When I Researched Islam   Leave a comment

I was in college in the middle of the cold war. The news was dominated by the clash of communism and capitalism. It was clear to me that I had to understand communism to understand the news. When I read Marx, I absolutely loathed it. He would make wrong assumptions on nearly every page, and go right on building on that thinking he’d proven every step. For another source, I spent a lot of time in bull sessions arguing with leftist college students, which was rough going because there were a lot more of them that there was of me and they would gang up and be abusive and rude. But it was really important to me to understand them so I kept at it and did get a pretty clear view of the leftist mindset.

After 9/11, it was clear that the news for a very long time was going to be dominated by the clash between western culture and Islam. So, just as I had to learn about communism before, I had to understand Islam to understand the news. So I studied it a lot. I read an abridged Koran cover to cover, which was stupid, because all the dirt had been abridged out. So I started reading an unabridged Koran.

I did not enjoy reading the Koran. At all.

In the Koran, Allah is talking to you, divinely revealed to Muhammed who dictated it to scribes. Everything is phrased as though Allah is speaking directly to the reader. In Arabic, there is a special pronoun that Allah uses to refer to himself, and translating that to “I” in English doesn’t really communicate the effect well, so in English he refers to himself with the royal “We”. And I really personally disliked Allah, he was not the type of person I would want to befriend, let alone worship. He was not what you would describe as a “nice guy”. He was more of a stern father type, who would beat some sense into you if you got out of line or gave him any lip. His values were in total conflict with mine.

But I was trying to have an open mind, and one thing about the Koran, is that it is constantly filled with vivid, detailed threats about how Allah (not the devil, but Allah) is going to horribly torture you in hell if you harbor the slightest shred of disbelief of anything this book says. And so, on a rational level, the book wasn’t very convincing, and on a personal level, I didn’t like Allah, yet on a purely emotional level, I was being intimidated into believing this book against my will. It was turning me into a Muslim. It really was.

I saw what this was leading to and quit reading the book. Basically, I couldn’t get through the book without a dire risk of enslaving my mind to someone I didn’t respect, couldn’t stand, and believed probably didn’t exist. I was very upset about this, because it was so important to me to become knowledgeable about Islam and the Koran.

The Internet saved that day. I found a website with links to dozens of other anti-Islamic websites that had done a lot of research into Islam and the Koran. And I found chat rooms where Islam was discussed. This was 6 months after 9/11, and the non-moderated chat room was filled with Islam-haters who were saying things like how they were using the Koran for toilet paper. It wasn’t terribly informative. But another, moderated chat room was a far better resource. There were all these really intelligent Muslim scholars there. If you asked an honest question, it would make it past the moderators and you’d get an answer, usually with specific scripture references, 4-8 hours later. I got to quite like some of those guys, and they didn’t mind me because it was clear that I was there to learn. I kept at this for a couple of months while unemployed during the dot-com bust.

I got to understand Islam better than pretty much any other person I know who was raised Christian.

One exercise that I had done was to go to the various anti-Islamic websites and see which violent quotes they would cite, and eventually I was hearing the same ones, over and over, and I thought, OK, now I’ve seen the worst of what the Koran has to offer.

Right around this time I had started going to a Humanist group in Silicon Valley, and someone there started emailing me appalling Bible quotes. I had attended Bible studies as a wannabe believing Christian at times in my adult life, but I had never subjected the Bible to the sort of inquiry that I had just done to the Koran, and decided now was the time.

The verdict is clear — the Old Testament is far worse than the Koran.

If a Muslim claims that all the violence in the Koran is about killing soldiers, not civilians, I can respect that. Historically, after Muhammed, some of the more violent passages were used to justify genocide, but it would not be unreasonable for someone to claim that that was not what Allah or Muhammed had intended. In the Old Testament, they are very specifically clear about exterminating men, women, children, babies, livestock, and pets — “anything that breatheth”.

There are some passages about religious tolerance in the Koran (superceded by more intolerant quotes made later, particularly in book 9, the final and most belligerent book — there are a lot more than 9 books, but they’re not in chronological order, and book 9 was the last). In the Old Testament, religious tolerance is generally seen as one of the greatest possible sins.

