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ThorGoLucky
Snuggle Wolf

USA
1414 Posts

Posted - 06/06/2017 :  09:57:05   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit ThorGoLucky's Homepage Send ThorGoLucky a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil

Originally posted by ThorGoLucky

I was thinking about starting a new topic about skeptical blindspots, but quicly realized that the Shermer thread is a good place for such a discussion, heh.

Should we start with libertarian skeptics who deny or are soft on doing anything about climate change?

Yes!
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25909 Posts

Posted - 07/28/2017 :  19:48:16   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
PZ Myers asks Why are you still reading Skeptic magazine?:
It’s trash. There’s no clearer indicator of where Shermer’s vanity magazine’s focus lies than this, A Review of Milo Yiannopoulos’s new book Dangerous by George Michael, which manages to go on and on and tell us very little about the book, but does regurgitate a massive bolus of alt-right talking points. The author seems to have very little interest in what Yiannopoulos actually says, or how he says it, but mainly wants to repeat every tired cliche of the alt-right/mens rights movement.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
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Philo
New Member

45 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2017 :  13:45:05   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Philo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.

PZ Myers asks Why are you still reading Skeptic magazine?:
It’s trash. There’s no clearer indicator of where Shermer’s vanity magazine’s focus lies than this, A Review of Milo Yiannopoulos’s new book Dangerous by George Michael, which manages to go on and on and tell us very little about the book, but does regurgitate a massive bolus of alt-right talking points. The author seems to have very little interest in what Yiannopoulos actually says, or how he says it, but mainly wants to repeat every tired cliche of the alt-right/mens rights movement.



This development of Skeptic Magazine is all very sad, because that magazine is hailed by many as one of the flagships of the skeptical movement, certainly among magazines.

I'm somewhat torn here. On the one hand, I'm not a libertarian (but I don't nurture a burning hatred for them, as many non-libertarians seem to do), and obviously I'm no fan of Michael Shermer, who apart from being a sexual harasser seem to be a rather shallow thinker in some respects.

But on the other hand, I'm no fan either of the sort of identity politics that the American left espouses, like affirmative action, cultural appropriation, etc.
Edited by - Philo on 10/30/2017 13:48:44
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Philo
New Member

45 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2017 :  13:48:01   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Philo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.

There's a strong argument to be made that there shouldn't be any "thought leaders" among skeptics in the first place. There are people who have an attitude that Shermer, Dawkins or even Randi can do no wrong, which indicates the sort of cult of personality that skeptics should oppose at every turn. That humans make mistakes and have biases are two very basic skeptical premises, and they should be understood to apply to everyone, not just crystal healers and creationists.

Of course, having "icons" of skepticism gets people motivated, but if the icons aren't particularly active, then what good is the motivation? Lead by example. Some of today's "icons" seem content to sit on their book sales and speaking fees, without actually trying to get in front of anything and really show the next generation how to skeptic. Randi's de facto partnership with Johnny Carson may have been a once-in-all-our-lifetimes lucky break.

At least Bill Nye's new show is trending on Netflix, but I don't have any delusions that the audience is as large as Carson's was.

I'm sure that's partly the reason why, for the first time in many years, I have no interest in going to the major skeptical event in Vegas.
One of the factors may just be fatigue. Looking at the speaker list, a lot of the same names appear over and over again.


As for Randi, give the man a break. He is very old, and it is only natural for him to step down on activism. He has lead a meaningful, productive life, and done a lot for the skeptical movement, like co-founding it.

I've said it before, but I like Steven Novella. Very bright thinker, very productive, doesn't seem to have any dirty laundry, and so on.
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25909 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2017 :  18:52:07   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Philo

This development of Skeptic Magazine is all very sad, because that magazine is hailed by many as one of the flagships of the skeptical movement, certainly among magazines.
No, those would be Skeptical Inquirer (nee Zetetic) and Free Inquiry.

I'm somewhat torn here. On the one hand, I'm not a libertarian (but I don't nurture a burning hatred for them, as many non-libertarians seem to do), and obviously I'm no fan of Michael Shermer, who apart from being a sexual harasser seem to be a rather shallow thinker in some respects.
There's no reason to be torn if you're a critical thinker. Libertarianism is based on premises that are factually incorrect (for example, that people will generally act in their own economic self-interest). It's not a "burning hatred" to say that all "skeptical thoughtleaders" should have rejected libertarianism, and those who don't are necessarily ideological goons. Libertarianism isn't merely a political philosophy, it's one that claims to be based on rational, factual principles. It isn't, so it's a lie.

