Narratives can’t co-exist with truth when they’re armored-up to prevail over truth. That’s the thing, see: If they’re victorious over any conflict that arises with inconvenient facts, then what they really are, is fiction. “Narratives” because they’re very convincing fiction. And a passive-voice culture that is as drunk as ours is lately on Bandwagon Fallacy, has to bear that in mind.
Factual Feminist Christina Hoff Sommers, on the oh so trendy Verizon ad:
From the comments:
Hold the fucking phone, “girls-are-smarter-than-boys-so-what-goes-wrong”? Why the fuck is this seen as an acceptable view when the opposite is seen as downright monstrous?
That’s the trouble with a passive-voice culture: No subject. The question is unanswerable, because there’s no one we can ask. Actually, the entire ad suffers from that problem. Who are these Dads telling their little girls that science isn’t pretty enough for them, or “let your brother do it”? They aren’t being targeted, only their actions are, so we can’t get any specifics. Do they outnumber the Moms telling their little boys “You’re doing it all wrong, AGAIN, here I’ll do it”? Without any specifics, it’s hard to tell.
Hat tip to Linkiest.
I’d like to see a powerful narrative launched about “Boys who are raised from toddlerhood to be lazy little shits” — if anyone would like to have my opinion:
So I was jotting these ideas down in the blog, wondering if they should be in an outline processor first…before that I was jotting down other ideas on the Hello Kitty of Blogging, wondering if they were a better fit in the (real) blog…
So I was saying something a few months back about how the high-drama male-female stuff, which we can monitor by way of news feeds, blogs, social media, etc. seems to show a seasonal uptick at that time of year. I know it was early February, because I was calling out the release of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue as a possible (almost definite) cause.
I now have the impression that the 2nd half of July is another season. Fathers-of-daughters are going public with their hopes & fears about raising their little girls, and frankly they’re saying some very silly things. Add to that, the democrats putting out false and misleading, even more than usual, propaganda in the wake of the Supreme Court decision about Hobby Lobby.
If an alien from another planet crash-landed on Earth, and was forced to learn about women by browsing political blogs and social media, while being denied the opportunity to personally meet them, what would he think about them? Probably that they & their fathers & brothers long for them to be strong capable and independent — but that they’re anything but. I don’t know why we illustrate women this way. Real, flesh-and-blood women are strong and capable, and can do things. They *can’t* do everything men can do, that’s a myth. But they can do a lot of things men can’t. And all in all, they deserve a lot more respect than they’re shown…especially from the noisy types, male & female alike, who claim to be “liberating” them and “totally respect”-ing them.
Regarding this seasonal thing. I was reading this latest bit of malarkey about how women should be able to tell men that some lardass in a bikini is every bit as sexy as Kate Upton…and I just figured it out. It’s simple.
February, there’s this reaction to the SI swimsuit issue…and then, by right about now, we have a few more people who have some actual recent experience waddling down to the beach in their thongs and monokinis or whatever, and not getting back the reactions for which they had hoped. It is pessimistic foresight versus resentful hindsight. In both cases, the real problem is people wearing swim wear for reasons other than swimming. Too much drama. Normal people like you & me come back from the beach with a sunburn to which we have to apply some sort of balm, maybe wait to peel off…whereas this lardass, along with so many like her, has to write a Salon column all about “our cultural perceptions of what is and isn’t beautiful.”
Being a dude is so awesome. If I happen to be lugging around a little too much of the winter blubber to look good in swim trunks, I just, ya know, WEAR the goddamn things. I don’t have to get some giant social movement going to re-program women to find fat middle-age computer guys in swim trunks attractive, I just wear ‘em and look ridiculous, period-end-of-story.
