Ha ha! Another entire academic discipline torpedoed by a bogus hoax paper! Or, How Lesbians Evolved.

I guess everyone is going to be doing this now. In this case, it’s a ridiculous paper accepted for publication in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, and it’s a doozy. It’s about evolution, it says.

In the introduction, it throws around some buzzwords and tries to impress us with elementary scientism.

New alleles can arise from mutations. An allele’s influence on a trait is likely to have both negative (c) and positive (b) fitness effects; thus, the allele will increase in frequency if the balance of positive minus negative fitness contribution (b – c) i.e., the net fitness effect (f), is higher that the respective balance of the original gene, and it will decrease in frequency if the balance is negative. Please note that we refer here to the case averaged across all bearers of the allele, so that an allele will be favored even if it has a net negative effect on the fitness of some individuals as long as it has a net positive effect on the fitness of other bearers of the allele.

The joke’s on you if you read this assuming the paper is about genetics, though. Nowhere in this work do the authors identify any genes or alleles; they don’t even try. They just assume that if a behavior exists, there must be a gene for it, and further, it must have undergone positive selection. They’re also not going to test for fitness of a behavior; in fact, they’re not even going to examine any behaviors directly, but are instead going to rely entirely on self-reported assessments in an online survey of college students.

You’ve probably figured out by new that the discipline in question is evolutionary psychology. Just to titillate you further, it’s arguing for a selective advantage for same-sex behavior.

At first sight, alleles that arise through mutation and predispose for same-sex attraction appear to experience a substantial negative fitness, since they lead individuals to divert part or the whole of their mating effort toward same-sex outlets from which children, who would carry these alleles, cannot be borne. Accordingly, in order to understand the prevalence of same-sex attraction in the population, scholars have argued that these alleles also experience positive fitness effects, which compensate for the negative fitness effects, turning the net fitness (f) positive. There is, however, a different possibility.

Oh, boy. How could a sexual behavior persist that diverts mating efforts in a direction that does not produce children? It’s a mystery.

I can’t wait until the authors learn that heterosexual couples indulge in cunnilingus and fellatio. Their minds will be, umm, blown.

But wait! There’s more hilarity! This is a paper about “The evolution of female same-sex attraction”. Where did lesbians come from, they wonder. What a conundrum! Why would women prefer each other’s company, rather than a man’s? Lesbians can’t put a baby in their tummy! They resolve this problem easily, by suggesting that men provided the selection pressure to favor lesbian genes. It’s all about the cucks.

Men with multiple wives, as opposed to men with one wife, face an elevated probability to be cuckolded, because they have to divide their sexual effort toward several wives so, inevitably, some of their wives will remain unsatisfied. They also have to divide their mate-guarding effort between multiple wives, which makes such effort less effective. If their wives experience same-sex attraction, they can satisfy their urges with other co-wives, who are readily available, reducing, in effect, the risk of cuckoldry (see also Kanazawa, 2016).

Note the Kanazawa reference — another in-joke. This paper is hilarious. There’s also another reason lesbianism is evolutionarily advantageous.

In our proposed theoretical framework, men can benefit from the same-sex attractions of their partners through gaining access to additional women.

That’s right, guys: you should date lesbians because then you’ll get to have sex with their lesbian girlfriends. Yeah, that’s exactly how it would work.

Now you might argue that the fact that this hypothesis is counter-intuitive and is built on a framework of not understanding basic evolutionary theory does not necessarily make it wrong, but maybe they’ve got some kind of empirical evidence that cleverly illustrates the existence of this lesbianism gene, and that men are actively selecting for it.

They don’t.

The ‘experiment’ is basically, “let’s ask guys if they’d mind if their wife had sex with another woman.” I’m not kidding. That’s the experiment. It’s also done with an online survey, because they could get more honest answers in this way.

Here are the results. It shows that a minority of Western men (Greek Cypriots) like the idea of girl-on-girl sex, but that they like it more than women like the idea of boy-on-boy sex. Apparently yaoi isn’t very popular on Cyprus…but shouldn’t the cultural variations clue them in that this is probably not a genetically determined behavior?

To be fair, they do consider that there might be cultural effects, but all they can think of is one factor, religion, and they only argue that it would repress honest expression of the participants’ views.

