Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Venice seems to be tired of Italy. It’s a bad economic trade off for them. They want to return to their former glory. Good! We need more power decentralization.

There was a vote:

Last week, in a move overshadowed by the international outcry over Russia’s annexation of Crimea,, an organization representing a coalition of Venetian nationalist groups, held an unofficial referendum on breaking with Rome. Voters were first asked the main question—”Do you want Veneto to become an independent and sovereign federal republic?”—followed by three sub-questions on membership in the European Union, NATO, and the eurozone. The region’s 3.7 million eligible voters used a unique digital ID number to cast ballots online, and organizers estimate that more than 2 million voters ultimately participated in the poll.

On Friday night, people waving red-and-gold flags emblazoned with the Lion of St. Mark filled the square of Treviso, a city in the Veneto region, as the referendum’s organizers announced the results: 2,102,969 votes in favor of independence—a whopping 89 percent of all ballots cast—to 257,266 votes against. Venetians also said yes to joining NATO, the EU, and the eurozone. The overwhelming victory surprised even ardent supporters of the initiative, as most polls before the referendum estimated only about 65 percent of the region’s voters supported independence.

Someone in the comments makes the following argument:

I don’t understand why it’s so surprising that 89% of respondents in an online, unofficial poll organized by Venetian nationalist groups voted that way. As a proportion of all eligible voters, that comes out to 55-60%, much closer to what you’d expect from neutral sampling.
Self-selection bias is a huge problem with online polling, and I expect that given the methodology of the referendum, that would explain a large part of the discrepancy between the predicted and observed outcomes.

My response:

You are assuming that the entire set of nonvoting citizens would be against it. While there is likely some self-selection, it is NOT likely to be 100%.

I did the math for every 10% incremental. If everybody voted either “yes” or “no”, then the total outcome range is [56.84%-93.05%], a clear majority in any case.

Even given a very strong self-selection effect such that nonvoters are 70% against, the outcome is 67.7% “yes”.

I did the math, and it is here:

Here’s the takeaway. Venice wants to be independent and it is not a narrow decision, even assuming implausible self-selection.

I was asked to comment on this Reddit thread:


This post is written with the assumption that a bitcoin-like system is used.


Nirvana / perfect solution fallacy

I agree. I don’t think an electronic system needs to solve every problem present in a paper system, it just needs to be better. Right now, for example, one could buy an absentee ballot and be done with it. I think a system that makes it less practical to do something similar is an improvement.


As always when considering options, one should choose the best solution, not stubbornly refuse any change that will not give a perfect situation. Paper voting is not perfect either.




Threatening scenarios

The instant you let people vote from remote locations, everything else is up in the air. It doesn’t matter if the endpoints are secure.
Say you can vote by phone. I have my goons “canvass” the area knocking on doors. “Hey, have you voted for Smith yet? You haven’t? Well, go get your phone, we will help you do it right now.”
If you are trying to do secure voting over the Internet, you have already lost.


While one cannot bring goons right into the voting boxes, it is quite clearly possible to threaten people to vote in a particular way right now. The reason it is not generally done is that every single vote has very little power and the costs therefore are absurdly high for anyone trying scare tactics.


It is also easy to solve by making it possible to change votes after they have been given. This is clearly possible with computer technology but hard with paper.




Viruses that target voting software

This is clearly an issue. However, people can easily check that their votes are correct in the votechain (blockchain analogy). A sophisticated virus might wait until the last minute and then vote, but this can easily be prevented by turning off the computers used.


Furthermore, I imagine that one will use specialized software for voting, especially a linux system designed specifically for safety and voting, and rigorously tested by thousands of independent coders. One might also create specialized hardware for voting, i.e. special computers. Specifically, one can have read only memory which makes it impossible to install malacious software on the system. For instance, the hardware might have built in software for voting and a camera for scanning a QR code with one’s private key(s).


Lastly, one can use 2FA to enchance security just as one does everywhere else where extra safety is needed on the web.




Anoynmous and veriable voting

You can either have a system where people can verify their vote and take some type of receipt to prove the system recorded their vote wrong, or you can have anonymous voting. You cannot have verifiable voting AND anonymous voting. Someone somewhere has to be able to decrypt or access whatever keys or pins or you are holding a meaningless or login or hash that can’t prove you aren’t lying or didn’t change your vote etc.


Yes you can, with pseudonymous voting with a bitcoin-like system. Everybody can verify that no more votes are used than there are eligible voters. But the individuals who control the addresses are not identifiable from the code alone. They can choose announce publicly their address so that people can connect the two. Will will ofc be used to public persons.




Selling votes

This is already possible. It is already possible to verify this as well, as one can easily film the process of voting. This is not generally illegal either.


The reason why people do not generally buy or sell votes is that single votes have basically no power and hence are worth nothing.


As pointed out in the thread, this is already possible with mail-voting.


Lastly, it is generally thought of to be evil or wrong to buy and sell votes, but only when done directly. It is clearly legal indirectly and even if not de jura legal, it is de facto legal. In every modern democracy, it is common for politicians offering certain wealth or income redistribution policies. If people who would benefit from these vote for the politicians they are indirectly receiving money for voting for a given politician/party. For this reason, the buying and selling of votes is a non-issue.




The ease of digital attacks

It seems to me that the real problem is the scalability of the attacks in the digital sphere. Changing votes in our regular system of several thousand human ballot counters looking a pieces of paper is rather costly. A well-planned digital attack can be virtually free of cost (not counting the time it takes to figure out the attack).


This is a concern, and that is why one will need tough security and verification technologies. I have suggested several above.




Interceptions of the signal

Whatever, VPN, custom software, browser. It’s the same thing. Malware or even an ISP could intercept and manipulate what is displayed or recorded. The software on the receiving end can also be manipulated but more likely to have some controls of the hardware and software, but again, who inspects this?


This could be a problem. It can be reduced by having a nationally free, encrypted VPN/proxy for voting purposes.




Others who were faster than me

Voting could not be more further from any of the simplest banking. The idea behind banking or any “secure” online transaction is that it is not anonymous. Bitcoin might be the only viable anonymous type online voting.




The bitcoin protocol would actually be fantastic for this. I should explain for those unaware: Bitcoin is actually two different things. One: A protocol, and Two: A software implementing the protocol to send ‘coins’ like money to others. I’ll do a writeup a little later, but the gist of it is: the votes would be public for anyone to view, impossible to fake/forge, and still anonymous. This would be done by embedding the voting information into the blockchain.




Strong encryption with distributed verification a la bitcoin. You don’t have to trust the clients; you trust the math. I’m by no means a crypto expert, so don’t look to me for design tips, but I suspect you could map a private key to each valid voter’s SSN then generate a vote (hash) that could be verified by the voter pool.


These posts dates to “1 year ago” according to Reddit. Clearly, I was not the first to think the obvious.




Who is going to mine votecoins?

So unless you are actually piggy-backing voting ontop of another currency (like the main bitcoin blockchain), there’s no incentive for ordinary citizens to participate and validate/process the blockchain. What are they mining? More votes?? That seems weird/illegitimate. If you say “well, some government agency can just do all the mining and distribute coins to voters” this would seem to offer no improvement over a straightforward centralized system, and only introduces extra questions like


The government and the users who want to help out. Surely citizens have some self interest in getting the election over with. This is a non-issue.


If the government started the block chain, mined the correct number of coins, and then put it in the “no more coins mode” then we would have the setup for it. If they could convince one of the major pools to do merged mining with them (i’m not sure what they would exchange for this, but it would only have to be for a week/month) if hiring a pool is out of the question then just realize that the govt spends millions routinely on elections, and $10M should be more than enough to beat most mafias (~9Thash/s which is roughly what the current bitcoin rate is). If someone like the coke brothers tried to overpower this it would be very obvious.


Yes, this is the same solution I suggested. Code the system so that the first block gives all votecoins.


Another option is making a dual currency system, such that one can help mine votecoins and only get rewarded in rewardcoins. That way the counting is distributed to whoever wants the job.




The prize for the least imagination

The simple answer is that I would not. The risks and downsides of such a system are inherently not worth the only benefit which I can think of (faster results). This should also answer your last question. This hasn’t been done simply because there is no good reason to do it.


No other benefits? Like… an infinite variety of other voting systems???




The price of online voting

You’re assuming the cost of an electronic voting system and the time it will take for people to be comfortable using them will outpace paper and pen, which if you ask me is a pretty damn big assumption. Maybe someday, but until a grandma can easily understand and use electronic voting I am loathe to even think about implementing it. A voting system needs to be transparent and easy to understand.


In Denmark it costs about 100 million DKK to have a vote. Is he really suggesting this cannot be done cheaper with computers? I can’t take it seriously.





From reddit

Zorander22 writes:

1) I would wager a guess that most people are capable of far more than they’re current employment situations might indicate. The idea that machines are taking over increasingly complex tasks is an important one… which, depending on how wealth gets distributed, could ensure an easy future for many people, rather than spelling the doom of humanity. If machines and computers end up being able to do increasingly complex tasks without limit, it seems like they would soon outstrip people, even with substantial eugenics programs or genetic engineering in place.

2) People are still under selection processes. Many of these likely happen before birth (wombs and women may have built-in systems to stop supporting fetuses if there are signs there may be serious genetic problems). People are still dying in a non-random manner… and moreover, people are having children in a non-random matter, so sexual selection may play an important role. While there may be trends regarding intelligence and birth rates, it is likely that there are many other factors influencing birth rates and the success of offspring. Low intelligence may increase birth rates through poor implementation of birth control methods or planning, but there could be other hidden effects with high intelligence leading to more resources available for raising more children. As birth control gets easier to implement, you might soon see more intelligent people having more kids on average than less intelligent people.

What we are undergoing right now is an expansion in the variability within our gene pool. We have a huge number of organisms with new mutations cropping up. Far from being a bad thing, this variability is one of the key ingredients for evolution to take place – evolution doesn’t happen consistently throughout time, it often happens in response to changed environmental factors. For some organisms to have better success due to a changing environment, there needs to be a large amount of variability within the population, so that there are lots of phenotypes expressed, some of which will perform better than others. This increase in our genetic variability will serve us well if there’s ever a dramatic change in our environment.


Deleetdk writes:

I would wager a guess that most people are capable of far more than they’re current employment situations might indicate.

No. This is a core belief of educational romanticism which Charles Murray talks about[1] .

More yes, not “far more”. There are limits. The primary area, I think, where talent is not using used is with the gifted children. There is an extreme lack of gifted programs in many countries. Khan Academy is changing this. The future is bright in this area. :)

The idea that machines are taking over increasingly complex tasks is an important one… which, depending on how wealth gets distributed, could ensure an easy future for many people, rather than spelling the doom of humanity.

Let’s say we’re 30 years into the future and no eugenics has been used for g. Now, maybe 30% of the working age population is leeching (e.g. via a basic income policy[2] ), which raises taxes further for the working part of the population. Keep also in mind that people are having fewer children, so the non-working age population is also much larger (subreplacement fertility[3] is a huge economic problem in the near future). Let’s say that in total 30% of the population is working, while the rest is leeching. Why would the workers pay so much of their income? Keep in mind that crypto-currencies will make it more or less impossible to effectively force them if they don’t want to. Do you think this is a bright future? I don’t. One solution would be artificial wombs[4] , but that technology might not be ready yet by then. I don’t know.

If machines and computers end up being able to do increasingly complex tasks without limit, it seems like they would soon outstrip people, even with substantial eugenics programs or genetic engineering in place.

Yes, nonbiological computers will eventually outperform biological computers no matter how much we use eugenics for g. My idea is that we need to get MUCH smarter before allowing this to happen. I think we can make it work, but the world population needs to improve, say, 5 SD in g first.

