It shouldn’t take so long to recognize a fool

I’ve seen Terrence Howard in Crash and Red Tails and the first Iron Man (he wasn’t in any of the sequels, I wonder why?), and he was fine as an actor. It’s when he goes off script that you discover that he is totally nuts. Professor Dave explores some of his lunacy.

It’s 48 minutes long, but most of it is redundant — at his first attempt to explain that 1 x 1 = 2, or his redrawn periodic table, or his wacky 3-dimensional models of elements, it’s clear that he has lost the plot. And then the video gets into Howard’s 3 hour long interview with Joe Rogan, and it becomes clear that Rogan is just as ignorant and deluded and deranged and useless.

I’ve seen no more than a few minutes of Rogan in short excerpts, and knew from my first exposure that he was a fraud. Nowadays, when I see an account on social media that is trying to sell how smart he is, I insta-block that channel. I’d do the same with any mention of Howard, except that everyone sees how foolish he is, and he isn’t getting paid millions of dollars to babble for hours on Spotify every day.

An entertaining debunking of evolutionary psychology

This video is definitely not going to be to everyone’s taste, but I enjoyed it (what I’ve seen of it — it’s 3½ hours long! I don’t have time for the whole thing). Part of it because I agree wholeheartedly with its conclusion that evolutionary psychologists are a mob of pretentious wankers, but also the reason for the length is that münecat actually reads and summarizes more evo psych papers than I’ve ever read myself. Also, she frequently breaks to sing and dance.

If that’s to your taste, or if you just enjoy seeing Geoffrey Miller, David Buss, Jordan Peterson, etc., getting skewered, I recommend this video. Or if you already know that evo psych proponents are nothing but bullshit artists, you can skip it.

Bari Weiss created a short, simple label for the worst people in media: “IDW”

It’s been six years since Bari Weiss published that silly New York Times article conjuring the Intellectual Dark Web into existence. I think a lot of us here, at least, instantly recognized that it was PR for a gang of grifters and that Weiss was trying to be the Queen Bee of an imaginary movement. It’s about time we got a retrospective on Weiss’s propaganda flop. Where is the IDW now? How are its heroes doing? The short answer is that they’re thriving, cruising along with growing audiences, because they’ve become the clowns in the circus.

So let’s take a look at the IDW today. Eric Weinstein:

Eric Weinstein, a mathematician who spent years working for right-wing billionaire Peter Thiel, gave the IDW its name—which he has described variously as a “half-joke” and also a brilliantly calibrated troll designed to get maximum attention. He’s considered one of the least extreme of the original IDW members.

But both in 2018 and now, Weinstein decries what he calls the “gated institutional narrative” and the irredeemable systemic corruption he believes has infected a vast array of institutions, from academia to the media. He’s convinced that many of these institutions are conspiring to silence himself and his friends (and prevent them from winning Nobel Prizes).

Jordan Peterson:

While Peterson was always prone to hyperbole, he has become increasingly unhinged.

He now says climate activists want to “sacrifice the poor,” compares them to Nazis, and suggests that global elites are using climate change as an excuse to depopulate the planet. He compares this effort to “genocidal societies” with a “utopian vision” which leads to the “mass destruction of millions of people.” He believes Vladimir Putin may well be on the right side of a civilizational battle against wokeness. He describes COVID-19 as a “so-called pandemic” and claims it’s “highly probable” that the vaccines (which he refuses to call “vaccines”) were more dangerous than the disease.

Dave Rubin:

Rubin’s North Star was “civility.” But these days he tweets things like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY) is a “dishonest communist cunt,” and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) is a “vile jihadist cunt.” Tweeting recently about United States Agency for International Development (USAID) administrator Samantha Power, Rubin said, “this bitch can fuck off.”

Ben Shapiro:

Another member of this tribe devoted to civility and rational discourse is the popular conservative podcaster and writer Ben Shapiro. As the right-wing’s angry motormouth one-time wunderkind, he’s remained somewhat consistent—having gone from saying things like, “Israelis like to build. Arabs like to bomb crap and live in open sewage. This is not a difficult issue” to things like, “Hamas is running Columbia University.”

