Sunday, December 21, 2014

So Much For States's Rights: OK and NE AGs Try To Undermine Legal Weed In CO

GOP AGs, no less...

Saturday, December 20, 2014

An Atheist's Ten Commandments

Not great
But an improvement on the original, FWTW

Carolina 82-OSU 74

When they're on, these Heels sure are fun to watch...
And I really love Big Ten hoops. Always fun to play B1G teams.
Except Maryland of course.
F*ck those guys.

(LOL just kidding, Turtles...)

Scotland Yard, British "VIP Pedophilia Rings" and Satanic Panic

   Just thought I'd go ahead an lay my epistemic cards on the table. I'm skeptical about this story, as reported in the Guardian.
   I ran across this on /r/worldnews, and the explosion of absolute credulity was...bizarre. (And, incidentally,  quickly spawned, e.g., sub-threads about the CIA kidnapping "thousands" of American children every year for slavery, rape, and murder...)  Needless to say, I'm in no way asserting that the story is definitely false. I'm saying: if I had to place a bet on the veracity of the story, I would bet against it. But as in the case of the Rolling Stone/UVA gang rape debacle, I'm actually more focused on the response to the story. It seems fairly clear to me that a story of this kind should send most people at least to epistemic yellow alert. What I've seen so far, however, is not only perfect credulity, but anger and derision directed at anyone who expresses skepticism.
   I've got actual stuff to do presently, but I'll say, in brief, that the story sounds implausible to me for the same kinds of reasons that the Satanic Panic stories of the '90's sounded implausible. In fact, the similarity is rather striking. Obviously pedophilia exists. (Is this the part where I'm obligated to say what goes without saying? I'm never sure where that part is supposed to go...) and obviously it's a terrible crime. But that in no way means that every accusation is true. And this one fits the Satanic Panic-type template too closely for me to accept it uncritically.
   In particular, the murder parts do not seem plausible. It does not seem likely that the perpetrators would kill person A in front of person B, but then let person B go free. (Though if A and B are children, that might mitigate the implausibility.) And running down someone in broad daylight? It could happen...but I'm baffled that there is so little skepticism about it. Were the accusations of murder made without the accusations of child abuse, I can't see them being believed on the basis of the evidence thus far presented. But when they are conjoined with accusations of pedophilia, people seem to think them more likely rather than less so... 
   And, as I said in comments a few posts back, the fact that the police seem to have declared the accusations to be true without corroborating evidence strikes me as bizarre in the extreme. 
   Of course if I'm wrong, I'm going to get hammered on this...whereas if I'm right it will fade into the past without it's rather a gamble to be up-front about this...but there it is...

Satanic Panic

Friday, December 19, 2014

Scotland Yard: "Claims That Boys Were Murdered By VIP Sex Ring Are Credible And True"

Uh...does this story anyone?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Americans Back CIA Torture 2 to 1

I cannot discuss this calmly at the moment

Monday, December 15, 2014

Cheney: Saddam Had A 10-Year Relationship With Al Qaeda

False, of course...
(via Reddit)

In Case You Think What We Really Need Is Another Bush Presidency...

...your prayers may have been answered...

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Amanda Marcotte Still Hasn't Acknowledged That Jackie Lied

Unless I'm missing something somewhere...

UCL: M.A. In White Power!!!!!!!

   This is, perhaps, the most embarrassingly stupid thing I've ever seen in academia.
   My previous go-to example of vapid academic bullshit was my own university's "leisure studies" degree...but no more...

The Geography of Plagiarism

Given what I've been told by people with academic experience in China, this comes as no surprise.

Cheney: "I'd Do It Again In A Minute"

This leaves me, basically, speechless.
(h/t The Mystic)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Carolina 70-Kentucky 84

Meh, got beat by a better team.
Nobody likes losing to Calipari, but whaddaya gonna do? The one-and-done strategy is another nail in the coffin of college hoops...but, sadly, there doesn't seem to be any other team in Kentucky's league this year. Though, even a not-yet-coming
-together, not-great Carolina team managed to not get destroyed. So Kentucky is definitely beatable.

Elizabeth Warren Is Fighting Wall Street For The Soul Of The Democratic Party

I think that headline is reasonably accurate
(Brings to mind my friend Anne's frequent claim that she belongs to "the Democratic wing of the Democratic party"...)

More Evidence That The Bush/Cheney Administration Lied About Atta's "Prague Connection"

I am incapable of expressing the depth of my disgust. I was basically enraged for most of the eight years that those terrible, incompetent people were in office. I'd basically shoved it out of my mind, though. And now it's back.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Newsweek: Another Rolling Stone Rape Article Has Major Holes

In this case, four people went to jail and one died there, the accuser changed his story several times, and Erdely did not disclose a conflict of interest.

If We Should Believe Every Rape Accusation, Why Are Feminists et al. Bashing Rolling Stone For Not Confirming Jackie's Story?

   The leftosphere is mad. And not just a little bit. The leftier  regions of the web are furious at Rolling Stone, and seem to be attributing basically all the blame to them. (Not so much to the author of the piece, curiously...but to the magazine as a whole).
   But if every rape accusation should be believed, then Jackie's accusation, despite its extraordinary implausibility, should also have been believed. So Rolling Stone did something wrong only if the principle that every rape accusation should be believed is false. But the leftward web can't have it both ways.
   Consistency is not the strong suit of either extreme edge of the political spectrum, however. In fact I sometimes wonder if it's immunity to cognitive dissonance that allows people to gravitate to one or the other edge of the spectrum.
   At any I overlooking some obvious response to this objection?

NYT: U.S. Obligated To Investigate Torture; Suspects Can Be Prosecuted Abroad Or By ICC

Kaplan: "There's No Way Bush And Cheney Didn't Know" About Torture

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Dershowitz on Harvard Sexual Assault Policy: "...Sexual Assault Is Such A Heinous Crime That Even Innocence Is Not A Defense."

That is a freaking brilliant comment. Wish I'd thought of it. Captures this part of the prevailing zeitgeist beautifully.

Meagan McArdle: You Can't Just Accuse People Of Rape

Rape denialist/apologist Meagan McArdle expresses the retrograde, politically incorrect, anti-social-justice view that false accusations of rape are bad.

Brendan O'Neill: Rolling Stone And the Cult of Credulity

Finally, people are starting to call bullshit on this insanity.

Today's Stupidest Post Of All Time

   Spoiler alert: white males suck (Ack Pthpfffpt! link! Do not click!)
   In case you somehow hadn't heard

   Incidentally...has always been so idiotic? Was it less overtly stupid, like, I don't know, ten years ago or whatever? Did I just not notice? Or is it just since it got eaten up by all this SJW dementia? Or what?

The Rolling Stone/UVA Gang Rape Story Continues To Disintegrate

Yet Another List of Torture-Related Abominations

I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever...

