Author Archives: periscopedepth

About periscopedepth

Born in Florida. Raised in three different religions. Escaped religion with reason. Former submariner and Reactor Operator. ET2(SS) USN 1983-1989

Those Joyful Bundles of Atheism (or Not)

Discourse and civil disagreement can be quite stimulating. It can help you sharpen your critical thinking skills and help reveal areas where you have weaknesses in your thinking. Recently I had an on-line discussion with my new friend “Johnthebabtist” (@icouldbegod ) over the old topic of babies as atheists. I’m not going to recount the discussion here as the interested reader (both of you) can see it in my Twitter time line. What I am going to do here is present my argument against classifying infants as atheists with the acknowledgement of John’s assistance through disagreement. Thanks, John!

While I will be using dictionaries in this post, be warned: I do not consider the dictionary to be the final arbiter of words and their definitions, Dictionaries report usage and change over time (somewhat slowly, perhaps). While this usage can be astroturfed, as some words are being intentionally changed now, we can still use the dictionary as a starting point in our discussions.

Merriam Webster still has the older definition of atheist and atheism which uses the “believes God does not exist” version as does dictionary.com. Most atheists actually reject this definition as too restrictive because it does not include those who do not hold that no gods exist, just that there is no reason to accept theistic claims. Put simply, many atheists prefer the “lack of belief in deities” definition (thanks to John for the link).

I agree with this definition for an atheist…well, mostly. First of all an atheist is a person. It says so even in the older, “strong atheist” definition in many current dictionaries. So this alone rules out rocks, trees, and other non-human flora and fauna. To be an atheist, one must be human (at least until we discover ET or AI but those are different discussions to be had).

I argue that the reason “atheist” is exclusive to humans is because (so far as we know) only humans are capable of forming beliefs or not forming them based upon an understanding of the concepts involved. This will become important later. Atheism, as defined by Webster et al is a “disbelief in the existence of deity(s)”. Even those of us who prefer the “lack of a belief” version can see this as a simple substitution of the phrase “a disbelief” for the phrase “a lack of belief”.

The old “disbelief” version carries with it an implied restriction on what categories of things can be subsumed under that definition. It has to be things capable of holding or rejecting beliefs. In our universe, the only things currently capable of holding or rejecting beliefs are humans. I argue that that implied restriction carries forward when the “lack of belief” phrase is substituted into the definition.

Further, I argue, that that capacity to hold or reject beliefs is critical for the term atheism or atheist to be free from absurd configurations and uses.

For example, a lifelong Christian or Muslim who is injured and falls into a coma or persistive vegetative state now can be argued to “lack a belief” in a deity. Does injury or disease create atheists of lifelong theists? No, this is absurd. The person now clearly lacks the capacity to hold beliefs. They lack the necessary capacity to be included in the category under the implied restriction stated in the paragraph above.

That capacity to hold or reject beliefs is critical in the distinction made to exclude flora and fauna from the category of “things that can be atheists”. It (the capacity to form or reject beliefs) does not simply disappear as a prerequisite simply because the subject under discussion is a human being. Rather it is still the bright line which divides things which can be atheists (or things that can be referred to under the term “atheism”) from things which cannot.

In summary: to be an atheist or to fall under the umbrella of atheism) one must be a human who has the capacity to hold and reject beliefs through an understanding of the subject matter. Thus, infants are not atheists any more than trees and rocks are.

Thanks again to Johnthebabtist for the lively discussion. I look forward to more stimulating conversation with you, my new friend.

 

Vulturism

The bodies of Elliot Rodgers’ victims were barely cool before the ideologues began to use the killing spree to promote their ideas or bash their opponents.  Whether it was the feminists who were quick to blame “toxic masculinity” and the Men’s Rights Movement, or the gun control lobby, the deaths of 7 people were little more than a stepping stone in their march. To humanity’s credit, there were people who “called out” these opportunists for their blatant manipulative and self serving statements.

This week, another tragedy occurred involving the killing of three people of the Islamic faith by an atheist. Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha were all murdered by Craig Hicks in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The opportunists quickly jumped on this story as well.

Even before all of the information came in (and as yet it still hasn’t) many people were quick to lay the blame at their opponents feet. For some it was Hicks’ atheism; for others it was lack of gun control. Even when reports began coming in that Hicks may have been at least partly motivated by something as trivial as a parking dispute; that there were signs of prior unbalanced behavior these folks were leaping to their preferred conclusion about the cause of the massacre.

