Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Archive for August 2010

Two articles on feminism

with one comment

The large presence of feminism in the blogosphere and in the Swedish society has had a natural impact on my own blogging (very noticeable in the last few weeks). While I am certain to revisit this topic on many occasions in the future, I will try to scale it back for now—there are many other topics worthy of attention. Before doing so, I have written two new articles for my website on, respectively, “mansplaining” and the Swedish “genusglasögon”/“gender-(eye-)glasses”.

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August 26, 2010 at 4:08 pm

Unfair argumentation methods VII: Follow-up, rape charges against Assange

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Not quite two months ago, I had an entry on a gender-feminist, Anna Ardin. As I gather from several blog entries by others (examplee) today, Anna is one of the two women who raised (presumably false) rape charges against Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder.


Addendum:

The topic of Anna Ardin has brought a sudden surge in hits. Following a few links, I found a better English treatmente, which I recommend above the original half-English/half-Swedish example. The lengthy discussion provides much information on various aspects, but I warn that some of it is speculative or based on Google translations. (There are a number of Swedish participants, however.)

On the balance, it can now be stated with near certainty that Anna Ardin is the culprit; further, that this is not the first time she has been involved in a similar scenario.


Addendum:

A few weeks later (2010-09-13), I made a search to receive updates. Among other things, I found a long and detailed discussion in Englishe, which is better than the above two sources (the first of which even appears to have first been deleted and then replaced with a very different version).


of

Written by michaeleriksson

August 24, 2010 at 8:52 am

Blogroll update

with 5 comments

I recently stumbled upon a very interesting book, Mansförtryck och kvinnovälde [pdf, Swedish]e, which gives an excellent description of many of the problems caused in Sweden by gender-feminism, including application of different standards in many contexts, news reporting that is severely distorted in a men-are-evil/women-are-victims direction, how grossly flawed “research” is taken as truth, and similar. As the recurring reader knows, these are topics close to my own heart, and I have decided to add this book to my blogroll. (Foregoing my usual PDF-files-have-nothing-to-do-on-the-web stance.)

The download is free from the given URL.

By the FIFO principle, Inteutanminasoner’s Bloge is removed. That blog was first discussed here.

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August 22, 2010 at 6:30 am

Comment censorship and comment policies IVd: Wrap up

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The blog entry by Antje Schruppe that forms the basis for installment IV of this article series has proved a great source of material, both to illustrate my own thoughts and to discuss new areas—largely through exactly the kind of clashes in opinions that feminist blogs so often try to suppress. However, some two weeks after the initial encounter, it is high time to wrap things up. I will try to condense the remaining loose ends into one post, even at the cost of wandering between topics and not working everything out in deserved detail.

Originally planned, as a first follow-up to my original discussion, was a post with the preliminary title “To comment or not to comment—that is the question”. Let us start with the half-completed draft of this post, with some minor comments in square brackets:

Developments have left me with an unpleasant dilemma—and a good illustration of why the statements made by Antje are misguided.

To give a brief re-cap of comments (as far as relevant for the current post):

  1. There have been a number commenters expressing similar sentiments to mine.

  2. The overall tone has been reasonably pleasant and one recurring visitor has offered that Antje’s blog is an exception to the feminist standard. This has the dual complication that the commenters above (including me) may be unfair regarding specifically Antje (but not feminism in general), while she, in turn, may be unfair towards the commenters her original post was directed at. [With hindsight, my interpretation may have been too generous towards Antje, cf. the following topic.]

  3. One specific commenter seems to follow a more traditional feminist agenda and/or have a poor understanding of the underlying issues.

Specifically, this last commenter was of the kind that more-or-less necessitates answers: They (as a group—judging any individual in this regard may be too far-going) simply give a distorted image of what their opponents say, what scientists say, and generally appear to be more opinionated than informed. They are particularly common among feminists (but do occur in all camps). Naturally, a debater who has an interest in correctness will give answers pointing to e.g. distortions or misunderstanding of opinions, factual errors, and mistakes in reasoning—and will try to expound on his own position for clarity, use larger examples, try to point to issues in a bigger picture, whatnot. (In addition, the question of fairness and intellectual honesty can also arise. The recurring reader will know that I have, at least occasionally, defended even those whom I do not agree with in this regard.)

