Dark webs

I’ve been trying to think of what to say about this New York Times articles discussing an alliance of heretics, and I’ve been struggling. I think it’s important to have people who challenge the orthodoxy, and who express views that are typically regarded as controversial, but the whole article about them just seems silly. They’re academic renegades, iconoclastic thinkers, who are the vanguard of this new intellectual dark web, all accompanied by rather odd, darkly lit pictures of these mavericks.

I guess I’m just struggling to see what all the fuss is about. A group of people with quite substantial platforms get to say controversial things. They don’t always get taken seriously, and sometimes they get quite strongly criticised. Sometimes the criticism is justified, sometimes it isn’t. Similarly, some of what they say is worth considering, some of it is not (quite a lot, in my view).

If what they were saying was widely accepted and rarely criticised, then it wouldn’t really be controversial and wouldn’t really be challenging societal norms. Surely this is all part of the process? If you really want to change how society thinks about things, it’s going to take some time, and it’s not going to be easy. Also, just because some people say things that others might not say, doesn’t suddenly make them mavericks. They could simply be wrong.

I think one of the issues I have with this whole scenario is that it seems that most who are elevated to the status of public intellectual eventually end up saying silly things about something they don’t understand very well. Some may learn from these blunders, but others seem to simply carry on, and then find reasons to criticise their critics.

My preference would be that people who regarded themselves as public intellectuals were more careful about what they say, that their critics were careful to engage with what they actually said, and that the media tried not to elevate individuals to a status that they can never really attain. Of course, this ideal can probably never really be achieved, and so the whole intellectual dark web scenario just seems like a natural consequence of the rather messy environment in which this is all taking place.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in ethics, Open Thread, Philosophy for Bloggers, Politics and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

593 Responses to Dark webs

  1. TTauriStellarBody says:

    Relatively articulate social conservatives re-branded in the most melodramatic fashion.

  2. My preference would be that people who regarded themselves as public intellectuals were more careful about what they say, that their critics were careful to engage with what they actually said, and that the media tried not to elevate individuals to a status that they can never really attain. Of course, this ideal can probably never really be achieved,

    It sounds like a modest request, actually.

    Also, just because some people say things that others might not say, doesn’t suddenly make them mavericks. They could simply be wrong.

    Is it my limited English or could a maverick also simply be wrong?

  3. Victor,

    It sounds like a modest request, actually.

    Maybe it sounds easy, but might – in reality – be more difficult than it would seem.

    Is it my limited English or could a maverick also simply be wrong?

    Yes, fair point.

  4. TTauriStellarBody says:

    Thinking on this I can see this being trouble (up to a point) for engagement on action on climate. The more that this kind of movement is seen as being socially transgressive “speakers of truth to power” and “upholders of common sense”\”free speech” (your mileage may vary to the levels of truth you may see in that) the more that other fringe psuedo intellectual rebels might coast on the back of their popularity such as climate change luke warmism.

    Another draw back to climate having been successfully dragging into the US (and increasingly anglophonic) culture wars.

  5. If the intellectual dark web is the equivalent to the science wannabees of Tallbloke’s Talkshop or WUWT, it’s not worth looking into.

  6. Willard says:

    There’s of course a much better epithet than “Dark Web Intellectual”:

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2017/05/13/freedom-fighters/

    That being said, I rather like the association between these entertainers and the place where you can buy heroin and child porn and debate which cryptocurrency is the best.

    Another advantage is that you can easily deform “Dark Web”:

  7. Steven Mosher says:

    “I think one of the issues I have with this whole scenario is that it seems that most who are elevated to the status of public intellectual eventually end up saying silly things about something they don’t understand very well. ”

    Ya some guys talk about economics, science communication, etc, when they should be back in the lab doing science.

    Once upon a time not so long ago I had a walk across campus with an award winner ( science type) and I asked him why he had not taken a public position on X. He mentioned what he called the Nobel disease. “Some guys think once you win one it gives you licence to talk about anything” It was obvious he was self aware. “You spend years trying to think of every way you could wrong, and then you end up being right about one big thing. And after that success what else is there to do, except look at other stuff? Except there’s a difference. If you are not careful you lose your self doubt. After all, you’be just been rewarded for being right about a big thing. Why shouldn’t you be right about the next thing you look at”

    not a real quote, but substantially correct.

  8. Steven Mosher says:

    “That being said, I rather like the association between these entertainers and the place where you can buy heroin and child porn and debate which cryptocurrency is the best.”

    There’s no debate, just bitcoin deniers. unless you are doing illegal stuff, then Monero.

  9. Sceptical Wombat says:

    I found this video (which has nothing to do with climate science) interesting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37ck9UPiJc8

  10. Joshua says:

    I think we should have more quotas to ensure that social conseevatives have equal representation.

    Further, we should be sure to provide them with safe spaces (and issue trigger warnings whenever possible).

  11. TTauri,

    Thinking on this I can see this being trouble (up to a point) for engagement on action on climate.

    Well, Jordan Peterson seems to be quite taken with some of what Matt Ridley writes (although, maybe I’ve interpreted this incorrectly).

  12. “My preference would be that people who regarded themselves as public intellectuals were more careful about what they say”

    Unfortunately I suspect this is at odds with the personality traits that leads someone to regard themselves as (rather than merely being) a public intellectual.

    “Nobel disease” it doesn’t take a Nobel prize, there are plenty of academics who just “go emeritus” without that level of success, all that is required is a loss of self-skepticism.

  13. Steven,

    Ya some guys talk about economics, science communication, etc, when they should be back in the lab doing science.

    I’m certainly not suggesting that people should not speak out 😉

  14. Dikran,
    Maybe it’s bit early, but what is the significance of your link?

  15. The book was apparently the source of the phrase “going emeritus” in the sense of losing your academic marbles and promulgating nutty theories. The book is mostly about the effect of languages on the way people think, but the planet of mad scientists/academics has a certain resonance for the public debate on climate ;o)

  16. Marco says:

    “Some may learn from these blunders, but others seem to simply carry on”…and yet others go completely bonkers.

    Nassim Taleb comes to mind.

  17. paulski0 says:

    Finally, a platform for wealthy white guys.

  18. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    It’s difficult not to like the completely not-contrived pictures of the members of the Rebel Alliance posing in the dark, mysterious shrubbery.

  19. Everett F Sargent says:

    You did sort of notice that this is strictly a North American pseudo-phenomenon? The rest of the world is safe from the USAnians and CAnians. For now …

  20. Eli Rabett says:

    Newly emeritus and seeking income, Eli must send a letter of application to the Dark Web Lords. Folks, it’s all grift, that’s all it ever has been and taking it seriously just plays into their hands. They are clowns

    https://thebaffler.com/salvos/the-long-con

  21. Everett F Sargent says:

    “Finally, a platform for wealthy white guys.”
    … more like …
    Finally, a platform for poor young white male trash. Kind of like TrumpTV, you can say anything and get away with proverbial murder.

    The Jordan Peterson Demographic Isn’t Going Away
    https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/04/jordan-peterson-male-democraphic-isnt-going-anywhere/
    tv

    “Rather than grousing that the wrong people are reaching out to this demographic, it would be more productive to think honestly about why the demographic exists at all.”

    They exist because it isn’t the 1950’s anymore. Although TrumpTV would like to show you reruns of Mr. Peepers …

    When did JP show up? Right around the time TrumpTV got into full swing (fall of 2016).

  22. Joshua says:

    Speaking of wealthy white guys*:

    The meritocratic class has mastered the old trick of consolidating wealth and passing privilege along at the expense of other people’s children.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/06/the-birth-of-a-new-american-aristocracy/559130/

    *Trigger warning: for smug, self-congratulatory alarmists who are so concerned about those who taint “pure data” on the relationships among race, IQ testing, social science, class, etc., with discussion of the societal context: You’d better not read that article. It prolly isn’t a safe space for you folks

  23. Joshua says:

    Just ’cause it annoys me sometimes that Judith won’t allow my critique of her advocacy to pass through her moderation…in response to her most recent post:

    Joshua | May 16, 2018 at 1:38 pm | Reply
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    The focus of my testimony is on adaptation.

    Good to see that you stayed away from anything that could conceivably be misconstrued as policy advocacy,

  24. Ragnaar says:

    The NY Times articles talks about their success, the Renegades. This thing call SJWs is grown. Over decades using methods. You are not opposed to it, and if you were you may see what it can do and ask if this thing defines you.?

    It defines me to an extent. Reserved elsewhere with my opinions, and usually empathizing with other’s opinions. Rarely do I feel need to set someone right. I still think AA is wrong and liberals don’t get economics and spend too much time hating corporations.

    The SJWs define a lot, but not me to a great extent. We have loyal soldiers though. They heard the call to arms when Trump was elected. The SJWs tripped and Trump was elected. If Clinton had been elected, they’d have sucked her in and extinguished any sensible positions she had.

    Into this steps the Renegades, and any smart capitalist would. There’s a market, starved of product. To imply the Renegades are wrong misses what it is. As proving a lukewarmer wrong likewise accomplishes nothing. We must have had 5 years of that by now.

    Returning to value. Does Jordan Peterson have value? In my opinion yes. But over half the market doesn’t see it. So the trick is not to snake oil sell Peterson, but teach. I must have spent 3 hours watching videos of him. He teaches a lot.

    The SJWs made a lot, they made Jordan Peterson famous. They’ve accomplished this and that. They’ve defined this country. How much of us remains?

  25. Joshua says:

    Ragnaar –

    I must have spent 3 hours watching videos of him. He teaches a lot.

    What did you not know before watching Jordan thst you now know after having done so?

  26. verytallguy says:

    Just ’cause it annoys me sometimes that Judith won’t allow my critique of her advocacy to pass through her moderation

    Yoda knows best in this situation.

    But beware of the dark side. Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan’s apprentice.

  27. Chris Colose says:

    Since I have been on Twitter talking about this, and probably just digging deeper holes, I’ll dig more here. Apologies for a long post:

    A few bullet points that I will then elaborate upon:
    1) IDW is indeed a silly concept, both as a name and as a conceptual grouping of its members- and as some like Alice Dreger wrote about, more “teams” is probably counter-productive to the entire point of what some of them profess to be wanting to do. I feel odd using IDW as a label, but I will below for shorthand.
    2) It is easy to find a lot of silly things that IDW members say, but also easy to find a lot of interesting or relatively uncontroversial things. Most people have no idea what any of these things are.
    3) At the same time, almost all of the critics of IDW are not serious and do not bother to address the number of interesting things they do talk about, and instead appeal to shallow psychological explanations of what is driving them (or their millions of listeners), very selective and uncharitable interpretations of things being said (or fair but unrepresentative ones), a very irrational hatred toward their popularity that would not conceivably exist if not for a few subjects they touch upon (even if they were fringe or uninteresting). Lately, there’s also been some irrelevant statements about how they aren’t actually being censored and are rising to fame and fortune status and are dominating podcast lists, etc. (in the very same conversation, you will often hear that they are upset about “losing status” ). Most of the harshest criticisms concerning their alt right status and intense bigotry could be dismissed upon casual inspection, although it is possible to find things that are off-putting but, upon deeper inspection, come from a very different angle than you might initially think.
    4) I have found the intense and disproportionate reaction to IDW to be far more interesting than IDW themselves, in particular since people who are otherwise very intelligence and nuanced (and whom I share political views with) have behaved completely irrationally and displayed utter credulity with bad criticisms of IDW.
    5) As a starting premise, I *do* think we need more “public philosophy” and big picture systems thinkers engaging in public discourse, a phenomenon that will necessarily be somewhat but not entirely removed from sharp expertise and scholarly journals. One can debate whether IDW members count as optimal participants in this model (I’ve had arguments with Peter Jacobs on Twitter about this), but I do think several of them are serious enough and sometimes have the credentials to be engaged with seriously.

    #####
    Building on point 2, IDW consists of members of very disparate political backgrounds, most of which are actually left-leaning or libertarian types (I do not believe any Trump supporters are among them – Ben Shapiro is a conservative, although I find him to be a proactive and trolly type with few interesting things to say). Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying are experts in evo and have a lot of interesting insights about evolutionary biology and try to link it is to modern social dynamics (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYJFgyqs0sM). Sam Harris is well known and talks about many things, including atheism, spirituality, morality, neuroscience, etc. (see a conversation with Weinstein https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20ku1H4VzfQ&t=2135s).

    People like Jonathan Haidt or Steven Pinker are social or clinical psychologists that also talk about a number of things, including morality, linguistics, and yes, lately things like political correctness or “The Enlightenment.” Whatever, it’s not that big of a deal, and it’s not all wrong.

    As far as I can tell, one of the few unifying themes among IDW is that they criticize a branch of left-wing politics where so-called “identity politics” has become an influential epistemological and moral framework through which to describe (and prescribe) insights and solutions toward a better society. I suspect this is why all the backlash exists, although I can’t understand why these are still so touchy subjects….like, can we grow up a bit?

    Jordan Peterson is an odd case, given the very wide-ranging conversations/dialogues on moral structures, inequality and hierarchies, Jungian psychology, religious narratives and mythology, self-improvement, ideology, etc. (for a sense of his mindset on these things, see e.g., https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74Sw1bZlsd0&t=897s or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V32WHDuy-Do). He’s had long conversations with Harris on what “truth” means: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pLQl3fG8MQ&t=2009s

    Peterson’s entire view of the world comes from thinking about ideology, first principle axioms, narrative, religion, and reading people like Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, etc. while thinking a lot about how the West differs from other social-political models such as Communism (and was influenced by the Cold War) and is thus operating with a very different structural framework than almost anyone you’d hear. He could be labeled a crank, one obsessed with liberty, ideologues, the Soviet Union, etc., but it’s just not correct to say that he is coming from an “angry white man, “far right-wing,” or bigoted angle. In fact, he has criticized far right wing ideas frequently. To the extent he is a crank, he’s wrong in more interesting ways than a usual one, but maybe I’m a crank for thinking that is more interesting than most? There is a lot that he says that is wrong, but understanding his worldview is a bit complicated (see e.g., https://www.chronicle.com/article/What-s-So-Dangerous-About/242256/#.WvnlqkGFBRs.twitter and here is a fair critique of where he he goes off into the incoherent and not-careful establishment of “rules for life” that could misguide people. https://areomagazine.com/2018/01/29/the-guru-appeal-of-jordan-peterson-in-our-post-everything-world/

    (I’ve linked to hours of video and unusually long reading content already, and I suspect no one will go through them, but there ought to be some minimum requirements for having opinions on this whole thing).

    There are good ways to critique IDW things, such as Jordan Peterson’s confused concepts on truth and religion (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwXAB6cICG0 , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMhP59FnXgw&t=523s), although rarely will you see this look like: “X said something about Y and took a half hour to arrive at conclusion A, where B, C, and D was interesting but had an error in logic 20 minutes in, and E and F are unjustified, and person Z had a better argument about…” Instead, critiques are usually pure nonsense that reflect laziness. Even Alice Dreger’s recent piece suggesting that the entire collective IDW are just spewing opinions (okay?) and trying to be provocative was incredibly disappointing, given how good she is.

    It shouldn’t be hard to be specific, nuanced, and rational with this subject. And a little bit of internal consistency in criticism would be nice (like, if your favorite climate scientist had an article written about them, would you find it odd, empowering, neutral, etc to have a portrait next to a bush). IDW is not the profound bastion of deep philosophical thought they might pretend to be, nor are they a complete waste of time, uninteresting, or as evil as we’re being told by puff pieces I keep seeing linked all over Twitter. But this has all been very confusing to me. I see a lot of ideology being expressed in the backlash.

  28. Ragnaar says:

    Joshua:

    How evolution is sort of hardwired into things. Are men and women different? I think he’d say yes and there’s a reason for it. An evolutionary reason.

    A McMaster U video showed me the shallowness and bullying demonstrated by University SJWs.

    They show some more depth to what Trump had tapped.

    They reaffirmed my confidence in Canadians.

    They emphasized what happens when a movement become unhinged.

    Yes, I am predisposed to some of this.

  29. Chris,
    Thanks for the comment. Your commentary on Twitter partly motivated this post, but I’m still trying to digest all of what you’re saying. I have actually watched a number of the videos and read some of the articles. I do find it hard to identify with those associated with the IDW and am sympathetic to the critics, but then I’m aware that I shouldn’t really be judging things on the basis of whether or not I identity with the person making the argument.

  30. Joshua says:

    Ragnaar –

    How evolution is sort of hardwired into things. Are men and women different? I think he’d say yes and there’s a reason for it. An evolutionary reason.

    So do you just take Peterson’s word for it… and thus that is how you learned (not just that they’re different, but the “reasons for it?”) ?

    How do you explain that many with expertise in that field disagree with his conclusions?

    How do you discount what he teaches for his political biases?

    For example, when he explains why women don’t get promoted asuch as men (essentially, he says because they aren’t as effective at self-promotion), how does he control for the possibility that when are explicitly sefl*promotional they are judged negatively for thst behavior, relative to how men are judged for that behavior? How does evolution explain that?

    Yes, I am predisposed to be skeptical of evolutionary just-so-storfying (especially when it lines up, ideogically, with the just-so-storyteller’s ideogical briefs).

  31. Joshua says:

    Ragnaar –

    They show some more depth to what Trump had tapped.

    I’d be curious to read what comparisons you might make between what you learned from Peterson about what Trump has tapped, to what that Atlantic article (I linked above) has to say about what Trump has tapped.

  32. Crhis,

    It shouldn’t be hard to be specific, nuanced, and rational with this subject. And a little bit of internal consistency in criticism would be nice

    I agree with this, in principle, but can’t one make the same argument with respect to those associated with the IDW. Can’t they try harder be careful as to what they say, so that it’s not as easy to criticise?

    In a sense that is what I was getting at in my post. Be wonderful if everyone behaved rationally and tried to be careful as to what they said, but they don’t (which isn’t an excuse, but an observation).

  33. Willard says:

    > they made Jordan Peterson famous.

    Freedom Fighters made JordanP famous, Ragnaar. The market for yelling at clouds is an old one. From the top of my hat I could name Thomas Sowell, Allan Bloom, H.L. Mencken, Lewis Lapham. Most of them had style and gusto, something that isn’t the darker web’s trademark. A pity, for preying on nostalgia should be easy.

    What isn’t so easy and might contend at being the hallmark of current Freedom Fighters is to portray their reactionary act as counter-revolutionary. Take your own bandwagon – luckwarmers and IDWs are winning. Finding a smaller feat may be tough – Freedom Fighters are defending an old establishment.

    That the Dark Web is fighting for freedom should be obvious:

    What Kanye West seeks is what Michael Jackson sought—liberation from the dictates of that we. In his visit with West, the rapper T.I. was stunned to find that West, despite his endorsement of [Donald], had never heard of the travel ban. “He don’t know the things that we know because he’s removed himself from society to a point where it don’t reach him,” T.I. said. West calls his struggle the right to be a “free thinker,” and he is, indeed, championing a kind of freedom—a white freedom, freedom without consequence, freedom without criticism, freedom to be proud and ignorant; freedom to profit off a people in one moment and abandon them in the next; a Stand Your Ground freedom, freedom without responsibility, without hard memory; a Monticello without slavery, a Confederate freedom, the freedom of John C. Calhoun, not the freedom of Harriet Tubman, which calls you to risk your own; not the freedom of Nat Turner, which calls you to give even more, but a conqueror’s freedom, freedom of the strong built on antipathy or indifference to the weak, the freedom of rape buttons, […]; freedom of oil and invisible wars, the freedom of suburbs drawn with red lines, the white freedom of Calabasas.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2018/05/im-not-black-im-kanye/559763/

    Nothing much can get through this fog of entitlement, except perhaps the reminder that Freedom Fighters are mere stealth advocates for the wealthy.

    I pity the fool who would rejoice in having predicted getting screwed.

  34. Willard says:

    > It shouldn’t be hard to be specific, nuanced, and rational with this subject.

    It might not be as easy as to get snark on the Internet, but it’s far from being impossible. All one needs is to look at the proper places, e.g.:

    We can start with “reason.” Pinker is an advocate of reason. As the subtitle announces, the book presents “the case for reason, science, humanism, and progress.” Pinker frequently refers to the Enlightenment as the “Age of Reason” (a rather old-fashioned label that seems to have been drawn from Will and Ariel Durant’s 1961 Story of Civilization).

    But throughout the book reason is treated as an unproblematic given, as if we all know what it is and are happy to sign up to Pinker’s version of it. Alas, reason is a notoriously slippery notion. Problematizing it and challenging its authority turns out to be one of the signal achievements of the Enlightenment. Pinker seems blissfully unaware of this.

    The most cursory sampling of just some of the key figures of the period helps establish the point. If we go back to the beginning of the scientific revolution – which Pinker routinely conflates with the Enlightenment – we find the seminal figure Francis Bacon observing that “the human intellect left to its own course is not to be trusted.” Following in his wake, leading experimentalists of the seventeenth century explicitly distinguished what they were doing from rational speculation, which they regarded as the primary source of error in the natural sciences.

    In the next century, David Hume, prominent in the Scottish Enlightenment, famously observed that “reason alone can never produce any action … Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions.” And the most celebrated work of Immanuel Kant, whom Pinker rightly regards as emblematic of the Enlightenment, is the Critique of Pure Reason. The clue is in the title.

    Reason does figure centrally in discussions of the period, but primarily as an object of critique. Establishing what it was, and its intrinsic limits, was the main game.

    http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2018/02/20/4806696.htm

    Again, style matters.

    One problem with asking for more than scorn is that it may fall for the Freedom Fighters’ bait:

  35. Ragnaar says:

    Joshua:

    I should’ve pick my words more carefully. Whether the science supports evolution as a cause for say the Father’s knows best model of society isn’t the point. He has an audience. With no more knowledge of the society/evolution question than the average person, hearing this on a youtube video is not that unusual. Similarly I could learn about global warming from a video while having average knowledge of the subject. So then I form some point of view from both videos.

    What do I know about society. Not a lot? I am a libertarian for gosh sake. And what he’s saying does align with my world view, Men are aholes. But there are many explanations and reasons for that. Especially look at poor societies. We used to be like that in the 1800s and 1900s. Yet it worked to an extent. Turned us into some successful country. Gave us wealth and free time to comment here.

    There are winners and losers in this world. We won, with all our shortcomings and injustices. Did we win from a wheelhouse of evil or of nature?

    We stand at the apex of nature. Finding ourselves as the evolutionary winners. As we killed this and that without remorse. It his our history. But now shall we claim, that’s not me. I had nothing to do with that. I renounce it.

  36. Willard says:

    > Especially look at poor societies.

    You go first, Ragnaar.

    Meanwhile, enjoy Yannis schooling a Freedom Fighter:

  37. Everett F Sargent says:

    CC,

    tl:dr

    You do know that there some who are rather old in age but still consider themselves 247 free thinkers until they die? When you get older you will understand. When I get even older I too will understand.

    Where are the 65+ IDW’s?

    I remember Michael Shermer from the teevee during his RAAM efforts …
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_Across_America
    An exercise in sleep deprivation. Stupid. I mean really stoopit.

    INTP’s are not very comparable with ‘so called’ public intellectuals. Or so I’ve been told.

  38. Chris Colose says:

    ATTP- Yes, I’d advocate for more clarity and nuance from many people, especially someone like Jordan Peterson who is remarkably clear, nuanced, and articulate on some subjects, but extremely opaque, roundabout, and sidesteppy on others (him being asked if he believes in God was painful to hear). However, I am skeptical that most of the harsh criticism of IDW comes from a frustration over them being unclear. In many cases, they are far more clear (even if they happen to be wrong) than whoever happens to be criticizing them in the moment. But I am interested in the connection between ideas and ideology (and social taboo), some of which emerged fro my interest in climate, but which also seems glaringly obvious to me on the more “left” end of the political spectrum.

    It’s interesting to observe, however, that large segments of the general population do not typically take a strong interest in being experts in the history of Enlightenment figures, in the landscape of Marxism or postmodern doctrine, the politics of the early Soviet Union, the evolution of traits that we see in human behavior, etc. I actually view the discussion of these things as a net positive, since I’m quite sure it is getting people to talk about more interesting things than anything mainstream left or right-wing political commentators have to offer in the moment, and it is not even close.

    While I appreciate Willard’s post above talking about how old philosophers like Immanuel Kant and other Enlightenment thinkers actually had a rather constrained or confused version of “reason,” 1) On closer inspection I’m not sure this is really relevant to Pinker’s argument 2) It doesn’t matter too much; in criticizing Pinker, this seems to be far more esoteric of a disagreement than one would normally expect in popular discussion, and so for many people (not necessarily the author of the article or Willard), I suspect the many citations and retweets you’ll get on Twitter to these articles are really a proxy argument/signal for something else, just like when people cite articles about Mann’s proxy work. I’m not sure what it is. Are many hundreds of people on Twitter *really* upset about the intricacies of stringing together tree ring records and statistical procedures in paleoclimate? Are countless people really upset that this cognitive psychologist out of Harvard is telling people life has been better now than, say, 400 years ago?

    I should correct myself and say that I partly understand the disproportionately strong resistance to IDW- they do talk about things that are “hot and touchy topics” in social dynamics right now, regarding inequality, gender, political correctness. But I confess to not understanding the social taboo on thinking coherently about these subjects.

  39. Everett F Sargent says:

    “I should correct myself and say that I partly understand the disproportionately strong resistance to IDW- they do talk about things that are “hot and touchy topics” in social dynamics right now, regarding inequality, gender, political correctness. But I confess to not understanding the social taboo on thinking coherently about these subjects.”

    Nope. There were no ‘so called’ “hot and touchy” topics in the 50’s or 60’s. W-H-O-O-S-H right over your own head.

    Their main problem is that they don’t appear to be thinking coherently. There are these things called writing and peer review and the scientific method, they should use those avenues of communication more so then they currently do. But it is to s-l-o-w, way too s-l-o-w, for today’s real time reality pop culture. All bones and no meat.

    What the ISW’s give us is the exact same thing that Trump gives us via Twitter.

  40. Everett F Sargent says:

    ISW’s/IDW’s close enough i guess (S would stand for Shady). I’m not in the Army anymore.

  41. Willard says:

    > 1) On closer inspection I’m not sure this is really relevant to Pinker’s argument 2) It doesn’t matter too much; […]

    StevenP wrote a book on Enlightenment, Chris, getting the concept of Reason right seems kinda crucial. It’s also crucial to his main point, which makes Reason-with-a-big-R the motor of all the progress over which he panglosses. (I say “crucial” to address your two points, which are not that different, and I say “plangloss” for the pun.) If you missed that, I suggest your closer inspection wasn’t close enough.

    That example showed that SteveP is biting more than he can chew on the very concept he’s supposed to clarify. The same could be said of JordanP. Take his interpretation of postmodernism, on which rests most of his cultural marxism crap:

    In depart­ing with the seem­ing­ly dras­ti­cal­ly dif­fer­ent approach­es of struc­tural­ism and phe­nom­e­nol­o­gy, Der­ri­da and Fou­cault left behind a total­iz­ing ide­al­ism shared by both schools of thought, which had left their adher­ents unable to explain the dif­fer­en­ti­at­ed and uneven real­i­ties of both phi­los­o­phy and his­to­ry. It is not Der­ri­da and Fou­cault who repro­duce this total­iz­ing ide­al­ism, but Peter­son. Con­trary to his self-pro­fessed rep­u­ta­tion for straight talk and hard truths, Peterson’s con­cep­tion of all the var­i­ous phe­nom­e­na of social life as expres­sions of a curi­ous­ly inter­pret­ed intel­lec­tu­al episode hap­pens to be con­sis­tent with the most spec­u­la­tive of philoso­phies: an ide­al­ism that claims ideas descend from heav­en to earth.

    https://www.viewpointmag.com/2018/01/23/postmodernism-not-take-place-jordan-petersons-12-rules-life

    The point here is quite simple – it’s not a matter of interpretation, but of basic undergraduate reading comprehension. And I’m not talking about some arcane concepts – it’s their main targets. Yet JordanP and StevenP opine on that stuff as if misleading their respective audiences did not matter. So there’s nothing genuinely “intellectual” in that Freedom Fighters farce. They’re entertainers, first and foremost.

    Imagine if Bill Nye, who plays a scientist on TV, started to say stuff about the Tyndall Effect on his Twitter feed. There’d be some pushback, ranging from reasoned response to pure scorn. Now, imagine a luckwarm ClimateBall player who’d insist that we should take his concerns Very Seriously.

    I duly submit that this thought experiment provides a better explanation than your provocative thesis.

  42. Chris Colose says:

    Willard,

    Yes, I have seen the criticisms of the criticisms of the criticisms. This is another useful framing of the issue: https://areomagazine.com/2018/02/25/enlightenment-contested/

    I actually do not like ‘Enlightenment’ as the operating word. But the salient issue here is that there was a *process* of thought revision that became prevalent on a widespread scale and that separated the “premodern” from the “modern”– one in which notions of democracy and liberty, the individual as an atomic unit of society, reason and science, etc. came to the forefront and older models of feudal states, religious authority, etc. were left behind at a systemic level- obviously this is a complex function of space and time, but the the detailed thoughts of the individual philosophers during this time (which, indeed, in many cases are not consistent with modern views of “reason”) is mostly beside the point. The argument is that this cultural shift is unique in history and is directly related to the elevation in quality of life, technological revolution, and that “reason” is the best mechanism to continue the project forward and to make society even better.

    It’s a fairly basic case to make, one that many might find too simplistic to even be interesting, but that was sort of the point. I would not defend every detail in Pinker’s argument (I suspect historians could add value) but I’m not sure why the meat of his premise is as controversial as it is.

    Ironically, the fact we are having this discussion is almost exclusively the point of what some of these people want to do.

    On the other issue, I thought the viewpointmag article was awful, but for reasons that I have to write another treatise on, and cannot now. Maybe soon…

  43. Willard says:

    Just to prove I’m not alone:

  44. Ragnaar says:

    Jordan Peterson | The Difference Between Men and Women

    Accomplishment versus feelings. He proposes that as women have raised infants, they have evolved to do that. To protect them, to say they are always right as part of that. They (women) are agreeable people and avoid conflict.

    In a competitive situation, recognizing accomplishment and to hell with feelings generally is a good strategy. We can all sit around and worry about each other’s feeling or produce something valuable.

    To trace back to how women ended up raising infants, I suppose we could blame it on a bunch of long dead men. But I’d argue that at some point they evolved to do that. Maybe it was cave women.

    When it comes to raising infants being agreeable and looking after their every need is a good thing. And societies that did that, had an advantage. If women had refused to do that and been more aggressive, their society may have failed. But as all things are, it would have still been the man’s fault. I am married.

    My reference to poor societies was an attempt to wind back the clock on ourselves. Where they may be more traditional than we are. Showing our past.

    We are adapting. But it helps to understand what the hell got us here besides men are evil and we need to hate them.

  45. Willard says:

    > Showing our past.

    Here’s how a Jungian interprets JordanP’s moment:

    The initiatory ordeals characteristic of many primal cultures, which mediate the transition of the individual from adolescence to adulthood, provide a structure for the inevitable suffering that can lead to the psychological death of the relatively undifferentiated youthful self. Out of this death emerges a more mature consciousness which, in Jungian terms, is less identified with ego. Extending this process to the collective domain, privileged white men can perhaps be considered as having constituted something like the egoic center of our cultural consciousness in modern North America and Europe. As philosopher Richard Tarnas and psychologist James Hollis (both of whom I would offer as much better Jungian alternatives to Peterson) have suggested, we may be undergoing a collective initiatory ordeal in which the adolescence of Western culture characteristic of modernity is dying and being subsumed in the emergence of a more mature, compassionate, and sustainable cultural mode. But lacking initiatory rites, the main streams of our culture do not offer a narrative container that renders intelligible the suffering which generally accompanies the transition from adolescence to adulthood, not on the level of the individual initiate, and certainly not for the culture at large. In this light, [Donald and Jordan] are not merely regressive, though they certainly are that; they’re primary manifestations of the ego’s instinct to cling to its habitual structures, to protect itself against the chaotic, unconscious forces, “the ocean of the dark things,” as Jung puts it, upon which the ego floats, and through the encounter with which the self is transformed. As Jung understood, this unconscious other has historically been constructed as the “feminine,” literalized in the oppression and othering of women by men. This oppression, of course, has caused great suffering for women, but also for men who have been taught to repress their relational, emotional, and intuitive capacities, and to project these qualities onto women, a lack of self-knowledge that causes many men to experience profound anger, sadness, and isolation, often driving them into traditional modes of patriarchal masculinity.

    https://blog.apaonline.org/2018/02/20/why-are-so-many-young-men-drawn-to-jordan-petersons-intellectual-misogyny/

    Straight from what is supposed to be the theorical underpinning of JordanP’s crusade. All these poor men, traumatized out of a sudden by all the things everybody else had to endure since the dawn of time. Either because those they dominate Made Them Do It, or because their hegemony made them suffer too. Finding the proper causality doesn’t matter much – the end result is that suffering is far from being redistributed.

    Finding good criticisms of the Dark Web is not that hard.

  46. Chris,

    However, I am skeptical that most of the harsh criticism of IDW comes from a frustration over them being unclear.

    Yes, I wasn’t really suggesting this. I was more simply suggesting that they themselves are not always as clear as they could be.

    I should correct myself and say that I partly understand the disproportionately strong resistance to IDW- they do talk about things that are “hot and touchy topics” in social dynamics right now, regarding inequality, gender, political correctness.

    Yes, which is why the manner of some of the responses seem obvious, even if the critics are not engaging as ideally as they should. It strikes me that this is similar to deficit model thinking. The idea that if only people behaved rationally, everything would progress in some sensible fashion. In a social/political environment this is often unrealistic (even if we would like it to be the case).

    But I confess to not understanding the social taboo on thinking coherently about these subjects.

    I think I understand why there is a taboo, but it would be good if we discuss these topics without the discussion degenerating.

  47. Willard says:

    > The argument is that this cultural shift is unique in history and is directly related to the elevation in quality of life, technological revolution, and that “reason” is the best mechanism to continue the project forward and to make society even better.

    The author’s point above wasn’t about the word “enlightenment,” Chris. It was about the precise “cultural shift” that you take for granted. It did not exist. It is a myth, just like conceiving reason as a mechanism. These myths serve a very specific function – it rationalizes progress and conceals that industrial revolutions come at a cost. StevenP has never been shy about his scientism:

    In this conception, science is of a piece with philosophy, reason, and Enlightenment humanism. It is distinguished by an explicit commitment to two ideals, and it is these that scientism seeks to export to the rest of intellectual life.

    https://newrepublic.com/article/114127/science-not-enemy-humanities

    Once again, SteveP butchers a philosophical conception without paying any due diligence. That alone suffices to see that he’s not exactly following the precepts he’s trying to sell. This contrasts with the Viewpoint article: whether you like it or not, the author shows that he knows what he’s talking about.

    A more appropriate term for SteveP’s project could be good ol’ positivism. Less sexy, perhaps. There’s always a trade-off.

    ***

    As for your Winegard & Winegard reference, I’m not sure you realize who these authors or whom they cite come from. If their romantic strawman rocks your boat, more power to you. Just to give you an idea of a more deleterious liberty they take:

    In this essay, we follow up on the work of other scholars who have recently cautioned about the dangers of ideological uniformity in the social sciences. We forward the paranoid egalitarian meliorist (PEM) model to help account for bias in the social sciences. Paranoid is not a pejorative term, but describes a sensitivity to perceived threats to egalitarian meliorism. We argue (1) that many social scientists are paranoid egalitarian meliorists; (2) that they are therefore very sensitive to threats to a sacred egalitarian narrative; (3) that this sensitivity may be excessive (at least in the domain of science) and may cause researchers to unfairly reject research that challenges egalitarianism; (4) that this may then lead to the marginalization of individuals who forward controversial theories and/or data; and (5) that these tendencies lead to bias in the social sciences.

    I don’t always use “paranoid,” but when I do I don’t pretend it’s not a pejorative term. More so when it’s backed up by handwaving to sacredness.

    Since you referred approvingly James A. Lindsay to Alice over the tweeter, I’m starting to feel you do have a dog in this fight. So here’s the deal – pick a topic from one Freedom Fighter of your fancy. I’ll try to find a criticism of it that I find robust. That way, we’ll be able to meet your request of finding robust criticism while sharing the workload.

  48. From the article:

    Many others in the I.D.W. were made nervous by her sudden ascendance to the limelight, seeing Ms. Owens not as a sincere intellectual but as a provocateur in the mold of Milo Yiannopoulos. For the I.D.W. to succeed, they argue, it needs to eschew those interested in violating taboo for its own sake.

    It is not clear to me how those involved in the I.D.W. can be clear that they are sincere intellectuals rather than provocateurs, I would have thought that they (like most of us) are a mixture of motivations, not all of which they are fully conscious (I know my motivations are not always as I would want them to be). Ironically “the iconoclast” is a classic intellectual stereotype, and provocation is pretty central to iconoclasm. It seems to me that banding together (and thus reinforcing the iconoclasm) is likely to encourage people to become provocateurs rather than sincere intellectuals (which requires balance). IMUO*, of course.

    * In My Uninformed Opinion.

  49. Dave_Geologist says:

    Re Emeritus disease/Emerititis

    Gosh, I haven’t read The Languages of Pao for decades. I know I did read it because I recognised the character names (Jack Vance does like his wacky character names 🙂 ).

    I was inspired to invest £2.50 in the Kindle version. Sounds pretty prescient:

    And then, inexorably the dominie would approach his Emeritus status: he would become less precise, more emotional; egocentricity would begin to triumph over the essential social accommodations; there would be outbursts of petulance, wrath, and a final megalomania—and then the Emeritus would disappear.

  50. Dave_Geologist says:

    liberals don’t get economics and spend too much time hating corporations.

    Do you actually know any liberals Ragnaar? I ask because I actually know a few and not one is like that. It’s not hard to find that caricature an right wing websites, but then they’re written by the sort of idiots who thought Pizzagate was true.

    You need to get out more. Broaden your social circle.

  51. Joshua says:

    Ragnaar –

    Was you 4:12 an answer to my questions?

  52. Ragnaar says:

    Joshua:

    The Atlantic, The top 9.9% of wealth or income story. I don’t care. The same argument applies to the United States versus Mexico or pick one of half the countries of the world. We will always find people less well off than us. If you don’t save them all, you’ve failed. I don’t want to play that game.

    How do you explain that many with expertise in that field disagree with his conclusions?

    I don’t know if he’s right. We can have a discussion of it without being vilified for having a discussion about it. Look for the parallels. I can’t believe how wrong the AGW skeptics are. They are out of bounds. Yet Trump won. But they are really, really wrong. President Trump.

    “…how does he control for the possibility that when are explicitly self*promotional they are judged negatively for that behavior, relative to how men are judged for that behavior? How does evolution explain that?”

    I had one psychology class in the 1980s. Men too evolved. How to explain the movie North Country starring a bunch of Minnesota rednecks. Sure we can be the sensitive white guy who never did that. And say Rangers are pretty stupid. And write textbooks mentioning that. Let’s throw in coal miners as well, who are about on par with Big Oil.

  53. Ragnaar says:

    “Freedom Fighters made JordanP famous, Ragnaar.”

    A thing creates its own counter-thing. Yin and Yang don’t cha know? Thesis, antithesis, synthesis. The thesis is not the one to rule them all. So we can scratch SJW > Nirvana and draw up a new map.

    The Three Little Pigs was a capitalist conspiracy. There are no brick houses. There are hungry wolves and less than three pigs as the other two could run faster.

    And the right is used to losing and has watched a lot of the David Carradine as Kung Fu. Redneck Dao is alive and well.

    Peterson has the style of a college prof. Which beats 99% of shallow SJWs striking poses in a selfie and liking a post about global warming.

  54. Willard says:

    > A thing creates its own counter-thing. Yin and Yang don’t cha know? Thesis, antithesis, synthesis.

    Freedom Fighters are more or less occupying the intellectual landscape since at least Herbert Spencer, Ragnaar:

    Spencer, who coined the phrase “survival of the fittest,” thought about natural selection on a grand scale. Conceiving selection in pre-Darwinian terms — as a ruthless process, “red in tooth and claw” — he viewed human culture and human societies as progressing through fierce competition. Provided that policymakers do not take foolish steps to protect the weak, those people and those human achievements that are fittest — most beautiful, noble, wise, creative, virtuous, and so forth — will succeed in a fierce competition, so that, over time, humanity and its accomplishments will continually improve. Late 19th-century dynastic capitalists, especially the American “robber barons,” found this vision profoundly congenial. Their contemporary successors like it for much the same reasons, just as some adolescents discover an inspiring reinforcement of their self-image in the writings of Ayn Rand .

    https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/08/the-taint-of-social-darwinism/

    As for your motto, it can be traced back to the Godfather of German idealism, which by serendipity reifies Reason like Freedom Fighters usually do:

    This revolution in Marx’s thought was misunderstood by most Marxists. Some ignored it completely, and described it as Marx “coquetting [flirting] with the Hegelian mode of expression.” This is rather like physicists rejecting Einstein because he “coquetted with the quantum mechanics mode of expression” to solve the problem of the photovoltaic effect.

    Others confused Marx’s approach with the mumbo jumbo of “thesis, antithesis, synthesis.” This is not only virtually impossible to pronounce (you try saying it five times in a row without sounding like Daffy Duck), let alone apply, but also it belongs to Fichte, not to Hegel or Marx.

    https://www.rt.com/op-ed/426249-karl-marx-capital-labor/

    Since Keen did not even bother to check that Marx’ thesis wasn’t on Hegel but on Greek economics, you might take his hawt take on Marx with a grain of salt.

  55. > Peterson has the style of a college prof. Which beats 99% of shallow SJWs

    Freedom Fighters usually don’t win on style points, Ragnaar. They’re more like UFC cage skirmishers. As far as style is concerned, my vote goes to NathanR, e.g.:

    Orwell flat-out says that anybody who evaluates the merits of socialist policies by the personal qualities of socialists themselves is an idiot. Peterson concludes that Orwell thought socialist policies was flawed because socialists themselves were bad people. I don’t think there is a way of reading Peterson other than as extremely stupid or extremely dishonest, but one can be charitable and assume he simply didn’t read the book that supposedly gave him his grand revelation about socialism.

    https://www.currentaffairs.org/2018/03/the-intellectual-we-deserve

    Seems that Massimo also liked that take-down.

    ***

    As for your “99%” number, it indicates a metric. TedN tried the same rhetorical trick yesterday:

    The concept of metric has a well-defined meaning. Counting fallacies is not a trivial matter. He should have owned his tribal figure of speech.

  56. Ragnaar says:

    Joshua:

    I’ll have my cake and eat it too. I recall Peterson said:

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

    Old white guys, but a lot of their widows too, have all the money.

    I tried to explain: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adrian_Bejan#Constructal_law to my son adding to my tailored list of things he’ll never learn about while specializing in physics.

    As physics applies everywhere, nature is in everything. And we identify rules that describe both. Then we get a Nobel prize. But it was just there for us to find. Sometimes it’s not even there, but men are aholes so you get a prize anyways.

    In order to get rid of the the Pareto distributions, we have to at least poke nature in the chest with our finger. We could tell nature it’s wrong. Unfriend nature. Suppose we find a Pareto distribution in corals. Are some corals exploiting others?

  57. Many of the thinkers categorized as IDW ( and they kinda defy categorization other than they are all popular on YouTube ) are opposed to the so called post-modernist movement.

    This is relevant to global warming.

    Remember that because postmodernism tends to reject science because of the philosophical perspective that there is no objective truth. So they’d be of dubious intellectual value to the cause.

  58. Joshua says:

    Ragnaar –

    The following strike me as a couple of quick sketch, fundamental questions/issues – which I think would need to be addressed for me to “learn” something:

    It’s awfully easy to just-so-storify evolution in ways that fit one’s ideological predispositions.

    Evolution would likely favor flexibility w/r/t any tension between agreeableness and competitiveness. As such, evolution would likely favor both men and women who are easily able to apply competitiveness and agreeableness across contexts as contexts determines which is maximally optimal. There is no particular reason to think that evolution would bestow the traits favorably for one gender w/r/t the other, and, in fact, there is probably a reason to think that evolution would disfavor a process by which those attributes are disproportionately distributed across gender boundaries.

    There are competitive (or business) contexts where agreeableness is more advantageous than competitiveness. There are community/communal/family contexts where competitiveness is more advantageous than aggreeableness. Looking at agreeableness and competitiveness as opposite ends of a spectrum is likely creating a false dichotomy.

    The differences in means of men vs. women in agreeableness and competitiveness is likely smaller than the intragroup differences. Unless the relationship of those two frames is reconciled, it is likely more projection than reality to try to explain success in a business environment to an innate competitiveness vs. agreeableness ratio of men vs. women. W/o such a quantification, how would we know whether competitive women are punished for their competitiveness (in comparison to competitive men being rewarded for competitiveness) as opposed to held back by a lack of competitiveness?

    My guess is that backward engineering social constructs from evolution is rather like explaining behavior by weighing in on nature versus nurture. These questions, IMO, are rather like Rorschack tests – which tell you more about the person interpreting the ink blot than about the reality in and of itself. They are extremely complex. Perhaps they are unresolveable. And most importantly, what it is clear the advantages of gaming agendas with these questions, ultimately, what is important, is what is to be gained in doing so?

    I absolutely agree that these issues are worthy of discussion. Hiding under plausible deniability to advance an associated agenda isn’t useful.

  59. Joshua says:

    Ragnaar –

    I don’t care.

    Interesting. I do care. I don’t really find many fundamental differences across these issues. I hvae to wonder if this is an exception, or perhaps (I think more likely) a function of framing.

    The same argument applies to the United States versus Mexico or pick one of half the countries of the world. We will always find people less well off than us. If you don’t save them all, you’ve failed. I don’t want to play that game.

    This suggests a difference in framing. I don’t get that argument, at all, from the article. I don’t think the article is saying that if you don’t save them all, you’ve failed. Not in the least.

    I don’t know if he’s right.

    Except you were describing what you learned. I have trouble putting together that you don’t know that he’s write, with saying that he taught you something – given that he steadfastly avoids uncertainty in his approach to these issues. For me, such a lack of uncertainly might be very manly, but it isn’t confidence-inspiring.

    Men too evolved. How to explain the movie North Country starring a bunch of Minnesota rednecks. Sure we can be the sensitive white guy who never did that. And say Rangers are pretty stupid. And write textbooks mentioning that. Let’s throw in coal miners as well, who are about on par with Big Oil.

    I’m not picking up what you’re putting down, there. Like I’m always asking Willard, be careful not to overestimate my comprehension abilities.

  60. Ragnaar says:

    Whomever came up with thesis, antithesis, synthesis had the right idea. My source was my Russian Studies teacher back in 11th grade. When describing systems one can get a lot of mileage out of these three words.

    Thrust, drag, resultant. Not just thrust unless you are in space. But in the solar system you always have the sun’s mass. Thrust plus gravity equals, well we hope not drifting beyond reach of recovery.

    These three terms are close to if not a universal. Try ignoring them.

    Your objective description of robber barons may not give sufficient due to Nature. It sounds to me like anti-nature. A rebellion against nature. The replacement with something better than nature. Because robber barons. It may be nature of a different kind. Where the King is overthrown in another way. By a mass assault of peasants with pitchforks. These things were not inspired by Castro or Ho Chi Minh but stolen from nature and dressed up.

    I saw an educational program where an urban monkey king had the females. The loser monkeys worked together to overthrow the monkey king. But if we can wrap it up in stuff college profs say, it could be thought of as something else. Virtuous, that sounds nice.

    Of course we can’t leave out Rand. Complaint one: Teenage boys. Complaint two: Young college people exposed to not their parents and not having to work exposed to college profs with the most vocal being men. In this food fight, one sold the most books. Yes she had a few lose screws, as we all do.

    This may sound bleak. But do not wallow in despair. Understand the system before trying to fix it.

  61. Ragnaar says:

    Joshua;

    In the: Jordan Peterson | The Difference Between Men and Women

    video, he describes a 2 X 2 matrix. Some thing like accomplishments versus agreeableness. There are some trade offs between the two but it’s not ruled out that one can be both. But the tried and true model favors accomplishments.

    “So, from the perspective of biology, it would be very surprising if human males and females did not have distinct, hardwired behavioral tendencies. As someone who is both a biologist and (I like to think) a feminist, this puts me at odds with much of traditional feminist theory.”

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2017/04/13/a-feminist-biologist-discusses-gender-differences-in-the-animal-kingdom/#6c8f33aa19b5

    The above is not a one sided screed. She also makes some of Peterson’s points.

    In the quote above, she sets up questioning feminists using science. Also Peterson’s crime.

    You discuss an optimal balance of the two traits. That’s Darwinism, with failed values ending or weakening those with bad combinations. This optimal balance is being searched for by the United States, Australia, China and Mexico. Who will win? We will not get the answer from a treatise on philosophy or epistemology.

    While we can argue what the optimal balance is, it’s another thing to make an agreed upon value be the optimal balance. Yes would could criminalize values to that are too low or high, heck a democracy can do that.

    It’s like making wind and solar at level X being the optimal balance of a grid’s energy sources. It has one, taking into account many factors. The best shot at getting close is what the libertarians say it is.

    Let’s walk through the weeds. Money is the nature(the force of nature, its laws) of capitalism. You can take, print it, waste it, you’re the government. You can deny it. You are trying force the optimal balance when money just does that on its own. Denial is fun word. I like it. Thanks Dana.

  62. Joshua says:

    Actually, that was the wrong Forbes article. I was thinking of one I read a while back but can’t find now – the theme went something like this:

    https://piie.com/publications/wp/wp16-3.pdf

    In the quote above, she sets up questioning feminists using science. Also Peterson’s crime.

    I happen to think that science exists in context. I tend to be very distrustful of those who make claims that they and their group “use science” while others in other groups corrupt science. I don’t think that making those arguments is a “crime.” I just think it is usually quite problematic – often a reflection of a general tendency towards leveraging victimization to advance an agenda.

  63. Willard says:

    > Whomever came up with thesis, antithesis, synthesis had the right idea.

    Depends how far you’re willing to stretch it, Ragnaar. If you stretch it too far, you become an idealist. If you strech it even more, you can fall for historicism:

    Hegel’s philosophy of history is perhaps the most fully developed philosophical theory of history that attempts to discover meaning or direction in history (1824a, 1824b, 1857). Hegel regards history as an intelligible process moving towards a specific condition—the realization of human freedom. “The question at issue is therefore the ultimate end of mankind, the end which the spirit sets itself in the world” (1857: 63). Hegel incorporates a deeper historicism into his philosophical theories than his predecessors or successors. He regards the relationship between “objective” history and the subjective development of the individual consciousness (“spirit”) as an intimate one; this is a central thesis in his Phenomenology of Spirit (1807). And he views it to be a central task for philosophy to comprehend its place in the unfolding of history. “History is the process whereby the spirit discovers itself and its own concept” (1857: 62). Hegel constructs world history into a narrative of stages of human freedom, from the public freedom of the polis and the citizenship of the Roman Republic, to the individual freedom of the Protestant Reformation, to the civic freedom of the modern state.

