Dear Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins: you’re wrong. Deeply, profoundly, fundamentally wrong. Your understanding of feminism is flawed and misinformed, and further, you keep returning to the same poisonous wells of misinformation. It’s like watching creationists try to rebut evolution by citing Kent Hovind; do you not understand that that is not a trustworthy source? It’s a form of motivated reasoning, in which you keep returning to those who provide the comfortable reassurances that your biases are actually correct, rather than challenging yourself with new perspectives.

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The treatment of immigrant women is disgraceful

Here’s a horrifying statistic for you (Warning! Autoplay video at that link!).

Before they can reach the American Dream, many migrant women have to survive a Mexican nightmare. A staggering 80 percent of Central American girls and women crossing Mexico en route to the United States are raped along the way, according to directors of migrant shelters interviewed by Fusion.

That’s up from previous reports by non-profit organizations like Amnesty International that estimate the number at 60 percent.

So the conservative estimate is 60%? Yet the Republican perspective on these people is that they are lazy moochers who parasitize American society — when they’re actually strong, ambitious people who have survived a harrowing struggle to get here.

Here we go again

Mark Oppenheimer has published an article to blow open the sexism scandals — Will Misogyny Bring Down The Atheist Movement? And whoa, Michael Shermer does not come off well in it.

This bit is more than a little disturbing:

“Shermer has been a bad boy on occasion — I do know that,” Randi told me. “I have told him that if I get many more complaints from people I have reason to believe, that I am going to have to limit his attendance at the conference.

“His reply,” Randi continued, “is he had a bit too much to drink and he doesn’t remember. I don’t know — I’ve never been drunk in my life. It’s an unfortunate thing … I haven’t seen him doing that. But I get the word from people in the organization that he has to be under better control. If he had gotten violent, I’d have him out of there immediately. I’ve just heard that he misbehaved himself with the women, which I guess is what men do when they are drunk.”

I’m glad I’ll be off in Fargo this weekend when the howling mob descends.

That was really quick. Both Ashley Miller and Stephanie Zvan already have substantial comments on the article. (We obviously knew it was coming — we were interviewed for it — but didn’t know what the overall tenor of the story was going to be. I think they prepared ahead of time.)

After sleeping on it, one of the things I like about the article is that it quotes extensively from both sides: not just me and Alison and other people on the anti-misogyny side, but also Shermer himself and Jillette and Emery, and those apologists come across as slimy, dissembling assholes in their own words. It’s a bit like a television police procedural, where all the bad guys indict themselves with their inconsistencies as soon as they open their mouths.

I’m not a big fan of how it portrays Melody — she’s been stressed out, but functioning anyway. She’s organized a couple of major conferences in this time! It could have also spent more time presenting Alison’s story and evidence…but then, I understand that this was not a court case, but an opportunity to discuss the positions of both sides.

Chatbots are boring. They aren’t AI.

You know I’m a bit sour on the whole artificial intelligence thing. It’s not that I think natural intelligences are anything more than natural constructions, or that I think building a machine that thinks is impossible — it’s that most of the stories from AI researchers sound like jokes. Jon Ronson takes a tour of the state of the art in chatbots, which is entertaining and revealing.

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