patton oswalt: übertroll

comedian and former wedding deejay patton oswalt was trolling the life out of twitter/the internet yesterday and making making many a pc-nazi’s head explode. (h/t john durant! – see also isegoria.) oswalt kept apologizing for offensive tweets — racist or sexist tweets, for instance — which he had never in fact made. it was pretty funny to watch all of the shocked and horrified and OUTRAGED reactions. (~_^)

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moar, moar, moar, moar, and moar.

why am i bothering to post about this? well, we know from before that oswalt seems to be annoyed at political correctness…and is willing to stand up against it…

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…i like that in a person!

it must be pretty annoying for many of today’s comedians — whose heroes are no doubt people like lenny bruce and george carlin — to find that while the old “censorship” rules are gone, there are a whoooole load of new self-censoring ones now.

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see also Patton Oswalt: “Political correctness is a war on noticing.” from steve sailer.

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who needs academic freedom anyway?

academic freedom’s overrated, right? “justice” is more important! (don’t ask me who’s going to define justice…presumably not you or me.)

here’s the latest from haaaahvaaaahrd:

“The Doctrine of Academic Freedom”
“Let’s give up on academic freedom in favor of justice

“…In its oft-cited Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, the American Association of University Professors declares that ‘Teachers are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results.’ In principle, this policy seems sound: It would not do for academics to have their research restricted by the political whims of the moment.

“Yet the liberal obsession with ‘academic freedom’ seems a bit misplaced to me. After all, no one ever has ‘full freedom’ in research and publication. Which research proposals receive funding and what papers are accepted for publication are always contingent on political priorities. The words used to articulate a research question can have implications for its outcome. No academic question is ever ‘free’ from political realities. If our university community opposes racism, sexism, and heterosexism, why should we put up with research that counters our goals simply in the name of ‘academic freedom’?

Instead, I would like to propose a more rigorous standard: one of ‘academic justice.’ When an academic community observes research promoting or justifying oppression, it should ensure that this research does not continue….

yup. she really said that. *facepalm*

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linkfest – 09/15/13

Sir David Attenborough: Humans have stopped evolving“Human beings have stopped evolving becoming the only species to ‘put halt to natural selection of its own free will’, Sir David Attenborough has said, as he predicts the ‘cultural evolution’ of the future.” – lots of responses to that including: Humans are still evolving, and soon we’ll know a lot more about it – from john hawks; Evolution – it’s not over yet – from tom chivers; and Sir David Attenborough is wrong – humans are still evolving – from ian rickard.

Fate of new genes cannot be predicted“New versions of genes, called alleles, can appear by mutation in populations. Even when these new alleles turn the individuals carrying them more fit to survive and reproduce, the most likely outcome is that they will get lost from the populations. The theory that explains these probabilities has been postulated by the scientist J.B.S. Haldane almost 90 years ago. This theory has become the cornerstone of modern population genetics…. The research team … has now experimentally tested Haldane’s theory.”

Poorest Costa Ricans live longest“Biological markers confirm unusually slow ageing regardless of wealth, at least in one population.” – h/t jayman!

Uros people of Peru and Bolivia found to have distinctive genetic ancestries“Genographic project research shows ancestry may date to Altiplano’s initial settlement.”

African-American study identifies four genetic variants associated with blood pressure“‘We anticipated that individuals of African ancestry share similar biology to other populations. However, differences in genomic make-up between African ancestry and other populations have uncovered additional genes affecting blood pressure, in addition to genetic variants that are specific to individuals of African ancestry….'” – via amren.

Handedness GWAS Leads to Suspected Left-Right Asymmetry Genes“A team from the UK and the Netherlands has garnered evidence suggesting left- and right-handedness may involve genes from some of the same pathways that produce other features differing on right and left sides of the body.”

Functional genetic variation in humans: Comprehensive map published“European scientists, led by researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE)’s Faculty of Medicine in the context of the GEUVADIS project, today present a map that points to the genetic causes of differences between people. The study, published in Nature and Nature Biotechnology, offers the largest-ever dataset linking human genomes to gene activity at the level of RNA.”

Insect leg cogs a first in animal kingdom“Toothed gears enable young plant hoppers to synchronize limbs for jumping.”go home, evolution, you are drunk.

The Science of What Makes an Introvert and an Extrovert

Testes Size Correlates With Men’s Involvement in Toddler Care“Men with smaller testes than others are more likely to be involved in hands-on care of their toddlers….” – h/t hbd bibliography!

Can Your Language Influence Your Spending, Eating, and Smoking Habits?“[S]peakers with weak future tenses (e.g. German, Finnish and Estonian) were 30 percent more likely to save money, 24 percent more likely to avoid smoking, 29 percent more likely to exercise regularly, and 13 percent less likely to be obese, than speakers of languages with strong future tenses, like English.” – (“but where does language come from?” hbd chick mumbles to herself in the back row….)

‘Love hormone’ may play wider role in social interaction than previously thought“The new study, to be published Sept. 12 in Nature, pinpoints a unique way in which oxytocin alters activity in a part of the brain that is crucial to experiencing the pleasant sensation neuroscientists call ‘reward’…. ‘People with autism-spectrum disorders may not experience the normal reward the rest of us all get from being with our friends….’ Some genetic evidence suggests the awkward social interaction that is a hallmark of autism-spectrum disorders may be at least in part oxytocin-related. Certain variations in the gene that encodes the oxytocin receptor – a cell-surface protein that senses the substance’s presence – are associated with increased autism risk.”

