Rainbows are so wicked and perverted

Kayla Kenney was expelled from a private Christian school for flaunting rainbows and sending unorthodox signals about her sexuality. Well, good for her! She should count herself lucky!

But was this really about a Christian school expelling a teenager for being gay? There’s a lawsuit pending, so the school is frantically trying to get the idea across that she was being kicked out for her naughty behavior, not for her sexual preferences.

In an interview earlier this month, Kimberly Alford said her daughter had been on probation since October for “some behavioral issues,” including cutting class and being caught with an e-cigarette. But while she said school administrators claimed “in a roundabout way” that the probation wasn’t about her daughter’s sexuality, there were signs that administrators were singling the teen out for her “perceived sexuality.”

Oh boy, he said she said. This will be an ugly one to settle in court.

However, I’m getting mixed signals from the Christians. The Christian school is trying to make the case that it was an expulsion for cutting class, but…I get email from the IFI, the Illinois Patriarchy Institute, and right now they are tying themselves in knots. On the one hand, they are accusing the Evil Mainstream Media of misrepresenting the case, arguing that the school did no wrong — she was a wicked girl who had so many disciplinary offenses that she needed to be punished. On the other hand, oh boy, this letter is a frothing mad rant about homosexuality as an offense against god.

God’s rainbow has not been weaponized—well, at least not by Christians. Homosexuals have appropriated it, perverted it, and weaponized it against Christians.

The rainbow symbolized God’s promise not to again destroy the earth by a flood, which he had just done because of the sinfulness of man. It’s a reminder of God’s covenant with man and of his grace and mercy. God loves his creation and at the same time detests much that fallen humans feel, desire, believe, think, and do. God is loving, merciful, holy, and just. And Judgment Day is coming. He has told us in his Word that he will one day judge the world—not by water but by fire—and those whose names are not written in the Book of Life, will be cast into the “lake of fire” for eternity.

That’s just the warmup. The Alford family consulted the heretic and radical inclusivist John Pavlovitz on the subject, and he declared that God loves gay people, and hoo boy, did that throw them into a rage.

Why, when theologically orthodox Christians affirm the clear words of Scripture on homosexuality or marriage, are they guilty of “claiming the moral high ground,” but when Pavlovitz cites Scripture to condemn them, he’s not guilty of “claiming the moral high ground”?

I wonder if Pavlovitz believes those who affirm biblical prohibitions of consensual adult incest, polygamy, or bestiality are guilty of “claiming the moral high ground” and of “completely lacking understanding of the empathetic heart of Jesus”?

They’re right, you know — Pavlovitz has no more authority to claim that he understands the intent of a cosmic deity than IFI does. We’re forced to rely on empathy and a common awareness of the needs of humans, no gods involved, to make that judgment, but I think it’s clear that Pavlovitz is expressing a humanist ideal gussied up with god-talk. No wonder they’re mad! They claim to be making a “righteous judgment” by condemning homosexuality as a sin.

Christians are called to judge with righteous judgment. We are not permitted to judge the eternal status of others or to judge hypocritically. But we are to judge between right and wrong action and to express those judgments. Scripture commands Christians to “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” How can we avoid participating in unfruitful works of darkness if we aren’t told what those are?

Unfortunately, this leads them to conclude that “regressives” (that is, the libs) are wrong to claim that schools shouldn’t expel students for being gay, that Christians have that right.

Regressives don’t object to private schools having rules of conduct that reflect moral beliefs. Nor do they object to private schools expelling students for violating rules of conduct. Regressives object to anyone holding the moral belief that homoerotic acts and relationships are immoral. Instead of trying to create the impression that this school expelled a teen for an innocently decorated cake, why don’t regressive news sites just be honest and say a teen was expelled for intentionally violating rules based on Scripture that leftists abhor.

But wait! The school’s defense is that they were impartially expelling a girl for bad behavior, not for her sexuality. IFI started out by saying that was right, that the MSM was wrong, but by the end of their screed they were so indignant about The Gays that they completely reversed that — now it’s all about how it was righteous to expel her for homoerotic acts (that is, having a rainbow on her sweater & birthday cake) because they are justified by Scripture to punish gays.

At least they finally wound up being honest. Still ugly, though.

You see a man with spiders in his beard: shag, marry, kill?

This story was making the rounds last week, about a study that had found that women who are creeped out by bugs are less likely to be attracted to men with beards.

According to a new study, if a woman runs screaming from hair-dwelling creatures such as lice, ticks, fleas and the like, she’s likely to find men with beards much less attractive.
It’s on an unconscious level, of course. But from the viewpoint of her inner animal brain, who wants to pucker up to a mouth fringed by a thicket of hair that might contain tiny, squirmy, maggot-like creatures?