But on the other hand, I'm no fan either of the sort of identity politics that the American left espouses, like affirmative action, cultural appropriation, etc.
Know what I'm no fan of? People who adopt a holier-than-thou faux-centrist attitude, yet clearly swing far right when things like affirmative action and cultural appropriation are mentioned. Those issues aren't "identity politics" any farther than thinking about what's fair given the historical context of hundreds of years (and counting) of oppression, hatred and murder. It certainly wasn't some "identity movement" that caused all that history, now was it?? (Just in case you think that wasn't rhetorical, the answer is, "No, it was white people.") Dismissing those issues as you did shows your political allies (whether you like it or not) are the creationists, evangelicals and white nationalists, because they're the ones who will agree with you.

"The left" as a whole has no clear-cut position on the issues you mentioned, because they are complex. "The left" is currently struggling with the question of cultural appropriation, for example, because there is no obvious demarkation between "a little" and "too much." Every case needs to be judged on its own, and reasonable people can disagree. Also, "the left" accepts affirmative action as a less-than-optimal solution to a problem that doesn't seem to want to go away without some sort of action. So don't even try to present yourself as rationally critical of that which you clearly don't comprehend.

As for Randi, give the man a break.
WTF? I was praising his partnership with Johnny Carson. I think it was the only time in our lifetimes that an ardent, unapologetic skeptic will be given (several times) a stage on one of the big national networks. He and Carson worked together wonderfully. What the hell does his current age have to do with that?

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On fire for Christ
SFN Regular

United Kingdom
1255 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2017 :  20:28:49   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send On fire for Christ a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think he was thrown off by you actually praising someone.

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Philo
New Member

45 Posts

Posted - 11/03/2017 :  10:46:03   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Philo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.There's no reason to be torn if you're a critical thinker. Libertarianism is based on premises that are factually incorrect (for example, that people will generally act in their own economic self-interest). It's not a "burning hatred" to say that all "skeptical thoughtleaders" should have rejected libertarianism, and those who don't are necessarily ideological goons. Libertarianism isn't merely a political philosophy, it's one that claims to be based on rational, factual principles. It isn't, so it's a lie.


That's not how I see it. Libertarianism is primarily a moral philosophy of virtually unrestricted individualism and individual freedom. I'm sympathetic to that ideal, but I think libertarians take it way too far so that it's not workable. I think it's reasonable to collectively finance infrastructure, and I think that all individuals should have access to education and healthcare, for example.

Originally posted by Dave W.Know what I'm no fan of? People who adopt a holier-than-thou faux-centrist attitude, yet clearly swing far right when things like affirmative action and cultural appropriation are mentioned. Those issues aren't "identity politics" any farther than thinking about what's fair given the historical context of hundreds of years (and counting) of oppression, hatred and murder. It certainly wasn't some "identity movement" that caused all that history, now was it?? (Just in case you think that wasn't rhetorical, the answer is, "No, it was white people.") Dismissing those issues as you did shows your political allies (whether you like it or not) are the creationists, evangelicals and white nationalists, because they're the ones who will agree with you.


This is nonsense. I live in a European country, and few poeple here have even heard of the concept of cultural appropriation. Most of those who have think it's a weird concept. Trying to tarnish me as an ally of white nationalists etc is guilt-by-association.

If anything, white nationalists ought to approve of the basic concept of cultural appropriation, because it helps to keep groups separate. Cultural and ethnic intermingling and mixing are what they would oppose. You might want to consider who is really an ally of such forces...

Originally posted by Dave W."The left" as a whole has no clear-cut position on the issues you mentioned, because they are complex. "The left" is currently struggling with the question of cultural appropriation, for example, because there is no obvious demarkation between "a little" and "too much." Every case needs to be judged on its own, and reasonable people can disagree. Also, "the left" accepts affirmative action as a less-than-optimal solution to a problem that doesn't seem to want to go away without some sort of action. So don't even try to present yourself as rationally critical of that which you clearly don't comprehend.


The American left can keep on struggling with it. Most of the rest of the world has already dismissed it as nonsense.

Originally posted by Dave W.WTF? I was praising his partnership with Johnny Carson. I think it was the only time in our lifetimes that an ardent, unapologetic skeptic will be given (several times) a stage on one of the big national networks. He and Carson worked together wonderfully. What the hell does his current age have to do with that?


Ok my bad.
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25909 Posts

Posted - 11/03/2017 :  19:25:09   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Philo

That's not how I see it. Libertarianism is primarily a moral philosophy of virtually unrestricted individualism and individual freedom.
The libertarians you're talking about (American libertarian "skeptics") see it as a form of government, not merely a philosophy.