People are still under selection processes. Many of these likely happen before birth (wombs and women may have built-in systems to stop supporting fetuses if there are signs there may be serious genetic problems). People are still dying in a non-random manner…

Yes, but this selection force is very weak compared to the constant influx of de novo mutations. Welfare systems without eugenics are unstable, since they lead directly to dysgenics that will sooner or later make the welfare system economically untenable.

people are having children in a non-random matter, so sexual selection may play an important role.

I agree. This selection force is likely to be stronger in the future due to increased assortative mating from online dating like OKCupid[5] (this is an interesting research question: do people who met over netdating show stronger assortative mating than those who didn’t? AFAIK, no one knows!). This might itself increase dysgenics for g though. It depends on how fertility is a function of g. If the effect is multiplicative rather than additive, then bright people will have a very low fertility indeed. I currently don’t know the answer to this question.

While there may be trends regarding intelligence and birth rates, it is likely that there are many other factors influencing birth rates and the success of offspring. Low intelligence may increase birth rates through poor implementation of birth control methods or planning, but there could be other hidden effects with high intelligence leading to more resources available for raising more children. As birth control gets easier to implement, you might soon see more intelligent people having more kids on average than less intelligent people.

No. The trend has been going for 100 years or more. This is no change in the future for this trend. See: Dysgenics: Genetic Deterioration in Modern Populations (Richard Lynn)[6] . PDF[7] .

What we are undergoing right now is an expansion in the variability within our gene pool. We have a huge number of organisms with new mutations cropping up. Far from being a bad thing, this variability is one of the key ingredients for evolution to take place – evolution doesn’t happen consistently throughout time, it often happens in response to changed environmental factors. For some organisms to have better success due to a changing environment, there needs to be a large amount of variability within the population, so that there are lots of phenotypes expressed, some of which will perform better than others. This increase in our genetic variability will serve us well if there’s ever a dramatic change in our environment.

Agreed about the variation (due to increased assortative mating which increases variation). Some evolution is more or less constant, selection for polygenic traits (height, g, weight, personality, etc.) is probably more or less constant and not ‘punctuated’ (in Gouldian sense).

There is plenty of variation currently in the human gene pools for evolution of more g. See also Steve Hsu on genetics of g[8] .

From Reddit.


Two reasons.

1) Technological unemployment. This is going fast right now. Already a large part of the population is useless and can only leech on society economically. This percent is due to increase quickly soon when automated cars become mainstream which will shortly make most drivers workless. There are thousands of people who cannot handle complex work, and the simple work is going away.

See e.g.:, Figure 1.6.

2) Dysgenics. First off, the less intelligent are having more children boosting the problem with the above. But second, the contant de novo mutations are filling up in the human population genome. There is almost no natural selection to sort it away. This means that over time humans will become weak with a high rate of various genetic diseases.

The only future is with eugenics, so they will have to overcome their guilt by association fallacious reasoning[3] with Nazism, just as they did for vegetarianism and anti-smoking (Hitler was a vegetarian and the Nazis were the first to introduce anti-smoking campaigns).


I had low expectations for this book. It was assigned for some humanities class im taking (Studium generale). However, the book is a quite decent introduction to the field. Happily surprised.




The first two statements are called the premisses of the inference,

while the third statement is called the conclusion. This is a

deductive inference because it has the following property: if the

premisses are true, then the conclusion must be true too. In other

words, if it’s true th at all Frenchman like red wine, and if it’s true

th at Pierre is a Frenchman, it follows th at Pierre does indeed like

red wine. This is sometimes expressed by saying th at the

premisses of the inference entail the conclusion. Of course, the

premisses of this inference are almost certainly not true – there

are bound to be Frenchmen who do not like red wine. But that is

not the point. What makes the inference deductive is the

existence of an appropriate relation between premisses and

conclusion, namely th at if the premisses are true, the conclusion

must be true too. Whether the premisses are actually true is a

different matter, which doesn’t affect the status of the inference as



This distinction is not a good idea. In that case, the existence of a deductive and invalid argument is impossible. I wrote about this area years ago, but apparently never finished my essay, or published it. It is still on my desktop.




Philosophers of science are interested in probability for two main

reasons. The first is th at in many branches of science, especially

physics and biology, we find laws and theories th at are formulated

using the notion of probability. Consider, for example, the theory

known as Mendelian genetics, which deals with the transmission

of genes from one generation to another in sexually reproducing

populations. One of the most important principles of Mendelian

genetics is that every gene in an organism has a 50% chance of

making it into any one of the organism’s gametes (sperm or egg

cells). Hence there is a 50% chance th at any gene found in your

mother will also be in you, and likewise for the genes in your

father. Using this principle and others, geneticists can provide

detailed explanations for why particular characteristics (e.g. eye

colour) are distributed across the generations of a family in the

way that they are. Now ‘chance’ is ju st another word for

probability, so it is obvious th at our Mendelian principle makes

essential use of the concept of probability. Many other examples

could be given of scientific laws and principles th at are expressed

in terms of probability. The need to understand these laws and

principles is an important motivation for the philosophical study of



Author forgot about sex-linked genes, which complicate matters.




Modern science can explain a great deal about the world we live in.

But there are also numerous facts th at have not been explained by

science, or at least not explained fully. The origin of life is one such

example. We know that about 4 billion years ago, molecules with

the ability to make copies of themselves appeared in the primeval

soup, and life evolved from there. But we do not understand how

these self-replicating molecules got there in the first place. Another

example is the fact th at autistic children tend to have very good

memories. Numerous studies of autistic children have confirmed

this fact, but as yet nobody has succeeded in explaining it.


Wiki seems to be of the exact opposite opinion.




Since the realism/anti-realism debate concerns the aim of science,

one might think it could be resolved by simply asking the scientists

themselves. Why not do a straw poll of scientists asking them about

their aims? But this suggestion misses the point – it takes the

expression ‘the aim of science’ too literally. When we ask what the

aim of science is, we are not asking about the aims of individual

scientists. Rather, we are asking how best to make sense of what

scientists say and do – how to interpret the scientific enterprise.

Realists think we should interpret all scientific theories as

attempted descriptions of reality; anti-realists think this

interpretation is inappropriate for theories th at talk about

unobservable entities and processes. While it would certainly be

interesting to discover scientists’ own views on the realism/anti-

realism debate, the issue is ultimately a philosophical one.


Good idea. Is that a case for expertimental filosofy?


Cudnt find any data from a quick google.




Cladists argue th at their way of classifying is ‘objective’ while th at of

the pheneticists is not. There is certainly some tru th in this charge.

For pheneticists base their classifications on the similarities

between species, and judgements of similarity are invariably partly

subjective. Any two species are going to be similar to each other in

some respects, but not in others. For example, two species of insect

might be anatomically quite similar, but very diverse in their

feeding habits. So which ‘respects’ do we single out, in order to

make judgements of similarity? Pheneticists hoped to avoid this

problem by defining a measure o f ‘overall similarity’, which would

take into account all of a species’ characteristics, thus permitting

fully objective classifications to be constructed. But though this idea

sounds nice, it did not work, not least because there is no obvious

way to count characteristics. Most people today believe that the very

idea o f ‘overall similarity’ is philosophically suspect. Phenetic

classifications do exist, and are used in practice, but they are not

fully objective. Different similarity judgements lead to different

phenetic classifications, and there is no obvious way to choose

between them.


Surely someone has tried factor analysis to find this overall similarity factor, if there is one? It’s not that hard to find out. Make a huge list of things to measure to species. Measure it all in say, 1000 species, and then factor analyze it. Is there an overall factor similar to g? If not, then the hypothesis is disconfirmed.


I checked. Yes, someone did this.


Seems to be common practice. So this can avoid the charge of arbitrary classifications.




A similar issue arises regarding the relation between the natural

sciences and the social sciences. Ju st as philosophers sometimes

complain o f ‘science worship’ in their discipline, so social scientists

sometimes complain o f ‘natural science worship’ in theirs. There is

no denying that the natural sciences – physics, chemistry, biology,

etc. – are in a more advanced state than the social sciences –

economics, sociology, anthropology, etc. A number of people have

wondered why this is so. It can hardly be because natural scientists

are smarter than social scientists. One possible answer is that the

methodsof the natural sciences are superior to those of the social

sciences. If this is correct, then what the social sciences need to do

to catch up is to ape the methods of the natural sciences. And to

some extent, this has actually happened. The increasing use of

mathematics in the social sciences may be partly a result of this

attitude. Physics made a great leap forward when Galileo took the

step of applying mathematical language to the description of

motion; so it is tempting to think that a comparable leap forward

might be achievable in the social sciences, if a comparable way of

‘mathematicizing’ their subject matter can be found.


Ofc it can! All data confirm this, ex.


Social science has the triple disadvantage of having 1) less smart researchers, 2) a more complex field, 3) fewer experimental options (due to ethical and monetary problems).




To be fair to the creation scientists, they do olfer arguments th at are

specific to the theory of evolution. One of their favourite arguments

is that the fossil record is extremely patchy, particularly when it

comes to the supposed ancestors of Homo sapiens.There is some

truth in this charge. Evolutionists have long puzzled over the gaps

in the fossil record. One persistent puzzle is why there are so few

‘transition fossils’ – fossils of creatures intermediate between two

species. If later species evolved from earlier ones as Darwin’s theory

asserts, surely we would expect transition fossils to be very \

common? Creationists take puzzles of this sort to show that

Darwin’s theory is ju st wrong. But the creationist arguments are

uncompelling, notwithstanding the real difficulties in

understanding the fossil record. For fossils are not the only or even

the main source of evidence for the theory of evolution, as

creationists would know if they had read The Origin o f Species.

Comparative anatomy is another important source of evidence, as

are embryology biogeography, and genetics. Consider, for example,

the fact that humans and chimpanzees share 98% of their DNA.

This and thousands of similar facts make perfect sense if the theory

of evolution is true, and thus constitute excellent evidence for the

theory. Of course, creation scientists can explain such facts too.

They can claim th at God decided to make humans and chimpanzees

genetically similar, for reasons of His own. But the possibility of

giving ‘explanations’ o f this sort really ju st points to the fact that

Darwin’s theory is not logically entailed by the data. As we have

seen, the same is true o f every scientific theory. The creationists

have merely highlighted the general methodological point th at data

can always be explained in a multitude of ways. This point is true,

but shows nothing special about Darwinism.


The author is confused about transitional fossils. All fossils are transitionary. There is no point at which




Human sociobiologists (henceforth simply ‘sociobiologists’) believe

th at many behavioural traits in humans can be given adaptationist

explanations. One of their favourite examples is incest-avoidance.

Incest – or sexual relations between members of the same family –

is regarded as taboo in virtually every human society, and subject to

legal and moral sanctions in most. This fact is quite striking, given

th at sexual mores are otherwise quite diverse across human

societies. Why the prohibition on incest? Sociobiologists offer the

following explanation. Children born of incestuous relationships

often have serious genetic defects. So in the past, those who

practised incest would have tended to leave fewer viable offspring

than those who didn’t. Assuming th at the incest-avoiding behaviour

was genetically based, and thus transmitted from parents to their

offspring, over a number of generations it would have spread

through the population. This explains why incest is so rarely found

in human societies today.