More Money, More Children“‘[N]ow better-off people seem to be having more children; in the U.S., the fertility rate of wives whose husbands are in the top decile of income is back where it was a century ago.'” – h/t puzzle pirate!

Ashkenazi Jewish gene pool derives from ‘recent severe bottleneck’ of 300-400 individuals ca. 800 years ago – @race/history/evolution notes.

Morality and the Epiphany of Joshua Greene“The manifestations of morality are complex, but its origins are simple. Evolved behavioral predispositions are the ultimate reason for its existence…. Those behavioral traits evolved without a goal, and without a purpose. They exist because they happened to increase our chances of surviving and procreating at a time when our mode of existence as well as our social and physical environment were radically different from what they are now.” – helian’s on fire! (not literally … i hope.)

Are Women Less Corrupt?“Women are more likely than men to disapprove of — and less likely to participate in — political corruption, but only in countries where corruption is stigmatized…. ‘When corruption is stigmatized, as in most democracies, women will be less tolerant and less likely to engage in it compared with men. But if ‘corrupt’ behaviors are an ordinary part of governance supported by political institutions, there will be no corruption gender gap.'” – h/t jayman!

Politicians like power – from steve sailer.

Study: The Neg Works – (~_^) – @heartiste.

Some people are feminine – get over it“Whenever you have one group of people who believe one thing for ideological reasons, and another who believe something else because their business model depends on it, I tend to trust the latter. Who do you think knows more about the minds of girls and boys — the academics who’ve spent years discussing gender feminism, or people who sell toys?” (~_^) – from ed west.

A Brief Word On Pedophilia – scharlach reminds everyone what pedophilia is. THANK you!

Stephen Hsu on Cognitive Genomics“At the extremes, there are some academics and social activists who violently oppose any kind of research into the genetics of cognitive ability. Given that the human brain — its operation, construction from a simple genetic blueprint, evolutionary history — is one of the great scientific mysteries of the universe, I cannot understand this point of view.”

Heritability estimates and unexplained variance“Nobody owns unexplained variance.” – from dr. james thompson.

Study sheds light on genetics of how and why fish swim in schools“‘The motivation to be social is common among fish and humans…. ‘Some of the same brain regions and neurological chemicals that control human social behavior are probably involved in fish social behavior as well.'”

Why do haters have to hate? Newly identified personality trait holds clues“New research has uncovered the reason why some people seem to dislike everything while others seem to like everything. Apparently, it’s all part of our individual personality – a dimension that researchers have coined ‘dispositional attitude.'”

Everyday sadists take pleasure in others’ pain“[P]eople who score high on a measure of sadism seem to derive pleasure from behaviors that hurt others, and are even willing to expend extra effort to make someone else suffer.” – yeah. you know who you are.

How an evolutionary model is better at explaining decisions than neo-classical and behavioral economics models: A review of Douglas T. Kenrick and Vladas Griskevicius, The Rational Animal: How Evolution Made us Smarter than we Think.

Making The Right Mistakes: Error Management And The Evolution Of Errors“Human cognitive mechanisms evolved to deal with the problems of the past, where we spent 99% of our history, not those of the present. We should, therefore, hardly expect our brains to perform well all the time in modern settings where the social and physical environment is so different.”

From Slavs to Slaves“Between 1500 and 1650, Eastern Europe exported 1.5 million slaves to North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. Western Europe exported a little over a million between 1530 and 1780.” – from peter frost.

The Madonna or the Whore? – @thosewhocansee.

E.O. Wilson has a new explanation for consciousness, art & religion. Is it credible?

The Evolutionary Case for Great Fiction“Might reading literature help with species survival?” (species survival? hmmmm.)

2013 ig nobel awards were announced this week! my favorite this year: the probability prize – “[T]he longer a cow has been lying down, the more likely that cow will soon stand up; and Second, that once a cow stands up, you cannot easily predict how soon that cow will lie down again.” (^_^)

Mayan mass grave containing 1,400-year-old remains of DECAPITATED prisoners of war discovered in Mexico

Plans to evict Botswana Bushmen revealed by leaked report – @survival international. h/t andrew badenoch!

bonus: Parasite Ants Drafted as Mercenaries

bonus bonus: Inheritance of lifespan is sex-dependent in fruit flies

bonus bonus bonus: ‘Time travel is easy — in one direction,’ says Prof Brian Cox – but the time lords figured it out!

bonus bonus bonus bonus: The sound of interstellar space…” (or not!) – h/ts michael anissimov and nelson!

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Wherever there is red tape, the truth will be stranger than fiction“As the [u.k.’s] Government reflects on a bureaucratic obsession with ‘equality’, we ask: which of these tales of political correctness are made up?”

(note: comments do not require an email. all that’s required for successful time travel.)

linkfest – 08/12/13

Is Beauty in the Face of the Beholder?“We concluded that individuals, if given the opportunity, seek to promote ‘positive assortment’ for Self’s phenotype, especially when the level of similarity approaches an optimal point that is similar to Self without causing a conscious acknowledgment of the similarity.” – on assortative mating, via race/history/evolution notes.

3.4-7.9% Neandertal admixture in Eurasia?“‘Our analysis allows us — for the first time — to formally reject a history of ancestral population structure and instead reveals strong support for admixture from Neandertals into Eurasian populations at a higher rate (3.4%-7.9%) than suggested previously.'” – @dienekes’.

and speaking of neanderthals: Neanderthals made leather-working tools like those in use today.

