Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Archive for May 2011

Children vs. parents vs. the government (circumcision)

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Yesterday, I came across a blog post on calls for a ban on circumcisione beginning with “The loony Left is at it again.”—surprising, because while the Left is often loony, circumcision is a very real evil (I will expand on this side-topic below) and something which I would expect at least the Libertarian right to strongly oppose.

Upon my protest, the author replied that:

The issue is not circumcision; it’s whether some Left-wing (or Right-wing for that matter) Moon-bats know better than parents and should be allowed to intervene in child rearing. Just look around and see the results. We are in the 5th decade of the Progressive experiment to have Social workers and other government agencies take over the responsibilities of raising our children. Object failure with kids coming out of school who cannot read, teenage pregnancies and abortions at all time highs.

Government does very little right. Suggestion that we continue to cede parental rights to it makes no sense.

While there is more than a grain of truth in this comment, it also contains several missteps. Seeing that these missteps reflect an attitude I have seen on a number of occasions, I will try to straighten them out:

  1. The core issue is the rights and best interests of the individual (in this case, the child—not the parents!) and how to protect these.

    In many cases of government intervention, rights and interests of the individual are infringed upon. This is the case e.g. when highly inefficient and unduly time consuming schooling is opposed on children, when boys are put on Ritalin just for being boys, or when schools are abused for indoctrination; this is the case e.g. when hard-earned income is stolen (typically through taxes), when “affirmative action” destroys equality of opportunity and prevents companies from hiring the most suitable candidates, or when marriage and family is turned from something a man can be proud of into a divorce-trap of alimony payments and unfounded accusations of domestic violence or sexual abuse.

    Here, however, we have something else entirely, namely the government protecting the rights of the child against the misdeeds of the parents. (Notably, unlike some other cases, e.g. where social workers take children from a sub-optimal environment to put them in a down-right poor one, this is not an issue where the risk of incompetence in the handling of individual cases is a concern.)

  2. Parents have obligations towards their children, but their actual rights (from an ethical POV) are highly limited: A child is not a possession. Arguments based on parental rights are therefore almost always fundamentally flawed: It is, for instance, wrong to argue that a parent (or government!) should have the right to perform religious or political indoctrination. (However, an argument based on undue legislation preventing parents from fulfilling their obligations can still be valid.)

    Indeed, in many cases, we have a conflict between two parties (parents and government) who do not have rights and who have different opinions as to what is in the child’s best interest. The question now becomes one of the lesser evil (or, occasionally, greater good)—parents or government. As the poster correctly remarks, the government is very often the greater evil; further, supporting the parents has the advantage that damage can be limited: The typical individual parent, if incompetent, will only do damage to 1–3 children; the government can screw up an entire generation. Cases like circumcision (cf. above and below), however, are of a different character.

Why is circumcision something that children should be protected from? It has no known benefits, but can have medical side-effects—including infections after the operation or reduced sexual pleasure as an adult; in rare cases, penis-loss or even death follows; and there are speculations about psychological trauma (however, I would generally urge to caution when allegations of trauma are raised, until considerable proof is presented). Further, it is a permanent alteration of the body and thus a decision that should be made by the individual for himself at a time when he is sufficiently mature to do so. Further yet, unless there is compelling evidence of benefits, the “natural” state should be given preference, as it is less likely to bring unforeseen problems. (Note that there are some alleged, but unproved, benefits, including claims about a reduced transmission of STDs; however, apart from the lack of proof, these would be relevant in cases of poor hygiene and insufficient use of condoms. A far better solution, then, is to address hygiene and use of condoms.)

To make a brief compare-and-contrast:

  1. Tattoos are similar: Permanent alteration with no benefits and some risk of medical complications—a decision to be made by the individual.

  2. Vaccination: Does bring some risks, but also considerable benefits (if restricted to those vaccinations that are medically sensible). Further, the non-positive permanent effects are negligible or non-existent. The case for vaccination is, therefore, far better.

  3. Amputating a limb to avoid possible death (e.g. due to gangrene): This decision is sufficiently large (including severe permanent damage) that it should be left to the adult individual; however, unlike circumcision, it cannot be. By the nature of the situation, the decision has to be made within a highly limited time frame and unless the child is already old enough to make at least a semi-informed decision (in which case his opinion should be given due weight) some constellation of parents and physicians must take the responsibility. The case for the parents making the decision is far better than for circumcision (however, it does not automatically follow that “amputate” would be the right decision in any given case).

  4. Corporeal punishment (on a moderate level): No permanent bodily damage is done, the risk of medical complications is very low, and there could be (this area is insufficiently researched, but there is considerable anekdotal evidence and general plausibility) benefits in terms of effective child-raising. Psychological damage, in turn, seems to arise not from (moderate) corporeal punishment, but e.g. from unfair or gratuitous punishment and emotional punishment. Corporeal punishment is then more justifiable than circumcision. (Under the mentioned constraints and with some reservations for future research.)

