Which one is not beautiful?

You have to choose A or B. I’m sorry, them’s the rules, no waffling allowed, because we believe in a strict binary decision here.

Jordan Peterson took this simple test, and failed, perhaps because he’s one of those animals that can’t handle the mirror test. When Sports Illustrated announced its annual swimsuit issue with a picture of (A), a woman named Yumi Nu, he declared Sorry. Not beautiful. And now amount of authoritarian tolerance is going to change that. I guess he is the definitive judge of the swimsuit competition, and thinks beauty is a physical absolute instead of a personal opinion.

Many people on Twitter were jolted into tweeting by the jarringly stupid, nasty mind that would say such a thing, and jumped all over him. So he announced that he was quitting Twitter because everyone was a poopyhead to say such mean things about him.

Wow. I feel like saying “get a thicker skin”, the go-to response people make when they point out the cruelty of the internet, that he should just ignore that which he dislikes, the way I ignore the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Unfortunately, he made a very big deal of his departure.

The staunch proponent of free speech recently bemoaned “self-censorship as a multiplier of cancel culture” and in December called a critic with less than 70 followers a “fool and a coward.” Eventually, however, Peterson faltered under the intensity of the backlash.

He lamented the “endless flood of vicious insults” and opined that Twitter’s structure makes it “intrinsically and dangerously insane.” He also said that he’d recently taken a Twitter break for a few weeks and found it drastically improved his life. (His staff appears to have tweeted from his account in Peterson’s stead.)

So he’s decided to take leave of the platform once again.

“I told my staff to change my password, to keep me from temptation, and am departing,” he tweeted.

Wait. He’s got a staff to handle his Twitter account? And he’s having them change his password instead of deleting his account? That’s an entitled chickenshit move.

He then proceeded to tweet incessantly after making that announcement — I guess he was making a Minnesota good-bye. He may have sort of finally kinda left, though, with his latest and maybe last tweet, smugly announcing that he had 5 million followers on YouTube. It’s a version of I didn’t want to play stickball with you meanies anyway, ’cause I’ve got a Nintendo at home. Nyaa nyaa nyaa.

He’s one of those people who use their follower count as a measure of their worth.

I don’t follow him on Twitter or on YouTube though, so he can just petulantly march away and I won’t care, except to point and laugh at the whiner.

P.S. I won’t leave you hanging. The answer to my little quiz is B, B is not beautiful, using the principles of authoritarian tolerance, whatever that is.

I couldn’t take Gilder seriously after he decided to rename molecular biology adguacyth

Way, way back in 2004-2007, one of my prime targets for my ire was George Gilder, the pretentious twit who was one of the founders of the Discovery Institute. He was such an easy target, so full of hot air and ignorance, that it was fun to take potshots at him as he bobbed about like a zeppelin that had lost its steering. Then he faded away into backrooms where he could babble nonsensically with no one around to criticize him, and I lost track (and interest) in what he’s been doing.

But he’s back now. He came out with a shiny new book a few years ago — sorry I’m late, I didn’t care enough to notice — and he has a new hobby horse. It’s blockchain of all things. Here’s an entertaining review by David Gerard.

Gilder predicts that the Google and Silicon Valley approach — big data, machine learning, artificial intelligence, not charging users per transaction — is failing to scale, and will collapse under its own contradictions.

The Silicon Valley giants will be replaced by a world built around cryptocurrency, blockchains, sound money … and the obsolescence of philosophical materialism — the theory that thought and consciousness needs only physical reality. That last one turns out to be Gilder’s main point.

Right, that’s why he was promoting Intelligent Design creationism so assiduously. No surprise here.

But Gilder never quite makes his case that blockchains are the solutions to the problems he presents — he just presents the existence of blockchains, then talks as if they’ll obviously solve everything.

Blockchains promise Gilder comfort in certainty: “The new era will move beyond Markov chains of disconnected probabilistic states to blockchain hashes of history and futurity, trust and truth,” apparently.