Genetics and alcoholism“Abundant evidence indicates that alcohol dependence (alcoholism) is a complex genetic disease, with variations in a large number of genes affecting a person’s risk of alcoholism. Some of these genes have been identified, including two genes involved in the metabolism of alcohol (ADH1B and ALDH2) that have the strongest known affects on the risk of alcoholism. Studies continue to reveal other genes in which variants affect the risk of alcoholism or related traits, including GABRA2, CHRM2, KCNJ6 and AUTS2.”

Sense of smell has a genetic flavour“Richard Newcomb of the New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research (IPFR) in Auckland and his colleagues have found the most convincing evidence yet of a genetic basis to the differences in people’s odour perception.” – via hbd bibliography.

Immigration and inbreeding“[T]he more inbred a country is, the more restrictive the attitudes of its population are on the issues of immigration and citizenship. Conversely, the more outbred a country is, the more its inhabitants tend toward unrestricted open borders.” – from the awesome epigone.

Religious people are less intelligent than atheists, analysis of over 63 scientific studies stretching back over decades concludes“Study found ‘a reliable negative relation between intelligence and religiosity’ in 53 out of 63 studies.” – via nelson.

Jason Richwine and some Hispanic data“In summary, if one uses scholastic data as a measure of ability, then there was some significant narrowing of the White/Hispanic gap in the early 1980’s, but that reduced gap has persisted thereafter. This finding discomforts those who predicted that the gap would never change, and those who said it was closing fast and would shortly disappear. Both are wrong, are partially right.” – from dr. james thompson.

Why can’t we talk about IQ? – from jason richwine. (in case you live in a cave. (~_^) )

ORIGINAL PAPER: Strong genetic influence on a UK nationwide test of educational achievement at the end of compulsory education at age 16 – @dr. james thompson’s blog. also Revealed: how exam results owe more to genes than teaching“New research by Professor Robert Plomin shows genes are more important than we like to think.”

Archaeology: The milk revolution“When a single genetic mutation first let ancient Europeans drink milk, it set the stage for a continental upheaval.” – @nature. see also Impressed Ware and Linear Pottery – Linearbandkeramik from greg cochran.

Variable mutation rates – age of puberty and There can only be one! from greg cochran.

A Tentative Ranking of the Clannishness of the “Founding Fathers” and The Cavaliers – from jayman.

Race matters when a patient needs a stem cell or marrow transplant“If you become ill with a blood cancer or other disease that requires a stem cell transplant, here’s an uncomfortable fact: Your race matters.” – why that fact should be *uncomfortable*, i have no idea, but i do admit that i’m odd. – via nelson.

Population Structure of Hispanics in the United States: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis“By comparing genetic ancestry of MESA Hispanic participants to reference samples representing worldwide diversity, we show major differences in ancestry of MESA Hispanics reflecting their Caucasian, African, and Native American origins, with finer differences corresponding to North-South geographic origins that separate MESA Mexican versus Central/South American samples. Based on our analysis, we define four subgroups of the MESA Hispanic cohort that show close agreement with the following self-identified regions of origin: Dominican/Cuban, Mexican, Central/South American, and Puerto Rican.” – via nelson.

Perception of skin color in sub-Saharan Africa and Great hair … and how it evolved – from peter frost.

Book Review: The Righteous Mind – Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (2012) by Jonathan Haidt – from staffan. also James Q. Wilson and the Defense of Moral Judgment.

Why We Profile – from m.g. @thosewhocansee.

Classical eugenics and genetic engineering – from elijah armstrong.

Smart Enough to Know Better: Intelligence Is Not a Remedy for Racism“Smart people are just as racist as their less intelligent peers — they’re just better at concealing their prejudice, according to a University of Michigan study.”

Maternal urge decreases by a QUARTER for every 15 extra IQ points – from satoshi kanazawa.

Autistic girls have more ‘masculine’ brains and are ‘affected by the condition in a different way to men’

Personality May Predict If You Like Spicy Foods“Those in the group who fell below the mean AISS [adverse to risk taking] rapidly disliked the meal as the burn increased. People who were above the mean AISS [prone to risk taking] had a consistently high liking of the meal even as the burn increased. Those in the mean group liked the meal less as the burn increased, but not nearly as rapidly as those below the mean.”

Gherardini DNA Sample Could Identify “Mona Lisa”

bonus: BBC is biased toward the left, study finds“The BBC is twice as likely to cover left-wing policy proposals than those that are right-wing, a study has found.”

bonus bonus: The smell of fear more powerful than previously realised

bonus bonus bonus: Psychological adaptation to urbanization, technology reflected in word usage over last 200 years

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Paying Teens Not to Have Sex: What Mississippi Can Learn From Malawi. also The amazing, surprising, Africa-driven demographic future of the Earth, in 9 charts via michael anissimov.

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Monsters, Marvels, and the Birth of Science“History: How the unlikely and unexplainable, strange and terrifying, spawned the age of science.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: The lost voices of Britain before WW1: German recording of British PoWs reveals a rural society rich in now extinct accents that varied from village to village

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Five hundred new fairytales discovered in Germany“Collection of fairytales gathered by historian Franz Xaver von Schönwerth had been locked away in an archive in Regensburg for over 150 years.”

