Can organized skepticism do a more spectacular face-plant?


Jebus. Michael Shermer has just proudly announced that the next issue of Skeptic magazine will be dedicated to his fellow member of the Intellectual Dork Web, Jordan B. Peterson.

David Gorski has been scathing. I agree with him.

Whatever it is Shermer is peddling, it ain’t skepticism. It’s closer to cult-like dogma.

There was a time, in the ancient of days, when skeptical magazines would take a Cuisinart to the kind of incoherent babbling woo that Peterson spins. Now they dedicate whole issues to praising him.

Comments

  1. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    I have to wonder if this decision isn’t expressly political pandering for circulation and sales. Shermer seems to have his demons in the closet, but it doesn’t seem like his politics are Jordan’s.

    I’m sure that the argument in defense will be that giving Peterson that cover is acceptable for having a diverse range of views. The problem is that Peterson is both right-wing and a woo-peddler. If they had someone on even like Shapiro, they could argue that he was just there for the politics. But Peterson is both, and generally non-skeptical and pseudoscientific.

    I guess that because both Peterson and Molyneux pay lip service to independent thought, their science denial is okay. You know, just like how creationists make the same propaganda appeal.

  2. Zmidponk says

    You never know, it could be dedicated to systematically going through all of Peterson’s work (you know, the dozens of videos, books and articles that Peterson fanboys keep insisting that we all have to read/watch to get the ‘context’ whenever he says something that is laughably wrong and/or exposes him as a raging bigot), and shows how much it is simply top-tier, premium grade, superflous bullshit.

    I somewhat doubt it, though.

  3. says

    It’s not actually clear to what extent the issue will be critical or defensive of Jordan Peterson. (The preview text looks like self-indulgent drivel that does not go anywhere.) Michael Shermer is criticizing people for presuming the content of the issue.

    The thing is, we’re guessing based on the reputation of Skeptic magazine, a reputation that Shermer himself is in charge of! If Skeptic had a decent reputation, then everyone would just nod, “An issue that’s gonna criticize Jordan Peterson, sounds interesting.”

  4. says

    Not that long ago Erick Erickson who is eternally reviled for calling a retiring SCOTUS justice the court’s “only goat fucking child molester” wrote a piece decrying the treatment of Megan Kelly. Goatfucker Erick Erickson used the occasion of the first week of Kelly’s show and numerous criticisms of her interviewing tactics and show-running to insist that no one was actually criticizing any particular behaviors, but instead people were responding reflexively and unfairly to the fact that Kelly had once been on FOX News. Erickson treats this as a single faux pas despite the fact that this wasn’t exactly a one-time thing. She had years to decide to quit FOX and every day she decided not to quit involved its own new decision. So even accepting Erickson’s primary point (and I don’t), that people weren’t criticizing contemporary sins, but reflexively continuing to condemn someone for sins far in the past which should be considered too dated to criticize, he was wrong.

    But here’s the thing. You could criticize him for trying to draw clicks using the media attention to Kelly’s NBC debut, but I rather think the motivation was more personal. Erickson’s “goat fucking child molester” comment is apparently trotted out even today by people who ridicule him for daring to tell liberals to tone down their rhetoric. He used his column nominally about Kelly to bring this up – and spend significant time on it.

    So Erickson, who sinned badly in a way that is remembered, just so happens to deliver a sermon on how Megyn Kelly sinned badly in a way that is remembered and that all of us in the memory-based community are horrid folk for remembering past sins and (in his erroneous opinion) mindlessly repackaging criticism of those past sins in new paper, and can’t we let bygones be bygones? And, in case that wasn’t specific enough, Erickson just so happens to add a bit about, “And I too am a victim of this memory based community and their unfair remembering things.”

    Was he just trying to drive clicks?

    I somehow doubt it.

    Now Shermer is focussing an issue on Peterson and prominently mentions their joint membership in the same Intellectual Dark Web club. Is he really just trying to drive clicks?