Skepticism is a process where one uses critical thinking and evidence based reason to reach conclusions about phenomena and events. A good skeptic withholds judgement until enough data exists to form a rational conclusion. A good skeptic doesn’t allow their personal biases to bypass the critical analysis part of the process.

One particular example of exactly how not to be a good skeptic was published by self described “Skepchic” Rebbecca Kay Watson yesterday. In it Ms Watson was quick to assign blame for this murder to “dehumanization” of Muslims by the much more famous atheist activists Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Lawrence Krauss. Surprisingly, in a post with several links embedded, not a single one was demonstrative of this “dehumanization” of Muslims. It’s true that Dr. Dawkins and Dr. Harris routinely criticize Islam, but criticism of an idea or ideology is not inherently dehumanizing.

Ms Watson also tosses a few jabs at the Men’s Rights Movement and their “violent rhetoric“, again without links.

This piece is sheer speculation and “mudslinging” by Ms. Watson at a time when all atheists will be under greater scrutiny and criticism from the religious and main stream media. At a time when arguably all atheists should band together and decry Hicks’ actions with one loud and unified voice, some take the opportunity to throw stones at fellow atheists with whom they have a personal dispute. This is an example of performative outrage.

The message should have been ( and WAS in certain circles) : we are atheists and we strongly decry violence against anyone for their beliefs. It’s sad and frustratingly abhorrent that certain divisive elements within “movement atheism” have decided not to stand up for and with their fellow atheists, but to throw more “shit” at them.


 

Yes, I know that this post could (and probably will) be seen as “the pot calling the kettle black”, but I’m not posting on the shooting itself; I’m reacting to a divisive post by another. I’m “calling out” bad behavior as is recommended.

 

New Principles of IngSoc (PC Culture)

George Orwell wrote about a terrifying totalitarian government in his widely read 1984. Totalitarianism is merely further along the spectrum from authoritarianism, a frightening trend in social, educational, and media institutions of late. In his novel Orwell invented the three tenets of IINGSOC ( or English Socialism). Ignorance is strength. Freedom is slavery. War is peace.

He went to describe in detail (via inner party member O’Brian) just how the three tenets were a sort of short hand outline of the entire political philosophy of INGSOC. I want to present and describe to you the three tenets of the new INGSOC, third wave feminism and PC culture.

Offense is violence.

The new mantra in colleges and even in media today seems to be that any offense perceived by a party member is paramount to actively causing harm to the offended. Where the saying among freethinkers was formerly, “You don’t have the right to not be offended“, the newspeak phrasing could be explained as, “You don’t have the right to offend”.  The offended party member will then use their offense (harm) as justification for doxing, employer harassing, and other unsavory tactics such as swatting (calling the local police and reporting an egregious crime at the offender’s location).

Yes, there should be consequences from abhorrent behavior, perhaps even social consequences (such as ignoring or harsh criticism) for beliefs and opinions, but these consequences should not be imposed for mere disagreement.

Every woman is all women.

While I use the word “woman” here, the actual principle can apply to any party deemed “marginalized” group. I’m going to use the case of women for simplicity, but you should be able to use substitution to apply this explanation to other cases.

Any criticism of one particular woman is seen as a condemnation of all women, just for being women. Criticize pop culture critics who are blatantly dishonest and brook no debate, and it is not merely a condemnation of those behaviors by that individual, it is a condemnation and offense to all women (see tenet one). In addition, this criticism is not based on the actions of the individual, it is derived from a latent hatred of all members of that demographic. This imputed hatred causes offense and further justifies retaliation.

Every man is an outlier.

Again I use “man” to represent any demographic which the party considers to be “in power” or “privileged” similar to the use of “woman” in tenet two above. This tenet refers to the propensity for the post structuralist PC brigade to equate the average or even poor man with the 1% or so who run fortune 500 companies or are powerful governmental figures. To say it another way, even the homeless man on the street “inherits” all of the privileges of the most powerful members of his demographic. This principle also works in reverse. Every man is also burdened with causing the same fear as the 3-4% of men who rape or commit murder. So every member of the “power” demographic assumes all the traits of the best and the worst even though those outliers are minute fractions of the demographic.

