Simple solutions to complex situations

We should have equal opportunities.

We should have equal outcomes.

One of these two statements represents a desire to help others, the other is fascism.

An Australian university study has found what everyone who has ever met and interacted with other humans already knew; personality, cognitive skills and conscientiousness are more of a factor in career success than gender.

Their conclusion; invest in training to improve women’s skills and personalities, for example in being extroverted.

Facetiously, are they suggesting we try to make women more like men?

Perhaps the differences between male and female characters have served us well as a species?

The Chesterton quote seems relevant here, often summarised as; ” Don’t ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up”. The original quotation is as follows;

In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.

Obviously, gender-wide generalisations are just that; generalised. A man can be a natural carer just as a woman can be an extroverted powerful leader. It’s just that statistics show trends.

Should we accept those trends and legislate against or even knowingly inhibit the outliers following their chosen career path? Of course not, that would be fascism.

Should we inhibit people who fall into the trend to enable more outliers to be successful? Again, fascism.

There is an Australian government website here which hectors us to consider the inequality across the not so lucky country.

This infographic is quite amusing;

Western Australia has a shocking statistic there, doesn’t it?

Well, it does if you fail to consider the high wages paid to mine workers. It turns out that when it comes to equality, many women vote with their feet and actively choose not to work in dangerous environments, 45 degree heat and spending weeks away from home in the remote north of the state.

95% of Australian workplace fatalities are male. See if you can find that data point in the official statistics here.

The Finance and Insurance Services gap does look somewhat damning, however. It would be interesting to see a more detailed view of the data; is it skewed by 10 incredibly-well paid men at the top of the main institutions, perhaps?

Bill’s Opinion

There’s probably thousands of reasons why there’s a pay gap between men and women.

In order of materiality though, “sexism” is likely to be far lower down the list than;

– freely-made life choices

– suitability of personality type

– attitudes to physical danger

Question the data, question the agenda behind the data.

“Significant drain”

The postal vote survey on same sex marriage is causing a significant drain on the LGBTIQ community, apparently.

Let’s just unpack that statement, shall we?

Firstly, definitions.

LBGTIQ apparently stands for;

L = Lesbian

B = Bisexual

G = Gay

T = Transgender

I = Intersex

Q = Questioning

So, the vote survey is only directly relevant to 2 of those groups then; lesbians and gays. As an aside, one wonders whether it might save significant ink and keyboard wear and tear for intersectionalists if they were to refer to lesbians and gays as homosexuals and use an H instead. But we digress.

Transgender people will be unlikely to be bothered about same sex marriage until they’ve completed the medical procedures and then, presumably, decided they are attracted to members of the gender they’ve transitioned to.

Similarly, intersex people will have fewer concerns too.

“Questioning” people are presumably still on a journey of discovery so may or may not arrive at the conclusion that they wish to marry someone of the same sex. Hopefully, this questioning is using a robust methodology such as Socrates’.

So, just the lesbians and gays then.

Why does the journalist write about the LBGTIQ “group” as if they were an amorphous lumpen mass with exactly the same desires, concerns and needs?

Lastly, what is a “significant spike”? The only numbers we’re offered are from the Reachout website service; they claim 1.5 million unique visitors a year and a 20% increase since August. So about 800 more a day then, (presumably not independently verified).

Given that Reachout are currently running an advertising campaign in favour of same sex marriage and this is their website’s landing page, perhaps there’s an alternative explanation behind the increase in traffic?

Bill’s Opinion

To suggest that there is a single common opinion held by people falling into the manufactured categories of LBGTIQ is a red herring (“furphy” in Australian vernacular).

There is an agenda behind the users of theses acronyms; to shut down debate on the issues by suggesting that there is a much large demographic with a single common opinion than there actually is.

The author of the article could have spent his/her/zhe’s 400 words arguing the pros and cons of same sex marriage instead. It speaks volumes that Adam Gartrell chose not to.

G’day sport

We’ve previously explored the issue of transgenderism and whether it is cruel or kind to agree with a mental delusion that one is “born in the wrong body” absent any compelling physical or scientific evidence.

