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Wednesday
Mar012017

Mistrust or motivated misperception of scientific consensus? Talk today at NAS

For today’s lecture at Nat’l Acad. of Sci.

We’ll see how far I can get in 30 mins... (slides here).


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"Slides here."

Slides, plural? I see only one.

"When policy relevant facts become entangled in antagonistic social meanings, citizens don't lose trust in science; rather, they lose the practical ability to recognize what science knows."

It's an improvement, but as we've seen, when you ask people the climate change question with the prefix: "Climate scientists say...", they get the answer right. Is it totally clear what this means?

They don't lose trust in science. They don't lose the ability to recognise what scientists say. They instead argue that what the scientists are saying on certain very specific topics isn't science, it's politics. They lose trust in individual scientists ability/inclination to present science, but they don't lose trust in science itself, or in the majority of scientists' ability to present it on topics that are not entangled with politics/culture.

Whether "disagreement with" counts as "losing the practical ability to recognize", I leave open to discussion. Is agreement with or trust in experts an 'ability'?

March 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

@NiV-- thanks for notice. Slide*s* now available.

the experiments I presented showed that subjects conformed their assessments of scientific expertise & credibility in patterns that refleced subjects' grouip values

March 1, 2017 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Thanks Dan, but I get a login page saying the content is restricted. You might want to check the permissions on that?

March 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

@NiV, Hmmmm... try now

March 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDan Kahan

Tried and failed.

March 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGaythia Weis

@NiV & @Gythia--

Goddam Russians!

Try now

March 2, 2017 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

That's worked. :-)

March 2, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

Hmm.

First slide: "97% of climate scientists have concluded that human-caused climate change is happening."

Reference, please?

March 2, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

@NiV-- I didn't offer the slide as proof of the truth of the matter asserted; I offered it as an artifact of a social marketing campaign

It is interesting to hear the words you imagine me saying when you look at the slides.

March 2, 2017 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Dan,

Glad to hear it!

I imagined you saying the words on the slide. What else?

So with the question "Mistrust or motivated misperception of scientific consensus?", what would you have expected me to perceive the 'misperception' to be? Why would 'mistrust' be the alternative to it?

March 2, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

1. Source of alleged 97 percent of scientists conjecture
http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/8/2/024024;jsessionid=3EBEF8F8E7E7AB4FDCE8A4FF859AD4BB.c4.iopscience.cld.iop.org
Abstract specifies first pass came up with 1/3, second pass with 2/3, for a total of 22 percent (1/3 x 2/3) not 97 percent.

2. Prof. Richard Lindzen (not Linden) is misquoted in above as well as elsewhere https://www.inverse.com/article/11643-climate-change-denying-mit-prof-richard-lindzen-is-suddenly-popular-still-wrong (Link is also source of 1 above). There is enormous, and dangerous, environmental degradation wholly unrelated to any CO2 - which itself has no linear relationship to glaciations or global temperatures as per Vostok ice cores and C14 measurements - as for example here from today's news:
https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/mar/01/burning-lakes-experts-fear-bangalore-uninhabitable-2025 Resources are always limited and focusing on CO2 (a harmless gas) instead of the very real dangers of pollution is irrational. That's why, incidentally, you get such a high correlation between disgust scale (high rating good predictor of conservatism) and "climate change" - climate change is now a meaningless term onto which anyone can map anything, and conservatives read "pollution" into it because they are revolted by filth to a greater extent than the politically correct.

3. On item III on summary slide, please correct "principle" to "principal" - voice-activated software inevitably makes such errors.

March 2, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

"Source of alleged 97 percent of scientists conjecture"

Sadly, that's a survey of abstracts, not climatologists.

Dan already knows the 97% claim is bogus - I was just having a bit of fun. (Although I was genuinely surprised to see the claim appearing without caveats on Dan's first slide.) Dan actually got it from the AAAS (judging from the logo in the corner of the slide), who say only "Based on well-established evidence [...] This agreement is documented not just by a single study, but by a converging stream of evidence over the past two decades from surveys of scientists, content analyses of peer-reviewed studies, and public statements issued by virtually every membership organization of experts in this field." without giving any references to this "stream" of surveys (because none of the surveys published say 97%), and of course knowing that neither literature surveys nor organisation statements say anything at all about the percentage of climatologists who believe anything in particular.

It's hard to say whether that's just the AAAS being over-trusting, or a motivated misperception, or indeed a case of actions aimed at "devaluing the currency of facts in our political discourse"! ;-) I don't think that was what Dan was referring to in his talk/title, though.

"Prof. Richard Lindzen (not Linden) is misquoted"

I'm not totally sure, but I think 'Robert Linden' was a made-up character generated for the experiment. The resemblance of his surname to the sceptical climate scientist's is probably an unfortunate coincidence.

