The left can only project. Part 3

The Rabble Rouser is a blog by American social psychologist, Lee Jussim. It’s interesting because he’s clearly got enough “fuck off money” to be able to write about what he believes to be true, rather than what his profession’s echo chamber demands. The broad accuracy of gender stereotypes, for example.

His most recent content is a guest post by Michael Millerman. While the post itself is interesting, discussing the climate of fear in educational establishments preventing students from expressing opinions, it’s the comments below the article that are more intriguing.

Millerman describes trying encourage a class to discuss what aspects of the human condition are a result of social constructs. He was met with a fearful silence.

Note that, as he relates the situation, he didn’t offer a position himself, but tried to start a discussion but none was forthcoming.

In the blog post, he also doesn’t offer an opinion on which aspects he thinks may or may not be a result of social constructs. The blog post is about the reluctance to discuss topics, not what the “correct” answers are to those subjects.

So it’s fascinating therefore that several of the comments accuse him of “dogwhistling”, transphobia and of being a right wing troll.

Bill’s Opinion

Two of the commentators accurately explain what is going on;

Your comment is designed from the start to attack the moral standing of Professor Mllerman. You do not address his arguments in the least, but instead attack his moral character so you can consequently disqualify every argument he makes.

And;

DARVO means “Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender”, and this is exactly what the regressive-Left are doing to their ideological opponents (including other Lefties, progressives, and dedicated feminists). I think people should keep DARVO in mind the next time they see someone being attacked as “phobic”, to help them better analyze what is actually happening.

The negative commentators are either unconscious to the fact that they are not taking on the arguments but reverting to “playing the man not the ball“, or, they are deliberately utilising “DARVO” as a strategy.

Be it deliberate or accidental, the result is the same; Millerman’s points are not addressed as existing in isolation from Millerman as a person. For these people, the speaker IS the argument, not simply the vessel in which it is delivered.

This is a pernicious form of mental illness; by finding an objectionable aspect of Millerman’s history, background or personality, the difficult task of disproving anything uncomfortable or complex that he might say is avoided. The trick to doing this and still being able to function is to convince yourself that it is a reasonable strategy. Denial, in other words.

Stockholm Syndrome

Stockholm syndrome

noun

Feelings of trust or affection felt in many cases of kidnapping or hostage-taking by a victim towards a captor.

Fair warning; if you are allergic to the accent demonstrated in the song Valley Girl, this is going to hurt. You may consider soaking a box of Q-tips in bleach in preparation for repairing the aural damage.

This week, as part of my regular reconnaissance of enemy territory, I have subjected myself to the Ezra Klein podcast.
Ezra writes for Vox. On balance, it’s fair to say that Ezra has a great voice for print media. If you didn’t know otherwise, you might be forgiven for thinking Ezra was a 16 year old girl living in the San Fernando Valley.
Ad hominen fun aside, his podcasts are a great insight to a particular media mindset; this one is a doozy.

In it, Ezra interviews Amy Chozik, author of the book “Chasing Hillary: Ten Years, Two Presidential Campaigns, and One Intact Glass Ceiling“.

Before you set off with us on the journey of discovery, perhaps have a pencil and paper handy to count the number of redundant times the words “like” and “so” are used. The podcast might have been 15 minutes shorter if precision of language was a concept the pair understood.

In the podcast, our protagonists discuss the reporting of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. The overwhelming emotion expressed by these two objective journalists is one of regret and, dare we suggest it, shame.

The pair talk about “bias” a lot but not in terms of any suggestion they were biased towards wishing for a Clinton presidency but that they weren’t biased enough in their reporting.

For example, at 17 minutes in, they discuss the “tragedy” of the result. This is not the language employed by unbiased professional reporters. However, any semblance or artifice that they would describe themselves in those professional terms is shed as the conversation develops.

Ok, so we have two partisan writers discussing an election that didn’t go their way. At least the form of the conversation should be easy listening? They’re paid to write for a living, at least.

