Why Does Talking About Creepers And Harassment Make People So Angry? | Popehat
"We write about things that make people angry: sometimes on purpose (u mad bro?), sometimes because the topic interests us. But few topics are as consistent in their ability to draw anger and trolling and bizarre visitors as the issue of sexual harassment and responses to it."
(tags: sex creepers harrassment feminism)

Ambidancetrous: The Blog — “We don’t want to make people uncomfortable.” (aka, “What about teh menz?!”)
"Ultimately, some of the worry that some straight guys will be uncomfortable dancing with other men (or being led by a woman) may be justified." Het guys: you lost the oppression Olympics, so your comfort and consent about who touches you is less important than our plan to build a utopia through dance. PROBLEMATIC. Well, OK, that bit rubbed me up the wrong way. But seriously, I think an "ambidancetrous" dance scene would be less "problematic" if the expectations (and how they differ from pretty much every other scene) were made clear up front. What I expect would happen then is that if you insisted every lesson was ambidancetrous, you’d never get enough people to make a viable community. Maybe it’d work as an option within an established scene, though.
(tags: lindy consent gender feminism lindyhop dance)
A doctor writes about the difficulties of dealing with obesity: dealing with a social problem, and applying epidemiology to individuals. Via Metafilter.
(tags: food fat obesity medicine health)
On the stupidity of asking, “but where’s the evidence we need evidence for things?”
"it’s a mistake to think that if someone thinks maybe you should have some evidence for a particular thing you believe, they are therefore committed to a sweeping philosophical doctrine about needing evidence for absolutely everything."
(tags: evidence philosophy epistemology)
Online Child Porn – What the Papers Aren’t Telling You.
Could Google really block it? (Hint: no)
(tags: google porn filtering internet)
Ukip Activist Marty Caine Provokes Fury by Branding Drummer Lee Rigby’s Family ‘Idiots’ – IBTimes UK
Looks like the old "the EDL are the provisional wing of UKIP" joke is actually true.
(tags: edl lee-rigby islam racism ukip)

8856bff18d7ac166b097e64a71f2ca83A friend on Facebook linked to Louise Mensch vs Laurie Penny on the “check your privilege” thing. He went on to say he hadn’t come across that phrase, and wondered if it’s anything more than thinly veiled argumentum ad hominem. I done a comment, which seemed long enough to blog:

It’s jargon from the Internet social justice warrior subculture, as far as I can tell, so if you haven’t heard it, hang out on Tumblr, LiveJournal or bits of the feminist blogsphere (or, you know, don’t). It’s becoming more mainstream, if those articles are anything to go by.

The injunction to “check your privilege” means different things at different times. Sometimes it means “you are not in a position to know that”. For example, if I claimed “there is no homophobia in Cambridge”, someone could rightly point out that I’m not that likely to be a victim of homophobia, so I should probably ask some gay people for their opinions. Saying that continues the argument by undercutting my claim.

Sometimes it does seem to act as what Suber calls “logical rudeness“, that is, saying “CYP!” insulates a theory from argument by attributing some fault to those who do not believe it, stopping the argument about the theory by switching it to an argument about the unbeliever. As Suber says, though, it’s not clear that there’s a general duty to respond to would-be debunkers of theories we hold, and claiming that, say, feminism is nonsense because so many feminists are fans of privilege checking is itself rude. However, Suber doesn’t seem to address the point that, if we’re interested in having accurate beliefs, we should debate those with the strongest counter-arguments: our rudeness should not allow the opposition to conclude we are mistaken, but it should worry us.

Using “CYP!” a single line response (on Twitter, or in a comment box, say) is just blowing off steam or cheering for your team, as far as I can tell. It doesn’t actually mean anything other than “yay for us and boo for you!”

Edited to add: There’s some more discussion of this over on Liv’s journal. Read the comments too.

How to do it right
How to do it right
Over at What Should We Call Swing Dance, someone posted an image macro about how it’s a bit crushing when someone turns down a dance with you and then goes and dances the same song with someone else. There’s a bit of etiquette (which is shared among the partner dances I’m familiar with) that if you turn someone down, you respond as if you didn’t want to dance that song anyway (“I’m tired, I’ll sit this one out”, “I hate Big Bad Voodoo Daddy”) and then sit out for that song, even if you really refused because you don’t particularly want to dance with that person right now. Conversely, if you do go off and dance the song with someone else, it’s a pretty deliberate signal that you don’t want the orignal asker to ask you again, ever ever. (One can also achieve this with the manner of one’s refusal, of course, but this is an advanced skill: Nikolas Lloyd has a training video).

It being Tumblr, this meme gets called out as heteronormative (Oh Tumblr! Never change!) because the caller-out is a woman who mostly leads but is in one of those rare scenes where there are too many guys (who also mainly lead), and doesn’t like the implication that it’s rude to turn them down when they ask her to follow.