I'm sympathetic to that ideal, but I think libertarians take it way too far so that it's not workable. I think it's reasonable to collectively finance infrastructure, and I think that all individuals should have access to education and healthcare, for example.
Collective financing of anything requires theft in the form of taxes, in the libertarian mind.

This is nonsense. I live in a European country, and few poeple here have even heard of the concept of cultural appropriation.
I'd like to see your statistical data supporting that claim. Of course, if it's true, it's not something to be proud of.

Most of those who have think it's a weird concept.
Ditto, let's see your data on that claim. Of course, I would expect people from a former colonial power to think it's weird, and many European countries are former colonial powers... This is why, for example, the indignation sparked by Prince Harry's use of aboriginal themes resulted in a huge "we did what now?" from the royals. That's an example of ignorance, by the way, and not a principled stand that cultural appropriation is a "weird concept" (as if there could be such a principled stance).

Trying to tarnish me as an ally of white nationalists etc is guilt-by-association.
No, I'm not saying your argument is bogus because the bigots will love it. I'm just saying the bigots will love it. You are wrong because you clearly don't understand the position of "the left."

But now it's clear that because you're not American, you probably shouldn't understand the positions of the American "left," which probably looks to you like they're mostly right-of-center anyway, correct?

If anything, white nationalists ought to approve of the basic concept of cultural appropriation, because it helps to keep groups separate.
Then you must not know what cultural appropriation is. Cultural appropriation is the appropriation of things from other cultures, which is precisely what is anathema to white nationalists, who are trying to keep their culture "pure." Let's not forget that the Nazis tried to ban jazz and swing as "degenerate" music.

Cultural and ethnic intermingling and mixing are what they would oppose.
And that's what happens when one culture appropriates the art, food, music, etc. of another culture. How you have this backwards, I really don't understand.

You might want to consider who is really an ally of such forces...
I have, and I'm pretty damn sure I'm not the one who has it all wrong, here.

The American left can keep on struggling with it. Most of the rest of the world has already dismissed it as nonsense.
Let's see some data to support that outrageous claim.

Ok my bad.
Thanks.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25909 Posts

Posted - 11/04/2017 :  23:15:26   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Phil Torres wrote:
I'm increasingly concerned with the degree of censorship within the "new atheist" and "skeptics" community. As some of you know, after I published an article that was critical of what I would describe as a strain of anti-intellectualism among some skeptic leaders, Michael Shermer sent me an email complete with vulgarities, personal insults (e.g., you're a bad scholar and you'll never be a good scholar!), and basically a threat to harm my career because I'm a "backstabber" (search The Moral Arc for some fun reading about how Shermer sometimes fantasizes about murdering "backstabbers"! Seriously).

Similarly, after writing a critique of Peter Boghossian and James A. Lindsay's gender studies "hoax," both blocked me on social media and the former even blocked my phone number! I have also been permanently banned from Jerry Coyne's blog for literally asking, "So, why not focus on something else?," which he angrily claimed was a violation of the blog's rules (it wasn't).

Most recently, I posted a question in the private FB group for "Street Epistemology" (SE) about how one balances (a) advocating epistemological principles and (b) being associated with Boghossian, who founded SE, given his frequent defenses of white nationalists and derogatory statements about male feminists (for example). It was a serious question written for a group of what I thought were serious thinkers. Yet instead of responses, push-back, or commiseration, they simply banned me from the group! No explanation, no discussion.

I continue to be awed by the reflexive censoriousness and stunning hypocrisy of the "skeptics" community. This community demonstrates why evangelizing for epistemology remains so very important.


And then Michael Shermer wrote:
You're a liar Torres. Here's a screen shot of a tweet that you retweeted in 2013, more than 2 years before you asked me to endorse your book and write you a letter of recommendation for a Ph.D. program at Oxford. So you clearly new all about the false allegations against me and yet used me to advance your career anyway, now claiming that you believed them all along. So not only are you a liar, you're a hypocrite and a schemer. There is no "censorship" problem in the skeptical community. You're the only one being banned from all those sites you are whining about because everyone can see that you can't be trusted, that you are a hypocrite and liar, and that you have no morals or scruples.

[Link to screenshot of tweet regarding "Naughty Naughty girl" comment of Shermer's]


Shermer continues:
When I went to withdraw my letter of recommendation from Oxford I was relieved to find out that you were never in the running to be admitted to their program. So you're not even a real scholar, even while pretending to be one, another reason why no one takes you seriously and why, in addition to being hypocritical and dishonest, you've been banned from those sites. The problem is not with "skepticism". The problem is with you. Look in the mirror Torres. I'm sorry I ever tried to help you. It was a big mistake that I will not make again.

