Australia reassures me that it isn’t just my country full of idiots

Senator Malcolm Roberts must be Australia’s version of Louie Gohmert.

He does make a good case that he is a waste of carbon, but you know, atmospheric CO2 is the problem, not carbon bound up in proteins and carbohydrates.

Gender essentialism is not scientific

A reader let me know that I was mentioned on the March for Science Seattle page.

An excellent example of the perils of ideology trumping science.... from the left. Yes, we love talking about how the Right is so anti-science and ideologically based and praise the Left for being so much better. But they aren't. They just have different ideologies and therefore reject different science. We laugh at those dumb Republicans for denying climate science while our own "tribe" screams about the (false) perils of nuclear power, the (false) dangers of GMOs, and now, with the Regressive Left (of which PZ Myers is as deeply dogmatic as the worst Evangelical) the idea that there are no biological differences between men and women, that there are no evolutionary differences in male and female psychology, and that everyone is a clean slate (tabula rasa hypothesis - false) with gender being 100% socially determined without biological basis.Men and women ARE different. We have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to be different. Yes there is a lot of variation and there is more in group heterogeneity than between group heterogeneity (meaning that there will be a lot of overlap where on just about any characteristic there will be men that are less "manly" than some women and so on), but that doesn't mean that there aren't legitimate differences based purely in our biology and contingent evolutionary history.But as Steven Pinker points out, it is ALWAYS a mistake to tie your *ethics* to your *science*. Different =/= better or worse. It CAN be, but usually isn't. Acknowledging that men and women are biologically different is not the same as as saying one is "better" than the other. But in a bizarre and ironic twist the Left (particularly the regressives) have fetishized science to the point where they can't make an argument that they see as valid without referencing science, and so they twist and deny scientific facts to fit into their ideology, bastardizing it just as much as their counterparts on the right.


An excellent example of the perils of ideology trumping science…. from the left. Yes, we love talking about how the Right is so anti-science and ideologically based and praise the Left for being so much better. But they aren’t. They just have different ideologies and therefore reject different science. We laugh at those dumb Republicans for denying climate science while our own “tribe” screams about the (false) perils of nuclear power, the (false) dangers of GMOs, and now, with the Regressive Left (of which PZ Myers is as deeply dogmatic as the worst Evangelical) the idea that there are no biological differences between men and women, that there are no evolutionary differences in male and female psychology, and that everyone is a clean slate (tabula rasa hypothesis – false) with gender being 100% socially determined without biological basis.

Men and women ARE different. We have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to be different. Yes there is a lot of variation and there is more in group heterogeneity than between group heterogeneity (meaning that there will be a lot of overlap where on just about any characteristic there will be men that are less “manly” than some women and so on), but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t legitimate differences based purely in our biology and contingent evolutionary history.

But as Steven Pinker points out, it is ALWAYS a mistake to tie your *ethics* to your *science*. Different =/= better or worse. It CAN be, but usually isn’t. Acknowledging that men and women are biologically different is not the same as as saying one is “better” than the other. But in a bizarre and ironic twist the Left (particularly the regressives) have fetishized science to the point where they can’t make an argument that they see as valid without referencing science, and so they twist and deny scientific facts to fit into their ideology, bastardizing it just as much as their counterparts on the right.

Wow. Let me repeat that amazing accusation.

…the idea that there are no biological differences between men and women, that there are no evolutionary differences in male and female psychology, and that everyone is a clean slate (tabula rasa hypothesis – false) with gender being 100% socially determined without biological basis.

I am a fairly conventional cis-het man, steeped in Western culture, married to a conventional cis-het woman. I have seen porn. I have had heterosexual intercourse. I’m entirely conscious of the biological differences between men and women.

I’m also a biologist. I know the difference between a testis and an ovary, between a Mullerian duct and a Wolffian duct, between testosterone and estrogen (which, in the latter case, isn’t much). I’m also fairly well acquainted with the literature in evolutionary biology, and even know a bit about neuroscience.