    A more mundane version of the model is indistinguishable from an old storytelling technique that scientists are rediscovering:

    Opening a book about science communication by talking about Comedy Central’s hyper-vulgar South Park is likely to lose many readers. And among these readers may be the mature scientists who most need to rethink how they communicate. But Randy Olson’s new book, Houston, We Have a Narrative: Why Science Needs Story, starts off exactly this way. Therefore, we’ll talk about his interesting insights into science communication.

    See what I just did there? And, but, therefore—ABT. Olson taps ABT as the winning formula for communicating science, but it’s not his invention; Olson writes that a documentary about the making of South Park hit him “like a bolt of lightning” and “changed [his] life.” In this documentary, South Park co-creator Trey Parker talks about how he edits South Park scripts:

    I sort of always call it the rule of replacing and‘s with either but’s or therefore… this happens, THEREFORE this happens, BUT this happens.

    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-newton/and-but-therefore-randy-o_b_8813330.html

    South Park’s creators are known Freedom Fighters, or rather South Park Republicans:

    The term has come to have two definitions, with one being neutral and the other having more negative implications.

    A socially liberal/libertarian conservative. Basically a moderate libertarian, though many New Democrats come close to this as well.

    Someone who calls themselves libertarian but supports and votes for the Republican party because having low taxes is more important than having certain freedoms. It helps if the freedoms lost don’t affect them personally. Alternatively, someone who calls themselves “libertarian” or something similar to distance themselves from the Republican party but holds positions that are nearly indistinguishable from the GOP.

    https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/South_Park_Republicans

    Here could be one way to formulate the stance:

    [Thesis] And Republicans suck.
    [Antithesis] But Liberals suck harder.
    [Synthesis] Therefore we Freedom Fighters are still gonna vote GOP.

    Compare and contrast:

    [Thesis] And Skydragons are swivel-eyed loons.
    [Antithesis] But the IPCC is alarmist.
    [Synthesis] Therefore we’re luckwarm.

    As you can see, there’s narrative power behind these stances. But science ain’t about providing narratives. It’s about understanding the world. And the first thing you need to accept when trying to do science, as per StevenP said in his scientism piece, it’s that (a) reality is complex and (b) doing science is hard. So StevenP’s scientist crap isn’t scientific history – it’s feel-good storytelling. Therefore, two things obtain: scientists can still communicate their results using the ABD method; science isn’t the place for “thesis-antithesis-synthesis” types of explanations.

    All in all, it should be easy to see many affinities between climate contrarians and Freedom Fighters from the Dark Web.

  64. TTauriStellarBody says:

    Thinking on this I cant help feeling that this “movement” is following the well worn path of Desmond Morris, Yuval Harari and John Gray in selling 1 part academic analysis and 2 parts reader bias as a deep analysis of the world for £10.99 at WH Smiths.

  65. Ragnaar says:

    Joshua:

    We are searching for the optimal value of accomplishment versus agreeableness. So is China. What if they win? Are they exploiting women. Yes. Well let them win then. We can always say, we aren’t exploiting women.

    So we have competition and evil. And preferably they are the same thing. Hitler had victories and was evil while competing. And the answer delivered by Roosevelt was to make Rosy rivet. Rosy didn’t get to fly a Mustang into combat and was much too agreeable.

    Now our way of dealing with him was to compete. It may have been agreeable would have worked better. Especially when you consider the path that we went down. It was competition that is has rarely been seen. Many considered it the correct response.

    We spun up competition to such a high level and sprayed it at Germany and Japan. It is our history. And it involves a trait of nature. Protecting one’s pack.

    During that time, we first tried agreeable. And limited ourselves to mostly supplying England and the Russians. While the engines of competition started turning. During this period of our agreeableness, I suppose a few countries suffered. Then Japan missteped and attacked our pack. We might say, our agreeableness was exploited for a number a years.

  66. Willard says:

    > Thinking on this I cant help feeling that this “movement” is following the well worn path of Desmond Morris, Yuval Harari and John Gray in selling 1 part academic analysis and 2 parts reader bias as a deep analysis of the world for £10.99 at WH Smiths.

    Thanks for the pointers, TT:

    If Pinker and Harari debated each other, I’ve no doubt that Pinker would win. Because Harari argues like a self-doubting intellectual, whilst Pinker argues like a ruthless debate club president. His certainty is at times annoying, as is his preachy style. You want an argument but feel like you’re getting a sermon. I doubt that he’s actually an ideologue (in real life); but he sure does write like one. Be that as it may, I suspect that these men agree on most matters and want the same things of the future. If Pinker paints a rosy picture of human progress and its achievements in the hope that both will continue, Harari sketches a dystopian future in the hopes that doing so will prevent it. Like all prophets, he prophesies to prevent the prophecy, not to predict it.

    http://quillette.com/2018/03/18/wizard-prophet-steven-pinker-yuval-noah-harari/

  67. Willard says:

    > Remember that because postmodernism tends to reject science because of the philosophical perspective that there is no objective truth.

    Remember that postmodernism isn’t a movement, and that Teddie falls for Freedom Fighters’ caricature of it. Postmodernism is about, wait for it, modernity, not truth per se. It’s quite possible to be critical of the ideals of modernity while holding an objective conception of truth. It’s also quite possible to endorse (some of) these ideals and reject an objective conception of truth. For the latter, JordanP would be a case in point:

    So Jordan’s rambling boils down to this:

    (1) The truth of a statement or process can only be adjudicated with regards to its efficiency in attaining its aim.

    (2) Any goal directed action has an internal ethic embedded in it.

    (3) If what you do works, then it’s true enough.

    (4) The proposition that the universe is best conceptualized as subatomic particles maybe true enough to generate a hydrogen bomb but could lack pragmatism (and thus be wrong in some Darwinian sense) if it led to the demise or our specie.

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2017/11/04/jordan-peterson-speaks-the-truth/#comment-105811

    This transcendental conception of truth isn’t objective in the usual sense of the word, i.e. independent from our own cognitive apparatus.

    For a portable POMO, see:

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2017/09/10/portable-pomo/

  68. Ragnaar says:

    Joshua:
    Why Women Make Different Leaders Than Men

    Okay, it may work out as she says. And the better product will include more female decision making. Things are changing and evolving. Probably more so in the United States.

    And we’ll be able to measure that success by counting money. Where are we on this changing in regards to women curve? Ahead of or behind Europe?

  69. Steven Mosher says:

    “Whomever came up with thesis, antithesis, synthesis had the right idea. ”

    Some people misuderstand this and think the synthesis is BETWEEN two camps.
    It’s not. Its not an average of the two camps.
    It stands above and subsumes.

    So this

    :[Thesis] And Republicans suck.
    [Antithesis] But Liberals suck harder.
    [Synthesis] Therefore we Freedom Fighters are still gonna vote GOP.

    is NOT aufheben

    A good example is Einstein & Newton: Einstein sublates newton.

    Lots of folks dont get Hegel

  70. Willard says:

    > Its not an average of the two camp

    Neither is voting ROP.

    In any event:

    Hegel never used the term himself. It originated with Johann Fichte.

    […]

    According to Walter Kaufmann (1966), although the triad is often thought to form part of an analysis of historical and philosophical progress called the Hegelian dialectic, the assumption is erroneous:

    […]

    Gustav E. Mueller (1958) concurs that Hegel was not a proponent of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, and clarifies what the concept of dialectic might have meant in Hegel’s thought.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thesis,_antithesis,_synthesis#History_of_the_idea

    ***

    > Lots of folks dont get Hegel

    Yvon Gauthier interprets Hegel’s idea of a dialectics in terms of dynamic logic. Not sure he succeeds. Him neither. Definitely not the same idea as Fichte’s.

  71. Steven Mosher says:

    yes hegel never used the term… hence the original German— Auf heben
    normal translation is Sublation

    meaning ( auf is a separable pre fix ) Lift Up. So physically if you raise something up,
    like move a book from a lower place to a higher place, it can also mean to store away
    or preserve

    So applied to ideas you are lifting an idea or original thesis to a higher place. As applied to ideas, the orginal thesis and antithesis are preserved or still “present” in some way in the sublation.

    Hmm Master Slave Dialectic might be a good example and most pertinent to the discussion of freedom

  72. Steven Mosher says:

    “Remember that postmodernism isn’t a movement, and that Teddie falls for Freedom Fighters’ caricature of it. Postmodernism is about, wait for it, modernity, not truth per se.”

    Yup.

    One ( overly simplistic way ) to view the intellectual history is that.

    A) the Enlightment starts with the death of tradition ( church and monarch) as the foundation
    of things. and a search for a replacement authorities — broadly “humanism” with several varities:
    theistic ( personal relation with god), Reason, or science. When the church and the monarch
    die, that launches a search for a replacement authority some englightenment thinkers hang
    on to theism ( see des cartes) some suggest Reason, and some follow science/empiricism as an authority.

    B) Modernism ( say starting with Neitzsche ) is going to be attacks on all those substitute
    authorities.. neitzsche with the death of God, Freud with idea that our actions are governed
    by our unconscious thought rather than concious reasoning, and ( this is harder) perhaps Quine on Empiricsim ( hmm maybe willard can offer some precursers ) Godel on Math.

    C) Post modernism. Ya we get the modernist attacks on the enlightenment. What happens next?
    For some post modernist tactics you are simply showing how a modernist response to the englightenment really reinscribes the englightment, so its just modernism done better.
    hmm the best way to describe POMO is that it problematizes. Willard had a great quote somewhere

  73. Dave_Geologist says:

    Remember that because postmodernism tends to reject science because of the philosophical perspective that there is no objective truth. So they’d be of dubious intellectual value to the cause.

    Eddie, you have to get your head round the reality that the world is made up of more than two sides. Not just yours and everyone you disagree with. Lumping post-modernists, scientists, AGW-non-deniers, librulz and I presume commies and socialists together into one homogeneous group is just plain dumb.

    In fact, you have more in common with postmodernists (those I have read – Willard will tell me they’re not all like that or I’ve misunderstood 🙂 ) than the average scientist does. For example, you both reject reality and evidence when it comes to scientific truths you don’t like. You think your opinion is worth the same as that of specialists with decades in the field. So do philosophy, lit-crit or sociology background post-modernists when they venture into relativity or quantum physics (I’m referring here to the stuff Sokal took the mickey out of, not history or philosophy of science). And the IDWs and their acolytes are masters and mistresses of fake news and false beliefs. Look at Ragnaar: judging by his posts, he live in a fantasy world of imaginary enemies with imaginary designs on his real and imaginary freedoms. There are a few people out their who actually hold the caricatured beliefs he assigns to “liberals”, but they’re a tiny number of cranks hardly anyone listens to.

    Are you familiar with l’affaire Sokal? He’s a Marxist physicist, and admits to no common ground with post-modernists. Explain that.

  74. Dave_Geologist says:

    “As someone who is both a biologist and (I like to think) a feminist, this puts me at odds with much of traditional feminist theory”
    From Jordan Peterson’s Wiki:

    Jordan Bernt Peterson (born June 12, 1962) is a Canadian clinical psychologist, public intellectual, and professor of psychology at the University of Toronto.

    So, not a biologist then. But maybe he started out as a biologist? Or as an M.D with undergraduate biology training? Nope, political science and English literature. But as you’d expect from a psychologist, he does have sufficient understanding of audience psychology to play the argument-from-authority card. And a low enough opinion of his target audience to think he can get away with it. Interesting.

    I do wonder about the feminist claim too. His Wiki page has only one mention of feminism, and that’s in the context of Peterson critiquing it. Is he a feminist in the same way a certain political scientist is an Honest Broker. and a certain hurricane expert Not An Advocate?

  75. Dave_Geologist says:

    Ragnaar, in my experience when someone says “That’s Darwinism” in a societal discussion, several corollaries automatically follow (think of it as Darwin’s version of Godwin’s Law).

    1) The writer has never read “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life”. Or, more appropriately in this case, “The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex”. “The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals” may also be appropriate.

    2) As a corollary, the writer hasn’t a clue about Darwin or his ideas. In a Darwin exam, he’d score a negative mark out of ten, because the falsehoods and misconceptions he carries around exceed the sum of his knowledge on the subject.

    3) As a further corollary, he knows even less about the modern evolutionary synthesis. Even if you’ve read Darwin (I recommend it: he’s surprisingly readable and probably didn’t say what you think he said), he’s of most interest for the historical perspective. He wrote 150 years ago and Science Moves On.

  76. Dave_Geologist says:

    Like all prophets, he prophesies to prevent the prophecy, not to predict it.

    Unless you’re Paul Atreides of course, in which case you feel bound to act out the prophesy, even though you know it will lead to your own blindness and death or exile, and to catastrophic interplanetary wars and massacres.

  77. Marco says:

    Dave, that quote regarding biologist and feminist didn’t come from Jordan Peterson.

  78. Yes, that quote seems to be from this article and seems to be from someone called Suzanne Sadedin.

  79. Dave_Geologist says:

    OK, my mistake. Thanks for pointing it out Marco.

    Feel free to snip that comment, ATTP or Willard. Or leave it up as evidence of my error.

  80. Having read the article and watched the video “She also makes some of Peterson’s points.” seems a somewhat nuanced account! ;o)

    The interesting aspect for me was the contrast between argument by evidence and by anecdote (although it was made clear it was an hypothesis).

  81. Willard says:

    > Are you familiar with l’affaire Sokal? He’s a Marxist physicist, and admits to no common ground with post-modernists. Explain that.

    Easy. He strawmans it. To see how, looking at how Freedom Fighters portray it may help. Take Bo & Ben’s crap:

    In this article, we will accept Pinker’s broad description of the Enlightenment, which Kant best articulated in a single sentence: Enlightenment “…is the freedom to make public use of one’s reason at every point.”

    This characterization is enlightening.

    First, it comes from ImmanuelK, whom is supposed to be the end point of modernity. This bypasses all historical difficulties of tracing back how came to be crystalized into a very specific text ideas expressed through by a variety of competing thinkers across very far apart from one another, both in time and space. This abstracts the conceptual analysis required to establish a unity of method, of attitude, and of thought.

    Second, it is moot at best. The second part is circular: explaining reason by the freedom to make public use of it at every point doesn’t tell us what reason is. The first part is unclear: what does using one’s reason “at every point” even mean? The only certain thing is that Bo & Ben appreciate the emphasis on freedom, which they interpret as individual freedom. They kinda forgot the very fat caveat at the end:

    But only the man who is himself enlightened, who is not afraid of shadows, and who commands at the same time a well disciplined and numerous army as guarantor of public peace–only he can say what [the sovereign of] a free state cannot dare to say: “Argue as much as you like, and about what you like, but obey!”. Thus we observe here as elsewhere in human affairs, in which almost everything is paradoxical, a surprising and unexpected course of events: a large degree of civic freedom appears to be of advantage to the intellectual freedom of the people, yet at the same time it establishes insurmountable barriers. A lesser degree of civic freedom, however, creates room to let that free spirit expand to the limits of its capacity Nature, then, has carefully cultivated the seed within the hard core–namely the urge for and the vocation of free thought. And this free thought gradually reacts back on the modes of thought of the people, and men become more and more capable of acting in freedom. At last free thought acts even on the fundamentals of government and the state finds it agreeable to treat man, who is now more than a machine, in accord with his dignity.

    http://www.columbia.edu/acis/ets/CCREAD/etscc/kant.html

    The only man who is absolutely enlightened in that model is the Enlightened King. It would be hard for the bootstrapping of the enlightenment to obtain without one. No wonder authoritarians like that. Yet this is not a prescription for anarchy – for every other individuals, freedom of thought still needs to submit to the rule of law. Social conventions are also required for freedom of thought to obtain.

    Third, it doesn’t really capture the main idea, which is the famous Sapere Aude. I’ll return to that later. My time is up for now.

  82. Ragnaar says:

    “Hegel’s philosophy of history is perhaps the most fully developed philosophical theory of history that attempts to discover meaning or direction in history.”

    So we have story telling as better communication. Tell a story. I often do that. My client has a sucky story. I tell them a story, preferably involving me. Contrast to, here are the numbers, pay what you owe. Reevaluate your life. You did X and Y, therefore pay a lot of money.

    Hegel was smart. The goal or what we are evolving to is certainly subject to interpretation. A libertarian will put their own spin on it, and Greenpeace another. We settled the United States. The rules that emerged were, own guns, invent stuff like wheels, pray to God. Hang bad people. And because we followed those rules, here we are, as we are. We did not randomly turn out to live as hunter gatherers. If we had, we would be Canadians by now and care about some wedding.

    I know a bit of what South Park is. I’ve missed whatever I might have learned from the show. So the South Park Republicans sounds like the libertarian story. No one wants us. We smoke too much pot. We want private roads. Open borders too. But this is Okay. Can’t spend my whole life fighting the man. You or somebody does describe the political middle. We aren’t monsters. We exist in some banished place where there be dragons. In the middle of a barbell distribution. Neither yin or yang but a lot of high school boys. Some of us have doing this for awhile. Immune to all criticism by now. Kind of like being the United States. Everybody hates us. After awhile you don’t care. But the transition zone between yin and yang, that was the recent election.

    Your first 3 parter above:
    That Republicans suck yes is the boring shallow status quo and when spoken by youth puts me to sleep and has me wondering what’s wrong with this country?
    The anti-thesis is the liberals overplaying their hand and stepping on the gas as beating up on Republicans is fun and seems to work. And they’re so stupid we can say just about anything and get 100s of thousands of likes.
    The synthesis is not Freedom Fighters. The aren’t that many of them and they just happened to be located in the middle void along with a bunch of dope smoking libertarians who actually may have no more intelligence than weasel figuring where the food is.

    It is the two wings create the void by being the two wings or ends of a barbell distribution. The middle void must exist. Nature whispered in my ear and told me so. Middle void denial as a long history with the occasional challenger. Okay it might exist, but you just stole the voters that would have voted for Gore so Bush won. So it does exist but it shouldn’t because Nader made Gore lose. Plus they smoke too much pot.

    So the thesis is the 2 party system and much is done to screw down the anti-thesis of the middle so it doesn’t combine with the thesis and give us a new synthesis. But when it happens anyways, people lose their minds about what nature does.

    It’s been a quite interesting discussion Willard.

  83. Willard says:

    > The middle void must exist.

    It exists more and more:

    Source: http://www.people-press.org/2014/06/12/political-polarization-in-the-american-public/

    ***

    > We aren’t monsters.

    At least Freedom Fighters are people, not just animals:

    Speaking at the White House press briefing on Thursday afternoon, Sanders said: “I don’t think the term [teh Donald] used is strong enough.” She added: “Frankly I think the term animal doesn’t go far enough and I think the president should continue to use his platform and everything he can do under the law to stop these types of horrible, horrible, disgusting people.”

    At the meeting about sanctuary cities on Wednesday, [teh Donald] said of members of the gang: “You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals. And we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/may/17/trump-animals-ms-13-sarah-sanders-white-house-response

  84. Ragnaar says:

    “Some people misunderstand this and think the synthesis is BETWEEN two camps.
    It’s not. Its not an average of the two camps.”

    And why our politics seems less than satisfactory. It is the average of the two parties when we want something better. The better banishes the alternatives to the extent it is more powerful.

    The way to maintain the synthesis is to feed it a weak anti-thesis. The skeptics have mostly fed weak anti-thesis (whatever the plural is) to the thesis. The thesis must meet a worthy challenger to lose to it.

    SkS devotes itself to proving the anti-thesis (whatever the plural is) are weak. At some level of arguing as they do, you may violate the rules of nature. If you get carried away.

    When arguing against Curry while many Republicans support her, the theme is often weak anti-thesis. GCMs are strong. LC18 is weak. Who said so? Anti-thesis judgers.

    But no matter what the judgers say, the 3 part flow chart discussed, will win.

  85. Ragnaar says:

    “Remember that because postmodernism tends to reject science because of the philosophical perspective that there is no objective truth. So they’d be of dubious intellectual value to the cause.”

    I like it.

    Do you mean to say that after we’ve thrown tons of science at the issue, our reliable allies are a bunch of people whose motivation is how they feel about the climate? They certainly can’t understand what the hell’s going on.

    Now to continue to reach people that feel before they feel something else. I don’t want to do that. I am better at shoveling science onto skeptics. But we need the feelers. Put someone on that will you?

  86. Willard says:

  87. BBD says:

    SkS devotes itself to proving the anti-thesis (whatever the plural is) are weak. At some level of arguing as they do, you may violate the rules of nature. If you get carried away.

    Can I haz an example of SkS getting carried away and violating the rules of nature?

  88. Willard says:

    Psychologists say the darnednest things:

    That profile pic looks vaguely familiar.

  89. Joshua says:

  90. Ragnaar says:

    Enforced monogamy:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/world/too-many-men/?utm_term=.797f0f7c86a6

    He was addressing a nut job that may by described as having problems dealing with the world as it is.

    And say 98% of people rule this solution out. Even though recommended monogamy occurred not too long ago. And is still recommended by some.

    Now we really think he wants monogamy police or is he saying, look at where we are compared to where we used to be?

    “My favorite part is the deliberate attempt to ignore the anthropological meaning of “enforced monogamy” (meaning non-genetically conditioned monogamy, i.e. socially-promoted monogamy) instead substituting “government-enforced monogamy” for the meaning.” – Ben Shapiro

    And what we have I am going to say is outrage according to Google, but not a discussion. We don’t care about the violence the question related to, we care that Peterson must go. Regulated to an ash heap would work.

  91. Willard says:

    Since you like BenS point, Ragnaar, perhaps you may help since he hasn’t responded:

  92. Ragnaar says:

    “Can I haz an example of SkS getting carried away and violating the rules of nature?”

    I don’t have any. I was arguing for the strength and universalness of: Thesis, anti-thesis, synthesis. As being part of nature as evolution is. I was pointing out what their role appears to be to me. A thesis defender. And I get a zeal vibe from them.

    Here’s an example of a failed thesis or one that met a powerful anti-thesis. Father Knows Best. Hard to find a lot of that still around. But it had/has its defenders.

  93. Joshua says:

    I’m just now realizing that I just don’t really get the full impact of what Peterson says unless I read a transcript. Watching a video just doesn’t cut it. Reading a transcript gives you enough time to really study it and appreciate his brilliance.

    “It makes sense that a witch lives in a swamp. Yeah,” he says. “Why?”

    It’s a hard one.

    “Right. That’s right. You don’t know. It’s because those things hang together at a very deep level. Right. Yeah. And it makes sense that an old king lives in a desiccated tower.”

    But witches don’t exist, and they don’t live in swamps, I say.

    Yeah, they do. They do exist. They just don’t exist the way you think they exist. They certainly exist. You may say well dragons don’t exist. It’s, like, yes they do — the category predator and the category dragon are the same category. It absolutely exists. It’s a superordinate category. It exists absolutely more than anything else. In fact, it really exists. What exists is not obvious. You say, ‘Well, there’s no such thing as witches.’ Yeah, I know what you mean, but that isn’t what you think when you go see a movie about them. You can’t help but fall into these categories. There’s no escape from them.”

    Good god, that’s spectacular. So deep and so profound. I learned so much!

  94. Joshua says:

    Reading that article….. and thinking about Peterson’s popularity….

    Oy.

  95. Dave_Geologist says:

    But witches don’t exist, and they don’t live in swamps, I say.

    Yeah, they do. They do exist. They just don’t exist the way you think they exist. They certainly exist. You may say well dragons don’t exist. It’s, like, yes they do — the category predator and the category dragon are the same category. It absolutely exists.

    Ahhh… how sweet. Jordan P is a closet post-modernist 🙂 . All you need to do is to swap in the word “signifier”. (Cue corrective education from Willard 😉 ).

  96. Joshua says:

    Dave.

    It hangs together.

    At a very deep level, doncha know.

  97. Joshua says:

    I’ve posted this before, but just to prove that Sam does have some usefullness:

  98. Willard says:

    > ll you need to do is to swap in the word “signifier”.

    “Signifier” (or signifiant) comes from Ferdinand de Saussure, a Swiss guy who wrote a book in 1916 that presents language as a formal system. He’s usually revered among structuralists. One of the earlier works associated with postmodernism is JacquesD’s Grammatology, which is a critique of linguistic structuralism.

    Just like science, philosophy is both complex and hard to do.

  99. Ragnaar says:

    “Teh Scholar gives me studies on frogs, drosophilia, and mites.”

    Some birds.

    Upon further reflection, I am married. The married people, please report back on you spouses opinion of enforced monogamy. The theory of liberation is nice. In practice, well.

  100. Chris Colose says:

    I thought the thread would fade away but now that another robotic piece has come out profiling Peterson, it’s worth dissecting Ben Shapiro’s point, along with other things in the article.

    A few points:

    1) Jordan speaks with, ironically, a rather postmodern structure. His language is often in the “not even wrong” category, it is unfalsifiable in principle, obfuscates, and is usually unclear. We do not need appeals to chaos dragons and elves and witches and the like.
    2) Still, anyone who thinks JP thinks dragons exist is not interested in an honest or nuanced conversation about the mindset he is operating with (it really doesn’t matter for now if it makes sense). They can either choose to ignore him or engage deeply with the mythology and psychology that he trying to make contact with, but they shouldn’t half *** it. Personally, I have no interest in chaos dragons and choose to ignore this entire foundation of his messaging.

    3) Anyone who has done their homework and the extra credit should probably agree with Ben’s interpretation of what he suggests Jordan meant concerning monogamy (again, I am focused on intent here and not the validity of it). Unfortunately, Jordan was probably unclear and we are left with the incomplete context of the quote, from the author, whom I don’t think wrote this piece in an ethical way and obviously injected her own worldview into the interpretation. That is fine, but it is causing me to re-think my position on the role of journalist subjectivity in these sorts of articles (I was reminded of a conversation Gavin had on this recently https://twitter.com/ClimateOfGavin/status/990993568855707651).

    However, Jordan is almost always trying to think about problems from a systems perspective, the game theory of any particular proposal and whether that is stable across time and space, evolutionary mechanisms, and millions-of-year old principles of social structures. This is why he talks about lobsters, primitive organisms, etc. as well as author sell lists and platinum record sellers and scientific publications in the context of hierarchies, e.g., see his answer to this question (1:42:49, please, it’s just a few minutes! https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=qT_YSPxxFJk&feature=youtu.be&t=6167 where he talks about his timescale for biological thinking, and btw expresses disagreement with the emphasis on Enlightenment in the context of modern value structures). He’s obviously not interested in the government taking over mating choices or whether monogamy/polygamy is the fashionable social choice of the time. He’s interested in the emergence of these structures.

    Again, *you have the ability* to say that this is a sub-optimal lens to see the world through, or that he is arriving at incorrect conclusions through that lens, or you can ignore him altogether. But *you do not have the ability* to say that he is trying to look at the the world through a 2018-popular lens focused on male entitlement or women giving up their bodies for the good of the state, and then use his statements as evidence of his badness. That just not in the cards if you are trying to proceed honestly. It just isn’t.

    4) I realize the timing of Jordan’s statements relative to the political landscape. Again, my position is that it is completely reasonable to examine current norms and the evolution of phenomena around sex, dating, marriage, relationships, etc. in western society. and others.

    As to whether Jordan is correct from *his* perspective, no idea… I’m not an expert, and I suspect most of Twitter is not either, but for an anthropological citation, I have seen this linked and discussed e.g., http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/367/1589/657.short

    Now, *to be clear,* it is also perfectly valid to look at this entire problem from a modern lens focused on equity, issues of male entitlement, consent, mutual partner agency, female empowerment and choice, violence as being a product of the perpetrator and not the fault of his environment, etc. THESE ARE NOT WRONG. In fact, the emphasis on these is not just valuable, but perfectly in line with advancing a universal liberal and a just ethic. These discussions are almost certainly beneficial not just for the individual but for the state.

    But it is not the lens some people are trying to think about the problem of e.g., male violence across cultures. Yes, I get it, the science may be brutal and difficult to grapple with. It’s not a justification, it’s an attempt at observation operating under a premise structure that humans are also animals (no, not in the Trump sense of the term) with millions of years of evolutionary dynamics with which we ought to consider when also thinking about robust liberal values. Bret Weinstein’s podcast (that I linked to above) with Heather Heying argues we need to confront rather than censor these perspectives, not for justifications, but so that we can use reason and liberal values to confront them and dampen the worst of the consequences.

    Frankly, this should not be controversial. And, yes, this is what people mean when they say narratives are being controlled by people who may have great intentions.

    5) For anyone who has spent 20 minutes on this whole IDW thing. Since it’s silly.

    I know I’m in the minority position here, but I’m not defending everything or even most things they argue. I’m arguing they have value and that you may not know anything about the angles they are approaching these problems from, or even that those angles existed, unless you spend a lot of time thinking about it. You *may* be surprised to pick up just one “big picture” topic and approach it from a new conceptual model, which in itself might be worth wading through the weeds of chaos dragons.

    I hope to at least convince the agnostics on that. And also, why these superficial “Peterson is just appealing to struggling dudebros” hot takes are not just wrong, but intellectually dishonest and so far on a different planet from what serious people are talking about. It’s also a communication issue- a neutral person talking about ‘incels’ from an evolutionary perspective can sound a lot like a really bad person from the typical 2018 set of perspectives people start from.

    6) Since I still have everyone here, perhaps treat yourself to Jordan arguing against right wing philosophy in a way that I find concise and compelling https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=qT_YSPxxFJk&feature=youtu.be&t=6167 (1:15:25). Can we all agree on this answer?

  101. Dave_Geologist says:

    I did look up the de Saussure reference Willard, and noted the reference to semiotics. I was thinking of papers where it appeared to be used more as a buzz-word or as a way of signifying your membership of the club. Or, per Humpty-Dumpty, as an excuse for making words mean whatever we want them to mean. We disagree about how common that is in the literature 🙂 .

  102. Joshua says:

    Chris –

    Still, anyone who thinks JP thinks dragons exist is not interested in an honest or nuanced conversation about the mindset he is operating with.

    I don’t think it’s particularly important as to whether Peterson think that dragons exist. What matters, IMO, is that he (IMO) sells the concept of their existence to push his ideogical agenda under the cover of shallow and shiny mysticism.

    I look at Peterson as rather a form of a faith healer. Faith healers can, indeed, promote healing. And I’m actually reluctant to pass judgement in their act of selling healing through a medium of faith, except to the extent that their act of selling causes harm. I see Peterson as promoting a harmful form of reactionary ideology. He doesn’t create it, and he doesn’t force anyone to accept his reactionary doctrine, but that doesn’t mean that his game isn’t pernicious or malignant.

    Personally, I have no interest in chaos dragons and choose to ignore this entire foundation of his messaging.

    I ignore it from a perspective of understanding his ideology, but I don’t ignore the societal impact of his malignant product. I wouldn’t want to overstate his impact (the magnitude of his impact is a product of the times, not something for which he is fully responsible or which generates its own momentum), but neither would I dismiss it merely by saying that he doesn’t really believe in dragons. His belief or lack thereof is largely irrelevant to the impact of his agenda-pushing.

  103. Joshua says:

    Chris –

    Unfortunately, Jordan was probably unclear and we are left with the incomplete context of the quote, from the author, whom I don’t think wrote this piece in an ethical way and obviously injected her own worldview into the interpretation. That is fine, but it is causing me to re-think my position on the role of journalist subjectivity in these sorts of articles (I was reminded of a conversation Gavin had on this recently

    I will agree that a journalist has a responsibility (to the best of their ability) to clarify ambiguity w/r/t an interviewee’s comments, rather than exploit that ambiguity to push their own ideological agenda. That said, IMO (after quite a bit of time listening to what Jordan has to say) I think its important that Jordan regularly exploits ambiguity in what he says, as well as in what others say, in a manner of bad faith to pursue his own agenda.

    I don’t say that as an “he did it first/too” type of justification – but merely to point out that the miscommunication around what Jordan is or isn’t arguing has a bilateral attribution. You can’t engage in good faith with someone who engages in bad faith. One of Jordan’s preferred modes of engagement (exclusively with those who he holds in ideological contempt) is to proffer ambiguity (or more it’s close relative, plausible deniability) to paint a picture of himself and his ideological tribemates as victims.

    IMO, he steadfastly exploits ambiguity to distort scale (magnifying left wing intolerance and victim-playing and diminishing right wing intolerance and victim-playing) in a self-serving manner.

    A journalist has a responsibility to clarify ambiguity and Jordan has a responsibility to clarify his ambiguity. His failure to do so is a feature, not a bug, IMO. As a matter of practice, I am a believer in writer, or speaker, responsible prose – especially when misunderstanding is easily foreseeable (when I look at the exchange in question, I think it is clear that Jordan recognizes the context of ambiguity and fails to clarify – a deliberate choice, made to serve an aim).

  104. Joshua says:

    Chris –

    I could go on a lot more, but out of pity to people who might be reading. I’ll respond on just one more point.

    Frankly, this should not be controversial. And, yes, this is what people mean when they say narratives are being controlled by people who may have great intentions.

    Control of the narrative should be evaluated in full context, not is some alarmist fashion that doesn’t ground the forces of control in relative context.

  105. Willard says:

    Speaking of responsible prose, Junior strikes again:

    I think this qualifies as being sent to clean up one’s conceptual room.

  106. Chris,
    It’s going to be interesting to see this evolves. I read the dragon comment, and the stuff about witches, and the comment about enforced monogamy, and it seemed inconsistent and bizarre. There may well be deeper meanings to this that are being missed, but I can see why people are picking on these things. On thing that might happen is that Peterson (and others) will modify how they say things so what they’re saying becomes clearer and it also become harder to criticise. On the other hand, this might part of the whole narrative. Say obscure things that could have deeper meanings, but could also be interpreted as being slightly nuts. Then, when criticised, you can claim that you’re a deep thinker and that your critics aren’t engaging with what you’re really saying.

    Okay, that sounds really cynical, so I will try to give try spend more time thinking about what Peterson (and others) are really saying.

  107. Ragnaar says:

    Linked above:

    “…see his answer to this question (1:42:49, please, it’s just a few minutes! https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=qT_YSPxxFJk&feature=youtu.be&t=6167 where he talks about his timescale for biological thinking…”

    This helps my clarify what I was trying to say. I said evolution when the better word was biological. Why do two birds seem to attempt to form a sexual relation and in some cases care for their offspring? What drives them do that we they could just goof off all their lives?

    Most people or perhaps I am projecting ask, What’s wrong with me? There are number of easy answers that probably don’t help. We are blending the biological with the current. And the current is changing faster, at least it seems that way.

    It occurred to me in the segment above when he mentioned these famous writers from the Enlightenment, they were just discovering what has always been there. That came from further back. That some things were communicated and codified.

    I had noticed his forays into the Bible and religion without much understanding or further investigation. We can agree, we’ve swept out the Bible. But thinking back to Hegel, the Synthesis still contains part of the Thesis. But what led to the Bible? The same things that got us to now. So we have:

    Pre-Bible
    Bible
    Now

    And some people took offense to the Bible, with some good reasons. So we got rid of that. We threw anti-thesis’s at it and still do. But within biology there is still the reason we went with the Bible in the first place.

    And when you attack someone’s Bible, they take it personally. But in most cases there’s a lot of good in them, if biology is good.

    With our fast moving world, we supposedly see these iterations speeding up. And the old reliable biology can or not be weakened to irrelevance by many iterations or numerous anti-thesis’s being thrown against it. We certainly can proclaim biology is dead. And hear about in on the news. And read about that in studies. Man over biology.

  108. Willard says:

    As promised earlier, here’s a short comment on Sapere Aude:

    Sapere aude is the Latin phrase meaning “Dare to know”; and also is loosely translated as “Dare to be wise”, or even more loosely as “Dare to think for yourself!” Originally used in the First Book of Letters (20 BCE), by the Roman poet Horace, the phrase Sapere aude became associated with the Age of Enlightenment, during the 17th and 18th centuries, after Immanuel Kant used it in the essay, “Answering the Question: What Is Enlightenment?” (1784). As a philosopher, Kant claimed the phrase Sapere aude as the motto for the entire period of the Enlightenment, and used it to develop his theories of the application of Reason in the public sphere of human affairs.

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

    Seen under that light, the Enlightenment project revolves around what would could call epistemic courage. This would look like a value. These do not:

    In Enlightenment Now, Pinker describes the values of the Enlightenment as reason, science, humanism, and progress.

    https://areomagazine.com/2018/02/25/enlightenment-contested/

    Let’s go over this list slowly. Is reason a value? No. Science. Neither. Humanism? Not exactly. It needs unpacking. Progress? Come on – nobody is against progress, except perhaps when caricatured:

    Source: https://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/excelsior

    My One Rule for a good Philosophical Life would be this – clean up your conceptual room.

    ***

    Since I spent an evening exchanging with a researcher who wanted to study liberal bias by showing a graph where Blacks were profiled and a morning on a silly argument about low status males, I’ll leave it at that for now, except to say that if it’s possible to find any good out of such a baroque book as the Bible, paying due diligence can always give something back. Do read Patrick Stokes’ thought experiment, however:

  109. Ragnaar says:

    So what’s the deal with Peterson and Commies?

    For fun, reference of demonic forces casting a little light on witches.

    So the question is asked, do you want to help the working man or do you just hate the rich?

    So a point he makes is the virtue signaling of help the working class or whomever gives us a mask to do the real emotional kick, tearing down the rich.

    Quick crude example. The Minnesota government favors solar panels through tax incentives. The virtue signal. The MN AG now can attack the rich oil companies.

  110. Chris Colose says:

    ATTP-

    Yes, Peterson has to take a substantial fraction of fault for being annoyingly opaque.

    Fundamentally, part of my interest in him comes from his discussions of ideology- I think he is a poor spokesperson for a good message that is poorly placed in time, owing to the convergence point of intense polarization in every aspect of society that we have asymptoted to. The current political landscape as well as the very core of discourse around almost any complex socio-political subject is toxic and dominated by ideology that the people speaking have absolutely no clue as to the history of, nor the outcomes that must follow as a consequence of following the game theory through. So, I am sympathetic to the rise of a few figures who aren’t just saying “we need to talk to the other side more,” but are trying to chip away at why the current landscape of “sides” is inadequate.

  111. Dave_Geologist says:

    JP’s reply linked to by Chris C

    Curious. He claims that it’s the Judaeo-Christian tradition which gives us respect for things like fairness and rights, not the Enlightenment which came later. He then goes off into experiments which show rats and monkeys punishing cheating or other bad behaviour (which monkeys at least do, even at cost to themselves), and how he thinks like a biologist in terms of millions of years not hundreds.

    Is it just me or does that not shoot his own argument in the foot? IOW such evolved social behaviours are inherent in social animals and nothing to do with intellectual concepts of right or wrong, morality or immorality. We wrote the Bible (at least the Golden Rule parts, not the genocide, ethnic cleansing, murder, rape and incest parts) because we’re social animals, not because of some special Judaeo-Christian morality. And the excuse for the Golden-Rule-breaking bad behaviour in the Old Testament is that it is a written-down oral history so describes good and bad together, which can be read as a morality tale. Surely other religious and ethnic traditions have their own versions of the Golden Rule? In which case Occam’s Razor says it’s a consequence of humans being a social animal, not the product of a particular strain of moral and intellectual thought in a particular place and time.

    Is he just privileging his own tribe? And if so, as an intellectual, why can;’t he see it.

  112. Dave_Geologist says:

    And re the puzzle of monogamy

    http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/367/1589/657.short

    A quick dig shows that the 85% prevalence is among modern cultures and past civilisations, the latter presumably based on texts like the Bible. So that begs a similar question to my previous post, but in the opposite direction (cue someone pointing out that I’m misusing the term “begging the question” 😉 ). These are all cultures with languages, organisation, hierarchies etc. Probably all from the last 10,000 years of Modern Humans’ c. 300,000 existence on the planet. Do we know whether what we might call pre-civilisation humans were monogamous or polygamous?

    IOW is the sequence pre-civilisation polygamy > early civilisation polygamy/most cultures polygamy > Judaeo-Christian monogamy (sorta but chiefs have special privileges) > modern civilisation polygamy (with religious exceptions)? Or is the first step pre-civilisation monogamy and everything subsequent is cultural? So a genetic predisposition which evolved on the savanna has been over-ridden as we developed more complex societies? Which could of course still be seen as evolved behaviour, but of memes rather than genes. As we reach a certain level of organisation, the competitive edge and therefore success and growth of a society depends less on the possession of a few outstanding individuals who are highly rewarded (the top hunter, shaman, battle leader…) and more on a large cohort of males who all need to be given a stake in society, including the opportunity to father children (farmers, footsoldiers, salarymen, factory workers, shelf-stackers, van-drivers…).

    An argument I’ve seen advanced for monogamy in early Modern Humans is our very weak sexual dimorphism. Compare chimpanzees, baboons or hippos (males much bigger with large canines) and deer (ditto with antlers) with songbirds, raptors or swans (pretty similar, female often a bit larger which may be explained by nesting endurance requirements not dominance). We’re more like the latter than the former.

    And please, no-one say that of that lot, chimpanzees are our nearest relative so they should be our model. Bonobos are much, much more closely related to chimps than we are. And yet they have completely different social behaviour:

    Males also associate with females for rank acquisition because females dominate the social environment. Females that have strong bonds keep males away from food and often attack males, biting off their fingers and toes (de Waal 1997). If a male is to achieve alpha status in a bonobo group, he must be accepted by the alpha female.

    I realise this is a Just-So Story which barely rises to the level of a scientific hypothesis, let alone a theory. But are JP’s arguments any better and does he know the difference? Or are we not supposed to take his arguments seriously, but just be aware of them on a know-thine-enemy basis?

  113. Dave_Geologist says:

    That should of course have been > modern civilisation monogamy 😦

  114. Dave_Geologist says:

    Why do two birds seem to attempt to form a sexual relation and in some cases care for their offspring? What drives them do that we they could just goof off all their lives?

    Their selfish genes Ragnaar. Read Dawkins. TL;DR version: the ancient birds who didn’t have offspring … uhhh… didn’t have offspring. The set of birds descended from ancestors who didn’t have offspring is the empty set.

    if biology is good

    It’s not. It’s amoral.

  115. Dave_Geologist says:

    So a point he makes is the virtue signaling of help the working class or whomever gives us a mask to do the real emotional kick, tearing down the rich.

    Still fighting those imaginary enemies Ragnaar. I had an imaginary friend when I was a kid. Is it similar?

    The MN AG now can attack the rich oil companies.

    Did she? Attack the oil companies? Documentation please. And from a real source, not the GWPF.

  116. Steven Mosher says:

    “I don’t block anyone for differences of opinion, but I do block for lack of ability to converse in a civil & adult manner.”

    except she doesnt. Here is the thing

    Say X1… Xn are on side A

    Say Y1…. Yn is on side B

    If an Xn observes a Yn being uncivil toward a fellow Xn, then they block
    If an Xn observes a Xn being uncivil toward a Yn, not so much

    In general. you will of course find that some Xs when given a role of moderating Xs and Ys will perform their duty with honor.

  117. Steven Mosher says:

    ““Right. That’s right. You don’t know. It’s because those things hang together at a very deep level. Right. Yeah. And it makes sense that an old king lives in a desiccated tower.”

    But witches don’t exist, and they don’t live in swamps, I say.

    Yeah, they do. They do exist. They just don’t exist the way you think they exist. They certainly exist. You may say well dragons don’t exist. It’s, like, yes they do — the category predator and the category dragon are the same category. It absolutely exists. It’s a superordinate category. It exists absolutely more than anything else. In fact, it really exists. What exists is not obvious. You say, ‘Well, there’s no such thing as witches.’ Yeah, I know what you mean, but that isn’t what you think when you go see a movie about them. You can’t help but fall into these categories. There’s no escape from them.”

    Standard Jungian. Nothing strange in any of this. if you try to misunderstand it, of course it’s crazy.
    But standard Jungian, standard Campbell. wildly successful stuff.

  118. Steven Mosher says:

    “if biology is good”

    and some point after humans destroy their own habitat, cockroaches will conclude that massive gray matter had no adaptive value in the grand scheme of things.

  119. Steven Mosher says:

    ATTP, the original (campbell) is better than peterson

    hmm why it matters, he’s a little better here

  120. izen says:

    @-Dave_Geologist
    “IOW is the sequence pre-civilisation polygamy > early civilisation polygamy/most cultures polygamy > Judaeo-Christian monogamy (sorta but chiefs have special privileges) > modern civilisation monogamy (with religious exceptions)?”

    Human societies seem to have used most variations on polygamy and polyandry. Until recently monogamy was unusual. When life is nasty, brutish and short, along with a high maternal death rate during delivery, it was more likely than not that a person would have more than one partner because of that morbidity.
    When it became much more likely (civil order, health care) that a monogamous relationship could be life-long, divorce laws became more liberal.

    Paternity tests indicate a significant level of defection, and the Canterbury Tales and Decameron indicate that such failures to live up to the rule are probably not a recent innovation.

    The odd thing about JP calling for enforced monogamy is that it echos old arguments from biological determinism that attributed that ethos to female biological requirements. They need a reliable source of food and protection during the looonnngg childhood of offspring.
    I have encountered biological determinists who argue that the male interest is in maximum polygamy, with support from the gonad/genital anatomy and function that in humans is somewhere between the monogamous Gorilla and the adaptions seen in very promiscuous apes.

    JP claims to be rooting his ideas in deep time and foundational biology.
    But without much apparent insight or knowledge about the historical variants of his approach. I keep thinking that the logical next step for JP is advocating eugenics on racial grounds.

  121. Steven,

    Standard Jungian. Nothing strange in any of this. if you try to misunderstand it, of course it’s crazy.
    But standard Jungian, standard Campbell. wildly successful stuff.

    Can you give a brief description of what “standard Jungian” means?

  122. Joshua says:

    I keep thinking that the logical next step for JP is advocating eugenics on racial grounds.

    He would never do so explicitly.

  123. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    I would imagine this is an example:

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/transcending-the-past/201605/mothers-witches-and-the-power-archetypes

    The problem (IMO) is that when Peterson says something like “witches are real,” it asserts with complete confidence that (1) Jungian archetypes are an objective reality, (2) their existences reflects the “truth” of evolution and, (3) the implications of such an archetype to modern society are explicit, clear, and certain (and just happen to reinforce his political ideology).

    I think that’s crazy, even though I don’t think that Peterson is say that “witches exist” in a more literal interpretation (e.g., there are women in black hats running around turning men into frogs).

  124. Joshua says:

    I should add, I think it is crazy even though I find the concept of Jungian archetypes to be very useful.

  125. Steven Mosher says:

    Here ATTP. not a bad summary

  126. Joshua,
    Okay, thanks, that is somewhat clearer.

    When I see this kind of stuff I imagine what would happen if physicists went around refusing to explain their terminology and expecting the general public to understand their terminology. My own view is that a key part of public communication is saying things in such a way that people without expert knowledge can understand what it is you’re trying to communicate. Expecting people to understand the framework in which you’re communicating is, in my view, a poor way to communicate publicly.

  127. Steven,
    Thanks, I’ll watch that.

  128. Willard says:

    > Standard Jungian.

    The existence of myths is more than Jungian:

    Physical objects are conceptually imported into the situation as convenient intermediaries — not by definition in terms of experience, but simply as irreducible posits comparable, epistemologically, to the gods of Homer.

    Positing building blocks for our stories in our minds should not be that controversial. JordanP’s sleight of hand is to infer causal efficacy from their existence. That witches exist does not tell how (or even that) they make our deep psyche fears the wisdom of women ostracized from human societies. The existence of that deep psyche is more problematic than the existence of witches for the validity of psychoanalysis. Here again, an ounce of philosophical culture can do wonders.

    In that spirit, have a tidbit from Michael Dummett:

  129. Steven,

    except she doesnt. Here is the thing

    I think there was an implicit “in discussions with me”. I block far less than I used to, but if I do it is primarily if someone is rude to me, not simply because someone is uncivil on Twitter. I do, however, find that I tend to withdraw from discussions if it becomes uncivil, irrespective of who is being uncivil.

  130. Steven Mosher says:

    A worthwhile bit.

  131. Dave_Geologist says:

    izen

    Human societies seem to have used most variations on polygamy and polyandry. Until recently monogamy was unusual. When life is nasty, brutish and short, along with a high maternal death rate during delivery, it was more likely than not that a person would have more than one partner because of that morbidity.

    Which is what the publications say. About the past 10 ka. I was querying before that. Frequent death from injury, disease or predation doesn’t rule out serial monogamy though. Or we could have been like bonobos, with a ménage à considérablement plus de trois.

    Bonobos live in fission-fusion social groups where a large community of individuals separate into smaller groups, or parties, of variable size and composition. These “unit-groups” range from lone individuals to groups of 20 or more bonobos (Badrian et al. 1984; White 1988, 1996). These groups are patrilineal and the unit group is multi-male/multi-female, though the ratio of males to females is variable.

    But

    …females dominate the social environment … If a male is to achieve alpha status in a bonobo group, he must be accepted by the alpha female.

    So patrilineal but matriarchal. Interestingly, the opposite of what is (used to be?) thought of as the system practised by the Picts of N and E Scotland. Matrilineal but patriarchal. The chief or king was boss but he became chief or king by marrying the eldest daughter of the previous chief or king. Sons left home, daughters stayed. The just-so explanation is that (a) you know who your mother is but not who your father is (at least pre-DNA) and (b) it ensures strong leadership. You pick the leader when he’s mature and has shown his mettle, not when he’s born.

    And yes, cheating. but DNA evidence shows that pair-bonded birds cheat too. A lot. And not just the males, obviously (because they’re pretty-much obligate-monogamous so have virtually no incels).

    JP claims to be rooting his ideas in deep time and foundational biology.

    Claims to be. But given his undergraduate background is in political science and English literature, his biology will have been limited to some pre-Med for his psychiatry qualifications, and his knowledge of deep time is certainly less than mine. Yes he may be self-taught, but given that he is very obviously a Player in the culture wars, the risk is enormous that he has filtered what he read through the lens of motivated reasoning. And yes a psychologist of all people should know about motivated reasoning, but “Physician: Heal Thyself” comes to mind.

  132. izen says:

    @-Joshua
    “He would never do so explicitly.”

    Of course not.
    Wrap it up in the brown person having a culture they are unwilling to abandon, or the unquestioned assuption that ‘our’ culture is optimal and would derive no benefit from adapting to a changing social environment.
    Authoritarian claptrap, justified by appeals to the status quo as optimaly utile.

    https://www.sott.net/article/376530-Jordan-Peterson-in-the-Netherlands-Immigrants-Culture-and-Identity-Politics
    “When we insist that the immigrants who come to our countries, to become beneficiaries of the game that we’re playing, follow the rules, we are not merely saying; ‘we have a culture, you have a culture, you’re in our culture, so you should follow our rules’, what we’re saying instead is: ‘We have inherited a culture and it seems to work.”