One of the most pernicious deceptions our various social movements have plied on us, is this promise that with the right kind of social engineering we can get rid of anyone anywhere saying “I like this thing and I do not like that other thing.” It’s complete crap. People have been doing this for tens of thousands of years and there’s no stopping them from doing it. In fact, it has not escaped my attention that when it comes to women appreciating the look of athletic-looking men, nobody seems to be in any big hurry to. In some walks of life, particularly with impressionable kids, we have so much drive to teach them to define their fickle preferences about candy bar brands or ice cream flavors, and stick to them, insist on them — essentially, try harder to be spoiled brats. In others, we call it “discrimination” and kick off this weird ritual — that’s what it is, that is all it is, since it will never have any lasting effect — of scrubbing preferences out of people, so that some tub of goo who never bothers to peel herself off the couch to walk around the block, supposedly can enjoy the same adulation as Kate Upton in the middle of a shoot.
What a load of nonsense. And yes, there’s a certain pulse to it: Twice-yearly. Just figured it out. I’m a bit ashamed it’s taken me this long.
On Wednesday, Mike Dickinson, the Virginia liberal Democrat running for the State House, offered a $100,000 reward for nude photos and/or videos of Kendall Jones, the 19-year-old Texas Tech cheerleader who recently made news with a series of hunting photos on her Facebook page.
“I have 100k to anyone who has nude photos or videos of #kendalljones at Texas tech (sic),” Dickinson tweeted. “She deserves to be a target.”
Unfortunately, these hate filled statements are fairly common for Dickinson. He recently stated that a “dead teabagger is a good teabagger,” referring of course to some Tea Party candidates.
To be fair, there are some who are not like this. They just don’t know what they’re supporting.
To show how mindless this liberal proposition is, the “red state welfare” argument appears to be entirely based only on how each state voted in the most recent presidential election. This results in entirely junk science.
First off, states that are either “haves” (i.e., give more to the federal government than they receive) or “have-nots” (i.e., get more from the federal government than they give) do not just arise overnight. State finances take decades to develop as either “haves” or “have-nots,” so looking at only a single election is meaningless. Rather, we need to look at how a state has voted over several decades to obtain any relevant insights.
Furthermore, it’s equally nonsensical to just consider how a state votes for the president. We also need to look at how each state votes for its senators, representatives, and even governors. Given how Congress has the “power of the purse,” this is core to assessing how a state’s welfare status relates to its Democrat versus Republican voting record. And this is where the “red state welfare” hypothesis disintegrates.
At the senatorial level, how can you call North Dakota, Louisiana, and West Virginia “red states” when their voting record is overwhelmingly Democratic over the past three decades? Even South Dakota and New Mexico fail the “red state” test. West Virginia hasn’t had a Republican senator since before 1960!
On the other side of the aisle, New Hampshire — supposedly a blue state — has only elected a single Democratic senator (the currently serving Jeanne Shaheen) since 1980. Minnesota and Colorado also fail the blue state designation based on who they have put in the Senate over this timeframe.
The “red state welfare” vitriol in the left-wing media has been intense. Witness these statements from a 2011 Business Insider piece on the topic:
“[R]ed states … are overwhelmingly the Welfare Queen States. Yes, that’s right. Red States — the ones governed by folks who think government is too big and spending needs to be cut — are a net drain on the economy, taking in more federal spending than they pay out in federal taxes. They talk a good game, but stick Blue States with the bill … Go ahead and bookmark this article. The next time some smarmy teabagger tries to tell you it’s liberals who are ruining the country and spending us into oblivion, kindly point them to the evidence that shows it is GOP states, not Democrat states, who are Welfare Queens. It is GOP states who spend more than they collect in taxes. It is GOP states who are out of balance, nationally. See if they still want to cut off funding when it means no more socialism for slave states.”
Here is what Slate had to say last year:
“Now, one more cross-reference: these facts compared with the know-nothing rhetoric of the Tea Party. There are only two ways to parse that result: one is ignorance — which we should be willing to forgive in anyone as long as they revise their views when faced with reality. And the second? Selfish hypocrisy. How else can you explain the fact that the denizens of the most welfare dependent states in the country — dare we say, those who enjoy the most benefits from socialism — profess to abhor welfare?”