The Old Testament is fundamentally and centrally extremely bigoted against gentiles, sometimes genocidally so. I saw a statement in the Koran, on the other hand, saying not to put too much stock in a person’s complexion. The Old Testament is all about being born into the tribe, while the Koran welcomes anyone willing to believe it, of any ethnicity, from the get-go.

As far as I can tell, there is no afterlife in the Old Testament. The worst thing that can happen to you is that your bloodline will be wiped out, like happened to King Saul. That’s it. The New Testament, as far as I can tell, invents the afterlife, and it’s very vague — something about fire in hell, and Heaven’s very nice without saying exactly how (but there’s specifically no sex in Heaven, everybody’s above that sort of thing up there). In the New Testament, Hell is forever. In the Koran, the afterlife, particularly Hell, is all over the place. There’s lots of sex in Heaven, and gay sex with boys, which is forbidden while alive, and non-alcoholic wine. But in the Koran, almost no one goes to Hell forever. That only happened to a few guys who really personally pissed off Muhammed. Everybody else, you’re in Hell until Allah figures you’ve learned your lesson, then you get to Heaven and, if you’re male, get your virgins (every male gets at least 2).

Once I asked the Muslim scholars “About these virgins — do they have souls? Are they interesting to talk to? Are they capable of sin?”. Nobody answered me.

One of the biggest value clashes that I have with Islam is that the ideal of the marketplace of ideas as a search for truth is very, very central to my world view. For this to work, you need freedom of speech and ideological tolerance as pretty much your highest ideals. Islam doesn’t think that way at all. Allah knows, if not defines, what’s true, and he told it to Muhammed, who arranged to have it written down, and that’s that. Anyone who disagrees should get his ass kicked or worse.

Posted February 9, 2019 by xyquarx in Uncategorized

The Identity Politics of the Far Left   Leave a comment

The far left’s view of identity politics is scientifically inaccurate, and morally depraved. They claim that:

The truth or falsehood of a statement depends very strongly upon the group membership of the person saying it.

One’s right to speak at all depends very strongly upon one’s group membership.

Original Sin exists, where some people are not only “born guilty”, but irredeemably so, by dint of their group membership.

Western Civilization is a criminal enterprise.

Race is a social construct, yet racial differences are so profound that “privileged” races are unable to understand the experiences of other races, and shouldn’t even try. They should just listen to whatever is said by the most hateful representatives of those other races and agree without question.

The only prevailing gender difference, innate or learned, that is allowed to be discussed is male criminality, otherwise known as “toxic masculinity”, which we are to go on and on about.

Popular generalizations about social groups are “stereotypes” and as such are always wrong, except for those that are casting privileged groups in a negative light.

Due process does not apply when a member of a privileged group is accused of bigotry or sexual predation by a member of a less privileged group. The accused has no rights, and if they fight the rap, are to be condemned in a petition signed by all of their peers. The only acceptable response to such an accusation is to confess, apologize, beg for forgiveness while professing self-hatred, resign from any post they hold, and check into rehab.

All differences in outcomes between groups where privileged groups are doing better are explained by “oppression” and “injustice”. Any attempt to discuss any other possible explanation is to be met with hysterical outrage.

All differences between outcomes where privileged groups are doing worse (i.e. higher rate of homelessness among males, lower rate of college graduation among males, 93% of deaths on the job are male, single childless females of a given age earn more than single childless males of the same age) are not to be discussed.


What is really, really bad about these identity politics is not just that they are so profoundly stupid and morally depraved, but they pervade all aspects of the liberal world view. They can’t talk about anything without dragging identity politics into it, and when that happens everything goes insane.

Posted February 8, 2019 by xyquarx in Uncategorized

The Lie That is Destroying the Social Fabric of America   Leave a comment

This video (click here), published by the Bernie Sanders campaign, concludes that “The greed of Jamie Dimon and JP Morgan Chase is destroying the social fabric of America.”, actually, Jamie Dimon and Chase have both been doing a great job for America.  The lie about Wall Street told by Bernie Sanders and much of the press, that the bailout was a gift and not a loan, has been “destroying the social fabric of America”.