  133. Joshua says:

    . Expecting people to understand the framework in which you’re communicating is, in my view, a poor way to communicate publicly.

    I don’t think that Peterson has such an expectation IMO, he exploits ambiguity. It’s a feature, not a bug. Misinterpretation can easily be leveraged into victimhood.

  134. Willard says:

    FWIW, I have yet to block someone who is rude to me. And I only muted one ClimateBall thread ever. But then my communication objectives vary from a science communicator.

    The only utility I found for blocking is ads, e.g. Elsevier.

    ***

    DaveG,

    I’ve had a quick look at that paper yesterday, and I don’t think the authors have their causal arrows properly aligned:

    [I]t is worth speculating that the spread of normative monogamy, which represents a form of egalitarianism, may have helped create the conditions for the emergence of democracy and political equality at all levels of government. Within the anthropological record, there is a statistical linkage between democratic institutions and normative monogamy. Pushing this point, these authors argue that dissipating the pool of unmarried males weakens despots, as it reduces their ability to find soldiers or henchman. Reduced crime would also weaken despots’ claims to be all that stands between ordinary citizens and chaos.

    http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/367/1589/657.short

    Freedom Fighters don’t always study normative monogamy, but when they do they kinda miss its main point – this is yet another form of egalitarism that saves everyone energy and time, and is better for GRRRRROWTH. Also, they tend to forget that monogamy spreads when warring societies cede to merchant ones.

    You should take a look at how they interpret the Chinese data:

  135. Dave_Geologist says:

    I heard a radio show a few years ago where a couple of Jungians debated a couple of Freudians on the relative merits of the approaches and the insights of their founders.

    After listening I was left with the strong belief that both Emperors were naked.

  136. izen says:

    @-W
    “Positing building blocks for our stories in our minds should not be that controversial.”

    What would appear to be a paradigm of archytypes, symbols that can reveal the deep structure of the psyche, are very difficult to reconcile with Jungian ideas of a collective shared deep unconscious structure.

    Music, deep structural variation is rife until cultural miscegenation.

  137. Joshua says:

    izen –

    Wrap it up in the brown person having a culture they are unwilling to abandon,

    Don’t forget about “far left” totalitarian campus radicals (of the sort who “control the narrative,” of course.)

  138. Joshua says:

    Started to watch a bit of that video that Steven posted at 3:49

    It would by interesting to read a syntactic-like analysis that quantifies the frequency with which he equates his opinion with fact.

    An attribute that strikes me as extremely unscientific.

    On the other hand, it must be quite a burden to be the smartest man in the universe.

  139. Joshua says:

    So now we find out who is really responsible for the recent Texas shooting.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/texas-shooting-santa-fe-girl-rejected-dimitrios-pagourtzis-dead-latest-a8360216.html

    Eventually, we’re going to have to break down this whole #metoo thingy and get back to the historical precedent where women can’t reject men. Thanks god we have someone like Peterson to restore us to the proper evolutionary path:

    MAGA!

  140. Willard says:

    > What would appear to be a paradigm of archytypes, symbols that can reveal the deep structure of the psyche, are very difficult to reconcile with Jungian ideas of a collective shared deep unconscious structure.

    The size of these building blocks seems to matter to settle that question, izen. If you’re looking for are universal components not unlike Chomsky’s universal grammar, then archetypes across cultures could emerge as attractors in the combinatory symbolic field. I’m using “attractor” simply to nudge Petersonians that chaos may not need to be tamed after all. Also note that Chomsky acknowledges that his project is in line with the rationalist tradition.

    An alternative to archetypes would be cognitive models like Lakoff’s, e.g.:

    If you think about it, JordanP impersonates a strict dad that is cool enough not to frighten less conservative Freedom Fighters.

  141. izen says:

    @-W
    “If you’re looking for are universal components not unlike Chomsky’s universal grammar, then archetypes across cultures could emerge as attractors in the combinatory symbolic field.”

    The point I was trying to make, perhaps too concisely, (it’s a bit OT) was there are NOT universal archetypes that emerge from the underlying universal small components in Music.
    The notes of a scale are USUALLY in whole number ratios, but beyond that the number of notes in a scale and the form and structure of music that has emerged in different cultures is deeply disparate.

    It also evolves, changing radically over time, European music abandoned a scale with perfect ratios ~1700s. And encountering the music of a different culture can generate vigorous new hybrids.

    I am not a fan of Chomsky’s ‘Universal Grammar’ ideas. I gather they have failed to be detectable in the wild, despite ad hoc modification.
    A cognitive competence for copying and learning any structured sound stream could be genetically fixed by the Baldwin effect if it has social advantage to the individual.
    The rest is cultural exposure.

  142. izen says:

    @-Joshua
    “On the other hand, it must be quite a burden to be the smartest man in the universe.”

    It’s his own fault.
    The audience his message attracts ensures he is always the smartest person in the room…

  143. Willard says:

    > The point I was trying to make, perhaps too concisely, (it’s a bit OT) was there are NOT universal archetypes that emerge from the underlying universal small components in Music.

    Agreed, izen. I’m not a fan of computationalism in general, so you can guess what I think about universal grammar. Yet Chomsky’s programme is still a thing, so I cannot exclude it:

    https://waset.org/conference/2018/03/prague/ICCUG

    Some do, but the debate is too arcane to be of any relevance for now. Which is a Good Thing as I do not have the interest to look into these things anymore. There are so many other more fascinating stuff. Take this marvelous Strict Dad take:

  144. izen says:

    @-W
    “Take this marvelous Strict Dad take:”

    Given his ‘clean your room advice’ and the male/female, order/chaos, Apollonian/Dionysian archetypes he is so keen on I made a guess about what his university office or private home might look like.

    And then went looking for pictures of him in such a space to confirm or refute my suspicion.

    It’s another dog that didn’t bark….

  145. Willard says:

    About this chaos thing:

    “You know you can say, ‘Well isn’t it unfortunate that chaos is represented by the feminine’ — well, it might be unfortunate, but it doesn’t matter because that is how it’s represented. It’s been represented like that forever. And there are reasons for it. You can’t change it. It’s not possible. This is underneath everything. If you change those basic categories, people wouldn’t be human anymore. They’d be something else. They’d be transhuman or something. We wouldn’t be able to talk to these new creatures.”

    Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/18/style/jordan-peterson-12-rules-for-life.html

    One quick look at Wikipedia might have saved Buckos their thirty bucks:

    Greek χάος means “emptiness, vast void, chasm, abyss”, from the verb χαίνω, “gape, be wide open, etc.”, from Proto-Indo-European *ǵheh2n-, cognate to Old English geanian, “to gape”, whence English yawn. It may also mean space, the expanse of air, and the nether abyss, infinite darkness. Pherecydes of Syros (fl. 6th century BC) interprets chaos as water, like something formless which can be differentiated

    […]

    In Hesiod, Chaos was the first thing to exist: “at first Chaos came to be” (or was) “but next” (possibly out of Chaos) came Gaia, Tartarus, and Eros (elsewhere the son of Aphrodite).

    […]

    The motif of Chaoskampf (German: [ˈkaːɔsˌkampf], “struggle against chaos”) is ubiquitous in myth and legend, depicting a battle of a culture hero deity with a chaos monster, often in the shape of a serpent or dragon.

    […]

    Chaos has been linked with the term tohu wa-bohu of Genesis 1:2. The term may refer to a state of non-being prior to creation or to a formless state. In the Book of Genesis, the spirit of God is moving upon the face of the waters, and the earliest state of the universe is like a “watery chaos”.

    […]

    Ramon Llull (1232–1315) wrote a Liber Chaos, in which he identifies Chaos as the primal form or matter created by God.

    […]

    Use of chaos in the derived sense of “complete disorder or confusion” first appears in Elizabethan Early Modern English, originally implying satirical exaggeration.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_(mythology)

    The association between primordial water and feminity is not that clear. JordanP also mentions that dragons and predators belong to the same category. I’m not so sure about that.

    Gaston Bachelard analyzed the archetypes of the elements. In his book on water, there’s not one single instance of “chaos.” Linking women to water is quite easy. Linking dreams and women not that difficult: Adam found Eve after a dream. It’s the connection between “feminine” water and chaos that is far from being clear. There are many ways that water expresses itself for the Greeks. The division into four elements is not universal either. Musashi’s Book of Five Rings, for instance, contains fire, air, water, earth, and emptiness, which is a better candidate for chaos than water.

    In any event, since chaos is what was there before anything came to be divided into a multiplicity, it’s quite clear that JordanP can only appeal to the opposition between the Sun and the Moon, which is, symbols that came to emerge later than he seems to presume.

    ***

    To return to the values of modernity, here’s a meme that seems to settle everything:

    How can memes settle anything, you may ask? Because they evoke archetypes. One good way to start daring to know might very well be to stop whining.

  146. paulski0 says:

    “Take this marvelous Strict Dad take:”

  147. Joshua says:

    Chris –

    I note you didn’t respond to my earlier comments.

    Nonetheless, I like the following clip as an example of what I consider to be evidence that you seriously misread Peterson:

    Looking aside from the editing of the clip from a Jordan supporter.

    The question that Jordan raises is, obviously, quite important.

    But Jordan, in his style of earnest curiosity and concwen, fails to address the obvious role he plays in exacerbating polarization (just look at the editing and the title of the clip), and implies (hiding behind plausible deniability) the responsibility that Trump supporters (and Trump) have for contributinf to the hostility polarization.

    As far as I’ve seen, despite his concerns (as expressed in that video), Peterson never actually addresses his impact on polarization (although I have sewn him pay, what I consider to be, lip service to the problem).

    This pattern, IMO, is rather characteristic of Peterson, and is one of the reasons why I don’t think he engages in good faith (despite the good faith veneer).

    And btw, Alex Wagner’s counter-question (once she clarified), IMO, also points to Jordan’s bad faith. He is very much concerned about how he and his supporters are being offended, even as he shows great concern about too much concern (among others) about being offended. This double-standard towards victimhood and political correctness is, IMO, commonplace with Jordan and his supporters. That isn’t to say that the questions of whether political correctness (or identity politics) go too far aren’t reasonable issues to interrogate – merely that to seriously interrogate those issues you need to be careful to avoid making them tribal identify markers that only exacerbate polarization. IMO, Jordan isn’t the least bit careful in that sense. In fact, IMO, he is deliberately incautious.

  148. izen says:

    @-W
    Found an early JP lecturing on the meaning of music.
    Starts with 3mins of stating that what music expresses cannot be expressed in words.
    Then discusses the inability of computor AI to translate natural language or play Chess at Grandmaster level (it’s an old lecture). Then puts up pictures of surrealists and opitical illusions. Lots of stuff about the difficulties of perception, nothing about music.

    At the end of 50 (!!) mins returns to music for ~2 mins, saying that it is complex patterns in time (Bach) and what it does express is real.
    So he painted a picture to represent this.

    I finally found JP in his personal space in a webcast Q&A.
    It is worse than I thought.
    The Archetypal halo he is wearing is his ‘music’ painting.

  149. Steven Mosher says:

    “I think there was an implicit “in discussions with me”

    funny attp.
    on one hand you chide jordan for being unclear and argue that physicicts would always be clear in public comms and then you defend katherine by adding stuff to her text …asserting an implicit meaning. did you see what you did?

    wrt jordan. there are times when you want to be deliberately unclear, deliberately difficult…and obscure. where you want your audience struggling with understanding. where that is part of the point. but, a lot of the confusion in jordans text is un necessary. he is a c student.

  150. izen says:

    @-SM
    “…but, a lot of the confusion in jordans text is un necessary. he is a c student.”

    A lot more is essential obfuscation and self-aggrandising ‘scientific’ camouflage for the normative conventionality of his sermon.

  151. Willard says:

    Lobsterians may appreciate this thread:

  152. Willard says:

    As for terminologists:

  153. Willard says:

    JordanP responds. I have questions:

  154. Steven Mosher says:

    iz3n

    “A lot more is essential obfuscation and self-aggrandising ‘scientific’ camouflage for the normative conventionality of his sermon.”

    that’s unclear. could you be more specific with cites and quotes and detailed readings?

    of course not. you are a D student

  155. Chris Colose says:

    (ATTP, sorry if multiple comments are going through, it is behaving oddly for me)

  156. SM sez: “wrt jordan. there are times when you want to be deliberately unclear, deliberately difficult…and obscure. “

    carry on

  157. “I remember Michael Shermer from the teevee during his RAAM efforts …
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_Across_America
    An exercise in sleep deprivation. Stupid. I mean really stoopit.”

    That’s the least dangerous part of the race. Many RAAM riders have been killed by motorists over the years. Yet, it’s interesting reading the accounts of Shermer and Stuart Stephens (doping in an Outside article) on these endurance rides. My toe in the waters was a double century.

  158. Steven,

    on one hand you chide jordan for being unclear and argue that physicicts would always be clear in public comms and then you defend katherine by adding stuff to her text …asserting an implicit meaning. did you see what you did?

    I can see the point you’re making, but I also tend to take the limitations of Twitter into account.

    Chris,

    (ATTP, sorry if multiple comments are going through, it is behaving oddly for me)

    Apart from this one, I don’t see any other new ones.

  159. izen says:

    @-SM
    “that’s unclear. could you be more specific with cites and quotes and detailed readings?”

    I can show you an example of his almost total avoidance of the subject he purports to be discussing, substituting crass and corny scientific woo about the unreliability of perception.

    Music and the Patterns of Mind and World

    @-“of course not. you are a D student”

    D was a high point, E and F were more common.

  160. izen says:

    @-SM
    Exhibit 2
    2017 Maps of Meaning 10: Genesis and the Buddha
    (I am not going to provide links, others may find any exposure to his nonsense as toxic as I do.)

    In 125 minutes there is a 12 min section on a folk tale about the early life of the Buddha and how it conforms to JPs ‘Hero’ archetype.
    Absolutely NO engagement with the religious concepts or meaning of his teachings.
    Probably because they directly contradict the deontology he is trying to sell.

  161. Steven Mosher says:

    i would say this. skeptics sometimes take advantage of simplified versions of tge science to attack it. the greenhouse metaphor is good example. my advice to them.. read the primary science.

  162. Steven Mosher says:

    izen

    “I can show you an example of his almost total avoidance of the subject he purports to be discussing, substituting crass and corny scientific woo about the unreliability of perception.”

    sorry. you are still not making a case, you are merely asserting.

  163. izen says:

    @-SM
    “sorry. you are still not making a case, you are merely asserting.”

    Copying the JP mode of argument….

  164. Dave_Geologist says:

    Willard, on the JP Strict Dad/crypto-fascist post. I claim two Tabloid Bingo points.

    1) Scare Quotes

    2) A Question to Which the Answer is No

    Interestingly, in Altemeyer terms, that makes him look like an Authoritarian Follower, not an Authoritarian Leader. IOW he likes to enforce rules on others, but doesn’t want to make up his own rules. He wants to have them handed to him (presumably from the Bible) or to emerge from some sort of Natural Order he has deduced (with all the pitfalls of Motivated Reasoning in his path). Followership is not a good look in an intellectual, public or otherwise, IMHO.

  165. izen says:

    @-Dave_G
    “Followership is not a good look in an intellectual, public or otherwise, IMHO.”

    But obligatory in a theological apologist.

  166. Dave_Geologist says:

    Re cause and effect Willard, I presume you refer to this: “statistical linkage between democratic institutions and normative monogamy”. Agreed the arrow of causality is incredibly hard to determine in social sciences. I’ve said on other threads that social scientists and economists don’t get it wrong most of the time because they’re dumb. It’s because they’re dealing with inconsistent and unpredictable human feelings and behaviour. Atoms and molecules, and even rocks and stars, are much, much more tractable because they obey physical laws.

    I don’t have a dog in this fight, as you may have guessed from the fact that I proposed conflicting explanations in two successive posts 🙂 . Which is reflective of the fact that it’s hard to get beyond correlations and Just-So Stories. I didn’t give a just-so story for my early monogamy explanation, but Herlihy (referenced by White) does. That pre-humans, early modern humans and primitive hunter-gatherers were monogamous (presumably serially so given high attrition rates) because the combination of sparse resources and low technology meant they had to live in small, widely separated family groups. Only when they developed the technology to feed a village (by hunting with better weapons and/or farming) could you get a large enough population in one place to support polygamy. One man, however talented, couldn’t get or make enough stuff to support his many wives and children, so he needed a pool of subordinate males to get or make stuff for him.

    Obviously there are natural parallels with other primates, wolves etc. Anthropomorphising, subordinate males hang around in the hope of one day becoming the alpha male, meantime hoping for a sneaky encounter with an unfaithful female. Deferred breeding is a better option than being on your own in the wild and dying before you get to breed. Game theory would predict female unfaithfulness where the new alpha male comes from within the tribe. That gives the junior male an additional incentive beyond social pressure to support what may be his child, and provides an incentive against infanticide when the new male takes over.

    As money and other currencies become available, incentives other than future breeding can be offered. Such as Roman soldiers being given a salary to buy luxuries, support a family in the Provinces or visit a brothel, and a plot of land when their enlistment is over. I take it your objection is to the arrow from dissipating the pool of unmarried males to reducing the despot’s ability to find soldiers or henchmen? I would agree. Why would the despot cut his own throat by promoting monogamy among the wider population? Better to enforce a rule that ordinary men can’t marry until they’re 40, or own land, have served 20 years in the army, or whatever. And modern monogamous society has seen no shortage of despots supported by married henchman. Perhaps the development of a currency is a better explanation? When all you could offer subordinate males was food, shelter and maybe a chance to have children late in life, but none of the above were available outside the village, it was a poor game but still the only game in town. Once money comes along, you don’t have to hold out the tantalising prospect of future breeding to keep the troops in line. They can be gratified now. You’re still the richest guy in town and the only one who can afford to maintain multiple wives.

  167. Dave_Geologist says:

    It’s another dog that didn’t bark….
    I did find a handful of what may be office photos izen. Interesting. Tidy books and symmetrical plant in the window ticks the orderliness box. Commie-murals-on-the wall is presumably because he needs to be constantly reminded who the enemy is (even though that enemy has been dead almost three decades 😉 ). Maybe he’s like Monkton and thinks the fifth-columnists are still manipulating librulz behind the scenes, even though their masters are long gone. Ethnographic stuff behind his desk so visitors can’t help seeing it. Some sort of argument-from-authority I presume. Hey, look at MY anthropological chops!

    And most obviously, even with “office” in the search the vast majority are him-him-him, front-and-centre. Very Me-Me-Me. Arrogance, insecurity or both? See, anyone can be a pop-psychologist 😉 ).

    And this

    https://imgur.com/gallery/g52LQ

    OMG he has patients. I pity them and their families.

  168. Dave_Geologist says:

    Feminine water Willard? Not in Latin
    😉

    Proper words for names of mountains, rivers, and months of the year are normally masculine while names of cities, countries, and trees are normally feminine.

  169. Dave_Geologist says:

    Those on the music sub-thread 🙂 (Willard and izen) may find this of interest:

    Evolution of music by public choice

    They evolved music from randomness using a genetic algorithm and public votes on the likeability of various members of the various generations. And reached an evolutionarily stable equilibrium (usually ESS in the literature, but I don’t like Strategy because it implies intent), which was significantly below the likeability fitness peak. They concluded that it was not because they had exhausted the available genetic variation (a common explanation: a variation on the theme of why-evolution-is-a-tinkerer-not-a-designer), but because there was a trade-off between likeability and transmission fidelity: a variation on the-perfect-being-the-enemy-of-the-good. Evolution doesn’t seek or reach perfection. Good enough is good enough. They emphasised the pre-recording need for tunes to be passed on, initially by memorising, later by sheet music. Both error-prone. I wonder if there is also something about the inability to sing or hum along that makes stuff which is beautiful but complicated just too much trouble.

    They used a Western audience. It would be interesting to see what other cultures came up with. A way to truly test for universality (with the caveat that 99% of the globe has heard Western music and K-Pop, regardless of culture or ethnicity). It would also be interesting to see whether the explosion of digital recording, phone playback etc. releases modern music from the fidelity shackles. Maybe it already has.

  170. Dave_Geologist says:

    Further on the musical theme (with an archetype sting in the tail).

    As a Scot, I’m intrigued by the idea that the evolution of music by subconscious listener choice might explain bagpipes (why we love them and the rest of the world who didn’t grow up with them seems to hate them). I’m no music expert and can’t sing for peanuts, let alone play an instrument. So this is purely from reading and with zero expertise. But here goes, let’s make a fool of myself 🙂 .

    Because of their design, Scottish bagpipes have to be played in a particular Mixolydian mode, which is apparently unusual nowadays. I presume a piano, for example, can be played in any mode, and there are a number of popular songs in Modern Mixolydian. All quite distinctive ones to my ear, e.g. “Hey Jude” and the Star Trek theme 🙂 . I expect the artists consciously set out to write something different and distinctive. The Mixolydian mode was also used in medieval church music (the modern mode is based on that one, so perhaps that is where the pop writers got their inspiration from, rather than from music theory 😉 ). and is used today in Indian music (maybe one reason bagpipes remained popular in post-colonial India and Pakistan?).

    Irish bagpipes apparently play in a non-Mixolydian mode, and Mel Gibson reputedly chose them for the background music in Braveheart 😦 , because they sounded more pleasing to the ear than the Scottish ones he tried first. Not To My Ear Mel!

    Anyway, TL;DR version is that they’re not just loud, but played in an unusual key so perhaps the unfamiliarity is jarring if you’ve not heard them from childhood. Perhaps someone can help me out here: do you dislike them just because they’re loud, or also because they sound harsh, discordant or out of tune?

    Anyway, archetypes. If there were fundamental human musical archetypes you should all like bagpipes. Or Scots should hate them. So, evidence to support Willard’s and izen’s contention that there are none. Bagpipes are also a neat example because of the Irish ones being different. In most of the recently published genetic maps, Scots and Irish come out very similar. Sometimes indistinguishable. Much more similar than (say) east and west Germans. So you can’t appeal to some genetic twist. And the cultures are similar, with a lengthy shared history. Same pre-English language: although the spellings are very different, Irish and Scots Gaelic are mutually intelligible, and I’ve been told a Donegal Irish speaker can understand a West Highland Gaelic speaker more easily than he can a Waterford Irish speaker. Common governance at times (Dalriada came out on top in Scotland, annexing the east and south to become Alba, but lost its extensive possessions in northern Ireland; Robert the Bruce’s brother made a serious attempt at becoming King of Ireland). Lots of to-ing and fro-ing over the centuries, not just recent Irish to Scotland and previous Scots-Irish to Ireland (only 12 miles apart by sea, with lots of sheltered inlets and islands to facilitate coastal sailing). So cultural and linguistic similarities would also argue for similarity not difference.

    What’s left? Perhaps what Stephen Jay Gould called contingency. At some point hundreds of years ago, lost in the mists of time, someone made a decision and Scotland and Ireland diverged. Tastes changed, either because people liked the sound of what they heard, or just got used to it and transmission down the generations was self-perpetuating. A cultural butterfly wing, if you like.

    I’m tempted to say Scotland changed and came up with something new, but I guess it’s more likely, given the medieval origins of the modern Mixolydian mode, that Scotland stayed in the past and Ireland was more tied into the pre-17th century European trends izen referred to. Also, serious bagpipe music (pibrochs played at the Mod, not pipe band competitions) is very rigid and formalised. Resistant to change of any sort, so a change of playable keys would be huge.

  171. Chris Colose says:

    Hi Joshua

    Admittedly, I’m having a hard time following all the comments here, and I’m also struggling to speak the typical language of Peterson support/criticism.

    First, as a general starting point, I cannot make sense of things like “I’m with/against the Intellectual Dark Web.” I’d rather say “Sam Harris has a better perspective on truth than Peterson (truth to him is pragmatic, not objective), and here is why, and Bret Weinstein raises interesting points about the evolutionary underpinnings of X that may or may not be able to be incorporated into 2018 society.” That seems more productive (incidentally, the fact that many people can have those discussions at length, as these comments show, is sufficient evidence for me that some on the “IDW” are worth hearing). If it was all crackpottery or they had nothing to say, this thread would not exist.

    In the above link, I’m not sure precisely what you would like me to respond to.

    I think I have already been clear that Jordan Peterson is often very unclear and opaque. I’m not sure he is contributing to more or less ‘polarization,’ which I think runs substantially deeper than any single person or group. I suspect people like Peterson can only emerge in a landscape of polarization where people want better stories to hear. Whether his story is compelling is another question, but he does reveal a need for inspirational meta-narratives. I sympathize with this perspective: https://areomagazine.com/2017/12/08/the-problem-with-truth-and-reason-in-a-post-truth-society/

    However, I also don’t think he believes in literal witches (although I actually have no interest in Jungian archetypes & only a very passing interest in bible stories and so do not personally participate in critiques of these aspects of his dialogue). However, I suspect we learn much more about Nellie Bowles than we do about Jordan Peterson in the NYT piece. There’s not enough for me to care much about. Evidently, she had a lengthy conversation with JP, and in which the reader is presented with a soundbyte about witches and monogamy, but I have no transcript of the full conversation, no idea if Bowles spent a considerable amount of time digging deeper to clarify things, and so I really cannot disentangle the effects of bad journalism, lack of clarity, obfuscation by Peterson, reader misunderstanding, etc. And while I advocate for JP being clearer, I have no idea if attempts were made by Bowles to follow up on her initial reactions, whether Peterson was simply unclear after multiple attempts, whether more clarity would have entered her piece even if he was, or whether it would have mattered to the reaction.

    BTW Peterson has attempted to clarify his monogamy comments, https://jordanbpeterson.com/uncategorized/on-the-new-york-times-and-enforced-monogamy/ It’s another onion layer we can argue with, but should confirm my argument above that he is at least intending to tackle this question from a very different lens than you may have initially thought.

  172. izen says:

    @-Dave_G
    “Anyway, archetypes. If there were fundamental human musical archetypes you should all like bagpipes. Or Scots should hate them. So, evidence to support Willard’s and izen’s contention that there are none. ”

    The, er… idiosyncratic sound of the great highland pipes is a nice example of the wild diversity of musical forms. They appear to evolve even faster than languages, or fix very ancient choices with great fidelity.
    You are right that bagpipes play a fixed mixolydian mode, at least, nearly.

    But they are tuned about 3/4 of a tone sharp to standard concert pitch. So they start of ‘between the cracks’ and always out of tune with the music you usually hear.

    The small pipe that is fingered plays the 6 notes of the mixolydian scale an octave above (1:2:4 frequency ratios) the drones. But some of the notes are not quite in simple integer ratios as they would be in the ‘standard’ mixolydian mode.
    Bagpipes are one of the few ‘musical’ instruments that plays an out of tune octave.

    While the mixolydian scale puts 6 notes in the octave, as does much other world music, some is based on different notes, some Arabic music puts 24 notes in the scale, still related by integer ratios. Western music has adopted a tuning system that allows massive harmonic complexity, but is rhythmically simple. Indian music has retained simple scales with limited harmonic pathways, but extremely complex rhythmic structures.

    The universality of the effects and practise of music makes it look like a reflection of some Deep archetype in the human psyche. But the multiplicity, and dissimilarity of the forms and structure that music takes, and is taking as musical cultures collide, speaks against our shared humanity inevitably generating Jungian synchronicity.

    Having to watch an HOUR of JP lecturing on Music, that contained 5 mins of “word cannot describe it” and “we like it because it mirrors the complexity of percieving the the world” was more than a little dissappointing.

    I had spotted the JP in an office/ethinc decorated room pictures, but was not sure if it was his office or just university rooms. One had a 40 year old word processor and folding chairs stacked in the corner.
    However I notice both have bookshelves with pictures and ornaments placed in front of the books. A practise I regard as heinous, relegating the books, literally, into an inaccessible backdrop.

  173. Willard says:

    > theological apologist.

    If only, izen. JordanP’s just a Freedom Fighters entertainer. He knows how to work his crowd:

    ***

    > I presume you refer to this: “statistical linkage between democratic institutions and normative monogamy”.

    Yes, DaveG. The authors had to make intellectual contorsions to dodge the fact that democracy comes from societies there weren’t monogamous the way we usually conceive it:

    Moving on to the Greco-Roman world, elite polygyny looms large in the Homeric tradition.21 By the historical period, by contrast, SIUM was firmly established as the only legitimate marriage system: polygamy was considered a barbarian custom or a mark of tyranny and monogamy was regarded as quintessentially “Greek.” However, SIUM co-existed with concubinage even for married men: as far as we can tell, they were supposed to draw the line at cohabitation, which was considered inappropriate. At the same time, married men’s sexual congress with their own slave women or with prostitutes was free of social and legal sanction. As several probable instances among both the Argead kings and later Hellenistic rulers show, polygamy persisted in “hellenized” Macedonia.There is no sign of an early polygamous tradition in Rome. Whether concubinage was feasible concurrently with marriage has been debated in modern scholarship and the evidence is inconclusive: it was not until the sixth century CE, after centuries of Christian influence, that the emperor Justinian claimed that “ancient law” prohibited husbands from keeping wives and concubines at the same time. As in Greece, sexual relations of married men with their own slave women were not unlawful, including relationships that resulted in offspring. Formal recognition of the latter was optional but not unknown. Moreover, ease of divorce underwrote a degree of effective polygyny: while men were unable to have more than one wife at a time they could marry several in a row, thereby raising reproductive inequality overall.

    The relationship between marital responsibilities and lower crime rates is a no brainer. What’s a head scratcher is why Freedom Fighters omit the connection between having a family and having the means to sustain it. If we had a magic wand with one single wish to solve the incel problem, I would personally ask for a drastic reduction of socio-economic inequalities. As a bonus, incels with better means to take care of otters and themselves should be able to pay for therapeutic services.

    One only has to think a New York minute about how African Warlords and ISIS proceed to recruit soldiers to see that JordanP is truly fishing in the dark.

  174. izen says:

    @-W
    “If only, izen. JordanP’s just a Freedom Fighters entertainer. He knows how to work his crowd:”

    Am I mistaking style for substance ?
    His delivery, both the rhetorical structure of the language and the ‘non-verbal’ timing and delivery with gestures is so reminiscent of the less histrionic of the tele-evangelists that I was considering making a side-by-side video of JP and someone like David Pawson.!

    Perhaps it is the unmet need for authoritarian certainty in the crowd that dictates the way they work.

  175. Willard says:

    Where you see authoritarian certainty, izen, I see dream-like guessing:

    Not sure how it can be reconciled with Be Precise in Your Speech.

    If you look at water-based deities from the Greek world, you can stumble upon some who were not exactly feminine:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pontus_(mythology)

    Lobsterians might appreciate Phorcys:

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

    Why research your subject when you can simply guess in a dream-like way?

  176. izen says:

    @-W
    “Where you see authoritarian certainty, izen, I see dream-like guessing:”

    There are numerous historical and extant examples that indicate that the authoritarian certainty does not have to be coherent, consistent, and consilient. (Mormonism?)
    It still sells, even if it came to the prophet in a dream.

  177. paulski0 says:

    I’m not sure Peterson’s climate change denial is really quackery. Quackery generally involves coming up with your own theory, whereas he’s just parroting simplistic slogans and memes.

    For all the verbiage and “big system thinking”, Peterson is a fairly standard socially conservative free market advocate, and for all the railing against identity politics he largely conforms to the identity of that tribe – e.g. climate change denial.

  178. Steven Mosher says:

    “Copying the JP mode of argument….”

    ya if billy jumps off the empire state building…

    here is the point. when a sceptic does a takedown of climate science by looking at bits and pieces..we all laugh.

    if you want to engage the science you actually have to read it….lots of it.

    same thing in spades when it comes to the kind of intellectual history jp is trying to do.
    it is ok to find it boring or mistaken. But actually showing that in way that is up to the standards for that discourse you actually need to read all the texts, explicate, interperate and then offer cogent criticisms.

  179. Dave_Geologist says:

    However I notice both have bookshelves with pictures and ornaments placed in front of the books. A practise I regard as heinous, relegating the books, literally, into an inaccessible backdrop.

    My guess izen? Like the ethnic stuff, window dressing. Performance art.

  180. Dave_Geologist says:

    I knew there’d someone musical out there izen 🙂 . So then yes, bagpipes irritate people because they sound loud and out-of-tune. Unless you’re Scottish 😉 .

    Western music has adopted a tuning system that allows massive harmonic complexity, but is rhythmically simple. Indian music has retained simple scales with limited harmonic pathways, but extremely complex rhythmic structures.

    The paper found a selection trajectory of about 45° in normalised chordiness/rhythmic complexity space Since R is a rhythmic complexity score, I presume a high value equates to a complex beat, i.e. the opposite to what I would think of as rhythmic music (simple, repetitive beat). Although since they start from randomness not regularity, even a regular beat would be a rightward move. The chordiness measure CL is explicitly trained on the chords commonly used in the Western repertoire, so music evolving to please a Western audience is pretty much guaranteed to evolve upwards in that space.

    As I said, it would be interesting to test other cultures using these measures and see where they end up. Your statement suggests a hypothesis that Indians would end up further to the right on R but lower down on CL. The null hypothesis would be that all cultures end up more-or-less in the same place, i.e. that there is a global musical archetype. You could also replicate the experiment but change the chordiness measure by training it on, say Indian music (the rhythmic complexity measure is probably cross-cultural). Or, if you believe in musical archetypes, run it but with a suitable test statistic related to clustering between cultures vs. within cultures. You might want to train it on a wider chord set encompassing all the tested cultures, so everyone has a sweet spot to aim for (considering the possibility that there is an archetype, but it is a very broad one and cultures specialise by subtracting from it, not adding to it. Sounds like a job for a psychologist with an interest in archetypes, with a statistician in tow to keep him straight!

  181. Dave_Geologist says:

    I am not a fan of Chomsky’s ‘Universal Grammar’ ideas

    Nor I izen. You’d have thought that if they were there, with gazillions of recordings available on the internet and the power of modern computing, someone would have identified them by now and shown them to be statistically robust. Ditto with linguistic archetypes (not sure if they are/aren’t the same thing?). Languages are just so different: never mind Chinese/Japanese/San/Western, just within Western. Maybe a proponent would say that’s just noise blurring the archetype, which is why it can’t be found. Or that the archetypes are a tiny fraction of the modern language (a few dozen words like mother, father, run, eat, flee etc.). But either way, what use is it? In science we have a term for a signal that fails to emerge from the noise. One is statistically insignificant. Other terms are unpublished and unpublishable. Why hold linguistics to lower standards?

    While checking I didn’t make a fool of myself on my bagpipes post, for example, I came across the statement that Gaelic is an etymological language, not a phonetic one. So had to find out what that means (root spellings are preserved, even if the pronunciation changes regionally, over time, or because a compound or loan word is awkward to say). Irish would appear to be somewhere in between, with three principal dialects (hence presumably Donegal Irish sounding more like Gaelic than Waterford Irish), but some spelling conventions vary between dialects and “individual words may have in any given dialect a pronunciation that is not reflected by the spelling”. English is notoriously non-phonetic but for different reasons: lots of loan-words that were never properly regularised into English phonetics, plus English-origin words are spelt the way they were pronounced hundreds of years ago when the written language was more-or-less fixed, not how they’re pronounced now. French is based on its pronunciation a thousand years ago, so although it is much more regular than English with much stricter rules, it now has “a complicated relationship between spelling and sound, especially for vowels, a multitude of silent letters, and a large number of homophones”. Plus five diacritical marks, nasalisation, diphthongs and digraphs. It’s easier to learn from scratch than English because it’s more consistent, but you still need to learn the rules by rote because the phonemes aren’t phonetic any more. Plus gendered inanimate objects 😦 .

    With a mess like that just from four closely (by world standards) related languages, how could you expect to extract any primordial signal? No doubt other cultures have similar issues, so using modern languages would be a nightmare of minuscule signal hidden in vast cultural noise. Go back to a “primitive” language? Where? The Amazon? But what about the old agricultural soil and city foundations under the trees? Their ancestors may have been farmers or city-dwellers. The San? But from Wiki “Before the Bantu expansion, Khoisan languages, or languages like them, were likely spread throughout southern and eastern Africa”. So it’s a remnant of a formerly widespread language, no doubt with a long and vibrant history of evolution and word-swapping, not a primitive language. The PNG Highlands? Did you hear about the recent case of a documentary maker who visited a “primitive” tribe and they asked him if he wanted them to do the war-dance or whatever. He was the first visitor to ask “why, do you usually do it” and got the reply “only when film crews come; it’s what they want to see and they give us presents”. Or something to that effect. A time machine to get back to proto-Indo-European or whatever? Probably the only way but there is a slight problem there….

    Oops, did I just make an argument from personal incredulity 🙂 .

    As per my comment elsewhere, I don’t think most social science is wrong because social scientists are dumb. It’s because humans are really, really hard to work with compared to the physical world.

  182. izen says:

    @-SM
    “here is the point. when a sceptic does a takedown of climate science by looking at bits and pieces..we all laugh.”

    Because they are using bad arguements against good science.
    Not good arguments against bits and pieces of bad pop-sociology.

    @-“if you want to engage the science you actually have to read it….lots of it.
    same thing in spades when it comes to the kind of intellectual history jp is trying to do.”

    JP rarely cites, quotes or mentions the figures in the intellectual history of his subject. When he does mention a authority or source it is most often to dismiss them as misguided and useless. He is particularly rude about Campbell.

    His philosophy and theology are shallow, his anthropology crass and his biology egregious. It would have been nice if there was ANY reference to the kind of intellectual history that exists on Music or Buddhism, subjects in the title of lectures that he fails to engage with on any serious level. I have encountered a better grasp of evolutionary biology among Creationists.

    He is by my estimation the Christopher Monckton of pop-psychology. You would be better of with Gurdjieff if you really want that sort of normative mysticism garnished with bad science.
    Deepak Chopra for New Age Woo. JP for that Old Time Woo.

  183. Joshua says:

    Chris –

    Thank you for that response. I certainly get that it’s hard for anyone, that isn’t fanatical, to follow a thread like this one.

    I wrote a very long and complicated comment in response – but couldn’t get past the feeling a bottom line feeling that it was just problematically tl;dr. I tried editing it, but couldn’t get it appreciably shorter….and then I went on to other things and then managed to lose it altogether into the ethernet.

    I agree with much of what you said in your response to me…but in the end, I guess I just come down to seeing Jordan as a bad faith participant. That doesn’t negate the usefulness of many of the issues he speaks to (I happen to have found his discussion with Weinstein about societal evolution manifesting a balance between archetypes to be useful, even if I find Jungian archetypes interesting but primarily just as metaphors).

    I could go into detail into what I see as indications of bad faith on his part in the Bowles interview – but in the end that doesn’t detract from Bowles’ responsibility for clarifying also.

    That situation parallels the one with the Cathy Newman interview.

    This is an interesting clip where he discusses that interview.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-aO0Jj-Wo60I would say that if you have a premise that he engages in good faith,

  184. Joshua says:

    Chris –

    Thank you for that response. I certainly get that it’s hard for anyone, that isn’t fanatical, to follow a thread like this one.

    I wrote a very long and complicated comment in response – but couldn’t get past the feeling a bottom line feeling that it was just problematically tl;dr. I tried editing it, but couldn’t get it appreciably shorter….and then I went on to other things and then managed to lose it altogether into the ethernet.

    I agree with much of what you said in your response to me…but in the end, I guess I just come down to seeing Jordan as a bad faith participant. That doesn’t negate the usefulness of many of the issues he speaks to (I happen to have found his discussion with Weinstein about societal evolution manifesting a balance between archetypes to be useful, even if I find Jungian archetypes interesting but primarily just as metaphors).

    I could go into detail into what I see as indications of bad faith on his part in the Bowles interview – but in the end that doesn’t detract from Bowles’ responsibility for clarifying also.

    That situation with Bowles parallels the one with the Cathy Newman interview, IMO.

    This is an interesting clip where he discusses that interview.

    IMO, he diminishes the poor responses of his supporters, fails to be accountable for how he catalyzes such responses, fails to be accountable for the role he played in the miscommunication (the section where he speaks to how a friend suggested that he might have done so is interesting), etc.

    I would say that if you have a premise that he engages in good faith, then he comes across there as quite reasonable. But my take on it is that he is someone who poisons the well and then complains that the water tastes bad.

  185. izen says:

    @-W
    Ha !

    There is a clip where JP answers the question; “What’s your favourite music ?”

    His answer is classic ‘Cool Dad’.
    He claims to enjoy all sorts of music, rock, country, jazz and classical.
    Admits to still listening to the old rock he grew up with, but never names any bands or music. He claims to like more recent rock, and names a few inde style bands that are most likely to be familair to young white males in Canada/USA.

    He says he has not got into hip-hop, but thinks Eminem is very good because he can articulate well. Likes melodies, but dislikes pop because it reminds him of bad 70s disco that he didn’t like at the time.
    ——————

    He never names a piece of music or a musician.
    He only name-checks bands in the cultural horizon of his students/fans.
    He declares his position in the cultural resistence from white against black music in the mainstream media in the 70s that was framed as a ‘Disco sucks’ artistic judgement but (apart from the Bee-Gees?!) was white pop-rock against black soul-dance.

    Pure coincidence that his answer is framed in a form that would be most acceptable to a certain target audience, but is uninformative about any specific favourite composition or performer.
    What a communicator! He can invoke disdain and instil hatred in both his fans and critics.
    For each other.
    (grin)

  186. Dave_Geologist says:

    apart from the Bee-Gees?

    What about Kelly Marie? My street-cred at work took a nosedive when I only took seconds to identify the artist from the song during an after-hours pub quiz :-(. Mind you she did have black dancers so is she black-by-association to a certain demographic? Or is that cultural appropriation? I don’t remember it being so complicated back in the 80s 😦 .

    Careful observers will point out that she probably doesn’t count because she appears to actually be a Borg 😉 (pause at 1:00m, not sure if the freeze-frame will display). So as part of a Hive Mind she presumably surrendered her previous identity. After all, “resistance is futile!”. Pedants will complain that the Borg didn’t appear in TNG until 1989 and this video is from 1980. But as all good Trekkies know, the Borg later discovered time travel and went back to sabotage the birth of the Federation. And she looks like an upgraded, Voyager-era Borg so that fits (second-generation like Seven of Nine). I never knew disco was part of their dastardly plan!

    Pre-MTV music videos were great (for some, that would be great in the same way that the Great Highland Bagpipes are great 🙂 )

    For example more SF presaging: Kate Bush wearing a Fremen stillsuit two years before the Dune movie. Which presumably means she read the book! Cool, it’s one of my favourites* and up with The Lord of the Rings for the most re-readings.

    Hmmm. What about the black and white British dancers playing Australian Aborigines. Is that more cultural appropriation? Or does she get a pass because the lyrics are very condemnatory of the white colonisers?

    The civilised keep alive
    The territorial war
    (See the light ram through the gaps in the land)**
    Erase the race that claim the place
    And say we dig for ore
    Or dangle devils in a bottle and push them from the Pull of the Bush***

    * For those who don’t know the series, the first book was great, the next two went a bit downhill, and as for the co-authored posthumous efforts: they’re so far downhill they’re subterranean.

    ** A reference to British atomic weapons tests, specifically Maralinga: Before the tests could begin the Maralinga Tjarutja, the traditional Aboriginal owners of the land, had to be removed

    *** Forcing them onto Reservations where abundant cheap alcohol was available.

    Plus ça change. Sometimes there really are social injustices to go to (metaphorical) war over.

    Hmmm, I had planned to make this a light-hearted post but there you go. C’est la vie. Mind you, Kate’s early albums did all have downer endings so maybe it’s in keeping: incestuous pregnancy and suicide in the first; an actor haunted by the ghost of his friend who died on set and whose role he took over in the second; Nuclear Armageddon in the third, complete with sampled public information broadcast on how to estimate the megatonnage of a bomb from the duration of the flash (because we all want to know whether we’re dead, very dead or deader-than-dead); and some combination of insanity/home invasion/abusive-ex-partner-insists-on-returning in the fourth.

  187. verytallguy says:

    Hadley Freeman in the Graun has her usual excellent take on proceedings:

    …we’re just told we should cure violent men with our magical vaginas, and if we fail to do so, our vaginas were presumably insufficiently magical.

    https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2018/may/23/jordan-peterson-public-intellectual-isnt-clever-violent-men-monogamy

  188. Joshua says:

    I might be upset about this, but I know I can rest assured in the knowlwdge that the IDW, Haidt, etc., to pounce on this policy and beat it into submission because of their concerns about political correctness and the “chilling effect” on free speech.

    https://www-m.cnn.com/2018/05/23/sport/nfl-spring-league-meeting-national-anthem/index.html

  189. izen says:

    @-Dave_G

    I was being slightly tongue-in-cheek with the disco/rock, black/white thing.
    And of course there was far more crossover than the BGs doing their Miracles, Temptations acceptable face of black soul harmony shtick.

    One of the more common tropes was the white female singer doing a far imitation of a black soul singer over a funky black arrangement. Often it would be the cover of a black original. On at least one occasion the white ‘singer’ mimed and they used the original black vocal.

    The segregation broke down when the Teutonically white Kraftwerk came along with Autobahn and gave disco a whole new (actually 60s minimalism) genre to absorb and adapt.
    While it went both ways, I find the AWB more enjoyable than Living Color.

    Was never into the Herbert Dune books, love the Lynch film version. Have always been puzzled by the lack of connection made between Dune and Oil, Islam, colonialism etc.
    Disliked LOTR (never finished) films were good visuals, still a stupid story!

    Do you think Kate Bush is specifically referencing the Fremen still suit, or did the costume designer just think the liquid temperature control layer worn under high altitude flight suits looked cool?

    The only SF I have bothered to re-read much are the Ian M Banks ‘Culture’ series.
    (RIP)

  190. Dave_Geologist says:

    Ha Ha. I wasn’t being entirely serious about the stillsuit. It is widely referenced as such on the Intertubes. However I have seen a link where someone goes so far as to identify the suit. And yes, it is an Air Force surplus bodysuit worn under their flight gear by high performance/high altitude pilots. Someone even identified the specific era and likely aircraft IIRC, but I couldn’t remember what it was. Or whether it was a G-suit rather than a temperature suit, with the pipes connected to a pump.

    So of course I had to check. It is indeed a temperature-control suit. First used in hot desert conditions, but that site has a link to a defunct Canberra site which implies it was also used in sub-zero conditions. The Canberra was Britain’s first strategic nuclear bomber, designed to fly high (up to 70,000 feet, rather chilly up there I should think) and fast, beyond the performance envelope of Soviet fighter jets. The USAF built 400 under licence. It only had an 8,000 lb payload so you needed a lot of 1950s nukes to destroy the world, hence a lot of bombers. Of course the Gary Powers incident put paid to that strategy. It was also used as a high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft as recently as Afghanistan. There was a story a few years ago about them flying U2-style missions over the Soviet Union, but because there was no proof as the Soviets never shot one down, the UK denies it to this day. And hey! NASA still has three! I’ll bet some of their time is spent on climate missions. They can’t fly as high as a U2 but can carry a heavier payload. And of course there are no modern equivalents because SAMs made that mission profile obsolete.

    I was very disappointed when I found out about it not being a designed stillsuit. Still, given the desert theme, I like to think she was referencing the Fremen and decided that suit was close enough and cheaper than making one from scratch. The site I linked to above shows they were all over SF TV shows and movies of the era, so it wouldn’t take much imagination to think of it. But if she got the idea from SF TV/movies, why was she watching them if she wasn’t a fan? She does have form in the area, at least in Sword and Sorcery if not hard SF. The warrior outfit in Babooshka was based on the cover art for the Raven, Swordmistress of Chaos novels. Or maybe I’m engaging in motivated reasoning to persuade myself that the SF fanbase wasn’t all nerdy teenage boys 🙂 .

    Now I have to find more evidence. Aha! Stranded At The Moonbase, In Search of Peter Pan (as an astronaut), Rocket’s Tail, Rocket Man (cover), Hello Earth (Space Shuttle samples), Oh England My Lionheart (not SF but dressed as a fighter pilot so maybe a connection),
    Cloudbusting (OK Reich thought the rainmaker was real, but I’m calling it SF 😉 ), Snowed In At Wheeler Street (time travel), Wild Man (Yeti, see rainmaker), Sat In Your Lap (the Time Tunnel/Wormhole/Stargate thingy in the video), Deeper Understanding (Internet Addiction, in 1989), Experiment IV (military developing sonic weapon). And she bought a Fairlight CMI and programmed it herself, which very technophiley (OK, that’s a stretch, not all technophiles like SF). And – Tarraa! – it’s even rumoured (but denied) that she wrote a Doctor Who series under a pseudonym.

    Isn’t the Internet wonderful. Except that every time you find a juicy factoid, right next to it is another link to its debunking 😦 .

    Oh, and I first read TLOTR as a teenager, so may have felt differently had I encountered it as an adult. And it is a long time since I read it cover-to-cover…

  191. Dave_Geologist says:

    And how could I forget The Big Sky? Kate in a silvered flight suit consorting with Superman, aviators and astronauts.

    And on Dune, yes aspects of the story borrow heavily from Islam. Plus there’s the obvious parallel of a desert (planet) being fought over for a resource that’s essential for (space) travel. Obvious to me anyway. But the overall culture is more mock-Medieval, the main religious order is female, and golems, I think, are Jewish in origin. And the hero who foresees his own death but feels compelled to follow the prophecy anyway is very Christ-like. The whole Kwisatz Haderach thing is basically a rebadged Messiah. So he borrowed from lots of cultures. The resulting complexity is probably one reason I like it.

  192. Dave_Geologist says:

    Haha. Tinfoil-hat moment: I meant to post a freeze-frame with the astronauts. When I saw it wasn’t what I expected I clicked on it to confirm it was the full video. When I paused, YouTube offered me a couple of Kate Bush videos either side of Jordan Peterson: Danger Race & I.Q. It definitely wouldn’t have done so based on my general browsing history, so maybe Google knows what this thread is about. Not very surprising I suppose. But if it had done a textual analysis it would have realised most posters here disapprove of him. Ah but, maybe that’s why YouTube offered it, as click-bait for angry Internetters. OK, that’s enough. It’s too confusing being a tinfoil-hatter 😉 .

    Try video link in another browser: no J.P. Standalone video in new tab in same browser: J.P. So maybe it’s my internet history or how long a page is open (which would be dumb in a way because I leave pages open all day and visit them only a few times hours apart – OTOH leaving them open is itself a signal – enough, I can hear tinfoil rustling). Incognito window on same browser: no J.P. Reassuring. Whole thread in an Incognito window on same browser: no J.P. You can relax ATTP, it’s me they’re spying on, not you 😉 .

  193. Joshua says:

    Link to long podcast with IDW luminary, Weinstein..

    https://bloggingheads.tv/videos/52832

    I’m proud of myself for managing to get through 30 minutes without freaking out.

    He addresses the main criticism of the NYT article – by explaining that the IDW is identified by being shut out from LEGACY media, so they can still lay claim to being an oppressedinoeitu despite their huge polarity on non-legacy media.

    So I guess that Alex Jones should be joining soon.

