What is it with senior academics at prestigious universities?


Do these big name universities intentionally inculcate obtuseness, or do they select for neo-reactionary thinkers? Case in point: Steven Pinker promoting Christina Hoff Sommers.


The war on gamers continues


What is this? Is he hoping that the flaming bigots of #gamergate will anoint him as Based Harvard Prof? It is impossible to take that hack Sommers seriously, unless you like that she supports your anti-feminist biases.

Comments

  1. Seven of Mine: Shrieking Feminist Harpy says

    Welp. There went the last of my respect for Pinker.

  2. says

    It’s one way of getting attention. It’s also a way to feel smart – “look at me, I am so smart, I’m going against the tide here. Oh, I am oh so brave, too.” Pinker should be able to milk this stance for quite a while.

  3. says

    Oh, groan….

    Is it just me, or does it seem that the more someone has been on TED or Edge or The Amaz!ing Conference or SXSW, the more likely they are to be an entitiled asswipe?

  4. says

    If I recall correctly (read it years ago, wasn’t impressed) Pinker made a number of backhanded attacks on egalitarianism in “The Blank Slate” – indeed, the whole book was a subtle argument that the idea that we can be equal if we and society act like we’re equal(*) is a failure because of natural inequality and determined brain-wiring.

    So it’s possible that he’s been thinking this way for a long time. After all, he’s wired that way and can’t help it.

    (* isn’t that what “equality” means?)

  5. Jonas Scott says

    Please stop posting about #gamergate. You continue to buy into the MSM agenda, that #gamergate is only about harassing women. It is about, and always has been about, ethics in game journalism and the fact that numerous outlets are (literally) in bed with the developers they are supposed to be objectively covering. Despite misrepresentation in the MSM, #gamergate has contributed to several major gaming news outlets making changes to their disclosure policies. The root of #gamergate is good, it cannot be helped if the hashtag was co-opted into a harassment campaign.

    A lot of the concerns and accusations leveled at these ‘victims’ is legitimate. Much like the myth of the ‘persecuted christian’, these are professional victims who have been shown to ignore, and refuse to even discuss, any honest critiques or concerns. Many of them have also been shown to exaggerate or egg on their ‘haters’ in order to derive more attention from the MSM.

    I’m not going to bother with sources, they are out there if you take off the blinders. A good place to start is Total Biscuit’s twitter and the subreddit “KotakuinAction”.

  6. says

    Jonas Scott @ 6:

    You continue to buy into the MSM agenda

    You think this issue is main stream media? Interesting view of reality you have there, Jonas. I’ve no doubt this will come as a surprise, but we have heard every single thing you bring up before, multiple times, from people who have bothered with sources (even though they didn’t understand a damn thing about those sources). Attempting to cry out that gamergate is veddy veddy noble, really, and it’s just those damn quims playing victim isn’t going to work here.

  7. brett says

    That really does not surprise me coming from Pinker. He’s been lending a biological justification argument to perceived gender differences and outcomes for years, including in The Blank Slate – and Christina Hoff Summers has been playing the “fundamental gender differences cause the differences in social outcomes” card for years as part of her antifeminism.

    Not to mention that he’s been part of a group of intellectuals who seem to think it’s brave and daring to treat the other social sciences and humanities as beneath their contempt, along with various social justice movements.

    @Marcus Ranum

    If I recall correctly (read it years ago, wasn’t impressed) Pinker made a number of backhanded attacks on egalitarianism in “The Blank Slate” – indeed, the whole book was a subtle argument that the idea that we can be equal if we and society act like we’re equal(*) is a failure because of natural inequality and determined brain-wiring.

    There was some interesting stuff in there IIRC, including about how powerful peer groups are on forming children’s behavior and personalities versus the influence of their parents. But a lot of it was spent attacking a caricature of the social sciences for supposedly holding a “blank slate” view on human behavior.

  8. Seven of Mine: Shrieking Feminist Harpy says

    Jonas Scott @ 6

    You’re adorable. No, really.

  9. Saad says

    Jonas Scott, #6

    … #gamergate is only about harassing women …

    Correct. Should have just posted that.

    That’s all the reply you deserve from me.

    As to the topic at hand, how disappointing. I’m with Seven of Mine. I didn’t finish The Blank Slate, but I read How the Mind Works a while back and enjoyed it.

    It does baffle the mind, why people like him end up on what is quite obviously the wrong side. At least I expect thinking people like him to be able to see it obviously as the wrong side.

  10. yazikus says

    Please stop posting about #gamergate

    Please stop putting # in front of words that could just as easily be capitalized.

  11. says

    I absolutely LOVE Jonas’ takeoff of #Gamergate whinery. I think he’s just about covered every lame-assed excuse they’ve made, including the hasty insistence that it’s our job to find their sources.

  12. brucegee1962 says

    These trolls are just amazingly non-self-aware, aren’t they?

    Translation: “It’s really about the legitimate abuses of large media reviewers who cozy up to the big game companies. The hashtag just got coopted by a handful of misogynists who went after the small fry, but they don’t represent the majority of us.

    Oh, and now that I’ve got that out of the way, let me tell you about how awful those professional victim uppity womenfolk are, with all their bragwhining just because a few thousand guys made death threats and called them names on Twitter.”

    Please, Jonas Scott, read the last sentence of your first paragraph, and the first sentence of your second sentence that immediately follows it. Those two sentences may seem to sit comfortably in your brain and not flag up as being contradictory, but they really, really shouldn’t.

  13. AMM says

    I hadn’t realized Pinker was right wing, but I can’t say I’ve had much contact with him.

    My main exposure was when my brother gave me one of his books for Christmas. That should perhaps have been a tip-off, since every last book he’s sent me has been some sort of pseudo-intellectual neo-conservative nonsense. Anyway, I noticed that he’s fond of what I call “proof by assertion” — simply asserting something and saying that those who disagree are wrong. I don’t know if the basis for his Authority is that he’s Harvard or simply that he’s Steven Pinker. (“I’m Zaphod Beeblebrox — count the heads.”)

  14. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Ooooooo. . . KAWAII Jonas Scott!! ♥♥♥♥ You are *darling*.

  15. chrislawson says

    I’m not going to bother with sources,…

    For a moment there I thought Jonas was making a satirical comment, but on further reflection it appears he actually believes the BS he wrote.

  16. iknklast says

    I saw an article by Pinker where he was complaining that people misrepresented him (and others who think like him) as saying we are 100% predetermined, when he is just saying that it is more nature than nurture. He then proceeded to argue as a totally nature argument for the rest of the article, thereby establishing in my head the stereotype he was protesting didn’t fit him…while stereotyping his detractors as people who claim there is no genetic basis to behavior. I have read several of the people he mentioned, and none of them think there is NO genetic basis to behavior. They just don’t think it is so determined that there is no environmental cues that can change it.

  17. doublereed says

    Is this surprising from Pinker? I definitely got this impression from the other things I’ve read from him.

    Do these big name universities intentionally inculcate obtuseness, or do they select for neo-reactionary thinkers? Case in point: Steven Pinker promoting Christina Hoff Sommers.

    That’s not fair, PZ. You obviously aren’t going to hear about the good guys.

  18. speed0spank says

    I am getting SO sick of hearing that Anita and the other victims of GG’s harassment campaign just “can’t take criticism” when all you ever see is hate and slurs. You’re really going to whine about her turning comments off of videos when all that is there is “shut up you stupid c*nt” and such.
    Ugh. These people fucking sicken me.

  19. A. Noyd says

    Marcus Ranum (#5)

    If I recall correctly (read it years ago, wasn’t impressed) Pinker made a number of backhanded attacks on egalitarianism in “The Blank Slate”

    Yeah, pretty sure Pinker has been explicitly promoting Sommers since at least The Blank Slate, but I just got rid of all my books, so I can’t check. But I think that’s where I first heard about “equity feminism” vs “gender feminism”—a bullshit distinction invented by Sommers—and Pinker came down on the side of Sommers’ fake-ass, anti-feminist “equity feminism.”

  20. jd142 says

    This is going to sound sarcastic, but I am really serious. Is there somewhere we can look up and see who is a flaming asshole?

    I can look up and see who sponsors Rush Limbaugh or which companies pay minimum wage or which companies exploit 3rd world labor(the list of the ones that don’t is much shorter). There’s even a buycott app that will scan barcodes and tell you if the product supports or opposes your cause.[1]

    But nothing for who is a waste of carbon. For example, my wife can never read Orson Scott Card again after hearing his views. And I dumped all of my Dawkins books. Amazon keeps trying to get me to buy Dan Simmons, but I’ll never buy him because of http://www.dansimmons.com/news/message/2006_04.htm. I skip Shermer’s column in Scientific American and keep meaning to write them about him. I’d like to read A Universe from Nothing, but not any more. And I don’t even know who’s right on the Jonathan Ross thing; I’d hate to think of Neil Gaiman as a jerk for defending him.

    So I’m serious about wanting some list or clearinghouse.

    This is why it takes my wife 5 minutes to decide if she can buy a can of tuna.

    [1]In theory, buycott doesn’t care about your politics. Want to support homophobia? Then it will tell you that Chik FIl A is the best place to eat. In practice, the lists you can subscribe to are compiled by users and shared, so you get outdated, incomplete, or just plain wrong information. Looked nice, but it isn’t as useful as we hoped.

  21. PatrickG says

    My gawd, #6 is just the perfect example of how the question “Stupid or Evil?” really is answered most of the time with “Both”.

    On a side note, it takes a special level of stupid to come into a forum, whine about how persecuted GamerGaters are, and then accuse others of being professional victims. What a drama llama.

  22. says

    speed0spank, #23:

    Ugh. These people fucking sicken me.

    I’m not a doctor, and I’d hate to diagnose you from a distance, but I’d imagine that’s because you have a base level of empathy. Take two red pills (NOT the ones from r/RedPillWomen, which are nothing but essence of patriarchy distilled from a thousand Bibles) and call me in the morning.

    My bill is in the mail.

  23. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    I don’t understand his objection. Doesn’t this just show that women are genetically hard-coded to not like the men who sat around playing video games on the ancient savannah instead of going out and hunting mammoths?

  24. mesh says

    It’s funny, too, how the finger-wagging from these venerable ethicists is only ever in the direction of “professional victims” and not the numerous harassers who have stolen the GamerGate platform out from under them.

  25. brucegorton says

    Speaking as a gamer I must tell you it is hell.

    Why, dodging the IEDs just to get a decent hand of Magic, having to deal with drone strikes every time I boot up Darkest Dungeons, having to run a machine gun turret to get into older games like Majesty…

    And that’s without even getting into the landmine emplacements in front of anything on Origin.

    War is hell, and war, war never changes…

    /snark

    Or to put it another way – it is a bit of a stretch to call something a war when people are more likely to call the authorities on the pothead next door.

  26. unclefrogy says

    my head wants to go pop or blank when I hear or read so fool start complaining and criticizing others about how they just can’t take the criticism while at the same time not addressing any of the criticism and demanding that no one should pay any attention and they should shut up and stop criticizing their issue and then go all personal attack.
    uncle frogy

  27. davroslives says

    Do Gamergate defenders not understand that “it’s actually about ethics in gaming journalism” has become a widely used meme mocking them? Because I’m fascinated that people still use that sincerely.

    Also, I’m a gamer; I’m also straight, white, male, middle class, and in my late 20s. Yet, somehow, I don’t feel particularly warred upon…

  28. Eric O says

    I kind of suspected that Pinker was an asshole but I hate seeing my suspicions confirmed.

    I read The Stuff of Thought and The Better Angels of Our Nature and enjoyed them both. Mind you, when I read the first, I was the sort of person that would have been in the Dawkins/Sommers camp and who thought evo-psych was some awesome cutting edge science that should completely replace all that fluffy post-modern crap that infests the social sciences. When I grew out of that mindset (I now have a BA in archaeology and quite a few anthropology classes under my belt), I felt a bit icky for my uncritical acceptance of that book.

    Better Angels didn’t delve too much into evo-psych, thankfully, and was a more enjoyable read, even though there were bits and pieces that should be taken with a grain of salt. I get the impression that Pinker has a bit of contempt for the more humanistic social sciences and tends to strawman their conclusions.

  29. Muz says

    You toe that party line Jonas.

    GG must have the most retconned self image since Alan Moore took over Swamp Thing. Only Moore did a good job. The most cursory look at how it all started makes it perfectly plain we’re dealing with an embittered highschool-ish spat in the Indie games scene that tapped into some deeply held bigotry and surfed the, already well established, anti-feminist wave of the internet to fortune and ignominy.

    Some time after that it tried to tell us that the outrage being aimed at particular women in the industry and the groundswell of anti-feminist sentiment that fed GG was just a coincidence – in one of the saddest and most transparent examples of cynical rebranding yet seen.

    Plenty of much more severe ethical questions in games journalism had come and gone with nothing like that which was aimed at Zoe Quinn. And the issue around her didn’t even involve journalism, strictly speaking. Yet that is undeniably where this finds its genesis.