As for our email correspondence Torres, at the bottom of every email I've sent you appears this statement below. I have nothing to hide at all, but privacy laws exist for a reason and our correspondence is private. You asked if you could make it public and I declined. If you do not understand why the law protects peoples' privacy, or why people want privacy, then you don't understand what privacy means. Here is the statement that appears in every email I send out:

This private email message is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential information. Any unauthorized publication, broadcast, review, use, disclosure or distribution of its content, substance or meaning, by email, social media or any other means, is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, contact the sender by reply email and destroy all copies of the original message.


(Later, a couple people point out that one cannot unilaterally declare privacy of emails without it being under HIPAA or Attourney/Client privilege rules.)

Torres Responds:
FIRST, you are wrong about the censorship. (a) Grown men who loudly advocate for the importance of free discussion and consider themselves "serious thinkers" shouldn’t block *anyone* for expressing opposing views (with Coyne it was literally a question that I asked; with Boghossian it was criticizing his factually flawed “hoax”; with you it was simply linking to a Buzzfeed article that outlines a few of your Weinstein-esque, morally unacceptable behaviors); and (b) it is most definitely not just me. I know many, many people who have been banned by Coyne for expressing opposing views and blocked by Boghossian (ah, the “body habitus” Paragon of Rationality guy) on social media. This is pretty unacceptable for a group of men who pride themselves on intellectual integrity.

SECOND, your scholarship comment is quite puerile and it exemplifies exactly the sort of behavior among “skeptics” that has lost my intellectual respect. Is this high school or middle school, Michael? Also, I have a book out that’s as well-blurbed as any I’ve ever come across, numerous papers forthcoming in tier-one academic journals, and a job with a leading think tank, ETC. Behave yourself, please.

THIRD, the “private email message” only appears under your last two emails, not the first two. This is perhaps lucky for you, since the third was the most vulgar and inappropriate, and thus the one that would most surprise folks who are under the impression that you're a reasonable guy. (Again, why not just let me release all the emails? I'm happy to be transparent about this. Are you?)

FOURTH, one reason that people like you, Weinstein, Trump, and all the others, are able to compartmentalize (a) certain morally unacceptable behaviors, especially toward young women (e.g., your "naughty" comment above), from (b) your public image is because people like *me* don’t say anything. I don’t remember retweeting that Mofo comment from four years ago, but no doubt I quickly made myself forget about it (to eliminate cognitive dissonance; this is what I would have done until pretty recently in my life). It was only after Motherboard rejected our interview because of your history of rape allegations that the "feminist" in me said, “Rape culture is real, and it behooves me as a moral person to actually research this guy with whom I’m associated.” This research was also motivated by the dawning realization that you are often willing to put ideology before epistemology, whereas I am not (and our exchange proved this, because I took ZERO pleasure in severing ties with you). I talked to a lot of people (including numerous men and women that you know, because they are “higher-ups” in the community) and was pretty horrified by what they told me (as mentioned before, the word "sleazy" was used by several of them independently). Even James Randi once said, “Shermer has been a bad boy on occasion — I do know that[.] I have told him that if I get many more complaints from people I have reason to believe, that I am going to have to limit his attendance at the conference.” Just, wow.

So yeah, I suppose that you’re correct a bit about me being a “liar,” but not quite in the sense you intended: I lied to myself about the rumors that I tried oh-so-hard to ignore. I wish I had done more research on the "luminaries" of the "skeptics" community long ago and discovered just how heavy-handed, dogmatic, fact-resistant (when the facts don’t support some prior view), and morally unscrupulous you “powerful white men” are. Consider one quick example from a forthcoming article of mine: “Shermer even published a quite favorable review of Yiannopoulos’ book Dangerous in his magazine Skeptic. Apparently, Yiannopoulos saying that “feminism is cancer,” identifying a trans student by name during his “Dangerous F*ggot Tour,” and joking that “I know what you’re thinking—if every priest looked like this those little boys would stop complaining” wasn’t enough for Skeptic to say, “Hey, maybe saying nice things about Milo could damage the credibility of the ‘skeptic’ label.”” Really, think about that. Milo, a professional troll who constantly lies, tergiversates, and embodies the opposite values of the Enlightenment; a Trump supporter who is about as anti-intellectual as I can imagine.