I’m taking this personally, as a bearded man with a fondness for creepy crawlies. For the record, my beard is respectably groomed and does not contain any squirmy maggots, and I find the implication offensive and unfounded. Do we go around suggesting that women grow their hair longer than men (usually) in order to provide a nesting ground for ticks and lice, or do we consider tastefully coiffed hair to be an attractive feature? Why assume that beards or any other hair repulsive?

So I read the paper, A multivariate analysis of women’s mating strategies and sexual selection on men’s facial morphology, by Tessa R. Clarkson, Morgan J. Sidari, Rosanna Sains, Meredith Alexander, Melissa Harrison, Valeriya Mefodeva, Samuel Pearson, Anthony J. Lee and Barnaby J. W. Dixson. I was even less impressed. In particular, they are trying to associate a phenomenological study of women’s reports of their preferences of a set of photographs with an evolutionary effect of sexual selection, which is a rather long reach. We know that fashions in hair styles vary wildly with time and location with a rapidity that cannot be associated with reproduction — shall we look at big hair styles from the 1980s and draw inferences about paleolithic mating preferences? Beards go in and out of fashion all the time, so a sample taken in 2019 of Western women’s taste in North European male faces (yes, they explicitly used only faces of a small ethnic subset) is only a snapshot of a narrow cultural preference in a tiny slice of time that cannot be interpreted as a significant biological factor.

Here’s the abstract.

The strength and direction of sexual selection via female choice on masculine facial traits in men is a paradox in human mate choice research. While masculinity may communicate benefits to women and offspring directly (i.e. resources) or indirectly (i.e. health), masculine men may be costly as long-term partners owing to lower paternal investment. Mating strategy theory suggests women’s preferences for masculine traits are strongest when the costs associated with masculinity are reduced. This study takes a multivariate approach to testing whether women’s mate preferences are context-dependent. Women (n = 919) rated attractiveness when considering long-term and short-term relationships for male faces varying in beardedness (clean-shaven and full beards) and facial masculinity (30% and 60% feminized, unmanipulated, 30% and 60% masculinized). Participants then completed scales measuring pathogen, sexual and moral disgust, disgust towards ectoparasites, reproductive ambition, self-perceived mate value and the facial hair in partners and fathers. In contrast to past research, we found no associations between pathogen disgust, self-perceived mate value or reproductive ambition and facial masculinity preferences. However, we found a significant positive association between moral disgust and preferences for masculine faces and bearded faces. Preferences for beards were lower among women with higher ectoparasite disgust, providing evidence for ectoparasite avoidance hypothesis. However, women reporting higher pathogen disgust gave higher attractiveness ratings for bearded faces than women reporting lower pathogen disgust, providing support for parasite-stress theories of sexual selection and mate choice. Preferences for beards were also highest among single and married women with the strongest reproductive ambition. Overall, our results reflect mixed associations between individual differences in mating strategies and women’s mate preferences for masculine facial traits.

Among the flaws are the aforementioned narrow set of sample images — sorry, you’re not going to get to choose whether you’d like a one-night stand with Idris Elba vs. a long-term relationship with Hugh Grant — but also, the study was executed using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, which is going create unanalyzed biases in the respondent population. It also apparently created a far more diverse respondent population than was represented in the target images, so who knows what effect that had.

And really, the game they played was a variation on “shag, marry, kill”: would you have a quickie relationship with this face? Would you like to live with this face for months and months? Is this face totally unattractive to you? It’s the most superficial analysis possible. How many of you chose your mate because of their appearance, and nothing else, and prioritized conventional attractiveness over all other attributes? This is a meaningless study. You can’t say anything about human evolution with a study that reduces a complicated process, courtship behavior and reproduction in humans, to such a trivial scope.

Yeah, sure, you can talk all you want about Tinder and swiping left or swiping right, but that’s about transient relationships and not long-term investment in offspring.

Anyway, you want the results? Here you go.

Mean ratings (±1 s.e.m.) for attractiveness when judging short-term (a) and long-term (b) relationships for bearded (black circles) and clean-shaven (white circles). The composites were manipulated to appear 60% and 30% feminized, unmanipulated, and 30% and 60% masculinized. Note that the full rating scale ranges from 0 to 100.

Oh, wait, maybe the study isn’t so bad, since it found that bearded men are generally preferable to clean-shaven men, both for long term and short term relationships, clearly the correct result. Also women prefer the unmodified or slightly masculinized photographs, so men — be yourself, or use just a little subtle makeup.