Bret Weinstein:

Here are a few of Weinstein’s fascinating insights today: He suspects that the United States is involved in a plot with China and the WHO to create a “turnkey totalitarian planet.” He claims that a “credible estimate” of the number of deaths caused by mRNA vaccines is 17 million. He suggests that China is financing infrastructure in Central America to launch an “undeclared invasion” with a covert army of “military age” men. He’s a big fan of RFK, Jr., who compared public health measures during the pandemic to Nazism and the Holocaust.

Joe Rogan:

To cite just one example, when Weinstein recently suggested on The Joe Rogan Experience that vaccine mandates in the U.S. military were meant to purge ethical and freethinking soldiers and replace them with disloyal and compliant immigrants—a force that would be “capable of acting on behalf of tyranny against Americans”—Rogan didn’t offer any critical comment.

Instead, he said: “Holy shit. Then you have a real coup.”

Candace Owens:

In a 2017 interview with Rubin, Owens said, “I think abortion is really just about population control.” Rubin replied with a characteristically uncritical and incurious follow-up: “That’s some serious red-pill right there.” In 2018, Owens claimed that liberals want to “exterminate blacks via Planned Parenthood, which she would later describe as a “silent genocide.” She said Black conservative politicians are “all called coons” by the media. She declared that “the word ‘racism’ is repeated obsessively by people who wish to enslave black people to the Democratic Party.”

Five months before Weiss published her piece, Owens called for the imprisonment of journalists and political opponents—something that probably should have pricked the ears of a movement which claimed to be unwavering in its defense of free speech and civil discourse.

There are others mentioned, including Christina Hoff Summers, Majid Nawaz, Douglas Murray, etc., but you get the idea. The IDW was a tarnished brand from the outset, and it’s only gotten worse as its members descend into greater madness.

Bari Weiss has an awesome legacy. Let’s hope it catches up to her someday.

Bad books

Here’s a short blurb promoting a podcast, If Books Could Kill.

If Books Could Kill focuses mostly on the impact many of these books had on society, and through multiple episodes has broadened their scope to examine how the authors of these books are impacting society in many negative ways. Although it always feels good to hear a bad book eviscerated — there’s a reason we all read the 1-star reviews of our most hated books on Goodreads, right? — hearing the motivations behind these self-help superstars is enough to make you raise your eyebrows. IBCK covers the exploits of Robert Kiyosaki and his years-long real estate grifts, the cringeworthy gender essentialism behind John Gray’s Men Are From Mars series, or the head-scratching evolution of conservative politics after reading William Frank Buckley, Jr.’s 1951 book, God and Man At Yale. And as a listener and a skeptic of self-help generally, it feels so good to understand why exactly these books are so obnoxious.

I remember John Gray from my college years — we had a copy of that Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus crap somewhere in the house, getting kicked around but never read. It looked terrible. I wouldn’t be caught dead reading Buckley, and Kiyosaki is one of those investment gurus who endorsed Trump. These aren’t particularly interesting topics to me, but maybe they are to you.

Then it mentions a book by Jonathan Haidt. I’ve met that guy…didn’t like him, but would I be interested in reading his book? No, I don’t think so.

I was personally affected by one of these books. As a high school graduation gift I was given the bestseller The Coddling of the American Mind, warning me against the “brainwashing” that I was sure to encounter in university. I read it — I make a note to read every book I am gifted, damn it, it’s the right thing to do — and there was something about it that didn’t feel like it was adding up to me. Surely, I thought, in the midst of all this fearfulness about how my generation is going soft, there had to be something more than punching down on student activists rightfully making their voices heard? To then encounter IBCK discussing exactly why the arguments of the book don’t hold up — such as how it misrepresents recent student protests — are vindicating.

But I was still curious, so I turned to the summary on Amazon. Uh-oh. It was worse than I thought.

Something is going wrong on many college campuses in the last few years. Rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide are rising. Speakers are shouted down. Students and professors say they are walking on eggshells and afraid to speak honestly. How did this happen?

I’m not afraid to speak honestly, and I’m not walking on eggshells. I think some speakers should be shouted down, or better yet, not even invited on campus. These sound like fictitious problems. They sound like what right-wing Fox News viewers imagine is going on at college campuses. I read further, skeptically.