Fascinating storyline the liberals tried to construct. Too bad it is entirely false.
Reminds me of this classic:
Jefferson used the phrase “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” in the Declaration of Independence. There are some theories, and other theories, about where he got this and what he may have meant by it.
Common sense, though, tells us we are endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights, that among these rights are Life…Liberty…and, the accumulation of property or whatever else tickles our fancy if we’re not into that sort of thing. Some people aren’t into making money. Some people, although they refuse to admit it, even to themselves, loathe the stuff. If they get some of it, they’ll find a way to burn it off. My own theory is that Jefferson recognized this; his financial picture at the time of his final decline, suggests he may have been among them. At any rate, the American Revolution was inspired by the desire for greater opportunity to embrace risk and engage in commerce, but its blessings were intended by those who supported it, to fall on those who had no such desire, even those who opposed it.
Common sense also informs us that our friends, the liberals, are opposed to the Pursuit of Happiness, unless it’s a faceless government agency that’s actually engaged in this pursuing. Satisfaction and contentment, in their world, are too good (via Instapundit) for the individual: “You didn’t build that.” That’s why Rush Limbaugh makes fun of them with his famous catch-phrase, “Having more fun than a human being should be allowed to have.”
Mencken had something to say about this too, when he defined puritanism: “The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.” It is increasingly difficult, in our modern times, to enjoy or pursue this happiness without creating a situation in which liberals see a problem. And whenever liberals see a problem, when we take the trouble to inspect it we find, much more often than not, someone close to the center of it being happy.
Misery, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to get them too excited unless they can recognize some inequality involved in it. In other words, someone being spared from the misery, sets ‘em off. If everyone is equally miserable, they’re alright with that. Their continuing support for ObamaCare proves that.
Keep forgetting this girl’s name…I’ve tried everything else I can try to get it “bookmarked,” might as well try this…
Her submission video:
She is not a very good speaker, and is prone to shrill outbursts and occasional chortling. She has a bad habit of committing serial gaffes (e.g., speaking too candidly), and what she says on Monday is often contradicted by her rantings on Tuesday. She seems cheap and obsessed with raking in free stuff. When Bill steps in to correct her mistakes, either sloppily or out of some strange psychological spite, he usually makes things even worse.
I honestly don’t understand why she has fans. Anywhere. They must be angry about something; people tend to think they’re looking at something amazing and fantastic, when they’re actually evaluating something mediocre, when they’re pissed off about something.
Hillary’s fans are exceptionally angry. Why is that? Answer that one, and you’ve unlocked the secret to her popularity. But too many people who make it their business to bring us something called “news,” don’t want that secret unlocked.
Her fans sure are angry. They make decisions very poorly.
As I see it, the fact that young women actually expect that people with whom they’re not having sex should provide them with free birth control pills is clear evidence that the real war is the one being waged on the American taxpayer and commonsense.
“It doesn’t matter, just keep spending because that somehow makes things better.”
“People don’t invest the appropriate amount of time in studying the people who would represent them.”
Speaking of hall monitors…I’ve been noticing this for awhile, out on the bike trails. In fact, last summer it happened to me again and CylarZ was right there next to me.
There is a certain type of walk-jogger out there. People say “all of so-and-so looks alike” — in this case it’s really true. It might be just one person following me around the county. Maybe a specter that’s haunting me. But, I think it’s multiple people who happen to resemble each other very closely…she’s in her fifties, give or take, has an awkward hair-do that isn’t feminine at all. Kind of like Lois Lane back in the Silver Age, or Hillary Clinton just after the Hillary-Healthcare debacle. She doesn’t seem to care about her appeal to the opposite sex, but has tanned her skin until it has the complexion of Naugahyde.
When normal people cross each other on a bike trail, they tend to make some sort of positive gesture to strangers. Kind of a “here we are, out here, huh?” sort of a thing. It’s just a continuation of something that’s been going on for hundreds of years…probably. This woman-specter, I notice, uses these fleeting few seconds to mumble some sort of rule at me.