But no…you know this result is going to vary across time and cultures. Wait a decade, and those results could flip.

This leads into the next part of the paper, which is to look at how the results vary with women’s phobias about disease and parasites and sex and morality. They even suggest a hypothesis: “The ectoparasite avoidance hypothesis proposes that ancestral humans underwent additional loss of body hair as it lessened the potential for disease-carrying ectoparasites to proliferate.” But they can’t test this hypothesis! These data are so ephemeral that you can’t use them to describe human behavior during the long period of our evolution, and further, I’d argue that it doesn’t even hold up, given that a) we don’t know much about the timing of hair loss in the human lineage, and b) they’re examining a persistent phenomenon, male facial hair. If there was selection to get rid of beards full of squirmy maggots, how come we still have them? The beards, that is, not the squirmy maggots. I’d also ask what’s special about humans, since most mammals are covered with hair; are chimpanzees uninterested in selecting mates lacking in parasites?

The authors administered a test to measure respondents attitudes about 4 dimensions of disgust and then correlated that with their measures of attractiveness. The idea was that if a woman was particularly repulsed by the sight of arthropods (“ectoparasite disgust”), then they ought to rate men with beards as less attractive, because who knows what might be lurking in that thatch?

That was sort of the result they got, that excited the popular press the most.

The associations between women’s ectoparasite, moral, pathogen and sexual disgust and their attractiveness ratings for male beardedness when judging bearded faces (red line) and clean-shaven faces (green line). Data show regression lines (±95% confidence interval). Note that the full rating scale ranges from 0 to 100.

Look at the ectoparasite avoidance and pathogen disgust graphs on the left. The attractiveness of bearded men did decline as the women subjects exhibited increasing queasiness about parasites…but I also notice that no matter how sensitive the women were, they still (on average) found bearded men more attractive than cleanshaven men. Which I interpret to mean that if I cultivated spiders in my beard, I might be slightly less attractive to more women, but I’d still be prettier than the beardless boys. I don’t see how it provides evidence that beardlessness has a selective advantage; I take it to mean that the forces behind the growth of male facial hair are more complex and diverse than can be accounted for by one simplistic hypothesis.

The moral disgust graph is complicated. Increasing moral disgust means the respondent attaches more importance to upright behavior, that they are repulsed by criminality, for instance. Those women find both bearded and clean-shaven men more attractive, and that may be a consequence of, for instance, avoiding homosexuality, to speculate a bit. Every man looks prettier when you’re afraid of falling for the wrong sex.

The sexual disgust scale is the only one that shows a preference for clean-shaven men over bearded ones at the extreme end. Sexual disgust is a measure of the importance of sexual propriety (no incest, for example) and also of the desirability of an individual for reproduction — again to speculate, maybe beards are a way of concealing biological defects, so they are less attractive.

Finally, though, these measures of attractiveness are so deeply subject to trends and fashions and wildly varying personal taste that they cannot be used to test hypotheses of human evolution. This would have been a better paper if they’d avoided making the unwarranted claims of deep biological meaningfulness…but then, it wouldn’t have been picked up by the tabloids and news agencies, now would it?

Only stupid hurtful memes about trans people are allowed

I recommended that short story by Isabel Fell, “I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter” to you all because I liked it. I liked it a lot, actually; it made me think. I didn’t see it as an attack on transgender people at all, but instead as a pointed repurposing of a right-wing meme to create a better perspective on the complexity of sex and gender, and it was effective at that, and that was also the intent of the author.

You can’t read it now, because the story was pulled by the editor to protect the author.

Yesterday, I removed the story “I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter” by Isabel Fall from the current issue of Clarkesworld Magazine. The recent barrage of attacks on Isabel have taken a toll and I ask that even if you disagree with the decision, that you respect it. This is not censorship. She needed this to be done for her own personal safety and health. It does not rule out the possibility that the story will be restored (changed or unchanged) at some future point, but that’s not our priority right now.

There’s a lot of explanation at that link, but this one jumped out at me.

Isabel’s bio is intentionally short and internet presence negligible. I understand that to be a common practice for trans people who are wary of attacks from anti-trans campaigners. Unfortunately, the same shield used against them opened her up to an unexpected attack from others. Furthermore, Isabel was not out as trans when this story was published. Various claims being made against her pressured Isabel into publicly outing herself as a defense against the attacks. That should never be the case and is very disturbing to me.