If this response is correct, it means we should sharply distinguish

the ‘scientific’ objections to sociobiology from the ‘ideological’

objections. Reasonable though this sounds, there is one point it

doesn’t address: advocates of sociobiology have tended to be

politically right-wing, while its critics have tended to come from the

political left. There are many exceptions to this generalization,

especially to the first half of it, b ut few would deny the trend

altogether. I f sociobiology is simply an impartial enquiry into the

facts, what explains the trend? Why should there be any correlation

at all between political opinions and attitudes towards

sociobiology? This is a tricky question to answer. For though some

sociobiologists may have had hidden political agendas, and though

some of sociobiology’s critics have had opposing agendas of their

own, the correlation extends even to those who debate the issue in

apparently scientific terms. This suggests, though does not prove,

th at the ‘ideological’ and ‘scientific’ issues may not be quite so easy

to separate after all. So the question of whether sociobiology is a

value-free science is less easy to answer than might have been



This typical claim has been found to be wrong. And it also doesnt fit with other facts, like that Wilson is a socialist. The father of sociobiology! Dawkins has also expressed leftist beliefs.


Critics of evolutionary psychology and sociobiology have advanced an adaptationists-as-right-wing-conspirators (ARC) hypothesis, suggesting that adaptationists use their research to support a right-wing political agenda. We report the first quantitative test of the ARC hypothesis based on an online survey of political and scientific attitudes among 168 US psychology Ph.D. students, 31 of whom self-identified as adaptationists and 137 others who identified with another non-adaptationist meta-theory. Results indicate that adaptationists are much less politically conservative than typical US citizens and no more politically conservative than non-adaptationist graduate students. Also, contrary to the “adaptationists-as-pseudo-scientists” stereotype, adaptationists endorse more rigorous, progressive, quantitative scientific methods in the study of human behavior than non-adaptationists.


Having already read Peter Gøtzsche’s Dødelig medicin og organiseret kriminalitet: Hvordan medicinalindustrien har korrumperet sundhedsvæsenet. Art People, 2013, this book did not bring so much new. However, it did present things better than Gøtzsche did. To be fair, he focused mostly on proving that the farma industry are organized criminals. I agree, but the science is more interesting than reading about 100 different cases of farma companies cheating and getting fines.




If you’re a nerd, you might think: these files are electronic;

they’re PDFs, a type o f file specifically designed to make sharing

electronic documents convenient. Any nerd will know that if

you want to find something in an electronic document, it’s easy:

you just use the ‘find’ command: type in, say, ‘peripheral

neuropathy’, and your computer will find the phrase straight

off. But no: unlike almost any other serious government docu­

ment in the world, the PDFs from the FDA are a series of photo­

graphs of pages of text, rather than the text itself. This means

you cannot search for a phrase. Instead, you have to go through

it, searching for that phrase, laboriously, by eye.


Easily solved by OCR software.




Sharing data of individual patients’ outcomes in clinical

trials, rather than just the final summary result, has several

significant advantages. First, it’s a safeguard against dubious

analytic practices. In the VIGOR trial on the painkiller Vioxx,

for example, a bizarre reporting decision was made.83 The aim

of the study was to compare Vioxx against an older, cheaper

painkiller, to see if it was any less likely to cause stomach prob­

lems (this was the hope for Vioxx), and also if it caused more

heart attacks (this was the fear). But the date cut-off for mea­

suring heart attacks was much earlier than that for measuring

stomach problems. This had the result of making the risks look

less significant, relative to the benefits, but it was not declared

clearly in the paper, resulting in a giant scandal when it was

eventually noticed. If the raw data on patients was shared,

games like these would be far easier to spot, and people might

be less likely to play them in the first place.


Occasionally – with vanishing rarity – researchers are able to

obtain raw data, and re-analyse studies that have already been

conducted and published. Daniel Coyne, Professor of Medicine

at Washington University, was lucky enough to get the data on a

key trial for epoetin, a drug given to patients on kidney dialysis,

after a four-year-long fight.84 The original academic publication

on this study, ten years earlier, had switched the primary

outcomes described in the protocol (we will see later how this

exaggerates the benefits of treatments), and changed the main

statistical analysis strategy (again, a huge source of bias). Coyne

was able to analyse the study as the researchers had initially

stated they were planning to in their protocol; and when he did,

he found that they had dramatically overstated the benefits of

the drug. It was a peculiar outcome, as he himself acknowl­

edges: ‘As strange as it seems, I am now the sole author of the

publication on the predefined primary and secondary results of

the largest outcomes trial of epoetin in dialysis patients, and I

didn’t even participate in the trial.’ There is room, in my view,

for a small army o f people doing the very same thing, re-

analysing all the trials that were incorrectly analysed, in ways

that deviated misleadingly from their original protocols.


This is the kind of second-order scientist that was described in the paper:

Nosek, Brian A., and Yoav Bar-Anan. “Scientific utopia: I. Opening scientific communication.” Psychological Inquiry 23.3 (2012): 217-243.


This paper is extremely interesting by the way. Read it. Yes, seriously!



This is a GREAT book, which goes down to the basics about heritability and the various claims people have made against it. Highly recommended. Best book of the 29 i have read this year.


The denial of genetically based psychological differences is the kind of sophisti-

cated error normally accessible only to persons having Ph.D. degrees.

David Lykken


Quote checks out.




I was introduced to the nature–nurture debate by reading Ned Block

and Gerald Dworkin’s well-known and widely cited anthology about

the IQ controversy (Block & Dworkin 1976a). This collection of arti-

cles has long been the main source of information about the heredity–

environment problem for a great number of scientists, philosophers, and

other academics. It is not an exaggeration to say that the book has been

the major influence on thinking about this question for many years. Like

most readers, I also left the book with a feeling that hereditarianism (the

view that IQ differences among individuals or groups are in substantial

part due to genetic differences) is facing insuperable objections that strike

at its very core.


There was something very satisfying, especially to philosophers, about

the way hereditarianism was criticized there. A strong emphasis was on

conceptual and methodological difficulties, and the central arguments

against hereditarianism appeared to have full destructive force indepen-

dently of empirical data, which are, as we know, both difficult to evaluate

and inherently unpredictable.


So this looked like a philosopher’s dream come true: a scientific issue

with potentially dangerous political implications was defused not through

an arduous exploration of themessy empiricalmaterial but by using a dis-

tinctly philosophical method of conceptual analysis and methodological

criticism. It was especially gratifying that the undermined position was

often associated with politically unacceptable views like racism, toler-

ation of social injustice, etc. Besides, the defeat of that doctrine had a

certain air of finality. It seemed to be the result of very general, a priori

considerations, which, if correct, could not be reversed by “unpleasant”

discoveries in the future.


But very soon I started having second thoughts about Block and

Dworkin’s collection. The reasons are worth explaining in some detail

I think, because the book is still having a considerable impact, especially

on discussions in philosophy of science.


First, some of the arguments against hereditarianism presented there

were just too successful. The refutations looked so utterly simple, elegant,

and conclusive that it made me wonder whether competent scientists

could have really defended a position that was somanifestly indefensible.

Something was very odd about the whole situation.



There is indeed something about this. This book is a premier case of what Weinberg called mentioned with his comment “…a knowledge of philosophy does not seem to be of use to physicists – always with the exception that the work of some philosophers helps us to avoid the errors of other philosophers.”






Of course,Bouchardwould be justified in notworrying toomuch about

these global methodological criticisms if the only people who made a

fuss over them were philosophers of science. Even with this unfriendly

stance becoming a consensus in philosophy of science, scientists might

still remain unimpressed because many of them would probably be sym-

pathetic to JamesWatson’s claim: “I do not like to suffer at all from what

I call the German disease, an interest in philosophy” (Watson 1986: 19).


Source is: Watson, J. D. 1986, “Biology: A Necessarily Limitless Vista,” in S. Rose and L.

Appignanesi (eds.), Science and Beyond, Oxford, Blackwell.




At this point I am afraid I may lose some of my scientific readers.

Remembering Steven Weinberg’s statement that the insights of philoso-

phers have occasionally benefited scientists, “but generally in a negative

fashion – by protecting them from the preconceptions of other philoso-

phers” (Weinberg 1993: 107), they might conclude that it is best just to

avoid reading any philosophy (including this book), and that in this way

they will neither contract preconceptions nor need protection fromthem.

But the problemis that the preconceptions discussed here do not originate

from a philosophical armchair. Scientists should be aware that to a great

extent these preconceptions come from some of their own. Philosophers

of science uncritically accepted these seductive but ultimately fallacious

arguments from scientists, repackaged them a little, and then fed them

back to the scientific community, which often took them very seriously.

Bad science was mistaken for good philosophy.


Sesardic clearly saw the same connection to Weinberg’s comments as i did. :)




It may seem surprising that Jones dismissed the views of the founder

of his own laboratory (Galton Laboratory, University College London)

in such amanner. But then again this should perhaps not be so surprising.

One can hardly be expected to study seriously the work of a man whom

one happens to call publicly “Victorian racist swine” – the way Jones

referred to Galton in an interview (Grove 1991). Also, in Jones’s book

Genetics for Beginners (Jones & Van Loon 1993: 169), Galton is pictured

in a Nazi uniform, with a swastika on his sleeve.


The virulent antinazism among these lefties is extraordinary. It targets everybody having the least to do with ideas the nazis also liked. It is a wonder no one attacks vegetarians or people who campaign against smoking for being nazis…




Arthur Jensen once said that “a heritability study may be regarded

as a Geiger counter with which one scans the territory in order to find

the spot one can most profitably begin to dig for ore” (Jensen 1972b:

243). That Jensen’s advice as to how to look upon heritability is merely

an application of a standard general procedure in causal reasoning is

confirmed by the following observation from an introduction to causal

analysis: “the decomposition of statistical associations represents a first

step. The results indicate which effects are important and which may be

safely ignored, that is, where we ought to start digging in order to uncover

the nature of the causal mechanisms producing association between our

variables” (Hellevik 1984: 149). High heritability of a trait (in a given

population) often signals that it may be worthwhile to dig further, in the

sense that an important geneticmechanismcontrolling differences in this

trait may thus be uncovered.8


Another great Jensen insight.


Citation is to: 1972b, “Discussion,” in L. Ehrman, G. S. Omenn, E. Caspari (eds.), Genetics,

Environment and Behavior, New York, Academic Press.




Second, even if a trait is shared by all organisms in a given population

it can still be heritable – if we take a broader perspective, and compare

that populationwith other populations. The critics of heritability are often

confused, and switch from one perspective to another without noticing it.

Consider the following “problem” for heritability:


the heritability of “walking on two legs” is zero.And yetwalking on two legs

is clearly a fundamental property of being human, and is one of the more

obvious biological differences between humans and other great apes such

as chimpanzees or gorillas. It obviously depends heavily on genes, despite

having a heritability of zero. (Bateson 2001b: 565; cf. Bateson 2001a: 150–

151; 2002: 2212)


When Bateson speaks about the differences between humans and other

great apes, the heritability of walking on two legs in that population

(consisting of humans, chimpanzees, and gorillas) is certainly not zero.

On the other hand, within the human species itself the heritability may

well be zero. So, if it is just made entirely clear which population is

being discussed, no puzzling element remains. In the narrower popula-

tion (humans), the question “Do genetic differences explain why some

people walk on two legs and some don’t?” has a negative answer because

there are no such genetic differences. In the broader population (humans,

chimpanzees, and gorillas) the question “Do genetic differences explain

why some organisms walk on two legs and some don’t?” has an affirma-

tive answer. All this neatly accords with the logic of heritability, and cre-

ates no problem whatsoever. The critics of hereditarianism like to repeat

that heritability is a population-relative statistic, but when they raise this

kind of objection it seems that they themselves forget this important



Things like the number of finger is also heritable within populations. There are rare genetic mutations that cause supernumerary body parts:


However, these are very rare, so to spot them, one needs a huge sample size. Surely the heritability of having 6 fingers is high, while the heritability of having 4 fingers is low, but not zero. Of the people who have 4 fingers, most of the casesare probably caused by unique environment (i.e. accidents), but some are caused by genetics.