You can use your “power” within the community to spread whatever rumors you want about me, to tell others that I’m a “backstabber,” “fucking clueless,” or an awful scholar (to quote you). I've said this before and I'll say it again, I’m not interested in childish games with unserious thinkers.

...

I would add:

(1) You once told me in an email that I shouldn’t hesitate to be controversial, because controversy sells. (I won’t actually quote you so I don’t get sued.) This single sentence gets at, I would argue, the most significant intellectual difference between you and me: after staring at that sentence for 10 seconds or so in disbelief, I literally thought to myself, “But I don’t give a sh*t about what sells, I care about what’s true—if that means being controversial, then fine; if it means not being controversial, then that’s fine too.” Perhaps much of our disagreement about my articles, my "loyalty" to you (and the "Old Boys Club"), etc. comes down to this important divergence of attitudes.

(2) I have never seen a group of people (you, Boghossian, Coyne, etc.) so susceptible to motivated reasoning and confirmation bias (two biases of great importance to "rationalists" and "EAs" like myself). When a black professor cancels a lecture due to death threats, the white male “skeptics” are silent; when this happens to women, feminists, etc., there's consistently zero attention to it from the Rational Men of the community. But when Milo Yiannopoulos, a professional troll who jokes about child rape, or some other white nationalist gets “deplatformed,” there’s a torrent of moral outrage. The lack of balance is quite telling. (Also, Maajid is tired of you misusing and abusing the term “regressive left,” as he told me in a recent interview.)


And just four hours ago from Torres:
Wow, new from CNN. Seriously, Michael Shermer published a quite sympathetic review of this guy's book. Not even the Daily Caller is interested in him. Skeptic magazine should be (to say the least) so very ashamed, for moral reasons, for giving this guy a platform. Or so I would argue.

[Link to CNN article titled "Daily Caller's opinion editor fired over Milo Yiannopoulos column"]


Somewhere in there, Shermer wrote:
Backstabber? Phil, you asked me to blurb your book, which I did because I try to help new authors get started. Then you asked me to include you in my lecture agency's roster of speakers so that we could do a public dialogue about existential threats, which I did because, again, I try to help up-and-coming scholars. Then you asked me to write you a letter of recommendation for a Ph.D. program at Oxford, which I did because I saw potential in you as a scholar. In response to these acts, you wrote an article in Salon repeating lies told about me in an article with no regard whatsoever to their veracity, just so, as you said, "people could decide for themselves." That's what I mean by backstabbing. And that is exactly what you are. And repeating a libel is legally libelous. You are forewarned.


Torres replied:
Or, here’s another perspective: I thought you where a morally good guy with high epistemic standards, so I asked you to provide me with a blurb, letter of recommendation, etc.

Later, I discovered a long list compiled by someone else of Weinstein-esque misdeeds, plus some pretty creepy emails trying to cover up those misdeeds. I talked to many people, both men and women, about the situations mentioned below (link), and on multiple independent occasions the word “sleazy” was used. So, I came to believe the victims—a radical act in our rape culture where people are afraid to speak up because “powerful men” won’t be too happy with them (see Weinstein, Trump, B. Clinton, Cosby, ETC.).

Around the same time, the gender studies “hoax” made it painfully clear to me that Skeptic magazine not only supports bad scholarship but doesn’t care about the facts when they don’t support some prior narrative (since the “hoax” was based a falsehood that no one involved ever acknowledged, and which should have resulted in the article being retracted.) Even more, this sort of motivated reasoning/confirmation bias has become endemic in the “skeptics” community, reflecting a general lack of curiosity about opposing points of view and self-reflection about accepted views. B&L’s statement that “We don’t need to know gender studies to call for the entire field to be defunded” provides a stunning example of this sort of anti-intellectualism. (Kids: don’t listen to them!! Knowledge is oh-so important!)

You’re claiming to be a offended victim. But just imagine how disappointed I was when I realized that so many of the white men I looked up to aren’t as reasonable or moral as I thought they were.

[Link to B.j. Murphy's post that says]:
We need to be vigilant against the purveyors of misogynism and violence, especially if those predators are from your own community - in this case, the skeptics and atheist community. Michael Shermer, you don't get a free pass from everything that's going on!

You're innocent until proven guilty, but using your lawyers to shut up alleged victims isn't exactly a good sign of your supposed "innocence."


