Feminism, men, and video games

In my run-in with a few caricature feminists last year, I disagreed over something pretty simple. There was a picture of two fat women next to an article about fat women and medical care on CNN. The caricature feminist, Suzanne Franks, said that it was a sexist picture because it didn’t show their faces, instead only focusing on their “boobs and vagina”. Several people, including myself, pointed out that it would be wildly inappropriate to feature their faces, and besides, the article was about fat people. The objectification was on fatness, not women per se. For that I was deemed horrifically sexist; I clearly must hate all women. In fact, I was accused of only disagreeing because the blogger was a woman. In reality, I actually had assumed she was a man. A small part of the reason is that most bloggers are men, but there was also this reason:

As I (audaciously!) explained in previous posts, I never said my assumption (that the post was by a man) was good or bad. What’s more, I was also going on the fact that Franks looks like a man with long hair in her picture. I didn’t originally raise that point for the sake of not being so crude, but if she’s going to hammer on the point, then that’s what’s going to happen.

So in my effort not to be insulting of her face, I had to say I had an assumption I knew wouldn’t going over well where I was. But I figured I had at least won the point: If I assumed the blogger was a male, then I couldn’t possibly be disagreeing for the sake of disagreeing with a woman. Of course, actually addressing that point would be embarrassing; people don’t like to admit when they’re wrong on the Internet. Instead, everyone focused on the fact that I had such a crazy! assumption in the first place. I freely admitted that it wasn’t a great assumption to have, even if most bloggers actually are male, but that didn’t really matter to anyone. Assumptions?! YOU HATE [whatever that person likes]!!!

So that brings me to a recent post by PZ. He talks about some new book that says 21st century men are immature and not living up to any real standards. The reason? Feminism, of course! It’s clearly a stupid premise.* However, just as stupid is the claim PZ makes that men aren’t growing up for the intrinsic reason that they are men. If there’s a problem with this generation, it isn’t just with one sex or the other. (Not that I think there’s something horrid about this generation: PZ is an old guy, so he’s falling into the trap into which most every old person before him has fallen – he thinks young people suck and we didn’t have to walk 15 miles in the snow to get to school just so we could get our daily whipping!)

But his unusually muddled post aside, several of the commenters take the time to mention video games when talking about immature men. Jadehawk had this to say:

meh. I don’t mind the non-marrying, non-settling down sort of man. I don’t even mind the video-game playing, spending all night on the internet type. In fact, I’ve got one of those at home.

It’s the entitled douchebags I mind. Those who think all women are supposed to play mommy for them.

While I’m glad Jadehawk (look at me, not assuming his or her sex!) took the time to differentiate between these type of men, I still really hate the association between video games and the immaturity PZ discussed. It’s just an ugly assumption. And aren’t assumptions like that just shitty? They were when I made them about Franks being male.

But on video games: first of all, video gamers are nearly split 50/50 between male and female today. Second, if someone goes on and on about the acting or the storyline or the plot twists or the cinematography of a movie, why, that’s just an avid movie goer; that person really appreciates a form of art. But video games? Nah. That’s just childish baby-baby stuff. It’s totally different because, um, well, uh, um, um, um, it just is, okay?!

You know, I don’t think my points here are too crazy. 1) The connection between feminism causing immaturity in men is just as nebulous as the connection between men and some magical intrinsic immaturity. 2) The assumptions we make, while almost always more common and with more impact from the dominant side, are often a fault. 3) Video gamers are composed of an ever-increasing even mixture of men and women, neither of which is immature for wanting to have some virtual fun.

But I’m sure that’s horribly fucking sexist in someone’s eyes.

*According to the comment section on the post, it looks like that isn’t really the premise of the book. The website reporting it, WorldNutDaily, seems to have given things their own spin.

John Lott is wrong again

It has been well-documented that John Lott is a big, fat liar. He writes slanted pieces to pursue his own agenda, not truth. So it comes as no surprise that he would post an article on his blog which claims that an Obama advisor is “wacky” for being concerned about global warming. Okay, so no big deal. Just another ignorant mook that cites non-scientific sources in order to pursue lies. Sure, it’d be nice if he would just go and post at Conservapedia, FOX News, or WorldNetDaily, but the whole concept of free speech does allow for anyone to speak his mind, even if the thoughts within said mind are utterly ignorant. Ignorant how? As is so common (especially among conservatives – extra-especially among FOX News conservatives), John Lott is ignorant in science. In this case, it’s sun spots.

First let’s note how Lott cites an article from Investor’s Business Daily (that highly regarded scientific organizati…business newspaper). He excludes eight grafs on his blog. Three of the grafs are either introductory or conclusion grafs. The other five are as follows.

The Little Ice Age has been a problem for global warmers because it serves as a reminder of how the earth warms and cools naturally over time. It had to be ignored in the calculations that produced the infamous and since-discredited hockey stick graph that showed a sharp rise in warming alleged to be caused by man.

The answer to this dilemma has supposedly been found by two Stanford researchers, Richard Nevle and Dennis Bird, who announced their “findings” at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. According to them, man not only is causing contemporary warming. He also caused the cooling that preceded it.

