No, Jordan Peterson, Genesis is not an accurate scientific summary of primate evolution

Just watch the wheel of illogic turn in Jordan Peterson’s head.

First, we get a quick summary of the book of Genesis.

A snake gives them an apple, and that wakes them up.

Then he waddles off into a discursion about science. This is key, because he’s going to conclude by using science to validate his version of the Bible.

The reason that humans have such great vision, way better than most animals, except for raptors, is because our visual systems were designed to detect predatory snakes.

Friggin’ bollocks.

He cites a book by a primatologist whose name he can’t remember on this “fact”. The evidence is a lot weaker than he implies.

Snakes were “the first and most persistent predators” of early mammals, says Lynne Isbell, a behavioral ecologist the University of California, Davis. They were such a critical threat, she has long argued, that they shaped the emergence and evolution of primates. By selecting for traits that helped animals avoid them, snakes ultimately endowed us with forward-facing eyes, for example, and enlarged visual centers deep in our brains that are specialized for picking out specific features in the world around us, such as the general shape of a snake’s body camouflaged among leaves.

Isbell published her “Snake Detection Theory” in 2006. To support it, she showed that the rare primates that have not encountered venomous snakes in the course of their evolution, such as lemurs in Madagascar, have poorer vision than those that evolved alongside snakes.

There is no strong correlation. I read Isbell’s paper, and there is no statistical comparison, which would be difficult given the lack of specificity. Here’s the extent of the “species comparisons” she did.

Malagasy prosimians have never co-existed with venomous snakes, New World monkeys (platyrrhines) have had interrupted co-existence with venomous snakes, and Old World monkeys and apes (catarrhines) have had continuous co-existence with venomous snakes.

To which I have to ask, “Why restrict yourself to venomous snakes?” New World monkeys have as much to fear from constrictors as they would from venomous snakes. I think the answer might lie in her reasoning in response to the argument, “but then why haven’t rodents evolved bigger brains and sharper vision?” — it’s because she argues that rather than visual adaptations, rodents evolved to become more resistant to venoms. It’s an entirely adaptationist hypothesis, of course, which is OK…but when an adaptation is turned into an umbrella hypothesis which explains everything with a single cause, I get a little leery.

At least the paper has the best “What have the Romans ever done for us” line I’ve seen in a scientific work.

What besides visually guided insectivory, feeding on fruits and nectar, moving on fine terminal branches, or leaping could favor better depth perception in near space and a better ability to “break” camouflage, both of which are improved with orbital convergence, particularly in the lower visual field?

Her answer, obviously, is “snakes!”

Trust Peterson to ignore the multiple factors that contributed to our pattern of evolution to focus on just the one that he can twist to stand in defense of the fundamental truth of the Old Testament. If only the story had told about how Eve, a hairy, monkey-like creature, crept along the branch of a pear tree gathering ants for breakfast before leaping to the apple tree, finding both a snake and a ripe apple waiting for her…

Once again, though, Peterson is going to use a mention of snakes in the scientific literature to suggest that the authors of the book of Genesis had a startling and anachronistic understanding of evolutionary theory thousands of years before Darwin.

Our visual system, which is the ability to see, and to be enlightened let’s say because enlightenment, for example, is associated with vision, the snake gave that to us because we had to pay attention to predatory things that were after us for tens of millions of years.

Well then. Basically every animal has had to pay attention to predatory things. Do they all get enlightenment? It’s almost as if there has to be more to the explanation than just, “Yikes! A snake!” As if, maybe, the Genesis tale is more of a poetical metaphor than a scientific description of a phenomenon.

And fruit, that’s interesting, we have color vision because we are fruit eaters. Our color vision is precisely evolved to detect ripe fruit.

No it’s not. That’s part of the story.

We don’t have particularly good vision, or even particularly good color vision (the exceptional qualities we do have arise from more elaborate visual processing in our brains). Other vertebrates, like reptiles, fish, and birds have tetrachromatic vision — they have four opsins, or color filters, in their eyes. Mammals are descended from a common ancestor that lived in the Cretaceous and was nocturnal — it foraged in the dark at night, when the less sensitive color opsins were useless, and they lost all but two color opsins. We primates secondarily evolved a third opsin by gene duplication approximately 30-40 million years ago.