If the bailout had been a gift and not a loan, that would have been 100 times more outrageous than what really happened.  Yes, the bailout was bad, people should be upset about it.  It’s like if I broke into your house and stole your TV, that’s bad and I deserve criticism.  But I don’t deserve to have everybody believe that I stole your TV and raped your wife.

That lie, believed by most of the public, has caused the public to believe that American society is 100 times more corrupt than it is.  It fueled the rise of the Tea Party, the rage of the poorly educated against the educated “elites”, and a culture of outrage and hatred in American politics at both ends of the political spectrum, driving voters into the arms of lying, hateful demagogues promoting idiotic ideas, such as Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

One argument is that what went on during the financial crisis was so profoundly deplorable, that no amount of hyperbole or exaggeration is excessive — that whether the loan was paid back was a minor detail, it’s the difference between infinitely bad and infinitely bad. I disagree. Facts matter. A hundred times awful is worse than awful.

This lie is very widely believed.  None of the professional fact checkers, like Snopes, flag it when it is told.  Nobel Prize winning economist Josef Stiglitz told it, over and over again, in his book “Free Fall”, about the financial crisis.

In the video, the Sanders campaign is so hateful that they take one statement by Dimon, “A recession could be good for JP Morgan” and take it way out of context to vilify him.

Let’s look at some of the claims by the video:

  1. “Wall Street crashed the financial system”.
  2. “Chase was bailed out.”
  3. “Chase is 70% bigger than it was before the financial crisis.”
  4. “The business model of Chase and all of Wall Street is fraud, pure and simple.”
  5. “Chase has admitted to wrongly foreclosing on thousands of people and overcharging them for their mortgages.”
  6. “The greed of Jamie Dimon and JP Morgan Chase is destroying the social fabric of America.”

Here’s what really happened: Chase was one of the best-run banks prior to the financial crisis, and it was in good enough shape to rescue two other huge banks, Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual. Chase did not particularly need to be bailed out, but the Fed’s policy was that all the banks had to be bailed out, to avoid particularly stigmatizing those banks that were bailed out. Banking regulations are so complex and byzantine that if they are all stringently enforced, they can basically make it impossible for a bank to do business, and those banks that tried to refuse the bailout loans were threatened with exactly that unless they took the loan. So all the banks took the loan.

Let me repeat that: loan. The “bailouts” were loans, not gifts. But the press widely reported them to the public as gifts, and in the 2016 campaign, half the time Bernie’s lips were moving he was talking about the bailout, and when he did, he always chose his words, always phrased it, to make it sound like the bailout was a gift and not a loan, and the press never called him on it. Most of the public thinks Bernie’s a regular “Honest Abe” while half the time his lips were moving in 2016 he was lying his ass off.

After forcing the banks to take loans in the fall of 2008, the government did “stress tests” on the banks to determine if they were fit to pay back. In June of 2009 several banks, including Chase, were permitted to pay back, which they did immediately, which did get mentioned in the press, but not with enough attention for most people to notice.  Note that claim 2 of the video “Chase was bailed out.” true to form, fails to mention that Chase was forced to take a loan which it did not want, and that it was one of the first banks to pay it back, which it did immediately when permitted to, with a profit for the government.

So claim 2 “Chase was bailed out.” is a profound lie of omission.  Bernie must know that it was paid back.  Somebody must’ve told him.

The Democrats used their near-filibuster-proof majority in congress to pass Dodd-Frank, a 2000-page monstrosity, because Democrats always believe that anything bad that happens Is because of a lack of regulation. The result of this was that only the biggest banks, such as Chase, could afford the armies of lawyers needed to figure out how to comply with it, let alone to make any money at the same time. This resulted in a period, for the next several years until the current administration wisely watered-down Dodd-Frank, where small banks were constantly being acquired by the bigger ones. The video cites the growth of Chase this decade as something sinister, when it’s just what happens when the government strangles the smaller banks so badly with regulation that they are all acquired by the best-run big banks.  This is the correct interpretation of claim 3 “Chase is 70% bigger than it was before the financial crisis.”.