    Frederic Bourgault-Christie suspects so, in comment #1:

    I have to wonder if this decision isn’t expressly political pandering for circulation and sales.

    But I think that there probably is a more personal reason, that Shermer is genuinely, personally motivated to write a Peterson puff-piece or two. If I’m right, however, it speaks far less well of him than simple profit motives might.

  5. says

    @Siggy:

    The preview text looks like self-indulgent drivel that does not go anywhere.

    I read the preview text before making a decision. Calling attention to their shared membership in the Intellectual Dark Web and the lack of anything signaling real criticism to come are two very, very bad signs, whether or not someone is at all familiar with Shermer’s personal reputation.

  6. raven says

    Jordan Peterson who???
    The guy is rapidly fading into the lunatic fringes where he belongs.
    As soon as people started reading his large amounts of writing and videos, he was done for.

    Among his many lies,logical fallacies, and hates, Jordon Peterson hates atheists.
    He claims religion in general and xianity in particular are sources of morality.
    This is a very old claim and is factually wrong.

  7. raven says

    Peterson: No, he [Stalin] was killing people because, as a rational man, his conclusion [was] that life was so unbearable that it should be wiped out. Uh, you know, you guys who –

    Robert Buckman: Jordan, [incomprehensible] he was a rational man?

    Peterson is an idiot and this is gibberish. Stalin killed people because he was a totalitarian and consolidating his rule of the USSR. It was politics.

    Peterson: Proof itself, of any sort, is impossible, without an axiom (as Godel proved[note 4]). Thus faith in God is a prerequisite for all proof.[53]

    More gibberish. Godel didn’t prove that proof required axioms. He is just a conperson name dropping Godel.

    Peterson: Thus faith in God is a prerequisite for all proof.
    This is a Deepak Chopra class deepity. It sounds profound until you realize it is just plain, flat out wrong.

  8. raven says

    @10 What is he even referring to, with the Godel/axiom bit?

    Nothing really. He is just name dropping Godel and claiming Godel said something he never said. It’s a flat out lie.

    He is trying to prove that proof relies on faith in god.
    His proof is gibberish because what he is trying to prove is also flat out wrong.
    We know that proof has absolutely nothing to do with faith in the gods.

  9. says

    I did a couple searches to learn what else Skeptic magazine has said about Jordan Peterson, and there were a couple things. But then I remembered that it wasn’t that long ago that Skeptic published a defense of Sandusky, convicted child molester. So then I lost my motivation. I’m just gonna go do something else.

  10. says

    Separately, Godel always got to me with the whole “every property implied by a positive property must necessarily also be a positive property” thing.

    A predisposition to oppose human slavery exists in some humans
    A predisposition to oppose human slavery is a positive quality
    Opposition to human slavery or a predisposition to such opposition cannot exist if slavery does not exist.
    Human slavery cannot exist unless unless some humans choose to enslave others
    The choice wouldn’t ever occur to anyone in a pre-slavery culture unless some human or humans had a predisposition to enslave others
    Thus either human slavery never comes into existence, in which case there is no such thing as a predisposition to oppose human slavery, OR a predisposition to enslave humans exists/existed in at least one human.
    Thus a predisposition to oppose human slavery implies a predisposition to enslave humans.
    Every property implied by a positive property must necessarily also be a positive property
    Therefore, a predisposition to enslave humans is a positive quality.

    ===> 10. Therefore, Godel’s statement is asinine.

    Of course, it’s slightly more complicated than that, as we have to deal with his “all possible worlds” modal logic, but really, the statement just fails, however you assert it, because P implies Not P, and while Not P can’t be fairly said to be a separate quality Q, there will always be a way to create a distinct quality Q that is an inclination to bring about Not P or something similarly related. That’s not even mentioning the fact that taking separate assertions separately we realize that “Not P” is not at all the same as “the Opposite of P”.

    Just… oy.