Lindy West Demonstrates Everything Wrong With The Quasi-Feminist Response To The Rolling Stone Rape Story

   Yet another case--they're amazingly predictable at this point--of someone doubling down on the Rolling Stone rape story. There are "discrepancies" in the story (but only in scare quotes)...but this proves NOTHING!!!!11...question the story and you're a misogynist!
   And then come the bizarre straw men...if you question the story, you're questioning all rape accusations...and on and on.
   This is a kind of crisis point for liberals. For years they've failed to criticize the extravagances of rape crisis feminism. For example the more-or-less explicit claim that every accusation must be believed. The absurdity of such claims has always been very clear, but this case makes that absurdity more manifest. Now liberals have to decide whether they're going to put up with the bizarre and irrational attempts to argue that the Rolling Stone case illustrates absolutely nothing whatsoever about rape crisis feminism...except, perhaps that it's even truer than we imagined!!!!111...
   Liberalism went a little crazy when it allowed itself to be dragged leftwards temporarily by the political correctness insanity of the '90's. That's happening again (though the culprits are the "social justice warriors"). Liberalism can either acquiesce to the insanity or it can reject it. I think this episode will be telling. If liberals don't find the moral fortitude to at least criticize the dogmatic rationalizations currently being offered by the Rolling Stone dead enders...well...that is an extremely bad sign. More than a bad sign, actually...more than merely an indication of ideological's something closer to being constitutive of ideological insanity.
   There is of course still some chance that there is something true in "Jackie"s account. We don't have the final truth on any of this yet. But, again, that isn't the issue. The issue is that many rape crisis feminists have clearly demonstrated that they do not care about the evidence. They are driven by an extremist, highly ideological theory, and it's that theory that drives their beliefs and arguments. If the facts seem to conflict with that theory, then so much worse for the facts. This is almost the definition of insanity, and if liberalism continues to allow this sort of thing to flourish unquestioned within its ranks, then that will be the end of liberalism.
   Finally, it's a sign of how irrational liberalism has become that you are not allowed to make straightforward arguments like the above absent reference to the boilerplate shibboleths: rape is a terrible crime, there is too much of it, misogyny is bad, etc. Since some of the key sophistries in play involve accusing anyone who questions the orthodoxy of "rape denialism," misogyny, etc., one has to make the proper obeisances...not that that's guaranteed protection... This in itself is a worrisome thing, but that's the way it is...

Reason.Com: We Can't Prevent Rape If We're Deluded About It

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Torture Report

Goddamn it.
Goddamn it.
Goddamn it.
I hate everybody right now.
I had somehow basically managed to put the goddamn Cheney/Bush administration out of my mind, despite my eight year monomaniacal obsession with it.
And goddamn it, this is like having goddamn flashbacks.

Dick Cheney Was Lying About Torture: Senate Report Allegedly Confirms It Doesn't Work

ThinkProgress: "Why No One Ever Seems To Believe Rape Victims"

   What world are these people living in? Where are they finding all these people who don't believe rape victims? We just saw basically everybody instantaneously and unquestioningly believe the most implausible rape story of all time. And, for the record, so far as we can tell, there was no victim. There was only an accuser. Even now, as the story disintegrates, huge numbers of web liberals refuse to give up on it. Many refuse to even doubt it. Many are still flinging charges of misogyny at people who are so retrograde as to acknowledge facts that stare them in the face...
   Liberalism used to be better than this.
   Didn't it?

Cathy Young: "The UVA Story Unravels: Feminist Agitprop and Rape-Hoax Denialism"

      This is at RCP, but it's good nevertheless--very good, IMHO.
      Some key graphs: The Guardian, Jessica Valenti goes so far as to declare, “I choose to believe Jackie.” This is feminism as a religious cult, embracing the principle of early Church father Tertullian: “Credo quia absurdum"...
Some other feminists are quite openly suggesting that we shouldn’t let facts get in the way. “So what if this instance was more fictional than fact and didn't actually happen to Jackie? Do we actually want anyone to have gone through this? This story was a shock and awe campaign that forced even the most ardent of rape culture deniers to stand up in horror and demand action,” writes Katie Racine, the founder of the online women’s magazine Literally, Darling, in an essay reprinted in The Huffington Post. (A mostly fictional story is beneficial because it proved to “rape culture deniers” that rape culture exists? Literally, darling, this may be the dumbest thing anyone has said about the UVA story.) And in Politico, UVA student journalist Julia Horowitz opines that “to let fact checking define the narrative would be a huge mistake,” since Jackie’s likely fabrication points to a bigger truth. That is not journalism; it’s agitprop.
   It's often been noted that political beliefs are often held in a way that's similar to the way that religious beliefs are held, and I've been reflecting on that a lot recently. The leftosphere is currently full of horrifically awful arguments deployed in a frantic effort to deflect error. It reminds me of nothing so much as fundamentalist discussions of evolution.

Jackie's Roommate Defends Her Story

   This isn't much, but it's not nothing either, so it should be added to the body of evidence.

Conservative Troll Blogger Outs "Jackie"

   Well, here's the story in the Post.
   What a weird case. This blogger is obviously an asshole of the kind the internet seems to breed. OTOH, we will want to know about Jackie at some point, and, so far as we can currently tell, there is no reason that we shouldn't. Jezebel is still doggedly referring to Jackie as a "victim"...but we currently have good reason to believe that that characterization is inaccurate. Still, I see no reason to rush into this. There's still a non-negligible chance that something did happen to Jackie, and no reason to put her name out in public right this instant. If things stay on their current trajectory, and in, say, a month or so we are sufficiently certain that she simply made it all up, then we'll want to know who she is, whether she's ever done anything like this before, and so on. Furthermore, of course, there may be mental problems in play here, and so we might not want to put more pressure on the person in question than is absolutely necessary.
   So, though outing her now (and her brothers too for some reason, in case you weren't convinced the blogger is an asshole...) is a shit move, there's little reason to think it's a tragedy, because there's good reason to believe--contra Jezebel et al.--that Jackie's story was false.

Monday, December 08, 2014

The "Every Little Detail" Sophistry

   Well, I'm trying to tear my mind away from this train wreck...but it's hard...
   Here's ThinkProgress deploying the "every little detail" argument, among other things. This argument is being thrown around pretty liberally by liberals these days.  
   However, so far as we can tell, the problem is not that "Jackie" got a few details wrong here and there. No one is busting on a trauma victim for getting confused about inconsequential facts. That is not the problem, and it's not even close to being the problem. The problem seems to be that "Jackie"s story was flat-out false. False in even its most general outlines.
   The "every little detail" argument is nothing more than a red herring in this context.

