How to sociably debate social justice

or Why We Should Feed The Trolls.

The following is a fascinating guest post by Hugh Dingwall. Hugh, aka “Objective Reality”, has posted a number of intelligent, perceptive, and compellingly-argued comments under previous posts at “Symptoms…”. I was very impressed by the quality of his writing, and by the careful manner in which he laid out his arguments, so I invited him to write a guest post. That post is below. I have never been happier to be told I’m wrong.  

[Note that (i) the title (and sub-title) above are due to me, not Hugh, so any criticism about the titling of the piece should be directed to me; (ii) Hugh’s points about safe spaces and no platforming are particularly timely in the context of this recent debate in academia: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/chicago-academics-hit-back-safe-spaces %5D


First off, thanks to Phil for inviting me to do this guest post, which I intend to begin by disagreeing with him about a couple of things.

Phil’s made it clear in a couple of different places, that he doesn’t agree with the idea of no-platforming (or blocking people), or with safe spaces. I get his reasons (and I think they come from a good place) but I think he’s wrong.

To deal with safe spaces first, this concept is usually portrayed by “SJW-slayers” as a way for a person to avoid concepts that challenge them, and this is, I think, what Phil (rightly) disagrees with. The problem is that that’s not what they are, at least in the forms that I’ve encountered them. The “safe spaces” I’ve come across have been areas, particularly on a university campus, where a marginalised group can go and (quite literally) be safe. The best example of this is the Women’s Room at my old university, which was established because there were a number of behaviours that male students engaged in that made female students feel quite (justifiably) unsafe. Since it was one room, with some paper resources if you needed them and a free phone (I know because my girlfriend of the time called me from there on a number of occasions) you could hardly use it to shelter your precious worldview. You could however, use it to call your boyfriend to come and pick you up when you’d had a distressing encounter with an arsehole at the student pub. This kind of safe space is, in my opinion, quite hard to argue against unless you’re the aforementioned pub arsehole – and is more commonly what defenders of safe spaces have in mind.

As regards no-platforming (the practice of preventing people from speaking on campuses because of their views), and relatedly blocking people you can’t be bothered with on social media, I again see Phil’s point. On the other hand, I remember how angry I was when my university played host to an Intelligent Design proponent. The issue wasn’t that my ideas were being challenged, or even that I thought this guy would convince anyone. I was angry that money (MY money – we have to pay for university in New Zealand (which this guy hadn’t when he attended but that’s another angry story)) had been spent paying him to lecture, when it could have been given to someone, even someone just as controversial, whose views weren’t provably false. It was an hour of my life I wasn’t going to get back, and the man had been paid for wasting it. He wasn’t going to convince anyone who wasn’t a closet-Creationist, and most infuriatingly, he didn’t even understand the theory of evolution that he claimed to debunk. (I should mention at this point that I dropped out of university, and while I was attending I was a Classics major – and I still had a clearer understanding of the theory than this guy who purported to be able to prove it wrong.)

To extend this logic to blocking people on social media, I think it’s important to know when a conversation has reached its useful end. I understand the principle that it’s good to be exposed to views you disagree with, but firstly, there’s no amount of David Icke I can read that will convince me that giant reptilians are a real non-metaphorical problem in the world. There’s a point past which a conversation with an Icke-believer stops being useful as a result. (The reader is invited to extend the logic to situations where political or philosophical disagreement devolves into mere fountains of bile). Moreover, I think that people whose goal is to harass or bully their intellectual opponents often use this idea (that you should always be open to defending your ideas from opposing views) as a way to try and argue that you owe them a continued conversation (even once they’ve begun abusing you or bringing in their followers to try for a dogpile) and that refusing them that conversation is a sign of cowardice. Which is bullshit – especially if you’re someone whose fame and/or status as a member of a despised group makes you a target for nastier-than-usual or literally-dangerous attacks, or if your opponent is a well-established internet presence who can call on a literal horde of faceless howling zealots to shout you down.

Finally, I’m not that keen on Rush. Though I acknowledge their technical skill, I’ve always been more of a psychedelia guy, and I have a special place in my heart for the British folk-rock explosion of the 70s (go look up Joe Boyd, and listen to basically everyone he produced, then work sideways from there, also the Grateful Dead, and Tom Waits).

[Editor’s note: Hugh’s criticism of Rush here is clearly an uncharacteristic lapse of judgement. He redeems himself by mentioning Tom Waits (whose, um, unique music I got to know via the fantastic Primus), so, much as it pains me, I’m willing to overlook the lack of enthusiasm for Rush. I’m sure Hugh will come round to their unique charms in the end.]

As you can see from the above, it’s entirely possible to disagree with people while remaining entirely civil. More importantly, it’s possible to disagree with people while acknowledging that they make good points, or have good reasons for the views they hold. (Reasons can be good even if you think they’re incorrect.) In philosophy, this is called “the principle of charity”. The idea is that to avoid strawmanning, you should ensure that you’re engaging with the strongest possible form of your opponent’s argument, given the things they’ve actually said. I find that it also helps to ask what people mean if you’re not sure, so you don’t end up talking at cross purposes.

Which brings me to the various discussions I had in the comments of Phil’s blog post “The Faith And Fables of Thunderfoot”.

The style of discussion I’ve indulged in above (and attempted to explain thereafter) is the way I talk on the internet if I’m interested in getting to the bottom of what people think, or making a genuine point. I’ll talk about the points that got discussed in that comments section in a bit, but first I want to talk about this style of discourse as opposed to trolling. See, I agree with Phil that trolling, while inherently somewhat mean-spirited, can be an art in and of itself (and some examples can be truly transcendent). However, the purpose of trolling is to keep your victim(s) expending energy for your amusement (and that of any onlookers). It’s not a form of argumentation, and if you put more energy into it than your victims do, you are a very ineffective troll. This is why I call bullshit on the likes of Thunderfoot and Sargon of Akkad when they claim to be “just trolling” as a way to avoid defending their arguments and/or actions. If they are trolls, then firstly we have no reason to accept their arguments as anything other than deliberately vexatious nonsense, and secondly (given the average length of their videos) they are very bad trolls indeed.

Pleasingly, there wasn’t much of that kind of conversation in the comments at Phil’s blog. Instead, two major points seemed to come up:

  1. People wanted to know how we could be sure that sexual dimorphism wasn’t to blame for the lack of women in STEM fields (this was the initial disagreement between Phil and Thunderfoot which led to the email exchange reproduced in the blogpost – I recommend going and reading it if you haven’t (otherwise some of this post may be quite confusing).
  2. People seemed nervous of adopting what might be seen as “feminist” positions, for fear that this might somehow be seen as implicating all men in a mass act of malice against all women, or that it might lead to them inadvertently endorsing some position that they deeply disagreed with.

To deal with the first point first (a novel idea, I know), the short answer is that we can’t. We can know very little for sure. On the other hand, it seems very unlikely that sexual dimorphism is to blame for women’s career and study choices. Phil goes into this in detail in this post here, but I’m not an academic (I’m a sound technician) and I want to talk about some other stuff as well, so I’ll just summarise the main points.

