Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Posts Tagged ‘irrationality

Follow-ups based on third-party texts (political violence, gender-studies, homeschooling)

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A few follow-ups to earlier texts:

  1. I recently noted that, among other things, “political violence tends to come from the Left” ([1]).

    To this, I want to point to an excellent overview of the U.S. situation by Pat Buchanan.

    As an aside, I also wrote “the [Left–‘Right’] difference has historically been far smaller in the U.S. than in e.g. Sweden and Germany”. Buchanan’s list makes me wonder whether this is actually true. It might well be that I based my judgment too much on the Democrats as opposed to the U.S. Left as a whole, the change over time possibly being that the “extra-Democrat” portions have now become “intra-Democrat”; or it might be that the historical* reporting on various U.S. events, developments, and attitudes has been too lacking in objectivity and completeness** in Sweden and Germany. I note e.g. a much harsher take on the-U.S.-in-Vietnam than on the-USSR-in-Afghanistan in Swedish news.

    *I was born in 1975, and significant portions took place before I was born or was old enough to follow the “live” reporting. (Not that I necessarily expect this “live” reporting to have been stronger in objectivity and whatnot.)

    **Foreign news and history are, usually and naturally, given less space than domestic news and history.

  2. A while back, I wrote about a recanting Homeopath, her journey and problems, and how this was similar to the quackery of large parts of the modern Left ([2]). I recently encountered a similar text by a recanting gender-studies Ph.D.. While her journey is somewhat different, there are similarities, and some additional insight can be gained into how educated people can believe idiotic things. Further, the text shows quite a few of the problems with e.g. gender-studies that I have discussed in the past.
  3. The aforementioned text mentions that homeschooling might be under attack—something which would remove a refuge from Leftist indoctrination and the inefficient school system, and which I have long feared (cf. portions of [3]). My fears have been increasing greatly recently, as even many Conservative debaters are yelling that children must be brought back to the classroom in the wake of COVID-enforced remote education.* She points to a specific attack in Harvard Magazine, which makes a number of poor arguments.

    *This is not strictly comparable to homeschooling, e.g. because the home-schooling parents of today (or pre-COVID) show a greater dedication than generic teachers, because remote education has many issues to be sorted out, because not all children are necessarily suited for the greater responsibilities, and similar. Nevertheless, this increases the threat against homeschooling proper.

    These include:

    That abusive parents might go undetected, never mind that these form a small minority and that the purpose of school is not to serve as a means of spying on parents. In fact, doing so is ethically dubious and might be a greater evil than the small proportion of abusive parents, as this type of spying can easily be extended to other areas, e.g. parents with the “wrong” political opinions. By rumor, it is indeed often extended. This argument also fails to consider the (much?) larger risk of abuse in school.

    That some might homeschool who are bad at it, never mind that this could be easily solved by requiring (unless this is already the case) that students pass recurring tests—if in doubt, high-school diplomas are not just handed out willy-nilly to anyone who applies. Moreover, the reason for the wish to homeschool is often the abysmal quality of a local regular school … I note that this implicitly repeats one of the most common Leftist and/or educator myths, namely that the teacher and/or school matters far more than the student.* In reality, of course, it is the other way around, and the failure to realize this is one of the greatest reasons why school is an inefficient, and often ineffective, way of gaining an education.

    *This is largely a special case of the long disproved “tabula rasa” / “nurture only” view of the human mind.

    That children should “grow up exposed to…democratic values, ideas about nondiscrimination and tolerance of other people’s viewpoints”. While partially laudable on paper, the exact opposite is what happens in today’s schools, where they are to be turned into obedient little drones with the right anti-democratic values and an intolerance to those with the “wrong” opinions. As to “nondiscrimination”, this is an abuse of language and we really, really would benefit if students learned to discriminate more and better (cf. [4]). However, even if the distorted Leftist meaning of the word is applied, this is not what schools teach—anti-White, anti-man, and anti-“Right” discrimination is par for the course. Moreover, homeschooling is a valuable aid to ensure that there are differing viewpoints in society, while school often seems set on exterminating them.