So I guess the book of Genesis is all about the catarrhine radiation sometime in the Eocene?

Also, the “ripe fruit” story isn’t as straightforward as he claims.

Another approach in trying to understand how primate colour vision evolved is to examine directly how behaving animals exploit colour information. For this purpose, the polymorphic platyrrhines have provided an invaluable resource, since we know that (i) opsin gene polymorphisms responsible for the colour vision variations in platyrrhine monkeys have been maintained by natural selection over long periods of time and (ii) individual monkeys in these species are forced to deploy strikingly different colour vision capacities to achieve common life-supporting goals. Studies of such species can ask, for instance, whether animals with alternative colour vision arrangements are better or worse at particular foraging tasks. In tests run under semi-natural conditions, trichromatic monkeys proved to be more efficient at gathering foods predicated on the use of colour cues than were dichromatic conspecifics. Although such outcomes imply that trichromacy could have evolved in the service of efficiency in food harvesting, other research suggests that the story may be more complicated than that. For instance, several sets of observations made on monkeys feeding in natural circumstances found no causal relationships between colour vision status and efficiency in foraging. Supporting this conclusion is a recent examination of the efficiency of fruit gathering in polymorphic spider monkeys (Ateles) that also detected no differences between dichromatic and trichromatic animals. This experiment focused specifically on foraging that is conducted over very short range (within an arms length) and the physical feature of the target fruits that best predicted foraging efficiency was not colour, but rather luminance contrast, a cue that should be equally available to trichromatic and dichromatic viewers. It may be noted that short-range foraging such as this also allows for the exploitation of various non-visual cues.

Researchers have had little difficulty in identifying potential advantages that might explain why colour vision evolved in the way that it has among the primates, but so far have had less success in demonstrating which among these may hold greater importance or, indeed, whether any single set of circumstances may provide a general explanation. Future studies on this topic will no doubt continue to exploit the exceptional opportunities for study offered by the polymorphic platyrrhine monkeys, while having to pay closer attention to the physical details of the viewing environment operative for a range of natural behaviours.

Always question those pat answers that ascribe a complex phenomena to a single cause. Our color vision is a contingent property of a fortuitous event in a successful distant ancestor; we’ve opportunistically used it in our species for many functions, whether it’s gauging the ripeness of fruit or getting more cues in foraging or detecting social cues or creating art or labeling our side with blue vs. red.

We didn’t get it from a snake peddling apples. But here’s where we see Peterson make the fallacious conclusion that yes, we did, and further, a group of priests in Palestine 2500 years ago had secret knowledge of the evolution of primates in the Paleogene, and wrote a metaphorical history of the catarrhines.

So that part of the story is right.

No, it’s not. The bullshit generator in Peterson’s brain has assembled a rationalization that falls apart when examined by anyone with basic knowledge of evolution.

Owning the libs, a tale in three acts

Nike is coopting Colin Kaepernick’s protest by featuring him in an ad. It makes me slightly queasy to see Big Capitalism buying the face of a cause, but I’m not going to argue about that. Instead, the Trumpsters are losing their shit. They’re throwing away or setting their Nike clothing and shoes on fire in protest.

Which is fine — protesting is a great old tradition, they should publicly protest ideas they oppose. Kinda like how Kaepernick has been doing. So they’re protesting a guy protesting for protesting by protesting, and the irony is escaping them, as is the fact that destroying a product you’ve already purchased isn’t exactly doing Nike any harm.

It’s just stupid.

How stupid? Well, this one guy made it even stupider.

He announces his intent to burn his shoes. There’s some foreshadowing about what is to come here.

He asks everyone to retweet his principled act of bravery. OK! Happy to oblige! Uh, guy, shouldn’t you take the shoes off before you set them on fire?