(4) It is often said that in individual cases it is meaningless to compare

the importance of interacting causes: “If an event is the result of the joint

operation of a number of causative chains and if these causes ‘interact’

in any generally accepted meaning of the word, it becomes conceptually

impossible to assign quantitative values to the causes of that individual

event” (Lewontin 1976a: 181).But this is in fact not true.Take, for example,

the rectangle with width 2 and length 1 (from Figure 2.3). Its area is 2,

which is considerably below the average area for all rectangles (around

100). Why is that particular rectangle smaller than most others? Is its

width or its length more responsible for that? Actually, this question is

not absurd at all. It has a straightforward and perfectlymeaningful answer.

The rectangleswith thatwidth (2) have on average the area that is identical

to the mean area for all rectangles (100.66), so the explanation why the

area of that particular rectangle deviates so much from the mean value

cannot be in its width. It is its below-average length that is responsible.


Even the usually cautious David Lykken slips here by condemning

the measurement of causal influences in the individual case as inherently

absurd: “It is meaningless to ask whether Isaac Newton’s genius was due

more to his genes or his environment, as meaningless as asking whether

the area of a rectangle is due more to its length or its width” (Lykken

1998a: 24). Contrary to what he says, however, it makes perfect sense to

inquire whether Newton’s extraordinary contributions were more due to

his above-average inherited intellectual ability or to his being exposed

to an above-average stimulating intellectual environment (or to some

particular combination of the two). The Nuffield Council on Bioethics

makes a similar mistake in its report on genetics and human behavior:

“It is vital to understand that neither concept of heritability [broad or

narrow] allows us to conclude anything about the role of heredity in the

development of a characteristic in an individual” (Nuffield 2002: 40). On

the contrary, if the broad heritability of a trait is high, this does tell us

that any individual’s phenotypic divergence from the mean is probably

more caused by a non-standard genetic influence than by a non-typical

environment. For a characteristically clear explanation of why gauging

the contributions of heredity and environment is not meaningless even in

an individual case, see Sober 1994: 190–192.


This is a good point. The reason not to talk about the causes of a particular level of g in some person is not that it is a meaningless question, it is that it is difficult to know the answer. But in some cases, it is clearly possible, cf. my number of fingers scenario above.




Nesardic mentions two studies that fysical attractiveness is not correlated with intelligence. That goes against what i believe(d?). He cites:


Feingold, A. 1992, “Good-looking People Are NotWhatWe Think,” Psycholog-

ical Bulletin 111: 304–341.


Langlois, J. H., Kalakanis, L., Rubenstein, A. J., Larson, A., Hallam, M., and

Smoot, M. 2000, “Maxims or Myths of Beauty? A Meta-Analytic and Theo-

retical Review,” Psychological Bulletin 126: 390–423.


But i apparently dont have access to the first one. But the second one i do have. In it one can read:


According to this maxim, there is no necessary correspondence

between external appearance and the behavior or personality of an

individual (Ammer, 1992). Two meta-analyses have examined the

relation between attractiveness and some behaviors and traits

(Feingold, 1992b2; L. A. Jackson, Hunter, & Hodge, 1995). Fein-

gold (1992b) reported significant relations between attractiveness

and measures of mental health, social anxiety, popularity, and

sexual activity but nonsignificant relations between attractiveness

and sociability, internal locus of control, freedom from self-

absorption and manipulativeness, and sexual permissiveness in

adults. Feingold also found a nonsignificant relation between at-

tractiveness and intelligence (r = .04) for adults, whereas L. A.

Jackson et al. found a significant relation for both adults (d = .24

overall, d = .02 once selected studies were removed) and for

children (d = .41).


These meta-analyses suggest that there may be a relation be-

twe^n behavior and attractiveness, but the inconsistencies in re-

sults call for additional attention. Moreover, the vast majority of

dependent variables analyzed by Feingold (1992b) and L. A.

Jackson et al. (1995) assessed traits as defined by psychometric

tests (e.g., IQ) rather than behavior as defined by observations of

behaviors in actual interactions. Thus, to fully understand the

relations among appearance, behaviors, and traits, it is important to

broaden the conception of behavior beyond that used by Feingold

and L. A. Jackson et al. If beauty is only skin-deep, then a

comprehensive meta-analysis of the literature should find no sig-

nificant differences between attractive and unattractive people in

their behaviors, traits, or self-views.


So, maybe. It seems difficult that g and pa (phy. attract.) is NOT associated purely by effect of mating choices, since females prefer males with high SES and males prefer females with have pa. Then comes the mutational load hypothesis, and the fact that smarter people presumably are better at taking care of their bodies, which increases pa. I find it very difficult indeed to believe that they arent correlated.




In my opinion, this kind of deliberate misrepresentation in attacks on

hereditarianism is less frequent than sheer ignorance. But why is it that a

number of peoplewho publicly attack “Jensenism” are so poorly informed

about Jensen’s real views? Given the magnitude of their distortions and

the ease with which these misinterpretations spread, one is alerted to

the possibility that at least some of these anti-hereditarians did not get

their information about hereditarianismfirst hand, fromprimary sources,

but only indirectly, from the texts of unsympathetic and sometimes quite

biased critics.8In this connection, it is interesting to note that several

authors who strongly disagree with Jensen (Longino 1990; Bowler 1989;

Allen 1990; Billings et al. 1992; McInerney 1996; Beckwith 1993; Kassim

2002) refer to his classic paper from 1969 by citing the volume of the

Harvard Educational Review incorrectly as “33” (instead of “39”). What

makes this mis-citation noteworthy is that the very same mistake is to

be found in Gould’s Mismeasure of Man (in both editions). Now the

fact that Gould’s idiosyncratic lapsus calami gets repeated in the later

sources is either an extremely unlikely coincidence or else it reveals that

these authors’ references to Jensen’s paper actually originate from their

contact with Gould’s text, not Jensen’s.


Gotcha. A nice illustrating case of the thing map makers used to use to prove plagiarism.


Incidentally, in this case it ended up having another use! :)




Nesardic quotes:


In December 1986 our newly-born daughter was diagnosed to be suffering

from a genetically caused disease called Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa

(EB). This is a disease in which the skin of the sufferer is lacking in certain

essential fibers. As a result, any contact with her skin caused large blisters

to form, which subsequently burst leaving raw open skin that healed only

slowly and left terrible scarring. As EB is a genetically caused disease it

is incurable and the form that our daughter suffered from usually causes

death within the first sixmonths of life . . .Our daughter died after a painful

and short life at the age of only 12 weeks. (quoted in Glover 2001: 431 –

italics added)


from: Glover, J. 2001, “Future People, Disability, and Screening,” in J. Harris (ed.),

Bioethics, Oxford, Oxford University Press.


Nasty disease indeed. Only eugenics can avoid such atrocities.




On the contrary, empirical evidence suggests that for many important

psychological traits (particularly IQ), the environmental influences that

account for phenotypic variation among adults largely belong to the non-

shared variety. In particular, adoption studies of genetically unrelated

children raised in the same family show that for many traits the adult

phenotypic correlation among these children is very close to zero (Plomin

et al. 2001: 299–300). This very surprising but consistent result points

to the conclusion that we may have greatly overestimated the impact

of variation in shared environmental influences.6The fact that variation

within a normal range does not have much effect was dramatized in the

following way by neuroscientist Steve Petersen:


At a minimum, development really wants to happen. It takes very impov-

erished environments to interfere with development because the biological

system has evolved so that the environment alone stimulates development.

What does this mean? Don’t raise your children in a closet, starve them, or

hit them in the head with a frying pan. (Quoted in Bruer 1999: 188)


But if social reforms are mainly directed at eliminating precisely these

between-family inequalities (economic, social, and educational), and if

these differences are not so consequential as we thought, then egalitar-

ianism will find a point of resistance not just in genes but also in the

non-heritable domain, i.e., in those uncontrollable and chaotically emerg-

ing environmental differences that by their very nature cannot be an easy

object for social manipulation.


All this shows that it is irresponsible to disregard constraints on mal-

leability and fan false hopes about what social or educational reforms can

do. As David Rowe said:


As social scientists, we should be wary of promisingmore than we are likely

to deliver. Physicists do not greet every new perpetual motion machine,

created by a basement inventor, with shouts of joy and claims of an endless

source of electrical or mechanical power; no, they know the laws of physics

would prevent it. (Rowe 1997: 154)


I will end this chapter with another qualification.Although heritability

puts constraints on malleability it is, strictly speaking, incorrect to say

that the heritable part of phenotypic variance cannot be decreased by

environmentalmanipulation. It is true that if heritability is, say, 80 percent

then at most 20 percent of the variation can be eliminated by equalizing

environments. But if we consider redistributing environments, without

necessarily equalizing them, a larger portion of variance than 20 percent

can be removed.


Table 5.5 gives an illustration how this might work.

In this examplewith just two genotypes and two environments (equally

distributed in the population), themain effect of the genotype on the vari-

ation in the trait (say, IQ) is obviously stronger than the environmental

effect. Going from G2 to G1 increases IQ 20 points, while going from the

less favorable environment (E2) to the more favorable one (E1) leads

to an increase of only 10 points. Heritability is 80 percent, the genetic

variance being 100 and the environmental variance being 25. Now if we

expose everyone to the more favorable environment (E1) we will com-

pletely remove the environmental variance (25), and the variance in the

new population will be 100. The genetic variance survives environmental

manipulation unscathed.




But there is a way to make an incursion into the “genetic territory.”

Suppose we expose all those endowed with G1 to the less favorable

environment (E2) and those with G2 to the more favorable environment

(E1). In this way we would get rid of the highest and lowest score, and

we would be left only with scores of 95 and 105. In terms of variance, we

would have succeeded in eliminating 80 percent of variance by manipu-

lating environment, despite heritability being 80 percent.


How is this possible? The answer is in the formula for calculating vari-

ance in chapter 1 (see p. 21). One component of variance is genotype–

environment correlation, which can have a negative numerical value.