[EDIT: this article hits it on the head. Now is the time for those who embrace the sort of ethical standards that prescribe respect for women to stand up and speak out. Which I will continue to do. [Link to NBC Think piece titled, "Stop Rewarding Men for Turning a Blind Eye to Other Men's Sins"]


Torres continues:
Here’s a snippet (attached below) from our email exchange, which I will probably make public at some point soon. Only the last two of four emails that Shermer sent me says, to paraphrase, “Confidential. Do not share without permission.” So the first two are fair game.

It is really baffling, Peter. I think this is what happens with “powerful men”: they come to believe that they can bully and intimidate others to stay quiet, and very often that works. But not with me: my dedication to truth (however absurdly cheesy that sounds!), whatever it happens to be, is greater than my fear of retaliation.

As mentioned above, if I had known about the low epistemic and moral character of some of the white dudes who I used to admire so much, I wouldn’t have gotten involved in this community of heavy-handed, Weinstein-esque ideologues in the first place. I don’t like stubborn ideology, and I won’t protect repeated sex offenders. (That being said, I am a fallibilist and hope to be perpetually open to criticisms of all sorts. So I welcome feedback of any kind on any position that I (tentatively) advocate!!)

[Link to an image of a couple of lines of an email]:
This has apparently devoled into a conversation about feelings rather than facts, and I take it skepticism is about facts.

I also find the loyalty, "culture of honor"-type objection here less than compelling. This looks like a Trump-Comey moment: what I can promise you is honesty, not loyalty.


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Philo
New Member

45 Posts

Posted - 11/05/2017 :  12:21:42   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Philo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I hope you do not assume that I am a fan of Michael Shermer just because I don't agree with you on some political issues. That I'm not a member of the Blue Tribe doesn't automatically make me a member of the Red Tribe or any other political tribe.

Originally posted by Dave W.

The libertarians you're talking about (American libertarian "skeptics") see it as a form of government, not merely a philosophy.


Yes, but the form of government desired comes from one's moral philosophy, at least to a large degree.

Originally posted by Dave W.

Collective financing of anything requires theft in the form of taxes, in the libertarian mind.


I know what libertarians think, and I don't share that position. That's one reason among many why I don't consider myself a libertarian.

Originally posted by Dave W.

I'd like to see your statistical data supporting that claim. Of course, if it's true, it's not something to be proud of.


The few times I can recall it ever being mentioned, it has iin most cases been mocked.

Originally posted by Dave W.

Ditto, let's see your data on that claim. Of course, I would expect people from a former colonial power to think it's weird, and many European countries are former colonial powers... This is why, for example, the indignation sparked by Prince Harry's use of aboriginal themes resulted in a huge "we did what now?" from the royals. That's an example of ignorance, by the way, and not a principled stand that cultural appropriation is a "weird concept" (as if there could be such a principled stance).


I however don't come from a country with a significant colonial history.

I think Daylight Atheism has a good article: Some Thoughts on Cultural Appropriation

There’s no high arbiter of culture to rule on what’s acceptable and what isn’t. Some people may be happy to see their cultural innovations appreciated and adopted by outsiders; others may be staunchly opposed; still others may be indifferent. None of these opinions are more right or more wrong than the others, and if it seems wrong to mock or fetishize another culture, it seems equally wrong to grant a heckler’s veto to anyone in the world who wants to stake a claim on the matter.

It’s always a good idea to approach cultures not your own with respect and sensitivity. But an overly rigid insistence on sharp lines of demarcation strikes me as suspect. It perpetuates the essentialist fallacy that cultures are distinct and homogeneous groups of people who are all like each other and unlike everyone else. Such balkanization has no basis in reality: there’s no unique essence that all Japanese people, all Indian people, or all American people have in common. Every culture is enormously diverse; every culture blends with and bleeds into others at the edges.

Ultimately, all human culture is a remix. Starting from childhood, we learn by imitating others around us. Civilizations intermingle and cross-pollinate, absorbing ideas from each other, regardless of whether they meet through trade, migration or war. We borrow and adapt words, food, fashion, art, music, religion. Almost everything we do “comes from” somewhere else, and I’d be willing to bet that’s true of every human cultural practice or invention, going back to the knowledge of how to knap flint into spear points. Cultures only seem distinct and static on the short timescale of individual lives; over many generations, they diffuse into each other until it’s impossible to answer the question of who came up with what.


Originally posted by Dave W.

No, I'm not saying your argument is bogus because the bigots will love it. I'm just saying the bigots will love it. You are wrong because you clearly don't understand the position of "the left."


In what way am I wrong? My refusal to endorse affirmative action and the concept of cultural appropriation? In my own country, I'm not exactly on the fringe for that.

Originally posted by Dave W.