Claim 5 of the video mentions some “illegal forecloses” and “overcharging”.  Any business at that scale is going to make some accounting mistakes, and they’re not telling the whole story. I remember reading in about 2011 that Chase was sitting on over 100,000 home loans that hadn’t received a single payment in 2 years. Those days, lots and lots of people were choosing to walk away from their underwater homes, especially in non-recourse states, and many of them were squatting in the homes for free rent until forcibly evicted. Banks had a huge backlog of foreclosures to process in a short time, and some of the banks failed to dot some ‘i’s or cross some ‘t’s in the paperwork. But according to Bernie Sanders, the banks were foreclosing just to be mean.

Regarding claim 1 “Wall Street crashed the financial system”, it is a misrepresentation of reality.  Wall Street did not cause the financial crisis by itself.  Nearly everyone in the country, not just Wall Street, but also the homeowners and the politicians, believed, before the crisis,

  1. That it was a fundamental law of physics that real estate prices nationwide would always rise.
  2. That the best investment that anybody could make was to buy the dwelling that they lived in.

I remember this very clearly, because I believed neither of these things at the time and would talk about them to anybody who would listen, and almost nobody else could be reasoned with at all about either of these points.  The politicians did everything they could to have every Tom, Dick, and Harry buy their home, including lean on the banks to encourage them to make subprime loans to poor and minority home buyers.  And legions of home buyers lied their asses off on their loan applications, but somehow its the banks who are the bad guys for believing them (and while the banks had to pay billions of dollars in fines for misrepresenting the quality of bonds, I never heard of any home owners prosecuted for lying on loan applications).

Any time everybody believes that a price can only rise, there will be a bubble, and when bubbles burst, it’s painful, especially when the bubble is being sustained with loans. Fraud is not a necessary ingredient of a bubble and its catastrophic end.

The other thing about the over-optimistic (supposedly “fraudulent”) bond ratings is that a lot of that optimism was based on the reliability of rising real estate values.  If the home buyer didn’t pay, the home would be worth more than the outstanding value of the loan, so the bank could recover everything through foreclosure and the bonds would not default.  So if real estate prices had continued to rise as nearly everybody was expecting, most of those bonds would have performed as rated.

Regarding claim 4 “The business model of Chase and all of Wall Street is fraud, pure and simple.”, oft-repeated by Bernie Sanders (and he always shouts the word “FRAUD!” when he says it) is a flat out lie.  Some fraud occurred in the lead up to the financial crisis, but the real estate bubble, its bursting, and the financial crisis, all still would have happened had there been no misrepresentation of the quality of the bonds.  And the occurrence of fraud in some instance at some point in the past hardly makes it Wall Street’s “business model”.  Most of the public, in most of their interactions with Wall Street, do not experience any fraud at all.  They get credit cards and checking accounts and home and car loans, and they know exactly what they’re getting into, get money when they need it, pay off the loans, and lead better lives as a result.  In the meantime, many home buyers still lie their asses off on loan applications, secure in the knowledge that, no matter how severe the consequences for anyone else, they will never be held accountable in any way.

Posted January 12, 2019 by xyquarx in Uncategorized

The Use and Misuse of Facebook   Leave a comment

I spend a lot of time arguing with people on Facebook about politics. I feel very strongly that there are right and wrong ways to do it.

Politics on Facebook are very dangerous. By friending people who say things that you agree with and de-friending anyone with whom you disagree, it is very easy to slip into a comfortable cocoon of like-minded people on one end of the political spectrum who post only news stories and personal ideas that reinforce the world view of that group, and opinions about how stupid those who disagree are. Once this happens, you can frequently post opinions that are pretty dumb and that insult the living daylights out of people who disagree with you, with the experience that your posts go unchallenged and you get a lot of likes. You can become utterly convinced that you are intelligent and well-informed, when in fact you are nothing but an ignorant, obnoxious loudmouth who is utterly incapable of a civilized conversation with anyone with whom you disagree. There’s a lot of this going on.