Yeah, disturbing to me, too. Apparently there was a lot of foofaraw in comments there that were accusing the author of being anti-trans or some such nonsense (the comments are gone now, too) by, I presume, people who didn’t actually read the story and leapt to conclusions from the title. This is ghastly and unforgivable.

The retraction of the story has also been written up in The Guardian.

Have you noticed how some shitty male comedian can make unfunny, superficial jokes about trans people, and they get rewarded with a Netflix special or an HBO series, while a trans woman can make a serious exploration of the real issues behind the joke, and they get outed and their story erased? That’s the real cliche here.

These are scientists?

Tell me if this sounds familiar. MIT students confronted Seth Lloyd about his affiliation with Jeffrey Epstein, and he made this gobsmackingly stupid remark: I never saw him with underage women. He traveled around with two assistants, who were women in their 20s, who were typically very beautiful, and they were presumably previous Victoria’s Secret models.

Did he card them? Check their CVs for their employment history? Does he think that association with women above the age of consent means you could never have ever associated with underage women? Remember, this was after Epstein had been convicted.

It reminds me of something else: Lawrence Krauss’s feeble rationalizations.

“If anything, the unfortunate period he suffered has caused him to really think about what he wants to do with his money and his time, and support knowledge,” says Krauss. “Jeffrey has surrounded himself with beautiful women and young women but they’re not as young as the ones that were claimed. As a scientist I always judge things on empirical evidence and he always has women ages 19 to 23 around him, but I’ve never seen anything else, so as a scientist, my presumption is that whatever the problems were I would believe him over other people.” Though colleagues have criticized him over his relationship with Epstein, Krauss insists, “I don’t feel tarnished in any way by my relationship with Jeffrey; I feel raised by it.”

I’m embarrassed for them. Scientists should have a better appreciation of how evidence works, and that personal eyewitness evidence isn’t the only kind there is…that’s more of a Ken Ham attitude than I’d expect from these two.

Tactical gender

Isabel Fell has taken that feeble joke about identifying as an attack helicopter and weaponized it as a short story, “I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter”. It’s good and slightly terrifying.

I sexually identify as an attack helicopter.

I lied. According to US Army Technical Manual 0, The Soldier as a System, “attack helicopter” is a gender identity, not a biological sex. My dog tags and Form 3349 say my body is an XX-karyotope somatic female.

But, really, I didn’t lie. My body is a component in my mission, subordinate to what I truly am. If I say I am an attack helicopter, then my body, my sex, is too. I’ll prove it to you.

When I joined the Army I consented to tactical-role gender reassignment. It was mandatory for the MOS I’d tested into. I was nervous. I’d never been anything but a woman before.

But I decided that I was done with womanhood, over what womanhood could do for me; I wanted to be something furiously new.

To the people who say a woman would’ve refused to do what I do, I say—

Isn’t that the point?

If transhumanism leads to increasing integration with machines, sure, why not have identity at all levels associated with the whole?

How to make science more inclusive

We can be better, and the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology shows how it’s done. Their journal published an article describing the steps they were taking to make SICB more inclusive and representative, and show the state of affairs in their membership.

The ethnic (top panel) and gender (middle panel) composition of SICB membership and the ICB editorial board (data from 2019) compared with the US and NSF census (data from 2015 US census and 2017 NSF survey). Bottom panel: Gender composition of the ICB editorial board since the journal’s foundation (median per decade).

The top graph is the ethnic distribution, and while the percentage of people of color in the society is somewhat lower than it is in the population of Ph.D.s, and significantly lower than the overall population, the key thing is that the population in leadership roles, that is the editorial board of their journal, is proportional to the population in the general membership. That sets the direction they’ll be taking.

The second graph is the gender distribution, and it’s roughly a healthy 50:50; maybe women are a little over-represented on the editorial board, but that’s also a smaller population with more variation. It’s worth noting, too, that over half the population of Ph.D.s in the country are women, so you’d better start paying more attention. Before the usual neandertals start whining about how women are in more ‘soft’ disciplines, note that over half the population of SICB, a highly technical field, are women. I should also point out that it doesn’t matter what discipline you’re talking about, all those non-STEM fields also require rigor and discipline and hard work.

The real eye-opener is that third graph, which shows the history of SICB. Sixty years ago, it was a very ‘masculine’ organization, with only about 10% of the SICB editorial board women; it rose to about one quarter women in the 80s, surging abruptly to 60% this year. That is a big deal. Changing the gate-keepers opens up new opportunities.