First Amendment expert Greg Lukianoff and social psychologist Jonathan Haidt show how the new problems on campus have their origins in three terrible ideas that have become increasingly woven into American childhood and education: what doesn’t kill you makes you weaker; always trust your feelings; and life is a battle between good people and evil people. These three Great Untruths are incompatible with basic psychological principles, as well as ancient wisdom from many cultures. They interfere with healthy development. Anyone who embraces these untruths—and the resulting culture of safetyism—is less likely to become an autonomous adult able to navigate the bumpy road of life.

Whoa, what kind of horseshit is this? Their three terrible ideas are not part of any standard educational curriculum I’ve ever encountered.

what doesn’t kill you makes you weaker: Nope. That’s nonsense. I do believe that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is false, but that doesn’t mean their inversion of the cliche is true. In what context is anyone teaching that terrible idea? I don’t know where a discussion of the merits or dangers of exposure to something that almost kills you would come up.

always trust your feelings: Oh hell no. Feelings are valid and feelings matter, but they are also treacherous things that you should be wary of. Test your feelings, maybe? Investigate them? Try to figure out the source of your feelings? This is another Great Untruth that no one is teaching.

life is a battle between good people and evil people: Amazing. You know how every conservative accusation is actually projection? I thought us liberal wimps were all talking about shades of gray and rainbows and rejecting that black-and-white dichotomy. But now Lukianoff and Haidt are saying we explicitly teach it? Madness.

This is just confirming my opinion of Haidt — he’s railing against imaginary dangers. I guess that’s one tactic for drumming up sales.

Another demonstration of the relationship of money and intelligence

In my previous post, I suggested that there was an inverse correlation between intelligence and wealth. Look! I got another data point!

i don’t know who needs to hear this but having children is *literally* free
can we please stop with the “kids are expensive” nonsense?
your lifestyle is expensive, not children
Elon Musk: Exactly

Speaking as a parent, we basically drained our life savings to raise three kids. And that was with public schools and a lower class lifestyle.

Speaking as a biologist, there’s a vast literature on energy budgets and the cost of reproduction.

Children have never been free. Maybe they seem free to billionaires for whom the expenditures on food and nannies and private schools and so forth are a tiny fraction of their ill-gotten wealth, but they really aren’t.

Maybe really rich people think their kept women pop out larvae that scuttle off into the woodwork to forage on pigeons and rodents, only to emerge years later with a magical trust fund, but that doesn’t work for the rest of us.

The Silicon Valley venture capitalists are not all right

There’s a twisted, deformed culture of rich capitalists in California who come up with some of the worst ideas and get lauded for them, and one of the wackiest is a guy named Balaji Srinivasan. You know he’s bad when he’s endorsed by Marc Andreessen.

“Balaji has the highest rate of output per minute of good new ideas of anybody I’ve ever met,” wrote Marc Andreessen, co-founder of the V.C. firm Andreessen-Horowitz, in a blurb for Balaji’s 2022 book, The Network State: How to Start a New Country. The book outlines a plan for tech plutocrats to exit democracy and establish new sovereign territories. I mentioned Balaji’s ideas in two previous stories about Network State–related efforts in California—a proposed tech colony called California Forever and the tech-funded campaign to capture San Francisco’s government.

Balaji, a 43-year-old Long Island native who goes by his first name, has a solid Valley pedigree: He earned multiple degrees from Stanford University, founded multiple startups, became a partner at Andreessen-Horowitz and then served as chief technology officer at Coinbase. He is also the leader of a cultish and increasingly strident neo-reactionary tech political movement that sees American democracy as an enemy. In 2013, a New York Times story headlined “Silicon Valley Roused by Secession Call” described a speech in which he “told a group of young entrepreneurs that the United States had become ‘the Microsoft of nations’: outdated and obsolescent.”

So he hates democracy and wants all the rich people to leave the US and establish independent countries (where?) that they can control. If he’s building his own little fiefdom, though, he’s going to need a population to rule over, one that he’s denying any political influence. How will he entice people to join his movement and work for him? He has a vision.

“What I’m really calling for is something like tech Zionism,” he said, after comparing his movement to those started by the biblical Abraham, Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith (founder of Mormonism), Theodor Herzl (“spiritual father” of the state of Israel), and Lee Kuan Yew (former authoritarian ruler of Singapore). Balaji then revealed his shocking ideas for a tech-governed city where citizens loyal to tech companies would form a new political tribe clad in gray t-shirts. “And if you see another Gray on the street … you do the nod,” he said, during a four-hour talk on the Moment of Zen podcast. “You’re a fellow Gray.”