Written by michaeleriksson

February 4, 2021 at 12:33 pm

Swedish gender nonsense and bandy

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I have written about the absurd Swedish take on equality (in general) and equality in sports (in particular) in the past. (For example in [1].) The last few weeks, the sports police have been at it again—with what might take the cake:

The fact that the women’s bandy world championship is played on the ice of a lake instead of in a rink is proof that women are mistreated, men and bandy are sexist, or whatnot…

Well:

  1. Even if the decision was wrong, this is not necessarily proof of anything. I am not privy to the decision-making process, but it could quite easily have been something along the line of the international federation giving the championships to China to expand the sport* (cf. below) and the Chinese simply not having a rink** suitable for a world championship (or having promised to build one, only to find themselves out of money). For that matter, they could have wanted to give an authentic (cf. below) introduction to the sport. If worst comes to worst, chances are that any sexism involved was restricted to one or several individuals—nothing more, nothing less. Moreover, in as far as sex played a role, it is very likely to have been in an indirect manner, based on the state of the men’s and women’s bandy (cf. below) or the expected costs and earnings from the event.

    *China only even having a national federation since 2014…

    **Note that the playing field in bandy is more like a soccer field than an ice-hockey field/rink, making the setup that much more resource intense and ruling out the use of many existing artificial ice areas, including typical hockey and ice-skating rinks.

  2. What is wrong with playing on a lake in the first place? It does seem a little unprofessional and there is chance that e.g. the element of chance is increased—but not to a degree that it would have a major impact on the results (considering the state of the women’s sport; cf. below). There are, obviously, differences to playing in a proper rink, but they are not earth-shatteringly large—and the differences present will likely introduce complications of a type that, say, skiers and golfers have to deal with every single time. That games are played outside is the rule either which way—unlike with ice-hockey, question like “with or without a roof” are of little relevance. For that matter, bandy is usually considered a sport for people willing to put up with quite a lot from nature, notably several hours of sometimes biting cold; and to complain about playing on a lake does not seem to be in this traditional spirit.

    Moreover, a great many men’s games have been played on lakes over the years; and for a long time it might even have been the most common setting. (No matter whether rinks are more common today.)

    Considering the low number of expected spectators, it might even have been a better experience for them than using a rink…

  3. In terms of participation, money, popularity, and whatnot, bandy is small sport even among men—with the exception of Sweden (and possibly Sweden’s closest neighbors). For the women, the situation is far worse, as is demonstrated by the medal table in the world championships:

    After the current and 9th championships (played this week), we have little Sweden a dominant leader with 8 Golds and 1 Silver—followed by Russia with 1 Gold and 8 Silvers… The Bronze medals are more even, divided between Norway at 5 and Finland at 4, but still show the limited depth of the sport. Even the 4th places are limited, being divided between Canada and the aforementioned Norway and Finland.

    This year, we saw a whole of 8 teams participating—after the federation failed to find the planned 12 teams willing and able to compete… The medals went Sweden–Russia–Norway (surprise!), with Sweden and Russia being entirely unthreatened in all games but two—the ones they played each other (winning one each). Norway beat Finland a convincing 5–2 in the Bronze game and USA 4–0 in a group game. In its other three games, this Bronze winner was destroyed, losing once to Russia (5–0) and Sweden (9(!)–0) in the group phase and a semi-final re-match against Sweden (5–0).

    The international standard is so low (as is often the case with small sports) that the two groups were deliberately lop-sided to keep things “exciting”. In fact, this to the degree that the real championship arguably consisted of just the four teams from Group A, who took three automatic semi-final places and all three medals, and was a hair’s breadth from taking all four and the fourth place to boot.

    Hair’s breadth? Well, the fourth placer in group A, USA, who failed to score a single goal or winning a single point, played the utterly dominant winner of group B, Finland, for the fourth semi-final—and lost after a penalty shot-out. Finland was then taken down 4–0 by runner-up Russia in its semi-final.

    Utterly dominant? Well, if you think that some of the previous wins were large, consider that Finland went 9–0, 10–0, and 27(!!!)–0 against respectively Estonia, China, and Switzerland.

    Moreover, looking at the sum of 19 games played, only 5 (!) saw the losing team even score a goal—and only three were won with less than three goals. (Specifically, the two Sweden–Russia games and the Finland–USA game.)