The problem is exacerbated by the fact that Americans have come to so dislike the company of people who they disagree with politically that they have even been *MOVING* to areas with like-minded neighbors. So contact in our daily lives with people who disagree with us has been becoming rarer.

So one of your most valuable resources on Facebook is intelligent people who disagree with you and will say so. Every once in awhile they will prove you wrong, and when they do, it is important that you publicly admit it. They’ve earned that, and if it happens every once in awhile it is important that you reward them with that recognition, otherwise they might unfriend or at least unfollow you, and quit providing this vital service.

Another issue is that people who don’t know each other, by virtue of being in the safety of their physical isolation, can get much, much fiercer and more rude than they would be if they were sitting in the same room.

As a result of all this ferocity, many people who do have opinions hesitate to say anything but are really, really put off, being pushed in exactly the opposite direction of the posts that they are hearing:

If you want to discuss politics on Facebook, it is vital that you never friend any work colleagues.  There is a lot of talk about how free speech is jeopardized of college campuses, but that’s nothing compared to the situation in the workplace, where free speech as an ideal never existed.  The consequences of a bitter political disagreement in the workplace can be severe (I lost a job in 1999 without ever disclosing my party affiliation — just defending “the free market” when most of my co-workers were trashing capitalism was damning enough).

A lot of people never discuss politics on Facebook, but there is still a danger.  Watching all your friends show the best things going on in their lives, their vacations and their most photogenic selfies (and many people, especially young women, have become geniuses at digitally retouching their selfies) and seeing your friends do activities that they didn’t invite you to, can lead to quite an inferiority complex, or at least depression.

Posted October 20, 2018 by xyquarx in Uncategorized

Was the Apollo Program Done “For All Mankind”?   Leave a comment

The movie “First Man”, about the Apollo 11 moon landing, omitted the planting of the American flag on the moon. The claim is that this was because the landing was done “for all mankind”. We did leave a plaque on the moon saying “We came in peace for all mankind”, but it wasn’t true. This is leaving out a HUGE amount of context about the space race of the 1960’s.

https://tinyurl.com/y9lxktuu

In the 1950’s, the US had a bomber fleet in Western Europe ready to bomb the heck out of the USSR if we got mad enough. It wasn’t technically feasible to build a bomber that could make the round trip from communist territory to the US. The Soviets had the bomb, but they really had no way to get it to the US to serve as a deterrent, which they desperately needed.

So they funded intercontinental ballistic missile development much more aggressively than the US did, and by the late 1950’s, had missiles capable of sending a nuke halfway around the world from Russia to the US.

It turns out that such a rocket is capable of putting something into orbit, so they launched Sputnik, the first satellite, before the US could. They further exploited their lead in rocketry to launch the first one, two, and three-man spacecraft into orbit.

The propaganda gains this brought for the Soviet Union, and for communism in general, were enormous, and very detrimental to the well being of the human race. In the 1960’s, many in the US had an inferiority complex relative to communism, and many newly independent third world countries were deciding whether to adopt capitalist or socialist economics for their own development, and many chose the socialist model, to their own detriment.

John F Kennedy announced that the goal of the US space program was to put a man on the moon and bring him back again. It was a challenge to the Russians, and the goal was far enough off that the US had a realistic hope of surpassing the lead that the USSR had.

To most Americans, NASA was all about “beating the Russians to the moon”. The space program was generously funded, hitting 4% of federal spending in 1966. It is *HIGHLY* unlikely that the American public would have been that generous to fund a program to go to the moon “for all mankind”. After we reached the moon in 1969, NASA funding quickly dropped to less than 1% in the next few years (it’s less than 0.5% of federal funding right now).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budget_of_NASA

Socialist economics were still pretty popular until the implosion of the Warsaw Pact in 1989. After that, most of the world embraced market-driven economics, resulting in dramatic increases in the standard of living in many third world countries, and reductions in world poverty.