Pure Gilder. He loves to talk. Unfortunately, much of what he talks about is his personal fantasy about how the world should work.

There are so many beliefs Gilder has that ought to make him a figure of contempt, but what I can’t figure out is why people pay any attention to him.

Gilder despises feminism, and has described himself as “America’s number-one antifeminist.” He has written two books — Sexual Suicide, updated as Men and Marriage, and Naked Nomads — on this topic alone.

Also, per Gilder, Native American culture collapsed because it’s “a corrupt and unsuccessful culture,” as is Black culture — and not because of, e.g., massive systemic racism.

Gilder believes the biological theory of evolution is wrong. He co-founded the Discovery Institute in 1990, as an offshoot of the Hudson Institute. The Discovery Institute started out with papers on economic issues, but rapidly pivoted to promoting “intelligent design” — the claim that all living creatures were designed by “a rational agent,” and not evolved through natural processes. It’s a fancy term for creationism.

Gilder insisted for years that the Discovery Institute’s promotion of intelligent design totally wasn’t religious — even as judges ruled that intelligent design in schools was promotion of religion. Unfortunately for Gilder, we have the smoking gun documents showing that the Discovery Institute was explicitly trying to push religion into schools — the leaked Wedge Strategy document literally says: “Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.”

Read the rest. It’s very thorough, and discusses Gilder’s ongoing machinations with people like Peter Thiel. Maybe I shouldn’t have let him drop off my radar, but my interest in him waned when his influence via the ID movement was discredited in the Dover trial. He’s been a cunning and influential little ratfucker since then, though!

The irrefutability problem and cryptocurrency

Something that bugs me: there are all these articles that explain why cryptocurrency will fail, and they’re good — but they’re all so long. Dan Olson’s video on the subject was over two hours long, and it was great, but it takes dedication to get through it all, and it’s not fair — there’s an asymmetry problem here, just as there is with creationism, where the zealots only have to shout a short slogan (“you’ll get rich!” or “God did it!”), and then the smart people who actually know something have to slog through a couple of textbooks or a pile of papers to show definitively that they’re wrong. Once again, here’s a LONG interview with Nicholas Weaver to explain what’s wrong with cryptocurrency. He makes a prediction:

It will implode spectacularly. The only question is when. I thought it would have actually imploded a year ago. But basically, what we saw with Terra and Luna, where it collapsed suddenly due to these downward positive feedback loops—situations where basically the system is designed to collapse utterly and quickly—those will happen to the larger cryptocurrency space. Because, for example, the mining process is horribly expensive. We’re talking [a measurable percentage] of the world’s electricity consumption, most of that has not been paid for. So the mining companies for the most part have been taking the cryptocurrency and borrowing against the cryptocurrency that they create, rather than sell it, because the market’s actually very thin.

This means there’s a huge amount that is subject to potentially catastrophic margin calls. And that creates a feedback loop where the price drops a little, somebody’s forced to sell. That drops the price more. They’re forced to sell more. This creates a feedback loop that drives the price into the ground, catastrophically.

The previous times this has happened, we had the bubble at 100, powered by fraud at Mt. Gox. And that imploded down to 10. We had a bubble a 1000 powered by fraud, it imploded and went back down to 100. We had a bubble at 10,000 powered by Tether, it blew up and went back down to 1,000. And now we’re at a bubble where Bitcoin blew up to 60,000, fueled by Tether and falling. But I don’t think there’ll be a fifth bubble. Because basically, they will have broken all the suckers left to break. There’s only so many more suckers that can be brought into that space. Once you burn out a sucker, they don’t come back. They’re a non-renewable resource. So they’re going to end up running out of greater fools.

So I suspect that the cryptocurrency space will go fine absent regulation, until one day it goes and collapses greatly.

Unfortunately, that won’t change anything. If there’s one thing we should have learned from history, it’s that it doesn’t matter if bunkum is refuted by real world catastrophic consequences. Someone predicts the world will end on a specific date, the date passes, and their followers are unfazed. Undergo a pandemic, and the deniers will say it was just a bad cold even after a million Americans have died of it. Go ahead, say that Bitcoin is doomed to collapse, and the instant it fails there’s a train of True Believers who will announce another new cryptocurrency that they’ll claim is flawless…until it too goes boom.