First off, I need to acknowledge that it’s not an inherently silly idea that sexual dimorphism might be to blame, as humans are a moderately sexually dimorphic species. Men* tend to be bigger, stronger, and hairier than women, who tend in turn to outlive them. It’s not totally outlandish to suggest that there may be brain differences as well. However, the evidence doesn’t bear this out, and as Phil points out in both the blogposts I’ve linked to, it’s very very difficult to decouple social factors from purely biological ones in humans. The evidence for social factors influencing women’s choices, on the other hand, seems to be pretty strong. It’s easily provable that society used to be much more sexist than it is right now. Most antifeminists would even agree with this proposition. I think it’s quite reasonable to argue that the recent (as in, last 50 years or so) influx of women into traditionally male fields is more likely to stem from an increased acceptance of women doing these kinds of jobs and studying in these fields than it is to be a result of evolution.

Which brings me to another point – there were a good number of appeals in the pro-sexual-dimorphism camp to what we might call “naturalistic” explanations, including a good deal of recourse to evolutionary psychology. Now, my good friend Daniel Copeland is convinced that there’s some merit in evopsych, and he is a very intelligent guy and makes a good case for the bits he supports. However, evopsych is probably one of the most abused theories I’ve ever seen. If you’re not familiar with it, the idea is that you can find explanations for bits of human behaviour in our evolutionary past, and sometimes you can discover those bits of evolutionary past by, for example, observing other primates. There are two problems with this – the first is that people who don’t fully understand it tend to just point to an aspect of human behaviour they wish to claim is immutable, and then invent an “evolutionary-sounding” reason for it. The more fundamental problem is that we’re not other primates, and even if we were, the world of animal sexual dynamics is hugely diverse.

There was a tendency in the early days of biology to assume that most animals would follow the family/relationship structure that those early biologists considered “natural” – dominant males, submissive females, and so on. The actual picture is much more complicated, and as I noted, we’re not other primates – we’re humans. Our whole thing is using technologies (including social technologies) to overcome our natural limits. That’s how come my wife can see, and my mother can hear. That’s how come we developed hugely complex social structures that let us live stacked on top of each other in cities without all killing each other (most of the time). There’s no reason to assume that even if there were a natural predisposition that led women to shun certain fields, we would allow ourselves to be bound by that. It’s not how we work. (Daniel Copeland wrote a nice blog post that goes into this in more detail.) We can also look at evidence (detailed in Phil’s post that I already linked) that shows that the steady decline of sexism globally correlates with a steady increase in women going into traditionally male fields both in science and the arts (there are far more female-fronted rock bands than their used to be, for one thing.) Obviously correlation is not causation, but it’s telling that these changes are far quicker than the sort of effect we’d expect from evolution, giventhe length of human generations.

And now to point number two. Again, I have some sympathy for this position. It’s completely wrong, but I get it. The issue is that while feminism is becoming quite broadly discussed (online at least), it’s not as broadly understood. This means that many people think that they are (or need to be) anti-feminist or non-feminist, when their views actually align with the majority of feminist theory. This is certainly the position I was in to begin with**. Then a very patient feminist lady on Facebook took the time to actually unpack what we were talking about, and I realised precisely how badly I had the wrong end of the stick.

The first issue I want to talk about here is terminology. Feminists use a number of words in ways which differ from a naive dictionary definition. This is (contrary to to what anti-SJWs would have you believe) not actually uncommon. In my own field as a sound engineer for a radio station, I use a number of terms which would be incomprehensible to someone who isn’t versed in sound tech, and a number of common words (for example “wet/dry”, “trim”, “bright/dark” and “dead/alive”) have quite specific meanings within that field. I’m sure Philip talks differently about physics to advanced students than he does to laypeople for the same reason. The advantage Phil and I have over feminists is that no-one misunderstands or willfully misuses our terminology against us. The terms that suffer the most abuse in discussions about feminism are, I think, “patriarchy” and “privilege”.

Again, since I’m not an academic, and I have already used a significant amount of virtual ink in this post, I’m going to summarise here. If you want really detailed discussions of exactly how these terms function, I suggest you go and check out people like Garrett, Chrisiousity, or Kristi Winters on Youtube. Patriarchy, as I understand it, refers to a social order which assumes that a specific sort of masculinity is the “default” gender identity, and judges all other in comparison (usually negatively). Privilege refers to the advantages (often small, at least when taken individually) that individuals accrue by being close to that default. In the Anglosphere*** the patriarchal ideal is rich, white, physically and emotionally dominant, heterosexual, and male – the more like that you are, the more privilege you have. The tendency is for one’s own privilege to be invisible (ie it just feels “normal”) so you tend to assume everyone can freely do what you can, unless you stop and think about it.

For example, I live in New Zealand. It is a small and fairly egalitarian country (we were among the first to give votes to women, and signed a treaty with our indigenous people rather than just murdering them all and taking their stuff, for example****) and seems reasonably enlightened on the surface. However, when I got married to a Samoan woman, I found that I was now conducting a field test into latent community racism. My wife and I can go into the same store within minutes of each other and get hugely different reactions from staff, because she is brown. When I am out alone with our daughters, I get approving noises from mums about how good it is that I as a Dad spend time with my girls, my wife gets asked if those little blonde girls are really hers. This was entirely invisible to me until that relationship opened a window for me into her world – in other words, a portion of my own privilege became visible to me in a way it hadn’t been. Here’s another example, in New Zealand, the majority of voters want decriminalisation or outright legalisation of cannabis. Our (Tory) prime minister has ruled this out, relying instead on “police discretion” to institute a sort of “de-facto decriminalisation”. The problem is that because people tend to use their discretion in slightly racist ways, this has led to disproportionately terrible outcomes for our Pacific Island and Maori minorities.

This is the result of an organic accretion of values over time – not a conspiracy. (White, straight) men have not conspired to create this system, though some men do work to preserve it because (presumably) they’re afraid of losing what power they have. This system also negatively affects some men – we are expected to be physically dominant and prepared to fight for family or country, and failure to do so can lead to terrible personal consequences. We are not generally assumed to have as deep an emotional life as women (because this is not patriarchally desirable) and this leads to terrible outcomes in mental health. We are expected to be hale and hearty and this leads to horrible outcomes in physical health. This is not a state of affairs that benefits us overall.

I use a pseudonym in lots of places on the internet because when I started out online (in the total wild west of pre-internet dial-up bulletin boards) that was just what people did, and I never thought deeply enough about the habit to change it. I don’t do it because I am afraid that people may harm me or my family because of my opinions. Anecdotally, my female friends are. Moreover, because I exist in a fairly privileged position (I am after all, a straight white dude from the wider Anglosphere) I don’t have to constantly justify my presence online, and my right to an opinion. Anecdotally, my female friends do. This means that I can get into arguments about feminism or other social justice causes on the internet without bringing the fatigue that results from a life of fighting sealions along with me, and I can be polite if the situation seems to merit it. (Also I am a pedantic and argumentative bugger.) While I think that it can be counterproductive to snap at people, I can totally understand why many women, POC, transpeople and so on do not have my level of patience with dudes***** who barge into conversations and restate very basic arguments very incoherently. This is because I have a privilege in terms of online discussion, which they do not.

Since you’re granted privilege by society on the basis of factors you can’t control, you can’t really get rid of it. All you can do is attempt to use it responsibly. One of the ways I try to do this, is by patiently and politely asking questions of antifeminists on the internet until they either make themselves look silly, or become more reasonable. That is, after all, what worked for me.

_____

*I’m going to stick with the terms “men” and “women” here because a) I don’t think trans people are a big enough population to seriously throw out the averages as far as size and weight distributions, and b) the exact configurations of people’s genitals are largely none of my business. I’ll worry about my own genitals, and my wife’s, and that’ll do me.