Is there such an implication? Only if the caller-out then goes on to dance that song. The etiquette (and the meme) does not say it’s rude to turn people down. But it does seem like there’s room for some improvement here.

Core Etiquette Addendum 1

Everyone's a winner
Everyone’s a winner
If some people are willing to switch (as we call it in my subculture) but most people have a preferred role, and someone is asked to dance the opposite role to their preference, it seems that one could (a) see whether the asker will dance that role instead, and if not (b) dance with someone who will, with no loss of face for the original asker. I hereby declare that people who do this are Not Rude.


There is a further bit of etiquette (not so far referenced in any image macros, as far as I know) which just plain says its rude to turn people down. I agree that this is problematic (as we say on Tumblr). I think it’s usually propagated by dancing teachers in an effort to make dancing more friendly and less cliquey, but you shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for refusing extended physical contact with people you don’t want to have that contact with. The etiquette is exploitable (as we say on 4Chan) by bad actors: see this educational video (Tumblr users: trigger warning for satire).

I cast Summon Shitstorm!

There is a wider question of why it is that men usually lead and women usually follow and whether this is a good thing, but again, Lloyd sorted that out a while ago, so there’s probably no more room for debate about it, I’d’ve thought.

#322 & #323 “My friend group has a case of the Creepy Dude. How do we clear that up?” « CaptainAwkward.com
What to do about That Guy (discusses stuff That Guy does). Via Andrewducker.
(tags: social relationships sex advice assault sexism feminism rape)
The Worst Argument In The World
which is: “If we can apply an emotionally charged word to something, we must judge it exactly the same as a typical instance of that emotionally charged word.” Yvain is just on fire lately: read his LJ and LessWrong posts.
(tags: equivocation worst philosophy argument rhetoric yvain)
House Hacks – Imgur
Clever household tips (as image macros) Via Alex at Lindy.
(tags: hacks tips cleaning housework house lifehack)

Is This Feminist?
(tags: problematic satire feminism funny)
Life in life – YouTube
Someone implemented Conway’s Game of Life cellular automata inside another Game of Life. Cool.
(tags: meta automata life conway)
A Life Worth Ending
“The era of medical miracles has created a new phase of aging, as far from living as it is from dying. A son’s plea to let his mother go.”
(tags: dementia medicine parents dying death aging)

God Is Not Dead Yet | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction
William Lane Craig lays out his best arguments for the existence of God.
(tags: kalam william-lane-craig christianity religion apologetics atheism philosophy)
On God and Our Ultimate Purpose
Stephen Maitzen argues that introducing a God does not solve the question of what, if anything, makes life meaningful.
(tags: god purpose stephen-maitzen maitzen atheism philosophy)
Cycle of Fear – NYTimes.com
Tim Kreider (of “The Pain, When Will It End?”) on the meditative value of fear: “When I’m balanced on two thin wheels at 30 miles an hour, gauging distance, adjusting course, making hundreds of unconscious calculations every second, that idiot chatterbox in my head is kept too busy to get a word in.”
(tags: meditation funny flow cycling anxiety)
How filthy lucre could subvert the Church of England | World news | The Guardian
“Conservative evangelical churches threaten to withhold cash from pro-gay and liberal ‘heretics'”. What fun.
(tags: andrew-brown money evangelicalism church-of-england anglicanism anglican)
Beyond Mitt’s Underwear: Part 1: Apostasy and Restoration
tongodeon did an excellent series on Mormon beliefs. This is the first part, which links to all the others. The conclusion is worth reading even if you skim the rest.
(tags: lds joseph-smith underwear mitt-romney religion mormonism mormon)
Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is – Whatever
An explanation which tries to avoid those problematic identity politics jargon terms (see what I did there?)
(tags: sexuality feminism race privilege gender)

I’ve been commenting in other places. You might be interested in where:

The Evil God Challenge

Stephen Law’s Evil God Challenge is a new take on the problem of evil. The challenge is to ask theists why it’s more reasonable to believe that there’s a good God (accepting the standard theodicies for the problem of evil) than it is to believe there’s an evil God (accepting flipped theodicies, for example, that evil God created us with free will so that we could freely choose to do evil).

Law has been dealing with responses to this challenge ever since his debate with William Lane Craig. On his blog, he mentions a conversation with Glenn Peoples. That blog entry attracted a few comments, so I joined in.

What does good mean?