Then, in the third act, the predictable outcome. You can guess where this is going. I’m putting this photo below the fold, because it is a bit grisly. He’s in the hospital now.

[Read more…]

Ho-hum, Comma again

I leave town for a few days, and crackpots start dunning the university’s lawyers for petty information. Comma has been at it again. This email went to the university board of regents and general counsel.

Demand For Administrative Investigation Into Willful Refusal To Comply With MGDPA Over PZ Meyers Data, Fraudulent Bills, And Informed Consent Form Of Nemmers’ Subject Data

David J. McMillan, Chair U of M Board of Regents (612) 625-6300 & Douglas R. Peterson, U of M General Counsel (612) 624-7569:

Chapter 13 data request – Please email/file share me the following readily available, free, electronic, public data in its original searchable pdf format pursuant to 13.03 Subd 3(e):

1. I am demanding an administrative investigation into the University of Minnesota’s willful refusal to comply with my Chapter 13 data requests. I’ve attached the UM’s fraudulent bills (UM_Fraudulent_Bills.pdf) for readily available readily available, free, electronic, public data. I have reason to suspect the motive is to prevent your Class of 1985 UMM graduate from receiving damning facts about the corrupt UM and the corrupt UMM and their corrupt personnel. The fraudulent bill is for a tape of the University of Minnesota-Morris police during interviews in regard to the vandalism and the theft Northstar newspapers. First of all, I never requested an audio tape but the original DSS file. I have reason to suspect that the audio files have been tampered with prior to being placed onto the audio tape. Second, I’ve attached a March 22, 2011 bill for the UMM’s contract with Stevens County Sheriff for Law Enforcement Technology Group Computer Aided Dispatch and Electronic Records Management software which allows for the electronic transfer of DSS files but not audio cassettes. Second, the data that I received was not in the required searchablable format but had been maliciously converted to scanned pdf format. Third, I’ve included to BCA’s software deployment report that indicates that your corrupt UMM Police have been electronically transmitting DSS audio files since 2011.

[This is a bone he won’t drop: I was accused of stealing newspapers, with no evidence. The police asked me if I’d done it, I said no. That’s as far as it can go.]

2. I’m also making a data request for all my subject data from 06-24-2014 until today’s date. See attached signed informed consent form.

3. I’ve attached my 03-12-17 Chapter 13 data request entitled: “Chapter 13 data request – personnel data – grants for The Aurora Center.” This data is currently being illegally withheld from your Class of 1985 UMM graduate. https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/cite/13.09

[I have no idea what any of that is about.]

4. Chapter 13.43 Personnel Data https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/cite/13.43 for Paul Myers Associate Professor Ph.D., University of Oregon B.S., University of Washington, Seattle Expertise Developmental Biology Neurobiology Email: myersp@morris.umn.edu Phone: +1 3205896343 Campus Location: Science 2390 https://academics.morris.umn.edu/paul-myers. Please email me University of Minnesota, Morris Associate Professor Paul “Logical Fallacy” Myers’ (Myers is an inciter Of Violence & Freethoughtblogs CEO, isn’t he?) current employment contract, actual gross salary for year 2017-2018; Educational Background, Professional Certifications, Teaching Areas, Health Care Interests, Research Interests, Current Projects, Publications, Awards, Curriculum Vitae, and work-related continuing education for the years 2008-2018. Why am I asking for that data? I want to know if PZ “Logical Fallacy” Myers received a degree to diagnose, don’t I? Why? Didn’t you know that PZ “diagnosed” me as a ‘kook,’ ‘local loon,’ ‘wacky,’ and last but not least a ‘demented Sovereign Citizen’? Has PZ deluded himself into thinking that he’s a licensed doctor or did he just pull a fake sheep-skin out of a box of Cracker Jacks? Hmm? Inquiring minds want to know, don’t they?

[Comma is such a nosy fellow. He can write to the University of Washington and the University of Oregon if he wants confirmation of my degrees…but, you know, when I was hired here the university required that I give them verifiable evidence of my degrees. I think they’re confident my degree didn’t come out of a box of Cracker Jacks.]