  11. raven says

    Peterson:
    I have lectured and written for the last thirty years, working on ideas originally laid out by the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and the novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky. In the late 1800’s, these two thinkers began to contend with the “death of God” — the disruption of traditional religious and cultural belief by rationality and science. If God dies, Dostoevsky said, “everything will then be permitted.” This is a very frightening idea. As you move forward through time and history from the 19th century and contemplate National Socialism and the horrors of totalitarian communism, Dostoevsky looks positively prophetic.

    Peterson says often that we need religion to be good and moral.
    1. This is a lie.
    It was known to be a lie decades or centuries ago.
    The history of xianity is soaked in blood and left many millions of dead bodies behind.
    Xians are no more moral than anyone else. Many of the cults like the fundies are less moral than the general population.
    Today xians own the Dark Side of the USA.

    Peterson lies a lot.
    Peterson: Nazism was an atheist doctrine.
    No it wasn’t. Nazism is soaked in xianity to the core.
    Hitler was a Catholic and referred to jesus and god 32 times in Mein Kampf.
    The Final Solution came directly from Martin Luther.
    The SS wouldn’t even allow atheists to join in running the Holocaust.

    Skeptic Magazine might as well just rename itself to something like Lunatic Fringe Magazine because that is what they are now.

  12. chrislawson says

    @10–

    He’s mangling Gödel’s incompleteness theorems. Much too complex to go into in a blog comment, but the bottom line is Gödel showed that there are axiomatic logical systems such as the arithmetic of natural numbers in which there will be conjectures that are true but not provable.

    Gödel himself was a devout theist with Christian leanings. I don’t know enough about him to say how he integrated his mathematical work with his theological beliefs, but I do know that Martin Gardner used an interesting variation of Gödel’s theorems by saying that miracles were real but we couldn’t possible prove that they were miracles (this was Gardner’s actual belief, not just a thought exercise).

    Now, let’s go back to Peterson the Sham. He is quoted above as saying “Proof itself, of any sort, is impossible, without an axiom (as Godel proved). Thus faith in God is a prerequisite for all proof.” Which is both wrong — as if atheists are miraculously prevented from defining axioms or working out mathematical proofs — and nothing at all to do with Gödel’s theorems. As raven said @11, Peterson doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about, he’s just name-dropping Gödel for the reputation boost. I bet you Peterson couldn’t tell you anything about Gödel’s theorems.

    Also worth pointing out: Gödel’s early mathematical mentor Moritz Schlick was murdered by a Nazi former student in 1936, who even used in his criminal defence the argument that Schlick’s immoral philosophical teachings had driven him to the violent act. Conservatives and Nazi sympathisers in Vienna turned the case into a political circus. After the Anschluss, Gödel’s nascent paranoia flared up and he fled for Princeton. As it turned out, Gödel’s paranoia was accurate in this case. He lost his position at the University of Vienna even though he was not Jewish because he was known to have associated with the Jews in the Vienna Circle — much like Schlick, who was also not Jewish. That and the fact that Schlick’s murderer was pardoned by the new regime after only 2 years in prison. Or to put it another way — the alt-right that Peterson panders to so much are exactly the sort of people who forced Gödel to flee his own country.

  13. chrislawson says

    Crip Dyke@14–

    That doesn’t sound like Gödel to me but I’m happy to be corrected. Do you have a reference or link for it? Googling Godel and slavery doesn’t bring up any salient hits.

  14. says

    @chrislawson:
    All the slavery stuff was mine.

    I wrote it up because I dislike a particular assertion of Godel. He asserted that every quality Q whose existence is implied by a separate positive quality P must itself be a positive quality.

    So we get: If P = positive and P implies Q, then Q = positive.

    but opposition to slavery implies slavery, and slavery is negative, therefore the proposed rule is invalid.

    Things get slightly more complicated because he also says that If P = positive, then Not P != positive, and also defines Q as a separate quality, so mere negation of P cannot be reframed as Q, and instead would fall under the alternative proposition that if P is positive then NotP != positive.

    But these qualities only require a single step of abstraction to be separate (they aren’t truly separate in the sense of never being dependent or P could not imply Q) for the purposes of this theorem.