Consider then, the case of Hannah Mouncey, who is hoping to be the first transgender player in the Women’s Australian Rules Football League (AFLW).

For readers not familiar with Australian Rules Football, it needs to be explained that it’s a contact sport with similarities to Rugby and Gaelic Football. The tackles are big hits; height and physical strength are a significant contributing factor to success. One cannot play this game without being able to deliver, and also tolerate taking, a solid bodyslam.

So, if your daughter played this sport, how keen would you be for her to be lining up in a match against Hannah next weekend?

No, that’s not a picture of a young Lars Ulrich, drummer from Metal-licker, that’s the potentially latest AFLW player, “Hannah”.

To prove the point that she’s a lady, here she is in in a classic little black dress channeling her inner Holly Golightly.

The AFLW rules require that, to be qualified as female, Hannah needs to prove that she has less than 10 nanomoles of testosterone per litre in her bloodstream. Hannah is confident that she can pass this test.

Bill’s Opinion

This will be a fascinating case to follow especially as the AFLW has recently had significant commercial success, attracting large crowds of up to 51,000.

Whether or not the spectators continue to follow the women’s version of the sport if a bricklayer in drag is allowed to beat up women will be an excellent bellwether of the success or failure of the intersectionality narrative of the Cultural Marxists.

Shame doesn’t scale

There are many reasons to celebrate the internet, not least the availability of the vast majority of written human knowledge at the fingertips of anyone with a browser and a connection. We are only scratching the surface of the possibilities of this incredible increase in the “velocity” of ideas and the interconnections between previously-disparate areas of study. The marketplace of information and thought has become exponentially more free in this generation. Who knows what marvelous inventions and discoveries might result?

There are many well-documented negative consequences of the internet too; groups of people with destructive or malicious intent can more easily find each other and work together.

There seems to be a growing trend, uniquely facilitated by the internet which, on the face of it, has the appearance of being positive and for the good of society but perhaps has regrettable long term consequences.

The concept of “shame” is a highly-efficient mechanism developed though evolution  to ensure socially-compliant behaviour by people in small groups. A tribe will ostracise and shun a member who acts against the common good, not using the designated latrine area, for example. This shaming has served us well as a species over thousands of generations, enabling us to live and work together far more effectively with surprisingly few conflicts. If you think that last sentence sounds incorrect, consider how many more fights and blood feuds we’d have in society if we did whatever we wanted without considering what the neighbours might think.

Perhaps shame loses its utility with scale, that is, the damage done by shaming a behaviour becomes too extreme compared to the benefit it may bring?

The most recent example that springs to mind is that of James Damore and his now infamous dossier as a response to a request for feedback following his attendance at several internal Google diversity seminars.

Despite the fact that the original document (here, complete with the charts and citations most media reports edited out) reads as a well-argued counter argument as requested, the internet outcry was intense enough to result in Google firing him.

The vast majority of criticism (maybe use alternate search engines to look for it) was ad hominen rather than explaining where Damore’s arguments were flawed.

Similarly, Justine Sacco was subject to an internet campaign of shame following an ill-advised poor taste joke on Twitter. She too lost her job as a consequence.

Regardless of whether or not the content of Damore’s dossier was accurate or had worth or whether Sacco’s joke was in poor taste, in an earlier age the consequences of both would have been unlikely to be so extreme.

There is a tendency to “pile on” on social media to shame individuals with whom we disagree. The left-leaning are particularly adept and enthusiastic in this but it is not exclusive behaviour by any end of the political spectrum.

Shame does not scale up well.

What might be the consequences of this increased consequence to shame at scale?

Bill’s Opinion

This blog itself is a great indication as to the consequences; anonymous and hosted in a country with some of the better internet privacy laws. I’d prefer to write this under my own name but the risk to my livelihood and privacy is too great.

But more broadly, how many of us have witnessed situations on social media where you would have wished to make a contrary statement or at least debate the point but were conscious of the risk of being subject to being labeled with one of the words with the ‘-ist’ suffix. My personal LinkedIn timeline is a classic for this; I see so much that I take issue with and would want to call out as incorrect or at least logically-flawed but the risk of collateral damage is too great.

So, the consequence is silence.