    Realising after a certain point that this movement wasn’t going to fly on that alone ,some tried to rewrite what this was all about. And hey, I wouldn’t be surprised if a few of the vocal engines of all this thought better of letting this particular genie out of the bottle and tried to redirect energies. GGs amorphous, anonymous leaderlessness does make it easy to deflect criticism, since it’s never entirely about the thing its about. Keep generalisation difficult and none can pin you down too well. Plausible deniability is always in effect. But that same formula also makes it impossible to keep those bodies buried; those skeletons in the closet.

    The clearest tell in the supposed quest for ‘ethics in games journalism’ is to look at what is still the most identified and attended to “lapse in ethics”: The non existent take over of game’s journalism by the dreaded “SJWs”. McCarthian evidence for which is picked over and reframed and reanalysed to this very day.

    I mean, it could be about all this supposed corruption and payola the industry bathes in. But it so rarely is. No. We know what really drives them at heart. Limp fact checking and SJWs is still the whole thing, in the main. The rest is how some feminist was just as mean as any ‘gater (who is never a real ‘gater) on twitter one time, so nyah.

    As self appointed police of games journalism it’s a colossal joke. Just self entitlement and frustration lashing out at soft targets in the service of some persecution fantasy, then desperately rationalised into some completely phantasmal purpose. Its fading into nothingness can’t come soon enough. And it’s almost there, at least (though probably not for the core targets). Some true believers will never let go of course, like any other crankery out there. Hopefully most will grow up and wonder how they ever thought there was anything real in that vapid load of stool and how they were so easily led but convinced themselves they were not.

  30. screechymonkey says

    I find it very appropriate that this post displays (for me) an ad for Summer’s Eve products.

  31. leerudolph says

    Jonas Scott @ 6

    You’re adorable. No, really.

    Yes, he’s so cute when he’s angry, isn’t he?

  32. A. Noyd says

    mesh (#30)

    the finger-wagging from these venerable ethicists is only ever in the direction of “professional victims” and not the numerous harassers who have stolen the GamerGate platform out from under them.

    The harassers didn’t steal anything. GamerGate started as a harassment campaign. The whole bit about journalistic ethics was deliberately added on later for the sake of deniability.

  33. says

    The root of #gamergate is good, it cannot be helped if the hashtag was co-opted into a harassment campaign.

    No. It isn’t. GamerGate started when Adam Baldwin linked a video consisting of sexist attacks on Zoe Quinn based upon a now debunked screed written by an ex-boyfriend of hers. GamerGate wasn’t “co-opted” by harassers, the very genesis of GamerGate was sexist harassment. GamerGate has always been overrun by harassers because it was founded by harassers. Everything about “journalistic ethics” is a smokescreen to obscure that fact.

    A lot of the concerns and accusations leveled at these ‘victims’ is legitimate.

    No. It isn’t. Few of the primary targets of GamerGate are even journalists. If GamerGate is about “ethics in game journalism” why is Zoe Quinn targeted? She’s not a journalist. The allegations that she slept with anyone for “good reviews” or even “good coverage” has been debunked – there were neither reviews nor coverage for her game. Anita Sarkeesian isn’t a journalist. Why is she targeted by a movement about “journalistic ethics”? Or Brianna Wu? Why has she had more than four dozen death threats in the last six months? She’s not a journalist. What ethical violation did Leigh Alexander engage in? She wrote an article that said gamers don’t have to be a company’s primary customer (and article that never actually said “gamers are dead”). While some gamers may not like that article, it isn’t a breach of journalistic ethics to write an article GamerGaters don’t like. And so on and so forth. GamerGate has never been about journalistic ethics, no matter how much GamerGaters whine that it is. We can see what it is actually about by the actions of GamerGaters and the individuals that they target.

  34. zmidponk says

    In addition to aaronpound’s points in #41, as a gamer, I think there is very possibly a problem with ethics in game journalism, simply because of how many professional previews I’ve read that read like the reviewer is practically orgasming due to how good a game is – only for that game to actually come out and be widely lambasted as being utter shite. You want to know what I think #gamergate does about things like this?

    Absolutely nothing.

    Bubkiss.

    Sweet FA.

  35. brucegorton says

    The root of #gamergate is good, it cannot be helped if the hashtag was co-opted into a harassment campaign.

    Even when it is about journalistic ethics, #gamergate outright opposes journalistic ethics.

    Ethically a journalist should be willing to tackle subjects their audience is uncomfortable with, to shine a light on the stuff people would much rather not know. The comfort of the audience isn’t at issue, what is at issue is whether it is in the interests of the audience.

    Gamergate was at its genesis a movement against gaming news websites covering issues with sexism in the gaming community – at the developer, publisher and consumer level.

    This was particularly prevalent as gaming news vendors reported on, and expressed opinions about the harassment and death threat campaigns against feminist and frequently simply female voices in games media.

    These reports were not made out of some sense of funny, funny, giggle, ha, ha, and were not driven by any profit motive. Contrary to popular belief, adopting an actual issue is not the way to drive your clicks up.

    You want to drive up your clicks, write about penises, vaginas, pastors, dumb criminals and the devil. Throw in the odd snake behaving oddly for variety. The silly news, which has its place as seriousness has a bad habit of creeping up its own backside, is what draws clicks. Issues do not.

    Issues are reported because they are issues.

    The essential claim about ethics in videogames journalism was merely a means of shooting the messenger, rather than doing the more difficult thing and stopping making death and rape threats.

    Figures such as Totalbiscuit tried to sanitise it by claiming that they were fighting for the consumer, yet what his and many other “reasonable” gamergate proponents were proposing wasn’t consumer advocacy but rather pandering.

    If your audience feels insulted by the revelations of mass sexual harassment within it, then it isn’t ethics when you don’t talk about the mass sexual harassment going on.

    Its keeping an eye to your bottom line, which is one of the strongest forces against ethics in modern journalism.

  36. ahilan says

    Pinker is a respectable scientist. When he criticizes feminism, he does so from a sound, well-vetted, scientific position. For example his excellent and timeless book The Blank Slate.

  37. says

    Ode to a gamergator ( I found in my armpit one morning):

    Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s Eve?
    Though art more douchey and ill-tempered, lad.
    Rough tweets do shake the daring ones who weave
    True stories of that which in gaming’s bad.

    Tired of phone typing, but add ten more lines in that vein. Call my people, they’ll get together with yours, and a sonnet will happen. ABAB and all that.

  38. Jacob Schmidt says

    ADL’s actual document is revealing, in that it’s utterly innocuous. Honestly, they discuss prominent incidents of harassment against women; they discuss how that might affect men and women; even Saarkesian’s piece (evil game hater that she is) reaffirms the value of video games.

    As far as I can tell, the only actual problem is that aspects of the surrounding culture are being strongly critiqued, and they don’t like that.

  39. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Pinker is a respectable scientist. When he criticizes feminism, he does so from a sound, well-vetted, scientific position.

    *snicker*.
    Pinker only attacks his straw version of feminism with just so stories that feed his presuppositional conclusions. Typical of why there are serious problems with evopsych, which recognized by other scientists/sociologists/anthropologists.

  40. screechymonkey says

    brucegorton@44:

    Even when it is about journalistic ethics, #gamergate outright opposes journalistic ethics.

    Good point. One of the basic ethical goals of most reputable publications is to maintain a “wall of separation” between editorial and sales. (They don’t always succeed.) But the idea is that you don’t let the salespeople’s desire to please their ad buyers influence coverage. Gamergate worked in opposition to that: they lobbied Intel to withdraw ad dollars from publications that wrote things Gamergaters didn’t like, in the hopes of deterring anyone from publishing stuff Gamergaters don’t like.

    There’s nothing inherently wrong with that kind of lobbying and organized boycotts as a general matter. But it seems like the kind of tactic you’d want to forswear if your professed goal is ethics in journalism.

  41. fredericksparks says

    Surely you can’t be surprised that our most prestigious and ostensibly liberal academic institutions are still bastions of white supremacy and misogyny. Lawrence Summers had equally enlightened opinions on women, no?

  42. says

    Jonas Scott, nuh-uh. I’ve been around this particular track too many times. Gamergate is not a noble cause; it is a vehicle for toads to harass women. It is not about ethics in game journalism; it is about crapping all over people who care about social justice. The criticisms of women such as Sarkeesian and Wu do not stand up to inspection. The root of the gamergate hashtag is really very unpleasant and antisocial.

    I am trying to make up my mind as to whether you are mendacious or a dupe. I’ll do you a favour and settle for ‘dupe’ for now.

  43. Al Dente says

    leebrimmicombe-wood @53

    I am trying to make up my mind as to whether you are mendacious or a dupe. I’ll do you a favour and settle for ‘dupe’ for now.

    These two choices are not mutually exclusive.

  44. Saad says

    Lady Mondegreen, #43

    Muz, your comment @ #36 is a thing of beauty.</blockquote

    I was just about to comment on this too. Great post, Muz.

    ahilan, #45

    Pinker is a respectable scientist. When he criticizes feminism, he does so from a sound, well-vetted, scientific position. For example his excellent and timeless book The Blank Slate.

    I have a few more:

    A riveting read!

    If there’s one book you’re going to read this summer, do yourself a favor and make it Pinker’s expertly argued The Blank Slate.

    What all of us want to say, but few of us have the ability to say. A must read.

    Writing for the layperson as well as the academic, Pinker fuses eloquence and technical expertise like no other. This book is a gem.

    A minor masterpiece.

  45. says

    Lee, why not both? Almost every Gamergator I’ve seen posting their screeds (and we got off lightly with Jonas, a mere two paragraphs rather than the usual umpteen screens-worth of text) has been willing to throw principle under the bus because the end they have in sight is worth any means to get there.

  46. thee underground says

    Muz @ #36

    GG must have the most retconned self image since Alan Moore took over Swamp Thing. Only Moore did a good job.

    I love you.

  47. paranthropusboisei says

    Since this is supposed to be a forum that encourages reason and discussion, I would like to point out that it’s a sign of unreason when people cannot state someone else’s views accurately while simultaneously rejecting those views. In other words, if one cannot understand someone’s views and state them clearly, one is not in a credible position to rebuke that person or their views.

    Several of the comments here claim to argue against Pinker’s supposed views and represent claims he’s never said or written, or for which he’s even written the exact opposite claims in the past. I would hope that the pillars of reason, discussion, and opinion are meant to elevate the level of discourse here high enough that people come to a consensus on understanding someone’s actual views correctly. I will leave a link here so that people can read Pinker’s actual views on gender issues (regardless if there’s ultimately agreement or not) instead of reading the misunderstandings (and misrepresentations) of his views by people in these comments. This is his chapter on Gender from his book The Blank Slate which covers the political colorings and scientific issues around gender:

    http://polatulet.narod.ru/dvc/spbs/pinker_blankslate.html#ch_18

  48. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    would hope that the pillars of reason, discussion, and opinion are meant to elevate the level of discourse here high enough that people come to a consensus on understanding someone’s actual views correctly.

    Why don’t YOU provide the links to refute each “mistake” you see, in interests of intellectual honesty and discussion. Pinker does not have a good reputation here, and you aren’t helping with vague shitty accusations. If you can’t be specific, why should we even look at the well discussed Pinker’s bullshit?

  49. says

    This is his chapter on Gender from his book The Blank Slate which covers the political colorings and scientific issues around gender:

    Why should I take someone’s views on sex and gender serious if they can’t even bother to keep them apart or at least properly define them? And really, the straw used to build his definition of “gender feminism” (preemptively dismissed as dogmatic cult) could feed all thhe rabbits in the world…

  50. says

    Do these big name universities intentionally inculcate obtuseness, or do they select for neo-reactionary thinkers?

    Well, probably a little of both. But I imagine outside the hard sciences, academia encourages thinking about these things in the abstract, and not applying them to actual people’s actual lives.

    Which is also part of the contrarianism Caine notes. It’s easy for them to go against popular notions like “making rape threats is bad” and still consider themselves good people if they only talk about simulated people in thought experiments who don’t have any real-world emotional well-being to worry about. That might even be possible in Academe, but when there’s a holodeck malfunction and they get out into the real world, the sound like assholes.

    * * *

    @23: I think a lot of the people saying things like that don’t really believe there are threats and slurs. Or they think Sarkeesian et al are so sensitive they regard all criticism as threats and slurs (which is not always an honest mistake, of course).

  51. says

    #61: You’ve got his entire book on a free web page? I don’t think Pinker needs friends like you.

    But yes, I have read The Blank Slate before, and didn’t like his little parade of straw men. That particular chapter is pretty bad — anyone citing Sommers really doesn’t understand the issues of feminism at all.