But now it's clear that because you're not American, you probably shouldn't understand the positions of the American "left," which probably looks to you like they're mostly right-of-center anyway, correct?


The political positions of the Democrats are center-right to me, yes. However, some American left positions promoted on Internet forums are in many cases way to the left of any mainstream European political party. Especially the identity political stuff, which feels as if it is from another planet.

Originally posted by Dave W.

Then you must not know what cultural appropriation is. Cultural appropriation is the appropriation of things from other cultures, which is precisely what is anathema to white nationalists, who are trying to keep their culture "pure." Let's not forget that the Nazis tried to ban jazz and swing as "degenerate" music.


You can't appropriate something from a culture, because it is not an entity. As the Daylight Atheism article stated, cultural appropriation holds to some essentialist notion of culture, which is simply false. What is a culture, be it American, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, German, Italian, etc changes of time. In addition, all of these countries have regional cultures as well. In a way, those of living in larger cities today is the Western world as well as outside the Western world, share a sort of urban global culture that borrows from all corners of the world. Cities like London, New York, Los Angeles and Sydney are all extremely diverse, made up of many ethicities, and many individuals who were not born there, but moved there as adults.

Originally posted by Dave W.

And that's what happens when one culture appropriates the art, food, music, etc. of another culture. How you have this backwards, I really don't understand.


Again, a culture is not an entity. All cultures, except maybe isolated remote cultures, borrow or "appropriate" from other cultures, and have done so since time immemorial. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

To your own country, the Italians brought pizza and pasta, the Germans brought hamburgers. Now they are part of the mainstream culture. It's all good.

Originally posted by Dave W.

I have, and I'm pretty damn sure I'm not the one who has it all wrong, here.


I don't have it all wrong. You don't seem to know what a culture is in the first place. You seem to commit the essentialist fallacy.

Originally posted by Dave W.

Let's see some data to support that outrageous claim.


Sure, point me to a country other than the USA where this is considered a problem.
Edited by - Philo on 11/05/2017 12:34:38
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Dave W.
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Originally posted by Philo

I hope you do not assume that I am a fan of Michael Shermer just because I don't agree with you on some political issues. That I'm not a member of the Blue Tribe doesn't automatically make me a member of the Red Tribe or any other political tribe.
Don't go building yourself straw men. I can agree that you're no fan of Michael Shermer while at the same time telling you why you're wrong about certain things and pointing out that some of your attitudes would be embraced by the violent right in this country. This isn't an either-or selection, there are multiple orthogonal spectra in play.

Originally posted by Dave W.

The few times I can recall it ever being mentioned, it has iin most cases been mocked.
So no data, just anecdotes.

I think Daylight Atheism has a good article: Some Thoughts on Cultural Appropriation
Yes, it is fairly good. What you and Adam Lee seem to miss, though, is that the farcical, over-the-top reactions occur when people attempt to gate-keep cultural practices that aren't their own, or attempt to prevent cultures from mixing in any way.

Lee's point is that cultural appropriation happens all the time, and bad things happen when people are too sensitive to it (or attempt to keep their own cultures "pure"). Lee is opting for a reasonable middle ground: "It’s always a good idea to approach cultures not your own with respect and sensitivity..."

You, on the other hand, seem to think that even recognizing the term is "weird."

Originally posted by Dave W.

No, I'm not saying your argument is bogus because the bigots will love it. I'm just saying the bigots will love it. You are wrong because you clearly don't understand the position of "the left."
In what way am I wrong? My refusal to endorse affirmative action and the concept of cultural appropriation? In my own country, I'm not exactly on the fringe for that.
I told you already why you're wrong: "the Left" isn't of one mind about the issues you brought up. You're wrong to think that "the Left" insists on an endorsement of affirmative action. And you're wrong to think that "the Left" has a single opinion on the concept of cultural appropriation.

You'll notice, for example, that neither term appears in the 2016 Democratic Party Platform. Neither did they appear in Jill Stein's 2016 Platform (she was leftier than the DNC).

The political positions of the Democrats are center-right to me, yes. However, some American left positions promoted on Internet forums are in many cases way to the left of any mainstream European political party.
Wait a minute... You think that random people on the Internet who self-select to speak out on an issue are a good proxy for the mainstream American left?!? Perhaps what you really need to do is go read a text on sampling bias. Sociologists have written lots of them. Many should be available in your local library.

Especially the identity political stuff, which feels as if it is from another planet.
Oh, please! Give me a break. The right practices its own identity politics: that of white Christian men. That cannot feel like it's "from another planet" to you, because many European governments are facing challenges these days from nativist, nationalist or outright neo-Nazi political parties. Hitler was practicing identity politics in the 1930s. It's neither new nor a characteristically "left" thing.