This is what has happened in our example. The phenotype-increasing

genotype was paired with the phenotype-decreasing environment, and

the phenotype-decreasing genotype was paired with the phenotype-

increasing environment. This move introduced the negative G–E corre-

lation and neutralized the main effects, bringing about a drastic drop in



The strategy calls to mind the famous Kurt Vonnegut story “Harrison

Bergeron,” where the society intervenes very early and suppresses the

mere expression of superior innate abilities by imposing artificial obsta-

cles on gifted individuals. Here is just one short passage from Vonnegut:


And George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little

mental-handicap radio in his ear – he was required by law to wear it at all

times. It was tuned to a government transmitter and, every twenty seconds

or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like

George from taking unfair advantage of their brains. (Vonnegut 1970: 7)


We all get a chill from the nightmare world of “Harrison Bergeron.” But

in its milder forms the idea that if the less talented cannot be brought

up to the level of those better endowed, the latter should then be held

back in their development for the sake of equality, is not entirely with-

out adherents. In one of the most carefully argued sociological studies

on inequality there is an interesting proposal in that direction, about

how to reduce differences in cognitive abilities that are caused by genetic



Asociety committed to achieving full cognitive equality would, for example,

probably have to exclude genetically advantaged children from school. It

might also have to impose other handicaps on them, like denying them

access to books and television. Virtually no one thinks cognitive equality

worth such a price.Certainlywe do not.But if our goalwere simply to reduce

cognitive inequality to, say, half its present level, instead of eliminating it

entirely, the pricemight bemuch lower. (Jencks et al. 1972: 75–76 – emphasis



So although Jencks and his associates concede that excluding geneti-

cally advantaged children from school and denying them access to books

may be too drastic, they appear to think that the price of equality could

become acceptable if the goalwas lowered andmeasuresmademoremod-

erate. Are they suggesting that George keeps the little mental-handicap

radio in his ear but that the noise volume should be set only at half



I wonder if someone cud make a good video based on this… Oh that’s right…




David Lykken had a good comment on this tendency of some

Darwinians (he had John Tooby and Leda Cosmides in mind) to pub-

licly dissociate themselves from behavior genetics, in the hope that this

move would make their own research less vulnerable to political criti-

cisms: “Are these folks just being politic, just claiming only the minimum

they need to pursue their own agenda while leaving the behavior geneti-

cists to contend with the main armies of political correctness?” (Lykken



There are some obvious, and other less obvious, consequences of polit-

ically inspired, vituperative attacks on a given hypothesisH.On the obvi-

ous side, many scientists who believe that H is true will be reluctant to

say so, many will publicly condemn it in order to eliminate suspicion that

they might support it, anonymous polls of scientists’ opinions will give

a different picture from the most vocal and most frequent public pro-

nouncements (Snyderman & Rothman 1988), it will be difficult to get

funding for research on “sensitive” topics,19the whole research area will

be avoided by many because one could not be sure to end up with the

“right” conclusion,20texts insufficiently critical of “condemned” views

will not be accepted for publication,21etc.


On the less obvious side, a nasty campaign against H could have the

unintended effect of strengthening H epistemically, and making the criti-

cism of H look less convincing. Simply, if you happen to believe that H is

true and if you also know that opponents of H will be strongly tempted

to “play dirty,” that they will be eager to seize upon your smallest mis-

take, blow it out of all proportion, and label you with Dennett’s “good

epithets,” with a number of personal attacks thrown in for good measure,

then if you still want to advocate H, you will surely take extreme care to

present your argument in the strongest possible form. In the inhospitable

environment for your views, you will be aware that any major error is a

liability that you can hardly afford, because it willmore likely be regarded

as a reflection of your sinister political intentions than as a sign of your

fallibility. The last thing onewants in this situation is the disastrous combi-

nation of being politically denounced (say, as a “racist”) and being proved

to be seriously wrong about science. Therefore, in the attempt to make

themselves as little vulnerable as possible to attacks they can expect from

their uncharitable and strident critics, those who defendHwill tread very

cautiously and try to build a very solid case before committing themselves

publicly. As a result, the quality of their argument will tend to rise, if the

subject matter allows it.22


Interesting effects of the unpopularity of the views.




First of all, the issue about heritability is obviously a purely empirical

and factual one. So there is a strong case for denying that it can affect

our normative beliefs. But it is worth noting that the idea that a certain

heritability value could have political implications was not only criticized

for violatingHume’s law, but also for being politically dangerous. Bluntly,

if the high heritability of IQ differences between races really has racist

implications then it would seem that, after all, science could actually dis-

cover that racism is true.


The dangerwas clearly recognized byDavidHorowitz in his comments

on a statement on race that the Genetics Society of America (GSA)

wanted to issue in 1975. A committee preparing the statement took the

line that racism is best fought by demonstrating that racists’ belief in the

heritability of the black–white difference in IQ is disproved by science.

Horowitz objected:


The proposed statement is weak morally, for the following reason: Racists

assert that blacks are genetically inferior in I.Q. and therefore need not

be treated as equals. The proposed statement disputes the premise of the

assertion, but not the logic of the conclusion. It does not perceive that the

premise, while it may be mistaken, is not by itself racist: it is the conclusion

drawn (wrongly) from it that is racist. Even if the premise were correct, the

conclusion would not be justified …Yetthe proposed statement directs its

main fire at the premise, and by so doing seems to accept the racist logic.

It places itself in a morally vulnerable position, for if, at some future time,

that the premise is correct, then the whole GSA case collapses, together

with its case for equal opportunity. (Quoted in Provine 1986: 880)


The same argument was made by others:


To rest the case for equal treatment of national or racial minorities on

the assertion that they do not differ from other men is implicitly to admit

that factual inequality would justify unequal treatment. (Hayek 1960:


But to fear research on genetic racial differences, or the possible existence

of a biological basis for differences in abilities, is, in a sense, to grant the

racist’s assumption: that if it should be established beyond reasonable doubt

that there are biological or genetically conditioned differences in mental

abilities among individuals or groups, then we are justified in oppressing

or exploiting those who are most limited in genetic endowment. This is, of

course, a complete non sequitur. (Jensen 1972a: 329)

If someone defends racial discrimination on the grounds of genetic differ-

ences between races, it is more prudent to attack the logic of his argument

than to accept the argument and deny any differences. The latter stance can

leave one in an extremely awkward position if such a difference is subse-

quently shown to exist. (Loehlin et al. 1975: 240)

But it is a dangerousmistake to premise themoral equality of human beings

on biological similarity because dissimilarity, once revealed, then becomes

an argument for moral inequality. (Edwards 2003: 801)


Good point indeed.

Downloaded from here:




I came across Sommers years ago when i read her interview here:


It had this bit:


MS. PAGLIA: Well, one of the things that got me pilloried from coast to coast was when I wrote a piece on date rape for Newsday in January of 1991. It got picked up by the wire services, and the torrent of abuse that poured in. I want women to fend for themselves. That essay that I wrote on rape begins with the line “Rape is an outrage that cannot be tolerated in civilized society.” I absolutely abhor this broadening of the idea of rape, which is an atrocity, to those things that go wrong on a date –acquaintances, you know, little things, miscommunications — on pampered elite college campuses.

MS. SOMMERS: I interviewed a young women at the University of Pennsylvania who came in in a short skirt and she was in the Women’s Center, and I think she thought I was one of the sisterhood. And she said, “Oh, I just suffered a mini-rape.” And I said, “What happened?” And she said, “A boy walked by me and said, `Nice legs’.” You know? And that — and this young woman considers this a form of rape!




after having concentrated on studying the scientific side of things:


I started reading more on the polemic and political side of things:


and now the time has come to give feminism itself a closer view. i cant say this was a pleasurable read, it was mostly disturbing. Worse, its from 1994 so who knows how bad it has become since then?! I had to give this 5 out of 5 for opening my eyes to the insanity that goes on in feminist circles. If feminism has indeed been stolen, it is time to denounce it entirely. After all, no one really wants to take away women’s civil rights anyway (except muslims and radical xtians), so there is no need for explicit equity feminism anymore.





In Revolution from Within, Gloria Steinem informs her readers that “in

this country alone . . . about 150,000 females die of anorexia each year.”1

That is mor e than three times the annual numbe r of fatalities from car

accidents for the total population. Steinem refers readers to anothe r fem­

inist best-seller, Naomi Wolf s The Beauty Myth. And in Ms. Wolf s boo k

one again finds the statistic, along with the author’ s outrage. “How, ” she

asks, “would America react to the mass self-immolation by hunge r of its

favorite sons?”2 Although “nothing justifies comparison with the Holo­

caust,” she cannot refrain from making one anyway. “When confronted

with a vast numbe r of emaciated bodies starved not by nature but by

men, one mus t notice a certain resemblance.”3


Where did Ms. Wolf get her figures? Her source is Fasting Girls: The

Emergence of Anorexia Nervosa as a Modern Disease* by Joan Brumberg, a

historian and former director of women’ s studies at Cornel l University.

Brumberg, too, is fully aware of the political significance of the startling

statistic. She point s out that the wome n wh o study eating problems “seek

to demonstrate that these disorders are an inevitable consequence of a

misogynistic society that demeans women.. . by objectifying their bodies.”5

Professor Brumberg, in turn, attributes the figure to the American Anorexia

and Bulimia Association.


I called the American Anorexia and Bulimia Association and spoke to

Dr. Diane Mickley, its president . “We were misquoted,” she said. In a

1985 newsletter the association had referred to 150,000 to 200,000 suf­

ferers (not fatalities) of anorexia nervosa.


What is the correct morbidity rate? Most experts are reluctant to give

exact figures. On e clinician told me that of 1,400 patients she had treated

in ten years, four had died—al l through suicide. The National Center for

Health Statistics reported 101 deaths from anorexia nervosa in 1983 and

67 deaths in 1988.6 Thoma s Dun n of the Division of Vital Statistics at the

National Center for Health Statistics reports that in 1991 there were 54

deaths from anorexia nervosa and no deaths from bulimia. The deaths of

these young wome n are a tragedy, certainly, but in a country of one

hundre d million adul t females, such number s are hardly evidence of a



Yet now the false figure, supporting the view that our “sexist society”

demeans wome n by objectifying their bodies, is widely accepted as true.

Ann Landers repeated it in her syndicated column in Apri l 1992: “Every

year, 150,000 American wome n die from complications associated with

anorexia and bulimia.”7


I sent Naomi Wol f a letter pointing out that Dr. Mickley had said she

was mistaken. Wol f sent me word on February 3, 1993, that she intends

to revise he r figures on anorexia in a later edition of The Beauty Myth.8

Will she actually state that the correct figure is less than one hundred per

year? And wil l she correct the implications she drew from the false report?

For example, wil l she revise her thesis that masses of young women are

being “starved not by nature but by men” and her declaration that

“women mus t claim anorexia as political damage done to us by a social

order that considers our destruction insignificant.. . as Jews identify the

death camps”?9


This is the OPENING of the book. What the fuck. No wonder feminists are batshit insane if they read this and think its true.




Virginia Held, a philosophy professor at the City University of New

York, reported on the feminist conviction that feminist philosopher s are

the initiators of an intellectual revolution comparable to those of “Coper ­

nicus, Darwin, and Freud.”1 9 Indeed, as Held points out , “some feminists

think the latest revolution will be even mor e profound.” According to

Held, the sex/gender system is the controlling insight of this feminist

revolution. Ms. Held tells us of the impact that the discovery of the sex/

gender system has had on feminist theory: “Now that the sex/gender

system has become visible to us , we can see it everywhere.”2 0


One if reminded of the crackpot index:


“40 points for comparing yourself to Galileo, suggesting that a modern-day Inquisition is hard at work on your case, and so on. “




Anyone reading contemporary feminist literature will find a genre of

writing concerned with personal outrage. Professor Kathryn Allen Ra-

buzzi of Syracuse University opens her book Motherself by recounting this

incident :


As I was walking down a sleazy section of Second Avenue in New

York City a few years ago, a voice suddenly intruded on my con­

sciousness: “Hey Mama, spare change?” The words outraged me. . . .