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: and funniest online sentence from last week – from the derb (of course!): “The latest round of revelations about Weiner, reported by Radio Derb last week, have certainly caused his poll numbers to detumesce.” – heh! (^_^)

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chickens … home … roost

today on both sides of the atlantic we’ve had a couple of positively shining examples of why it’s NOT a good idea to have all this mass immigration** to the west — especially from particularly violent places (see: chechnya, africa) — and doubly especially from particularly violent places where large parts of the population view us as the enemy, an assessment which frankly isn’t entirely wrong.

first, we’ve got a beheading and disemboweling of a soldier in london by a couple of black muslims — at least one of whom has a local london accent, btw:

“Terror at Woolwich barracks: Attacker tried to behead and disembowel British soldier”

“Terrorism returned to the streets of Britain today as a soldier was murdered by two suspected Islamists who attempted to behead and disembowel him as he left his barracks, in the first deadly attack since the 2005 London bombings.

“One of the suspected killers, who addressed an onlooker with a camera, said the pair had carried out the attack ‘because David Cameron, (the) British government sent troops in Arabic country’.

“As pedestrians stood close by the armed men, he went on: ‘We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you,’ according to footage obtained by ITV News.

“The soldier was ambushed by the two men as he left the base in Woolwich, south-east London, who attacked him and then dragged his body into the middle of the road to pose for photographs while standing over him waving a machete and a gun, according to witnesses….”

you don’t get much more barbaric than hacking someone to death with a machete. and these guys were armed with handguns, so they specifically CHOSE to kill this unarmed soldier in the way that they did. to make a statement, presumably, but this is also often how they deal with their enemies “back in the old country” (or sweden).

no doubt they viewed a soldier as a legitimate target — a soldier who had actually served in iraq and afghanistan, btw — and it is a slightly less crazy choice than a random civilian — but NOT an unarmed soldier who is just walking down the street. that is just cowardly. and, again, the way they killed him was barbaric — and they had a cleaner option (i.e. they had guns). they preferred barbarism.

in the u.s., the plot thickens (as if it wasn’t already thick enough!) in the boston marathon bombings case:

Friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev shot dead by FBI after ‘pulling a knife as he prepared to sign a confession to 2011 triple homicide’

– Ibragim Todashev, 27, reportedly turned violent during an interview with an FBI agent
– He was being interviewed over his ties to Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev
– Todashev, from Chechnya, was shot dead by the agent just after midnight Wednesday
– He had reportedly confessed to the FBI that he played a role in a brutal triple slaying in the Boston area in 2011
– Todashev had met Tsarnaev while he was living in Boston and last spoke him about a week before the bombing
– He was arrested on May 4 in an unrelated incident after he knocked a man unconscious in a fight over a parking space

involvement in a triple homicide AND you beat a guy senseless in a fight over a parking space?! AND you pull a knife on some fbi agents?? wtf is wrong with you?

i’ll tell you what’s wrong with these people: human biodiversity. they all come from populations which are, on average, more violent than western populations. some of these people probably like the violence — they relish it. note that the elder tsarnaev brother as well as this ibragim todashev were both boxers. these people are quick to anger — and quick to act violently when they are angry.

we know that europeans have, for whatever reasons, become less violent on average since the medieval period. why that is remains open for debate, but it is a fact that cannot be denied. this pacification seems to have happened in other populations as well — japan, china, india. but, comparatively speaking, it has NOT really happened in places like sub-saharan africa, the arab world/middle east/north africa/pakistan/afghanistan, amongst certain tribal peoples of south america, etc.

westerners better wake the f*ck up soon to hbd and that different peoples are different and quit importing people from violent societies, otherwise these events are going to become much more common right here on our doorsteps.

this is not to say that some of these peoples don’t have legitimate grievances with us. sam francis was right about Why They Attack Us many years ago (he was right about a lot of things):

“[T]he blunt truth is that the United States has been at war for years — at least a decade, since we launched a war against Iraq in 1991, even though Iraq had done absolutely nothing to harm the United States or any American. Our bombing attacks on Iraq certainly caused civilian casualties, and if they were not deliberate, nobody beating the war drums at the time felt much regret for them. For ten years, we have maintained economic sanctions on Iraq that have led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians, and we have repeatedly bombed it whenever it failed to abide by standards we imposed on it.

“Under Bill Clinton, we again launched bombing raids against civilians — once against so-called ‘terrorist training camps’ supposedly under bin Laden’s control in Afghanistan and at the same time against a purported ‘chemical weapons factory’ in Sudan that almost certainly was no such thing….

“In all the buckets of media gabble about the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, not once have I heard any journalist ask any expert the simple question, ‘Why did the terrorists attack us?’

“There is, of course, an implicit answer to the unasked question: It’s because the terrorists are ‘evil’; they ‘hate democracy’; they are ‘fanatics,’ ‘barbarians’ and ‘cowards.’ Those, of course, are answers that can satisfy only children. Some day it might actually dawn on someone in this country that the grown-up but unwelcome answer is that the terrorists attacked us because they were paying us back for what we started.

“Let us hear no more about how the ‘terrorists’ have ‘declared war on America….’

“The blunt and quite ugly truth is that the United States has been at war for years — that it started the war in the name of ‘spreading democracy,’ ‘building nations,’ ‘waging peace,’ ‘stopping aggression,’ ‘enforcing human rights,’ and all the other pious lies that warmongers always invoke to mask the truth, and that it continued the war simply to save a crook from political ruin. What is new is merely that this week, for the first time, the war we started came home — and all of a sudden, Americans don’t seem to care for it so much.”
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**although as steve sailer keeps pointing out, there are only one or two hundred chechens totally in the u.s., so apparently ANY amount of immigration from chechnya is a bad idea.

