methods to do projects like that, and which ones aren’t so good/etc.) So, a methodology (or many of them) is your output for that question: it’s the kind of answer that question is asking for, since you’re not asking something else like “what’s the truth?” or “what’s the world like?” (those would be outputs in the previous interpretation above). I’m not sure if that’s the sort of question you were wondering about. It’s ambiguous enough to be taken that way too.

    So witnessing a fight (perceptual) can lead to the recall of hitting (physical) something with a hammer (conceptual) leading to the phrase “they hammered them relentlessly!”.

    This isn’t clear to me. First, you didn’t say what a “temporal” association is or how that fits into your scheme. (I figure all of the things you mentioned require time). I could say similar things about a “social association,” but there the meaning is a little more obvious: having agents of some kind is the criterion which divides the social from the non-social. In the former case, it’s obvious that time is involved, but I don’t know when/where/how you’re proposing there are any non-temporal relationships or things (or if there are any at all).

    Second, “the recall of hitting” is as physical as any of these other things (or anything else). And if by “recall” you’re referring to a memory, not the event of two objects colliding, that seems perceptual and conceptual (and temporal) too. You have thoughts about it and perhaps experience (real or imagined) pictures/sounds/feelings of it — but whatever it may be, your memory of the thing isn’t the thing being remembered. So it’s not clear which kind of thing you’re referring to or what this claim is supposed to be saying about whichever kind of thing it is.

    Third, what exactly do you mean by saying a hammer is “conceptual”? Are you talking about the concept we might have of “the category which contains all hammers” or something along those lines? If so, what should someone say about, for example, “the category which contains all hits” (or fights or phrases or metaphors or whatever)? Why highlight that when you mention the hammer, but not in other places when you mention other items?

    The general pattern I’m noticing is that any of these might be classified one way just as well as any other way…. So, if that’s not clear, how is it helpful? Is there a definite and consistent way that we could all use this scheme/theory/system of yours to get the same results? Or are you trying to describe phenomological aspects of how you subjectively seem to be experiencing/understanding things (which might not correspond to anything real), in a way that others won’t/can’t (or aren’t expected to) reproduce?

  97. chigau (違う) says

    Beatrice, AlexanderZ, Brony
    Thank you for your wishes.
    Sibling is developing adversarial relationships with all the nurses.
    Recovery must be going apace.

  98. John Morales says

    Brony @115 (c.f. consciousness razor @119), in the context of enquiry, the two are related so that methodology becomes applied epistemology — that is, one is the philosophical basis and the other the process of applying that philosophy.

    I think a more illustrative analogy than cr’s might be the relationship between legislation and regulation [epistemology:methodology::legislation:regulation].

    (Under that analogy, a methodology which tries to concurrently apply incompatible epistemologies would be like regulations that try to concurrently enforce incompatible laws — obviously problematic)

  99. consciousness razor says

    (Under that analogy, a methodology which tries to concurrently apply incompatible epistemologies would be like regulations that try to concurrently enforce incompatible laws — obviously problematic)

    Interesting. I think I use “legislation” and “regulation” interchangeably for the most part, but there might just be a language barrier between us. I mean, I would talk about a “legal philosophy” when referring to a theory like that, without regard to its enforcement. Laws and regulations are (I guess) more specific codifications of parts of a general theory. If they don’t get enforced, there is still a fact that they were legislated or a regulatory agency came up with them. Those laws/regulations are basically abstract theoretical entities, “applied” from the general theory by being more specific or definite or usable (and not literally abstract since they’re concrete things written somewhere), but they’re not necessarily “applied” in the sense that they are enforced. The application of those in the latter sense of “enforcement” has to do with events like police administering or compelling obedience to the laws (arresting people or whatever), courts interpreting their implications in specific cases, countries going to war if treaties are violated, or whatever is actually happening. So, of course you could talk about laws (or regulations) being incompatible with one another, but you might also want to say an act of enforcement is/isn’t compatible with one particular law — that is, it’s either consistent with the law that’s supposedly being enforced or it’s not (maybe the police are doing a bad job, etc.), whatever any other laws might say.

  100. Hj Hornbeck says

    Small world! I just did a blog post on p-values and their significant levels of bullshit. While I don’t talk much about the null hypothesis there, it did lead me to an excellent polemic which does.

    Thus far, I have been considering H0s in their most general sense—as propositions about the state of affairs in a population, more particularly, as some specified value of a population parameter. Thus, “the population mean difference is 4” may be an H0, as may be “the proportion of males in this population is .75” and “the correlation in this population is .20.” But as almost universally used, the null in H0 is taken to mean nil, zero. For Fisher, the null hypothesis was the hypothesis to be nullified. As if things were not bad enough in the interpretation, or misinterpretation, of NHST [Null Hypothesis Significance Testing] in this general sense, things get downright ridiculous when H0 is to the effect that the effect size (ES) is 0—that the population mean difference is 0, that the correlation is 0, that the proportion of males is .50, that the raters’ reliability is 0 (an H0 that can almost always be rejected, even with a small sample—Heaven help us!).

    Cohen, Jacob. “The earth is round (p < .05).” American Psychologist, Vol 49(12), Dec 1994, 997-1003. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.49.12.997

    I heavily recommend the article; it’s not often you read an exposition on technical matters that’s breezy and accessible.

  101. John Morales says

    consciousness razor @122, this should explain the sense in which I used those terms.

    (It’s very overt here in Australia, so maybe I indulged in availability bias; as an example, in South Australia currently there is the Development Act 1993 which is regulated by the Development Regulations 2008)

  102. says

    More substantive replies later. For now I had to share these.

    PBS Idea Channel “Three Laws of The Internet Explained!”
    Godwin’s Law
    Lewis’s Law
    Poe’s Law

    The comments are getting veeeeerrry interesting. A drinking game would be lethal.

    When I speak of “intersectionalizing” things one comments by a awkwardCrabwalk get’s at what I often think about,

    No, it actually means “there will always be dicks in the comment section.” I see the same pattern with articles about anti-racisim and LGBT+ rights.

    Lewis’s Law is a manifestation of something else. Maybe the sex/gender version of “publicly challenging a commonly accepted expression of a dominance display tends to attract examples of that dominance display”.
    (Is it possible to link a youtube comment?)

    My favorite line “Now this video will provide examples of Lewis’s Law…and probably Godwin’s Law…”

    The discussion in the “So they were little more than script kiddies after all” post made me think of this. I’m not quite sure why.
    Computer learning system detects emotional context in text messages.

  103. says

    Chigau @ 128:

    Those would be Little Brown Bats, the kind we have here – Myotis lucifugus.

    All the best to your sib, Chigau.

  104. opposablethumbs says

    Best wishes to your sibling, chigau. I hope prospects are good for a prosthesis of their choice?

    We have no bats at all anywhere near, afaik :-(

    Wishing your sister success and well away from her attacker, and to you and your brother helping her, carbonfox, that is beyond-my-words awful. Wishing her safe and holy shit the three of you are awesome.

  105. rq says

    chigau

    Sibling is developing adversarial relationships with all the nurses.

    Sounds like there have been no complications following the procedure. May Sibling continue to raise hell and be released on good behaviour! :)
    Also, bats. We have bats. At least two of them. TAKE THAT, MOSQUITOES!!! indeed.
    (I think they’re still making a nest under the eaves. At least they moved away from the front door.)

  106. AlexanderZ says

    Nightjar #118

    Are we agreeing on this point or am I misreading you here?

    Totally agreeing. The verbosity on my part was merely intended to avoid confusion.

    P.S.
    Thanks for introducing me to nightjars. I was curious what’s the bird on your avatar and googled your nym (which up until then I thought was just a nym). Apparently nightjars are real! And they’re spectacular! I can’t believe that I’ve never heard of them until now (let alone seen one), considering how ubiquitous they are and the legends about them. Even their Russian name is unfamiliar to me.
    __________________

    re: Bats
    Supposedly there are 33 bat species here, but I’ve ever encountered one, and even that was on rare occasions. Maybe I should spend more time in the wilderness. Then again, the wilderness is full of dangerous shit (mandatory Oglaf, SFW).

  107. Nightjar says

    chigau,

    Sibling is developing adversarial relationships with all the nurses.

    My grandmother recently spent some weeks in the hospital (broken leg + hospital-acquired pneumonia) and that was exactly how we knew whether she was doing well or not at any particular point in time.

    Best wishes to your sibling.

    ***

    AlexanderZ,

    Thanks for introducing me to nightjars. I was curious what’s the bird on your avatar and googled your nym (which up until then I thought was just a nym). Apparently nightjars are real! And they’re spectacular! I can’t believe that I’ve never heard of them until now (let alone seen one), considering how ubiquitous they are and the legends about them. Even their Russian name is unfamiliar to me.

    Thanks for letting me know, I’m always happy to introduce another person to these amazing birds! I’ve been realizing that a lot of people never heard of them. They are ubiquitous, but not that easy to see. I haven’t seen many myself and even just hearing one is already exciting and special. They make this churring sound that actually sounds more like a bug than a bird, that’s usually what gives them away.

    As for bats… I love watching bats! You all are reminding me of how badly I want/need to spend more time in wilderness, as you say. I haven’t been spending nearly enough lately. Because thesis. Defense. Next week. Argh.

  108. chigau (違う) says

    opposablethumbs, rq, Nightjar and anyone I missed.
    Thanks for your wishes for Sibling.

    It was over 30°C all day and I’ve just put the sprinkler on the garden.
    Lookit all the birdies!

  109. chigau (違う) says

    Hot air balloons can be vewy, vewy, quiet.
    Until they fly over your yard and hit the burner.
    That’s really loud.
    fuckers

  110. Ragutis says

    Just testing… had a post disappear into the ether on the jeb! thread with no message or error.

  111. Ragutis says

    Still no sign of it. Whatever. I know you folks are far more interested in my surf related posts anyway. (I see you rolling your eyes). While we wait for the Jeffreys Bay contest to finally kick off after two days of crappy waves, let’s watch some wipeouts (and a few made waves)

    One of the world’s best female longboarders gave 6-8ft Teahupoo a try. I don’t know why people still rub limes on reef cuts. They think the acid gets rid of any remaining reef bits that you can’t pick or rinse out. Coral skeletons are calcium carbonate, so I can see the logic, but it’s not doctor recommended. That’s 6 time Women’s World Champ Steph Gilmore in the backround at the end.

    And now the best (worst?) from the monster swell that hit Puerto Escondido in March. (Holy shit, Mark Healey’s wave was HUGE)

    J-Bay is on. Waves look smallish, but ok. Watch it here. Great wave in a beautiful place, with lots of interesting wildlife. Pretty common to see whales out the back or dolphins sharing waves with the surfers. Hopefully no sharks.

  112. says

    I didn’t think there were many bats in my neighborhood until one casually flew into my bedroom and circled around a few times.
    I also wouldn’t have thought I was capable of throwing myself to the floor and crawling commando-style into the hallway.
    Life is full of surprises I guess.

  113. rq says

    AlexanderZ
    Does the name for a nightjar in Russian have anything to do with goats? (I just looked it up out of curiosity, but I have very bad Russian.)

    +++

    There’s an old Latvian tale about nightjars and nightingales, about a competition to see who would be allowed to carry the title of ‘Best Singer’, and of course the nightjar overslept and growled in frustration, and that’s why its song is thus. The story kind of makes the nightingale into an over-achieving pretentious asshole, though.

  114. Morgan!? ♥ ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ says

    chigau @139,
    Is there a meaning in your test with dots and tiny mouse? But then, is there meaning in anything.

  115. AlexanderZ says

    Nightjar #134
    Thank you for the nightjar call video. I heard similar calls on occasion at night, but I used to think they were made by frogs, not birds. It’s possible that they were nightjars all along.
    Also, good luck with your thesis! Remember, a good thesis defense is a thesis offense :)
    _____________________

    rq #141

    Does the name for a nightjar in Russian have anything to do with goats?

    Yes. The Russian name for the bird is козодой (pronounced ko-zo-doi’) which literally means “goat milker”.

  116. says

    @ consciousness razor 119
    Let me see if I can fix this. I appreciate the exchange because I need to be able explain things at the correct level of resolution and use the correct language, which is a complicated affair. I have to be able to bounce between children and the people researching brains and in between. I’m going to go the opposite direction and expand this considerably. I’ll rethink that example (“They hammered them relentlessly!”) because it’s obvious that the objects, associations and maps would look different than I said above so I’m glad I did this (properly fleshing out and filling in my conceptual map?)

    *Embodied (as in having to do with the physical anatomy)association and rule sets
    *Perceptual association and rule sets
    *Temporal association and rule sets
    *Social association and rules sets
    *Conceptual association and rule sets

    First I need to say that what a “rule” is and what an “association” is can change a bit depending on where you are in the brain or mind. Let me try to give a globally useful definition.

    Association: a stored connection between two objects in perception. The emotions connecting them can be positive or negative, and the connection can be arbitrary or involve real-world connections.
    Examples: word-meaning (symbol-meaning) associations. Associating a political party (and associated people) with meaning and characteristics. Associating fire or an object flying at your head with pain. Associating electronic digits with value.
    Objects can be associated with rules, meanings, associations, instructions, characteristics, identities…

    Rule: a response containing a set of actions (a process) triggered by an object in perception, often within a specific context.
    Examples: a need to refer to a past action triggers the production of adding a -s or -ed to the end of a word to make a regular past tense verb. Fire triggers cautious behaviors in its vicinity. An object flying at your head triggers ducking or bringing an arm up. Republican or Democrat triggers a whole bunch of things. An object triggers recall of a feeling, memory, response…

    Object is anything that can be perceived or conceptualized here. Incoming information (computational outputs) is also an object from the perspective of a map and it’s anatomy.

    *Embodied (as in having to do with the physical anatomy)association and rule sets” contained in a body space map.
    These would be all of the instruction sets associating information objects in terms of the most basic features of detection of sensory parts, body part location/status information responses with response instructions. Not only are there parts that take physical actions but there are also parts that take perceptual actions (choosing what to pay attention to). “Self” assembly.
    This would include all of the maps that segment us into pieces in physical terms (a sense of viscera, muscles, bones, joints, vasculature, nerves, skin, eyes, ears, nose, tongue and an integrated whole) and assembles us into a set that has the potential to sense and interact with the outside world and inside world (you have parts that manipulate where you perception goes and manipulates the information in your head).
    Dermatomes look like sensor pads. We are segmented across many axes throughout and human segmentation is fascinating. This is information and the structures that process it into a map of body parts that the body they assemble into.

    *Perceptual association and rule sets contained within a perceptual space map.
    These would be all of the instruction sets associating sensory information with instructions for assembly and identification of objects (this blurs into the social map and conceptual maps as differentiated objects). The traditional senses break apart here into senses located in body parts. “Other” assembly.
    Organs (integrity, status, chemical detection in lungs, probable interaction with gut flora…)
    Skin (pressure, temperature, integrity, status) (probably mucous membranes too)
    Joints, bones and muscles (relative position, pressure, integrity, status)
    Eyes (electromagnetic spectrum, touch, temperature, integrity, status)
    Ears (air pressure waves, integrity, status)
    Tongue (aqueous chemical detection, pressure, temperature, integrity, status)
    Nasal tissue (aerosol chemical detection) (membranes also possible act similar to skin)
    Semicircular canals (gravity detection, momentum detection)
    Body fluid sensors (many things like nutrients, compounds, pH, hormone levels, barostatic pressure, oxygen levels…) (Hypothalamus, etc…)

    *Temporal association and rule sets” contained within a temporal space map. This map will be associate with and at least in part be constructed by the previous two.
    This one gets a little difficult because how to define and conceptualize time can get complicated due to disagreements and just trying to understand what time is. Here is my attempt at conveying it. As the Self and Other change state (relative location, relative velocity, apparent status, apparent characteristics…) information about what those changes are and how those changes occur in a sequence is stored.
    So a temporal space map could be thought of as the information and structures that detect “objectified change” of Self and/or Other and/or their relationships over time. Those “change objects” will be associated with responses to the change perceived and those responses will deal with things like altering the change and starting or stopping things. That probably also folds into a sense of “running Self and/or Other processes over time” to get meta.

    *Social association and rules sets contained within a social space map. This map will also associate with and at least in part be constructed by the previous three. It will contain
    This is the instructions for identification of “social objects” and “social related objects”. This is the meaning/response association for objects of “Other like Me” (other people/beings generally or in-group depending on context, “connected to me”) and “Other unlike Me ” (irrelevant objects, non-person/being objects, out-group persons). Social perception maps track nature, status, etc… social temporal maps will track social changes.
    Thinking about how empathy works into this could be interesting.
    *Conceptual association and rule sets contained within a conceptual space map.
    This is the most meta and interesting map. It’s built from the others and involves conscious awareness of all of the rest as you are experiencing the world, and independent of incoming perceptual information during rumination, introspection daydreaming, etc. All of those stored objects (real or unreal!)can be simulated in terms of identity(ies), nature(s), meaning(s), status(es), relationship(s) and more. They are also measured as a process so you can simulate change over time.
    It’s associated with the “mental workspace” and it’s features. Conceptual actions are in here and that makes me wonder about a sense of “simulated parts” that “do” things here. Still, it’s a thing worth thinking about because people are different. You use simulated hands to hit a simulated ball, but it would at least be interesting to wonder about what “bodily” manipulates numbers, words and other abstractions. (Synestesia? “Conceptual segmentation?”)

    How does this look?

  117. chigau (違う) says

    Morgan #142
    It’s ghost sticking out his tougue. He has one large and one small eye.
    And a mouse.
    —–
    Nightjars, nighthawks, whip-poor-wills are all Caprimulgidae AKA goat-suckers.

  118. AlexanderZ says

    chigau #147

    Nightjars, nighthawks, whip-poor-wills are all Caprimulgidae AKA goat-suckers.

    El chupacabras – they are real!

  119. rq says

    AlexanderZ
    Aha, thanks. :) Yeah, I got the “козо-” part (I can read Russian <- for a very specific value of 'read'), and the word for 'goat' is similar to Latvian (kaza) but I was unsure about the ending – one just never knows with languages.

  120. Nightjar says

    The Portuguese name for nightjar is “noitibó”. Which means, well, I was going to say it means nothing at all, but Wikipedia is telling me it is derived from “noite-boa”. So I guess it literally means “good night”.

    ***

    chigau, #139:

    While the page is still loading I see a blue ghost and squirrel. After the page has loaded it morphs into a light-grey ghost and a mouse. Viewing selection source shows the blue ghost and the squirrel. What’s happening?

  121. Nightjar says

    AlexanderZ,

    Also, good luck with your thesis! Remember, a good thesis defense is a thesis offense :)

    Thanks! As you can see I’m procrastinating like hell at the moment, which I guess is an unavoidable part of the process too :)

  122. Vilém Saptar says

    Well anyway, I thought as long as I was here, might as well say hi and share some news. I went back to school and I wanted to remember and thank you for the support you lent me a couple years ago. That helped. So thanks :)

  123. chigau (違う) says

    Vilém Saptar
    I remember you. Welcome back. Good for schooling, I hope it’s working for you.
    This is sorta like the Thunderdome but less bitey.

  124. chigau (違う) says

    oops
    there’s the wind change
    smoke is gone and thunderstorms are coming

  125. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Vilém Saptar,

    Hey. Congrats on going back to school.

  126. rq says

    Ragutis @157
    I now have plans for my Saturday night. Not clicking now, I still have to make it in to work. :)

  127. Ragutis says

    I now have plans for my Saturday night.

    Please tell me you have a date or more plans. The loop’s really short. If you know the name of the sat, you can usually find the images and adjust the playback speed. (Or at least you can with NOAA data)

    Surf Snowdonia turned the taps on! 6,000,000 gallons of water. Testing should begin tomorrow, and the park opens Aug. 1st! Can’t believe there’ll soon be better waves in some Welsh valley than I’ve seen here in years.

    J-Bay Open is on hold until 1pm SAST. Past my bedtime here, but it looks like they’re showing highlights from past events and other little features.

  128. Ragutis says

    So, last month a monster storm developed in the Roaring Forties. It generated a massive swell. Western Australia took the brunt of it. There’s plenty of footage of this day, but I chose this clip because of the cool soundtrack, the HD slo-mo, and the wave at 1:54 is absolutely bonkers. Not that many of the other ones seem to comport to the laws of physics as I understand them.

    Anyway, after Oz, the swell produced great surf in Indonesia and much of the energy directed at Western Australia wrapped around the continent into the South Pacific to Fiji and other prime surf locations in the region. Here’s a classic spot in the Mentawai Islands of Sumatra. Again, lots of footage (frankly, some of it more exciting) but I can’t get over the color of the water in some of the shots in this clip. This wave ends on essentially dry reef. Apparently these sessions were like a war of attrition with one surfer after another getting slammed into or dragged across the coral and having to sit the rest of the swell out. Not sure who the last man standing was, but the word is that they’re all pretty convinced that they got the wave of their life there.

    And now, the same swell has made it to Mexico. A bit smaller, but looks great. Almost fun sized. I’d give it a go. Maybe. 20 years ago, definitely. I’ll post video if I find some. Peru and some Central American spots may have scored too. I’ll let you know, like it or not.

  129. rq says

    Ragutis
    Nope, no date – Husband is out in the country with the kids, and nobody else is free. :)
    Other plans? Sure, I’m going to watch all your surfing videos!
    And then either Your Inner Fish or Sherlock season 3. I can’t decide yet, but there’s still work to be done before I get there.
    Worst comes to worst, I honestly don’t mind pretending to be an astronaut for an entire evening, even if the loop is very short. :)

  130. AlexanderZ says

    rq #149
    Slavic languages can be weird sometimes. For example, in Czech “pozor” means “attention”, but in Russian it (позор) means “shame”. This makes reading various signs in Prague rather… interesting.

    BTW, who, apart from ethnic Russians, still speaks Russian in Latvia? Is it just the people who were born under USSR rule, or does the new generation also knows the language?

  131. Rey Fox says

    I can’t really preface this question in a way that doesn’t acknowledge that I’m not really an active member of the Horde anymore and therefore shouldn’t really be presuming to ask for advice here, but…

    Is it worth it to move halfway across the country to a place you don’t really want to go to take a job that you don’t really want but possibly represents the only damn opportunity you’ll ever get to work in something near your career desires and field of study?

  132. rq says

    AlexanderZ
    Umm… in general terms, anyone my generation or older (mid-80s child) will most likely speak Russian, though some won’t on principle. Anyone younger than my generation (and it’s weird, there’s a pretty strict line of a couple of years spanning 1983 – 1985 or so) will most likely not speak Russian, due to not learning it.
    Th second language in most schools is now English, with Russian an optional language somewhere towards the end of middle school. So the younger people who do speak aren’t generally fluent, unless they have Russian-speaking friends and/or family. A lot of the younger people are trying to resist the language socially, in the sense that the default language in a group of Latvian-speaking people plus one Russian-speaking person is Russian, and there’s attempts in trying to maintain the rule of majority – if the majority is Russian-speaking, speak Russian; if the majority is Latvian-speaking, speak Latvian.
    The only people who really mind are the die-hard ethnic Russians who still consider the country a piece of Russia, and their descendants (and there’s a very conservative cultural inheritance in this sense, as proper integration is a bit of an issue – it’s not that they’re not accepted outside of the Russian-speaking community, it’s that they very much resist going outside of it).
    Most Russian-speaking people know Latvian and will speak it, though most express genuine surprise when I tell them that no, I don’t speak Russian – not a matter of principle, but a matter of not knowing the language (it’s still accepted that anyone my age would at least understand the language, even if I don’t speak it).
    I guess that’s a really long answer to your very short question?

  133. AlexanderZ says

    rq #167

    I guess that’s a really long answer to your very short question?

    That’s a great answer, thanks.
    I knew that some people would not speak Russian on principle even during the Soviet era (as a type of quiet resistance) since I encountered them in Ukraine and my parents had a similar experience in Riga. The 1983 – 1985 line makes sense – those children went to school after Latvia had declared its independence.
    _______________

    Rey Fox #166

    Is it worth it to move halfway across the country to a place you don’t really want to go to take a job that you don’t really want but possibly represents the only damn opportunity you’ll ever get to work in something near your career desires and field of study?

    I’d say yes, but keep in mind that half a country for me is an hour to four hours long trip (depends if were talking lengthwise or not) and that I don’t have a career nor any desires. There are people here from many countries and many professions who might be able to give you a real answer. How about saying what field you’re working in or any other relevant information? :)
    Also, you might want to try the Lounge – it’s more active and it’s usually the first place to go to if you need some helpful advice.
    _______________

    Ragutis #157
    I love those satellite pics!
    _______________

    Brony #156
    Here’s a video of a vet feeding a baby tawny frogmouth. They really are precious.

  134. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Just got done with The First Peoples. Makes me wonder for the umpteenth time if the sole advantage Homo sapiens had was a spoken language. Since language doesn’t leave anything in the fossil record, how can we tell when it occurred in the Homo lineage?

  135. Snoof says

    Nerd @ 169

    Since language doesn’t leave anything in the fossil record, how can we tell when it occurred in the Homo lineage?

    Might we be able to put an earliest possible date for spoken language based on fossil physiology? Something like, “These are the earliest specimens we’ve found with vocal apparatus consistent with modern speech”?

    I realise speech is clearly not a binary state – as anyone who’s ever raised a child will know, there’s a whole lot of different stages between “expressing basic emotional states” and “expressing complex abstract ideas” – but is there room for physiological comparison? Or have those structures been present in hominids a lot longer than we’ve got reason to believe there was speech? Or something else?

  136. consciousness razor says

    Something like, “These are the earliest specimens we’ve found with vocal apparatus consistent with modern speech”?

    It would help to know about language-related areas in the brain too. But I bet both of those would be hard to figure out with fossils. It’s not just a matter of their total dimensions, however that might have changed over this period, but how all of the soft tissues and such were organized. I guess genetic evidence could tell you about the relevant chemistry if you were clever enough, but that’s not preserved very long either, right?

    Also, other species like gorillas (or whales, dolphins, dogs, birds, ants, I don’t know what) already can use languages to some extent, or things which look and act a lot like languages, so maybe it’s a matter of defining what’s supposed to count and what isn’t.

  137. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    There appears to be two adaptations for Homo sapiens language, namely ithe vocal cord and Broca’s area.
    http://www.livescience.com/46853-can-apes-speak-like-humans.html
    http://www.mpi.nl/q-a/questions-and-answers/why-cant-apes-speak
    http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/37553/1330430116_ftp?sequence=1
    My gut is saying that the vocal cord adaptation was the significant one, as the great apes already had a disposition toward a language, as has been show by apes who learn ASL, or other means of communication. No evidence to back it up, since the vocal cords are cartilage, and they are not readily fossilizable.

  138. Owlmirror says

    Isn’t there research showing that the FOXP2 gene sequence has some correlation with language ability?

    A quick Google Scholar search on (FOXP2 Broca’s) brought up an interesting hit:

    http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic226673.files/Language_Gene_C.pdf

    Abstract:

    The Derived FOXP2 Variant of Modern Humans Was Shared with Neandertals

    Although many animals communicate vocally, no extant creature rivals modern humans in language ability. Therefore, knowing when and under what evolutionary pressures our capacity for language evolved is of great interest. Here, we find that our closest extinct relatives, the Neandertals, share with modern humans two evolutionary changes in FOXP2, a gene that has been implicated in the development of speech and language. We furthermore find that in Neandertals, these changes lie on the common modern human haplotype, which previously was shown to have been subject to a selective sweep. These results suggest that these genetic changes and the selective sweep predate the common ancestor (which existed about 300,000–400,000 years ago) of modern human and Neandertal populations. This is in contrast to more recent age estimates of the selective sweep based on extant human diversity data. Thus, these results illustrate the usefulness of retrieving direct genetic information from ancient remains for understanding recent human evolution.

