Theories of “mind” for corporations

Jack Saint recently made a video remarking on Netflix, and how Netflix appeared to be criticizing itself. He was talking about the show Dahmer, which Jack Saint felt was exploitative. And then an episode of Black Mirror appeared to make the same point by portraying an exploitative documentary that was obviously in reference to Dahmer. I will not comment on either show because I don’t like TV enough to watch the stuff, and I only really enjoy watching youtubers talk about TV I don’t watch.

However, I do have an opinion on the supposed hypocrisy of Netflix, for putting out two television shows that thematically contradict each other. When a corporation like Netflix is hypocritical, that’s obviously quite unlike individual hypocrisy. It’s not a single individual saying something and then doing a different thing. It’s two groups of individuals who disagree with each other despite their common affiliation. The Dahmer creators don’t think it’s exploitative (or don’t care), and the Black Mirror creators do. The executives above them don’t care enough to intervene either way. There’s no real hypocrisy on an individual level.

[Read more…]

Affirmative Action vs Fair Lending

The term “affirmative action” was originally created by John F. Kennedy in 1961, in the context of the employment of government contractors. But affirmative action has been very unpopular in the US, and was backed into a corner until it came to only refer to university admissions. Prior to the recent Supreme Court decision against affirmative action, the idea was already only hanging by a thread.

Now that the thread has been cut, I encourage people to imagine other possibilities. Previously, we could only ever talk about affirmative action in elite universities, because that was the only politically viable option. Now, none of the options are politically viable, so we might as well talk about the possibilities we forgot.

What if we had affirmative action… in hiring? Salaries? Political representation? Affirmative action tax breaks! If you’re outside the US, help me out here, what sort of affirmative action do they have in your country?
[Read more…]

On the retraction of an ROGD paper

I have a comment on the recent retraction of “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria: Parent Reports on 1655 Possible Cases”.  I happen to have some expertise on this precise issue.

Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD) is an alleged phenomenon where kids suddenly experience gender dysphoria. The hypothesis is that this is caused by social contagion and therefore the kids are not authentically trans.  The entire research area is fundamentally flawed because it’s based on the accounts of parents who frequent ROGD forums, instead of, you know, talking to the kids in question. The kids likely have a better idea than the parents just how “sudden” the onset really was.

But that’s not why the paper was retracted. The journal stated that it was retracted “due to a lack of documented consent by study participants”. The stated reason is not obviously connected to the real problems with ROGD research, so it sounds pretextual.

[Read more…]

Review: The Rift

The Rift is a short novel by fellow FTBer William Brinkman. It’s a fictionalized version of the feminist wars in skepticism, one where the skeptics work for the aliens. I was provided with a review copy.

The Rift book cover

I admit I’m not very familiar with Brinkman’s Bolingbrook Babbler, but I know Brinkman has been writing it since 1998, and that he has perfected a style of satirical fiction where real (often political) events are mixed with the fantastical. Like The Onion, you might say, but long form.  I also know that some of it is quite topical, covering issues in atheism and skepticism.

The specific focus on skepticism produces interesting results, where the skeptical movement is juxtaposed with the reality of the paranormal. It’s delightfully absurd, but also hints at deeper interpretations. It implies a dilemma: do you side with the skeptics, who conceal the truth even as they fight for it, or do you speak the unbelievable truth? It explores, in a metaphorical way, the faults of the skeptical movement—something that can be quite difficult to talk about in a non-fictional context, if I do say so myself!

[Read more…]

Equality vs equity: An overanalysis

It’s time for a critical analysis of the “equality vs equity” meme, a widely duplicated and mutated image of three people standing on crates to watch a baseball game.

equality and equity

I shrink images to fit this blog’s margins. For bigger versions, see my sources. Source

The linguistic island

Of all my complaints about this meme, my most significant is about its choice of words. On the surface level, the meme is educating us about the distinction between “equality” and “equity”. However, outside of the meme, that is not how the words are used. The equality/equity distinction, mostly just comes from the meme. The meme is not educating us about the meaning of these two words, it is establishing new meanings.

It is not illegitimate to create new meanings for words, of course. But the problem is that the meme masquerades as educational, and everyone takes that for granted. As a result, every discussion of “equity” eventually comes back to the meme.  The meme is a linguistic island, and there is nowhere else for the discussion to go.

[Read more…]