Nah. Wince as the English language is mangled under our brutal wrestling tag team; “lightning rod-ness” was a particular stand out, as were “stories we pre-wrote” and “pre-writing” whilst discussing the articles they hoped to file after Clinton’s victory. Presumably “pre-writing” is the writing one does before one writes?

See also, “pre-planning“, the planning one does before one plans, and “pre-warning“, the warning one gives before a warning, (to be clear, they don’t use these terms, they’re just two of my pet peeves).

Wonder also at how “gendered” the media coverage of the election was. Other people’s coverage, of course, our two heroes never once made any capital out of the biological differences between Hillary and Bernie or Donald. Oh no sir-ee (or madam/gender fluid person).

Enjoy also the exquisite irony of the use of the phrase, “abdicating our responsibility to think it through“. Spoiler alert; they aren’t talking about why the public didn’t trust Hillary or their reporting of Hillary.

An almost a throwaway line; “Trump’s bashing of the first amendment” was instructive. The fact that there’s no explanation of what is meant by that assertion speaks volumes; Ezra accepts it unquestionably as an axiom we all understand (or should be forced to?). It’s still not clear what he’s done to stop free speech.

Perhaps the best amusement is to had towards the end of the interview where we discover that the abuse directed at journalists was worse from Bernie Sanders’ supporters than anything Trump’s redneck, white-supremacist, misogynist, homophobe, transphobe, Islamaphobes could throw. Really? The left can be more brutal and threatening? Who knew?

Bill’s Opinion

Theres a significant problem with much of what passes as contemporary political discourse; people have lost the ability or desire to understand the opposing view. It is fashionable to write off one’s opponent as acting in bad faith and therefore deserving of whatever sanction we see fit, ranging from “no platforming” to impeachment and prosecution.

Subjecting ourselves to interviews such as this one help us understand how the other side are thinking. The expression “to steel man an argument” is something worth exploring if this is of interest.

A secondary advantage of listening to interviews like this is it is unintentionally fucking hilarious and a wonderful example of the meaning of the word schadenfreude.

Lastly, among his many verbal tics, Ezra frequently uses the expression “I’m curious” to commence a question that could simply have started with “who”, “what”, “where”, “when”, “why” or “how”.

Ironically, it is apparent to the most casual observer that the one characteristic Klein doesn’t posses is curiosity;

The unexamined life is not worth living.

Socrates

Freedom 2018

Freedom House, an “independent watchdog” has released a study which listed the most free countries in the world.

At least that’s the claim. Others might suggest the report proves something very different. For example, one possible conclusion that could be drawn from the report is that the authors are suffering from deep psychological issues of self-loathing perhaps bordering on Stockholm Syndrome.

Why?

Because the report claims the USA has slipped significantly in the levels of freedom available to its citizens.

Has it? What’s happened in the last 12 months?

Oh, President Trump said some mean words and passed Executive Orders halting immigration from countries with poor anti-terrorism vetting procedures;

The president has also lambasted and threatened the media—including sharp jabs at individual journalists—for challenging his routinely false statements, spoken disdainfully of judges who blocked his decisions, and attacked the professional staff of law enforcement and intelligence agencies. He signals contempt for Muslims and Latin American immigrants and singles out some African Americans for vitriolic criticism. He pardoned a sheriff convicted of ignoring federal court orders to halt racially discriminatory policies and issued an executive order restricting travel to the United States from a group of Muslim-majority countries after making a campaign promise to ban all foreign Muslims from the United States.

Ok, we get that “more than 130 in-house and external analysts and advisers from academia, think tanks, and human rights institutions” didn’t vote Republican in 2016 but has the USA really slipped back to the days of King John’s authoritarian rule?

If only there was an independent data set that showed what the population of the world thought and the subsequent individual choices they were making?

We’ll have to wait for an update to this survey but what’s the likelihood that the results have changed significantly in a year?

By the way, if you look closely, you’ll see Vilfredo Pareto’s observation proven correct again.