  52. consciousness razor says

    I’ve read many of his books and essays, so I think I get where people are coming from with their criticisms. But I can’t wrap my head around the fact that he’s married to Rebecca Goldstein. She doesn’t give me bad vibes like that at all. I respect her quite a lot actually, but I don’t know if she’s said much about feminism (or anything very specific that’s related to Pinker’s work). So, that’s a little mysterious. Of course it’s none of my business how their relationship works, but that should probably be some kind of a clue that something needs to explain that big gaping discrepancy in what I can see going on publicly. It’s not obvious what that is. Part of it probably is that Pinker sincerely doesn’t understand what he’s saying or how it’s being interpreted. He doesn’t seem especially malicious at any rate, but even after I try to give him all the benefit of doubt that I can, there just doesn’t seem to be any way to escape the conclusion that he’s simply got a lot of bad ideas lurking under the surface.

  53. says

    hmmm, that Pinker chapter is peculiar so far.

    The chapter seemed to start out ok, but then a false dichotomy is established (between two types of feminism he calims exists) and he runs with it from there. This makes his endorsement of Sommer’s views no surprize. (indeed he mentions her positively a few times in the book)

  54. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    #61: You’ve got his entire book on a free web page? I don’t think Pinker needs friends like you.

    Paranthwhatsit is obviously genetically hard-coded to post books on evo-phrenology in their entirety, in order to better hunt mammoths on the Savannah.

  55. says

    To be fair, one of the first items in my google search for:

    pinker “blank slate”

    was an entire pdf version of the book. I didn’t really want to click on the link provided in the comments here.

  56. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    I didn’t really want to click on the link provided in the comments here.

    Surely you mean your Savannah Ancestors evolved not to click on it.

  57. What a Maroon, oblivious says

    Pinker is a respectable scientist.

    When I was working on my dissertation, one of my committee members pointed me to a pertinent journal article by Pinker. He commented that it was from the days when Pinker was doing real science.

    I haven’t read anything by Pinker since The Language Instinct. Nothing but warmed-over universal grammar and modularity with an evolutionary veneer. Chomsky dug a hole for linguistics in the US that we’ve been trying to climb out of for 60 years, and just as we were starting to climb out Pinker poured ice on the sides.

  58. hjhornbeck says

    I don’t know what it is about anti-feminists and The Blank Slate, I’ve had a few of them hold up as their ace in the hole. I own a copy and read the thing, and at best my takeaway was “take biological determinism more seriously, and look to the evidence.”

    So I did, and my updated view was (and remains) that the Blank Slate Hypothesis is underrated: it’s incredibly hard to prove any sort of biological determinism, none of the psychology or physiology studies I read came close, and meanwhile we have a mountain of evidence showing culture is a major influence.

    By accident, Stephen Pinker led me to write off EvoPsych as rank pseudoscience, and made me more confident in my feminism. So unless you’re gullible and blindly trust Pinker, you shouldn’t be waving The Blank Slate around.

  59. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    So unless you’re gullible and blindly trust Pinker, you shouldn’t be waving The Blank Slate around.

    You just described the misogynist atheists….Pinker says what they want to hear.

  60. says

    Anyways, the main point of the chapter (aside from the meta conversation) seems to be that there are probably biological differences to our minds to some degree related to sex.

    Pinker’s chapter makes a lot of factual claims based on real science studies. That sounds all good, but contrary findings in science exist as well. It would be good to contrast the conclusions and analysis between Pinker’s chapter and the studies that HJ Hornbeck cites in his ftb con series:

    Evidence-Based Feminism

    Evidence-Based Feminism 2

    Surely other people have also thoroughly gone over these topics, but I don’t really know of anyone else.

  61. anteprepro says

    Heh. So first we have one gater trying to continue the Gamergate Historical Revisionism Project, ensuring that one day in the future we will remember the non-sexist gaming journalism movement of gamergate just like we will remember the non-homophobic work of Christianity in ensuring that the right of gay marriage was provided across the land. And then we have not one but two people sneering about how we need to read Pinker’s book because blah blah blah, when the topic is the Pinker of present day, right now, putting his stamp of approval on the dishonesty of Christina Hoff Sommers.

    Great work, you guys. Real great job.

  62. anteprepro says

    I would suggest following Janine’s link and then NOT following the link in that link. It’s NSFW for one, and is also fucking abhorrent. And of course I looked at that after reading the first few posts currently in the gamergate hashtag, which was all a bunch of clueless dumbfucks thumping their chests about nothing in particular. Fuck these assholes.

  63. says

    Janine @74:
    I clicked the link within that Tweet. Holy fucking transphobic assholes!

    ****

    anteprepro @80:

    And of course I looked at that after reading the first few posts currently in the gamergate hashtag, which was all a bunch of clueless dumbfucks thumping their chests about nothing in particular.

    I did the exact same thing.

  64. A. Noyd says

    paranthropusboisei (#61)

    In other words, if one cannot understand someone’s views and state them clearly, one is not in a credible position to rebuke that person or their views.

    Maybe you should “state clearly” who the fuck you’re talking about and what they’re getting wrong.

  65. Janine the Jackbooted Emotion Queen says

    Was not supposed to be a second link. I was just a borked statement.

  66. saganite says

    Why do they keep buying into this stuff?
    Anyway, what annoys me a lot here is that Gamergaters keep acting like they represent gamers. They don’t. I consider myself a gamer, but they don’t speak for me.
    They’re appropriating a huge and diverse crowd for their tantrums, it’s arrogant and insulting.

  67. paranthropusboisei says

    @62

    I will take your suggestion and post a few examples of misrepresentations of Pinker’s views from within these comments. Again this is not to argue whether they are correct or not but just to clarify what his actual arguments and beliefs are.

    The #5 comment was particularly misleading. It has a few misrepresentations on it’s own so I will list them each in quotes and follow them with the correction in brackets with the page number of the source from The Blank Slate.

    —— #5 comment says: “the whole book was a subtle argument that the idea that we can be equal if we and society act like we’re equal(*) is a failure because of natural inequality” (Pinker dedicated Chapter 8 of the book (called “The Fear of Inequality”) to argue that equality and human rights do not require any version of a Blank Slate view, and that those values in particular can be put on a more secure foundation. [pg. 141])

    —— #5 uses the phrase “determined brain-wiring” (PInker argues that brain-wiring is not determined outright, and in fact that randomness must play a significant role in brain-wiring because there is not nearly enough information in the genes to specify every last connection during brain development [pg. 45])

    —— #5 comment says: “(* isn’t that what “equality” means?)” (PInker argues that political equality is a moral stance that condemns judging an individual according to the average traits of certain groups to which the individual belongs; political equality is not an empirical hypothesis that humans are biologically indistinguishable. [pg. 145-146])

    —— #11 and #16 comments say: “Pinker [is] right wing” (Pinker has called himself a centrist based on political tests he’s taken. Also, he has given praise to what Peter Singer calls the Darwinian Left — a term for people who embrace evolutionary psychology & sociobiology and also have left-leaning political views.)

    ——- #20 comment says: ” [Pinker portrays] his detractors as people who claim there is no genetic basis to behavior” (Pinker says that such claims are at least implied indirectly when not explicitly stated. To show this he directly quotes Stephen J. Gould as saying that “the human brain is capable of a full range of behaviors and pre-disposed to none”. For another quote of Gould & Lewontin, Pinker says the following: “Gould and Lewontin seem to be saying that the genetic components of human behavior will be discovered primarily in the “generalities of eating, excreting, and sleeping.” The rest of the slate, presumably, is blank.” [pg. 122])

  68. says

    cr

    Part of it probably is that Pinker sincerely doesn’t understand what he’s saying or how it’s being interpreted.

    Wait, are you saying that there might be a problem with straight white dudes with PhDs thinking that their opinion is automatically important, relevant and accurate on subjects in which they have no education, background or training in?
    I’m shocked to hear.
    Shocked.

  69. says

    Janine

    This is just an other reason why GG is fucking disgusting. And why I want nothing to do with people who support them. Burn this fucking shit down!

    I so wished the artist would sue whoever did this to the fucking ground and then beyond.

  70. paranthropusboisei says

    @75

    In The Blank Slate Pinker comments directly with his views on “biological determinism” to reject it and say that it is “obviously daft” (pg.122). He does not believe in biological “determinism” or environmental “determinism” for that matter, and he spends much of the book arguing against both. In particular he dedicated Chapter 10 (called “The Fear of Determinism”) to argue that the fear of determinism is misplaced.

    In another passage of the book, he laments the use of the phrase “biological determinism” as a vague term of abuse rather than as a technical scientific phrase. Here is a passage from the book where he comments on the phrase itself after quoting someone who used it with a negative connotation.

    **************
    What exactly do “determinism” and “reductionism” mean? In the precise sense in which mathematicians use the word, a “deterministic” system is one whose states are caused by prior states with absolute certainty, rather than probabilistically. Neither Dawkins nor any other sane biologist would ever dream of proposing that human behavior is deterministic, as if people must {113} commit acts of promiscuity, aggression, or selfishness at every opportunity. Among the radical scientists and the many intellectuals they have influenced, “determinism” has taken on a meaning that is diametrically opposed to its true meaning. The word is now used to refer to any claim that people have a *tendency* to act in certain ways in certain circumstances. It is a sign of the tenacity of the Blank Slate that a probability greater than zero is equated with a probability of 100 percent. Zero innateness is the only acceptable belief, and all departures from it are treated as equivalent.

    (pg. 112)
    ***************

  71. says

    paranthropusboisei
    What the fuck is your point?
    This is not about whether Pinker ever said something true or clever. His views on feminism are demonstrably false because they are at least grossly uninformed, as shown by him using “sex” and “gender”, well described terms of art, as if they were synonyms* and his gross strawmanning of feminist positions. Therefore Pinker’s views on feminism are irrelevant at best.

    *I highly doubt that he ever heard of Judith Butler’s argument why sex and gender are NOT as different as we thought they were, a view that is by now being backed by science, btw.

  72. paranthropusboisei says

    @77

    I think you are the only commenter here who has tried to discuss Pinker’s views accurately and give your own opinion with actual reasons to justify them. Unfortunately, PZ Myers called Sommers an “anti-feminist” and he didn’t attempt to give any argument to persuade anyone of that claim (or clarify what he means by that term), and I haven’t seen a single comment here that critiques any of Sommers’ central views or offer any alternatives to those views . Also, PZ says he thought The Blank Slate chapter on Gender was bad and that anyone who cites Sommers doesn’t understand issues of feminism, but he doesn’t say why he thinks any of this. That leaves me with absolutely nothing to discuss here (using reason and opinion as my guide).

    So I guess I will follow up with questions for you if you don’t mind sharing your thoughts with me, because I’d like to learn what some people here actually believe in their own words.

    You say in a previous comment that Pinker made a false dichotomy between two types of feminism (based on Sommers’ view). What is it about the distinction that you think makes it a false dichotomy? And in particular, what do you think about the distinctions he was trying to make there between the concepts of *moral stances* (towards people) and *empirical hypotheses* (about males and females)? Do you believe that these are actually distinct concepts or do you think that it’s a distinction without a difference?

    Since he also claimed that one version of feminism carries three empirical hypotheses about males/females & human nature under its belt, do you think that these beliefs exist, either in feminism or elsewhere? And while I’m on the topic, do you believe that there is more than one type/kind of feminism based on the beliefs or worldview they have? What is feminism anyway, in your view? And what is “anti-feminism”?

    These are the kinds of questions that I’m very curious about. If you could share your views and beliefs with me here just so I could understand them better, that would be great.

  73. says

    paranthropusboisei
    Monitor Note
    It’s common curtsy here to address people by their chosen nym (or accepted short forms)

    ++++
    Personal opinion

    Unfortunately, PZ Myers called Sommers an “anti-feminist” and he didn’t attempt to give any argument to persuade anyone of that claim (or clarify what he means by that term), and I haven’t seen a single comment here that critiques any of Sommers’ central views or offer any alternatives to those views

    That’s because you’re stumbling into the middle of a debate that has been going on for some years now. It’s not a 101 academic introduction. It’s something that has been discussed and evidenced before.

    . Also, PZ says he thought The Blank Slate chapter on Gender was bad and that anyone who cites Sommers doesn’t understand issues of feminism, but he doesn’t say why he thinks any of this.

    I’ve given you a very concrete example, which is his misuse of terms of art.
    For the Hoff Sommers part, see above.

    That leaves me with absolutely nothing to discuss here (using reason and opinion as my guide).

    That’s because people here ain’t your tutors.

  74. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    paranthropusboisei#93

    , PZ Myers called Sommers an “anti-feminist” and he didn’t attempt to give any argument to persuade anyone of that claim

    There is history here that you miss. PZ doesn’t need to repeat himself to the regulars. And we agree with PZ. Sommers is an “anti-femist”, out to destroy the feminist movement.
    You presented no evidence otherwise yourself. Get over your self. I don’t believe a word you say. You have an agenda.

  75. Saad says

    Janine’s #74 is the worst thing I’ve seen in a long while. Holy shit.