March 2, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

Dan -

=={ We’ll see how far I can get in 30 mins.. }==


30 minutes? Geez. So how many'd you get in? I think an oft-used rule of thumb is between 1.5 - 3 minutes per slide. Although some of your slides have relatively little change as you progress from one to the next - others contain a lot of information to process...so I'm guessing that you might not have gotten through @ 100 in 30 minutes.

March 2, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

@Joshua-- got 'em all in. My guess is that took only 25 mins; wanted be sure to leave enough time for Gordon to make his points (main one is that there is likely a better way to operationalize motivating predictors than the worldview scales).

March 2, 2017 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

"there is likely a better way to operationalize motivating predictors". There is, known as revealed preferences, not to be confused with Ken Arrow's statistical discrimination, or Merton's (Sr.) self-fulfilling prophesies. There is a fundamental mathematical error here, known in the trade as an exploding regressor problem. As time increases the ratio of the information content of the most recent data to the information content of all the previous data never goes to zero, so the sample necessarily remains small and the central limit theorem does not apply. The Gaussian-looking distributions pictured on the slides are a mirage. Do not be led astray by promising initial results, check for replicability. and never discard outliers in observations. Here's an initially successful attempt to link Feynman diagrams to points on Riemann's zeta function:
“....there are monsters lurking out there that throw a spanner into the works,” Brown said. Those monsters are “certainly periods, but they’re not the nice and simple periods people had hoped for....”
https://www.quantamagazine.org/20161115-strange-numbers-found-in-particle-collisions/

When the first early warning satellites went up, they started sending alerts of nuclear strikes every single night. Forward observation stations, ships at sea, aircraft near polar latitudes however frantically kept signalling back "negative, negative, negative, there is nothing coming up over the horizon". Humans and satellite were both correct; the former had just not informed the latter that come evening, the moon rises. That's why I don't for a moment believe all knowledge is culturally transmitted - machines understand mathematics, not memes. And I rather hope they will take over Bangalore and much of the rest of the planet before the CO2 adherents manage to cause much more damage.

March 2, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

Dan -

=={ main one is that there is likely a better way to operationalize motivating predictors than the worldview scales }==

I would appreciate hearing more about that - perhaps even a guest post?

World views seems inherently problematic to me. Fifteen years ago, who would have guessed that...

(1) the "world view" of most right-leaning Americans would encompass nearly unanimously supporting for president a politician who speaks favorably of Russia, triangulates support for NATO even as Russia has enacted a campaign of expansionist policies in the Ukraine and the Baltic States, and, according to the "intelligence community" engaged in interference in our electoral system and those of many other Western States?

(2) the "world view" of most left-leaning Americans would encompass nearly unanimously expressing confidence in the "intelligence community" to supply information that would help address questions of interference in our electoral process and outcomes?

Similar inconsistencies in "worldview" can be seen in shifts across groups in opinions on issues such as "states rights," "government handouts" "government intervention in the economy," the justification of a health insurance mandate, etc.

Seems to me that "worldview" is not a very functional descriptor for identity groups, as it necessarily means views that are not constant or even internally consistent, and are relative to a changing landscape. IMO, "values" is similarly problematic. I wouldn't doubt that attributes such as "authoritarianism," while perhaps less context-contingent than "world view," suffer from a similar problem as a way to describe groups. Consider that I have often been considered as favoring authoritarianism by members of a group that Haidt would generally describe as being associated with authoritarian world views.

March 2, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Another interesting item:

https://www.fastcompany.com/3067752/pov/why-we-need-scientists-on-social-media-now-more-than-ever

March 2, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

@Joshua-- I have received several billion emails from site subscribers who also want to see a guest post. I expect that one will be forthcoming

March 3, 2017 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

@Ecoute-- I think the only thing that matters is whether a psychometric scale does what it is supposed to do--predict behavior that evinces the construct that the scale purports to measure. Consider how beautiful this would be if we had evidence (as opposed to commercial puffing) that it worked.

If you have (or have in mind) a "revealed preference" measure of resistance to identity-protective reasoning, tell us what it involves & why you think it does what it says

March 3, 2017 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Dan - your second question best answered via example. Take the case of the unfortunate Rachel Dolezal, now legally known as Nkechi Amare Diallo, still insisting she identifies as trans-black, still baffled by the fact she fails to elicit the sympathy extended to, say, this other joker http://www.glamourmagazine.co.uk/article/caitlyn-jenner-glamour-women-of-the-year-awards-america who has not, incidentally undergone sex-change surgery or hormone treatments and doesn't plan to.

Black men ridiculed Dolezal - basketball players wrote to her that they really were 5ft 6 and they only identified as being 7ft tall - but otherwise left her alone. Black women, however, reacted ferociously - but why? They, like the men, know that the meme "race is a racial construct" is so much PC drivel, but they also know what the men don't, that they risk their health, maybe even their lives, and certainly their bank accounts, in attempts to acquire 2 things Dolezal was born with, white skin and straight blond hair.