5. Since the statute of limitations has run out on my Chapter 13 data request for the 13.82 Subd. 7. Criminal investigative data for the theft and vandalism of the UMM Northstar’s newspaper I am making a brand-spanking new request. https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/cite/13.82 Email me the incident reports in searchable pdf format, handwriting samples, audio files in original DSS format and corresponding transcripts, Digital images of crimes scene and vandalized newspapers, and the signed letter declining prosecution.

[That’s nice.]

Terry Dean, Nemmers (320) 283-5713

P.S. Hey did you know that I helped cost PZ’s corrupt buddy Steven County Attorney/Morris City Attorney Aaron Jordan not one but two judge jobs? Did you know that the Committee for Judicial Selection doesn’t like to receive clear, precise and unquestionable evidence of their candidates willfully refusing to comply with the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act?

[I never heard of Aaron Jordan.]

P.S.S. You want to listen to my audio recorded conversations with your corrupt UM cops and your corrupt UMM cops?

[No.]

In case you’re curious about how the general counsel replied, it was with a terse suggestion that he visit the Data Request Center and fill out a form…which anyone can do, you know.

I’m getting tired of dealing with loons. I’m sure they are, too.

Penis goes in, penis goes out. You can’t explain that!

Bill O’Reilly is god’s puppet — he isn’t even responsible for his own actions. He settled a sexual harassment suit for $32 million, and he’s mad at god for making him…do something. It’s not clear what.

You know, am I mad at God? Yeah, I’m mad at him. I wish I had more protection. I wish this stuff didn’t happen. I can’t explain it to you. Yeah, I’m mad at him.

If they could literally kill me, they would, we didn’t kill him, so we’ve got to kill him again.

If I die tomorrow and I get an opportunity, I’ll say, ‘Why’d you guys work me over like that? Didn’t [you] know my children were going to be punished? And they’re innocent.’ But then I think about people who have it much, much rougher than me. And you know, I’m a big mouth. I’m a target. They’re not targets.

So they came back with another bunch of garbage. I talked to them this time just to see the devil that I was dealing with. And I truly believe that these people at the New York Times are out to hurt people with whom they disagree. They don’t want me in the marketplace. That’s what this is all about.

So he’s mad at god, and wishes “stuff” didn’t happen. What stuff? That he harassed women? Or that the NY Times exposed that he harassed women? That he harassed Lis Wiehl, or that the case against him was so strong he had to cough up $32 million? Is he acknowledging that he is guilty, when he makes the point that his children are innocent? Is it god who makes his children declare that they don’t want to live with him anymore?

Who are the “you guys” he’s blaming for working him over? Since he’s going to be meeting them after he dies, I assume he means the administration in heaven. Or is he talking about the ghosts of NY Times reporters and editors? Wouldn’t that imply he’s going to meet them in hell?

The only thing we can definitely extract from that mess of a statement is that Bill O’Reilly doesn’t consider himself accountable for his own behavior, and is reduced to blaming god. I suggest that the only possible recourse he has now is to sue his god. He’s got deep pockets, he ought to be able to get a substantial settlement out of it.

Racists love to cooperate: Sam Harris and Charles Murray

No. I just couldn’t do it. Sam Harris interviews Charles Murray in his podcast (but of course it is a friendly, chummy interview, because two white guys are not going to criticize each other when it comes to talking about the inferiority of other races), but I was unable to listen to it. I tried. I got a few minutes in, but listening to that calm, soothing, rational monotone setting up a conversation in which the capabilities of the majority of the human race were going to be dismissed with cold, clinical detachment was just too infuriating. I just shut that fucker down.

And waited.

I knew someone would have the ability to listen to it all and distill it down to the key points, so I wouldn’t have to suffer through the insufferable for two and a quarter hours. Thank you, Angry White Men blog, for taking the bullet for the rest of us.