Note, the consequence isn’t that the contrary opinions go away, just that they are not aired in the company of those who will disagree with them.

So the ultimate consequence is increased polarisation of opinions where opposing views are rarer exposed to each other in the marketplace of ideas to compete to discover which is contains more truth.

It’s fashionable these days to suggest reasons for Brexit and Trump winning and often these might be only tangentially-related , but this silence of the shamed might have a very strong correlation.

Believe the action not its promise

China joined the club of countries vowing to ban diesel and petrol vehicles. France and Britain have made similar assertions.

In typically hubristic European style, the French and Brits even put a date by which it would happen… in both cases, at least 5 general elections’ time. To quote the pederast Keynes again, “in the long run, we’re all dead”.

China have been a little more circumspect; “in the near future“, was the inscrutable statement. By an amazing coincidence, this is precisely the timetable parents the world over offer in response to the question, “when can I have a pony?“.

Let’s assume the Chinese are going to follow the Anglo-Franco timetable and bring the ban in for 2040. What are the possible outcomes?

1. Automobile manufacturers will fast-track any existing R&D projects that will result in hydrogen/electric/cow manure cars in time to sell in 2040 at the same price or cheaper than the equivalent petrol/diesel vehicle… and they are successful.

2. Ditto (1) but they are unsuccessful; the cars don’t go as fast, far or cost more.

3. The current R&D projects are already due to complete well before 2040.

Looking at these in a not so random order;

Option (1) is all good, win/win for everyone and even the planet, with the not minor assumption that the Chinese can produce electricity without recourse to those pesky fossil fuels by then, otherwise we’ve just centralised the pollution.

Option (3) is pretty good for everyone too, but would suggest that government mandates don’t drive innovation, markets do.

Option (2) is a bit of a problem though, depending on the type of commitment made. In a country with a properly-functioning rule of law, there might be some delicate unwinding of legislation made by politicians who may be long departed to the retirement home or their final destination (presumably carried by eco-friendly hearses) .

If there’s a compelling feet to the fire type of commitment in place or an ideological bent to the governing party when the 2040 New Year’s Eve light show (the emissions from fireworks will surely be banned by then) happens, we might see some subsidies/tariffs/taxes given or imposed to get to that stated goal. i.e. more government intervention due to a “market failure“.

Bill’s Opinion

Originally, this part of today’s post was going to quote the story of the Great Horse Manure Crisis of 1894. The trouble is, upon further research, it looks like that might have been horseshit and was most likely to be an urban myth.

But perhaps there is still a lesson to be learned from the invention of the car?

Consider the major steps in the development of human transport:

  1. Human power – we could only move as fast and as efficiently as our own bodies.
  2. Horse power – we could only move as fast and as efficiently as horses or other beasts of burden.
  3. Steam power – we could only move as fast as a steam engine powered by coal could drive us.
  4. Refined fuel power – we could only move as fast as a petrol engine could drive us.

Those last 3 steps weren’t invented as a response to a crisis but as an innovation to realise an opportunity.

The hope that innovation will be sparked as a result of creating a purely false crisis (i.e. a new law) is not supported by strong historical evidence. Perhaps opportunity drives innovation more often than crisis?

 

 

One does not like green eggs and ham

Our recent investigation into the accidental UK Conservative Party leadership contender, Jacob Rees-Mogg, led us to discover the perfectly rational, balanced and sober Guardian columnist, Suzanne Moore.

One of her recent offerings was on the subject of “hate crimes” and “online hate”.

Something must be done, she opines, there must be consequences.

Definitions are always a handy starting point when searching for the truth of a statement.

Firstly, what is “hate“?

In the English language it can have several related but different meanings; the opposite of love, for example. An extreme dislike of something or someone, perhaps. Without wishing to put words into Ms. Moore’s mouth, she seems to be defining it moore (see what I did there?) as an action than a feeling. Online hate, is the term she uses to describe this version of the word, suggesting the use of the verb rather than the noun version of hate.

Presumably she isn’t suggesting all hate must be banned? Hatred of olives, for example, would be a frivolous and difficult thing to legislate against. It might be straightforward to enshrine in law a ban on publicly-expressing one’s hatred for little green and black fruits however. Would that make the olive-haters suddenly, or even gradually, become lovers of olives? Of course not.