To say that I claim there are no biological differences between men and women is so patently absurd and totally divorced from reality that Mr Pavlov ought to be embarrassed about saying something so stupid while accusing me of saying something so stupid. He won’t be.

What he’s doing is a common rhetorical trick. It’s obvious that most men have a penis and most women have a vagina, therefore, with a bit of clumsy sleight of hand, he wants to claim that every bit of cultural bias about the relative abilities of men and women is equally valid. He wants to pretend that because ovaries exist, all his notions about femininity must be equally rooted in biological reality.

Similarly, he reveals his hand with that odious Pinkerism about blank slates — that’s exactly the same game! Argue that some element of human psychology is not fixed by genetics and that it arises in a social context, and you are castigated by Pinker fans who like to bring the discourse to a dead stop with the ludicrous accusation that you must believe everything is 100% socially determined without biological basis. It’s idiotic and dishonest, but right now it’s Pinker’s main claim to fame.

Some things are complex and culturally determined. Biological sex is strongly canalized to produce a bimodal distribution of physical properties, but intersexes do exist. The brain is a plastic organ that responds to its environment in sophisticated ways, and carries both predispositions and the potential to develop in new ways, and gender is less strongly specified by genes than is the reproductive tract. If anyone is anti-science, it’s these people who want to argue for a less responsive, less adaptive, less diverse pattern of possible behaviors from the human brain.

You don’t get to claim that you have a solid biological footing in arguing that women are more nurturing, are less capable of doing math, and prefer the color pink because estrogen unless you’ve done actual work to demonstrate that those differences are real. Breasts aren’t your shortcut for imposing a mass of narrow Victorian cultural prejudices on how people should be, and you don’t get to hide behind science on this one.

Also…hiding behind trivially exposed lies isn’t science, even if some of your scientific heroes who try to defend a regressive conventionality think so.

“Red Pill Libertarian”

Nathan Larson is a delusional fool. He’s running for congress in Virginia on a platform that can only be called raw misogyny, and it’s all under the banner of the “Red Pill”.

A red piller is someone who recognizes and is aware of (1) the way that feminism, feminists and their white knight enablers affect society; (2) the dark truths surrounding human sexuality; and (3) hypergamy, women’s AF/BB strategies, society’s feminine imperative, sexual differences in emotional attachment, and women’s attraction to DT traits and sexual dominance/violence. The red pill is extremely politically incorrect, and one may expect reflexive social ostracism for even mentioning the Red Pill in polite society.

You remember the Red Pill — it’s the choice Neo is given in that very silly movie, The Matrix. He can either take the blue pill and go back to living in a dream, or the red pill and wake up to a difficult reality. They’ve got it wrong, of course. “Red Pillers” immerse themselves in a fantasy world of evil women that explains why they are lonely and regarded as creepy, and they also get to learn a lot of bizarre jargon (look at that quote!) that makes them incomprehensible to people outside their little clubhouse. And look at that rationalization at the end — if people find their views repellent, then, well, that’s proof that they’re correct!

This sounds so much like an ugly mix of Scientology and radical Islam: the same isolating cult talk, the same elevation of their narrow group as True Heroes because their ideas are rejected as hateful by people who haven’t been soaking in their Kool-Aid.

It’s clear that it’s not just religion that rots people’s minds, though: a fair number, maybe a majority, of “Red Pillers” are atheists, and they are just as susceptible to cult-like thinking.

It may be permanently damaging, too. Here’s an account of people who left the Red Pill subreddit, and by their own words, most of them still sound like awful, horrible, repulsive people. They left because they found some other get-laid-quick scheme that helps them sleep with women, or because their racist views awakened them to the need to get women pregnant, beyond just having sex with them.

Every man on the Red Pill has a different story. However, each of them do have striking similarities. The main one is anger. Like the name of the subreddit itself, it is blazing red. We must understand the psychology behind the philosophy not to condone it, but to better tackle the poisonous spider slowly infecting those across the web.