  139. Owlmirror says

    And here is a relevant recent review:

    http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/full/10.1146/annurev-linguist-030514-124945

    Neanderthal language abilities cannot be directly observed, but indirect evidence is available in their anatomy, archeology, and DNA. Neanderthal anatomy shows possible speech adaptations, and their archeology contains enough indicators of behavioral modernity, including symbols and ornaments, to conclude that their minds could handle symbolic communication. Neanderthal DNA, finally, indicates both that they possessed some of the language-relevant genes found in modern humans and that they could and did have children with modern humans. From the consilience of evidence from anatomy, archeology, and DNA, one can conclude that some language abilities, if not necessarily full modern syntactic language, were present in Neanderthals.

  140. drewl, Mental Toss Flycoon says

    Rey Fox #166

    I think you’re still part of the Horde.
    This is probably my first comment in 2-3 years, and maybe my tenth overall, so i might not be the best judge of ‘active’ or not…

    Anyways, I always like seeing your ‘nym pop up, because you spent some time where I grew up, that town some call “the ‘scow”, and you have interesting things to say. So without knowing where you are now, or where you’re going, or the job offer, or future potentials, I’d say go for it. Especially if it’s just you relocating. It doesn’t have to be permanent, and if it’s a step closer to what you really want to do, it might be worth the risk. Ironically, I may be facing a similar dilemma soon, going back to ID. Go figure…

    Best of luck to you!

  141. says

    I’m not sure that spoken language is the whole story. I am admittedly very biased since my experience of language is “non-standard” to say the least, but I have thought about this a lot over the last five years because whatever this thing is it’s in my speech and text (there are papers looking at our writing). As bad as my editing can be I have seen patterns in what I have to go back and correct. Things like synonym/antonym flips are common (I just do it without noticing). We get captured by all sorts of patterns and it’s in all of our senses. I’m going to do a little digging and see what I’ve linked over the years. I have a paper on positive selection on the human genome that mentions foxp2 and you never know just what is involved where when we only know some of the story.

    As opinionated as I can be this is one I’m careful about. At least with explaining Tourette’s I’m the person with it so that helps with some of the problems that evolutionary psychology can face (I’ve considered that it has its own biases though). I was not there in history so I don’t have a personal link.

    I think that symbology in general is the way to look at it. Consider all of the ways that we can turn perception into information: speech, text, touch (braille), pictures (iconography, pictorial language, sign language). I daresay if someone put their mind to it they could think of a way to turn any of our senses into symbols. Animals use symbols though such as predators scratching on trees to establish territory in addition to smell and such and many of them have the rudiments of language that we can use to teach some of our skills (as Nerd of Redhead pointed out).

    For a while the oldest putative symbology was about 200,000 years old (Blombos cave engraved ochre) and more recently that was moved to about 500,000 years ago (a shell found in Java in the late 1800s recently given a closer look). 500,000 years is a date I see associated with that Foxp2 mutation. That last link talks about and links to the one that looked at foxp2 in Neanderthals but I chose that one because it talked about an experiment where they put the human foxp2 into mice. The results were interesting.

    I get the impression that somehow we gained some sort of increased resolution and variation with which we can divide up and apply meaning to reality. Maybe a new level to the hierarchy of consciousness or something.

  142. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Rey Fox

    Similarly to AlexnaderZ, halfway across the country looks very different in my mind than it is in your reality. I’m also a terribly indecisive person, so I’m completely unqualified to give decision-making advice. Nevertheless….
    You sound like you really don’t’ want to move.
    Is there anything to look forward to with the move and the new job?
    What are you leaving behind?
    If I understand correctly, you’re weighing pursuing an unwelcome change that might benefit you in the long run against ???.

    I’m not really sure what ??? stands for, so I don’t know if you’re afraid of leaving one unhappiness for another (in which case maybe “to hell with everything, let’s give this a try” might be a good idea) or the situation is different and you’re taking a bigger risk.

    In conclusion : Sorry, I don’t really have advice, just some random thoughts that you probably mulled over yourself already.

    Good luck!

  143. Rob Grigjanis says

    consciousness razor @78 in three stupid questions

    Is it [Copenhagen] a physical theory which tells about the real world? If not, is it pretending to be that sort of theory but trading that in for lots of irrelevant bullshit?

    What do you think is the irrelevant bullshit? Seriously, where do you think the ‘woo’ is in a minimal Copenhagen interpretation? Is it the Born rule?

    What’s an observer?

    You.

    What’s a measuring device?

    A detector, for example.

    What does “essentially classical” mean?

    It means little more than that they (classical devices) have a huge number of degrees of freedom, say on the order of Avogadro’s number, whereas the quantum state being observed will have only a few degrees of freedom (e.g. spin up, spin down).

    Why exactly aren’t we saying they’re “essentially quantum mechanical” if QM is actually true and a theory about the real world?

    You can say that, but the wavefunction of a detector is far too complicated to write down. Basically, it’s the same reason we don’t try to keep track of every molecule in a volume of gas.

  144. Rob Grigjanis says

    consciousness razor @78 in three stupid questions

    Re de Broglie-Bohm

    what do you think the problems are?

    Haven’t we done this before? OK, in a nutshell, dB-B is the Rube Goldberg interpretation for people who can’t let go of point particles.

    Just to duplicate spinless, nonrelativistic QM, an additional equation (to Schrödinger’s) is introduced; the guiding equation for the particles.

    To introduce spin, more contortions are required; spin is no longer a property of a particle, but of the wavefunction in relation to the measuring device. In other words, it’s contextual!

    To include special relativity, you have to introduce a rule to explain what “simultaneous” means. So, to “contextuality”, we can add “preferred foliation of spacetime”.

    Finally, quantum field theory. How’s dB-B doing there?

    @81:

    empirically there is nothing to get you to the conclusion that QM is indeterministic.

    It’s the most parsimonious interpetation of our observations. To get determinism requires all the stuff I mentioned above. And, as I’ve said before, determinism in a black box you can never open hardly merits the name.

  145. emergence says

    Alright, I don’t know all that much about the ongoing debate above, but I think that something I wanted to talk about is, coincidentally, somewhat relevant.

    It’s about two very closely related ideas; free will, and determinism vs indeterminism.

    These ideas seem fairly closely intertwined, even if they don’t directly influence one another. They’re also very emotionally charged and I feel like I have preferred answers to both questions.

    I suppose that the idea of determinism vs. indeterminism is the more basic one, so I’ll ask about this one first. Does anyone know if the universe is completely deterministic, or if the future is indeterminate? It seems like if there really is an irreducibly indeterminate element to quantum mechanics that it would consequentially effect objects on the macro-scale in some way, pretty much because of my namesake, “emergence”. I think that I might have an emotional investment in the idea that the future isn’ set in stone. It seems like, if the universe were completely deterministic, that fatalism automatically becomes true. The universe would have had its entire history laid out from the moment that it came into existence, and every object and living organism in existence are like characters in a book, playing their fixed roles from beginning to end. I actually like the idea that the future hasn’t already been determined, and that there are multiple possible futures.

    The other point, about free will, is somewhat determinate on the last point, but brings up it’s own problems. To start, I think that it’s wrong to say that humans don’t have free will, even if we don’t have free will in the strictest sense. Even if our decisions are predictable and based on context, we still make decisions. “Lack of free will” conjures up images of mindless husks who don’t move or think except if another entity tells them to. I think that it’s an important distinction to make between “strong” and “weak” free will, as the concept of weak free will can at least be used to differentiate between entities like some living organisms that have complex decision-making processes, and those that don’t.

    Even with the above, I do have some questions about “strong” free will. It seems like a concept that is both desirable, but at the same time seems almost meaningless. I honestly feel conflicted about what to think of it. It almost seems like you would need a third category of causality to make strong free will work. It wouldn’t be random or deterministic, but something else. I question whether or not that could even exist. What exactly would strong free will entail anyway? Somehow, your actions would be simultaneously not random and have some underlying logic to them, while at the same time being completely unpredictable and not just based on situational context.

    I think that I’ve found the example that people usually think of when they talk about free will; a binary decision. Say that you come to a point in your life in which you have two choices laid out in front of you. The idea is that if you had free will, which decision that you make would, again, somehow be simultaneously non-random, but also unpredictable. I suppose the more general question is whether or not you would make the same decision again if you were to rewind the universe back to the point that you had to choose.

    That last point is where this issue overlaps with the idea of indeterminism. I have to say that, even if stereotypical free will doesn’t make sense, I’d still like it if my actions had an element of probability and indeterminism to them. That would mean that there’s always the possibility that some random thought could pop into my head and change which decision that I make. Whether that change is for better or worse, it still makes the universe and my life as a whole feel more open and less set in stone.

    Another point about free will that bothers me is responsibility for making decisions. This is sort of an argument from adverse consequences, but I still want some sort of answer to it. If people’s decisions are based off of their prior experiences and the context of the situation, can they really be held responsible for bad decisions? Even on this site I’ve seen people get angry at people for making stupid or destructive decisions, and talk as if they could have prevented it or made a different decision. This even goes for people who don’t seem to think that free will exists. It seems like if free will doesn’t exist or determinism is true that talking about how a murderer could have chosen to not murder, or that a war could have been prevented doesn’t make sense. It also wouldn’t make sense to get angry or upset with people for making bad decisions.

    Keep in mind that I’m pointing out how even people who don’t think free will exists, or think that determinism is true still tend to talk about how some tragedy could have been averted, or get angry at people for doing bad things, even though both seem pointless if free will doesn’t exist or the universe is deterministic. What I’d like is for someone to explain why we should. I’ve heard that there’s something called an “effective theory”, in which something is virtually true for all intents and purposes, but I’m probably misunderstanding that.

    As always, I’m open to people criticizing and correcting mistakes in what I wrote, so if anyone can help me understand this issue, I’d be grateful.

  146. Rey Fox says

    I’ll try to gather my thoughts on this, but it’s hard because I’m in a depressive spiral.

    If I understand correctly, you’re weighing pursuing an unwelcome change that might benefit you in the long run against ???.

    To start with, I am in the US, so halfway across the country in my particular situation means about 2,000 miles. It means at least 3 days on the road (after a week of packing), and it means leaving the West. I like it out here, and my aspirations very much involve the landscapes and critters out here. So that’s part of what the ??? represents.

    The rest of it is the fact that I’m living in my younger brother’s house and working in a soul-sucking office job. I got my masters degree in wildlife biology two years ago, and I feel like I have fuck-all to show for it. Two-plus years of job searching have been almost entirely fruitless and the pickings seem to only be getting slimmer.

    The job that has been floated my way lately is working with an ecological restoration company, but sort of being an office drone there too, working on making estimates and quotes for the people who are actually making the plans. So it’s not really in my field, and it’s not geographically where I want to be. If I were coming back to the town I went to grad school in, that would be one thing, but it’s a far-flung suburb of another city.

    So I seem to be stuck between anxiety and despair. I strongly resent the idea of having to take a job I don’t really want in a place I don’t really want to go, but I feel like a moron for considering passing it up. I feel crappy with the prospect of staying or going. And I turn 35 today, so I have a harder time rationalizing “settling” on something I don’t really want even if it would be supposedly temporary than I would have ten years ago. And I don’t really know if it would lead to something I do really want. I’m not really sure what I want anymore.

    Anyway, that’s what I was reluctant to expand upon. Basically a load of first world midlife crisis bullshit from a mewling little coward. I guess it’s better to get that out there. Maybe I’ll crosspost to the Lounge if it will get more sympathetic ears.

  147. consciousness razor says

    Rob:

    What do you think is the irrelevant bullshit? Seriously, where do you think the ‘woo’ is in a minimal Copenhagen interpretation? Is it the Born rule?

    Nope. As someone defending a deterministic theory, I am completely unsurprised and unworried that we need to use statistical methods or that we don’t/can’t know everything, because that’s a claim about the world we live in whatever our knowledge of it might be. Also, keep in mind that this “rule” fits in just fine with BM, where it isn’t postulated with no apparent justification — like I said, it’s empirically the same, so please don’t assume otherwise with questions like that. You don’t seem to get what BM even says or does.

    When it comes to woo, to start with, maybe ask yourself how a “wave function ψ, representing an observer’s subjective knowledge of the system” can result in interference patterns. How does an observer’s subjective knowledge do that? Psychic powers? And if it’s not doing it, what is, if a “system is completely described by a wave function ψ”?

    What’s an observer?

    You.

    That’s helpful. Does Schrodinger’s cat count as an observer too? What about an electron, a magnetic field, or anything else? Why am I (or a detector, or any particular set of objects) a necessary part of the basic formulation of a fundamental theory? You should be able to look at what your actual fundamental theory says there is and what it does (and only that, because there’s nothing else to add) and use that to derive conclusions about what “observers” and so forth are, if such complicated and ill-defined terms are going to be useful in the theory at all. You shouldn’t be conjuring up special definitions for them and putting them in by hand from the very beginning, then start treating them differently from everything else because that’s convenient or appealing to you. Why not? Because in fact it is all the same stuff, and your theory shouldn’t be assuming anything else, if it’s a universal theory which is about all of the stuff no matter what categories you might want to put them in later on in your analysis of the fundamental things.

    Consider what a Bohmian type of theory does instead. It says there are particles, those have positions, and there’s a law of motion. Nothing spooky or mystical or confusing about that — indeed, that looks like plain old physics, even though it’s not “classical” Newtonian physics. Ordinary objects in our everyday experience have positions, and the theory claims all such things are composed of particles. That’s the sort of thing we’d like physics to explain in more fundamental and universal terms: any physical phenomena whatsoever that we experience, any observations, measurements, experiments, etc. That’s its job. It isn’t the job of physics to tell us, before it gets around to making any actual predictions or describing anything about reality, whether cats count as observers for example (or countless other questions like that). Leave that to psychologists, if they have nothing better to do with their time. Their job isn’t to build all of it from the ground up, and there’s no reason to think what they’re doing would be irrelevant bullshit in that larger project, if they have things to say about “observers.”

    To include special relativity, you have to introduce a rule to explain what “simultaneous” means. So, to “contextuality”, we can add “preferred foliation of spacetime”.

    Any theory that actually gets the experimental results right will be nonlocal. Like it or not, that’s just how it is. Don’t tear your hair out over it, if you like, but that is how it is. So how could that be a special problem for BM? You could say BM isn’t obscuring that fact somehow, because it’s an obvious feature of the equations — equations which are implied by the wavefunction that everybody is working with, so it’s not like they could just be tossed out comfortably in some other version of QM.

    Also, we still can’t do any faster-than-light signaling because of nonlocality, and if I’m not mistaken nonlocal correlations only arise when things are entangled according to BM, so what difference is any of this supposed to make? If it makes Einstein sort of sad, then who cares: as useful as his contributions were, he made the wrong assumptions in the EPR paper, and that fact has been experimentally confirmed. It turns out your hero Bohr sort of “won” that battle, even though it doesn’t look like he had a coherent response at the time — shouldn’t you be happy with that?

    Maybe a better question is this: what alternative interpretation are you even defending? If it’s Copenhagen or something like that, have you decided now that it does mean something in particular? What exactly is the world like, according to your interpretation?

    You have no room to complain about “contextuality,” if you’re satisfied with things like this:

    You can say that, but the wavefunction of a detector is far too complicated to write down. Basically, it’s the same reason we don’t try to keep track of every molecule in a volume of gas.

    But let’s go back to another point about that:

    To introduce spin, more contortions are required; spin is no longer a property of a particle, but of the wavefunction in relation to the measuring device. In other words, it’s contextual!

    What’s the problem? What’s supposed to be the difference with me saying, according to you, it’s “no longer” a property of the wavefunction but is now treated like a property of a particle? (And why are you talking about “particles” if that doesn’t really mean particles?) Your side planted a flag there first? Who cares? And the “system is completely described by a wave function ψ”, like Motl said and you seem to endorse, so a complete description ought to be giving you everything. Or does it not actually do that? It describes everything except when it doesn’t. You could derive any kind of nonsense from that, so what do you do instead?

  148. AlexanderZ says

    Rey Fox #183
    First of all, a depression is NOT a 1st world problem. It’s a dangerous and crippling illness that should never be underestimated. I’m not a wildlife biologist like yourself and I can’t give you an absolute answer on whether you should move or not, but I do know a thing or two about depression. I’ve had a bad case of it for a long while with multiple suicide attempts and it resulted in a missing decade (no education, no real job, nothing to put on my CV for that time).
    This is why dealing with your depression should be your first priority! That disease warps the mind and makes things appear much worse than they realistically are. It can also compel you to change your location as a way of escaping internal problems. Please note that I’m not necessary saying that this true for you at the moment – I’m saying that you should go to a professional and make important decisions when you’re feeling significantly better.
    Also, forget about your age. It really is just a number. You can change the course of your life at any age. Treating a depression is, however, of utmost importance!

    Having said all that, if what you’re looking for is ground work, and you’re already considering moving across half a continent, maybe you’d want to go even further?
    Some other countries maybe desperate for your skills and will give you an appropriate job. I know for a fact that if you were an M.D. you’d have gotten a job in Israel just for stepping of a plane, because there is a shortage of doctors here (as I understand there is a similar situation in UK). Maybe you could look up embassies of countries that have a similar fauna or one that also appeals to you? You never know, but there might be a government somewhere that is starting a wildlife preservation program and is in desperate need for a scientist like you.

    Take care of yourself. You’re not a coward – you’re in a difficult situation that CAN be resolved. First deal with your health (yes, a depression is as serious, if not more so, than any physical disability), though.

  149. consciousness razor says

    emergence:

    Does anyone know if the universe is completely deterministic, or if the future is indeterminate?

    No, nobody knows. And it makes no difference either way.

    I question whether or not that could even exist. What exactly would strong free will entail anyway? Somehow, your actions would be simultaneously not random and have some underlying logic to them, while at the same time being completely unpredictable and not just based on situational context.

    Like you’re saying, the “strong” sense of contra-causal free will doesn’t make any sense. Don’t worry about the future for a second, and think about what this would imply about the past: nothing in the past or about any past state of the world determined what choices you made. You made such choices, all on your own somehow, for no reason whatsoever. That can’t be what anybody means (or wants) when they say they made a choice of their own free will. They just mean they weren’t coerced to act against their desires (they were forced at gunpoint, e.g.), or that they were coerced, by some other agent who put them into a situation in which their choices were constrained (a situation which, notice, will be a past physical state when you’re making a choice about it).

    Even if you think you have a soul that makes the choices, and you (as the soul) are not determined by any physical stuff, you’re not better off somehow or more free or more responsible for your choices. It’s equivalent to saying you’re not responding (as responsible things do) to what the situation was in the past, on the basis of which you act in a certain way. But past events, your memories of them, and your environment evidently do influence why you make one action or another. I said it makes no difference whether it’s deterministic or indeterministic (keep in mind that’s a different question from ones about “free will”) because even fundamentally probabilistic influences are still influences. And random things like that definitely aren’t identifiable with you controlling or deciding anything. If it’s the spin of a particle which makes the difference, nobody in their right mind would say that’s you making the difference. Whatever physics is up to at the fundamental level, you shouldn’t care either way.

  150. says

    Hey PZ, if you’re in the mood for most stupidity from atheists-
    It’s ‘Swastika Rehabilitations Day!
    (note the portion I’ve bolded)

    “The swastika is found in cultures around the world from the very earliest times,” Kaenzig said. “In the United States, you can see it in a New Orleans synagogue, and in lots of pre-Nazi-era monuments and historical sites. That’s because, until the 20th century, the swastika had nothing to do with Hitler, who used it for evil purposes.”

    “And remember, lots of bad things were done in the name of the cross. Think of the Ku Klux Klan! But the cross is still a revered religious symbol for countless people worldwide. So is the swastika, and it’s time for that to be acknowledged in the West!”

    In addition to being president of the ProSwastika Alliance, Kaenzig is also a member of the International Raelian Movement, which is quick to identify itself as a 501(c) 3 tax-exempt organization and describes itself as “Intelligent Design for Atheists”:

    At the age of 27, on the morning of December 13, 1973, while he was still leading his successful racing-car magazine, RAEL had a dramatic encounter with a human being from another planet, at a volcano park in the center of France, known as “Puy de Lassolas”. This extra-terrestrial gave him a new detailed explanation of our origins and information on how to organize our future, as recorded in the book: Intelligent Design. After six consecutive meetings in the same location, Rael accepted the mission given to him, to inform humanity of this revolutionary message and to prepare the population to welcome their Creators, the Elohim, without any mysticism or fear, but as conscious and grateful human beings.

    Intelligent Design. For atheists. Da fuq?!

  151. Nightjar says

    emergence:

    If people’s decisions are based off of their prior experiences and the context of the situation, can they really be held responsible for bad decisions? Even on this site I’ve seen people get angry at people for making stupid or destructive decisions, and talk as if they could have prevented it or made a different decision. This even goes for people who don’t seem to think that free will exists. It seems like if free will doesn’t exist or determinism is true that talking about how a murderer could have chosen to not murder, or that a war could have been prevented doesn’t make sense. It also wouldn’t make sense to get angry or upset with people for making bad decisions.

    On the contrary, it’s the only way it makes sense. Or rather, it’s the only way it actually serves any purpose at all. When we get angry or upset with someone, when we try to make them feel bad about something they did, when we point at them and tell anyone watching that a certain action is not acceptable and won’t be tolerated… what we’re hoping to do is to influence future choices. Changing the context. That wouldn’t work if people made decisions based on nothing at all (caused by nothing at all), independent from past experiences and from predicted consequences. In practical terms, it would be utterly pointless and ineffective to try to change anyone’s behaviour by yelling at them or reasoning with them or anything in between.

    Concepts like those of “just desert” and retributive justice are pretty much indefensible without contra-causal free will, though. But it’s not like they are defensible with contra-causal free will either, based on the fact that contra-causal free will makes no sense and thus cannot be used to defend anything.

  152. Rob Grigjanis says

    cr @184:

    Also, keep in mind that this “rule” fits in just fine with BM

    I was assuming that we both understood the issues well enough to know that the Born rule has to appear in any interpretation, so my question was implicitly “Is it how the Born rule is implemented in Copenhagen?”. Does everything have to be spelled out in the tiniest detail?

    When it comes to woo, to start with, maybe ask yourself how a “wave function ψ, representing an observer’s subjective knowledge of the system” can result in interference patterns. How does an observer’s subjective knowledge do that?

    This is basic QM. If you shoot a beam of particles at a screen with two slits, and detectors on the far side, your subjective knowledge includes the slits acting as wave sources, which interfere with each other. Maybe you’re asking something else?

    Does Schrodinger’s cat count as an observer too?

    You seem to have a problem with observers, but that is in fact what we are (and the cat, and an asteroid, and a hydrogen atom). The way the universe looks depends on how you observe it (or experience it, if you like). In SR, if you’re the traveling twin, time will pass differently for you compared to your earthbound sibling. In QM, if you determine which slit a particle passes through, you lose interference.

    Consider what a Bohmian type of theory does instead. It says there are particles, those have positions, and there’s a law of motion. Nothing spooky or mystical or confusing about that — indeed, that looks like plain old physics, even though it’s not “classical” Newtonian physics. Ordinary objects in our everyday experience have positions, and the theory claims all such things are composed of particles.

    And here is the key it seems. “looks like plain old physics”, “Ordinary objects in our everyday experience have positions”, etc. QM without bells and whistles makes you feel uncomfortable, so you take refuge in something that looks more familiar. There is in fact nothing mystical or spooky about QM sans guiding equations. It simply has properties that are counterintuitive to classical brains. Just as special relativity does.

    You have no room to complain about “contextuality,” if you’re satisfied with things like this:

    You can say that, but the wavefunction of a detector is far too complicated to write down. Basically, it’s the same reason we don’t try to keep track of every molecule in a volume of gas.

    That’s a problem in any interpretation. Both BM and Copenhagen require decoherence when talking about how quantum states interact with macroscopic detectors, i.e. how measurements are made.

    I couldn’t make much sense of what you wrote about including relativity and spin, but you might want to ask yourself this; if your theory is supposed to describe the universe as it is, shouldn’t there be a natural way to incorporate Lorentz invariance, and local interactions, without adding new features like contextuality and spacetime foliation?

    And why are you talking about “particles” if that doesn’t really mean particles?

    Particles are excitations of quantum fields, and they have properties like mass, spin, charge, etc., but they’re not necessarily point particles. In fact scattering problems generally treat them as plane waves with specific momenta.

    And the “system is completely described by a wave function ψ”, like Motl said and you seem to endorse, so a complete description ought to be giving you everything.

    “complete” does not mean “can give you everything”. It means “everything that can be known”. If you’re going to argue QM, it would be a good idea to familiarize yourself with how terms are used. Like other specialized fields, words are not always used in commonplace ways.

  153. emergence says

    I suppose that you’re right about getting angry at people for making bad decisions. If someone did something wrong, they did something wrong, and they should be given an appropriate response to discourage them from doing it again.

    I think in regards to the whole “looking back at the past and reflecting on what better choices you could have made” thing, that it’s still valuable to analyze what you could have done better. Besides, it’s still effectively true that you have multiple choices that you can make at any one time, so fatalism isn’t helpful.

    I have to wonder if maybe, through some combination of stochastic and deterministic forces interacting with one another, behavior that’s functionally identical to contra-causal free will is exhibited by living creatures, and that’s where we get the idea from? That’s pretty much the closest that I could imagine free will in the lofty, cosmological sense existing or having meaning.

    In the end, we still make decisions and act according to our own wishes, and that’s really what people seem to mean when they use the term “free will” to apply to anything in the real world. Why even equate free will in the practical sense with contra-causal free will?

    I think that I like the idea of some indeterminism existing in the universe because it means that the future isn’t predetermined. A completely deterministic clockwork universe where there’s only one possible future seems boring and depressing.

    On one last note, does anyone know of any books that give a good overview of quantum mechanics?

  154. John Morales says

    Rob,

    “complete” does not mean “can give you everything”. It means “everything that can be known”.

    “everything that can be known” at that level of description.

  155. John Morales says

    emergence @191, you need at least some relatively advanced math and secondary level physics to follow anything that’s not an outright popularisation.

  156. consciousness razor says

    Rob:

    Does everything have to be spelled out in the tiniest detail?

    I’m not going into the tiniest details. I would just like it to be fairly clear, so I can have some idea of what’s going on in the conversation, what the point of your questions and statements are, and things like that.

    This is basic QM. If you shoot a beam of particles at a screen with two slits, and detectors on the far side, your subjective knowledge includes the slits acting as wave sources, which interfere with each other. Maybe you’re asking something else?

    What’s interfering with what? My question is about things in the world. Not about your representations of them or your knowledge of them. If it were to be taken as a literal truth that all things consisted of (never mind “are completely described by”) your subjective knowledge, you would be right to be a solipsist or an idealist. Since you’re not one, your theory about the world better have something to say about the world, not just yourself or your observations. Maybe that’s a naive expectation that I have of physics, but I’d like a clear reason why I am mistaken about that.

    What is it that physics says about the world, and how is that in any way different from some kind of matter or field (because maybe you don’t like particles) existing in spacetime, like I’ve been suggesting this whole fucking time? If you don’t see how the statement I was criticizing is confusing and problematic and not at all enlightening, if you don’t get that it’s at least not very clear or well-supported, then I’m not sure what else I could say at this point.

    You seem to have a problem with observers, but that is in fact what we are (and the cat, and an asteroid, and a hydrogen atom).

    But you’re not saying there is anything to represent about the “subjective knowledge” a hydrogen atom has about anything… right? So what are you saying? To be way more generous than I probably should be, how would you rephrase that, when it concerns an asteroid or a hydrogen atom?

    The way the universe looks depends on how you observe it (or experience it, if you like).

    No problems so far….

    In SR, if you’re the traveling twin, time will pass differently for you compared to your earthbound sibling. In QM, if you determine which slit a particle passes through, you lose interference.

    Those aren’t analogous. What does the second one even mean? The physical environment, including whatever devices you’re using, determines whether or not there’s interference. That’s another way of saying “your subjective knowledge” has fuck all to do with what’s actually going on. And physics is about what’s actually fucking going on. So why talk as if it’s not?

    And here is the key it seems. “looks like plain old physics”, “Ordinary objects in our everyday experience have positions”, etc. QM without bells and whistles makes you feel uncomfortable, so you take refuge in something that looks more familiar. There is in fact nothing mystical or spooky about QM sans guiding equations. It simply has properties that are counterintuitive to classical brains. Just as special relativity does.