The Rolling Stone/UVA Rape Fiction: Maya Dusenbery Doubles Down

   Wow. This is really, really bad.
  So, in the midst of a shitstorm in which basically everyone is (wrongly) placing 100% of the blame on Rolling Stone, and in which Rolling Stone wrote one sentence that could be interpreted as kinda sorta attributing a tiny bit of responsibility to, y'know, the person who told the lie that they reported, Dusenbery writes an article about how everybody is blaming "Jackie" when Rolling Stone actually deserves every ounce of the blame despite the fact that everyone is blaming the victim here GAWD.    Though, just for the record: the "victim" was not a victim. See, that was the really big news in this case. The rape didn't happen. Ergo no victim. That's actually an important fact... It speaks volumes that that is being ignored...
   Then there's the bad philosophy... Dusenbery writes:
But, of course, the one thing that journalism refuses to question is its own ability to reveal the truth. It clings fast to its central conceit: that it has no biases of its own, and if followed correctly, its standards and conventions are enough to magically correct our cultural biases and lead us to some “objective” truth — or at least get us closer than anything else will. isn't actually true that "journalism"...if we can really attribute any quasi-mental states to it..."refuses to's own ability to reveal the truth"...and it doesn't actually "cling fast to its central conceit: that it has no biases..." Rather, it's pretty common for journalists to recognize that they probably have some biases. What they try to do is minimize those biases and get as close to the truth as is necessary with respect to a given story. But here's something to keep in mind: it's almost always the party that is wrong that starts to invoke the specter of pervasive and ineliminable bias, and starts to put "'objective' truth" in scare quotes...
   And then there's:
It’s possible that so long as journalism insists on some fiction of objectivity and refuses to really own up to its bias, the full and awful truth of sexual violence will continue to slip through its attempts to capture it.
   Again, no. Objectivity is no fiction. And those who call it into question on an ad hoc basis are typically  those who have been proven wrong. And they themselves typically would never allow such arguments to go unchallenged under different circumstances. Imagine, if you will, that after Jackie's story was first reported, someone had made arguments analogous to Dusenberry's. Vicious gang rape at UVA? Well, no need to worry! Objectivity is impossible! Why get ourselves all worked up about someone's purely subjective, biased narrative-spinning? It's just a story...just a "narrative"... Dusenbery & co. would have burst into flames at such arguments--and rightly so. Dusenbery's arguments are sophistical nonsense, a rear-guard action, a desperate ploy to provide verbal cover while she ostentatiously refuses to admit that she and her theory were wrong. It's a gruesome, embarrassing sight. It's the very dogmatism that got her and us into this mess in the first place, a dogmatism now hard at work trying to make sure that we learn no lessons from this massive cultural mistake. If science operated like that, we'd all still be geocentrists.
   The belief in objectivity simply is not the problem here.
   The problem is that "Jackie" told a lie, and the vast, vast majority of people believed it, because they have been falsely convinced that they must believe every accusation of rape, no matter how fantastic. And they've been convinced of that falsehood by people like Ms. Dusenbery. Who is now trying to put 100% of the blame on somebody else.
   Don't get me wrong; Rolling Stone deserves blame. 
   But Rolling Stone does not deserve all of the blame... Not by a long shot.
   Dusenbery quotes someone else as writing: “As a culture, we don’t seem to know how to hear stories about rape and sexual violence.” It’s possible we also live in a culture where journalism is not equipped to tell them." I suppose that's possible, but it's not relevant to the case at hand. See, there was no rape. Even now, Dusenbery and company seem incapable of admitting that, and everyone else seems hesitant to call them on it. We don't need a fancy pop sociological theory here. We are not struggling with our cultural failure to correctly "hear" a story of rape and sexual violence. We are dealing with a run-of-the mill falsehood. The story is, so far as we can currently tell, just plain false. Objectively false. Forays into sophistical never-never land, compete with casual sophomoric relativism aren't going to change that fact. We are actually dealing with a problem almost the opposite of that described by Dusenbery. We are dealing with our inability to disbelieve a patently unbelievable story about rape. It's not that objectivity is impossible, it's not that journalism is somehow, magically, incapable of reporting on rape. Those are just vaporous ploys to avoid the plain truth: Jackie, so far as we can tell, lied about the rape. Rolling Stone printed the lie. Almost everyone believed the lie. And they did so largely because people like Dusenbery told them that they had to, and browbeat them into believing that they were horrible people if they didn't. And now Dusenbery et al. are doubling down, refusing to admit error, and spinning out elaborate sophistries to avoid admitting, to themselves or anyone else, that they were (a) responsible for a lot of this and (b) wrong.
   I wonder whether they'll get away with it?  
   If I had to bet, I'd guess that they will.

[Oh...and don't miss the comments on Dusenbery's story... They exhibit a degree of disconnection from reality that makes Dusenbery herself look downright realistic...]

A Must-Read: Emily Yoffe: "The College Rape Overcorrection"

   If half of this is true, then more-or-less everything you've been told about college rape is wrong.
   This was basically the last thing I felt like reading tonight, but I couldn't put it down.

The "Narrative" "Narrative"

   "Narrative" is one of those terms that I basically banished from my vocabulary back in the early '90's. So far as I can tell, grew into a kind of bit of jargon in literary theory during the heyday of postmodernism in American lit-crit departments in the '80's and '90's, and then entered the mainstream many years later--alongside a bunch of other bad ideas and annoying terms (like "deconstruct")--somewhat later.
   I'm overly cranky about this sort of thing, admittedly. It's up to you to control for that, I guess...
   But my complaint about 'narrative' is that it intentionally blurs the line between fact and fiction. The term, so far as I can tell, became popular among the pomos specifically because they tended to be skeptical about or outright reject the distinction between factual accounts and fictional ones. Everything--science, history, and reporting as well as fiction--was just a "narrative." Just a story. (Incidentally, I think there can be good reasons for thinking about things in such ways (that is, provisionally ignoring important distinctions) to some extent and for some purposes... The error comes when people start thinking that that's the best or only or most complete or accurate way of thinking about things...)
   And, in my view, we as a culture sometimes unwittingly take on philosophical theories, sometimes by taking on certain terminology. Language does not determine thought...but it often nudges it. The theory might be watered down in the transition, but sometimes it's still lurking in there. The term narrative is, indeed, non-committal with respect to truth and falsehood, justification and confabulation. To adopt that term and apply it broadly had the predictable consequence that the distinction between fact and fiction becomes at least somewhat less important. It gets pushed to the background.
   To speak in very general terms: liberalism has been affected by this more than conservatism. A certain stew of theories and concepts from the intellectual left (postmodernism, poststructuralism, critical theory, and so on) have had quite an influence on the leftier regions of the political left, including, for example and especially, certain parts of feminism. And either directly, or via the leftier left, have had their influence on liberalism. Conservatism, of course, has it's own problems, among which are its own commitment to certain bad philosophical ideas. But this problem--bad ideas from postmodernism etc.--this is a problem that afflicts the left, not the right. (If, for example, you hear someone denouncing the idea of truth and/or reason as white and/or male, you can reliably infer that they probably aren't voting Republican...) But the term 'narrative' is a bug that seems to have crept fairly far across the political spectrum...
   I could complain more about this, but I just want to gesture at it for now.

WaPo: "Conservatives Say Rolling Stone UVA Rape Story Exposes Liberal Narrative"

   And those conservatives are largely right about this. Hard as that may be to admit, conservatives are not wrong about absolutely everything, and liberals are not right about absolutely everything.
   Though part of the problem is the "narrative" "narrative" itself...about which more grumbling anon...

"Being A Cop Showed Me How Racist And Violent The Police Are. And There's Only One Fix."

A former St. Louis cop at the Washington Post.

Eric Garner/Police Violence Protests

   Wow, we've even had some protests here, despite a somewhat conservative (though blue-trending) town and a very politically inert student body. I did not see that coming.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Carolina 108-ECU 64

Good to see Jeff Lebo back in the Dean Dome, and good to see the Heels win big. A really amazing bunch this year. Roy will keep fiddling around will lineups until ACC play... But if this team starts clicking, they could be very, very good indeed.