Posted October 15, 2018 by xyquarx in Uncategorized

ContraPoints on Free Speech   Leave a comment

The following video is by far the best defense of the left-wing position on free speech (namely, that “hate speech” should be banned) that I have ever encountered.

I know, from her other videos, that the speaker in the series has a masters degree in philosophy, and I think, given the arguments she makes, that she is very intelligent.

It is part II of a 2-part series. Part I was nowhere near as good. In it, she cited Christopher Hitchens as representing the “free speech” point of view, and showed him claiming that Nazi Holocaust deniers are deserving more protection of their speech than others, and then she claimed, by the same principle, that “victim” demographics deserve more protection than other groups and that “hate speech” should therefore be banned on college campuses. She also shows Hitchens, during Q&A, telling an idiot asking a stupid question to shut up and refusing to address his question (ostensibly, therefore, violating the questioner’s “right to free speech”).

I don’t think Hitchens speaks for all the right, and in addition there is a BIG difference between claiming that some people need “extra protection” (a dubious proposition to begin with) and claiming that ANYBODY has such a “right to not be offended” that we should start shutting other people up. Hitchens never said that, because Holocaust deniers, in his view, deserve “extra protection”, that no one should be allowed to offend them.

So here’s the second video, which is much better.

 

 

With the example of “Paddy’s Bar”, she does demonstrate that a complete absence of rules is rarely feasible if you want any good outcome.

So I agree with the video that a forum usually needs boundaries in order for the discussion to be productive and enlightening. But that is speech within one forum. That means that if you want to say something that is banned in other forums, you have the right to set up your own forum and set rules that you find acceptable. That is “free speech”. The left has been deliberately interfering with the ability of forums that they don’t like to exist, sometimes by rioting or pulling fire alarms, and that is “censorship” and it’s wrong.

She talks about the fact that there are few black philosophy majors.  And she talks about two micro aggressions that she knows of from her six years in college. In the first case, a black student dropped a class because the lecturer had used the term “negro”. In the second case, a black woman asked a white male philosophy lecturer why there weren’t more black philosophers, and in his answer he mentioned slavery in ancient Greece.

Now, I don’t think either of those events were very egregious. The word “negro” is old-fashioned, but it’s not a terribly hateful word. The micro aggression was certainly not enough to justify dropping a class over. And in the second case, what answer was the black woman expecting? When people discuss the history of oppression, they mention slavery all the time. I suspect that the speaker feels that any explanation the lecturer gave for the absence of black philosophers, other than injustice, would have been deemed an offense.

I had to think about it for awhile, and I think I realize what happened. And it demonstrates the flaw in the author’s position.

In the video, she says that philosophy departments all over the country have meetings now and then about “Why aren’t there more black philosophers?”. She doesn’t describe how the conversations go, but I figure that the speech restrictions that most of academia operates under prevent an accurate answer to the question.

Philosophy is a tough major. Graduating philosophy students have the second highest IQ of any major, outperformed only by physicists.

There is an overwhelming consensus of intelligence researchers, liberal and conservative, that the IQ of the average black American is 10 points lower than that of the average white American.  That’s a big difference. There is not a clear consensus about why this is. To minimize controversy, let’s adopt one of the least offensive theories, namely lead poisoning. Minority neighborhoods have more lead pollution than white neighborhoods, and it is well-established that lead poisoning lowers IQ.

So given that blacks have, on average, lower IQ, we would expect them to be under represented in high-IQ majors in general, not just philosophy, but also in, for example, STEM fields, and that is, in fact, what we observe. So that is probably why there are fewer black philosophers.

Now, to express the opinions in the preceding two paragraphs is MUCH more offensive than the micro aggressions against blacks that the video describes. I suspect that neither ContraPoints (the speaker in the video) nor the rest of the philosophy department are willing to entertain those notions for a microsecond. So it is impossible for them to reach an accurate conclusion.

What happens in the absence of being able to accurately answer this question, that philosophy majors are constantly asking themselves?