It’s actually rather impressive how thoroughly a wrong and hateful ideology can take over a generation of young men and warp their minds so effectively — the author is right. These are phenomena that demand a better understanding of human psychology.

Unless we want to see more Nathan Larsons running for congress.

We used to think the internet could be self-policing, too

Back in the old days, the internet was full of kooks: there was the timecube guy, and Archimedes Plutonium, and Robert McElwaine (UN-altered REPRODUCTION and DISSEMINATION of this IMPORTANT information is ENCOURAGED), and the Velikovskiites, and a host of other strange folk, and that was fine. The weirdos spiced things up, and besides, their followings consisted mostly of people laughing at them. The most troubling thing now is not that there are oddballs, but that there are huge mobs of people following and agreeing with them, and amplifying their message to an absurd degree. Alex Jones would have been a classic Usenet crank, for instance, ridiculed and mocked, but now? He’s raking in the dough and is advising the president.

A Buzzfeed article pins much of the blame for that on one outlet, YouTube.

The entire contemporary conspiracy-industrial complex of internet investigation and social media promulgation, which has become a defining feature of media and politics in the Trump era, would be a very small fraction of itself without YouTube. Yes, the site most people associate with “Gangnam Style,” pirated music, and compilations of dachshunds sneezing is also the central content engine of the unruliest segments of the ascendant right-wing internet, and sometimes its enabler.

To wit, the conspiracy-news internet’s biggest stars, some of whom now enjoy New Yorker profiles and presidential influence, largely live on YouTube — some of them on the site’s news channel. Infowars — whose founder and host, Alex Jones, claims Sandy Hook didn’t happen, Michelle Obama is a man, and 9/11 was an inside job — broadcasts to 2 million subscribers on YouTube. So does Michael “Gorilla Mindset” Cernovich. So too do a whole genre of lesser-known but still wildly popular YouTubers, people like Seaman and Stefan Molyneux (an Irishman closely associated with the popular “Truth About” format). As do a related breed of prolific political-correctness watchdogs like Paul Joseph Watson and Sargon of Akkad (real name: Carl Benjamin), whose videos focus on the supposed hypocrisies of modern liberal culture and the ways they leave Western democracy open to a hostile Islamic takeover. As do a related group of conspiratorial white-identity vloggers like Red Ice TV, which regularly hosts neo-Nazis in its videos.

We’ve long known how awful YouTube commenters are — in general, comment threads there are a nightmare of alt-right freaks, indignant misogynists, racists, and fanatical consumers of niche media. There is virtually no accountability in YouTube comments, and it has become another outpost of the 4chan mentality. And further, as mentioned above, flaming lunatics thrive as media personalities on it, because they gladly affirm prejudice and bigotry and often, bizarre Libertarian views. I’d heard of several of the people mentioned, but had never encountered one, Davd Seaman, who is featured in the article, so I had to look him up.

I watched one video by Seaman.

ONE.

I could take no more. Here it is:

Seaman is a prominent #pizzagate conspiracy theorist — you know, the unbelievable, batshit stupid idea that there is a secret child molestation conspiracy ring run by major Democratic figures out of a basement lair in a specific pizza parlor that has no basement. These are the kinds of guys who wax wroth at the outrage of innocent, imaginary (they can never name any of the victims) children being sexually abused, while simultaneously insisting that the Sandy Hook murders were a false flag operation, and all the innocent, named children were actors.

In the above video, Seaman also goes on and on about Bitcoin and gold-based currencies. None of what he says is backed up by reason or evidence, but only by his stridently held opinions. He has a following, though: take a look at the comments on the Buzzfeed article. They are eye-opening. There are lots of angry people who are convinced that Alex Jones and David Seaman are telling the Truth.

In a world full of clowns, Bozo is king, and it looks like YouTube is the media of choice for gullible fools.


Oh, I forgot! One thing he claimed, bizarrely, was that the recent announcement about possible habitable planets was a distraction to keep people from hammering John Podesta about his imaginary pedophilia. It wasn’t just NASA conspiring to snow us all, he said there was also the recent discovery of an alien artifact in Antarctica.