Julia Horowitz: Why We Believed Jackie's Rape Story

   At The CD
   Ms. Horowitz suggests that so many UVA students believed the Rolling Stone story because it "rang so true" about UVA.
   I don't think she's right though, for several reasons--one of which being that she seems to confuse thinking that the story was true with thinking that it was possible...
   I do think that Ms. Horowitz has a point worth thinking about It should give us pause that we live in a world in which we couldn't all simply dismiss Jackie's story out of hand. Although I lived in Charlottesville years?...and spent a lot of time around at and around UVA, I have no idea whether students at UVA have particularly good reason to think Jackie's story plausible. Though even gang rapes are not unheard of at UVA. It always seemed like an unnaturally safe place to me, even by the standards of universities, which are unnaturally safe places. But, with respect to rape, things are complicated, as we know.
   However, though UVA is a place in which Jackie's story--or almost any story--is possible, it isn't a place at which Jackie's story is likely. It could happen, and that's awful. But it's very unlikely to happen, and that's good. 
   But, furthermore, it wasn't just UVA students who believed the story. It was an internet phenomenon. On the sites I saw, there seemed to be near-unanimity in accepting the story. So, since it was accepted by UVA students and non-UVA students alike, and we have no reason to believe there was a difference in the rate at which the story was believed inside and outside of UVA, it's unlikely that anything about UVA explains why people believed the story.
   Also, consider the following quotes:
What does it say that we read an article in which an 18-year-old girl was pinned down, graphically violated by multiple people in a house we pass almost every day — and we thought, “That just may be right?”
“If we are being honest with ourselves, no matter if specifics of the article are true, …reading the article as a college student, you were thinking, ‘This could happen,’” said Rex Humphries, a second-year who pledged a fraternity last spring. Your first reaction is not, ‘This is preposterous.” I asked if he thought Jackie’s story could be true. He paused and said, “Yes.”
   This kind of point has caused trouble on the interwebs before (remember when a poll seemed to show that most people thought that it was possible that the Holocaust never happened? But then it turned out that they just meant logically possible, i.e. non-contradictory..?. These two people seem to be saying what almost everyone admitted, even myself and other skeptics: it was possible that the account was true. The story was possible but unlikely. These students seem to simply be agreeing with the first part, but not specifically addressing the second part. However, one doesn't tend to address the question of possibility unless one has already concluded that the relevant event isn't probable. If, say, we agree that it is probable that the GOP will retain control of the House, we don't discuss the question "is it possible that the GOP will retain control of the house?" That's what seems to be going on here. Possibility is under discussion because, post-semi-retraction, everyone...or...almost everyone, admits that the story is not true, ergo not probably true... But questions like this get thorny and confusing because nobody's really sure what senses of "possible" are in play.
   To cut the Gordian knot, I'm worried that what's going on here is that Horowitz (and others) are so committed to their conclusions that even when those conclusions are refuted, they simply cast about for ways to turn disconfirmation into confirmation. "Yes, sure we were wrong...but we were still right because we might have been right...and the fact that we were possibly right shows that we were actually right after all."
   But instead of trying to spin defeat into backhanded victory, the people who believed the story should be reflecting on the likelihood that their judgments of plausibility have been distorted when it comes to this topic. Because that's the more likely hypothesis. 
   Not: (A) it was a preposterous story. But we believed it. So it must not have been that preposterous! And that shows how right we really are!
   But: (B) It was preposterous. But you believed it. Which is at least some evidence that your judgments of what kinds of events are likely has been distorted. Perhaps by a theory that seems dedicated to promoting what one might call a rape crisis theory.
   So far, I haven't read a single person who believed the Rolling Stone story making a (B)-type argument. Instead, they seem to be trying to put all of the blame on Rolling Stone--ignoring the fact that if huge numbers of people had not believed the story, things would have been completely different. And ignoring the role that they and their theories have played in cajoling and bullying people (liberals, anyway) into believing something very close to: every rape accusation, no matter how implausible, must be believed... Which is absurd enough that we didn't need an actual case like "Jackie's" to recognize its absurdity.
   But look, the less willing you are to admit error the more likely you are to end up in error. But before you can admit error, even to yourself, you need at least consider the possibility that your theory might be in error--you must at least entertain that as a possibility... Which means, even more minimally: you must not automatically try to show that/why the fact that you were wrong means that you were actually right...
   The refusal to admit the possibility they were in error is exactly what motivated so many believers to shout down questions and accuse the questioners of misogyny--the assumption that they couldn't possibly be wrong. The belief that only a misogynist could possibly suggest they were. So...we just went through an event that gave us extremely strong evidence that rape crisis theorists are bad at telling whether or not they might be wrong--at least with respect to the topic at hand. So I suppose it should come as no surprise that they're hardly exhibiting epistemic heroism when it comes time to ask how it is that so many people thought that a very unlikely thing was likely. 

Buzzfeed: "Why I Don't Want To Hear Both Sides Of Rape Cases"

   Yeah, this is about as bad as you'd imagine. Archive.Today'd link, so don't worry about giving Buzzfeed hits.
   One of the things we get here is an argument we're seeing over and over in the Rolling Stone dead-enders: rape survivors can't be expected to remember every little detail correctly. This is, obviously, a straw man. No one I've read criticized Jackie's story because small details were a little bit wrong. The problem was that basically the whole thing was radically implausible. This "tiny details" argument is a patent straw man.

Who's To Blame? (1) A Wee Thought-Experiment

Consider the following story:
Person A tells a fairly transparent lie to person B.
Person B transmits the lie to a whole group of people, C...M
C...M believe the transparent lie, and freak out.
Person N collects some evidence and shows what should already have been obvious, that the lie is a lie.
Question: Who is to blame here? (Choose all that apply):
(a) Person A
(b) Person B
(c) Persons C...M

[This actually leaves out:
(d) Person O, who has spent the last several years browbeating C...M into believing that they should always believe every accusation no matter how implausible...]

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Rejecting The Rolling Stone Rape Story: Denialism and Victim-Smearing!

Bill Cosby

   Uh...there are now apparently 19 accusers...
   I can't really see any reason to expend cognitive energy trying to suspend judgment on this one...

Amanda Marcotte Is A Hack

What Does The Rolling Stone Rape Story Debacle Show? (1)

   It doesn't show much of anything about rape...
   But it does show something about us. Specifically, that we have become too credulous about rape accusations. The 'we' here is roughly liberals--though the effect seemed to me to extend well into the center. Of course it extends to the left--neo-PCs, "SJW"s, and the radical vanguard of feminism are obviously afflicted by this problem.
   This observation will, I expect, be met with vicious denunciations--but it's difficult to deny. We have just gone through an experience in which an extremely strong consensus came into existence almost instantaneously all across the leftosphere--an instant consensus that unquestioningly accepted a radically implausible rape accusation. I scanned the web hard in the days after the story broke, and found virtually no one--not even in comment sections--raising any doubts about the story. Even very timid suggestions that the story might be questioned were shouted down. When perfectly reasonable questions finally did start appearing, they were immediately accused of "denialism," "trutherism," "rape apologism," and, that go-to accusation of the far web left, "victim-blaming."
   Much of the web fell for an obviously false story, it fell hard, and it used shrill moral condemnation to shout down any politically incorrect questions, even the most obvious and reasonable ones.
   This is a problem.
   A big, big problem.
   It's tedious to repeatedly have to say things like: yes, many real rape victims are not believed. Yes, that is still a problem. And yes, I take it very seriously. But the solution to that problem is not the one that has been sold to liberals and centrists by the more extreme left. The solution to the problem is not to believe every accusation, no matter how implausible. That is insanity. It is a blueprint for disaster. What we have just seen is, in essence, the application of that mindless principle. We didn't need this to happen in order to see that the proposed principle was crazy. Many of us have been pointing out that it is crazy. But, of course, such suggestions were met with the litany of accusations listed above...denialism, victim-blaming, etc. etc. etc...
   There's a lot of blame to go around here. Jackie did wrong. Rolling Stone did wrong. But the neo-PCs, SJWs, extremist feminists and others that compose the ascendant extreme left deserve a large part of the blame, too. These are the people that are driving much of the current public conversation about so-called "social justice," and who are managing to persuade liberals to move beyond reasonable, liberal principles toward insane radical ones. And liberals are to blame for being dumb enough to fall for it, frankly.
   Our best evidence indicates that about 1 in 20 (though perhaps as few  as 1 in 50, or nearly as many as 1 in 10) rape accusations made to the police in the U.S. are false. That's a pretty low rate, it seems, at least in the lower parts of the range. It may very well be that there is still too much incredulity about such accusations. But one thing is certain: it is obviously false that no one should ever doubt any rape accusation. That principle is rarely stated in such a clear and straightforward way, but that is, indeed, the principle that has been pushed on us by the relevant groups. It's wrong, and many of us--well, many of you, anyway--fell for it.
   This isn't an isolated case. The problem is a rather general one. An illiberal, irrationalist left has become vocal and influential, and liberalism has been tugged in that direction. From believe every accusation to only whites can be racist  and only men can be sexist to the "rape culture" and "cultural appropriation" confusions, liberals are being sold a bill of goods by the illiberal left. And if this is not resisted, liberalism is in danger of becoming the nutty, mindless mess that conservatives have long (falsely, in my opinion) accused it of being.