Bill’s Opinion

Is there any area of academia and the media in 2018 not tainted with confirmation bias?

The fact that Trump is President and tweets mean things about your friends is not the same thing as a South American dictatorship “disappearing” political opponents and beating the soles of their feet with electrical cable in the basement of the Secret Police building or Putin’s supporters killing journalists.

It just isn’t. Grow up.

Google might need a new company motto

Actually, it has already changed it from “Don’t be evil” to “Do the right thing”.

Regardless, the contents of a leaked memo suggest the mottos are to be considered more a guideline than a non-negotiable rule.

Google has allegedly created a search engine that would censor information that the Chinese government finds objectionable. The memo shows that Google planned to require users to log in to perform searches and the software would then track their location. The memo also said that Google would share Chinese users’ search information with a third-party Chinese company, which could then be available to government authorities.

Oh, that’s nice of them. What might be the consequences of Google handing details of an individual’s search history to a “private company” (if such a thing actually exists in China)?

Nothing to be concerned about, I’m sure. China’s record on human rights and the integrity of their legal system is so impeccable after all.

Bill’s Opinion

I’ve recently been considering weaning myself off Google products.

Despite what people might suggest, they don’t actually have a monopoly on providing many of the services we use on a day to day basis.

The response by Google to the James Damore memo was a major indication that the company has stopped taking their motto(s) seriously.

If this latest leak is correct, perhaps now is the time to find another mail, maps and internet search provider.

Everything is racist.

Even how one pronounces the name of a consonant is racist.

No, really it is;

No research has conclusively established….” seem like the most relevant words in that paragraph.

I heard a talk radio show once. Extrapolating the comments by the callers is a valid and reliable scientific approach“.

By pronouncing the letter H in the way that you do makes you responsible for the extinction of other languages“.

…and, not content with driving other languages to extinction, you are also responsible for historic and current violence against minorities“.

“Sinister. Yes, it may seem harmless but you’ve killed other languages and dealt violence on the innocent with your language pedantry, you monster. Look at what you have done. Happy now?

Bill’s Opinion

Voltaire didn’t actually write the quote being paraphrased and re-purposed above, his biographer did.

….he is also an utter cockwomble with a complete disregard for critical thinking, investigation of fact and application of logic.

He must be very comfortable and well at home in academia.

Meaty, Beaty, Hannah Mouncey

Our old friend Hannah Mouncey was back in the legacy press this week, on IDAHOBIT Day (yes, that’s a real “day”). The Grauniad gave him her some column inches to write about transphobia.

There’s no need to read the complete article, it’s mainly self-serving guff about how the AFL are tying themselves in logical knots trying to work out what to do with a “woman” player who has been on testosterone treatments (i.e. they were a man) for their entire life until their mid-twenties but wishes to compete in the female league. The picture Hannah and the Grauniad chose (above) to illustrate the injustice might not be quite as persuasive as they would hope. Nice guns there, Hannah, what do you bench?

The key part of the entire column is here;

But with latest figures showing 80% of young trans people having self-harmed, 48% reporting having attempted suicide at some point in their lives and rates of depression and anxiety approximately 10 times higher than other young Australians, it is important that people are aware of the impact their actions have. Those commenting on trans people and their place in society – as Chris Judd has recently – really need to be careful about the potential impact this has, as well as ensuring that what they have to say is informed.

Firstly, the comments by Chris Judd are here and are about as balanced an opinion as one is likely to see on any subject and has several academic studies referenced in support of the opinions. In summary, the physical advantages of a male athlete over a female athlete are not negated simply because they have recently reduced their testosterone levels and increased estrogen; the bone and cell advantages remain. For a less scientific version of this view, refer back to the picture above.

Secondly, Hannah seems to have jumped to the conclusion that transgender folk are depressed as a consequence of societal factors, rather than than a more inherent cause. It’s worth repeating that the only groups of people with documented rates of suicide approaching those of transgender people were prisoners in Soviet gulags and Nazi death camps.