    With these differences, I would be unsurprised if the women’s Swedish championships has better depth and (outside the two games between Sweden and Russia) quality than these, as it were, world championships—and there are likely hundreds of men’s soccer teams in Germany alone that play on a higher international level than eight-placer Switzerland…

  4. As for spectators? The Wikipedia page currently links to four match reports. One, home-team China’s first game, show a whopping 350 spectators; the other three 50* each… While this might (or might not) have improved in later games, I feel confident that the grand-total of (physically present) spectators for the entire tournament would have been seen as a fiasco had they occurred in a single game of the men’s soccer Bundesliga. (Unless, that is, the Chinese regime decided to force participation during the later stages…)

    *Some rounding or rough estimation might be involved.

For the above, I have drawn data from the Wikipedia pages on bandy, the 2018 World Championship, and Women’s Bandy World Championship; as well as the Swedish videotext* to supplement the (currently still) incomplete data for 2018 on Wikipedia.

*Note that content here is not preserved in the long-term. Readers should not expect this link to deliver the right contents for more than a few days; however, the same contents should appear on Wikipedia in due time.

Written by michaeleriksson

January 13, 2018 at 11:55 pm

Iceland, irrational laws, and feminist nonsense

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As I learned today, there has been a highly negative development and dangerous precedent in Iceland:

An extremely unwise new law requires “equal” pay between men and women*. This is a good example of the problems with a mixture of democracy and stupid/uninformed voters resp. stupid/uninformed/populist politicians; and equally why it is important to have “small government”, with governmental interference limited to what is necessary—not what buys more votes. Further, it is a good example of how a “noble” cause does more harm than good to society.

*The linked-to article uses the absurdly incorrect formulation “legalise”, which would imply that it would be legal to have equal pay. Presumably, the author intended some variation of “legislate”. (If not ideal, at least much better than “legalise”.)

There are at least the following problems involved:

  1. It falls into the trap of the obnoxious and extremely misleading “77 cents on the dollar” lie. Men and women already have equal pay for equal work in very large parts of the world, including Iceland (and Sweden, Germany, the U.S., …) In fact, in as far as there are differences, they actually tend to favour women… Only by making unequal comparisons by failing to adjust for e.g. hours worked, qualifications, field of work, …, can such nonsense like the “77 cents on the dollar” lie even gain a semblance of truth. Cf. below.
  2. It fails to consider aspects like skill at negotiation and willingness to take risks. Cf. an earlier post.
  3. It risks, as a consequence of the two previous items, to give women a major artificial advantage and men a corresponding disadvantage. Basically, if feminist accounting would eventually find “100 cents on the dollar”, a true accounting would imply “130 cents on the dollar”, given women a de facto 30 % advantage instead of the current alleged male 30 % advantage implied by “77 cents on the dollar”).
  4. Judging whether two people actually do sufficiently similar jobs that the same remuneration is warranted is extremely tricky, and the law risks a great degree of arbitrariness or even, depending on details that I have not researched, that differences in remuneration between people on different performance levels shrink even further*.

    *In most jobs, and the more so the more competence they require, there is a considerable difference between the best, the average, the worst of those who carry the same title, have the same formal qualifications, whatnot. This is only very rarely reflected in payment to the degree that it should be (to achieve fairness towards the employees and rational decision making among employers). In software development, e.g., it is unusual that the difference in value added between the best and worst team member is less than a factor of two; a factor of ten is not unheard of; and there are even people so poor that the team would be better off without their presence—they remove value. Do salaries vary similarly? No…

  5. For compliance, “companies and government agencies employing at least 25 people will have to obtain government certification of their equal-pay policies”. The implication is considerable additional bureaucracy and cost for these organizations and likely, again depending on details I have not researched, the government it self.

    To boot, this is exactly the type of regulation that makes it hard for small companies to expand, and that gives the owners incentives to artificially limit themselves.

    From the reverse angle, for those who actually support this law, such vagueness could weaken* the law considerably—while keeping the extra cost and bureaucracy. Similarly, if the checks are actually fair and come to a conclusion that reflects reality, then changes in actual pay levels will be small and mostly indirect—with, again, the extra cost and bureaucracy added.

    *But I would not bet on it being enough to remove the inherit injustice and sexual discrimination it implies.