   Goodby, TNR
   The New Republic is an awesome, flawed, venerable, nutty, infuriating, smart, occasionally stupid publication. It's made some amazing mistakes, but it's also gotten a lot of things really right. It helped sustain my sanity during the Bush years, though I let my subscription lapse a couple of years back. It's been going downhill since Hughes took over, and suddenly it seems to be dead in all but name: there's a mass resignation afoot after Hughes apparently decided to replace Franklin Foer with some dude from...if you can believe it...Gawker.
   TNR, you will be missed.

"What The UVA Rape Case Tells Us About A Victim Culture Gone Mad"

   Lizzie Crocker at the Daily Beast
   I wonder whether anyone will apologize for vilifying George F. Will for saying very similar things a couple of months back...
   (Man...did I just write semi-approvingly of George F. Will?  Such craziness as this acquaints a man with strange bedfellows...)

Amanda Marcotte Is Not Going To Let The Facts Get In The Way Of A Good Rape Story

   That is just painful to watch.
   I know...I's the Huffington Post...
   Next thing you know I'm going to be slumming around RedState or some shit...

Friday, December 05, 2014

Amanda Marcotte Is Going Down With The Ship

I hate to give her hits...but''s Rolling Stone's fault! It's The Washington Post's fault! How dare they prove that something false is false? And besides the Post made a slight correction to its story! And hey, here's a straw man! And another! And...and...


#IStandWithJackie: Because It Is Logically Impossible For A Rape Accusation To Be False and Irreponsible

   Well, as I predicted, many of the usual suspects are desperately looking for ways to avoid admitting error. One of the most popular ways seems to be to try to put all the blame on Rolling Stone, absolving Jackie of all wrong-doing...
   Extremism means never having to say you're sorry

"victim-advocacy culture that has gone to extremes with respect to never questioning or doubting what a victim says"

A very insightful comment at Reddit.

UVA Rape Retraction Watch: Tara Culp-Ressler, Dead-Ender

   Wow, the dark side is strong in this one...
   Culp-Ressler is not going to give up easily. Here she grudgingly admits only that "certain details" about the UVA case are "coming into dispute"...  She quotes skewed statistics about the percentage of false reports (as if that mattered for this particular case) and basically just digs in her heels and refuses to let the facts drag her where she doesn't want to go.

UVA Rape Retraction Watch: Jezebel, Anna Merlan

Anna Merlan at Jezebel:
This is really, really bad. It means, of course, that when I dismissed Richard Bradley and Robby Soave's doubts about the story and called them "idiots" for picking apart Jackie's account, I was dead fucking wrong, and for that I sincerely apologize. It means that my conviction that Sabrina Rubin Erdely had fact-checked her story in ways that were not visible to the public was also wrong. It's bad, bad, bad all around. (And, frankly, it could have been avoided, had Erdely been clearer in her disclosures about what she'd done to reach Jackie's alleged attackers and what her agreement with the girl had been. This announcement wouldn't be producing nearly the same shockwaves if those things had been clearly outlined.)
Props to Merlan for fessing up without excuses. And, speaking of being dead fucking wrong, I said that we'd see way more hemming and hawing and excuse-making before we saw any admissions of error...

I admire Merlan for making me wrong, at least about her little corner of the web.

(Sadly, I will, however, note that the comments there are a train wreck as you can see. When I checked in, exactly zero comments in any way urged reflection on the groupthink and dogmatism that led web feminism into this unforced error. Almost all of them were of the form: we're still right about everything, and this is only bad only because it will confuse people by leading them to believe that we might be wrong... But here's the deal: being proven wrong does not make you even righter...)

Rolling Stone Semi-Retracts UVA Gang Rape Story

   Here we go...
   The world is a slightly less-bad place than we thought it was...

Washington Post Investigation Refutes Rolling Stone's UVA Gang Rape Story

Well, this isn't conclusive, but it's pretty obvious what lies at the end of the trajectory we're currently on.  Here's just the first three 'graphs:
A lawyer for the University of Virginia fraternity whose members were accused of a brutal gang rape said Friday that the organization will release a statement rebutting the claims printed in a Rolling Stone article about the incident. Several of the woman’s close friends and campus sex assault awareness advocates said that they also doubt the published account. [my emphasis]
Officials close to the fraternity said that the statement will indicate that Phi Kappa Psi did not host a party on Sept. 28, 2012, the night that a university student named Jackie alleges she was invited to a date party, lured into an upstairs room and was then ambushed and gang-raped by seven men who were rushing the fraternity.
The officials also said that no members of the fraternity were employed at the university’s Aquatic Fitness Center during that time frame — a detail Jackie provided in her account to Rolling Stone and in interviews with The Washington Post — and that no member of the house matches the description detailed in the Rolling Stone account.
    Not to rub it in, but I suppose it might be worth saying up front that I doubt that the internet left will go quietly into that good night of refutation. We'll get denial that this proves anything, then insistence that this was never about Jackie's story, and probably claims to the effect that if you think it was about that it just proves something something rape culture...and so on and so forth. Refutation often simply makes dogmatic people more dogmatic. And that's what's going to happen here, before the evidence eventually becomes irrefutable. which is probably where we're headed. What we probably won't see much of is the internet left saying things like whoa, maybe we were irresponsible about this...maybe we were dogmatic...maybe we need to reflect on our rush to judgment...maybe we ought to respect rational disagreement...
   Again, it's the irrational, dogmatic behavior of the internet left that is of the most direct interest to me here. The web left exhibited extremely bad judgment in this case, and did so very dogmatically ( surprise there...), not merely insisting that they were right on the basis of evidence that was questionable at best, they, as is their wont, branded anyone with the temerity to disagree with them misogynists, rape denialists, truthers, etc. The idea, of course, is that if you refuse to toe the party line, and to do so with alacrity and zeal, you are evil.
   Of course the right is crazy too...but I'm not worried about them, largely because they're irrelevant to this story. And because I think they're too far gone. And because I don't sympathize with them much anyway. We need look no farther than Benghazigate to see the same basic M.O. from them.    What I'd like to see from the leftier parts of the web left is just the barest flicker of fallibilism, some tiny evidence that this spectacular error might have made them consider, just for a little while, that its possible for them to get things--important things--wrong. I'm hoping for some small sign of some small crack in their armor of zealotry and moral certitude. Some indication that they have at least considered the possibility that one might disagree with them without being evil. Some recognition that refutation does not simply make your case stronger.
   But I'm not going to hold my breath

(Oh and, incidentally: isn't the title of the Post story a bit odd? I can't help suspecting that they were afraid to put a more accurate title on it, e.g.: Post investigation disconfirms Rolling Stone etc. etc. They seem to be keeping themselves at at least two removes by saying it's the frat that is (merely) "rebuts" the story...)

Tara Culp-Ressler vs. "UVA Gang-Rape Truthers"

   I say this, at ThinkProgress, is worth reading.
   Culp-Ressler is not entirely fair to those questioning the Rolling Stone story (they're "truthers"), and there are a lot of flaws in her arguments. (No time to discuss them at length now--but they're pretty obvious, and I'll address them later.)
   However, she does present some evidence about campus gang rapes that ought to be considered by those skeptical of the Rolling Stone account.
   (Some of the biggest flaws in her argument include: she offers up only a straw man version of the skeptical position, and she ignores important differences between the accounts she references and the Rolling Stone story, especially with respect to the role of alcohol.)