I did have a pretty good idea of what was to come, just from the title of the podcast: Forbidden Knowledge: A Conversation with Charles Murray. There was the assumption right there that what the ol’ bigot was dispensing was “knowledge”, rather than racist junk science. And, as usual, they’re going to set themselves up as martyrs, holding “knowledge” they’re “forbidden” to share, despite the fact that these scum have elected a president, have police forces that functionally act to enforce discriminatory oppression, that the internet is crawling with slimy advocates for their ideas, and that this crap is routinely published. Murray’s The Bell Curve was actually published and promoted by major media sources like the New York Times, you know, and it’s not as if Nicholas Wade was unable to get his trash fire of a book published recently. It’s not as if you have to obtain this stuff as bootleg samizdat, in the form of smeared photocopies distributed by a clandestine network of shadowy men in trenchcoats.

AWM recommends you read Lane’s article on the tainted sources of The Bell Curve — it’s poisonous garbage through and through. It’s bad science, something Harris should have brought up. He doesn’t. Instead, he just assumes that all of his biases are true, and that, once again, he and Chuck are the brave souls who are willing to accept the Forbidden Knowledge you peons are too cowardly to believe.

People don’t wanna hear that intelligence is a real thing, and that some people have more of it than others. They don’t wanna hear that IQ tests really measure it. They don’t wanna hear that differences in IQ matter, because they’re highly predictive of differential success in life. And not just for things like educational attainment and wealth, but for things like out-of-wedlock birth and mortality.

People don’t wanna 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.

That was a revealing phrase: there seems to be very little we can do environmentally to increase a person’s intelligence — even in childhood, Sam. Sam. Sam, I want to introduce you to a word that seems to be unfamiliar to you. It’s kind of amazing that a neuroscientist hasn’t run across it before.

That word is education.

Boom. Mic drop. Done.

Now of course Harris does actually know that common English word, but what it reveals is that he has a different understanding of intelligence than most of us do. He want’s to believe that children are born with different capacities for learning, that education is something that just fills that capacity with knowledge. This is, obviously, not true — any educator should be able to tell you that brains grow in ability with use, and that the key to expanding its ability is practice.

He and his ilk like to use the phrase “blank slaters” to address a favorite straw man, the idea that we are born with no inherent patterns of behavior at all (which no one holds, unfortunately for their rhetoric), while they are confident that we’re born with a certain degree of hard wiring for the abilities of the brain.

I have a different phrase for them. They hold to an “empty bucket” theory of human intelligence. They discount education because, you see, it’s a different propery. People are born with an empty bucket for knowledge, which varies in capacity by race and ethnicity and sex, limited in its volume by genetic factors. IQ is a magically objective number for the size of your bucket, fixed by your history and ancestry, while education and knowledge are more variable products of your environment.

What Sam and Chuck want to argue (no, sorry, there was no argument between them) is that black people are born with a 9 gallon bucket, while white people are born with 10 gallon buckets. They have no evidence for this. They only have the assumption that IQ is a measure of maximum potential, and that the statistical average of a deeply flawed metric that doesn’t measure what they think it does is sufficient to allow them to condescend to the poor, intellectually-constrained brains trapped in black bodies.

What makes it even more appalling is that these are two conventional, conservative white men slapping each other on the back while telling each other how superior they are. You would think Harris would have learned by now that the perception that he is racist, which he decries, is only fanned to a white-hot heat when he engages in this kind of self-congratulatory behavior.

He doesn’t. He can’t. I guess his social awareness bucket is very, very tiny.

AWM concludes with a comment about Murray’s flaws that should have been brought up in a competent interview.

And all of these points — unwillingness to engage with critics, connections to white supremacists, consequences for poor and non-white Americans — would have been worth bringing up in Harris’ conversation with Murray. As an interviewer, he should have done more than toss softballs and whitewash Murray’s record. As a skeptic, he should have been more willing to examine Murray’s beliefs. His unwillingness to do so will only bolster racist pseudoscience and toss more red meat to Murray’s white nationalist fans.

Oddly, though, those criticisms of Murray — “unwillingness to engage with critics, connections to white supremacists, consequences for poor and non-white Americans” — also apply perfectly to Sam Harris, so I’m not at all surprised that he wouldn’t bring them up. I knew that about him well ahead of time.