**I had a deeply tiresome “pendulum” theory about how power moved from group to group in society, and it tied into the death of prog and the rise of punk and it was awful. I had a bit of an embarrassment-shudder just typing that.

***It strikes me as a better shorthand for “mostly-white, mostly-English-speaking countries” than “The West”.

****If any of my readers are Maori and about to get cross with me for oversimplifying and making it seem like NZ’s racial history is just peachy-keen – stop. I know it’s more complicated than that and that the government did plenty of murdering and nicking of stuff (sometimes by stealthy law-making) and that the situation is far from resolved. It’s also a better deal than many colonised indigenous peoples got (which is totally shameful, I know).

*****Let’s face it dudes, it’s usually us. Like, 95% of the time, at least.

Author: Philip Moriarty

Physicist. Rush fan. Father of three. (Not Rush fans. Yet.) Rants not restricted to the key of E minor...

34 thoughts on “How to sociably debate social justice”

  1. Hi Hugh,

    I’d like to address your points re sexual dimorphism and evolutionary psychology if I may. As the defence of naturalism in socio-political theory is one of my philosophical interests.

    Firstly, thank you for acknowledging that sexual dimorphism might be a factor in academic subject choice. Its disappointing how many intelligent and well educated people simply refuse to admit this; or will pay lip service to mere possibility, whilst doing their utmost to discredit any suggestion of likelihood. I don’t think I’d use the word “blame” myself — like sexual-dimorphism has to go sit on the naughty step till it learns its lesson — but I take your point

    I myself don’t think Prof. Moriarty’s evidence, re separating nature from nurture, quite entails the level of difficulty he proposes.

    His argument seems to rest on the idea of reduction by deconvolution. I admit reduction by deconvolution (as a form of functional analysis) is very useful in physics. And indeed — somewhat closer to your profession — acoustics: i.e. where fourier transforms can be used to derive a harmonically related series of sine waves from a complex waveform. This does not, however, entail its being a good (much less the only) model of reduction for the biological, sociological and psychological sciences. Nor does deviation from the particular methods of physics entail being any less scientific. That is any less committed to justifying one’s assertions on trustworthy evidential grounds. I’m not claiming Prof. Moriarty is suggesting that ‘it’s physics or nothing’; but it’s worth mentioning that there are alternative inter-theoretic means of reduction. Means commonly used in the higher sciences, wherein the posits of one empirical theory are understood in terms of those which feature in a relevant/adjacent empirical theory. And which, in doing so, are taken as yielding good scientific evidence.

    So my first criticism of the supposed difficulties in separating nature and nurture, is that the account offered does not, in my opinion, pay sufficient attention to alternative post-positivist forms of reduction. Even though they’re common practice in sciences which have some bearing on the issue in hand (i.e. biology and cognitive psychology).

    My second criticism is that the major piece of evidence presented to support the proposed difficulties in separating genetic from social influence, is a work of behavioural genetics. A 2015 meta-analysis of twin studies by Polderman et.al. Behavioural genetics, however, depends (as it’s name suggests) on the ‘decomposition’ of genetic and environmental factors. Thus, to the extent that Moriarty’s point about difficulty is true, the evidence he offers in support of it is null and void. Formally speaking, his argument contains an absurdity.

    These are the two reasons (or at least the two most immediate reasons) why I don’t accept the levels of difficulty proposed by Moriarty in his original posts.

    Returning to your post, you bring up the recent “influx of women” into STEM. Well, as long as one acknowledges the significant influence of social factors, and thus the prejudices that have and remain to be challenged, this progress isn’t really counter-evidential to sexual dimorphisms’ playing a role in academic subject choice. It would be very significant if someone were claiming that woman all over the world had reached some hardwired genetic limit on their technical intelligence during the 1960’s. But as no one is, to my knowledge, it hardly seems relevant.

    Finally, there is indeed a lot of bad evolutionary psychology. Of dubious ‘just so stories’ and fallacious sexist mob pleasing. We must therefore be especially careful to avoiding falling into the fallacy fallacy — the error of claiming that P is false simply because there are bad arguments for P. And this goes double if we’re ideologically uncomfortable with P, lest the moralistic fallacy also beckon.

    All the Best,
    Gary.

    Like

    1. @Gary Edwards

      I hope you don’t mind me interjecting into your response to Hugh, Gary, but, yet again, you entirely misrepresent the situation and disingenuously suggest there’s an absurdity in my reasoning.

      The discussion we’ve had to date, Gary, is here: https://muircheartblog.wordpress.com/2016/08/17/hanging-out-with-dr-winters/comment-page-1/#comment-1822 . That’s the final comment in the thread (to which, I’ll note, you’ve yet to respond). Anyone who’s interested can scroll up (or down!) to read the rest of the exchange.

      The only absurdity in our exchange was the suggestion that because evidence might possibly, perhaps, potentially be found in future that we could use that wishful thinking to make a claim today. The suggestion was that if we just close our eyes and wish hard enough we can take that potential “evidence” into consideration in our reasoning today. You may recall that it wasn’t me who was responsible for that particular absurdity…

      The point is very simple and is this. You can huff and puff and obfuscate around this point as much as you like but you still haven’t addressed it, despite your many responses. Provide evidence, credibly normalised to account for sociological and environmental factors, that shows that sexual dimorphism is a determinant in either aptitude or preference for physics. As I say in my video response to Mason, I am more than willing to entertain this proposal. But I don’t base my thinking on wishful thinking; as a scientist I need evidence to adopt a particular stance.

      You said to Hugh: “…thank you for acknowledging that sexual dimorphism might be a factor in academic subject choice”

      When did I ever suggest otherwise, Gary? Note, however, the essential difference between “might” and “is”. Without evidence I can’t say anything one way or the other. That’s the scientific position to adopt. We do not take sides in the absence of evidence. Mason, on the other hand, not only stated it was his “expectation” that sexual dimorphism underpinned the gender balance — on the basis of what evidence? — but drew a wholly absurd, to use your term, parallel with Olympic performance.

      “His argument seems to rest on the idea of reduction by deconvolution”

      No, Gary. It doesn’t. My point is much more straight-forward than this and boils down to that very basic question. Provide evidence that shows that sexual dimorphism underpins the gender balance in physics, in any way. As noted above, even you use “might” rather than “is”.

      “This does not, however, entail its being a good (much less the only) model of reduction for the biological, sociological and psychological sciences. ”

      And where did I ever suggest it was? You are basing your entire argument off a strawman, Gary. Are nature and nurture strongly “convolved”? Of course. Is it extremely difficult to “deconvolve” them? Of course. Is a mathematical convolution (i.e. a multiplication in Fourier space) necessarily appropriate to model the coupling of nature and nurture? No, of course not. And nowhere did I suggest otherwise. You are taking the convolution analogy much too literally Gary.

      In the “The natural order of things” blog post, Gary, I was at pains to state that I did not know the extent to which sexual dimorphism plays a role. Because I don’t have the evidence. Now either you do not understand what I’ve written there, or you are willfully misinterpreting what I wrote. For the reasons discussed below and above, I know which one of those possibilities I’d place my money on.

      It’s a breathtakingly simple point, Gary. Evidence. Evidence. Evidence. Without evidence we can make whatever claim we like. I’ve given you this analogy before, Gary, but it clearly didn’t hit home, so let’s try again.