    I’m accepting the results of all of these bizarre experiments, including entanglement and nonlocality which you don’t seem to be accepting clearly and unambiguously as facts about reality (instead of something that’s only in our heads somehow), but at the same time I’m skiddish of things that are counterintuitive? Like what for example? What are these properties that you’re talking about?

    Sure, I do think things exist in definite places, even when you don’t observe them or measure them. How is that a problem? All of the experiences I’ve ever had are of objects in definite places, and nothing we could ever observes implies they’re not like that when people aren’t looking. That’s not an intuition; it’s just a fact all of us already knew and which physics better be capable of explaining coherently. If, for the sake of argument, we happen to be so lucky that there are objects which are made of some kind of microscopic objects, then that’s a very easy thing to explain. If not, besides being totally unjustified empirically, it seems awfully paranoid to assume the universe cares or behaves differently whenever we’re not paying attention. How the hell do you make sense of our experiences that way? Isn’t it more parsimonious to assume it behaves the same way, whether or not anybody or anything is “looking”? How is this supposed to be a problem for me?

    You can of course say things are counterintuitive or totally bizarre or not like my ordinary experiences seem. I’m fine with that. They could be all sorts of ways, so who am I to demand that things be one way or another. Great piece of rhetoric. But where’s your evidence of it? You couldn’t have any in this case. I mean, fuck, I might be a brain in a vat, and nobody can have any evidence either way. Sounds counterintuitive to you? Well then you’re just stuck in your old ways of thinking which make you feel comfortable, I might say. Hopefully you can understand how that argument’s a lot of bullshit.

    I couldn’t make much sense of what you wrote about including relativity and spin, but you might want to ask yourself this; if your theory is supposed to describe the universe as it is, shouldn’t there be a natural way to incorporate Lorentz invariance, and local interactions, without adding new features like contextuality and spacetime foliation?

    I don’t know what there should be, and I don’t know what you mean. Some are apparently trying to derive the foliation from the wavefunction somehow or basing it off features of spacetime like light-cones or whatever. I don’t know what you mean by “adding new features.” The foliation, if there is one, is implied, not added on in any sense of the words. It’s also implied that you can’t observe it or do anything with it. Maybe that can be gotten rid of, maybe it’s a mathematical artifact or whatever — but it’s very clear that it doesn’t matter and it’s not “added” to explain or solve or do anyhing.

    But that’s all way over my head, and I don’t care. There are plenty of reasons to think not every mathematical object somebody dreams up, even if it’s incredibly useful for representing the world, has to correspond in a straightforward way to anything in reality, because those are representations and not the world. I don’t actually care about that as I do that the theory at least attempts to be vaguely comprehensible. If the best you’ve got is something that amounts to “the world is incomprehensible,” then that simply is not a way to translate scientific results into a useful interpretation, which a human is meant to understand and relate to their own experiences and whatever questions they may have about them. You’re putting the cart way before the horse, if you’re more worried about obscure technical issues like that.

    “complete” does not mean “can give you everything”. It means “everything that can be known”. If you’re going to argue QM, it would be a good idea to familiarize yourself with how terms are used. Like other specialized fields, words are not always used in commonplace ways.

    I didn’t realize even the word “complete” has its own private meaning that only the initiated understand. Forgive for not appreciating that you may not actually mean any of the words you’re typing.

  157. Rob Grigjanis says

    cr @194: Oh fuck, I do not have the energy to even try to decipher all that.

    Forgive for not appreciating that you may not actually mean any of the words you’re typing.

    Well fuck you too, but I forgive you for not understanding it, and in future I’ll try to watch out for terms you may not understand.

  158. says

    Does anyone know if the universe is completely deterministic, or if the future is indeterminate?

    We can’t know at the moment. But even if things were determinate we still need to deal with what is in front of us so I live like the ultimate answer does not matter to what is right in front of me.

    I have similar feelings about free will. No matter what one thinks of free will most people are not going to try breathing underwater or flying off of buildings with a cape just because we can. So even their ultimate free will is going to be bounded pragmatically. On the other hand if things are determined because at some level randomness disappears we still have many potential options in front of us at any given moment from what we see. In that case I think of things in terms of maximizing free will by developing good observational and reasoning skills to be a person always capable of learning something new.

    It wouldn’t be random or deterministic, but something else.

    I like the concept of “stochastic”. It describes a phenomena that can’t be precisely predicted but has predictable elements. The example I first learned was (here at Pharyngula I think) that of a line at the bank on a Friday. You might not know the precise number in line at any given time but you can be very sure that the length of the line will increase. It won’t help with ultimate issues, but it can help you think about how randomness is “shaped”.

    Somehow, your actions would be simultaneously not random and have some underlying logic to them, while at the same time being completely unpredictable and not just based on situational context.

    There is a ton of this in human behavior. It’s stochastic from society all the way down. That’s why the list of logical fallacies exists. Humans do certain things under stress and we can’t predict what or when exactly, but we can narrow down the options. “Fight/flight/freeze” is an example. What they do under fff is going to be context dependent but the patterns still exist. I think of that aspect of human behavior like I do an equation. There is an underlying shape and structure to the equation that creates some predictability that one can get a sense for, but there are many things that can alter the dependent and independent variables that go in and come out.

    So knowing more about what people are and how they do what they do can give you an advantage, but you always have to use such knowledge on a provisional basis. You let the reality of the specific situation in front of you tell you what it is and adapt accordingly.

    I suppose the more general question is whether or not you would make the same decision again if you were to rewind the universe back to the point that you had to choose.

    It’s trite but people make the best decisions that they can with what is available to them. No matter how much someone tries to maximize the choices they have there will be times when things get limited. All I can say there is at least if a person tries to maximize their choices as a habit they will have a better chance of being well prepared to make the best choice.

    So no matter what happened if time were rewound people will do what they can with what they are and what they have.

    If people’s decisions are based off of their prior experiences and the context of the situation, can they really be held responsible for bad decisions? Even on this site I’ve seen people get angry at people for making stupid or destructive decisions, and talk as if they could have prevented it or made a different decision. This even goes for people who don’t seem to think that free will exists. It seems like if free will doesn’t exist or determinism is true that talking about how a murderer could have chosen to not murder, or that a war could have been prevented doesn’t make sense. It also wouldn’t make sense to get angry or upset with people for making bad decisions.

    This is always in my mind because I choose to take an active role in a community conflict sense. I often find it funny the way that we (and me) hate politics so much and we are each and every one of us political creatures. I just try to be honest about it. I try to make room for a person’s individuality, background and characteristics if I can but it often has to be provisional based on larger goals.

    If there are larger issues at stake I will ignore parts of reality strategically. It’s political posturing and I fully admit to it if someone points it out since it’s obvious that we all do it and I can demonstrate it. Since I’m personally allowed to choose to emphasize some issues over others I do so unapologetically. For example even if I think a particular person in a comment section might be receptive to a gentler approach it’s better to allow women, LGBT and racial minorities to express their own social dominance to get their issues heard, and find “best methods” in identifying and reaching receptive people on their own (unless I can help and am obviously welcome to). As a member of the dominant social class it’s important to make decisions like this if anything is going to change.

    Often social messages need to contain anger because that is a valid learning tool. Shaming is a valid learning tool. Rage and hate are perfectly natural and valid emotions. What they need is morals and ethics for proper application. For example with hate I choose where I target it. Hating a whole individual person? Goodness no!. Hating their behavior, beliefs and ideas? Works for me. That drives some decent behavior for learning to cut off all emotional avenues of escape in an argument. Even the pitters I do not hate as humans. I hate some of what they believe, think and do. So that is what I learn about and target.

    Even group shaming is perfectly appropriate. What matters is how that group is defined and what is being shamed. I have no problems shaming a group and individuals in a group based on allowing certain behavior, beliefs and actions. Gamergaters, pitters and MRAs come to mind. I take an active role in criticizing the people in my group when I think it’s necessary and no larger issues are at stake (depending on the thing worth criticism and comparison to larger issues) so I have no problem asking such people if they personally speak out against specific bad behavior. If they don’t, why would I want them in a group with me anyway? If they are not a person that would speak out against that kind of behavior I would not really want to associate with them.

    It’s messy human shit but it can’t be avoided.

  159. John Morales says

    Brony:

    If there are larger issues at stake I will ignore parts of reality strategically.

    You will lie by omission.

    (Why be so coy? ;) )

  160. John Morales says

    PS Brony, you might consider the epistemic validity of any contention predicated upon a knowing omission.

    Obviously, the above consideration is hopefully only intellectually interesting if one seeks to be intellectually honest, otherwise it’s but a foolish irrelevance.

  161. consciousness razor says

    Well fuck you too, but I forgive you for not understanding it, and in future I’ll try to watch out for terms you may not understand.

    For what it’s worth, I think that was a logical issue, not having to do with me being unfamiliar with your use of terminology. Suppose the wavefunction completely describes your knowledge. That’s what it does or what it is or whatever the hell you want that relates your epistemic situation. Is that alright?

    You’re worried that we’ve claimed spin as part of the wavefunction instead of the particle. (But what is a particle to you? Never mind that for now.) That last part of my response was simply to notice that the wavefunction is a complete description to you (however that’s supposed work, because I obviously don’t think it is). I guess I phrased that poorly when I said it “can give you everything.” Maybe you can’t know everything, after all, but it complete about what you can know — or whatever you think is misleading about that. Still following this and satisfied with it? So, substitute what I said before for “everything that can be known,” because it makes absolutely no difference to me. Is spin not one of the things that can be known? Is it not a feature of “the system,” whatever that means, which can be known by an “observer” like you or a hydrogen atom for instance? Or do words like “everything” or “known” mean something different to you as well?

  162. says

    @John Morales 198, 199, 200
    I’ll meet you up in the clouds if you do a little work too.

    You will lie by omission.

    I’ve always considered that one of the most cowardly and dishonest phrases in the English language. It lets one summon the emotions of a deliberate spread of false information, an externalized action, that we have tied to the oh so effective word “lie”. It then lets a person apply those emotions to the internalized choice to refrain from action.

    It’s quite the exquisite little piece of bullshit. I often run into places where “everyone else” seems to want to point out dishonesty using dishonesty in how we use words.

    So if you wish to discuss the ethics and morality of some abstract action categories that I might, or concrete actions that I have chosen to refrain from I would be happy to see what you have in mind. Depending on what you have in mind I mentioned at least one up there and there may be others on the “Everything is Awful” post. It’s certainly not a principle that society is black and white about. There are plenty of places where we have at least officially decided as a collective that revealing what you or we know is not good in some contexts.

  163. John Morales says

    Brony:

    It’s quite the exquisite little piece of bullshit.

    Hey, it was your contention.

    (Ends justify the means and all that. Tsk)

  164. says

    I saw some christians on youtube complaining that the confederat3e flag had been taken down…and the gay flag had been put up! (Not literally on the same flag pole, but symbolically, representing the defeat of…whatever)

    Also, someone was going on about how ‘the “real” rainbow has 7 colors! How godly! But the gay flag only has 6! How evil!’ (paraphrasing)

    So I had to point out that 6 actually makes more sense (due to our 3 color detecting light cells) etc.

    And the person who responded to me (called “seek Jesus”) said:

    lol um have you looked at a rainbow there’s 7 colours. what are you on about talking about people divided the rainbow there is no division to be made all you have to do is look up. do you know how silly you sound by saying stupid things like that hahaha so no it does not make more sense

    Ya…wow. I had to link to a wikipedia thing that was easy enough to find:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbow#Number_of_colours_in_spectrum_or_rainbow

    Anyways, ya, argument from The Real Number Of Colours In A Rainbow! That’s a new one I think!

  165. says

    @John Morales 203
    It certainly was my contention. And your word choice despite the custom of existence. The term and your comment still suggests a dishonesty and hypothetical dishonesty in refraining from action. I’m finding an awful lot of contractual examples that go along with that phrase, seeing as it is the social contract that is in dispute I’m still not seeing a problem.

    Since I mentioned thinking about this a lot up there, and there seems little content present to worry about I’ll just do what I often do in the face of unsolicited advice with respect to social justice issues.

  166. John Morales says

    Brony:

    So if you wish to discuss the ethics and morality of some abstract action categories that I might, or concrete actions that I have chosen to refrain from I would be happy to see what you have in mind.

    I already have: “You might consider the epistemic validity of any contention predicated upon a knowing omission”.

    There are plenty of places where we have at least officially decided as a collective that revealing what you or we know is not good in some contexts.

    You are deluded. Were there such an elitist collective, it would not incorporate me other than by its standards.

    I do appreciate your revealing (if disappointing) responses.

  167. John Morales says

    Brony:

    I’ll just do what I often do in the face of unsolicited advice with respect to social justice issues.

    You’ll hyperlink to some video?

    <snicker>

    (To what advice do you refer?)

  168. says

    @John Morales 206

    “You might consider the epistemic validity of any contention predicated upon a knowing omission”

    I’m afraid that I don’t see that as a discussion. I see that as a suggestion that there is a problem in my thought processes. Discussions usually involve and exhange of information. I asked you about abstract (I came part way over) or concrete examples of situations to talk about. Asking me to ruminate on things that only you see does not really fit the definition.

    Otherwise substanceless suggestions that my mind has a software problem is irritating. I’m expressing that and rather mildly.

    You are deluded. Were there such an elitist collective, it would not incorporate me other than by its standards.

    Yeah that was me being annoyingly vague in return. Governments often forbid omissions of information in certain contexts, and they allow people to omit a hell of a lot of other things. If you give a little you will get a little.

  169. says

    Now I’m thinking about cone cells. They aren’t quite like pixels. Two of teh different types have a huge overlap of frequencies they detect.

    It’s sort of easy to activate only the “blue” detectors, or only the “red” detectors. But there is so much overlap between the green detectors and the red that I just don’t see any easy way to activate the “green” detectors on their own.

    So if we could find a way to achieve that (just activating the “green” detectors, none of the others) what color would our brains interpret it as? I don’t think It’s an input we ever receive…

  170. John Morales says

    Brony:

    I see that as a suggestion that there is a problem in my thought processes.

    Really? Such egoism is interesting.

    Here: Should any such contentions be epistemically indefensible, they’re perforce vulnerable to examination. So, making vulnerable contentions is only efficacious in outcome if they’re not called out, else they weaken one’s case.

    The main problem with announcing you will strategically ignore reality when prosecuting arguments towards the greater good is that you’ve announced that you will strategically ignore reality when prosecuting arguments towards the greater good.

    (And given I can phrase the issue as a tautology, you’ve an epistemic problem at hand)

    Yeah that was me being annoyingly vague in return. Governments often forbid omissions of information in certain contexts, and they allow people to omit a hell of a lot of other things. If you give a little you will get a little.

    Why, is Government your (or my) collective? Because if not, that’s an irrelevance.

    (Specificity is a bugbear, no?)

  171. Nightjar says

    Brian Pansky,

    I saw some christians on youtube complaining that the confederat3e flag had been taken down…and the gay flag had been put up!

    Heh, I don’t remember where but I remember seeing a gif based on that at the time, but celebrating the coincidence, not complaining.

    Oh, I found it.

    Now I’m thinking about cone cells.

    I love to entertain the idea that I may be a tetrachromat based on the fact that I’m the daughter of a red-green color blind man. Apparently just having a fourth set of cones doesn’t mean you will be a functional tetrachromat, though, so I have no idea. I’m probably not. And it’s probably wishful thinking (of course I’d like to see more colors!), but I’ve wondered if this has anything to do with the fact that I’m constantly arguing about colors with my mother, there are particular shades of green/blue that we just can’t seem to agree on. Sometimes she insists it is just blue while I look puzzled at her asking “yes, but can’t you see the green hue in it?”

  172. says

    @ John Morales 211
    Egoism shmegoism.

    You are suggesting something I am doing is unwise without taking the time to explain why. Until such time as I can see why it’s epistemically indefensible and why any of my contentions are vulnerable I’m perfectly content to change nothing.

    The main problem with announcing you will strategically ignore reality when prosecuting arguments towards the greater good is that you’ve announced that you will strategically ignore reality when prosecuting arguments towards the greater good.

    I was clear on that being your problem from the trio of comments you directed at my response to emergence. As I have directly and indirectly pointed out since then I’m not buying your assertion without some work of your part. I’m simply not going to change my behavior without you doing better than that. You are waving “tautology” at me like I care. Just because you think it’s a self-reinforcing truth does not mean I have to accept that it is. I’m not worried about burning in hell either.

    I had no problem being corrected about my use of “epistemology” because it was easy to see that my use of the word was not correct. This one involves more than that. I can even think of situations where I would not refrain from ignoring reality because the larger issues are more important than the thing I am choosing not to comment on. But I’m not going to go there if you can’t even give me any kind of framework for why your problem is a problem.

    Why, is Government your (or my) collective? Because if not, that’s an irrelevance.
    (Specificity is a bugbear, no?)

    As I mentioned that was me being annoyingly vague in response to your annoying vagueness and non-literally pointing at a place in society where there are different ideas on the goodness and badness of revealing what one knows. I really have no reason to pursue your desire for more specificity given your lack of desire to increase your specificity. If that will not be forthcoming this social exchange is at an end. Feel free to have the last word.

  173. emergence says

    On a completely different note, I’ve been thinking about something in evolutionary biology. You know how some creationists that that Adnan Oktar guy, or whoever like to point to ancient animals and declare that they’re identical to their modern counterparts? I get that usually that’s not true and the ancient species usually isn’t even in the same order as the modern ones, and differ in ways that someone with no taxonomic knowledge would be able to readily notice. I also get that evolution is driven by environmental change and organisms don’t evolve drastically new body types unless they’re adapting to a drastically new environmental niche.

    I would however like to know if biologists have come up with any detailed models of population genetics that illustrate why certain lineages retain the same body type for so long. Why exactly do certain organisms retain basal features that evolved eons ago? What predicts whether an organism’s body type is versatile enough to be viable in multiple environments? What are the actual forces involved on the level of population genetics?

    This is actually an interesting question for me. Why is it that spiders, sharks, velvet worms, and some other organisms can get so much milage out of a particular body type for so long? Or have they all gone through around the same amount of change as other organisms and it just isn’t readily apparent to humans because these creatures have such unfamiliar anatomy to us?

  174. Rob Grigjanis says

    cr @201:

    You’re worried that we’ve claimed spin as part of the wavefunction instead of the particle.

    I’m not in the least worried about it. It’s just another ugly feature of an ugly interpretation which tells us nothing more about the universe than Copenhagen, and possibly less.

    In QFT, a particle is an excitation of a local field. The structure of the field embodies, among other things, the spin of the particle, and this is intimately related to the symmetry of (special) relativistic spacetime. The connection is deep, elegant and powerful (see QED, Standard Model, etc). Compare this to the way spin and special relativity are separately introduced stuffed into dB-B.

    This is my last comment on the matter.

  175. consciousness razor says

    Rob:

    I tried to address those sorts of point earlier, in response to this:

    I couldn’t make much sense of what you wrote about including relativity and spin, but you might want to ask yourself this; if your theory is supposed to describe the universe as it is, shouldn’t there be a natural way to incorporate Lorentz invariance, and local interactions, without adding new features like contextuality and spacetime foliation?

    …. But maybe that wasn’t helpful or wasn’t even read. We’re apparently just looking at things from very different perspectives.

    Instead of my meddling questions, you might be interested in reading “Applied Bohmian Mechanics,” in European Physical Journal D. (PDF — 42 pg., hope the link works) As the title suggests, it discusses how BM specifically (not just QM) is useful for numerous things, like other specific interpretations or formalisms are. Your version offers basically nothing to support a claim to being the default one (from which others are mere deviants or troublemakers) much less the best one. But leave aside my issues with other interpretations for now — that they don’t seem coherent, at least not to an ordinary person like me who just wants to understand how/whether QM (relativistic or not) can describe what’s actually going on in the world around me. Relativity is maybe a little bit weird or takes some adjustment to get used to, but at least there’s no trouble wrapping our heads around the basic concepts and simply comprehending what the thing says. I do think I get why you’d be resistant to thinking differently about it, since QM is without a doubt incredibly and extraordinarily useful, despite the interpretational disagreements that have been plaguing it since the beginning. (Indeed, I think those disagreements have helped push things forward in more practical ways too, but let’s forget that for the moment as well.) And I’m sure you were taught that way a long time ago, so why think your teachers (telling you about this obviously and extremely successful thing) ever said anything that was wrong or misleading? Maybe that’s not what your thought process is like, but if so I think I get that.

    However, maybe that article will give you a sense of why some people are finding BM useful, for lots of other reasons that don’t have much to do with any logical or conceptual problems. Maybe not useful in the work you do, or not in the work other people do which you’re most interested in. But it is nevertheless doing some valuable work. So, I don’t think it’s at all clear that your version can claim all of the points for naturalness, practicality, simplicity, non-ugliness, etc. either. There’s plenty of room for different approaches to solve different kinds of problems. This is another tool to put on your belt, if that’s the only interesting way you have to think of it. Perhaps just having a particular picture in mind will prompt new questions or new research (for some, maybe not you), which wouldn’t occur to people if they have some other view about how to formulate or interpret everything. Let a thousand flowers bloom and all that shit. Can we agree on that? So, even if you have a practical, down-to-Earth, no-bells-and-whistles, don’t-think-too-hard, shut-up-and-calculate kind of attitude about it, which I think is a miserable substitute for a comprehensible interpretation that a human can actually think about, I still don’t see how you can say there’s a real problem.

    This is my last comment on the matter.

    Well, okay. Game over. You win. I don’t think you know very much of what you’re talking about, so maybe that’s alright. You know about your own approach. How much do you actually know about any others, besides the things you’ve been told to say are bad about them? Would you say that you could have told me much (or anything) about what’s in the linked paper before I mentioned it?

  176. John Morales says

    Brony,

    You are suggesting something I am doing is unwise without taking the time to explain why.

    I was trying to be provoke thought, not deliver some warning.

    You are waving “tautology” at me like I care.

    I care, which I suppose makes me careful compared to you.

    If that [something about desires] will not be forthcoming this social exchange is at an end. Feel free to have the last word.

    Social interaction? I suppose so.

    It’s been informative.

  177. Ragutis says

    Is it just me, or does dragonfruit not taste like much? It’s not bad, it’s just meh. It certainly doesn’t live up to the expectations of it’s flamboyant packaging. It’s like the anti-kiwi.

  178. says

    I forgot to mention something that has to do with how the information in my comment @ #146 was structured. I’ve mentioned it a couple of times but Antonia Damasio’s Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain is a big factor in how I presented the nature of the maps and the information they contain. His book portrays emotions and consciousness as involving three kinds of “self” that are computationally separable:

    *The “primordial self”. A self that is a sense of our physical existence, structure and the status we are in.This self forms a kind of “core” to how our emotions and sense of self are structured.

    *The “core self”. A self that is a sense of how we are connected to and interacting with the world at this given moment. The primordial self can be thought of as nested within the core self in many ways.

    *The “autobiographical self”. A self that is concerned with context in terms of recognizing things we have interacted with before, what those things mean to us and how we should proceed. This one might have nested elements but definitely has many elements that operate in parallel with the other two selves.

    In addition I had a couple of other sources that I have found useful. One place to mine for information with a lower chance of relying on something less well supported on how unreason and illogic occur functionally is medicine. It turns out that there is research going into improving good reasoning, logical and critical thinking and elimination of inappropriate bias* from medicine. It’s good for trying to find general principles that can be applied to any situation.

    Some examples
    Cognitive debiasing 1: origins of bias and theory of debiasing.
    Cognitive debiasing 2: impediments to and strategies for change.
    This one is on my reading list.
    A perspective on neural and cognitive mechanisms of error commission.

    We will fix culture yet. It just may have to trickle through from lots of places.

  179. AlexanderZ says

    Nightjar #212

    I love to entertain the idea that I may be a tetrachromat… Sometimes she insists it is just blue while I look puzzled at her asking “yes, but can’t you see the green hue in it?”

    You could be one. Language can strongly affect how we perceive colors, so even if you have the ability to see more colors you might be limited by your upbringing (PDF, see figure 2. in particular).
    ____________________

    Ragutis #219

    Is it just me, or does dragonfruit not taste like much?

    If it’s anything like this cactus then I agree with you wholeheartedly. People keep telling that it’s good but all I can taste is a fairly mediocre fruit with far too many seeds. Then again, I’m not too crazy about kiwi either.
    ____________________

    emergence #214

    I would however like to know if biologists have come up with any detailed models of population genetics that illustrate why certain lineages retain the same body type for so long. Why exactly do certain organisms retain basal features that evolved eons ago? What predicts whether an organism’s body type is versatile enough to be viable in multiple environments? What are the actual forces involved on the level of population genetics?

    They don’t retain exactly the same body type. Here is PZ’s post about coelacanths. See how the tiny allenypterus had a completely different body shape than the modern latimeria.
    If you mean how relatively unusual shapes emerge, like wings or shells, then maybe this post and another one about turtles would help you.

  180. AlexanderZ says

    Hmmm… five links in a comment, but it wasn’t swallowed by WP.
    Anyway, I wanted to ask you folks if when you type “number ” (that space is necessary) into Google it also auto-completes it to “number of jews in the world” as the first suggestion, or is it just me?

  181. says

    Alexander @223, well, based on a one-person sample (moi), it’s just you. I got “number generator”, ” number the stars”, and “number lookup”, in that order. You must’ve been looking at some interesting websites beforehand.

  182. se habla espol says

    Anne, Shrieking Feminist Cat Lady, I get the same three. Your N is at least 2.

  183. Ragutis says

    I told you. I warned you all in the previous thread. It’s the Return of the Giant Hogweed.

    A 10 year old burned her hands badly after handling one near Bristol. Poor girl. WARNING: Pic of severely blistered hands. Not the grossest thing I’ve run across on the web, but I wanted to give a heads up. And it’s followed by a pic of her in hospital smiling cheerfully.

    So, I’ve seen a few of these stories lately. UK Pharyngulites: is Hogweed re-bounding, re-establishing itself particularly thoroughly this year, or are these infrequent run ins that make the news a few times every summer?

  184. Ragutis says

    So, just got around to watching the Star Wars panel from Comic Con (I figured if all those people waited 3 days to get inside, I should at least do the same before YouTube-ing it.) And while there weren’t any real spoilers to spoil, I won’t say anything of substance about what was discussed in case anyone wants to watch it for themselves.

    I would like to say, however, that I have a suspicion that Daisy Ridley may actually be a time travelling Keira Knightly, come back to nab a sweet part and start her career over. Also, I knew Gwendoline Christie was tall. I knew Carrie Fisher was short. But seeing them standing next to each other at the end, it almost looked like Peter Mayhew next to Warwick Davis. (Speaking of Mayhew, why the hell didn’t they have Peter onstage? Chewie’s in the movie. Peter was right there in the effing audience! You pointed him out, Hardwick!) And lastly, I was really quite surprised about how emotional Harrison Ford seemed to get about coming back to the story and being Han Solo again.

    Well, I’ll be off to try to find a better version of the Deadpool trailer.

  185. emergence says

    Okay, I’m jumping topics again, but this is really bugging me. I like to come up with fantasy and SF ideas in my spare time. I haven’t really written any stories yet, I’ve just written ideas down. I actually tend to prefer “harder” SF, at least to the point that the various bits of weird technology and speculative world-building don’t contradict known scientific facts. My problem with this is that it feels like I would need to get a lot of actual education in whatever science I’m talking about to do this well and not end up making any stupid mistakes.

    I also tend to prefer SF that has a sort of unique aesthetic and style to it, and I worry that the two might clash. For example, long, detailed descriptions of how the science works might be too dry for a stylized, fantastical SF world, and the fantastical tone might be too “out there” for the detailed science.

    Another problem with hard SF is that different people have different ideas about what will be possible in the future, and what might be considered reasonable speculation by one person could be considered impossible by another. This is really a problem when the technology involved is so speculative that the underlying science still hasn’t been worked out yet.