And that’s why I wasn’t going to listen to him.

Are all Republicans just hateful scoundrels who like to hurt people?

It sure seems that way. Minnesota has been thriving under Democratic leadership for the last several years, and we had a bit of moderate progressive legislation passed…but the Republicans got a majority in the last election, and are bound and determined to eradicate all the successes of the past. It’s as if they just don’t like people.

Progressive policies enacted in Minnesota’s largest cities in recent years are at risk from Republicans who control the state Legislature as they seek to block, undo or change local ordinances on everything from sick leave and the minimum wage to plastic bags and bike lanes.

Sick leave? Minimum wage? Bike lanes? They don’t like bike lanes?!?! They don’t have any kind of positive intent or agenda, so they’re just going to tear down what previous legislators accomplished. Their justification is also as racist as fuck.

“Clearly the cultural values of Minneapolis are drastically out of alignment with greater Minnesota, so there’s going to be conflicts,” said Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, author of a bill that would block cities from passing their own labor rules.

Key words there: “greater Minnesota” is a phrase that refers to all of the state except for Minneapolis/St Paul. To put it in words more familiar to out-of-staters, he wants to block any support for the cultural values of those urban people, hint hint, nudge nudge.

He’s wrong, of course. There are a lot of us out here in “greater Minnesota” who have progressive values, and find these damned dumb regressive yokels to be an embarrassment.

We’ve got to work to kick these slugs out of office in the next election.

Mike Cernovich is getting his moment in the sun

And he deserves every glittering sunbeam. This is Cernovich.

He got to appear on 60 Minutes, which has led to more media exposure.

Cernovich’s allegiance to the “alt-right,” a self-descriptor for a faction of the white nationalist movement, has been repeatedly documented. In 2015 he explained, “I went from libertarian to alt-right after realizing tolerance only went one way and diversity is code for white genocide.” Additionally, in a series of since-deleted tweets, Cernovich declared that “white genocide is real” and “white genocide will sweep up the [social justice warriors].” Cernovich also traffics in sexist rhetoric, having claimed that “date rape does not exist” and “misogyny gets you laid” and said that people who “love black women” should “slut shame them” to keep them from getting AIDS.

Cernovich has also helped popularize numerous conspiracy theories, including the “Pizzagate” story that claimed an underground child sex trafficking ring was run out of a Washington, D.C., pizza parlor and involved top Democratic officials. Despite widespread debunking, Cernovich recently claimed that the restaurant was a place “where a lot of pedophiles meet.” He often uses conspiracy theories to weaponize his social media following against his critics, such as when he baseless claimed satirical video editor Vic Berger was a pedophile after Berger published videos mocking Cernovich.

That’s not all.

The New York Times recently published an article answering the question “Who is Mike Cernovich?”; the cliff notes version of the answer is simply: he is a bad guy. For anyone willing to look for evidence, it isn’t hard to find; Cernovich’s lies are all readily accessible on his own social media, not to mention a documented fact from both conservative and liberal sources alike.

I’ve also been targeted by the lies of Cernovich. My crime: I pointed out that he was completely wrong about HIV when he claimed If you’re a straight man, you will not get HIV.

So he accused me of raping a student. No, he didn’t just accuse me: he made up the detailed and totally imaginary testimony of the student confronting me.

Using psychodramatic techniques, I will tell the story of PZ Myers’ alleged rape victim, as best as I can. (I have not spoken to the alleged victim. Rather, I am imagining and channeling what she might have felt, said, and experienced.) TRIGGER WARNING: This will be very disturbing.

He’s a fucking lawyer. He included this confession that he was openly lying to provide an excuse if he was sued (I obviously wasn’t claiming that he had actually done this, your honor), but no one is fooled. He’s a liar.

I guess if you lie big enough you get an episode of 60 Minutes and a mob of fascist defenders as a reward.

Australia reassures me that it isn’t just my country full of idiots

Senator Malcolm Roberts must be Australia’s version of Louie Gohmert.