Although I had by then been a mothe r for many years, never till that

momen t had I seen myself as “Mama” in such an impersonal , exter-

nal context . In the man’ s speaking I beheld myself anew. “1 ” disap­

peared, as though turned inside out , and “Mama” took my place.2 1


Ms. Rabuzzi informs us that the panhandler’ s term caused in her a

“shocking dislocation of self.” Similarly, University of Illinois feminist

theorist Sandra Lee Bartky recounts:


It is a fine spring day, and with an utter lack of self-consciousness,

I am bouncing down the street . Suddenly . . . catcalls and whistles

fill the air. These noises are clearly sexual in intent and they are

meant for me; they come from across the street . I freeze. As Sartre

would say, I have been petrified by the gaze of the Other . My face

flushes and my motions become stiff and self-conscious. The body

which only a momen t before I inhabited with such ease now floods

my consciousness. I have been made into an object. . . . Blissfully

unaware, breasts bouncing, eyes on the birds in the trees, I could

have passed by without having been turned to stone. But I mus t be

made to know that I am a “nice piece of ass”: I mus t be made to see

myself as they see me. There is an element of compulsion in . . . this

being-made-to-be-aware of one’s own flesh: like being made to

apologize, it is humiliating. . . . Wha t I describe seems less the spon­

taneous expression of a healthy eroticism than a ritual of subjuga­

tion.2 2


Marilyn French, the author of The War Against Women, finds herself

vulnerable in museums :


Artists appropriate the female body as their subject , thei r possession

. . . assaulting female reality and autonomy. . . . Visiting galleries

and museums (especially the Pompidou Center in Paris) I feel as­

saulted by twentieth-century abstract sculpture that resembles ex­

aggerated female body parts, mainly breasts.2 3


wtf am i reading


the sick part: THESE ARE PROFESSORS!!!


the ultrasick part: THIS WAS BEFORE 1994! ITS WORSE TODAY




This, for example, is wha t Professor Susan McClary, a musicologist at

the University of Minnesota, tells us to listen for in Beethoven’s Ninth

Symphony: “The point of recapitulation in the first movement of the

Ninth is one of the mos t horrifying moment s in music, as the carefully

prepared cadence is frustrated, damming u p energy which finally ex­

plodes in the throttling, murderous rage of a rapist incapable of attaining

release.”2 5 McClary also directs us to be alert to themes of male mastur ­

bation in the music of Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler.




Seneca Falls focused on specific injustices of the kind that social policy

could repair by making the laws equitable. In thinking about that first

women’ s conference, it is helpful to remembe r the state of the average

American woma n in the mid-nineteent h century. Consider the story of

Hester Vaughan. In 1869, at the age of twenty, she had been deserted by

her husband. She found work in a wealthy Philadelphia home wher e the

man of the house seduced her and, when she became pregnant , fired her .

In a state of terrible indigence, she gave birth alone in an unheated rented

room, collapsing minutes afterward. By the time she was discovered, the

baby had died. She was charged with murder . No lawyer represented her

at her trial, and she was not permitted to testify. An all-male jury found

her guilty, and the judge sentenced her to death.


Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony learned of her plight

and organized a campaign to help her. On e protest meeting drew nearly

a thousand women. Here is how the historian Elisabeth Griffith describes

it: “They demanded a pardon for Vaughan, an end to the double standard

of morality, the right of wome n to serve as jurors , and the admission of

women to law schools. . . . According to Stanton, Vaughan’s trial by a

jury of men . . . illustrated the indignity and injustice of women’ s legal

status.”3 6 Vaughan was pardoned. More crucially, her champions and thei r suc­

cessors went on to win for American wome n in general full equality before

the law, including the right to vote, the right to hold property even in

marriage, the right to divorce, and the right to equal education.


The aims of the Seneca Falls activists were clearly stated, finite, and

practicable. They would eventually be realized because they were

grounded in principles—recognized constitutional principles—tha t were

squarely in the tradition of equity, fairness, and individual liberty. Stan­

ton’s reliance on the Declaration of Independenc e was not a ploy; it was

a direct expression of her own sincere creed, and it was the creed of the

assembled men and women. Indeed, it is worth remembering that Seneca

Falls was organized by both me n and wome n and that me n actively

participated in it and were welcomed.3 7 Misandrism (hostility to men, the

counterpar t to misogyny) was not a notable feature of the women’ s move ­

ment unti l our own times.


dafuq, but good it got changed!




Recently several male student s at Vassar were falsely accused of date

rape. After thei r innocence was established, the assistant dean of students ,

Catherine Comins , said of thei r ordeal : “They have a lot of pain, but it is

not a pain that I would necessarily have spared them. I think it ideally

initiates a process of self-exploration. ‘How do I see women?’ ‘If I did not

violate her , could I have?’ ‘Do I have the potential to do to her what they

say I did?’ These are good questions.”8 Dean Comins clearly feels justified

in trumping the commo n law principle “presumed innocent unti l proven

guilty” by a new feminist principle, “guilty even if proven innocent.”

Indeed, she believes that the student s are not really innocent after all.

How so? Because, being male and being brought u p in the patriarchal

culture, they could easily have done wha t they were falsely accused of

having done , even though they didn’ t actually do it. Wher e men are

concerned, Comins quite sincerely believes in collective guilt. Moreover,

she feels she can rely on her audience to be in general agreement with

her on this.






Does it matter that academic feminists speak of replacing seminars

with “ovulars,” history with “herstory,” and theology with “thealogy”?

Should it concern us that mos t teachers of women’ s studies think of

knowledge as a “patriarchal construction”? It should, because twenty

years ago the nation’s academies offered fewer than twenty courses in

women’ s studies; today such courses numbe r in the tens of thousands .

Such rapid growth, which even now shows little signs of abating, is un­

precedented in the annal s of higher education. The feminist coloniza-

tion of the American academy warrants study. Wha t is driving it? Is it a

good thing?


u know, i thought it was a parody when critics said “herstory”. But it wanst!




The misplaced efforts to avoid slighting women lead quickly to exten­

sive “re-visionings” of history, art , and the sciences. The Center for the

Study of Social and Political Change at Smith College did a critical study

of three of the mos t widely used new high school American history

textbooks. Because of state mandates for gender equality, the author s of

the new textbooks had to go out of their way to give wome n prominence.

The Smith researchers were not happy with the results:


There is one major problem .. . in writing nonsexist history text­

books . Most of America’s history is male-dominated, in par t because

in mos t states wome n were not allowed to vote in federal elections

or hold office unti l the twentieth century. This may be regrettable,

but it is still a fact. What , then, is a nonsexist writer of the American

history textbook to do? The answer is filler feminism.1 9


Filler feminism pads history with its own “facts” designed to drive

home the lessons feminists wish to impart . The following passage from

one of the mos t widely used high school American history texts, American

Voices, is a good example of the sort of “feel good” feminist spin that has

become the norm in our nation’s textbooks:


A typical [Indian] family thus consisted of an old woman, her

daughter s with thei r husbands and children, and her unmarried

granddaughter s and grandsons . . . . Politically, women’ s roles and

status varied from culture to culture. Wome n were mor e likely to

assume leadership roles among the agricultural peoples than among

nomadi c hunters . In addition, in many cases in which women did

not become village chiefs, they still exercised substantial political

power . For example, in Iroquois villages, when selected men sat in

a circle to discuss and make decisions, the senior women of the

village stood behind them, lobbying and instructing the men. In

addition, the elder wome n named the male village chiefs to their

positions.2 0


Though some of the information about the Iroquois is vaguely correct ,

the paragraph is blatantly designed to give high school student s the

impression that mos t Native American societies tended to be politically

matriarchal . Since that is not true, the textbook “covers” itself by the

formal disclaimer that “in many cases .. . the wome n did not become

village chiefs.” (In how many cases? A smal l minority? A large majority?)

This is patronizing to both Indians and women , and there is no basis for

it. There are mor e than 350 recognized Indian tribes—one can n o mor e

generalize about them than one can about “humanity. ” Here is wha t

Gilbert Sewall of the American Textbook Counci l says about this passage:

“Female-headed households? Bad old history may cede to bad new his­

tory. The presentist spin on Indian society found in the American Voices

passage is less versed in evidence than aligned to contemporary feminist

politics and perspectives.”2 1



I think the EU recently tried something like this as well, but i cant find the ref.




The problem of “filler feminism” will get worse. Transformationists are

wel l organized, and thei r influence is growing apace. Because of transfor­

mationist pressures , the law in some states now actually mandates “gen­

der-fair” history. The California State Department of Education has issued

guidelines called “Standards for Evaluation of Instructional Materials with

Respect to Social Content. ” According to Education Code section

60040(a) and 60044(a) , “Whenever an instructional material presents

development s in history or current events, or achievements in art, science,

or any other field, the contributions of wome n and men should be rep­

resented in approximately equal number.”2 6 In effect, this law demands

that the historian be mor e attentive to the demands of “equal representa­

tion” than to the historical facts. Needless to say, histories and social

studies presented in this “fair” but factually skewed manne r constitute an

unworthy and dishones t approach to learning.

In the history of the high arts the absence of wome n is deplorable but

largely irreparable. Few wome n in the past were allowed to train and

work in the major arts. Because of this, me n have wrought mos t of the

works that are commonly recognized as masterpieces. But here, espe­

cially, the temptation to redress past wrongs through “reconceptualiza-

tion” has proved irresistible.




In their critique of the imperial male culture, the transformationist

feminists do not confine themselves to impugning the history, art , an d

literature of the past . They also regard logic and rationality as “phallocen-

tric.” Elizabeth Minnich traces the cultural tradition to a “few privileged

males . . . wh o are usually called ‘The Greeks. ‘ “3 4 In common with many

other transformationists, Minnich believes that the conceptions of ratio­

nality and intelligence are white, male creations: “At present . . . not only

are student s taught ‘phallocentric’ and ‘colonial ‘ notions of reason as the

forms of rational expression, but the full possible range of expression of

huma n intelligence also tends to be forced into a severely shrunken no -

tion of intelligence.”3 5 Note the reference to a “colonial” rationality with

its implication of deliberate subjugation. It is now commo n practice to

use scare quotes to indicate the feminist suspicion of a “reality” peculiar

to male ways of knowing. For example, the feminist philosopher Joyce

Trebilcot speaks of “the apparatuses of ‘truth, ‘ ‘knowledge, ‘ ‘science, ‘ ”

that men use to “project their personalities as reality.”3 6


The attack on traditional culture has thus escalated to an attack on the

rational standards and methods that have been the hallmark of scientific

progress. The New Jersey Project for reforming the public schools circu­

lates a document entitled “Feminist Scholarship Guidelines.” The first

guideline is unexceptionable: “Feminist scholars seek to recover the lost

work and thought of wome n in all areas of huma n endeavor.”3 7 But after

that , the guidelines unravel : “Feminist scholarship begins with an aware­

ness that muc h previous scholarship has offered a white, male, Eurocen­

tric, heterosexist , and elite view of’reality. ‘ ”


The guidelines elaborate on the attitude toward masculinist scholarship

and methods by quoting the feminist theorist Elizabeth Fee: “Knowledge

was created as an act of aggression—a passive nature had to be interro­

gated, unclothed, penetrated, and compelled by ma n to reveal her se­

crets.” Fee’s resentment and suspicion of male “ways of knowing” follows

a path wel l trodden by such feminist thinkers as Mary Ellman, Catharine

MacKinnon, and Sandra Harding, whose views of patriarchal knowledge

and science have quickly become central gender feminist doctrine. Play­

ing on the biblical double meaning of knowing to refer both to intercourse

and to cognition, Ellman and MacKinnon claim that men approach nature

as rapists approach a woman , taking joy in violating “her,” in “penetrat ­

ing” her secrets. Feminists, says MacKinnon, have finally realized that for

men, “to know has meant to fuck.”3 8 In a similar mood, Sandra Harding

suggests that Newton’ s Principles of Mechanics could jus t as aptly be

called “Newton’ s Rape Manual.”






Male scholars specializing in their masculinist academic disciplines

(from chemistry to philosophy) are known to transformationists as “sep­

arate knowers. ” The author s of Women’s Ways oj Knowing, a text muc h

cited by transformationists, define “separate knowing” as “the game of

impersonal reason,” a game that has “belonged traditionally to boys.”4 0

“Separate knower s are tough-minded. They are like doormen at exclusive

clubs. They do not want to let anything in unless they are pretty sure it is

good. . . . Presented with a proposition, separate knower s immediately

look for something wrong—a loophole, a factual error, a logical contra­

diction, the omission of contrary evidence.”4 1


Separate knowers—mainly men—pla y the “doubting game. ” The au­

thors of Women’s Ways of Knowing contrast separate knowing with a

higher state of “connected knowing” that they view as the mor e feminine.