You can check revealed preferences for yourself, by visiting the nearest drugstore and checking out the aisle for ethnic cosmetics. You'll observe a dizzying array of skin-lightening and hair-straightening products. The chemicals involved in these products sold here are relatively harmless, and consequently of limited effect, but for a real test of revealed preferences you have to look to Africa, where similar products contain chemicals known to be highly toxic. Women with barely enough to eat nevertheless hand over their hard-earned money in efforts to look like the women in the ads. The more responsible cosmetics manufacturers, as in http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2013/02/26/african-beauty-industry-more-than-just-cosmetic-changes/ are constrained by reputational risk, but others are not. Indeed, the buyers understand the risks - see e.g.
http://www.thefader.com/2016/06/06/ghana-ban-sale-skin-bleaching-cream
Nor is this limited to black communities in the West and Africa:
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1753-1411.2009.00032.x/full#references
And as to baldness due to glues necessary to secure "good hair" extensions, weaves, etc, you will find millions of links, or simply take a look at a swimming pool frequented by black women, only people in shower caps and heads kept carefully above the water.

Transgender persons are not perceived as challenging the "cultural identity" of others, with the interesting exception of black transgendered females - habitual victims of violence by men of all colors, even those indifferent to male homosexuals. Somehow, this sub-group generates an animosity among men similar to Dolezal's among black women. Crime statistics are "revealed preferences" as much as sales of cosmetics.

For your first question, I answered already - the statistical distributions you calculate are illusory. I already explained the bubble model (as time t increases the regressor explodes) but it may be simpler to refer you to econometric models, which have been shown a limited power of "nowcasting" and exactly ZERO power of forecasting. See slides of Wolfers at the Blanchard fest at MIT, as e.g. commented on by http://www.bradford-delong.com/2016/06/justin-wolfers-new-directions-in-macroeconomics-and-policyhttpusersnberorgjwolferspaperscommentsblanchard-f.html

The economists have tried for decades to detect similar "laws" with structural models, on which Paul Romer and his phlogiston will cheer you up, if Wolfers didn't already: https://paulromer.net/trouble-with-macroeconomics-update/

But for a real laugh - economics does tend to be a dismal science - look up the amici briefs in the Michael Mann lawsuit now headed to trial as per an incomprehensible decision by judge Ruiz of the DC appeals court. If I were White House counsel and had nothing better to do - clearly an impossibility as I'm not a lawyer - I would file an amicus brief for prof. Mann, for the simple joy of seeing the climate change debate finally explode (remember, the regressor) as the bubble it is.

March 3, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

PS to Dan - on your own FT link, commercial puffery is certain but the use of images rather than words is an improvement, for reasons best explained by Orwell:

".....What is above all needed is to let the meaning choose the word, and not the other way around. In prose, the worst thing one can do with words is surrender to them. When you think of a concrete object, you think wordlessly, and then, if you want to describe the thing you have been visualising you probably hunt about until you find the exact words that seem to fit it. When you think of something abstract you are more inclined to use words from the start, and unless you make a conscious effort to prevent it, the existing dialect will come rushing in and do the job for you, at the expense of blurring or even changing your meaning. Probably it is better to put off using words as long as possible and get one's meaning as clear as one can through pictures and sensations. ...."

March 3, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

The PS was posted for some reason best known to your site's software, but the main post disappeared into the ether. I will reconstruct it as best I can. Just like NASA, I don't keep backups in real time :)

March 3, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

"There is a fundamental mathematical error here, known in the trade as an exploding regressor problem. As time increases the ratio of the information content of the most recent data to the information content of all the previous data never goes to zero, so the sample necessarily remains small and the central limit theorem does not apply."

What evidence is there that the regressor is exploding in this case?

The so-called 'exploding regressor' problem occurs in time series analysis when trying to identify relationships between variables that, over short periods of time, increase exponentially. This means that the regressor has a very lop-sided distribution - almost all the values are virtually the same; only the last few values vary much. So the regression is dominated by a tiny number of outliers.

However, all the distributions for OSI/SCS/cultural categories that Dan has posted in the past have all looked fairly evenly spread out, with no ultra-extreme outliers. They're commonly not Gaussian, but nor are they fat-tailed exponentials. If anything, quite the reverse.

What exactly do you mean?

"Dan - your second question best answered via example. Take the case of the unfortunate Rachel Dolezal"

I'm guessing that the point of this long digression into identity politics is to say that you need to judge people by their actions rather than their words. That the skin-whitening creams are telling us that black women value a white identity more highly than a black one, whatever they might say to the contrary.