He does make a good case that he is a waste of carbon, but you know, atmospheric CO2 is the problem, not carbon bound up in proteins and carbohydrates.

Gender essentialism is not scientific

A reader let me know that I was mentioned on the March for Science Seattle page.

An excellent example of the perils of ideology trumping science.... from the left. Yes, we love talking about how the Right is so anti-science and ideologically based and praise the Left for being so much better. But they aren't. They just have different ideologies and therefore reject different science. We laugh at those dumb Republicans for denying climate science while our own "tribe" screams about the (false) perils of nuclear power, the (false) dangers of GMOs, and now, with the Regressive Left (of which PZ Myers is as deeply dogmatic as the worst Evangelical) the idea that there are no biological differences between men and women, that there are no evolutionary differences in male and female psychology, and that everyone is a clean slate (tabula rasa hypothesis - false) with gender being 100% socially determined without biological basis.Men and women ARE different. We have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to be different. Yes there is a lot of variation and there is more in group heterogeneity than between group heterogeneity (meaning that there will be a lot of overlap where on just about any characteristic there will be men that are less "manly" than some women and so on), but that doesn't mean that there aren't legitimate differences based purely in our biology and contingent evolutionary history.But as Steven Pinker points out, it is ALWAYS a mistake to tie your *ethics* to your *science*. Different =/= better or worse. It CAN be, but usually isn't. Acknowledging that men and women are biologically different is not the same as as saying one is "better" than the other. But in a bizarre and ironic twist the Left (particularly the regressives) have fetishized science to the point where they can't make an argument that they see as valid without referencing science, and so they twist and deny scientific facts to fit into their ideology, bastardizing it just as much as their counterparts on the right.

An excellent example of the perils of ideology trumping science…. from the left. Yes, we love talking about how the Right is so anti-science and ideologically based and praise the Left for being so much better. But they aren’t. They just have different ideologies and therefore reject different science. We laugh at those dumb Republicans for denying climate science while our own “tribe” screams about the (false) perils of nuclear power, the (false) dangers of GMOs, and now, with the Regressive Left (of which PZ Myers is as deeply dogmatic as the worst Evangelical) the idea that there are no biological differences between men and women, that there are no evolutionary differences in male and female psychology, and that everyone is a clean slate (tabula rasa hypothesis – false) with gender being 100% socially determined without biological basis.

Men and women ARE different. We have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to be different. Yes there is a lot of variation and there is more in group heterogeneity than between group heterogeneity (meaning that there will be a lot of overlap where on just about any characteristic there will be men that are less “manly” than some women and so on), but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t legitimate differences based purely in our biology and contingent evolutionary history.

But as Steven Pinker points out, it is ALWAYS a mistake to tie your *ethics* to your *science*. Different =/= better or worse. It CAN be, but usually isn’t. Acknowledging that men and women are biologically different is not the same as as saying one is “better” than the other. But in a bizarre and ironic twist the Left (particularly the regressives) have fetishized science to the point where they can’t make an argument that they see as valid without referencing science, and so they twist and deny scientific facts to fit into their ideology, bastardizing it just as much as their counterparts on the right.

Wow. Let me repeat that amazing accusation.

…the idea that there are no biological differences between men and women, that there are no evolutionary differences in male and female psychology, and that everyone is a clean slate (tabula rasa hypothesis – false) with gender being 100% socially determined without biological basis.

I am a fairly conventional cis-het man, steeped in Western culture, married to a conventional cis-het woman. I have seen porn. I have had heterosexual intercourse. I’m entirely conscious of the biological differences between men and women.

I’m also a biologist. I know the difference between a testis and an ovary, between a Mullerian duct and a Wolffian duct, between testosterone and estrogen (which, in the latter case, isn’t much). I’m also fairly well acquainted with the literature in evolutionary biology, and even know a bit about neuroscience.

To say that I claim there are no biological differences between men and women is so patently absurd and totally divorced from reality that Mr Pavlov ought to be embarrassed about saying something so stupid while accusing me of saying something so stupid. He won’t be.