    Once you get there, you get things like “an inclination to oppose slavery is positive” but this implies slavery, therefore slavery = positive.

    I’m sure Godel was pretty brilliant, but we all have our weaknesses & this was one theorem that struck me immediately as wrong headed.

  15. Pierce R. Butler says

    Crip Dyke… @ # 6: … the memory-based community …

    What an apt delineation! Pre-emptive thanks for when I use that henceforth.

    I would ask about trying to get protected-class status, but by now that train has sailed.

  16. chrislawson says

    Ah, OK. I see. Are you sure Gödel meant positive in the moral sense instead of the logical positivist sense?

  17. says

    chrislawson @20,
    Crip Dyke is referring to Godel’s ontological argument. An interesting argument, but the premises are not very compelling, and I’m not persuaded that even Godel himself believed them. “Positive” is an undefined second-order predicate (i.e. a predicate that applies to first order predicates). The property of being God is said to be the conjunction of all positive predicates.

    I’m pretty sure Jordan Peterson is not referring to the ontological argument though. He’s just doing the standard woo thing of vaguely pointing towards Godel’s incompleteness theorems and pretending it supports his worldview. Deepak Chopra does the same thing.

  18. Rob Grigjanis says

    CD @14:

    Godel always got to me with the whole “every property implied by a positive property must necessarily also be a positive property” thing.

    That’s not quite how I’ve seen the axiom expressed. It was more like “if something (a person, a rock, whatever) has the good property x, and having the property x necessarily implies it also has the property y, then y is a good property”. In other words, I see no contradiction between the axiom, and saying “some good properties imply the existence of bad properties”. My understanding could be off. Any pro philosophers around?

  19. militantagnostic says

    Can organized skepticism do a more spectacular face-plant?

    Hold my beer while I execute a Hammerhead Roll in a carbon fiber stunt plane.

    Skeptic Magazine presents another credulous profile of a professional bullshit artist.

  20. says

    Rob Grigjanis @22,
    That’s nearly correct, but remove the “if something has the property x” part. The correct statement is “If X is a positive property, and if in all possible worlds, all objects with X also have property Y, then Y is a positive property.”

    You can also have the case where no objects in any possible world has the property X, but that would imply that all properties are positive, which contradicts one of the other axioms. Another axiom asserts that the property of being God is positive, which can be used to prove that God possibly exists. Another axiom asserts that necessary existence is positive, which means that God, if he possibly exists, must also necessarily exist. Anyway, that’s the short version of Godel’s ontological argument.

    I feel like we’re derailing this thread by talking about logic, but eh, Peterson and Shermer don’t deserve better.

  21. raven says

    Another axiom asserts that necessary existence is positive, which means that God, if he possibly exists, must also necessarily exist.

    Which is provably wrong and trivial.

    “Another axiom asserts that necessary existence is positive, which means that The Invisible Pink Unicorn, if she possibly exists, must also necessarily exist.”

    Using this reasoning, you can prove that all possible imaginary beings exist!!!

  22. says

    @Rob:

    I don’t think you’re understanding correctly. I’m trying to use something closer to your language here, but the results is the same.

    ===> “some good properties imply the existence of bad properties”

    is incompatible with

    ===> “All properties implied by the existence of a good property are themselves good.”

    How would you reconcile these? Statement 2 is even incompatible with good properties implying the existence of neutral properties.

  23. says

    @Anat:

    You got it. That’s the “neutral properties” variant (unless you think belly buttons are negative) that I mentioned at the close of my comment #28.

    I never worked with modal logic, because it never made sense to me. There is literally nothing that must exist in all possible worlds. Gravity, electromagnetism, the strong force, the weak force, neutrinos, quarks, mammals, synapsids, granite, vanadium, gambling, symbolic communication … there’s not one thing that we have that we can’t imagine dispensing in some alternate universe. Even spacetime might not exist in any directly analogous form in another universe.