    And, in fact, I should be also, as heretofore I, also, have been shut out of the mainstream media.

    Later, Brett is absolutely befuddled as to why people think the IDW is predominantly rightwing. I mean, after all, he is a Bernie supporter.

    Well, I’m sure that the disproportionate amount of attacks against the left from Peterson et al., and the constantly generalizing about the left as being monolitbically anti-“free speech,” and the constant use of SJW as a pejorative to characterize the left, couldn’t possibly have anything to do with it.

  194. Joshua says:

    Ragnaar –

    FWIW, towarss the end of thar podcast is my absolute favorite part:

    Brett explains how his deep understand of evolutionary biology enables him to see how he and his IDW-mates are at the vanguard of a new phase of evolution, and will guide the way for the rest of us plebes to follow their lead into a new post-polarization world.

    It is just about the best example I’ve seen yet for how the Just-so storyfying. like that of Weinstein and Peterson, is stunningly immune to introspection and humility.

    Would be curious to hear your thoughts if you do listen.

  195. Joshua,
    I actually listened to some of that podcast with Bret Weinstein and found quite a lot of it quite reasonable.

  196. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    Thanks. Interesting. I’ll have to try to find time to listen again, to see if I can understand how you might have responded that way.

  197. > after all, he is a Bernie supporter.

    Because, aliens:

  198. Joshua,
    I’ll try to listen to more of it too.

  199. Joshua says:

    “evolution-aware governance mechanisms.”

    OK. So in line with Chris’ reaction to the Weiss article, I will try to give benefit of the doubt. But my initial reaction is “oy.”

  200. Willard says:

    FYEO, J –

  201. Joshua,
    I have listened to more of it, and I still find what BW says reasonable in many cases. On the other hand, he does still seem to suffer from the same “I’m not biased” bias that others in the IDW suffer from too.

  202. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    Yes, there is that aspect…

    As with Peterson, I find his non-ideologicslly overlapping stuff reasonable…

    But in general, the problem I have (I guess somewhat related) is that I think he doesn’t take critique seriously and will put pretty much anything together to formulate an argument as a ideological defense, without seriously engaging the question at hand.

    For example… when he formulates a defense for the idea that the IDW has been “shut out” of mainstream media, or projects befuddlement as to why people perceive the IDW as predominantly rightwing. Even his defense of Wright’s criticism of the editing of the article, or ye photography, follows the pattern.

    Another example is when Wright says that anthropology has run out of new cultures to discover, as a way to explain why anthropology might be “post-modern,” Brett says that chemistry has run out of “new ground to cover” (wha???) and ignores the point Wright raised about the impact and importance of the question of cultural relativism to the field of anthropology. I just find that to be a dishonest approach to intellectual engagement.

    He equates pushback he gets from the right about being responsible for his own conundrum (from people agreeing with his ideological) with ideological criticism.

    I think the pattern fits with the Toronto Star article Willard (and JCH) just linked, which describes Peterson’s reliance on shallow, bad faith generalizations to create polemical, ideological leverage points.

    It fits with Brett’s argument that he can’t describe “evolution-based governance” but we know that socialism (un-defined, btw) isn’t, even though various governments that excel comparatively, by any number of metrics (standard of living, life expectancy, class mobility, education levels, “happiness quotient,” etc.) are often considered to be socialist.

    Anyway – what was there, in particular, that you found reasonable?

    Also, if you got to the end, what did you think of his argument about the IDW finding a transitional “first principle” nitch that that will enable them to guide us out of our current degenerating (post-modern) state?

  203. Joshua says:

    Been thinking some more about this…

    It’s very hard to evaluate this stuff without actual discussion, and comments on Twitter are mosy useless, IMO… but…

    Brett says that you can’t evaluate the Internet and birth control in terms of their evolutionary influence in shaping society (you need something on the order of 10, 000 years to do that, he says) , and yet, says that socialism isn’t evolution-aware governance (even while saying he can’t describe what that means).

    So is that reasonable, or am I just motivated enough to dismiss reasonable stuff that he says?

  204. Joshua,
    I’ve been trying to listen to again to give you some examples of what I thought was reasonable. I am struggling a bit. Some of what he said about opporunity I thought was okay. Like you, I don’t think he takes the critiques very seriously and I’m not a fan of those who try to paint themselves as rational, while suggesting that their critics are not. Mostly, however, I think I just didn’t really hear anything that I really found objectionable and I did hear some things that made me go “okay, that’s a reasonable argument”.

  205. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    This is long…but I think it;s worth the time…..it provides a really useful framework. IMO, for evaluating Weinstein’s “evolution-aware governance” and Peterson’s take on social hierarchies and Bible stories and spirituality (both of which I am becoming more convinced is essentially warmed-over social Darwinism)

    Kinda of a climate link – in that it’s a discussion with Monbiot:

    https://www.blubrry.com/jacobin/34202826/the-dig-telling-a-new-story-with-george-monbiot/

    Willard – if you have time, I’d be interested in your take also (in terms as simple as you can force yourself to use).

  206. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    Some of what he said about opporunity I thought was okay.

    Sure – I think it’s worthwhile to interrogate the tendency, among some at least, to assume we can reverse engineer from inequality of outcome to determine that the only reason it exists is because of discrimination (from white, Christian men). In that sense, I agree that Brett is saying something reasonable.

    But I don’t see how we can expect to get to a reasonable discussion of that issue (and creating a balance with the reverse assumption that existing social hierarchies necessarily reflect an evolution-based optimum, or that we can just excise the social context to evaluate “pure data” on issues like IQ and race) when people don’t engage in good faith, use pejoratives and simplistic generalizations (like “SJW”) to engage those who disagree, etc. As Wright speaks to in the interview, I can understand where “traumatic” events such as what happened to Weinstein can create obstacles to good faith engagement – but that doesn’t serve as a justificaiton, IMO.

  207. Joshua says:

    Searching for Peterson and Social Dawrinism nets this…also from Jabobin (not surprisingly)…

    https://www.jacobinmag.com/2018/02/jordan-peterson-enlightenment-nietzsche-alt-right

  208. Willard says:

    > Willard – if you have time, I’d be interested in your take also (in terms as simple as you can force yourself to use).

    Which podcast, the Robin & Bret one or the Dan & George one?

    I watched the first half of the former. I’m listening to the second part as I write this. There’s nothing to write home about. Lots of identity politics for a guy who’s allergic to it. BretW misrepresents Marx(ism), for whom Hayek invented the word “scientism” – being a hard core materialist, he’d have no problem with an evolutionist take on politics. His appeal to ignorance (it’s hard to classify the IDW) is countered by the observation that they’re all Freedom Fighters.

    His defense of BenS’ infamous sewer tweet was courageous, but a bit disingenuous. ChristinaS isn’t left of center. JordanP isn’t that hard to place – he says he’s a “classical liberal.” His authoritarian slant fails to take into account that JordanP, SamH, BenS, and even StevenP are far from being non-authoritarian.

    Pushing his point regarding private companies’ intrusion into their employee’s life should compel him to reject libertarianism and all those from the IDW that endorse anything remotely like it, since it can’t even make sense of workplace conditions:

    Despite this systemic abridgment and denial of freedom in the workplace, libertarians have a difficult time coming to terms with it. Which is ironic given that Robert Nozick cited the following example in his classic article “Coercion”—on page 2 no less—as so obvious an instance of coercion as to scarcely require explanation or elaboration: “You threaten to get me fired from my job if I do A, and I refrain from doing A because of this threat….I was coerced into not doing A.” (In fact, the workplace proved to be an abiding theme in Nozick’s treatment of coercion: almost the entirety of his discussion of the distinction between threats and warnings is focused on the example of a plant owner claiming that a yes vote in a union election would result in the factory shutting down.)

    It’s also ironic given libertarians’ understanding of their project. Libertarians claim that freedom is their core value and that it’s maximized when the state refrains from interfering in the private choices of individuals. They also believe, however—as every sensible person should—that individual freedom can be curtailed by private action. In fact, the idea that private action can diminish individual freedom is central to their justification for the state, which is that some state coercion is required to stop people from dominating, enslaving, and generally harming others. We all do better on the metric of freedom, libertarians agree, if the state makes and enforces “traffic rules” for private persons.

    http://crookedtimber.org/2012/07/01/let-it-bleed-libertarianism-and-the-workplace/

    He gets progressivism right (36:00). He gets his intellectual heritage wrong. His SJW conspiracy (45:00) looks ridiculous to me, but it’s hard to argue with someone who claims having been threatened and denies suffering from “political PTSD,” as he says of DaveR, another “classical liberal.” This again turns the topic about him, which is boring to me.

    The last part where he “blows Bob’s mind with some grand evolutionary theorizing,” as the YT description sells (55:00). The idea that evolution is directed without being teleological is rather trivial. The fractal relationship between scales of psychology of scarcity and abundance is a bit more speculative. The connection between this theory and the Internet Darth Web (1:11) looks self-serving to me.

    Tell me how this works for you.

  209. izen says:

    @-Joshua
    Not a George Monbiot fan, but gave it a go.
    It is not a discussion, or an interview.
    It is a book advert. The presenter is there to make it appear that the order of ideas that GB wants to present in this 1 hr lecture on his new book flow naturally from an interested and informed interrogator.

    I was trying to write a ‘shorter’ version, but it got longer.

    Some of this is probably too cryptic even if you have listened to the advert. It undoubtedly over-simplifies, omits and misconstrues.
    But This is my initial reaction.

    Starts with, “you cannot convince people with facts. You have to give them a good story. Especially if they are already convinced by another story about how the economic, social, and political World works.
    Narratives, stories. — memes.
    Claim-
    Must have narrative for significant political change.
    V1-The Great Deppression 1930s
    Bad greedy individuals unregulated by government have stolen the common wealth. By working together for the common good we can restore order from chaos. The hero is the united strength of the common man. FDR – New Deal, Welfare systems, NHS…
    V2-The market best reflects the natural order. The individual in a competition of all against all determines the proper hierarchy. Government regulation of enterprise and social welfare distort and destroy the life, liberty and pursuit of property endowed upon us. By rolling back the state and recognising that we are personally responsible for our situation wealth is maximised by competition and the hero is the neoliberal wave that swept away the failed and illegitimate Keynesian interventionist errors that had failed in the 1970s

    Complains that the crash of 2007 did not trigger a swing back to V1. Social democracy is still viewed as de-legitimised and the personal is the measure of all things. Media alienates by giving us (virtual) reality stars as neighbours with whom to empathise.

    ————————————–
    Problem.
    There is an unstated but I think implied assumption that the right narrative is necessary, or even causative of the political change. Also that it is an accurate description.

    The possibility that it is a post hoc rationalisation of what might be a different process driven by other causes does not seem to be considered.

    That the hero stories may be contagious memes because of the structure of the meme, rather than the accuracy or utility of the concept is also omitted.
    —————————————

    So the left needs a new narrative.
    Frames it as just a binary dichotomy;
    Individualism – collectivism.
    Neo-liberal economics – Keynesian civic management.

    Social group mutuality + moral, healthy, effective. Moralistic fallacy promoted by meme V1 (becomes Fascism if not inclusive)
    Individualism + social Dawinism, biological determinist. Naturalistic fallacy promoted with meme V2.

    Suggested Solution.
    (He did not sound confident, rushing through a vaugue list with scant detail, buy the book?!?)

    Local community organisations.
    Bottom-up co-ops.
    Top-down mobilisation, the Amway model, to weild National/Global political power.
    Minimise our impact on the living planet.
    ————————————-

    Problem.
    There are not enough evenings in the week for all the committee meetings required for small scale local communal social democracy to work.
    (GKC?)

    That the changing political, economic, and social structures over the last century may reflect rather more than the opposition of two ideologies. That multifactorial and contingent processes may make some changes emerge as consequences of systemic behaviour independent of the actions of either hero.

    ————————–
    Love the Bernard Schiff take-down of JP linked on the other thread- comfirmation bias !

    https://www.thestar.com/opinion/2018/05/25/i-was-jordan-petersons-strongest-supporter-now-i-think-hes-dangerous.html

  210. izen says:

    @-W
    “ The fractal relationship between scales of psychology of scarcity and abundance is a bit more speculative. ”

    Actually it is nonsense at the genetic level, as far as I can tell.

    A lot of hand-waving to justify giving Genes a biologically determinist role in cultural systems and social order.

    Lizards arriving on a new Island evolve on genetic timescales into hundreds of diverse species.

    Humans arriving on a new continent adapted with hundreds of diverse cultural/social adaptions, but are genetically a subset of the human phenotype. There has barely been time for minor physiological optimisation to evolve for sunlight and altitude habitats.

  211. Dave_Geologist says:

    Re “evolution”. Inclusive fitness is measured by how many children you have and how many children they have. Nothing to do whether you have a nice house, a nice car, a good job or are safe or unsafe in the presence of law enforcement officers.

    It looks like being African-American (I’m using that term because from a glance at the US census sites, it looks like a black immigrant from South or Central America would count as Hispanic) was evolutionarily unfavourable until the 1930s (but maybe not if the numbers were driven by white immigration). I’m assuming there was very little direct immigration from Africa after the slaver era ended, and very little in the 20th and 21st Centuries. They’ve been on the up ever since. By almost 50%. Probably by more, when you consider dilution by Hispanic and Asian immigrants.

    Sorry Jordan, evolution doesn’t favour your demographic. You’re on the way out, like the Neanderthals. You can take solace in the fact that, like them, some of your genes will survive, mixed into the general population.

  212. Dave_Geologist says:

    assume we can reverse engineer from inequality of outcome to determine that the only reason it exists is because of discrimination (from white, Christian men)

    But does anyone actually assume that Joshua? Emphasis on the word “only”.

    Surely most people accept that it is multi-factorial and claim that discrimination is one, but not the only, factor. Fixing it won’t make the world perfect, but we shouldn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

  213. Dave_Geologist says:

    “ The fractal relationship between scales of psychology of scarcity and abundance is a bit more speculative. ”
    I suspect he knows as much about fractals as Deepak Chopra knows about quantum mechanics 🙂 . For a proper scientific explanation of the latter, Google Jim Al-Khalili quantum biology if you want to hear about the state-of-the-art from a proper scientist (one who’s also a very engaging speaker).

  214. Dave_Geologist says:

    George Monbiot likes the Amway model? Really? Selling dietary supplements to people who don’t need them? Via a pyramid scheme where not-very-well-off people stick their neck out to buy stuff and sell it to their not-very-well-off neighbours. Some of whom buy out of guilt or pity. Run by Richard DeVos. Betsy’s father-in-law? That Richard DeVos? Strange company you’re keeping, George.*

    In 2001, five Nutrilite products were the first dietary supplements to be certified by NSF International.

    (from Wiki and its link 42)

    NSF Draft American National Standard 173-Dietary Supplements. The standard provides methodology and evaluation criteria for verifying dietary supplements’ ingredient identities and quantities; testing them for specific undeclared contaminants such as heavy metals, pesticides and mycotoxins; and assuring conformance to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs).

    The first quote kinda makes you think they’ve been tested for efficacy. The company must be pleased with its Wiki page 😉 . Think again. It only means that they contain the useless stuff they say they contain, and are not contaminated with potentially harmful adulterants.
    * Full disclosure: I downloaded but haven’t listened the podcast (it’s TL;DR for now), and am responding to izen’s post. I may listen at some point. I probably won’t make it through, I generally find George’s stuff a bit cloud-cuckoo-landish and not well grounded in reality.

  215. Dave_Geologist says:

    The idea that evolution is directed without being teleological is rather trivial.

    Well, maybe. Trivial but true if it’s meant metaphorically, as in “gravity holds the planets in orbit” or “the evolution and success or failure of a particular phenotype is directed by the dry, value-free, targetless mathematics of GameTheory”. Profound but false it it means that evolution has a preferred outcome or target, just not one selected by God.

  216. izen says:

    @-Dave_G
    “ George Monbiot likes the Amway model? Really? ”

    Er, well, no; not really!
    That was my imputation after he had praised Bernie Saunder’s “wonderful, innovative” approach to political campaigning that involved a campaigner recruiting ~20 people and teaching them how to recruit ~20 people each, and so on until he had an enourmous army of free volunter campaigners.

    “I generally find George’s stuff a bit cloud-cuckoo-landish and not well grounded in reality.”

    You nailed it, and nothing new in this, plus an especially wishy-washy ‘solution’.

  217. izen says:

    I have typed a couple of calm explanations why Weinstein’s ‘evolution-aware governance mechanisms’ is based in an erroneous concept of genetics. In fact it seems stuck in the Eugenics era when ‘Genes’ were given the power to cause the inheritance of reified personal traits like a love of the Sea, or a propensity to be enslaved.

    And deleted them as facts versus narrative.
    So did this instead.

  218. I looked up Bret Weinstein’s publications in Web of Science, and – unless I’m messing up my search – he has very few. Maybe 3, and none since 2005. I don’t think that one should necessarily judge someone on the basis of their publications, but not having any for more than a decade would seem to suggest that they haven’t really done any research for that amount of time.

  219. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    According to this

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/everipedia.org/wiki/bret-weinstein-1/amp/

    he got his PH. D. in 2009.. Maybe fishy, but if true I doubt there’s a lot from before 2003.

  220. Joshua says:

    Dave –

    But does anyone actually assume that Joshua? Emphasis on the word “only”

    This is what is refereeing to with “bad faith.”

    I doubt they’re are many who do, but a portraysl is made that “the left” does do monolithically.

    That said, I don’t have a problem, per se, with interrogating the question and I think there is a valid criticism to be made tatt some on the left are over-reactive towards doing so. Of course, that reactivity should be considered in historicsl and societal context.

  221. Joshua says:

    izen –

    Just to clarify a bit.

    I though Monbiot’s narrative about narratives is simplistic, and vulnerable to the same Just-so storyfying criticism as the IDWers.

    That said, I found it interesting and useful re the IDWers, and their narrative story – that draws lines from evolution to the existential threat of political correctness overturning the natural order of survival of the fittest – within a “hero story” narrative framework. Somehow, that gave me a more coherent overview than I had previously, but perhaps I was “over-fitting.”

    As for Brett, my first reaction to “evolution-aware governence me mechanisms is, indeed, that the expression conjures up eugenics. But I’m trying to extend benefit of the doubt, to guessing that isn’t an ideology he’d support.

    That doesn’t mean, of course, that the logic behind his reverse engineering of evolution to reach his ideological conclusions might not suffer from similar problems as eugenics.

    The problem is that if these mechanisms have yet to be discovered and aren’t described, there’s no way to find out.

    It is certainly interesting, however, that he can so confidently judge socialism against a standard that hasn’t been discovered and can’t be described. Not sure how one does such a thing.

  222. izen says:

    @-Joshua
    ” Somehow, that gave me a more coherent overview than I had previously, but perhaps I was “over-fitting.” ”

    Monbiot gave a very clear account of the neo-liberal, IDW type arguments. And detailed how their ‘Hero’ story diametrically opposes the collectivist arguments on the left.
    But both share the same narrative structure.

    I am agree he gives a coherent story, of a binary system. That it could be a multi-body problem is ignored in favour of the ‘Two Tribes’ framing.

    @-“But I’m trying to extend benefit of the doubt, to guessing that isn’t an ideology he’d support.”

    At one point when it is suggested that Human culture now provides the primordial soup of evolutionary possibilities, and this has superseded genetic selection, Brett pushes back hard. Insisting on the deep role genetics MUST HAVE in shaping how we are a culturally adaptive species.
    It is an unessecary additional assumption. It ascribes to genes a role in altering cultural behavior in ways and on timescales that don’t make much sense.
    Unless biological determinism and the Naturalistic fallacy is a key component of your worldview.

  223. Joshua says:

    izen –

    But both share the same narrative structure.

    Of course.

    That it could be a multi-body problem is ignored in favour of the ‘Two Tribes’ framing.

    To some degree, sure.

    But my impression is that Mombiot was arguing in favor of a ‘Two Tribe’ paradigm, so much as arguing for the effectiveness of a hero story narrative – and in that I think he may well be right. Perhaps they are inextricable – maybe you can’t have a “hero story” without a ‘Two Tribe’ paradigm…

    I happen to believe that a “Two Tribes” framing won’t work as a solution – I’m in favor of more of a ‘one tribe, stakeholder dialog, delineating positions from interests, yes/yes, everyone has ownership’ type of solution. But I recognize that’s pretty unrealistic and I also think that it’s probably true that a counter “hero story” narrative (and accepting a ‘Two Tribe” paradigm) has the potential of a stalemate while the absence of a counter-narrative to the neo-liberal, social Darwinian has led to meaningfully negative outcomes in the short term.

    Unless biological determinism and the Naturalistic fallacy is a key component of your worldview.

    Or unless you’re “motivated” to overlook those parallels in your zeal to push back against over-reach in the other direction?

  224. Joshua says:

    ….wasn’t arguing in favor of…

  225. Willard says:

    > Trivial but true if it’s meant metaphorically, as in “gravity holds the planets in orbit” or “the evolution and success or failure of a particular phenotype is directed by the dry, value-free, targetless mathematics of GameTheory”. Profound but false it it means that evolution has a preferred outcome or target, just not one selected by God.

    Neither, DaveG – it’s probably meant in a functional sense:

    A third form of philosophy of biology occurs when philosophers appeal to biology to support positions on traditional philosophical topics, such as ethics or epistemology. The extensive literature on biological teleology is a case in point. After a brief flurry of interest in the wake of the ‘modern synthesis’, during which the term ‘teleonomy’ was introduced to denote the specifically evolutionary interpretation of teleological language (Pittendrigh 1958), the ideas of function and goal directedness came to be regarded as relatively unproblematic by evolutionary biologists. In the 1970’s, however, philosophers started to look to biology to provide a solid, scientific basis for normative concepts, such as illness or malfunction (Wimsatt 1972; Wright 1973; Boorse 1976). Eventually, the philosophical debate produced an analysis of teleological language fundamentally similar to the view associated with modern synthesis biology (Millikan 1984; Neander 1991). According to the ‘etiological theory’ of function, the functions of a trait are those activities in virtue of which the trait was selected. The idea of ‘etiological’ or ‘proper’ function has become part of the conceptual toolkit of philosophy in general and of the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mind in particular.

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/biology-philosophy/

  226. Ragnaar says:

    The following may cause anxiety:

    “…as anyone who’s been following Peterson’s bizarrely rapid rise to fame knows, his growing popularity has been strongly countered by progressive commentators, who keep sounding the alarm against him at increasingly higher volumes. If you follow the news stream, it seems that virtually every right-thinking left-leaning journalist, blogger, and social media maven agrees: Peterson is an alt-right wolf in professorial sheep’s clothing, a self-serving charlatan who dresses up old-school misogyny, racism, and elitism in faux-intellectual, fascist mystical garb.”

    http://quillette.com/2018/05/22/jordan-peterson-failure-left/

    I watched this 80 minute long video of his yesterday:
    2015 Personality Lecture 03: Historical Perspectives – Heroic & Shamanic Initiations

    It is simply a lecture to his students, pre-hystery I suppose. He’s a professor at a liberal college teaching us about us. He talks about Harry Potter and how it used a recurring theme. He talked about our history, the things we’re supposed to know and how the young blend that with new things which we can call progress. The Marxist dialectic. A pounding description of it.

    I’ll watch the whole course from beginning to end. Back in the 1980s I had profs who taught similar to Peterson. I looked forward to their classes and the new things I’d learn. He was just a guy in the academic world.

  227. Ragnaar says:

    Dave_Geologist:
    “…if biology is good…”
    “It’s not. It’s amoral.”

    Biology matters. It’s the winners and the losers. So take the things in us that allowed us to win and be here. I think we still need them and are unable to exorcise them if we wanted to. We cannot wish what we are away at the base level. We’ll maybe if we take extreme measures.

  228. Joshua says:

    Ragnaar –

    What about that would make anyone anxious?

  229. Ragnaar says:

    Joshua:

    “I don’t think it’s particularly important as to whether Peterson think that dragons exist. What matters, IMO, is that he (IMO) sells the concept of their existence to push his ideogical agenda under the cover of shallow and shiny mysticism.”

    I don’t know much about Peterson, but that’s never stopped me before. The Dragons are what we fear. A recurring theme in stories. These stories happen to extend over long frames. The Egyptians used them for instance as part of societies that lasted a long time. But it’s not that the dragons were invented to rule a society but a symbol, a symbol related to our biology going quite a ways back. That you argue that they are part of an agenda I think is unfair. We didn’t just happen to have dragons from stories to call on to lead a group of deplorables. The symbolic dragons exist. They are long term societies symbol of what we fear.

  230. Ragnaar says:

    Joshua:
    I sometimes cross post to my Facebook. I left that anxiety thing in. It says to my friends and family, this is not a picture of one of my cats.

  231. Ragnaar says:

    Dave_Geologist:

    “Still fighting those imaginary enemies Ragnaar. I had an imaginary friend when I was a kid. Is it similar?”

    Do you agree it’s an emotional kick to tear down the rich?

    “Minnesota’s Attorney General Lori Swanson joined 16 other State Attorney Generals around the country in the fight against Exxon Mobil.”

    “Congress has decided to take matters into its own hands and investigate the attorney generals involved in the original investigation of Exxon. Congressman Lamar Smith (R – Texas), who is the chairman of the House Science Committee, has requested all communications between the Schneiderman’s office and the climate change activists since 2012.”

    http://alphanewsmn.com/attorney-general-lori-swanson-suppressing-first-amendment-rights/

    See the thing about renewable energy is it is a virtue signal. It ought to be the definition of today’s renewable energy. It gives one license. I think we might even find a study saying that about how Republicans act more, like recycle more or some such thing.

    I still recall the Minnesota Tobacco lawsuit. It was like we won the super bowl. That carrot is out there. That rush of winning against the man. To slay the dragon and get the loot.

  232. Joshua says:

    Ragnaar –

    I agree that he alludes to a metaphor. He also doesn’t clarify so as to (IMO) increase the range of the metaphorical frame of reference.

    That you argue that they are part of an agenda I think is unfair.

    I think he sells fear. I could be wrong. I don’t think that “fairness” has much to do with it. I state my opinion. Appealing to “fairness” in defense of Peterson, given his concerns about snowflakiness, strikes me as more than a bit ironic.

  233. Ragnaar says:

    Dave_Geologist:

    “I heard a radio show a few years ago where a couple of Jungians debated a couple of Freudians on the relative merits of the approaches and the insights of their founders.”

    You might like his lectures. He refers to Freud and Jung and explains it with long timescale biology.

  234. Ragnaar says:

    Steven Mosher says:

    “…and some point after humans destroy their own habitat, cockroaches will conclude that massive gray matter had no adaptive value in the grand scheme of things.”

    Sure. We might want to slowdown. I am seeing Peterson as, Understanding what the hell is going on. It might be helpful if we understand causes of problems. Biology does seem to work for cockroaches.

  235. Ragnaar says:

    “I’m an evolutionary biologist with expertise in mating systems and sexual selection, and “enforced monogamy” is not a term evolutionary biologists use.”

    https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=OtbhlmIAAAAJ&hl=en

    https://www.jstor.org/stable/3448984?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

  236. izen says:

    @-Joshua
    “I think he sells fear. I could be wrong. I don’t think that “fairness” has much to do with it. ”

    He also sells membership of the Tribe that are right. That have truly understood how to make their life meaningful and ordered. They are ready, willing and eager to strap on the Shield of Justice and wield the Sword of Truth against the vast legion of evil bringing Kaos to the World.
    In the form of SWJ’s, Maxists, Socialists, the invention of the contraceptive pill and Libtards.

    I agree with Monbiot that the hero stories are effective. It is hard to resist the warm glow of knowing you occupy the highest bit of the moral high ground.
    For either ‘side’.

    I just doubt it is an accurate narrative as well as one to which we are especially susceptible.

  237. izen says:

    @-Ragnaar
    ” “enforced monogamy” is not a term evolutionary biologists use.””

    Good find. You have shown that ‘enforced monomgamy’ is a term used in evolutionary biology.
    And with an experiment of how it reduced male violence against females, just like JP seemed to imply.
    On experiments with 47 fruit flys.

    One hopes, but has nagging doubts, that JP is not determining how human culture is, or should be ordered from models based on the insect.

  238. Ragnaar says:

    Dave_Geologist:

    “He wants to have them handed to him (presumably from the Bible) or to emerge from some sort of Natural Order he has deduced (with all the pitfalls of Motivated Reasoning in his path).”

    He wants people to understand what they are. If we can do that, we have a chance. For instance, the Bible was the Freud of that time. It articulated something coming from within us. It tends towards this. No great person ever discovered anything. It was already there. And some great people just made stuff up that did not align to what is and what we are.

    So the question is, can’t we just figure this out and detach ourselves from our biological past? I think he’s saying, this is what some people are trying to do.

  239. Ragnaar says:

    :..we’re just told we should cure violent men with our magical…”

    He talks about a Pareto distribution for men getting sex. So, given today’s environment, do we prefer to hate loser men, hate successful men and have violence? If it helps keep down Jordan Peterson, then yes. He is the problem, the reason why other problems exist. Who knows about that one whack job he referred to. But is this a societal problem and does anyone care?

    Because something went viral, that’s what important, not the underlying problems. That you fit in with your social group, and you follow their rules and are liked, that’s the goal. If we could just tell the people not in our group they’ll never be in our group, and be cool while doing so then we’ll be Okay.

  240. izen says:

    @-Ragnaar
    “He wants people to understand what they are.”

    Which assumes;
    1) It is understandable.
    2) That there is a single unified form of understanding shared by all.
    3) That the understanding does not change with time or context.
    4) That people will gain from this particular understanding what they are

    @- “If we can do that, we have a chance.”

    A chance at what ??

    A Utopia I suspect, that is perfect because everyone thinks the same.
    As JP.
    Such enterprises never end well.

  241. Ragnaar says:

    izen:

    “They are ready, willing and eager to strap on the Shield of Justice and wield the Sword of Truth against the vast legion of evil bringing Kaos to the World.”

    Yes, this is in many stories. To confront Chaos the unknown, survive it and learn something. This is good recipe for say settling North America if you were a Native. A heroic story. Columbus did the same thing later and brought back tobacco. Marco Polo. French Trappers. Achilles, Jason, Theseus. Joshua of the Bible.

    He’s a clinical psychologist or something like that. More like helping people deal with their problems through understanding maybe. Acceptance of some things.

  242. Joshua says:

    One hopes, but has nagging doubts, that JP is not determining how human culture is, or should be ordered from models based on the insect.

    Well, lobsters:

    https://phys.org/news/2018-01-psychologist-jordan-peterson-lobsters-human.html

  243. Ragnaar says:

    izen:

    What’s the deal with fruit flies then? About as common as lab rats in the lab.

    “Drosophila melanogaster is a small, common fly found near unripe and rotted fruit. It has been in use for over a century to study genetics and behavior. … Fruit flies are easily obtained from the wild and many biological science companies carry a variety of different mutations.”

  244. Joshua says:

    It has been in use for over a century to study genetics and behavior. …

    Ironically, or perhaps not so ironically?:

    This isn’t the first time researchers have spoken out about science’s tendency to prioritize male sexuality, and males in general.

    https://www.theverge.com/2014/7/2/5864341/sex-life-female-fruit-fly-finally-gets-attention-it-deserves

    Hey, Ragnaar – study that article closely and you might get lucky: 🙂

  245. Joshua says:

    Ragnaar –

    So Peterson defends his use of “enforced monogamy” by explaining that he wasn’t actually speaking about “forcing” monogamy… and then you defend his use of “forced monogamy” by referencing an experiment were the monogamy was enforced?

    C’mon, bro!

    Looks like, maybe, you started analysis by determining the desired outcome.

  246. izen says:

    @-Ragnaar
    “He talks about a Pareto distribution for men getting sex. So, given today’s environment, do we prefer to hate loser men, hate successful men and have violence?”

    But what is today’s environment ?
    Actual surveys of real people shows a 80%-20% split. But not a Pareto distribution.
    For both men and women, 80% claim to have a sex life, 20% claim to be celibate.

    It is not clear there are any winners or losers of the sort that are blamed for violence.

    The politics on envy perhaps…

  247. Ragnaar says:

    izen:

    1) It is understandable.

    Understandable enough. The Bible filled that role for many years. England had a church and ruled the waves. Now, that doesn’t excuse the misuses of the Bible. Then we have the Koran as well.

    2) That there is a single unified form of understanding shared by all.

    How about we work on the commonalities? For instance, what’s the deal with the Middle East? The problems that apply to our young men may be shared by young men and let’s include women in both cases to the Middle East as well. Even to Israel’s situation.

    3) That the understanding does not change with time or context.

    He argues for long timescales that can include evolution. I think he suggested that we are pretty much as we were 200,000 years ago, but if it’s shorter like only 75,000 we’re fine. Take the cavemen and drop them into this. Because we have books we’re really different now? Look at a baby. Here’s some clothes and blanket and you really are much smarter than babies 200,000 years ago. I mean you can walk around on day one like a gazelle or something, because of Freud, Yale, and Apollo 11. They actually are smarter most likely because of having their ‘basic’ needs met. Basic things like their Mother’s health but if their mother has health issues they could be worse off. But this an old one. If the baby has a support network like some primates, they’ll likely do better, just as our children do.

    4) That people will gain from this particular understanding what they are

    We are an animal that keeps trying to figure things out. About ourselves too. We study animal behavior all the time, not as some zoo like exercise with cute animals. Let’s hope I don’t get started with Crows.

    A chance at what ??

    A more happy life to do good things.

  248. Ragnaar says:

    Joshua:

    Lobsters.

    I don’t have problem with that. Physics applies everywhere all the time. He goes to long time scales which is like physics not changing over time, but some nerds may have a correct counter theory for all I know. If a lobster had something and we have a common ancestor, there’s chance we have some of that. And at what I think is called the meta level, the thing that worked for the lobster didn’t stop working. Assume a lobster knows to hide from predators. Assume we do. That we have it isn’t because we read a book or Thomas Jefferson wrote to do this.

  249. Joshua says:

    He goes long time scales sometimes and short time scales other times.

    There are commonalitiea that cross over with him.

    I am glad that you are learning from him, Ragnaar. It seems clear that some people do.

  250. Ragnaar says:

    Joshua:

    This is good:

    “Fortunately, three studies published today in Neuron and Current Biology are challenging the male bias that has marked fruit fly sex research by describing, in detail, the neurobiology of female sexual receptivity.”

    So are trying to make them sterile so we have more avocados or something or do we think we can learn about ourselves?

    I’ve read some above about the criticism of Peterson’s science. We may appreciate he deals with a softer science. On the other hand, us is quite the subject. The us is the reason for all our wars, all our crimes, you name it. And the stakes are higher than our climate. The breadth of what he talks about is huge. Sure he makes mistakes and sure you can find credible people to disagree with him.

  251. Ragnaar says:

    Joshua:

    Enforced monogamy.

    I’ve watched 3 of his class sessions so far. He often refers to the science. Remind you of anyone? A rule of thumb, a way of responding might be to do that. What does the science say? If we wanted feelings for an answer we could ask someone else. Remember, people were offended. Offended by science? Sounds like climate skeptics.

  252. Ragnaar says:

    izen:

    I don’t see any studies saying single white men have problems with quite limited amounts of sex they have. I must be projecting from my past. I guess that stereotype can be crossed of the list. Really, I find this surprising.

  253. Ragnaar says:

    The reason the interwebs lit up with Jordan Peterson can be looked at, especially by us, as similar to the climate wars. Steven Mosher was the first one that I noticed mentioning him, perhaps here but I am at Curry’s too so whatever.

    The lukewarmers make better arguments than the skeptics, and Peterson makes better arguments than Donald Trump and 98% percent of his supporters. They both take on an entrenched position and there’s nothing wrong with having one of those. Go, go ExxonMobil and the U.S.A.

    The replies at the superficial level which unfortunately we seem to be doing more of, and valuing that more, have a similarity as I see it.

    So we have our templates for the climate wars. We see them used over and over, but my viewing might be a bit wider and different than yours. Which is not dismiss the fact that some have 1000 times the depth I have, but I think I was talking about superficial and more people can play that game.

    Now we have our templates. We’ve taken out smarter people than Peterson. We seem to be pretty good at it. And by the way if we look at past history or the Game of Thrones if we are limited for time, where did we figure out that works? But the lukewarmers have their templates and have been making mistakes for 5 years which teaches you something which by the way, Peterson covers that. But we’ve seen why we lose. At least some of us even though some of us are beyond redemption and should stick to other subjects.

    What we’ve learned is scientific support has been used effectively. And we’ve learned what doesn’t work and care has been exercised by some. I have also learned to ask the question, What the hell’s wrong with Germany? (I am about ½ German, I am entitled to.) As it plays out, it just gets worse and worse while proclamations of success keep coming. Excuses keep coming.

    I think a few here have found Peterson doesn’t get the science right. Well when did that ever matter? Now y’all did get the a lot of the science right, but your supporters don’t really care about that. They built wind turbines and solar panels and the science didn’t say to do that or if it did, that part was wrong. But getting the science right is cover for a lot of things. Economic policy for instance. For every politician who feels like it to favor spending some money. Now I haven’t figure out yet what Peterson wants to spend money on. If anything he wants colleges to have more money by not being so damn stupid.

    Now by taking on Peterson, I guess that’s cover for the status quo and our evolving future. I get it when you protect the science. My son is studying physics and I gave him a CPA’s take on reputation and ethics and morality and will do so again. Is this about science or white guys yet again? Maybe it’s the science of white guys. But then we frame him as what’s inflammatory?

    What’s wrong with us, the Peterson supporters? He’s against you, so we support him. That might be an overstatement. We fall for the newest thing. We admire him for standing up. We’re tired of that whole college campus thing. And the last straw for me was some of them are restricting comics. I was Okay with those wind turbines on campus as they were cool, but the comics? We’re tired of being blamed for a lot. Okay we have issues and should be careful but hey, we’re white guys and some of their unlucky wives.

  254. izen says:

    @-Ragnaar
    “We’re tired of that whole college campus thing. And the last straw for me was some of them are restricting comics. I was Okay with those wind turbines on campus as they were cool, but the comics?”

    There are college campuses (campi ?) that are far more censorious and restrictive than the storm in a saucer over whether Viz is acceptable literature.

    Institutions where the books, student and faculty are regulated and controlled to a far greater degree than seen in the State sanctioned academies. Where not only is there an absolute prohibition on any acceptance of diversity, but in at least one case a senior academic was fired for pointing out the commonality we have with others.
    That was when a theologian at a Bible college stated that Christians and Islamics worship the SAME g-d.

    A far more extreme level of constraint on diversity is practiced at religious academies than the culture wars over what can be discussed in the secular schools, but never seems to attracted a commensurate level of critisism.

    An aside on Dragons.
    Not all stories of Dragons depict them as malevolent and destructive. In Chinese literature they can also be immensely wise and powerful agents of good.
    If you keep finding old skeletons of creatures which are anatomically similar to the skeletons of lizards, but much, Much, MUCH bigger, you may ‘invent’ a past filled with very large scaly reptile like creatures. And grind up the Dinosaur fossils as a medicine made from ‘Dragon Bones’.
    Then there is the Griffin and Protoceratops…
    https://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/mythic-creatures/land-creatures-of-the-earth/griffin-bones/

  255. Dave_Geologist says:

    the ideas of function and goal directedness came to be regarded as relatively unproblematic by evolutionary biologists.

    Among philosophers of biology perhaps Willard. Among evolutionary biologists? I doubt it. Dawkins would not not approve (yes, I know he’s famous for his books and unlike Hawking, is an OK researcher not a luminary). And the Wiki page seems to consider it pretty controversial. And as philosophers of biology who support it quotes Haldane (who died in 1962 and was in his sixties when Crick and Watson came along) and Ayala (who does have a strong post-DNA biology pedigree but currently holds joint (emeritus?) professorships in biology, philosophy and social science, and is described in the article as a philosopher of biology). Which hints that it’s his philosophical work which got him co-opted to the cause, not his biological work (although the latter surely informs the former, as must his religious background). And he’s written so many books you could probably find a quote somewhere to support the claim.

    Statements which imply that nature has goals, for example where a species is said to do something “in order to” achieve survival, appear teleological, and therefore invalid to evolutionary biologists.

    People use teleological language a lot, especially outside the formal literature, but I’d bet most of them, if pinned down, would say they don’t think it’s really teleological. Just shorthand or a way to express unfamiliar concepts in everyday language. Like the atmospheric greenhouse, which unlike a real greenhouse doesn’t prevent convection, and indeed probably relies on it to move the CO2 around. At some point I’ve no doubt said “a river flows downhill to get to the sea”. I don’t believe for an instant that the river has a conscious or unconscious desire to get to the sea.

  256. Dave_Geologist says:

    So take the things in us that allowed us to win and be here.

    If you choose to do so Ragnaar. But that’s a moral, religious, political or philosophical choice. Even if it’s pragmatic, why did you choose to be pragmatic? Would you let your child die of malaria when it sweeps north, because letting only the resistant children survive will help embed resistance in the human genome? Biology is amoral but we’re not animals, we have free will and a conscience.

    And make sure you get the biology right. Unlike Peterson. He seems blissfully unaware of the fact that a single mother living on benefits in the projects with three or four children by two or three fathers, none of whom stayed with her, is streets ahead of him when it comes to inclusive fitness. And the fathers who had five or ten children by half a dozen women and abandoned them all is even further ahead. Which shows that his own knowledge of evolutionary biology doesn’t even reach Wikipedia level. So any social or moral inferences he draws from it are a house of cards built on unstable sand.

  257. Dave_Geologist says:

    Should have added Willard, “etiological theory’ of function” is not teleological. At least not if defined like this.

    Arguably, the most widely endorsed account of normative functions in philosophy of biology is an etiological theory that holds that the function of current traits is fixed by the past selection history of other traits of that type.

    For me that falls into the true but trivial category. Or profound in the way 1 + 1 = 2 is profound, because it can be extended to the whole of addition. And is very close to Gould’s concept of “contingency”. Although it can fall into a just so-story. For example, because birds evolved from bipedal, cursorial, ground-dwelling dinosaurs, early feathers which gave an insulation or sexual-selection benefit would be selected for the upper rather than lower limbs. That path is locked into the fact that bird wings = forelimbs. Bats evolved from quadrupedal, arboreal ancestors (I don’t know but I’m playing Kipling here 😉 ). so their path to powered flight could involve a gliding membrane between the fore and hind limbs. That pathway was not available to birds because such a membrane would have been disadvantageous to a cursorial ancestor. They couldn’t get from A to C without passing through B, which is a fitness valley.

    Nothing teleological there.

  258. Dave_Geologist says:

    You might like his lectures. He refers to Freud and Jung and explains it with long timescale biology.

    Probably not Ragnaar. What I’ve read so far reveals that he’s got the biology wrong. Another Naked Emperor.

  259. Dave_Geologist says:

    The symbolic dragons exist. They are long term societies symbol of what we fear.

    But sometimes, Ragnaar, we fear things which don’t exist. And sometimes demagogues play up those fears, and sometimes know that they’re not real. Just because lightning starts fires, that doesn’t mean there are no arsonists. Or indeed that a forest fire isn’t dangerous, arsonist or not.

    I’m not a professional psychologist so I’m allowed to remote-diagnose someone 😉 . The plethora of Marxis/Stalinist symbols on his walls speak to me of insecurity. Of someone who, deep down, recognises that his enemies are not real (or no longer exist with sufficient power to be a threat). So needs to constantly reinforce the fantasy. The same with choosing dragons rather than, say, barbarians-at-the-gates. You can muster an army against dragons by saying they want to burn down your houses and eat your children, without showing them dragons. Whereas some bright spark will actually go to the gates to see if there are any barbarians there, and to confirm that it’s an army and not a couple of unarmed traders. It says to me that somewhere, deep-down, the professional psychologist in him knows that he’s entertaining paranoid delusions and practising motivated reasoning. He’d spot it in an instant in a patient but “Doctor, Heal Thyself” is an impossible dream.

  260. Ragnaar said:

    “Go, go ExxonMobil and the U.S.A.

    Excuses keep coming.

    They built wind turbines and solar panels and the science didn’t say to do that or if it did, that part was wrong. “

    Haven’t you heard Ragnaar? Minnesota has zero crude oil, coal, and natural gas resources. I don’t even think science was needed to establish that fact, just some guys with shovels.

    The Road Warrior was prescient — the convoys headed to NoDak are loaded with sand. That signals the end game.

  261. Dave_Geologist says:

    Do you agree it’s an emotional kick to tear down the rich?

    Not in the slightest Ragnaar. At least not for me. Imaginary enemy #1.

    Congressman Lamar Smith (R – Texas), who is the chairman of the House Science Committee, has requested all communications between the Schneiderman’s office and the climate change activists since 2012.

    That would be the Lamar Smith who has publicly lied about climate change and who gets his biggest funding from the fossil fuel industry? The same Smith guilty of actual, not imaginary harassment of scientists, who justified it on the same legal basis as the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s. As if that was a good thing! Unclean hands Ragnaar, unclean hands. BTW I do think it was a stupid lawsuit.

    See the thing about renewable energy is it is a virtue signal.

    No it’s not. It’s a way of reducing our carbon emissions while maintaining an energy-intensive economy. Imaginary enemy #2.

    I think we might even find a study saying that about how Republicans act more, like recycle more or some such thing.

    You need to read that more carefully Ragnaar. You’ll see that the wording was such that someone who drives a gas-guzzler but recycles cans cares as much as someone who commutes by bus but doesn’t recycle cans. A long as he believes AGW is a hoax and therefore his gas-guzzler doesn’t harm the environment. It actually make the real lies-and-misinformation campaign, which is what the AGs should have gone after, more culpable not less. It means that there is a constituency out there who would get on board with climate action, if only they believed the truth and not the lies.

    I still recall the Minnesota Tobacco lawsuit. It was like we won the super bowl. That carrot is out there. That rush of winning against the man. To slay the dragon and get the loot.

    Or maybe they were motivated by righteous anger at the avoidable death of a loved one from lung cancer? And BTW that was a real conspiracy, with real people paying other real people to tell real lies, in the full knowledge that they were lying and that other people would die as a consequence. Documentary evidence, in black and white, uncovered by the AGs’ subpoenas. Not an imaginary dragon, a real barbarian army. See the difference?

  262. Dave_Geologist says:

    To no-one in particular.

    Genetic determinism: If chimpanzees (or, FFS lobsters) have something to tell us about “natural” human society because of a shared ancestry, how come chimpanzees and bonobos, so close they were once considered one species, are utterly and completely different from one another in their social behaviour?

  263. Dave_Geologist says:

    “I’m an evolutionary biologist with expertise in mating systems and sexual selection, and “enforced monogamy” is not a term evolutionary biologists use.”

    https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=OtbhlmIAAAAJ&hl=en

    https://www.jstor.org/stable/3448984?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

    Experimentally enforced monogamy Ragnaar. In naturally polygamous species. Completely irrelevant to incels going all snowflakey about not getting a girlfriend. In a mostly-monogamous species.

    Cheap point-scoring, and an own-goal because it shows that even with Google Scholar to help, you couldn’t find an actual refutation, just a nitpicking one.

  264. Dave_Geologist says:

    The rest was TL;DR so I skimmed Ragnaar.

    But in summary, there is a comparison to climate change.

    AGW is science, windmills or carbon taxes are policy. They may or may not follow from the science. You can accept the reality of AGW and argue for BAU, and let the future looks after itself. You’d have to be dumber than paint, or completely uncaring about future generations to do so. Or believe that some new technology will make it all OK. Which, absent a credible path to that technology, is a subset of dumber-than-paint. Nevertheless, it is a valid position and one worthy of debate. But one most on the do-nothing side are not brave enough to take on. Instead they go for:

    AGW is a hoax, windmills or carbon taxes are policies we want to do anyway. The first part of that statement is factually wrong as well as being science denial. The fact that it is based on a false premise makes the conclusion irrelevant. It may be right, it may be wrong, the argument doesn’t move us forward either way because it’s based on a false premise. The same is true about picking the last bit of science Fred Singer did a couple of decades ago (and which was observationally demonstrated to be invalid within a couple of years, or more precisely shown to be too small to make a difference when it comes to making policy decisions) and ignoring everything else. Ah yes, Fred Singer. Funny you should bring up the tobacco lawsuits.

    It takes very little reading to realise that Peterson is either inventing the biology that he claims to rely on, or that he’s pretty much ignorant of biology. So his arguments fall into the second category. He adduces science to support his sociology and psychology arguments, but his biology is like Fred-Singer’s climatology. Little nuggets of truth in a spoil-heap of nonsense. So his argument is based on a false premise.

    TL;DR: Using science to support your argument is only valid if you get the science right. JP doesn’t.

  265. Magma says:

    A few months ago I dismissed Peterson here as a second-rate academic grifter who realized he could cash in on bigotry. This recent profile in the Toronto Star written by a former friend and colleague suggests I was wrong about that, and that Peterson actually believes much of what he says. I think cult leaders are more worrying than con artists (although L. Ron Hubbard was both), especially if they have an angry, potentially violent audience receptive to their message.

    https://www.thestar.com/opinion/2018/05/25/i-was-jordan-petersons-strongest-supporter-now-i-think-hes-dangerous.html

  266. izen says:

    @-Magma

    The Bernard Schiff essay on JP is a masterful and elegant piece of writing. If you want to learn how to structure a powerful narrative it is a exemplary model.

    Start with foreshadowing the theme – check
    Establish credentials as true friend and therefore reliable judge – check

    List the escalating behaviours that you first defended and dismissed as his eccentricities, but then came to judge as evidence of his toxic arrogance and dubious moral position.

    Provide a pop-psychological explanation by suggesting his ‘deep’ insights into the human condition and arrogance in defending them, are actually projections of his own mental problems. Cyclic manic-depression gives him alternating views of the world as chaotic, evil and bad – depressive phase; followed by grandiose and transcendent insights about how to solve it without any consideration for the truth or feasibility or those ideas during the manic phase.

    It is well worth the read, both as a damming indictment of JP, and as an essay in how to write well and effectively.

  267. Joshua says:

    Ragnaar –

    If a lobster had something and we have a common ancestor, there’s chance we have some of that.

    Sure. And there’s a chance that monkeys might fly out of my butt at any minute.

    The problem that I see with Peterson is that he weaponizes science by cherry-picking and reverse engineering to tell Just-So stories, in support of an ideological agenda. He states his ideological agenda over and over, and explicitly describes it as a motivating factor when he speaks of his personal history.

    That is all his right. We all have agendas. We all cherry pick to create self-sealing, bias-confirmng, Just- So Sories. The issue that I have is when he, and his cohort, and his followers, argue that they should be excluded from such a pattern as they go about discussing the pattern among those they disagree with – as if they are heroes, taking heroic risks, as expose a deep dark secret.

    Sameosameo, IMO.

    I wouldn’t suggest that there’s nothing to learn from Peterson – but I do think that is approach to uncertainty is dramatically unscientific. That kind of certainty has a great appeal in polarized contexts where people are seeking identity-confirmation.