      I believe that all human emotions are due to the exchange of close-to-infinitesimally small, and undetectable, energy hoops in a 47-dimensional spacetime. Love arises from constructive interference of those hoops; hate from destructive interference.

      Definitively prove me wrong. (And remember that those hoops are undetectable)

      Or consider this:

      I believe that the entire universe was sneezed out of the nose of the Great Green Arkleseizure.

      That’s certainly a possibility, Gary, right? That might be how the universe came to be, right?

      In the absence of evidence I can claim whatever I like.

      The amount of evidence out there that shows that sexual dimorphism underpins the gender balance in physics? None, to the very best of my knowledge. And, unlike you, Gary, I’ve spent time trawling the literature. If you know differently, however, please provide the relevant citations (meta-analyses in particular would be good). Note that your evidence must normalise out the temporal and geographical variations to which I referred in the “The natural order of things” post and the second half of that video response to Mason.

      I would ask that you have the courtesy to stop misrepresenting my arguments, Gary. You’ve already dishonestly misquoted me (remember the YouTube thread?), for which you didn’t even do me the courtesy of an apology. Try not to turn that type of dishonesty into a habit. Thank you.

      I hope in your next response that, unlike Mason, you can provide that evidence which I’ve requested multiple times. Without that evidence, any claim that the gender balance in physics is determined by sexual dimorphism, at any level or in terms of aptitude or preference, is nothing but faith and bias in action.

      Like

      1. Hi Phil,

        If you’ve still got a bee in your bonnet about that YouTube comment, think of it as travel advice. Such as one might receive on the importance of taking off one’s shoes off if invited into a japanese home. If you go on YouTube under your academic title, and engage in belittling people’s intelligence, whilst happening to mention they didn’t complete their first degree, you’ll be taken as lording it over them. And over many others. It doesn’t matter whether or not that’s what you intended to do. That’s what you will be taken as having done. As you have now, by many.

        You say:

        >>“You entirely misrepresent the situation and disingenuously suggest there’s an absurdity in my reasoning…The only absurdity in our exchange was the suggestion that because evidence might possibly, perhaps, potentially be found in future, we could use that wishful thinking to make a claim today. The suggestion was that if we just close our eyes and wish hard enough we can take that potential “evidence” into consideration in our reasoning today.You may recall that it wasn’t me who was responsible for that particular absurdity…
        ”<>“It’s a breathtakingly simple point…Evidence. Evidence. Evidence.” < .5) likelihood that there is sexual dimorphism of the will. Zoology offers good reason to accept sexual dimorphism in general. And evolutionary theory a very good explanation of it in terms of sexual selection and parental investment. Ethology offers decent evidence, under the same evolutionary explanation, of sexual dimorphism in animal behaviour. And comparative psychology, sans any creationist prejudice, offers some evidence of continuity between the behaviour of humans and that of other species.

        It’s been about ten years since I went through the research literature on this, including the metas. So I’d have to pretty much do the same journal search that you might be inclined to, if I wanted to be up to date. Basically though, barring any upsets in the interim of which I’m unaware, there is evidence (as sparse and penciled in as it presently is, or was) that sexual dimorphism of the will is more likely than not. Given the continuity of humanity with nature.

        You may of course deny this continuity, by asserting that the human mind is a special case. Because of it’s use of “symbolic representation”, or some such. But that would be a curious weapon of choice, in what’s essentially a ‘you’re like a creationist’ fight with Dr. Mason.

        All the best,
        Gary.

        Like

      2. Posted again but without the line breaks, like it’s 1981 or something…

        ——-
        Hi Phil,

        If you’ve still got a bee in your bonnet about that YouTube comment, think of it as travel advice. Such as one might receive on the importance of taking off one’s shoes off if invited into a japanese home. If you go on YouTube under your academic title, and engage in belittling people’s intelligence, whilst happening to mention they didn’t complete their first degree, you’ll be taken as lording it over them. And over many others. It doesn’t matter whether or not that’s what you intended to do. That’s what you will be taken as having done. As you have now, by many.

        You say:

        “You entirely misrepresent the situation and disingenuously suggest there’s an absurdity in my reasoning…The only absurdity in our exchange was the suggestion that because evidence might possibly, perhaps, potentially be found in future, we could use that wishful thinking to make a claim today. The suggestion was that if we just close our eyes and wish hard enough we can take that potential “evidence” into consideration in our reasoning today.You may recall that it wasn’t me who was responsible for that particular absurdity…

        If evidence for P is possible in the future, it does influence our reasoning about P today. If, that is, P is a claim that x is necessarily false. As it turns out you’re not saying it’s impossible to separate nature and nurture, just that it’s very very difficult. I don’t happen think it’s as difficult as you do, but I apologize for originally overestimating the strength of your assertion.

        I’m also pleased to find out that you’re not insisting on ‘deconvolution’ in the formal mathematical sense.

        I’m not, however, at all convinced that my original argument about a modally necessary claim, entails equivalence between potential evidence for a contingent claim and imminent evidence for it. So it’s bizarre that you continue to attribute this to me. Rhetorical, almost.

        There is some “absurdity” in your argument — rather than in our exchange. You cite material which, if the proposal it’s used to support where true, would itself be undermined as evidence. Specifically, an extensive meta-analysis of twin studies to support your assertion that it’s extremely difficult to separate genetic factors from environmental factors. Even though the evidential status of such research depends on the ease of such a separation. Hardly qualifying as “behavioural genetics” if it were too difficult. So your argument is “absurd”, in that your reasons are somewhat ‘out of tune’ with your point, evidently speaking.

        You say:

        “It’s a breathtakingly simple point…Evidence. Evidence. Evidence.”

        OK, the physics gender gap (PGG), sexual dimorphism and evidence.

        Firstly, the temporal and geographic variations you cite are a result of changing social factors. No one is denying that there are social factors, or change. So perhaps that data is not as scandalous as you suggest. The PGG, however, is scandalous because, unlike in other fields, it’s stalled at around 8020. Ideally it should be 50/50, or thereabouts given statistical noise. Explanation of this shortfall is the arena of this discussion.

        Within which, a case for the likelihood of sexual dimorphism as a factor might proceed as follows:

        Choosing A-level subjects is behaviour.

        The will is that set of mental states which are posited as causing behaviour.

        Attitudes are subsets of the will, particular arrangements of mental states like beliefs (as subjective probabilities) and desires (as subjective utilities).

        The kind of sexual dimorphism in question then, is sexual dimorphism of the will. Different frequencies of particular attitudes within the male and female population, which are (for want of better terms) rooted in nature rather than nurture. Both populations in this case being potential A-level candidates.

        The proposal that needs evidencing then, is that it’s likely that sexual dimorphism of the will has played a role in stalling the PGG. Not that 80/20 is fixed by nature, much less that it’s justified, but that progress may be slower for other reasons besides the insidious sexism of social expectation.

        Generally, evidence, as good reason to believe, is distributed holistically throughout the entire network of good empirical theories available to the doxastic agent. The body of empirical scientific evidence thus resembles (with some concessions to the nomic necessity of Kripke, and the categories of Aristotle) a huge crossword puzzle. With some parts presently being more complete, with a denser intersection of answers, than others. And with some of those answers being tentatively penciled in, and others inked with greater certainty.