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a loaded question

when i gave a shot at analyzing the witch-hunt against jason richwine, i said that nearly all of the elements of a classic witch-hunt were present afaict, but i didn’t have an example of “use of the loaded question technique.”

now i’ve got one, provided by jason himself in his excellent article in (above all places!) the national review – “About That Dissertation”:

“I don’t apologize for any of my writing, but I deeply regret that it was used to hurt my friends and colleagues at Heritage. Seeing them struggle on account of me was the most painful aspect of the whole ordeal. I remember a particularly difficult moment when a Heritage spokesman went on Univision to defend the Heritage report. He explained, accurately, that I was just the number cruncher for the study. Here’s the question he was given by the host:

“‘So you’re telling me that you used the numbers from a man who has written that Hispanics have a low IQ and will have a low IQ for generations. So what makes you think, unless you agree with that premise, what makes you think that his numbers are sufficiently good in order for, for them to be included in your study?’

“How can anyone respond to a question as absurd as that one?”

exactly. and, of course, no one is meant to respond to such an absurd question. that’s the whole point.

anybody who puts a question like that to someone is doing so for the exact same reason that other witch-hunters pose loaded questions, for example these papua new guinean witch-hunters:

“Janet, you drank the blood from your husband, when are you going to give it back, so that our uncle can have his life again?”

the aim is simply to illustrate the “guilt” of the witch or crimethinker involved and to shut down rational discussion entirely (if rational discussion was ever an option in the first place).

witch-hunts — whether looking for “actual” witches or religious heretics or even political witch-hunts (and, yes, that includes the mccarthy hearings, too) — while they may vary in the particulars, are all fundamentally the same thing: a method of delineating the boundaries between the in-group and the out-group — between what is acceptable behavior and what is not. they are freakish events, and terrorizing, because they generally occur at moments of crises, so you never know when they’re going to rain down on your head (that’s what the historians/anthropologists have concluded anyway – see previous post and/or Meaning and Moral Order: Explorations in Cultural Analysis, pgs. 114-121).

witch-hunts serve the same function as other normative rituals like weddings and funerals, superbowls and fraternity hazings: to demonstrate for everyone who’s IN and who’s OUT — and what you need to do to be IN. jason describes this perfectly in his article:

“The furor will soon pass. Mercifully, the media are starting to forget about me. But a certain amount of long-term damage to political discourse has been done. Every researcher who writes on public policy over the next few years will have a fresh and vivid memory of how easy it is to get in trouble with the media’s thought police, and how easy it is to become an instant pariah. Researchers will feel even more compelled to suppress unpopular evidence and arguments that should be part of an open discussion.

yup.

the witch-hunt is just an emergency version of society’s bonding rituals. (note that they can obviously also be used and manipulated for political ends.) my question still is: what is this emergency that the politically correct crowd is feeling these days?

read jason’s entire piece here: “About That Dissertation.”

previously: “to disbelieve in witchcraft is the greatest of heresies”

(note: comments do not require an email. d*mn witches!)

twitter dodgeball

because we’ve all got to choose sides, apparently. (what’s being discussed in this tweet session.)

twitter dodgeball

previously: “to disbelieve in witchcraft is the greatest of heresies”

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“to disbelieve in witchcraft is the greatest of heresies”

that’s the epigraph on the title page of “The Malleus Maleficarum” — “The Hammer of the Witches” — THE handbook on witchcraft from the late middle ages (you can read it here). while it does discuss some interesting things, like whether or not a belief in witches should be part of the roman catholic church’s orthodoxy (the epigraph pretty much answers that question) and how witches got their powers (from satan!), most importantly it explains the procedures for uncovering witches (via a witch-hunt). it, and other books like it, came in real handy in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries during the heydays of the witchcraft trials in europe and north america.

they’re still killing “witches” in papua new guinea today. in 2009, over fifty people in just two png provinces (there are twenty-two provinces altogether) were tortured and killed because the crowd concluded they were witches. they’re still at it this year. in fact, there are some concerns that, if anything, the witch-hunting has sped up. from the sydney morning herald last month:

“Witch-hunt”

“Kapi is the local gravedigger…. He is paid about 150 kina ($67) a grave; if a family wants him to build a proper, cement gravestone, that is extra. Then there is the time-consuming and more important task of guarding the graves from *sangumas*, or witches, the belief in which is almost universal in PNG.

“‘The *sangumas* come at night to eat the corpses,’ Kapi tells me matter-of-factly. ‘It’s like meat to them. It’s how they get their magical powers. And not just one, but five or 10 can come and cut up the body; “You get this hand … you get this leg ….”‘

“During the day, ‘they look just like us,’ Kapi explains. He says at night, however, they sneak into the cemetery disguised as cats or dogs, snakes, rats, bats or frogs….

“Kapi shows me his gun, pieced together using hessian strips, metal pipes and a steel spring. It can shoot only one bullet at a time, meaning that if you miss, the sanguma invariably get away. ‘But it doesn’t matter,’ Kapi tells me. ‘Sometimes we shoot the sanguma in the eye or the leg or neck, then if the next day we see a man missing an eye or with cut from a bush knife, then we know he is the sanguma.’

“‘But how do you know for sure?’ I ask.