    I think a few here have found Peterson doesn’t get the science right.

    For me, the issue ins’t about getting science right or wrong, but it’s about treating uncertainty in an unscientific manner. Some of Peterson’s speculation may well be scientifically validated – but the problem, IMO, is that he weaponizes uncertainty.

    From what I’ve seen his appeal to (at least some of) his supporters really does remind me of faith in religious leaders. There are many conversion stories, or lifted out of the darkness stories. Many of his supporters tend to be messianic in their support, where any criticism is taken as rather similar to an attack on a Jesus-like figure. And we also have support such as that you expressed, where you do a web search to conflate “enforced monogamy” as a scientific term of art with a methodological description of “experiment enforced monogamy”

    That said, I think that there is a tendency on the other side,for over-reach. Peterson sets up the trap through plausible deniability and weaponizing the uncertainty in what he says, and his critics fall into the trap by personalizing criticism; in the end that just confirms the belief among his supporters that what he says is so true and so insightful that his critics need to silence him rather than engage with his ideas. The ultimate irony there is that its about confirming a sense of grievance and victimhood – which is a primary plank of his criticism of the dangers of political correctness and “the far left.”

    Offended by science? Sounds like climate skeptics.

    I don’t happen to think that we can break these patterns down in to a taxonomy of what sounds like “skeptics” or “realists” or “lukewarmers” or “Peterson supporters.” These are patterns of human behavior, IMO. And, it is easily predicable that people who engage in these behaviors will selectively assign them to various groups depending on which bias they want to confirm.

    What’s wrong with us, the Peterson supporters? He’s against you, so we support him.

    Right. And that’s where his use of “science” becomes problematic.

    That might be an overstatement.

    I don’t think so.

    We fall for the newest thing. We admire him for standing up.

    It’s an very attractive hero narrative. Listen to the Monbiot interview.

    We’re tired of that whole college campus thing.

    Right. Another hero story. How much do you care, really, about that “whole college campus thing?”
    How big is it, really? What is the actual impact on society? And how does it compare in size and impact to “attacks on free speech” such as Fox News and the president lobbying to stifle people who say “Happy Holidays” or who want to take a knee during the national anthem?

    And the last straw for me was some of them are restricting comics.

    Last straw? Really? How did that impact your life? I’m not offering a defense, or saying that these issues are completely irrelevant. I’m just suggesting that these issues get constantly drama-queened. In the longer term, macro-level frame, I think that we have come a long way in recent decades to expand the agency of a wider variety of people to speak freely. I see it as something of a signal/noise question. Yes, there is an image of limiting free speech when a group of students shout over Charles Murray. Yes, physical injury to Murray’s host is indefensible. Yes, these patterns can be angled in such a way that the light shines onto aspects that resemble certain aspects of Stalinism. But what are we really talking about here: signal or noise?

    We’re tired of being blamed for a lot.

    Yes, a sense of victimization is at the heart of much of this, IMO. But there be all kinds of victimization – but I would argue, some which have persisted for far longer, and extended much deeper than the sense of victimization you know feel.

    Okay we have issues and should be careful but hey, we’re white guys and some of their unlucky wives.

    It sucks when power shifts, Ragnaar. That truth needs to be grounded in a larger context.

  268. Ragnaar says:

    izen;

    Up here in Minnesota we have the MIAC. Tier 3 I think. Those are our religious colleges. And they’re like you said. And yes there are cases where they have misused religion. I ended up at the main U of MN campus. Quite a collection of misfits for Minnesota. But there was this richness of variety. I enjoyed the soapbox crazies speaking on the central mall and the young students reactions to them.

    I find an important value in comics. They have license to go to difficult places.

  269. Joshua says:

    I find an important value in athletes. Their ability to express their opinions can have an meaningful influence.

  270. Ragnaar says:

    Izen:

    Half fast is better than nothing. 3 levels.
    # Words.
    # Whatever really is at our base level and how we are like lobsters. The fight or flight changes you can actually feel and measure.
    # Symbols are the bridge between the first two. We didn’t always talk. We grunted and used hand signals and other stuff. Use your fingers on your head and signal a Tonka. That can mean, watch out for the bleeping buffalo or we get to eat today. If you do the the Tonka thing to a one or two year old, they’ll get it. And such things have been around longer than written words.

    Yes, I accept that the East may view dragons differently and I suppose it’s from earlier isolation. I don’t know much about Eastern society. Which reminds me, I have Korean client and I’ll ask her about that.

    A Griffin. Either kill it or sneak up to it and steal its treasure. That’s a successful video game. Shares up about 400% since I acquired their stock. This was random luck. Young people, you’re good, don’t stop doing what you’re doing.

    Going down another rabbit hole, The World of Warcraft is/was a successful game. It is slaying the dragon and getting the loot. It is the Marxist dialect. Take on the unknown, possibly die (it’s temporary), and you end up better as you get better loot than you had. The total of your loot is like your strength, how badass you are. In one of his lectures he didn’t say so, but he was talking about WoW. So they just recycled a main story that has been with us for thousands of years, sometimes portrayed with symbols. An argument would be that why it worked, it leveraged something within us or kind of within us. Peterson then has an advantage why? Whether stated or not, and I haven’t looked, he taps into what some young people are familiar with. Earlier I mentioned he covered Harry Potter. My kids had some video game about that and watched all the movies. Let’s decide if Peterson is right or wrong? Not the question, he communicates and teaches. And he hitches his wagon to something with value.

  271. izen says:

    @-Ragnaar
    “I find an important value in comics. They have license to go to difficult places.”

    https://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0055/0055_01.asp

  272. Ragnaar says:

    Dave_Geologist:

    We make choices. To dredge a river to its full usable length or use shallow draft shipping? One option lets the river be a river and the other attempts to change the river.

    We are fighting the Red River up here. It floods sometimes. Partly because we farm. We are fighting against its natural state as it was 500 years ago.

    “And the fathers who had five or ten children by half a dozen women and abandoned them all is even further ahead.”

    Okay, it’s good you step into the minefield and I wisely follow you. He is further ahead, but his reason to be, to reproduce with success as birds do, is less than ideal. At some point, men realized, I don’t have to care about that, they break from their past. Their ability to break from their past is addressed by law. Child support. I have clients who have what I’ll call child support debt. I also have as clients, the mothers of the involved children (not 100% one way of the other, true). Whatever our opinions here, law addresses this and supports a model.

    I have two sons in their early 20s. I care and help them for what gain? It costs me. I guess I channel my inner chimpanzee or something. For a long time this kind of thing has been framed as other things. Why do mothers do the same kind of thing? Not from reading a book. We are aware of the lengths a mother will go to protect their child. On the other hand, it is a blend of things. Not just nature.

  273. Joshua says:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23585378

    Human social evolution has most often been treated in a piecemeal fashion, with studies focusing on the evolution of specific components of human society such as pair-bonding, cooperative hunting, male provisioning, grandmothering, cooperative breeding, food sharing, male competition, male violence, sexual coercion, territoriality, and between-group conflicts. Evolutionary models about any one of those components are usually concerned with two categories of questions, one relating to the origins of the component and the other to its impact on the evolution of human cognition and social life. Remarkably few studies have been concerned with the evolution of the entity that integrates all components, the human social system itself. That social system has as its core feature human social structure, which I define here as the common denominator of all human societies in terms of group composition, mating system, residence patterns, and kinship structures. The paucity of information on the evolution of human social structure poses substantial problems because that information is useful, if not essential, to assess both the origins and impact of any particular aspect of human society.

    Only 17 percent of human cultures are strictly monogamous. The vast majority of human societies embrace a mix of marriage types, with some people practicing monogamy and others polygamy. (Most people in these cultures are in monogamous marriages, though.)

    Let’s sit around and make up some Just So Stories, about evolution, eh? Anyone observed any lobsters lately?

    While the two new studies published last week disagree about the force driving the evolution of monogamy, they do agree on something important. “Once monogamy has evolved, then male care is far more likely,” Dr. Opie said.

    Once a monogamous primate father starts to stick around, he has the opportunity to raise the odds that his offspring will survive. He can carry them, groom their fur and protect them from attacks.

    Ok. Here’s one: We can tell a story about how evolutionary pressure is towards reducing differences between male roles and female roles in society. In order to save our specifies from extinction, we should for men to share in child-reading, and force women to be equally represented in the work space.

    Does that work for you, Ragnaar?

  274. Ragnaar says:

    Dave_Geologist says:

    “But sometimes, Ragnaar, we fear things which don’t exist.”

    So our rational, our books, our institutions full of smart people that prove there are no dragons.

    Yet things that we fear still exist. Three again:

    # Our rational exists, in books and college libraries and at Wikipedia.
    # Our fears exist as part of our deep natural self.
    # A dragon is an old attempt to bridge the two above. Existing for people in 1500 AD who didn’t have books. I can argue it’s universal.

    We have the fear of AGW. Portrayed in symbols and using visual communications. The dragons exist in part to be conquered. To be confronted and slain. Not reasoned away as not being there.

    Republicans are dragons. They are confronted and attempts are made to (non violent word here) no longer be. Commies are dragons. We had to have our Crusades, go West young person. Fight the Evil Empire and get Darth Vader.

    It is interesting the SJWs have a higher than average reaction, if they heard of him, to Peterson. He becomes the dragon. He is to be vanquished that leads to a new better state of being. Words are used the may reference powerful symbols. There’s a list of them I don’t need to repeat.

    Likewise think of some symbols from the 1970s. Effective.

  275. Joshua says:

    It is interesting the SJWs have a higher than average reaction, if they heard of him, to Peterson. He becomes the dragon

    Say provocative things. Call people names. Sell fear about the end of civilization.

    Then complain when you’re criticized. Even as you say that civilization will end because people are too sensitive.

    It’s a very effective formula.

  276. Dave_Geologist says:

    He is further ahead, but his reason to be, to reproduce with success as birds do, is less than ideal.

    No he absolutely isn’t. Not in an evolutionary biology sense. Selfish Genes. Read Dawkins, not some Readers-Digest garbled pop-Darwin. Dawkins may not be right on everything, but on this Dawkins is a hundred times righter than Peterson. Read The Relativity of Wrong. Peterson is a flat-earther on that scale. Dawkins is one of those debating the degree of oblateness and which geoid to use to represent sea level where there’s no sea.

    If Peterson thinks having a nice house and being on the cover of Time or whatever is evolutionary success and having lots of children and grandchildren isn’t, he doesn’t understand evolution. He’s making the mistake of conflating memes with genes. He’s using social or societal evolution and calling it biological evolution. It’s not. Never has been and never will be. Biology owns the term biological evolution not Peterson. He doesn’t have the right to redefine it and, yes, to weaponise the claim that he hasn’t redefined it and is arguing from biology. He isn’t. End of.

  277. Willard says:

    > Selfish Genes. Read Dawkins, not some Readers-Digest garbled pop-Darwin.

    What if I told you that The Selfish Gene was garbled pop Darwin, DaveG?

    The hint is in the title.

  278. Ragnaar says:

    Paul Pukite:

    “There’s a scene where Max climbs a hill carrying jerrycans on a shaft across his shoulders. I saw an echo of Christ in that, carrying the crosspiece of the cross to Golgotha, and Max is “crucified” for the gasoline in the end; he suffers so that others can be saved.”

    “…Conan the barbarian as the story of Christ as Germanic warlord/messiah.”

    “…but dude, tree of woe = crucifixion.”

    http://grylliade.org/drupal/node/2033

    Terminator symbolism, yes. “As a woman, she also represents life in a more literal way: she can have children, something she is well on her way to doing by the film’s conclusion. By extension, Reese notes that Sarah’s child will bring humanity back “from the brink” of extinction. This makes Sarah’s ability to give birth a literal and figurative lifeline for humanity.”

    https://www.shmoop.com/terminator/terminator-symbol.html

    So, chased by a Dragon or death or evil if you will. They are forced out of their safe space. John Conner is Christ. Reese comes from the future for Gosh Sake. Mary is worshiped to this day and Sarah is in the movie. Jesus took on what? Quite a bit. The Romans for one before they had mandatory diversity training. I haven’t kept up on the recent versions but, many have been told to fight the infidels and that will be a very long war.

    The sand in the tanker at the end of Road Warrior:

    “…That forgery, that product of subterfuge, thus acquired the name of Mendacium [Pseudologos, Falsehood], and I readily agree with people who say that she has no feet: every once in a while something that is false can start off successfully, but with time Veritas (Truth) is sure to prevail.”

    Well, the good guys threw a deception at the bad guys. The above is a warning not to be tricked. Those that fail to know Greek fables may be tricked and be stuck at a lower level and fail. This comes from an old story and talks about Truth. Even the term Myth is a framing. So how to win in 500 BC? Listen to the story and learn from it and do it.

    In the Terminator they had dogs to sniff out the Arnold Terminators. They listened to Aesop stories even if their books had been lost. In one of the more recent versions, the guy and chick walk through the minefield to get into the base and he is about half a terminator even though he doesn’t know it and gets hurt. Deception again. Then he’s going to be crucified but hangs on an axle cross but escapes with help and is kind of reborn and then saves us by saving John Conner with his literal heart I think. This is my body, this is my blood which we heard during communion. So that reborn thing for the half guy was short term but we did get saved for now. Skynet not incorporating Aesop’s fables well enough made a mistake and its deception ends up saving John Conner.

    So Skynet doesn’t have morals I don’t think. It appears one dimensional such as take out humans. It steals from us. We made all this stuff in the first place. We can’t throw our books at it. President Obama can’t negotiate with it. Sweden can’t give it a Nobel Prize. What do we have? We are fighting the results of ourselves.

  279. BBD says:

    What if I told you that The Selfish Gene was garbled pop Darwin, DaveG?

    The hint is in the title.

    Never judge a book by its title. But seriously ‘garbled pop Darwin’? Can you unpack this a bit? Not a fan of the latter-day Dawkins, but I remember TSG being astute and illuminating.

  280. Dave_Geologist says:

    What if I told you that The Selfish Gene was garbled pop Darwin, DaveG?

    I’d say do the math Willard 🙂 . It’s a metaphor, yes, but the only mechanism to transmit heredity through generations* is genes. And yes, epigenetics. But how does that work? Genes, unless you think there’s some exotic life-force involved. Somewhere in our past we evolved the ability to influence how our genes are expressed by up- or down-regulating them, based on natal or pre-natal experiences. It proved to be advantageous so was fixed. In our (metaphorically selfish) genes.

    * I’m being strictly biological here. Obviously having rich parents increases (or may increase; maybe you die young from a hedonistic o/d) your inclusive fitness. But that’s not biology. Unless, as in Niven’s know space, luck is controlled by a gene and is literally heritable.

  281. Dave_Geologist says:

    That’s Known Space of course. And I wasn’t implying Darwin was wrong. For his time. But Science Moves On. No-one serious should be basing an evolutionary argument on Darwin, other than to admire how close he got without knowing about genes or even digital heredity (and even there he had the insight to know that “blending” was a challenge to his theory). They should be basing their argument on the Modern Synthesis. And getting it right. The Reader’s Digest version was more a reference to some fusty, out-of-date, not very rigorous view of evolution that is based on late 19th or early 20th Century misunderstandings. Or attempt to co-opt into a world-view. You’d be surprised how many conservative or YEC comments I’ve read demolishing Darwin, by critiquing the “Great Chain of Being” as teleology without God. But of course Darwin himself rejected that teleological directionality! IMHO the two D’s had more similarities than differences.

  282. Willard says:

    I mostly remember that TSG infuriated me a lot, BBD.

    Here could be an important beef:

    There is not – and does not have to be – any single, central mechanism of evolution. There are many such mechanisms, which all need to be investigated on their own terms. If one finds this kind of position reasonable, the interesting next question is, what has made it so hard to accept? What has kept this kind of dogmatic “Darwinism” – largely independent of its founder – afloat for so long, given that much of the material given here is by no means new?

    The explanation for this might be the seductive myth that underlies it. That myth had its roots in Victorian social Darwinism but today it flows largely from two books – Jacques Monod’s Chance and Necessity (1971) and Richard Dawkins’s The Selfish Gene (1976). Both these books, of course, contain lots of good and necessary biological facts. But what made them bestsellers was chiefly the sensational underlying picture of human life supplied by their rhetoric and especially their metaphors. This drama showed heroic, isolated individuals contending, like space warriors, alone against an alien and meaningless cosmos. It established the books as a kind of bible of individualism, most congenial to the Reaganite and Thatcherite ethos of the 80s. Monod first showed humans in Existentialist style as aliens – “gypsies” in a foreign world – and, by expanding the role of chance in evolution, concluded that our life was essentially a “casino”. Dawkins added personal drama by describing a population of genes which – quite unlike the real ones inside us – operate as totally independent agents and can do as they please. It is no great surprise that these images caught on, nor that they can now persist whether or not the doctrines linked to them turn out to be scientific.

    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2010/feb/06/what-darwin-got-wrong

    The exchange between Bob & BretW ends with BretW trying to explain the Internet Darth Web by using a “gypsies” explanation, which interestingly also may explain autism in evo terms.

    While “getting the science right” may cover for a lot of things, it doesn’t cover for the pop philosophy it sells. I’ve seen better philosophy with just so science than good philosophical improvisations by scientists. More often than not it leads to unoriginal SpeedoScience.

  283. Willard says:

    All that being said, bad science and bad philosophy is the worse:

  284. Willard says:

    And, for good measures, Freedom Fighters who teach philosophy may be the worse of the worse:

  285. No Ragnaar. The symbolism is Peak Oil. but you just don’t get it. The sand in the tanker was just a diversion. http://williardworks.com/node/80

    And its just a coincidence that fracking sand proppant is being shipped by convoys and rail, and an updated symbolism that you again don’t seem to get.

  286. BBD says:

    Here could be an important beef:

    That’s interesting and would have gone right over my head when I read TSG in the early ’80s. I’m catching up slowly 🙂

  287. Ragnaar says:

    The story of renewables.

    David & Goliath.
    Christ saving us from our sins.
    Prometheus.
    Fire and Brimstone.
    The Exodus.
    The Garden of Eden.
    Soteria.
    Elysium.

    They are packaged or marketed using some of these themes and others. Now when we give them our acid test of science or call upon that story, we get what we have or we don’t (have viable solutions at this time) and then we use Goliath except Goliath kicked David’s ass in this situation. Which means that story didn’t work. Then we can go with, Christ will return, he just hasn’t yet. But he’s going to, along with all the stuff he’s going to save us from and we can see signs of that stuff already. The Exodus is good because I mean we have so much tyranny from white men and nobody said this was going to easy and hold steady and watch out for false Gods. And in Christ like fashion our leaders ain’t going to make it to the promised land like in the story. And the false God thing, we can ride that one for decades. Regarding Peterson, Exodus is really good. You are going to have to confront something. The outcome is unknown. You must escape from where you are. You are likely to improve your situation if you survive. In other situations, that story has played out many times.

    So we are trying different arguments out and solutions too. That occurs against the backdrop of our long history. If the solutions evade us we can ask why? We can sweep off the table all that is old and replace it with science and name your economists and great social thinkers. And take a few shots at the old why we are at.

    We can ask what makes the United States different and while we are young and all this old stuff should apply to us and look what Western Europe thinks and every other well off country. But judged by viable solutions, we won to date. Our CO2 emissions as of yesterday compared to some scientific date. The prices we pay are Okay.

    While one can try to align a story with the goal, the story needs to play out. Exodus doesn’t work if at the end, they all die and Satan wins.

  288. Willard says:

    > It’s a metaphor, yes

    But a metaphor for what, DaveG?

    Here’s an analogy, courtesy of Mary Midgley:

    “I don’t quite understand how Dawkins has become such a sage and so prominent,” she continues, suggesting that it was the celebrated evolutionary biologist’s misfortune to encounter exceptional success as “a young man of 27” – although he was actually 35 when The Selfish Gene was published. The same thing happened to AJ Ayer, she says, but he spent the rest of his career taking back what he’d written in Language, Truth and Logic. “This hasn’t occurred to Dawkins,” she says. “He goes on saying the same thing.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/mar/23/mary-midgley-philosopher-soul-human-consciousness

    If that doesn’t convince you, try reading Dawkins’ own response.

    Ragnaar will note a similar storification as what serve us IDW’s Freedom Fighters.

  289. Mal Adapted says:

    Willard:

    What if I told you that The Selfish Gene was garbled pop Darwin, DaveG?

    If you told me that, I’d quibble with ‘garbled’. Dawkins wrote (rather well, IMIMO) TSG to present kin selection and reciprocal altruism to an ‘educated lay’ audience. It’s an expressly anti-group-selectionist ‘pop’ response to Wynne-Edwards. Dawkins later updated TSG as The Extended Phenotype for biologists, placing altruism more firmly within the Modern (i.e. neo-Darwinian) Synthesis. I have a paperback edition of TEP on my shelf, but never got around to reading beyond the front matter. Here’s a review of TEP by none other than John Maynard Smith, a key contributor to the Modern Synthesis himself.

  290. Ragnaar says:
    May 28, 2018 at 9:22 pm
    “The story of renewables.”

    Strawman. The story is one of non-renewable finite resources. They have trouble admitting this.

  291. Leto says:

    From the quote provided by Willard: “This drama showed heroic, isolated individuals contending, like space warriors, alone against an alien and meaningless cosmos.”

    This statement could only come from someone who had failed to understand TSG (or was describing a position taken by someone who didn’t understand TSG). If anything, TSG demoted the central biological importance of the “individual”, by pointing out that the individual organism exists for the genes’ benefit.

  292. izen says:

    @-W
    “I mostly remember that TSG infuriated me a lot, BBD.”

    I would agree with Mal.
    TSG as a book is mostly good biology for a lay public. It is a victim of its own success, suffering from a backlash to how virulently infective its meme of genetic selfishness became. As an introduction to the underlying processes, it largely gets it right.
    It is not entirely innocant of Just-so-ism and sociological projections.

    The extended phenotype was more rigorous, less accesable but did reveal more of the tendency to favour E O Wilson socio-evolutionary ideas over opponents like Steve Rose.

    I wonder what about TSG you found infuriating, the biology was reasonable, the framing as ‘selfish’ plays with intentionality/teleology, but does so to emphasis the effective indifference that genetic processes have to future outcomes. Abundance and persistence are the only, post hoc, qualities that matter.

  293. izen says:

    @-W
    “…which interestingly also may explain autism in evo terms.”

    An achievement roughly equivalent to explaining it as an imbalance of the Four Humours.

  294. Magma says:

    @Willard at 8:13PM

    I personally know of a full professor at a very well-ranked physics department who wore a faultless public face, but under a pseudonym directed moderate to intense bigotry on social media at a wide range of the usual targets: women, ethnic minorities, aboriginals, Muslims, ‘social justice warriors’, etc.

    I’ve always wondered about cases like his, but think Maya Angelou’s comment “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time” is probably right.

  295. > Dawkins wrote (rather well, IMIMO) TSG to present kin selection and reciprocal altruism to an ‘educated lay’ audience.

    RichardD did a bit more than that, Magma. Just like Matt King Coal’s Rational Optimist talks about our innateness for trading to promote GRRRRROWTH, RichardD, who’s incidentally a friend of Matt King Coal, presents his favorite interpretation of evolution, i.e. genes as units of selection, to abstract lots of layers of phenomena we usually care about at a more relevant scales for humans. I don’t know about you, but presenting a metaphor of directedness to explain away directedness looks self-defeating to me. Since RichardD, like JordanP, StevenP or Matt King Coal, are mostly selling books, they should be evaluated according to their entertainment value. Books are not where the science should be.

    Not only RichardD’s interpretation should not be considered the mainstream one, but it could very already have neem refuted:

    EDGE: Where do you think Darwinism is going to go in the next 50 years?

    MAYR: Well, Darwinism will not have to do any going, because it’s already here. In the last 50 years, ever since the “Evolutionary Synthesis” of the 1940s, the basic theory of Darwinism has not changed, with perhaps one exception, that is the question of the target of selection. What’s the object of a selective act? For Darwin, who didn’t know any better, it was the individual — and it turns out he was right.

    An individual either survives or doesn’t, an individual either reproduces or doesn’t, an individual either reproduces very successfully or it doesn’t. The idea that a few people have about the gene being the target of selection is completely impractical; a gene is never visible to natural selection, and in the genotype, it is always in the context with other genes, and the interaction with those other genes make a particular gene either more favorable or less favorable. In fact, Dobzhanksy, for instance, worked quite a bit on so-called lethal chromosomes which are highly successful in one combination, and lethal in another. Therefore people like Dawkins in England who still think the gene is the target of selection are evidently wrong. In the 30’s and 40’s, it was widely accepted that genes were the target of selection, because that was the only way they could be made accessible to mathematics, but now we know that it is really the whole genotype of the individual, not the gene. Except for that slight revision, the basic Darwinian theory hasn’t changed in the last 50 years.

    https://www.edge.org/conversation/ernst_mayr-what-evolution-is

    That being said, as RichardD is first and foremost and entertainer, this should not matter much.

  296. Ragnaar says:

    Dave_Geologist:

    What’s dumb is continuing to add wind turbines and solar panels to our grid. I think wind turbines are limited by physics and there may be future hope for solar panels but at 50 cents a watt they are about free now. It’s the other problems they have that aren’t captured by the that 50 cents. But dumb compounded is home solar. Commercial costs less and a power utility doesn’t need 50 thousand people that bought in to complain all the time. A skeptic will say, just you wait. I’ll say, just you wait until this home solar mirage collapses. It’s going to be epic.

    I accept you think Peterson is ignorant. We’ll disagree.

  297. Ragnaar says:

    Joshua:

    Do the phrase ‘ideological agenda’ mean anything?

    You manage to criticize people who agree with him as unfortunate. Suggest he’s using what might be considered a devious approach.

    As far a colleges impact on society, less and less I suppose given reasons such as the internet. They may be unimportant. They do consume a lot of money.

    The power shifts and Trump gets elected. Nice to see that’s so well received.

  298. Ragnaar says:

    Joshua:

    You lost me. We all agree that evolution favors monogamous marriage or something like that.

  299. Leto says:

    There are problems with focusing on the gene as a unit of selection divorced from the context of the organism. There are also problems with concentrating on the organism. Evolution has no basic mechanism to say, of the entire suite of genes coming together in a single organism, that the combination is worthy, and therefore should be preserved.

  300. > This statement could only come from someone who had failed to understand TSG (or was describing a position taken by someone who didn’t understand TSG).

    Lobstersonians have almost trademarked that kind of response:

    RichardD’s reductionism is well-known:

    Throughout these discussions, Midgley also seeks to undermine the idea that the Darwinist position is the natural outgrowth of evolutionary thinking. Rather, she contends, it arises from a particular misreading of Darwin, an obsessive focus on natural selection (and a particular understanding of natural selection at that). On such views, Darwinism is regarded as little more than natural selection, and the driver of natural selection just is competition between individuals (or ultimately genes). Thus, the views of Thomas Huxley have come to dominate contemporary thinking, “inflating and dramatizing this competitive process into a cosmic force” (100). The paradigmatic example here is Dennett, whose boyish interest in the possibility of a universal acid finds new life in the belief that natural selection constitutes a theory with many analogous properties, i.e., it “eats through every traditional concept.”[2] Here Midgley urges us to refuse to accept that any single idea should have such pretensions to universality. More pointedly, she contends examples of cooperation in nature are easy to find, running from organelles that were once independent organisms and banded together to form eukaryotic cells, to the microbes in our gut that are so essential to proper digestion (6). Dennett and other Darwinists can “insist this is all just wily pretence” if they wish, Midgley observes, but in so doing their “myth-making intention surely becomes obvious” (7).

    https://ndpr.nd.edu/news/the-solitary-self-darwin-and-the-selfish-gene/

    This conclusion appeals to me because it explains the appeal of contrarians, the Darth Web, Freedom Fighters – they’re fighting tooth and nails in a meme war we know scientific communication can’t counter. Science is hard, and the world is complex. Memes can only be countered with memes.

  301. Ragnaar says:

    Joshua says:

    “Say provocative things. Call people names. Sell fear about the end of civilization.”

    I’ll try to be Peterson. There is the known and the unknown. What we do is go to the unknown and confront it. Else we are afraid. Peterson emerges, the unknown. First we throw sticks at it, maybe he’ll go away. Then we get serious and try to understand the dragon’s weak spots. We make sure we are strong, then go in and defeat the dragon. Did we learn anything? Dragons have different tricks. They have different allies. Not all the same. There are many dragons. They’ll be another. Now what have the SJWs learned about dragons? You’ll protect them. They don’t need to do a thing other than be in distress. Let them confront the dragon. They’ll learn something.

  302. Ragnaar says:

    Paul Pukite:

    The sand was a prophecy. The prophecy was fulfilled with fracking. Thus removing the reason for future conflicts.

  303. Ragnaar says:

    Paul Pukite (@WHUT) says:

    “The story is one of non-renewable finite resources.”

    Garden of Eden.

  304. Ragnaar, you make little sense. Fracking for oil using sand as a proppant is but a blip on the fossil fuel timeline. The Bakken of NoDak will be littered with ghost towns in a few years — some garden of eden, eh?

  305. > What’s dumb is continuing to add wind turbines and solar panels to our grid.

    What’s Petersonian is to keep repeating that meme when evidence piles on against it:

    Perhaps a bed time story would make its acceptance easier:

    Mandela used to tell people a little parable. Imagine that the sun and the wind are contending to see who can get a traveller to take off his blanket. The wind blows hard, aggressively. But the traveller only pulls the blanket tighter around him. Then the sun starts to shine, first gently, and then more intensely. The traveller relaxes his blanket, and eventually he takes it off. So that, he said, is how a leader has to operate: forget about the strike-back mentality, and forge a future of warmth and partnership.

    https://aeon.co/essays/there-s-no-emotion-we-ought-to-think-harder-about-than-anger

  306. izen says:

    @-W
    “RichardD’s reductionism is well-known:”

    And best describes the genetic processes. The selfish gene was popularised by Dawkins, but is actually a concept from the 1960s development in genetics by George Williams.
    Using Midgley to counter that with a call for ‘Holism’ is not an optimal strategy if you seek to refute that perspective.

  307. izen says:

    @-W
    “We all agree that evolution favors monogamous marriage or something like that.”

    It is a minority option in the rest of the animal kingdom.
    And in human societies a tradition more honoured in the breach…

  308. Dave_Geologist says:

    But what made them bestsellers was chiefly the sensational underlying picture of human life supplied by their rhetoric and especially their metaphors. This drama showed heroic, isolated individuals contending, like space warriors, alone against an alien and meaningless cosmos. It established the books as a kind of bible of individualism, most congenial to the Reaganite and Thatcherite ethos of the 80s.

    I must admit it’s a long time since I read TSG Willard, and going back for a quick scan I can see how it could be read that way. It is more about human and animal behaviour than I remembered.
    I was thinking more about his subsequent academic debates in the “at root, everything is about the gene” vein. Challenging things like group selection and hype about epigenetics overthrowing a century plus of evolutionary theory. Especially when he’s being rigorous about what can and can’t be passed down the generations and become fixed or dominant in a generation. Hence the math and Game Theory references. He does have the knack of cutting through other peoples’ woolly thinking (which of course doesn’t prevent him having some of his own on other matters), including that of some fellow biologists.

    But compare Dawkins’ reading of the genetic influence to Peterson’s:

    This brings me to the first point I want to make about what this book is not. I am not advocating a morality based on evolution. I am saying how things have evolved. I am not saying how we humans morally ought to behave. I stress this, because I know I am in danger of being misunderstood by those people, all too numerous, who cannot distinguish a statement of belief in what is the case from an advocacy of what ought to be the case. My own feeling is that a human society based simply on the gene’s law of universal ruthless selfishness would be a very nasty society in which to live. But unfortunately, however much we may deplore something, it does not stop it being true. This book is mainly intended to be interesting, but if you would extract a moral from it, read it as a warning. Be warned that if you wish, as I do, to build a society in which individuals cooperate generously and unselfishly towards a common good, you can expect little help from biological nature. Let us try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are born selfish. Let us understand what our own selfish genes are up to, because we may then at least have the chance to upset their designs, something that no other species has ever aspired to.

    He explicitly warned against drawing exactly the sort of conclusions Fodor and Palmarini (or rather Midgely; I haven’t read F&P) rail against. Just as you shouldn’t judge a book by its title, nether should you judge an author by people who twist his message to suit their preconceived identity politics.

    Interestingly, my opinion was shared by the first and last comments on the Guardian article:

    Seems like a worthy read. Anything that adds to a more true understanding of our world!

    I might suggest however, Mary, a rereading of the ‘The Selfish Gene’ to brush up on Dawkin’s thoughts around genetic cooperation. Like most “controversial” cases criticizing neo-Darwinism, the devil is in the lack-of details. In this case, the assigning of the doctrine that Natural Selection ends the conversation about evolution is oversimplified and misses some of the nuances of modern theory. Moreover, it simply isn’t true.

    See also, ‘The Extended Phenotype,’ Dawkins, for a discussion on the “other” factors at hand in the shaping of biological life forms.

    What Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piattelli Palmarini got wrong…

    “People who don’t understand modern evolutionary theory shouldn’t be writing books criticizing evolutionary theory.”*

    No one is prohibited from investigating outside of their academic discipline, but the danger of doing so is to attempt to appear authoritative without enough background to support that appearance.

    *Here’s someone who says it much better than I could:
    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/02/23/fodor-and-piattelli-palmarini/

    (I corrected the link; unfortunately the embedded images in the webpage are dead). PZ knows far more about biology then I do and vastly more than any philosopher. And yes, PZ blogs on areas outside his expertise – and if he’s taken down by an expert in that area, my first instinct is to trust the expert. And Jerry Coyne recommends this.

    The parallel with “the GHG effect isn’t real because real greenhouses stop convection and a gas mixed into the atmosphere can’t do that” and “AGW isn’t real because scientist A said Lindzen’s Iris Effect had been disproved by observations yet scientist B published on the Iris Effect last year (but as a tweak to cloud handling in GCMs to help decide whether it’s a small positive feedback or a small negative feedback, not as a very large negative feedback, acting as a thermostat, which is what the observations disproved)” is too good not to use.

    But no, TSG it’s not a good recommendation for Ragnaar. Too easy to jump to the opposite conclusion to that which Dawkins expressed.

  309. Dave_Geologist says:

    Here’s an analogy, courtesy of Mary Midgley:

    Well yes. But the Guardian comment below the one I posted claimed this:

    For those unfamiliar, Midgley penned a review of ‘The Selfish Gene’ in 1979 and completely misunderstood Dawkins’ use of ‘selfish’. She has clung on to her misunderstanding ever since with a death-like grip and wheels it out at every opportunity.

    I omitted it as a bit ad-hommish, unless I did due diligence and tracked down and read some of those reviews.

    But from Wiki:

    She wrote that she had previously “not attended to Dawkins, thinking it unnecessary to ‘break a butterfly upon a wheel’. But Mr Mackie’s article is not the only indication I have lately met of serious attention being paid to his fantasies.”[30] In a rejoinder in 1981, Dawkins retorted that the comment was “hard to match, in reputable journals, for its patronising condescension toward a fellow academic.”[31] He wrote that she “raises the art of misunderstanding to dizzy heights. My central point had no connection with what she alleges. I am not even very directly interested in man, or at least not in his emotional nature. My book is about the evolution of life, not the ethics of one particular, rather aberrant, species.”[31] In volume 58 (1983), Midgley replied again, in “Selfish Genes and Social Darwinism”: “Apology is due, not only for the delay but for the impatient tone of my article. One should not lose one’s temper, and doing so always makes for confused argument … [but my] basic objections remain.”[32]

    Dawkins seems to think she misunderstood. And after (from his viewpoint) multiple repetitions of the same misunderstanding I’d expect a spiky character like Dawkins to respond intemperately. The rudeness of either party is not a guide to the scientific validity of Dawkins’ views, the quality of Midgely’s understanding, or the validity of her criticism.

    Ask yourself, is the extract below a fair representation of Dawkins’ paragraph, coincidentally the one I quoted previously? I kinda think his subsequent sentence is not unimportant 😉 . When it comes to philosophising, Midgely is an expert (although from the Wiki page she does look like someone with an axe to grind on the topic, so beware Motivated reasoning). When it comes to biology, Dawkins is an expert. When Dawkins says she’s misunderstood him, I’m inclined to believe Dawkins. Who himself doesn’t accuse her of intentionally misrepresenting him, rather of misunderstanding. Serially.

    The paper criticised Dawkins’ concepts, but was judged by its targets to be intemperate and personal in tone, and as having misunderstood Dawkins’ ideas. Midgley disputed this view, arguing that while Dawkins purports to be talking about genes—that is, chemical arrangements—he nonetheless slides over to saying that “we are born selfish” (The Selfish Gene, p. 3). (my bold)

  310. Block & Kitcher is indeed good, DaveG, but I seldom if ever side with Ned on any debate, and I have a soft spot for Jerry. Style matters. Content too – PZ’s takedown is empty. (For a ClimateBall equivalent, cf. David Appell’s crap.) I doubt PZ knows more about biology than philosophers of biology in general, and Eliot Sober in particular. Kitcher is more interesting to me when dealing with debates within the history of philosophy. His take on naturalism may be tedious, but provides a good review.

    As far as as territoriality is concerned, Jerry & Massimo’s point are the ones playing home. It’s about explanation and intensionality (with-an-s, a logic property that should not be confused with intionality-with-a-t), two things I haven’t seen many biologists study, let alone master. Their point is somewhat related to MaryM’s, but is more formal, and in fact opposite to Mary’s when you think about it:

    The moral is that the fact that a phenotype is selected doesn’t determine which (if any) of its traits it was selected for. Quite generally, if you want to infer from the one to the other, you have two choices (and, as far as I can see, only two.) You can try attributing intentions to the agent of selection (hence Mother Nature); or you can try to find a covering law that connects its having some or other of its phenotypic traits with a creature’s having been selected. The former tactic is hopeless; there simply isn’t any Mother Nature, and natural selection has nothing in mind when it prefers some creatures to others; natural selection has nothing in mind at all. But the second tactic seems hopeless too, given the extreme context sensitivity of selection processes. Whether a trait is conducive to fitness appears to be just about arbitrarily dependent on which sort of creature it’s a trait of and what sort of ecology the creature inhabits. If that’s so, then there can’t be laws of selection, and `is selected for’ can’t be a projectible predicate

    Mary criticizes the reductionism, while Jerry’s point is that it’s not reductive enough, or rather that the reduction offered is illusory. You could imagine that both kinds of criticism create some kind of double bind. It would if there were only these two choices. But since I do not completely agree with Jerry and Mary, the niche of all the arguments one can build in that conceptual space is richer than that. My own position isn’t that well developed. It should comprise the following points.

    Evolutionary biology isn’t exactly biology, and Dawkins’ book is more about sociobiology. It’s quite obvious that biologists tend to emphasize the biological part and disregard other aspects. While making genes the locus of selection bypasses the difficulties of using organisms to that effect, something is lost in translation, so much that all the bootstrapping from genes to altruism is at best metaphorical. Contrary to what izen just claimed, I don’t think there’s any description there at all. If we’re to use abstractions such as the notion “replicator” for a general theory, we might as well go for multilevel selection. In contrast to the Iris effect, this hypothesis has modulz on its side.

    If you look at who’s promoting Richard’s crap and how (StevenP, PZ, DanD), it’s natural to surmise that the Four Horsemen’s mediatic strategy anticipated the Darth Web’s. My reaction is similar to both. Too much aggressiveness for too little constructive contributions. A common trait is the handwaving that can be refuted in a few minutes search. Take this one:

    I did that search for “lewontin’s fallacy” and here’s the first hit:

    Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins discusses genetic variation across human races in his book The Ancestor’s Tale. In the chapter The Grasshopper’s Tale, he characterizes the genetic variation between races as a very small fraction of the total human genetic variation. He goes on to disagree with Lewontin’s conclusions about taxonomy, writing, “However small the racial partition of the total variation may be, if such racial characteristics as there are highly correlate with other racial characteristics, they are by definition informative, and therefore of taxonomic significance.” Neven Sesardic has argued that, unbeknownst to Edwards, Jeffry B. Mitton already made the same argument about Lewontin’s claim in two articles published in The American Naturalist in the late 1970s.

    Philosophers Jonathan Kaplan and Rasmus Winther have argued that while Edwards’s argument is correct, it does not invalidate Lewontin’s original argument, because racial groups being genetically distinct on average does not mean that racial groups are the most basic biological divisions of the world’s population. Nor does it mean that races are not – as the prevailing view among anthropologists and social scientists holds[citation needed] – social constructs, because the particular genetic differences that correspond to races only become salient when racial categories take on social importance. From this sociological perspective, Edwards and Lewontin are therefore both correct.

    As you can see, RichardD and the IDW flavour seem to share a so-called “realism” regarding things that may easily be overinterpreted, and for which their overconfidence looks unwarranted. Another similarity would be the intellectual entrepreneurship, but I’ve ran out of steam.

  311. Willard says:

    > And after (from his viewpoint) multiple repetitions of the same misunderstanding I’d expect a spiky character like Dawkins to respond intemperately.

    Perhaps RichardD is more of a writer than a reader:

    Dawkins is frequently (and inaccurately) castigated for being a genetic determinist, as if he thought that genes are sufficient to produce phenotypic traits, but he is aware of the crucial role that an organism’s environment, including other organisms, plays in selection. A gene all by itself never did anything.

    […]

    Dawkins never lost his fascination with vehicular adaptations, a fascination that his critics denigrate as Panglossian adaptationism. He fills his books with adaptationist scenarios, some more firmly supported by data than others, but from the perspective of the structure of evolutionary theory, replicators are much more important than vehicles. For example, Dawkins argues at some length that adaptations are always for the good of replicators, not vehicles (Lloyd 1992, see entry on units and levels of selection). Vehicles exhibit these adaptations, but ultimately all adaptations must be explicable in terms of changes in gene frequencies. Thus, it comes as no surprise when Dawkins (1994: 617) proclaims that he “coined the term ‘vehicle’ not to praise it but to bury it.” As prevalent as organisms might be, as determinate as the causal roles that they play in selection are, reference to them can and must be omitted from any perspicuous characterization of selection in the evolutionary process. Dawkins is far from a genetic determinist, but he is certainly a genetic reductionist. Whether reductionism itself is good or bad is a moot question (Van Regenmortel and Hull 2002).

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/replication

    Since RichardD proposes first and foremost a reduction, I duly submit he should own it. Just as he should accept that it’s easy to conflate reductivism with determinism. After all, he may himself conflate both from time to time, just as I surmise he does when replying to MaryM.

  312. Dave_Geologist says:

    FWIW, this is my take on the selfish gene (in the context we’re discussing). But remember, IANAB and IANAP 😉 .

    To pick up from Midgely, Dawkins is indeed talking about genes, i.e. chemical rearrangements, and how the ones that have been perpetuated through the generations are the ones that have been perpetuated through the generations 🙂 . Which is why explanations of inclusive fitness often sound like a truism or tautology. In a sense it is: which is a strength not a weakness when compared to teleological explanations (don’t add complexity unless it’s needed). Since at least some behaviours can be inherited (think turtles hatching, growing up with their cohort, and yet replicating the behaviour of the parents who abandoned them as eggs), it is likely, perhaps inevitable, that some heritable behaviours favour or disfavour survival and reproduction. Just like physical traits such as strength, speed, sharp eyesight or tolerance of food or water deprivation. Not all, there can be spandrels, just like in physical traits. And random mutations which neither help nor harm. And some behaviours are almost certainly cultural (all humans are very closely related genetically yet there are as many cultural differences as similarities; orcas too have culture, in language and hunting behaviour).

    In order to become fixed in the population, those traits have to be selfish at the level of the gene – i.e. that gene (or allele) has to increase within the population as a whole. At the level of the individual, they can be selfish (e.g. male deer or elephant seals fighting over females), unselfish (kin cooperation, e.g. bee sacrifices herself by stinging, but because her kin share half her genes there is a net benefit to her genes if enough of her sisters are saved by the act) or neutral (turtles returning to the the same beach, if it’s every-turtle-for-itself before, during and after, but no direct turtle-on-turtle competition). Or in-between (stags roaring and seals bellowing, so that relative strength can be determined without the risk of fighting). Dawkins’ point (in and beyond TSG) is that although some of these actions may appear to be unselfish or neutral on the part of the individual, or transactional in the case of reciprocal altruism (Grudgers winning out over Suckers and Cheats), all of them are, at the level of the gene, selfish.

    Despite feeling the need for the disclaimer about drawing moral conclusions, Dawkins has an entire chapter on cooperation! I guess the alt-right skip past that one 😦 . He presents the reverse of genetic determinism and individual selfishness when it comes to who gets to be queen bee and breed.

    Whether a female develops into a worker or a queen depends not on her genes but on how she is brought up. That is to say, each female has a complete set of queen-making genes, and a complete set of worker-making genes (or, rather, sets of genes for making each specialized caste of worker, soldier, etc.). Which set of genes is ‘turned on’ depends on how the female is reared, in particular on the food she receives.

    Dawkins is very reductionist (as I suppose am I 😉 ), hence the debates he gets into about things like group selection or, I think to a lesser extent, sexual selection. Not so much that they’re wrong, but that if you burrow down rigorously into how it might work, you realise that it’s just another manifestation of gene selection. Jerry Coyne put it more pithily but is on the same page.

    As I said above, when group selection does work in theory, it can be shown to be mathematically equivalent to gene-level selection involving “inclusive fitness.” But the group-selection scenarios are far more unwieldy, and are often so complex that they can’t be modeled.

    .
    So, here’s an example I made up. Buffalo cluster in herds and defend themselves against lions because the groups that clustered together survived, and the ones that stayed in small groups got eaten. But why did they cluster in the first place? Are buffalo that smart? If you think so, choose a dumber herd animal. Imagine buffalo ancestors lived in medium-sized herds and there was random variation in a “loner” gene. Natural selection would penalise strong loners because although they might access more food in the short term, sooner or later they’ll get eaten. OTOH too much anti-loner gene would result in herds so big they starve. So they settle into a happy medium, either with a Goldilocks level of loner, or with an evolutionary stable (Game-Theory style) mix of loner and anti-loner. A big enough group can now cluster together and deter predator attack, but there’s no need for selection of different groups against one another. Just for the right level of loner expression in the individual genome. But why do those closest to the attack risk themselves to defend the group? Grudgers again. Herd animals can recognise each other (sheep, despite being pretty dumb otherwise, can recognise the faces of herd members individually when shown photographs) and punish cheats or decline to help them in future. Game Theory and selfish genes, no need for selection pressures at the group level.

  313. Dave_Geologist says:

    a gene is never visible to natural selection, and in the genotype

    Dawkins’ own response (in regular text) from The Extended Phenotype 😉 . It applies to group selection as well as to Mayr’s (1999) invisible gene/visible phenotype criticism. Dawkins was no doubt well aware of the issue when he wrote TSG, since the 1963 Mayr quote is essentially the same argument.

    In the rest of this chapter, I hope to show that the version of ‘genic selectionism’ that can be attacked as naively atomistic and reductionistic is a straw man; that it is not the view that I am advocating; and that if genes are correctly understood as being selected for their capacity to cooperate with other genes in the gene-pool, we arrive at a theory of genic selection which Wright and Mayr will recognize as fully compatible with their own views. Not only compatible but, I would claim, a truer and a clearer expression of their views. I shall quote key passages from the summary of Mayr’s chapter (pp. 295–296), showing how they may be adapted to the world of the extended phenotype.

    The phenotype is the product of the harmonious interaction of all genes. The genotype is a ‘physiological team’ in which a gene can make a maximum contribution to fitness by elaborating its chemical ‘gene product’ in the needed quantity and at the time when it is needed in development [Mayr 1963].

    An extended phenotypic character is the product of the interaction of many genes whose influence impinges from both inside and outside the organism. The interaction is not necessarily harmonious—but then nor are gene interactions within bodies necessarily harmonious, as we saw in Chapter 8. The genes whose influences converge on a particular phenotypic character are a ‘physiological team’ only in a special and subtle sense, and this is true of the conventional within-body interactions to which Mayr refers, as well as of extended interactions.

    I have previously tried to convey that special sense with the metaphor of a rowing crew (Dawkins 1976a, pp. 91–92), and with the metaphor of cooperation between myopic and normal-sighted people (Dawkins 1980, pp. 22–24). The principle might also be labelled the Jack Sprat principle. Two individuals with complementary appetites, say for fat and lean, or with complementary skills, say in growing wheat and milling it, form naturally harmonious partnerships, and it is possible to regard a partnership as a higher-order unit. The interesting question is how such harmonious units come about. I want to make a general distinction between two models of selective processes, both of which could, in theory, lead to harmonious cooperation and complementarity.

    The first model invokes selection at the level of the higher-order units: in a metapopulation of higher-order units, harmonious units are favoured against disharmonious units. It was a version of this first model that I suggested was implicit in the Gaia hypothesis—selection among planets in that case. Coming down to earth, the first model might suggest that groups of animals whose members complement one anothers’ skills, say groups containing both farmers and millers, survive better than groups of farmers alone, or groups of millers alone. The second model is the one that I find more plausible. It does not need to postulate a metapopulation of groups. It is related to what population geneticists call frequency-dependent selection. Selection goes on at the lower level, the level of the component parts of a harmonious complex. Components within a population are favoured by selection if they happen to interact harmoniously with the other components that happen to be frequent in the population. In a population dominated by millers, individual farmers prosper, while in a population dominated by farmers it pays to be a miller.

    Both kinds of model lead to a result which Mayr would call harmonious and cooperative. But I am afraid that the contemplation of harmony too often leads biologists to think automatically in terms of the first of the two models, and to forget the plausibility of the second. This is true of genes within a body just as it is true of farmers and millers in a community. The genotype may be a ‘physiological team’, but we do not have to believe that that team was necessarily selected as a harmonious unit in comparison with less harmonious rival units. Rather, each gene was selected because it prospered in its environment, and its environment necessarily included the other genes which were simultaneously prospering in the gene-pool. Genes with complementary ‘skills’ prosper in each others’ presence.

  314. Dave_Geologist says:

    Thus, the views of Thomas Huxley have come to dominate contemporary thinking, “inflating and dramatizing this competitive process into a cosmic force” (100). The paradigmatic example here is Dennett,

    Really? A guy who died 100 years ago? The Modern Synthesis, Mayr, Wilson and everyone else since didn’t happen? Or they just parroted Darwin or a pastiche of Darwin? And Dawkins bad because Dennett? Maybe Dennett is just another philosopher who misunderstood Dawkins.

    she contends examples of cooperation in nature are easy to find

    Dawkins agrees. He’s written reams on cooperation. I quoted some above in his response to Mayr. Maybe that’s why critics think she hasn’t read what she’s critiquing, or at least hasn’t understood it.

  315. Dave_Geologist says:

    Evolution has no basic mechanism to say, of the entire suite of genes coming together in a single organism, that the combination is worthy, and therefore should be preserved.