I look forward to the day we can say “I told you so” and then watch befuddled as the idiots line up to do it all over again.

It’ll be…great?

Jordan Peterson can’t see any holes in his argument

But I can!

The Bible is true in a very strange way. It’s true in that it provides the basis for truth itself. And so it’s like a metatruth, without it there couldn’t even be the possibility of truth. And so maybe that’s the most true thing, the most true thing isn’t some truth per se. It’s that which provides the precondition for all judgements of truth. I can’t see any holes in that argument. And I can’t see any holes in it from a scientific perspective either, because I think we do know well enough now as scientists that the problem of deriving ethical direction from the collection of facts is an intractable problem.

Oh, yeah, the familiar is/ought problem. I agree with the last sentence above, but what I don’t see is Peterson’s solution. So we should derive ethical direction from a collection of contradictory, incoherent myths in a specific holy book? Why should I accept the precondition of the Bible’s rules instead of some other holy book, or instead of a framework of empiricism? That’s all he’s saying, is that ethical action requires a standpoint and a goal, but he doesn’t even try to justify the mish-mash of primitive ideas in the Bible as that good perspective needed to drive ethical behavior.

Why should I consider the ravings of a Jungian weirdo with bizarre dietary beliefs to be representative of a “scientific perspective”?

In his tweet, he seems to be claiming that “the west” should have a different precondition for truth than the rest of the world. Is this relativism? Or maybe it’s post-modernism. I have no idea what philosophical mumbo-jumbo he’s drawing this claim from — I think it might just be what you get emerging from a drug-addled, overly-entitled brain.

Nice suit, though. It drapes well even when its contents are empty.

Quite possibly the worst commencement speech ever

The students of the University of Wyoming deserved better. Their commencement speaker was an awful Republican who said stupid things.

Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) was resoundingly booed on Saturday while giving a commencement address at the University of Wyoming after she said it is a “fundamental scientific truth” that there can only be males and females.

“There are those in government who believe not that the creator endowed us with inalienable rights … but that government created those rights,” Lummis said in her speech. “And the government should redefine those rights, including our rights to freedom of speech, religion, property, assembly and to keep and bear arms. Even fundamental scientific truths — such as the existence of two sexes, male and female — are subject to challenge these days.”

Students erupted in boos and jeers after that last sentence — and they continued on for nearly 30 seconds as Lummis stood awkwardly smiling onstage.

You can watch the moment here, starting right around the 49:40 mark.

Good for the students booing her. She seems to think that Jesus created “rights”, that they weren’t the product of human beings writing rules down. She thinks “two sexes” is a scientific truth, when the science she excludes and doesn’t understand says that sex is much more complicated and diverse than she imagines.

If you just listen to that short segment, though you’ll miss the other lunacies in her speech. A minute or two before that, she was plugging Bitcoin. After her “two sexes” bit, she talks about her favorite contemporary non-fiction author, who is…Eric Metaxas? Well, there’s the problem right there. She thinks a conservative evangelical pundit who writes children’s books supporting Donald Trump, with titles like Donald Builds the Wall and Donald Drains the Swamp, who writes bad biographies praising Christian leaders, whose writing is full of nothing but god-talk, who is an anti-vaxxer, is an example of a non-fiction author.

Lummis is a deluded, ignorant fool. Wyoming is a conservative state, so I can understand how she got elected, but I used to expect a university to promote just the best and brightest, and the University of Wyoming failed on that point.

Also, as of February of this year, Lummis owns about $200,000 worth of Bitcoin. I don’t know what that’s worth now (I hope much less), but using a commencement speech to shill for your personal profit is kind of gross.

Bloody Republicans

I guess today we all get to learn about “replacement theory”, which isn’t a legitimate theory but more a reactionary conspiracy theory held by kooks. You know, big name, rich kooks like Tucker Carlson.