Defining the standard for what is hateful is equally tricky. Are you calling me rude names on the internet because you disagree with my point of view (here’s a few hundred words from Ms. Moore doing exactly that to JRM, without ever once critiquing his arguments)? At what point does that name-calling become online hate or even a hate crime? On Planet Guardian, it seems to be once we invoke certain physical, religious, racial, gender or sexual attributes.

At risk of invoking the slippery slope fallacy, who gets to define the limits of this definition and where does one apply for the job?

We might speculate that the flip side of online hate is offence. If the recipient of online hate takes offence, the hurt is amplified, which is perhaps the original motivation of the online hater?

Maybe there’s a clue in the way we phrase offence as a verb in the English language; we say that people take offence, suggesting that it’s a choice made by the recipient, not the hater offering it. The power is actually with the recipient.

Bill’s Opinion

Although we all know that we should strive for civility in our online discussions, we don’t always hold ourselves to that standard. However, to legislate to shut down those who are abusive risks collecting those with dissenting opinions or those with arguments we simply find uncomfortable in the same net.

Those of us who attract the attention of insulting or abusive online hate have several options available;

  1. Report threats of violence or incitement to violence to the police; this is an actual crime and has been for generations.
  2. Use the block button on whichever social media platform the abuse is arriving from.
  3. Log off, make a cup of tea and get on with real, not virtual, life like a grown adult.

When the rights of one group impact the rights of another

Australia is about to undertake a national vote survey on same sex marriage.

Luckily for the “Lucky Country”, because they are such laggards in this regard, there are plenty of current experiments underway around the world for them to observe and ensure they get it right.

Helpfully for our Australian friends, “g’day mates, chuck another baby in the dingo and chunder me up a fair dinkum blue“, we’ve produced the following cut out and keep handy reckoner to ensure that even the drunkest of them can get it right when the voting survey form arrives;

Does the Pope shit in the woods?

A relatively obscure British politician, Jacob Rees-Mogg, has recently been subject to some unrealistic speculation about his suitability to be the next leader of the Conservative Party.

One of the reasons offered by his opponents to indicate his unsuitability is his belief that abortion is morally wrong.

Rees-Mogg is Catholic.

That people should be surprised that this should be his belief suggests a lack of basic knowledge of the teachings of that faith. That holding this belief would be seen as a disqualification for higher political office is interesting though.

Abortion is a very emotive subject to discuss and one which has many millions of words of debate dedicated to it. So, arrogantly, we’ll attempt to clear it all up over a couple of pages of a WordPress blog. Sit back and enjoy.

All arguments about when and in what circumstances abortion is justified flow from the answer to two questions;

1. At what point does life start, and therefore an abortion would be murder?

2. At what point do the rights of that life become equal to those of the mother’s?

Without answering these two questions, all the subsequent arguments about justifications in the case of pregnancies caused by, say, rape or incest, or those highly likely to result in extreme disabilities, are irrelevant.

It seems somewhat unfair and hypocritical of his opponents to demonise Rees-Mogg for stating a position on these two questions (“at conception” for both answers) without offering their version. If he’s wrong, surely they have a duty to explain how and why he’s wrong.

Rees-Mogg has obviously searched his conscience on this and used logic and reason to develop his position.

Of course, that’s no guarantee of truth but we must at least respect the process and, if he is to be criticised for his conclusion, we owe him the courtesy of using reason and logic to explain where his thinking is flawed.

So the real question for today’s post is this; why is the flaw in his logic not exposed when he is being criticised?

To prove this question isn’t a strawman fallacy, here’s several critics attacking the man not the argument.

It’s fascinating, isn’t it? Representatives from the abortion industry lobby seem reluctant to enter into a debate to explain why he is incorrect about human life commencing at the point that the sperm fertilises the egg.

In the absence of an explanation from them as to their reasons for the silence, we end up speculating and attributing motive, which is obviously a flawed approach.

One observation we will offer here is that people’s view on abortion seems to become less liberal the further away they are from being in a position to find it of use or convenience. That’s not an argument either way though.