        I would propose that from this body, some evidence may be drawn to support a very broad (> .5) likelihood that there is sexual dimorphism of the will. Zoology offers good reason to accept sexual dimorphism in general. And evolutionary theory a very good explanation of it in terms of sexual selection and parental investment. Ethology offers decent evidence, under the same evolutionary explanation, of sexual dimorphism in animal behaviour. And comparative psychology, sans any creationist prejudice, offers some evidence of continuity between the behaviour of humans and that of other species.

        It’s been about ten years since I went through the research literature on this, including the metas. So I’d have to pretty much do the same journal search that you might be inclined to, if I wanted to be up to date. Basically though, barring any upsets in the interim of which I’m unaware, there is evidence (as sparse and penciled in as it presently is, or was) that sexual dimorphism of the will is more likely than not. Given the continuity of humanity with nature.

        You may of course deny this continuity, by asserting that the human mind is a special case. Because of it’s use of “symbolic representation”, or some such. But that would be a curious weapon of choice, in what’s essentially a ‘you’re like a creationist’ fight with Dr. Mason.

        All the best,
        Gary.

        Like

    2. Hi Gary,
      You seem also to have slightly misconstrued my argument here. If it’s easier, a tl;dr logical construction would go like this:

      1) Sexual dimorphism exists to some degree in humans.
      2) Unlike other primates, humans use a wide range of social and physical technologies to overcome natural limitations, including those related to sexual dimorphism (for example, there are kung fu styles specifically designed to counter the height/weight advantages an untrained man tends to have over an untrained woman in a hand-to-hand fight). Moreover, evidence (presented by Phil in previous posts) shows that continued learning evens out differences between men and women, and this process of social technology and learning continues well into late life.
      3) Because of 2) it is very difficult to separate the influence of these social technologies the expression of human sexual dimorphism in a “state of nature”.
      4) Therefore, when it comes to the social choices (such as career/study trajectory) of women in any given society, it is very difficult to separate the influence of sexual dimorphism from the influence of other factors, especially since some of those other factors may be directly countering the effects of sexual dimorphism.

      Moreover, the evidence (again, go read the previous posts again) strongly suggests that when the social situation surrounding women changes, so do their outcomes as far as study and job choices.

      One final point to make here about arguments from nature (and I’m kicking myself a little for not remembering to include it in the original post) is that gender roles across human societies aren’t even particularly set. In my wife’s Samoan culture there is a third gender called fa’afafine (colloquially “aunties”) who are born men but live as women. It’s worth noting that Samoan culture is not very accepting of women’s rights generally, or of homosexuality or effeminacy in males – so it’s not some sort of “SJW paradise”. Another example – when I was in high school, we had (I think as a result of refugee resettlement) a whole bunch of Cambodian and Thai students come into the school at once. Initially, a lot of the boys read as gay (they weren’t) because their cultures were more accepting of touch between men as part of a conversation – so they’d put their arm round your shoulder or touch your leg while talking to you in a way that NZ guys wouldn’t.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hi, Hugh.

        Apologies for butting into your conversation with Gary Edwards and for the rather tetchy tone of my response to Gary. As you were no doubt able to discern, he and I have “form”. This stems from my being willfully misquoted in a rather underhand way so Gary is most certainly not on my Christmas card list. (If I sent Christmas cards…)

        Philip

        Like

      2. Hi Hugh,

        Allow me to go through your response point by point, if I may.

        >>“1) Sexual dimorphism exists to some degree in humans.”<>“2) Unlike other primates, humans use a wide range of social and physical technologies to overcome natural limitations, including those related to sexual dimorphism…”<>“3) Because of 2) it is very difficult to separate the influence of these social technologies the expression of human sexual dimorphism in a “state of nature”.<>“4) Therefore, when it comes to the social choices (such as career/study trajectory) of women in any given society, it is very difficult to separate the influence of sexual dimorphism from the influence of other factors,” <<

        This is where we disagree. Because I don’t think it's quite as hard as you and Moriarty seem to suggest.

        Like Moriarty, I’m an evidentialist. We both hold that evidence is necessary for justification (which is in turn necessary for knowledge). Where we probably disagree is how we think about evidence. Following post-positivist philosophers like W.V.O Quine, I think that evidence is holistic. In that it is distributed across a body, web or network of supporting, and reasonably well justified, theories. I suspect Moriarty, under the influence of earlier positivist philosophers like Karl Hempel, does not think of evidence in this way.

        It’s easier under the holistic approach to separate nature from nurture than under the positivist approach. It was, for example, no accident that Huntington's disease was the first for which a single gene cause was identified. The vast majority of diseases (like the vast majority of behavioural traits) are not caused by a single gene. However, the generational epidemiology of Huntington's clearly suggested, in light of Mendelian genetics, that it might be. And indeed it was found to be. This is an example of how science can progress in light of evidence cast by adjacent and relevant hypotheses — the heredity patterns of Mendelian genetics in this case.
        I’d suggest a similar evidential situation with sexual dimorphism of the will, and with hypothesis drawn from zoology, ethology, comparative psychology, cognitive neuroscience and behavioural genetics. Hypothesis which, in being adjacent and relevant, may (as they already do in some cases) help us separate genetic from social causes. With relative ease.

        All the best,
        Gary.

        Like

      3. Formatting ate my last post, let me try again…
        ===================

        Hi Hugh,

        Allow me to go through your response point by point, if I may.

        >>1) Sexual dimorphism exists to some degree in humans.”<>“2) Unlike other primates, humans use a wide range of social and physical technologies to overcome natural limitations, including those related to sexual dimorphism…”<>“3) Because of 2) it is very difficult to separate the influence of these social technologies the expression of human sexual dimorphism in a “state of nature”.<>“4) Therefore, when it comes to the social choices (such as career/study trajectory) of women in any given society, it is very difficult to separate the influence of sexual dimorphism from the influence of other factors,” <<

        This is where we disagree. Because I don’t think it's quite as hard as you and Moriarty seem to suggest.

        Like Moriarty, I’m an evidentialist. We both hold that evidence is necessary for justification (which is in turn necessary for knowledge). Where we probably disagree is how we think about evidence. Following post-positivist philosophers like W.V.O Quine, I think that evidence is holistic. In that it is distributed across a body, web or network of supporting, and reasonably well justified, theories. I suspect Moriarty, under the influence of earlier positivist philosophers like Karl Hempel, does not think of evidence in this way.

        It’s easier under the holistic approach to separate nature from nurture than under the positivist approach. It was, for example, no accident that Huntington's disease was the first for which a single gene cause was identified. The vast majority of diseases (like the vast majority of behavioural traits) are not caused by a single gene. However, the generational epidemiology of Huntington's clearly suggested, in light of Mendelian genetics, that it might be. And indeed it was found to be. This is an example of how science can progress in light of evidence cast by adjacent and relevant hypotheses — the heredity patterns of Mendelian genetics in this case.
        I’d suggest a similar evidential situation with sexual dimorphism of the will, and with hypothesis drawn from zoology, ethology, comparative psychology, cognitive neuroscience and behavioural genetics. Hypothesis which, in being adjacent and relevant, may (as they already do in some cases) help us separate genetic from social causes. With relative ease.

        All the best,
        Gary.

        Like

      4. Line break sensitivity, how quaint!
        ===============================

        Hi Hugh,

        Allow me to go through your response point by point, if I may.

        “1) Sexual dimorphism exists to some degree in humans.”

        Agreed.

