I still get email

People, I’m out of town! I’m taking a break! How about if the loons also take a little time off and stop pestering me with silly complaints?

No, they won’t. This guy is irate about an ancient quote from me — something I said and still stand by about how we shouldn’t be nice to the frauds of creationism. I get sent this quote fairly regularly.

In his book on Intelligent Design, Dr. Jonathan Wells gives the following quote from a University of Minnesota professor named Paul Z. Myers:

“The only appropriate response should involve some form of righteous fury, much butt-kicking, and the public firing of some teachers, many schoolboard members, and vast numbers of sleazy far-right politicians…It’s time for scientists to break out the steel-toed boots and brass knuckles, and get out there and hammer on the lunatics and idiots.”

This was in the chapter on Darwinists, their strident nature and willingness to employ machiavellian tactics to achieve their war on traditional and orthodox Christians.

“Machiavellian”? Saying that we ought to be blunt and undiplomatic and angry about the lies of creationists is kind of the opposite of Machiavellian. But this fellow goes on to really teach me a lesson.

Notice Myers uses the term “righteous fury”. How ironic. There is nothing righteous about him. I recall Professor Johanneson in my college days in Los Angeles who also was from the University of Minnesota, and who even way back in the 60’s was wildly and radically liberal. I was given a C in his class after getting all As on his tests. His explanation was “I must insure that people like you do not succeed”). I appreciated his honesty if not his world view!

Uh, what? I do not know this Johanneson fellow. He’s complaining about his grade in a class in the 1960s? I was at best 12 years old; I rather doubt that I had much to do with his grade. I also rather doubt the truth of his story; there are rather strong requirements about openness and documenting grades, and if a professor downgraded him with the intent of doing him harm there are all kinds of avenues for getting redress. More likely he did well on exams (but maybe not as well as he remembers) and that there were other components that were part of his grade.

But OK, if we accept his unlikely story as true, I will condemn the actions of Dr Johanneson. It hardly has anything to do with me, though. I guess this gomer just assumes Minnesota professors are all alike.

But the same sort of arrogant (and sometimes violent) dismissal of any views that are Biblically based, are imposed on our kids by University professors all over (yes even Texas) and they appear to be cut from the same cloth, a robe of virulent, ungodly and egotistical humanism.

They can not totally suppress the truth, and I think God for Scientists like Jonathan Sarfati, Henry Morris, Jonathan Wells and oh, don’t forget the founder of modern science, Sir Issac Newton who wrote more on religion than he did science!!

Piperwill

Creationists don’t get to call others egotistical. Sorry, guy, but you’re engaged in wholesale denial of physics, chemistry, geology, and biology, which takes an amazing lack of humility. Your short list of creationists is mostly loons — and Newton is not remembered for his writings on religion.

It is nice to see that I could write something in 2005 that still irritates creationists.

It’s a cult

Every day now, I get several messages/emails from Jordan Peterson fans. Nothing could convince me more that we’re dealing with a cult-like network of bewilderingly brainwashed people. The messages take several familiar forms.

  • “It’s his opinion and belief. Science and evidence don’t apply.” They are desperate to carve out an exemption from minimal standards of evidence for him. This is a common refrain from defenders of religious belief as well.

  • “Technically, he might be wrong about that one thing, but I like what he’s saying anyway.” My personal schtick in dealing with Peterson has been to focus on specific false claims and scientific misrepresentations. They don’t matter. His followers don’t care. The pseudo-scientific veneer is just that, a game to borrow the respectability of science while not caring at all about rigor.

  • “He has done so much good for young men!” How do we know that? Because he says so. It’s an ‘end justifies the means’ kind of argument with no evidence of a positive result. Again, this is a very religious defense, where we’re supposed to accept the conclusion as valid because of an assertion irrelevant to the truth-claim.

  • “You’re just criticising him for the hits!” Somehow, that someone is popular has become a defense in itself — you’re only reason for criticizing the cult leader can’t possibly be because he’s wrong, but is simply an opportunistic attempt to get the attention of his crowds of followers (never mind that those zealous followers are annoyingly thick and I’d rather they went away.)

  • Meaningless drivel. You would not believe the lengths they go to to justify Peterson’s claim that a Chinese painting of intertwined snake-gods is an actual representation of the structure of DNA. An example:

    First, keep in mind that a representation doesn’t need to be a detailed model of how something functions, just a portrayal of that function. Which, DNA is essentially just a carrier of genetic information used to structure the development, appearance, and function of living beings. Passed on to children, in many species, from two parents.

    The image, is of Fuxi and Nüwa. In Chinese mythology, they’re credited with either being the first humans, or otherwise the creators of humanity. Which they made together, out of clay. In the image shown by Peterson, they also strongly represent (although I don’t entirely understand why, something to do with who they are, how they are arranged, and the things they are holding) the male-female and yin and yang interrelation. This duality of yin and yang is somewhat unique compared to many other dualistic systems, in that the two parts are also together a whole that is greater than the parts.

    All together, the image seems to me, to represent the idea of two beings coming together, to create something new, similar to themselves, but also with variation, as in the story, they are going from being half-human, half-snakes, to just humans.

    So, by my view, it’s not a model of DNA with any understanding of what the molecule is, it’s parts, or even that there is such a physical thing (And I don’t believe this is what Peterson was saying either). But it is a representation of DNA’s actual effect and function in the world, as it appeared to the people passing along these myths and creating these images. A sort of first-conceptual glimmering of an idea, that has grown to our current deep and detailed understanding of DNA.

    Now, Peterson seems to put a special emphasis on the two snakes being intertwined, I’m not sure of the mythological significance of that, and it shows up in far to many different cultures for me to research it easily. But like I said previously, you could always try asking him?