    To give a specific example of the last point that I personally care about, I actually don’t think that it’s impossible for an organism to be immune to aging. Admittedly my knowledge of the aging process is somewhat limited, so I could very well be wrong, but I don’t really see why aging would be completely inevitable. This isn’t helped by the fact that I’ve heard different things from different people. PZ seems to give the impression that scientists understand how the aging process works and that all organisms necessarily have to die. I emailed Carl Zimmer about it and got the answer that my idea of studying the germ line to understand how to keep cell lines going indefinitely, while not impossible, was so speculative that it had as much predictive power as saying that we might travel through wormholes some day. I’ve also heard that we don’t even really have a consensus, or even complete models of how aging works, so this seems like an area where many questions still have multiple viable answers.

    With all of that in mind, for the purposes of the story the best life extension idea I’ve come up with goes as follows;

    It comes in multiple parts, with the first being somatic stem cells that contain artificial organelles that trigger the cells to produce redundant copies of themselves and periodically revert to un-aged, pluripotent forms, similar to neoblasts in flatworms. The second part would be like symbiotic microbes or modified lymphocytes that target and destroy defective or cancerous cells, effectively simulating the purging effect of natural selection in a single individual.

    I realize that this explanation probably relies on technology that we have no idea currently how to do, and I of course don’t have any idea of how to make the biochemistry behind this work. I also worry that the biological elements that I’ve speculated on might dip into that “magic science” problem where one element is able to solve alls sorts of different problems. Finally, I worry that going into too much more detail might rob the technology of the succinct, punchy quality that I feel makes SF elegant.

    I’m sorry that I just dumped a ton of disjointed ideas onto the floor for people to pick at, and, as always, I’m aware that there are probably more than a few wrong-headed viewpoints in this, but I would appreciate any sort of advice that people could offer me to get this all in order.

    PS, does anyone think that my comments are way too long?

  186. Ragutis says

    OK, so I’m the only one up at 6 a.m. ET. No prob. I can sleep in while everyone breathlessly catches up on my posts.

    Just some random music vids from my youtube recommended:

    The best Europe cover ever. Hell, I like it better than the original, and I listened to that stuff. Even if you were never into hair metal or are too young to remember this song being on the radio incessantly, give it a listen.

    I’ve put up Anneke vids before, but here she is with Arjen Lucassen, who she’s worked with on a few projects, along with Marcela Bovio, another amazing female voice in metal/rock and IMHO vastly underrated. Her band’s not great, but she’s fantastic. Anyway: Valley of the Queens

    Speaking of underrated, Marillion. Amazing band. Making engrossing music for more than 30 years, and every time I bring them up or wear a shirt of theirs, the best I get is “Who’s that?”

  187. bassmike says

    Ragutis I saw Marillion back in ’82 when they were doing the pub circuit. Ah great days! Some of the best concerts I’ve ever been to.

  188. rq says

    Ragutis
    I hope UK hogweed isn’t making a comeback. I’ve been hearing about cases of wild parsnip in Canada via relatives there, apparently there’s a similar effect with that plant (UV-sensitive, toxic sap that causes burns on skin if you’ve been in contact with the sap). I know it’s a horribly invasive, difficult-to-eradicate weed here, but its spread has been somewhat controlled and possibly even reduced with a lot of efforts over the last several years. :/

  189. Rob Grigjanis says

    cr @216: Ah well, so much for “last comment”. When I had some time, I looked at the first example in the article you linked; “Ultracold atoms: matter wave transport”, and did some background checking on the papers involved. The authors claim to solve a quantum paradox (TWT; transport without transit) using Bohmian mechanics. Problem is, there is no paradox, as one can see by reading the referenced paper by M. Rab et al. I can explain further if you like. Inflated claims don’t bode well…

    Details of the Bohmian TWT calculation can be found here.

    I don’t think you know very much of what you’re talking about

    At least we have some symmetry there. You talk a lot about “thinking about physics” without seeming to know much actual physics.

    How much do you actually know about any others, besides the things you’ve been told to say [really?] are bad about them?

    And once again, fuck you too. Don’t make up shit.

  190. consciousness razor says

    Rob:

    The authors claim to solve a quantum paradox (TWT; transport without transit) using Bohmian mechanics. Problem is, there is no paradox, as one can see by reading the referenced paper by M. Rab et al. I can explain further if you like. Inflated claims don’t bode well…

    Perhaps you should explain.

    It does initially seem paradoxical, doesn’t it? But in fact things are not as they seem, and BM helps to explain such situations transparently and consistently, basically by showing how Bohmian trajectories (transits) are calculated and agree with the experimental results. Thus the paradox goes away, so they did what they set out to do and nothing more “inflated” than that. You can see how that gives you something paradoxical-looking, even though what’s really going on under the hood (according to BM) isn’t actually paradoxical or inconsistent or mysterious or whatever.

    Telling me there is no paradox because somebody else has a different kind of response? (Or is it the same response in disguise?) How is that supposed to be contradicting the claims in the paper? If the point isn’t to show that they’re wrong, then exactly which of their claims are supposed to have been inflated?

    Have you tried reading any other parts of that review I linked? Lots of good bits in there.

    At least we have some symmetry there. You talk a lot about “thinking about physics” without seeming to know much actual physics.

    You’ve declined to say what you think “actual physics” is like, so I have no way of telling whether or not that’s true. I’m certain there’s a lot I don’t know, but what do you have in mind?

    How much do you actually know about any others, besides the things you’ve been told to say [really?] are bad about them?

    And once again, fuck you too. Don’t make up shit.

    If I had wanted to say “fuck you,” I would’ve said that. I’ve asked lots of questions, and you’re not answering them. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that you’re harping on all of the same irrelevant crap, as well as evading the issues in all of the standard ways that you could find in a million other places. I’m not making that up. You didn’t come up with all of that yourself (which isn’t a problem itself, since nobody needs to), and my point was that getting outside of your self-constructed box and seeing what others are actually doing could be helpful. Maybe not helpful at persuading you that you’re mistaken, just helpful in giving you interesting and relevant things to say.

    If you didn’t know the first thing about Catholicism and started railing against it, your criticisms probably won’t hit the mark. You don’t need to be a convert or the fucking Pope himself, in order to get that. Fortunately, we’re dealing with more tractable problems than any internecine squabbling, because we have in common all of the experimental results and all of the different camps (presumably) have an interest in understanding what those mean.

  191. Rob Grigjanis says

    cr @235:

    Thus the paradox goes away

    There is no paradox to begin with! Benseny et al say there is, apparently solely for the purpose of “solving” it with BM. There would be a paradox if the middle potential well were never actually occupied, but the Rab paper shows that occupation is merely strongly suppressed, not zero. And Benseny et al are basing their “paradox” on the Rab paper. Do you see the problem now?

    How is that supposed to be contradicting the claims in the paper?

    Once again, just so it sinks in: the article, and the detailed paper by the (mostly) same authors, claim that

    M. Rab et al. have concluded that quantum-mechanically it is possible to transport matter directly from the left trap to the right one, without transiting the center region, and formulated the TWT paradox…

    Rab et al not only say nothing about a paradox, their work clearly shows that the occupation of the center region is strongly suppressed, not empty. Unfortunately, they do use the words “transport without transit” (because it can appear so to an observer), which is gold for cherry-picking idiots who ignore actual content.

    I’ve asked lots of questions, and you’re not answering them.

    I asked one to begin with (do you remember?), which you’ve evaded with your usual wall-of-text pseudo-thinky blather and evasion.

  192. AlexanderZ says

    Thank you, Anne #224, se habla espol #225 and John Morales #226.
    I’ve tested this with the same browser on private mode and with other browsers, all showing the same normal results that you have. I’m getting curious as to what site triggered Google to show me this.
    Anyway, if anyone is curious the number is between 14.2 and 18.4 million.

  193. consciousness razor says

    Rob:

    There is no paradox to begin with!

    Speaking of “cherry-picking idiots who ignore actual content”…. Isn’t that what I said?

    Benseny et al say there is, apparently solely for the purpose of “solving” it with BM. There would be a paradox if the middle potential well were never actually occupied, but the Rab paper shows that occupation is merely strongly suppressed, not zero.

    That doesn’t describe much of what’s actually going on, nor does it explain how this works. I don’t think you’re trying to look at this from a Bohmian perspective. If you have a specific picture about what’s going on, as BM does, you might have something else to say besides “occupation is merely strongly suppressed, not zero,” if at first blush this “no transit” phenomenon seems to be in conflict with a picture which consists of “transits.” If you don’t have anything specific in mind to begin with, then of course (as far as you’re concerned) there’s nothing to contradict or explain away. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with coming up with a detailed physical account of it, as given by a specific theory.

    Some ignorant/lazy/dogmatic asshole might come along and say this demonstrates BM can’t be right, because they don’t understand that these obscure issues don’t mean what they appear to mean, because people have this tendency to use (sometimes extremely misleading) jargon that might cause confusion. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time Bohmians have been in that sort of situation — there has been lots of “received wisdom” over the years that it just can’t be true, but none of it holds up to scrutiny. But that doesn’t mean there’s a problem with simply recognizing that fact about us, then doing the work of clearly reconciling the two apparently paradoxical things with each other. It may not be immediately obvious how to do that, so this looks like a case of them showing their work. That helps people get a better grasp of what the world is like, according to BM. People want to have a clear understanding of what the fuck’s going on according to their theories (that’s pretty much the point of physics), and you’re being awfully picky if you’re going to hold it against them for doing that.

    . . . .

    Here’s the thing: you’ve mentioned several technical problems, which as I said may not even be genuine problems for BM. You think there’s a problem with an unobservable (and maybe unnecessary) foliation, contextuality, and apparently even QFT or relativity. Now I guess the latest one is supposed to look like an example of people supposedly inventing pseudo-problems to triumphantly “solve” for themselves. I’m not sure that’s what’s going on at all. Maybe you have something there or maybe those aren’t as bad as you think (or you’re guilty of the same). Either way, all of that’s pretty weak tea compared to the problems with shrugging your shoulders and saying the basic conclusion of fundamental physics is essentially “the world is weird and nobody can really understand it.” Couldn’t we do a little better?

    The very few things you do say sound like mystical newage crap, even if that’s not what you mean — as if we have psychic/telepathic powers because our “knowledge” itself determines physical effects, that electrons “observe” or “know” things as if panpsychism were true, that somehow “observing” or “experiencing” is fundamentally an altogether different sort of interaction than others because dualism is true, and so on. Either that or it’s like some kind of Berkeley-esque idealism, claiming the whole world just is “knowledge” or an “idea.” Or you say there are all of these bare “possibilities” or “probabilities” floating around, and nothing is ever actually real until you “observe” or “measure” or what-have-you. It’s not clear what such things would mean or what they would explain, even if any of it were supported by evidence (which it’s not). Sure, use all of the technical jargon you want in any way you want, but if at the end of the day there’s no way to understand that in other terms which don’t imply Deepak Chopra has it all right, then either you mean he is right or you eventually have to go back to the drawing board. After 80-90 years, what’s stopping you, and why insist everybody else has to be happy with the original consensus that was reached?

    Anyway, options like that just aren’t any good at dealing with the measurement problem. They are a bad hangover from an earlier time when people were too confused by new results in QM to give coherent answers (or they were busy with other work and thought it was enough to give a half-assed non-answer that just restates the problem). But it doesn’t look like you want to admit that, or you at least don’t recognize it for what it is. It’s as if we’re supposed to be satisfied when you simply act like you have some kind of Zen-like wisdom, that we should let your contradictory riddles wash over us and not ask for anything definite or comprehensible. Maybe you don’t care about problems like that, but if that’s the case you shouldn’t go around insisting that your “resolution” of them is the best one on the table. You’ve left the table, and the rest of us can have a grown-up conversation even if you don’t want to participate in it.

    But if you just can’t give a clear physical account of how these basic problems can be addressed, then don’t fucking bother going deep into the thickets with these technical details and suggesting that I’m just not educated enough to get them. On the one hand, that might be sort of true: I studied music, and I’ve been learning about physics and math casually my whole life because they’re especially interesting to me. I’m certainly no expert. On the other hand, that’s irrelevant. It’s not hard at all to see that the shit you’re saying isn’t coherent right from the beginning, and I don’t see how we could have a constructive conversation about anything else until at least that much is straightened out. Besides, it’s not just people like me saying this; many physicists and philosophers of physics have been saying the same things ever since the “orthodox” view started getting a foothold and stirring up trouble. So this is basically the Courtier’s Reply all over again: don’t fucking tell me about the elaborate invisible fabrics the emperor is supposedly wearing. We can maybe get to discussing that once I can see what the fuck you’re talking about, and I am at least in a position to know that you haven’t gotten there yet.

  194. John Morales says

    consciousness razor, the paper you adduced explicitly addresses the formalism’s utility rather than its interpretation:

    This review focuses on the use of nonrelativistic Bohmian mechanics to address practical problems, rather than on its interpretation. Although the Bohmian and standard quantum theories have different formalisms, both give exactly the same predictions for all phenomena.

    Your dispute with Rob is about the merits of the interpretation, not its formalism.

  195. Rob Grigjanis says

    cr @239:

    shrugging your shoulders and saying the basic conclusion of fundamental physics is essentially “the world is weird and nobody can really understand it.”

    Yes, depending what you mean by “understand”. How do you “understand” special relativity? Do you need a “deeper” explanation of why the universe appears to be locally Minkowskian? There’s nothing mystical going on. We see patterns around us and formulate theories which embody those patterns as generally and parsimoniously as we can. If some of that looks weird, that’s because there’s stuff going on at scales (distance, speed, etc) for which we have no intuition.

    As far as QM goes, we’ve made considerable progress since the ‘wave function collapse’ fudge. Decoherence may go a long way to resolving the measurement (i.e. quantum-classical boundary) problem. For Copenhagen, that still leaves the final choice of the measured value as inherently uncertain. At that point some of us do shrug. Others look for kludges to “explain” what they don’t feel comfortable with.

    The very few things you do say sound like mystical newage crap…

    That’s a fair cop. I could have been clearer. “measurement” goes on all the time, everywhere, in the sense of (qm state) –> (interaction with environment) –> (decoherence) –> (definite value). It doesn’t require “minds”, or any of the other nonsense you mention. Neutrinos get created, propagate oscillating among the flavors, then maybe hit an atom and create a different atom. No conscious mind has to actually observe this. Nor does the moon disappear when I turn my back to it.

  196. Rob Grigjanis says

    John @40: Well that’s the thing. The part I mentioned actually claimed to resolve a paradox that supposedly arose in the standard theory.

  197. consciousness razor says

    John Morales, #240, yep, that’s why I brought it up. I don’t think you can claim it isn’t useful, in terms of the more practical and immediate problems that physicists, chemists, etc., want to work on.

    Rob:

    If some of that looks weird, that’s because there’s stuff going on at scales (distance, speed, etc) for which we have no intuition.

    Although you apparently didn’t read it, I already said that’s fine. You still can’t use this as an all-purpose get-out-of-making-sense free card. Sure, lots of weird, counterintuitive things happen. There is evidence of that stuff, and the sciences better not just be about confirming all of the things we think we already knew intuitively or with common sense.

    The only thing BM is “adding,” in the sense that it’s lacking in the orthodox theory and others, is some material stuff (particles, fields, strings, whatever) with precise locations. Try to explain this to me. It’s pretty odd that you’d think doing that (saying fundamental objects have positions) poses some kind of an additional problem with relativity. If you don’t even have the resources to say what’s there or where it is, or you’re going to be really vague about it so you can pretend as if there’s no tension between QM and relativity (or however you manage to “not add” that to textbook QM), how exactly is putting some stuff in spacetime while being completely consistent with all of the QM predictions a sign that there’s a problem specific to BM? Isn’t that either a problem with all quantum theories, or else a problem with the others which aren’t being clear or explicit enough to nail them down to anything specific? I mean, I guess you can say we’re not trying to hide from it, so I shouldn’t be too surprised to be exposed to “criticism” like that, but what do you think the actual problem is on that front? And since nobody has a version that’s fully compatible and unified with GR, do you think it’s probably going to more helpful or less helpful to take it seriously and be extremely clear about what there is and how that stuff is moving around in and interacting with spacetime?

    At that point some of us do shrug. Others look for kludges to “explain” what they don’t feel comfortable with.

    I don’t know why you’re using the scare quotes or talking about comfortability. How can that make any sense to you?

    That’s a fair cop. I could have been clearer.

    Good, now it looks like we’re getting somewhere. Next step: the point of being clearer about all of this presumably isn’t just to make ourselves comfortable.

  198. Rob Grigjanis says

    cr 244:

    The only thing BM is “adding,” in the sense that it’s lacking in the orthodox theory and others, is some material stuff (particles, fields, strings, whatever) with precise locations.

    Why are you adding it, when there’s no compelling reason to do so other than to maintain determinism (and in principle only)? The answer to that seems to lie in psychology rather than nature.

    It’s pretty odd that you’d think doing that (saying fundamental objects have positions) poses some kind of an additional problem with relativity.

    I don’t think it. It’s simply a fact, at least in BM. In a many-particle system, the evolution of a particle’s position determined by the guiding equation depends on the simultaneous positions of all other particles. What is simultaneity in relativity?

    If you don’t even have the resources to say what’s there or where it is…

    You’re assuming there has to be something with a definite position? Begging the question.

    …or you’re going to be really vague about it so you can pretend as if there’s no tension between QM and relativity (or however you manage to “not add” that to textbook QM), how exactly is putting some stuff in spacetime while being completely consistent with all of the QM predictions a sign that there’s a problem specific to BM?

    Who’s being vague? At the very least, quantum physics plays far more nicely with special relativity than BM. Their offspring is relativistic quantum field theory*. Most successful etc. The supposed problems with locality (EPR) are only problems if you believe in “instantaneous wave function collapse” (scare quotes!), or pretend to be two spacelike-separated observers at once, or God. None of which are coherent positions.

    I don’t know why you’re using the scare quotes…

    Because BM isn’t actually explaining anything. It’s telling you what you want to hear. Sort of.

    Are we going around in circles yet? Seems that way to me. Anyway, I’m done for the day. Maybe more tomorrow, but I suspect we’re talking at cross purposes.

    *As I mentioned to you before, this term means QM + SR, not GR.

  199. consciousness razor says

    Why are you adding it, when there’s no compelling reason to do so other than to maintain determinism (and in principle only)? The answer to that seems to lie in psychology rather than nature.

    I don’t know how many times I’ve said I don’t care at all about maintaining determinism. Why would I care and why would that be compelling anyway? No idea, but there’s no reason to try your hand at mind-reading or psychoanalysis when I’ve already told you as much. If I hadn’t, you could simply ask.

    Here we go again:
    — We have vast amounts of evidence, the entirety of anything anyone has ever experienced, that macroscopic objects have positions.
    — If macroscopic objects are composed of more fundamental things, those also have positions. Perhaps things are more blurry or spread out at such a small scale, not a zero-dimensional point-like particle, but it’s simply inconsistent with observations if they’re not in very small localized regions at any given time.
    — So there are fundamental things with positions, but a more basic point is that they exist. Rejecting the reality of such things is entirely out of the question, if you’re saying macroscopic objects consist of these things. They are real, so for that reason alone physics is compelled to include them and make use of them. If you’re going to say there is nothing at all down there, so you can only talk about readings on your big “measuring instruments” that are right in front of you and forgo any talk of microscopic stuff, then you should go back to doing classical physics on nice big objects like that.
    — It’s impossible to have evidence that things aren’t like that (or are like that) when you’re not “measuring” or otherwise interacting with them. It’s pretty amazing when you stop and think about it that any serious working physicist would need this pointed out to them, but some have gone down that rabbit hole and in other absurd directions before, so I don’t know if it can be taken for granted anymore. Luckily, you’re likewise claiming “Nor does the moon disappear when I turn my back to it.” But I’m still wondering what alternative you think you have, if it isn’t many-worlds or something even worse. Once you have that, I’ll return the question: what’s your compelling reason for doing that, whatever it might be?

    I don’t think it. It’s simply a fact, at least in BM. In a many-particle system, the evolution of a particle’s position determined by the guiding equation depends on the simultaneous positions of all other particles. What is simultaneity in relativity?

    Where is anything in spacetime, in your version of QM? Sure, it’s kind of hard for things to have any spacetime relationships, much less be simultaneous, if you simply won’t say anything, but that’s not quite enough to claim you’ve got a theory works just fine with relativity.

    The supposed problems with locality (EPR) are only problems if you believe in “instantaneous wave function collapse” (scare quotes!), or pretend to be two spacelike-separated observers at once, or God. None of which are coherent positions.

    It’s a fact that nonlocal correlations exist and all quantum theories will have them, yes? There are certain facts about the world, concerning two spacelike-separated points in certain specific situations (e.g., an entangled pair), whether or not anyone or anything is “observing” such facts. I have no idea why that’s supposed to be my problem and not yours, as long as you understand that those are facts. It makes no difference what you believe or pretend or who you are or what you know — and the idea that any of that would make a difference somehow is just absurd. So what the hell are you saying?

  200. John Morales says

    consciousness razor @246:

    — If macroscopic objects are composed of more fundamental things, those also have positions.

    How is that claim not a fallacy of division?

    (You can’t justify it inductively)

  201. Rob Grigjanis says

    cr @246:

    Perhaps things are more blurry or spread out at such a small scale, not a zero-dimensional point-like particle, but it’s simply inconsistent with observations if they’re not in very small localized regions at any given time.

    Indeed they do look fuzzy. Once you admit fuzziness, do you then artificially impose a limit as to how fuzzy they can be? The particles that make up macroscopic objects aren’t too fuzzy, but what about particles moving freely through space? What do observations tell us about those?

    They tell us that both matter and light can exhibit wavelike or particular behaviour, depending on how they are observed. So it’s not in fact “inconsistent with observations if they’re not in very small localized regions at any given time”.

    So there are fundamental things with positions, but a more basic point is that they exist.

    Well you just said they could be fuzzy, so what do you mean by position? I think particles exist as well. But sometimes their position can be so fuzzy that you can’t even say that they went through a particular slit in a double-slit experiment. It seems your problem is that you can only accept so much fuzziness. You simply insist that the particle must have gone through one of the slits, because it can’t be that fuzzy?

    Your last two paragraphs? I have no idea what you’re trying to say. Could you rephrase them more concretely? I think the claim that relativistic quantum field theory works just fine is one of those res ipsa loquitur thingies.

  202. Rob Grigjanis says

    cr @246: I’ll take a crack at your last paragraph.

    It’s a fact that nonlocal correlations exist and all quantum theories will have them, yes?

    Yes.

    There are certain facts about the world, concerning two spacelike-separated points in certain specific situations (e.g., an entangled pair), whether or not anyone or anything is “observing” such facts.

    Yes.

    I have no idea why that’s supposed to be my problem and not yours, as long as you understand that those are facts.

    I didn’t say it was your problem. Some people think it’s a problem in QM and QFT.

    It makes no difference what you believe or pretend or who you are or what you know — and the idea that any of that would make a difference somehow is just absurd.

    It doesn’t make a difference in any physical outcome, no. It makes a difference in you attitude to a theory if you think it implies some sort of “spooky action at a distance” going on. Which there isn’t. It’s only spooky if you can be two different observers. Which really would be spooky.

  203. consciousness razor says

    The particles that make up macroscopic objects aren’t too fuzzy, but what about particles moving freely through space? What do observations tell us about those?

    Observations tell us that every electron looks and acts just like every other electron. It’s also much simpler to come up with one set of laws that applies to all cases.

    They tell us that both matter and light can exhibit wavelike or particular behaviour, depending on how they are observed.

    Here’s a nice quote from Bell that was in the review paper:

    While the founding fathers agonized over the question ‘particle’ or ‘wave’, de Broglie in 1925 proposed the obvious answer ‘particle’ and ‘wave’. Is it not clear from the smallness of the scintillation on the screen that we have to do with a particle? And is it not clear, from the diffraction and interference patterns, that the motion of the particle is directed by a wave? De Broglie showed in detail how the motion of a particle, passing through just one of two holes in screen, could be influenced by waves propagating through both holes. And so influenced that the particle does not go where the waves cancel out, but is attracted to where they cooperate. This idea seems to me so natural and simple, to resolve the wave-particle dilemma in such a clear and ordinary way, that it is a great mystery to me that it was so generally ignored.

    Mysterious, indeed. I don’t know why I should care if you call it a field or if it’s more like a law of motion, but other than questions like that which do accept the basic picture being painted, what exactly do you have to criticize about this?

    Well you just said they could be fuzzy, so what do you mean by position? I think particles exist as well.

    Then don’t say there’s no compelling reason to include them in fundamental physics.

    But sometimes their position can be so fuzzy that you can’t even say that they went through a particular slit in a double-slit experiment.

    But you can say that. BM shows you how to say it. And saying that implies the same predictions as everything you’re saying.

    Same old Schrodinger cat problem here — the thing’s either alive or dead, not both.

    I didn’t say it was your problem. Some people think it’s a problem in QM and QFT.

    But being capable of precisely formulating that in BM is what makes you think it’s incompatible with SR, isn’t it? Or is there somehow a different problem with BM (a real problem that makes you reject it) that sounds almost exactly the same?

  204. Rob Grigjanis says

    cr @250:

    It’s also much simpler to come up with one set of laws that applies to all cases.

    Schroedinger equation plus guiding equation is simpler than just Schroedinger equation?

    So you and Bell share ideas about what seems natural and simple. Is this discussion about aesthetics? Actually, it would seem so.

    Well you just said they could be fuzzy, so what do you mean by position? I think particles exist as well.

    Then don’t say there’s no compelling reason to include them in fundamental physics.

    They are included; as particles described by normalized wave functions in QM, and as excitations of quantum fields in QFT.

    But sometimes their position can be so fuzzy that you can’t even say that they went through a particular slit in a double-slit experiment.

    But you can say that. BM shows you how to say it. And saying that implies the same predictions as everything you’re saying.

    Of course you can. You accept a certain amount of fuzziness, but not too much. Can you make this precise? How localized does a particle have to be?

    But being capable of precisely formulating that in BM is what makes you think it’s incompatible with SR, isn’t it?

    Huh? Where did I say that? I said that in BM a particle’s velocity at time t depends on other particles’ positions at the same time t. This makes extension to SR problematic.

  205. consciousness razor says

    Schroedinger equation plus guiding equation is simpler than just Schroedinger equation?

    If you just have the Schrodinger equation, you have many-worlds. Since we never observe dead-and-alive cats or many-worlds, then nothing empirical is forcing us into that corner. You’ll have to tell me something extra, about how superpositions of dead-and-alive cats don’t correspond to any of our observations, and how you derive the observations we do make from that. The same goes for double-slit experiments and the rest: you have a dead-and-alive cat type of quantum state. You can observe it and see it goes through a slit. You can see where it lands, whether or not you observe it at the slits (and those won’t be in the same places, because they’re different experiments).

    At no point do you “observe” it going through both. That’s only in the math. Which one should we trust more? The math, or all of the empirical evidence that anybody has ever gathered?

    Of course you can. You accept a certain amount of fuzziness, but not too much. Can you make this precise? How localized does a particle have to be?

    I don’t know precisely (that’s up to you and your theory), but it doesn’t have to be fuzzy at all. If you can’t show me why it needs to be, you can’t say BM must be wrong. You’ve been appealing to situations which by definition nobody is looking at (much less knows about), so you can’t have anything that rules it out. That’s the whole point.

    Huh? Where did I say that? I said that in BM a particle’s velocity at time t depends on other particles’ positions at the same time t. This makes extension to SR problematic.

    The conversation’s definitely going in circles now:

    I don’t think it. It’s simply a fact, at least in BM. In a many-particle system, the evolution of a particle’s position determined by the guiding equation depends on the simultaneous positions of all other particles. What is simultaneity in relativity?

    Where is anything in spacetime, in your version of QM? Sure, it’s kind of hard for things to have any spacetime relationships, much less be simultaneous, if you simply won’t say anything, but that’s not quite enough to claim you’ve got a theory [that] works just fine with relativity.

    Maybe I should say a little more here. I’m happy to admit some of the advanced math is over my head, so I might bungle a few things and would appreciate clarifications and corrections. Needless to say, it’s hard to untangle this knot even when you do get the math parts.