Dan's already noted something like this in the past. Although I disagree with his interpretation of what's going on, the 'Kentucky Farmer' example - in which farmers verbally claim not to believe in man-made climate change, but at the same time subscribe to climate-monitoring services to advise them on their crop planting decisions in light of climate change - is a recognition of the same principle.

Dan's hypothesis is that people know what the truth is, but say something else to maintain consistency with their cultural identity, because of the social cost of deviating from the shibboleth views of their social circle. Kentucky farmers know the climate is changing, and act accordingly in their business, but say they don't to fit in with their social group, where belief in climate change is associated with Democrats and disbelief with Tea Party/Republicans.

The equivalent in your example would be black women who try to look whiter in their actions, while celebrating black culture with their words.

But Dan's question was about measuring resistance to identity-protective reasoning. If you suppose that a difference between what people say and what they do is symptomatic of identity-protective reasoning, then measuring that difference and identifying people who act in accordance with their stated beliefs could be a way of identifying those who are especially resistant. Unfortunately, I don't this will work as it will also capture those who know their actions as well as their words are being monitored by their community, and conform on both. It also miscategorises those who act contrary to their true beliefs about what's right - like smokers who genuinely want to give up smoking and can't.

It's not that simple. You need to give a lot more specific detail about what you would measure and how you would avoid the categorisation problems.

"They, like the men, know that the meme "race is a racial construct" is so much PC drivel, but they also know what the men don't, that they risk their health, maybe even their lives, and certainly their bank accounts, in attempts to acquire 2 things Dolezal was born with, white skin and straight blond hair."

I'm guessing you meant "race is a social construct".

The trouble is, "race" is an ambiguous term - there's the (now technically defunct) biological concept based on genetically determined characteristics supposedly associated with the handful of skin colour marker genes, and there's the concept of "black culture", which is a set of beliefs, attitudes, dialects, and social practices common in parts of America. Black culture is definitely a social construct - but it is linked to biology in two ways: it's software implemented on biological hardware that has all the usual human emotional and cognitive biases that entails, and it's linked explicitly by the shared community belief that white culture discriminates against people based on those biological skin-colour markers. There is a cultural belief that whiter skin enables better prospects in terms of wealth, mating opportunities, and social acceptance. It is, to some degree, a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The white culture doesn't like, or get on well with many aspects of black culture (the work ethic and high crime levels in particular). And black skin is used as an associated marker predicting a greater likelihood of somebody conforming to black culture. By whitening the skin, one can masquerade as someone more likely to conform to white culture, and the prediction actually works because imitating white culture in other respects as well makes the masquerade a reality. Culture is all about how you act - even if you're acting.

All the effects are cultural - skin colour is related to about half a dozen genes out of 20,000, and white skin may have only been widespread during the last 10,000 years, out of a 200,000 year human history. It's of no more objective social significance because of the biological aspects than blood group or hair colour. But genetic characteristics can get entangled with cultural differences when those cultures develop specific value-relevant beliefs about them.

The anger at Dolezal was because she belonged to a very specific sub-culture in which black women have enormous social advantages over whites/men, given to them in compensation for their disadvantages. So she had white privileges, and then took black privileges as well that were meant to make up for the disadvantage blacks normally experience - and in so doing excluded some genuinely black person who could have had those positions/advantages.

It's not that she wanted to be black or adopt black culture - I doubt many black people would be upset by that. It's that she took social advantages from it that were meant to compensate people disadvantaged by being born black, with black culture.

"still baffled by the fact she fails to elicit the sympathy extended to, say, this other joker [...] who has not, incidentally undergone sex-change surgery or hormone treatments and doesn't plan to."

Transgender people have brains that are wired differently. The biology of sexual differentiation is complicated and (as with most things in nature) imperfectly implemented. The SRY gene triggers a branching cascade of other genes and hormones and signalling molecules to trigger the growth in the womb of many different structures around the body and brain, each of which can go wrong separately or in combination, depending on how far up the tree of causation the problem occurs. There are about 40 identified brain structures associated with the subject's sex, and probably many more that don't show up on scans, but with about a 1%-10% cross-over rate. So most people have about 5% of features more commonly associated with the opposite sex, and 95% with their assigned sex. Most of these are socially neutral, but a few (like those modules for sexual attraction and gender socialisation) cause big trouble when they conflict with cultural taboos.

You can see the effect of these brain structures (in our current culture) more clearly in girls. Some girls insist that everything be pink, with sparkles on it. Other girls you can't lever into an actual dress or skirt without a long crowbar. It's wired into the brain. About 1% (we think) of boys get the pink/sparkly brain module, but face such fearsome pressure to conform from society that about 40% of those we know about attempt suicide.