“‘We know,’ Kapi replies.

“‘So what do you do?’

“‘We kill him.’

“‘Have you done this yourself?’

“‘Yes, plenty,’ Kapi says, nodding. ‘We tie him up and burn him up, in public. We burn him alive….’

“In 2011 she [janet kemo] was the second wife of a man called Kemo Fogodi, who became ill with what turned out to be tuberculosis. When Fogodi began coughing up blood – a sure sign of sorcery – Kemo was accused by her husband’s family of using witchcraft to kill him. Early one morning, while her husband lay helplessly ill nearby, she was hauled out of bed by a group of 15 men, one of whom tied a chain around her neck. She was then dragged 800 metres up a muddy track, through a forest, and tied to a mango tree, where she was tortured for 12 hours.

“‘The men used a hammer to smash my teeth and break the bones in my hands,’ Kemo says. ‘They chopped my face and head and burned me with iron bars that they had heated in a fire.’

“They also cut the tendons in her wrists and carved a cross in her chest with their bush knives. Kemo was blindfolded but recognised the voice of her husband’s nephew, Junior Taweta. ‘Junior asked me, “Janet, you drank the blood from your husband, when are you going to give it back, so that our uncle can have his life again?” By this stage I was only barely conscious, but I said, “Junior, I’m not a witch! I’m a child of God!”‘

janet kemo was lucky (i guess) and survived. read the rest of the article to hear what’s happened to some others … only if you have a strong stomach though. here’s some more:

“Not surprisingly, Highlands funerals, or *haus krais*, are highly charged affairs. It’s not unusual to find women prostrate on the road, clawing at the dirt in agonised displays of grief. If the deceased died suddenly, talk invariably turns to sorcery, with a *glasman* or *mambu* man brought in, usually from outside the area, to identify the guilty party. *Glasmen*, who can be paid handsomely for their services, are, in essence, black-magic consultants; they use bowls or glasses of water into which they gaze until the faces of the witches magically appear. (*Mambu* men perform the same service, only with a piece of bamboo, or *mambu*.) They are powerful figures, all care and no responsibility.

“‘The glasman looked into the water and made clear to us who did the witchcraft,’ a man who claims to have taken part in an attack on a witch near the town of Goroka tells me. ‘But then he said, “It’s up to you what you do next….”‘

“Few societies have collided with modernity quite so hard and fast as the Highlands of PNG, where the first white explorers, many of them Australian, only began appearing in the early 1930s. The transition that followed, ‘from stone to steel in one generation’, would have been traumatic for any people, but for a nation as fractious as PNG, which has more than 800 separate languages, the result has been a cultural car wreck. Town life, television, the predations of ‘civilisation’ and consumer culture, all have proved wildly destabilising, a situation that has, in combination with a lack of education and opportunity, actually heightened the allure of magic….

“*Sanguma* lore has similarly flourished, spinning off into ever wilder and more arcane territory. *Sangumas* are said to have their own ‘parliament of witches’ at Mount Elimbari, a sheer, pyramid-shaped limestone peak between Goroka and Kundiawa. They are thought to operate in regional hierarchies, with *kumo* kings and queens who plan mob-like ‘hits’ and approve, when necessary, the restoration of stolen body parts. They are also tech-savvy, increasingly using special ‘*kumo* guns’, ‘*kumo* helicopters’ and ‘*kumo* jets’, plus powerful hand-held lights that allow them to see at night.”
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douglas walton has spent a lot of time researching and thinking about argumentation and logical fallacies. he’s analyzed witch-hunts and come up with a set of properties that characterize the witch-hunt (see “The Witch Hunt as a Structure of Argumentation” [pdf]):

1) pressure of social forces
2) stigmatization
3) climate of fear
4) resemblance to a fair trial
5) use of simulated evidence
6) simulated expert testimony
7) nonfalsifiability characteristic of evidence
8) reversal of polarity
9) non-openness
10) use of the loaded question technique

wrt the first one — “pressure of social forces” — i’ll get to that below. some historians/other researchers have really looked into the social forces behind witch-hunts, with some very interesting results. “stigmatization” and “climate of fear” are kind-of self-explicatory, although i’ll get back to climate of fear again below as well.

“resemblance to a fair trial”: in the png examples above, nothing resembles a fair trial — unless being tied to a tree and tortured is what passes for a fair trial in png (trial by ordeal?). nevertheless, these are pretty clearly witch-hunts, so i think we can conclude that there doesn’t have to be a “mock trial” in a witch-hunt — although it certainly would be a plus, i would imagine. “use of simulated evidence” and “simulated expert testimony”: for example, all the stuff about the glasmen and mambu men looking into bowls of water to see the guilty party. ’nuff said. “nonfalsifiability characteristic of evidence”: the witches in png enter cemeteries disguised as dogs or cats or frogs. okaaaay.