    Fuck Gamergate. Fuck every single person who identifies with Gamergate. Fuck anyone who says anything like “Gamergate is misunderstood” or “Sarkeesian got something wrong about [insert minor unimportant detail from some sexist video game]”.

  76. Lachlan says

    The ease with which awful things like the image in #74 can be attributed to one’s enemies, with zero evidence, is something to behold.

  77. Saad says

    Lachlan,

    Wait, are you seriously suggesting that this is a false flag operation?

    Well, it doesn’t seem like Gamergate to say violent things about women.

    Someone must have done that cartoon to ruin the good image of GG.

  78. anteprepro says

    Lachlan: If you look at the actual image linked in 74, part of the image is a screencap of it being posted on a gamergate-centric image board (whatever-chan). Show that it is photoshopped, or out of context, or shut the fuck up.

  79. anteprepro says

    And seriously? Asshole lecturing us tirelessly about thoroughly reading Pinker’s books before we criticize him can’t bother to figure out who Sommers is and why we object to Pinker’s approval of her? When that is clearly the entire point of this post? Clueless fucking asshole.

    http://www.polygon.com/2014/9/16/6283467/conservative-group-issues-video-lambasting-gamings-feminist-critics

    http://www.salon.com/2014/09/13/7_women_working_tirelessly_to_attack_equal_rights_for_women_partner/

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Christina_Hoff_Sommers

  80. Janine the Jackbooted Emotion Queen says

    Lachlan sez:

    The ease with which awful things like the image in #74 can be attributed to one’s enemies, with zero evidence, is something to behold.

    I suppose I should also ignore that fact that, on the whole, GG makes it a habit to deadname trans people. I should also ignore that fact that as a group, GG has been extremely transphobic..

    The ease with which awful things can be waved away be random dumbasses, ignoring the actions of a given group, is something to behold.

    Now, please tell me it is all about ethics in gamer journalism.

    I fucking dare you.

  81. Janine the Jackbooted Emotion Queen says

    Also, I am getting tired of scientists overlooking the fact that CHS is willing to make videos for an organization that is explicitly anti-science, Prager University.

  82. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    I have a new euphemism for y’all…

    …let’s start referring to all these pompous white male academics with unevidenced right-wing views as “Friends of Dawkins.”

  83. Saad says

    Lachlan,

    The ease with which awful things like the image in #74 can be attributed to one’s enemies, with zero evidence, is something to behold.

    Joking aside, tell me who exactly “the enemy” is? Is there an official Gamergate seal that must be on every tweet and every cartoon before we can blame the asshole male gamers for it?

    To me the enemy is anyone who holds and perpetuates anti-trans views. That they supplement their vitriol with the GG hashtag just means they belong to an even shittier subgroup of lowlife transphobes.

  84. Janine the Jackbooted Emotion Queen says

    And we can only say yes now
    To the sky, to the street, to the night

  85. anteprepro says

    Also, to clarify Janine’s comment about Prager “University” (I didn’t know what it was, so I researched. And I pass the savings onto YOU!).

    From their about page:

    Prager University is an online resource promoting knowledge and clarity.

    We are not an accredited academic institution. And we don’t want to be.

    All our courses are free.

    They have the following major course categories: Life Studies, Religion/Philosophy, Political Science, History, Economics, and (seriously) Ten Commandments (apparently one “course” per commandment?).
    http://www.prageruniversity.com/courses.php

    First five courses listed:
    Why America Invaded Iraq

    Why did America invade Iraq in 2003? Was it for oil? Or was it because Saddam Hussein was a mass-murdering dictator who harbored terrorists and threatened the region with Weapons of Mass Destruction? If it was the former, wouldn’t it have been a lot easier to just buy Iraq’s oil on the open market? And if it was the latter, why did Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and John Kerry support President Bush? Noted British historian, Andrew Roberts, has the answers.

    He Wants You

    Men look at pretty women. That goes for men who are married, men who are dating, and men who are single. That’s their nature. But is this built-in attraction with the female body a threat to their spouse, girlfriend, or partner?

    Israel’s Legal Founding

    Do the Rich Pay their Fair Share?

    Does Science Argue for or Against God?

    Why are we here? Literally. The latest science says we shouldn’t be. It says that the chance life exists at all is less than zero. So, is science the greatest threat to the idea of Intelligent Design or is science its greatest advocate? Best-selling author and lecturer, Eric Metaxas, poses this intriguing question and comes up with a very unexpected and challenging answer

    Are we starting to see a pattern yet?

    (Btw, two of the “courses” Hoff has given are entitled “Feminism vs. Truth” and “The War Against Boys”)

    Let’s look at who the university is led by and named after, Dennis Prager.

    Wiki sez:

    Dennis Prager (/ˈpreɪɡər/; born August 2, 1948) is an American nationally syndicated, politically conservative[1][2][3] radio talk show host, columnist, author, and public speaker….

    According to Prager, he created the site to challenge the “unhealthy effect intellectually and morally” of the American higher education system……

    He wrote in 2006 that Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, should not take his Congressional oath using a Koran because “American civilization” has been based on the Bible and its values, and because an oath on another religious text would be unprecedented.

    is weekly syndicated column appears on such online websites as Townhall.com,[24] National Review Online,[25] Jewish World Review and elsewhere.

    And right-wing asshole he is.

    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/398728/why-no-swimsuit-issue-men-dennis-prager?target=author&tid=900932

    In order to be labeled a “gender scholar” — especially at a prestigious university — one must have internalized every falsehood our universities teach about men and women. And you cannot get more false, indeed absurd, than to seriously inquire why there is no Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue featuring men in swimsuits….
    In the human species, the visual excites males much more than it excites females. There is no swimsuit issue featuring men in skimpy swimsuits because the audience for such a magazine would overwhelmingly consist of gay men. And therein lies one proof of why the Cornell professor’s question is so foolish……

    On the other hand, unless a woman knows who the man is, and is interested in him in some way, women are not nearly as interested in looking at scantily clad — let alone naked — male bodies. Women aren’t aroused solely by viewing the leg, thigh, chest, or backside of some male model or some anonymous male. Yes, a favorite actor taking his shirt off can be a turn-on for women. But an anonymous male great body does nothing for most women.

    That’s why in real life — as opposed to Cornell or Stanford — men who expose themselves to women are arrested, while women who expose themselves to men are either thanked or paid. The only question that remains is: Why do the best educated believe nonsense about men and women?…..

    Regarding men and women, they want to believe that men and women are not only equals (something religious Jews and Christians also believe), but, aside from obvious physical characteristics, the same. Feminists and others on the intellectual Left are frightened by many of life’s truths, one of which is that the sexes are profoundly different. That is why there will always be a swimsuit issue depicting women as, yes, sexual objects for men to look at, and there will never be a popular issue of great men’s bodies in barely-there swimsuits for women to look at. That this even needs to be said — and that it will be mocked and dismissed as “sexist” — is one more sign of the intellectual decay at Cornell, Stanford, the New York Times, and just about every other secular institution in America.

    That is the person that Definitely Totally A Feminist Christina Hoff Sommers makes Totally Feminist videos for. Because, spoilers for the people who want to ignore this, she is also a right-wing asshole.

  86. says

    On the other hand, unless a woman knows who the man is, and is interested in him in some way, women are not nearly as interested in looking at scantily clad — let alone naked — male bodies.

    I must know an aweful lot of men. Extremely hot* looking men.

    *hot as defined by: “turn me on”.

    +++
    Also, I read a bit of Pinker’s Gender chapter.
    Oh dear.
    Let’s start with the constant well-poisoning. We have the “dogmatic fringe” “ideological cult” and “inbred ideology”. Without any evidence, he simply dismisses vast parts of feminist discourse as not to be bothered with, because hey, they’re crazy, right?
    He does, of course, claim that there are two sexes. End of story and that feminism is basically anti science:

    Despite these principles, many feminists vehemently attack research on sexuality and sex differences. The politics of gender is a major reason that the application of evolution, genetics, and neuroscience to the human mind is bitterly resisted in modern intellectual life.

    Feminism is widely seen as being opposed to the sciences of human nature.

    Therefore, we need a straight white guy with no background in feminism to tell us silly women what feminism should be.

    Next there’s the blatant dishonesty. Pinker tells us, on his authority, that unlike race, gender is totally real as evidenced by studies that show significant mental differences between men and women.
    This is dishonest in several ways:
    -The studies are often WEIRD people studies, not representative for all of humanity
    -The studies do not, and cannot control for nurture, yet he uses them to bolster his claim that those differences are totally biological.
    -He somehow fails to mention that we do, of course, have similar studies showing differences between races. Because, after he has assured us that race isn’t real, his whole argument would kind of crumble.
    The studies he picks are also very selective and even when he shows some honesty in mentioning something, he does not have the integrity to acknowledge that this might be relevant.

    Contrary to popular belief, parents in contemporary America do not treat their sons and daughters very differently.55 A recent assessment of 172 studies involving 28,000 children found that boys and girls are given similar amounts of encouragement, warmth, nurturance, restrictiveness, discipline, and clarity of communication. The only substantial difference was that about two-thirds of the boys were discouraged from playing with dolls, especially by their fathers, out of a fear that they would become gay. (Boys who prefer girls’ toys often do turn out gay, but forbidding them the toys does not change the outcome.) Nor do differences between boys and girls depend on their observing masculine behavior in their fathers and feminine behavior in their mothers. When Hunter has two mommies, he acts just as much like a boy as if he had a mommy and a daddy.

    Note that the similar treatment belongs to general categories. Boys and girls both receive encouragement, yet he fails to say, or ask, at what. Clarity of communication? What is communicated. He even mentions the boys and dolls thing. Holy fuck, rigorous enforcement of heteronormative gender norms, yet Pinker makes this look like the environment in which boys and girls grow up is comparable. As if the toy world and the media world weren’t completely segregated and gender non-conforming behaviour wasn’t punished, whether by adults or by other children. Because until Hunter grows up in a lesbian commune without access to media, he has plenty of male role models.

  87. says

    @93, paranthropusboisei

    Unfortunately, PZ Myers called Sommers an “anti-feminist” and he didn’t attempt to give any argument to persuade anyone of that claim (or clarify what he means by that term), and I haven’t seen a single comment here that critiques any of Sommers’ central views or offer any alternatives to those views .

    She has been discussed around here previously, you were absent when it happened.

    https://www.google.ca/search?q=Sommers+site:freethoughtblogs.com&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&gws_rd=cr&ei=qaEBVaWSK4atogS5-4DwBw

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2014/09/16/richard-dawkins-the-wrongering/

    You say in a previous comment that Pinker made a false dichotomy between two types of feminism (based on Sommers’ view). What is it about the distinction that you think makes it a false dichotomy?

    Actually I now see how he says that “equity feminism” (which I’d just call feminsim) is indeed compatible with variouis epirical findings (just like most feminists use the word “feminism” on its own), so I guess he isn’t saying someone must be one or the other.

    And in particular, what do you think about the distinctions he was trying to make there between the concepts of *moral stances* (towards people) and *empirical hypotheses* (about males and females)? Do you believe that these are actually distinct concepts or do you think that it’s a distinction without a difference?

    Though I hold moral stances to also be empirical, I do still see the distinction that is being made (between two independant hypotheses that don’t determine each other). Seems fine.

    Since he also claimed that one version of feminism carries three empirical hypotheses about males/females & human nature under its belt, do you think that these beliefs exist, either in feminism or elsewhere?

    I’m sure such extreme views exist somewhere. (but all 3 may not always coincide) The description says things like social life can “only” be understood in terms of how power is excersised, and does not allow for humans to deal with each other both as groups and as individuals. These are extreme stances that I can’t recall ever seeing, except (possibly?) from a subset of self designated Radical Feminists.

  88. anteprepro says

    A recent assessment of 172 studies involving 28,000 children found that boys and girls are given similar amounts of encouragement, warmth, nurturance, restrictiveness, discipline, and clarity of communication.

    Huh.

    That’s intriguing.

    The abstract of the article says this: http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1991-15054-001

    Most effect sizes were found to be nonsignificant and small. In North American studies, the only socialization area of 19 to display a significant effect for both parents is encouragement of sex-typed activities. In other Western countries, physical punishment is applied significantly more to boys. Fathers tend to differentiate more than mothers between boys and girls.

    Most areas had no significant differences….except encouragement of sex-typed activities. Ummmm….way to sweep that one under the rug. Not just Pinker, but the original authors too, apparently.

