I let my kids watch Ren & Stimpy!

And I even got a laugh out of watching it, too. Now I learn that the creator, John Kricfalusi, was a sick, manipulative pedophile. He actually groomed a couple of young fans, encouraging them to be animators, then brought them out to work with him, and at least one of them, he had live with him. He seemed to regard young girls and women as his trophies.

Sometime between 1998 and 2000, Mora went to a party at Kricfalusi’s house that has bothered him for years. He remembered Byrd, who was no older than 20, was drunk and seemed to be drifting in and out of consciousness when Kricfalusi called Mora over to him. “And then he pulled out these Polaroids of Robyn basically — how can you say it? — going down on him. … He’s like, ‘What do you think of that?’”

Byrd doesn’t remember Kricfalusi taking explicit photos of her; she also wasn’t aware, she said, that he showed explicit photos of her to other people. But Wyatt recounted an interaction with his then-boss that was similar to Mora’s. He said that at a party at Kricfalusi’s house between 1999 and 2002, Kricfalusi showed him “a stack of Polaroids” of Kricfalusi and Byrd having sex. He never mentioned the photographs to Byrd, nor did he confront Kricfalusi about the interaction. During another party at Kricfalusi’s house, Swarr said the artist pulled out a binder of photos that showed Byrd naked in his pool. “It was gross,” Swarr said. Affecting a gruff voice when he spoke as Kricfalusi, Swarr recalled, “He was like, ‘Oh, you like that?’ I was like, ‘No!’”

He encouraged this relationship when he was in his late 30s and 40s, when when the girl was 13 or 14.

It’s distressing that he was surrounded in his working relationship with this team of animators, and they knew he was carrying on with these teenage girls, and he was bragging about the sexual nature of the relationship (which would not be OK, even if they were his age), and no one spoke out. No one brought this to the attention of authorities. He was making cartoons for a children’s network, and no one thought this was important enough to mention anywhere.

His lawyer has made a statement now, though.

The 1990s were a time of mental and emotional fragility for Mr. Kricfalusi, especially after losing Ren and Stimpy, his most prized creation. For a brief time, 25 years ago, he had a 16-year-old girlfriend. Over the years John struggled with what were eventually diagnosed mental illnesses in 2008. To that point, for nearly three decades he had relied primarily on alcohol to self-medicate. Since that time he has worked feverishly on his mental health issues, and has been successful in stabilizing his life over the last decade. This achievement has allowed John the opportunity to grow and mature in ways he’d never had a chance at before.

I guess we’re supposed to feel sorry for him.

Science and reason tell us that everyone outside Massachusetts and California are genetically flawed

Mike the Mad Biologist has an interesting twist on the race & IQ argument.

NAEP math scores have been used as proxies for IQ. If we look at the NAEP 8th grade math data for 2011, when we compare students with college educated parents who aren’t poor, there is a about a twenty point gap in scores for any given socioeconomic group between black and white students (where a ten point difference roughly corresponds to one grade level). We know conclusively, based on studies in marginal journals edited by racists, that this racial difference is largely genetic (and we have controlled for a deleterious environment by excluding poor students and poorly educated parents). For instance, in Massachusetts, white students (with college educated parents who aren’t poor) have an average score of 312, while black students have a score of 291 (p less than 10-6). Meanwhile, Alabama whites score 293, with no significance difference compared to black students in Massachusetts (p = 0.49). The gap between Massachusetts whites and Massachusetts blacks is the same as the gap between Massachusetts and Alabama whites.

Ergo, Alabama whites are also genetically inferior untermenschen whom we should not waste our time trying to educate. Look, I’m just bravely telling it like it is. If it doesn’t fit for your conservative preconceptions, that’s too bad. We have to heroically follow the data where they lead us. And when you look at other states, it’s clear: ‘heartland’ whites are genetically inferior to Massachusetts (and Maryland) whites, and we need to fundamentally rethink our social policies accordingly.

I live in the heartland, and although I was born in the west, I have to admit that my mother was born here in Minnesota, making me a kind of half-breed Heartlander. I may have superior genetics to the Minnesotans around me, but I graciously deign to acknowledge my inferiority to the pure-bred Coastal race, which means you now have to accept the thesis is truer, because why would I admit to something that affects me?

Look, it’s got math in it. It’s got to be right.

A useful guide for spring accidents

It’s early yet — the birds don’t seem to have started nesting yet, although I am starting to hear more of racket in the trees in the morning — but you should be prepared for the inevitable tragic accidents that will occur.

Quite coincidentally, I found this on my back porch yesterday.

It’s definitely feathered, and doesn’t seem to be in danger, so I guess I should have left it alone. Unfortunately, it is now occupying my desk.

I guess I oppose them in everything

Answers in Genesis is advertising a patriarchy conference this summer. In their promotion, they obligingly list all the values they endorse, which I include below.

[Unfortunately, there was one important word that they consistently misspell — it’s a common failure among fundagelicals, where they even misspell it in the names of their organizations, like Focus on the Patriarchy and the Patriarchy Research Council. I’ve taken the liberty of fixing that for them here.]