“reversal of polarity”: this, which is very important, refers to the fact that the burden of proof is reversed in the witch-hunt or trial. the accusers or the prosectors don’t really have to bring much, if any, evidence against you — we know you’re a witch — otherwise why would you have been brought to trial for being a witch? see? it’s up to you to prove you’re NOT a witch. and good luck with that, because the rules are usually rigged against suspect witches (“she drowned, so she wasn’t a witch! yay?”). “non-openness” is related to this — the judge and the jury (the mob) have already decided in their minds that you are a witch. they are not “open” to hearing otherwise.

finally, “use of the loaded question”: we saw this in the article above when the nephew of the man who died of tb asked the widow, “Janet, you drank the blood from your husband, when are you going to give it back, so that our uncle can have his life again?” right.
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historians who have studied witch-hunts, both religious and political ones, have found that they generally take place during times of turmoil or uncertainty. they are rituals of a sort in which social (and sometimes physical) boundaries are defined — witch-hunts are, at these critical moments, extravagant ways of working out who’s in the in-group and who is not. and woe to anyone who is not. the turmoil and uncertainty are the “pressures of social forces.”

from Meaning and Moral Order: Explorations in Cultural Analysis [pgs. 114-121 – links added by me]:

“Witch-hunts, therefore, are a type of ritual. They occur sporadically, unlike holiday celebrations. But they generally consist of public acts involving patterned events in which messages are communicated about values and norms that have allegedly been violated….

“The witch trials in colonial Massachusetts were examined from this perspective by Kai Erikson in his book ‘Wayward Puritans’ (1966). Erikson showed that these trials had occurred not simply at random but in three distinct spurts. The first of these ‘crime waves’ took place during the second half of the 1630s, the second occurred in the late 1650s, and the third broke out in 1692. The interesting feature of these outbursts was that they coincided perfectly with crises in the authority structure and values of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The first followed closely on the heels of the so-called antinomian controversy involving Anne Hutchinson. The controversy poked at the heart of colonial authority because it challenged the worthiness of the Puritan clergy to legislate in spiritual matters. Hutchinson and her followers argued that the doctrine upholding the ‘priesthood of the believer’ should be more strictly interpreted, giving residents greater freedom to decide on their own qualifications for religious and political participation or leadership. The second bout of witch-hunting came into being in 1656 and continued for nearly a decade. According to Erikson, it was instigated chiefly in response to the arrival in the Puritan colony of Quakers, who, though few in number, symbolized a departure from the Puritans’ staunchly ascetic values. The Quakers’ emphasis on inner spirituality challenged the theocratic discipline of the colony much in the same manner as Hutchinson’s alleged antinomianism. Neither of these episodes involved accusations of witchcraft per se, only charges of heresy. The third outbreak did. It was the famed witch-hunt in the town of Salem. The crisis this time was more severe because it involved a genuine threat of serious potential consequences for the political leadership of the colony. This threat was from England, and it involved both the possibility of losing title to the entire colony at the hand of the king and a series of disputes with the Puritan hierarchy in England over theological points and questions of church discipline.

“Erikson concluded from these three episodes that witch trials were collective rituals that emerged in response to ‘boundary crises’ in the moral order of the Massachusetts colony….”

“Erikson’s use of the term ‘boundary’ is largely figurative. It subsumes a variety of collective values, definitions, and relations. Disputes over boundaries arise in a number of ways, including internal disagreements, ambiguities over the correct or effective application of cherished values, redefinition of boundaries by the physical inclusion of new members, and external threats. Hugh Trevor-Roper’s (1967) [see also] discussion of witch-hunting in Europe during the same period provides instances where boundary disputes can be taken literally….

“The spatial distribution of European witch-hunts…. It was primarily in border areas where Protestants and Catholics were caught up in controversies over geographical boundaries and political jurisdictions that witch-hunts broke out. Nor was it simply the presence of adherents to an alien faith that became the target of these rituals. Catholics did not round up Protestants and accuse them of heresy, nor Protestants, Catholics. Each groups found subversives within its own camp, not traitors who were explicily allied with the enemy, but weak souls endangering the solidarity of the total community by practicing sorcery.

Under threat of external attacks on the community’s physical boundaries, greater certainty was needed about the statuses, loyalties, and values of members within the community. The presence of religious competition at the borders may have created uncertainties about the location of these borders themselves, but the more immediate source of ritual activiety was the need for greater clarity about the social relations within the community. In order to mobilize its resources to the maximum, the community needed to know where its members stood and, more important, needed to shore up those loyalties to the community as a corporate entity that may have grown blurred with the passage of time and the pressures of individual or localistic demands. Witch trials became meaningful rituals under these circumstances. They dramatized the nature of collective loyalties and defined precisely the range of acceptable and unacceptable religious activity.

witch-hunts are “most likely to occur in situations of social *uncertainty*…. [T]he greater the uncertainty that exists about social positions, commitments to shared values, or behavioral options likely to influence other actors, the greater the likelihood that behavior will take on a ritual dimension of signficance….” a type of “uncertainty” most closely tied to witch-hunts “invovles external shocks to a cultural system. One way of interpreting the effect of these shocks is to say that they introduce new sets of contingencies into the system. Understandings communicated by external groups — the king, religious out-groups, Populists — now have to be related to existing understandings, whereas the two systems were formerly capable of functioning in isolation.”
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what happened to jason richwine this week — and everyone else who’s been watsoned for politically incorrect crimethink, like john derbyshire — was a witch-hunt. no question about it. and it wasn’t even metaphorically a witch-hunt, or even just kinda like a witch-hunt — the event bears all the traits of an actual, honest-to-goodness witch-hunt like they do it in papua new guinea or used to do it in medieval europe, just with less violence, that’s all.

the politically correct chattering classes, both on the left AND on the right, who went after richwine behaved EXACTLY, in every regard, like png witch-hunters (except, like i said, for the violence). the richwine affair was an irrational ritual so that all those involved — and everybody watching — would be absolutely clear from now on what the acceptable boundaries are when it comes to discussing immigrants or non-whites or … whomever.