Bill’s Opinion

People who are pro-abortion are generally reluctant to enter into a debate with those who believe life begins at conception because all alternative arguments require the acceptance of a sliding scale of human rights based on duration from conception.

There’s little precedent for this view in Western philosophical thought, so it’s a very difficult position to argue from and contains an internal contradiction; that the point of conception is when the clock starts. Either the point of conception is a critical milestone or it isn’t.

Of course, I may have got this completely wrong and Katherine O’Brien, head of policy research at Bpas, may have a totally different argument and I’ve just put words into her mouth. It would be great to know, if so.

Whither Korea?

With all the posturing and hype assaulting our news cycle, one wonders whether Occam’s Razor might help us predict the most likely short and medium term outcomes. We won’t bother with trying to predict the long term as, in the words of a famous pederast, “in the long term, we’re all dead”.

The Main Actors

Kim Jong Un – North Korea’s current iteration of the dynastic dictatorship

Donald Trump and the USA administration and military

The South Korean leadership

The Japanese leadership

The Chinese leadership

For the purposes of keeping this exercise to a manageable level of complexity, we’ll ignore our previous advice and view those last three governments as individuals. Given that they are all led by an individual who will have the ultimate decision-making responsibility, perhaps this is an acceptable delusion.

What is Kim Jong Un’s motivation?

Firstly, let’s assume he’s a rational actor. It’s too lazy to write him off as insane and, anyway, if that were to be the conclusion of the other actors, their only rational course of action would have to be his immediate destruction as a self-defence strategy. As this has not happened, we must assume the other actors have assessed him to be rational.

Due to the isolation of North Korea, Jong Un has really only one main stakeholder, the North Korean population. True, China is supporting the regime but this is not out of fraternity but geographic necessity; there are no natural borders between South Korea (a NATO country) and China. Even a basket-case buffer state is therefore more acceptable than having the Americans parked next door.

Kim can care less about anyone else’s opinion other than the population he tyrannises. If they were to lose fear/faith in his rule, he would be dead. As Machiavelli said, “if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved”.

What is Trump’s and the USA administration and military’s motivation?

At its simplest level – regional stability and no further escalation of the threat of nuclear or conventional weapon use against the USA or allies.

In the case of Trump, there is also a domestic credibility concern. He was elected with an image of strength and was quick to flex military muscle in Syria despite previously stating a less-interventionist policy. North Korea is stepping over lines drawn in the sand and, with each step, he will be feeling the need of all politicians; to be seen to be doing something (regardless of effectiveness).

What is South Korea’s motivation?

Not to get nuked or be invaded.

A long way down the list of priorities after that would be re-unification, although, the longer the North Koreans are kept in solitary confinement on starvation rations, the higher the cost to be paid by the Southerners if that were to ever happen. There’s a well-documented height difference (3 to 8cm) between the two sides of the same genetic pool, for example. It might also follow that a divergence in IQ may also have occurred.

What is Japan’s motivation?

Not to get nuked or have a unarmed rocket fail on the way over a city.

There might be some elements within Japan who perhaps see a credible threat from North Korea as a good excuse to increase the Japanese military budget and take a more active role in the world. We’re a long way from Japan showing any signs of expansionism, apart from some nearby desolate rocks with oil underneath.

What might happen next?

1.   North Korea might attack South Korea, Japan, Guam or maybe even have a brain snap and attack China.

2.   North Korea might keep testing rockets and nuclear weapons as good internal PR.

3.   North Korea might stop rattling sabres and come out of the cold like a good world neighbour.

Bill’s Opinion

Short Fat Elvis with a silly haircut isn’t insane and he’s not stupid. He’s not going to launch a unprovoked attack on anyone if there’s a credible risk of a military response.

Similarly, he’s not going to risk presenting himself as weak to a population tightly-controlled by violence and starvation; opening up communications with the outside world would immediately show how dire their conditions are relative to everyone else.

Perhaps the simplest and therefore most likely solution is more of the same, a continuous cycle of rockets and nuclear tests but staying just the right side of international law or precedent.

If this is correct, then the real question is how great is the pressure “to be seen to be doing something” for the Americans? And that’s another question altogether……