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Michael Moynihan: Why We Must Confront Uncomfortable Questions About the UVA Rape Case

   This is well worth a read, especially for the roundup of quotes from True Believers about why questioning the Rolling Stone account is verboten.
   Don't miss e.g. our old friend Amanda Marcotte's contribution: “it’s really time for people to understand that rape denialism is like Holocaust denialism: a broad refusal to face reality.” Huhwha? Is someone out there denying that rape happens? Or is the idea that Jackie's anonymous account in Rolling Stone should be accorded the same evidential weight as the mountains of physical, photographic, and eyewitness evidence that we have for the Holocaust? (Moynihan's question, really, not mine.)
   And then there's this tidbit I'd almost forgotten about, from Catherine Comins, a dean at Vassar:
Back in the 1990s, a dean at Vassar College told Time magazine that a false accusation is not only an acceptable price to pay, but might even benefit the falsely accused: “[The wrongly accused] have a lot of pain, but it is not a pain that I would necessarily have spared them. I think it ideally initiates a process of self-exploration. ‘How do I see women?’ ‘If I didn’t violate her, could I have?’ ‘Do I have the potential to do to her what they say I did?’ Those are good questions.”
   The mind, it reels and reels and reels...
   (Some of the comments are also amazing, even by the standards of interweb comments on this topic. My favorite: the fact that none of the accused (and possibly fictional) rapists have come forward to deny that they are guilty shows that the account is true... )

The Rolling Stone UVA Rape Case: A "Reporter Would Not Be Expected To Interview" An "Alleged Mugger or Robber"

   As we've seen, Richard Bradley has pointed out that the author of the Rolling Stone article didn't interview the alleged rapists, and that this is bad journalistic practice, hence yet another reason to doubt the account.
  One response to this seems to have been first offered up by Helen Benedict:
“If a reporter were doing a story about a university accused of failing to address the mugging or robbery of a student, that reporter would not be expected to interview the alleged mugger or robber,”
   This argument was called "persuasive and important" by Katie McDonough in Salon (warning: Salon link! I try not to give that site clicks, but can't get the page properly archived), who argues that questioning the UVA case is "rape denialism." 
   However, the mugging argument is a terrible response to Bradley's journalistic objection. We don't try to interview alleged muggers because we don't have any idea who they are. If we did have some idea who had committed a mugging, then we would want him interviewed for a story on the mugging.
   But Jackie's story is not analogous to a mugging. It's analogous to something like kidnapping and torture (in fact: it's precisely kidnapping and torture)--and at least some of the perpetrators are allegedly known and can be identified. Now, if several people were accused of kidnapping and torture in the pages of a national magazine, and they could have been interviewed, but were not...well, that is, indeed, bad journalism.
  tl;dr: the mugging analogy doesn't work to deflect the journalistic objection.

Meghan Daum: The UVA Rape Rorschach Test

   Notable quote:
Rosin and Shulevitz are hardly conservatives. Neither am I. Yet questioning the story will almost certainly get us dismissed as traitors to the sisterhood. If you don't believe me, wait a few seconds for the rants from “activists” who will insist that asking rational, even obvious questions makes you a rape apologist, someone who dismisses all women's stories or won't admit that campus sexual assault is a problem.

Drum on Michael Brown, Ray Rice, and the UVA case

   Drum says, basically:
   Each of the three cases are associated with a real, important problem; but each of the three cases is far from ideal as an illustration of that problem. And he's right.
   I haven't even discussed the Ray Rice case...I'm sure I seem crazy enough with respect to the UVa case right now...but that's another case of instant neo-PC orthodoxy vs. the facts, so far as I can tell.
   Drum's post worries me, though, in that I fear that his silence might be motivated, to some extent, but the backlash he'd experience from addressing at least the Rice and UVa cases in the way they ought to be addressed. And if even Kevin Drum is being cowed by this stuff...well...that's very worrisome indeed...  But maybe he really just doesn't want to hurt the general causes, as he says.

The Rolling Stone Rape Story: Is "Something Happened" Really Some Kind Of Compromise Position?

   I've been trying to exaggerate my natural fallibilism in the case of the Rolling Stone rape story. But, to be honest, I am not merely a little skeptical about the story. If I were forced to bet, I'd put the odds that it's largely true at well below 1 in 2. I may be wrong, of course, but that's my honest opinion. Given the current climate, this is an extremely politically incorrect thing to say, but it's my honest assessment of the evidence. And yes, I realize that false reports of rape are rare. And perhaps there's some kind of regression effect I should be taking account of here...I worry about that a lot, actually...
   Many others are now expressing doubts about the insta-orthodoxy that the story must be accepted unquestioningly. And that's good.
   However, I'm a bit puzzled about one of the really common ways to question the story--in particular, the theory that "something (horrible) happened"...but probably not what was reported in Rolling Stone.
   Here's why I'm rather skeptical of that. The view is, basically, that "Jackie" was raped, but embellished the account. So the question that seems to face us is something like: is it more likely that an actual victim of rape would spin out an implausible exaggeration? Or more likely that someone just made the story up? Now, there are people who know a lot about the psychology of rape survivors. And I'm not one of them. But, speaking only as an interested layperson, it seems unlikely to me that a rape victim would exaggerate the account of what happened. I'm not sure I can come up with any reasons for that view, so it may be nothing more than a hunch. Which, of course, wouldn't be worth much...
   However, advocates of partial belief here seem to think that they're being more sensitive by suggesting that "something horrible happened..." just not what Rolling Stone reported. But to my mind, that's just not right. First, it drags considerations of sensitivity into what should be a discussion about evidence...but let that pass. More to the point: of the three possibilities (1) things happened basically just as Rolling Stone reported, (2) "Jackie" was raped, but made up a lot of what she told Rolling Stone, and (3) the story simply isn't true...  Well...I'm just not sure that (2) really is some kind of reasonable, compromise position, as opposed to the least likely of the three options.
   Again, I do recognize that I could be wrong about everything here.

Cathy Young: The UVA Rape Story: A Cautionary Tale About Suspending Skepticism

Richard Bradley: Rolling Stone Hedges Its Bets

   Analysis from an actual journalist arguing that Rolling Stone is trying to distance itself from the UVA story.
   I've also noted others trying to shift attention from "Jackie"s story to the general problem of the way UVA handles rape accusations. Also a slimy move...though that's a topic that does seem to deserve attention. Though, again, a lot of the indictment of UVA overall was based on its handling of "Jackie"s if that story is false, a significant part of that case collapses as well.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Carolina 55, Iowa 60

   Congratulations to Iowa on a good win.
   Man, the Heels have some work to do...

Jezebel's Aptly-Named Groupthink Blog: "The Campaign to Pick Apart the UVA Rape Story Is In Full Swing"

Hanna Rosin, "disingenuous shit-stirrer," and other desperate gambits

Hanna Rosin and Allison Benedikt on the Alleged UVA Gang Rape: The Missing Men

Why didn't a Rolling Stone writer talk to the alleged perpetrators of a gang rape at UVA?
   Most interesting quote, from Caitlin Flanagan, who wrote a well-known piece for the Atlantic about bad behavior at fraternities:
In all my time studying fraternity rapes for my own essay, I didn’t come across a single report of anything like this. I did find reports of women who were raped by multiple men on one night—but those always involved incapacitation, either by alcohol or a drugged drink. And I did also find accounts of violent, push-down rape of the kind in the essay—but those were always by one member, not a bunch of members. (In fact, many of that kind—now that I think about it—were committed by non-members, or by visiting former members). But a planned gang rape, without alcohol or drugs, and keyed to initiation—I have never seen a case like that. Nor have I seen penetration with a foreign object—I’ve seen plenty of that committed by brothers to pledges as hazing, but I haven’t seen it in sexual assault cases. I’m sure it’s happened, but again—as part of a ritualized gang rape ... Never anything like it.
This is basically one of the arguments I made against the plausibility of the story (not that I'd never heard of such a thing...but that it just didn't seem likely.