    Yes it does Leto. Death, or at least not breeding. See the passage above from The Extended Phenotype.

  316. Dave_Geologist says:

    The prophecy was fulfilled with fracking

    Not much of a prophecy when fraccing was developed in the 1950s 🙂 . The first producing gas well in the UK North Sea was fracced in 1967. The first commercial gas field (West Sole, initially produced into a pilot grid in Yorkshire while the rest of the grid stayed on coal gas) had almost every well fracced. Some had been re-fracced by the 1990s. Still going strong AFAIK (OK, going weak 😉 ). Conventional tight gas, but the same characteristics as shale gas. After the initial decline, the wells will carry on flowing forever, or at least until they can’t cover their operating costs.

  317. Dave_Geologist says:

    You’ll see our posts crossed Willard. Or perhaps I have to leave a Post-It note on computer to remind me to hit the Refresh button when I return to a thread 😦 .
    Multilevel/group selection is not well favoured. Including, as I quoted, by Coyne. And I disagree that “evolutionary biology isn’t exactly biology”. Why not? Don’t say “Just-So stories” because it’s not all (and when done rigorously, not at all) Just-So stories. It sounds to me that philosophers of biology are claiming to be doing biology. Or that the science of biology is a subject of a wider Biology which includes philosophy of biology. Fair enough, but then you have to invent some new term for biology when it’s conducted as a science, in the same way as physics or chemistry. Have one subset called “science of biology or biological science” and another called “philosophy of biology”. I don’t find that useful, as we already have a perfectly good word fo the science-y bit. And it retains the parallel with “science” and “philosophy of science”.

    Whether a trait is conducive to fitness appears to be just about arbitrarily dependent on which sort of creature it’s a trait of and what sort of ecology the creature inhabits. If that’s so, then there can’t be laws of selection, and `is selected for’ can’t be a projectible predicate

    I don’t get that and think it’s missing the point. I see no problem. Of course a trait (in the phenotype because of some gene, gene combination or epigenetic influence) raises inclusive fitness in some creatures and lowers it or is neutral in others. Well, duhhh. Replacing a horse’s front legs with a birds wings is maladaptive. A polar bear’s white coat is adaptive, but only if it’s got snow and ice to live on. It reads like there’s a teleological misunderstanding. That’s there’ s some sort of directedness.

    The only law of selection that matters is “what works, works; until it stops working; then maybe something else that works appears, or is already in the gene-pool and can increase in frequency; or maybe not, and you go extinct”. Hence my truism point earlier. I get the feeling philosophers are looking for some deeper meaning that’s not there. There is nothing deeper, any more than there is with 1 + 1 = 2. That’s part of the beauty of it, not a flaw.

  318. Ragnaar says:

    Paul Pukite (@WHUT) says:

    “The Bakken of NoDak will be littered with ghost towns in a few years — some garden of eden, eh?”

    Seems the Aussies are debating the point. What was the meaning of the sand in the fuel trailer? They are squabbling over fracking. Assume The Road Warrior was anti-technology. What else would cause an Apocalypse? Rather than the sand being a feint, it is the key. In Fury Road, it wasn’t the water in the trailer, it was the women escaping. These women represent nature, the thing that all things emerge from, including chaotic game changers like fracking in the prior movie.

    We despoiled the Garden of Eden with oil and other things. We wanted more than we had. God told us not to eat the forbidden fruit. It is the argument used against nuclear power as well.

    There are lessons to be learned from Bakken.

  319. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    I get the feeling philosophers are looking for some deeper meaning that’s not there.

    As a law of nature “What works works” may be beautiful, and even unflawed, but it does not do much heavy lifting.

    Philosophers can look at the quality of, and the relationships between, explanandum and explanans, without having to grasp at “deeper meaning that’s not there”, in futility.

    BTW – Any logical system that includes statements of the form “1 + 1 = 2” is actually very deep.

  320. > Game Theory and selfish genes, no need for selection pressures at the group level.

    Game theory’s not on Richard’s side, DaveG, and never misunderestimate the possibility that plagues can be thrown in all houses:

    Despite the bitterness of the debate, most of the issues Dawkins and Gould disagree on are either unscientific (e.g., militant atheism vs. tolerance for religion and other non-scientific forms of knowing) or matters of interpretive preference (e.g., the role of chance versus selection in evolution, the extent to which evolution involves increasing complexity, the importance of population genetics versus the study of large-scale patterns in the history of life, or the view of evolution as a conflict of genes vs. an organic conflict among species-level and higher biological forms). Other issues that separate them relate to the schools of thought to which they belong—Dawkins’ friends being the sociobiologists and evolutionary psychologists (G. Williams, W. Hamilton, E. O. Wilson, et al.) and Gould’s being the left-wing critics of sociobiology (R. Lewontin, L. Kamin, et al.). By limiting the debate to Dawkins and Gould alone, the book does not flesh out this larger, and quite interesting intellectual opposition. Sterelny neither takes sides nor tries to adjudicate the differences between these writers, though he does say that their differences appear to be narrowing over time. Being less unpresuming, I assess the situation as follows. Dawkins’ gene-centered view makes for good journalism, but is fatally flawed for one simple reason: the heart of evolution is mutation and selection, not replication, which is simply an uncreative prerequisite for evolution. A mutation can spread only if it is more fit that existing alleles, and fitness is a frequency dependent, highly nonlinear phenomenon, best described by game theory on the level of phenotypes. Gould’s mass extinctions and punctuated equilibria make perfect sense from evolutionary game theory, and involve nothing beyond mutation, selection, and replication. On the other hand, Gould’s dismissal of sociobiology and evolutionary psychology are ideologically based and quite without merit.

    Sterelny describes a debate that is more a reflection of the expansive egos of two great popularizers, and their inability to understand, or their reluctance to publicize, the work of younger generations of evolutionary biologists, rather than some real scientific clash of paradigms. But if it gets young people interested in evolutionary biology, I’m all for it, and Sterelny does a good job of dramatizing the debate.

    http://www.human-nature.com/nibbs/02/gintis.html

    If you like parsimony for its own sake, Plato’s the one to root for. (The very idea of a meme is not unlike the realms of the Eidos.) If you prefer a causal explanation, gene selection is not it. It has too many counterexamples, i.e. more than zero, and it does not help differentiate the social kingdom. To illustrate Jerry’s zest and gusto and to give you an idea why projectibility matters (op. cit):

    As usual, not attending to the intensionality of one’s explanatory constructs eventuates in all sorts of silliness. […] But, so long as `degree of fitness’ and `the organism’s environment’ are specified post-hoc, there’s nothing here to wonder at except a tautology. If a certain creature fails to occupy a certain niche exactly, then it just follows that that isn’t exactly the niche that the creature occupies. Imagine a research program directed to explaining why each creature fits so precisely into the corresponding hole in space. Would the NSF be well-advised to fund it? Or imagine Scrooge before his tragic capitulation: `The chap who is living in the gutter on scraps from the tables of the rich has nothing to complain of , for he is perfectly adapted to living in exactly the way that he does; viz in the gutter on scraps from the tables of the rich.’ This would be a joke if it were funny.

    Evolutionary biology is not biology for the same reason that evolutionary psychology is not psychology. Both involve many more scientific fields than biology or psychology. (Ethology, for starters.) If evo fields only provide just so stories under the form of historical narratives, then so much the worse for trying to seek universal generalizations with them.

  321. Ragnaar says:

    Vox stumps for renewables:

    “…and if the people managing the electricity system bet on low VRE and get high, they are going to screw up all sorts of things.”

    If all this stuff is piled on the grid, the ones doing the piling are to blame. That said, to bet on the over is to bet to increase costs and diminish things with value such as grid stability and resilience. It would be like funding 2 million MBA graduates, turning them out, because we feel like it. And then saying, you have to hire them and pay them what we expect.

    “7) VRE makes the services that support it much more valuable.”

    Above Vox shows they should stick to fighting pipelines or something. It makes all the other stuff more expensive. You push here and it pops out there. 97% of scientists agree, there is no magic. The other stuff is the thing. You made a wind turbine. How nice for you. Now do everything else that people expect and deliver value. I made a cake. Cakes sell for $10 at the grocery store. Now give me $10.

    Then they conclude that making the other stuff more valuable is good, as then the market will make batteries, because they are worth more, which they are. I can make bicycles more valuable by taking away cars. They’ll be more competition for bicycles because they’ll cost more. Always spin your version of competition in there somewhere.

    In the U.K., high prices for gasoline are good because then you can’t afford it and have to take public transportation or a scooter.

    High food prices are good, as then you have to plant a garden. Raise the price of diesel so we can’t afford to ship vegetables from California.

    Raise the price of education and health care as that will mean more competition.

  322. > Raise the price of education and health care as that will mean more competition.

    Looks it’s the other way around, Ragnaar:

  323. Michael 2 says:

    Joshua writes “I think we should have more quotas to ensure that social conservatives have equal representation.”

    I doubt it is possible to put more left wing memes in one sentence. Congratulations.

  324. Ragnaar says:

    izen says:

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2018/05/15/dark-webs/#comment-122021

    Before I got the end of your comment, I thought you were going to condemn Schiff for attempting to take out Peterson for the crime of being Peterson. As the kind of behavior that is not helpful. That shows one’s dislike for his ideas as being some great threat to the status quo and apple pie for that matter. As viciously defending one’s tribe. For stomping down different ideas.

    The argument is that this type of behavior:

    “Cyclic manic-depression gives him alternating views of the world as chaotic, evil and bad – depressive phase; followed by grandiose and transcendent insights about how to solve it without any consideration for the truth or feasibility or those ideas during the manic phase.”

    is abnormal. It’s the difference between the safe known and the chaotic unknown and all kinds of people are also cycle between to those two things trying to solve AGW problem. Haven’t we seen the despair here for our future? We’ve solidified the problem to an extent and now venture into the unknown with uncertainties in an attempt to be the heroes. He explains what we all do, frequently. And it’s some kind mania or scary word.

    I think Shiff uses some cheap facade. We don’t know what to do about AGW and pretending normal people are calm, reasonable and objective is nonsense. Shiff condemns us all for being us. We may say we know how to solve the problem of AGW, and blame a lot of people but there are no results with material value. The chaos of the problem exists and has not been slain, try as we might. The dragon is out there, we can’t kill it, and we are Okay. Sure.

  325. izen says:

    @-W
    “Contrary to what izen just claimed, I don’t think there’s any description there at all. ”

    Right, so all that Maths that is used to describe, and calculate evolutionary processes from the Price equation through differentiating Gaussian Matrices to determine the direction and slope of the fitness landscape for alternate alleles of a gene is just, what.?
    It is easy to find Creationists that dismiss the ability to measure the variability of genetic alleles and derive the evolutionary rate and the strength of selective pressure as meaningless sums. But even philosophers should recognise the legitimacy that follows from accurate answers. See the link at the end of this.

    I would agree that Dawkins has been a better self-publicist than geneticist. Despite his Huxlyian repudiation of the Naturalistic fallacy, he is sometimes a little eager to contrapt Just-So stories that extend from valid forms of selection to problematic reifications of qualities.

    But he brought to public knowledge a branch of science that has developed strong practical tools to describe and analyse how genetics works in the real world. Not Midgley’s holism with an inherent direction. Which sounds like echos of Tielard de Chardin.

    If you want to see how genetics is done rather than philosophised, try looking at the work on the emergence and spread of Lactase persistence in the European Neolithic population.
    It is a genetic trait (probably a single mutation) that was effectively neutral UNTIL humans changed their social structure and resource management. Then a cultural change fixed a new genetic competency in less than 400 generations.
    It is probably the best example of culture – genetic evolution interacting we have.
    It is MUCH closer to the Dawkins version of the science than JP or Midgley.

    https://www.nature.com/articles/5201297

  326. Joshua says:

    Ragnaar –

    Do the phrase ‘ideological agenda’ mean anything?

    ???

    You say you’ve watched a bunch o’ Peterson. I assume that in doing so, you have seen him discuss his personal trajectory. As such, I assume that you’ve heard him discuss his ideological agenda.

    Now you may have a belief that excludes his highly political advocacy from association with is stated ideological agenda. Indeed, Judith makes such claims with great support from self-described “skeptics.”

    I don’t share such a perspective on Peterson – nor do I see why anyone would take proclamations about “pure science” at face value. When I look at his Just So Storyfying to reverse engineer evolution in ways that align with his ideological agenda, I think it is more than just mere coincidence. Further, I think that his certainty about the mechanics of evolution to be highly unscientific. The cherry-picking is just one aspect of that unscientificness. As, I might add, was your cherry picking of Google searches to support his use of the term “enforced monogamy.” (BTW, the opportunity is still open for you to acknowledge that point).

    You manage to criticize people who agree with him as unfortunate.

    ??? Please explain. I don’t recall having done so.

    Suggest he’s using what might be considered a devious approach.

    Hmmm. Well, I think that he weaponizes uncertainty, yes. I find such an approach to be a poor faith manner of engagement. The gross generalizations, selfl-victimization while complaining about victimization, extrapolating from unrepresentative sampling, exaggerating or underplaying (or ignoring) the magnitude of various manifestations of problems, etc., all seem to me to be an outgrowth of un-acknowleged tribalism. It is a kind of tribalism that is ubiquitous., Not even remotely unique to Peterson or his supporters.

    Is it “devious?” I couldn’t say. “Devious,” to me, implies conscious intent. I don’t know the man.

    As far a colleges impact on society, less and less I suppose given reasons such as the internet.

    I think you may be missing my point. I wasn't speaking about colleges' impact on society over time.
    I am agnostic on that point. I haven't given the question much thought. I think there may be evidence that colleges' influence on society over time may actually be growing (did you read that Atlantic article I linked to eons ago in this thread?)

    They may be unimportant.

    Unimportant? Hmmm. That kind of statements needs to be evaluated in context. Unimportant on what scale, compared to what?

    The power shifts and Trump gets elected. Nice to see that’s so well received.

    What are you talking about?

    You lost me. We all agree that evolution favors monogamous marriage or something like that.

    I think it is immensely complicated to determine what “evolution favors,” and I am reflexively skeptical about people who claim such insight. That is the main point that I’ve been making about Peterson (and Weinstein). I think that their certainty about their ability to determine what “evolution favors” is highly questionable – not the least because they (seems to me) leverage that certainty in ways that line up perfectly with their (stated) ideological agendas.

  327. Ragnaar says:

    The Sun and the Wind were compromised with by white guys. We build houses with A/C. We then retain control of our blankets and other things. We confronted nature and came back wiser. So we exist with nature, not by commanding the Sun and Wind to stop but by adapting to it. Now some command the Sun and the Wind to warm and cool our houses. They laugh. They are eternal.

  328. Joshua says:

    Ragnaar –

    That shows one’s dislike for his ideas as being some great threat to the status quo and apple pie for that matter. As viciously defending one’s tribe. For stomping down different ideas.

    Do you apply the same logic to Peterson? If so, please provide an example.

    Now, of course, we might have to define, more precisely, what you mean when you say this:

    Before I got the end of your comment, I thought you were going to condemn Schiff for attempting to take out Peterson for the crime of being Peterson. As the kind of behavior that is not helpful.

    What “kind of behavior” are you speaking to more specifically? Seems to me that Peterson displays quite a bit of behavior that could fall under a rubric of “attempting to take out X [e.g., “the left”, SJW’s, etc.] for the crime of being X” – but maybe there is a definitional question here.

  329. Joshua says:

    Michael 2 –
    Congratulations.

    Thanks! I am to please, bro. But if you wouldn’t mind…I don’t exactly understand what you’re congratulating me for. Could you explain? (As I recall, sometimes your explanations leave me confused – I’d appreciate it if you could explain in a relatively straight-forward manner).

  330. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    Michael 2:

    I doubt it is possible to put more left wing memes in one sentence.

    Of course it is.
    Just add Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism
    And if that doesn’t work, there’s always the Star Wars prequels.

  331. Ragnaar says:

    To keep digging:

    “In the landmark George Orwell novel Nineteen Eighty Four, the three superstates of the world, Eurasia, Oceania and Eastasia, are said to be in a perpetual state of war with each other.”

    AGW is the dragon. You can’t kill it. Perpetual war.

  332. izen says:

    @-Ragnaar
    “He explains what we all do, frequently. And it’s some kind mania or scary word.”

    Not all Ragnaar. Humans share many of the same problems and challenges, but we have innumerable ideas that we combine in infinite combinations. Generalisations about humans are ALWAYS wrong.(!)

    I greatly admired the written construction of the Schiff article. It made the point that JP imposes his own internal certainties onto the external world, and insists that other people accept them as independent truths. I suspect the allusion to his depression was just pop-psychology to underline that, I just like the way Schiff wielded the … knife.

    @-“We may say we know how to solve the problem of AGW, and blame a lot of people but there are no results with material value.”

    I think you need to clearly define what you mean by ‘material value’ before that statement even rises to the level of – ‘not even wrong’.
    There are two historical instances when collective global action. imposed at a local regional level, was taken to remove from use key industrial/consumer components.
    Lead in fuel and CFCs for refrigeration. It is clear from the success of those cases (and many others) that we do NOT live in a chaotic social system that is unable to slay dragons.
    Although the politics of those achievements, like sausage making, are a good deal less attractive than a Hero slaying the evil monster.

  333. Michael 2 says:

    Dave_Geologist writes: “And the fathers who had five or ten children by half a dozen women and abandoned them all is even further ahead.”

    For now.

    What is clear to me is that natural selection does not look into the future and tends to overbreed for current conditions; but if conditions change then it is likely that a huge population of “fit” animals suddenly is unfit. Dinosaurs come to mind.

    Human intelligence, in my opinion, has the potential to anticipate change and adapt in advance of need. This need itself can be part of planning; as for instance a tribe of early humans deciding to occupy Europe will need to adapt to “winter” and seasons deliberately rather than accidentally.

  334. Ragnaar says:

    My brain sure takes its time:

    “The “monster” is therefore the confusion and ambiguity associated with knowledge versus ignorance, objectivity versus subjectivity, facts versus values, prediction versus speculation, and science versus policy.  The uncertainty monster gives rise to discomfort and fear, particularly with regard to our reactions to things or situations we cannot understand or control, including the presentiment of radical unknown dangers.”

    Peterson can go binary. Guess what accounting is, debits and credits. Knowledge versus ignorance is how he frames it. Knowledge is the safe place you are it. Ignorance is where the dragons are. Objective is GISSTEMP, accept it for 10 minutes, subjective is a lot of stuff. Facts is GISSTEMP, values depend on you. Prediction is conservative as practiced by skeptics, and speculative as practiced by others. Science is something and policy is a slugfest. See the dragons in all these pairs? Confront the dragon.

    He frames many things as binary from the little I know. Everything is this or that. Is the Dao and Zin and Yang wrong? Quaint? A lot of people don’t think so and I think those people are your target. Were these two things just made up for no reason? Has Western thought steamrolled them?

    We are aware of Curry’s following. Random chance?

  335. Dave_Geologist says:

    As a law of nature “What works works” may be beautiful, and even unflawed, but it does not do much heavy lifting…. BTW – Any logical system that includes statements of the form “1 + 1 = 2” is actually very deep.

    But I’m a shut-up-and-calculate kinda guy 😉 … and I agree about 1 + 1 = 2 (I said something similar upthread, in a different vein) … and to me “What works works” reflects the elegant simplicity of inclusive fitness. It’s attacked as being facile or written in a way that means it can’t be disproved. It strikes through false but prevalent ideas like “humans evolved smarts because smartness is advantageous, how come, on averge, smart people have fewer children”.

  336. Ragnaar says:

    willard:

    Healthcare is not the model for wind and solar in the United States. Its value as a model for anything is weak at best I do think.

  337. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    We are aware of Curry’s following. Random chance?

    It does seem absurdly improbable that billions of years of natural selection could result in Judy’s Denizens.

    But then the natural world does not offer us any explanations, and it also came up with wisdom teeth, inguinal hernias, and your friendly neighborhood mosquitoes.

  338. BBD says:

    Ragnaar

    Please stop posting nonsense about W&S. We understand that you have an irrational hatred of both, and that you know very, very little about energy policy and energy tech. So you have made your point.

  339. Dave_Geologist says:

    Dawkins’ gene-centered view makes for good journalism, but is fatally flawed for one simple reason: the heart of evolution is mutation and selection, not replication, which is simply an uncreative prerequisite for evolution. A mutation can spread only if it is more fit that existing alleles, and fitness is a frequency dependent, highly nonlinear phenomenon, best described by game theory on the level of phenotypes.

    I rather think Dawkins doesn’t need to be told that stuff. He knows it already. He’s written about it. It’s probably why TSG is one of the works referenced by the Wiki page on Game Theory. As an example, not as something to be criticised. Gintis should read more Dawkins. Or read it again, this time for comprehension. Claiming that Dawkins doesn’t know that mutation and selection are required for evolution is like claiming that every climate study which doesn’t include a statement of anthropogenic origin is neutral on AGW, even if its obvious from the text that’s why they’re doing the work. Geographers don’t attach a reminder to every map that the earth is round not flat. Maths textbooks don’t have an appendix explaining what the plus, minus, equals and integral signs mean. Gintis is not just teaching granny to suck eggs, he’s saying granny doesn’t know what an egg is. No wonder Dawkins gets tetchy.

    He knows it’s non-linear. He also knows it’s not just non-linear but context-dependent, on what other alleles are present in the particular genotype as well as on the external environment. From TEP:

    The statistical structure of the gene-pool sets up a climate or environment which affects the success of any one gene relative to its alleles. Against one genetic background one allele may be favoured; against another genetic background its allele may be favoured. For example, if the gene-pool is dominated by genes that make animals seek dry places, this will set up selection pressures in favour of genes for an impermeable skin. But alleles for a more permeable skin will be favoured if the gene-pool happens to be dominated by genes for seeking damp places. The point is the obvious one that selection at any one locus is not independent of selection at other loci. Once a lineage begins evolving in a particular direction, many loci will fall into step, and the resulting positive feedbacks will tend to propel the lineage in the same direction, in spite of pressures from the outside world. An important aspect of the environment which selects between alleles at any one locus will be the genes that already dominate the gene-pool at other loci.

  340. Dave_Geologist says:

    If evo fields only provide just so stories under the form of historical narratives, then so much the worse for trying to seek universal generalizations with them.

    And if the premise were correct, the conclusion might follow. But as izen has pointed out, the premise is incorrect. I would add Lenski’s experiment.

    The chap who is living in the gutter on scraps from the tables of the rich has nothing to complain of , for he is perfectly adapted to living in exactly the way that he does

    All that demonstrates is the author’s profound ignorance about inclusive fitness.

    Did the gutter-dweller have more children than the rich man? Did he have more grandchildren? More great-grandchildren? Etc. Then he has demonstrated higher inclusive fitness than the rich man. His genes have “won out” over the rich man’s. Whether he was miserable or not, poor or not, even if he spent most of the time in ill health – all totally irrelevant.

  341. > [T]o me “What works works” reflects the elegant simplicity of inclusive fitness. It’s attacked as being facile or written in a way that means it can’t be disproved.

    It’s the reason why what works works that matters.

    To keep things in perspective, recall the last two theories that posited similar inclusive fitness. Invisible hands. Behavioral linguistics. The first one is the one that gets to me the most. From Jerry’s review of Climbing Mount Improbable:

    Especially so because the scientific success of the hill-climbing style of explanation has often been underwhelming in other areas where it has been tried. Classical economics (by which Darwin was apparently much influenced) wanted to use it to account for the organisation of markets. In a system of exchange where gizmos are produced with randomly differing efficiencies, canny consumers will filter for the gizmos that are best and cheapest. Gizmos that are too expensive to buy, or too cheap to sell at a profit, will be screened out automatically. Eventually an equilibrium will be achieved that comports, as well as can be, with all the interests involved.

    That’s a nice story, too. But in the event, what often happens is that the big gizmo-makers buy out the little gizmo-makers and suppress their patents. If there’s still more than one gizmo-maker left in the field, they compete marginally by painting their gizmos bright colours, or paying some airhead to praise them on television. The evolution of gizmos therefore grinds to a halt. Whichever producer a consumer decides to buy his gizmos from, he finds that they don’t work, or don’t last, or cost too much.

    https://www.lrb.co.uk/v18/n08/jerry-fodor/peacocking

    I don’t wish to defend everything Jerry holds. It’s just a guy I know I need to respect. For instance, I’d bite his nomological point and say, borrowing from Ruth Milikan, that the best kind of explanation to expect out of evo stuff is some kind of functional analysis of intentional systems. It’s as if between naive realism and freak anti-realism, mileage varies.

    ***

    > Right, so all that Maths that is used to describe, and calculate evolutionary processes from the Price equation through differentiating Gaussian Matrices to determine the direction and slope of the fitness landscape for alternate alleles of a gene is just, what.?

    Science as usual, izen. If we can show that our modulz are interchangeable (say by bisimilarity), then the questions about interpretation become secondary. However, there are still merit in paying due diligence to them:

    It is illegitimate to read any ontology about “race” off of biological theory or data. Indeed, the technical meaning of “genetic variation” is fluid, and there is no single theoretical agreed-upon criterion for defining and distinguishing populations given a particular set of genetic variation data. By analyzing three formal senses of “genetic variation,” viz., diversity, differentiation, and heterozygosity, we argue that the use of biological theory for making claims about race inevitably amounts to a pernicious reification. Biological theory does not force the concept of “race” upon us; our social discourse, social ontology, and social expectations do. We become prisoners of our abstractions at our own hands, and at our own expense.

    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs13752-012-0048-0

    My own stance on reification is that as long as it should be a matter of convention first and foremost. I’m not saying that no conceptual scheme is better than the next, just that we have all the means to use them responsibly. I see no reason why race realism shouldn’t be discussed, but I see little point in doing so.

  342. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    His genes have “won out” over the rich man’s. Whether he was miserable or not, poor or not, even if he spent most of the time in ill health – all totally irrelevant.

    In the long run, of course, having lotsa kids and having “won out” at the evolution game is always an ephemeral victory.
    Just ask the trilobites, sea scorpions, and Mr T (Rex).
    In other words, all totally irrelevant.

    If there are any ‘permanent’ winners, they are the prokaryotes. Now, they get around.

    If you haven’t read Kurt Vonnegut’s “Galápagos”, you should.

    Not that it really matters.


    It’s the reason why what works works that matters.

    Explanandum, meet your mileage varies…

  343. > Gintis should read more Dawkins. Or read it again, this time for comprehension.

    I don’t think you understand, DaveG:

    Herbert is the game theorist (or rather the agent theorist between him and Richard, who last did some science more than 40 years ago. You might also like his Amazon reviews.

    He also liked StevenP’s Enlightenment Now, so make that what you will.

  344. Mal Adapted says:

    Willard:

    Evolutionary biology isn’t exactly biology, and Dawkins’ book is more about sociobiology.

    Splutter, splut – uhh, how’s that again? In my unredeemably mediocre (“UM”; I decided ‘irredeemably’ wasn’t quite correct) opinion as a semi-doctoral biologist, the evolution of altruism in social species under kin selection and reciprocal altruism (the latter supported by ‘game theory’) is at the foundation of sociobiology. Homo sapiens is wholly a product of evolution, as not only a social but a cultural species. ‘Culture’ is adaptive behavior cumulatively transmitted between conspecifics, whether sitting across the fire from you or remote in space and time, by ‘art’ and symbolic language. Cultural evolution is what has enabled the global population of H. sapiens to reach 7.5 billion, having recently expanded fourteen-fold in five centuries.

    It’s parsimonious to assume culture has accumulated in human brains, facilitated by mnemonic art (e.g. poetry, music, dance), at least since our species punctuated the fossil record. Art is sporadically, sparsely recorded (e.g. with pigment on cave walls) since early in that interval; about 6kya, symbolic language began to be recorded on durable media as well. The rest, as they say, is history ;^).

    IOW, ‘human nature’ is the integral outcome of biological, including cultural, evolution. ‘Darwinian’ is merely a catchy mnemonic for evolution solely by genetic descent with modification. That’s IMUMO, to be sure.

  345. Ragnaar says:

    Joshua:

    So, does the phrase ‘ideological agenda’ mean anything?

    Let’s say I was the Hulk. I could carry around a piece of paper with a two word phrase on it. Then I could take it out when I wanted and look at and assume my hulk form.

    “I think that he weaponizes uncertainty, yes. I find such an approach to be a poor faith manner of engagement.”

    We might be getting somewhere. What is uncertainty? You know things. What is it you don’t know? You may be complete at this stage, or there may be more for you to do. A review of what you know, say about 4 times each year might be boring. Perhaps you could learn to fly a General Aviation airplane. Few things match a graceful or lowering our sights, pretty safe gusting crosswind landing. Am I being unfair with my suggestion to you?

  346. Joshua says:

    Speaking of Just So Stories about evolution….

    Research by Alexander Theodoridis and James Martherus and colleagues finds that 77% of respondents considered their rivals to be less evolved humans than members of their own side.

    theprimevaltribalismofamericanpoliticspartisanship

    Methinks thst explains Jordan’s and Brett’s evolutionary psychology pretty damn well

  347. Joshua says:

    Ragnaar –

    Let’s say I was the Hulk. I could carry around a piece of paper with a two word phrase on it. Then I could take it out when I wanted and look at and assume my hulk form.

    Jesus. If you have listened to Peterson, then you have heard him describe his ideological agenda. Explicitly. Openly. I think you’re playing games at this point.

    The open question (IMO) is whether his ideological agenda biases his scientific analysis. I happen to think it does – but obviously, any such conclusion needs to be controlled for my own biases. The problem with Peterson, and his supporters, IMO, is they dismiss even the possibility of his science being biased (or, they play fucking games). Sameosameo

    If you listen to Peterson, you will hear him stating opinion as fact. Over and over.

    Go back and listen to what what he says through that filter. It doesn’t mean that his opinions are wrong. It means that his science is suspect.

  348. Joshua says:

    Ragnaar –

    . Am I being unfair with my suggestion to you?

    Infair? Not at all. There’s nothing “unfair” about engaging in poor faith. It is what it is.

  349. > It’s parsimonious to assume culture has accumulated in human brains, facilitated by mnemonic art

    I don’t think this hypothesis squarely falls under biology’s juridiction, Mal.

    I’m quite sure there’s no need to posit a “parliament of genes” for species that have parliaments for real. Social rewards and sanctions are tried, tested, and true. An eusocial model of humankind is more tentative and adds little benefit more. If it induces lobstersonian ones, how will we ever recover the costs?

  350. Ragnaar says:

    Joshua:

    Over the course of less than a minute I thought izen was listing things we should not be doing but that changed to things we should be doing.

    Then you reply that Peterson’s doing them. This is some good progress we got here. We view him in different contexts. I think I see value, you see something else. I see a caring person that is trying to do some good. I recently watched where he explained how not get cowed and why you shouldn’t let that happen. He explained when one does that, they are taking a risk, for instance in their work environment. Then he laid out the choices as spending your life being cowed or taking risks and not spending your life being cowed. It’s easy for me, I have been my own boss for decades.

    He referred to his class as liberals lightheartedly. Yes, he is confronting them as many good teachers do. It showed the very thing he is after.

  351. Ragnaar says:

    izen:

    “Generalisations about humans are ALWAYS wrong.”

    And some are useful. When describing society it’s useful. Or we could dicker around with exceptions until the cows come. Policy for instance is about generalizations.

    “…and insists that other people accept them as independent truths.”

    Quite a claim there.

    “Lead in fuel and CFCs for refrigeration.”

    I do not care about the success of Apple or smart phones as a guide for the issue before us. “The parable of the multiplication of the loaves and fish teaches us exactly this: that if there is the will, what we have never ends.”

    “…we do NOT live in a chaotic social system that is unable to slay dragons.”

    Bring me the dragon’s head.

  352. izen says:

    @-W
    “If you like parsimony for its own sake, Plato’s the one to root for. (The very idea of a meme is not unlike the realms of the Eidos.)”

    They are diametrically opposed. A meme is most substantial when it has a physical expression, as a neurological thought pattern of say Platonic Dualism, a communal choir singing Hey Jude or a general purpose Turing machine made into a computer chip.

    The absolute concepts mooching about in the realms of Eidos are the ‘most real, or True’ versions, of which we only see dim shadows down here in the cave.

    If you like parsimony two is a silly number. If it isn’t one, then there is no way to restrict it to less than infinity. (which one is the problem)

    @-“If evo fields only provide just so stories under the form of historical narratives, ”

    They also provide the tools to determine the fingerprint that would result from some of the Just-so stories and is able to refute, or support them. It provides useful results.

    Don’t mistake the advert for the product. The celebrity who endorses something may be biased. Or like Al Gore, fat, or bigoted like JP and Dawkins. Or just paid.
    If you want to know how something works, whether it is the Climate or evo-devo you must RTFM, (published papers)

    @-” If we can show that our modulz are interchangeable (say by bisimilarity), then the questions about interpretation become secondary.”

    That sounds like Christopher Monckton.
    Our knowledge of genetic variance and the patterns within the data not only enable the identification of the guilty, but provide a tightly constrained set of modulz. Not much interchangeability in the possible path from chimp chromosomes to human.
    Although not everyone agrees
    http://www.icr.org/article/new-research-debunks-human-chromosome/

  353. Joshua says:

    Ragnaar –

    . I think I see value, you see something else.

    I have not said he has no value. You have repeatedly put burdens on me that you have invented. I have tried a couple of times to point that out.

    I see a caring person that is trying to do some good.

    I don’t question that he is trying to do good. Making assumptions about his motivations is beyond my ability. My basic assumption is that most people are trying to do good. In fact, I don’t doubt that he “does good.” I have no reason to doubt the many testimonials that describe the good that he’s done. Faith healers do good, also. I k ow people that have been immensely helped by faith healers.

    Engaging in poor faith and trying to do good are not, in the least, mutually exclusive, IMO.

    You are discussing issues that are orthogonal to the issues I’m trying to discuss.

    I recently watched where he explained how not get cowed and why you shouldn’t let that happen.

    There is a large self-help industry. It has a long tradition. None of that speaks to his science. Remember that guy on SNl, Stuart Smally?

    He referred to his class as liberals lightheartedly

    Once again, go back and listen to him openly, and explicitly, describe his ideological agenda. Watch him describe those he disagrees with ideologically. He does it in many of his videos.

    Consider that very few of those you think are of “his class” consider his descriptions as “lighthearted.” Why would that be? How often do you approach people “lightheartedly” only to have them, almost uniformly, interpret your approach in a diamteric fashion? If that were to happen, would you have any responsibility for that?

    Anyway, this is all orthogonal.

    Yes, he is confronting them as many good teachers do.

    I am a teacher “Confrontation,” is indeed, an important part of a teaches role, IMO. But that isn’t a license for hiding an ideological agenda beneath the role of being a “teacher.”

    I said a long time ago, upstairs in this thread, if you learn from Peterson, that’s great.

    That is not the issue I’m particularly interested in discussing, and at this point, we have gotten so far off the issue that I’m interested in discussing thst I’m ready to give up. It seems to be getting progressively worse.

  354. Dave_Geologist says:

    I don’t think you understand, DaveG:

    I don’t understand why Gintis strawmans Dawkins. That he has the technical knowledge to know better, makes it worse.

    Dawkins’ gene-centered view makes for good journalism, but is fatally flawed for one simple reason: the heart of evolution is mutation and selection

    What is mutating? A Platonic solid? A homunculus? No, a gene. Sounds pretty gene-centred to me.

    What is being selected? The phenotype. But how does the phenotype come about? By the interaction of genes. Plus epigenetics for two or three generations, plus things like exercise building muscles and bone tissue. Which of those three can persist unchanged for hundreds of thousands or millions of years? In which of those three can changes be locked in for for hundreds of thousands or millions of years? Genes. So for Dawkins, the genes are at the root and the phenotype which is selected, is selected as a result of its expressed genes. Acting synergistically, of course.

    Does Dawkins deny that mutation and selection is at the heart of evolution? Of course not, he’s written about it! I’ve quoted some of those writings. The replicator/vehicle thing is orthogonal to the mutations/selection thing. They’re not contradictory. The replicator/vehicle thing is about how best to think about the unit of selection in the mutations/selection thing. If a gazelle mother has alleles which are expressed in a phenotype which makes her especially good at escaping cheetahs, they’re not passed down through the generations by her motherliness or gazelleness. They’re passed down through her genes. Or at least the half of them that goes into each offspring. Which may or may not include whichever ones made her good. In fact, now that I think about it (remember my “I talk to think” description of my thought process 🙂 ), vehicles as the unit of selection sounds like the flawed “blending” idea of inheritance which trouble Darwin so much. So D&D probably do have that in common: they both saw the flaw in “blending”, but Darwin lacked the knowledge of Mendel’s digital inheritance and of DNA, which would have led him to a better alternative. And note my bold below: it’s a double strawman, not only are the elements which Gintis juxtaposed not mutually contradictory, but Dawkins is not dogmatic about the replicator/vehicle thing.

    To make my point I shall develop a distinction between replicator survival and vehicle selection. To anticipate the conclusion: there are two ways in which we can characterize natural selection.

    Both are correct

    ; they simply focus on different aspects of the same process. Evolution results from the differential survival of replicators. Genes are replicators; organisms and groups of organisms are not replicators, they are vehicles in which replicators travel about. Vehicle selection is the process by which some vehicles are more successful than other vehicles in ensuring the survival of their replicators. The controversy about group selection versus individual selection is a controversy about whether, when we talk about a unit of selection, we ought to mean a vehicle at all, or a replicator. In any case, as I shall later argue, there may be little usefulness in talking about discrete vehicles at all.

  355. Dave_Geologist says:

    Ah, mistakenly pasted in blockquotes instead of bold 😦 .

    And BTW I’m not saying learn your evolutionary biology from Dawkins or much less so from me. I’m going from popular books, memories of what was in my undergrad palaeontology, and a sufficient ongoing interest that I do read a fair number of actual academic papers each year. If you’re serious, read a textbook or find an online course. If you’re really serious, take a formal course. But if you’re not that serious, Dawkins may not be perfect but he’s better than the economists and philosophers I’ve been pointed to. Especially because my reaction has not been: “that’s an interesting take, not sure if I agree with it”. It’s been “Dawkins didn’t say that”. Quite a few boxes ticked there. And one “Dawkins didn’t quite say that, but I can see how it could be read that way”. And even that was paired with “Dawkins explicitly said ‘don’t read that way’, in the very paragraph she quoted!”, and uDawkins said that bit he also said this, this and this, which is completely at odds with your portrayal”. The starting point in any science experiment is to describe the outcome accurately and objectively. If philosophers can’t reach that threshold, it doesn’t matter how sound their subsequent logic is.

  356. > A meme is most substantial when it has a physical expression, as a neurological thought pattern of say Platonic Dualism, a communal choir singing Hey Jude or a general purpose Turing machine made into a computer chip.

    I agree, but someone for whom vehicles don’t matter might not.

    Implementation is like the devil. It’s all in the details. The concept of replicator be damned.

    ***

    > Not much interchangeability in the possible path from chimp chromosomes to human.

    I had this in mind: when group selection does work in theory, it can be shown to be mathematically equivalent to gene-level selection involving “inclusive fitness”, referenced above, which refers to the Price equation. Not everyone agrees.

    ***

    > Dawkins is not dogmatic about the replicator/vehicle thing.

    Of course not – he only invented it to “bury” the notion of vehicle. And he’s insisting on one and only one locus for selection, even after being shown that culture isn’t a by-product of genetic evolution or that natural selection doesn’t require discretly transmitted units. And that there’s no real usefulness in talking about vehicles at all, thus group selection cannot work. Etc.

    I’d say he’s not being dogmatic. He’s just being a normal scientist. Science proceeds like comment threads.

    ***

    > If you’re serious, read a textbook or find an online course.

    Textbooks are worse than books, and books ain’t worth much. Their pricing scheme and the time we take read them compel many readers to worship them. Something like vehicle selection is going on, methinks, independent from the memes it contains. The Selfish Gene is my new favorite example.

    If you’re serious, play ClimateBall.

  357. Mal Adapted says:

    Willard: I don’t think this hypothesis squarely falls under biology’s juridiction, Mal.

    I’m quite sure it does. Human behavior, like that of any species of animal whether eusocial or not, is an appropriate subject of biological science. To propose, or presuppose, that ‘behavioral modernity’ evolved in Homo sapiens uncoupled from ‘anatomical modernity’, at best multiplies entities unnecessarily. That is, my assumption is parsimonious.

    Nor is absence of evidence evidence of absence in this case, since behavior fossilizes even more rarely than anatomy does, and both are lost in the lower tails of paleo-anthropological probability.

    W: I’m quite sure there’s no need to posit a “parliament of genes” for species that have parliaments for real.

    Good for you – even when you’re wrong, at least you’re sure. But Shirley ;^) (‘pop-cultural trope’), it’s self-evident that no ‘real’ parliaments are possible without taxon-specific suites of ‘real’ genes.

    W: Social rewards and sanctions are tried, tested, and true.

    Er – yes. Their form within their classes, and their efficacy for ostensible purpose, have been found to vary widely across ‘humankind’.

    W: An eusocial model of humankind is more tentative and adds little benefit more.

    Er – no. It adds, at a minimum, a plausibility argument for how the neuroanatomical prerequisites for eusociality evolved in H. sapiens. The earliest primates may or may not have been eusocial, you know. Sadly, explanations for most non-trivial behavioral variation, human or other, can never be more than plausibility arguments.

    W: If it induces lobstersonian ones, how will we ever recover the costs?

    Huh? First define a quantitative metric for ‘lobstersonian’ costs and benefits, then commensurate them with their linked human cultural elements, and so forth. So, why does [lobstersonian economics] need a whole journal, anyway? ;^) (‘another pop-cultural trope’).

    Willard my ‘steemed moderator and frenemy, you’re out on a limb, so to speak. Human is as any creature born of human parents is, and human nature is everything that creature does. Your behavior may have supernatural causes, but the burden of demonstration is on you. AFAICT without fooling myself though, ‘human nature’ is ‘nature’.

  358. > I’m quite sure it does.

    You got some editing to do, Mal. First, culture:

    Culture (/ˈkʌltʃər/) is the social behavior and norms found in human societies. Culture is considered a central concept in anthropology, encompassing the range of phenomena that are transmitted through social learning in human societies.

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

    Second, the human brains, facilitated by mnemonic art

    Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary, scientific study of the mind and its processes.[2] It examines the nature, the tasks, and the functions of cognition (in a broad sense). Cognitive scientists study intelligence and behavior, with a focus on how nervous systems represent, process, and transform information. Mental faculties of concern to cognitive scientists include language, perception, memory, attention, reasoning, and emotion; to understand these faculties, cognitive scientists borrow from fields such as linguistics, psychology, artificial intelligence, philosophy, neuroscience, and anthropology.

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

    Even genetics don’t stand on biology alone anymore:

    Genetics is the study of genes, genetic variation, and heredity in living organisms. It is generally considered a field of biology, but intersects frequently with many other life sciences and is strongly linked with the study of information systems.

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

    Which leads me to another of Herbert’s criticism:

    Laland and Brown vigorously defend the early Darwinists and sociobiologists against the many politically motivated attacks against them (they do not deal with religious critiques). While the authors recognize that their ideas have often been eclipsed by more contemporary research, they find no major fault in the constitution of these two schools. I think this is a bad mistake. In the century from Darwin to E. O. Wilson, evolutionary researchers managed to isolate themselves from every mainstream social science, including economics, sociology, psychology, political science, and to a lesser extent, anthropology.

    This is quite unforgivable, because mainstream social science has made many central contributions that must be integrated into evolutionary theory to provide a solid, scientific body of knowledge concerning human behavior. Laland and Brown give no reason for this isolation of evolutionary theory, except the trivial commonplaces mouthed by virtually everyone in this tradition (traditional social science is ideology, the mainstream is afraid of being tainted with the sins of eugenics and racist genetic determinism, and so on). The major problem facing evolutionary theory today is not to shuck the nonsense, but to account for its failure to become part of the mainstream, I believe, and Laland and Brown do not recognize this.

    The very idea of forming schools of thought, such as behavioral ecology, evolutionary psychology, and gene-culture coevolution is an indication of the inability of evolutionary theory to consider itself a science. Scientists seek integration, not fragmentation. Behavioral ecologists, for instance, are anthropologists who study simple societies, while evolutionary psychologists are psychologists who study commonalities in human behavior across all societies. How could they possibly consider themselves “alternative” theories? The very idea is absurd, a capitulation to the natural human tendency to congregate in small groups of “insiders” whose major motivation is to triumph over the many groups of “outsiders” whose strange ways are threatening and unsettling.

    http://www.human-nature.com/nibbs/02/laland.html

    For some evidence on the insider-outsider relationship, please re-read this thread.

  359. Ragnaar says:

    Joshua

    “If you listen to Peterson, you will hear him stating opinion as fact.”

    True, certainty level more than 99%. The scientific facts are but one element of the message. When you listened to your college profs, did you check what they were saying say at a rate of one statement per class session? During a typical class session did many of your profs source their statements? It would be like reading a science paper. Yes these class sessions are the main verbal communication element of the classes.

    So I am arguing the science doesn’t matter. SkS gets the science right and accomplishes very little besides fueling one side of the insult war. At the same time I am saying the science (or science lite or sugar free science) I like matters to me and makes for a better story and helps me map out my own tinfoil hat wearing libertarian view of the world. As we all map out our worlds to try to make sense of the whole crazy thing. Consider what it is that people want? If the product is the best science, is there a market for that?

    Assume Bill Nye didn’t get the science perfect. Take it from there and get him back inline or dismiss him. Whatever he is, whatever his faults are, he has something that sells and people listen to.

    We’ve trashed Peterson’s science, pounded it into to ground. He’s still here. Not literally.

  360. Ragnaar says:

    Joshua:

    I read stuff here top down without exception. We seem to be talking past each other or something.

  361. Ragnaar says:

    izen:

    That other dragons have been slayed indicates something of value. I meant the AGW dragon’s head. The fight has been a long one so far and as Peterson suggests, something has been learned by our brave Knights of all identities. But I do not see an end to this particular dragon. Yes we have tallied kills against many sub and minor dragons, but they seem to just keep respawning. We have accumulated powerful allies from far off lands of all persuasion to join us. Yet we have little to show for it. Our engineers inventions seem to amuse the dragon as he has been seen to chuckle at times when apparently observing them. Some of our subjects are getting restless and dragon has attracted a dragon support group of rapscallions and a few Black Knights and though we’ve slain a few of those we haven’t been able make much progress against them. What to do next is unclear.

  362. Mal Adapted says:

    Willard:

    You got some editing to do, Mal…First, second, and even…

    Wow. What I said, first, second and last.

    Willard, I’ve systematically and intensively studied the evolution of life on Earth, emphatically not excluding human life, for more than half a century now: first as a schoolboy, then to just short of a Ph. D., and subsequently as an over-educated amateur (‘lover of’) with lots of spare time. Is it possible I know more about it than you do, even if it’s only the jargon? Do you presume I’m not even anthropologically meta-literate? Does it matter? You decide, I’ve taken my best shot at convincing you. Not playing the ref here, I’ll still comment on other topics and respond to other commenters on this one.

  363. Joshua says:

    Ragnaar –

    It seems so. I was struggling to see how what you’ve been writing was responsive to what I’ve been writing.

  364. > Is it possible I know more about it than you do, even if it’s only the jargon?

    Or course, Mal. The only expertise I claim is being able to read the entries for “culture,” “cognitive science,” and “genetics.” These entries suffice to disprove that your claim about culture, human brains, and mnemonic art squarely falls under biology’s juridiction.

    Parsimony also applies to authority claims, you know.

  365. izen says:

    @-W
    “These entries suffice to disprove that your claim about culture, human brains, and mnemonic art squarely falls under biology’s juridiction.”

    Or are sufficient to ‘prove’ that all those aspects of reality are subsets of biology.
    (is that a mathematical disproof, or a rhetorical one?)

    Perhaps I share some of Mal’s insider viewpoint, although my formal and personal exposure to the acedemic disipline is smaller. But so far your defense of the distinctive independence of the study of culture, neurobiology and cultural artifacts has been less than persuasive. It seems to start from assumptions about how academic departmentalisation reflects real distinctions in the epistemological foundations.
    Not just culturally evolved subsets of the larger system.

    I suspect as Joshua in a parallel context suggested, some of this apparent disagreement is because we are working from orthogonal directions.

  366. Steven Mosher says:

  367. Steven Mosher says:

    “The problem with Peterson, and his supporters, IMO, is they dismiss even the possibility of his science being biased”

    6:27 I hurt therefore I am

    must have loved this

    here is the thing. He is a Post modernist and doesnt even know it.

  368. Dave_Geologist says:

    We’re kinda drifting off the point Willard. I’m not arguing about genes culture, and Dawkins explicitly warned against using TSG as an excuse to do so. My points were about how adaptive.genes get fixed in the population. Humans have a far richer culture than most/all animals. Of course you don’t need genetics to explain altruism in humans. It could be cultural, subconsciously gene-driven (in the sense that a genetic predisposition has been selected for in the past) or a mixture of both. I don’t think Dawkins disagrees with that, hence “Let us understand what our own selfish genes are up to, because we may then at least have the chance to upset their designs, something that no other species has ever aspired to.” An argument against genetic determinism. And the chimpanzees and bonobos I referenced above. Almost identical genetically and yet with vastly different social behaviour. maybe only 1% of the “altruistic” things we do as a society are influenced by our genetics and the rest is down to our free will. Great, it means we’ve succeeded in overcoming our “baser animal instinct”. Congratulations to us. Or a bit of both per Gintis. Fine, I have no problem with that. It’s light-years from where we started with Peterson. We’re not bees or naked mole-rats.

    I’ll read the group selection paper, but also a sample of the 35 who cite it, to assess how mainstream it is. Wiki counts three for (one admittedly famous, influential and with great scientific achievements, but so was Linus Pauling 🙂 ), 137 against.

  369. Dave_Geologist says:

    Something like vehicle selection is going on, methinks, independent from the memes it contains.

    I know you said memes but I’ll swap in genes because memes are too wooly and have no requirement to be digital. And anyway I was talking about genes not memes.

    Vehicles as unit of selection:

    Mother gazelle got a pre-or-post fertilisation beneficial cheetah-cheater mutation. Expressed in the cheetah-cheater phenotype. She survives to have more children than average. Now let’s ignore genes. Those children inherit her phenotype. But hang on, they also have fathers. So they only inherit half a cheetah-cheater. All of them. They go on to have children with a quarter of cheetah-cheater. An eighth, a sixteenth and so on. Pretty soon every gazelle has a tiny little bit of cheetah-cheater, which might make the gazelle population a little bit fitter, but there has been no selection. All you’ve done is spread one chance mutation across the entire population, until each animal has one ten-thousandth of it or whatever. But hang on, you say, cheetah-cheater confers an advantage. So during the spreading process there is selection. The gazelles which don’t yet have a dose of cheetah-cheater are more likely to get eaten before they have children. Let’s say the attrition rate is such that the 10% with the least cheetah-cheater die in each generation before breeding (the death rate is probably more than that, but there are other ways for calves to die – e.g. getting stepped on by an elephant or getting separated from the herd and starving without mother’s milk). Do the maths again and you end up with 10%-plus-one-ten-thousandth cheetah-cheater. But as cheetah-cheater gets more dilute it confers a smaller selective advantage, so we should be scaling down the 10%. Ultimately, in the real world, to the threshold below which 100% of calves die before breeding. So you get regression-to-the-mean or regression-almost-to-the-mean. Slightly better, but your’e stuck there until the next mutation. Which is as likely to cancel out cheetah-cheater as it is to enhance it. Essentially you have genetic drift, a random walk.