    There are at least two views about what an objective universal wavefunction is — leaving out the various “subjective” views (which aren’t meant to describe the universe, much less all of it) that you had described before, Rob. The ideas are either that the wavefunction is a kind of field or else it’s the law of motion for matter (particles/strings/fields/whatever) in 3+1 physical space. Of course, if there are more dimensions as in string theory, this only refers to the ordinary non-compact dimensions that you’d normally use to describe the tables and chairs in your living room. Let’s say either idea is fine, because it’s not clear how it would be relevant to this discussion.

    The wavefunction is “in” a 3N-dimensional configuration space. It is such that, if you have a point in it, that single point locates all N particles in the 3+1 physical space where those particles live. As that point moves around, all of the particles are moving around accordingly. Does that mean it’s some real place that exists somehow, or that that’s the real world and ours is an illusory one that “emerges” from it somehow? I don’t think it means that. Configuration space is a way to mathematically represent what’s going on in the real, physical 3+1 space that we know and love; it’s only a different way of describing configurations. You can do lots of nice math with it, which you can’t do as easily with representations of an ordinary 3+1 space. Is there something wrong with doing that? No, there isn’t. It’s the same kind of math used in thermodynamics, and nobody suspects it has crazy implications in that context. The Bohmian guiding equation was cooked up to give you all of the same results, but of course is describing them differently. If you have no problem with one, what’s the problem with the other?

    It’s defining everything, everywhere, all of the time — which seems appropriate since after all the natural world manages to consistently do things everywhere all of the time. The world doesn’t need to be “observing” itself somehow, nor does anyone or anything else need to be interacting with it, in order for that to be the case. If you thought there was something else the entire universe was interacting with (in order for it to simply exist and behave the way it does), you must have left out part of the entire universe, or else you’re imagining there’s a god or some sort of measuring device that sits somehow outside of the universe, which does this neat little trick that you think needs to be done. If there isn’t a universe-measuring-device (and a measuring device to measure that device, etc.), then the only actual thing around that could have a sort of “god’s eye view” of nature is simply nature itself, without all of that useless nonsense piled on top of it. If you really feel like talking that way, I can’t stop you, but it should be pretty obvious why that kind of talk isn’t helpful for providing a clear and factual description of the laws of nature (not describing our knowledge or our procedures, but what there is and what it does). That only seems to introduce confusion unnecessarily.

    It’s hard to get anyone to pin down what exactly the problem is supposed to be. You presumably wouldn’t say that simply using a configuration space to do your calculations is inconsistent with SR, since it merely has the potential to represent “simultaneous” or “nonlocal” events, or because we don’t have enough “observers” everywhere to tell us everything that’s going on in reality. That would be a very strange and pointless thing to say, and reality doesn’t need to be told what to do with itself. Heavy duty math like this can unproblematically represent all sorts of unphysical things, as long as we have other concrete (and not a priori) ways of determining what is and isn’t physical, like doing experiments to see what the world is actually like. We don’t need to take those bits of math more seriously than the things we see, because they were built to do a specific job and nothing more than that. If your math says some of its features can’t be “observed,” then so what: it says they can’t be “observed.” You shouldn’t be very worried if you can’t come up with a different representation that works just as well and leaves those funny bits of math out. It would be nice to be able to get rid of them I guess, but that’s certainly not necessary or guaranteed. Your aesthetic criteria of what the math should look like doesn’t hold any water if you can’t improve on it.

    Since now we know, due to numerous experiments, that there are nonlocal phenomena in the real world, something in physics should be capable of representing that. They’re quantum-mechanical phenomena, so QM is that something in physics. Since SR isn’t that thing and has nothing much to say about those things, you need to find a way to get those two theories/formulations to play fairly well together or change a few assumptions you had made about one or both. It seems like that can be done; we don’t have to get rid of everything we think we know, start over again from scratch, or start talking lots of nonsense. The only times in BM that there are any situations which might look like they’re in conflict with SR, every quantum theory has to agree or else it is wrong — in no other circumstances does it matter that it’s defining positions in a configuration space. If you have some other way of doing it, fine, but I have no reason to assume that’s going to be any better or simpler if it really is powerful enough to handle all of the same problems.

  206. Rob Grigjanis says

    cr @252:

    If you just have the Schrodinger equation, you have many-worlds.

    Yeah, I was just talking about the equations. In either case, you need extra stuff. For BM, it’s the quantum equilibrium hypothesis; that at some time t, the distribution of particles is |Ψ(x,t)|², where Ψ(x,t) is the wave function.

    You can observe it and see it goes through a slit.

    But if you see it go through a slit, you lose interference. Interference says that particles appear to propagate as waves. Of course they are observed as point(ish) particles, because that’s what classical detectors do! But to insist on point particles ‘under the covers’ seems like a diktat to the universe from a classical brain.

    If you can’t show me why it needs to be [fuzzy], you can’t say BM must be wrong.

    I’m not saying it must be wrong. I’m saying it can thus far only reliably duplicate the results of nonrelativistic QM, which is decades behind what’s going on now. And it seems to be founded on the principle of ‘natural and simple’ from a classical perspective, i.e. point particles.

    The rest of your comment requires, and deserves, more than a quick response, so I’ll try to respond tomorrow morning.

  207. consciousness razor says

    But if you see it go through a slit, you lose interference. Interference says that particles appear to propagate as waves.

    Not if it says particles are guided around by waves. No way to tell the difference.

    Of course they are observed as point(ish) particles, because that’s what classical detectors do!

    Why is it no good if I say “of course particles are observed as particles: because they are particles”?

    Also, there is no such thing as a “classical detector.” There are quantum mechanical detectors, which work more or less accurately. There isn’t an “alternative medicine” type of divide to make here: we just have the one world which works in a certain way, and the theory better not be implying that it is the wrong theory.

    But to insist on point particles ‘under the covers’ seems like a diktat to the universe from a classical brain.

    I don’t even get this. I have no classical, run-of-the-mill, evolved intuitions about my experiences of particles. I don’t experience particles and neither does anyone else. I don’t know why I’m supposed to be biased into believing there are particles or into thinking about particles a certain way. Things certainly don’t look to me like they’re practically empty and made of zillions of tiny bits flying around, I don’t hear sounds in tiny little chunks that reach my ear, temperatures don’t feel like the motions of these zillions of particles, etc.

    For a long time, lots of people (other than atomists) did think matter was some kind of continuous fluid (we have intuitions about fluids too!), and thought they knew a “vacuum” between things can’t possibly exist. Maybe they’re right! (Didn’t work so great at the time….) But they apparently had plenty of “classical” intuitions in their brains that were at odds with the existence of particles, presumably along with some others that swing the other way. But even people who did believe in them talked as if they filled up some of the space like a Platonic solid (which was supposed to account for different kinds of matter). It doesn’t seem to come very naturally to us. And aside from things like that, I don’t know of any evidence that “a classical brain” thinks the way you’re suggesting it does.

  208. John Morales says

    cr:

    I don’t even get this.

    I told you the very same thing @247.

    (You’re thinking anthropomorphically, not logically)

  209. consciousness razor says

    (You’re thinking anthropomorphically, not logically)

    Alright, I guess you should explain what a “classical brain” is, logically and not anthropomorphically.

    In 247 you didn’t quote the next sentence, where I basically said our observations can only indicate things are found (or perhaps made) in very small regions, not necessarily locations that are precisely defined zero-dimensional points. I’ve also said there might be strings, even though I don’t know or care about string theory, which obviously couldn’t satisfy that condition. Anyway, it’s not fallacious to point out that observations put such constraints on what the stuff is like, because I wasn’t suggesting that’s simply deduced as a matter of logic without ever making observations. Rob agrees we only ever see things in certain places, so I think I’m allowed to submit that much as part of my evidence and not have it contested. Is that helpful?

  210. John Morales says

    cr:

    Alright, I guess you should explain what a “classical brain” is, logically and not anthropomorphically.

    It was not I who used the term “classical brain”.

    In 247 you didn’t quote the next sentence, where I basically said our observations can only indicate things are found (or perhaps made) in very small regions, not necessarily locations that are precisely defined zero-dimensional points.

    Because I was not addressing your very next sentence, and it suffices since anything predicated on a fallacious inference is perforce unsound.

    But fine:

    — We have vast amounts of evidence, the entirety of anything anyone has ever experienced, that macroscopic objects have positions.
    If macroscopic objects are composed of more fundamental things, those also have positions. Perhaps things are more blurry or spread out at such a small scale, not a zero-dimensional point-like particle, but it’s simply inconsistent with observations if they’re not in very small localized regions at any given time.
    — So there are fundamental things with positions, but a more basic point is that they exist. Rejecting the reality of such things is entirely out of the question, if you’re saying macroscopic objects consist of these things.

    How does this change anything, now that it’s in context?

    Anyway, it’s not fallacious to point out that observations put such constraints on what the stuff is like, because I wasn’t suggesting that’s simply deduced as a matter of logic without ever making observations.

    Then perhaps you could point it out without appealing to some fallacy.

    Rob agrees we only ever see things in certain places, so I think I’m allowed to submit that much as part of my evidence and not have it contested.

    I didn’t contest any evidence.

  211. Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened says

    If anyone would like a list of US restaurants where they can eat in safety from the gun nuts, HuffPo have helpfully compiled a list.

  212. Rob Grigjanis says

    cr @255:

    I have no classical, run-of-the-mill, evolved intuitions about my experiences of particles.

    That’s a bit disingenuous. You’ve grown up in a culture which has known about atoms for a couple of hundred years, and electrons for more than 100 years.

    More on your #252 later, time allowing.

  213. Rob Grigjanis says

    cr @252:

    The world doesn’t need to be “observing” itself somehow, nor does anyone or anything else need to be interacting with it

    Agreed. And I thought I already said that I see the measurement we’re talking about (in the context of QM) as something going on everywhere, all the time; pure quantum states (with components that can interfere with each other) interacting with their environments to become a set of probabilities, one of which will be physically manifested (randomly IMO, not randomly IYO). So “measurement” is an unfortunate word in this case, as the process doesn’t require an ‘observer’ in the usual sense at all. It’s just the way that classical emerges from quantum.

    They[nonlocal phenomena]’re quantum-mechanical phenomena, so QM is that something in physics. Since SR isn’t that thing and has nothing much to say about those things, you need to find a way to get those two theories/formulations to play fairly well together or change a few assumptions you had made about one or both.

    Quantum nonlocality plays just fine with SR, because it doesn’t allow FTL communication. But for BM to incorporate SR you have to add another rule to your theory which defines ‘instantaneous’ for your set of particles.

    At this point, I think we really are just going around in circles. Shall we call it a day and retire to our respective corners?

  214. Owlmirror says

    It’s been a while since I got up to shenanigans, isn’t it?

    (One of my camera barcode apps recognizes it right away when I pull way back; the second sometimes does; the third seems to be a bust)

  215. rq says

    Lofty
    I bet they were just away at the Universal Villains’ Conference, and have now acquired all the knowledge and all the skills to take over the world.
    Personally, I welcome these new tentacled cephalopod masters. Pretty!

  216. Vilém Saptar says

    Chigau,
    You do! Thank you, it has worked out pretty well for me so far.

    Beatrice,
    Thank you!

  217. Rob Grigjanis says

    consciousness razor: I apologize for my outburst at the end of #236. It was uncalled-for and inexcusable.

  218. consciousness razor says

    consciousness razor: I apologize for my outburst at the end of #236. It was uncalled-for and inexcusable.

    Thank you. No harm done.

    Quantum nonlocality plays just fine with SR, because it doesn’t allow FTL communication. But for BM to incorporate SR you have to add another rule to your theory which defines ‘instantaneous’ for your set of particles.

    Why would that be? They are the things you’re referring to like so:

    a set of probabilities, one of which will be physically manifested

    It looks like you need a mechanism that turns probabilities into manifestations. Is there a rule for that? What would it mean to say that a real thing is made somehow out of a probability? You can’t just drive down the road and grab a “probability” at the store, but it would at least make sense that you could get a sack of particles.

    What you might mean instead is that it’s a fact that this thing is manifested in one place or another, and you know the chances of it being here or there (because you haven’t interacted with it yet). BM adds particles with definite trajectories at all times, to a textbook quantum theory that doesn’t have them. Likewise, in SR, an object has a definite worldline. The concept of a worldline doesn’t require simultaneity, so why couldn’t there be a version of BM that does the same thing with an analogous (if not equivalent) concept of a trajectory?

    Like I said before, the only cases which don’t fit so simply into this scheme are when we have these “nonlocal” entanglements — that’s not anything traveling or propagating on a faster-than-light trajectory, but you still need to be able to factually describe what’s going on in such cases. It wouldn’t make any sense to think anybody could do that while also using only the resources available to them in a “local” theory like SR. But BM’s not adding this in anywhere, those are just logical mathematical consequences that are predicted by the standard quantum theory, which we know thanks to people like Einstein and Bohm himself.

    Let’s turn back to my first point above. What exactly do your “probabilities” and “manifestations” have? Do they have worldlines? How could that be? You can tell me something is in spacetime whenever there’s an interaction (or “collapses” or “measurements” but I’m glad that’s a bit clearer now), but you apparently don’t have any resources to say anything definite about what’s going in the spaces and times between those events. SR doesn’t say nothing is going on in between or that you don’t need to discuss those things, so it looks like you’re not done telling the whole story. You might be consistent with SR if you’re only considering the interactions, but there’s nothing to grab onto otherwise, so whatever you’re doing I don’t see how that’s enough to fully “incorporate” it. It smells like a lot of handwaving — you do some QM and get those results, you separately do some SR and get those, everything looks fine so you call it a day… but it’s not very clear how those two are supposed to fit with each other. I’m not saying that can’t be done with various other interpretations, but the point is you shouldn’t be sneaking in “particles” through the back door (or calling them by some other name) if at the same time you’re going to say Bohmians have a problem doing that.

  219. Nightjar says

    Hah! I knew there was a good reason for keeping that barcode app despite never actually using it! I just hadn’t realized it yet, but now I know. It was so I could read Owlmirror’s mischievous comments in their entirety! How could I ever doubt its usefulness?

    (It works, btw. I’m not sure how you did that, but it works perfectly.)

  220. Owlmirror says

    @Tony:

    Owlmirror @263:
    What *is* that?

    In general? An example of a QR code.

    More specifically? A message for the overhead. Nothing to worry about.

  221. chigau (違う) says

    My internet connection is so bad, in the evenings I am forced to watch TV.

    on the other hand, the system here blocks all ads

  222. Owlmirror says

    I wondered if the QR could be read by the barcode decoder at zxing.org.

    I thought I could just take a screenshot of the image, crop it, save it, and upload it — but no dice. I guess the multiple thin horizontal blank lines confused the recognizer. I tried multiple iterations with abject failure, until finally I hit on this perverse sequence:

    01) copy the block to a word processor (font is 10pt Droid Sans Mono)
    02) Set the line spacing to 0
    03) use the word processor zoom to go to 50%
    04) take a screenshot of the window.
    05) Open in Irfanview (other image manipulators might work as well, but I like this one for basic tasks)
    06) Crop the image to the block (duh)
    07) Run the Blur filter 3 times
    08) Reduce the colors to 2
    09) Save as PNG
    10) Upload to zxing.org

    And that was recognized.

    Hooray for convoluted workarounds!

  223. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    chigau,

    I’m sorry.

    On the other hand, I started watching TV voluntarily again when mom recommended Arrow. I even watched one of those killer sharks movies afterwards once.

  224. numerobis says

    I am idly wondering whether my perception is accurate or wishful thinking.

    I think of theoretical computer science conferences as events that were numerically dominated by men, but where I tended to be able to have conversations with women as equals.

    I was just at a business conference where there was a closer gender mix. Repeatedly, I was having a productive conversation with a woman and the man she worked with would take the floor and just suck all the oxygen out of the discussion.

    Now I wonder if indeed business is worse than computer science, or it’s just that I hadn’t considered the issues as much.

  225. numerobis says

    OTOH, another startup founder and I were chatting, and he mentioned that when he built his technical team, his mandate included that it not be all men, that there be at least one woman. He ended up with half the team being women, because it turns out it’s pretty easy to find technical women if you’re actually looking for them. One trick: don’t look at resumes. It was a breath of fresh air to hear his outlook (which concords with mine).

  226. AlexanderZ says

    Related to the Brooks post.
    I’m wondering if empathy is related to the Dunning–Kruger effect; i.e. the less problem one has the more dismissive they are of actual serious problems of other people, and the more they are focused on their own petty inconveniences.
    I’m not asking whether privileged people are dismissive of the problems of the disenfranchised. Of course they usually are. I’m wondering whether the internal brain mechanism is exactly the same, so that their brain cannot handle a discussion about suffering simply because they experienced so little of it that their brain is incapable of grasping how it is for other people.

  227. Nick Gotts says

    Further to #279, notice that although one can’t hold the current queen responsible for what she did at the age of 7, the film and stills are extremely embarrassing for the Windsor “Firm”, because the enthusiastically saluting lady is not Wicked Wallis Simpson (boo, hiss), but the late revered national treasure Elizabeth Windsor neé Bowes Lyon, a,k,a, “Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother”, central to the Windsor brand from 1936 until her death in 2002.

  228. Nightjar says

    AlexanderZ, #277:

    It went very well, thanks! At least judging by the feedback I got, I confess that it is all a bit fuzzy in my head right now (it was yesterday morning). I actually feel a little bad about that, I would have liked to be a little more self-aware during the defense and after it but it felt like I was just on auto-pilot mode. It’s very strange, but I guess it was my brain’s way of dealing with the anxiety and it worked very well, so I’m happy and relieved and proud. :)

    And so I spent today gardening and playing with the cats. Tomorrow I will finish some things in the garden (those poor plants suffered a little over the past months) and hopefully pick up my camera and go looking for birds!

  229. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    *late in the thread*
    Nightjar, my main reason for calling Title 9 being good as the null hypothesis, was to tell Tom Weiss he either puts up the information from third party sources to support his fuckwitted and ignorant opinons, or he shuts the fuck up. As I will do with all liberturds. Actually, my working null hypothesis is that anything they opine without evidence on is wrong, as long as it isn’t supported by data (when is that, when their presupposition is that all government programs are bad). And he was wrong. Data said otherwise. So he needed to look at his prepsuppositions *snicker* Didn’t happen of course, liberturds can’t be wrong.

  230. Nightjar says

    Yeah, Nerd, sorry about the hairsplitting above. It really was just that. You won’t get an argument from me regarding libertarians’ ignorance, wrongness and general fuckwittedness.

    And speaking of Tom Weiss… I was just catching up with the It could be worse thread a while back and I must say that I don’t remember feeling so disgusted and nauseated by someone’s comments since… well, probably since StevoR. And that’s saying something. Ugh.

  231. Dhorvath, OM says

    I have now watched half of Fellowship of the Ring with my son. He is keen to see the rest. I count this a win.

  232. emergence says

    I just read about the latest crap coming out of right-wingers about Planned Parenthood, and it’s been making me think about right-wing fundamentalist attitudes about sex. I get the feeling that most of what they’re saying is hyperbolic crap right on its face. Their descriptions of STDs and birth control are so over-the-top and counter to how I’ve seen society to work that it’s almost impossible to take seriously. The thing about condoms being porous is pretty obviously a load of shit; condoms are made of latex, something that doctors and biologists specifically use to prevent the spread of pathogens. I don’t see why latex condoms would be made in some special way that makes “pores” that surgical gloves would lack.

    Other stuff is more complicated though. I want to actually get enough background knowledge to make judgements about contraception for myself. With that in mind, here’s another one of my lists of questions;

    – I’m a biology student, so would simply taking classes on pathogens and hormones give me the necessary background knowledge to understand the science behind STDs and birth control? How far into my classes would I have to get to understand this sort of thing?

    – I realize that I could go to the planned parenthood site, but I feel like that might just be a few isolated factoids that I would have no way of getting any background on. I’d like it if someone could recommend some books or scientific papers on contraceptives, birth control, or STDs that could explain the underlying mechanics behind this stuff.

  233. Owen says

    You only need a high-school level of biology to understand the science behind birth control – assuming that it hasn’t been hopelessly compromised by RWAs, even Wikipedia should be a good start. As for STDs, they’re just a set of pathogens that don’t survive outside the body but are instead adapted to be transmitted by contacting mucosal membranes. The pathology around distributions of pathogens in different tissues is probably quite complicated, but not necessary for a conversational understanding.
    While you’re on the topic, you need to think about medical ethics and the social cost of not having contraception – I will leave the academic background reading to someone else to provide as there are specialists who comment regularly – but a cursory reading will show you that the benefits to society are such that even though you wish to make a judgment for yourself, the conclusion that you must come to is that they should be freely and widely available to anyone, no questions asked.
    Also, if you are already a biology student, what sort of crappy course are you taking that this hasn’t been covered already?

  234. AlexanderZ says

    Nick Gotts #279-280
    That explains why Churchill, despite being a conservative, was so much against the Royal family to the point of having a plan to imprison (or worse) them should Britain be invaded.
    _______________

    Nightjar #281
    Congrats! :)
    _______________

    emergence #287

    – I’m a biology student, so would simply taking classes on pathogens and hormones give me the necessary background knowledge to understand the science behind STDs and birth control? How far into my classes would I have to get to understand this sort of thing?

    You’ll need to look at the syllabus of each course to find out exactly how much they talk about what. I can tell you this much – all courses about virology should have a detailed discussion of HIV since it’s the most famous of the ssRNA-RT viruses, and all cancer biology courses should teach you about HPV because that virus taught us that cancers could be “acquired”.
    Apart from those two STD aren’t that interesting. Some my talk about Chlamydia as an example of an intracellular obligate pathogen, while others prefer to use Salmonella’s survival in macrophages for that purpose. Any learning about STDs beyond the two I’ve mentioned in the first paragraph depend on the lecturer and the course in question, but will usually require an in-depth course or your independent learning once you’ve acquired the basic tool-set to understand pathogens. Good luck.

  235. Nightjar says

    AlexanderZ,

    Thanks :)

    ***

    emergence,

    – I’m a biology student, so would simply taking classes on pathogens and hormones give me the necessary background knowledge to understand the science behind STDs and birth control? How far into my classes would I have to get to understand this sort of thing?

    Hm, more than endocrinology, I would think that taking reproductive biology classes should be helpful as far as background knowledge goes, at least for the birth control part. As for STDs, basic knowledge in microbiology/infectious diseases + a bit of research on your part into the specific pathogen you’re interested in should also be enough.

    That said, you don’t need to be a biology student to understand this stuff. Comprehensive sex ed covers it all and that’s why everyone should have access to it… that way everyone would be fully equipped to see right through right-wing fundamentalists’ dangerous lies.

  236. Ragutis says

    Yeah, so it was Saturday night, I knew I could sleep in so WTH, let’s watch finals day at the J-Bay Open. Waves were finally good, surfers’ performances were great. But by the time the quarterfinals were finished, it was after 6a.m., I was knackered, and figured I could avoid spoilers until I had a chance to watch the semis and finals on replay. Off to bed.

    Got up, fired up the internets and got ready to read the news with my early afternoon coffee. Front page of BBC: Aussie Surfer Scuffles With Shark. Hmmm. Click. HOLY SHIT, MICK FANNING GOT ATTACKED BY A FUCKING SHARK! So much for avoiding spoilers, it was international news. BBC, Guardian, CNN, NBC… Fanning and fellow Aussie Julian Wilson had made it to the finals and the heat had just started. Wilson caught a wave and was down the point paddling back out when Mick got pulled off his board as a shark bit or got caught on his leash. Luckily the jet skis and rescue boat were there within seconds to get them out of the water. Really freaky. The video is a must watch. If you don’t believe me, maybe this picture will convince you.

    http://www.surfermag.com/features/mick-fanning-attacked-by-shark-at-j-bay-open/

    discussion and interviews with Mick and Julian afterwards:

    http://www.worldsurfleague.com/posts/131167/competition-called-off-surfers-react-to-shark

    Needless to say, the contest’s off. Fanning and Wilson will get equal 2nd place points and they will split the first and second place prize money. While a win would have put one of them on top of the rankings for the World Title race, the equal second did move them into second and third.

  237. Bernard Bumner says

    I see Dawkins has been invited to fugitive from justice, alleged rapist, Julian Assange’s birthday party (I’m sure that he can provide a sympathetic ear about the Feminist/CIA conspiracy to persecute Assange and extradite him to the US).

    Is it safe for both of those visionary, truthsayer’s egos to be in the same room at the same time (I hear that the Ecuadorian embassy is quite snug)?

  238. AlexanderZ says

    Bernard Bumner #292
    Every time I think Dawkins can’t disappoint me any more, he does it anyway. I’m now half expecting him to start publishing PUA books and going on A Voice for Men.
    ____________

    On a different note, does anyone know an emoji for the Merkel-Raute? I’d like to attach it to every discussion about the EU and doing this:
    (-_-)
    -<>-
    is too space consuming.

  239. Saad says

    My favorite Tom Weiss quote:

    The idea that any job, no matter how invaluable, should require an employer to pay a “living wage” is incredibly offensive to me

  240. Nightjar says

    Saad, I don’t know, I’m really torn between that and this one:

    If that dishwasher cannot live on the value of their labor, they have a choice. They can choose to increase their value or they can choose not to

    The Libertarian World: where starving is just something poor people choose to do.

  241. anteprepro says

    My favorite quote was this: http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2015/07/11/it-could-be-worse/comment-page-1/#comment-959740

    Regarding “pay people accordingly” (and in defense of paying a professor no money).

    Each of these comments demonstrates a vicousness bordering on evil. It is very likely you don’t see it as evil, but that’s exactly what it is……

    That person is being paid according to their standard of value for their time, not yours. No one has coerced that person, no one has the muzzle of a gun pointed at their back urging them to take the job or else. That person decides, freely, either to take the job or not to take it. …. This transaction is the most moral of all possible transactions, one that is entered into freely by both parties for their mutual benefit.

    The transactions you’re describing are amoral and, in their extreme, dispicably evil…..

    The free exchange of goods and services is the most ethical way of ordering society because it is free and not coered at the point of a gun. Ah but why bring up guns, you might protest, the government won’t actually shoot you an employer if they break one of the myriad federal, state, and local employment regulations currently choking them. All laws, all regulation, is enforced by the barrel of a gun even though that gun isn’t often visible (just ask Eric Gardner). This is the weapon you would wield against two people simply trying to conduct a business transaction each of their own free will.

    So tell me again which of us is morally and intellectually bankrupt?

    It is Tom Weiss in a nutshell. Libertarianism in a nutshell. A perfect example of the Opposite Day “morality” that Tom Weiss and others like him adhere to. And he is just so perfectly bold and confident about it too. His rant truly seems to be righteous indignation, he almost seems to truly believe that regulating business transactions is “evil”, apparently far more reprehensible than letting people starve to death, or letting employers demand sex from employees. It is this quote, this statement of moral conviction and outrage, in conjunction with the complete amorality and indifference of every other fucking thing Tom Weiss says, that makes Tom seem so sublimely ridiculous to me. I knew he was a clown from previous times he has been here, months before now, but this was the biggest (and probably least offensive) reminder of all of that.

  242. Saad says

    Nightjar (quoting Tom Weiss), #299:

    If that dishwasher cannot live on the value of their labor, they have a choice. They can choose to increase their value or they can choose not to

    Okay, that’s a close second for me. Jesus Christ.

  243. Saad says

    If that dishwasher cannot live on the value of their labor, they have a choice. They can choose to increase their value or they can choose not to

    Also, note how “value of their labor” is treated like a fact of nature that nobody has any control over. It’s like their height or something. If you don’t like your height, you can choose to wear heels or you can choose not to.

    People in positions of power who think like Tom Weiss are a scourge on humanity.

  244. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    The heat is making me grumpy already (more like majorly pissed off), I don’t think I’m capable of talking to Tom Weiss.

  245. says

    Speaking of libertarian arguments about pay:
    Betty Bowers roasts Goodwill: They’re ‘secular charlatans’ using religious tricks to get rich:

    […]Mrs. Betty Bowers — skewered Goodwill Industries in a video published on Tuesday, noting that it would take the typical Goodwill worker 2,598 years to earn the $1,188,733 southern California CEO Craig Smith makes in a year.