    Although modal logic has thought about this some, the workarounds never made sense to me either. I can talk modal logic if I absolutely have to, but I’m not close to what you would call fluent. I’m halting, I have to double check everything, & I still might make mistakes. So, yeah, there may be a valid modal logic argument where Godel’s statement makes sense, but to the extent that such a valid modal argument exists, it proves modal logic incompatible with the universe as we know it.

  24. consciousness razor says

    I never worked with modal logic, because it never made sense to me. There is literally nothing that must exist in all possible worlds. Gravity, electromagnetism, the strong force, the weak force, neutrinos, quarks, mammals, synapsids, granite, vanadium, gambling, symbolic communication … there’s not one thing that we have that we can’t imagine dispensing in some alternate universe. Even spacetime might not exist in any directly analogous form in another universe.

    P and not-P can’t true of any possible world. You should see that as a simple tautology, if you accept a definition like “impossible IFF contradictory.” Whatever there is in some other possible world X, something like gambling let’s say, it’s not also the case in X that this gambling-like thing fails to be. Having that contradiction would render X an impossible world, not a possible one. Merely failing to have something that resembles gambling (or what have you) would not suffice to do this.

    There’s plenty more to say about it, but hopefully that will get you back on the right track…. You don’t, for instance, need to reject a proposition like Hume’s, that nothing which is distinctly conceivable implies a contradiction. (I mean, sure, “conceivability” might be a troublesome concept; but putting aside all those niceties for the moment, try to imagine a world X with X-gambling and no X-gambling. I bet you’ll fail to think of such a world.)

    Anyway, it’d be a mistake to throw out the baby of modal logic with the bathwater of Godel’s ontological argument…. if the latter even matters to you. We had been talking about how shitty Peterson is, but undermining Godel (if that’s your thing) isn’t necessary for anything like that.

  25. John Morales says

    consciousness razor:

    P and not-P can’t true of any possible world.

    But (P ∨ ¬P) is true in every possible world.

    (Think of modal logic as excluding impossibilities rather than determining tautologies)

  26. KG says

    Opposition to human slavery or a predisposition to such opposition cannot exist if slavery does not exist. – Crip Dyke@14

    Why not? I’m against people being fitted with intracranial electronic devices that monitor andor control their thoughts, even though no such devices exist, and hopefully never will.

  27. =8)-DX says

    What’s funny is Jordan Peterson is about as close to a living embodiement of The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct as one could get.
    =8)-DX

  28. consciousness razor says

    But (P ∨ ¬P) is true in every possible world.

    (Think of modal logic as excluding impossibilities rather than determining tautologies)

    Sure, I think that’s helpful. Since it may not be obvious, that was directed at CD’s claim that “There is literally nothing that must exist in all possible worlds.” If it’s supposed to generalize to what’s true or false, as you might naturally expect, then it’s a really bizarre thing to say.

  29. lotharloo says

    Well, I rather wait and see what they publish. I see no value in rushing to judgment.

    @Crip Dyke:
    I don’t see your point. As far as I can see, Megan Kelly is a bad example. For example, her Alex Jones interview where she was given lots of shit before even the interview had aired. I am pretty sure if a beloved figure by the left had done the same interview, we would all praising him/her for shedding light on lunatics. Yes, it is all tribal politics. Why do you want to insist that left does not do tribal politics and hypocrisy? The post about Ronell and how supposed feminists decided to do victim-blaming is still on this page. Our responsibility is try to avoid stupid tribal hypocrisy and in this case it involves waiting to see what the fuck Shermer writes about Peterson.

  30. John Morales says

    consciousness razor:

    If it’s supposed to generalize to what’s true or false, as you might naturally expect, then it’s a really bizarre thing to say.

    Arguable. A bit like the wave collapse, true and false are outcomes, not states.

    (Think of, say, 3-value logics: {true, false, unknown})

  31. John Morales says

    lotharloo:

    Why do you want to insist that left does not do tribal politics and hypocrisy?

    Um, I don’t follow. Can you explicate how she is so insisting?