Say what? Did you hear anything about an alien artifact. I hadn’t. The only thing I could find was an unbelievable crackpot story about Visit to Antarctica Confirms Discovery of Flash Frozen Alien Civilization. No, this wasn’t news. No, it isn’t distracting anyone. Apparently, we’re at the stage where cranks are complaining about other cranks stealing their thunder.

“Spokane, Washington’s Most Single Man”

One man’s quest: to have sex with teenagers. His tools: misconceptions about biology, access to a meme-maker, and boundless self-pity. Ladies, meet Lucas Werner…and run away.

He’s an atheist in Washington state, going by the name “OlympiaAtheist” on facebook. I wish he wouldn’t. Atheists have enough reputation problems as it is.

His obsession — it really is an obsession, it’s basically all he writes about — is that he’s 37 years old, he wants a girlfriend who is less than half his age, and that he thinks he is biologically entitled to have sex with younger women. His strategy is to create terrible, terrible meme images and post them on the web, which I’m sure is going to draw in the high school girls like bees to honey. Here’s one example. There are many more.

pedomeme6

You should have sex with him, because he has lower telomerase levels than younger men, and therefore he’s not going to give you cancer. And you’re a bigot and a hypocrite if you don’t take him up on his kind offer. Here’s a photo of a bridge.

[Read more…]

Yay! I’m on the Professor Watch List!

They did it! I’ve made it on to the list! I feel so appreciated.

The entry is all about my contempt for that racist rag, the Morris NorthStar, an organization that really doesn’t like me…and I’d feel like I wasn’t being a responsible human being if I hadn’t made them angry. I’ve also heard a rumor that their next issue is going to feature an article that accuses me of rape — another empty set of lies built around the dishonesty of the slymers, Michael Nugent, and Mike Cernovich, which tells you something about the quality of their reporting.

The Friedman Singularity

Years ago, I imagine that the management of the New York Times met to work out criteria for who would write the opinion columns in the paper. They walked in with one iron-clad commitment: they believed in “balance”, you couldn’t just bring on writers of reason and evidence, because that would be unfair to the right wing. They also tut-tutted the awkwardness of strong language and vigorously supported opinions, so they needed to find a middle ground. They decided that the way to fill their quota of conservative voices was to simply hire deeply stupid people.

And this is how Thomas Friedman, David Brooks, Maureen Dowd, and Ross Douthat got their sinecures on the pages of the prestigious (but losing its luster) New York Times.

I think David Brooks is the worst of them, but then every time I read anything by Friedman I feel like changing my mind. This doesn’t happen often, though, because Friedman makes me vomit out of my eyesockets, which is generally incompatible with being able to read further.

Matt Taibbi has a stronger constitution than I do, apparently, and reviews Friedman’s latest metastatic column, I mean “book”, Thank You for Being Late. He is very unkind. Not unkind enough, but he gets close to what we need.

We will remember Friedman for interviewing 76 percent of the world’s taxi drivers, for predicting “the next six months will be critical” on 14 occasions over two and a half years (birthing the neologism, “the Friedman unit”), and for his unmatched, God-given ability to write nonsensical metaphors, like his classic “rule of holes”: “When you’re in one, stop digging. When you’re in three, bring a lot of shovels.”

Friedman’s great anti-gift is his ability to use many words when only a few are necessary. He became famous as a newspaper columnist for taking simple one-sentence observations like, “Wow, everyone has a cell phone these days,” and blowing them out into furious 850-word trash-fires of mismatched imagery and circular argument.

Yeah, that’s our man Tom. Terrible writer, inane pseudo-philosopher, the most predictably unimaginative source of idiotic “ideas” on the NY Times roster. I have no idea why he’s still employed. There must have been some kind of blood pact signed at the meeting I imagined, or perhaps they closed the deal with an orgy and Friedman has recordings.

