The sacrifices I make…

In order to criticize it, I ordered a free copy of Gregg Braden’s terrible book about “heart brains”, Resilience from the Heart. I just wanted to warn you all — DON’T DO IT. He’s now dunning me with multiple emails every day trying to get me to try his FREE video, first in a series, that will tell me how to access the language of your heart so you can tap into your heart’s wisdom. It’s such a terrible book that it really isn’t worth the 30 seconds I used to create a filter to automatically destroy all of his email.

I was also getting lots of email from his publisher, Hay House, which is also sending me all kinds of offers on fluffy New Age crapola.

There’s always a catch.

I refuse to believe the media is tainted


It cannot be. For example, this story from the Daily Express, an unimpeachable source (tabloid: it means “concentrated, easily assimilable”), and besides, I want it to be true: “A KILLER giant squid that can hypnotise its prey and paralyse humans at a distance of 150 feet using poisonous venom is being developed as a secret weapon by Vladimir Putin, a scientist has claimed.” Entirely plausible. Especially since it is accompanied by evidence, a blurry photo of an octopus.

Dr Padalka said the octopus, which was discovered in a fresh water lake trapped beneath two miles of ice, possessed an array of weapons and was responsible for the deaths of at least two of his scientific colleagues on the expedition.

He said: “We encountered Organism 46-B on our first day. It disabled our radio – which we later learned, to our alarm, was intentional.

“It is also able to paralyse prey from a distance of up to 150 feet by releasing its venom into the water.

“Tragically my colleague and lifelong friend was killed this way. He tread water wearing a blissful smile as the organism approached him.

Further proof: no one would lie about the death of a lifelong friend. I have seen this same argument effectively deployed in arguments for the existence of Jesus. If you believe in Jesus, you must accept this story.

“We watched helplessly as it used its arms to tear off its head then popped its remains in its mouth. It was as if it had hypnotised him telepathically.”

This, too, has the ring of truth. That’s exactly what I would do if I were an intelligent predatory squid with telepathy, poison venom, and an array of weapons.

The 33 foot-long man-eater also boasts extraordinary camouflage that helped it stalk the researchers – including shape-shifting.

Dr Padalka said: “The shapeshifting capabilities of organism 46-B sound almost diabolical. It shaped itself into the form of a human diver.

Likewise. This is exactly how I’ve fooled humans for more than half a century.

He revealed the octopus could also use its tentacles to kill, even after they had been hacked off its body.

Dr Padalka claimed another of his colleagues were killed by a tentacle many hours after slicing it off with an axe.

He said: “Later that night it slithered across the ice bank and strangled her.”

Seems only fair. I note that the scientist mutilated the squid/octopus first, so this was appropriate retaliation.

He said: “Some species of octopus lay 200,000 eggs. Imagine if they were deposited in reservoirs and lakes across North America.”

Shhhh. Now there’s irresponsible journalism, revealing top secret plans.

So that’s what positive racism looks like

I ran across this Twitter account, Oli Nor, that strives to present a pretty, positive image of White Nationalism. You know how some people post nothing on Twitter or Facebook but adorable pictures of cats with uplifting messages? Like that. Only all the pictures are of plump, blue-eyed babies or slender, pale-complected attractive young blonde or red-haired women in demure poses. And the messages are all about the purity of the race, the proper role of women, and the horribleness of “savages”, which is, apparently, everyone who doesn’t fit their ivory-skinned ideal.

A few examples:

There is an attractively gentle allure to modesty in nationalist women that contrasts with the coarse harlotry common in modern society.

Oh, look. Misogyny. Who ever thought you’d find that coupled with racism?

The future of Whites is under siege by the globalist cabal, their imported savages, and traitors in the governments of Northern countries.

The models in the numerous photos actually are quite lovely, but I wonder if they know how their images are being used, or if they realize how ugly the text makes them.

Hint to Oli Nor: white people do not own nor did they create either beauty or culture. When you claim sole possession of those human traits, you discredit yourself.

Up is down, rich is poor

Ivanka Trump has a self-help book? Of course she does. And Jia Tolentino at the New Yorker read it. It explains so much about that whole rotten, corrupt family.

When Ivanka was a kid, she got frustrated because she couldn’t set up a lemonade stand in Trump Tower. We had no such advantages, she writes, meaning, in this case, an ordinary home on an ordinary street. She and her brothers finally tried to sell lemonade at their summer place in Connecticut, but their neighborhood was so ritzy that there was no foot traffic. As good fortune would have it, we had a bodyguard that summer, she writes. They persuaded their bodyguard to buy lemonade, and then their driver, and then the maids, who dug deep for their spare change. The lesson, she says, is that the kids made the best of a bad situation. In another early business story, she and her brothers made fake Native American arrowheads, buried them in the woods, dug them up while playing with their friends, and sold the arrowheads to their friends for five dollars each.