Jenner has actually had cosmetic surgery, but not full SRS or hormone treatment, which is actually quite a common outcome. Those sorts of interventions are quite dangerous, with a lot of risks, side-effects, and life-long medical treatments needed, and are only given to the most severe cases where it's really necessary. (i.e. where the choice is surgery or suicide). The medical community's attitude is generally to do only the minimum that allows a person to cope, which depends on the degree of the dysphoria. Choosing not to have surgery doesn't mean the condition isn't real.

There are, actually, quite a few feminists and others who are down on transgenders as well because they sometimes seek/take privileges intended for women, given in compensation for their culture-driven (or biologically-driven) disadvantages. However, they still get the sympathy because - as the suicide rate makes clear - they've got even worse culture-driven disadvantages themselves.

"Transgender persons are not perceived as challenging the "cultural identity" of others"

I disagree. All the political controversy around things like 'bathroom laws' makes clear that some people feel their cultures to be very threatened. There's still a lot of violence, harassment, and prejudice associated with it.

March 4, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

Apologies to Dan and all other readers - until this moment I hadn't realized that my draft (really a holding pen for notes I made to use in an edited reply while working on something else) made it through the software filter here as it never showed up in my email feed. But I did write that draft, so I must reply to NiV.

On the explosive regressor: there are heuristics hardwired into our brains, like thinking the moon rising is bigger than the moon overhead. Other animals - wolves, huskies - obviously share this illusion with us because they also worry more about something coming up over the horizon than something directly overhead. I know that cameras don't share my illusion and that it's irrational but obviously it has had survival value which is why it came down to us.

There are other such heuristics, many of them related to our sense of belonging to a group, but the group definition itself is fluid and these cultural heuristics themselves change over time, unlike the hard-wired biological ones. Irrational as they may be they will be defended for a while until finally overwhelming evidence accumulates and the entire related construct crumbles to give an entirely new model. Example, the ridicule suffered by Wegener, a meteorologist, who came up with plate tectonics and continental drift. Geologists who had opposed him finally proved why "science progresses with every funeral".

The exploding regressor was brought in to illustrate how the irrational cultural element might work over time,
until it is finally overcome and a completely new model succeeds the old one. The much-quoted, little read, Hegel saw it as the owl of Athena taking flight at dusk. How stable are these cultural markers over time, and the distributions based on them? I suspect, not much more than the old-model geology.

Climate change is another such model. Using CO2 as a marker is scientifically absurd - the terrible danger from burning coal comes from black carbon (soot) in the air and eventually waters and from coal ash. How many people know that coal ash, at equal weights, is more radioactive than spent nuclear fuel? India and China - who had cautiously excluded themselves from the original Kyoto CO2-based protocol - keep burning high-sulfur coal while preaching to the rest of us the dangers of a harmless gas. If that's not a hoax, or a crass shakedown attempt, then words have no meaning. Europe foolishly fell for this insanity and poisoned the air with diesel fumes on grounds diesel engines generate less CO2. None of this is in dispute, but it does reframe the climate change model being peddled by people who should - and do! - know better. Would the hundreds of billions wasted on solar panel and wind turbine subsidies not be better spent on nuclear power plants? If solar cells and windmills are profitable - after lifecycle effects are included, like hand-dug cobalt mines in Congo, lithium extraction, a horribly water-wasting procedure in the arid Andean plateaus, graphite dust destroying crops in China etc - then the markets will introduce them. South Australia, pledged to 50% renewables and keeping the lights on thanks to standby diesel generators is another study in folly.

I don't in the least worry about icebergs melting - they've done this many times before, only to reform - but I'm absolutely terrified at the uncontrolled pollution caused by precisely those policies deployed to "mitigate" climate change. Will study your comment further and reply later, NiV. Thank you.

March 4, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

"But I did write that draft, so I must reply to NiV."

Don't feel under any pressure to reply if you don't want to, or don't find the discussion interesting.

I post comments/replies because I find the discussion/debate interesting, and generally assume that if other people reply to my comments it's because they want to debate, too. That has led to some problems in the past, where people got upset by the debate on topics they cared deeply about, but felt pressure to keep on participating out of 'politeness', whereas I was just looking at it as an intellectual exercise. This may not apply to you, but I find it useful to remind people who don't know me that it's supposed to be fun! I'll chase details and pick apart people's statements in a way that can be perceived as aggressive, because I'm interested to see whether I have something new to learn from somebody who disagrees with me. If someone drops out of the conversation or changes the subject, that's fine.

And I'm certainly not going to have any issues with a draft comment that might have been posted in error!

March 4, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

NiV - I think all living creatures are happiest when operating at full deployment of their abilities, and one way to get to that is to engage into a fight! I'm not conspiracy-minded but I suspect you knew that, for a Trump supporter, getting mistaken for what is known in alt-right circles as a snowflake, is positively insulting :)

Seriously - your courtesy is appreciated but I assure you in my case wholly misplaced.