Originally posted by Dave W.

Then you must not know what cultural appropriation is. Cultural appropriation is the appropriation of things from other cultures, which is precisely what is anathema to white nationalists, who are trying to keep their culture "pure." Let's not forget that the Nazis tried to ban jazz and swing as "degenerate" music.
You can't appropriate something from a culture, because it is not an entity.
Tell that to Hitler and the SS.

As the Daylight Atheism article stated, cultural appropriation holds to some essentialist notion of culture, which is simply false.
No, that's not what Lee's article stated. He stated that such appropriations happen constantly, and over-reacting to bringing outside cultural practices in (changing "yoga" to "mindful stretching") is as about as ludicrous as trying to prevent it from happening from within (Germany banning jazz).

Lee thinks we should be sensitive to other cultures, and give credit where it's due. Lee did not state that cultural appropriation cannot or does not happen.

Again, a culture is not an entity. All cultures, except maybe isolated remote cultures, borrow or "appropriate" from other cultures, and have done so since time immemorial. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
You go back and read Lee's article again. Focus on the middle paragraphs.

To your own country, the Italians brought pizza and pasta, the Germans brought hamburgers. Now they are part of the mainstream culture. It's all good.
Actually, the Italians probably got pasta from the Chinese. And while Hamburg steak was popular with Germans everywhere, it was probably an American who put one between two pieces of bread and invented the "Hamburger Sandwich."

But again, this isn't the point. Nobody faults Italian immigrants to America who wanted to build a successful business for trying to make pizza popular with everyone, not just Italians. They weren't appropriating their own culture, they were trying to spread it.

Instead, think about the recent dust-up over an artist obviously working in Native American themes who claimed to have dreamt them up all on her own, and so didn't mention Native Americans at all in her descriptions and/or biography. That crosses Lee's "credit where it's due" line, doesn't it?

I don't have it all wrong. You don't seem to know what a culture is in the first place. You seem to commit the essentialist fallacy.
You seem to be able to repeat the buzzwords without understanding what they really mean.

I apologize for the above. Way too snarky. Although I do have questions about how someone can make an essentialist argument regarding what the Italians brought to the U.S. while simultaneously dismissing "cultural appropriation" as an essentialist argument.

Originally posted by Dave W.

Let's see some data to support that outrageous claim.

Sure, point me to a country other than the USA where this is considered a problem.
No. You shouldn't be trying to switch the burden of proof if you're a good skeptic.

You made this claim of your own volition: "Most of the rest of the world has already dismissed it ['it' being 'the phenomenon of cultural appropriation'] as nonsense."

Therefore, before you made that claim, you must have measured the attitudes of "the rest of the world" towards a well-defined concept of cultural appropriation, hopefully through a fairly determined random sampling (again, sociologists have written many books on the subject), and after a properly weighted statistical analysis found that more than 50% ("most") think that the statement "cultural appropriation is nonsense" is true, with either a very low p-value or a high Bayesian probability, depending on what kind of analysis you prefer (I do not yet have an opinion on which kind is "better" for sociological studies in general).

To do otherwise would be - in technical terms - making a sloppy argument.

So because I don't want to think that you, Philo, have made a sloppy argument regarding a social phenomenon in a thread that you started in which you criticized a sloppy argument about a social phenomenon, let us instead please see the data you collected and the methods you used to come to the conclusion that allowed you to rationally make the claim that you did.

As all good skeptics know, the plural of "anecdote" is not "data."

(Actually, I predict that if someone really did run a global survey of attitudes about cultural appropriation, the vast majority - 80% or more - of responses would be "never heard of it" or "no opinion", and a tiny minority would be "it's nonsense," and an even even tinier minority would be "it's nonsense" with an attempt at a thoughtful argument supporting that position, since some respondents will check the box that they most think will annoy the surveyor out of sheer contrariness. Note well that this is merely a hypothesis, not a conclusion, based on what I know of sociological studies in general and my personal impression of how widespread knowledge of the phenomenon under study is. Until such a study is done, the only possible conclusion supported by the evidence at hand is "I don't know.")

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On fire for Christ
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Welcome to Skeptic friends where Dave can never be even a little bit wrong, about anything. Until everyone just stops trying.

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Posted - 11/07/2017 :  18:18:17   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by On fire for Christ

Welcome to Skeptic friends where Dave can never be even a little bit wrong, about anything.
The evidence shows you're wrong.

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