The Grays’ shirts would feature “Bitcoin or Elon or other kinds of logos … Y Combinator is a good one for the city of San Francisco in particular.” Grays would also receive special ID cards providing access to exclusive, Gray-controlled sectors of the city. In addition, the Grays would make an alliance with the police department, funding weekly “policeman’s banquets” to win them over.

“Grays should embrace the police, okay? All-in on the police,” said Srinivasan. “What does that mean? That’s, as I said, banquets. That means every policeman’s son, daughter, wife, cousin, you know, sibling, whatever, should get a job at a tech company in security.”

In exchange for extra food and jobs, cops would pledge loyalty to the Grays. Srinivasan recommends asking officers a series of questions to ascertain their political leanings. For example: “Did you want to take the sign off of Elon’s building?”

Oh. He’s fantasizing about an authoritarian cult. Raise your hand if you want to put on a gray shirt covered with corporate logos and surrender your autonomy to a pampered class of cops who obey a tiny group of rich boobs!

Is becoming a demented sociopath a prerequisite to becoming rich? It sure seems like it.

The Republican descent into insanity continues

Would believe they’re afraid that people are filling their lettuce with vaccines? Publish one little paper suggesting that plant tissue could be a source of pharmaceutical mRNA, and some right-wing dingbat immediately assumes that there’s a nefarious plan afoot to inoculate good god-fearing anti-vaxxers with stuff that might make them resistant to disease. We’d never do that! Besides, it would be pointless to use lettuce as a vector, since we all know they only eat red meat. Or, it was red until they cooked it to the texture of shoe leather. (Ooh, sudden thought…maybe we could smuggle mystery chemicals into their food via ketchup.)

Getting into more serious territory, Louisiana, the worst state in the union by nearly all metrics, now wants to criminalize the American Library Association. They must really hate the ALA, because this is what the law proposes.

A. No public official or employee shall appropriate, allocate, reimburse, or otherwise or in any way expend public funds to or with the American Library Association or its successor.
B. No public employee shall request or receive reimbursement or remuneration in any form for continuing education or for attending a conference if the continuing education or conference was sponsored or conducted, in whole or in part, by the American Library Association or its successor.
C. Whoever violates this Section shall be fined not more than one thousand dollars or be imprisoned, with or without hard labor, for not more than two years, or both.

It’s not clear what has pissed off the Republican sponsors so much that they would sentence librarians to hard labor for joining the organization. It’s probably because the ALA opposes book banning and endorses literacy.

The big surprise this week is Arizona. The Republicans have a one seat majority in the Arizona house and senate, and they used it to pass a near-total ban on abortion. They got the assistance of the looney-tunes Arizona Supreme Court.

Arizona’s Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that the state’s 1864 law banning all abortions, except to save the life of the mother, is now, enforceably, the law of the land. It is now a felony for a doctor—or anyone else—to assist a woman getting an abortion, punishable by two to five years in prison.

Arizona is a microcosm of what America would look like if the Republicans grab just a few more seats. There’s more that they have accomplished!

For example, the GOP-led legislature recently passed House Bill 2843 that would allow property owners to shoot and kill undocumented immigrants who simply walk across their property. This followed a border property owner’s arrest after he allegedly shot and killed an undocumented migrant walking on his land. Gov. Hobbs vetoed the bill this week.

Also this week, some MAGA legislative extremists were rolling on the Senate floor and speaking in tongues as they prayed for their bills to pass.

Of course, there’s also the usual Biblical shenanigans.

With a one-seat Republican majority in both the House and Senate, the legislature recently passed a bill that will allow teachers in public and charter K-12 schools to post and read the Ten Commandments in class.

The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Anthony Kern—a candidate for the U.S. Congress, currently under investigation as one of Donald Trump’s “fake electors” that falsely asserted Trump won the state in 2020—now moves to Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs’ desk, where a veto is expected.

Imagine if the federal government were under the thumb of the holy rollers and racists and know-nothings — they’re close to a perfectly legal take-over.

I hope you’re all planning to vote in November.