March 4, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

Ecoute,

I suspected as much, but I like to be sure the Rules of Engagement are understood explicitly.

I know about 'special snowflakes', but as it happens some of the worst incidents I've had were with people on what is now called the alt-right arguing about religion. For me, theological disputation is an entertaining intellectual exercise. For the deeply religious it's the core of their worldview and the foundation of all that is good and holy in this world; the moral bedrock of society, and they get seriously upset at people laughing at it. (I'm actually a lot more tolerant of it than many atheists, since I'm a firm believer in freedom of belief, but it doesn't always come across that way when I'm dissecting some of the more 'controversial' bits of the Old Testament!)

So while the spirit of your reply is appreciated, I don't apologise for making the same point to people on the right as to those on the left. :-)

March 4, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

Ecoute -

=={ I'm not conspiracy-minded but I suspect you knew that, for a Trump supporter, getting mistaken for what is known in alt-right circles as a snowflake, is positively insulting :) }==

Indeed. Observing your humanly Trump-supporting attributes, I was hoping that you would respond to my questions on the thread below. And knowing that the character of being a snowflake was so completely unlikely in your case, I could only assume that responding to me would be so far below an invitation for you to "operate at full deployment of [your abilities]," that it wasn't worth your time. But should you decide to take an opportunity to display your awesome abilities for MY benefit only, I would still like to read your responses. You won't get anything out of it, but your magnimity might help me to expand my horizons of what little improvements may be possible if I reach for the stars.

March 4, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Ecoute -

Sorry, that should have read.... Indeed. Observing your humanly he-manly Trump-supporting attributes,....

March 4, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Joshua - is this the part (from a previous discussion) being referenced here?
>>>>> start quote >>>>>>>


Ecoute -

Sorry to see you go. If you do ever come back, I would appreciate it if you would take some time to describe the metrics you use to measure an increase in political correctness (using a definition of the term that isn't circular and partisan/agenda-driven), as a proxy for an increase in totalitarianism. it would also be great if you could provide a more direct (i.e., not a 'proxy") measure of increased totalitarianism (over a meaningful time period).

==} His fight against political correctness is a fight against totalitarianism and in that he has my unqualified support. {==

If you do come back, I would appreciate it if you could address how you reconcile your view that he is engaged in a "fight against political correctness" with his insistence that you can't fight jihadis if you don't call them Islamic terrorists, his campaign against wishing people 'happy holidays" as opposed to "merry Christmas," his campaign to make it easier to sue the media for libel, his reluctance to address right-wing terrorism, his advocating for punishing people for burning the flag, his reluctance to comment on Putin's murderous policies, his use of the power of his office to pressure government workers to report crowd sizes in ways that are consistent with his fantasies, the firing of government workers for criticizing his policies, his promoting his (suddenly found) religious commitment for the sake of political expediency, his enforcement of a policy that restricts a persons access to bathrooms on the basis of their gender at birth rather than their gender identity, his promotion to the highest levels of advisors someone who formerly ran a news organization that wants to sue people for describing that organization as white nationalist, etc., etc.
<<<<<<<<<<< end quote >>>>>>>>>>

Certainly I can address those points, if you wish me to, and if we will not bore everyone else to extinction in the process. With Heidegger, I hold Heraclitus to be the greatest of the ancient philosophers, and particularly wish to draw your attention to fragment 43, ὕϐριν χρὴ σϐεννύναι μᾶλλον ἢ πυρκαϊήν (hubris is to be extinguished more urgently than a conflagration). http://philoctetes.free.fr/heraclitefraneng.htm

I started posting here because I got really annoyed at Dan's description of assorted statements by president Trump as toxic memes. But that's unrelated to any deity (Heraclitus thought that if any gods exist, humans can have little if any understanding of them) and certainly does not call for obsequiousness, let alone neologisms - "he-manly"? I am reliably told the correct PC pronoun for 3rd person singular is now "ze", but I'd rather stay with the old-fashioned grammar if that's OK with you. Have a pleasant evening.

March 4, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

==} Certainly I can address those points, if you wish me to ... {==

Yes, I do.

==} and if we will not bore everyone else to extinction in the process.{==

I can't speak to, nor am I worried about, anyone else's boredom. I think that they are accountable for their own time expenditures...and I certainly think that the likelihood of anyone dying as a result of reading any such exchange is low enough that I won't lose any sleep over that possibility either.

=={ I am reliably told the correct PC pronoun for 3rd person singular is now "ze",}==

I'll use whatever pronouns you request. If you prefer I henceforth reference your muscular online persona in some other fashion, I would be more than happy to do so.

=={ I started posting here because I got really annoyed}==

That isn't of interest to me. I'm interested in your answers to my questions.