  • That’s just noise. Long-winded ahistorical noise. Our understanding of DNA did not evolve out of contemplation of mythology. This person seems to believe that contriving a post-hoc rationale is just as powerful as making observations and testing hypotheses.

  • “Debate him.” Jesus christ, but I hate the debate obsession. Creationists do this, too — they desperately want a contrived situation where their ideas are placed on a par with the bulk of the scientific consensus, even if they haven’t earned it, and they want it personified into a one-on-one conflict. It’s trial by combat. I have zero interest in debating J. Random Crackpot on a stage where he has rigged the game to give him every advantage, and I have nothing to gain.

I regret ever trying to address any of Peterson’s crappy arguments, but that’s exactly what they’re hoping for — they can’t win on reason and evidence, so they resort to a war of attrition with endless hordes of delusional fanboys bombarding me with garbage logic. I hate it, but years of conflict with religious fanatics has made me stubborn, and they’re nothing different.

You mean there are limits to how racist you can get on TV?

I guess there are some lines you don’t get to cross. ABC went ahead and gave Roseanne Barr her own show, in spite of a history of terrible Trumpisms and lunatic conspiracy theories — they must have known she was a bomb ticking on the set. But she finally went too far when she made racist comments comparing a former Obama official to an ape, and ABC gave up on dealing with her and cancelled the show. I feel for her co-workers (and especially Wanda Sykes, who quit first), but this is what happens when you agree to work with a terrible human being.

It’s too bad ABC didn’t factor in the repugnance of their star. I think this will mean that Roseanne will be persona non grata almost everywhere…but maybe she can still get a gig at Fox News.

Pewdiepie is up to his old tricks again

He’s just being noticed for his sexism rather than his racism this time.

An ongoing feud between Felix Kjellberg, better known as Pewdiepie—the most popular YouTuber in the world—and popular Twitch streamer Alinity Divine, is a perfect example of how women are still objectified, vilified, and exploited in the gaming community, simply because they are women.

Earlier this month, Kjellberg, who has more than 63 million subscribers…

Stop right there. Have any of you ever watched Pewdiepie? I’ve seen a few of his videos, which I watched incredulously. He plays games with a kind of goofy running commentary, punctuated with squeals and other funny noises. He is talentless. He is uninformed. He isn’t particularly interesting. His only contribution is that he plays video games, just like you do, so he’s kind of the vidya equivalent of the guy you’d drink a beer with, I guess, and he’s famous for being a celebrity, which is about the most worthless kind of fame there is.

His popularity is mystifying. But maybe not: we’re looking at it the wrong way. He is the product of a runaway YouTube algorithm, one of the hidden rules behind the internet, which as we already know, has all kinds of spurious, exploitable side effects.

Little Baby Bum, which made the above video [I will spare you all the link to the video–pzm], is the 7th most popular channel on YouTube. With just 515 videos, they have accrued 11.5 million subscribers and 13 billion views. Again, there are questions as to the accuracy of these numbers, which I’ll get into shortly, but the key point is that this is a huge, huge network and industry.

On-demand video is catnip to both parents and to children, and thus to content creators and advertisers. Small children are mesmerised by these videos, whether it’s familiar characters and songs, or simply bright colours and soothing sounds. The length of many of these videos — one common video tactic is to assemble many nursery rhyme or cartoon episodes into hour+ compilations —and the way that length is marketed as part of the video’s appeal, points to the amount of time some kids are spending with them.

It begins to make sense. Pewdiepie is just another Little Baby Bum who appeals to another, but equally childlike, segment of the market. I don’t give him credit for consciously exploiting the algorithm, though — I think he just stumbled onto the formula and is profiting mightily from it.

Just remember that when someone touts their number of followers on YouTube (or Twitter, or a blog). Those numbers are mostly meaningless and only tell you that someone has hit a sweet spot in the medium’s artificial algorithm, which inflates noise into a mysterious cultural significance.

It’s all men’s fault

This is a good essay on incels, which makes kind of a universal point.

It is men, not women, who have shaped the contours of the incel predicament. It is male power, not female power, that has chained all of human society to the idea that women are decorative sexual objects, and that male worth is measured by how good-looking a woman they acquire. Women—and, specifically, feminists—are the architects of the body-positivity movement, the ones who have pushed for an expansive redefinition of what we consider attractive. “Feminism, far from being Rodger’s enemy,” Srinivasan wrote, “may well be the primary force resisting the very system that made him feel—as a short, clumsy, effeminate, interracial boy—inadequate.” Women, and L.G.B.T.Q. people, are the activists trying to make sex work legal and safe, to establish alternative arrangements of power and exchange in the sexual market.

It’s been that way for a long time. Hasn’t everyone been saying for decades that all of the men’s complaints about feminism are actually misplaced — that feminism is all about addressing concerns that affect men and women, that anti-feminism is a self-inflicted wound? That’s certainly been my perspective on it, and my own self-interest is in enabling feminism to reduce the insanity in the relationships between the sexes that is, in part, produced by the asymmetry between them.

And no, incels and MRAs, no one owes you sex. Quit trying to shoehorn human relationships into a pattern of capitalistic transactions. (We can also blame rampant capitalism for anyone believing this is a problem that can be solved with buying and selling commodities, or that “sexual market value” is even a real thing. Libertarians have fucked up everything.)

I forgot how much work babies are

We took the grandson to the zoo this morning, which involved walking a few miles up a hill and around and around winding pathways. His grandparents are now totally wrecked and lying back with aching feet and the general malaise of exhaustion.

I don’t know why we do this. Oh, OK, he’s cute.

And he did seem to have a grand time at the zoo.

We just do the fun parts! I can’t even remember how fatiguing little kids were, but I’m getting reminded.