  32. John Morales says

    [addendum]

    “A bit like the wave collapse, true and false are outcomes, not states.”

    “A bit like the wave collapse, true and false are also outcomes, not only states.”

    (mutter)

  33. lotharloo says

    @37 John Morales:
    Okay, I should rephrase that but because it seems to me that way. As far as I can see, using the example of Erik Eirckson using the example of Megan Kelly is a bad one because to me it was clear that a lot of the criticism that Megan Kelly was receiving was because she was working at Fox News prior to her show. It seems the post is trying to dispel the notion that left does “memory based community and their unfair remembering things” which to me it seems to imply that left does not do unfair tribal politics. If I’m mistaken I’ll take it back.

  34. chrislawson says

    lotharloo@35–

    I think anyone who puts Alex Jones on a serious interview program has failed at their job whether they’re left, right or whatever. There are certain people who are so toxic that putting them on your show serves no purpose other than to widen their reach and attract more followers to them. This is the same as when SkyNews in Australia recently interviewed an open neo-Nazi. Quite rightly they got into trouble just for having him on the show and one of their political presenters resigned in disgust.

  35. consciousness razor says

    Think of, say, 3-value logics: {true, false, unknown}

    I don’t get how that’s supposed to help. It is known that “(P ∨ ¬P) is true in every possible world,” for example. If it were the case that “literally nothing” like that held, then CD should have to explain (to both of us) how that could work, since it’s far from obvious.

  36. Rob Grigjanis says

    CD @28:

    ===> “some good properties imply the existence of bad properties”
    is incompatible with
    ===> “All properties implied by the existence of a good property are themselves good.”

    How would you reconcile these?

    Yes they are incompatible, but I don’t have to reconcile them, because I specifically said I don’t see Statement 2 in the axiom. It’s not about properties implying other properties (good or bad). It’s about (using Siggy’s formulation) objects with properties (I doubt Gödel would have overlooked something like “kindness implies the existence of cruelty”). So, rather than your Statement 2, I would say (using Siggy’s correction to my wording)

    “if in all possible worlds, all objects with [positive property] X also have property Y, then Y is a positive property.”

    That is certainly not incompatible with “positive property X implies the existence of negative property Z”.

  37. says

    Ugh, it’s just sad to see what a rag Skeptic has become. I picked up an issue years ago because the cover story was something I was interested in, I want to say it was the one that featured the Mythbusters or something like that on the cover. It’s what put me on the path from being generally disinterested an an unbeliever to where I am today. It used to be a great read with a lot of great stuff in it… but now it’s just trash. Seems like the rot spread from the head, and took everything good with it.

  38. willj says

    there’s not one thing that we have that we can’t imagine dispensing in some alternate universe. Even spacetime might not exist in any directly analogous form in another universe.

    Even consistency could be dispensed with, so P and ~P is a possibility. Other universes need not play by human understandable rules. Is there any guarantee that ours does?

  39. says

    Crip Dyke @29 & consciousness razor @30,
    When you choose the set of all possible worlds (e.g. when you equate the set of all possible worlds to the set of all worlds that you can imagine), it’s an arbitrary choice. I could choose a different set of possible worlds, such as the set of all possible futures from this point in time. Or I could choose a set that that has only our own world in it. (With either of these choices, we can say that gravity necessarily exists, and so do I.)

    If you’re a “modal realist”, then you believe that there is a particular choice of possible worlds that is correct, and all the others are incorrect. I’m not a modal realist, so I think the choice is arbitrary. In any case, modal logic will support any choice of possible worlds, as long as our own world is one of them.

    Modal logic is fine, and modern logicians would cast more suspicion on Godel’s choice to use second order predicate logic. But really, you can accept modal logic, accept second-order predicate logic, and simply reject Godel’s premises. They’re not good premises.

  40. consciousness razor says

    When you choose the set of all possible worlds (e.g. when you equate the set of all possible worlds to the set of all worlds that you can imagine), it’s an arbitrary choice.