What he’s doing is a common rhetorical trick. It’s obvious that most men have a penis and most women have a vagina, therefore, with a bit of clumsy sleight of hand, he wants to claim that every bit of cultural bias about the relative abilities of men and women is equally valid. He wants to pretend that because ovaries exist, all his notions about femininity must be equally rooted in biological reality.

Similarly, he reveals his hand with that odious Pinkerism about blank slates — that’s exactly the same game! Argue that some element of human psychology is not fixed by genetics and that it arises in a social context, and you are castigated by Pinker fans who like to bring the discourse to a dead stop with the ludicrous accusation that you must believe everything is 100% socially determined without biological basis. It’s idiotic and dishonest, but right now it’s Pinker’s main claim to fame.

Some things are complex and culturally determined. Biological sex is strongly canalized to produce a bimodal distribution of physical properties, but intersexes do exist. The brain is a plastic organ that responds to its environment in sophisticated ways, and carries both predispositions and the potential to develop in new ways, and gender is less strongly specified by genes than is the reproductive tract. If anyone is anti-science, it’s these people who want to argue for a less responsive, less adaptive, less diverse pattern of possible behaviors from the human brain.

You don’t get to claim that you have a solid biological footing in arguing that women are more nurturing, are less capable of doing math, and prefer the color pink because estrogen unless you’ve done actual work to demonstrate that those differences are real. Breasts aren’t your shortcut for imposing a mass of narrow Victorian cultural prejudices on how people should be, and you don’t get to hide behind science on this one.

Also…hiding behind trivially exposed lies isn’t science, even if some of your scientific heroes who try to defend a regressive conventionality think so.

“Red Pill Libertarian”

Nathan Larson is a delusional fool. He’s running for congress in Virginia on a platform that can only be called raw misogyny, and it’s all under the banner of the “Red Pill”.

A red piller is someone who recognizes and is aware of (1) the way that feminism, feminists and their white knight enablers affect society; (2) the dark truths surrounding human sexuality; and (3) hypergamy, women’s AF/BB strategies, society’s feminine imperative, sexual differences in emotional attachment, and women’s attraction to DT traits and sexual dominance/violence. The red pill is extremely politically incorrect, and one may expect reflexive social ostracism for even mentioning the Red Pill in polite society.

You remember the Red Pill — it’s the choice Neo is given in that very silly movie, The Matrix. He can either take the blue pill and go back to living in a dream, or the red pill and wake up to a difficult reality. They’ve got it wrong, of course. “Red Pillers” immerse themselves in a fantasy world of evil women that explains why they are lonely and regarded as creepy, and they also get to learn a lot of bizarre jargon (look at that quote!) that makes them incomprehensible to people outside their little clubhouse. And look at that rationalization at the end — if people find their views repellent, then, well, that’s proof that they’re correct!

This sounds so much like an ugly mix of Scientology and radical Islam: the same isolating cult talk, the same elevation of their narrow group as True Heroes because their ideas are rejected as hateful by people who haven’t been soaking in their Kool-Aid.

It’s clear that it’s not just religion that rots people’s minds, though: a fair number, maybe a majority, of “Red Pillers” are atheists, and they are just as susceptible to cult-like thinking.

It may be permanently damaging, too. Here’s an account of people who left the Red Pill subreddit, and by their own words, most of them still sound like awful, horrible, repulsive people. They left because they found some other get-laid-quick scheme that helps them sleep with women, or because their racist views awakened them to the need to get women pregnant, beyond just having sex with them.

Every man on the Red Pill has a different story. However, each of them do have striking similarities. The main one is anger. Like the name of the subreddit itself, it is blazing red. We must understand the psychology behind the philosophy not to condone it, but to better tackle the poisonous spider slowly infecting those across the web.

It’s actually rather impressive how thoroughly a wrong and hateful ideology can take over a generation of young men and warp their minds so effectively — the author is right. These are phenomena that demand a better understanding of human psychology.

Unless we want to see more Nathan Larsons running for congress.