For there to be a societal cause to the transgender suicide problem, we would have to agree that transgender people are being brutalised at a comparable scale to those two groups. Let’s just pause for a second and, if need be, go to Google and search for images and video footage of the liberation of Belsen.

Can you honestly claim western society is treating people like Hannah in a way that is similar to those war crimes?

Hannah also raises the issue of the perceived irresponsible use of speech that risks “harming” young transgender people. Apart from the balanced and academically-referenced article by Judd, the only evidence of this “harmful” speech offered was a news article reporting some signage on a bathroom door in a restaurant in the US (i.e. another continent away from Hannah’s house). What was the signage?

This;

Bill’s Opinion

Using our patented razor, it’s most likely that transgender people are depressed and suicidal due to their internal existential conflict rather than the reaction of the outside world to the outward displays of their internal existential conflict.

Regarding the irresponsible use of language, of course it is important that we consider carefully how we discuss the problems of others but it’s a dangerous path that leads from suggesting we can’t discuss facts. Hannah currently benefits from free speech; there are many locations in the  world where he she would be unable to write a newspaper column such as the one in the Grauniad simply due to who he she is. Be very wary of restricting what others might say, regardless and especially if you disagree with what it is they are saying. The true test of your belief in free speech is that you specifically allow and defend the right of opinions you reject to be expressed.

As for the bathroom signage…. well, I think it’s quite funny actually.

In fact, why would a Grauniad reader feel that it is offensive given their firm assertion that Bruce Jenner was a man and Caitlyn Jenner is most definitely a woman. If that statement is correct, what is inaccurate or offensive about the doors?

 

The tyranny of the many

There is a theory know as the Overton Window that suggests there is a finite range of political opinions which are acceptable for public discourse and any ideas which fall beyond this are the political equivalent of the “third rail” (the one carrying the fatal current on electric railways).

When Overton first suggested the idea, the Internet was in its infancy, a very different group of first adopters were engaging in online discourse in the mid-1990s than today. His theory was that societal norms policed the range of discourse and kept those opinions outside the “window” to the fringes.

This builds on observations by, among others, John Stuart Mill and De Tocqueville. In the latter’s work “On Democracy in America” he examines the risk of replacing tyranny from a despotic leader (the King of England) with a tyranny of the many. He gives the example that, in 1830s America, there was no law preventing a white man from marrying a freed African slave woman but the weight of societal pressure meant that this was prevented as surely as if there were a jail sentence.

This example is a useful compare and contrast opportunity for the present day; very few people would be willing to heap public condemnation on a mixed race marriage in the USA today. Those few that still do fall into two opposite sides of the Overton Window; white supremacists or those African Americans who condemn relationships with white partners.

This is a great example of what we instinctively know; “acceptable” opinions change over time. Mixed race relationships are now nothing to pass comment on, cross-dressers and those with gender disphoria are no longer considered as suffering from mental illness, and same sex relationships are given equal worth as traditional marriages.

We have a problem, however. The velocity of the movement of the Overton Window is leaving a large number of people with the “wrong” opinion on a subject exposed to the risk that they are on record (on social media, for example) expressing a sentiment that, just a few years later, is stranded on the windowsill outside of the Overton Window.

The change to the DSM rating of gender disphoria, for example; 10 years ago an opinion that it was a mental disorder would have been underpinned by the the work of the American Psychiatric Association. Today, you risk being subject to a social media “pile on” for exactly the same sentiment.

Why is this an issue? I offer a personal example;

I recently changed employer. Part of the pre-employment checks was the agreement that I could be subject to an Internet search for unacceptable opinions. The contract was a little more vague than that, claiming to look for information “unfavourable” to the organisation’s public reputation, but the interpretation is vague enough to prevent my hiring for “wrongthink”.

Fortunately, although it’s not difficult to identify me if the searcher was motivated, I have always kept my online discussions behind a pseudonym. In hindsight, this was a smart move as the Overton Window has moved and left me stranded in many subject areas.