    So let’s take a peek at related research!
    http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/dev/34/1/3/

    Across studies, mothers tended to talk more (d = .26), use more supportive (d = .23) and negative (d = .13) speech, and use less directive (d = .19) and informing (d = .15) speech than did fathers. Also, mothers tended to talk more (d = .29) and use more supportive speech (d = .22) with daughters than with sons.

    http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/emo/5/1/80/

    Girls expressed more submissive emotion than boys. Fathers attended more to girls’ submissive emotion than to boys’ at preschool age. Fathers attended more to boys’ disharmonious emotion than to girls’ at early school age. Parental attention at preschool age predicted later submissive expression level. Child disharmonious emotion predicted later externalizing symptoms. Gender differences in these emotions may occur as early as preschool age and may be subject to differential responding, particularly by fathers

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1467-8624.00072/abstract

    Family members were interviewed in their homes about their attitudes and personal characteristics and completed a series of seven evening telephone interviews about their daily activities. We measured children’s attitudes, personality characteristics, and interests in sex-typed leisure activities (e.g., sports, handicrafts) as well as time spent in sex-typed leisure activities and household tasks (e.g., washing dishes, home repairs) and with same and opposite sex companions (i.e., parents, peers). Analyses revealed that sex-typing was most evident in children’s interests and activities. Further, comparisons of girls versus boys and sisters versus brothers revealed that differences in children’s sex-typing as a function of fathers’ attitudes and sibling sex constellation were most apparent for children’s activities. A notable exception was sex-typed peer involvement; time spent with same versus opposite sex peers was impervious to context effects. Analyses focused on children’s sex-typing as a function of mothers’ attitudes generally were nonsignificant.

    The cherry on top though is that Pinker published The Blank Slate in 2002. The “recent” 172 article meta analysis was published in 1991. All of the other articles I mention were from the late 90’s (except that last one, which was from 2003). Either he was relying on the same article for a long time, he took a very long time writing the book and didn’t update the info before publication, or he was trying to misrepresent the latest literature by deliberately cherry picking an article with the right “tone” and ignoring all others.

  89. says

    @Giliell, 116

    I suspect you mean in practice, how the terms are used. But in Pinker’s book, that doesn’t look to be the case:

    Equity feminism opposes sex discrimination and other forms of unfairness to women.

    Though I haven’t read what Sommers gives as the description.

  90. says

    brian pansky
    That’s the nice double speak
    “equity feminism” sells itself as the “real” thing. It’s basically libertarian: Just remove legal discrimination and claim that now the playing field is level and that now every difference in outcome is nature. Active meassure to address differences in outcome are now actually discrimination against the other group.

  91. hjhornbeck says

    Aww, thanks for linking to my stuff, Pansky! I don’t think you quite grasp the equity/gender feminism thing, though. This should help.

    In her book Who Stole Feminism? How Women Have Betrayed Women, Christina Hoff Sommers sounds the alarm. “American feminism is currently dominated by a group of women who seek to persuade the public that American women are not the free creatures we think we are,” she writes. Such feminists have “alienated and silenced women and men alike.” Where once there were Reds under the bed, now there is the Fem Menace by every blackboard: “These consciousness-raisers are driving out the scholars on many campuses.”

    Unlike the “well adjusted” women of the 19th Century “first wave” of feminism, “gender feminists” (as Sommers calls the modern ones she doesn’t like) are manipulating facts, squelching debate and running off with money and influence.

    “The gender feminists have proved very adroit in getting financial support from governmental and private sources. They hold the keys to many bureaucratic fiefdoms,” Sommers reports, without citing statistics. “It is now virtually impossible to be appointed to high administrative office in any university system without having passed muster with the gender feminists,” she asserts.

    Even as Sommers berates feminists for embracing “victimhood,” she complains that classicists like herself are under personal attack: “To criticize feminist ideology is now hazardous in the extreme.”

    Incidentally, that was written in 1994. Nothing much changes, eh? I link to that, and several other critiques, at the end of my own critique here.

  92. paranthropusboisei says

    @brianpansky

    Thank you for your feedback to my questions and further clarifying your views. I’d like to discuss the “three empirical hypotheses about males/females & human nature” a bit more with you if you’re up for it.

    I agree with you that with the way Pinker phrased those three empirical hypotheses, there are probably only a few extremely Radical feminists that believe any of those things. I think Pinker was implying however, and I personally think this, that certain feminists often implicitly take at least a softened-version of one or more of those three empirical hypotheses as a premise for their feminist beliefs. In a sense, it would just mean that those particular feminists give too much credit to those beliefs, even if they don’t believe in them fully (or assume them fully) or even if they don’t explicitly state them as their beliefs. My claim here, and I think Pinker would agree, is that the criticism of those feminists is more about those empirical hypotheses being assumptions that underlie their reasoning as a premise for other gender-related beliefs, and less about them being fully endorsed beliefs in feminist circles.

    Personally, I think that this description of feminists probably applies to some of the feminists here judging by some of the comments they’ve made. I’m not sure if it applies to you though, because in a previous comment (#77) you essentially said that biological sex probably plays some role in psychological differences between the sexes, a claim that I think many people are hesitant to give credit to. (Another commenter, in contrast, argued that the studies Pinker cited in his book “cannot control for nurture” and also implied that Pinker suggested that psychological sex differences are “totally biological”, something he specifically argued against many times in the chapter.)

    I would like to know your thoughts on one particular study that Pinker cited as the strongest evidence for his claim (a study which two other commenters ignored completely when critiquing the scientific evidence for Pinker’s claims). If I know your views on that study, it will help me understand your views about the biology & socialization of sex differences better. Pinker cites a study of 25 genetic boys born with a birth defect of the penis who were castrated at birth and raised as girls by their parents and society. (The parents did not tell the children that they were born male.) He describes this study as an example of the “ultimate socialization experiment” that pits biology vs. socialization in the context of gender because the children have male biology but they receive female socialization from society. The study found that all of the children engaged in rough-and-tumble play in childhood and had attitudes and interests that are typical of other males. Pinker suggests that studies like these show that biology plays a significant (but incomplete) role in sex differences of attitudes, interests, and behavior.

    I’ve since found another similar study by the same author consisting of 16 genetic boys with a birth defect of the penis, 14 of whom were castrated at birth and raised as females by their parents and society. This study goes more into detail about the behaviors, attitudes, and interests of those children. You can read the study here if you’d like:

    http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa022236

    I’d like to post a section from the results of that study (some of which I think goes against the arguments of some of the people in this comment thread) but I’d like you to read that section and tell me what you think of it. For example, if you think the study is flawed some way then you could tell me how, And if you could, you could also tell me if your views about biology & socialization with respect to sex differences differs from the implication of this study’s results in any way. Here is one passage from the Results section of the study:

    ****************

    The parents of all 14 subjects assigned to female sex stated that they had reared their child as a female. Twelve of these subjects have sisters: parents described equivalent child-rearing approaches and attitudes toward the subjects and their sisters. However, parents described a moderate-to-pronounced unfolding of male-typical behaviors and attitudes over time in these subjects — but not in their sisters. Parents reported that the subjects typically resisted attempts to encourage play with female-typical toys or with female playmates or to behave as parents thought typical girls might behave. These 14 subjects expressed difficulties fitting in with girls. All but one played primarily or exclusively with male-typical toys. Only one played with dolls; the others did so almost never or never. Only one ever played house. Each of the three exceptions represents a different subject. Parents noted substantial difficulty attempting to dress the subjects — but not their sisters — in clearly feminine attire after about four years of age.

    ***************

  93. says

    paranthropusboisei
    @93:

    @77
    I think you are the only commenter here who has tried to discuss Pinker’s views accurately and give your own opinion with actual reasons to justify them. Unfortunately, PZ Myers called Sommers an “anti-feminist” and he didn’t attempt to give any argument to persuade anyone of that claim (or clarify what he means by that term), and I haven’t seen a single comment here that critiques any of Sommers’ central views or offer any alternatives to those views .

    This must be your first visit to Pharyngula. This isn’t the first time PZ has written about Sommers. It isn’t necessary every time he writes about her for him to recap why he [rightfully] thinks she is an anti-feminist. Nor is it the job of the commenters here to educate you. If you’re actually, genuinely, honestly curious about her views, you could, oh I don’t know, use the Internet and find out.
    Here, I’ll help:
    Amanda Marcotte lists 7 women working against equal rights for women. Sommers is one of those.

    Here’s an old post by PZ himself that might shed some light on Sommers’ views.

    This blogger explores the many ways in which Sommers shows her anti-feminist creds.

    That’s a start. Go learn.

  94. consciousness razor says

    paranthropusboisei, quoting Pinker:

    What exactly do “determinism” and “reductionism” mean? In the precise sense in which mathematicians use the word, a “deterministic” system is one whose states are caused by prior states with absolute certainty, rather than probabilistically.

    This issue is actually a lot more complicated than that. This doesn’t tell us as much as it might seem, and it’s fairly misleading. You’d want to use probabilistic reasoning even in simple physical systems which do obey deterministic equations. The thing is, there’s no requirement in it that you must know precisely what the state is at every moment, and have some “certainty” (which I take it happens in your mind) about what that is. Imagine running a deterministic experiment 100 times, and ask yourself whether or not you think the world will have changed by the end. (You could run them all at the same time, but then you ask yourself whether they are in the same place, and they’re not.) So, your experiment should either be literally and exactly a completely closed system (not something we can ever do), or you should expect changes outside the lab to have plenty of opportunities to slightly change the exact conditions of your repeated experiment from one to the next, no matter what you do or how careful you are about it. That much should be immediately obvious, and it’s been true of any physics you like since Newton.

    So the idea that we’ll predict things happening exactly the same way every single time an “identical” experiment is performed is just not even something a determinist should care much about, because there are no “identical” set-ups of anything. It doesn’t matter how simple it is. Even if we’re going to discuss the state of a single photon, we’ll still run into issues with that silly idea. We have situations that are similar, not identical.

    It’s still a different sort of claim than one which says the equations of motion themselves (or whatever the law in question is) are probabilistic. You could certainly make different predictions about the way the world is, despite the fact that you would need probabilities either way, to represent gaps in your epistemic situation. But talking about “absolute certainty” suggests he thinks a determinist should think in terms of knowing the state with that sort of certainty, not the about the states being determined by one another, which doesn’t make any sense since it’s purportedly a claim about the world and not simply our mental states. There’s definitely nothing precise or mathematical about that. And if he’s trying to look like he’s being oh so careful and precise (in his popular book) and tearing down strawmen and so forth, if he’s trying to defend some reasonable form of determinism, he’s not exactly doing a great job of clearing any of this up, is he?

    Neither Dawkins nor any other sane biologist would ever dream of proposing that human behavior is deterministic, as if people must {113} commit acts of promiscuity, aggression, or selfishness at every opportunity.

    That’s an odd statement to make. Is there any strong evidence that selection pushes us (never mind some very strong sense of genetic determination) in the direction of selfishness rather than generosity, if that’s even a coherent and well-defined spectrum of behavior to talk about? And why would anyone talk about it happening “at every opportunity”? Isn’t it the case that states of a system change, so you would not get absurdities like this even in the most beefed-up version of genetic determinism imaginable (which also don’t have to fine-tune initial conditions to be absurd)? What exactly are we supposed to conclude about determinism or genetic determinism? Sane biologists have different kinds of dreams?

  95. says

    Damn, I was thinking I was suffering from a bad case of invisible pixels again, but obviously our fanboy read what I wrote. I guess it was not to his liking.

    +++

    The parents of all 14 subjects assigned to female sex stated that they had reared their child as a female. Twelve of these subjects have sisters: parents described equivalent child-rearing approaches and attitudes toward the subjects and their sisters. However, parents described a moderate-to-pronounced unfolding of male-typical behaviors and attitudes over time in these subjects — but not in their sisters. Parents reported that the subjects typically resisted attempts to encourage play with female-typical toys or with female playmates or to behave as parents thought typical girls might behave. These 14 subjects expressed difficulties fitting in with girls. All but one played primarily or exclusively with male-typical toys. Only one played with dolls; the others did so almost never or never. Only one ever played house. Each of the three exceptions represents a different subject. Parents noted substantial difficulty attempting to dress the subjects — but not their sisters — in clearly feminine attire after about four years of age.

    I love such observations.
    All my children identify as girls. All my children were born with vulvas and vaginas. One of them likes playing with cars much more than the other one. Neither of them ever played with a doll. Both do ballett. The one who likes cars also has many AMAB friends. One of them came over recently after they’d been on the playground together. They happily played with the pink Filly Treehouse and all the sparkly and mostly pink horsies.
    Soccer is THE boy-sport in Europe. In the USA it’s a girl thing. Who is confused now, the European boys or the US girls? Or is it maybe that people may actually have an innate gender identity (some more, some less, some cis, some trans) and then look for role models of that particular gender, which they then perform?

  96. hjhornbeck says

    paranthropusboisei @124:

    Oh, that old thing? Half a year ago I used that study as evidence against a biological binary. Read a little further:

    Eight of the 14 subjects assigned to female sex declared themselves male during the course of this study, whereas the 2 raised as males remained male. Subjects could be grouped according to their stated sexual identity. Five subjects were living as females; three were living with unclear sexual identity, although two of the three had declared themselves male; and eight were living as males, six of whom had reassigned themselves to male sex.