        “2) Unlike other primates, humans use a wide range of social and physical technologies to overcome natural limitations, including those related to sexual dimorphism…”

        Well, other species use technology, even socially in the case of primates. But it’s certainly our species’ party trick, yes.

        “3) Because of 2) it is very difficult to separate the influence of these social technologies the expression of human sexual dimorphism in a “state of nature”.

        Yes, it becomes more difficult given the social use of technology. But the issue is, how difficult?

        “4) Therefore, when it comes to the social choices (such as career/study trajectory) of women in any given society, it is very difficult to separate the influence of sexual dimorphism from the influence of other factors,”

        This is where we disagree. Because I don’t think it’s quite as hard as you and Moriarty seem to suggest.

        Like Moriarty, I’m an evidentialist. We both hold that evidence is necessary for justification (which is in turn necessary for knowledge). Where we probably disagree is how we think about evidence. Following post-positivist philosophers like W.V.O Quine, I think that evidence is holistic. In that it is distributed across a body, web or network of supporting, and reasonably well justified, theories. I suspect Moriarty, under the influence of earlier positivist philosophers like Karl Hempel, does not think of evidence in this way.

        It’s easier under the holistic approach to separate nature from nurture than under the positivist approach. It was, for example, no accident that Huntington’s disease was the first for which a single gene cause was identified. The vast majority of diseases (like the vast majority of behavioural traits) are not caused by a single gene. However, the generational epidemiology of Huntington’s clearly suggested, in light of Mendelian genetics, that it might be. And indeed it was found to be. This is an example of how science can progress in light of evidence cast by adjacent and relevant hypotheses — the heredity patterns of Mendelian genetics in this case.
        I’d suggest a similar evidential situation with sexual dimorphism of the will, and with hypothesis drawn from zoology, ethology, comparative psychology, cognitive neuroscience and behavioural genetics. Hypothesis which, in being adjacent and relevant, may (as they already do in some cases) help us separate genetic from social causes. With relative ease.

        All the best,
        Gary.

        Like

    3. Hello Gary.

      Can you expand or disambiguate the following for us.

      >>>So my first criticism of the supposed difficulties in separating nature and nurture, is that the account offered does not, in my opinion, pay sufficient attention to alternative post-positivist forms of reduction. Even though they’re common practice in sciences which have some bearing on the issue in hand (i.e. biology and cognitive psychology).<<<

      Regards
      Simon

      Like

  2. The way to “socially debate” with “social justice” is to not really disagree but to take slightly different nuanced positions. Or so it seems.

    And I mean this with any due respect for the both Philip and Hugh. Your positions here, in this piece in particular, seem to be arguing the differences between Steel Blue and Blue-gray (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Shades_of_blue). What do you “disagree” on? Unless Philip think that there is NO biological influence AT ALL to prevalence of major selection in education, then what is really being disagreed with here? Rush?

    Like

    1. I reckon this is a fair enough comment in regards to my disagreements with Phil here. If you go back to “The Faith and Fables of Thunderfoot” though, you can read my discussion with Philip Helbig, with whom I had much more fundamental disagreements

      Liked by 2 people

      1. This may be due to my choice of title for the blog post. I wasn’t meaning to suggest that the title related just to the exchange between you and me, Hugh. It was meant to be interpreted more generally, exactly as you suggest.

        Apologies for any confusion caused.

        (Although I still hope you come round to the musical majesty of Rush in due course… 😉 )

        Philip

        Like

  3. I think at one point prof. Moriarty, pointed out that in other academic subjects such as pure mathmatics the split male/female is roughly proportional to the population break down ( near 50/50 or within a number of percent of that) but when you get into the STEM areas is is widely dissimilar 80/30 male to female, given maths is hard, and most of the STEM subjects require a good knowledge of maths, it would be reasonable to assume women would be much closer to the 50% mark in this area too.

    Understandably in areas where physical attributes are more dominant (construction etc) the proportion would be biased to those with the physique (the whole “olympics argument”) given we already have a baseline that proves that women are capable of doing the thinking and last time I looked there was not a requirement for a scientist to be good at sports ( I think that was proven quite well on a sixty symbols video ) and likewise some of the most powerful sports people are not required to be good at science, or in some cases, speaking, we can say there must be an external factor for the results.

    In regard to safe spaces, I see where the person is coming from, having a safe area that allows for people to feel secure (maybe they should be secure spaces?) but i think the bigger safe space issue i have seen, at least in videos is whole sections of campus where people are not allowed to be hurtful, or say things that are not nice, or cannot have certain viewpoints, and those spaces are defended with a militant attitude (sort of ironic yelling at people or berating them saying they cannot come into the safe space and do the same). I think this is also the point of the pseudonyms people use, you cannot stand in your “safe space” or behind your “safe name” and yell at the others like the old man yelling at the cloud, that is bullying.

    My pseudonym is also ages old back from the old dial up (and drop) intertubez days and now is a fond memory since it is how i managed to snag my wife in an online chat 😀 though if you google it you will easily find me, i do not hide identity for that reason.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ” i think the bigger safe space issue i have seen, at least in videos is whole sections of campus where people are not allowed to be hurtful, or say things that are not nice, or cannot have certain viewpoints, and those spaces are defended with a militant attitude (sort of ironic yelling at people or berating them saying they cannot come into the safe space and do the same)”
      I want to raise this because I see it get brought up a lot in videos (especially by antifeminist/MRA/alt-right types) but I don’t see a lot of it in the actual world. Now, this may be due to a) me living in NZ where campus culture may be somewhat different, or b) me not spending a huge amount of time on university campuses (though I do live in a university town, so I’d expect to at least notice it going past).

      I guess the other thing I think about this is that sometimes technologies that have benefits also come with harms. If it’s the case that safe spaces have a benefit in terms of literal safety, but cause a harm in terms of people arguing badly, that’s actually a balance I’m OK with as I think safety is more important than rigorous discussion.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Maybe there is a difference between NZ the US (where i live) and the UK ( where I used to live)

        Most of the examples I see tend to be extreme, like most things on the internet people often go there to either complain or show off.

        My own experiences are limited not being a university attending person, many of my friends were though because we were the last generation of free or (or at least cheap) university students ( and yes for that, and now living in America where any degree costs more than my house for less actual payback I do somewhat regret, but alas I was not mature enough to go to university “back in the day” – I can’t complain my Audio Visual apprenticeship took me all over the UK and Europe, so some things lost, others gained, anyway, I digress) they never had those exact experiences although there were “safe areas” such as common rooms for physical safety, and in Chicago ( a college city?!) they have similar and none of my nephews and nieces have experienced what I have seen portrayed, although they do say there are some that really do not want to listen to others and get really offended easily.

        I think the definition of a safe space is something we are debating, the ones i refer too are say and area inside or outside on campus where people who think alike can gather and “be” and advertise their beliefs, opinions, anger, whatever it is they are all communing together for, but, even though it may be in an open and publicly accessible area by all, they do not want others to have dissenting points, not violent or anything just a difference. For the sake of argument lets say the brown teapot committee is holding a seminar or a debate, lecture, protest of some kind in a public area, all are welcome to watch, but then when someone confronts them politely they say you cannot dissent here, this is our safe space, or if in an auditorium someone asks a question or makes a point that is contrary to their views, it may be rude, but it is not unheard of, likewise even in a lecture, there should be no need for “trigger warnings” if say a lecturer is going to talk about flying brown teapots, and some other person who does not believe in them ( maybe they believe in the virgin coffee pot) offended and demands an apology, because they were not warned that the lecture on flying teapots was not in their safe area.

        we are not talking about an area where people go to because a guy or girl is because they feel physically unsafe, or uneasy because of actions by others that verge on the abusive. I fully agree with those places for all, we should always have a place to be secure physically.