Researchers from non-prestigious institutions or minority groups face hurdles in publishing and in obtaining funding; for example, female scientists publish relatively less and get fewer citations than their male counterparts due to bias, such as gender differences in self-citation. Just as female and non-white authors remain underrepresented in the USA, so do authors from low-income and Global-South countries. In many scientific areas male, majority ethnic, and US scientists remain over-represented as gatekeepers (peer reviewers, editors) and lead authors. Although editorial boards have become more inclusive, most journals in the life sciences are still led by editors from US institutions and by men: in 2018, of the top 100 journals in life sciences as ranked in a 2009 study, 78 had a male editor in chief and 68 had an editor in chief affiliated with a US-based institution. Of the 22 female editors in chief, 17 were affiliated with US-based institutions. In contrast, women made up more than half of all PhDs granted in the USA in 2017 (Fig. 1), and the USA granted fewer than a quarter of doctoral degrees worldwide in 2018.

I’ve been to SICB a few times (not as much as I’d like, but their January annual meeting time doesn’t fit my schedule well), and there’s always been a lot of interesting work presented there. The directions they’re taking only make me want to go more often.

Do not put Gwyneth Paltrow in your vagina

I am not going to watch a single moment of Paltrow’s new show on Netflix, and you shouldn’t either. Boycott it. Cancel it. It’s a disgrace and it hasn’t even aired yet. It’s called The Goop Lab, and there is no science behind it at all, no lab, no research, just a bunch of rich people jumping on tired old bandwagons like energy healing or psychic mediums and using them as vehicles to sell crap to the gullible.

You can get a sufficient feel for the garbage being peddled from the trailer.

The last line there from Paltrow is We’re going to milk the shit out of it. Finally, some truth.

But another interpretation offers a clear description of Paltrow’s business model, which feeds into the multi-trillion-dollar wellness industry. (That’s a lot of milk.) With the ever-elusive possibility of a better life, backed by her celebrity status and good genetics, Paltrow’s Goop hawks uber-expensive aspirational wellness products. That includes a $350 crazy straw, an $84 water bottle with a “positive energy” rock in it, and an $85 “Shaman Medicine Bag” with “magically charged stones.”

The business model is depressingly successful. Goop’s valuations in recent years have soared to $250 million, and the company has expanded into brick-and-mortar stores on multiple continents. The Netflix series is just the latest sign of Goop’s achievements.

I guess I won’t be seeing the next MCU movie if she’s in it, either. Thanks for the excuse!

Contrapoints and the test of endurance

A one hour and forty minute video! As always, Contrapoints is engaging, intelligent, and dynamic, but whoa, this one will take you while to sit through, and probably would have been more effective at half the length. She has a lot to say about “cancel culture” and the reign of terror.

I liked it and thought she made some good points, which I think means I now have another target painted on my back.

The Mansplaining Conference

I’m not making this up, that’s what they call it: “DESTINED TO BE THE MANSPLAINING EVENT OF THE CENTURY”, as if that’s a great selling point. Only women (but only biological women, they say) will be allowed to attend, all of the speakers are men, and the cost is $1,999. Did I mention that the speakers are people like Mike Cernovich and Stevan Molyneux and Andrew Dream Johnson, who I’ve never heard of before, but who calls himself the president of the Manosphere?

If that isn’t persuasive enough for you yet, the conference also promises to raise your femininity 500%, become the Ultimate Wife, and help you get pregnant and have unlimited babies!

Our speakers will teach you how to have as many babies as your heart desires with the time you have left and bounce back to amazing health and wellness without extreme diets or stress. The clock is ticking and your babies are soon to be kicking!

A sample of the kind of deep, poetic wisdom you will receive at this conference: “If you’re not strong, you’re weak.” Mind blown.

Well, ladies, have you signed up yet? If not, don’t worry, this is the kind of event designed to have your man sign you up to whip you into shape. Just sit back and let him make the decisions.

If you’re wondering what he’ll do during this woman-only event, don’t worry, there’s a parallel conference, The 21 Convention, 2nd Patriarch Edition, happening at the same time in the same hotel, with pretty much the same speaker list, for only $999 more. So yeah, $3000 for a weekend in which bloviating asses tell you what to do to live up to your man’s expectations, and then duck into the adjacent conference room to tell your man what to expect from you. It’s perfect.

Well? Let me know how many of you are going.

(By the way, that “men prefer debt free virgins without tattoos” is one of the slogans they use, and it’s more horrifying than it even sounds. “Debt free” refers specifically to college debt — so their kind of man prefers women who are uneducated and inexperienced and young and trainable.)

Man, I hope some newspaper somewhere ponies up the cash to send a secret journalist to this thing to report on the nonsense they’re going to peddle.