Making such corrections do not only affect the transgressors (in fact, they will typically not be affected at all, through their resistive mentality), but are valuable in that an uninformed or easily lead reader is given a less one-sided perspective. Additionally, they can be highly beneficial both for the author, himself, and for any critical readers looking for a more solid understanding.

I strongly suspect, however, that exactly this type of clarification is what many of the feminists confuse with e.g. “wanting to have the last word”, “mansplaining”, or similar—to the detriment of themselves and their readers, and to the annoyance of those who are unfairly given the label. (Notably, there is a large difference between a constant repeating of the same arguments in louder and louder tones and an actual elaboration, clarification, and extension.)

Feminists to a large part provoke the behaviour they legitimately complain about, e.g. through their censoring of and attacks on the behaviour they illegitimately complain about.

Similarly, I once had a boss whose standard reply to feedback during meetings was “Let us save that discussion for a smaller circle.”—a reasonable suggestion, except that these smaller circles usually never happened, and, when they did, almost always consisted of a standard group of “yes men” (rather than those who could and were willing to contribute, including the original issue raiser). In his case, I strongly suspect that this was deliberately ploy to sweep things under the carpet without being too obvious.

Notably, many feminist blogs work on a guilty-until-proved-innocent principle. [Cf. my previous entry or the case of “blue milk” for extreme examples. Beware, however, that the same overall tendency is quite common, even if less obvious, on less misandristic feminist blogs.]

The dilemma mentioned was this: A previous comment by Antje read

@Michael – das war jetzt übrigens die „zweite Runde“, von der oben in meinem Blogpost die Rede war :) –

(@Michael—that [my preceding comment] was the “second round” that I discussed in my blog post :) –

Her original discussion of “second round” could be summarized as

dass ein Kommentator immer das letzte Wort behalten will und dadurch die Diskussion in eine bestimmte Richtung drängt und auf ungute Weise dominiert.

(that a commenter always wants to have the last word, and thereby forces the discussion in a particular direction or dominates it in an ungood manner. [The German word “ungut”, unlike “ungood”, did not originate as Newspeakw, but seeing that it only survives in the expression “nichts für ungut”/“no offence” the literal translation is the most fitting—and the reference is a striking, if likely entirely unintended, match in the context it appeared in.])

I now saw myself caught between two alternatives: Either I would let statements that should be confronted stand unconfronted—or I would provide “proof” that Antje was right by enabling her to talk about a “third round”. (This type of “damned if you do; damned if you don’t” situations have been relatively common in my own experiences with feminists. Whether they use it as a deliberate trick to preclude objections, is unclear to me.)

At that time, I decided not to comment, but instead to discuss the general problem in the originally intended follow-up. Some discussion of why the blog owner is, in fact, wrong is present in the quoted draft. (Further, arguments can found in previous entries or e.g. in the Wikipedia article on selective exposure theoryw.)

As time went by, other topics surfaced, and I chose to comment on one of these—after all, to claim a third round based on a different topic would be absurd. Shortly after submitting this comment, I received a notification email that another commenter had made a similar reply (meaning that Antje was at that moment moderating); however, my comment was for some reason not let through. I now grew suspicious, bearing in mind a previous statement implying that comments were possibly being held back:

Für mich selber seh’ ich nun leider auch nicht, wieso z.B. der letzte Kommentar, den ich hier ( zum Thema „Moderieren“ ) geschrieben habe, nichts mit dem Thema zu tun hätte, oder sonst etwas, so dass er gelöscht werden musste.

(For my part, I do not see why, for instance, the last comment that I wrote here (on the topic “Moderation”) was considered off-topic, [or otherwise was unsuitable], and had to be deleted.)

(http://antjeschrupp.com/2010/07/25/warum-es-hier-keine-netiquette-gibt/#comment-2485e)

Before choosing my next action (or, possibly, non-action), I decided to investigate the “second round” issue—possibly, my interpretation, with several days between the mention in the post and the mention in a comment, had been too optimistic.