    As past me put it:

    So… eight of 14 wished to be male, while six of 14 remained female. Of the eight, two only identified “partly” male, with some ambiguity; of the six, one was ambiguous. Looks like sex is a messy, complicated classification with fuzzy boundaries, after all.

    Present day me would like to add that while that study puts the odds of a gender flip at about 50/50, the study is underpowered. “It’s complex” really is all you can get away with.

    I’ll have a boo at Pinker’s 25 person study. Never hurts to get a second opinion.

  97. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    It is a sign of the tenacity of the Blank Slate that a probability greater than zero is equated with a probability of 100 percent. Zero innateness is the only acceptable belief, and all departures from it are treated as equivalent.

    Project much?

    This is exactly backwards: any skepticism about a specific claim of a specific behavior being innate is derided as a denial of the possibility that any innate factor could ever in any way influence behavior by evo-phrenologists, as illustrated in the use of “Blank Slate” as a vague term of abuse and the “well, isn’t it POSSIBLE that the brain COULD be subject to evolutionary pressures?!” non-sequiturs flung out in response to the accurate statement that certain claims are unevidenced, self-serving just-so stories.

  98. opposablethumbs says

    paranthropusboisei … you know, even if lots of people – hell, even if most people, more than 50% of people – feel strongly that they identify as male or female … that tells us nothing about the traits and behaviour socially assigned to the sexes. It doesn’t matter if some aspects of gender are hypothetically innate; in practice it is not meaningful or even possible to distinguish innate from learned. We know that babies are socialised very differently from birth, and we know that humans are massively socialised to think there are only two options and perform only one, forever and with every fibre of their being. That this is nonsense is reflected in the fact that despite the almost overwhelming psychological (and more heavy-handed) pressure to do so, a significant minority still reject it even though the cost to them is often great and may extend to costing them their life.

  99. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    The description says things like social life can “only” be understood in terms of how power is excersised, and does not allow for humans to deal with each other both as groups and as individuals.

    I can certainly understand that impression, though the description is imprecise: the attitude is more that social life can only be understood in terms of how institutional power at the demographic-group level is exercised; power that takes forms like “there are eight of them and one of you, the local authority refuses to distinguish self-defense from assault, and they don’t give a damn if they’re subject to disciplinary action anyways” doesn’t count because shut up that’s why.

    But while the tendency to talk as though this were the case makes certain discussions really difficult to endure if you belong to mostly privileged demographics but have a history of being marginalized and abused in more individual ways, I don’t think anyone actually knowingly, explicitly asserts it as a premise. >.>

  100. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    The parents of all 14 subjects assigned to female sex stated that they had reared their child as a female. Twelve of these subjects have sisters: parents described equivalent child-rearing approaches and attitudes toward the subjects and their sisters. However, parents described a moderate-to-pronounced unfolding of male-typical behaviors and attitudes over time in these subjects — but not in their sisters. Parents reported that the subjects typically resisted attempts to encourage play with female-typical toys or with female playmates or to behave as parents thought typical girls might behave. These 14 subjects expressed difficulties fitting in with girls. All but one played primarily or exclusively with male-typical toys. Only one played with dolls; the others did so almost never or never. Only one ever played house. Each of the three exceptions represents a different subject. Parents noted substantial difficulty attempting to dress the subjects — but not their sisters — in clearly feminine attire after about four years of age.

    There is a great deal of evidence that a specific gender identity – a sense of being “a male” or “a female” is more or less innate for the vast majority of people. This is not equivalent to gender-typed-behaviors themselves being innate; the interpretation that, to simplify, the brain has a “model behavior on males” or “model behavior on females” switches – much like it seems to have “mate with males” or “mate with females” switches, and what that modeled behavior actually consists of is culturally determined.

    But despite fitting the facts much better, that interpretation doesn’t reassure us that OF COURSE LADYBRAINS CAN’T DO SCIENCE, so it doesn’t get as much affection from evo-phren types and pop culture in general.

  101. says

    @130 opposablethumbs

    paranthropusboisei … you know, even if lots of people – hell, even if most people, more than 50% of people – feel strongly that they identify as male or female … that tells us nothing about the traits and behaviour socially assigned to the sexes.

    What are you responding to?

    We know that babies are socialised very differently from birth, and we know that humans are massively socialised to think there are only two options and perform only one, forever and with every fibre of their being. That this is nonsense is reflected in the fact that despite the almost overwhelming psychological (and more heavy-handed) pressure to do so, a significant minority still reject it even though the cost to them is often great and may extend to costing them their life.

    Did you miss post number 124 by paranthropusboisei?

  102. Rowan vet-tech says

    Hmmn. I was never able to ‘fit in’ with other girls. I never played with female-typical toys. I never wore female-typical outfits. There were screaming fits if my parents or grandparents tried to get me into a dress once I was over the age of 4. I was out playing in the mud with the boys, catching frogs, climbing trees. And yet, I was born with a vagina and uterus. Unambiguously ‘female’ genitalia. And further yet, I strongly identify as female. I feel ‘feminine’… only my feminine is fierce, and aggressive, and physical.

    Sooo… am I actually a man in denial because my actions as a youth were stereotypically ‘masculine’?

  103. hjhornbeck says

    Bah, that paper with 25 subjects was part of a symposium presentation, and I can’t find an online source. Here’s the citation, if anyone else wants to try:

    Reiner, W. “Outcomes in gender assignment: cloacal exstrophy.” Neonatal management of genital ambiguity. Symposium conducted at the meeting of the Lawson Wilkins Pediatric Endocrine Society, Boston, MA. Ed. S. Berenbaum. 2000.

    I’m not sure it’s worth the effort, Google Scholar claims it only has 8 citations; the paper I and paranthropusboisei discussed above, by the same author, has 201 and seems to be the most cited one in the field:

    Reiner, William G., and John P. Gearhart. “Discordant sexual identity in some genetic males with cloacal exstrophy assigned to female sex at birth.” New England Journal of Medicine 350.4 (2004): 333-341.

    I had a quick boo at another paper by different authors, and the results do show a subtle bias towards male assignment. Of 33 penile agenesis patients, 16 were assigned female, and two of those switched to male in the report time-frame; of 17 assigned male, all remained male. Of 51 cloacal exstrophy patients assigned female, 11 had switched to male (but of those 11, all but two were under 12 years old); of the 15 assigned male, all remained male (pg. 425). These shifts are small enough to explain via social factors: some people assigned female noticed men had greater privilege in our society, and decided to hop the fence. Some didn’t notice, or didn’t care, and stayed with their assignment. If biology plays a role, it must be small and may be swamped by social factors.

    Meyer-Bahlburg, Heino FL. “Gender identity outcome in female-raised 46, XY persons with penile agenesis, cloacal exstrophy of the bladder, or penile ablation.” Archives of Sexual Behavior 34.4 (2005): 423-438.

    In comparison, here’s Pinker’s description of the symposium presentation, from Chapter 18 of The Blank Slate:

    The ultimate fantasy experiment to separate biology from socialization would be to take a baby boy, give him a sex-change operation, and have his parents raise him as a girl and other people treat him as one. If gender is socially constructed, the child should have the mind of a normal girl; if it depends on prenatal hormones, the child should feel like a boy trapped in a girl’s body. Remarkably, the experiment has been done in real life — not out of scientific curiosity, of course, but as a result of disease and accidents. One study looked at twenty-five boys who were born without a penis (a birth defect known as cloacal exstrophy) and who were then castrated and raised as girls. All of them showed male patterns of rough-and-tumble play and had typically male attitudes and interests. More than half of them spontaneously declared they were boys, one when he was just five years old.

    Let’s flip that around: of half the boys assigned as female, half were content with that assignment or unsure. Even his own evidence isn’t nearly the slam-dunk he paints it to be, and at any rate more recent scholarship suggests he was overstating things.

  104. Rowan vet-tech says

    I do like how his phrasing entirely ignores those born with unambiguously female genitalia who also show “male patterns of rough-and-tumble play and had typically male attitudes and interests” and who still identify as female. It’s like non-“feminine” women and girls don’t exist.

  105. hjhornbeck says

    Also, hang on here, we’re talking about Stephen Pinker, yet no-one has linked to this? Tsk tsk, it’s a hoot! For instance, the author discusses the work of Terri Conley:

    Men and women on a college campus were approached in public and propositioned with offers of casual sex by “confederates” who worked for the study. The confederate would say: “I have been noticing you around campus and I find you to be very attractive.” The confederate would then ask one of three questions: (1) “Would you go out with me tonight?” (2) “Would you come over to my apartment tonight?” or (3) “Would you go to bed with me tonight?”

    Roughly equal numbers of men and women agreed to the date. But women were much less likely to agree to go to the confederate’s apartment. As for going to bed with the confederate, zero women said yes, while about 70 percent of males agreed.

    Those results seemed definitive — until a few years ago, when Terri D. Conley, a psychologist at the University of Michigan, set out to re-examine what she calls “one of the largest documented sexuality gender differences,” that men have a greater interest in casual sex than women.

    Ms. Conley found the methodology of the 1989 paper to be less than ideal. “No one really comes up to you in the middle of the quad and asks, ‘Will you have sex with me?’ ” she told me recently. “So there needs to be a context for it. If you ask people what they would do in a specific situation, that’s a far more accurate way of getting responses.” In her study, when men and women considered offers of casual sex from famous people, or offers from close friends whom they were told were good in bed, the gender differences in acceptance of casual-sex proposals evaporated nearly to zero.

    Pinker’s response?

    “A study which shows you can push some phenomenon around a bit at the margins,” he wrote to me in an e-mail, “is of dubious relevance to whether the phenomenon exists.” […]

    Citing the speed-dating study, Mr. Pinker added, “The only reason this flawed paper was published was that it challenged an evolutionary hypothesis … in particular a sex difference — as the Larry Summers incident shows, claims about sex differences are still politically inflammatory in the academy.”

    So wait: said paper about speed dating had the same methodology as nearly every EvoPsych paper that involved speed dating, it just flipped around who sat still and who moved around. And Pinker thinks that’s flawed?

    He may be more right than he realizes.

  106. says

    @HJ

    Let’s flip that around: of half the boys assigned as female, half were content with that assignment or unsure.

    That is still vastly different proportions than the rest of the population. And that is only identification you are talking about, which is completely besides the point. The point is about the behaviours that were supposedly significantly unexpected on the blank slate hypothesis.

  107. says

    Rowan VT
    You and me both. I also have the nasty feeling that my pretty strong gender identity has something to do with the fact that shitty adults constantly questioned my gender identity when I was a girl.
    The amount of “he”s, “you’d make a good boy”s and “you should have been born an boy”s were incredible and hurtful. Don’t do that!
    I inherited my sister’s doll baby stroller, ignored any dolls and used it as a cart to drive down the hill.

    brianpansky

    The point is about the behaviours that were supposedly significantly unexpected on the blank slate hypothesis.

    You’re getting really close to knocking down strawmen. AFAIK nobody here supports a 100% blank slate hypothesis as in “there can’t be any innate behaviours”. What people are saying is “there’s not enough evidence to assign any concrete and silly modern behaviour like playing with trucks to innate gender differences”.
    Again: please explain to me why US American girls naturally gravitate towards soccer while European girls mostly don’t?

  108. opposablethumbs says

    AFAIK nobody here supports a 100% blank slate hypothesis as in “there can’t be any innate behaviours”. What people are saying is “there’s not enough evidence to assign any concrete and silly modern behaviour like playing with trucks to innate gender differences”.
    Again: please explain to me why US American girls naturally gravitate towards soccer while European girls mostly don’t?

    brianpansky, several of the others here have said it better than I could. Nobody doubts that there may be innate elements to gender, and that people generally have a strong sense of gender identity. But this has fuck-all to do with what specific behaviours any specific society considers to be “innately masculine” or “innately feminine”. And it constantly elides how early gender socialisation starts and how completely it permeates our expectations and development.

  109. hjhornbeck says

    Dammit. Maybe that extra half was trying to fill out the whole?

    brianpansky @138:

    The point is about the behaviours that were supposedly significantly unexpected on the blank slate hypothesis.

    Were they? Let’s assume the Blank Slate Hypothesis is true. Could we explain why people would flip their gender identity to male, after being raised as female? I already gave a strong answer above: if our culture has a systematic bias in favor of men, then you’d expect people would switch to a male if given the chance. Acting against that is our tendency to create an identity for ourselves; if my concept of “Hornbeck” strongly includes “male,” then I’m not going to switch my gender if given the chance.

    Young children don’t have much of a self-identity, yet they have absorbed gender norms; I remember reading one study that found children as young as 2 had started associating colours with sexes, for instance. Based on the above, you’d predict they’d be more likely to flip than older children with a stronger sense of self. Sure enough, that paper by Meyer Bahlburg shows that of 11 cloacal exstrophy patients who flipped their gender, 9 did it before age 12.