Last but not least, the observed effects are unlikely to reflect only evolved dispositions, and social and cultural effects may also be at play. For instance, male preferences for same-sex attraction in a partner may be moderated by religious beliefs. Participants in the sample were Greek-Orthodox Christians, and in the Cristian religion same-same attraction is considered reprehensible. Accordingly, male participants may have perceived their preferences for same-sex attraction to be inconsistent with their religious beliefs, and if they were very religious, to have suppressed or have been unwilling to report such desires. The present study did not control for this possibility, and future research can do so by measuring participants’ religiosity.

The possibility of a few cultural biases do not, however, make them question their basic assumption that lesbian preferences have nothing to do with women’s choices, but are entirely a consequence of males selecting for women who do not like sex with them, and would prefer sex with people who do not have a penis. Apparently, lesbians only exist to provide girl-on-girl porn on the internet, and their own desires have nothing to do with it. Or rather, they only have those desires because men have bred them for possession of a hypothetical lesbian allele.

In conclusion, the present study found that a large proportion of heterosexual men considered same-sex attraction in a partner desirable. These findings suggest positive selection on same-sex attraction in women: Men’s desire for women who are attracted to other women selects for women who are attracted to other women. In turn, male desires, along with factors such as arranged marriage, which weakened the negative fitness costs of same-sex attraction, can explain the relatively high frequency of this trait in the population. Future research needs to replicate and extend these findings in order to better understand the evolutionary origins of same-sex attraction.

Or maybe the authors need to go back to school and learn how evolution works.

This paper was so ridiculously bad, though, I’m sure the authors are going to come out with a confession, maybe in the pages of Skeptic magazine, that it was all a set-up to show how absurd the entire field of evolutionary psychology is (I checked; there isn’t a single evolutionary psychology journal in the top 100 of the SCIMago rankings, therefore the field is entirely made of low-quality papers).

Any moment now they’re going to pop up and say, “Just foolin’!”

Yep, any moment now.

Aaanyy moment.


Apostolou M, Shialos M, Khalil M, Paschali V (2017) The evolution of female same-sex attraction: The male choice hypothesis. Personality and Individual Differences 116:372–378.

Calling them transphobic is exactly like dropping a nuclear bomb on them!

I think I know what a metaphor is. It’s where you use a word or phrase that is symbolic of a situation, but isn’t literally a description. It is a comparison of one thing with another thing. You can use a metaphor to relate something abstract or unfamiliar to a concept a person is more comfortable with; hence the too-frequent comparison of the genome to a blueprint. From that example, you can see that a metaphor isn’t necessarily true, and can be misleading.

Another use of the metaphor is for exaggeration. For instance, if a student failed my genetics class, they could make the excuse “The prof was slaughtering students left and right! It was a Holocaust in there!” Perhaps it would be used for comic effect, but even at that, it’s dangerous: the student has both exaggerated the consequences of the course, and has seriously minimized the outcomes of the actual Holocaust. I trust most of you would be conscious of error in making that comparison. The result would not be to think the student is amusing, or to think that I was actually a brutal, unfeeling teacher, but to think that the student was a privileged young asshole. (None of my students have ever said such a thing — this is a purely hypothetical example.)

So what are we to think of the phrase “witch hunt”? There were real witch hunts, although there have never been any people with Satanic powers. As many as a hundred thousand innocent people in early modern Europe and America were falsely accused, tortured, and murdered in horrific ways. People still get accused of witchcraft, the Bible is still used to justify killing people for consorting with the Devil (who does not exist), and there are still benighted parts of the world where people are brutalized and killed for an imaginary crime. Every time you use the phrase “witch hunt” to describe an activity that has no chance of a victim ending up hanged or on fire, you’re diminishing the horror and desensitizing people to an openly evil history and an ongoing crime.

Yet for some reason it has become the first resort in any argument about merely academic dissent. Here’s a fantastic example: an academic wrote an article comparing “transracialism” to “transgenderism”. This is a bad, misleading metaphor, rather like comparing DNA to a blueprint, and people objected. I think it’s fair that sloppy scholarship ought to be vigorously criticized. So a letter was written.