Indeed, a few sentences later in the post, Antje says:

Ich handhabe das inzwischen so, dass ich nach der zweiten „Runde“ weitere Kommentare des Betreffenden dann nicht mehr freischalte.

(By now, I have a policy of not approving more comments from [the person in question] after the second “round”.)

This lead me to re-publish the comment on my own blog (further information is present on that post).

Written by michaeleriksson

August 12, 2010 at 9:32 pm

Unfair argumentation methods XII: Stumbling into the hornets’ nest

with 4 comments

Some time yesterday, I skimmed through a post discussing the perceived need for a woman to be “fuckable”e. Seeing a common misperception of what men want and who imposes what onto women, I jotted down the following comment:

My view, as a man (and while I cannot guarantee that I speak for the majority, I do speak for many others):

If women would spend less time and money on their looks, I would be quite happy. Apart from shaving, most of what a woman needs to do for men are things that she should do anyway—for the sake of her health and hygien. Break-legs heels, stinky perfume, too much make-up, weight-obsessions, whatnot, have a negative net-effect.

By the by, unlike what is claimed above, there is something that men spend similar amounts of money on—drinks, dinners, movie tickets, whatnot to get women.

Unfortunately, I was too much in a hurry to move onto a topic I had not already heard several dozen times—and overlooked that the page was not a discussion among “normal” women, who happened to have a faulty understanding of the men’s side and might be open to a friendly pointer, but had a strong pro-Dworkin take (for those not in the know, Andrea Dworkinw is the patron saint of men-should-be-gassed-to-death-in-concentration-camps feminists).

(While I almost always read the post, and usually the comments, carefully before commenting, some issues are simply so repetitive that they can be “filed away” too soon and be given a stock answer.)

The ensuing until the point where I unsubscribed to comments:

(factcheckme)

AaaaaahahahahHahahahahaha! HAHAHAHAHAHHA!! Anyone care to take a crack at this clown? I’m a little busy at the moment. Remember: he speaks for many others. But my guess is, he listens for none.

(That this comment is directed at me is clear from the notification email, but not unambigiously from the page.)

Note the complete lack of arguments, the extremely derogatory tone, the insults and ad hominem attacks, and the wild and unfounded speculations.

(me)

Since when is bringing in a perspective that you lack being a clown? Since when is it OK to use vague and unfounded ad hominem attacks against people you do not even know?

(I can, by the way, assure that I listen to far more people and opinions than the typical person.)

A more than polite answer considering the circumstances.

(factcheckme)

Yes, and you are demonstrating your fine listening skills now. By continuing to talk. I may or may not deal with you later, and others may or may not respond to you as well. In the meantime, this is the sound of you, shutting the fuck up.

Note the oft-observed feminist wish to disallow any dissenting comments and the further use of ad hominem attacks, with the addition of a threatening tone. That she further presumes to, very rudely, dictate to me what I should or should not do is moving into the inexcusable.

(sonia)

I just want to say this, douche lord.

THE ENTIRE FUCKING POINT OF THIS BLOG IS THAT WOMEN DON’T HAVE TO “DO” ANYTHING “FOR MEN.”

Except, apparently, get schooled in perspectives we “lack.”

The fact that you think you can speak on the experience of women in a
definitive way makes you a misogynist.

More of the same old, with the addition of the standard claim that the opponent is a misogynist. To make matters worse, this claim is made based on a very severe distortion of what I actually say (I do not speak on the experiences of women, I speak of a man’s perspective); further, even if I did speak on women’s experiences, this would not in anyway make me a misogynist (and I note that feminists quite often presume to speak about men’s experiences and, worse, intents in a way that demonstrates that they have no clue about what goes on in a man.)

The one point of even semi-merit is the formulation “needs to do for men” in my original comment, which I grant could conceivably be misunderstood—but where any sensible thinker correctly would assume that I in context meant “needs to do for the purpose of getting men” (or some variation of the same). Certainly, anyone applying Hanlon’s Razor would stop to at least ask for a clarification or to qualify her responses—to jump out in all-caps, shouting obscenities, is the act of a child.