Her bad situation was being wealthy; her solution was to compel her servants and bodyguards, you know, the little people, to give her more money, and to lie to her friends to trick them into giving her yet more money. And she’s completely oblivious to the ethical problems with what she did!

I hope all of her businesses fail and that she is publicly scorned by all of her friends, but I suspect she’s just going to come out of the next few years richer, and that her friends are all just as awful as she is.

Balls on stalks

I neglected to include another bit of foolishness from that ridiculous Pivar paper. This is a perfect example of “looks like” biology, which is all the paper is: drawing correspondences by saying X looks like Y, based on superficial morphological similarities, and worse, then announcing that because X looks like Y, you have therefore explained both X and Y.

Behold, Figure 20!

Ovary, testis and urogenital tract origins. Parallel schematics showing similar morphogenesis of eye and gonads.

Ovary, testis and urogenital tract origins. Parallel schematics showing similar morphogenesis of eye and gonads.

Eyeballs and testicles, they’re both paired spheres dangling from stalks, am I right? Therefore, just pointing that rough similarity out simultaneously shows that they are produced by the same process, and explains how they developed and evolved. Done! Gimme my Nobel prize!

I’ll just plop this on the ground in front of you

Someone sent me this. They must hate me.

Evolution CAN’T B verified Jesus as creator&savior can&has been w/billions of experiments

I’m afraid to ask what the billions of experiments that verified Jesus as creator&savior were, because I’ve reached my limit of stupid today. I have this suspicion that @NormanDeArmond wouldn’t recognize an experiment if it knocked him out, dragged him into my subterranean lair, injected him with mutagens, and started surgically replacing his limbs with tentacles.

Imaginary Gastrulation and the return of Balloon Animal Biology

The crackpots are bustin’ out all over — not just in politics, but also in science. Remember Stuart Pivar? The septic tank tycoon who invented a whole new theory of evolution and development that he called Lifecode, built entirely around imaginary drawings of how embryos formed by folding and stretching themselves like balloon animals? It was total nonsense. There was no data. Much of his imagined topological transformations contradicted known embryological patterns, and he’d clearly never looked at real embryos. It was loosely based on structuralism, like the work of D’Arcy Thompson, which I consider useful and interesting, but it ignored all the work of the last century on induction and cell signaling and gene regulation. Trust me on this, no modern renovation of evo-devo will be able to just wave away gene and molecular interactions shaped by genetic variation as irrelevant, but that’s what Pivar has done.

I should also disclose that Pivar filed a lawsuit for $15 million against me in 2007, which he dropped as it threatened to become big news. Dang. What is it with people wanting millions of dollars from me?

Anyway, Pivar has a new publication! In the Elsevier journal Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology! With new coauthors!

[Read more…]

How bad are Trump’s advisors?

How bad is Jeff Sessions, his pick for Attorney General? This bad.

His anti-choice record includes:

  • Voted against a resolution in support of Roe v. Wade in 1999
  • Voted to defund organizations that perform abortions in 2007
  • Co-sponsored a bill prohibiting taking minors across state lines for abortion and then voted to increase funding to enforce the in 2008
  • Voted in support of a bill notify parents of minors who get out-of-state abortions in 2006
  • Voted no on a plan that would have allocated $100 million in federal funding for family planning services that sought to reduce teen pregnancy through education programs and access to contraceptives in 2005
  • Voted to ban partial birth abortions, except for cases in which a woman’s life is in danger in 2003
  • Voted to maintain a ban on military base abortions in 2000
  • Voted to prohibit federal funding for abortions in 2011

There’s a theme running through all of that. I wonder what it is?

How bad is Tom Price, his pick for Health and Human Services? This bad. He belongs to the AAPS, a fringe society of conservative physicians.

Before the big 9/12 rally in Washington, AAPS cosponsored a protest on Capitol Hill with the Tea Party Patriots that AAPS says attracted 1,000 physicians. The organization’s president, Mark Kellen, appeared with Georgia representatives Tom Price and Phil Gingrey—GOP members of the congressional doctors’ caucus—to slam the bill. The group (which did not return calls for comment for this story) has been around since 1943. Some of its former leaders were John Birchers, and its political philosophy comes straight out of Ayn Rand. Its general counsel is Andrew Schlafly, son of the legendary conservative activist Phyllis. The AAPS statement of principles declares that it is “evil” and “immoral” for physicians to participate in Medicare and Medicaid, and its journal is a repository for quackery. Its website features claims that tobacco taxes harm public health and electronic medical records are a form of “data control” like that employed by the East German secret police. An article on the AAPS website speculated that Barack Obama may have won the presidency by hypnotizing voters, especially cohorts known to be susceptible to “neurolinguistic programming”—that is, according to the writer, young people, educated people, and possibly Jews.