A few interesting reads on the topic:
http://www.circumcision.org/studies.htme
Sexual_effects_of_circumcisionw
Medical_analysis_of_circumcisionw
http://www.menweb.org/histcirc.htme

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Written by michaeleriksson

May 29, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Blogroll overhaul

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In the past year, I have had a blogroll divided into three short sections, “me”, “permanent”, and “temporary”—all deliberately kept short. In light of experiences to date, I am now overhauling this classification.

The “me” section will remain as is.

“Permanent” will be divided into sub-categories based on language. Of the four current entries, only Dilberte will remain. The other three (the WordPress tag listings in respectively, English, Swedish, and German) are removed: The Swedish and German tend to be too thin to warrant a recommendation; the English suffers from an idiotic layout problem, where the more interesting tags receive a different layout with severe usability problems. The word “permanent” will be dropped: With the greater number of entries, removals are foreseeable.

“Temporary” will remain, but limited to three entries (previously five): The idea to have a first-in-first-out queue of interesting blogs, noble causes, whatnot, was sound, but the rate of update was simply far too low for this to make sense in practice. Of the current entries, Christianity And The Witch Hunt Erae and Human Stupiditye are kept temporary (leaving one slot open for the time being). The remaining three are promoted to the permanent English blogroll (Foundation for Individual Rights in Educatione, durhamwonderlande, and The truth about domestic violencee).

(For historical information, including earlier discussions of the links kept and removed, search my blog for “blogroll” or the name of the link in question.)

The exact entries present on the “permanent” blogrolls will develop over time, but for a start I will include the following entries:

English:

The four entries already mentioned.

Swedish:

Genusnytte—Sweden’s leading source of criticism against feminism, disparate treatment of men and women, gender studies, and media distortions.
Aktivarume—a blog dealing with feminism and political correctness in Sweden.
Inteutanminasoner’s Bloge is re-added from the archives.

German:

Manndat: Feministische Mythene—A very thorough review and debunking of core feminist myths. Unfortunately, some of the material is only available through PDFs.
Feminismus oder Gleichbehandlunge—a somewhat satirical discussion of feminism in (particularly) Germany. Note that this page is part of what I suspect to be a site to recommend in general. Unfortunately, I have not yet had the time to dig in sufficiently deep to make a definite statement.
Alles Evolutione—A blog with interesting discussions of (mostly) evolutionary aspects of male and female behaviours.

As an aside, the content of these links in much reflect the development of this blog, which soon was taken over by discussions of feminism, political correctness, intellectual dishonesty, myths about this-and-that, … The reason is simple: Reading blogs (and often newspapers, political propaganda, and similar) there is an endless supply of ignorants who loudly proclaim something to be true that is not, who fail to use arguments and opt for personal attacks, who censor the arguments on others on a large scale, or otherwise try to distort the debate. A particular problem is the common attitude that there are opinions that would not merely be factually wrong, but actually morally evil and that these should be targeted with any means necessary—entirely missing the point that evil is demonstrated not by opinions, but by methods (including those listed above). These people (disproportionally represented among feminists and the politically correct, but also e.g. among creationists) are a major PITA for a me and, worse, as a group pose a considerable danger to the positive development of society, science, and the rights of the individual.</p

Written by michaeleriksson

May 28, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Six feminist myths

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A few days ago, Pär Ström, one of the leading fighters against prejudice and media misreporting in Sweden, published a book titled “Sex feministiska myter” (“Six feminist myths”).

Packed with references, quotes by researchers, statistics, and specific examples, this book makes short shrift of the following myths:

  1. Sex/Gender (“kön”) is a social construct:

    In reality, there is very strong proof of biological sex differences, including genetic differences and variations due to different levels of various hormones (both current and in utero). The effects of these on abilities and preferences are significant within humanity.

    Note: The word “kön” can be translated as either “sex” or “gender”, depending on context. In an English discussion (where there is often a differentiation per definition into biological/sex and non-biological/gender differences), it would make less sense to discuss whether sex/gender is biological, but whether the biological influence is unimportant overall—which is what feminists of the long-debunked “tabula rasa” school like to claim.

  2. Women receive less pay for equal work:

    In reality, there is no discrimination against women to be found when equal work is compared. Differences in raw numbers stem from comparing unequal work (e.g. with regard to working hours, experience levels, field of work). Increasingly, among young people, women have an actual advantage…

  3. Women have it harder making a career:

    In reality, there are no signs of this. Differences in outcomes arise from different life priorities and similar factors. Indeed, there are many examples of anti-man discrimination, where the wish for equal outcomes, even over an age-stratified work-force, forces organisations to give women an unfair leg up—sometimes two…

  4. Men hit women:

    In reality, men are the victims of violence noticeably more often than women. Even specifically domestic violence is a roughly 50–50 issue, with a slight lead of women as the perpetrators and men as the victims.