Sometimes, it is an established rule that I have flouted deliberately because common sense dictated that an exception would be safer for all concerned. Other times, the rule is not so well established. On the one incident I cited above, it was about which side of the trail should be occupied by bicyclists vs. pedestrians, and it was doubly silly, because if Naugahyde-lady merely bothered to turn around and see what was approaching us, she would have realized the problem: Everybody has their own interpretation of the rules. In the end, if you’re on a bike or some other piece of equipment that can approach the 15 m.p.h. speed limit, and you see a thicker glut of pedestrians approaching, you just have to check your speed and then move about in whichever direction makes the best sense. It’s actually the dogma-driven adherents to “written” rules who make the situation more dangerous.
But, the mentality is remarkable. Would I use the few fleeting seconds of possible communication, between myself and a total stranger, to bring a rule to their attention? Oh definitely, I could see a scenario in which I might do that, or at least, consider doing that. But it would be an exceptional case.
These Naugahyde-Lois-Lane-haircut types seem to be embracing it as a way of life. And over the last decade or so, I have noticed the situation comes up more frequently. Also, that my breaking or following rules seems to have less and less to do with it.
Not sure why people say this is a boring topic. It’s fascinating to me, endlessly fascinating, that the makers-of-rules know with laser precision exactly what the rules should be regarding gallons, inches, times-of-day, pools, car-washing, watering lawns, washing walls…and yet are completely-freakin’-lost about how to enforce it all.
I mean, it’s all understandable in some way. It’s the sequence that baffles me. I come from another planet, third one from the star, inhabited by homo sapiens that have red blood; in my corner of the universe, enforcement tactics would come first and the parameters would come later.
Who the heck are these people? Where do you find them?
“Six to nine p.m., that certainly ought to do it! Another successful session of rule-making, we are to be congratulated! Okay, now how do we enforce?”
You were all “hall monitors” back in high school, weren’t you?
Something tells me I should be using my outline processor to capture this stuff, instead of my blog, since there is breadth & depth to this and both dimensions are important. That’s usually a tip-off that outlining is the way to go.
But related events are coming in fast and thick, and I’m more concerned about the breadth than the depth. I’ve done the depth already, a few times. I’ll probably be doing it here, too, before I’m done.
I’m seeing three topics of immediate concern:
One. Our modern society, as obsessed as it is with female achievement, doesn’t seem to be interested at all in providing girls with what children really need to become competent and capable adults: Challenge (H/T to Gerard again).
Are girls so totally fragile and glassine, so pathetically weak and easily crushed that gentle parenting to protect and guide them will destroy their gentle souls? Is the delight in science and industry such a guttering candle flame that it is snuffed by even the mildest breeze?
Two. Our society, apart from that, seems to be enthusiastically embracing a mindset that is immature at best, and at worst, insane: Women should be able to decide, on behalf of straight men who are attracted to women, what sexy is. Erm, no, as Captain Capitalism points out, straight men actually decide what sexy is, in a woman. Gotta let us decide something, ya know…
…the women who agree with Brenoff see themselves as diamonds in the rough, caged birds that whose songs are incredibly beautiful, but those infantile, privileged men refuse to recognize them as such. But all the other birds believe our songs are beautiful! Sorry, but singers don’t get to decide what their listeners will find pleasing to hear. A person simply cannot decide what others desire in their lives. It is puerile to demand other people prop up the delusions you have about your life.
Three. The gamma male. Ah, the poor, sniveling wretches…
The third and lowest tier of male social hierarchy. Unlike the dominant alpha or the passive beta, the gamma male’s hallmark traits are clinginess, possessiveness, and manipulation. Since he is unable to compete with men above his social tier, he is prone to isolating and manipulating girls, and failing that, throwing guilt trips to keep them on a short leash. While a gamma male is often a self-proclaimed “nice guy”, his benevolence is merely a means to an end, which is usually trying to hook up with a girl he is obsessed with. Overly emotional and prone to feelings of unwarranted entitlement, the gamma male would rather blame all of his problems on other people than take responsibility for his own behavior.