While it is not the aim of this letter to provide an exhaustive list of problems that this article exhibits or to provide a critical response, we would like to note a few points that are indicative of the larger issues. We believe that this article falls short of scholarly standards in various areas:

1. It uses vocabulary and frameworks not recognized, accepted, or adopted by the conventions of the relevant subfields; for example, the author uses the language of “transgenderism” and engages in deadnaming a trans woman;

2. It mischaracterizes various theories and practices relating to religious identity and conversion; for example, the author gives an off-hand example about conversion to Judaism;

3. It misrepresents leading accounts of belonging to a racial group; for example, the author incorrectly cites Charles Mills as a defender of voluntary racial identification;

4. It fails to seek out and sufficiently engage with scholarly work by those who are most vulnerable to the intersection of racial and gender oppressions (women of color) in its discussion of “transracialism”. We endorse Hypatia’s stated commitment to “actively reflect and engage the diversity within feminism, the diverse experiences and situations of women, and the diverse forms that gender takes around the globe,” and we find that this submission was published without being held to that commitment.

Savage! Vicious! In an academic way, anyway. It never quite rises to the level of suggesting the rack, thumbscrews, or drawing and quartering, though. And yet, in an article titled This Is What a Modern-Day Witch Hunt Looks Like, it’s bluntly stated that…

This is a witch hunt.

Well.

Really?

It sort of takes one’s breath away. I guess you can call me Matthew Hopkins, the Witch-finder General, since I sometimes write strongly worded, angry criticisms of bad politics and stupid science, which is now apparently completely equivalent to the torture-murder of innocent women. We’re supposed to completely ignore the fact that poor scholarship of the sort being criticized actually does real harm to people, people who are often already marginalized and oppressed.

At least there’s one funny bit here. These same people who like to fling about the phrase “witch hunter” with indiscriminate abandon, and casually minimize the suffering of accused “witches”, are sensitive to another word: go ahead, call them “transphobic” and watch them squawk. How dare you insult them?

Our American madness

While our congress pats itself on its fanatical dedication to gutting health care, women are dying. This is a chart of maternal mortality in pregnancy per 100,000 live births.

Our health care system, among many other things, is broken. It is not the will of God or manifest destiny or any kind of positive American exceptionalism, because as the chart clearly shows, other countries do not have this problem to the same degree we have, and while they’re working to improve public health, we’re doing our damnedest to worsen it.

Thanks, regressive Republican vermin. You’re all traitors to humanity as well as to your country.

Creepy guys

It must be frustrating for some guys that their personal sexbots occasionally exercise autonomy and annoying tendency to wander outside the range of their remote control. Here’s an example of a fellow trying to regain control of a wandering toy by sending repeated commands, to no avail.

Oh, yeah, setting traps for the drone is a brilliant, tech-savvy move.

Oh, this wasn’t a flaky machine? It was a human being? Jebus, people, don’t be like that guy. What the fuck is wrong with people who are that controlling?

It could be worse. The guy could have the backing of the Justice Department in his power plays, like this Scott Nickerson sleazebag.

How much have we lost to sexual assault and discrimination?

Read Holly Dunsworth’s history of being treated like a thing in anthropology; sexual assault, bland avoidance of the topic by her colleagues, and yet she persevered. This stuff is everywhere.

Once again, there is a whisper network, or in this case, the lack of one in 2003, on which we rely to get the word out about these kinds of men, because academic communities tacitly support such oppressive behavior. We’re past due for some kind of reliable, readily available network of disclosure about these predators — maybe someone should set one up.

Here’s an interesting example, only it’s for science-fiction conventions rather than science conventions: Midwestern Convention Predators, an online list, with evidence, of creeps. I’d like to see similar accounts publicized everywhere. This isn’t a problem if you’re not ashamed of your behavior, is it?

MRAs are the same all around the world

Mens Rights Pakistan is excited about the potential of the development of an artificial womb. For those who haven’t been following this development, researchers have developed a system for keeping prematurely born mammals alive in a fluid filled sac. It’s been tested on sheep, and they’ve got little lambs living inside this ‘biobag’ for the last month of gestation.

When I heard about this, the last thing on my mind was to wonder what anti-feminists woud think about reproductive biotechnology, but they’re quite vocal and have strong opinions. They’re for ’em. Not for the reasons I approve, though.