Questioning the UVA/Rolling Stone Rape Allegations is Verboten

   So I argued fairly early on that the Rolling Stone allegations about a gang rape at UVA were rather implausible.
   Other blogs have now expressed similar views:
   Richard Bradley
   Robby Soave at Reason
   Finding dumb posts at Jezebel is like shooting fish in a barrel...but this seems pretty bad even by their standards (Archive Today link, so no worries about giving them hits.) Turns out that it is impermissible to point out that an implausible story is implausible; doing so makes you an "idiot"...
   Bradley responds to Jezebel
   There's also:
   Judith Shulevitz at TNR
   And this:
   Bloomburg Politics
   Of course we don't know what happened. And, sadly, the story might be true--though I think it somewhat unlikely that the Rolling Stone story will turn out to be true in all its details. [Perhaps I should be more honest about this point: I do not think there is much chance at all that the story will turn out to be true in all its details.] But I'm more concerned about the bizarre nature of what we might I guess call the second-order features of the conversation: the widespread rush to accept an implausible story, the attempt to close down any attempt to think critically about the story, and use of moral outrage to enforce this ban on critical conversation. This seems like the utterest madness to me. This does not seem like some small error, nor like a close call, nor like something about which rational people ought to be disagreeing. The prevailing attitude is something like a communal insistence that the allegations be unquestioningly accepted as established fact. (I've seen many, many online comments that say almost exactly that, in fact.) It really does seem almost like mass hysteria to me.
   Not to open too many cans of worms at the same time, but it also seems to me to be not a single, isolated event. Rather, I am inclined to think that this is merely one--though rather extreme--example of the relatively extreme internet left dragging liberalism in a very bad direction.
   It goes without saying that rape is an extremely significant problem. It also goes without saying that we don't want to make the plight of rape victims worse by refusing to believe true accounts of rape. (Though it's an alarming sign of the times that these things that should go without saying have to be said in order to deflect charges of insensitivity, sexism, and so forth...) However, I don't see any way that those points entail that it is obligatory to unquestioningly accept every rape accusation, no matter how implausible, as established fact.
   In my view, the "social justice" (misnomer alert) crowd, including  feminist activists are at the vanguard of web liberalism's current headlong rush into neo-PC insanity. "Don't blame the victim of rape"--sound advice--has mutated into virulent strains of lunacy, including (as I've previously discussed) "there is nothing any woman can ever do to lower the odds of rape" and now "it is never permissible to in any way question any account of rape, no matter how implausible." This is especially mind-boggling given that our best evidence suggests that approximately 1 in 20 rape accusations made to the police is a false accusation. 1 in 20 seems like a pretty low rate of false reporting--but not low enough to justify an insistence that all reports be accepted and none be questioned. And 1 in 20 is apparently the falsehood rate when accusations are made to the police... Of course, there would be a lot less Cartesian certainty flying around if people were actually betting money, instead of simply garnering internet-liberal-moral-outrage karma...
   Unfortunately, I fear that many liberals may believe that extremism in defense of vaguely liberal causes is no vice. Some equal and opposite irrationality from the right would be met with furious derision. But many liberals seem to think that there is nothing to be lost by erring to the left--if they even believe that it's possible to err to the left...
   There is nothing magical about being a liberal. It does not provide infallible protection from error, and it doesn't absolve you of all your epistemic sins. Liberals can, believe it or not, still be wrong. Still be irrational. Still be dogmatic.
   Perhaps the liberal consensus is right, and "Jackie"s story is true in every detail... Or at least largely true. But I am fairly sure that the angry insistence that the story be accepted without question cannot be right. And to endorse an attempt to enforce a dogmatic orthodoxy that rejects critical thought is the kind of thing that leads, fairly directly, to epistemic, moral and political perdition.

[I should note that none of this applies to Jim B., who is always sane and reasonable, even though I often disagree with him.]

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Cargo: A Short Zombie Flick by Yolanda Ramke et al.

   IMHO this is a damn fine short zombie flick.
   I'm especially fond of the scene that starts at the 4:00 mark.


   I am so totally psyched about this game that...that...I can't even finish a sentence that purports to express how psyched I am!!!111 THAT'S HOW PSYCHED I AM
   Ahem. This is really just because I really like Iowa and always look forward to playing them. This is largely a holdover from the Dr. Tom era. Oh, man, those games--Davis vs. Dean--were great. 
   Everybody always said "you can't press Carolina" during the Dean era--and you kinda couldn' nobody did... Except for Iowa, who pressed everybody, all the time, and did it damn well. And since almost nobody ever did try to press Carolina, and since Iowa was so good at it--and utterly, implacably relentless about it--they won the games I remember. Awesome, awesome basketball. I think that Iowa was like the only visiting team with a winning record in the Dean Dome for quite some time...
   Anyway, though Dr. Tom and the maniacal press are of the past, I still love Iowa, and always look forward to the ACC-Big Ten challenge. The Big Ten is actually my favorite conference, and I'm basically psyched to play any of those teams.
   The Heels never really showed up for the Butler game, but then squashed UCLA, and did a good job on Florida. Bunch of great kids with great chemistry, and at least as much fun to watch as the 2012 squad.

   Alright then...Go Tar Heels! Beat the Hawkeyes!

Chris Rock: Rich People Are Very Rich; Colleges are Conservative


First point:
CR: If poor people knew how rich rich people are, there would be riots in the streets. If the average person could see theVirgin Airlines first-class lounge1, they’d go, “What? What? This is food, and it’s free, and they … what? Massage? Are you kidding me?”
Second point:
CR: I stopped playing colleges, and the reason is because they’re way too conservative.
V: In their political views?
CR: Not in their political views — not like they’re voting Republican — but in their social views and their willingness not to offend anybody. Kids raised on a culture of “We’re not going to keep score in the game because we don’t want anybody to lose.” Or just ignoring race to a fault. You can’t say “the black kid over there.” No, it’s “the guy with the red shoes.” You can’t even be offensive on your way to being inoffensive.

The GOP's Benghazi Witch Hunt

They're wrong about, well, everything.

Game Reviewer Gets Rape Threats from Boys; Contacts Their Mommies

   Via Reddit
   WTF??? Sometimes I think that a certain percentage of dudes--what? 5%? 15%--I don't know--are just a different species. Like Klingons or Morlocks or something. How does something like this even occur to someone? How is it that the thought "Hey, maybe I'll send a rape threat?" even pop into someone's head? Is it less bad that these are kids? Or worse? Again I ask: WTF?
  I see people shrug the stuff off as internet background noise... But my consciousness was formed in a pre-web world in which something on the order of a ****ing rape threat would be responded to with an ass-beating by the nearest sane person. I do realize that anonymity makes this much more difficult... And it's alarming what this internet Ring of Gyges brings out in people.
   Well, more power to Pearce. One one of four parents seems to have responded to her. Let's hope that the other three are just afraid of prosecution or exposure or something, and are punishing the hell out of their demon spawn in private.
   What the hell gets into people?