Gay “Marriage” Actually, there’s no such thing as same-sex “marriage.” Marriage is a Christian institution God created when he made the first man and woman, Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:24). So-called gay (or same-sex) “marriage” is an attack on the patriarchy God instituted in Genesis.

Gender Issues Almost daily we read news stories about transgender controversies, sex-change operations, restroom-gender issues, and the like. This is all an attack on the basis of the patriarchy structure God designed and ordained in Genesis when he created the first man and woman—the first male and female (Genesis 1:27).

Feminism Much of the feminist movement pushes an idea of female superiority. When God created Adam and Eve, he created them in his image with equal value. God gave different roles to husband and wife—they are to submit to each other as they submit to God and the roles he ordained (Ephesians 5; Genesis 3:16, 17).

Abortion One of the primary reasons for marriage is to produce godly offspring (Malachi 2:15; Genesis 1:28). Not only is abortion the murder of a human being made in God’s image, but the act is destructive to the purpose of marriage and the patriarchy as ordained by God.

Evolution The teaching of molecules-to-man evolution and millions of years has sadly resulted in countless young people doubting the Word of God (including its teachings about the patriarchy) and eventually leaving the church. AiG published an eye-opening study of this youth exodus in my co-authored book Already Gone.

It’s remarkable how AiG’s views are consistently 180° reversals of my own. But then that’s hardly surprising when you realize that all of my opinions are, apparently, defined for my by Satan.

The devil knows that if he can get one generation to doubt and disbelieve God’s Word starting in Genesis, he can destroy one of the main purposes of the patriarchy: to pass on a spiritual legacy to the next generation and to the world.

It’s kind of an ugly legacy, you know. Maybe we should smash the patriarchy to prevent it from infecting another generation.

By the way, if you want to be indoctrinated in AiG’s regressive views (and that of the organization they’re partnering with for this conference, PatriarchyLife), it’ll only cost you $250, or $500 for a family of 3 ($40 for each additional child). Don’t complain! It’s cheaper than Disneyland, which is a perfectly cromulent comparison!

For someone who doesn’t like to be called a racist, Sam Harris sure writes a lot of racist stuff

Racist pseudoscience keeps creeping back into the culture, and I like the point made in this article by Gavin Evans that one mechanism is by the alliance of the pseudoscience of race with the pseudoscience of heritable intelligence, both “slippery concepts” that allow an amazing amount of sloppiness in which to inject one’s biases. You know you’re dealing with a charlatan when they start making very specific claims about the genetics of intelligence in humans, something that has been extraordinarily difficult to measure and test, in correlations with the genetics of race, a concept that is poorly defined. They’re trying to build a skyscraper when the only materials they have to hand are buckets of watery jello and porridge — it turns out they don’t make steel when combined.

My personal views are that populations have structure, and there are rivers of genes that run through different lineages, but that the structures don’t align well with the exclusionary, constructed concept of race. Those genetic patterns are interesting and important, but their study is ruined by the know-nothing yahoos, like Charles Murray, who keep intruding and trying to warp the data to fit their preconceptions about how the human social order ought to be, which somehow is always conditioned by archaic and crude ideas about the inferiority of the Other. There is no higher or lower, there is only difference.

As for intelligence, the entire point of the human brain is plasticity and sensitivity to experience and novelty. There is no such thing as high intelligence — but there is such a thing as high adaptability. Since intelligence is actually a response to the environment, it’s disappointing and absurd that there are actually scientists arguing for some mysterious hard-wiring of the brain for some difficult to describe ability like “performance on IQ tests”. Don’t they realize that that’s the antithesis of what human intelligence is? You have a property that is all about interacting with complex environmental challenges in diverse ways, and you think you can capture it in a simple, constant parameter, one that doesn’t include the environment? Weird.

Yet people still push this contrary notion. Charles Murray is one; so is Steven Pinker; among the worst and clumsiest promoters of racial IQ science is Sam Harris, whose career has been all about defining boundaries between people, and making evasive suggestions about what ought to be done with the Other. When Harris brought on Murray for an interview, this is how he introduced him:

People don’t want to hear that a person’s intelligence is in large measure due to his or her genes and there seems to be very little we can do environmentally to increase a person’s intelligence even in childhood. It’s not that the environment doesn’t matter, but genes appear to be 50 to 80 percent of the story. People don’t want to hear this. And they certainly don’t want to hear that average IQ differs across races and ethnic groups.

Now, for better or worse, these are all facts. In fact, there is almost nothing in psychological science for which there is more evidence than these claims. About IQ, about the validity of testing for it, about its importance in the real world, about its heritability, and about its differential expression in different populations.

Please, please, please…someone define this curious property that Harris has labeled “intelligence” which doesn’t change and which is hardly at all malleable, even in childhood. Anyone who has had a child knows that their minds grow and change over time — I see it even in the 18 year olds who enter college and then leave 4 years later with often great changes in maturity and outlook. Yet none of that is part of Harris’s understanding of “intelligence”.