In place of the “doubting game,” connected knower s play the “believing

game.” This is more congenial for wome n because “many women find it

easier to believe than to doubt.”4 2


not science!




Linda Gardiner , editor of the Women’s Review of Books, which is housed

in the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women , wonder s

whether Western philosophy speaks for wome n at all. “We might begin

to question the impor t of Descartes’ stress on logic and mathematics as

the ideal types of rationality, in a society in which only a tiny percentage

of people could realistically spend time developing skills in those fields,”

she writes.5 9 Noting that the philosophical elite is biased in favor of the

abstract , methodical , and universal , Gardiner suggests that a feminist

philosophy would be mor e concrete and mor e suspicious of logic and

method. “What would a female logic be like?” she asks, and answer s that

this would be like asking wha t female astronomy or particle physics

would be like. “We cannot imagine wha t it would mean to have a ‘female

version’ of them.”6 0 For that , says Ms. Gardiner , we should first need to

develop different epistemologies. Reading Gardiner’s spirited argument s

for the thesis that classical philosophy is essentially and inveterately male

biased, one cannot avoid the impression that the feminist critic is mor e

ingenious at finding male bias in a field than in proposing an intelligible

alternative way to deal with its subject matter .


Reminds me of:


“You can buy any number of books on ‘quantum healing’, not to mention quantum psychology, quantum responsibility, quantum morality, quantum aesthetics, quantum immortality and quantum theology. I haven’t found a book on quantum feminism, quantum financial management or Afro-quantum theory, but give it time.”
- Richard Dawkins, A Devil’s Chaplain (Page 147)


Just replace “quantum” by ”feminist” and u apparently can get “feminist particle physics” “feminist astronomy” and “feminist logic”.


What the fuck am i reading




Feminist critics have looked at the metaphor s of “male science” and

found them sexist. I recently heard a feminist astronomer interviewed on

CNN say in all seriousness that sexist terminology like “the Big Bang

Theory” is “off-putting to young women ” wh o might otherwise be inter­

ested in pursuing careers in her field.64 It is hard to believe that anyone

with an intelligent interest in astronomy would be pu t off by a graphic

description of a cosmic event . Othe r critiques of science as masculinist

are equally fatuous and scientifically fruitless. After asserting that “the

warlike terminology of immunology which focuses on ‘competition, ‘ ‘in­

hibition, ‘ and ‘invasion’ as major theories of how cells interact reflects a

militaristic view of the world, ” Sue Rosser, wh o offers workshops on how

to transform the biology curriculum, concedes that “a feminist critique

has not yet produced theoretical changes in the area of cell biology.”6 5

She does not tell us how the “feminist critique” could lead to advances in

biology, but she considers it obvious that it must : “It becomes evident

that the inclusion of a feminist perspective leads to changes in models,

experimental subjects, and interpretations of the data. These changes

entai l mor e inclusive, enriched theories compared to the traditional , re­

strictive, unicausal theories.”6 6




Yet although the transformationists have every reason to celebrate thei r

many successes, they have recently experienced a setback from an unex­

pected quarter . Whe n Mcintosh, Minnich, and thei r followers demande d

that the oppressive European, white, male culture being taught in the

schools be radically transformed, they had not imagined that anyone

could look upo n them as oppressors. The transformationist leaders are

not men, but they are white, they are “European,” they are middle-class.

Minority wome n have begun to deny that the leaders of the women’ s

movement have any right to speak for them. Most member s of the wome n

of color caucus boycotted the 1992 Austin National Women’ s Studies

Conference I attended for its failure to recognize and respect their political

identity. The slighted group sent the conferees an African-American wom­

en’s quil t made from dashiki fabrics, as both a reprimand and a “healing

gesture.” The assembled white feminists sat before it in resentful but

guilty silence. In the game of moral one-upmanship that gender feminists

are so good at, they had been outquilted, as it were, by a mor e marginal ­

ized constituency. Clearly any number of minority groups can play the

victimology game, and almost all could play it far mor e plausibly than

the socially well-positioned Heilbruns, Mclntoshes, and Minniches.


Hahahahaha! Pwned at their own game.




Women: A Feminist Perspective is said to be the best-selling women’ s

studies textbook of all time. The first selection, “Sexual Terrorism” by

Carole J. Sheffield, is a good example of how the feminist classroom can

“infuse” anxiety and rage. Ms. Sheffield describes an “ordinary” event that

took place early one evening whe n she was alone in a Laundromat : “The

laundroma t was brightly lit; and my car was the only one in the lot.

Anyone passing by could readily see that I was alone and isolated. Know­

ing that rape is a crime of opportunity, I became terrified.” Ms. Sheffield

left her laundry in the washer and dashed back to her car, sitting in it

with the door s locked and the windows up. “When the wash was com­

pleted, I dashed in, threw the clothes into the drier, and ran back out to

my car. Whe n the clothes were dry, I tossed them recklessly into the

basket and hurriedly drove away to fold them in the security of my home.

Although I was not victimized in a direct , physical way or by objective or

measurable standards , I felt victimized. It was, for me, a terrifying expe­

rience.” At home , her terror subsides and turns to anger: “Mostly I was

angry at being unfree: a hostage of a culture that , for the mos t part ,

encourages violence against females, instructs men in the methodology of

sexual violence, and provides them with ready justification for their vio­

lence. . . . Following my experience at the Laundromat , I talked with my

student s about terrorization.”






For the pas t few years I have reviewed hundreds of syllabi from wom­

en’s studies courses, attended mor e feminist conferences than I care to

remember , studied the new “feminist pedagogy,” reviewed dozens of

texts, journals , newsletters, and done a lot of late-into-the-night reading

of e-mai l letters that thousands of “networked” women’ s studies teachers

send to one another . I have taught feminist theory. I have debated gender

feminists on college campuses around the country, and on national tele­

vision an d radio. My experience with academic feminism and my immer ­

sion in the ever-growing gender feminist literature have served to deepen

my conviction that the majority of women’ s studies classes and other

classes that teach a “reconceptualized” subject matter are unscholarly,

intolerant of dissent , and full of gimmicks. In other words , they are a

waste of time. And although they attract female student s because of their

social ambience, they attract almost no men. They divert the energies of

students—especially young women—wh o sorely need to be learning

how to live in a world that demand s of them applicable talents and skills,

not feminist fervor or ideological rectitude.


In other words, a feminist argument for why feminism as a field is bad.




The feminist classroom does little to prepare student s to cope in the

world of work and culture. It is an embarrassing scandal that , in the name

of feminism, young wome n in our colleges and universities are taking

courses in feminist classrooms that subject them to a lot of bad prose,

psychobabble, and “new age” nonsense. Wha t has real feminism to do

with sitting around in circles and talking about our feelings on menstrua­

tion? To use a phrase muc h used by resenter feminists, the feminist

classroom shortchanges wome n students . It wastes their time and gives

them bad intellectual habits. It isolates them, socially and academically.

While male student s are off studying such “vertical” subjects as engineer ­

ing and biology, wome n in feminist classrooms are sitting around being

“safe” and “honoring” feelings. In this way, gender feminist pedagogy

plays into old sexist stereotypes that extol women’ s capacity for intuition,

emotion, and empathy while denigrating their capacity to think objec­

tively and systematically in the way me n can.


A parent should think very carefully before sending a daughter to one

of the mor e gender-feminized colleges. Any school has the freedom to

transform itself into a feminist bastion, but because the effect on the

students is so powerful it ought to be hones t about its attitude. I would

like to see Wellesley College, Mount Holyoke, Smith, Mills, and the

University of Minnesota—among the mor e extreme examples—print the

following announcement on the first page of their bulletins:


We wil l help your daughter discover the extent to which she has

been in complicity with the patriarchy. We will encourage her to

reconstruct herself through dialogue with us. She may become en­

raged and chronically offended. She will very likely reject the reli­

gious and moral codes you raised her with. She may wel l distance

herself from family and friends. She may change her appearance,

and even her sexual orientation. She may end u p hating you (her

father) and pitying you (her mother) . After she has completed her

reeducation with us , you will certainly be out tens of thousands of

dollars and very possibly be out one daughter as well .


At the Austin conference, my sister and I attended a packed worksho p

called “White Male Hostility in the Feminist Classroom,” led by two

female assistant professors from the State University of New York at

Plattsburgh. What to do about young me n wh o refuse to use gender -

neutral pronouns? Most agreed that the instructor should grade them

down. One of the Plattsburghers told us about a male student wh o had

“baited her” whe n she had defended a fifteen-year-old’s right to have an

abortion without parental consent . The student had asked, “What about

a 15-year-old that wanted to marry a 30-year-old?” She referred to this as

a “trap.” In philosophy, it is known as a legitimate counterexample to be

treated seriously and deal t with by counterargument . But she wanted to

know wha t advice we had to offer.


Haha, well played! If 15 year olds are to have the freedom to get abortions, why shud they not likewise get the freedom to date much older men? Which is the more dangerous?




The claim that all teaching is a form of indoctrination, usually in the

service of those wh o are politically dominant , helps to justify the peda­

gogy of the feminist classroom. Feminist academics often say that apar t

from the enclave of women’ s studies, the university curriculum consists

of “men’ s studies.” They mean by this that mos t of what student s normally

learn is designed to maintain and reinforce the existing patriarchy. To

anyone wh o actually believes this, combatting the standard indoctrination

with a feminist “counter-indoctrination” seems only fair and sensible.


The British philosopher Roger Scruton, aided by two colleagues at the

Education Research Center in England, has pointed to several prominent

features that distinguish indoctrination from normal education.1 8 In a

competent , well-designed course, student s learn methods for weighing

evidence and critical methods for evaluating argument s for soundness .

They learn how to arrive at reasoned conclusions from the best evidence

at hand. By contrast , in cases of indoctrination, the conclusions are as­

sumed beforehand. Scruton calls this feature of indoctrination the “Fore­

gone Conclusion.” According to Scruton, the adoption of a foregone

conclusion is the mos t salient feature of indoctrination. In the case of

gender feminism, the “foregone conclusion” is that American men strive

to keep wome n subjugated.




In December 1989 I received a phon e call from a ma n wh o told me he

was a graduate student at the University of Minnesota. He asked me to

look into some “frightening” things campus feminists were u p to. He

mentioned the Scandinavian studies department . He told me he did not

want to give me his name because he felt he would be hurt : “They are

powerful , they are organized, and they are vindictive.”



Having heard “both sides” of the feminist question at Minnesota, I felt

ready to tackle the mystery of the Scandinavian studies department . It

turned out not to be a mystery at all—only a disturbing example of

extreme feminist vigilance.


On Apri l 12, 1989, four female graduate student s filed sexual harass­

men t charges against all six tenured member s of the Scandinavian studies

department (five me n and one woman) . The professors were called to

Dean Fred Lukerman’ s office, notified of the charges and, according to

the accused, told they’d better get themselves lawyers.


In a letter sent to Professor William Mischler of Scandinavian studies,

Ms. Patricia Mullen, the university officer for sexual harassment , informed

Mischler that he had been accused of sexual harassment and would be

reported to the provos t unless he responded within ten days. Similar

letters were sent to the other five professors. Mischler’s letters contained

no specific facts that could be remotely considered to describe sexual

harassment . Whe n Mischler made further inquiries, he discovered he had

been accused of giving a narrow and “patriarchal” interpretation of Isaak

Dinesen’s work, of not having read a novel a student deemed important ,

and of having greeted a student in a less than friendly manner . Two of

Mischler’s colleagues were accused of harassing the plaintiffs by not hav­

ing given them higher grades.