(sonia)

“Since when is it OK to use vague and unfounded ad hominem attacks against people you do not even know?”

Oooh! Oooh! I know! I know!

When that person doesn’t have a penis?

Again a very childish behaviour that tries to deflect the issue from the extreme rudeness and unfair argumentation of factcheckme—and turn into yet another men-are-evil/women-are-victims argument. (The more hypocritical, seeing that personal attacks is a standard strategy among many feminists.)

In the end, feminist like these do far more damage than good to their own cause.

Written by michaeleriksson

August 11, 2010 at 9:44 pm

Comment censorship and comment policies IVc: Excursion on “nature vs. nurture” and related issues

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During the discussionse that spawned this part IV, a side-discussion seemed to branch out into a formal debate on nature vs. nurture (or, possibly, epistemology…), but ran out in the sand as the nurture (or, possibly, post-modernist…) participant backed out. It resulted, however, in some private correspondence on my opinions in the area. A summary of these opinions based on the correspondence is provided below:

  1. More or less all characteristics are influenced by both “nature” and “nurture” (and often from the subset “society”).

  2. To say that the one is more important than the other is only possibly within limits. In particular, there are many characteristics that are strongly “nature” (e.g. to have two legs), but can be changed by external influences (e.g. by stepping on a land-mine). This need not be true for all characteristics, however. (Cf. the case of David Reimer on http://www.slate.com/id/2101678e and David_Reimerw.)

    In addition, circumstances can affect the relative strength of different factors. A good example is IQ, which can depend strongly on access to and quality of food in a country with nutritional problems, but will be largely determined by inheritance in e.g. Germany.

  3. I have very strong objections to “Gender as social construct”, as this idea is refuted by scientific studies with a high degree of probability. (With some reservations for the exact definition used, and for the possibility that border-line cases could be moved with ease in different directions.)

  4. This does not mean, however, that society has no influence on “gender-roles”, behaviour, and similar. Based on my own (subjective) observations and basic considerations, it seems plausible to me that the more basic a particular characteristic is, the stronger is “nature” and the harder it is to affect it through “nurture”. Conversely, characteristics are the easier to change, the less basic they are—in particular, when they can be seen as conscious or unconscious choices based on more basic characteristics. (That women wear high-heels is hardly caused by genetics; but the wish to be attractive, which is the cause of the wish to wear high-heels, is a different matter.)

  5. An important, but originally left-out issue: Even, absolutely speaking, small differences can have a very major impact in a narrow context. Men and women pose excellent examples of this, with differences that are far smaller than between humans and mushrooms, spiders, dogs, or even chimpanzees. Yet, these difference have a great impact within the context of human behaviour.

    To take an extreme example, a difference in 100m-time of 0.10 s (a nothing in most contexts) can make the difference between a world champion and an also-ran (as in 1991w).

    The differences between men and women are small, but the context is sufficiently narrow that these differences have a great impact—and, ironically, by narrowing the context further by blurring the roles of men and women, these differences could conceivably grow even more important. (Consider the career of Usain Bolt if he was forced to run long distance or Haile Gebrselassie as a forced sprinter.)

I also discussed a few aspects of the alternate topic that both illustrate common problems with feminist (or e.g. Creationist) reasoning: The claims that we cannot know anything for sure and that it is unfair to give greater weight to non-feminist authorities than to the feminist:

  1. Even in science, it is impossible to reach perfect certainty. It is still possible, however, to make some statements with near certainty or with a high probability. Other cases include “we do not know for sure, but a lot speaks for X”. It is important to not hide ones head in the sand, when confronted with such statements—and a lack of perfect certainty is something very different from a question of faith (“Glaubensfrage”, as was claimed by feminists)—the latter implying holding on to a belief despite a lack of proof, or even a preponderance of negative proof.

  2. Authorities should not be believed because they are authorities, but because (respectively, if) they bring good arguments and facts. If one adheres to this, the question of what authorities to believe is a non-issue (and it is clear why feminist authorities tend to have a hard-time with critical thinkers).