what did we have? “stigmatization”? check. (plenty more examples out there like that one.) “use of simulated evidence”? did anyone actually read jason’s thesis? no. check. “simulated expert testimony”? i don’t have any links on hand now, but i saw appeals to stephen jay gould in rebuttals to jason’s research. definitely simulated expert testimony! “nonfalsifiability characteristic of evidence” and “use of the loaded question technique”? probably, but i don’t have examples (anyone?). we’ll leave those as unknown for now. [edit: i now have an example of “use of the loaded question technique.”] “resemblance to a fair trial”? well, like in the png examples above, there was no mock trial, but there was certainly a trial of sorts in the press/on the internet. “reversal of polarity” and “non-openness”? oh, yeah! richwine was obviously guilty of being a warlock crimethinker from the moment someone discovered his thesis. and pretty much NO ONE was open to hearing otherwise — no one who isn’t already a crimethinker themselves, that is.

“climate of fear.” climate of fear is an interesting one because it’s something that sorta feeds back into the whole system exacerbating it all, since what’s going on is that, not only are the richwines and derbyshires of the world afraid (or supposed to be afraid, anyway), EVERYone is afraid — afraid of becoming the next one accused of being a witch/crimethinker. as we saw above from Meaning and Moral Order, witch-hunts occur sporadically, so you can never know when or where the next one will be — or who the next victim will be. witch-hunts are terrorizing — and they’re meant to be. from walton [pg. 396 – pdf]:

“A climate of fear is a third important characteristic of the initial conditions of the witch hunt. First, the witch hunt is based on, and propelled by fear of the stigmatized individuals that are the objects of the hunt. Witches are portrayed, for example, as both repellent and dangerous. But second, the whole procedure of the witch hunt is suffused with fear. Everyone who could be accused is terrified, because they know that targeting is relatively random, and even an innocent person can be accused. But also, they know that once they are accused, and caught up in the tribunal process, the consequences are horrific (for anyone whose reputation matters to them) and the outcome is inevitably certain to be bad. Thus a climate of (well-founded) fear is characteristic of the whole process of the witch hunt.

this is why everyone piles on the accused so quickly and with full force — because they REALLY want to establish in a very public way that they, themselves, are NOT witches/crimethinkers, ’cause none of them want to experience being on the wrong end of a witch-hunt.

edit: i should’ve mentioned that none of these behavioral patterns are particularly conscious ones for the witch-hunters involved. they’re just acting on some sort of instinct — a herding instinct or something. some people out there might, of course, understand how to get a good witch-hunt rolling and use such events for their own purposes. not saying that that’s what happened this week — just sayin’.
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i’m having a hard time figuring out what the “pressure of social forces” factor is for all the politically correct people who take part in these watsonings/witch-hunts. i mean, witch-hunts supposedly take place in eras of turmoil and uncertainty — and, while I certainly feel we’re living in an era of uncertainty with all this mass immigration and rapid changes, what are the pc people concerned about? they LIKE all this change and multiculturalism, don’t they?

and they can’t possibly feel threatened from the alt-right, can they? the left might feel threatened by the right on many issues and vice versa, but since almost all of them are politically correct these days, they can’t feel threatened by each other on that count. or do they? i really don’t know — help me figure this out!

the only thing i could think of is that maybe they actually are afraid of the brave new world they’re creating (a la putnam [pdf]), but because they want to run with the herd, they don’t want to voice any concerns — and so their concerns/fears are coming out in nervous witch-hunts? i dunno. but check this out — from Moral Panics: The Social Construction of Deviance [pg. 195]:

“The example of the Renaissance witch craze provides a lesson for contemporary society: Multiculturalism does not eradicate the moral panic. Indeed, the more diverse the society, the larger number of moral panics, as competing symbolic-moral universes produce their own folk devils, each with exaggerated fears and anxieties. In turn, these folk devils resist such definitions, drawing, as they will, on the support from members of competing symbolic-moral universes. The modern scene of moral panics thus witnesses a larger number of moral panics, some in conflict, some potentiating each other, and some flourishing and fading as quickly as they have come into being. The modern, complex moral structure of societies may very well create a social setting which gives rise to a multitude of moral panics.

greeeaaat.
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there is NO way to win if you’re on the losing end of a witch-hunt. trying to be rational will not get you ANYwhere. we’ve learned that by experience, and now on reading about witch-hunts, we can see that there is nothing rational about them — and they’re not meant to be rational affairs. they are ritual events that serve to clarify social norms and boundaries of acceptable behavior.

the only thing to do, i think, is, like heartiste keeps telling us, to reframe the discussion entirely. i gave that a shot with my post on friday about why human biodiversity is true (and, therefore, why these politically correct people are wrong), but i don’t think that that reframes the discussion enough. you want, of course, to turn it around completely and put the witch-hunters on the defensive. being one of those aspergian-types who prefers her discussions to be logical, i have NO idea how to do this. feel free to drop some suggestions in the comments. thanks! (^_^)

remember, though, to disbelieve in witchcraft the evilness of racism is the greatest of all heresies. recant and be saved! (~_^)
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update: see also a loaded question and bewitched.
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(p.s. – due to me spending way too much time on this post today, and due to the call of that siren known as procrastination [read: will be spending the rest of the day on reddit/twitter], this week’s linkfest will happen on tuesday.)

(note: comments do not require an email. omg! they killed kenny!)