        But in terms of viewpoints, feminists, misogynist, pagans muslims christians and all the others should not have public areas and places set aside where they can essentially be themselves, ignoring debate, and discussion at the detriment of others, protest has always been allowed, and protesting the protesters has always happend, essentially what they want to to protest without rebuttal, or not to hear a dissenting viewpoint because it is “oppression” that is not the point of university, (unless it is say a parochial one that teaches one viewpoint only).

        I often use the same argument at work, I am a blunt, honest person, I make no excuses, I am respectful though, an important thing to maintain, I certainly do not stick to “office decorum” because it is who I am, i expect others to be the same with me if someone says something dumb to me I will say that it is dumb, likewise if I do the same i expect to be called on it, we are all adults, skirting the issues with fancy words and actions or denying them existence totally is wrong ( my manager loves to do that he always tells us that if we come up with a negative on some suggestion made, we also have to come up with a positive, so when we said, what if there is no positive, he tried to make it seem like we should not say anything, for which I called him on immediately in front of my team for being untenable and then later got rebuked in private – he was in effect making a “safe space” for our team meetings because he does not like negativity even if the agenda is full of rubbish (we do not see eye to eye).

        Sorry i totally lost may chain of thought as I was called away on a number of things, so if this does not make sense, that was probably unintentional.

        TL;DR.

        I think we are arguing about different things, with the same name, but a different purpose.

        Like

  4. OK, well I guess here’s my question: since neither you nor I have any direct experience of these *bad* “safe spaces” (and – unless I misread your reply, your university-age relations haven’t either) what proof do we have that they exist? My issue is that the manosphere and other alt-right related groups have a bad track record in terms of claiming that a reprehensible thing exists, when either it doesn’t, or it’s a misrepresentation of a much more reasonable and minor thing.

    Also to respond to your point about people not having spaces where they’re free from challenge, I’m not sure that’s right either. I mean, I see how it’s unhealthy to never encounter dissent, but I also see how dissent can derail you when you’re trying work through ideas, and you need a space to do that free from dissent before you go and present them to the world. I also think that it’s fair enough for people to define the rules of their spaces online (up to and including “this topic is banned here” or “you may not express this specific opinion here”) so long as those rules are enforced consistently.

    To make a deliberately offensive example – dudes who want to talk about how great Hitler was are under no obligation to go hang out in spaces where that’s unwelcome. There are plenty of “Hitler was a great guy” spaces for them to go.

    Like

    1. I understand your point, (May I be the first to invoke Godwins law because why not!)maybe we are not the best people to be debating this, but i am also sure growing up, and as an adult, you do not get to have those “safe spaces” thats kind of part of being an adult. During my time as a whiny brat (teenager early twenties) until only a few year sago before a certain social media platform ruined life the universe and everything we ( a good friend my wife and I) ran a political discussion board, one of the main and most important rules was no censorship, if you support the far right, you can, we do not mind, if you are so far left go ahead have at!, discuss, argue no “safe spaces” you are 100% totally responsible for your words, your intent, your actions. we only stepped in as “moderators” when things got personal (bearing in mind most of us were very I.T. literate it usually only took a private message with personal information and a warning to the offender to make them stop), but we wanted the discourse.

      Now yes, I concede that neither of us are uniquely qualified to speak on the matter ( although i do think we would probably have much in common), and maybe we are looking at this as outsiders, but that also gives us a reference that others may not.

      Part of university, as i understand it, is to be exposed to other thought processes and ideas, to be challenged beyond that which we are taught in compulsory education, to set up spaces for those who want to have nothing with anyone else, but in the same thought, get to berate others, publicly, is simply wrong, (like hiding behind a pseudonym and yelling or trolling others). ” Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones” as my grandma, and parents used to say (a lot, as i was a judgmental little shite growing up, and probably still am, but people seem too nice to tell me).

      I think we all agree that yes it is taken too far, most things are, remember i live in America there is not much that is not taken to extreme here ( except weird games hows, sorry Japan, you got this) and certainly most recently I have been appalled at how this country has treated minorities, and women and it is getting worse.
      I also think that Prof. Moriarty also has a much better understanding of the situation than we do, and i know he also does not like trigger warnings or safe spaces for many things, but i can let him speak for that, he is after all, a professor in a university. ( speaking of which, do you find you are constantly trying to correct yourself when commenting and reading your comments like we are being graded? Even though we are not…are we? God i hope this is not going to be a book sometime of random internet arguments or used in a lecture somewhere).

      Again in short as adults we do not get the privilege of protection from “hurty-feelings” so why do we allow students (adults, the age of majority in most countries) the same thing? And where do we draw the line between “this hurts my feelings i do not want to here your side but you have to listen to me”, and “this is a valid point although I disagree, lets discuss”.

      In rebuttal to you last point, what I understand is the problem is not that the “Hitler dudes” have their viewpoint, its that they get to shout and scream and be in your face about “Hitler is the best screw you non Aryan people you have to listen to us” but when you try to rebut, they either cite “freedom of speech” or “safe space” and you have no chance to rebut the statements, in effect neutering the opposition. (Again the internet pseudonym argument)

      As much as I do not mind the written (typed) discussion, i also sort of wish this was a live chat, because I am not talented enough to write my thoughts out (coherently) without sounding like (more of) a weirdo.

      but thank you for the discussion I have missed this

      Like

      1. My pleasure, Simon!

        Just to reiterate, though – my issue with the definition argument about “safe spaces” is that while I’ve seen lots of people says outrageously bigoted things and then either retreat to a claim of humour or shout “free speech!” when confronted, I really haven’t seen accounts of similar abuse of “safe spaces” except from the sorts of people who also tend to indulge in retreats to “humour” and cries of “freeze peach”.

        I may be wrong, but my instinct is to trust those sorts of claims only when I hear them from people who agree ideologically with those they’re calling out.

        Like

      2. Sadly the example you give regarding someone saying something hurtful mean or disgusting, is represented very well by my 19 year old daughter, maybe we were to liberal on her (although to hear her talk we ran a gulag) we always corrected her, but does exactly as you state, makes a very inappropriate statement or joke or comment, then when called on it says “just joking” or, “I don’t care what you think I can say what I want to” (the reason she basically no longer lives in our house!).

        funnily enough though she demands a “safe space” and not wanting to address issues when we bring them up because they are too stressful.

        So in many ways we see (saw) this in our house, someone willing to give criticism and opinion and judgement, but always retreating to a “safe space” (like her room) when confronted with anything. (they can dish it out but not take it in return)

        I think it is these type of people who are the problem.

        Like

  5. @Gary Edwards

    “If you’ve still got a bee in your bonnet about that YouTube comment, think of it as travel advice. Such as one might receive on the importance of taking off one’s shoes off if invited into a japanese home. If you go on YouTube under your academic title, and engage in belittling people’s intelligence, whilst happening to mention they didn’t complete their first degree, you’ll be taken as lording it over them. And over many others. It doesn’t matter whether or not that’s what you intended to do. That’s what you will be taken as having done. As you have now, by many.”