Fleshing out the “outline” a bit under the high-level “node” that is Observation #3: I see someone took notice of this little tempest-in-a-teapot between John Scalzi‘s fans, and me & severian. I spoke of insanity up above, which has been defined as the exercise of consistent behavior with the expectation of inconsistent results. That fits what we’ve lately seen out of the Gammas quite well:
You can always tell when the Gamma male, who will never openly admit that his precious little feelings have been wounded, is having trouble maintaining his delusion, because he keeps returning to the point where it has been punctured, trying to come up with some spin on the situation that he can successfully sell to others and thereby convince himself.
Note that despite all the reassurance he’s received from the other rabbits, it’s still not enough and he’s actively seeking even more. This is because he knows that his weakness, and worse, his pride in his weakness, makes him an object of derision and disgust by men and women alike. And the knowledge of that is painful to his ego.
Not sure how I fit into the tier system. I know I’m not Alpha, Beta or Gamma. Guess I’ve always been a sort of a “War Games” sort of guy: “The only winning move is not to play.” My kind, like the Alpha and the Beta, is naturally programmed by evolution to get a rush out of sex — the having of it, and the prospect of it as well. Gammas are a different breed entirely. It seems they achieve exactly the same thrill out of female approval. Their wires are crossed. Their mothers, or female caregivers, must have done something awful to them.
severian‘s original point, or a big part of it anyway, was that there is a certain element of danger to this business of bragging about your daughter outdoing you. How could I explain it to the intransigent-Gamma; oh right, I can’t. Well, I’ll explain it to everybody else then:
If the numbers of the Scalzi-daughter-bench-press have been discussed, they haven’t found their way to me, so I’m taking it as an unknown in the equation. Scalzi can bench press X, his daughter can bench press Y, and Y > X. That is known; let us now ponder the likelihoods. It is likely — at least, I would hope — we’re talking about something upwards of 150 pounds, which is mired deeply in the mucky layer of “bro, do you even lift???.” But unless his daughter is freakish, it’s not above what an average man can lift if he’s been working at it. And no, Gammas, I do not include myself in that. Been writing a fair amount of code over the past three years, have a bit of a T-Rex thing going on at the moment. Daughter’s a teenager who can out-lift her dad. We can probably peg this contest down to within 50 pounds. And the daughter, I take it, is in good shape.
Applying a reductio ad absurdum, let’s arbitrarily subtract a decade from the daughter’s age and pretend Scalzi was bragging about his six-year-old lifting more than he can. Now, we’ve lost our ability to provide a quality estimate about the weights being discussed, or much of it. We really haven’t a clue about what’s going on. Is he dictating this “tweet” from a hospital bed, with both arms busted? Is the daughter from the planet Krypton? I dunno. You don’t either. Point is: This is an ineffective way to assess the daughter’s suitability for feats that challenge physical strength — and, may very well involve danger.
Back from the reductio ad absurdum, we have restored the precision and can guess what’s going on again, within 50 pounds or so. But, the observation remains: This is an ineffective way to assess strength. And by “ineffective,” what I really mean is idiotic. Hey sorry John, you’re probably following the trackbacks and are reading this for yourself, and for the record — believe I said this already — I really liked Redshirts. You’re just plain wrong. I don’t mean, by that, that we’re engaged in some sort of cultural clash here and trying to figure out who’s going to impose his personal tastes on whom. It is, as a matter of fact, a matter of fact. Strength. Weakness. Those two are opposites, which means they’re not the same.
Better get word to your fanboys:
So run, kid. Beat the pants off of me. I did my damndest to help you fly, and if you soar above horizons that I can never reach, well, I think that’s what every good parent was hoping for. Instead of, you know, being an insecure douche who’s secretly engineering his kids to fail so he can feel better about his life.