    So the study Pinker references doesn’t actually challenge the Blank Slate Hypothesis. There are better challenges out there, such as trans* people, but if you read enough EvoPsych papers you get the strong impression the authors are very heteronormative: binarism is never challenged, sex is between men and women (with vary rare exceptions). This makes all of EvoPsych very presuppositional: assuming there are no significant cultural factors which could explain result A, result A shows there is no significant cultural factor to behavior B.

    No wonder it’s pinging my B.S. meter so hard. :P

  110. says

    @Giliell, opposablethumbs

    You’re getting really close to knocking down strawmen. AFAIK nobody here supports a 100% blank slate hypothesis as in “there can’t be any innate behaviours”.

    brianpansky, several of the others here have said it better than I could. Nobody doubts that there may be innate elements to gender, and that people generally have a strong sense of gender identity.

    Your replies are very baffling. I never said anyone believes 100% nurture. In fact, in previous comments, I actively doubted they did.

    @HJ

    You’re still talking about gender identity rather than the behaviors.

    The blank slate hypothesis proposes that the children who were raised as girls would be just like the rest of the population of girls. Supposedly, the rough play and “attitudes” are contrary to that prediction. If that’s so, then it is evidence that the hypothesis is wrong.

    (I know that no one doubts the hypothesis is wrong. But they do seem to doubt that these findings are evidence of it being wrong)

    Now, as to your speculation, I don’t see any place where you explain why the two populations have different rates of gender identity switching. My best guess: when you say this:

    if given the chance

    are you implicitly saying that the failure to meet the predicted rates of gender identity are more likely to be due to the bodies which the kids find themselves in, not their brains?

  111. says

    @Giliell

    You’re getting really close to knocking down strawmen.

    I really just don’t think you understand the post you are replying to/quoting. Do you disagree with my statement that:

    The point is about the behaviours that were supposedly significantly unexpected on the blank slate hypothesis.

    ?

  112. says

    brianpansky

    The blank slate hypothesis proposes that the children who were raised as girls would be just like the rest of the population of girls. Supposedly, the rough play and “attitudes” are contrary to that prediction. If that’s so, then it is evidence that the hypothesis is wrong.

    Given that you seem to believe that “rough play” etc. are excusively found in males, may I invite you to go fuck yourself. You may also call me “sir”

  113. anteprepro says

    1. The Blank Slate Hypothesis is a strawman. Apparently this can’t be repeated enough. IT IS A STRAWMAN.
    2. Pinker might be in the Middleground (Golden Mean, yay!), but he does not appear to give equal or proper weight to the factors involved. He minimizes the role of socialization and exaggerates the role of biological factors.

    Here is a handy illustration. This is a debate he had on the topic with Elizabeth Spelke. I am going to give their introductory remarks regarding their own and their opponent’s position:http://edge.org/3rd_culture/debate05/debate05_index.html

    Pinker sez:

    As with many issues in psychology, there are three broad ways to explain this phenomenon. One can imagine an extreme “nature” position: that males but not females have the talents and temperaments necessary for science. Needless to say, only a madman could take that view. The extreme nature position has no serious proponents.

    There is an extreme “nurture” position: that males and females are biologically indistinguishable, and all relevant sex differences are products of socialization and bias.

    Then there are various intermediate positions: that the difference is explainable by some combination of biological differences in average temperaments and talents interacting with socialization and bias.

    Liz has embraced the extreme nurture position. There is an irony here, because in most discussions in cognitive science she and I are put in the same camp, namely the “innatists,” when it comes to explaining the mind. But in this case Liz has said that there is “not a shred of evidence” for the biological factor, that “the evidence against there being an advantage for males in intrinsic aptitude is so overwhelming that it is hard for me to see how one can make a case at this point on the other side,” and that “it seems to me as conclusive as any finding I know of in science.”…..

    Now Spelke

    We disagree on the answer to the question, why in the world are women scarce as hens’ teeth on Harvard’s mathematics faculty and other similar institutions? In the current debate, two classes of factors have been said to account for this difference. In one class are social forces, including overt and covert discrimination and social influences that lead men and women to develop different skills and different priorities. In the other class are genetic differences that predispose men and women to have different capacities and to want different things.

    In his book, The Blank Slate, and again today, Steve argued that social forces are over-rated as causes of gender differences. Intrinsic differences in aptitude are a larger factor, and intrinsic differences in motives are the biggest factor of all. Most of the examples that Steve gave concerned what he takes to be biologically based differences in motives.

    My own view is different. I think the big forces causing this gap are social factors. There are no differences in overall intrinsic aptitude for science and mathematics between women and men. Notice that I am not saying the genders are indistinguishable, that men and women are alike in every way, or even that men and women have identical cognitive profiles. I’m saying that when you add up all the things that men are good at, and all the things that women are good at, there is no overall advantage for men that would put them at the top of the fields of math and science.

    On the issue of motives, I think we’re not in a position to know whether the different things that men and women often say they want stem only from social forces, or in part from intrinsic sex differences. I don’t think we can know that now.

    It is fairly plain that, at very least, Pinker strawmanned Elizabeth Spelke’s position: She is NOT taking the extreme nurture position, she is just saying there is no indication of sex differences on one specific topic. Whereas Spelke characterizes Pinker as giving undue weight to biology, and Pinker characterizes himself as Just In Between. Considering the dishonest cherry picking of an article in his book, as I talked about in comment 118, I’m inclined to believe Spelke. Her characterization is at least more fair than Pinker’s characterization of her….

  114. says

    @Giliell

    Given that you seem to believe that “rough play” etc. are excusively found in males, may I invite you to go fuck yourself.

    Given that you seem to believe that I believe that, may I invite you to read (and think) more carefully.

  115. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    I AM SORRY, BUT IT APPEARS THAT NON-TRANS* PEOPLE ARE HERE DISCUSSING WHETHER OR NOT TRANS* PEOPLE UNDERCUT OR SUPPORT PARTICULAR THEORIES ABOUT NON-TRANS* PEOPLE’S GENDER THAT THE PARTICIPANTS FIND DIS/FAVORABLE.

    I AM NOT A SLEDGEHAMMER FOR YOU TO BASH AGAINST A HYPOTHESIS YOU DISLIKE.

    Support your arguments with research on non-trans* people unless and until you have solid research that gender in trans* people functions identically to gender in non-trans* people with respect to etiology, identification, and display.

    There’s already in this thread a significant citing of research that is about non-trans* folk, why not stick with that?

  116. says

    *Actually, looking back on my comment, I though I had included something about significant proportion. But I didn’t. So my statement does look exclusive. However, it does say “supposedly”, not “in my view”.

  117. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    brianpansky:

    I as well frequently find myself explaining positions I don’t hold. You may think that merely leaving off explicit statements of the “I hold this position” variety are sufficient to communicate that. They actually aren’t. Vast numbers of persons present their opinions as fact and their facts as if those facts support opinions without any interpretation necessary.

    It may feel a spot of bother, but you can avoid quite the kerfuffle by taking that little bit of extra time required to say – and to say frequently, in a conversation like this where not every person reads every comment – when you are explaining a proposition you don’t hold and when you’re explaining a prop you do hold.

  118. anteprepro says

    First: Yes, what Crip Dyke said.

    Second and less importantly: Just started mentally musing about the title of CHS’s video, The War on Gamers Continues. That’s the gamergater talking point, but it doesn’t work. It isn’t a war on gamers, because the people most loudly opposed to the gaters are gamers And several prominent gaters (at very least Milo the Breitbart Apprentice and Cernovich the Living Shitheap) are not gamers . It’s like FTB vs. Slymepit a “war on atheists”. No, it’s a war on women. It just happening among atheists. And, in the case of gamergate, a war on women among gamers.

  119. anteprepro says

    (Sorry, this might wind up being a wall of text)

    So it appears that, among the Gamergaters, “Not Your Shield” and “It is about ethics in games journalism” still appears to be holding strong. Quite a few ‘gaters still propagate those memes, and depressingly I think they believe them. There appears to be quite a contingent that believe their own propaganda.
    And so then I wonder to myself: What has gamergate done recently? Are they finally cleaning up their act? Is that why there are so many people so eager and willing to play the role of Crusader for Ethical Games Journalism with a straight face now?

    So, research time. This what I found when searching for recent news articles about gamergate and journalism. This is really pretty much ALL I found.
    March 4th: http://www.bostonglobe.com/magazine/2015/03/04/brianna-why-gamergate-trolls-won-win/l2V0PjfDRSf4Fm6F40i9YM/story.html

    If you’re one of the tens of thousands of gamers in town for PAX East this weekend, you won’t see the work of one of the industry’s most well-known teams of women. That’s because over the last five months gamers have threatened to kill us on 46 separate occasions. The 47th one threatened violence at the convention if I showed up.
    My name is Brianna Wu……

    Recently, a man made a video of himself wearing a skull mask and outlining plans to murder me, then uploaded it to YouTube. A skull mask man was included in the recentLaw & Order: Special Victims Unit episode inspired by Gamergate, where an apparent character amalgamation of me, Zoe Quinn, and Anita Sarkeesian is kidnapped and sexually assaulted, then quits game development. Now, in the real world, we get copycat death threats by gamers wearing skull masks……
    In the ’90s, signs placed at the Mississippi borders by Governor Kirk Fordice warned, “Only positive Mississippi spoken here,” as if any problems would disappear by refusing to discuss them. In the same way, many gamers just want “Only positive gaming spoken here.” So when feminist critics like me, Zoe, or Anita critique the industry’s portrayal of women — something any outsider can see as deeply problematic — the conversation gets defensive very quickly.
    It’s see no evil, hear no evil with toxic male gamers ….
    Every gaming professional is exhausted and battle weary from months of Gamergate. Many want it to be over, but few are willing to change any of the behavior that got us here in the first place.
    I don’t think the core problem in gaming is angry misogynists threatening violence. I think Gamergate is just a symptom of a disease: a $90 billion global industry that was built by men for men. At Game Informer, one of our industry’s leading publications, 17 of 18 staff editors are men. I know of three female journalists who, after having the temerity to criticize gaming companies and publications dominated by white men, were then incessantly threatened and attacked themselves. All have announced they’ll stop writing about gaming altogether……

    When I tell people outside of the industry about Gamergate, they think it must be coming from harmless teenagers. I can tell you, that’s simply not true. All of the cases that I’m working with police and the FBI to prosecute involve grown men. These adult gamers are deeply angry at women and see us as outsiders trying to take control of their hobby. And they enjoy harassing us as if they were playing another game.

    3/8/14, Wu goes to conference despite death threats…

    But Wu could not entirely avoid hostility. While she was on the exhibition floor at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center Saturday, she posed for a photo with someone who posted it on Twitter. That soon elicited a tweet that said in part, “YOU COULDA WENT IN FOR THE KILL.”
    In private twitter messages to the Globe, Wu ackowledged seeing the threatening tweet, and added, “This is my life now. It’s constant. It’s exhausting…..
    While Wu agreed that video game journalism is in need of ethics reform, she had nothing but contempt for GamerGate. “It’s a pretext,” she said. “This is an actual hate group . . . they’re upset and threatened by women who are being very outspoken about feminism.”
    Backers of the GamerGate movement say the behavior of a few extremists is being used to smear their entire movement.
    “You can’t say that all people who support GamerGate hate women, just because one person in GamerGate might really hate women,” said PAX East attendee Andrew Sampson, a 20-year-old software developer from Atlanta.
    Sampson insisted GamerGate isn’t a war on women, but on corruption and dishonesty in video game journalism. “Video game journalists for the longest time have been colluding together,” said Sampson. “Basically taking bribes, taking offers to publish positive reviews.”
    According to Sampson, pressure from GamerGate has already caused some game publications to revise ethics policies.

    Yes, “one person in GamerGate might really hate women”. Oh, I see plenty of dishonesty on display, but not from game journalism. Also of note: No examples of these policy changes.