According to Bird and Nevle, before Columbus ruined paradise, native Americans had deforested a significant portion of the continent and converted the land to agricultural purposes. Less CO2 was then absorbed from the atmosphere, and the earth was toasty.

Then a bunch of nasty old white guys arrived and depopulated the native populations through war and the diseases they brought with them. This led to the large-scale abandonment of agricultural lands. The subsequent reforestation of the continent caused temperatures to drop enough to bring on the Little Ice Age.

Implicit in this research is that the world would be fine if man wasn’t in the way. We either make the world too cold or too hot, a view held by many in high places.

Given the derisive nature of these grafs, it may actually may have made sense for Lott to publish them, but two of them contain some contradictory science to his silly dogma. That just doesn’t fly for these global warming denialists. I’m beginning to think Lott maybe does visit Conservapedia.

So now that we have Lott’s continued dishonesty out of the way, let’s tackle the main issue: sun spots. The unscientific, babbling article the unscientific, babbling Lott cites tries to stake a claim that all this hoo-hah about global warming is really just scientists misinterpreting data because they never considered sun spots.

When the sun is active, it’s not uncommon to see sunspot numbers of 100 or more in a single month. Every 11 years, activity slows, and numbers briefly drop near zero. Normally sunspots return very quickly, as a new cycle begins. But this year, the start of a new cycle, the sun has been eerily quiet.

The first seven months averaged a sunspot count of only three and in August there were no sunspots at all — zero — something that has not occurred since 1913.

According to the publication Daily Tech, in the past 1,000 years, three previous such events — what are called the Dalton, Maunder and Sporer Minimums — have all led to rapid cooling. One was large enough to be called the Little Ice Age (1500-1750).

(Don’t worry, Lott posted that part).

Okay, so because there are few sun spots to be seen toward the end of this current solar cycle and global temperatures have dropped in 2008, global warming is due to that. There are so many things wrong with this it makes me mad.

First of all, this horrific article cites the first seven months of this year. Guess what? Those months correspond to the end of the last solar cycle. It wasn’t until the past three months that the new 11-year cycle was detected (Hey, John, that’s a scientific citation; use it sometime).

Of course, it’s possible to go so far as to use the misleading information provided by this business newspaper and still show it to be wrong. Let’s assume this solar cycle does correspond with the change in global temperature. It would necessarily follow because there was a rise in temperature in the first seven years of this century that there was also a rise in solar activity. In truth, this past 11-year solar cycle peaked in 2000 and has been decaying ever since. Wow! The wonder of slight research and knowledge! Oh, how it destroys ignorance so quickly. It’s too bad John Lott isn’t interested in doing that.

What’s more, this article cites the Little Ice Age, as if it was entirely and decidely caused by solar activity. The issue is far more nuanced than that – and certainly too nuanced for such an unqualified business newspaper.

Global thermometers stopped rising after 1998, and have plummeted in the last two years by more than 0.5 degrees Celsius. The 2007-2008 temperature drop was not predicted by global climate models. But it was predictable by a decline in sunspot activity since 2000.

Wow. This is just so fucking wrong that it just made me go and fucking swear at its wrongness. Global temperatures have been rising since 1998. From 1995-2006, 11 of the 12 warmest years on record were recorded. As far as this past year goes, it was a decline over the first years of this century – of course, that doesn’t really matter when it was still the 10th warmest year on record. In fact, part of the reason it was cooler than other years was the moderation experienced from La Niña. As is well known (except by John Lott, in all likelihood), water is tremendously useful for retaining temperature. Since La Niña shrinks the warm pool of water in parts of the Pacific, it can make a noticable difference in global temperatures. Still, because of man-made pollution and deforestation, La Niña was not strong enough to prevent 2008 from being the 10th warmest year on record.

It’s unsurprising that John Lott would make a post like this. He has a history of making posts concerning things on which he has no knowledge. Take a look at his posts on evolution. They’re disparate, sometimes contradictory, often with no commentary to give some context. Granted, he shouldn’t be giving commentary on anything, but he also shouldn’t be making posts first concerned with human evolution accelerating and then subsequent posts concerned with human evolution slowing down. Bah. I don’t know why I continue to expect more out of these far-right, a-science mooks.

Solid Argument

This is from a bigoted article by Gerald Christian Nordskog, with Dr. Ted Baehr and Dr. Tom Snyder. The bigotry isn’t particular important (or well constructed). The interesting piece is when these mooks try to venture beyond their expertise of hate-mongering.

Most homosexuals seem to have adopted an irrational, unscientific view of the now defunct evolutionary model. They fail to realize, however, that, if evolution were really true (which it isn’t), there actually wouldn’t be any human homosexuals in the world. Why? Because, according to evolutionary theory, nature would have “selected out” over time, by the so-called “natural selection” evolution process, any truly genetic homosexual tendency because homosexual people do not procreate, or create any descendents. Thus, their deviant tendencies would have been eliminated from the gene pool by the untenable methodology of evolution.