You must remember this: our opponents aren’t particularly bright

If you’ve never heard of Ian Miles Cheong, count yourself lucky: he’s nothing but an obsessed right-winger spewing noise non-stop onto social media. It’s still sort of satisfying to see that he’s actually rather dull.

Excuse me, Apple, why is the calculator wrong?
When you key in 50 + 50 and hit the equals key, it’ll give you 100. Multiply that by 2 and you get 200. That’s correct.
But type in 50 + 50 * 2 and it spits out 150. What gives?

It’s not Apple. Try it on any calculator. There are rules about the order of operations, where multiplication is done before addition.

I think I learned that in 5th or 6th grade, or thereabouts.

Chemtrails? Seriously?

The Republican party is expanding their brief further and further into the looney demand. They’re legislating against a nonexistent phenomenon: chemtrails. They’re just condensing vapor from jet engine exhaust, people!

SB 2691, sponsored by Sen. Steve Southerland (R-Morristown), never specifically mentions the dubious claims made by conspiracy theorists about the dangers of so-called “chemtrails,” however, when speaking about the bill, Southerland directly mentioned “chemtrails.”

“If you look at a thousand planes, you won’t see one (chemtrail). But then all of a sudden you see one,” Southerland told the Tennessee Lookout. “So we’re just asking the question: Are they putting anything in the air that could be toxic?”

The “chemtrails” conspiracy theory is the belief that condensation trails or vapor trails left in the sky from aircraft flying at high altitudes are actually some form of chemical or biological agents, which are being purposely released into the atmosphere for nefarious purposes including weather modification, phycological operations, or even population control.

I’ve heard this chemtrail nonsense for as many years as I’ve been on the internet, but now 6 states are proposing legislation to stop the laws of physics which cause hot gases from cold air at low pressure. These are now entirely backed by Republican party apparatchiks, where once upon a time there were plenty of people on the looney left who would babble about chemtrails. Give ’em time, they’ll take on every science-based policy we’ve got.

The language in these bills appears to based on model legislation created and promoted by fringe conspiracy theorists, and connected to group which operates a website that claims to advocate for “shutting down pollution-generating atmospheric modification schemes”: Zero Geoengineering.

In addition to promoting conspiracy theories about “chemtrails,” the group operates a network of connected websites that promote conspiracy theories about 5G networks and WIFI, food and other products produced using genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and the safety and efficacy of vaccines.

You know, if you’re concerned about people injecting bizarre chemicals into the environment, you’d be better off tackling fracking. That’s a real witch’s brew of toxic nastiness being injected into our water table. But of course, fracking is backed by industrialists, there’s real money there.

Big tough TV cowboy

Forrie Smith is a regular John Wayne — all hat and no cattle, nothing but air and noise pretending to be a cowboy. He’s on some show called “Yellowstone,” and he’s been making a fuss about vaccines and masks and all that right-wing BS. He’s taken it a step further than most, though, insisting that not only will he not wear a mask, but he will get mad if you wear a mask.

On March 24, Smith posted an Instagram story with the caption, “You need to hear this story.” He then proceeds to delve into the story of how he was kicked off an airplane. In the video, he appears intoxicated and disoriented, even expressing confusion about which city he is currently in. The video is filmed from the Houston, Texas, airport, where he claims, “I just got kicked off a plane … because I told them that I didn’t feel comfortable sitting next to somebody with a mask on.” Smith also revealed the staff cited his intoxication as the reason for kicking him off the plane. While he admitted he had “been drinking,” he insisted he wasn’t intoxicated.

He claimed the real reason he was kicked off was “because you people won’t stand up and tell everybody what bulls**t this is. I just told them I didn’t feel comfortable about sitting next to somebody that had to wear a mask, and I’m off the plane.” The incident may have gone unreported if Smith hadn’t posted it on social media. However, he seemed to think the video would garner sympathy or make some kind of point about vaccinations. Instead, it just made him look like a fool.

This is a new level of stupid. So he’s drunk — he mentions sitting in an airport bar for 3 hours — and he’s offended that he would be asked to sit next to someone wearing a mask. That’s bad enough, but then he goes on Instagram thinking he will be inspiring the people to rise up and complain right alongside him that someone dared to mask up in his presence.

I didn’t need to hear his story, but now that I have, I know to never pay attention to his pretentious, entitled, ignorant ass ever again.