Artificial womb is coming and human fetuses will be grown in artificial wombs. Now where does religion stand on this is of course up to the respective religion’s guardians. However, I would like to point out something that this technology can help save a lot of babies from abortion. Here at anti-feminism pakistan, we are unequivocally anti abortion, pro adoption and libertarian in our approach towards social
commentary.

OK! Thank you for your clarity! They don’t like women, but they also hate abortion. It’s amazing how often those two opinions come together.

I don’t like you.

The first question that will come before pro-abortion Pakistanis whether they belong to Islam or any other minority religion or are averse to religion like atheists, is that if fetuses can be saved with this technology is their argument for choice to kill babies still about betterment of the society through avoiding birth of human beings who are predicted to have significantly worse quality of life and indulge in criminality or just an escape for women from consequences of their action?

Clarity…fading. But they seem to have decided that there are only two reasons for abortion: women are choosing to abort fetuses that they think will become criminals (how do they know?) as a kind of informal eugenics, or they’re just hedonists who won’t accept the natural product of their lusts.

I don’t think any women get abortions for the bizarre reason of the “betterment of society”. It’s a personal choice.

Children are a huge commitment, and they can constrain a woman’s life a great deal. Women get abortions because they plan their families, which means that they don’t want children. That’s OK. MRAs don’t seem to be very interested in supporting children either.

But this artificial womb doesn’t really impinge on the abortion debate at all, anyway. It’s a technology that will allow for better survival of premature babies, for families that want children. It’s only going to be useful in the last month or two of a pregnancy when the only time an abortion occurs is when severe life-threatening disease is present, or the fetus is so abnormal that it has no chance to live. The biobag does not save those fetuses.

The second question that I would like to ask strict traditionalists is whether their argument for protection of women still hold when a part of their traditional role is taken over by a machine? Now let it be said, I am not saying that women have no other role beside bearing the baby, as countless research has shown that a child with both father and mother in his/her life ends up doing much better than a child without either one or both. However, think about it. Why should a man provide for and protect a woman who can circumvent a supposed difficult part of her life?

Again, the artificial womb is not a technique for allowing a woman to circumvent the last month of pregnancy with elective surgery. It is not a strategy for replacing parental roles, traditional or otherwise. Are you stupid or something?

Also, maybe you should get over this notion a woman is someone you “provide for and protect”. Start thinking about respectful partnerships, instead. It’ll change your life for the better!

The third question is a more of a conjecture on my part, I wonder if artificial womb can be the death knell for the concept of ‘Mamta’ which can loosely be defined as the kind of love mothers have for their babies. If they do not experience the growth of the baby inside of them, is the baby anymore even hers beyond the obvious biological DNA provision.

I know it’s hard for you to think outside your biases, but try this. Men do not get pregnant at all, generally; they do not have babies growing inside them. What kind of hissy fit would you throw if someone said your children aren’t even yours, beyond the obvious biological DNA provision? Are you really trying to argue that a father’s love can’t exist, in an attempt to deny maternal love?

The final question is, can this be the ultimate in male emancipation?

It’s just getting juicy and weird, and he plops this question out and doesn’t follow through! No fair!

The answer is…no. MRAs already treat women as biobags, so this technology doesn’t change a thing.

There’s just something off about this photo

Maybe you’ll notice what it is. A hint, if it helps: it’s a group of young Republicans making excuses for Trump. Don’t bother reading the article, though: these students are incredibly vapid (We’ve seen with President Obama there was a lot of trickle-down economics, things just trickling down from Washington, D.C., says one, to give you an idea of the quality of their rationalizations).

Students! Demanding weird pronouns! OFFENDED!

I was asked if I listened to this interview with Peter Boghossian.

No! I had not! Thanks for asking!

But, out of morbid curiosity, I did click on the link. I even listened to it for 15 minutes, in sick fascination.

He’s very annoyed that students ask him to address them by their preferred pronouns. How dare they! This is the problem with The Left nowadays, they take offense at everything, and are actively looking for excuses to be offended. It’s ridiculous that we professors are expected to master the impossible, arcane skill of talking to students appropriately.