Those who speak German may also be interested in an informal debate on nature vs. nurturee that did take place, without my participation, as an off-shot of a blog entry by the nature proponent dealing with why the formal debate did not take place.

Written by michaeleriksson

August 11, 2010 at 2:32 am

Blogroll update

with one comment

I have been very lazy with updating my blogroll, mostly because I never really have it mind when running around in the blogosphere. Today, however, we do have an update:

http://messerveyphoto.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/me-vs-corporate-america, a page dealing with a shady company engaging in copyright violations, is added as a support statement and to call attention to this company. Notably, the incident described is a part of a greater pattern of abuse of position, where the party with less to lose can set the rules in an unfair and unethical manner—and often does just that. The many other examples include franchisors that put the majority of the obligations on their individual franchisees, while keeping the majority of the rights to themselves, phone companies that have extremely one-sided conditions for their customers, and even the way most (all?) political/governmental systems work.

olcranky is removed according to the first-in-first-out criterion. (See also the introductory discussion.)

Written by michaeleriksson

August 8, 2010 at 1:50 pm

How to write a successful blog

with 11 comments

Occasionally, I come across blog entries on how to be a successful blogger. These invariably seem to deal with questions like increasing the number of visitors, gaining “followers”, or similar. While this may seem reasonable, as a first impression (and may well be valid for a minority even on a thorough investigation), my take is very different—success is not automatically the same thing as having traffic, but will depend on what one actually wants to gain and achieve. Worse: Some even equate “popular” with “good”—by which token Henning Mankell would be a “better” author than Heinrich Böll…

Below I will elaborate by quoting (with minor modifications) two comments of mine:

The human element…

You are not wrong in that the human element is highly beneficial for writing a popular and easily digestible blog (or, m.m., book/movie); however, we all have to ask ourselves “Why do I write? For whom do I write? What do I want to achieve?”.

Speaking for myself, I would write even if I was never read by anyone—writing has immediate benefits for me on other planes than just gaining readers. To me, a good blog entry is a blog entry that makes me think and gain insight (be it through writing it or through reading it on someone elses blog). Besides, let us face it, if I wanted to maximize the number of visitors, I would be running a porn site :-)

Looking at others, they may have very particular interests, write for a niche-market, or otherwise have reasons to write in a different manner. Britney Spears is more popular than Andrew Eldritch (by a show of hands: How many of you have ever heard of him?), but I doubt that he would wish to become a superstar if it involved emulating her music—and we should all be thankful that he does not emulate her wardrobe.

(http://lorelle.wordpress.com/2009/12/02/have-you-lost-the-human-element-in-your-blog/#comment-928380e)

(Some more information on the benefits I gain from writing.)

For most bloggers, the audience should be a secondary priority.

Yes, for those who want to make money or fame out of blogging, the audience must be a priority. However, let us face it, very few actually have success in this area, irrespective of what they try.

Yes, those who want to spread their messages and ideas to others need to pay attention to the audience: Terry Pratchett has had a greater impact on the masses with his ideas than Kant for a good reason. However, while success here is easier to reach, the overall impact of most blogs is small—and often they just compete over an already-believing choir, on which preaching is wasted, while the heathens go elsewhere.

What then is left? Writing for ones own sake, to learn, to gain new insights (including into writing), polishing and developing existing opinions, exposing oneself to external critique, etc. While writing in a notebook is also a valuable exercise, writing for a blog is a better exercise. And here is the big advantage: These are gains that more-or-less any blogger can reach—unlike fame, fortune, and influence.

My advice to the typical blogger: Write primarily for your own sake, with the hope that others will be interested as pure bonus. Do pay attention to the audience, but do not consider maximizing the number of hits per day to be the main purpose.

(http://throughanewlens.wordpress.com/2010/08/03/why-your-audience-is-like-the-mogwai/#comment-232e)

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August 4, 2010 at 2:54 pm

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Comment censorship and comment policies IVb: Discussion of a semi-reasonable motivation for censorship

with one comment

In my last entry, I provided a verbatim quote in German of my answer to an insight-giving pro-censorship commente. Below, I will discuss the core points of the latter comment (in my interpretation and from my perspective).