The plaintiffs had drawn u p a list of punitive demands , among them:

1. the denial of meri t pay for a period of not less than five years;

2. monthly sexual harassment workshops for all Scandinavian core

faculty for at least twelve months ; and

3. annual sexual harassment workshops for all Scandinavian core fac­

ulty, adjunct faculty, visiting faculty, graduate assistants, reader -

graders, and graduate students .


Lacking any suppor t from the administration whatsoever , the profes­

sors were forced to seek legal counsel . On October 13, six month s later,

all charges against four of the accused were dropped. No explanation was

offered. A few month s later, the charges against the remaining two were

dropped, again without explanation. All of them are still shaken from

what they describe as a Kafkaesque ordeal . “When I saw the charges,”

says Professor Allen Simpson, “I panicked. It’s the mos t terrifying

thing . . . they want me fired. It cost me two thousand dollars to have my

response drafted. I can’ t afford justice.”


Professor Mischler requested that the contents of the complaint s be

made public to the Minnesota community. But, according to the Minne­

sota Daily, Patricia Mullen opposed disclosure on the grounds that “it

would dampe n people from coming forward.”4 5


My efforts to reach someone wh o could give me the administration’s

side of the story were not successful. Ms. Mullen declined to speak with

me. Fred Lukerman, wh o was dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the

time, also proved to be inaccessible. I finally did talk to a dean wh o

assured me he was very supportive of feminist causes on campus , but that

he believed the Scandinavian studies affair was indeed a “witch hunt. ”

“But please do not use my name, ” he implored.




In math, at least, it appear s that the vaunted correlation between self-

esteem and achievement does not hold. Instead of a bill called “Gender

Equity in Education,” we need a bill called “Commo n Sense in Educa­

tion,” which would oversee the way the government spends money on

phony education issues. The measure would not need a very big budget ,

but it could save millions by cutting out unneeded projects like the ones

proposed for raising self-esteem and force us instead to address directly

the very real problems we mus t solve if we are to give our student s the

academic competence they need and to which they are entitled.




Paglia’s dismissal of date rape hype infuriates campus feminists, for

whom the rape crisis is very real. On mos t campuses, date-rape groups

hold meetings, marches , rallies. Victims are “survivors,” and their friends

are “co-survivors” wh o also suffer and need counseling.4 1 At some rape

awareness meetings , wome n wh o have not yet been date raped are re­

ferred to as “potential survivors.” Thei r male classmates are “potential

rapists.”4 2






In The Morning After, Katie Roiphe describes the elaborate measures

taken to prevent sexual assaults at Princeton. Blue lights have been in­

stalled around the campus , freshman wome n are issued whistles at ori­

entation. There are marches , rape counseling sessions, emergency

telephones. But as Roiphe tells it, Princeton is a very safe town, and

whenever she walked across a deserted golf course to get to classes, she

was mor e afraid of the wild geese than of a rapist . Roiphe reports that

between 1982 and 1993 only two rapes were reported to the campus

police. And, whe n it comes to violent attacks in general , male student s

are actually mor e likely to be the victims. Roiphe sees the campus rape

crisis movement as a phenomeno n of privilege: these young wome n have

had it all, and whe n they find out that the world can be dangerous and

unpredictable, they are outraged:




Othe r critics, such as Camille Paglia and Berkeley professor of social

welfare Nei l Gilbert , have been targeted for demonstrations, boycotts, and

denunciations . Gilbert began to publish his critical analyses of the Ms./

Koss study in 1990.5 7 Many feminist activists did not look kindly on

Gilbert’s challenge to thei r “one in four” figure. A date rape clearinghouse

in San Francisco devotes itself to “refuting” Gilbert ; it sends out masses

of literature attacking him. It advertises at feminist conferences with green

and orange fliers bearing the headline STOP IT, BITCH! The words are not

Gilbert’s, but the tactic is an effective way of drawing attention to his

work. At one demonstration against Gilbert on the Berkeley campus ,

student s chanted, “Cut it out or cut it off,” and carried signs that read,

KILL NEIL GILBERT! 5 8 Sheila Kuehl , the director of the California Women’ s

Law Center , confided to readers of the Los Angeles Daily Journal, “I found

myself wishing that Gilbert , himself, might be raped and .. . be told, to

his face, it had never happened.”


That’s so extreme it probably was illegal.




Betty Friedan once told Simone de Beauvoir that she believed women

should have the choice to stay home to raise their children if that is what

they wish to do. Beauvoir answered: “No, we don’ t believe that any

woma n should have this choice. No woma n should be authorized to stay

at home to raise her children. Society should be totally different. Wome n

should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice,

too many wome n will make that one.”4


The totalitarianism shines thru once again.




I can’ t help being amused by how upset the New Feminists get over

the vicarious pleasure wome n take in Scarlett’s transports. All that incor­

rect swooning! How are we ever going to get wome n to see how wrong it

is? Nevertheless, the gender feminists seem to believe that thirty years

from now, with the academy transformed and the feminist consciousness

of the population raised, there will be a new Zeitgeist. Wome n who

interpret sexual domination as pleasurable will then be few and far be­

tween, and Scarlett, alas, will be out of style.


Is this scenario out of the question? I think it is. Sexuality has always

been par t of our natures , and there is no one right way. Men like Rhet t

Butler wil l continue to fascinate many women. Nor will the doctrine that

this demeans them have muc h of an effect. How many women who like

Rhet t Butler-type s are in search of suppor t groups to help them change?

Such wome n are not grateful to the gender feminists for going to war

against male lust . They may even be offended at the suggestion that they

themselves are being degraded and humiliated; for that treats their enjoy­

ment as pathological .




So far, the efforts to get wome n to overhaul their fantasies and desires

have been noncoercive, but they do not seem to have been particularly

effective. To get the results they want , the gender feminists have turned

thei r attention to ar t and literature, wher e fantasies are manufactured and

reinforced. Ms. Friedman calls our attention to Angela Carter’s feminist

rewrite of the “morning after” scene in Gone with the Wind: “Scarlett lies

in bed smiling the next morning because she broke Rhett’s kneecaps the

night before. And the reason that he disappeared before she awoke was

to go off to Europe to visit a good kneecap specialist.”3 0


This is meant to be amusing, but of course the point is serious. For the

gender feminist believes that Margaret Mitchel l got it wrong. If Mitchell

had understood better how to make a true heroine of Scarlett, she would

have mad e her different. Scarlett would then have been the kind of person

wh o would plainly see that Rhet t mus t be severely punished for what he

had inflicted on he r the night before. More generally, the gender feminist

believes she mus t rebut and replace the fiction that glorifies dominant

males and the wome n wh o find them attractive. This popular literature,

which “eroticizes” male dominance , mus t be opposed and, if possible,

eradicated. Furthermore , the feminist establishment mus t seek ways to

foster the popularity of a new genre of romantic film and fiction that

sends a mor e edifying message to the wome n and men of America. A

widely used textbook gives us a fair idea of what that message should be:


Plots for nonsexist films could include wome n in traditionally male

jobs (e.g. , long-distance truck driver). . . . For example, a high-

ranking female Army officer, treated with respect by men and

wome n alike, could be shown not only in various sexual encounters

with other people but also carrying out her job in a human e manner .

Or perhaps the main character could be a female urologist . She

could interact with nurses and other medical personnel , diagnose

illnesses brilliantly, and treat patients with great sympathy as wel l

as have sex with them. Whe n the Army officer or the urologist

engage in sexual activities, they will treat their partners and be

treated by them in some of the considerate ways described above.3 1


The truck driver and the urologist are meant to be serious role models

for the free feminist woman , humane , forthrightly sexual , but not discrim­

inating against either gender in her preferences for partners, so consider­

ate that all wil l respect her . These model s are projected in the hope that

someday films and novels with such themes and heroines will be pre ­

ferred, replacing the currently popula r “incorrect” romances with a mor e

acceptable ideal .


It seems a futile hope . Perhaps the best way to see wha t the gender

feminists are u p against is to compare their version of romance with that

embodied in contemporary romance fiction that sells in the millions. Here

is a typical example:


Townsfolk called him devil. For dark and enigmatic Julian, Earl of

Ravenwood, was a ma n with a legendary temper and a first wife

whose mysterious death would not be forgotten. . . . Now country-

bred Sophy Dorring is about to become Ravenwood’s new bride.

Drawn to his masculine strength and the glitter of desire that burned

in his emerald eyes, the tawny-haired lass had her own reasons for

agreeing to a marriage of convenience. . . . Sophy Dorring intended

to teach the devi l to love.3 2


Romance novels amoun t to almost 4 0 percent of all mass-market pa­

perback sales. Harlequin Enterprises alone has sales of close to 200 mil ­

lion books worldwide. They appear in many languages, including

Japanese, Swedish, and Greek, and they are now beginning to appear in

Eastern Europe. The readership is almost exclusively women.3 3 The chal­

lenge this present s to gender feminist ideologues is mos t formidable since

almost every hero in this fictional genre is an “alpha male” like Rhet t

Butler or the Earl of Ravenwood. It was therefore to be expected that the

New Feminists would make a concerted attempt to correct this literature

and to replace it by a new one.

Due to this book repeatedly coming up in conversation regarding the super smart people, it seems to be worth reading. It is really old, and should obviously be out of copyright (thanks Disney!), however it possibly isn’t and in any case I couldn’t find a useful PDF.

I did however find the above. Now, it seems to lack a download all function, and it’s too much of a hassle to download all 398 pictures manually. They also lack OCR. So, I set out to write a python script to download them.

First had to find a function to actually download files. So far I had only read the page source of pages and worked with that. This time I needed to save a file (picture) repeatedly.

Googling gave me: urllib.urlretrieve

So far so good right? Must be easy to just do a for loop now and get it overwith.

Not entirely. Turns out that the pictures are only stored temporarily in the website cache if one visits the page associated with the picture. So I had to make the script load the page before getting the picture. Slows it down a bit, but not too much trouble.

Next problem: sometimes the picture wasn’t downloaded correctly for some reason. The filesize however was a useful proxy for this purpose. So had to find a way to get the filesize. Google gave me os.stat (import os). Problem solved.

So after doing that as well, some pictures were still not being downloaded correctly. Weird. After debugging, it turned out that some of the pictures were not .gif but .jpg files, and located in a slightly different place. So then I had to modify the code to work that out as well.

Finally worked out for all the pictures.

I OCR’d it with ABBYY FineReader (best OCR on the market AFAIK).



The python code is here:

05 June 2013

Dear Site Administrator:

The undersigned declares under penalty of perjury that I am authorized to act on behalf of the above referenced author, the owner of copyright in the Intellectual Property, and Hachette Book Group, Inc., the exclusive US publisher of the Intellectual Property, including without limitation, the cover and other art incorporated therein (collectively, the “IP  Owner”).  I have a good faith belief that the materials identified below are not authorized by the IP Owner, her agent, or the law and therefore infringe the IP Owner’s rights according to federal and state law.  Accordingly, we hereby demand that you immediately remove and/or disable access of the infringing material identified below.

My contact information is listed below. We reserve all legal rights and remedies in the event of failure to comply with this notice.

The infringing material (infringement of copyright, including publication, duplication and distribution rights) is located on your website at:


MarkMonitor Anti-Piracy Team

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I have deleted the file in question. Turns out there were 3 copies of the book on the server. I’ve deleted two of them.