I guess we must be talking about liberals, right? The tell-tale sign is right there: The kid must be soaring above higher horizons, because someone else was properly pummeled downward. Person A’s weakness becomes (somehow) Person B’s strength. Dude, that’s whacked. It’s almost as far out in the tall-grass as figuring out my secret game plan to engineer my kid to fail. And to think I’ve got that beatdown coming because I said something about pulling Scalzi’s man-card; my goodness, these people know so much they don’t really know.
There is some overlap, here, with Point #1. We talk about our aspirations for our children, particularly our daughters, to become all they possibly can. But the people who generate the most noise about this, I notice, are consistently opposed to actually challenging them.
This is destructive. It’s obviously destructive when people confuse weakness for strength. Here there is destruction against human potential. There is destruction against the challenges that build up that human potential, since these poor Gammas seem to be under the delusion that it is the spectacle of victory that makes growing children into strong, capable adults. There is also destruction against those children, themselves, since it is dangerous to pretend to assess someone’s true capabilities, while in reality only going through the motions of doing so. Not that I think Scalzi’s daughter is in this danger; Scalzi, I’m sure, knows the numbers involved in his glorious defeat. But other people reading about it don’t know, and it’s obvious there is this idea churning around out there that girls are being prepared for fabulous and glorious experiences as adult, when they meet the challenge of — beating the chestless old man, who didn’t want to win anyway. It’s not exactly a stringent test.
There is also the matter of disappointment. Competition is great for building up a child’s actual strength; it sucks as a way of building up their confidence, because it works far too well. The message never quite makes it across that there is always someone better, faster, stronger. Ironically, we have dealt with that here in the Freeberg household, during this first summer in which the teenager is taller than his old man. Yeah, great, actually we’re all pretty happy about that. That might surprise some of the Gammas who have gone a little bit off the deep end, speculating about me & my relationship with my kid. But we’ve also had to have the conversation — I’m sure they won’t understand this — that effort is required in other walks of life as well, and there’s always someone out there who’s taller. Boys who win competitions need to hear that; and they do. Girls who win competitions need to hear it too. I’m not so sure anyone’s pointing it out to them.
That takes care of the Gamma/Scalzi matter. If time permits, sometime in the days or weeks ahead I’ll flesh out the other two.
It’s called a “delicious quote” and I’m inclined to agree; it’s one of those gems that seem to have been meticulously designed word by word, not out of intent to deceive, but in the spirit of stringent quality control.
Attempts by experts in the field to defend the embattled messenger inevitably fall on deaf ears. When the firestorm is over, the media’s mindset always resets to a state of comfortable ignorance, ready to be shocked all over again when the next messenger comes along.
What scholars of mental ability know, but have never successfully gotten the media to understand, is that a scientific consensus, based on an extensive and consistent literature, has long been reached on many of the questions that still seem controversial to journalists.
For example, virtually all psychologists believe there is a general mental ability factor(referred to colloquially as “intelligence”) that explains much of an individual’s performance on cognitive tests. IQ tests approximately measure this general factor. Psychologists recognize that a person’s IQ score, which is influenced by both genetic and environmental factors, usually remains stable upon reaching adolescence. And they know that IQ scores are correlated with educational attainment, income, and many other socioeconomic outcomes.
Get with it, atmosphere! You’re holding up the show!
Reproducibility and predictability have a lot to do with saying what science is; with separating it from pseudo-science. With the climate, we have a situation in which the thing being passed off to us as “science” is clinging only just barely to the genuine, teetering on the brink of the abyss of the pseudo. And it seems to be aware of this.
The situation has deteriorated, because we’re not doing a good job of assessing what real science is, if our definition relies on the outcome of guesswork. And you know the situation is deteriorating when the so-called scientists are trying to put together a narrative, build up the anticipation, maneuver us into a “perception is reality” moment with the “atmosphere…get[ting] on board.”
“Perhaps the idealogues should think a bit more before trying so hard to mislead and divide us.”