The “marginalized” demographic all take on the lack of privilege or marginalization of the lowest percentage of their demographic. If a woman is a head of state or a billionaire, she is still considered “marginalized” with respect to any man, even the hobo.

There are many more tenets and different formulations of them that you or I could use, but these three will suffice for now to get the point across. If you have any tenets of your own or better formulations of them, leave them in the comments section below.

Get some time.

Kinds

While watching a video on YouTube last night in which Ray Comfort’s “Evolution vs God” video was critiqued, the age old creationist canard of “kinds” was introduced by Ray. Mr Comfort then went on to “clarify” what a “kind” was by giving examples. He “described” the “feline kind” using the words “cats” and “tigers”.

This use of the elastic term, “kind” has long been used by evolution opponents to deny that “macro evolution” occurs. Whenever scientists observe a speciation event, the creationists will say, “Yeah, but it’s still the same kind”. Usually when asked to define the term, “kind”, the creationist (and Comfort is no exception) will start listing animal species that are in their view, the same “kind”. “You have the canine kind- dogs and wolves…”. Needless to say, this still retains the flexibility of the creationist to disavow almost any evidence of “macro evolution”.

I thought of a thought experiment to demonstrate to the creationist the futility of this method of “defining” a term.

Imagine a Martian (or pick your own alien species) came to earth for a visit. The alien speaks our language for this example but lacks any cultural references (in this example the alien lacks the concept of money).  When you mention the word “coin” to the alien, it has no idea what you mean so it asks you to define “coin”. Now, an honest person might say something like: “A coin is a unit of currency exchanged for something of value. Coins are small metal disks (or other thin shapes) with designs on both sides and are usually exchanged for things with only minor value”.

That would be a definition (at least a working one) for coin that would allow the alien to understand what a coin is. What would do the alien no good at all in understanding the term would be to start listing the various coins to him: “Well, there’s the penny coin and the nickel coin, the dime coin and the quarter coin.”. It’s pretty easy to see from the second “definition”, that the alien would still have no idea of what a coin actually is.

While this thought experiment might not help you in your arguments with dishonest creationists like Comfort, it may be useful if your interlocutor is actually only uninformed about evolution through the efforts of Comfort and his ilk.

 

Anti-Sex Feminists and Extremist Muslims – Strange Bedfellows

Given the paucity of written material on the topic of  3rd (or perhaps 4th) wave feminism’s gargantuan departure from the ideals of 2nd wave and the regression of freedoms which they are seemingly calling for, it is with a heavy heart that I try to make a tiny dent in that vast empty reading list.

The 2nd wave of feminism was about empowering women, giving women’s choices primacy over societal norms and roles. Women were encouraged to venture into the work force and win in that arena because women are just as capable as men. This period brought about many changes in the legal status of women via multiple legislative enactments. The failure of the Equal Rights Amendment to pass in the US was one of only 2 legislative or judicial defeats suffered by the 2nd wave. The ERA failure was in part due to conservative women such as Phylis Schlafly arguing (correctly IMO) that if passed would lead to women being drafted alongside the young men.

The 2nd wave’s view of culture was that popular culture was thoroughly sexist, and encouraged women to create their own pop culture to combat the perceived sexism in the mainstream pop culture¹. Feminists formed major institutions with political and societal clout such as NOW. These institutions behave as most institutions do…with self interest. In other words, they seek to retain what power they have and to acquire more power. They are not inclined to look around, decide that the job is finished, give each other a pat on the back, throw a celebratory champagne dinner, and dissolve or downsize themselves. Institutions simply don’t do this voluntarily. They just “discover” more problems that need their continued existence to combat.

All the while the mainstream 2nd wave was making sweeping political and legal progress for women, the more radical elements were quietly gaining strength out of the spotlight. These radical views came to the fore in the 1980’s with the Feminist Sex Wars. These debates  bifurcated feminism into the sex positive and radical (or anti-porn) brigades. Unsurprisingly, the National Organization for Women pitched it’s tent decidedly on the anti-porn side. This battle is ongoing even today, but it is important to note that this battle is mostly internal. Very few feminists will challenge or criticize their own openly. Some who have done so end up being declared “anti-feminist”.

 

Modernity has brought about various new media which both divisions of feminism took to with gusto. Social networks, blogs, video upload sites, and a wide proliferation of on-line magazines have allowed far more voices than ever to be heard. It is a great irony that the very freedom allowed by this new media, is too often used in opposition to free expression. Among those who enjoy the freedom to have their message received globally are some who would limit what you or anyone else should be allowed to see, read, listen to, or play. One such group is Muslim extremists.