    “Jesus hasn’t even lived that long, but he’d recognize those wages,” Bowers says. “And he’d also recognize secular charlatans using his flock’s playbook to get rich. Make tax-free millions by pretending you’re doing good? Well, that’s religion’s corporate motto. And quite frankly, we’re tired of the competition.”

    Bowers points out that Goodwill is able to hire disabled workers for 22 cents an hour thanks to a loophole in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. As the Huffington Post has reported, the company has applied this “special wage certificate” to 7,300 out of its 105,000 employees.

    “Just like most churches, or any get-rich-quick scheme, the cash always trickles up to the top,” she explains. “One branch paid its top executives more than $3.7 million in one year. That’s a lot of charity — to themselves.”

    Yeah, corporations are just going to pay people a minimum (to say nothing of a living) wage out of the kindness of their hearts.

  246. rq says

    Unfortunately, my dishwasher is neither capable of increasing its labour, nor of changing jobs. It’s actually pretty crappy at what it does. Should I try paying it a living wage? (I mean, I already pay for the electricity it uses…)
    And then I realize Tom Weiss is talking about people. Urgh.

  247. AlexanderZ says

    Putin’s Purge of Crimean Dissidents Continues Apace:

    Sixteen months after Russia’s March 2014 annexation of Crimea, the peninsula’s human rights situation is getting progressively worse.

    The first wave of repression targeted mainly pro-Ukrainian activists and Crimean Tatars, while in 2015 the Kremlin’s victims have been Slavs: Ukrainians and Russians. Since early this year, Russian authorities have forcibly resettled thousands of self-sufficient businessmen and managers, as well as various religious leaders…

    Meanwhile some French politicians find it all perfectly reasonable:
    French MPs’ Crimea visit condemned by France and Ukraine

    Thierry Mariani and about 10 other centre-right Republican Party MPs arrived in Crimea on Thursday.
    The French Foreign Ministry said it was a “violation of international law”. Ukraine called the MPs “irresponsible”.
    The visit “shows disrespect for state sovereignty”, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry was quoted as saying.
    Western politicians have avoided visiting Crimea, to comply with the sanctions regime. But a few MEPs went there to observe the controversial 2014 referendum, after the Russian annexation.

    All but one of the French MPs are Republicans. The opposition party – formerly called the UMP – is led by ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy…

    In Russian media they were quoted saying that the sanctions against Crimea and Russia should be lifted.
    Sarkozy himself supports Russia fully. Not surprising, mind you. He and Schröder were bought by Putin years ago.

  248. oolon says

    Off topic rant, Ophelia will likely edit or delete my comment on her post about me :)

    “Sorry you took the email that way, I intended to only explain my own thoughts about trans inclusion and my own view that trans women are women. Not explain to you that this must be the case. Clearly you don’t think that given the post you made on the “Gender Critical Feminism” facebook page.
    I will mansplain to you that saying you cannot say trans women are women because of the “trans” bit is possibly the most asinine argument I’ve ever see you attempt! Queer women, black women, disabled women ….
    Ophelia: “.. how could it [The question] be unequivocal or uncontentious or not in need of nuance? Why is the word “trans” there if that is the case?”
    I guess I should be happy the obfuscation about your trans inclusiveness is over?”

    My mansplaining achieved something, she is officially a “Gender Critical” feminist now. So no more doubt about that…. (Not that pretty much every trans person I know had no doubt already, just us cis people are a bit slow, to put it mildly)
    http://imgur.com/QmNBhit

  249. oolon says

    It’s really annoying that I apparently mansplained to her, when I went out of my way to say this is what I’ve learnt from listening to trans people. To cis feminists who are trans inclusive. Made it clear I was talking only about my own view on the subject… But given I was saying “trans women are unequivocally women”, I don’t know what I could have done differently? Just shut up? I may have answered my own question …

  250. says

    I hear that her and Cathy had a falling out a long time ago – but yes, Hungerford is a trans exclusionary radfem. She is their go-to person for pseudoscience.

  251. says

    I’d say I’m disappointed, but that’d be a lie.
    The whole “yes or no questions are anti-thought, we need nuance” stuff is BULLSHIT. And we realise it as bullshit and usually as a way for people who know that their opinions are bigoted to say so nevertheless.
    Do you believe that women should have the right to have an abortion?
    We have heard the brazillion of “yes, but…” and “nuance” and “complicated” answers to that. They are usually a sophisticated way to define the exact circumstances under which a woman becomes a thing that can be discarded in favour of the fetus.
    Do you believe that having sex with somebody who did not consent or who is not able to consent is rape?
    We’ve heard the “yes, buts” that are trying to find the exact circumstances under which it is totally okay to rape somebody.
    Clearly there are questions with a clear yes or no and no “nuance” or “but” or “it depends”. Unless you actually really want to say the opposite of what is deemed the “correct” (i.e. not asshole) answer.
    And “what does that trans do there anyway” sounds a lot like #alllivesmatter to me.

  252. says

    She also seems to think that the Block Bot crew and friends (whoever that is as a group?) is making some sort of concerted effort to trash her – when frankly there is a lot of bending over backward to be diplomatic because so many people are fans and friends of hers. I know there have been a few notable civility fails from a couple people – but mostly I see friends of acquaintances of hers seriously bewildered and conflicted by the whole business.

  253. oolon says

    My email to her was replying to her request on Twitter asking what I said in a thread about her. I also said I was hoping she’d make her views about trans inclusion clear, because I naively assumed that would clear up the issue… I suppose it did, but not in the way I was hoping.

    In fact I’m still hoping she doesn’t realise the owner of that facebook group is to trans-exclusion as Dean Esmay is to men’s rights. Although TBH worse, as I don’t think the MRAs have ever petitioned the UN in a serious attempt to limit women’s rights, whereas EH has.

  254. says

    Also, when a cis person says “yes, trans women are women (and trans men are men)”, that statement is anything but an indicator of lack of thinking. Because we’re taught the opposite all the time, the construct of “sex” has been thoroughly naturalized. I wasn’t raised with the believe that trans women are women, quite the opposite. I came from biologistic “WTF, they have dicks” over “yes, but not really in all aspects” to “yes, of course!”. That’s the result of a lot of reading, learning and listening.

  255. anteprepro says

    Giiell, you are absolutely right about yes and no questions. The objections to them are completely absurd.

    M.A. Melby, your comment over there was superb and I hope she takes it seriously (though I see A Masked Avenger has already replied to it with bullshit and needs to fuck right off).

  256. chigau (違う) says

    On my way home.
    I see I’ll have some catching up when I get to internet that lasts for longer than 5 minutes at a time.

  257. oolon says

    That whole thread is so fucked up, it’s making my head hurt to see people I admire(d) commenting on Hungerford’s TERF Facebook page…

    The fact that trans women self identify as trans women means it is a distinct category. Why indeed use the “trans” label at all if it is not, if trans woman = woman, no ifs, ands, or buts about it? If trans women wish to be considered exactly as women, why would the modifier “trans” not be eschewed?

    Do you logic? Subsets of a group mean members of that group are not part of the larger set. Ophelia liked this comment. I can’t even.

  258. says

    Great goodness.
    Why do African Americans need “African”. Does that mean they’re not Americans? Black women? Indigenous women? and if bottle-nose dolphins were actually dolphins, they’d drop that bottle-nose bullshit….

  259. samihawkins says

    Damn, now I wish I hadn’t clicked on this thread.

    If you can’t answer the question ‘are trans women really women’ without resorting to evasive two-faced bullshit, sorry, ‘nuance’ than it’s obvious you’re a bigot who refuses to accept us as female. I was willing to give freethought blogs another chance after she gushed over how awesome and accurate Ellinor Burkett’s transphobic screed was, but this is it.
    I will not support freethought blogs if they support a bigot like her. I like pharyngula, been lurking here on and off for about a decade, but so long as you share a home with that bigot I won’t be returning. If she leaves or at the very least other network bloggers besides Alex Gabriel are willing to publically call her out on her transmisogny I’ll come back. I’ll check back occasionally for the next month or so to see if that’s happened, but judging from past experience with situations like this it won’t.

    So odds are this’ll be my last comment here. Goodbye ya’ll.

  260. Nightjar says

    The fact that trans women self identify as trans women means it is a distinct category. Why indeed use the “trans” label at all if it is not, if trans woman = woman, no ifs, ands, or buts about it? If trans women wish to be considered exactly as women, why would the modifier “trans” not be eschewed?

    What the… this is completely ridiculous. Logic, you’re doing it wrong. Set theory, you’re doing it wrong. I mean, the question was “are trans women women?”, not “are trans women cis women?”. The “trans” is there to distinguish trans women from cis women, not to distinguish trans women from… women. Because that wouldn’t make any sense.

    Someone please teach this person to draw Venn diagrams. Maybe that will help them answer the oh so complicated question of whether a subset of the set “women” really belongs within the set “women”.

  261. Alexander says

    A few days ago, in the “How stupid are liberals” thread I saw that some libertarian-type argument about … well, the same brouhaha that libertarians always argue about. But I saw something at the end which really grinds my gears: “If you don’t like it, leave.”

    Those exact words weren’t used, but the phrasing is irrelevant. So is the argument against which it was leveled; I happened to agree with the speaker on that front, but think the argument form itself is inappropriate. (I’m not linking to the post because of that irrelevancy; if you try to argue about those things here, I will ignore you.) Each time I hear that sort of rhetoric, I can’t help but imagine how it might be used against the positions I hold dear (blockquoting hypothetical arguments):

    “Man it sure is terrible that your family can’t get a decent education, fair-wage jobs, or live in constant fear, but all that’s because you’re living in Alabama [in the 60’s/70’s]. You really should move somewhere that isn’t endemically racist.”

    Survivors of abuse will hear this argument and immediately recognize a “blaming the victim” argument. Even weaker phrasing can clearly deny the agency and humanity of those who it is levied against:

    “If you don’t like the capitalist healthcare system that America has always used, go live in one of those socialist countries you seem to love.”
    “The Supreme Court was wrong to redefine traditional marriage. If LGBTQ activists wanted to get married, they could always move to one of the places that had already done so.”

    These examples make this argument clearly of immense valuable to abusers and oppressors, so hearing it from those I would consider sociopolitical allies gives me cold chills. If you don’t see this as oppressive behavior, why not?

  262. says

    @oolan and anyone else familiar with the conflict around Ophelia Benson.
    Are the links that are above enough to get a feel for the whole situation with respect to Ophelia and trans insensitivity? I’ve been bothered by the situation and have wanted to read into it and help if I can. With what I have experienced of the situation so far it looks like a failure to properly separate the different elements of the situation. In fact I have been wanting to engage with this issue (trans-feminism tension and trans activism in general) so that I can be more useful here and in other parts of the ‘net. I have had a way of looking at these conflicts between some feminists and trans people that I have wanted to get some opinions about.

    Questions:
    Why was it important to ask Ophelia if transwomen are women? (I’m trying to get a feel for what brought us to this point).
    Is the sensitivity centered around a perceived loss of usefulness of the word “woman” to some people?

    For full disclosure I have tried to be as supportive of a healthy and constructive conflict with respect to conflicts involving feminist and trans disagreements. I try to let female people and transwomen figure that issue out between themselves as much as possible because I’m not in any of those groups. I try to be involved in this way because I don’t want to run into situation like the one that oolan is in, but maybe that’s not good enough. I respect and support Ophelia because of her combative nature that she applies to changing society which is something society tries to suppress in female people. But being a of a personality type that often expresses authority myself I know full well we can be too headstrong when it comes to letting other people tell us what they are, and letting that give us a better idea of what we are in return.

    Related to that I have another complication that I have not mentioned in much depth with respect to this issue, I don’t feel words that society fights over the same as everyone else (and I don’t perceive all of those “words related to conflict” the same way). I’m saying this because it might become relevant as I look at all of this and talk to people.
    I have to be honest, the words “man”, “women”, “masculine”, “feminine”, and similar don’t mean a damn thing to me on a personal level. I really only use them because other people do. I basically fake it and they feel like jargon which I know is really dangerous because other people need those words. Male and female women need to be able to talk about their experiences with respect to what we call masculine and feminine. But I still can’t help it because traditional ways of looking at what male and female people* are shattering into pieces, our experience of society is bound up into how we use these words and it’s like flavors of static in my head when I perceive them. Part of me really believes that the words man/woman and similar are just going to be replaced at some point with things that the underlying emotions and instincts relate to (aggression, protectiveness, nurturing, assertive and other things that are actually present in both sexes and manipulated by society).

    It seems to me that each path involving the words female and woman matters equally, and that one of those paths is contextualized by the word male. Male and female have personal meaning to me only insofar as how the plumbing works, sexual attraction (I’m pretty much omnisexual), health issues and being supportive when female people choose to have children.
    *Female agender.
    Male agender.
    *Female woman.
    *Male woman (transwoman, let me know if this is not how to look at it).
    *Female man (transman, same thing here, let me know).
    Male man.
    At this point in time I let each of these groups of people tell me who and what they are. Even though the fight seems to mostly be between some feminists and transwomen, I see them as equal in terms of having an opinion in this debate. I do compare and contrast what I read and hear because I am going to try to understand them for myself, but I try to keep that out of my beliefs that inform actions.

    That’s four kinds of people that are needed to understand this mess, and that is still probably missing something with respect to where the actual base conflict is. Four paths through life that present differently at different points in history and culture that hopefully have enough connections to sort things out. Four ways of looking at female and woman, with one way using male to help contextualize things. One group of people with privilege related to the other three, which I honestly believe will make female women (on average!) prone to the same sorts of biases that white men like me have been discovered to have (I’m happy to be society’s privilege lab rat). Things such as hyperfocusing on my own perceived victimhood when challenged by someone with less power. Or feeling overly threatened by the idea that we have privilege that needs to be taken into account when trying to fix society. I’m not specifically tying anything in those article to this situation, but I am claiming that the social justice community is now in the position of discovering that the historical conflicts involving white males have analogs that are rippling out in terms of how bias screws things up.

    When people interact using these words they have the potential to cause defensiveness and aggression because of how intensely personal they are, and how they have enormous utility that is in flux because society literally creates social tools to get things done with the meanings, roles, characteristics and more that these words get imbued with.
    What is meant by a “distinct category” with respect to transwomen? What are the other categories that are implicitly so important that they need to have this distinction between woman and transwoman? [Trans][woman], [transwoman]? [woman][trans]? [womantrans]? [Trans]/[woman] (category priority)? [Woman]/[trans]? [Female]/[woman]/[trans]? I could create dozens of specific ways that these words can relate that inform to how they might be related to individuals and it really does not matter since the language we are using now might not even be relevant in a hundred years.
    Why would anyone need this distinct category so badly when it’s the different ways that these words are related that determines what they mean to us? It’s a difficult thing because as important as language is, it’s also only a proxy for what we actually feel about the world. This is a word. Every word shatters into a concept map and all of the things connected to it can matter when it comes to using them to share information. In the end our language is only as useful as it gets at those deeper things that the language represents. It seems to me that what matters are the concepts that society connects to the word “woman” as words blend into one another as we share concepts in language. When we use those words the emotional priority changes how the category structure works too. Are trans and woman independent categories? Are transwomen a subcategory of woman? Are woman a subcategory of trans? Or are they both a subcategory of female? Or are women all the things independent of sex that women and society ties to that set of black lines and compressed air?

    Or, they are all woman. Yes transwomen are women and saying so takes nothing from the other ways that the word woman is used. I’m not sure that there will be much agreement in society over what man/woman means and we will simply start talking about the associated information and male/female as appropriate. Actually in many ways I think our collective language is in the middle of a huge crackup as we try to figure out how we really relate to these things represented by words (and the chaos from conflict in general is driving that evolution too).

    *I know that the issue is still complicated because the male/female dichotomy is not what society pretends either.

  263. oolon says

    @Brony, for goodness sake don’t ask me! I’m a cishet white guy, you should be reading what trans women have to say about it… Read some blog posts, listen to YT videos. A few observations though – it is offensive to call trans women “transwomen” as if they are not a subset of “women” much like black, queer women are women. Let alone calling trans women “male women”, nope, nope, nope. Good to know how trans people describe themselves if you are going to be an ally. http://www.glaad.org/reference/transgender

    Other than that, read Zinnia Jones, Natalie Reed, Monica Roberts, etc, follow trans people on Twitter. Zinnia’s gender analysis series might be a useful start … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYuYrC2Vfq8

    All the information is out there, but the no.1 rule is don’t give credence to what cis people like me have to say about trans people.

  264. Greenleaf says

    to Brony @326:
    I don’t think I can address a lot of what you’re talking about, but I can inform you a bit about the terms.
    When you want to refer to the group of women who aren’t trans, the term you’re looking for is “cis”; there are “trans women” and there are “cis women”.

    Referring to trans women as “male” is a long-time tactic which is used in order to delegitimize the identities of trans women, implying that they are somehow less of a woman due to their “maleness” (I’m certainly not accusing you of doing this). Basically, the idea that trans women are somehow “male” is nonsensical, as there is no definition of male and female that makes sense, except the one where male=man and female=woman. None of the common arguments that trans women are male work; not sex organs (a cis woman who gets a hysterectomy is still considered female), not hormones (many trans women have hormonal levels within the range typical for cis women, *and* some cis women have hormonal levels more similar to cis men than cis women but are still considered female), not even secondary sex characteristics (many trans women have similar secondary sex characteristics to typical cis women, many cis women have secondary sex characteristics more similar to men).

    Basically, unless an individual trans woman states that she considers herself male (some trans women who are medically transitioning refer to their pre-transition body as a “male body”), then don’t refer to her as male.

    Additionally, as you’ve seen me use repeatedly here, the term is “trans woman”, not “transwoman”. Trans women are women, the “trans” part being an additionaly category that we fit into; forming it into one word has historically been used to categorize trans women as some form of “third gender” seperate from women, rather than a subcategory of women, once again denying their female identity.

    In response to one of your other questions:

    Why was it important to ask Ophelia if transwomen are women?

    I can’t claim to speak for the person who asked that question (the question was deleted, but I think the person who asked it was abbeycadabra), but from what I know, there have been incidents in the past where Ophelia’s views on trans women have seemed questionable. She has sometimes made statements which veer uncomfortably (for us) to “gender-critical” or “trans-critical” viewpoints; these viewpoints are ones which fundamentally say that trans women are not legitimate women. She also has a tendency to completely ignore trans people when talking about things that concern them (note in the “Free Pride Glasgow Says no drag” article she never even talks about trans women’s experiences; the entire article is just “this makes you feel unsafe? too bad”).

    There was a series of incidents similar to this recently (I forget when; like a month or two ago?), but that time she followed it up by providing a platform for trans women in the form of guest posts, and seemed to make an effort to listen to their experiences.

    Stuff like this keeps happening, and it makes people suspect that Ophelia holds trans-critical viewpoints; the problem is that she never openly states them, perhaps because she isn’t sure of her viewpoints herself, or because she is aware that such viewpoints would be swiftly rebuked in a community like FTB. And to my knowledge, she hasn’t firmly and clearly stated that she considers trans women’s identities to be legitimate. So she was asked the question “do you think trans women are women” in order to try and nail down what her viewpoints are on the matter. The asker also specified that any attempt at a “yes, but” or “perhaps” would be considered a no, probably in order to prevent her wriggling out of giving a straight answer.

    In the end she managed to avoid answering it anyway, with all this “how dare you interrogate me!” bullshit. As Giliell stated above, there is no nuance to this question, trans women are women, full stop; the fact that Ophelia thinks that there is nuance to this question, that the answer to this question is anything but “yes” is suspicious. The purpose of asking her “are trans women women” was likely to gain more evidence of her actual viewpoints, and it seems to have succeeded, by evoking the response that it did.

    Sorry if this entire thing is very long-winded and frankly clumsily worded, this is like my second time ever commenting on a FTB blog, and it’s late at night, and I get awful anxiety about this sort of thing. Seeing Ophelia say the things she has recently has me burning up inside, because I really like a hell of a lot of stuff she writes; seeing someone bring it up here is a bit of a relief. (also, hi everyone!)

  265. kima says

    @Brony #326,

    I would also add to that reading list from oolon. Rebecca Reilly-Cooper has written a series called ‘Sex & Gender: A Beginner’s Guide’, I found it very helpful in providing clarity around this issue.

    I would also like to add that I have never met anyone I have entirely agreed with on everything, but I have met many fine & interesting people. People that I am glad I took the time to know, even when we disagreed, and most especially those people I disagreed with first and got to know second.

  266. says

    @oolon 327
    My apologies, I was not very clear about what I was asking of who up there and just putting your name and “anyone else familiar…” was not separated from other things I was saying very well.

    I was looking for two things.
    1. Some information about the nature and history of the conflict because I want to understand it better. I’m not sure why the question and why the need for the “distinct category”. I’m looking at the links and seeing what the people there are saying, but since this is it’s own discussion area I thought it might be alright to ask you about this. If that was not OK for some reason I apologize.

    2. Some opinions about how I was experiencing this whole issue which was not directly tied to you. Of course the people to whole the word matters the most are the ones that I am trying to listen to most closely. I do read those blogs, but perhaps I need to go back and read some more because there are obvious things that I don’t have internalized well. To be honest I was hoping that any female person or transwoman who reads The Mended Drum might be willing to critique me and I’m prepared for it if my thoughts on this are actually terrible.

    Sorry for the confusion.

  267. AlexanderZ says

    samihawkins #323
    Please don’t go.
    I’ve sent a letter to PZ regarding the situation. I also note that OB herself sees that she no longer fits FTB (if you don’t want to enter her blog the gist is a commenter said she should resign because she doesn’t fit anymore and her response was “I probably will.”).

  268. says

    Greenleaf @329:

    Sorry if this entire thing is very long-winded and frankly clumsily worded, this is like my second time ever commenting on a FTB blog, and it’s late at night, and I get awful anxiety about this sort of thing. Seeing Ophelia say the things she has recently has me burning up inside, because I really like a hell of a lot of stuff she writes; seeing someone bring it up here is a bit of a relief. (also, hi everyone!)

    Long winded is a quality you share with many other commenters here and is totally not anything bad. Glad you’ve felt comfortable enough to delurk and share your thoughts. I agree with you about Ophelia. I think she’s got some transphobic beliefs that she skirts around sharing outright. When she’s called out about them, she doesn’t address the substance of the criticism she receives. She often doubles and triples down. In fact, as several friends and I have been chatting about on Facebook, she’s acting more and more like Richard Dawkins does when he’s faced with criticism. Which is deeply ironic.

    Incidentally, I popped into one of her recent threads and asked outright if she thought trans women were women. I don’t know why I did so, bc I have a feeling I already know what her answer will be based on her comments over the last few months.

    I share your frustration bc she says a lot of good things, and I like the causes she advocates for. But her transphobic comments are just a deal breaker for me.

  269. AlexanderZ says

    oolon, M. A. Melby, Giliell, anteprepro, Nightjar and anyone else I’ve missed:
    You’re all completely right. M. A. Melby, your comment at B&W was spot on. Thank you.

    I must say that I am surprised by OB refusal to answer that simple question. We all know that OB was comfortable with some TERFs, but I didn’t think it was to this extent. This is full blown Dawkins-style “skepticism”. I wasn’t expecting to see that on FTB.
    ____________________

    Brony #326
    In addition to what everyone else has said, you might wish to read Crip Dyke’s gender workshop series here. Start at the beginning and don’t forget to read the comments as well – they might help you better understand how other people approach categories like “masculine” and “feminine” as well as other important topics.

  270. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Well. Not saying anything isn’t an option because silence is approval so…. Ophelia is handling this horribly and her half-baked points about trans people don’t make sense. Thanks, M.A.Melby for your comments there.

    Of course, this is obviously me wielding my pitchfork or something because persecution complex.

    samihawkins,

    I hope to read you again.

  271. AlexanderZ says

    Greenleaf #329

    (also, hi everyone!)

    Hi!
    I’m happy you’ve de-lurked, though I’d wish it hadn’t been due to such dismal circumstances.
    I’ll second Tony #333 – feel free to be as long winded as you’d like! This the Drum and everyone is welcome, from one-liners to several pages of philosophical thoughts :)
    ____________

    Tony! #333

    she’s acting more and more like Richard Dawkins

    I didn’t refresh before I submitted my previous comment, but I agree with you completely. She seems to be following Dawkins’ trajectory of of first being weakly associated with bigots (TERFs in her case) to being “skeptical” about basic human equality. I really don’t want to see where this ends.

  272. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    People are capable of some impressive acrobatics when trying to defend shitty arguments (talking about some commenters on B&W).

  273. oolon says

    Um…

    Rebecca Reilly-Cooper has written a series called ‘Sex & Gender: A Beginner’s Guide’, I found it very helpful in providing clarity around this issue.

    If about trans people at all then that rather breaks the no cis rule. But I understand BRC/boodleoops is a “cis-is-a-slur” type, so she probably wouldn’t appreciate that.

  274. kima says

    @Oolon #338, Apologies, I must have missed the ‘no cis rule’. Brony appeared to be seeking clarity, I wasn’t aware cis women have nothing to offer on the subject.

  275. Nightjar says

    B&W is the most depressing place right now. You are right, Beatrice, the acrobatics are impressive and incredibly disappointing. There is no excuse. ‘I didn’t like the way you asked me that’ is no excuse at all to weasel out like this. It’s quite obvious that Ophelia can’t bring herself to say “yes”, and that’s sad.

  276. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Nightjar,

    I hope Ophelia at least realizes that some of the attempts at defending her are extremely transphobic.

  277. oolon says

    @kima, I suppose rule is the wrong word. I mean not a reliable source of information, and why would we be? (assuming we are cis, I am) White peoples opinion on racism is not that interesting, men’s on sexism.

  278. says

    @336, AlexanderZ

    She seems to be following Dawkins’ trajectory of of first being weakly associated with bigots (TERFs in her case) to being “skeptical” about basic human equality.

    Ophelia was “skeptical” about basic human equality?

  279. John Morales says

    Nightjar:

    B&W is the most depressing place right now.

    Much less depressing here, where people gossip to their heart’s content and reinforce each others’ suspicions and concerns regarding Ophelia’s unexpressed beliefs.

    (The accused is guilty unless proven innocent, and non-cooperation with the accusers proves guilt)

  280. says

    @344

    It’s not “suspicions” – it’s an issue that many people (including myself) have discussed with her at length over a period of (at least) several weeks.

  281. AlexanderZ says

    Brian Pansky #343

    Ophelia was “skeptical” about basic human equality?

    Saying that women = women is indeed basic equality. Weaseling around that with transparent pseudo-logical/linguistical tricks is being “skeptical” about basic equality.

    I honestly have no idea what OB problem is. How hard it is to say “yes”?
    Now she has a guest post by A Masked Avenger comparing these questions with inquisition:
    Back in fundie-land, I’ve been asked [and, to my shame, I’ve asked] these “…yes or no?” questions. The asker does it because they think they’re an inquisitor. Their intention is to either force compliance with some norm, or to identify you as an outsider as a prelude to punishing or expelling you from the community. They have the power to do that.
    People, we’re officially in “IT’S A WITCH-HUNT! IT’S A LYNCH MOB!” land.

  282. AlexanderZ says

    John Morales #344

    Much less depressing here, where people gossip to their heart’s content and reinforce each others’ suspicions and concerns regarding Ophelia’s unexpressed beliefs.

    Oh, you mean how we “gossip” about whether a political candidate is a creationist (or trying to gain creationists’ support) when they refuse to answer yes to simple questions regarding evolution?
    It’s almost amusing how bigotry is so often accompanied by obvious hypocrisy.

    (The accused is guilty unless proven innocent, and non-cooperation with the accusers proves guilt)

    Hmm… that sounds a bit familiar. Now where did I hear that before? Oh yes! In every slymepit screed about Shermer, Radford and other atheist rapist/harassers. Good to see you’re learning from the masters.