No biologist is going to claim there is a gene which determines sexual preference. That isn’t how genetics work. Although studies have been conducted which have found that the genetic marker Xq28 conveys a tendency toward homosexuality, there is nothing that says homosexuality is deterministic. In fact, that study is far from solid but if it were true, it still wouldn’t say homosexuality is deterministic. This is essentially the problem encountered (unwittingly) by these bigots.

I may have a gene which gives me a predisposition to strong muscles around my shoulders. That doesn’t mean I’m going to be a great pitcher for the 2013 Boston Red Sox. It doesn’t even mean I would necessarily even have a chance at making it into an Independent League. Most genes have some degree – often a high one – of interaction with environmental conditions. This is why there is no “gay” gene(s) – and just the same, this is why there is no “straight” gene(s).

But just to be antagonistic toward these bigots, one possible way a gene which gives a predispotion (though not determinism!) toward homosexuality can be maintained in a gene pool is through sexually antagonistic selection.

The results of this model show the interaction of male homosexuality with increased female fecundity within human populations, in a complex dynamic, resulting in the maintenance of male homosexuality at stable and relatively low frequencies, and highlighting the effects of heredity through the maternal line.

These findings provide new insights into male homosexuality in humans. In particular, they promote a focus shift in which homosexuality should not be viewed as a detrimental trait (due to the reduced male fecundity it entails), but, rather, should be considered within the wider evolutionary framework of a characteristic with gender-specific benefits, and which promotes female fecundity. This may well be the evolutionary origin of this genetic trait in human beings.

Bigotry never wins.

Not attending church makes you an atheist

In an article from WorldNetDaily, Tom Flannery makes the claim that those who do not attend church are de facto atheists.

With the emergence of the New Atheist movement in recent years – led by the unholy trinity of Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris – many have become convinced that religious faith is, as Dawkins puts it, “dangerously irrational.”

So, a comprehensive new study released by Baylor University, entitled “What Americans Really Believe” must have come as quite a shock to their systems. It turns out the empirical data show that atheists are the ones who are susceptible to irrational thought, much more so than traditional believers.

According to the study, 31 percent of people who never attend worship services expressed strong belief in such things as Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster, advanced civilizations like Atlantis, haunted houses and the possibility of communicating with the dead. Only 8 percent of people who attend a house of worship more than once a week shared those beliefs.

Does everyone see the disconnect? He’s calling the 31 percent of non-church attending people atheists. He offers no studies to back up such a claim. Conveniently, had he actually read the study, Tommy would have discovered that there are more statistics.

Is the atheist population in the United States rapidly increasing? Several books by atheists hit the bestseller list in 2006 and 2007, seemingly signaling a breakthrough for the Godless Revolution (Ch. 14, p. 116). ISR researchers did find an increasing number of Americans (11 percent) who claim no religious affiliation, but they also delved into the actual religiousness of those who report having no religion. The Baylor Survey shows that a majority of Americans who claim to be irreligious pray and are not atheists

11% of Americans in this survey claim no religious affiliation. A majority of these people do still believe in a god. In fact, of these people, a little more than a third are actually atheists.

During the past 63 years, polls show the percentage of atheists has not changed at all, holding steady at only 4 percent of Americans who say they do not believe in God.

What’s more, Tommy makes the claim that believing in Big Foot or the Loch Ness Monster makes these atheists (who he estimates at existing nearly 800% more than they actually do) more susceptible to irrational belief than those who believe in god(s). Well isn’t that just begging? Tommy’s assumption that god is inherently rational begs the question all these atheist books have been raising.

And then there’s this.

Religious and mystical experiences are an overlooked aspect of our national religious life and are often neglected by researchers and ignored by theologians. The Baylor Religion Survey asked respondents about these experiences: hearing the voice of God, feeling called by God to do something, being protected by a guardian angel, witnessing and/or receiving a miraculous physical healing, and speaking or praying in tongues. The ISR researchers found that such experiences are central to American religion. Forty-five percent of Americans report having at least two religious encounters (Ch. 6, p. 59). Denomination matters, the researchers found. Conservative Protestants are more likely than liberal Protestants, Catholics or Jews to report religious or mystical experiences. However, these experiences are not limited to conservative Protestants. They occur with considerable frequency in nearly all religious groups. The survey also showed that women, African Americans and Republicans are more apt to have religious and mystical experiences.

It is actually the religious who believe they have been talking to and/or experiencing some invisible magic sky fairy. This is not a characteristic of atheists, “New” or old.

However, the ISR researchers found that conservative religious Americans are far less likely to believe in the occult and paranormal than are other Americans, with self-identified theological liberals and the irreligious far more likely than other Americans to believe (p. 130). The researchers say this shows that it is not religion in general that suppresses such beliefs, but conservative religion.

Religion doesn’t quash inane beliefs. It is the far right wing of the religious nuts that view their beliefs as being the only ones with any truth to them. While this incidentally works to their advantage in the case of rejecting belief in UFOs or Bigfoot, it puts them at a severe disadvantage when it comes to accepting the scientific fact of the underlying theme of all of biology – evolution.