There’s been a lot of chat about just what Law means by good or evil, how this is “grounded” and so on, as theists often want to say you cannot have meaningful morality if there’s no God (there’s no reason to suppose this is true, as far as I can tell, but it’s psychologically appealing even to atheists). Law says he’s using the terms in a “pre-theoretic” sense (I suspect because he doesn’t want the whole thing to turn into an argument about meta-ethics). Interestingly, I found a quote from Craig which says that theists shouldn’t argue that atheists can’t meaningfully use moral vocabulary, so I commented on that: it seems perfectly reasonable to use terms like (morally) good in the common sense way, or to point to cases like gratuitous suffering and call those evil (in fact, Law says he can make his challenge about suffering rather then morality: the challenge is then why it’s reasonable to believe there’s a God who doesn’t want us to suffer unnecessarily, I guess).

Thomist God

I’ve also been responding to some comments by someone called BenYachov. He’s been arguing that if you believe in the God of Thomas Aquinas (which apparently is the official God of the Catholic church), Law’s challenge won’t faze you. I was trying to tease out why. BenYachov claims that God “grounds” moral goodness but isn’t himself a moral agent (a moral agent being something which is capable of acting on moral considerations). As Thomist God is not a moral agent, he cannot be said to be morally good or morally evil. Nevertheless, he is still Good in some sense related to “grounding” all goods and being perfect (the Thomists seem to like to use lots of Capital Letters for Significant Concepts).

I wondered at this Thomist God’s “goodness” if it means nothing like moral goodness. I went on to say that this God is morally alien. He’s a bit like what happens when weird aliens build an artificial intelligence. I was also still not sure what it means for Thomist God to “ground” moral goodness as he’s not morally good, only Good: as I’ve said before, the word “ground” should be a red flag in debates like these, as it often means the other person is skating over something for which they don’t really have a good explanation. Finally, I responded to another comment of BenYachov’s, by saying that there’s no reason to worship something because it created you or because it’s mysterious.

I get the impression that there’s a lot of work being done by Capital Letter Concepts in BenYachov’s world, and a lot of trading on different meanings of the world “good”. There’s also the weird idea that these meanings have something in common and that there’s an attribute called “Goodness” which somehow incorporates them all. This seems a bit like what Jaynes calls the Mind Projection Fallacy, the idea that every property we perceive in something is out there in the world.

Problem page

Over on Metafilter, there’s a section where people can ask questions. Someone recently said they’d been talking to their father-in-law about religion and philosophy and ended up accidentally de-converting him from Christianity. Now the mother-in-law is trying to cut her daughter and son-in-law off. I posted a response trying to explain what the in-laws might be thinking, and suggesting that the best way back with the mother-in-law might be to talk about seeking truth.

Brains, sex, fat

livredor posted about brain sex differences and fat acceptance. I commented: I think the popularisation of research into neuroscience and evolutionary psychology leads to unscientific statements (see also this Less Wrong article about one way to misunderstand it), but there’s also a set of feminists who don’t believe in innate brain differences between men and women because it contradicts their ideology, making them equivalent to creationists. In the case of fat acceptance, I was also a bit suspicious of activist claims that the medical establishment is wrong about fat being unhealthy being linked with the desire to see fat people treated more kindly. I owe livredor some replies there.

Boys’ brains, girls’ brains: How to think about sex differences in psychology. – Slate Magazine

“Fear of sexism has produced a bias against conceding sex differences, which gets in the way of frank discussion and investigation.” “Beware any explanation that relies on a single factor. Hormones matter, but so does socialization.” “The fishy part of neuroscience isn’t the data. It’s the spin we put on the data in the guise of explanation.”
(tags: gender neuroscience psychology feminism)

How Much Religion Should You Expose Your Children To? | Friendly Atheist

Tycho and Gabe talking about what they should teach their kids about religion. Interesting that Gabe (who’s son is also called Gabe) is a vague theist but didn’t want to pass on much formal religion to his son, but Tycho (an atheist) thought the kid should know about the Bible.
(tags: atheism religion bible penny-arcade children)

Strange Horizons Fiction: Tomorrow is Waiting, by Holli Mintzer

A short science fiction story about the Muppets. Heartwarming stuff. Via Sumana.
(tags: sci-fi science-fiction muppets ai)

New Statesman – Faith no more

"Earlier this year, Andrew Zak Williams asked public figures why they believe in God. Now it’s the turn of the atheists – from A C Grayling to P Z Myers – to explain why they don’t "
(tags: atheism richard-dawkins philip-pullman daniel-dennett sam-harris)

Pompous Theist

You've seen Advice Dog and Courage Wolf, now enjoy Pompous Theist. Well observed stuff: I've seen quite a few of these "arguments" in my time.
(tags: atheism meme funny humour theism religion)

“Shut Up, Rich Boy”: The Problem With “Privilege.” | No, Seriously, What About Teh Menz?

"I’m a feminist writer, but I don’t like to use the word “privilege” in my writing. Here’s why not:"
(tags: feminism privilege)

Why Have Hackers Hit Russia’s Most Popular Blogging Service? – TIME

Where LJ has been the past week or so. For once, it's not their fault.
(tags: internet security livejournal politics ddos)