Monday, December 01, 2014


   What really happened
   Hard to say...
   I first learned about this at The Daily Nous--a site with a decided loony lefty bias. They immediately characterized it as ZOMG AN OBVIOUS RIGHT-WING SMEAR CAMPAIGN !!!111 AGAINST A VIRTUOUS GRADUATE STUDENT. Then FIRE came out on the side of the student. Now...I have fair faith in FIRE, and little faith in The Daily Nous...but I have to say, I am weakly inclined to think that there's not much of a case against Abbate here. 
   Believe me, lefty bias in the academy is a real problem. Not as big a problem as the right would have you believe...but a real problem nevertheless. (Well...or so I'm convinced... We need systematic data here, though I doubt we'll get it...)  I have no doubt that that there are many professors who will shut down any challenge to same-sex marriage and similar things with extreme prejudice... In fact, I've heard other professors regale people with tales of their heroic, in-class, anti-conservative exploits--shutting down challenges to evolution, for example. (In fact, I saw that first-hand as an undergrad...) However, honestly:
   1. I am inclined to agree that supporting an SSM ban is plausibly equivalent to supporting anti-miscegenation laws.
   2. I've also been leading class discussions in which I had to make snap decisions about what was intellectually in play and what was bigotry...and it's a fairly safe bet that I haven't always made the right call.
   3. I'm inclined to think that to err is human, and disinclined to push for crucifixion when someone makes an even vaguely reasonable call. (Thus I'm at odds with the SJWs and the very crowd that I suspect is defending Abbate. Were the tables turned, and had a grad student made a similar controversial call in favor of a conservative position, there is no doubt that The Daily Nous et al. would not be defending that person. In fact, on slip-up on the other side of the spectrum, and you're likely to be hounded out of academia...) It sounds like Abbate made an at-least-vaguely reasonable call. She may have made a mistake...and, if so, should not do it again... But even if she did, it's NBD, IMO.
   My own current view about this sort of thing is, basically: nobody died. 
   It was one conversation...Abbate got it right or got it wrong...whatever. 
   The more interesting question in my view is: is arguing against SSM such bigotry that it should be shut down in philosophy classes? Remember...philosophy classes are classes in which we discuss the possibility that recreational murder is not wrong... So...
   For the last couple of semesters (though not this semester), I have spent a week discussing SSM in my critical thinking class. Inter alia, I make the argument that the polygamy objection is under-rated, and, in fact, poses a substantial challenge to the pro-SSM position. That doesn't make me a bigot, and such a discussion is obviously not impermissible. (I shouldn't have to say this--and it's a sign of the degeneration of liberalism that I do--but: I'm pro-SSM...)
   At any rate, despite my disdain for The Daily Nous et al., and my respect for inclination is to think that the case against Abbate is weak, and that this is much ado about very little.
    Make of that what you will.

Cleveland Police Shot 12-Year-Old Tamir Rice Withing Seconds Of Arriving On The Scene

   This seems utterly insane.
   The police drove right up on the kid and, it seems, shot him more-or-less immediately. If you think a person is dangerous, it doesn't seem to make any sense to drive the car so close to him. It seems that you'd stop at a reasonable distance and use the car for cover, rather than giving him a point-blank shot at you as you exit the car. I can understand the police being surprised and alarmed...but they'd already apparently been warned that there was a (probably fake) gun involved. And, well, this was a 12-year-old... If they planned to shoot under such circumstances, then they basically planned to allow a kid's life to depend on whether or not he did something, well, childish.
   I do realize that I don't know anything about proper police procedure...but this case seems much, much clearer--and worse--to me than the Michael Brown case.
   What am I missing here?

PHILOS-L Follies: "Femininities, Masculinities, and the Posthuman"

   PHILOS-L is a listserv that sends out conference alerts of interest to philosophers. I suppose it shouldn't be too surprising that there's some pretty silly stuff mixed in there. E.g. the below, from this morning:
Femininities, Masculinities and the Posthuman
The Femininities and Masculinities Project
Saturday 2nd May - Monday 4th May 2015
Dubrovnik, Croatia
Call for Presentations:
We live in times in which what it means to be human is in a flux. Our identities, including our gender identities, are in the state of becoming and performing themselves. As illustrated in Spike Jonze's film Her (2013), technology has created a situation in which our lived, offline realities and increasingly mediated, shaped and in some cases supplanted by relationships and identities fashioned online. Body enhancements and medical innovations enable us to shape our bodies to the extent unknown before, which is exemplified, for insance, by Nicki Minaj's alleged buttocks augmentation for enhanced femininity. Yet, there is also a trend to look for our inherent nature - our human essence - in the growingly posthuman world. Consequently, the concept of the posthuman is inextricably tied to conceptions of femininity, masculinity and gendered subjects as a whole. At the same time, because this interplay between technologies and bodies takes place against a backdrop of commercial and biotechnological innovation that constantly changes the playing field, fundamental questions about what it means to be posthuman remain open to ongoing debate.
This conference seeks to generate dialogues that explore the posthuman by framing it as an opportunity for self-fashioning, performing and communicating gendered identities. We therefore invite proposals for presentations on topics such as:
Posthuman (gendered) identities:
-human, posthuman, animal
-animal/human interactions
-automata, cyborgs, monsters, aliens
-non-human non-heteronormativity
-fetishisation of the posthuman
Science, gender and the posthuman:
-the medicalization and creation of gender/sex
-guidebooks for 'real' men and women
-'the homosexual' medical and 'manageable'
-neuroscience and the gender of cells and the brain
-fashoning identities via medical discourse
The bios and posthuman:
-bio-politics and its intersection with post-humanism
-reinventing bio-politics and the bios
-objects and the re-evaluation of the human
-the decline of the anthropocentrism
Posthuman bodies:
-body enhancement
-(medical) metamorphoses
-transgression of body boundaries
-reproducing the posthuman body
-embodiment and (gender) identity
Posthuman communication and gender:
-cyberspace and changing means of communicating
-media addiction
-digitalisation of social relationships
-gendered subjects and virtual reality
-digital technologies, cyberspace, and fashioning of gender identities
   So...Niki Minaj's butt job means that "the concept of the posthuman is inextricably tied to conceptions of femininity, masculinity and gendered subjects as a whole"...  Get it?
   There are some interesting questions about "gender"...just not nearly enough of them to sustain the academic gender industry, which attempts to make bloviating about the topic into some kind of foundational enterprise, jamming it into every discussion, regardless of the topic. Though gender bears thinking about, and "posthumanity" bears thinking about, it just isn't true that "the concept of the posthuman is inextricably tied to conceptions of femininity, masculinity, and gendered subjects as a whole." That isn't true at all. It isn't close to being true. It isn't even vaguely plausible. And the claim certainly isn't supported by anything that precedes 'consequently' in that paragraph. Questions about the "posthuman" simply are not "inextricably tied to" questions about gender. Hell, they don't even seem to be tangentially related. And they will only seem to be if you're already obsessed with gender and insist on inserting discussions of it everywhere. These people remind me of the hard-core Christians of my youth. You can't say "please pass the pie" without getting a lecture on their pet obsession. Jesus in the one case, gender in the other...  
   So far as I can tell, some people just like talking about sex and similar issues...and some like talking about their personal lives...and, of course, many are committed to pushing political points about things like "non-heteronormativity"...and so they look around for topical hooks they can hang such discussions on.
   To make matters worse, in my experience anyway, people interested in these issues are not typically committed to methods of inquiry that value clarity, precision and truth. Rather, they are generally, as Peirce would say, "studying in a literary spirit". And much of this stuff is little more than quasi-poetic free-association. And quasi-poetic free-association in the service of pre-determined left-wing conclusions, to boot.
   Listen, I am probably crankier about this stuff than is warranted, so don't take my word for it. Not that you would. Again, I'm not asserting that all such things are bullshit from stem to stern. But then few things are... That's a damned low bar to clear. But this sort of thing usually--again, in my experience--has a significant tendency to be of little value...or worse...

Little Chance Of Exoneration For TX Victims Of Satanic Ritual Abuse Hysteria

   21 years in prison, and little chance they'll ever be (legally) exonerated
   I distinctly remember this mas hysteria/witch hunt sweeping the country