We know that living in poverty, suffering trauma, lead exposure, poor schools, social isolation, abuse, and poor nutrition all affect academic performance and people’s roles in society, yet somehow none of these involve the ineffable subject of the term “intelligence”. “Intelligence” is fixed and intrinsic, with perhaps 20% that can be modified by stuff like education and experience. Or is it 50%? I don’t know. I don’t even know how you can peg it to a single number, or what it means for someone to be 20% more or less intelligent than I am.

Also, contrary to Harris’s claim that this assertions are facts unopposed by psychological science, Vox found 3 psychologists specializing in intelligence who, um, opposed his views.

This infuriated Sam Harris.

He went on a tweet rampage — apparently, showing that he is wrong, and that his opinions are not universally shared, is “defamatory”. He is very upset that once again someone has publicly pointed out that his statements sure sound awfully racist, and that what was published against him is “nothing less the total destruction of a person’s reputation for the crime of honestly discussing scientific data”. He made a suggestion that Ezra Klein, editor of Vox, should engage with him in his podcast, and published the emails that bounced back and forth between the two as they negotiated.

It’s a remarkable exchange. You should read it. Also remarkable is that Harris willingly posted it, thinking it would demonstrate the rightness of his position, when all anyone can see is that Klein is patient and friendly, while Harris is increasingly testy and self-righteous. Harris challenges Klein to do a podcast, he accepts, and then there’s this long weird gripe about how he was defamed, yet he doesn’t want to discuss this subject with qualified psychologists (which Klein suggests), but only with Klein — and then he doesn’t want to discuss the claims about race and science he obligingly approved of in his discussion with Murray, because, he says, it would be “boring” to his listeners.

This “boring” dismissal seems to be routine with Harris when he senses the argument isn’t going his way. He did the same thing with Omer Aziz, recording a 4 hour session and then deciding not to air it, because it was “boring”.

He also likes to pull this stunt when he meets someone who dismisses him of posting the email exchanges between them with this strange notion that somehow they redeem him — he did this when Noam Chomsky refused to debate him. It’s a curious phenomenon, because he seems to think his prickly whining makes him look like a good guy, but all it really does is reveal him as a pompous ass. But he might be wise in doing it, because there are always a mob of ardent fanboys who afterwards reinforce Harris’s opinion of himself.

Ezra Klein has responded by pointing out how Harris pandered to Murray, and rejecting the claim that psychological scientists even have the ability to assess an intrinsic component to IQ.

International evidence suggests oppression, discrimination, and societal resentment lowers group IQs. As the New York University philosopher of neuroscience Ned Block has written, quoting the work of anthropologist John Ogbu, oppression has a clear effect on marginalized groups globally. “Where IQ tests have been given, ‘the children of these caste-like minorities score about 10-15 points … lower than dominant group children,’” he writes.

Block’s point, and this is important, is not that IQ isn’t heritable, or even that it’s impossible to imagine it differing among groups. It’s that it’s impossible to look at the cruel and insane experiment America has run on its black residents and say anything useful about genetic differences in intelligence.

He makes a measured response. It’s a solid article that politely rips Harris’s views strongly. It should win over rational people, which doesn’t include the blinkered goons who love Sam Harris no matter what he says.

But that doesn’t matter. Sam Harris has won over 4chan.

The citizens of Morris may die of excitement

A big change is coming. An exciting change. A revolution.

The local grocery store, Willie’s, is getting an extensive remodel. They’re going to get a new paint job, new style of sign, yadda yadda yadda, who cares, but the most shocking renovation of all is that they’re going to include a coffee shop.

A Caribou Coffee Shop will be added to the deli area.

We have a coffee shop in town, the Common Cup, which is very nice and I plan to continue giving them my business, but they have limited hours — they close at 6pm! — and are not open on Sundays. Willie’s is open 7am-10pm seven days a week. This is great news.

I am going to be so over-caffeinated, I’m afraid.

Scientology’s diminishing expectations

St Paul has a Scientology center. I’ve seen it. It always looks kind of…dead, not exactly a thriving enterprise. I guess it really is fading, because here’s an article on our local Scientology scene, and it includes what I thought were really useful numbers.

A scientologist (now an ex-scientologist) was sent here several years ago to recruit and shore up the membership. The church claims to the public that there are 10,000 active scientologists in this region. Internally they have a different story.

The church gave him a list of “950 people who were supposedly Scientologists” in a five-state region that included the Dakotas, Iowa, and Wisconsin. His task was to make sure they were still involved. If they weren’t, he would work to regain them.

Shelton soon found that most had barely any connection at all. One, who was listed as a trained auditor, had merely bought a copy of Dianetics at a flea market once.

“That’s how goofy the church’s records are,” Shelton says.

In the end, he could find only 100-150 legitimate members in the entire five-state area.

Welp, that looks like one religion that might just die out in my children’s lifetime. Now we just have to finish off all the others.