March 4, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Oh, and btw -

=={ With Heidegger, I hold Heraclitus to be the greatest of the ancient philosophers, and particularly wish to draw your attention to fragment 43, ὕϐριν χρὴ σϐεννύναι μᾶλλον ἢ πυρκαϊήν (hubris is to be extinguished more urgently than a conflagration). http://philoctetes.free.fr/heraclitefraneng.htm }==

That is also of absolutely no interest to me. If you could confine the discussion to those points I raised, I would appreciate it. If you are more interested in including so much esoteric material, I won't be able to follow. I don't doubt that it is extremely and meaningfully relevant for the erodite, but alas, I am but a common fellow,

March 4, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Oh, and before you go all grammar/spelling nanny on me (as you have on Dan, and erroneously name-granny also), I suppose I should correct that to erudite.

March 4, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

1. Jihadis / Islamic terrorists - It's now OK to call them Jihadis and leave out the Islamic part, as per recommendation of the new national security adviser.
2. Happy holidays instead of Merry Christmas - the particular holiday is CALLED Christmas.
3. Suing media for libel - see Mann lawsuit 14-CV-101_14-CV-126 IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA. COURT OF APPEALS. President Trump cannot change the law, but jurisprudence is a different matter and the outcome of that trial will serve as precedent.
4. Right wing terrorism / reluctance to address - Isolated criminal acts are already covered by applicable law, no separate framework required.
5. Burning the flag - see USSC decision, it's covered by the First Amendment. No change advocated.
6. Putin's murderous policies - Putin will just have to take a number, Mugabe, Kim Jong Un, al Baghdadi, et al, have priority.
7. Crowd sizes - President Trump's comment was on total viewers, including TV, internet, cellphones etc, not simply live bodies present at the Inauguration, and his estimate of total viewers may well be correct.
8. Firing government workers - NiV already answered that on the previous discussion.
9. Religious commitment - there is no state religion and nobody suggests we should establish one.
10. Bathrooms - a federal government of "limited and enumerated powers" has no business regulating school bathrooms in the various states.
11. White nationalism - this is the leftist term for Western civilization. See Paul Kennedy et al, e.g. here http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/politics/immigrat/kennf.htm for an analysis clearly showing Western civilization is under attack by parties of a variety of races and religions - it's certainly not a model of Islam against Christianity, as Steve Bannon et al have unfortunately simplified it, presumably for expository purposes.

Last but not least, political correctness as proxy for totalitarianism - for now I have no shorter answer than Orwell's on Newspeak, appendix to his book 1984, however I expect to have a working model soon. http://orwell.ru/library/novels/1984/english/en_app

March 5, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

Ecoute -

Thanks for the response. Let's take this with a first bite, and see how palatable the discussion is and then proceed further if it seems worthwhile:

Here was my first question:

I would appreciate it if you would take some time to describe the metrics you use to measure an increase in political correctness (using a definition of the term that isn't circular and partisan/agenda-driven), as a proxy for an increase in totalitarianism.

I'm still interested in reading an answer to that question. What metrics do you use and how do you define the term? For example, if the rightwing mainstream press launches a long and constant campaign to stamp out the use of "Happy Holidays" because, being the snowflakes they are, they find someone wishing them "Happy Holidays" is some kind of offense, is that political correctness? If not, then why not? How about when snowflake "skeptics" get the vapors if someone calls them a "denier?" PC or not PC. Now I'm not asking for a discussion of the merits of their snowflakiness there, whether their pearl-clutching from their fainting couches is justified because the offenses are so devastating in magnitude - merely whether they would be examples of the underlying mechanics of what you would call "political correctness." We can discuss the deeper merits of their sorrows from being treated so insensitively separately. So by using those examples, or maybe others of your choice, could you define "PC" in some generalizable way, and then based on that definition, explain what scientific method you (or others you can point to) have used to measure an increase over relatively short- and long-term time periods?

And even better yet, could you undergo a similar explanation for how you measure totalitarianism, with an explainable methodology for controlling for bias, and show in what way those measures show an increase over time in short- and long-term time periods?

Beyond that, we could get to the details...but I will give a teaser with the first example:

I said

I would appreciate it if you could address how you reconcile your view that he is engaged in a "fight against political correctness" with his insistence that you can't fight jihadis if you don't call them Islamic terrorists,

And you responded with:

1. Jihadis / Islamic terrorists - It's now OK to call them Jihadis and leave out the Islamic part, as per recommendation of the new national security adviser.