    March 10th: Things Get Political

    http://venturebeat.com/2015/03/10/massachusetts-congresswoman-urges-fbi-to-take-gamergate-seriously/

    The Federal Bureau of Investigation isn’t doing its job when it comes to handling online threats — that’s how Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) feels.
    The U.S. representative issued a letter to the House Appropriations Committee that asks that the government prioritize a response to cyberattacks that target women (as Jezebel first reported). Clark notes that several laws already exist to prosecute violent threats made online, but enforcement isn’t keeping up. She claims that federal prosecutors only went after 10 cases out of the approximately 2.5 million instances of online stalking that happened in the U.S. from 2010 through 2013. This issue is of particular interest in the wake of Gamergate, which is a group that has repeatedly targeted outspoken women in the game sector while claiming to be about ethics in journalism.
    “We have to stop seeing this as just an Internet issue,” Clark said in a statement. “When women are targeted with violent threats online, they are not only forced to fear for their safety but their ability to fully participate in our economy is jeopardized. We have to examine how well we’re enforcing existing protections and work to keep the internet open for everyone.”
    In her letter, Clark specifically calls out Gamergate for its ongoing “intimidation campaign.” She notes that the threats from this group have “not only impacted these women’s lives and their ability to work but they have the potential to silence female voices and deter young women from entering their chosen profession.”
    Clark goes on to say that while the federal government isn’t responsible for “policing the Internet,” it does have an obligation to protect people who are threatened with rape and murder under current law

    March 6: Some Ethics in Wikipedia Journalism.
    http://thinkprogress.org/culture/2015/03/06/3629086/wikipedia-gamergate-war/

    The Five Horsemen were editors dedicated to removing any edits that didn’t mesh with Wikipedia’s policies and didn’t come from reputable sources, according to Wikipedia editor and writer Mark Bernstein who first blogged about the problem in January. The editors, he said, were part of targeted attack from Gamergate supporters.
    “They basically tried to use the bullshit sourcing [like] Breitbart that Anita [Sarkeesian] lied, that maybe she sent the death threats to herself that they are professional victims,” said Mason-Bushman, who lives in Alaska and works for the federal government.
    Soon Wikipedia was another of Gamergate’s online battlegrounds. Supporters often characterize it as a movement for improving “ethics in gaming journalism” after claiming game developer Quinn’s former boyfriend publicly accused her of cheating on him with a gaming writer to advance her career. But the movement has also been linked to a misogynistic agenda that includes violent threats against female journalists, game developers and media critics.
    Quinn, Wu and Sarkeesian were at the center of the debate, flooded with graphic death and rape threatsonline and forced to cancel public appearances as a result. The controversy, which has been kept alive on Twitter and community chat boards such as 8chan and Reddit, then spread to the women’s Wikipedia’s pages
    “I don’t want [anyone] calling people a slut on the world’s most read website,” Mason-Bushman said. Wikipedia is the sixth most-read site worldwide, according to Alexa, but is undoubtedly the world’s top reference site. “It’s the power of it and the danger of it. All it takes is for that to be on the page for 20 minutes.”
    Soon after he started editing Gamergate articles, Mason-Bushman was harassed, both on and off Wikipedia.
    He was doxxed on Pastebin, where his personal email, social media accounts and other contact information were published. Hateful messages and death threats in the name of Gamergate filled his Twitter mentions, both on his personal account and on the professional account he manages for a government agency. The attacks even happened on Wikipedia talk pages that editors use to communicate with one another and the community about articles…..
    “I haven’t seen one note of sympathy about the harassment from anyone in ArbCom, which says, ‘We don’t care about what happens off Wikipedia,’” Mason-Bushman said.
    The lack of empathy and support he referred to comes in large part from the Arbitration Committee’s, or ArbCom’s, limited role.
    “We do not evaluate the neutrality of articles. We are not entirely removed from it, in that we sanction users who are disruptively pushing their points of view, but we leave it to the rest of the editing community to ensure that articles are neutral,” said Molly White, who sits on the Arbitration Committee with 13 others. “When we remove editors from topic areas, as we are doing in the Gamergate case, we are doing so because they have shown themselves to be unable to work with the rest of the community in reaching consensus on article content.”…..
    Twenty-seven users were named as being involved in the dispute; some were longtime community members and others were “throwaway” or single purpose accounts only used to edit Gamergate articles. Overall, 71 individual accounts made edits to the Gamergate page…..
    The Five Horsemen, except TaraInDC, were found guilty and sanctioned for edit warring or using the site as a battleground — engaging in an intense back and forth, reverting edits that were made — along with five other editors…..

    But understandably, Mason-Bushman and other editors weren’t pleased with the decision. “What the ArbCom has done through actions is say they do not care. They do not care about people or about the editors. That ‘We don’t care about what happens off Wikipedia.’”…..

    But that limited approach, editors said, could be part of the problem….

    Women make up just 13 percent of Wikipedia’s English-language editors, according to a recent study. The typical Wikipedian is a man between 15 and 49, formally educated, from a developed country, and isn’t likely to hold a blue collar or working-class job. “The gender bias tends to be around female articles based on the fact that there are so many male editors,” said Amy Senger, Wikipedian and writer in Los Angeles, who has written about the site’s inherent gender slant. She says ArbCom’s decision is evidence of “a systemic bias,” and that “the people who are more vocal and combative tend to prevail in disputes” sent to ArbCom…..

    This is precisely why ArbCom failed in the dispute involving the Five Horseman. “Gamergate is famously word-of-mouth; it’s born out of social media. It’s one voice on the internet versus another voice on the internet,” Stierch said. Unlike another highly controversial issue, reproductive rights and the pro-life or pro-choice debate, where there’s research, countless legitimate media articles and court decisions, such as Roe v. Wade, that add validity to the reproductive rights debate, Gamergate could easily be skewed by the niche publications and throwaway accounts…..

    The fight over the Gamergate pages caught the attention of scientist, writer and Wikipedia editor Mark Bernstein. From his perspective, the Five Horsemen seemed to suffer the brunt of the punishments just for doing their jobs. So Bernstein wrote about it on his blog.
    “Wikipedia claims to be disinterested in truth, preferring to adhere to a consensus of reliable sources. In practice, no one is responsible and everyone is: anyone can correct Wikipedia, but no one accepts responsibility,” Bernstein said via email.
    Bernstein’s blog posts highlighted an organized attack on Wikipedia in the name of Gamergate, which were picked up by the Guardian, ThinkProgress and others. According to a Wiki page called “Operation 5 Horsemen,” Gamergate supporters identified editors who had taken an interest in reverting certain changes in the main Gamergate article and biography pages for harassment victims Quinn, Wu and Sarkeesian.
    “When I wrote about ‘feminists’ being banned, I was literally reaching for a rubric that describes the common position of the ‘Five Horsemen’ and their supporters: The belief that women may pursue a career in computer science or software development if they feel like it, without being threatened with assault, rape, or murder and without endless public discussion of their sexual history,” Bernstein said. “This is a very weak definition of ‘feminist,’ but it’s one to which the sanctioned editors subscribe, and to which Gamergate’s supporters do not.”…..

    “It’s interesting how a male feminist had to write a blog about it before anybody realized that there are these problems on Wikipedia — these challenges with neutrality” and gender bias, said Stierch, who has been a Wikipedia volunteer editor and worked for the Wikimedia Foundation……

    “I think that there is a bit of a hive mind happening with Gamergate that’s really dangerous because it’s very easy to issue blame onto other anonymous parts of the mob … It’s very easy to say, ‘I’m not doing that particular thing, the person next to me is doing it and I don’t stand with them,’” she said. “But of course, they’re all sort of tied together under this blanket of Gamergate … It’s really easy to take credit for victories and put off blame. I think that’s true with a lot of anonymous communities.”…..
    “Whatever Gamergate thinks it’s about, there is definitely a core portion of it that seems to be attacking women and minorities … But standing next to these trolls that are harassing women and doxxing people and swatting people, to carry those two things under the same banner, of course, the one with a legitimate complaint is not going to be taken seriously. You can’t have your movement endorsing this stuff either silently or explicitly,” Mason said.
    But beyond those concerns and what happened with Wikipedia, Mason said, “It’s important to recognize that the undercurrents of this did not start with Gamergate, and they are not going to end with Gamergate. “There are a lot of issues swirling around this,” she said.
    As for Mason-Bushman, he hasn’t dropped out of the Wikipedia community, even though he’s thought about it.
    “A lot of people would say, ‘Fuck this! Why am I bothering?’ But I haven’t gotten one-one thousandth of what Zoe and Brianna have gotten and they’re still fighting,” he said. “I’ll go down fighting.”
    But Mason-Bushman’s experience with, as he called them, Gamergate vandals, was an eye-opening one that showed him how quickly things can spiral out of control. “It’s disturbing to see how sociopathic people are … it’s literally sociopathy, mindless, senseless. It’s not about ethics in videogame journalism,” he said. “We’re developing a culture that is saying, ‘We don’t care about people.’ I refuse to believe that’s what our world is going to become. I refuse to believe that the sociopaths are going to win, that people aren’t going to say ‘no.’

    And here are recent details of sites boycotted by Gamergate and the effects of the boycott:
    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/ampp3d/gamergate-website-rankings-winners-losers-5235157

    Non Game Sites on the list include: The New Yorker, Cracked, The Daily Beast, Salon, and Raw Story. Also: xojane, New Statesman, The Mary Sue, and Jacobin.

    See a pattern? And that’s not me cherry picking. Look at the list yourselves. Any site that isn’t just a gaming or tech site is a left-leaning news site of some variety. And yet the ‘gaters will dare to summon the Spirit of Jack Thompson to denigrate those opposed to them, while essentially making it blatantly clear that they are allied with the right-wing media.

    And thus, even if there are women in Gamergate, some liberals, even if there are good non-sexist people….they are no more proof of anything than the existence of atheist Republicans. Gamergate is a sexist, anti-feminist, right-wing movement. And it is more extreme in methods than the fucking Tea Party. Denying that is just that: Denial.

  120. hjhornbeck says

    My apologies, Crip Dyke and CaitieCat. Trans* people have been treated horribly by the medical and scientific community, and transforming them into pawns for your pet theory perpetuates that.

    Almost from the start, though, I noticed EvoPsych is ridiculously cis- and heteronormative. I was flipping a textbook on evolutionary psychology by David Buss[1], and came across an aside that discussed homosexuality. Why does it exist, if everything ties to reproduction? Buss mentioned one theory, that gay people are better parents, then points to evidence they’re no better than straight parents. He then shrugs and declares it a mystery, promptly returning to the assumption that everyone’s cis hetro.

    I don’t have fraction of the biology training that Buss does, but in my head the counter-points exploded like flowers in a mountain meadow. Who said they had to be better parents, wouldn’t our stock biological drives produce enough drive to look after kids? Perhaps the adaptive benefit here isn’t enough to cause a shift in allele frequency? Doesn’t the mere existence of gay and lesbian people argue that adaptation isn’t the only or even supreme driver of genes? Buss can’t even consider those obvious questions, as they’d undermine the assumptions behind EvoPsych, so he bunts and engages in erasure.

    EvoPsych erases non-binary and trans* people, and I think that’s worth repeating. Sometimes it’s quite explicit:

    Participants were 63 male and 58 female students (mean age = 20.8 years, SD = 3.8 years) enrolled in an introductory psychology course at a large public university in the Southwestern United States. One hundred fourteen participants reported being heterosexual, six reported being homosexual, and one did not report sexual orientation. Because our hypotheses pertained to a heterosexual model, only data from heterosexual participants were retained.
    Dm, Lewis, Conroy-Beam D, Al-Shawaf L, Raja A, DeKay T, and Buss Dm. “Friends with Benefits: The Evolved Psychology of Same- and Opposite-Sex Friendship.” Evolutionary Psychology : An International Journal of Evolutionary Approaches to Psychology and Behavior 9, no. 4 (December 2010): 543–63.

    [1] Buss, David M. Evolutionary Psychology: The New Science Of The Mind, 3/E. Pearson Education India, 2009.

    anteprepro @153

    Quite a few ‘gaters still propagate those memes, and depressingly I think they believe them. There appears to be quite a contingent that believe their own propaganda.

    There might be a reason for that. In the comments to the EvFem #1 video, some YouTube troll tried to antagonize me by engaging in false flag ops. It was pretty obvious to spot (they think feminist lingo has no meaning), and a quick canvas of my feminist friends revealed they weren’t fooled either. Some people did get suckered in, though: a couple of users on an MRA forum bought into the trolling completely, and marveled at how crazy “feminists” were.

    The same may be happening with GamerGate. One faction winds up accidentally trolling another anonymously, who take it as confirmation of their views on feminism. They slowly spiral further from reality by bouncing off one another, while legit social justice warriors look on in bewilderment.

  121. nathanaelnerode says

    This is Steven Pinker we’re talking about, right?

    He’s done an awful lot of really bad work in “linguistics”. Shoddy stuff, making gross overgeneralized assertions about a genetically hardwired “Language Instinct”… which is not supported by evidence. Most of the “evidence” he provides for this in the form of ‘language universals’ which are supposedly true of all languages turn out to actually be false — there are exceptional languages which do it differently, in nearly every case. His failure to actually learn any foreign languages (let alone *sign languages*, which provide many of the best counterexamples) made it really easy for him to spout utter BS on the matter.

    I was forced to deal with his BS back when I was in college in the 1990s, due to a worthless linguistics professor.

    It’s not at all surprising that he’s pushing the same extreme genetic-determinist position on gender, given that he was willing to push it on the relatively uncontroversial area of language. I’m not sure why this is his hobbyhorse. He certainly hates the scientific and has no interest in evidence.

    Pinker is an example of how incompetent blusterers can get themselves tenure. At the time he was still a relatively young punk; unfortunately he managed to keep it up and get tenure, I guess. It’s absurd that he’s a “senior academic” now, he should have been drummed out of the academy a long time ago. Worthless man.