    Darin recognised that in Origin, and argued from observation that it was wrong, but couldn’t explain why it was wrong.

    If it could be shown that our domestic varieties manifested a strong tendency to reversion,–that is, to lose their acquired characters, whilst kept under unchanged conditions, and whilst kept in a considerable body, so that free intercrossing might check, by blending together, any slight deviations of structure, in such case, I grant that we could deduce nothing from domestic varieties in regard to species. But there is not a shadow of evidence in favour of this view: to assert that we could not breed our cart and race-horses, long and short-horned cattle, and poultry of various breeds, and esculent vegetables, for an almost infinite number of generations, would be opposed to all experience.

  370. Is it just me or was the “is science true” rather facile?

  371. Dave_Geologist says:

    Now do it with replicators.

    Mother gazelle got a pre-or-post fertilisation beneficial cheetah-cheater mutation. Expressed in the cheetah-cheater phenotype. She survives to have more children than average. Half of her children inherit her cheetah-cheater mutation (or a quarter if it’s recessive, or three-quarters if it’s dominant, but averaged across all genes, half). That subset of her children express the cheetah-cheater phenotype and have a selective advantage, not only over unrelated gazelles, but also over their cheetah-cheater-less siblings. They go on to have children, half of whom inherit cheetah-cheater and express cheetah-cheater. At each step the original gazelle’s descendants who carry the cheetah-cheater allele retain a full copy of the gene and express the full cheetah-cheater phenotype. Over time they increase as a percentage of the population, and after a few generations they’re mating with distant cousins who have cheetah-cheater and 100% of those offspring carry the cheetah-cheater allele and express the full cheetah-cheater phenotype. Maybe that combination over-expresses cheetah-cheater and is maladaptive, like the sickle-cell mutation. If it doesn’t, the fixation process can speed up, perhaps sweeping through the entire population. Or perhaps it will reach an ESS. For example, you don’t have to be faster than the cheetah to escape, just faster than your neighbours. Once all your neighbours are fast, the selective advantage disappears and being well-camouflaged or having better eyesight might confer an equivalent dose of inclusive fitness.

    Of course other genes were there in the original gazelle and different other-genes are introduced with each mating. But, as per TEP, those other genes are just a more intimate part of the cheetah-cheater gene’s environment. In principle no different from the climate, the vegetation, or the population of predators or competitors. Some of them will combine in a maladaptive way and those cheetah-cheater-bearing individuals will be selected against. If the benefit from the cheetah-cheater phenotype is big enough, those other genes may over time be driven from the population. Or they may reach an ESS. Another new mutation may come along and interact synergistically or antagonistically with cheetah-cheater. That’s fine. It’s no different from cheetah-cheater being favourable at one point in the migration but not another, or unfavourable if the climate gets wetter and rivers wider because the cheetah-cheater phenotype is a poor swimmer. Or if there is an extended drought and cheetah-cheater is more thirsty than other gazelles. Or if cheetahs go extinct, and the cheetah-cheater phenotype was adaptive because it suppress the calf’s smell and made it better at hiding in the long grass. It makes it harder for the mother to find it at mealtimes, but that’s OK if she has a good spatial memory and the risk of that happening is smaller than the risk of being eaten by a cheetah. But now there are no cheetahs, the risk of starvation (or being stepped on by an elephant if the benefit is through better camouflage) comes to the fore and cheetah-cheater is maladaptive compared to cheetah-cheater-less.

    Unlike the replicator-free version, this works. You could insert words about vehicles being the unit of selection, because it does indeed act on the phenotype, but what does that add? An extra, unnecessary term. Hence, I think, Dawkins’ “Both are correct” but “there may be little usefulness in talking about discrete vehicles at all”. And vehicles might lead some readers down the garden path of “blending”. I’ve certainly heard that sort of thing from Creationists.

  372. Dave_Geologist says:

    Phew! That was a long one. I had a quick skim of Gintis.

    even after being shown that culture isn’t a by-product of genetic evolution or that natural selection doesn’t require discretely transmitted units.

    1) Dawkins didn’t say the first part. And indeed expressly warned against it,

    2) Bit of a shell game there. He’s redefined epigenetics to include cross-generation cultural transmission. That’s not what I meant when I said epigenetics earlier and I doubt if it’s what many biologists mean. I was referring to chemical signals alternating gene expression, often in the womb. It’s interesting but as a tweak on existing gene expression. Genes are up- and down-regulated all the time, in response to external and internal stimuli. Some environmental, some hormonal (e.g. development of the gonads in the male embryo releasing testosterone which triggers a raft of changed gene expressions). Yes it’s long-lasting, but so are some purely environmental responses. For example of satiety hormones according to childhood diet. And yes some of these things are continuous. But that’s nothing new. Waddington died before Hox genes were discovered. I suspect he’d have said “Aha!”, just as Darwin would of Crick & Watson.

    I don’t think Dawkins introducing “meme” is a justification for “The idea of treating culture as a form of epigenetic transmission”. Inventing a new word kinda suggests he saw it as distinct, not just an extension of genetics/evolution. Plus I’ve never before seen memes analogised to epigenetics. Only to genes. Always with the non-digital caution, and often with the comment that it is better compared to horizontal gene transfer in bacteria than to sexual reproduction. For all Gintis claiming TEP in support of his argument, the word epigenetic only appears there three times. Once to challenge the idea of a “fatness” gene which a man can pass on to his children. We now know that pregnant mothers can do this via epigenetics, but the gene doesn’t change, just its expression. And yes, as long as the daughter has access to food, she may also be overweight or obese during pregnancy and change gene expression in her daughter. And so on down the generations, until food is short or a descendant diets. Then it’s back to square one in a generation or two, because the gene hasn’t changed. As a geologist I take the long view, thousands or millions of generations not two or three.

    The second time it’s mentioned is hardly a ringing endorsement.

    Complex adaptation to an environment may arise in individual organisms through instruction from that environment. In many cases this certainly happens. But, given an assumption of epigenetic, not preformationistic embryology, to expect such complex adaptations to be translated into the medium of the genetic code, by some means other than the selection of undirected variation, is a gross violation of all that I hold rational.

    The third time is in the title of Lumsden and Wilson (1980) in the reference list. The referencing text clarifies what Dawkins meas by “meme”. Replicator, not vehicle 😉 .

    I have previously supported the case for a completely non-genetic kind of replicator, which flourishes only in the environment provided by complex, communicating brains. I called it the ‘meme’ (Dawkins 1976a). Unfortunately, unlike Cloak (1975) but, if I understand them aright, like Lumsden and Wilson (1980), I was insufficiently clear about the distinction between the meme itself, as replicator, on the one hand, and its ‘phenotypic effects’ or ‘meme products’ on the other. A meme should be regarded as a unit of information residing in a brain (Cloak’s ‘i-culture’). It has a definite structure, realized in whatever physical medium the brain uses for storing information. If the brain stores information as a pattern of synaptic connections, a meme should in principle be visible under a microscope as a definite pattern of synaptic structure. If the brain stores information in ‘distributed’ form (Pribram 1974), the meme would not be localizable on a microscope slide, but still I would want to regard it as physically residing in the brain. This is to distinguish it from its phenotypic effects, which are its consequences in the outside world (Cloak’s ‘m-culture’).

    The phenotypic effects of a meme may be in the form of words, music, visual images, styles of clothes, facial or hand gestures, skills such as opening milk bottles in tits, or panning wheat in Japanese macaques. They are the outward and visible (audible, etc.) manifestations of the memes within the brain. They may be perceived by the sense organs of other individuals, and they may so imprint themselves on the brains of the receiving individuals that a copy (not necessarily exact) of the original meme is graven in the receiving brain. The new copy of the meme is then in a position to broadcast its phenotypic effects, with the result that further copies of itself may be made in yet other brains.

    And I’m only halfway down the second page of Gintis when I see this.
    Dawkins [32] added a second fundamental mechanism of epigenetic information transmission in The Extended Phenotype, noting that organisms can directly transmit environmental artifacts to the next generation, in the form of such constructs as beaver dams,
    And yet from TEP.

    As in the case of the spider web, nobody has done a genetic study of beaver dams, but we really do not need to in order to convince ourselves of the rightness of regarding the dam, and the lake, as part of the phenotypic expression of beaver genes. It is enough that we accept that beaver dams must have evolved by Darwinian natural selection: this can only have come about if dams have varied under the control of genes

    Genes, not epigenetics, cultural or otherwise. Did Gintis actually read TEP? See why my reaction has been “Dawkins didn’t say that”, not “that’s an interesting take, not sure if I agree with it”?

  373. Joshua says:

    Kramer = Peterson:

  374. Dave_Geologist says:

    Oops, missed the blockquotes after “when I see this.”

    I’m about Dawkinsed-out now Willard. It’s been interesting and TSG and TEP have moved well up in my re-reading list.

    It’s actually quite in line with the post theme, at least the bits about Peterson claiming support for his social and political views on the basis of a version of biology which few if any biologists would recognise as valid.

    I see the various liberal sociologists’ attacks on TSG as the other side of the same coin. Right-wingers have used TSG as a justification for their versions of Social Darwinism, often inaccurately portraying what Dawkins wrote, and going against his expressed wishes:

    I am saying how things have evolved. I am not saying how we humans morally ought to behave. … Be warned that if you wish, as I do, to build a society in which individuals cooperate generously and unselfishly towards a common good, you can expect little help from biological nature.

    The numerous errors and misunderstandings in their writing suggests strongly to me that, no, they really didn’t read TSG (or TEP) for comprehension. They came expecting to find a Social Darwinist tract, and didn’t consider the possibility that their opponents were not accurately representing their claimed source material. How else can you explain Midgely accusing Dawkins of Social Darwinism in page 3 when the above quote is on page 3 and in the same paragraph? She must have already had steam coming out of her ears by page 3. Which, bearing in mind he hadn’t got the the meat of his ideas yet, strongly suggests that steam was already coming out when she picked up the book.

  375. Dave_Geologist says:

    But I do not see an end to this particular dragon. Yes we have tallied kills against many sub and minor dragons, but they seem to just keep respawning. We have accumulated powerful allies from far off lands of all persuasion to join us. Yet we have little to show for it.

    Here’s a thought Ragnaar. Could the failure of you and yours to slay the AGW dragon have something to do with the fact that, unlike (say) the commies-coming-to-take-way-our-guns dragon (an imaginary enemy, like the imaginary dragon), AGW is not a dragon? It’s real. Not imaginary. The reason it’s so hard to slay is the same reason it’s hard to slay gravity, or the round Earth, or old age, or the laws of thermodynamics. You’re butting up against reality. That’s a hard row to hoe.

  376. Dave_Geologist says:

    here is the thing. He is a Post modernist and doesnt even know it.

    Haha! Great minds think alike Mosh 😉 . I beat you to it 🙂 .

    Ahhh… how sweet. Jordan P is a closet post-modernist

  377. Joshua says:

    Ragnaar –

    When you listened to your college profs, did you check what they were saying say at a rate of one statement per class session? During a typical class session did many of your profs source their statements?

    As it turns out, I actually attended very few college lectures; I obtained my credits through independent study programs. I did, however, audit some classes – but the advantage of doing that it is that I didn’t need to regurgitate what the lecturer said in the way she said it in order to obtain credit. I obtained credit by reconstructing the material into my own framework – which actually didrequire that I research what they said in their lectures (proportionatrly less applicable to the extent that the material was in a “hard science ” – a label which didn’t apply to a very high percentage).

    And I followed that process, precisely, because I don’t think that the lecture format is a very good paradigm for learning. I suppose that’s part of the reason that I don’t find listening to Peterson to be particularly educational.

    But further, the extent to which I had to research the material delivered in the lecture, through outside sources as a fact check, was a function, to a large degree, of how far the material lay outside the “consensus.” When it was solidly inside the consensus, then everything else I read said the same thing, so more exploration didn’t enlarge the framework I needed for understanding. When the outside material was different, it expanded that space and took more time for me to build my independent understanding framework, because I had to reconcile the differences.

    SkS gets the science right and accomplishes very little besides fueling one side of the insult war.

    Well, that’s part of my point about Peterson. Except, at the same time as using science as a lever to fuel the insult wars, Peterson, as far as I can tell, relies far more on conflating opinion with fact as a rhetorical device. It’s a feature not a bug, because it tends to be a very persuasive way to advance an ideological agenda. Opinion, excised as opinion, does not make for very good storytelling.

    Reimagine Kipling’s Just So Stories narrated as opinion rather than fact. Theories That Might Explain Which Environmental Conditions Could Have Resulted in Elephants Evolving Trunks just doesn’t have the same ring as. How the Elephant Got His Trunk.

    At the same time I am saying the science (or science lite or sugar free science) I like matters to me and makes for a better story and helps me map out my own tinfoil hat wearing libertarian view of the world. As we all map out our worlds to try to make sense of the whole crazy thing. Consider what it is that people want? If the product is the best science, is there a market for that?

    Ah. It seems we have come to a point of agreement.

  378. Dave_Geologist says:

    Not quite Dawkinsed out Willard – too good to resist. Sounds like you’re kindred spirits 😉 .

    Evolutionary biology is not biology for the same reason that evolutionary psychology is not psychology. Both involve many more scientific fields than biology or psychology. (Ethology, for starters.)

    From Wiki

    He studied zoology at Balliol College, Oxford, graduating in 1962; while there, he was tutored by Nobel Prize-winning ethologist Nikolaas Tinbergen. He continued as a research student under Tinbergen’s supervision, receiving his MA and Doctor of Philosophy[38] degrees by 1966, and remained a research assistant for another year.[39][40] Tinbergen was a pioneer in the study of animal behaviour, particularly in the areas of instinct, learning, and choice;[41] Dawkins’s research in this period concerned models of animal decision-making.[42]

    i>And from TSG

    I am an ethologist, and this is a book about animal behaviour. My debt to the ethological tradition in which I was trained will be obvious. In particular, Niko Tinbergen does not realize the extent of his influence on me during the twelve years I worked under him at Oxford. The phrase ‘survival machine’, though not actually his own, might well be. But ethology has recently been invigorated by an invasion of fresh ideas from sources not conventionally regarded as ethological. This book is largely based on these new ideas. Their originators are acknowledged in the appropriate places in the text; the dominant figures are G. C. Williams, J. Maynard Smith, W. D. Hamilton, and R. L. Trivers.

    Planetary geology is not geology for the same reason that evolutionary psychology is not psychology. Both involve many more scientific fields than geology or psychology. Astronomy, physics, chemistry etc in the former case. I would however treat evolutionary biology as (a subset of) biology. And of course it impinges on and incorporates insights and data from other disciples, Science is all-joined-up. My undergraduate degree was about 50% geophysics, and my Ph.D. about 50% geochemistry. And I had to audit some grad-school statistics, numerical analysis and thermodynamics courses to do the latter. Does that mean I’m not a geologist?

  379. ragnaar wrote “SkS gets the science right and accomplishes very little besides fueling one side of the insult war. “

    I realise that was trolling, but here goes anyway. Err, no. There are plenty of people who are actually interested in what the science actually says about climate, and a site debunking common climate myths is quite useful for them. Why do you not hear about them? I suspect because they are not so interested in boring partisan blog-squabbling where much of the insult war takes place. The main audience for SkS is not those taking part in the insult war, but those who see the insult war and want to find out who has the science on their side.

    As it happens there tends to be less insults on SkS than your average climate blog (at least there was when I was moderating there ;o).

  380. “I would however treat evolutionary biology as (a subset of) biology. ”

    I would agree. Evolution is a biological mechanism, so it (evolution) isn’t a separate scientific field. A lot of science is interdisciplinary these days, so the boundaries between subjects are not well defined. My own subject is machine learning, which I would say is a branch of computational statistics, which means that it is a subset of statistics in the same way that radio astronomy is a subset of astronomy, even though there is a lot of computing in it.

  381. Dave_Geologist says:

    I had this in mind: when group selection does work in theory, it can be shown to be mathematically equivalent to gene-level selection involving “inclusive fitness”, referenced above, which refers to the Price equation. Not everyone agrees.


    ….Just everyone except van Veelen and Nowack, it would appear 😉 .
    Should probably read this first.

    Interestingly, magazines, online articles and the scientific literature have for several years been using the phrase mathematical tautology for the Price equation, although Nowak & Highfield (2011) and van Veelen et al. (2012) do not provide citations to previous literature.

    Critiques of the Price equation rarely distinguish the costs and benefits of particular assumptions in relation to particular goals. I use van Veelen’s recent series of papers as a proxy for those critiques. That series repeats some of the common misunderstandings and adds some new ones. Nowak recently repeated van Veelen’s critique as the basis for his commentary on the Price equation (van Veelen, 2005; Nowak et al., 2010; van Veelen et al., 2010; Nowak & Highfield, 2011; van Veelen, 2011; van Veelen et al., 2012).

    Small self-referencing clique, everyone’s out of step except our Jonny? Is van Veelen Galileo, Einstein, Jim Hansen, Michael Mann, Nic Lewis, Judith Curry, Roy Spencer or Richard Lindzen?

  382. Steven Mosher says:

    “Is it just me or was the “is science true” rather facile?

    Philosophical or facile. same thing, or rather different.

    The point is, His view of things is not simple.

    Take this

    ‘“The problem with Peterson, and his supporters, IMO, is they dismiss even the possibility of his science being biased”

    Clearly a misreading of peterson. I mean FFS after the discussion he had with Harris which we went over ad naseum, nobody execept the most motivated reasoner could come away with the idea that Peterson had a straightforward view of science.

    I’d add that his view of things is not consistent either. welcome to the world after modernism

    In any case, I’d probably send him this and see if his head exploded

  383. Joshua says:

    Clearly a misreading of Peterson.

    It isn’t a “reading” of Peterson.

    It’s an observation of what he says.

  384. “Philosophical or facile. same thing, or rather different.”

    no, I meant facile to include from a philosophical/philosophy of science perspective.

    “The point is, His view of things is not simple. “

    Gish gallops rarely are, AFAICS most of what he said was rather avoiding what truth means in a scientific context. Complexity does not necessarily imply depth or meaning.

  385. Joshua says:

    And I never suggested (let alone said) that Peterson’s view of science is “straightforward.”

    Calm down. You’ll make fewer mistakes.

  386. Joshua says:

    Ragnaar –

    Perhaps the following is useful for evaluating reverse-engineered Just So Stories that perfectly explain the mechanics of cultural evolution (which happen to perfectly dovetail with Peterson’s ideology – coincidental, of course).

    http://www.pluchino.it/talent-vs-luck-eng.html

  387. Joshua says:

    Btw –

    You gotta love a Sicilian physicist who wins an IG Nobel for analysis that shows that human organizations perform better if they promote people at random.

  388. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    The point is, His view of things is not simple.
    I’d add that his view of things is not consistent either. welcome to the world after modernism

    Ah – the world has embraced Petersonian complexity and contradiction!
    Or, perhaps it hasn’t? Hmmm.
    You were attempting to make a point? The point? How laughably simple.

    If someone’s not self-consistent, then there is no singular “view” of things.
    Just opportunistic ‘splainin’ until the the Patreon account stops trending.

    Reminiscent of people who are (in)consistently willing to demarcate “the point”.

    Yeah – I know: ““A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do.”

    Peterson ain’t no problematizing Mahatma.

    Now go clean your room.

  389. Mal Adapted says:

    Willard:

    Even genetics don’t stand on biology alone anymore

    My apologies, my respected frenemy. It now appears that we’re using the same word for critically different things. You are expressly excluding ‘Biology’, capitalized, from ‘Human Behavioral Sciences’ within the global cultural institution of ‘Science’, capitalized. My argument, OTOH, is that humans and humanity are natural systems sharing the attribute ‘life’ with all other genetic descendants of the last universal common ancestor (LUCA), thus are entirely within the scope of ‘biology’, lowercase, to wit: an integral abstraction of investigative approaches to living systems on a general systems framework, in which all observable phenomena are present effects of ramifying, overlapping chains of ultimate and proximate causes, rooted at the primordial singularity or ‘Big Bang’.

    Time on that scale is often thought of as ‘deep time’, yet under uniformitarianism the present instant is on the monistic time scale initiated by the Big Bang. By the mediocrity principle, humans are unexceptional. We therefore share an ultimate cause labeled ‘evolution’ with all living systems, on all timescales, rooted at the initiation of ‘descent with modification’ no later than 3.5 billion years ago and unbroken through today*. All human individual and aggregate behavior is therefore a legitimate target of biology, lowercase.

    IMUMO, the origins of our cognitive capacity for cultural evolution, and all intersubjectively verifiable ensuing phenomena, are thus within the scope of Biology, capitalized, as the scientific sub-culture that investigates the global population dynamics of Homo sapiens and our ensuing ecologically dominance in the biosphere. By implication all discussions of human behavior are discussions of ‘biology’ as I define it. Regardless: none of the foregoing implies that the conventional ‘Social Sciences’ have to call themselves ‘Biology’.

    * Tangentially, therefore: human life does not begin anew at each ‘conception’ (fusion of sperm and egg to zygote). Rather it began, once, with the first direct ancestor of the LUCA.

  390. Mal Adapted says:

    Mod[s], in the third paragraph of my comment at May 30, 2018 at 3:41 pm, please replace “That means” with “By implication,”. I don’t anyone to be confused, least of all me. TIA.

    [Mod: done.]

  391. Joshua says:

    Related to Peterson’s (rhetorically advantageous) confusion between science and opinions.

    https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/are-liberal-college-students-creating-free-speech-crisis-not-according-ncna858906

  392. Willard says:

    > You are expressly excluding ‘Biology’, capitalized, from ‘Human Behavioral Sciences’

    Which part of “even genetics don’t stand on biology alone anymore” you do not get, Mal?

    The fact that humans are biological entities doesn’t turn biologists into doctors.

    Something tells me you’re extending biology to the life sciences in general.

    ***

    > Small self-referencing clique, everyone’s out of step except our Jonny?

    But since you like SNA, DaveG, Herbert said something similar of Richard and Stephen Jay. Search for their reluctance to publicize, the work of younger generations of evolutionary biologists above.

    Thanks for the reference.

  393. Mal Adapted says:

    I see several commenters make the same distinction between ‘biology’ and ‘Biology’ I do: ‘biology’ is the study of living systems, including human behavior. ‘Biology’ is the extant cultural institution under which the study of ‘biology’ is organized.

    One conclusion we can draw from this thread, is that “the universe is not divided into academic departments.” That is, the structure of Science, the cultural institution, is not mapped to any underlying structure of the real world.

    Another conclusion is that without a common systems framework and vocabulary, we’ll make no progress toward synthesizing our divergent views.

  394. Dave_Geologist says:

    SNA Willard? But re RD and SJG: non-one said they’re not egotists 🙂 . And as popular book authors they’re not under the same academic-rigour requirement to properly reference previous work, for or against, and give due credit to priority. Gintis and van Veelen, though, were publishing in the professional literature. They’re free to be more cavalier in blog, op-ed or whatever. And as Dawkins is no longer (for quite some time) a zoology or biology professor, he’s probably a bit out of touch withe the young bloods. The test is not, does Dawkins self-reference (although TEP has a lot of references, only half a dozen to himself), but does what he said fit the consensus? Given that the Frank reference on Price’s Law is #IV if a series of VII in the same Journal of Evolutionary Biology, spread over a couple of years, 2011-2013, I suspect that is an invited set of reviews by an acknowledged expert, like a mini-lecture series or textbook and very consensus. I’ve downloaded them all, Open Access and probably well worth a read. Search for the series title. And Wiki’s 137 vs. 3 authors anti vs. pro group selection is eerily close to 97% 😉 .

  395. Mal Adapted says:

    Willard:

    Something tells me you’re extending biology to the life sciences in general.

    Well, if by ‘life sciences’ you mean “all cognitive approaches to living phenomena that are founded on empiricism and intersubjective verification by trained, disciplined peers”, then yes. The universe is not divided into academic departments.

  396. Willard says:

    > The universe is not divided into academic departments.

    Of course. However, claiming authority over the overall range of biological phenomena requires some kind of academic departementalization. It also requires lots of reading.

  397. rconnor says:

    SM,

    I’m unsure why Plantinga’s argument would explode anyone’s head (except maybe out of frustration).

    I sort of agree with the premise that natural selection would filter beliefs based on fitness to survive*, not truthfulness (*but only to the extent that the beliefs actually have a material impact on fitness, which is variable). In essence, he suggests that naturalism and evolution can tell us nothing about the truthfulness of beliefs. (Again, I only kinda agree with this but that’s not my main issue.)

    However, he seems to suggest that means that beliefs have a 50/50 chance of being true and are therefore unreliable, which simply does not follow. If it can’t tell us anything about truthfulness, then it doesn’t tell us it’s 50/50.

    Furthermore, one’s belief in naturalism is different from the concept of naturalism. So while he may be right that we should be skeptical of our beliefs, his argument offers nothing to question the concept of naturalism itself. (I actually think this is accidently a better argument against rationalism than naturalism.)

    I’m curious whether you agree with Platinga’s argument or just posted it to explode some heads (whose head and why they should explode is another question).

    (In the same vein, I’m also curious whether Willard agrees with Midgely’s teleological take on evolution or whether he was just using her as a critic of Dawkins.)

  398. Ragnaar says:

    Dave_Geologist says:

    “Could the failure of you and yours to slay the AGW dragon…”

    It’s hard to slay gravity and I think attempts to do so have negative value. There are few points I am still confused about though. Does gravity’s effects obey the speed of light rule or are its effects instantaneous? While I haven’t always been here, I am at the solutions phase of the AGW problem. And as you may have observed, evaluating such as it is proposed solutions.

    Above where I mention Black Knights, I was trying to write from our point of view in that AGW is a problem and to give it a simple narrative.

    It is true the skeptics have tried to slay the AGW science dragon. And have had limited success in the United States. Trump was elected and Congress is doing a pretty good job of delaying anything but they have yet to trash wind and solar which though upsetting for say 5 years to markets, they probably should do. But these are policy successes. Not science successes. So while it’s nice to win on the science, policy is where the money is and how large scale solutions are implemented.

  399. Ragnaar says:

    Joshua:

    Say that Peterson is the like of SkS.

    The both have science but SkS’s is more solid. So they built their house of brick. SkS has the personality of a hammer. Their writing skills are adequate but not memorable.

    With sciences as the arbiter. They win. With youtube as the arbiter, he wins. He has a product. While it is imperfect, it serves a purpose.

  400. > van Veelen et al. (2012) do not provide citations to previous literature.

    You omitted the sentence that follows Frank’s claim, DaveG:

    As far as I know, the first description of the Price equation as a mathematical tautology was in the study of Frank (1995).

    Here’s how the abstract starts:

    It is often suggested that any group selection model can be recast in terms of inclusive fitness.
    A standard reference to support that claim is ‘‘‘Quantitative genetics, inclusive fitness, and group
    selection’’ by Queller (1992) in the American Naturalist 139 (3), 540-558.

    Here’s how they introduce their question:

    George R. Price produced two of the most influential papers about the evolution of cooperation in the last 50 years. One of them, written together with Maynard Smith (Maynard Smith and Price, 1973) is about why conflicts between animals do typically not escalate. In order to be able to predict which strategies for conflict will evolve, it introduces the notion of an evolutionarily stable strategy (ESS). This has become the central concept in evolutionary game theory, together with the replicator dynamics that was introduced by Taylor and Jonker (1978). There is no doubt
    that evolutionary game theory in general and the idea of an ESS in particular has been essential for understanding the evolution of cooperation. In models with mutation and selection, the ESS is the most natural refinement of a Nash equilibrium, and to formulate a model and look for evolutionarily stable strategies has become a standard approach.

    The other paper—this one single authored—introduces what is now known as the Price equation (Price, 1970). This paper has also been very influential, and the equation is regularly described as giving a simple, but very deep insight into the fundamentals of population genetics (see for instance Frank, 1995; Grafen, 2002; Gardner, 2008). Countless papers have been written using the Price equation,

    […]

    While the ESS is undisputed as a tool for modelling, the Price equation is not, and nor are the results that are arrived at with it. Especially in the debate about the value of inclusive fitness (Nowak et al., 2010; Gardner et al., 2011) and the relation between group selection and inclusive fitness (Queller, 1992; Sober and Wilson, 1998; Wilson and Wilson, 2007; Traulsen and Nowak, 2006; Lehmann et al., 2007; Killingback et al., 2006; Grafen, 2007a; Van Veelen, 2009,
    2011a,b; Wild et al., 2009; Wade et al., 2010; Marshall, 2011a,b) results that are derived with the Price equation are contested. In Van Veelen et al. (2010) we claim that the disagreement about
    these results is partly caused by the use of the Price equation. If we ignore the abuse of the word covariance, then the Price equation is an identity, and can therefore not be wrong.

    As you can see, Van Veelen & al 2012 provide citations to the previous lichurchur. Not only that, they also cite Frank 1995, which Frank himself considers the first instance where the Price equation is presented as a tautology.

    Van Veelen et al. (2012) also starts with a quote from The Big Lebowski, which I believe is fitting:

    The Dude: This is a very complicated case, Maude. You know, a lotta ins, lotta outs, lotta what-have-yous. A lotta strands to keep in my head, man. Lotta strands in old Duder’s head.

    They also cite Okasha, 2010, which has the brilliant title Altruism researchers must cooperate.

    In any event, Frank does seem to be somewhat implicated in that debate, don’t you think?

  401. Ragnaar says:

    dikranmarsupial says:

    “There are plenty of people who are actually interested in what the science actually says about climate.”

    I didn’t know that you moderated there. At the end of the day, what’s been accomplished? I think at this point every last unit of value has been squeezed out of the science. I think fatigue has set in. It’s like a Mexican restaurant that I worked at while attending college. You just keep rearranging the ingredients.

    Now that’s Tex-Mex.

    We see this fatigue in blog comments. If a climate scientist were to successfully break something, that’d be a different story. SkS is a resource but my impression it that’s not its reason for being, but I am biased. It is a resource that I’ve used to have someone agree with what I think is a simple point if they are on the left. It doesn’t work if they are on the right. Most things position themselves along a spectrum. And with that we have their blurbs on some people whose names we are familiar with. Which is the position we are going to go out and do something to…

    I just had a look at SkS. Comments are low. The pop-up definitions are bothersome. They post a quasi-mission statement right near the top. They could keep the same mission and change the quasi-mission statement. Currently the have a repost from: Climate Denial Crock of the Week. Which is a bit troubling for the message of objectivity if there is supposed to be one. While we are at it: Climate Loon Crock of the Week is less offensive. However loons are badass and there are T-shirt sales to consider.

  402. Ragnaar says:

    Joshua:

    I realize how lucky I am. My nation, my family, my city. Our Universities and Colleges and our brilliant minds in many occupations.

    Not quite American:

    http://www.mnvideovault.org/index.php?id=16651&select_index=0&popup=yes

    Key paraphrase: We have rich farm land in Minnesota. Is our success the result of our virtues or our luck.
    The video is also the source of my claim that Minnesota should invite 5 million Chinese to move to our state.

  403. Steven Mosher says:

    “Haha! Great minds think alike Mosh 😉 . I beat you to it 🙂 .”

    there are very few folks on the thread who are not unwitting post modernists

  404. Ragnaar says:

    Steven Mosher:

    This is grandiose:

    # Post Modern

    # Peterson

    # Synthesis

    What story? A thing will fight itself with the very thing defeating it being a part of itself. I’ll suggest the very thing post modernism is vulnerable to is post modernism. If A is where we were and you stand on the edge of a cliff B, I’ll go stand on the edge of cliff C. And since I’ve studied cliffs, we’ll so how this works out.

  405. Jeffh says:

    Ragnaar, your examples of “policy successes” occur because the US is a corporate state, a fully fledged plutocracy, a kleptocracy, a corporatocracy in the words of John Perkins. Call it whatever you like but they’ve won. They control every lever of US government. So its hardly surprising that science hasn’t ‘won’. In the Corporate States of America, short term profit trumps (pun intended) long term sanity. This is part of the reason neoliberal capitalism does not work. If we don’t find a way to overhaul this insane system, then the future is bleak.

  406. ragnaar wrote “I didn’t know that you moderated there. At the end of the day, what’s been accomplished? “

    As I said, those interested in blog-wars are mostly uninterested in what the science actually says (especially on the skeptic side as the warmist side is aligned with the mainstream scientific position), but they are a small minority of those interested in climate change. Not everybody is a climate troll.

    I should also point out that SkS is involved in academic work (“Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature” has 842 citations on google scholar) and has run a mooc.

    I’d say it has accomplished plenty.

    “I think at this point every last unit of value has been squeezed out of the science. I think fatigue has set in. It’s like a Mexican restaurant that I worked at while attending college. You just keep rearranging the ingredients. “

    The main purpose of SkS is to address climate myths. If the skeptics came up with something new, rather than just rehashing the same old misunderstandings (the residence time of CO2 being a classic example – how many times has that old canard popped up again on skeptic blogs?), then SkS would have a new myth to address. I shan’t hold my breath though! ;o)

  407. Dave_Geologist says:

    My bad Willard. It was late and I skimmed Frank’s abstract. The “no citing” was overstated. Nevertheless, the SNA point stands. Most of the arguments I’ve seen against group selection are like Dawkins’ arguments against vehicles. They’re not enough on their own to explain the world. You need to add individual/kin selection and replicators. And once you’ve done that, you can explain most or all observations without recourse to group selection or vehicles. So parsimony says ditch them, until it is shown that they are required. They’re not wrong, just unnecessary. Every so often someone comes along with a claim that requires group selection. And then someone else comes along, re-crunches the maths and says no, it can be done equally well with individuals and/or kin.

    Because the demonstrations are statistical rather than causal, if you get “a group selection model passes my statistical test” and “a kin selection model passes my statistical test”, for the same data, you can’t say which applies. Or maybe you’re not thinking deeply enough and they’re not only mathematically equivalent*, they’re conceptually equivalent. But then you risk going into Humpty-Dumpty land and making words mean what you want them to mean. My understanding is that there are lots of example where kin selection passes the test so it is certainly required. Some examples where both fit equally well, so parsimony unless you can find some way independent of the statistics to draw an arrow of causality. And a few claimed but challenged examples where group selection passes but kin selection does not. So the jury is out until the consensus accepts these few examples. Since part of the reason they are hard to tease out is that they are rare, they probably don’t matter much in the overall scheme of things, but may of course be highly influential in individual cases.

    You should of course still investigate them even if they’re rare – you sometimes learn more from the “exception” than from the “rule”. But you have to expect most of them to go the same way as faster-than-light neutrinos. That’s because the “rule” was not arbitrarily made up by some priesthood. It was adduced from lots and lots of supporting observations. When a rule-breaker is solidly confirmed, you can of course learn a lot. Someone might even get a Nobel Prize. But there’s a reason Nobels are not ten-a-penny.

    * For example, IIRC (it was a long time ago, I used it in my Ph.D.), the reason we have the Mann Whitney U Test and the Wilcoxon Rank Sum Test is that they were invented independently with different formulations, and it was not until years or decades later that someone recognised that they were mathematically equivalent. Something similar may be going on with the group selection discussion.

  408. Dave_Geologist says:

    Apologies Gagnaar, I shouldn’t have lumped you in with the AGW deniers. They’re the ones who are trying to slay gravity.

  409. Dave_Geologist says:

    That should have been Ragnaar of course 😦

  410. Steven Mosher says:

    “Clearly a misreading of Peterson.

    It isn’t a “reading” of Peterson.

    It’s an observation of what he says.”

    that is what we call a ‘reading’. ‘reading’ is shorthand for interpretation

    you seem to think that petersons position can simply be “observed”.
    As if you had an unbiased way of listening to him, or reading his words and “observing” what he meant. If there is anyone in this conversatioon who expresses no doubt about their ‘science’, it seems that you are the one who seems to miss your bias. It’s easy to grab a few quotes here and there and “prove” anything about what any author “thinks”. Same as the stupid skeptic who points at the weather in his back yard and claims “what global warming”

    At best you can say that Peterson at twists and turns both questions science as a final word AND selectively uses some science without questioning it.

    Post modern. just like you.

  411. Steven Mosher says:

    “Gish gallops rarely are, AFAICS most of what he said was rather avoiding what truth means in a scientific context. Complexity does not necessarily imply depth or meaning.”

    again the discussion between Big T and little t. He doesnt want to discuss little t.

    In one sense it’s the folks who valorize Science that do the gish galloping. Think about it.
    When someone questions AGW, how many of us speak about the science as if it were
    true ( big T true) when we actually believe that it is just the most useful, least wrong, contingent,
    agreed upon, pretty dang reliable position.

    na, we lead with Big T, and when push comes to shove we fall back to “best we got”.

    At least it seems that way to me. I will note some fine exceptions, MT comes to mind as someone who is forthrightly coherentist almost from the begining. Willard as well.

    I guess I’m not as concerned about peterson as other people seem to be ( on both sides ) It’s interesting to watch anyone in the post modern world struggle through the intellectual history and try to piece humpty dumpty back together. There will always be places where the result ends up with an elbow coming out of an ear.

  412. “again the discussion between Big T and little t. He doesn’t want to discuss little t.”

    there are only little ts in science AFAICS, so there is no point in talking about science and big T (if you mean by little t and big T what I think you mean by big T and little t). Perhaps the question should have been whether scientism is True (“no, not really” would be my view), but that would have been a much less “dark web” question, which is essentially why I think the dark web is just sterotypic iconoclasts (and it is a common stereotype in academia) playing the persecuted martyr.

    The important question is whether science is a good way of discovering small ts (it is IMHO), but that doesn’t make it big T “True”, and JP AFAICS doesn’t make that distinction.

  413. “I guess I’m not as concerned about peterson as other people seem to be” IMHO he is a stereotypic academic iconoclast (susceptible to “going emeritus”) who is a good orator. That sort of thing doesn’t interest me much, but sadly the general public can be highly susceptible to people with extreme/unreasonable views that are able to present them charismatically/convincingly, so whether I should be concerned about him is, I suppose, another matter.

  414. “When someone questions AGW, how many of us speak about the science as if it were
    true ( big T true) when we actually believe that it is just the most useful, least wrong, contingent,
    agreed upon, pretty dang reliable position.”

    Personally I think the better approach is to deal with the small t truths that the person is questioning. For example if someone thinks the rise in atmospheric CO2 is natural, then pointing out that the atmospheric CO2 level is rising more slowly than the rate of anthropogenic emissions which implies that the natural environment is a net carbon sink and hence opposing the rise. Of course when this particular issue is raised, it is most often by someone that can’t accept any part of the science that goes against their economic/political position (as that part of the science really is pretty much settled). Big T truth doesn’t really come into it.

  415. Dave_Geologist says:

    It is very well known that intelligence (or, more in general, talent and personal qualities) exhibits a Gaussian distribution among the population

    (From Pluchino et al.). Actually, I thought it was well known that collected IQ. at least, is normalised to a Gaussian distribution with a mean of 100 and standard deviation 15.

    When current IQ tests were developed, the median raw score of the norming sample is defined as IQ 100 and scores each standard deviation (SD) up or down are defined as 15 IQ points greater or less.

    The fact that the developers centred on the median rather than the mean, strongly suggests that the developers knew or expected that the underlying distribution was skewed. Otherwise, why not use the mean? So the fact that IQ is Gaussian is no indication that the underlying “intelligence” distribution is Gaussian. IQ is Gaussian by definition. Pluchino et al. have discovered a truism. Just as well it was only an Ig 🙂 .

    Not only that, but “IQ scales are ordinally scaled”. “Ordinal data is a categorical, statistical data type where the variables have natural, ordered categories and the distances between the categories is not known.” So it doesn’t matter what the underlying intelligence distribution is: normal, lognormal Pareto, take your pick. IQ will always be Gaussian. Someone with an IQ of 150 might be a trillion times more intelligent than someone with an IQ of 149. The IQ distribution would still be Gaussian. Maybe the Ig committee was ‘avin’ a larf?

    OK they looked at other talent measures too, and yes things like height are pretty Gaussian. But take, for example, piano playing. Google says about 25% of the population can play the piano. So the median score is zero. And you can’t have negative scores. No way is that Gaussian. So do virtuoso pianists get there by chance? I don’t think so. 62% of people wear glasses or contacts. Is the differential performance impact between me (I wear glasses) and someone with 20/20 vision and between me and a blind person the same? Maybe 100,000 years ago on the savanna, but not today. 71% of people describe themselves as bad dancers (I’m one). Is the difference between me and someone who can’t dance at all the same as that between me and Nureyev? You get the picture. When wooly things like talent are measured, you almost always have to use an ordinal scale.

  416. D_G if an IQ depends on a large number of genetic and environmental factors that combine additively, then the central limit theorem means it is likely to be approximately normally distributed. It seems a reasonable working assumption. Whether IQ measures anything useful is another matter.

    “is normalised to a Gaussian distribution with a mean of 100 and standard deviation 15.”

    This is just an arbitrary scaling of the data, but it doesn’t change the shape of the distribution. I don’t think IQs are forced into a Gaussian distribution.

  417. Joshua says:

    As if you had an unbiased way of listening to him,

    I didn’t say it was umbiased. I clearly labeled it as an opinion. My point is that Peterson fails to do thst, at a rate that is problematic (IMO).

    In so doing, he used science to tells stories that align with his stated ideological agends (coincidrnce, of course). It us rhetorically advantageous. It wins him admiration and millions of dollars.

    Calm down, try reading what I wrote, stop digging.

  418. Joshua says:

    At best you can say that Peterson at twists and turns both questions science as a final word AND selectively uses some science without questioning it.

    Fine. If you like it better worrded that way, knock yourself out. Thats more or less what I’ve been saying (with a caveat about non-intentionality). But also I think it’s more than that and less than that. It isn’t merely a matter of selective use. Peterson also constructs (very complicated) theories and presents them as proven science, while labeling himself as a scientist and as a champion and protector of a science.

    These are tendencies that we all have, in various forms. Some do it more than others.

  419. > the SNA point stands.

    Yes and no, DaveG. For the no part, Frank acknowledges:

    I think it is important to clarify the concepts and history, because influential and widely cited authors, such as Nowak, are using van Veelen’s articles as the basis for their own critiques of the Price equation and approaches to fundamental issues of evolutionary analysis.

    Also, Okasha presents the issue this way:

    Several biologists, however, have recently questioned the importance of kin selection in explaining social behaviour. Edward O. Wilson, famous for his empirical work on insect societies and once a forceful advocate of kin selection, now argues that kinship plays a minor part in the evolution of ant, bee, termite and other social insect colonies7–9. More important, he says, are the ecological factors that make social living so successful. An easy-to-defend nest and a nearby food supply, for instance, may make it beneficial for animals to live in groups. Recently, Wilson, along with theoretical biologists Martin Nowak and Corina Tarnita, have argued that inclusive fitness theory rests on a number of assumptions that greatly limit its applicability — such as that natural selection is relatively weak. Still others argue that multilevel selection — a modern-day version of group selection — best explains the evolution of altruism (although many biologists remain suspicious of appeals to group, rather than individual, advantage).

    The root of the problem is the existence of several different frameworks for modelling the evolution of social behaviour. These include numerous variants of kin selection theory; multi-level selection; evolutionary game theory; and an approach from quantitative genetics based on the notion of ‘indirect genetic effects’. The relationships between these frameworks are sometimes ambiguous, and biologists disagree about which is most fundamental and which most useful empirically (see ‘Coming to terms with social evolution’)

    Perhaps EdwardO has gone emeritus and is now his own SNA. Yet the Okasha piece was about a conference in Amsterdam in 2010, the same that is mentioned at the end of Van Veelen & al 2012.

    I have no real dog in this fight. Okasha himself is being critical of EdwardO and al.; in fact, van Veelen is also critical of Nowak. (That’s the yes part.) But I know that when Frank says that Nowak & Highfield (2011) and van Veelen et al. (2012) emphasize the same point in their critique of the Price equation, although they present the argument as a novel insight without attribution, he’s not really addressing van Veelen’s point, which pertains to modelling assumptions:

    The criticism on the Price equation is not that it is wrong. It is not wrong—as long as no terms are crossed off, and as long as we abide the abuse of the term covariance. The criticism on the Price equation is that, by lack of assumptions, it cannot be used for deriving results that imply predictions. It is equivalent to Cruijff’s footballogism; Theorem 1 just states that the change in gene frequency equals the change in gene frequency. It is not incorrect, but it is not very helpful either, equivalent as it is to Johan Cruijff’s theorem.

    Notwithstanding what appears to be a minor disagreement about covariance, both Van Veelen and Frank seem to agree, which is why Frank justifies we preserve the Price equation at the end of his chapter by invoking the beauty of simple invariances in nature with the usual suspects: Russell, Hardy, Weyl, Feynman. This point has merit, but then you already know that I am biased toward style. Van Veelen too may appreciate it, witness how he formulates Theorem 2:

    Theorem 2 (Cruijff; football). If team A scores more goals than team B, then team A wins.

    Proof. Follows directly from the definition of winning

    Theorem 2 allows me to segue to this interesting metaphor:

    We have a more complicated understanding of football than we do genetics and evolution. Nobody thinks just the quarterback wins the game

    https://aeon.co/essays/the-selfish-gene-is-a-great-meme-too-bad-it-s-so-wrong

    In any event, I agree in most part with Okasha’s points (who’s a philosopher, BTW):

    Much of the current antagonism could easily be resolved — for example, by researchers situating their work clearly in relation to existing literature; using existing terminology, conceptual frameworks and taxonomic schemes unless there is good reason to invent new ones; and avoiding unjustified claims of novelty or of the superiority of one perspective over another.

    That last point seems to matter most when writing scientific vulgarization or a textbook.

  420. Dave_Geologist says:

    D_G if an IQ depends on a large number of genetic and environmental factors that combine additively.

    What makes you think it combines additively dikran? If anything, I’d favour multiplicatively. But perhaps I’m biased by oil and gas practice which is to Monte Carlo individual field volume distributions as lognormal (because parameters are multiplied and it is rationalised by saying “take the log, apply CLT, then take antilog), but normal at play level (multiple more-or-less-independent fields added together). Indeed I’ve played with the MC tools and yes, if you define half-a-dozen input parameters as normal and multiply them together, the resulting PDF is right-skewed. And if you define a bunch of fields, each having lognormal volume distributions, and add them together, the resulting PDF is symmetrical.

    I think a lot of the inputs are binary or ordinal. If I’m illiterate, no amount of tuition in or talent for timing, exposition, emotion, empathy, memory, hand-eye coordination (error-free typing speeds it up and may help the thought process) or storytelling will make me write a significantly better book. Or multiplicative. How often do you hear the phrase “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts”? And of course we could say “but criticality”, and claim that the sort of things they measured as inputs are emergent properties of a critical-state system in which the whole is neither the sum nor the product of its parts but arises through some obscure set of non-linear interactions. And say “power-law!”. Pareto begets Pareto!

    There is also the question of whether low, middle and high performers should even be measured on the same scale. For example, I’ve read that low-level chess players (like me) play like computers. We mentally work through a range of scenarios a few moves ahead if we make move X, Y, Z etc. If we’re good, we maybe consider 20 or 30 branches per move. Computers do the same thing, but much faster so they can look further ahead and consider many more branches. Grand Masters are not like computers. They only consider 20 or 30 branches. But unlike the normal player, they subconsciously or instinctively pick good branches to be considered. The mechanism of choice has moved from stepwise to a single leap. Like progressing from having to spell out words letter-by-letter to recognising complete words.

    You could represent that sort of thing by threshold effects, which they don’t seem to have covered. For instance imagine we were back in the Mesozoic at the theropod-bird transition, and treated all the small, feathered theropods as one population (because back then birds would have been seen as a subset of theropods, it’s only in retrospect that we can trace back the bird line). Collect data on how far they travel each day. There would likely be a strongly skewed distribution, with flyers going much farther than gliders. Depending on whether you looked at a time flyers outnumbered gliders or vice versa, it may be left or right skewed, and may or may not appear bimodal. But the only information you have is a satellite tag that checks in twice a day. You can’t see those nuances. That’s the position you’re in if your outcome is measured by something like individual wealth.

    But I think the more fundamental point is that the claim is unprovable either way because the input measures can’t be objectively quantified. You can say A is a better pianist then B. But how much better? 10%? Twice? Ten times? Yes IQ test scores, but does answering question 20 when your neighbour only got to 19 really make you 5% more intelligent? If all the questions are equally good (or bad) measures of IQ, then maybe for the narrow topic of IQ. But how well does that map to general intelligence, or to the particular sort of intelligence required to become a billionaire? You can measure the output on a linear scale for things like wealth, but what about happiness?

    BTW I do think it’s mathematically interesting. Just that it’s Ig material not Nobel material. And definitely not a Guide To A Better Life.

  421. Joshua says:

    DG –

    Please pay closer attention to what did and didn’t get the Ig Nobel.

    I’m going to post the full abstract of the study being debated, so as to solicit more commentary for my own edification.

    I can’t follow the math, but it seemed to me that they were making an elegant argument w/r/t the viability of how people like the IDW reverse engineer from IQ scores, to tell Just So Stories about the meritocracy of evolution – with the follow on message of how we’re going to end civilization if we upset the apple cart by questioning the evolutionary “truth” that white, Christian men are on top because they have objectively outperformed everyone else.

    The largely dominant meritocratic paradigm of highly competitive Western cultures is rooted on the belief that success is due mainly, if not exclusively, to personal qualities such as talent, intelligence, skills, smartness, efforts, willfulness, hard work or risk taking. Sometimes, we are willing to admit that a certain degree of luck could also play a role in achieving significant material success. But, as a matter of fact, it is rather common to underestimate the importance of external forces in individual successful stories. It is very well known that intelligence (or, more in general, talent and personal qualities) exhibits a Gaussian distribution among the population, whereas the distribution of wealth – often considered a proxy of success – follows typically a power law (Pareto law), with a large majority of poor people and a very small number of billionaires. Such a discrepancy between a Normal distribution of inputs, with a typical scale (the average talent or intelligence), and the scale invariant distribution of outputs, suggests that some hidden ingredient is at work behind the scenes. In this paper, with the help of a very simple agent-based toy model, we suggest that such an ingredient is just randomness. In particular, we show that, if it is true that some degree of talent is necessary to be successful in life, almost never the most talented people reach the highest peaks of success, being overtaken by mediocre but sensibly luckier individuals. As to our knowledge, this counterintuitive result – although implicitly suggested between the lines in a vast literature – is quantified here for the first time. It sheds new light on the effectiveness of assessing merit on the basis of the reached level of success and underlines the risks of distributing excessive honors or resources to people who, at the end of the day, could have been simply luckier than others. With the help of this model, several policy hypotheses are also addressed and compared to show the most efficient strategies for public funding of research in order to improve meritocracy, diversity and innovation.