Their ideological blinders forbid any answer other than “injustice”. So the speaker in the video concludes that racism on campus must be to blame. The problem is that, in spite of having spent 6 years in college, she can’t remember observing much racism (in fact, of the two micro aggressions described, she only saw one, and the other was related to her second hand). So she blows these two teeny tiny moments of fleeting emotional discomfort up to monstrous proportions and concludes that massive censorship is likely to solve the lack of black philosophy majors.

When the black woman asked the question about why there weren’t more black philosophers, it might have been rude to start talking about racial differences in IQ. On the other hand, by bringing the subject up, wasn’t she opening the door to all possible explanations?

What the liberal rules of acceptable discourse do is impose a dogma that there is no explanation for a difference in outcomes between groups other than “injustice”. They then talk about group differences in outcomes all day long and conclude that injustice is rampant. And that’s inacurate. And that wrong conclusion is reached because of censorship.

The video says that Milo Yiannopolous should not be tolerated on campus, because most of what he does is bait and bully liberals (which I agree is most of what he does), and in fact, his presence undermines, rather than elevates, the quality of campus debate. I don’t agree with that. If Milo were barging into other forums and discussions on campus and disrupting them, I would agree with her. But that’s not the case. Milo wants to have a lecture in his own forum, and only those interested in listening to him will attend (and bear in mind that that is a TINY minority of the students). As long as he sticks to his own forum, I can’t see a compelling case against allowing him to speak, as long as his speech is legal, which it generally is. I disagree with most of what Milo says, but he has made a few good points. Milo likes to pick on transsexuals (which I don’t agree with), but I think the maker of the video is letting her status as trans and her resulting opposition to Milo’s speech cloud her judgment here.

She talks about “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces”. She describes the origins of the concept in gay bars where anyone who expressed homophobic opinions was ejected so that the gays could relax and be themselves. But she utterly fails to address the news stories reporting campuses having rooms with play dough and movies of frolicking puppies, where students could retreat when overwhelmed, and the news stories reporting that students retreating there complaining of their “dearly held beliefs” being challenged outside.

It comes down to “forums” again. Yes, it is necessary for leaders of forums to be able to enforce rules, including evicting troublemakers. Some colleges have problems where any student organization that uses college facilities has to accept all students, meaning they can’t eject anybody. So when Christians try to hold a Bible study, Christian-hating gays show up and are deliberately rude and disruptive and make it impossible for the Bible study to happen. So you need a “safe space” for Christians, a forum where they can eject anybody they see as problematic.

But the “safe space”, whether it be for gays, Christians, or transsexuals, doesn’t have to be the whole damn campus. Any forum should be free to eject (or verbally bully) anyone who is deemed disruptive, according to the sole and final judgment of the organizer of the forum.

One thing that ContraPoints gets close to saying, while discussing safe spaces, without saying it directly, is that racist, sexist, and homophobic speech is so ubiquitous that it needs no toleration — everybody is constantly bombarded with those points of view, so there is no need for them to be tolerated in an intellectual environment.  But that’s not true.  Jonathan Haidt’s book reports that research he did showed that conservatives understand liberals better than vice-versa.  I think part of the reason for that is that the liberals control the non-Fox mainstream media and Hollywood, and most public school teachers are liberals, so it is very, very hard for anyone to get through life without getting the liberal viewpoint.  An urban liberal, on the other hand, can very easily go through life without any exposure to conservatives other than straw men erected by liberal sources.  And this goes completely into very educated people.  In the September 2017 issue of Scientific American, there was an article about the dearth of black physics faculty in universities, and the article claimed that there was no observed racial IQ difference.  Now, even Ezra Klein, the editor of Vox, and vehement opponent of the book The Bell Curve, agrees that there’s 10 point difference.  But whoever wrote that article in Scientific American, and all the editors who approved the article, live in such a filtered liberal ideological bubble, that they are isolated from that basic and relevant fact.

One thing that never, ever, seems to cross ContraPoints’ mind is that defining “hate speech” is difficult, and that most contemporary definitions prohibit sane discussion of important topics.