The “great replacement” theory has been a favorite of Carlson’s for some time now. This particular paranoid hypothesis is deeply rooted in neo-Nazi and other white nationalist circles. A cabal of rich Jewish people, the theory holds, has conspired to “replace” white Christian Americans with other races and ethnic groups in order to gain political and social control. Carlson doesn’t actually say “Jews,” and generally blames the sinister plan on Democrats, socialists or unspecified “elites,” but otherwise has kept the conspiracy theory intact. (Antisemitism remains the mix by singling out individual Jewish people especially Soros, as the alleged ringleaders.) It’s not like Carlson only invokes this narrative on occasion. As Media Matters researcher Nikki McCann Ramirez has documented, Carlson is obsessed with this idea that the people he calls “legacy Americans” — a not-so-veiled euphemism for white Christians of European ancestry — are under siege from shadowy forces flying the banner of diversity. He uses anodyne terms like “demographic change” to make the point, but has gotten bolder more recently, using the word “replacement” to make it even clearer that he’s borrowing his ideas from the white-supremacist fringe.

According to a New York Times analysis, in fact, Carlson has invoked the “great replacement” theory in over 400 episodes of his show, one of the most popular cable news shows in the country.

We have to remember, though, that it’s not just Carlson — getting him canceled wouldn’t change the fact that he has a huge audience of gullible Average Americans who all lean racist. He ought to be fired, of course, but we’ve got to somehow reach those people whose brains he has tainted. Before they kill us.

Rolling Stone also explains what “replacement” means in the minds of racists.

Five years ago, when white supremacists walked down the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, chanting “Jews will not replace us!” and carrying tiki torches, few people understood their intent – the fact that they were referring to replacement theory. The idea seemed outlandish, even incomprehensible; at the time, it was a fairly obscure rallying cry, based around a 2012 book by French novelist Renaud Camus fearmongering about a nonwhite-majority Europe, absorbed into the fetid stew of white-supremacist cant, where it acquired a vicious antisemitism. For many white supremacists, it is Jews who are orchestrating the “reverse colonization,” as Camus put it, of white countries, in order to more easily manipulate a nonwhite and therefore more malleable general populace. In Gendron’s manifesto, after explaining in detail why he picked the particular supermarket he did — it was in a majority-Black neighborhood with a majority-Black clientele — he felt the need to explain why he did not choose to attack Jews. “[Jews] can be dealt with in time, but the high fertility replacers will destroy us now, it is a matter of survival we destroy them first,” he wrote, before listing his weaponry in detail with price points included — a manual for future murders. While Gendron’s choice to engage in mass slaughter puts him on the radical fringe of those who enforce their beliefs with bullets, and his overt antisemitism differs slightly from vaguer blame of “elites,” “Democrats” and “globalists,” his fixation on white birthrates and demographic change are neither fringe nor particularly unusual. The gnawing fear of a minority-white America has utterly consumed conservative politics for the past half-decade, creating a Republican party whose dual obsessions with nativism and white fertility have engendered a suite of policies engineered to change the nature of the body politic. What unites murderers like Gendron, and the long list of white supremacist attackers he cited with admiration, with the mainstream of the Republican party is the dream of a white nation.

The Washington Post chose to talk about a Southern Democrat, Theodore Bilbo, a Mississippi senator who pushed the same notion. I don’t think it was to place equal blame on both parties (especially since a Southern Democrat in the 1940s was equivalent to any Republican in the years since Reagan) but to point out that even the most conservative people in the country found him repugnant.

But while the great replacement theory has inspired horrific violence in the past five years, it’s a lot older than that. More than 70 years ago, a U.S. senator published a book warning of the same destruction of White civilization.

Theodore G. Bilbo, a Democrat, had twice been governor of Mississippi before he served in the U.S. Senate from 1935 to 1947, when “the growing intolerance among many whites toward public racism and anti-Semitism” led to his fall, according to an account in the Journal of Mississippi History.