Bill’s Opinion

Perhaps the Overton Window is another recipient of the Matthew Principle, “For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” or a Pareto distribution where opinions accumulate in an ever tighter space.

Regardless, teach your children the important lesson that nothing on the Internet is biodegradable and that what might seem a perfectly acceptable opinion today is unlikely to remain so tomorrow.

Today’s episode of Sesame Street is brought to you by the number 96 and the colour red

Well, this is an unusual state of affairs; the city of Liverpool takes offence at a t-shirt.

What features does the offensive t-shirt have that has insulted the normally stoic Scousers?

It’s red, has the number 96 and the title of a Bob Marley song printed on the back.

I think you’ll agree this is an excellent case for us to consider making an exception to the principle that freedom of speech is paramount. Real harm could occur if people were to be seen walking around in public with such an egregious display of offence on their torsos.

For those who may be confused as to the reasons why Topman’s t-shirt is so terrible, some background;

96 Liverpool football fans died in a crowd crush in 1989 at the Hillsborough stadium.

Liverpool Football Club’s colour is red.

That’s it.

Bill’s Opinion

Get over yourselves Liverpool. You don’t have a copyright on the number 96 and the colour red.

Perhaps, if you are the grieving family of one of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster, you should consider not answering the phone to journalists seeking a renta-quote 30 years later and, instead, get on with your life.

Mining the deep seams of offence

Being offended is the new sport for all to play so our outrage du jour involves a group of rugby players at university throwing a themed party.

What was the theme of said party?

The Holocaust, with attendees dressing up as camp guards and victims?

Nope.

A slavery party, with some plantation owners and the rest dressed as chained slaves?

Nada.

Perhaps the theme was Hollywood sex scandals with the fat front row forwards dressing up as Harvey Weinstein and the thin backs as nubile actresses about to be violated for the sake of their career?

Try again.

The theme of the massively offensive party was going to be (it was cancelled, obviously) the Miners’ Strike of 1984.

Outrageous, as I’m sure you’ll agree.

Bill’s Opinion

Offence is something we choose to take. Similarly, if the theme of a party you aren’t even invited to upsets you, why not simply ignore it and certainly don’t bother gatecrashing it.

Of course, if you really must find offence in things that are none of your business, perhaps a party to celebrate the death of Lady Thatcher thrown by a mining community might be of interest to you.

Who regulates the regulator?

More calls for the State to protect us from the consequences of our choices courtesy of the Legacy Media ™ Guardian;

Facebook and Google give us services and experiences we like, therefore the Government should intervene.

The main thrust of the argument is that, because the interface is addictive, it’s bad for us. A conclusion is then leapt to that the only way to moderate any negative impacts is State intervention.

Let’s go back a few steps before we decide to open the Ministry of Responsible Social Media.

What harm is being incurred and by whom?

Addictive screen layouts and content?

Would we prefer the screen design to be clunky and unusable?

Would we prefer content to be curated for us by a government regulator? Good grief, no!

But the author doesn’t take long to get to the real point of the article;

Ah, the worn out “Russians hacked the election” line. It’s not the addictive nature of the free services these companies provide, it’s the inability of people like us to curate the content.

Scratch the surface of most Guardian readers and every Guardian contributor and an authoritarian will soon be revealed.

Bill’s Opinion

Freedom of speech is the foundational right upon which all others stand or fall.

With the freedom of speech comes the freedom to be wrong and the freedom to follow false information. If you doubt that statement, ask a Guardian reader whether they think a Ministry of Truth to moderate fake news would be a good idea. I bet, with a little encouragement, they will agree.

Over at Tim Newman’s place, there’s a conversation ongoing about anti-Semites. Anti-Semites are offering an idea to the market place of ideas. The best way to deal with them is to give them the publicity they crave and let the paucity of their arguments be exposed for what they are. Shutting them down as “fake news” simply breeds conspiracy theories.