Using the freedom of the internet and the great sanctity that most western nations place on freedom of expression, these extremists promulgate their message to the free world. That message, in part, is that certain ideas should be prohibited, certain images should be banned, certain actions should be blasphemy. So offended and outraged are they by certain criticisms and depictions of their prophet that they are willing to kill those who create the depictions or speak out against their ideology. Some examples: Kurt Westergaard  the Danish cartoonist, Salman Rushdie British Indian author, Ayaan Hirsi Ali a Somali activist and author, and of course the recent Charlie Hebdo murders.

Sadly there are other groups who use their freedom of expression to try to limit yours. The anti-porn, sex negative feminists. The difference here between the radical Muslims and the radical feminists is only one of tactics. Tactics and the images and ideas they don’t want you to be exposed to. Muslim extremists object to depictions of their prophet. Sex-negative feminists object to depictions of women. There is the UK newspaper, The Sun, who have a campaign by these feminists to get rid of the paper’s notorious page 3 photos. There was the famous #Shirtstorm incident where cartoon depictions of women on a scientist’s shirt were decried by these sex-negative feminists.

Hmmm, cartoons? Yes, cartoons feature prominently in both the radical Muslim outrage and the anti-sex feminist outrage. I’ll leave it for you, dear reader, to decide if that is a telling feature or just an irrelevant bug.

The last example of sex negative feminism’s assault on free expression is one Anita Sarkeesian. Anita, with her helpmate Jonathan (don’t call me Josh) McIntosh, are waging their own campaign against the animated depictions of women. ( There must be some great power in cartoonish depictions of forbidden ideas.) These two are leading a fight to restrict the ways in which artists and game developers can depict women. Rather than fight the much less lucrative battle against actual harms done to women, often by the extremist Muslim groups (which they actually defend), they fight for the suppression of pixelated sexuality and violence and not the actual real world injustices. Rather than create their own popular culture¹ or ideal depictions, they simply criticize.

Sex and violence have been subjects of artistic expressions and depictions since the dawn of mankind. Art imitates life is the adage, and it is true. Artists depicting real life situations is one of the ways humans have of examining the concepts involved in these situation safely (where no real humans are harmed). Throughout all of history there have been groups and ideologies that sought to restrict this freedom of thought and expression. One such group’s stranglehold on thought and expression helped cost humanity almost 500 years of progress.

The Social Justice Warriors have often used a phrase in their discourse, “Don’t be on the wrong side of history”. I agree with that sentiment and in the case of freedom of expression vs offense…I’m not on the wrong side. History has already vindicated my stance. So to you sex-negative feminists, Social Justice Warriors, and extremist Muslims I say, “Don’t YOU be on the wrong side of history”.


UPDATE: The University of Virginia sororities have been banned by their national chapters from attending “Men’s Did Night” fraternity parties. This is the same school written about in the famous Rolling Stone rape article. In some cases, the sororities are scheduling mandatory “bonding” events in the sorority houses on the same night. This is an effort to prevent adult women from freely choosing whether or not to attend an event under the guise of protecting these women.

The women have started a petition to remove the ban, stating that the action is degrading and portrays women as weak. Outraged feminists are demanding the right for these women to make their own choices and for once, I agree with them. The problem here is that these issues expose, in a rather harsh light, the weakness of Patriarchy Theory. It also calls into question the “oppressiveness” to women of Sharia law.

How so? Well, the feminists should be learning the lesson societies have known for millennia: you cannot protect what you cannot control. Imagine being tasked to protect a toddler if you are not allowed to touch them or pick them up. Imagine trying to defend a city without the authority to restrict it’s inhabitants movements.

If people are free to disobey rules and enforced customs designed to protect them, they sacrifice safety. If people obey these rules and customs, they sacrifice freedom. This protection, not a desire to oppress women, has been the purpose of societal restrictions on women since civilizations began. I certainly hope the feminists are paying attention.


 

 ¹ One difference between 2nd wave and new anti-sex feminists.

 

Russell Wilson: The Real Teela Brown?

I rarely write about sports, but I am a fan of several. I am a huge Rays fan, which I wrote a little about here. I also penned a piece on a controversy involving golf, here.  I follow the Buccaneers and the Gators in American football. I enjoy soccer, although I don’t follow any teams currently.