  1. There are feminists who believe that they have heard all relevant counter-arguments, and simply do not accept them.

    With this I will not argue, but I will note that the lack of acceptance is not typically rooted in reason, but simply in stubborn instance that a pre-formed opinion is the correct one—even in the face of evidence to the contrary.

  2. They have the conviction that neither they nor their opponents can be converted.

    To a large part, this too is true.

  3. They do have a wish to debate related topics with like-minded people—not just as the “club of mutual admiration” that I have so often observed, but also in the legitimate wish to deepen an understanding within a particular framework of feminist thought.

    Again, a legitimate statement. It is questionable, however, how often it applies. Indeed, most feminist discussions I have seen have had a different character, most notably as an attempt to convince others, propagate the feminist world-view, or to just gripe about this-and-that.

  4. These discussions are visited by non- and anti-feminist, who bring up arguments already known and rejected, which, basically, “spoils the fun”.

    (See the “cherry example” below.)

  5. Censorship allows the blog owner to focus the conversation on the subset of issues she wants to debate without the framework it self being questioned.

    While also true, this is very often misleading.

    For one thing, a blog debate is not just something for the participants, but also for other readers, and by suppressing dissenting voices, these readers are given a flawed and distorted view of the overall situation. This is particularly serious, because many feminists state their opinions as facts, misinterpret or misstate statistics, or otherwise act in a way that could easily fool the unwary. Indeed, I was myself long an innocent believer in factually untrue claims such as domestic violence being something pre-dominantly committed by men onto women.

    (Notably, with e.g. the situation in Sweden in mind, it is very important that these dissenting voices are heard, lest the extreme dominance of feminist and politically correct views in media are supplemented by a similar dominance in other channels of information.)

    For another, the debates are often cut off in such a way that the feminists “win”, e.g. by letting the anti-feminist make a statement, allowing the feminist a convincing sounding come-back using a factually flawed argument, and then censoring the anti-feminist when he points out that, how, and why this argument was factually flawed.

Based on these points (notwithstanding the critique given above; in particular, as the counter-arguments I give apply to the great mass, but not necessarily to individual cases) my overall impression of the comment was highly favourable—something that actually broadened my understanding of the issues and perspectives involved. Unfortunately, the general tone of the comment contained several highly derogatory and misleading statements and one highly faulty analogy. This analogy will be discussed as a conclusion:

Wenn ich mich auf den Marktplatz stelle und Kirschen verkaufe und jemand zu mir kommt und mit mir über Gott diskutieren will (irgendeine Sekte), dann schicke ich sie weg. Und wenn sie nicht weggehen, hole ich die Polizei.

(When/if I go to the market to sell cherries, and someone wants to discuss God with me (some kind of sect), then I send them away. And when/if they do not leave, I get the police.)

This is her version of an analogy about blogging and debates in public/private that another commenter introduced. While it may seem plausible on a casual glance, it does not hold up to closer scrutiny:

Comments by dissenters on a blog cannot be compared to being pestered by a sect when selling cherries. A better analogy would be starting a free-for-all discussion in a public setting (which is the case with e.g. a blog, but not, say, emails going back-and-forth between two individuals). Now, in such a public debate, would someone consider it acceptable to call the police against a participant whose only crime was dissent? Hardly; and the common feminist tactics of insults and censorship would be equally appropriate. (Note that while there are cases where calling the police may be justified, e.g. if the dissenter also threatened other participants, this does not affect the analogy—I have nothing against censorship of, e.g., threats on a blog either.)

On the contrary, in order to justify such, it would be necessary to keep the discussion explicitly or implicitly private—in Internet terms, to use email, a mailing list, a blog not open to the public (not hard to set up on WordPress), or similar. Notably, those who only want to stand on a podium and scream into a microphone, with no risk of contradiction, can also put up their own website or write a blog where commenting is simply deactivated.

Written by michaeleriksson

August 2, 2010 at 11:55 pm