Related: I don’t actually watch Fox News myself, what with it being on the teevee and all, but things like this compel me to consider changing that.
Seems everyone who comes up with reasons why I shouldn’t watch it, is put off by the idea of more people coming to find out about something they don’t want people to know. Regardless of how that turns out, this kid’s gonna go far.
During our domain & database crash this weekend, we were going through the archives of Rotten Chestnuts as well as of our own works (RC is physically hosted over here, as a sub-site of ours), and we came across this excellent post put up by severian.
John Scalzi, author of Redshirts & other fine science-fiction works, has engaged in some Internet bragging about — um — not being able to press as much as his daughter. Somehow, “revoking the Man Card” doesn’t seem adequate for this.
Let it be known that my daughter can lift more than I do. Because she’s on her school’s weightlifting team, and also because she’s awesome.
sev quotes Darth Toolpodicus, who offers…
haha good for Scalzi’s daughter…but he has no idea how bad that is. My wife and I are both competitive powerlifters, she benches a lot for a female (180lbs). Her biggest complaint: After lifting for years, the only guys she outbenches are the one who are new to the gym…virtually all the guys who are there regularly pass her up within a couple months.
All Scalzi would had to do is SHOW UP at the gym…but “bro, do you you even lift?!?”
Then closes with a common refrain:
It takes a lot of effort not to notice things like this. It takes a huge, hermetically-sealed bubble, maintained with the zealotry of an industrial clean room, not to notice some very basic problems with the liberal worldview. And yet, guys like Scalzi and his umpteen zillion blog readers / Twitter followers manage it.
Normal people with red blood, gather up the facts and go wherever those facts take them. The conclusions come afterward. Our friends the liberals, though, reach the conclusions first. The facts are stenciled out according to whether or not they’re compatible with that favorable conclusion; the ones that do, are given extra weight, and then some thin rationale is contrived against the “facts” that don’t support the desired conclusion. The liberal calls this “debunking” and can explain, in great detail, why exactly it is a debunking. In fact, just try and stop him from explaining, and re-explaining, over and over again.
But, it isn’t really a debunking. And they know it. It is a process of filtering. God only knows how much energy it takes; if we could somehow capture just a quarter of it, we could end every energy crisis that awaits us, for all time.
Actually, I was thinking about this just an hour ago, paying bills. Out of ten companies who have to receive my money because they sent me a bill, two of them failed to keep their stories straight about what was owed. One complained of a past-due amount, I went back and checked my previous month’s records and discovered there was a confirmation number there. I went ahead and paid the amount, but I guess we have to have a conversation. A third company, a credit card, failed to include a $65 charge for lunch over the weekend; I wanted to pay off the entire balance, I tried to put in what they reported plus the sixty-five, but they wouldn’t accept.
My point is — that’s thirty-percent of the information I have, being not quite so much wrong, but sufficiently pockmarked with inconsistencies to be unworkable. At least let us say, in this case, not-immediately-workable. There actually are no past-due situations here, and I started gathering up the (correct?) balances at the beginning of the month, like I always do. There shouldn’t be any wrinkles to this at all. But, there always are some like this.
It made me think of liberals, because people who manage to receive and then report a perfectly smoothed-out-and-ironed “truth,” with no residual uncertainties whatsoever, whether they realize it or not, are confessing that they don’t live in the real world. It may be an overstatement to say they’re revealing that they don’t pay bills. But not by much (and I suspect, in many cases, that may be exactly the situation).
People who are caught up in this habit of massaging truth into some alternate form, like mashing a pillow up into the right ball to support your neck at night, so that it fits their preconceptions…they shouldn’t brag about doing this. It isn’t a positive human attribute, it’s not a strength. It is a weakness, which would interfere with the capturing & reporting acumen needed to pay bills…or…any human effort that has to do with managing information and is more demanding than that. And paying bills is very, very close to the simple-side of that spectrum. Real life has redundant and inconsistent reports. It has enigmas and illusory contradictions. It’s got lots, and lots, and lots, of uncertainties. People shouldn’t brag about being “able” to do away with these in short order, because they’re not dealing with it, what they’re doing is just ignoring the parts they don’t like. It’s kind of obvious.