Oh jebus. Andrew Schlafly gets mentioned, too, a notorious anti-evolution kook.

I can guess who’s going to be appointed to lead the NIH, if this trend continues.

Connect the dots, and look at ourselves

I’ve been reading Scott Atran’s work for years; I initially thought he was too soft on religion, but that he was still carrying out compelling, insightful research on what makes people turn to terrorism. His key message was that you can’t simply blame religion. There’s something about young men in particular that makes them susceptible to radicalization, and it’s a cop-out to blame it on Islam, or mental illness, or economic hardship. I first heard him talking about soccer clubs — how young men isolated from other communities would room together, and begin to drift, thanks to Islamic propaganda, into increasingly radical attempts to find purpose in their lives.

Atran’s war zone research over the last few years, and interviews during the last decade with members of various groups engaged in militant jihad (or holy war in the name of Islamic law), give him a gritty perspective on this issue. He rejects popular assumptions that people frequently join up, fight and die for terrorist groups due to mental problems, poverty, brainwashing or savvy recruitment efforts by jihadist organizations.

Instead, he argues, young people adrift in a globalized world find their own way to ISIS, looking to don a social identity that gives their lives significance. Groups of dissatisfied young adult friends around the world — often with little knowledge of Islam but yearning for lives of profound meaning and glory — typically choose to become volunteers in the Islamic State army in Syria and Iraq, Atran contends. Many of these individuals connect via the internet and social media to form a global community of alienated youth seeking heroic sacrifice, he proposes.

This does not fit the media narrative. I’m sure you’ve noticed: the message they try to send is always that the terrorist, the mass murderer, is an alien outsider, someone wildly different from us — a lone wolf with a broken brain. His origin is incomprehensible, and we don’t try to understand it, but only to separate him from us, the normal people, and reassure ourselves that our social group is nothing like that.

Sarah Lyons-Padilla shares a similar view.

Researchers have long studied the motivations of terrorists, with psychologist Arie Kruglanski proposing a particularly compelling theory: people become terrorists to restore a sense of significance in their lives, a feeling that they matter. Extremist organizations like Isis are experts at giving their recruits that sense of purpose, through status, recognition, and the promise of eternal rewards in the afterlife.

My own survey work supports Kruglanski’s theory. I find that American Muslims who feel a lack of significance in their lives are more likely to support fundamentalist groups and extreme ideologies.

She also sees what sets people on the path to supporting terrorism: the isolation of smaller communities from the larger, the fastening of blame on innocent groups. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

What we really need to know now is, what sets people on this path? How do people lose their sense of purpose?

My research reveals one answer: the more my survey respondents felt they or other Muslims had been discriminated against, the more they reported feeling a lack of meaning in their lives. Respondents who felt culturally homeless – not really American, but also not really a part of their own cultural community – were particularly jarred by messages that they don’t belong. Yet Muslim Americans who felt well integrated in both their American and Muslim communities were more resilient in the face of discrimination.

My results are not surprising to many social scientists, who know that we humans derive a great deal of self-worth from the groups we belong to. Our groups tell us who we are and make us feel good about ourselves. But feeling like we don’t belong to any group can really rattle our sense of self.

Take a look at America. We fear Islamic terrorism, so the first thing we do is condemn all Muslims, displacing them from our selves, isolating them, divorcing from the True American community, and reinforcing the very sociological conditions that foster radicalization.

This isn’t just about Islam, though. This seems to be a property of young men in all sorts of conditions. Abi Wilkinson writes about the online radicalisation of young, white men. She’s been reading the Internet.

No, not the bit you’re thinking of. Somewhere far worse. That loose network of blogs, forums, subreddits and alternative media publications colloquially known as the “manosphere”. An online subculture centred around hatred, anger and resentment of feminism specifically, and women more broadly. It’s grimly fascinating and now troubling relevant.

In modern parlance, this is part of the phenomenon known as the “alt-right”. More sympathetic commentators portray it as “a backlash to PC culture” and critics call it out as neofascism. Over the past year, it has been strange to see the disturbing internet subculture I’ve followed for so long enter the mainstream. The executive chairman of one of its most popular media outlets, Breitbart, has just been appointed Donald Trump’s chief of strategy, and their UK bureau chief was among the first Brits to have a meeting with the president-elect. Their figurehead – Milo Yiannopoulos – toured the country stumping for him during the campaign on his “Dangerous Faggot” tour. These people are now part of the political landscape.

It turns out that Algerian soccer clubs, the Red Pill subreddit, and Breitbart have a lot in common: they’re all gathering places for frustrated men, who then proceed to reinforce each other’s views, starting with vaguely unpleasant dissatisfaction with, for instance, women, to increasingly vicious and dangerous forms of propaganda. I think you might recognize this tendency many men have to top each other’s stories, to exaggerate their dominance. It leads to increasingly awful stories…and the men in these groups, rather than condemning or rejecting their claims, instead strive to repeat even more outrageous claims.