  5. Women work double (“dubbelarbetar”) in the house-hold and the workplace:

    In reality, men work more than women overall. It is true that women work more in the house-hold; however, men work correspondingly more in the workplace—and then 19 minutes a day.

  6. Women have worse health-care:

    In reality, there are no notable disadvantages for women. On the contrary, there are signs of clear discrimination of men in some areas, including cancer research and treatment.

The recurring reader will not be surprised by any of the above, which has been discussed (in less detail than the book provides) on a number of occasions on this blog and which is the accepted truth among non-partisan specialists in the respective subject areas. (A good starting point for my writings is [1], which also contains a number of later track-backs.)

The book is available free-of-charge (in Swedish) from http://www.dnv.se/mou/feministiska_myter.htme and is discussed by the author under http://genusnytt.wordpress.com/2011/05/17/min-bok-sex-feministiska-myter-slappt/e.

Written by michaeleriksson

May 19, 2011 at 8:08 pm

“The Male Privilege Checklist” debunked

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Earlier today, I encountered a self-proclaimed Male Privilege Checkliste. I have added a discussion/debunking to my own article on the myth of white male privilege.

Written by michaeleriksson

May 15, 2011 at 8:43 pm

How to handle Tor

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I am a frequent user of the anonymization tool Tor. Regrettably, some websites are in the bad habit of blocking requests from Tor without a valid reason—and those that do have a valid reason (e.g. related to spam or malicious attacks) rarely handle the situation appropriately.

Bearing in mind that most Tor users are perfectly legitimate, these are the main errors:

  1. Never telling the user that or why the request was blocked.

  2. Blocking only parts of a page, creating the impression that something unrelated to Tor is not working, that something unrelated to the website is not working (e.g. a proxy), or that things are working (while they are not).

  3. Excluding the user from functionality that is unrelated to the problem. For instance, many forums block Tor with the claim that they are afraid of spam. Well, if so, they may have a legitimate reason to block postings—but not reading! Further, if spam is the problem, then this is probably the wrong solution to begin with: Some combination of registration and verification (CAPTCHA, manual reply to an email, e.g.) would be more effective.

As a natural pendant, the following advice:

  1. Do not block Tor (and similar services) unless you absolutely have too—or without bothering to find out what Tor is.

  2. Explicitly tell the users that they were blocked and why. Use a message that takes into account that this is a blanket ban of a user group—not an individual misbehaving user.

  3. Exclude pages in their entirety or not all. (Some special cases may exist, but none occurs to me at the moment.)

  4. Never block users from functionality that does not enhance the effects of the ban (e.g. reading posts, when the purpose of the ban is to prevent writing posts).

Written by michaeleriksson

May 15, 2011 at 8:21 pm

Abominable censorship/Domestic violence/Blogroll update

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Following up on what other people have written under the same tags as my last post, I landed on a blog entry spouting common and faulty propagandae, e.g. the claim that 85 % of DV victims would be women—something simply very far from the truth.

The comment I posted pointing this out was deleted within a quarter of an hour. The snotty reply of the author:

And how do you know this blogger’s source isn’t as credible if not more credible than your source?

Well, apart from her using anonymous numbers and my actually having and giving a source, in turn referencing hundreds of scientific investigations:

This type of numbers I have seen time and time again by feminists, the shelter industry, and similar—but neutral sources simply have different results. Apart from a severe problem with “statistics” that are simply invented or severely misinterpreted (cf. e.g. previous discussions on rape statistics or the 77 cents on the dollar fraud) in contexts like these, 85 % is roughly the type of number that tends to occur when police reports are counted—a method which is inherently misleading. Other claims of the post, e.g. that women would receive considerably harsher punishments for killing their spouses are exceedingly unlikely (I admit that I have never seen statistics on this specific point; however, the opposite problem of women being treated more leniently is otherwise prevalent). Consider the claim that DV would be shameful for women: The problem is the opposite that it is too shameful for men who are victims—not to mention that a non-trivial number of women raise false accusations when e.g. starting divorce proceedings.

Further, an author who does not counter criticism against her numbers by publishing a reference, but by censoring the criticism, sends a very clear signal about her own credibility as a source…

Exactly this occurs again and again: The comments that would prove of greatest value to undermine the faulty claims of feminists are the ones most likely to be censored. So e.g. on a recent DV post by a highly misguided authore, where the following comment was deleted:

More importantly, we should keep in mind that men’s violence against women is not a big problem compared to violence in general. Indeed, as modern research shows, men are somewhat more likely to be the victims than the perpetrators where DV is concerned (the reverse applies to women). Cf. http://www.csulb.edu/~mfiebert/assault.htm for hundreds of references. Further, men are significantly more likely to be victims of violence in general.