An equal-opportunity racist, he addressed some of his letters with slurs against Italians and Jews, depending on the recipient. But the bulk of his loathing and fear was reserved for Black Americans, as spelled out in his 1947 book “Take Your Choice: Separation or Mongrelization.”

Despite the fact that he was despised, though, the only thing that expelled him from the senate was oral cancer and death. I can’t sit here and wish the same would happen to Carlson — cancer is too evil.

I can sit here and say that “replacement theory” is stupid. It draws on the conceit that your personal immortality is built on your children, that biology is destiny, that when you procreate, you are creating little copies of yourself who will have the same goals as yourself. It doesn’t work that way, as anyone with kids can tell you. As I explain to students every year, mitosis is a process that allows a cell to perpetuate itself and make identical copies. We don’t reproduce by mitosis, though, but by meiosis…and what meiosis does is generate diversity, and the fusion of two gametes produces more diversity. There is no white race that is going to be preserved if you repudiate miscegenation. That reduces the pool of genes your progeny can draw from, and isn’t going to help you propagate, it’s just going to delay the mingling of your genes to a later generation which can see the folly of your racist schemes.

Also, I don’t share much in common culturally with the kinds of white people who believe in “replacement theory”. I sure hope my kids don’t marry any of them!

Unfortunately, the Republicans of today have picked up the banner of “replacement theory” and are running with it. It’s just another example of conservatives losing touch with reality.

The bigotry is leaking in everywhere

I’ve long struggled with what to think of Richard Dawkins, once a hero, now a muddled old man. Here is a revealing tweet (I also think he uses Twitter as a shooting range, with his foot as the main target), in which he praises Douglas Murray, of all people.

I have not read any of Murray’s books, I’ve started a few of his shorter articles and given up at the pain, and I’ve listened to a few of his interviews on video. I have never seen the reason for his popularity among a certain sector, except that he’s very good at putting a shiny semi-scholarly sheen on some very bad and bigoted ideas, and his anti-immigrant position is popular among conservatives. Here’s a devastating follow-up tweet:

Yikes. Do I ever want to read anything by Murray ever again? No I do not. He’s probably going to get more face-time with Joe Rogan and Sam Harris, though.

Jesus. The West, the West, the West. What is it? What is he trying to defend? He sure does hate and fear immigrants, or “the developing world” which is invading/assaulting “the developed world”, not recognizing that if any assault has been going on, it’s been in the other direction, for centuries. And there on the first page of his book, he has to misrepresent his critics: “they” (leftists? communists? the Jews? This is just bad writing, invoking vague boogeymen) talk about equality but don’t support equal rights, talk about anti-racism but are racist themselves, “they” equate justice with revenge. This “they” seem to be a really confusing grab bag of miscellaneous weirdos, and I come away with the sense that “they” are just a faceless, amorphous straw man on which the reader can slap any resentments they might have.

The kicker is the excerpt from the Buffalo mass murderer’s manifesto. Yeah, that guy, the white man who charged into a grocery store with an assault rifle to gun down black people.

Yikes. The West, the West, the West. The mischaracterization of Leftists: they hate the West for its crimes, but love the “socialist countries” who do the same thing. And it’s all at the bidding of George Soros, the Jew.

You know, I haven’t read any books by Soros, nor any articles, and I’ve never viewed any videos of him. I haven’t the remotest idea what he sounds like, and barely recognize his face, and only because I’ve seen caricatures of him drawn by Nazi wannabes — if I passed him on the street, I wouldn’t give him a second glance. Yet somehow, he is our master.

Apparently, though, the murderous asshole’s manifesto goes on at length about “the great replacement”, which is the same garbage Tucker Carlson rants about.

Somehow, Richard Dawkins, who always votes Left, has found himself in the same camp as Douglas Murray, Tucker Carlson, and the Buffalo murderer. If I were him, it’s at this point, if not earlier, I’d stop and ask myself, “could I be wrong?” (Wait a minute, I did question my association with a community of bad actors about a decade ago, and got out quick, but maybe not quick enough.)