Taibbi singled out one example of Friedmanesque unprofundity: this graph, intended to illustrate his claim that we’re being overwhelmed by our own technology.

badgraph1

Bad timing. I’ve been grading lab reports lately, so I’m particularly sensitive to abominations like that. Label your axes! What are the units? Are “adaptibility” and “technology” even measurable in the same way and with the same units? Hey, the ordinate is “rate of change” — do you actually intend to argue that human adaptability, for instance, is increasing? Where’s your evidence? And then I draw big red slashes through the whole thing and tell the student that this is unacceptable, you get a 0 for this assignment, go back and rewrite it.

No, really, this is disgraceful. It’s an obvious attempt to pretend that a subjective claim is factually objective by falsely casting it in the form of a quantitative measurement. You don’t get to do that.

And then it gets worse. Friedman draws a second version of the graph, with his suggestion for how we can correct this mismatch between adaptability and technology.

badgraph2

Hey, my metaphor of vomiting out of my eye sockets no longer looks so hyperbolic, does it?

So the Friedman solution for our current production of excess technology beyond our capacity to absorb (a problem that he hasn’t actually shown to exist) is to build a time machine, go into an undefined moment in the past, and make people “learn faster”. He’s written a whole book about an undemonstrated problem, illustrated it with a bogus graph, and solved it by drawing a line on the graph that shows he doesn’t understand his own illustration, and that requires multiple amazing technological feats to accomplish…in a book that complains about the rapidity of our technological advances.

I know what this means. He’s trying to get a raise from the NY Times by feeding them more of what they hired him for.

What is it with neurosurgeons and evolution?

Yesterday, I mentioned that creationist conference in Istanbul. There wasn’t much to say about the content of the event, but they did have photos of some of the displays, that looked exactly like the nonsense published in Harun Yahya’s Atlas of Creation. But now I’ve got an essay from one of the speakers, Oktar Babuna. I’m sorry to say he’s another data point damaging the reputation of good doctors everywhere.

A Turkish anchorman, neurosurgeon, and doctor of medical sciences, Oktar Babuna, exposes the absurdity of Darwinism by scientific evidence and explains the reason why this preposterous theory is promoted almost everywhere world-wide.

Between Michael Egnor and Oktar Babuna and Ben Carson, I’m hoping I never have a brain injury, because the profession seems to be a magnet for vapid nitwits.

He has the usual ignorant creationist arguments against Darwinism.

Darwinism is absurd because it proposes that life emerged by coincidence

No, it doesn’t.

and that human beings are a mere animal species.

We are animals (although not “mere” — biologists value every species, including our own). What definition of “animal” do the creationists have that somehow fails to include humans?

He tries to back up those assertions with the usual creationist “ooh, big numbers” approach: proteins are assembled from thousands of amino acids, humans have trillions of cells, therefore it’s all just too complex to have been constructed, except by one really smart engineer. This is a fallacious argument. You might just as well look at a beach, notice there are an awful lot of grains of sand out there, and decide that they are so numerous that they must have been placed there, one by one, by a very finicky deity. Every beach is an artisanal beach. Or you could just read Ian Musgrave’s brief introduction to abiogenesis and get the stupid smacked out of your head.

Then he makes the standard Yahya argument. They all look the same to him.

If we look at the beginning of life on Earth, the first cells emerged all at once. For example, the first cell was a cyanobacteria, a cell which exists even today and produces oxygen through photosynthesis. This cell emerged and remains the same cell. All species – from elephants to tigers, plants, fish, and reptiles – appeared all at once and never really changed. There is no evolution.

Ho hum. This is the fallacy of looking at a twig and declaring that there are no branches or trunks, the tree is a twig all the way down. All the things he mentions have known antecedents in the fossil record that are different from modern forms.

Don’t worry, though, Babuna doesn’t waste much time lying about the evidence. He’s got better things to do, like lying about our motives.

So, we can ask: why is this theory supported world-wide? Because evolution is atheism. The reason why Darwin is defended by so many scientists all around the world is in order to keep atheism alive. But this didn’t start with Charles Darwin. The idea that life appeared by chance goes back to the Sumerians, Ancient Egypt, and Ancient Greece. This is the beginning of materialism.