  283. says

    Let me preface this by saying that there was a lot in the previous comment with respect to the relationship between the words in brackets that I now suspect might look differently than I intended. I honestly don’t actually have any problem learning to functionally use male/female, man/woman, masculine/feminine in a way that works for any cis or trans persons that I know. I’m more curious about the need to have that “distinct category” in this context and the way I was relating things was more about how different people will have a different relationship with those words and there are likely many many ways they are categorized and prioritized between different kinds of people.

    @Greenleaf 329
    Do not worry about seeming long winded with me. I would not want to die of hypocrisy poisoning.

    I am familiar with the cis/trans distinction and think that I know what someone is talking about when they use the term, but admittedly I don’t use them very often and should probably make myself use them because of the larger uses that you point out. I can’t neglect the way that male and female are used by others in a strategic sense that is harmful to transpeople. It’s my problem if I really want to know about deeper things that are not of immediate concern to a cis or trans man or woman, and this is a place where my language complications do not have to burden anyone else. They are more like peeves here and I did not mean to make them look more serious than that. I don’t really equate penises and vaginas with the persons who have them in that way but there is no reason for me to expect that other people know that.

    Additionally, as you’ve seen me use repeatedly here, the term is “trans woman”, not “transwoman”. Trans women are women, the “trans” part being an additionaly category that we fit into; forming it into one word has historically been used to categorize trans women as some form of “third gender” seperate from women, rather than a subcategory of women, once again denying their female identity.

    Thank you for this. This helps. I think I can see that being a prefix is minimizing. Is that the way you mean it?

    …there have been incidents in the past where Ophelia’s views on trans women have seemed questionable. She has sometimes made statements which veer uncomfortably (for us) to “gender-critical” or “trans-critical” viewpoints; these viewpoints are ones which fundamentally say that trans women are not legitimate women.

    This is something I am trying to look like I understand as I also talk about the policing that she has received in the past in her “The art of the question” post. I’m in a difficult position but it’s not one that I can really complain about, though it would be nice if I can get some guidance, if that’s possible.
    If her words implicitly make trans people excluded I do not want to make excuses for that and I want people to be able to talk with her about it. I think that given her experiences with the ‘pit and having to worry about some posters being there for purposes of conflict and subterfuge there may be some problems getting used to being privileged in one context and not in another with the uncertainty. I try to support her right to be a women acting authoritative but have to watch for biases there. If she uses that authoritativeness badly and lets the way other people have tried to police her mass something up… I’m still ready to conclude that I might not be able to help.

    I will look at the ” Free Pride Glasgow Says no drag” article and see if I can see what you see.

    As for there being no nuance to that question, I don’t really think that any questions lack nuance. But here the point seems to have more to do with social support and the reasons for why someone might want to add qualifications and bring up different kinds of women. So I can understand the value in knowing who is willing to talk about a trans woman as a trans woman without qualification.

    @kima 330
    Thank you. I will put that on my reading list.

    @AlexanderZ 334
    Thank you for reminding me to go back and read the other half of Crip Dyke’s gender workshops.

  284. says

    John Morales:
    I have read several comments of hers from Facebook that demonstrate her transphobia. Moreover, and more important, I’ve read several comments from trans people who are frustrated at her for making transphobic comments. I haven’t reached my conclusion based on no evidence.

  285. John Morales says

    AlexanderZ:

    Oh, you mean how we “gossip” about whether a political candidate is a creationist (or trying to gain creationists’ support) when they refuse to answer yes to simple questions regarding evolution?

    Pretty much, except I wrote gossip, not “gossip”.

    Hmm… that sounds a bit familiar. Now where did I hear that before? Oh yes! In every slymepit screed about Shermer, Radford and other atheist rapist/harassers. Good to see you’re learning from the masters.

    <snicker>

    “I honestly have no idea what OB problem is. How hard it is to say “yes”?”

  286. John Morales says

    Tony,

    I have read several comments of hers from Facebook that demonstrate her transphobia.

    Care to adduce two of them?

  287. John Morales says

    WMDKitty @346, thanks — I have perused Ophelia’s thread to which you linked.

    For mine, it’s not strong evidence either way; my impression from her contributions to it are that she is perhaps ambivalent and thus she is seeking further information.

    Tony, fair enough. I accept you are convinced.

  288. John Morales says

    Greenleaf’s comment above is a perfect example of the existing dynamic.

    Pullquote:

    Stuff like this keeps happening, and it makes people suspect that Ophelia holds trans-critical viewpoints; the problem is that she never openly states them, perhaps because she isn’t sure of her viewpoints herself, or because she is aware that such viewpoints would be swiftly rebuked in a community like FTB.

    I think that because that’s seen as a problem, it’s seen as needing a solution, leading to the request for reassurance that Ophelia is a transfeminist, not just a feminist.

  289. John Morales says

    NateHevens, I accept that, and I hope you appreciate how not being privy to the information to which you allude means I cannot incorporate it in my estimations.

    What I don’t get is the basis upon which this determination is either important or urgent.

    (Do her feminist writings either way somehow read differently in any way?)

  290. says

    John @359:
    I don’t believe anyone is saying that anything has changed with regard to her feminist writings*. What people are saying (as I understand it) is that her transphobic comments are appalling.

    *though I think an argument could be made that her feminism is not inclusive if she’s not including trans women, and she’s not.

  291. John Morales says

    Tony,

    What people are saying (as I understand it) is that her transphobic comments are appalling.

    I understand that you can’t actually adduce those comments, for what I trust is a good reason. I respect that.

    Tony, I know damn well what’s being said, and you know I am familiar with you (for online terms of familiarity) and that I like you.

    Being a freethinker, I need a good enough reason to concur with your opinion, and due to its lack I defer such concurrance. This is not to say that your opinion has no weight to me, but rather that you might be mistaken based on what I know.

    FWIW, please note that I was reading B&W before I started reading Pharyngula, and further consider that I first commented on the latter in Novermber 2005, after due diligence. I am familiar with her public writing, and my estimation of her character has significant weight, absent actual facts.

  292. says

    John, please don’t think I don’t know where you’re coming from.

    Surly Amy at Skepchick picked me, along with a few others, to go to WiSII. I set up a plea for funds to afford the plane and hotel, but if it hadn’t been for Ophelia blogging about it, I never would have been able to afford to go. And she was one of the first to make me feel welcome when I got there.

    I have serious social phobia, which may or may not be a symptom of a larger issue; I haven’t yet been tested for anything. But being social is almost cripplingly hard for me, so when someone goes out of their way to make me feel comfortable, it’s a good thing. I have so much respect for her, you don’t even know.

    As cis as I am, this has been a punch in the gut. So when I say I’m fucking angry, please try to understand why.

    And I absolutely accept that absent the information we have, you can’t make as informed an opinion. But as has been linked above, there is evidence to find, and I said, I’ll be shocked if someone isn’t making a timeline. But don’t think people like us are taking this lightly. People are mad because they feel betrayed, or because they are seeing friends feel betrayed. It’s a very different level.

  293. John Morales says

    NateHevens.

    But don’t think people like us are taking this lightly. People are mad because they feel betrayed, or because they are seeing friends feel betrayed. It’s a very different level.

    I know. Thanks.

  294. Nightjar says

    Hi, John.

    Much less depressing here, where people gossip to their heart’s content and reinforce each others’ suspicions and concerns regarding Ophelia’s unexpressed beliefs.

    (The accused is guilty unless proven innocent, and non-cooperation with the accusers proves guilt)

    No, it’s not any less depressing here. I see what you mean about gossip and about these being concerns over Ophelia’s unexpressed beliefs. Judging by what Tony and NateHevens are saying, not so unexpressed anymore, but like you I haven’t seen those comments, so I’ll take the charge. However, note that I didn’t accuse her of anything, I was merely expressing sadness over her refusal to answer that question. Because I truly am sad.

    (Do her feminist writings either way somehow read differently in any way?)

    I suppose not*. But that doesn’t really mitigate the disappointment right now, as I’m sure you understand.

    *You may get a different response from a trans woman, though.

  295. AlexanderZ says

    Nightjar #365

    It may be right in front of anyone who has a Facebook account, but it isn’t right in front of me.

    It’s the same post that started this discussion, but I’ve took a screen cap of the first comments as well:
    http://imgur.com/B9AI1oO

    I hope that it also explains why I’ve been harping on the whole “uber-skeptic” approach – it’s right there in the first comments. If you want I can show you the entire comments section (it’s not too long for a FB post), but it’s an expected mix of ignorance and TERF talking points (for example, she found this post helpful).

  296. says

    #329 – Yes, it was me. And it’s been incredibly weird to watch the discussions over there spiral into some kind of Slymepit-based conspiracy theory business.

  297. says

    #329 – And you were EXACTLY right about my motivations. I was just trying to get her to lay her cards on the table so we could stop GUESSING.

    Before the previous spate of apparently trans-critical behavior, I was a huge regular at B&W. Lurking, usually, but still a big fan of Ophelia’s writing and activism. Now I just really want to know if I can go back to that, or if I have to write her off as a bigot. Yeah, it’s another binary, but I don’t have a lot of other options.

    Since her response to the question was not ‘yes’ or even ‘no’ but to touch off a spectacular clusterfuck of posts, delete everything in sight she disagreed with, and shove me (and others, I think) into moderation for daring to ask the question… I’m not optimistic.

  298. AlexanderZ says

    Alexander #325
    With all the scandal regarding OB, I didn’t notice your comment. Sorry.

    But I saw something at the end which really grinds my gears: “If you don’t like it, leave.”
    Those exact words weren’t used, but the phrasing is irrelevant.

    You’re completely right in your examples. Our ability to leave (or even a desire to leave – Alabama may be a terrible place but I may want to stay in order to improve it) is extremely limit in the the physical world and telling someone to just pack and leave is offensively insensitive.
    However, online discussions aren’t the physical world and we can leave, which is why the context is important. For example, if I were to come to a forum for nuns and start to decry the Catholic church they would have every right to boot me.
    Same here – FTB is a network with a certain ideology, and while each blogger has their own rules, if a commentator clearly doesn’t fit this society, has no willingness to learn or otherwise being disruptive, then I don’t see why that person should remain here as a commentator. Everyone can read these blogs, but participating in the discussions is a privilege.

  299. Nightjar says

    AlexanderZ, #366:

    Thanks. No need for a screen cap of the whole thing. I think I’ve seen enough. And that post you linked to, well… *sigh*

    Regarding Alexander #325:

    “If you don’t like it, leave.”

    I took this to refer to the way we sometimes respond to libertarians complaining about how they are being forced to pay their taxes and how that amounts to stealing their money. And how they have no way out. “If you don’t want to pay your taxes, you can always leave this civilization thing we maintain pretty much based on everyone else paying theirs.” Stuff like this.

    But now I’m not sure which one of us has the right interpretation, maybe Alexander can clear that up?

  300. chigau (違う) says

    AlexanderZ

    FTB is a network with a certain ideology,

    There are 32 blogs here, what is that ideology?

  301. AlexanderZ says

    chigau #373

    There are 32 blogs here, what is that ideology?

    Erm, freethought?
    Granted that’s a philosophy, not an ideology, but seeing how here it is interpreted to support both atheism and progressiveness, I’d say it’s close enough to an ideology. Not that’s a bad thing. Here, let PZ explain.

  302. says

    Clearly, I need to work on clarifying the rules here, because what I’m seeing is an incestuous reinforcement of assumptions, where reading between the lines becomes a statement of unimpeachable fact.

    Ophelia is not a TERF. Not even close. Sorry, #346, that link is not evidence that Ophelia denies personhood to trans individuals: it’s evidence that Ophelia really, really detests being pushed around by leading questions. But it is a really good example of how people are translating one uncharitable reading of a comment about one thing into a whole string of ugly inferences about something else. And now a whole bunch of you are utterly convinced that it has been unambiguously demonstrated that Ophelia is a TERF.

    Nope. Double nope. Triple nope.

    Show me an example of Ophelia denying that trans women are women. You can’t. The best you’ll be able to do is show that she’s getting increasingly pissed off at a mob accusing her of something she has not said and does not believe.

    I suggest that you back off and instead of building a tottering edifice of circumstantial stories, you try to reach out in a less hostile and argumentative way — you might just find that in the absence of the kind of assertively preconceived, self-reinforcing claims made here, she’s actually far more enlightened than you think. But she’s also not going to sit demurely while getting railroaded.

    Maybe you haven’t noticed this about her before, but she does not take kindly to being told how to think.

  303. says

    PZ:

    But it is a really good example of how people are translating one uncharitable reading of a comment about one thing into a whole string of ugly inferences about something else. And now a whole bunch of you are utterly convinced that it has been unambiguously demonstrated that Ophelia is a TERF.

    Like Nate, I’m not at liberty to link to the threads on FB that convinced me that Ophelia has some issues with transphobia. It wasn’t one comment that convinced me. And it wasn’t just her comments, that convinced me, but the responses of trans people.

    But if you don’t want further conversation about this going on, I’ll stop.

  304. says

    And I’ve had direct, non-antagonistic private conversations with Ophelia that convince me she’s not a TERF. So what we’ve got is a lot of innuendo and anecdotes and uncharitable interpretations flying around, all tailored to turn her into The Enemy.

    The only conversations about this that I want to see are about how, if you’re so convinced that she’s anti-trans people, we can positively bring about change. But if it’s just to build a mass of comments to reinforce the view that she’s evil, forget it.

  305. says

    Another question occurs to me. Why are you “at liberty” to say you have comments that show me to be transphobic, but not “at liberty” to share the comments themselves?

  306. llewelly says

    Any attempt to draw a distinction between women and trans women will be mendaciously misused by people who seek to harass trans women, even unto death. By being unwilling to clearly state there the must be no distinction, Ophelia is, whether she intends to or not, giving aid and comfort to those who seek to harass trans women.

    It is not an accident that the slime pitters are all crawling out of the wood work to defend Ophelia and attack Ophelia’s critics – that is because, no matter what her goals or intentions, she has made herself useful to them.

  307. llewelly says

    Ophelia:

    Why are you “at liberty” to say you have comments that show me to be transphobic, but not “at liberty” to share the comments themselves?

    I do not know what Tony is referring to specifically, but I did see some good explanations of why trans women are upset by your stance, which were made by trans women who are in danger of being harassed, and those comments were not set to public – they were shared only with a specific list of people. That may be what Tony refers to.

  308. consciousness razor says

    PZ:

    Maybe you haven’t noticed this about her before, but she does not take kindly to being told how to think.

    Of course it’s frustrating, but I think people should generally be receptive to “being told how to think” when it concerns issues that matter like this one does, even when they’re responding to uncharitable assumptions or loaded questions.

    For example, she could’ve said “I think it’s more complicated than either one or the other, but what matters is respecting who and what these people are however complicated it may be.” Very simple and unambiguous and to the point. I think that sort of answer would suffice, and it would be understandable coming from a person who is merely frustrated by a question like that and who is not more interested in claiming the interlocutor is “idiotic and anti-thought.” That sort of answer is simply more helpful all around, as well as less dismissive, than a response that highlights their questionable logic or semantics.

    If it was already clear in context or was addressed before, then it might be handled differently (e.g., “go read this old link”). But dismissing it out of hand, presuming to have a better answer than someone else (especially those who are directly affected by the issue) without clarifying what exactly that is, or in some way resenting a discussion about “how to think” about something … that’s behavior freethinkers should try to avoid. Eventually something substantive came along, but it’s not as if that initial gut reaction (whatever that was) didn’t happen.

    As a total outsider to this, I can only say I don’t get a sense that she’s strongly (at the least) transphobic, but I have gotten a lot of mixed signals. What seems lacking is a reasonable degree of sensitivity to trans people/issues and being as straightforward and unambiguous about it as possible. There probably is some pushing around and self-reinforcing claims and so forth (yet it seems short of an inquisition or dogmatism), as well as simple disagreements or misconceptions, but you have to get past all that if you’re actually focused on doing something constructive instead of perpetuating a fight. Whatever your personality is like and however great that is and whatever else you’ve done, because we better be leaving aside things like that, shouldn’t you genuinely try to be a bit less dismissive concerning such complicated and sensitive topics? Is there a real problem with having expectations like that?

  309. says

    If there is any problem with Ophelia’s response, it’s that she’s shut down and is not going to respond to requests to be more “sensitive” in the face of the deep insensitivity to her shown here and elsewhere. If you want to have a conversation and get past the wall of dismissiveness, you’re not going to get there with the kinds of angry assertions that “she’s a TERF!” seen here…or this constant cycle of reinforcement of the initial poorly supported claim. Saying it 50 times doesn’t make it true, but it does tend to make the target unlikely to think you really want to discuss it fairly.

  310. says

    I haven’t been following this issue at all but have read the past 40 or so comments in this thread.

    @PZ #283
    It seems to me that if a person is more concerned with being labelled insensitive than they are about stating their position unambiguously so as to allay concerns about how insensitive they appear…*that* is actually evidence of being insensitive. If you follow me.

  311. consciousness razor says

    I haven’t been participated in any of that, but I admit the frustration is somewhat more understandable than I gave it credit for. Fair enough. Still not something I’ll pretend to understand, but I guess it’s getting closer.

    I think it’s patently obvious the point of the question was not to obtain her beliefs about matters of biology or sociology or semantics or whatever the hell the alternatives are supposed to be here. As I would put it, the point of the question is about respecting the validity of a trans woman’s perspective as a woman, if that is indeed her perspective. Of course those words aren’t literally there, but the meaning clearly is. Whatever else has actually happened (or whatever you or me or she or anyone thinks has happened), being dismissive about that is not something I can understand as fair or unproblematic.

    It makes no difference to me at all whether this started as a “poorly supported claim” (what would count here as well-supported?) or that something has been blown out of proportion — because the way to unblow it all is as easy as the kind of response I came up with off the top of my head. That doesn’t need to be following any party line except one that gives a shit about people. If that’s how she honestly thinks, it would almost certainly be a start at satisfying the questioner’s concerns, although not the specific and largely irrelevant formulation of the question. And things like this also could’ve been done months ago, keeping in mind what we actually got was so much confusion and irritation, which I guess is supposed to be the reason why we need even more confusion and irritation instead of something that at least tries to put an end to it.

  312. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Ah, the smell of victim blaming in the morning!

    Raw story has produced this wonderful headline:

    West Virginia woman may have killed real life ‘Dexter’: police

    for a story in which someone alternately identified as “an escort,” “a prostitute,” and “a woman engaged in prostitution” was attacked by a white guy with

    a shovel, knives, a bulletproof vest, bleach, trash bags, sledgehammers, and an axe in his car. In his’ pockets they found handcuffs as well as a printout from backpage.com with ten more women’s names on it.

    The women identified? All women working as escorts or in prostitution.

    Really, Raw Story?

    Really?

    “Woman is real-life Dexter” would have more truth to it than “woman kills real life Dexter”.

    Fuckers.
    ============

    On another Topic, Ophelia is trigger-happy and often hostile to those who criticize her, but she’s not at all a TERF.

    I don’t think that she’s at all a welcoming writer (though your definition of welcoming may vary), but I don’t think that expressing oneself badly or disagreeing on how to describe trans*ness makes one an opponent to trans* inclusion. She might be a Trans-Not-Very-Welcoming Radical Feminist, but then

    1. TNVWRF is not equal to TERF

    and
    2. She’d be better described by dropping the T off the beginning of NVWRF.

  313. says

    There is a shit load of stuff going on here – and a lot of it has been caused by a very crafty narrative built by trans antagonistic feminists who consistently treat trans feminists like some sort of exotic pet and hold onto this dualistic idea that sex and gender are infinitely separable. Because the existence of trans people upsets this STRONGLY held belief by some radical feminists that gender itself is a fantasy and source of oppression. To them – respecting “gender identity” is respecting women’s oppression. READ shit that CCP or Sarah Ditum have written on the subject – that is what’s going on here. They will say they support trans women with one side of their mouth and then go on rants about how being called “cis” is offensive – not because they embrace a trans identity or question the trans/cis dichotomy but because they assert that *identifying with the gender “woman” is identifying with rape, subordination, forced gestation, etc* – they proclaim their *SEX* as “woman” but not their gender and forward a simplistic class analysis that emphasizes oppression based on reproductive class and define “woman” as sharing that class struggle.

    ANYHOW – when the fact that these feminists are extremely trans antagonistic is brought up to Ophelia she gets very defensive – and I GET THAT. I don’t play the game of people policing my follows or associations or any such shit either – but she does what she is doing now. She addresses the fact that she doesn’t appreciate how people approach her with these subjects – but then COMPLETELY IGNORES the substance of what people are trying to tell her.

    There is a pervasive and highly articulated persecution narrative that’s been deployed against trans activists. So the well is poisoned COMPLETELY when attempting to discuss these issues. CCP and Sarah Ditum of FUCKING RAGING TRANSPHOBES – and every time they have discussed issues related to trans women specifically they have SAID ABSOLUTELY HORRIFIC SHIT that appeals to a certain feminists paradigm so the awfulness is obscured by advancing those talking points that resonate with that audience. AND CRITICISM of them from the trans community is answered with *sometimes blatantly fabricated* accusations of harassment by “male entitled” trans women activists who are supposedly acting like fascists for pointing out that these feminists are ATTACKING THEM in some of the most VILE fucking ways possible – because it’s drenched in sugary sweet easy-to-digest feminist tropes.

    OKAY.

    So – I feel for Ophelia because I suspect she didn’t realize that the gender crit forum that she became a part of was an open group that is publicly view-able. I suspect she thought she could go there and they would help her think through a reasoned, informed response in candid ways. I appreciate that there is a “thinking out loud” aspect of all of this.

    And just fyi: when I said that people I know monitor the group – I mean we check it every once in a while. And no – that’s not in the guise of the “Block Bot” – “The Block Bot” is a twitter application that manages a shared blocking list. “The Block Bot” is not monitoring or otherwise checking Facebook groups or any other sorts of activities such as that, k? Alright then. I just mentioned that the group is checked occasionally so Ophelia didn’t feel like people were being stalkery to notice her posts there about James.

    The group was started by Elizabeth Hungerford. This is somewhere in the realm of a forum about feminism being started by Paul Elam. That information is probably useful to anyone who thinks that this is a good place to get information – cause IT IS NOT.

    Look through the posts and it is FULL of TERF talking points – links to “pretendbians” for example. On one post Hungerford points to an article and judges an individual’s “appropriation of the term ‘woman'” offensive. Another member says that transSEXuals are okay because they can be “gender critical” but transgender people cannot. Etc so forth. I know activists who have joined the page, but most of them eventually get frustrated and leave – notably an activist who academically studies the neurology of sex and gender was often shouted down with pseudo-science.

    And yeah – Hungerford used a Swedish study to positively state that *transition does not reduce the instances of suicide* based on a study that compared suicide rates of trans people who had transitioned and THE GENERAL FUCKING POPULATION. My friend went on the page and desperately explained that TRANSITION CARE SAVES LIVES by pointed out how Hungerford was misrepresenting the study and posting other studies and information that made this *exceptionally clear*. The group members essentially ignored her and went on like her post did not exist – as if they had LEARNED that transition care was useless in preventing the deaths of trans people.

    That crap isn’t just toxic – it’s DEADLY BULLSHIT – in a similar fashion that anti-vacc shit is DEADLY BULLSHIT.

    But the well is poisoned. ME POINTED THIS OUT = I’m the fucking gestapo.
    Jason pointing out that Ophelia faved one of Barbs posts = STALKER

    And however much I empathize with feeling embattled. However much I can only imagine feeling embattled *by people I thought had my back*. I am not the gestapo. Jason is not a stalker. James didn’t deserve to be trashed on her blog either.

    I get it though – however much people might be in “wtf” mode right now. I absolutely agree cooling it is likely the best way to go. I may have not used the best judgment in being blunt in her comments – but it is frustrating to hit a brick wall.

    And yeah – I think the worse thing that could happen right now is if someone mounts a “kick her out” campaign. Not only is that mean-spirited – but it would be a FUCKING FIELD DAY for the crew painting trans activists as a cabal of McCathyesque bastards IN THE SAME WAY that anti-feminists freeze-peachers latched onto Thunderf00t leaving here.

  314. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Also, from Butterflies and Wheels, Ophelia promoted a comment by Jenora Feuer to a guest post. That comment/post says in part:

    I get the impression most of the original TERF types were in the first group, or at least certainly acting like it: they were being explicit gatekeepers to the concept of ‘being a woman’, drawing boundaries, and in general acting like a mirror image of the problem they were ostensibly fighting against. But a lot of the people here I’ve seen here (including myself) are in the second group; we may make mistakes, but we’re not trying to draw bright line boundaries at all and don’t really intuitively grasp why other people are. Which often puts us on the wrong side of a lot of different lines that other people DO insist on, just because we don’t necessarily see them.

    The immediate context makes it seem as if Jenora Feuer is talking about ending up on the “wrong side” of TERFs.

    However, despite the fact that the comment makes no specific mention of trans* folks, the larger context – as I gather it primarily from reading here on Pharyngula, but having now read this comment and the comment immediately after this one where Ophelia says that Jenora Feuer has it exactly right, the feminist history post (but not the comments), and Ophelia’s clarification (but not the comments) – suggests that Jenora Feuer is talking about getting on the “wrong side” of trans* people.

    If true, then she’s also writing that it’s ***trans* people*** that are drawing bright line boundaries. If this is the case, it’s one more incident of blaming the fucking victim over on Butterflies & Wheels.

    Worse, even if Jenora Feuer was talking about being tired of being on the wrong side of lines drawn by TERFs, it’s impossible to see Ophelia’s explicit agreement with Jenora Feuer as being a statement of content equivalent to, “Oh, this is what gets me all that trouble with those cis* reactionaries.”

    No, in the context of what’s been happening lately, and without any knowledge that Ophelia’s been writing posts about how horrible it is to live in a world where cis* reactionaries draw bright-line gender boundaries, the only reasonable interpretation here is that Ophelia believes that trans* people are drawing these bright line boundaries.

    It could be that’s not the case. I’d welcome a clarification from Ophelia that that’s not the case. But it’s the only reasonable interpretation of her words.

    Too often shit like this has happened in Ophelia’s writing. I can understand how her empathy-failures and gender-understanding failures and even dynamics-of-oppression-understanding failures can make her blog feel hostile to trans* folk. It doesn’t make her a TERF, but it sure as hell goes a long way toward explaining why people think her writing is hostile to people toward whom she says she targets no hostility.

    Who knows, maybe Ophelia and Jenora Feuer will even take some time to think someday about who is actually drawing the bright line boundaries. There could in fact be a positive outcome…eventually.

    Me, I won’t hold my breath.

  315. says

    There is a shit load of stuff going on here – and a lot of it has been caused by a very crafty narrative built by trans antagonistic feminists who consistently treat trans feminists like some sort of exotic pet and hold onto this dualistic idea that sex and gender are infinitely separable. Because the existence of trans people upsets this STRONGLY held belief by some radical feminists that gender itself is a fantasy and source of oppression. To them – respecting “gender identity” is respecting women’s oppression. READ shit that CCP or Sarah Ditum have written on the subject – that is what’s going on here. They will say they support trans women with one side of their mouth and then go on rants about how being called “cis” is offensive – not because they embrace a trans identity or question the trans/cis dichotomy but because they assert that *identifying with the gender “woman” is identifying with rape, subordination, forced gestation, etc* – they proclaim their *SEX* as “woman” but not their gender and forward a simplistic class analysis that emphasizes oppression based on reproductive class and define “woman” as sharing that class struggle.

    ANYHOW – when the fact that these feminists are extremely trans antagonistic is brought up to Ophelia she gets very defensive – and I GET THAT. I don’t play the game of people policing my follows or associations or any such shit either – but she does what she is doing now. She addresses the fact that she doesn’t appreciate how people approach her with these subjects – but then COMPLETELY IGNORES the substance of what people are trying to tell her.

    There is a pervasive and highly articulated persecution narrative that’s been deployed against trans activists. So the well is poisoned COMPLETELY when attempting to discuss these issues. CCP and Sarah Ditum of FUCKING RAGING TRANSPHOBES – and every time they have discussed issues related to trans women specifically they have SAID ABSOLUTELY HORRIFIC SHIT that appeals to a certain feminists paradigm so the awfulness is obscured by advancing those talking points that resonate with that audience. AND CRITICISM of them from the trans community is answered with *sometimes blatantly fabricated* accusations of harassment by “male entitled” trans women activists who are supposedly acting like fascists for pointing out that these feminists are ATTACKING THEM in some of the most VILE fucking ways possible – because it’s drenched in sugary sweet easy-to-digest feminist tropes.