Let us work against the real enemy, violence, rather than creating undue fears and feeding prejudice against men by over-focusing on just one special case.

In response to these problems, I will update my blogroll to include http://www.csulb.edu/~mfiebert/assault.htme, the most thorough meta-source on the issue that I am aware of. By the FIFO principle, http://www.dudalibre.com/en/gnulinuxcountere is removed. That page was first discussed heree.

Written by michaeleriksson

May 5, 2011 at 10:58 pm

Open Letter to the City and Mayor of Cologne—take two

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Nach mehr als einem Monat habe ich am Montag eine in keinster Weise zufriedenstellende Antwort auf meinen Brief erhalten. Diese wird unten diskutiert und beantwortet.

Sehr geehrter Herr Völlmecke,
Sehr geehrte Frau Weber-Hackel,

Sehr geehrter Herr Eriksson,

Ihren Brief habe ich zur Kenntnis genommen und den Inhalt der Vorwürfe überprüft.

In Köln steigen seit Einführung des Gewaltschutzgesetzes 2002 die Zahlen im Bereich der häuslichen Gewalt leider immer weiter an, so dass eine öffentliche Kampagne notwendig ist, um viele Menschen anzusprechen und zu informieren.

Abgesehen davon, dass Sie den Beweis schuldig bleiben (insbesonders wichtig bei den häufigen und öfters grob irreführenden Verwechslungen von Anzahl/Veränderung der Anzeigen und Anzahl/Veränderung der Vorfällen), kann dies nicht die Art Ihrer Kampagne rechtfertigen. Sie haben zu Unrecht Männer als Täter ausgemalt und hierdurch destruktive Vorurteile verbreitet. Um sich die potentiellen Schadenswirkungen solcher Vorurteile bewusst zu werden, braucht man nicht weiter zu schauen als meine schwedische Heimat, wo diese in großem Umfang als Grundlage für politische Propaganda und pseudo-wissenschaftliche “Forschung” von radikalen Feministen benutzt wird—obwohl die (richtige) Wissenschaft sie widerlegen. Eben in Deutschland sollte man mittlerweile die Gefahren von solchen Vorurteilen und solcher Propaganda äußerst gut kennen. Dass Sie, trotz dass Sie eines besseren belehrt worden sind, durch umfassende wissenschaftliche Referenzen, immer noch diese Unwahrheit verbreiten ist nicht zu entschuldigen. (Vgl. mit der schon erwähnten Internetseite, wo auch heute, grob unwahr, behauptet wird “In der überwiegenden Zahl der Fälle wird diese Gewalt von Männern an Frauen und Kindern ausgeübt”.)

Ich gehe davon aus, dass Sie diese grobe Unwahrheit umgehend korrigieren.

Die Plakataktion hat zum Ziel sowohl betroffene Männer als auch Frauen auf die Möglichkeit aufmerksam zu machen, Hilfe in Anspruch nehmen zu können und mögliche Ansprechpartner zu benennen.

Die Plakataktion ist in dem Falle dem Ziel in keinsterweise gerecht geworden—und muss demnach zusätzlich als Verschwendung von öffentlichen Geldern verurteilt werden.

Sollte das Anliegen dieser Kampagne zu Missverständnissen geführt haben, tut mir dies leid.

Ein bloßes “es tut mir leid” stellt weder eine Entschuldigung noch eine Richtigstellung dar.

Es ist von Ihrem Schreiben klar, dass Sie die Situation und meinen Brief nicht mit angemessener Ernst betrachten und behandeln.

Sollten Sie bis 19.05.2011 nicht eben angemessen reagiert haben, worin als Minimum die Bereinigung und Richtigstellung Ihres Internetauftritts verlangt werden muss, werde ich mich gezwungen sehen, die Möglichkeiten weitergehender Maßnahmen (Strafanzeige, Zeitungen, Mißtrauensvotum, …) zu untersuchen.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen
Im Auftrag
Gez. Klaus-Peter Völlmecke

Mit freundlichen Grüßen
Im Auftrag

Lisa Weber-Hackel
Stadt Köln – Der Oberbürgermeister
Amt für Kinder, Jugend und Familie
Grundsatzangelegenheiten ASD
Ottmar-Pohl-Platz 1
51103 Köln

Mit freundlichen Grüßen,

Michael Eriksson

Abridged version for English readers: A very belated reply to my open letter has arrived. Above, its deficiencies are discussed, e.g. that the City’s website still repeats a prejudiced and scientifically refuted claim that the clear majority of all domestic violence is perpetrated by men—when, in fact, investigations regularly show women as the more common perpetrators.

Written by michaeleriksson

May 5, 2011 at 9:29 pm