Charles Darwin was not an atheist. He was agnostic. He had no plans to promote atheism, and was actually reluctant to publish in part because he knew what controversy would arise, and in part because he was uncomfortable with contradicting religion’s explanations. Babuna reverses causality here. Atheism didn’t create evolution, but evolution was compatible with atheism, and modern atheism actually uses the scientific evidence to support the idea that gods are unnecessary.

You know what’s coming next, right? It’s so predictable. Hitler.

In Russia, Turkey, the US, and any other country, there is a dictatorship of Darwinism in all universities and schools. Darwinism implants the idea that humans are fighting-animals which have to struggle to survive. If you are strong, you will survive, but if you are weak, you will be eliminated. This is the selfish struggle of Darwinism. This selfishness takes law away from the world and provokes all kinds of violence, terrorism, and fascism. Karl Marx said that evolution is the basis of Marxism’s natural history. Hitler also put the foundations of fascism on Darwinism. When we look at terrorist groups such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, etc., these groups emerged for two reasons: religious ignorance and Darwinism. These people need to be educated.

No, evolution accommodates many strategies for survival, not just kill or be killed. Cooperation is just as viable as competition. You don’t need to physically eliminate your competition if you can outbreed them. Species and communities matter.

The relationship between Marxism and evolution is ambiguous and complex. On the one hand, Marx did appreciate the materialist approach; on the other, Marxism wants there to be an arrow of progress that can be consciously directed, something not present in evolutionary theory. Marx also saw Darwin’s version of evolution as more than a little bourgeois, appropriate for a nation of shop-keepers.

Hitler was anti-evolution. He banned Darwin’s books. The foundation of his ideology was God and the state, and he said so repeatedly in Mein Kampf, and religion was a staple of Nazi propaganda. Kinder, Kuche, Kirche!

But how can anyone take someone seriously who claims that ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and Boko Haram are rooted in Darwinism?

I guess that would be the kind of person who thinks religion consists only of good things, so anything bad must, by definition, be the spawn of satanic atheism.

Darwinism has taken love away from the world. It brings selfishness; it sees human beings as animals which can and should kill other animals. If we look at the three major religions –Islam, Christianity and Judaism – they all say that God created all human beings and all other living things with love. Love is the essence of religion. Love will come back to the world with religion. We hope that, with scientific struggle, Darwinism will go away with its egoism and lawlessness.

See? Boko Haram cannot be a religiously motivated terrorist movement, because religion is only about love. Darwinism is all about killing animals, which includes humans, therefore Boko Haram is a Darwinist organization.

With logic like that, how can you not trust Oktar Babuna with a scalpel and your brain?

Please keep Malcolm Roberts, Australia

The last flaming nutter to emerge out of Queensland, Ken Ham, emigrated to the US and is busily exploiting the rubes here, so you get to keep Roberts. We don’t want him. His latest bit of raging stupidity is a speech in which he said:

It is basic. The sun warms the earth’s surface. The surface, by contact, warms the moving, circulating atmosphere. That means the atmosphere cools the surface. How then can the atmosphere warm it? It cannot. That is why their computer models are wrong.

That…that…is shockingly idiotic. I have one question: was Roberts naked when he said that? After all, using his logic, clothes are not a heat source. The only sources of heat are your own body, and external sources like the sun, or a nearby radiator. Therefore, that means that clothes can only cool your body. How can they warm it?

It’s good to know. Winter is coming to Minnesota; last night the temperature dropped below 4°C, and I actually felt a little chilly. I made the mistake of putting on a light jacket, and when I went to bed, snuggling up under the blankets. As the cold season arrives, I think all the climate change deniers ought to follow Malcolm Roberts’ basic logic and strip themselves starkers when we hit -20°C and go play golf. It’s usually sunny and clear when it gets that cold, so they’ll be able to absorb all the energy of the sun unimpeded.

There’s a much more thorough debunking of all of Malcolm Roberts’ lies here.