Reading through the posting history of individual aliases, it’s possible to chart their progress from vague dissatisfaction, and desire for social status and sexual success, to full-blown adherence to a cohesive ideology of white supremacy and misogyny. Neofascists treat these websites as recruitment grounds. They find angry, frustrated young men and groom them in their own image. Yet there’s no Prevent equivalent to try to stamp this out.

Much has been written about financial hardship turning afflicted white communities into breeding grounds for white supremacist politics, but what about when dissatisfaction has little to do with economic circumstance? It’s hard to know what can be done to combat this phenomenon, but surely we have to start by taking the link between online hatred and resentment of women and the rise of neofascism seriously.

These communities create a kind of tension within themselves that seeks an outlet. In radical Islam, it might be to strap on a dynamite vest and kill yourself for glory. In the alt-right, it might be to raise a middle finger to the establishment and vote for Donald Trump. It’s arguable which is more disastrous for world stability.

We need to pay attention to how these radical movements develop. Avoid the cheap out of dismissing it as a consequence of the wicked other — it is us. White people are people, just like Muslims, and just as susceptible to being led down a dark path.

Speaking of introspection and examining ourselves, here’s someone else who was radicalized by a social movement — in this case, the dark side of atheism. Sam Harris, Dave Rubin, Thunderf00t, Christopher Hitchens…these guys are gateways to the normalization of hatred.

I was curious as to the motives of leave voters. Surely they were not all racist, bigoted or hateful? I watched some debates on YouTube. Obvious points of concern about terrorism were brought up. A leaver cited Sam Harris as a source. I looked him up: this “intellectual, free-thinker” was very critical of Islam. Naturally my liberal kneejerk reaction was to be shocked, but I listened to his concerns and some of his debates.

This, I think, is where YouTube’s “suggested videos” can lead you down a rabbit hole. Moving on from Harris, I unlocked the Pandora’s box of “It’s not racist to criticise Islam!” content. Eventually I was introduced, by YouTube algorithms, to Milo Yiannopoulos and various “anti-SJW” videos (SJW, or social justice warrior, is a pejorative directed at progressives). They were shocking at first, but always presented as innocuous criticism from people claiming to be liberals themselves, or centrists, sometimes “just a regular conservative” – but never, ever identifying as the dreaded “alt-right”.

For three months I watched this stuff grow steadily more fearful of Islam. “Not Muslims,” they would usually say, “individual Muslims are fine.” But Islam was presented as a “threat to western civilisation”. Fear-mongering content was presented in a compelling way by charismatic people who would distance themselves from the very movement of which they were a part.

Oh, man, that sounds so familiar. I felt the pull of this attitude myself, but at least was able to look ahead and see where it would lead me in the long run, to a belief in Western male exceptionalism that I find grossly repellent.

This morning, I got an email from someone who was in the same situation and got out. They warn of things to watch out for, that almost seduced them.

Here is a tactic to watch out for. They always justify given talking with these people as credible, by say “I disagree with what they say, but they’re nice people, not racist, bigots, sexist etc.”

Sam Harris thinks Black Lives Matter are awful and playing Identity politics. I wonder if Martin Luther king would have been dismissed as playing Identity politics. Anyways just thought I would add to the tactics these people use to lure impressionable white guys like me to the alt-right movement.

Take a look at the NY Times. Combative, Populist Steve Bannon in an article that tries to claim that he’s not a racist. Yet at the same time, it reports that…

One of his three former wives claimed in court papers that he had said he did not want their twin daughters to go to school with Jews who raise their children to be “whiny brats,” a claim Mr. Bannon denies. In a 2011 radio interview, he dismissed liberal women as “a bunch of dykes that came from the Seven Sisters schools.”

In a radio interview last year with Mr. Trump, Mr. Bannon complained, inaccurately, that “two-thirds or three-quarters of the C.E.O.s in Silicon Valley are from South Asia or from Asia.” He has sometimes portrayed a grave threat to civilization not just from violent jihadists but from “Islam.” He once suggested to a colleague that perhaps only property owners should be allowed to vote. In an email to a Breitbart colleague in 2014, he dismissed Republican congressional leaders with an epithet and added, “Let the grass roots turn on the hate.”

Not racist! Not misogynist! Just a “combative populist”.

The seeds were sown early on, and we dismissed them, and now they’re bearing fruit, while the media tries to pretend that there’s no problem at all.

Let’s not do that. Let’s look at that work on the origins of radical Islamic terrorism and appreciate that it’s not solely about those brown people over there, it’s about human beings like the ones right here.