    And this is your excuse for lying, Gary? For deliberately misquoting me?

    Moreover, as I have explained at length to you previously, Gary, (although it’s hardly surprising that you’d once again conveniently forget this), my comments were directed at Mr. Benjamin and Mr. Benjamin alone.

    I really dislike your repeated dishonesty and disingenuity, Mr. Edwards, so please forgive the somewhat robust tone in the following. Let me spell it out for you. Again. (Oh, by the way, I don’t use my academic title in usernames and the like online. My YouTube handle is Philip Moriarty.)

    Am I going to “lord it” over Mr. Benjamin?

    Of course.

    Am I, and quite a few other members of humanity, operating on a somewhat higher level of moral functioning and empathy than Mr. Benjamin?

    Of course.

    This is a 37 year old man, you’ll remember, who thinks that sending a tweet that reads “I wouldn’t even rape you” to anyone, let alone a victim of sexual assault, represents the height of wit and is a sophisticated defence of freedom of speech.

    This is a 37 year old man who, you’ll remember, phoned up his mummy to tell her what he didn’t say to that MP about rape, filmed it and uploaded it just so he could grandstand to his gullible, immature and credulous fanbase.

    A 37 year old man who thinks that crushing academic freedom is appropriate for a proponent of freedom of speech.

    A 37 year old man who argues that challenging a man’s “manhood” by telling him he can’t get a girlfriend is tantamount to a threat of rape. (See https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=rYuVh2oeqJk)

    Is Mr. Benjamin a rather dim individual?

    Of course. I refer you to my points above. Oh, and this: http://www.wehuntedthemammoth.com/2016/08/01/remember-sargons-dopey-petition-hbomberguy-offers-his-belated-yet-hilarious-response/

    This is a bear of very little brain indeed.

    Now, does this mean that I am “lording it” over all those who have attended university and not completed a degree? No. And I have clarified this for you at length previously, Mr Edwards.

    Indeed, and as I have told you previously, I came perilously close to dropping out myself: https://muircheartblog.wordpress.com/2015/08/13/if-i-hadnt-failed-my-exams-i-wouldnt-be-a-professor-of-physics/

    Moreover, I don’t “lord it” over decent, honest people like the students and postdocs with whom I’m incredibly fortunate to work. See https://muircheartblog.wordpress.com/2016/07/28/i-fecking-love-science/

    But when it comes to odious individuals like Mr. Benjamin who seek only to monetise their bile and vitriol? Yep, I’ll run up to that moral high ground and place a great big flag in it.As can very many others. Mr. Benjamin sets the bar exceptionally low. (If you’ll excuse the mixed metaphor).

    You very deliberately misquoted me, Gary. That’s an exceptionally underhand thing to do. The appropriate way to behave would be to apologise but you clearly lack the humility to do so. (What was it you said about lording it over others…?) You can make whatever excuses you like but the evidence is clearly there.

    Remember it’s all about evidence.

    Oh, and while we’re on the subject of evidence, none of the rest of your comment addresses my question. Please provide evidence that normalises out all sociological and environmental contributions and demonstrates conclusively that sexual dimorphism plays a role in the gender balance in physics. Like Mason, you’re just evading the question time and again. Where you differ from Mason is that at least he didn’t dishonestly misquote me…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gary, you say;

      >>>I’d suggest a similar evidential situation with sexual dimorphism of the will, and with hypothesis drawn from zoology, ethology, comparative psychology, cognitive neuroscience and behavioural genetics. Hypothesis which, in being adjacent and relevant, may (as they already do in some cases) help us separate genetic from social causes. With relative ease.<<<

      Can you provide any examples?

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Concerning “lording it”…

      If you declare your superiority over someone because of your relative statuses and accomplishments, it means that you reserve the right to declare your superiority over someone due to your status and accomplishments. “Oh no but I only lord it when I am also morally superior.” I would encourage you to consider whether it is acceptable to conflate moral and social contempt. That is all.

      Like

      1. You didn’t watch the video to which Gary Edwards is referring, did you? Or if you did, you’re (wilfully?) misrepresenting my position.

        At no point did I declare any superiority over anyone due to perceived status or accomplishment. If you disagree, point me precisely to where I did this (via a timestamp, for example). You’re again throwing out an accusation with no evidence to support it. That’s not helpful.

        I have very little respect for Mr. Benjamin not because of his education but because he is demonstrably someone who is capable of rather odious and dim behaviour. A 37 year old man who phones up his mammy to lie to her about what he said to an MP about rape (see the video clip included in this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVkLKw1GXfU ) is someone who, let’s say, does not represent the pinnacle of ethical, rational, or just plain decent behaviour.

        Note that I am simply voicing my opinion there. You may disagree. But at least have the common courtesy to read what I said and not throw out lazy misrepresentations of what you think I said. Thank you.

        And that is indeed all.

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  6. Hi Philip,
    Just posting here as I do not know your twitter name and wanted, as a common courtesy, to inform you I responded to a collaborative video project you were involved in and addressed a question you asked (to be fair it is a brief response but in later parts I answer other questions you left in more detail)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, Noel. Appreciate that. There are a lot of responses to that video! I haven’t watched yours yet but I’ve been impressed by the tone and tenor of a number I’ve viewed. Given your contributions at this blog in the past (and our exchanges in YT comments sections) I am looking forward to watching your response.

        I don’t have a Twitter account, for the reasons described here: https://muircheart.wordpress.com/2015/12/09/where-two-tribes-go-to-roar/

        (I know that you actually take the time to read and provide intelligent responses — unlike some we’ve discussed previously (cough) — so a TL;DR isn’t necessary. But to save you some time, here’s a precis of that blog post: I’m an argumentative sod and I haven’t got time for exchanges which descend to the level of the playground exponentially quickly. Twitter’s 140 character format is almost custom-built to promote that type of behaviour).

        I plan a video and blog post response to the responses to that video (to be followed, no doubt, by a response to the response to the response…(to the response)^n!) next week. (But I’ve got a full-time job and family running in parallel with the YouTube/blogging stuff…) I’m glad you responded before I made that video/wrote that post.

        All the best,

        Philip

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      1. Hi Fred,
        Really nice to hear from you. I always think back to your walking and talking videos you used to make. Good days, looking back.
        I shall have a watch later tonight my friend. Part 2 of my response is online btw (I am typing via my phone so forgive me for not supplying the link).

        Hope you are well.
        Jim

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  7. Thaks Philip.
    I understand your time constraints. I juggle being a full time firefighter, looking after my 21 month old son when not on duty and trying to shoehorn in spending time with my wife and YouTube inbetween, so i appreciate the constraints.
    If you are making your video response to responses in the next few days let me know. I address your other points in later parts of the series and in many ways they are perhaps more worthy of addressing than the borderline tu quoque I gave you in this part.
    May be over a week before all four parts are up but i could always privately upload the raw footage of the responses i have just to you in advance and forward you the links

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Noel. I really appreciate that. If you could send me links to the raw footage that’d be great.

      My kids are now 7, 10, and 13 but I remember very well the fun when they were toddlers! They didn’t start to sleep regularly — i.e. without waking up every few hours — until they were 2 years old. Fun times… 🙂

      I’m also trying to write a book in parallel with everything else. The deadline for submission of the complete draft of the book is Jan 2017. Something is going to give very soon and I suspect it’s going to be YouTube…

      Thanks again.

      Philip

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