Just like, people shouldn’t brag about not being able to lift as much as their daughters. That doesn’t make you a better parent. In fact, it is literally weak. But, if liberals were able to identify strengths as strengths and weaknesses as weaknesses, they wouldn’t be liberals.
James Taranto, writing in Best of the Web, offers a roundup of information about the problem of peer review abuse in science:
In a July 8, 2004, email, one scientist assured another that the hypothesis they shared would prevail “even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!” Exactly 10 years later, RetractionWatch.com reported that Peter Chen, a researcher at Taiwan’s National Pingtung University of Education, had undertaken such a redefinition. “SAGE Publishers is retracting 60 articles from the Journal of Vibration and Control after an investigation revealed a ‘peer review and citation ring,’ ” noted RetractionWatch’s Ivan Oransky.
According to a statement from SAGE, “it was discovered that the author had created various aliases on SAGE Track, providing different email addresses to set up more than one account. Consequently, SAGE scrutinised further the co-authors of and reviewers selected for Peter Chen’s papers, [and] these names appeared to form part of a peer review ring. The investigation also revealed that on at least one occasion, the author Peter Chen reviewed his own paper under one of the aliases he had created.”
Corruption of the peer-review process is a widespread problem in scientific research, argues Hank Campbell of Science 2.0 in an op-ed for today’s Wall Street Journal. “Even the most rigorous peer review can be effective only if authors provide the data they used to reach their results, something that many still won’t do and that few journals require for publication,” Campbell notes. He offers this example:
In 2002 and 2010, papers published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences claimed that a pesticide called atrazine was causing sex changes in frogs. As a result the Environmental Protection Agency set up special panels to re-examine the product’s safety. Both papers had the same editor, David Wake of the University of California, Berkeley, who is a colleague of the papers’ lead author, Tyrone Hayes, also of Berkeley.
In keeping with National Academy of Sciences policy, Prof. Hayes preselected Prof. Wake as his editor. Both studies were published without a review of the data used to reach the finding. No one has been able to reproduce the results of either paper, including the EPA…As the agency investigated, it couldn’t even use those papers about atrazine’s alleged effects because the research they were based on didn’t meet the criteria for legitimate scientific work. The authors refused to hand over data that led them to their claimed results — which meant no one could run the same computer program and match their results.
Moral crusaders are especially vulnerable to confirmation bias, the tendency to be insufficiently rigorous about testing information that bolsters their preconceptions. That’s a problem in science as well, as Campbell notes:
Absent rigorous peer review, we get the paper published in June in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Titled “Female hurricanes are deadlier than male hurricanes,” it concluded that hurricanes with female names cause more deaths than male-named hurricanes–ostensibly because implicit sexism makes people take the storms with a woman’s name less seriously. The work was debunked once its methods were examined, but not before it got attention nationwide.
Among those who gave it uncritical attention was Nicholas Kristof, in his June 12 column.
The column beats up on poor kristof rather thoroughly, and closes with:
The scientific consensus is stronger than ever,” wrote a New York Times columnist this past January. You can probably guess which one.
It seems harsh to kick the guy over & over about this human flaw which we all share, whether or not we succumb to it as often. But then again…he did succumb. Then again, he has a lot of company there, too; it isn’t just a Kristof problem.
The question I’d like to pose, picking up where Taranto dropped it, is: What is the temptation? We learn this over & over again, that we are prone to the gullibility, the confirmation bias, when we strap on our shiny moral-crusade armor and vault up into the saddle of our high-horse. How come we keep putting ourselves in that position? No one likes to be embarrassed this way, least of all the people who keep doing it to themselves.
Matthew 7:1, perhaps that’s why it says what it says. People who are so quick to pass judgment on their fellow mortals, getting snookered, embarrassingly, over & over again.
And they keep right on doing it.