Last night’s NFL National Conference Championship game featured one of the most improbable come-from-behind victories I have ever witnessed. It was so improbable, it reminded me of Teela Brown.

In Larry Niven’s epic Science Fiction novel “Ringworld”, Teela Brown is a character who, it is believed, was genetically selected for luck. In the setting of the novel, the number of assigned birth allowances never made up for the number of deaths. In order to balance the population, a lottery system was put into place to allow random “winners” to make up the shortfall. Teela Brown was descended from 5 generations of “Birthright Lottery” winners. In the novel, the characters surmise that Teela is so lucky that she might not even have “free will”. She may be a slave to the psychic luck that rules her life, making events happen just so that Teela can have a certain experience.

There were 3 plays in the end of the NFC Championship game that were so incredibly improbable, that Larry Niven’s novel crossed my mind. There was the fake field goal, the onside kick, and the 2-point conversion. Let’s examine each a little bit.

The fake field goal:

AJ Hawk, a 9 year veteran linebacker from Ohio State University allows Garry Gilliam, a rookie offensive lineman of 300 pounds to run past him toward the end zone. Hawk elected to go after the punter as if it were a run, even though Davon House, a cornerback was pursuing the punter. If Hawk stays with Gilliam, the touchdown doesn’t happen.

The onside kick:

The onside kick was not a surprise. Everyone in the stadium and watching it at home knew it was coming. The Packers had the “hands” team on the field, those who are familiar and competent at catching the oblong ball. With the ball in the air above him, Brandon Bostick has the ball go between his hands (without touching them) and bounce off of his helmet to be corralled by the Seahawks’ Chris Matthews. Bostick was apparently supposed to be blocking instead of trying to catch the ball. If Green Bay secures the football then, they can pretty much run out the clock and win.

The 2-point conversion:

With Wilson scrambling for his life, he flings the ball across the field and…well watch how crazy improbable this is:

There may be folks who claim divine intervention for the outcome of this game, but for me the answer is: Russel Wilson seems to have the the Teela Brown gene.

 

 

Occam’s Squirrel

Throughout the week it is sometimes my habit to peruse YouTube’s music videos during my lunch. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably seen me tweet out some of my lunchtime music selections. The other day it seemed I was in a rather whimsical mood and began selecting comedic songs for my lunch hour concert. One of the songs I selected that day was an old comedy song by Ray Stevens called “The Mississippi Squirrel Revival“. It’s a funny musical story of a squirrel getting let loose in a church of unsuspecting congregants. The link above is the song itself but if you prefer, you can just read the lyrics here.

So as sometimes happens with human beings, certain songs can get “stuck” in our heads and this one got stuck in mine. It was around this time, I became involved in one of those evolution vs intelligent design discussions on Twitter. I didn’t Storify this particular exchange as I am often wont to do, but to give you a bit of the flavor of discourse I’ll show you one fairly representative tweet from one of the ID proponents:

A lot of these type of assertions, despite my and others pointing out instances in nature of order through merely natural means such as crystal formation.(One answer to the crystal formation was along the lines of : Yes, God is a wonderful artist. (sigh). The discussion was long and boring with neither side giving an inch. I even linked the ID folks to this wonderful explanation of teleonomic design by YouTuber Ozymandias Ramses II which was appropriate to the discussion at the time. Unsurprisingly, it went unwatched by the ID folks.

This morning as the damned song was still bouncing around against the insides of my skull, a new thought occurred to me through the juxtaposition of the song and the “debate” with the ID proponents. If one examines the events in the song as though it really happened, one can come away with two very different accounts of those events. Indeed, the song itself touts one version :

But the one I’ll remember to my dyin’ day
Is how He (God) put that church back on the narrow way
With a half crazed Mississippi squirrel

In this view, the squirrel is the agent of God, that caused the behavior of the church members to change. This is God working in mysterious (and comedic) ways.

In the rationalist view, the squirrel was just being a squirrel. An unpredictable wild animal in a crowded human environment. The “revival” it caused is entirely explained by the psychological factors of the church goers and their irrational beliefs coupled with the squirrel’s unpredictable animal behavior.