    I guess you misread something (or you’re not really addressing me), because I did not equate it to what I can imagine. They’re possible if and only if they’re not contradictory — that’s the logical equivalence I actually used, and what it means is totally clear. It’s neither arbitrary nor something that anybody gets to choose.

  41. says

    consciousness razor @47,
    Yes I was more responding to Crip Dyke than to you.

    They’re possible if and only if they’re not contradictory — that’s the logical equivalence I actually used, and what it means is totally clear.

    I think this is less clear than you think it is. In modal logic, a “contradictory” proposition would be defined as a proposition that implies P&~P in all possible worlds. So either you need another definition of “contradictory” or another way to choose possible worlds.

  42. says

    I’m ignoring my failings at modal logic to allow the thread to meander back towards the original topic.

    @lotharloo:

    Well, I rather wait and see what they publish. I see no value in rushing to judgment.
    @Crip Dyke:
    I don’t see your point. As far as I can see, Megan Kelly is a bad example.

    Megyn Kelly is the example because an earlier commenter suggested that Shermer was doing what he was doing only for publicity and/or profit motives.

    If you read what I said, it wasn’t about Megyn Kelly per se, it was about how when Megyn Kelly was attacked, Erick Erickson wrote about those attacks. When he wrote about those attacks, even though he was writing about a popular, then current controversy, I think it’s quite apparent that there are other possible motives than merely publicity and/or profit.

    I’m arguing that the same is true here. There’s lots of Peterson bashing (and, I think, with good reason – otherwise I wouldn’t be doing so much of it) going on right now. But we should avoid assuming that Shermer’s special Peterson issue is being brought into existence solely because of opportunities for publicity and/or profit, which comment #1 did:

    I have to wonder if this decision isn’t expressly political pandering for circulation and sales. Shermer seems to have his demons in the closet, but it doesn’t seem like his politics are Jordan’s.

    Frederic is saying that since Shermer’s politics differ from Jordans, we should expect “pandering for circulation and sales” to be Shermer’s motive in creating the issue.

    I’m saying that Erickson is different from Kelly, yet he was personally motivated to trash people who remember old sins. He did such a bad job he didn’t even attempt to prove his assertion that the criticism was insubstantial. I have no doubt tribal opposition to Kelly exists, but Erickson’s point wasn’t that tribal opposition exists, it’s that people should be forgiven their sins and allowed to move on without being forced to make amends or endure a period (possibly long) in which people don’t trust them because of their past behavior.

    Erickson’s politics give every appearance of being different from Kelly’s – on abortion and a number of issues. Yet when he insists that the lesson that the public should take from recent criticism of Kelly is that we really need to be quick to let go of any criticism or even functional memory of the bad behavior of public persons, and then he brings up his own horrible goat-fucking child molester comment, we rightly infer that he’s not (entirely) motivated by publicity or profit even though he’s commenting on a timely issue about a person who is getting lots of media attention at the moment. We rightly infer that there is, indeed, some other motivation (lecturing people to get them to stop remembering his goat-fucking child molester comment) motivates his writing at least in part.

    Shermer is different from Peterson – this is trivially true. Yet when Shermer goes out of his way in the preview to call attention to the fact that Shermer and Peterson are fellow “members” (as if there were dues or something) of the intellectual dark web, we get the idea, as we did from Erickson’s spontaneous mention of his own goat-fucking child molester comment and how people still remember it, that Shermer may very well have a motive beyond publicity and sales for putting out a special issue on Peterson.

    The issue was never Kelly = Peterson. The issue was about whether Shermer’s creation of the special issue has enough in common with Erickson’s publishing of his editorial comment for people to understand there really are possible motives other than publicity & profit.

    One of those could even be tribalism – but in that case you’d be asserting that Shermer feels he belongs to some particular tribe that also includes Peterson (perhaps the intellectual dark web). But focussing on any tribalism – possible or actual – in the response to Kelly is missing the point by about 12 parsecs.