  • We need to discuss affirmative action.  How much should there be?  Some would characterize any argument against increased affirmative action as “hate speech”. So if the conversation takes place on that basis, no company can hire any white males until every minority or female applicant has been hired.
  • We need to discuss immigration. Many would characterize any concept of an undesirable immigrant as “hate speech”, meaning that the only conclusion we can reach is completely open borders.
  • We need to discuss “Black Lives Matter”.  It’s obviously “hate speech” to claim that any blacks are criminals.  So the only conclusion that a “hate speech” free conversation can reach is that police must never arrest any black person no matter what they do.

Posted June 11, 2018 by xyquarx in Uncategorized

What’s the Problem With The Regressive Left?   Leave a comment

Allow me to describe the thinking of the regressive left (sometimes called the Social Justice Warriors) as I perceive it.


 

Identity

  • The most important characteristic of a person’s identity is their group membership by birth — their ethnicity (partly their race, but sometimes also meaning the religion of their parents), their gender, and their sexual preference. This membership is much more important than any choices that they have made or anything that they have achieved in their lives.
  • Individual rights are not very important. Group rights are essential.
  • Not all groups have equal rights. All groups range on a continuum from “victim” to “privileged”, where “privileged” groups have no rights at all.
  • The last two points often result in an analysis where, if there is a conflict between two individuals, what actually transpired between them is unimportant. All that matters is who is more “victim” and who is more “privileged”, determined by group membership, and from there, it follows that the “victim” party is completely unaccountable and anything the “privileged” party does or says is wrong.

The regressive left claims to be fighting for “equality”, but it’s a flat-out lie. They are aiming for a hierarchy with the “victims” on top and the “privileged” on the bottom.

The other objectionable thing about making group membership the core of everybody’s identity is that it moves us in exactly the opposite of the direction we need to go to transcend these differences.

One can wonder: “Why is it that so many of the ‘privileged’ go along with this framework which affords them no rights and blames them for everything wrong?”. There are a couple of severe penalties for non-compliance:

  1. There are real bigots in society, and most of them hail from humble origins, and are so uncouth and lacking in education and sophistication, that they are so profoundly repulsive that most others will pay any price to avoid being associated with them.
  2. If a person is in any position that involves hiring and firing people, they and their employer are potentially subject to catastrophic discrimination lawsuits. If your management detects any hint of dissent from the consensus of the regressive left from you, you may be fired, or at least, they will avoid putting you in any position of authority, to avoid putting the company in legal jeopardy.

 

Dogmas

  1. Nature / Nurture — the regressive left usually comes down heavily on the side of nurture, the one exception to this being sexual preference.
  2. Gender is a social construct. All observed behavioral differences between genders are learned.
    • And all observed behavioral differences between genders should be eliminated.
  3. Race is a social construct. There are no physical differences, and especially no behavioral or cognitive differences, between ethnic groups other than the purely cosmetic.
  4. Popular generalizations about ethnicities or genders are generally false.
  5. Any observed relative under performance of “victim” groups is generally due to either discrimination or historical injustice.

These dogmas have not been proven either way. If someone who is trying to disprove all of them faces a high burden of proof, it can’t be met. But someone trying to prove them true has no hope of meeting a much lower burden of proof.

I believe pretty strongly that if these assumptions are debated on the basis of a preponderance of evidence, they don’t stand up very well at all. The position of the regressive left, on the other hand, is that we have a moral obligation to pretend to believe these things, whether they’re true or not, because believing them will somehow make them more true.

If an assumption is not true, and we design our society to depend upon that assumption, then our social policies are apt to fail. So it’s important to be able to conduct an honest inquiry into the truth.

The other thing is, if we tell everybody well-intentioned lies in the pursuit of some goal, everybody’s not going to just believe them and all live happily ever after. Some people will question the lies, and the lies will have to be defended. This is where it gets ugly. When someone challenges these assumptions, the position of the progressive left is that they are some kind monster, to be viciously and personally smeared and marginalized from public debate through any means necessary, including dishonesty.

Thus, the regressive left is a constant source of censorship and lies.

Posted June 1, 2018 by xyquarx in Uncategorized