Link Roundup: February 2018

Bi Any Means Podcast: Atheism and Asexuality with Emily Karp – I was excited to listen to this episode!  I was interviewed on Bi Any Means a few years ago on the same topic, but this interview should be more up to date.  As they discuss in the episode, atheist communities have become more cognizant and accepting of asexuality, but unsurprisingly, it very much depends on which communities you interact with.

Sapiosexuals: The Science of People Who Are Turned on by Brains – Rebecca Watson criticizes sapiosexuality and a recent study about it.  I also have a very negative reaction to sapiosexuality, and my main association is with men in skepticism who are low-key complaining that there aren’t enough intelligent women around.  On the other hand, sapiosexuality also has some connections with ace communities, and I realized that there are other angles to it–which is not to say that this eliminates my criticism of it.

I agree with Watson that the study she describes is garbage.  Asking people if they’re attracted to intelligence is not useful methodology.  Unfortunately, Watson’s suggested methodology of using electrodes and fMRIs is also problematic.  See there’s this infamous study of bisexuality, and long story short, objective measures of attraction have issues.  I propose instead that we give people a bunch of fake dating profiles and ask them who they would be interested in.

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Link Roundup: January 2018

A smaller link roundup this month because I wasn’t really paying attention over break.  But here are a few things.

Recovered Memories and Sexual Assault – It’s true that with persistent and coercive questioning, you can cause people to “recover” memories of traumatic events that didn’t actually happen.  On the other hand, it’s very common for memory of traumatic events to be impaired.  It’s also common for people to report sexual assault a long time after the fact–not because people repressed the memories and later recovered them, but because many people don’t initially conceptualize sexual assault as such, and because there are many obstacles to reporting.  If you hear an account of sexual assault a long time after the fact, and involves some confused memories, it is completely wrong to conclude that therefore these are an example of fabricated “recovered” memories.

Philippines Extends Martial Law in South for Another Year – The fight with Islamist militants is already over, but they’re still extending martial law.  WTF.  I’ve said this before, but the Philippine president Duterte is easily worse than Trump.  This is a guy who has favorably compared himself to Hitler, no joke.

Sicklit Literally Traumatized Me – Books about people with cancer don’t appeal to me.  But apparently this is more than just a matter of taste.  Miri says that this genre tends to sensationalize the suffering in a way that can be actively harmful to readers with cancer.

A music post for 2017

2017 was a good year for me in terms of discovering new music.  You might have seen this intrude upon my blogging a few times.  I even started a separate blog for music–which I won’t link to because I’d prefer to keep my followers in the single digits.

I have a few highlights below the fold.  And yes, this stuff is thoroughly inappropriate for Christmas.

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Link Roundup: December 2017

Unpacking Some of the Extreme Distress I Experienced Last Week – Some of you may have heard about the murder-suicide of Scott Smith, who was a podcaster for Recovering From Religion.  Well, here is an account from the cohost of the podcast.  I think this could be helpful if you knew Scott Smith, or if you just want to learn about trauma.

Cuphead: The Fake Outrage (video) – Anti-feminist gamergate-types have recently been outraged over people calling Cuphead (a video game) racist and ableist.  Except… nobody is saying that.  Amongst game critics, there has been discussion of the racist history behind the animation style used by Cuphead, and there has also been discussion about it’s high difficulty, and what that might mean for accessibility.  That really isn’t the same, and Shaun goes into depth about it.  I recommend Shaun’s YouTube channel if you need an antidote to anti-feminist and alt-right YouTubers.

Video game difficulty and accessibility is an interesting topic, maybe I will write about it in the future.

The Fine-Tuning Argument and Base Rate Fallacy – The author is not a physicist, but articulates very well some of the reasons why as a physicist I am very skeptical of fine-tuning arguments.  Predicting how the universe would look with different fundamental constants sounds like an incredibly difficult question!  And the more “fine-tuned” the universe is, the more difficult the question is.

BTW, the author mentions William Lane Craig’s claim that the gravitational constant is sensitive to a change of one part in 10^60.  I would not believe Craig’s claims without independent investigation.  I cannot stress this enough, William Lane Craig is an extremely unreliable source of information on math and physics, even on matters that are neutral with respect to his apologetic arguments.  Seriously, if you’re going to believe in God, you might be better off just believing in God rather than accepting Craig’s arguments, because then at least you will only be wrong about one thing.

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Link roundup: November 2017

It’s my monthly feature where I share links I’ve collected over the past month, and offer brief commentary.

The Trans Reveal – I recently found this blog that reviews queer webcomics and of course I’m all over that.  This article discusses various ways that webcomics can reveal that a character is trans, and what the pitfalls of each approach are.

Exodus: Why Americans are Leaving Religion—and Why They’re Unlikely to Come Back – This is an old article summarizing results from a survey of religiously unaffiliated USians.  What I found most interesting: 1) the main reason for their growth appears to be increased retention rates, 2) 58% of them say religion is bad for the world, and 18% say religion is personally important to them, 3) The people who say religion is bad for the world are more likely to be white, male, and have more education.

I found this article via Aged Reasoner–although the speculation in that post is mistaken, as I point out in the comments.

Why we really really really like repetition in music (video) – Vox talks about how we seem to find repetition inherently enjoyable in music, but not, say, stage plays.  Something that I have great difficulty understanding is how music worked before recordings existed.  It seems like music should have been more repetitive in those days, to make up for the fact that you couldn’t just repeat the recording as desired.

Vox incidentally mentions the speech to song illusion, which is the most compelling auditory illusion I have ever heard. Listen to this video, and then listen to it again. What has been heard cannot be unheard.

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Asexuality survey and report

This week is Asexual Awareness Week.  Presently I don’t do any outreach or education work, but I do work on the Asexual Community Census.

The Ace Community Census is an annual survey by the Ace Community Survey Team, which collects valuable information on the demographics and experiences of members in the ace community. It is the largest survey of ace communities and creates a valuable pool of data for future ace community activists and researchers.

The survey is open to anyone: ace, non-ace, or still questioning; as long as you are 13 years of age or older we want to hear from you!

Click to participate!

We have also just published a report of the results from our 2015 survey.  Take a look!

I may talk about this report more later, but for now I am happy to take any questions, either about the report, or the survey.

Link Roundup: October 2017

Something Something Soup Something – It’s a browser-based game about classifying things as soup or not soup.  A fun philosophical exercise for the whole family!  It shows that when people are asked to define soup, they use a slightly different definition from the one they use to classify soup.  Also, soup is a metaphor for video games.

Everything You Need to Know about Gun Rights (also see part 2 and part 3 tba) – Crip Dyke explains the history of the 2nd amendment, and how it wasn’t intended to guarantee individuals’ rights to guns.  This is all news to me, I don’t know anything about constitutional history.

Hillary Clinton almost ran for president on a universal basic income – In her memoir, Clinton says they seriously considered campaigning for universal basic income, but decided not to when they failed to come up with a realistic policy proposal.  I have mixed feelings about this.  Should she have included it in her campaign anyway?  And why didn’t Bernie campaign on UBI, since apparently, a lack of realistic policy doesn’t otherwise stop him?

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