  316. karmacat says

    PZ Myers is correct. The way people are challenging Ophelia just leads to defensiveness. If you want a productive conversation it is best to use “I” statements and talking about one’s own experience and feelings. For example: “When you don’t answer this yes or no question, I worry that trans women will feel rejected and marginalized.” But the question is really not useful. If you object to a statement that Ophelia has made, then address that comment in a way that avoids accusations. There is one time that someone attacked my comment and my 1st, 2nd and 3rd response was essentially fuck you. I did eventually think about the comment and why the person was upset but it took a few days

  317. AlexanderZ says

    PZ
    Thank you very much for addressing this. I hope that samihawkins #323 will reconsider leaving FTB.
    Yours and Crip Dyke #388‘s word is enough to convince me she’s not a TERF. Furthermore, given her recent post I think I understand her position a bit better. I don’t agree with her (see Crip Dyke #389), and it’s quite obviously that she has hurt people (again, see samihawkins), though unintentionally. However, I hope that she’ll see this as an opportunity to learn and grow.
    ___________________

    Ophelia Benson
    Thank you for posting that clarification.
    I know that you probably wouldn’t listen to a word I say, but if you do, and provided I understand your post (and the accompanying one) correctly – you have some confusion regarding gender, but you’re adamant in your support of trans* people and their rights. That’s great!
    However, I’ve seen enough on your FB group to see that you’re looking in the wrong places and are getting some very bad advice. There are more knowledgeable people (CD is one of them) and there are better places to find knowledge. That means leaving your comfort zone, but that is the price of learning.
    Finally, please, I beseech you, be more open to criticism (and, in particular, to criticism about a lack of empathy or communication).

  318. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    At Ophelia Benson:

    I’m glad to hear your clarification.

    In the context of conflict with some trans* people who think of you as a TERF and Jenora Feuer’s statement about being on the “wrong side” of some, unspecified group of people, the only reasonable conclusion is that you’re talking about being on the “wrong side” of trans* folks. The only way that makes sense, though, is if trans* folks are drawing the lines.

    This is true not because we know the identity of the “wrong siders”. This is true because Jenora Feuer’s text specifies that the “wrong siders” are also the “line drawers”.

    Thus the obvious implications.

    I am glad to see that’s not how you interpreted Jenora Feuer’s statement.

    I am once again flummoxed by your obtuseness with the separate comment made for the sole purpose of saying that the identity of the folks placing Jenora Feuer “on the wrong side” of a line is so obvious that

    I don’t even see how that’s ambiguous.

    Jenora Feuer didn’t specify those “wrong siders”. How can it be anything **other** than ambiguous? To me this is one more instance in which you’ve interpreted something a certain way, therefore you’re certain it can **only** be interpreted in that way.

    But the certainty is not in Jenora Feuer’s original text. It’s just not there. Infer all you like, it doesn’t change the fact that Jenora Feuer didn’t specify the wrong siders. You can choose to learn from that if you like, or you can go on being mystified at why other people are reacting badly to you. Your choice.

  319. AlexanderZ says

    M. A. Melby #392

    Did you ban me or is a post just too long?

    Certain words trigger the auto-filter. One of them is Th*nd*rF**t’s name.

  320. says

    The Pharyngula hivemind has been accused of being a hivemind,
    The Pharyngula hivemind rejected the accusations of the Pharyngula hivemind being a hivemind.

    My brother briefly wrote for Pharyngula and left in disgust because of the hivemind.
    Now I’m done with the Pharyngula hivemind.

    Fuck this shit.
    This place is toxic in it’s own special creeping way.
    Outrage can be deserved and can be good, but when you get hooked on your outrage to the point where you are determined to ignore reality… well… Jesus Fuck.

    Bye.

  321. Seven of Mine: Shrieking Feminist Harpy says

    @ Ophelia Benson

    I don’t even see how that’s ambiguous.

    This shit right here? Why do you do this? You seem to always have to get this little dig in. Numerous intelligent people interpret something you’ve written in a way you say you didn’t mean it. Fine. You didn’t mean it that way. Why can’t you just clarify what you meant without impugning the intelligence and/or reading comprehension of your audience? For whatever it’s worth, which is probably nothing, this is why I stopped reading your blog.

  322. Seven of Mine: Shrieking Feminist Harpy says

    Also, in case it’s unclear: I realize the writing under discussion at this moment isn’t yours, Ophelia.

  323. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    I’ll miss you, Jafafa Hots. Sorry this place has become toxic to you.

    If on your way out the door you decide to point to a particular string of comments (or even just one comment) or a more precise version of the dynamic so that i can recognize it, so that I can see what you see, I’ll be happy to oppose hivemindedness as long as I’m here.

    Regardless, take care of yourself. Sorry, again, that you have to go.

  324. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    No, Jafafa Hots, I’m not shitting you.

    I’ve been on Pharyngula almost not at all for a couple weeks.

    I come back, I see that there’s a comment from PZ at the end of Mended Drum. I read in that that people are calling Ophelia a TERF. I read 2 comments and 2 OPs at Butterflies and Wheels, make a couple of comments, and then see your statement.

    I’m not being stupid or mean. I’m not teasing or trolling. I did do a search for “hivemind” and “hive mind” before I responded to you. Nothing showed up. I asked.

    I’m not a bad actor here, Jafafa Hots. If you don’t want to talk, you’re under no obligation, but there’s nothing in my comment #404 other than what’s actually in #404. There’s no creepy hidden message, no sarcasm, no willful ignorance, no metaphors.

  325. says

    A “clarification” wherein the entire first paragraph is nothing but smearing certain commenters?

    Are we really going to accept this bullshit?

    Ok. It’s too late for this (but then it probably always was), because there are a lot of people just hell-bent on spotting a TERF in the bushes and not changing their view no matter what; the well is thoroughly poisoned and is going to stay that way. The poisoner oolon, who went to Pharyngula to work up the troops against me yesterday, is one such; that dude wants scalps, period.

    Ophelia, this is one of the times when you just need to shut the fuck up, and listen to what other people, particularly trans* people, are telling you.

  326. says

    Then don’t complain when people give you feedback.

    Make your posts clearer.

    Quit with this ambiguous weaselly shit, where you insinuate that “some people” are “out to get you”.

    It doesn’t make you look good at all.

  327. says

    Just in case anyone missed the significance of Jafafa Hots’ statement, to which I had been alerted:

    He has long been estranged from his birth family due to a long history of trauma, about which he has written in public.
    He just outed himself as my brother as a way of making a point about the chronic toxicity of this place.

    That’s how bad it is. To people the Horde claims to like. Jafafa Hots would rather be known as a member of his birth family than as a Hordeling.

    I’ll let you get on with your #notallhordelings dissembling now. Me, I need to take a Silkwood shower and get back to not thinking about this place.

  328. says

    I feel like I’m at my wits end. I’ve been listening to and supportive of the trans people who have been hurt by Ophelia’s words. If that’s an example of hivemind, I don’t understand how.

  329. says

    WMD @ 411 – it wasn’t ambiguous and weaselly at all. I said there are a lot of people just hell-bent on spotting a TERF in the bushes and not changing their view no matter what, and gave oolon as an example.

    And if you order me to shut the fuck up, I’m going to say no. (Well usually I won’t even know about it, but if I see it and feel like responding, I’m going to respond with no.)

  330. Tethys says

    I am once again mystified as to why the “Ophelia is a terf” nonsense is being dragged over here. Hey ya’ll, remember when you broke the Thunderdome? It’s not as it there are many rules at Pharyngula. Don’t be a passive aggressive asshole who drags their anger over here to vent their spleen in the third person. If you have an issue with Ophelia, be an adult and address Ophelia directly, preferably over on her blog. I don’t want to be involved in the fight, but I am very puzzled by this reasoning.

    Crip Dyke ~ Jenora Feuer didn’t specify those “wrong siders”. How can it be anything **other** than ambiguous? To me this is one more instance in which you’ve interpreted something a certain way, therefore you’re certain it can **only** be interpreted in that way.

    Ophelia has clarified that she interpreted it as those who would draw bright lines side to refer to the cis side. Accusing her of being absolute in her opinions is unwarranted, especially considering this part of your comment.

    being on the “wrong side” of some, unspecified group of people, the only reasonable conclusion is that you’re talking about being on the “wrong side” of trans* folks

    So your conclusion is only reasonable, but Ophelia is clearly being arbitrary and unreasonable? It’s also entirely reasonable ( and incorrect) to assume she was referring about being on the wrong side of those who have filled this thread with accusations of TERF. Just to up the stupid, several of those same people who are leaping to the worst possible conclusions have also gone on at length here about their difficulty parsing nuance and meaning from human communications.

    AlexanderZ ~ I’ve sent a letter to PZ regarding the situation. I also note that OB herself sees that she no longer fits FTB (if you don’t want to enter her blog the gist is a commenter said she should resign because she doesn’t fit anymore and her response was “I probably will.”).

    You have been a particularly huge asshole, and should definitely refrain from the discussion except to apologize to Ophelia. ” I told PZ and you shouldn’t blog here? ” Seriously dude, that is some powerful stinky arrogant patriarchal bullshit. You can shun people from your blog all you like, but attempting to bully Ophelia off her own blog and FTB is completely unacceptable.

  331. Nightjar says

    Thank you for the clarification, Ophelia (yes, I’m linking to a specific comment, reading it meant more to me than the post itself). I was genuinely fearing you’d get so defensive over this as not to realize (or worse, not to care!) some people were getting hurt by it. So at least that small acknowledgement was good to read. And I’m sure as hell not hell-bent on spotting a TERF among the people I admire, obviously. I am afraid of doing so.

    I also fail to see how any of this is an example of a hivemind, but whatever.

  332. John Morales says

    abbeycadabra:

    #409 #410

    “Listen!” “No.”

    Ladies and gentlemen, The Problem.

    It’s a problem, alright — but it’s not what you think it is.

    (A more accurate adumbration would have been: “shut the fuck up, and listen!” “No.”)

  333. John Morales says

    Ophelia:

    I would still like to know why Tony @ 353 and Nat Hevens @ 358 are “not at liberty” to say what Facebook comments of mine they saw.

    Scruples. For example, there are closed and/or private FB groups where what’s said in the group stays in the group.

  334. says

    John:
    Yes, scruples, and that’s good. I think that the question is: HOW did Tony and Nat learn about the facebook comments in question, if the posts were private and they are not facebook friends with Ophelia? The implication is that they are either misrepresenting who they are there, and are friends with her while spying on her private conversations, or else someone else is passing them the conversations. Either of which would be unethical. There is at least one more person that I know for a fact is involved in this way, having vaguebooked me last night on twitter with a reference to a private comment that I made to Ophelia on her facebook page. That’s not cool.

  335. thunk: Bulba 9000! says

    My only reaction is: dear god, what is everyone on about?

    This whole argument seems ridiculous to me. I’ve kind of always loathed the “with us or against us” attitude that seems to pervade Pharyngula discussions, and what seems to go on in comment threads where people use invective instead of evidence for rebutting opposing positions, and make use of the usual straw conservative stereotypes instead of making legitimate inquiries, etc. etc.

    Even though I disagree and have grievances with Ophelia Benson on a number of points, this latest round of accusations just hammers home the point. I mean, the idea that she must be a TERF because of circumstantial conversations and a refusal to answer maybe-leading questions is more than a bit ridiculous.

    All of this strikes me as fanaticism. Pharyngula is so obsessed on social justice issues (not necessarily a bad thing, but there can be too much) that quite often, it forgets to step back and evaluate its own behavior in the context of reason and common sense. That’s what “hivemind” means, at least to me.

    And that’s why I, too, find myself drifting away. I’ve been too shy to say this earlier, but it’s all a bit too intolerable now.
    No one group or idea has a monopoly on the truth–and that’s why I consider this circlejerk bad.

  336. Tethys says

    nightjar

    I also fail to see how any of this is an example of a hivemind, but whatever.

    This is not the first time that people have filled this open thread on Pharyngula with acrimony and TERF accusations against Ophelia. Many regulars behaved so badly that PZ closed Thunderdome permanently.

  337. John Morales says

    MrFancyPants,

    I think that the question is: HOW did Tony and Nat learn about the facebook comments in question, if the posts were private and they are not facebook friends with Ophelia?

    It’s a possible question, yes, but it’s nearly as inquisitorial as that posed to Ophelia, and similarly rude.

    Do you think it’s somehow necessary that at least one of them answers it?

  338. says

    I mean, the idea that she must be a TERF because of circumstantial conversations and a refusal to answer maybe-leading questions is more than a bit ridiculous.

    People draw conclusions about your opinions based on what you say (or pointedly don’t say). Those conclusions may be wrong, but that doesn’t make them unreasonable or fanatic.

    Moreover, can everybody please take their “hivemind” bullshit and shove it where it belongs. Thanks.

  339. says

    Do you think it’s somehow necessary that at least one of them answers it?

    Necessary? No. It’s likely that everyday life will continue if they ignore it. My asking was partially in the hopes of obtaining an answer, yes (although I certainly don’t expect that one will be forthcoming), but also partially to point out the unethical behavior. With respect to the second goal, I’m sure that it has been taken to heart.

  340. says

    I’m seriously considering shutting down both the lounge and this thread permanently. Having a community with strong social bonds is nice, except when it turns into a search for markers for the outsider and subsequent vilification. I am not enjoying it at all. One solution might be to remove the internal reinforcement of tribalism.

  341. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I have no idea which is the hive-mind here, those condeming Ophelia for not saying she agrees with them, or those defending Ophelia.

    What I do know, based on assertiveness training many years ago, is that there is a difference between having your say (being assertive), and requiring the other person to agree with you (being aggressive, or a bully).

    Do I think Ophelia should listen to trans women? Yes. Should she acquiesce to all their demands? Her choice, not theirs. The former is letting them be assertive and speak their minds. The latter is capitulation to their aggression, if they don’t understand the difference between speak their mind, and bullying. I think her “no” was to the latter idea.

    And I still don’t understand which side the hive-mind is on, if it even exists.

  342. John Morales says

    MrFancyPants, thanks for the direct response.

    Where we differ is that I have no investment in the matter and thus I accept their claims at face value*, so doing unto them as I would have them do unto me in the same circumstances.

    * Given they are familar to me already.

  343. Tethys says

    LykeX

    Those conclusions may be wrong, but that doesn’t make them unreasonable

    Huh? If your conclusions are wrong how could they also be reasonable?

  344. John Morales says

    PZ, I don’t think closing this place will diminish the tribalism one bit, though it probably will constrain its expression somewhat.

    I note that you’ve already guided the character of the commentariat from what it was to what it is.

  345. dianne says

    Do I think Ophelia should listen to trans women? Yes. Should she acquiesce to all their demands? Her choice, not theirs.

    Fine, but if trans women in turn think that her failure to acquiesce to their demand that she acknowledge their humanity and femininity is a sign that she’s a prejudiced jerk then that is their choice, not hers and she has no right to demand that they continue to think of her as someone that they respect.

  346. says

    Fair enough, John. I suppose that I do have some investment in it, since Ophelia is a personal friend, and I feel that she has been unjustly attacked. Obviously there is an inclination on my part to react, given my perception. My take on the matter is identical to PZ’s back at #375. Moreover, my personal, private comments on facebook were ridiculed on twitter by people who could not have had direct access to them, so I, too, have been dragged into this. However, if the truth of the matter never comes to light, it’s not going to bother me. I will file away a mental note about the people involved, and get on with my life.

  347. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Fine, but if trans women in turn think that her failure to acquiesce to their demand that she acknowledge their humanity and femininity is a sign that she’s a prejudiced jerk then that is their choice, not hers and she has no right to demand that they continue to think of her as someone that they respect.

    Correct, but where should that be posted? Her at Pharyngula, or her blog?

    I have seen (nor looked) for a post where Ophelia denies their humanity. Do you have one you can cite? Then you have a point. If can’t show such a post, you have no point. She doesn’t have to respond under duress.

  348. says

    OK, LISTEN THE FUCK UP.

    I had NO INTENTION of posting here again, but I just got this via my Steam (videogaming) messaging:

    dys: Truly sorry to see your support for Ophelia Benson’s transphobic bullshit. You have no place on my friends list.

    THIS SHIT, people.
    THIS.
    SHIT.
    IS IT FUCKING CLEAR TO YOU NOW?

    (oddly, Dys didn’t then remove me from said friends’ list so I did them the favor.)

    A rhetorical question: Is it possible that people in the transgender and other marginalized communities might be familiar with the experience of receiving unexpected and rude demands that they justify themselves right now, and having received them, decided that being called on the carpet was not something they wished to respond to appreciatively?

    Now. Don’t send me your responses, don’t bother to type them, I won’t be reading them.
    Don’t send me your bating “you suck, Jafafa” messages, just put me on your hate list and be done with it.

    Pathetic.

  349. says

    Meh. I’m just tired of getting burned every time I give people a chance. I’m tired of the disappointment. I’m tired of this kind of infighting thing that’s going.

    I feel like, okay, Ophelia is entitled to her opinions, that’s a given.

    But she should also listen when people say, “when you said X, it really hurt me”, or ask her to use more inclusive language, or offer constructive criticism.

    And that’s where the problem is — she’s adamantly refusing to listen. This has had the general effect of just… steamrolling over other commenters and silencing the very people she should be learning from.

    This is something I learned the Hard Way™ — that’s not a fun way to learn.

    Meanwhile, I think we could all do with toning it down a bit, because getting hostile isn’t helping anyone.

  350. lessismore says

    #432 Tethys:

    “Huh? If your conclusions are wrong how could they also be reasonable? ”

    It would be reasonable to conclude, that if people didn’t want to contract an sti/std they would always use protection if they have sex with multiple partners. That conclusion would be wrong (because many people do have unprotected sex with multiple partners) yet reasonable.

  351. Tethys says

    Evil Overlord

    I’m seriously considering shutting down both the lounge and this thread permanently. Having a community with strong social bonds is nice, except when it turns into a search for markers for the outsider and subsequent vilification. I am not enjoying it at all. One solution might be to remove the internal reinforcement of tribalism.

    To be fair, the people who started up the hate on Ophelia in this thread are infrequent commenters using this thread to vent, and they are not the same people who reacted so badly to Ophelia in the final t-dome. then several regulars piled on. How to respectfully disagree seems to be a lost art on the internet.

    Nerd ~ What I do know, based on assertiveness training many years ago, is that there is a difference between having your say (being assertive), and requiring the other person to agree with you (being aggressive, or a bully).

    I vaguely remember this training too. There were also several guidelines for how to have constructive disagreements. Avoid accusations. Pulling skeletons out of the closet is off limits. Limit your critique to the immediate problem. Be concise. Use I language rather than you language to avoid putting people on the defensive. Define and articulate what change is necessary to prevent future problems. Repeat as necessary.

  352. Lady Mondegreen says

    And that’s where the problem is — she’s adamantly refusing to listen

    No, she’s really not refusing to listen.

    She’s not responding as some people would like–with immediate, uncritical agreement in the face of peremptory demands and mean-spirited suspicions. But she is listening.

  353. says

    418: I did. Addressing her directly set all this off, then she deleted everything, then I got “put in moderation”. It wasn’t me who chose to refuse dialogue.

  354. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Here’s my take on Ophelia’s reaction. She is responding to the aggression, or bullying. As long as the bullying is happening, that is all she will respond to. So it comes down to this: BACK OFF. No decide now, no no you are trash if you don’t agree, no nothing.

    Let her respond without people in her face.

    By the way, that is the exact response I would take, and have done many times in the past. That is the difference between having your say, and the fallacious thinking where having your say means they must agree with you.

    Done with this. I’ve had my say.

  355. says

    Also, I have to ask – how the hell can me asking one question be bullying? I asked *once*. I have no power, over Ophelia or anyone else. I can’t silence her (and haven’t called for same). I have no connections to activist circles, and no ability to damage Ophelia’s reputation, even if that was something I *wanted* to do. I don’t even have a blog of my own to complain on or anything like that.

    How do you bully someone when you have no power over them whatsoever?

  356. kevinkirkpatrick says

    This will be my only cross-post, just wanted to echo the link from AlexanderZ @397:
    comment #10 in “The land of ambiguity”

    Context: I’d written a lengthy response to Ophelia detailing why I’d take issue with someone’s refusal to affirm “Transgender women are [really] women” (see comment 3 in same article). I gave an example of how such a failure-to-affirm had likely caused direct and needless harm to my son (who is transgender). I then pointed out that from the way she’d phrased her clarification, I still wasn’t able to cleanly parse such an affirmation (I believe what she wrote was *meant* to be such an affirmation, but it had a grammatical ambiguity that could allow it to be read otherwise). I rewrote that statement in a way that left no room for ambiguity, and inquired as to whether that was what she meant.

    Her response was a solid “yes”: (this is a generic paraphrase of the actual text; so if I’m misrepresenting, please let me know) If an individual claims to be of a gender other than what they were assigned at birth, Ophelia absolutely takes their word for it that they are of the gender they claim to be.

    In my mind, that affirmation (coupled with the utter lack of anything amounting to a denial of the same) eliminates all grounds for the TERF-accusations I’ve seen leveled. All the rest sounds like (as she’s stated, and as PZ and others have assessed) Ophelia blowing off those who’d deign to tell her what questions she must answer, when they must be answered, and how they must be answered…. in other words, Ophelia exhibiting the exact personality that makes B&W such a delight to read.

  357. Pierce R. Butler says

    Jafafa Hots – Please stick around.

    I went to the Facebook thread listed at # 346 – no registration or pledges of confidentiality required – and read all of the comments by Ophelia Benson (all five of them, or four if you don’t count the wordless cartoon), and did not see any expression of transphobia. Some of the other postings there didn’t pass the smell test, but I see no reason to take Benson to task for that.

    She has a damn good point about refusing to answer a slanted question – and all of you hounding her about that ain’t got squat. Put your tar back in the barrel and the feathers back on the chickens.

  358. Tethys says

    abbycadabra

    Addressing her directly set all this off, then she deleted everything, then I got “put in moderation”. It wasn’t me who chose to refuse dialogue.

    I won’t comment on the original discussion except to ask if it followed the guidelines in my #441? Judging by the various people who commented here, it was not a healthy or productive discussion for anybody. Walking away from a dialog that has devolved into acrimony and accusations is not equivalent to refusing dialog. There is nothing unreasonable about taking a time-out to mull, and let the emotions cool down.

  359. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    How squalid this all is. Some of you self satisfied motherfuckers are just the living end.

  360. Anne Marie says

    I was pretty disappointed to see a facebook post on Caitlyn Jenner filled with people misgendering her (“I’m sure he’s pleased with his glamour shots”) and saying things like “dude calling himself a woman” to refer to a trans woman. When I disagreed with the woman who used that phrase about a trans woman while insisting her “trans women friends” agreed with her idea that women feel unsafe having trans women in their spaces, Ophelia stated, “Funny how some cis allies of trans people are more…erm…whatever this is than trans people themselves.” She then added, “Absolutist, is perhaps the word I need.”

    I gave up on commenting at the point where someone suggested any criticism I had was out of line and inappropriate because he doesn’t think she has any problem with trans people.

    No one should be above criticism and it’s infuriating to have someone so hurt a marginalized group when she’s someone you’ve admired and trusted for years.

  361. Hj Hornbeck says

    I’m backing up Tony and Nate, here. I had to write something about Benson after all this shit went down, but since then I’ve been torn about what to put on my mental note about her:

    “TERF,” or merely “transphobe.”

    The main evidence for the former is that her views and arguments are indistinguishable from TERFs. Modern bigots are sophisticated enough to avoid outward hatred; instead, they try to find a plausible cover story so that others (and, more importantly, themselves) can be assured they’re not discriminating on an arbitrary basis. White supermicists don’t hate black people, they just want to preserve the purity of the beseiged white race. Some atheists don’t hate Arabs, they just hate the Islamic religion. And so on.

    With TERFs, their fig leaf is gender. They want to critique it, analyze it, and abolish it.

    We are revolutionaries, fighting for social change, and overthrowing current patriarchal systems. We want a radical alternative to both right wing, biological determinist and post modern versions of “genderism”. In other words, we oppose the promotion of gender roles as “natural” inevitable, desirable, innate, or exaggerated performances of “femininity” and “masculinity”. We believe that gender is a destructive hierarchy, which harms women and needs to be abolished.

    On the surface, it’s all pretty awesome. But when you look at the details, things break down.

    We welcome radical feminists and those women who want to learn more about radical feminism. It is women-only because we believe that we need to organise autonomously in order to fight for our freedom from patriarchy. We aim to make the conference a safe space for female victims/survivors to talk about multiple experiences of male violence and oppression.We need women-only (female) spaces to do that.

    Why exclude trans* women? The rationale hinted at above is that trans* women are men, and thus carry the baggage of patriarchy in with them. This assumes patriarchy is biologically innate or “natural,” though. Oops. A more sophisticated defense is that trans* women were raised male, and thus retain their male socialization after transition. But this assumes women did not grow up in a patriarchal culture, or that their gender makes them mystically immune, or that social behavior can be irreversibly burned into our biology. The fig leaf is exposed for what it is, a cover for bigotry.

    So, why didn’t Benson answer the question?

    The more I think about the ontology of gender, the less I think I understand it. It’s slippery. That makes it impossible to answer yes/no questions about it. […]

    I have thoughts and questions about gender, broadly speaking; gender as if affects all of us, and women in particular. I don’t think those thoughts are transphobic.

    This is straight from the TERF playbook: it’s all about gender roles and criticism. But wait; if Benson is so critical and confused over gender, why did she just invoke “women” as if it was well known and defined?

    Jenora Feuer’s new guest post on the subject is illuminating, I think. Read it in tandem with this.

    It is indeed illuminating.

    Am I a woman? Yes. And no.Even though I was identified female at birth and have gestated and lactated, there are ways in which I do not feel particularly comfortable being labeled “woman” and in which some people would classify me as not-a-woman. Being a woman is a social identity grounded in part, but only in part on physical characteristics. It’s not a you are-or-you-aren’t category.

    If womanhood is primarily a social identity, would that make it more likely that trans* women are women? When categories become fuzzier, don’t they become more inclusive, not less?

    Not only does this line of argument favor labelling trans* women as women, it doesn’t even answer the original question. Implicit in the original question’s invocation of “woman” was the assumption that “woman” carries the typical definition in our culture. Look at your driver’s license; does it say you’re probably a woman, or there’s a decent chance you’re a man? No, because our culture defines precisely two options, with no ambiguity or additional context needed. Answering the question within that context, though, turns it into a binary test for bigotry; so instead, a bigot is forced to change the context to a general question about gender roles. They have to play the “gender critic” card and dodge the question, exactly as Benson does.

    All in all, it’s pretty strong evidence Benson is a TERF. My defense of the “transphobic” side is as follows:

    1. She’s not actually a TERF, she’s just absorbed some of their views due to exposure.

    2. I’ve been a fan of Benson for years. She’s done great activist work in sharing petitions and bringing international causes to light. I simply adore her writing style.

    … I don’t think I need to tell you which side is currently winning.

  362. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    I just noticed that in 398 my comment begins

    At Ophelia Benson:

    I have no idea why I wrote that like that. I can’t remember another time when I’ve done that. It is, instead, my routine to address other commenters like this:

    @ Ophelia Benson:

    Or

    @ Ophelia Benson, #394:

    This isn’t something for which I would normally apologize, but I’m worried that with tensions running high that some – including you, Ophelia – might misinterpret the typing out of “at” longhand to mean anything at all different from my normal notifications that a comment is going to address the content of someone else in the thread. That’s all this was, a heads up to you, Ophelia, that your writing was being addressed. I hope it never came across any other way.

  363. chigau (違う) says

    Josh, Official SpokesGay #450
    That was every bit as helpful as a John Morales comment.

    </