I'm not sure that is what is determined as "OK" is a universal. Some on one side say that one term is "OK," and in doing so, they are labeled as being "politically correct." But it turns out that the labelers have their own determination of what is an "OK" term, yet, somehow exempted from that same level of "political correctness." So I'm trying to understand why the term is applicable in one case but not the other. As a particularly interesting side aspect to that discussion, it seems that Trump's new National Security Adviser thinks that using the term "Islamic Terrorist" or "radical Islam" are not helpful within the larger context of trying to fight against terrorism conducted by the religious fundamentalists who are committing terrorism under the name of Islam. And certainly, that gentleman is far from the only expert in terrorism who has similar views. In such a context, how do we determine that Obama's reluctance to use the term is not a strategy to help fight terrorism and Trump's insistence on using the term Radical Islam not, in fact, an example of political correctness, where he wishes to control the language that other people use because that language offends his sense of right and wrong?

I look forward to discussing the others, hopefully, if you've some up with some meaningful response to what I've written so far, and can dumb it down enough that even someone like myself can understand. TIA

March 5, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Joshua - the answer I gave is complete.

See the 2 last links: Orwell's Newspeak appendix explains step-by-step how creeping totalitarianism is measured by changes in language. Example from our day, adding "cis-" to words everybody understood until now, "man" and "woman" for no good reason other than PC, does subtly change the meaning by limiting it.

And after you have mastered PC-speak (an early stage of Newspeak) you will have no problem summarizing the Paul Kennedy article in one word: "racism". Simple, really, once you see the pattern.

Btw, I wish you would shake yourself out of this self-abasement / sackcloth-and-ashes mode - the end of the world is NOT nigh!

March 5, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

PS I got "self-debasement" from the urban dictionary http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=self-debasing The previous term I was familiar with was self-abasement. I don't know if that's PC-related - suspect it is.

March 5, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

Ecoute -

Your route of explanation by citation of Orwell is too indirect to be of use to me to follow. My reading of Orwell does not jibe with yours in terms of implications to today's context. In fact, my view is that the notion of Newspeak is much closer to capturing the manifestation of Trump's totalitarianism than there are any implications from Orwell's writing to describe what you consider to be political correctness associating with an increase in totalitarianism.

Given that I have asked you now a couple of tines for direct answers to questions without finding any such answers in your responses, it would seem that repeated attempts would be futile. Have a nice night.

March 5, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Joshua - glad to see we are agreed I have answered you to the best of my ability and there is no point continuing with additional explanations on my part. This only leaves one open point, what on earth were you thinking when you embarked on what looks (to me) like a drastic self-abasement phase - not limited to a single time or date, so not a temporary mood swing - and wrote the following:

>>>>>start quotes<<<<
Observing your humanly he-manly Trump-supporting attributes,....[….]
[….] I was hoping that you would respond to my questions on the thread below. And knowing that the character of being a snowflake was so completely unlikely in your case, I could only assume that responding to me would be so far below an invitation for you to "operate at full deployment of [your abilities]," that it wasn't worth your time. But should you decide to take an opportunity to display your awesome abilities for MY benefit only, I would still like to read your responses. You won't get anything out of it, but your magnimity might help me to expand my horizons of what little improvements may be possible if I reach for the stars. [….]
[…..] I'll use whatever pronouns you request. If you prefer I henceforth reference your muscular online persona in some other fashion, I would be more than happy to do so.[….] if you've some up with some meaningful response to what I've written so far, and can dumb it down enough that even someone like myself can understand. TIA
>>>>>end quotes<<<<<

As I'm at a complete loss to understand what might have brought about this inexplicable commentary I trust I will in turn receive the courtesy of a reply. Thank you.

March 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

Ecoute -

=={ Joshua - glad to see we are agreed I have answered you to the best of my ability and there is no point continuing with additional explanations on my part. }==

Just to be clear... I am not in a position to judge your ability to do anything, and so we aren't actually in any agreement about your abilities. What I said is that I won't ask any further for you to answer my questions, but I want to make it clear that if you engaged with a different approach (e.g., instead of citing Orwell, actually wrote answers to my questions) there certainly might be a point in continuing.

=={ This only leaves one open point, what on earth were you thinking when you embarked on what looks (to me) like a drastic self-abasement phase ...... As I'm at a complete loss to understand what might have brought about this inexplicable commentary }==

Self debasement? There is nothing self-debasing about my noting my humble knowledge and abilities in the face of such an awesome interlocutor. I am happy to accept my lot in life, and feel nothing "debased" about doing so. I think it unfortunate that somehow you'd think that an honest self-appraisal of my relative status would therefore discredit me or suggest a "debasement" of my stature, moral or otherwise. I could guess that having such high status as yourself, it would be entirely logical that it might be hard for you to understand an honest appraisal from so far beneath you. I hope that might at least provide you some solace and make your being at a "loss" more understandable, if not exactly help make my behavior more explicable to you. I do appreciate your concern for me, and I would think the best we might hope for here is that at least you might be comforted that I am not "debased" even if you are still at a loss as to how I might see myself as I do.

March 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

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