  43. says

    Since the “intellectual dark web” was mentioned I predict a lot if social bonding over that connection. Whining about criticism of beliefs, ways of thinking and behavior, paranoia about threats to free speech, maybe some complaints about feelings being more important than objectivity while ignoring how their feelings contribute to how they process the objects they percieve.

  44. says

    @Brony:

    feelings being more important than objectivity

    Or, y’know, about how their feelings are objective & stuff but the feelings of those other people who hate them with all the hatred are just tribal and irrational because Shermer & Peterson are the good ones, aren’t they? And what’s with all the criticism about Peterson and Shermer being all gullible & shit? Isn’t skepticism all about asking questions? Aren’t they just asking questions? Would academia survive without questions? Don’t all the other people just want to shut questions down because of their bad feelings that they didn’t learn to control because they never cleaned their rooms? And why hasn’t UMM responded to our freedom of information requests written on old gym socks and deposited directly into the library book drop, the library to which the UMM general counsel has access, doesn’t he?

  45. says

    I am pretty sure if a beloved figure by the left had done the same interview, we would all praising him/her for shedding light on lunatics.

    That’s got to be the royal “we”
    +++

    I’ve already said it on Twitter: We must organise a meeting between Harris, Peterson, Molyneux (another Shermer favourite) and Shermer so they can collectively freak out over Frozen.
    Preferably on a lonely island whose coordinates we then accidentally forget.

  46. says

    @Crip Dyke 51
    That was actually meant to be implicit in the following portion. I’ve been trying to work on rhetoric that deals with the fact that there is no objectivity practically speaking since our perception and decision-making is guided by feelings about what we percieve. Even math operations involve the embodied feelings we have as we percieve and manipulate abstract symbols as a basic feature of consciousness.

    So their feelings associated reasons and logic for their questions and assertions are fair game as ours are. I embrace this social conflict over the inclusion of feelings language into our discussion about objects of controversy. There’s only one possible result of this conflict if human beings wish to be in full control of themselves via a basic understanding of our thought processes.

    They feel IQ is important even as they point at it like a meaningful object and ask their questions. But not one of them has managed to objectify the contents of the modern concept of IQ in a way that intersects with common experience. They use IQ like a talisman because of the feeling society has imbued it with. It is a construct that measures socially and culturally plastic phenomena, but they fail on the need to convey objective sense of threat in a one on one interaction basis. [Average IQ measure of group]>[Content of IQ relevant to specific social phenomena]>[Objective example of human individual interaction associated with social phenomena]>[Objective social threat associated with social phenomena on an individual basis]>[Objective reason to prejudge all members of a group in interpersonal interactions].
    If they actually tried to do what is necessary to really attach their feelings to objective social threats it would become obvious that such threats exist in their own percieved in-groups. Be paranoid about other white people given the stats and end up socially isolated hermits (like actually happens).
    Ditto with people insisting that others can’t be trusted because of “crazy”, “mentally ill”, “hysterical”…they can’t unpack those things and tie them to objective social information in text or videos. They can’t go to [diagnostic criteria]>[associated abstract social phenomena]>[relevant real-world example]>[reason and logic for presance of pathological behaviours and distrust]. The words and concepts are used like talismans and magic words, accepted as simple fact by others around them who feel similarly about the social behavior they feel negatively about.
    Before anyone needs to answer their questions they have a lot of hoops to jump through before they can get me to change my behavior or stop demanding why anyone else should change theirs.

  47. neroden says

    Since Shermer’s been proven beyond a reasonable doubt to be a rapist (using alcohol to drug his targets), as well as a repeat liar, this doesn’t surprise me. (The documentation is still online.)

    When you’re a rapist who needs new victims, your best move is to develop a cult — certainly freethinkers are the last thing you want.

    The only thing which suprises me is that Shermer is still given a platform. Why does Scientific American allow a lying rapist to have a column?

    I’m not surprised that he’s using his own platform, “Skeptic Magazine”, which he appears to basically own, to promote his own cult. Only if the “Skeptic Society” expelled Shermer for committing rape could the magazine become respectable.

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