Boghossian must be incredibly stupid, because I’ve found that it’s really easy — the harder task is to remember all those names, and when I’ve got 50 students in a class, it sometimes takes the entire term before I’ve got them all straight. Pronouns are trivial. If I could address everyone as he, she, they, or “hey, you”, it would be so easy to sail through the semester, never bothering to recognize students as individuals. It’s even easier to adapt to these pronoun requests because most students are gender-conforming and wearing clothing that signals their gender identity, and it’s only a few exceptions that you have to consider…and again, it’s no big deal, no more difficult than recognizing that Student A needs help with statistics, Student B did really well on the last test but is struggling in organic chemistry, Student C is looking for a chance to do summer research. Student D wants to be addressed by “they, them”? No problem.

Boghossian doesn’t get it. He seems to think students are his enemy, and that this is all a leftist tactic to make him suffer. Try a different point of view, guy: maybe your students are looking for respect, and would like you to recognize that they have a history and a context and opinions and needs and desires, too, and would appreciate that being acknowledged. Maybe they’re not looking to be offended, but are already tired of being treated as faceless, interchangeable tuition-paying blobs, who are expected to conform to your expectation that they will readily fit into two and only two boxes.

I had to stop listening after a quarter hour, though, because he started complaining about how these pronoun issues are taking away from his valuable class time, and important issues like establishing his seating chart (???) for the class.

P.S. I’ll mention this because I know it will infuriate self-identified Classical Liberals like Boghossian. One simple tip I got at my conference at Howard Hughes Medical Institute was a suggestion to help foster more inclusion: professors should include their preferred pronouns in their syllabi. I had never thought of that, because of course I am an obvious male figure who would be addressed as “he/him”, and then I realized…yep, that’s my privilege talking, that I’m your standard male-conforming American citizen, and the only “of course” in this situation is that I assume the minority will have to take the effort to explain things to me, while I will benefit from the default assumptions.

So naturally, as a craven leftist, I’m going to follow the recommendation of a major granting authority and take 5 seconds to type in “Preferred pronouns: he/him” into all of my syllabi next term. I know, it’s a disgraceful submission that will snatch away so much time that I could have spent teaching cell biology or evolution, but hey, I’m taking the long view that respecting student identities will actually help them learn. And if I slip up, and a student needs to correct me, I won’t take it as a conspiracy by the Left to attack me, but will thank them for helping me improve my awareness of who they are.

P.P.S. Remember when people got all outraged at the introduction of “Ms.”? It was very important to know whether a woman was a “Miss” or a “Mrs.”, for some reason, but we didn’t have to make any such distinctions within the category of “Mr.”

Another con wrecked by casual sexism

You’d think people would learn: take anti-harassment policies seriously. They aren’t just well-meaning words that you post on your website to make yourself look good.

Odyssey Con, a science-fiction convention in Madison, Wisconsin, is suddenly hemorrhaging guests-of-honor who are bailing out because a) a known harasser was working as the guest liaison, which is a bit like putting a pedophile in charge of the ball crawl at the playground, and b) the con administrators seemed to think they just needed to explain things carefully to the guests to make them change their minds, which makes it obvious that they are unclear on the concept.

It sounded to me like an epidemic of mere cluelessness on the part of the con, until I learned who the harasser was. Holy crap. It’s Jim Frenkel. This guy was a major blow-up in 2013: Frenkel was banned from WisCon for harassment. He was fired from his job as editor at Tor Books over these acts. How could you not know Frenkel was bad news, and how could you even consider appointing him to be a liaison with a woman guest?

There are two possibilities here. One is that SF organizers cannot remember anything older than 4 years ago (their childhoods must be great voids of memory, lost to them for all time) and they also don’t know how to use google, or some people at the con are consciously dismissive of harassment concerns and decided that this was the year they’d sneak their good buddy Jim back into the ball crawl, and hoped that all of those SJW pests had 4 year memory limits and were unable to use google.

Neither alternative speaks well of Odyssey Con.


You should also read this response by Brianna Wu.

What stands out to me the most in the whole harmful affair was a single line by Gregory G.H. Rihn, writing about “what would be fair.” He suggested a compromise between Monica and Jim Frenkel, the known serial harasser. In a world where sexual harassers are on one side, and women wanting to be treated with respect are on the other — women can never win. Rihn saw himself as an impartial observer, but he’s part of the problem in a way he can’t understand.