The difference between these two views of the song’s events (and by extrapolation the views of the ID proponents) should be obvious to the reader by now. The song’s author posits a superfluous, highly complex, intelligent, omnipotent agent that used the squirrel to achieve its ends. We rationalists cut out the superfluous agent with Occam’s Razor.  It occurred to me that this is exactly the same view of events such as abiogenesis, evolution, and the big bang that creationists use to explain the squirrel. They seek to insert an unnecessary agent into the evidence. This is why when the creationist says “We’re both looking at the same evidence and drawing different conclusions”, he thinks he is being perfectly rational.

William of Ockham begs to differ.

 

Get some time.

 

 

Third Wave Brats

Western society is an over indulgent parent. We have raised Veruca Salt in the form of modern, outrage junkie, 3rd (or 4th) wave feminism. Just like Roald Dahl’s character, we “treat her like a princess and give her anything she wants, no matter how ridiculous the price or how outrageous the item”. In short, we have spoiled her.

Some of the more recent examples of our mollycoddling include both the petty and the serious, the ridiculous and the grim. Let’s start with the trivial and work our way up to the severe.

The petty ones that really look interesting in juxtaposition are the “manspreading” issue which the New York MTA took so seriously that they will launch an “awareness campaign” for and the women’s restroom oppression issue (women sometimes have to wait in queue for public restrooms). The latter example has been renewed in Time magazine.

Let’s juxtapose these two “issues” for a moment. In the restroom complaint, the differing biology of men and women is cited as a reason for the need of either more restrooms or more space (and presumably toilets) in women’s restrooms. In the former “issue” of manspreading, no such biological difference allowance is made. This is what we call having one’s cake and eating it too. Using biology in one complaint and ignoring it when it becomes inconvenient in the other complaint. Consistency in examining contributory factors would be nice.

A further example of the indulgence we as a society allow feminism, is that in the manspreading issue, no actual consumer complaints were received by the MTA (according to a spokesperson). This public benefit corporation acting as a de facto government agency, began their campaign based upon what? Twitter hashtag activism?

So much for the petty stuff which one might say out of apathy, ” Ahhh, let them have their campaigns.” On to the serious stuff.

California recently passed an admittedly “terrible” law overseeing the sexual behavior of college adults. This law was passed based on the outrage from the 2007 study’s 1 in 5 number. A number which if true would be appallingly high. A number so high that I would consider not allowing my daughters to attend university. A number that was WRONG. The more recent Bureau of Justice study puts the figure at a much more believable 6.1 per THOUSAND ( 0.61% vs 20%). This is governmental action spurred by the “oppressed” class using faulty studies. If the world actually worked the way these ideologues claim it did, no government action would support laws like this.

There is a feminist led drive to leave women out of the incarceration portion of the criminal justice system ENTIRELY! While some of these beliefs about non violent offenders are pretty good ideas to me, the concept of excluding women from incarceration doesn’t strike me as particularly “equal” treatment. It also doesn’t seem to be something that an “oppressed class” could even ask for openly. In fact, it is exactly the kind of “conversation” that one would expect from a horribly spoiled child. “I shouldn’t be punished the same as my brother, Daddy.”

The recent string of petty “issues” raised by these harridans, from a scientist’s shirt to men sitting comfortably in public,  has hopefully opened some eyes about the utter narcissism of these brats. It’s time western society says “No.” to these princesses in a clear and stern voice ( and then suffer through the inevitable tantrum such action will give rise to).

 

Get some time.

The Oppressiveness of Daiquiris

The primary flaw of 3rd wave feminism’s paradigm is a statistical fallacy known as overgeneralization. The key component of which is asserting that what holds true for a specified sample of the population holds true for the entire demographic. In the case of feminism the specified sample is men in “power positions”. The rest of the demographic, the 99.99% of men not in these positions are asserted to have the same “privileges” as the tiny fraction of men in the upper echelons of governance and commerce.

An equally flawed view of society could be gained by asserting that selected miniscule populations are representative of the entire demographic as I will demonstrate in a few (hopefully humorous) false scenarios in this essay.

You are already familiar with one such use of this fallacy in advertising. Take a tiny fraction of the users of a specific product for weight loss or muscle building, and trumpet their results as the same ones the average customer can achieve. Usually these ads show extreme changes from before to after with gigantic people becoming fit or scrawny ones becoming buff. Often overlooked in tiny print are the words, “Results not typical”. This is feminism in a single phrase: “results not typical”. All women are oppressed by non-typical men, and all men are non-typical. This highly irrational belief system is often expressed by the phrase, “Well men get to rule the world. ”  I’m sure your garbage collector feels he is ruling the world, love.