    I also found the the implied conclusions of their study fit with my life experiences:

  422. Joshua says:

    DG –

    And definitely not a Guide To A Better Life.

    I think that carefully evaluating assumptions about luck vs. talent are quite useful.

  423. > What makes you think it combines additively dikran? If anything, I’d favour multiplicatively.

    FWIW, Price equation breaks down when you drop additivity in your predictive model:

    Queller (1992) compares inclusive fitness models and group selection models using the Price equation. This paper is regularly referred to in order to support the claim that group selection models and inclusive fitness are equivalent, and recently it is also used to interpret experimental results (see for instance Chuang et al., 2010). The claim of the paper is that both group selection models and inclusive fitness work for the same reasons if they do, and fail for the same reasons if they do not. The results can be summarized very shortly as follows (see Fig. 2). If there is non-additivity in the fitness effects—reflecting for instance synergies—then that makes the separation condition fail. This separation condition is a condition that allows for the separation that inclusive fitness makes as well as for the separation that group selection makes. Therefore, if the one separation works, then the other works too, and vice versa. This result is regularly described as proof that group selection and kin selection are equivalent (see for instance Okasha, 2010) or, more precisely, that any group selection model can be recast in terms of inclusive fitness (while it is never invoked to claim that also every inclusive fitness model can be recast as a group selection model).

    According to van Veelen & al, the problem with that assumption is that inclusive fitness only gives us correct prediction for a small subset of available games. Van Veelen also adds the caveat that this argument doesn’t favor group selection over selective fitness.

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my graduate studies, it’s to take the Amsterdam formal freaks seriously.

  424. Ragnaar says:

    Jeffh:

    Assume what you say above. With natural gas we have two sides of that issue and the results. From my side I see so many things thrown at market efficiencies. Lawsuits for instance. Until 2018, one of the highest corporate tax rates. Our corporations have been part of normal value delivery and whipping boys for many decades.

  425. Dave_Geologist says:

    I don’t think IQs are forced into a Gaussian distribution.

    It’s what I was told at school dikran. And what Wiki says (or could be interpreted to say 😦 ). And everything I’ve read says they are normalised against (presumably contemporary and recent) population scores. And yes, I know it’s not really the population because some individuals are bound to be missed, but people say “population” 😉 .

    But now I think about it again, not really. It might be better to say that IQ is defined on population percentiles. So, for example, 2/3 of the population scores between 85 and 15. By definition. (If scores creep up over the decades, they move the goalposts.) But there’s nothing in that definition that says an IQ of 115 is 15% more intelligent than an IQ of 100. Just that it’s one standard deviation above the median when the distribution is ranked from smallest to largest.

    So I would retract “IQ is force-fitted to a Gaussian” and replace it with “IQ is an ordinal, not an interval or ratio scale”. But Pluchino et al. assumed their inputs were Gaussian, which means they are indeed saying that someone with an IQ of 115 is 15% more intelligent than an IQ of 100.

    The raw scores could be a ratio scale, but only if each question has exactly the same degree of difficulty for two individuals with identical IQ’s. Which is obviously not going to be the case in the real world. For that and other reasons (e.g. comparing between tests) Angoff states that “The raw scale is perhaps the most obvious example of a scale that has no inherent meaning…”. Angoff conveniently provides a table of raw and normalised scores (but to M = 50, s = 10). So, for example, the raw scores comparing to 50;60 (+1 S.D.) are 32;40. 1.2x vs. 1.25x. For 40;50 it’s 21;32. 1.2x vs. 1.52x. Or 0.83x vs. 0.65x if you prefer to reference against the median. Or +10/-10 (normalised) vs. +8/-11 (raw) or +12.5/-17.2 (scaled to median of 50). It’s similarly skewed at 2 S.D.

    So I would argue that only the inputs which are unambiguously measurable on interval or ratio scales, like height or weight, can be assumed Gaussian. In most cases, that can be/has been tested. For the woollier, sociological or psychological parameters, you can’t say whether they’re Gaussian or not and probably shouldn’t even try. They should repeat it using appropriate non-parametric tests.

  426. Why additively? Of course these factors combine in a number of ways, however the fact that people talk of a bell curve gives a hint that the distribution is at least approximately normal, and given the mean/median and standard deviation, if it were actually log-normal (implying multiplicative combination) it would very clearly not look like a bell curve and people would have noticed. A lot of genetic variation is actually to do with gene regulation (i.e. mutations in the promoter region and/or the regulatory proteins) which has a vast space of possibilities. I did some work on predicting gene regulation in plants some years ago and found that models that took into account combinatorial interactions between transcription factors didn’t have much of an improvement in performance over simple linear models (implying additive contributions), however intelligence may be different, and the problem may have been to do with estimation of the model rather than its structure.

    Very little in the real world is exactly normally distributed, but it is a reasonable assumption for many problems. Statistical tests for normality are a slightly strange thing to do because in reality you know a-priori that the distribution isn’t actually Gaussian (as that is the result of a limiting process that is almost never really present in practical applications), so if your sample is large enough, the test can almost always be made to give a “significant” difference. It isn’t even clear whether that really means you can’t use a normal approximation because the deviation from exact normality is may be of no practical significance.

    In the one paper I did find (only skimmed – so caveat emptor) it suggests that the distribution is slightly skewed and heavier-tailed than a Gaussian, but looking at Figure 1 a normal approximation will probably do for many applications, and it certainly isn’t log-normal.

    IS INTELLIGENCE DISTRIBUTED NORMALLY?
    Cyril Burt

    British Journal of Statistical Psychology Volume16, Issue2 November 1963 Pages 175-190

    abstract:

    Frequency distributions obtained on applying intelligence tests to large samples of the school population are analysed, and compared with those given by the formulae for the commoner types of frequency curve. It is noted that the distributions actually observed are more asymmetrical and have longer tails than that described by the normal curve. The best fit is given by a curve of Type IV: this is in fact the type of distribution we should expect if (as has been argued in earlier papers) individual differences in general ability are determined partly by multifactorial and partly by unifactorial inheritance. It follows that the usual assumption of normality leads to a gross underestimate of the number of highly gifted individuals. The conclusions thus drawn are confirmed by a study of data from other sources; and various practical corollaries are deduced.

  427. Dave_Geologist says:

    In any event, I agree in most part with Okasha’s points (who’s a philosopher, BTW):

    And I’ll wait until the consensus shifts (among evolutionary biologists). YMMV. I’ve kinda lost track of where we were and where we’re going, and am travelling to a wedding tomorrow (someone else’s 😉 ), so will probably let my contribution to this topic lapse. It’s been fun though, and I will follow up on some of the stuff later.

    I think the Price Equation is a red herring BTW. As both sides have pointed out, it is a tautology. IMHO (and IANAEB), you don’t validate group selection by attacking or defending the Price equation. You do it by identifying a case where it works and kin selection doesn’t. And you stay as far away as possible from human beings as test subjects. Too much risk of conflation with free will not genetics. Culture not inheritance. I’m agnostic when it comes to evolution and social behaviours in humans. I neither know nor care whether it’s 99% genetic, 1% culture/free will, or vice versa. Or indeed the percentage assigned to “soul” “conscience” etc. Stick to lower animals. There are plenty around, and if it’s a significant Thing, there should be examples to be found

  428. Dave_Geologist says:

    Please pay closer attention to what did and didn’t get the Ig Nobel.

    I was being a bit flippant Joshua 🙂 . And I’m right-on with bursting the “I’m rich therefore I’m a Special Person” fallacy.

    One of my favourite articles was by some statisticians who were called in by a Wall Street firm to improve their performance evaluations. The firm rewarded the analysts with the best in-year results, and sacked the bottom 10% or 20%. The statisticians showed that performance in subsequent years had no relationship to performance in a reference year. The analysts who’d been sacked could easily have been good performers the next year. The parsimonious conclusion was that performance was random. Management had persuaded themselves it wasn’t, because at any given time they had a population of analysts who’d outperformed the market the previous year. But if you take a random distribution with mean 100 and chop off the bottom decile or two, you’re left with a distribution with mean > 100. It’s a form of survivorship or hindsight bias. I believe you get a similar phenomenon with actively managed stock funds. The poor performers fold, get wound down, or merged into good performers and disappear off the index. So the index always looks better than reality.

  429. Dave_Geologist says:

    In the one paper I did find (only skimmed – so caveat emptor) it suggests that the distribution is slightly skewed and heavier-tailed than a Gaussian, but looking at Figure 1 a normal approximation will probably do for many applications, and it certainly isn’t log-normal.

    Indeed dikran (and in case it wasn’t obvious, I was thinking aloud and don’t have a dog in the fight).

    But as per my subsequent post, I think the more fundamental question is “what does 15% more intelligent mean” and “does an IQ of 115 equate to 15% more intelligent than average (assuming you can answer the first question 😉 )”. The problem is not normal vs. lognormal vs. Pareto. It’s ordinal vs. nominal/ratio. For some outputs and many inputs.

  430. Ragnaar says:

    Dikranmarsupial:

    I think most people want a specific enough answer and then try to find it in the science. In my case let’s go with free markets. There are many elements of the electric utilities monopoly’s and those monopolies have various levels of purity and some market forces mixed in with the monopolies. But what’s easy for me to see is the parasitical renewables. All this true or not, I look for studies supporting the failures of renewables. This deal is stark at WUWT. We could say economics is not the science and it’s not, yet proper accounting illuminates solutions to the problems science identifies.

    Science whatever it says as an of origin change requires successful engineering that is measured in dollars. They’ve reigned in wackos and some of them are now lukewarmers. Mission accomplished. The problem remains.

  431. ” And what Wiki says (or could be interpreted to say 😦 ).”

    I don’t see anything on the wiki page that implies it.

    “And everything I’ve read says they are normalised against (presumably contemporary and recent) population scores. “

    I think it would probably be better to say “standardised” (which normally means given a mean of zero and unit variance – for the standard normal distribution), but it could reasonably be used to refer to an arbitrary rescaling.

    “But Pluchino et al. assumed their inputs were Gaussian, which means they are indeed saying that someone with an IQ of 115 is 15% more intelligent than an IQ of 100.”

    The problem here is what is meant by “intelligence”, you could argue that there is a thing called “general intelligence” (and some do) which is affinely related to IQ, then this would be what it meant. However I have my doubts of even that; I suspect that the only thing IQ tests tell you is someone’s ability to do IQ tests. I’ve had a go at the kind of questions that crop up in IQ tests and I am hopeless at them, but I am reassured by my first class degree and PhD that I am not entirely thick! ;o)

    “The raw scores could be a ratio scale, but only if each question has exactly the same degree of difficulty for two individuals with identical IQ’s. “

    I disagree. The score someone achieves in the {hept,pent}athalon is a reasonable indication of their all-round sporting ability whether or not the all find the disciplines equally difficult (I under stand they don’t and you get recognisable clusters of “strategies”).

    “So I would argue that only the inputs which are unambiguously measurable on interval or ratio scales, like height or weight, can be assumed Gaussian. “

    No, anything where the central limit theorem crops up. Note that an IQ score is the sum of random components, so if you take away the variability in the subjects (e.g. by getting the same person to take the test on different days) then the distribution will be approximately normal. But it is still an IQ test, so that demarcation remains.

    “They should repeat it using appropriate non-parametric tests.”

    which are not without problems of their own.

  432. Jeffh says:

    Ragnaar, corporations run your government. The late Sheldon Wolin referred to the United States as an example of ‘inverted totalitarianism’ – meaning that the coup there was not carried out by a charismatic leader or a revolutionary party but by the anonymity of the corporate state. Far from being the ‘whipping boys’, they have been doing the whipping themselves for a generation. Many of your largest corporations are able to avoid paying any taxes at all. They have the same rights as people. By some quirk of stupidity they are allowed to invest billions in lobbying and election campaigns. Obama received 1.2 billion dollars from the corporate sector in his 2008 election campaign. By now both parties are beholden to them – what the late Gore Vidal referred to as a single Property Party with two right wings. And now you have an ignoramus as President who is intent on pulling the teeth of every regulatory body that acts to at least marginally contain corporate power, oil lobbyist Scott Pruitt being the most glaring example. Don’t get me started on this. The US is hardly a model example of democracy. The public there is always way to the left of whichever Party is in office. And since the 1980s, with Thatcher and Reagan in office, the US and the rest of the world has embraced this ecocidal form of capitalism called neoliberalism that is neither new nor liberal. Unless we find a way to recapture democracy from the bottom-up, and not merely to prioritize the interests of the ruling elite, then we are in deep trouble.

  433. D_G “Indeed dikran (and in case it wasn’t obvious, I was thinking aloud and don’t have a dog in the fight). ”

    when thinking aloud, it is probably best not to ask someone a direct question “What makes you think it combines additively dikran?” if you are not actually interested in the answer. Mind reading abilities on blogs are somewhat variable, mine is particularly bad. ;o)

  434. BBD says:

    Ragnaar

    While I haven’t always been here, I am at the solutions phase of the AGW problem.

    The solution will include a very large scale build-out of wind and solar. There’s nothing else that can deliver the potential capacity. So you need to make peace with that fact rather than nurture an irrational, counterproductive hatred of these technologies.

  435. > I think the Price Equation is a red herring BTW. As both sides have pointed out, it is a tautology. IMHO (and IANAEB), you don’t validate group selection by attacking or defending the Price equation. You do it by identifying a case where it works and kin selection doesn’t.

    The Price equation is indeed trivial, DaveG. By itself, it only states that the change in gene frequency equals the change in gene frequency. It’s when you try to use it in a model to predict that some behavior should emerge (say out of some fitness function) that it can get problematic. It doesn’t hold for evo modulz in general. For instance, games with non-monotonic payoffs break it. Assuming monotonicity is not that a big deal. It still is an assumption that needs to be stated in the specification of the model. In any event, the claim that group selection reduces to gene selection with inclusive fitness, as Coyne and others state, is a bit mischievous. It can be turned on its head, i.e. it follows that inclusive fitness is also equivalent to group selection. Assuming that the identity holds for all evo modulz is untrue, and the modulz from the competitors may improve generality. These considerations don’t seem to rest on ethological intuitions anymore.

    More importantly to me, reducing everything to replicators seems to me to go too far and not far enough at the same time. Dawkins’ framework, including in the Extended Phenotype, assumes that environmental conditions influence genes and vice versa. This leads to nomological difficulties, as JerryF underlines. But by trying to abstract the social level (genes being implemented in individual vehicles), how can we make sense of the impact of the social sphere itself without explaining it away?

    The very concept of meme indicates that there’s a tension. The transposition is obvious: memes are to cultural products what genes are to human behavior. Both are encoded machines whose success is survival. To do so, they need to replicate themselves. This looks more plausible for genes than for memes, I don’t get how memes are replicators or what are they replicating. Something’s amiss.

    At the very least, that exchange made me understand why I don’t buy what RichardD’s selling. It’s a functionalist just so story, so no wonder why Dennett likes it so much. I learned to respect functionalism, but it needs to be done seriously. What I’ve seen so far is not it, the only exception being Gintis and Van Veelen. They’re formal chaps, and it shows. Their levity helps too. These impressions don’t mean much for now. They at least help me answer BBD’s question, which started this research.

    Thank you for your impatience.

  436. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    I’ll second Jeffh’s comment above.

    Your corporate “whipping boys” are laughing all the way to the bank, Ragnaar.

    Up here in Canuckistan, the nominally “liberal” federal government just bought out Kinder Morgan’s Trans-Mountain pipeline to the tune of $ 4.5 billion, and will likely commit another $ 7 billion or more of taxpayer money to build the anticipated expansion project.

    Because, you see, “investor confidence” must not be harmed in the making of our business plans.

    Aside from transferring the investment risks from private to public hands, that move commits the Canadian government to marketing, selling, and transporting massive quantities of tar-sands (oh – excuse me – ‘oil-sands’) fossil-fuel in the form of toxic dilbit.
    The pipeline will run through a province (British Columbia) and many indigenous nations that are planning to take the owners of the project (i.e. the government of Canada) to the Supreme Court over jurisdiction.
    And if the long-term price of oil stays below about $ 100/barrel, the simple economics alone are questionable. Kinder-Morgan would not have sold if they believed in the long-term profitability if the project. They know better than the politicians that the assets are eventually going to be stranded. And I find myself hoping that it happens sooner rather than later, even though I will lose ‘my’ investment.
    Meanwhile, the renewable energy sector wants for capital.

    Is there any surer path towards failing to meet the commitments that were made in Paris?

    It’s stupid on so many levels, that it’s difficult to believe. Actually, no it isn’t.

  437. Dave_Geologist says:

    What I’ve seen so far is not it, the only exception being Gintis and Van Veelen. They’re formal chaps, and it shows.

    And thanks for you patience Willard 🙂 . But I really do have to go now.

    Re Gintis and others. I’ll take your word for it that they are mathematically or logically formal. But how can I rely on someone who can’t get the basics right? Dawkins explained beaver dam inheritance using cultural epigenetics ≠ Dawkins explained beaver dam inheritance using Darwinian natural selection … under the control of genes. You can be as formal as you like but there’s no excuse for that sort of sloppiness. Sloppiness in one area may indicate sloppiness in another.

    Re the social sphere. I suspect I would just treat that as part of the environment. If a replicator makes a change which adversely impacts the survival of her group: tough for the group and maybe her. Maybe they’ll go extinct. No different from growing wings when what you really need are hands for climbing. Unless the other vehicles can prevent the mutation or silence the gene, they just have to take pot luck. With no teleology there’s no requirement for mutations and their interactions to be “good”. They’re just as likely to be “bad”. Evolution works by weeding out the bad as well as the good. Sometime the bad and good hitch a ride in the same vehicle or group. Probably most of the time. No big deal, it will all come out in the wash. I disagree that it’s a Just So story, because it can and has made testable predictions. Lenski’s experiment for example. Domestic breeding too. People didn’t turn grass into wheat by putting grass in the kitchen. That would be the analogy to “how the elephant got it’s trunk”. Not “picking the ones with the biggest seeds and crossing them”. Unless you mean Just So story in the sense that “but God could have done it by fiat and we couldn’t tell any different” is an alternative which can’t be disproved.

  438. BBD says:

    They at least help me answer BBD’s question, which started this research.

    I’ve been following this exchange with interest.

  439. Dave_Geologist says:

    I did look at sporting distributions dikran 😉 . And yes, they’re pretty close to normal. But too similar to height for my taste. Physical attributes and genes make a large contribution. I wasn’t particularly disagreeing with the paper either. Except for attributes that are hard to quantify. You can of course say that even though we can’t quantify them, it’s a fair guess that they’re Gaussian as a consequence of the Central Limit Theorem, and just assume that they’re Gaussian. But if you start from a premise that they’re Gaussian, to me that means that, before proceeding, you should demonstrate that they are. It may be OK in normal (pun intended!) circumstances to use Gaussian as the null hypothesis and put the onus on a power-law advocate to show it’s not Gaussian. But if Gaussian is part of your premise, you should assume non-Gaussian as your null hypothesis IMO. Or show that it doesn’t matter. For example try lognormal and Pareto and track the individual samples through the simulation. Showing that even though input and output distributions are Pareto, members of the input fat tail end up in the middle of the output pack and vice versa would be a powerful demonstration of their point. “I made it as hard as possible for my model to work, and look, it still works”. Or assume everything is ordinal unless you can demonstrate it’s not, and accept problems like the power limitations of non-parametric tests. I still struggle to get my head around what measures like “twice as intelligent” really mean.

    And re the questions: Haha. Part of my talk-to-think approach to working through problems is to talk to actual people, not the mirror 🙂 . Often by asking questions. But I should probably pair thre back in a community which experiences a lot of JAQing off 😦 . I think I escaped that time because I didn’t just leave the question hanging, but provided my alternative answer in the same paragraph 😉 .

  440. “But if Gaussian is part of your premise, you should assume non-Gaussian as your null hypothesis IMO.”

    as I said, for almost all practical applications the data are not exactly normal, so if there are sufficient data, the test for normality will always fail, even if the assumption of normality is perfectly reasonable. A better approach is to see if the results of your experiement/model are sensitive to the distributional assumptions, and in this case the data are not far from normal, so unless you are only interested in the tails it is unlikely to make much of a difference.

    My definition of a statistician is “someone who knows what to assume is Gaussian”, which may sound dismissive, but it is anything but that, it requires experience and judgement.

  441. Ragnaar says:

    Jeffh:

    Corporations in the United States have done a pretty good job. What’s the worse thing that happened to them? The tobacco lawsuits that raised the price of cigarettes. If this represents a movement perhaps that movement doesn’t have a lot going for it. There was the Standard Oil deal too, and I can’t even layout the point of the whole thing or what it accomplished and I don’t care. There’s a plaque on a wall somewhere, and a bunch of bureaucrats pretending they are protecting you from monopolies as well as lawyers making a lot of money. I think Windows was going to get us and/or Google but as far as I can see we haven’t got got yet. The thing doesn’t want to die.

    And people don’t want corporations to die. They want to milk them. The one number that says this is the top corporate tax rate used for 2017. They want to use them to implement their policies.

    We’ve had examples of people killing corporations and we’ve figured out that in most places they’ve done that, we don’t want to live there.

    So then we have corporate bail outs. General Motors must have done at least five things that don’t fit with anti-corporation ideas. It was on the ropes, and you couldn’t kill it. When the time came to do it, few could.

  442. BBD says:

    Ragnaar

    Corporations in the United States have done a pretty good job.

    …of undermining democracy, as JeffH pointed out and as you once again blank in your ‘response’ above.

    So let’s revisit what Jeff said and you ignored:

    Ragnaar, corporations run your government. The late Sheldon Wolin referred to the United States as an example of ‘inverted totalitarianism’ – meaning that the coup there was not carried out by a charismatic leader or a revolutionary party but by the anonymity of the corporate state. Far from being the ‘whipping boys’, they have been doing the whipping themselves for a generation.

  443. izen says:

    A couple of points on IQ. The Flynn effect seems to be making us all more intelligent by about one point every four years. IQ tests are standardised with the median score st to 100 and the standard deviation to 15. So iQ is rising by about a SD every 50 years.
    Genetics dosn’t change that fast.

    I can’t think of any genetic effects that are additive or simply multiplicative beyond some simple two gene systems. Alternate allies of a gene tend to have increased or decreased effect with other allies in quite complex ways. Skin colour has at least seven genes with major influence with at least two alleles or version of each one. They interact, but not in any simple additive way, different combinations can give very non- linear results.

  444. Ragnaar says:

    The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse:

    So the Federal Government buys the thing so that it can push through B.C. I still like the idea of Alberta cutting off energy shipments to B.C. They want to get to the new world. We’ll here it is.

    What’s behind these protests that attempt to stop pipelines?

    “Water Protectors: Understanding the Dakota Access Pipeline Protests”

    “The United States government in tandem with capitalistic enterprises have a long history of engaging in ecological abuse of economically marginalized people. This is especially true of those of the Standing Rock Lakota Tribe within the Dakota region of the United States. The Dakota Access Pipeline protests bring together the need for ecological, historical, and social justice for native identified individuals within our nation. This presentation will focus on the economic and ecological disenfranchisement of Standing Rock Tribe members in the Dakota Region and the psychological effects/historical trauma which influences the protest today.”

    http://mcc.osu.edu/events.aspx/2017/9/25/58579/water-protectors-understanding-the-dakota-access-pipeline-protests?d=8

    My stepfather had a guy with a backhoe dig in the ground to tile one his farm fields. The backhoe hit the natural gas pipeline and it lit on fire. Then Minnegasco or somebody came out and fixed it and life went with all the joys of farming. That’s the end of the story.

    We’ll have to decide if the native identified individuals are being used?

  445. Ragnaar says:

    Jordan Peterson. Starts at 54:25 – very short:

    To paraphrase:

    When a king like organization grows up… …any organization that’s a hierarchy and powerful, there’s a shadow element of it that tends towards totalitarianism and tyranny.

    Intelligence produces models of the world and falls in love with the models. And that makes them totalitarian. There doesn’t need to be anything else… …If you rebel against the system, you are regarded as the enemy of truth.

  446. Steven Mosher says:

    “Ragnaar, corporations run your government. The late Sheldon Wolin referred to the United States as an example of ‘inverted totalitarianism’ – meaning that the coup there was not carried out by a charismatic leader or a revolutionary party but by the anonymity of the corporate state. Far from being the ‘whipping boys’, they have been doing the whipping themselves for a generation. Many of your largest corporations are able to avoid paying any taxes at all.”

    silly boy, corporations never pay taxes, even when they pay taxes.
    Corporations don’t run the government, but they clearly limit and constrain some of the stupidier things politicians consider.

  447. Steven Mosher says:

    as long as we are discussing evolution, seems like polar bear evolution is on topic
    which means Susan is on topic, which means this thread needs dome Tol

    http://richardtol.blogspot.com/

    Dear Professor van Dijck,

    In November 2017, Professor Jeffrey Harvey of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology, a KNAW institute, was the lead author on a paper published in the journal BioScience.

    I requested the data behind the paper, and was pointed to the data archive. Unfortunately, the data released was incomplete.

    The paper classifies blogs as “yellow” or “blue”. This classification is hardwired into the R code used to analyse the data. The paper only vaguely describes the procedure for classification: The content of the blogs is compared to the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Unfortunately, the data released only contain the home page of the blogs investigated, rather than the specific blog posts examined. Some of these blogs consists of hundreds if not thousands of posts. Similarly, the IPCC has published many reports running to thousands of pages, with positions that change over time and chapters that contradict one another. Agreement or disagreement with the IPCC is therefore a meaningless concept, unless chapter and verse are specified.

    Looks like they are not sharing data

  448. izen says:

    @-SM
    “Agreement or disagreement with the IPCC is therefore a meaningless concept, unless chapter and verse are specified.”

    R Tol living up to his anagram again.
    As if it not obvious which are yellow and blue web sites without having to scan EVERY page and EVERY IPCC report !

  449. Dave_Geologist says:

    Just a quick dip in today:

    I agree dikran that raw IQ scores are pretty normal. And that IQ is a measure of how well you can answer IQ questions, which is at best a narrow facet of intelligence. And I would add, perhaps not the aspect that you most need to get out to the “success” end of a Pareto distribution, noise or not.

    But re Gaussian: try this thought experiment. Download Angoff. Go to Table 1. Call the Raw Score x. Replace it with ln(x), exp(x), x^2, x^200, 10^x, whatever. Now plot the frequency distribution of the transformed Raw Score. You’ll get a bunch of heavily-skewed distributions, most right-skewed, one left-skewed. Pretend that the transformed scores are actually the Raw Scores. Now apply the same normalisation as Angoff did to the actual raw scores. As long as the transform was monotonically increasing, you get the exact same Scaled Score. So the normalisation process has completely eliminated the shape of the original distribution. In this case (a maths test but dikran linked Burt’s paper containing an example of raw IQ scores), the raw scores happen to be pretty much normal. But you can’t deduce that from the scaled scores. The scaling process has turned it into ordinal data. Hence I change my original “IQ is normalised to a Gaussian” to “IQ is an ordinal scale and you shouldn’t really be talking about means and standard deviations, just percentiles like the median”.

    Ah but, observations tell us the raw scores are Gaussian. But are they really? Is there a hidden transform in the equal weighting applied to each question? Are all IQ questions intended to be of equal difficulty for the target age group? In that case, isn’t it a test of quick-wittedness and decisiveness as well as of general intelligence? Give them 12 hours to sit the test, and everyone should score either 0 or 50. Then it becomes a test of attention-span and persistence, not general intelligence. If I was the test designer, I’d include a mix of hard and easy questions, and allow enough time to answer them all. It’s not a very discriminating test at the high and low ends if everyone a year behind their peer group scores zero, and everyone a year ahead scores 50. I’d include some easy questions, so that a raw score of zero triggers a Special Educational Needs assessment, and a question or two that only a MENSA candidate can answer. Then you have the question-equivalence problem. On some “true” intelligence scale, to get all 50 right you might have to be ten times smarter than someone who got 49 right. But the Raw Scores make it look only 2% smarter, and then even that gets normalised.

    And actually, Burt’s answer to the question is “IQ normally distributed?” was: pretty much, especially towards the centre, but “that the distribution of individual differences in general intelligence by no means conforms with strict exactitude to the so-called normal curve”. And that “The main divergences are due to an elongation of the tails in both directions and to a marked tendency towards negative asymmetry”. IOW fat tails. If we were only interested in whether IQ predicts the relative performance of the 90th percentile to the 50th percentile, modelling IQ as a Gaussian is probably fine. However, Burt concludes: “Thus the proportion of those with I.Q.s over 160 proves to be more than 12 times as that deduced from the normal curve, and the proportion of those with I.Q.s over 175, instead of being only about 3 or 4 per million (assumed in several official or semi-official statements), must be at least 70 per million, probably more”. So Pluchino et al. have underestimated the fat tail of geniuses by an order of magnitude or more. Trivial if you’re not doing a study of extraordinary performers, but unfortunately that is exactly what they were doing. Their Pareto curve goes down to the 99.9th percentile. I agree that “a normal approximation will probably do for many applications, and it certainly isn’t log-normal”. However, this is not one of those many applications.

    I’m not saying luck doesn’t matter: of course it does. Or even that it’s more important than talent: maybe it is. Or even that the fat tails invalidate their replication of the 80:20 rule: 20% is far enough away from the fat tail that it probably doesn’t matter. But when I think about talent I’m usually thinking about the top 1%, not the top 20%. For example, the UK’s P50 salary is £23k. The P80 is only £39k. The average person would find it completely unsurprising that a salary difference of less than double, between individuals who are both in the fat part of the bell-curve, could be down to chance alone. To get above £100k you need to go to the P98. “Can you get there without talent?” is a more interesting question. Would Pluchino et al. have got the same result at the high end if they’d added 10 of the most talented to to each run of 1000 agents, instead of only 1? Perhaps not. In fact it suggests another avenue of research: using realistic fat tails and finding the break-point where talent overcomes luck. That would be worthy of a second Ig!

  450. izen says:

    @-dikran
    “In the one paper I did find (only skimmed – so caveat emptor) it suggests that the distribution is slightly skewed and heavier-tailed than a Gaussian”

    Caveat emptor indeed.
    Cyril Burt is rather famous in educational circles…

    https://www.intelltheory.com/burtaffair.shtml
    “Within a year of his death, however, the legitimacy of his research was being questioned. The questions began to turn into accusations, and by 1976 he was officially accused of fabricating data to prove that intelligence was inherited. The publication of Burt’s official biography by Leslie Hearnshaw in 1979 seemed to seal Burt’s fate by concluding that the charges of fraud were merited. However, the recent work of two independent researchers, Robert Joynson and Ronald Fletcher, has reopened the issue and raised doubts about the accusations of fraud. “

  451. Izen great pedantometer!

    Is there anyone who has worked on IQ without ending up in controversy? ;o)

  452. SM/Izen Ironically* the last time I needed to look at the supplementary information to find out what Prof. Tol had actually done in one of his papers, the item in question was “hardwired” into the spreadsheet, with no indication of what the number specifically represented or how it was calculated.

    * Ironically “ironically” only applies ironically as irony is now my default expectation of Prof. Tol’s communications.

  453. Dave_Geologist says:

    Re Burt: well I didn’t pick him… 😉 … and it seems the jury is out. And in this case he was quoting publicly available data not his own, and made clear where he was introducing his own opinions to the argument. Of course it’s possible he was led by motivated reasoning to cherry-pick. It doesn’t even seem like a particular CultureWars-ey conclusion: that there are more geniuses in the population than a normal distribution would predict would seem unobjectionable. ordinary people don’t compare themselves with geniuses. The SJW/Alt-Right lines are drawn over questions like “why am I a saleswoman and the sales manager is a man?”; “Why are the salesmen black and the manager white?”; “Did my black boss get the job through affirmative action”. IOW targeted at people who are more-or less in the same peer-group and asking why some of those do better than others.

    Does anyone deny that Einstein really was a genius? Picasso? Mozart? There are some areas other than financial wealth where it really is impossible for an average person to excel. They’re just not intelligent enough or talented enough. If it really was all down to luck, we’d rarely have truly talented people at the very top. All Salieris perhaps and no Mozarts. Which does (non-quantitatively!) make me think that there is a fat tail of geniuses, so that a reasonable number make it through the filter of chance events.

    The idea that there is no genetic component to intelligence is silly – it’s what most distinguishes us from other primates, or one of the most (come on, surely it’s more important than hairlessness – without it we couldn’t have served naked outside the Tropics 🙂 ). If it wasn’t heritable, we couldn’t have evolved it. But you don’t need something to be 100% or 70% or 30% heritable to be selected for. Just enough is just enough, given hundreds of thousands of generations (positing that intelligence continued to add to an individual’s inclusive fitness through that time, or at least that there were only periods when it was neutral rather than when it was seriously maladaptive).

    But the idea that social behaviour more broadly is entirely, or even, perhaps, strongly genetically determined is also silly – q.v. chimpanzees and bonobos.

  454. Joshua says:

    https://www.vox.com/platform/amp/policy-and-politics/2018/6/1/17417042/niall-ferguson-stanford-emails?__twitter_impression=true

    The latest campus free speech controversy has a twist: It involves a conservative professor conspiring with students, in emails that sound like they were written by comic book villains, to dig up dirt on a progressive undergraduate.

  455. Joshua says:

    The irony metter all time highest score has just been reached:

    After the emails were published last Thursday, Ferguson said he regretted his actions but explained that he had been “deeply concerned” that Stanford’s student steering committee was in danger of “being taken over by elements that were fundamentally hostile to free speech”.

    https://amp.theguardian.com/media/2018/jun/02/niall-ferguson-quits-stanford-free-speech-role-over-leaked-emails?__twitter_impression=true

  456. Joshua,
    Yes, I think the ironic nature of that whole story is quite remarkable.

  457. Joshua says:

    This is just beautiful beyond words:

    “I very much regret the publication of these emails. I also regret having written them.

  458. Joshua says:

    An interesting essay:

    http://anthropomics2.blogspot.com/2017/04/who-wants-charles-murray-to-speak-and.html?m=1

    Not sure how I feel about it. My initial reaction is that it goes over the top (e.g., I’m more relativistic about defining “anti-science.”)….but maybe I’ve been softened up by right-wingers’ self-victimization?

  459. izen says:

    @-Joshua
    ““I very much regret the publication of these emails. I also regret having written them.”

    Definately deserves a –

  460. Joshua says:

    I like that it bends the needle.

  461. Willard says:

    FWIW, I found this exchange interesting:

    https://www.vox.com/2018/4/9/17210248/sam-harris-ezra-klein-charles-murray-transcript-podcast

    It may prompt me to write a note on the notion of conversation.

  462. Steven Mosher says:

    “SM/Izen Ironically* the last time I needed to look at the supplementary information to find out what Prof. Tol had actually done in one of his papers, the item in question was “hardwired” into the spreadsheet, with no indication of what the number specifically represented or how it was calculated.”

    misses the point and personalizes a simple question.
    I tried to check how they did their coding
    you can’t

  463. Steven Mosher says:

    saying it’s down to luck is the denialist equivalence of saying it could be a unicorn or natural variation.

  464. Steven Mosher says:

    “As if it not obvious which are yellow and blue web sites without having to scan EVERY page and EVERY IPCC report !”

    No the point is this. The coding of the text relies on finding certain claims.. Example, She is a polar bear expert.

    Now for the corpus of the consensus science they provide links to the ACTUAL TEXT they read and coded. For the skeptical stuff they linked to the blog. Remember? Remember the quote in their paper with no citation? Anyway, they link to the ENTIRE blog. Well, if they did what they are supposed to do… read the article, code the article, then you expect a list of articles read.
    You dont get that. You get a link to blogs with thousands of articles.

    When you start looking what you find is this. Instances of where she is described as a critic of experts. That gives rise to the question.. How did they code? Did they merely search the entire blog for the terms susan, polar bear and expert? or did they actually read the whole blog? or read specific articles? and if they read specific articles then where is the list?

    Folks ask me what did these guys do that was bad content analysis?
    FFS. Suppose I told you that I coded selected articles in the NYT covering X, and 49% showed a liberal bias. And suppose I cited “NYT” as the source data. No indication of years, no indication of what articles, nothing.. just a pointer at the pile. Its too funny that this very approach is the one that Jones used that pissed off Willis Eschenbach and got the whole FOIA effort against CRU started. you would fail a student who pointed at the Entire corpus as a source,

  465. Joshua says:

    Fwiw:

  466. Mal Adapted says:

    What Dave_Geologist said. I’ll add no more than this: “nature vs. nurture” is a false dichotomy. In an hierarchical systems framework, ‘nurture’ is contained within ‘nature’. Simply put: nurture is nature.

  467. SM “misses the point and personalizes a simple question.
    I tried to check how they did their coding
    you can’t”

    Not really. I tried to check how Prof. Tol penalised his model. I couldn’t. Same issue. The point I was making is that sometimes criticism of the reproducibility of science is not always what it seems at first to be. Sometimes it is just the continuation of partisan conflict by other means. If you want another example, there is making FOI requests for data that is already in the public domain, or which they target does not have the right to distribute, and which you have no intention of actually using. The fact that Prof. Tol doesn’t live up to the requirements he places on others suggests that perhaps in his case, it isn’t actually about reproducibility.

  468. “The paper classifies blogs as “yellow” or “blue”. This classification is hardwired into the R code used to analyse the data. The paper only vaguely describes the procedure for classification: The content of the blogs is compared to the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Unfortunately, the data released only contain the home page of the blogs investigated, rather than the specific blog posts examined. Some of these blogs consists of hundreds if not thousands of posts. Similarly, the IPCC has published many reports running to thousands of pages, with positions that change over time and chapters that contradict one another. Agreement or disagreement with the IPCC is therefore a meaningless concept, unless chapter and verse are specified. “

    So go and find some errors in the data. Go to the blogs and see if the content doesn’t match the classification. Point out the errors you find. Sadly that involves actual work (c.f. Tol 300), and partisan criticism will be effective with the target audience without it – just plausibly suggesting the work is faulty without demonstrating an actual error will do.

  469. Ragnaar says:

    Joshua:

    Your link hits a crescendo with this:

    “…to force the campus mainstream into a choice between allowing vile ideas to spread or looking hostile to free speech.”

    What is to prevent vile ideas from spreading? Certainly not you and I. What are we to do about the internet? Vile ideas spoken on campus. So the whole world swirls with minor vile ideas, and we say, not here.

    The Ferguson deal damaged Ferguson. Then the claim is made that this explains the broad issue that is occurring in many places. And I saw no support for that claim.

  470. Ragnaar says:

    Dave_Geologist says:

    “But the idea that social behaviour more broadly is entirely, or even, perhaps, strongly genetically determined is also silly – q.v. chimpanzees and bonobos.”

    With Bonzo, there was a river and some climate change. We ponder if genetics follow climate change?

  471. Ragnaar says:

    oshua:

    After about 4 minutes of trying to figure who Cuck Philosophy youtube is, I gave up. I don’t care.

    He makes a point about disguised Marxism. Then says, look at these Marxists in the 1970s. And Marxist aren’t hiding. Who was the last Marxist you voted for? We could also believe they just went away. Republicans are going away all the time. Somebody is a post modernist and they came from somewhere. It’s hard to ignore the similarities. Marx or Lenin or somebody had their capitalist villains. A liberal gets out of bed and the first thing to do is look for a capitalist to flog. They look for someone who is oppressed.

  472. Joshua says:

    Ragnaar –

    I’m having trouble understanding your comment.

    Whether or not “the left” is hiding Marxist sympathies behind a postmodern facade is one thing. What “the left” means or what “SJW” means, or how Peterson uses the terms is another. Peterson’s statements of fact are another.

    What “thing” are you speaking to?

    Much of the video I can’t come close to evsluating. But in some of the video, it seems to me that the narrator makes some interesting points w/r/t Peterson’s conflation of opinion with fact for the effect of rhetorical expediency (as opposed to analytical verscity). I’m not sure at what point the narrator’s identity becomes relevant.

    It’s information. Goes into the hopper. Just like what Peterson says is information that goes into the hopper. Just because I know Peterson’s name, in and if itself tells me nothing about the relative value of his teaching about postmodernism, it’s historical roots, or its current day manifestations.

  473. Willard says:

    > saying it’s down to luck is the denialist equivalence of saying it could be a unicorn or natural variation.

    Yet natural selection is all about luck. Fancy that.

    ***

    > Marxist aren’t hiding.

    You keep using that word, Ragnaar. It may not mean what you or JordanP make it mean.

  474. Joshua says:

    Ragnaar –

    What is to prevent vile ideas from spreading? Certainly not you and I. What are we to do about the internet? Vile ideas spoken on campus. So the whole world swirls with minor vile ideas, and we say, not here.

    One can think that protesting speakers is not the way to orevent vile ideas from spreading and still think that (1) certain ideas are vile, (2) the protests we see on campuses are not a serious threat to “free speach”), (3) some of the protests we’ve seen on campuses are not defensible, (4) students should have a voice as to what takes place in their community, (5) there are many players who have far greater agency w/r/t limiting “free speech” than campus protestors, (5) provocatuers are snowflaking campus protests to advance an ideological agenda than to protect free speech, (6) given his actions, Ferguson’s argument about free speech is incoherent except as a rhetorical device to advance an agenda, and (7) the contradiction between Ferguson’s actions and his rhetoric are reflective of a pattern we see in lots of places, across the great ideological divide, and (8) Ferguson’s actions belie his concern about behaviors in “the left” and among “SJW’S. “

  475. Joshua says:

    Ragnaar –

    The Ferguson deal damaged Ferguson. Then the claim is made that this explains the broad issue that is occurring in many places. And I saw no support for that claim.

    Can you point out where the “claim” is made that the Ferguson deal “explains” the broad issue?

    At any rate, regardless, I think the Ferguson deal reflects broader patterns at many levels. One level is how tribalism results in hypocrisy. Another is how provocateurs are snowflaking campus protests. Another is how people find accountability extremely difficult.

    I don’t think that the Ferguson deal “explains” the broad issue, but I think judging the Ferguson deal against a metric of whether it “explains” the broad issue is rather emblematic of the broad issue. By the same token, arguing that the Ferguson deal “explains” the broad issue would be, IMO, similarly emblematic of the broad issue

  476. Ragnaar says:

    Vox:

    What the Ferguson incident reveals
    The Ferguson emails are an unusually clear admission that this is what’s going on.
    Yet campus conservatives are treating its events not as a well-established place for airing their views, but as part of a campaign to crush liberal opponents.
    …as part of a broader war on “the Left” and “SJWs.”

    Crush liberal opponents. Oh it’s so terrible.
    Who admitted what? I mean you admitted lots of things which I concluded by what someone else did. You belong to an evil movement.

  477. Joshua says:

    Ragnaar –

    Do you doubt that the campus conservatives wish to crush their liberal opponents?

    Do you doubt that the emails reflect a wider pattern?

    None of that presumes some kind of ledt/right imbalance… merely that when you see tribalism surface it is almost always an example of underlying tribalism.

    Ferguson didn’t express regret about his tribalism. He regretted that he wrote the emails and that they surfaced. What is interesting, IMO, is that neither he, nor apparently his co-conspirators seemed to think that their tactical efforts were incompatible with their noble crusade to save free speech from “the left.” Why didn’t anyone in the group stand up and expose the hypocrisy of their efforts? Why wouldn’t a free speech crusader see their actions as inherently problematic? Wasn’t it plainly obvious? Why didn’t they see that? Do you assume they’re some kind of outliers? I doubt it.

    And while I’m at it, since Peterson is so concerned about “identity politics” why does he spend so much time using terms such as “the radical left” or “SJWs,” or “post-modernists” or “Marxists, “etc., in such a vaguely defined manner to cast dramatic and scary aspersions on so many people?

  478. izen says:

    @-Ragnaar
    “You belong to an evil movement.”

    Evil ??

    The problem when either tribe labels the other ‘evil’ Is that they are automaticaly claming they belong to the ‘good’ side.
    At which point they tend to ignore WHAT the other side actually says or does because it has already been classified as evil.
    And they tend to ignore any problematic aspects of their OWN actions because (obviously) trying to prevent free speech by others is a good thing if they are evil, *and therefore against free speech).

    The theologian C S Lewis pointed out that if you regard other people as devils, the most likely outcome is that you will ascribe to them an evil they do not posses. But you become as devilish as you opponents, if only by falsely bolstering your own self-percieved ‘goodness by maligning others unjustly.
    That seems to be a good precis of Ferguson’s fall.

    Would you judge Marxism as ‘evil’ on the basis of its ideology, or the outcomes when that ideology is applied ?

  479. Ragnaar says:

    The Vox author takes a situation and generalizes from it. His claim of a bigger issue is simply a claim.

  480. izen says:

    @-Ragnaar
    “His claim of a bigger issue is simply a claim.”

    All claims are simply a claim, until supported/refuted by evidence and/or logical inference/deduction.

    Perhaps the article gives examples of how the actions and attitudes expressed by Ferguson and his co-conspirators follow a general pattern seen in other Universities/Academic where this culture skirmish is underway. Perhaps it makes a case for the inference that this is a common power conflict, who gets to decide who speaks in these institutions.

    Or perhaps you can refute the claim by showing that the actions and attitudes of Ferguson et al were specific and particular to this case. That they have no similarities or common features with other free speech disputes and do not indicate an underlying resistence to ashift in the balance of power of who has the legitimate ‘right’ to speak freely.

    This sort of nonsense never arrises at Religious institutions of course. They already know the Eternal and Absolute Truth so are able to ensure that no alternative falsehoods ever make it through the door.
    (Although the Pope is a bit suspect…)

  481. izen says:

    @-Dave_G
    “Just enough is just enough, given hundreds of thousands of generations (positing that intelligence continued to add to an individual’s inclusive fitness through that time, ”

    Beautiful theory;
    Ugly fact, You have less than a thousand generations to get from just another hunter-gather hominid scavenger (among many) to the sole occupation of the entire globe with cities, slaves and the suspicious disappearance of all the other hominids and a large proportion of the local megafauna.

    Height, or at least its variance in a population, is dominated by genetics with a relatively small influence from diet. At least in contrast with weight, which has a small genetic component that is dominated by diet.

    Which might intellegence most resemble ? A genetic trait with little sensitivity to the environment, or an epigentic response to a changing diet of social experience.

    (caveat, may contain some simplification of heritability )

  482. Joshua says:

    Ragnaar –

    You question whether the author of the Vox article is invaludly generalizing from an unrepresentive sampling. It’s a good question, IMO. It’s the right question to asks in these debates. Would that you hold Peterson to a higher standard, in that regard.

    At any rate, read this article…

    https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2018/06/04/why-called-conservative-students-free-speech-fight/BHIdAYDCJmvMm4CAEbGD9J/amp.html

    … and ask yourself how many times you’ve heard practically the exact same rhetoric from conservatives who are concerned about viewpoint diversity and left wing campus authoritarians trying to shut down free speech.

    This guy was so concerned about it he was able to write an op-ed in the topic for a major newspaper.

    Then ask yourself if the author of the Globe article was full of shit. Maybe he was using his advocacy for freedom of speech as a cover for advancing his ideological agenda.

    Ya’ think?

    My point is that this is not particularly surprising behavior, and that the rightwing alarmism – of the Peterson sort – that tries to paint this problem as a “the left” problem or a “SJW” problem should be viewed with suspicion and held to a high standard of evidentiary proof.

    BTW, do you have something against answering questions? At some point, your homespun folksy, Lake Wobegone anecdotes lose their value, IMO, when you steadfastly don’t answer direct questions.

  483. Ragnaar says:

    izen:

    I do not think Joshua is evil. I got carried away, and sarcastic. I can’t define evil this week.

  484. Dave_Geologist says:

    With Bonzo, there was a river and some climate change. We ponder if genetics follow climate change?

    Well, chimpanzees separated from bonobos about 500,000 years ago, and there’s been a fair bit of climate change between then and now. Ind some interbreeding (about 1% of the chimp genome is bonobo) But I’d have thought that was long enough for genetic and/or cultural drift as an alternative.

    More generally, there is a huge genetic change (cull) at mass extinction events, and a burst of evolution afterwards, so yes. But not in a good way if you’re one of those who got culled 😦 . Since all the biggies but the K/T have a clear climatic fingerprint, and even the K/T has a smudgy one: the answer is yes, in the sense I’ve just expressed.

  485. Ragnaar says:

    “However, it may be that Bonobos, whose psychology is virtually unstudied relative to that of chimpanzees, are more similar to humans than are chimpanzees in how they solve various social problems (e.g. Hare, Melis, Woods, Hastings, & Wrangham, 2007). Such similarities may even be partly the result of shared and heritable neurophysiology that potentially regulates the social emotions of humans and Bonobos in similar ways (Hammock & Young, 2005).”

    https://www.eva.mpg.de/3chimps/files/apes.htm

    Above they speculate. Each of our cousins obtained different dominance hierarchies with an assumed common one in the past. If a species is more adaptable, switching between male or female dominance hierarchies as the situation warrants could improve survivability.

  486. izen says:

    @- Dave_G, Ragnaar

    You both are falling for the Naturalistic fallacy.
    It is a category error to think that something on the genetic neurophisology level can inform about human social orders.

    To make a metaphorical comparison;
    The 8×8 grid, and number, size, and shape of a chess board and pieces are obviously important aspects that shape the game.
    But the game and the analysis of it do not spend much time on those factors. It is the rules that create the game.

  487. Jeffh says:

    Considering that humans are greatly simplifying ecosystems across the biosphere at an alarming rate and that one of the consequences has been a stupendous loss of genetic variability already (e.g. Hughes et al. 1998 postulated the loss of 30,000 genetically distinct populations per day) then we can argue that this huge reduction in the gene pool has already rendered much of biodiversity to be less able to adaptively respond to AGW and other human-mediated stresses. Given that these are the working parts of our ecological life support systems, the truth is that we are already in deep trouble.

  488. Joshua says:

    Ragnaar –

    I do not think Joshua is evil.

    Well thanks Jesus for that. Imagine my relief.

    Now, about those answers……

  489. Ragnaar says:

    It’s more Peterson.

    Go right to:

    1:05:15

    He talks about consensus without talking about climate change. Don’t get sidetracked by the use of a religious writer. He compares Consensus to Truth. A shining, burning white hot truth to the boring mundaneness of consensus. And maybe that’s good enough. Because we have to know our limits.

    He also adds a bit in explaining why he dislikes the commies and ties some of the great thinkers into that. For instance the question might be, why do we have commies?

    And covers the death of religion, and what that means? Well we have science now. It was the logical outcome. So what replaced religion?

    </