  6. It opens the doors to similarly misguided legislation, like e.g. a law requiring that certain quotas of women are met by all organisations—even when there are few women who are interested in their fields. (Implying that women would be given better conditions and greater incentives than men in those fields. Incidentally, something that can already be seen in some areas even with pressure stemming just from “public opinion” and PR considerations—not an actual law.)

As to the “77 cents on the dollar” and related misconceptions, lies, misinterpreted statistics, whatnot, I have already written several posts (e.g. [1], [2] ) and have since encountered a number of articles by others attacking this nonsense from various angles, for example: [3], [4], [5], [6], [7].

Simply put: Anyone who still believes in this nonsense is either extremely poorly informed or unable to understand basic reasoning—and any politician who uses this rhetoric is either the same or extremely unethical. I try to remain reasonably diplomatic in my writings, but enough is enough! The degree of ignorance and/or stupidity displayed by these people is such that they truly deserve to be called “idiots”. They are not one iota better than believers in astrology or a flat earth.

Written by michaeleriksson

January 2, 2018 at 9:35 pm

The heresy of racial differences

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When I first read “The Bell Curve” in my mid-twenties, I was also first confronted with the modern U.S. takes on racism, finding an enormous difference between what the book said and what its detractors claimed that it said.

This also led me to for the first time contemplate questions like racism on a more nuanced level than the “racism is evil” take I learned in school. One of my central observations what that I had had a lot of exposure to sci-fi and fantasy, e.g. through the various “Star Trek” series. Through this exposure, I knew that I could take large differences in a stride, respect radically different cultures and species for their strengths, and develop strong sympathies for beings that were not even human. Indeed, it was regularly the case that humans were not the top dogs in terms of the qualities I favour the most, like intelligence and intellectual accomplishment; occasionally, as with Tolkien’s elves vs. humans, humans lost over the entire line. For my part, I found myself in occasional unexpected situations, like being troubled by the ethics of Buffy’s often unprovoked slaying of vampires*; preferring the looks** of the all-Klingon version of B’Elanna over the all-human version when she was split into two alter egos; or seeing an almost apartheid level take on creatures in the “Narnia” books***.

*They were regularly killed in a blanket manner for being vampires, with the ipso facto conclusion that they were blood-thirsty and ruthless killers—without verification that the conclusion was actually correct. While the conclusion might well have been true in a vast majority of cases, the example of Spike proves that there was no certainty. His abstinence was, admittedly, forced upon him, but the fact that he got by well proves that a vampire that forego killing; while his later decision to regain his soul, as well as some other behaviors shown, forms a strong indication that some vampires might make that decision. (Within the Buffy-verse, the absence of a soul is what sets vampires apart from humans on the mental side. Note that Angel is a weaker example, because he already had his soul restored—he was physically a vampire and mentally a human; Spike was all vampire.)

**This was not such much a question of beauty as it was of the former preserving more of what I perceived as “B’Elanna”-ness. A Klingon would quite possibly have come to the reverse conclusion, having the reverse frame of reference.

***Note the clear, divinely approved or created, hierarchy of humans above talking animals above regular animals; and the easily drawn parallels between the English children and the builders of the British Empire (as viewed by its proponents) resp. the talking animals and the natives conquered by the British Empire. (And, yes, I have read the books several times as an adult.)

How then could anyone reasonably believe that I would be fazed by the far smaller differences within humankind, that I could be racist?

The answer to this is simple, and it also explains a very significant part of the criticisms launched against e.g. “The Bell Curve”: To many modern activists, racism amounts to merely contemplating that there could be differences of any kind that are not “skin deep”. (To some degree, the same applies m.m. to sexism and likely a few other “-isms”.) It does not matter whether I could view someone non-White as equal or even superior, whether I could appreciate differences, what I believe about the relative size of individual variations and group differences, … By even suggesting that there could be group differences, I am automatically written off as a racist. The very suggestion is heresy, punishable by automatic excommunication, to the PC orthodoxy.

Of course, this is far from all that is wrong with the attacks on alleged racism or misuse of the word “racism” (cf. a longer older article), but I have over time grown to consider this the single greatest problem, as well as the problem rational thinkers gain the most from understanding before approaching the debate.

Written by michaeleriksson

December 2, 2017 at 9:43 am