This simplification of horribly complex human motivations and interactions down to man=oppressor, woman=oppressed is a bit like declaring all drinks sweet and fruity by sampling just the daiquiris (those damned oppressive daiquiris).

It is a bit like judging all films based on the Oscar winners…from 2004. I’m sure someone liked Catwoman.

It is a little bit like judging all boats by the Queen Elizabeth II. How does your dingy stand up? (er, pardon the double entendre)

Ah, but I can hear the rabid screams from the SJWs now: “Aren’t you doing the same exact thing with feminists, judging them all by the extremes?”  In a word, no. I wasn’t talking about individual feminists nor the extreme fringe (all PIV sex is rape) but the ideology of 3rd wave (academic) feminism. I can most certainly judge an ideology by its written output. From Standpoint Theory to the blithely callous sexism of Jessica Valenti. From the now famous “Dear Colleague Letter” steamrolling due process to the VAWA  despite dozens of studies citing reciprocal rates (if not higher rates) of domestic violence by women against men.

It is the ideology I criticize, the blind acceptance of certain “great truths” despite evidence to the contrary. It doesn’t matter to me if your “great truth” is : Jesus is the son of God or if it is that women alone can see the true nature of society. Ideology in this sense is the defense of an idea or set of ideas against all attacks including evidence. Feminism’s modern advocates do this with all  the fervor of the creationist and all the political power of the NRA lobby.

I’m of the belief that fervency, power, and a disdain for evidence are a really bad combination.

 

Get some time.

The Narrative

So I came across the following tweets by the decidedly non-erudite Jonathan (Josh) McIntosh:

 

Being of a curious bent, I followed Josh’s link to the Wikipedia article which has to do with the experience of “losing oneself” in a story. We’ve all likely experienced this phenomenon. If you’ve ever been reading a good novel and lose track of time or fail to hear someone calling you, that’s the experience. It is proposed that this process can change beliefs and attitudes of the person “transported”.  Well, this experience is limited to narratives, that is- stories. Non fiction doesn’t work. Also it seems that there needs to be an emotional component to this phenomenon.

It seems also that empathy increases with narrative transportation. Also from that article, the story receiver’s prior knowledge or a high motivational reason to doubt the information in the narrative will prevent changes in beliefs from NT. In any event even very recent (2014) studies have concluded that much more research is needed into the long term effects (if any) of NT on behavioral changes.

So it appears that Josh is getting his cart in front of his horse here, but I’m willing to give him the complete benefit of the doubt in my next paragraph. That’s right, for sake of argument I’m going to grant his assertion that NT not only causes behavioral changes, but that it does this for a long period of time after the consumption of the narrative in question.

So, what are the logical consequences of my granted premise? For one, all stories: books, films, plays, television dramas, and story based video games produce this effect. In essence, we are bombarded by the various media with belief and behavior altering narratives on a daily basis. Anything with a story is a potential brainwashing media. Every library, television set, theater, computer, and gaming console must therefore have to be vetted to ensure only “proper” beliefs are transmitted. The obvious questions become: Who does this vetting and What ideas or beliefs are “proper”?  I don’t know about you, but this is starting to sound Orwellian to me.

The logical conclusion from Josh’s implied assertion about narratives is (surprise) that authoritarian control is needed to police these narratives for the good of the people. Does anyone want to guess who, in Josh’s mind, should sort the “right” beliefs and ideas from the “wrong” ones? I wouldn’t trust anyone with the job of censor.

Amusingly, another thought crossed my mind as I began to assess Josh’s tweets more fully. It seems to me that the narrative is and has been the primary tool used by those who have come to be known as Social Justice Warriors (SJWs) against various aspects of society that they want to change. From the college campus “rape culture” and the now famous Rolling Stone article to the press coverage of #Gamergate to the accusations of subcultures such as atheists being rife with misogyny and sexism, one thread runs through it all. The narrative. The story, which changes minds, and effects beliefs. Their story. The one vetted for purity and “correct” effect. As we’ve seen, it doesn’t even matter if the story is true.

They aren’t even hiding it. It’s right up front on a 20 by 10  ft screen:

LAB2

 

Get some time.