Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Posts Tagged ‘political correctness

PC annoyances

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One of the great annoyances and proofs of human stupidity is the many, many, many news items where poor reasoning or ignorance is used to support a politically correct agenda (be it by the journalist or the politicians, whatnot, reported on). I regularly find myself keeping a browser tab open, because I want to write something about a particularly idiotic item—but before I get around to it a week has passed and I have ten open tabs. (At which point I usually resign myself and just close them.)

Particularly common problems include:

  1. Variations of the 77-cents-on-the-dollar myth, which has been debunked for years*. Recently, e.g., the video-text of the German ARD reported that Germany is about to introduce transparency rules implying that women should have a (presumably asymmetric) right to find out what men in similar positions in their companies earn.

    *Cf. e.g. several earlier posts.

    A major problem with this is that just having the same (let alone a “similar”) position is not that strong an indication of what someone earns or should earn. Other criteria include actual performance, experience, education, how long the position has been held, and (very notably) negotiating* skill and tactic.

    *It could be argued that this is a bad thing, but as is it is a fact of life. I also suspect that it would be hard to abolish without risking a system where everyone is payed based on purely formal criteria, e.g. years in the company.

    The last item is particularly interesting, because men* tend to be more aggressive negotiators and are relatively more likely to turn down offers based on money—while increasing the risk of periods of unemployment and rejections. We can now have scenarios where four out of four women are hired at X (in some currency, for some time interval), while out of four more aggressively negotiating men three are hired at 1.1X and the fourth goes unemployed. The women find out that the three men earn more (while being ignorant of or disregarding the fourth), demand a raise with charges of sexual discrimination, and we end up with four women and three men earning 1.1X and one unemployed man… One group takes the high risk road for a higher reward and the other group receives the same reward without taking the risks… (With many variations, e.g., that is possible that everyone would have gotten 1.1X at a given company—but that only the men asked for it. Negotiations are there because the employers want to pay the least amount they can get away with—not because they want to systematically give women less money. I have even been asked outright what the smallest offer was that I would accept…)

    *Here and elsewhere I take is as granted that we speak of group differences, relative probabilities, and so on. That individual variations exists is a given and will not be spelled out.

    The first item (performance) is also of of extreme importance: In software development, my own field of practice, the difference in output and quality can be so large that it would often be easily justifiable to pay the one developer twice as much as the other. (Unfortunately, the decision makers are usually under the very unfortunate misconception that software developers are fungible and differences of that size are far rarer than they should be. Still, that someone earns 10, 20, 0r 30 % more is not automatically a sign of discrimination, skill at negotiation, or any non-performance factor—quite often it is a result of better performance.)

  2. Variations of women-are-not-successful-in-technology-due-to-discrimination.

    The truth is simply this: Men and women have different aptitudes and interests. Men more often end up as e.g. software developers and women as e.g. kindergarten teachers because that matches their natural preferences. Too boot, the women I have encountered so far in software development have only very rarely broken into the top half of the pack; off the top of my head, I recall no single woman who broke into the top quarter. (But I stress that my sample is too small to make statements about the overall population of female developers with certainty.)

    A particularly idiotic example is reporting on Facebook’s diversity program (which I originally encountered in a German news source which just parrots the original without any critical thinking).

    Facebook wants to diversify, but this “has been hampered by a multi-layered hiring process that gives a small committee of high-ranking engineers veto power over promising candidates”. Of course those pesky white men are at it again: “The engineering leaders making the ultimate choices, almost all white or Asian men, often assessed candidates on traditional metrics like where they attended college, whether they had worked at a top tech firm, or whether current Facebook employees could vouch for them”.

    What makes this particularly outrageous is the mention of “white or Asian men” in manner that very obviously is intended to imply that “white or Asian men” is the actual problem. It is not: The criteria used by these “white or Asian men” are sound and justified. The problem here is not the decision making process—it is the lack of suitable candidates. If (!) there is a problem here it is not with Facebook but with earlier stages: Facebook cannot be faulted if too few members of minority groups have gone to Stanford and MIT. This article* makes creating diversity a higher priority than finding the right person for the job at hand—an absurd attempt to create equality of outcome through destroying equality of opportunity. Notably, there is not one shred of proof presented that the decision makers would discriminate based on e.g. ethnicity—but if the lead of the article was followed, they would be forced to do so!

    *There are a number of problems with the article that I will not analyze in detail, but most of them boil down to observing result X and concluding Y without regard for other alternatives. For instance, it is true that using school as a criterion at the last stage of the process, rather than the first stage, is a bad idea—but if school has not been considered appropriately in the earlier stages and the sensible people only have a say in the last stage, well, better late than never. For instance, the claim that promising candidates, cf. above, are filtered out, is unsubstantiated and an explanation of “promising” is not given. For all we know, “promising” could here mean nothing but “is Hispanic, has a bachelor, wants to work here”—which is a long way from “is Hispanic, has a master from MIT with a great GPA, and has ten years of relevant experience”.

    (Not to forget: There is nothing remarkable with these decision makers being “white or Asian men”. Almost certainly this also reflects the suitable candidates in an earlier generation.)

    What has happened here is easy to understand: Facebook started to search for more diversified candidates, put them into the process, and found them being filtered out again, because they were not satisfactory. By analogy, if a fisherman casts his net wider, he will still not get the fish that is small enough to slip through the net.

  3. “Mäns våld mot kvinnor” (“mens’ violence against women”) is a Swedish specialty, but has similar variations in e.g. the U.S. (notably the misconception that domestic violence is committed predominantly by men onto women, which is very far from true).

    Using this specific phrase, feminists has spent decades running a grossly sexist campaign that paints men as serial abusers and women as innocent victims. Violence in the other direction and any other form of violence is strictly ignored. Violence simply is not a problem for these people—except when the perpetrator is a man and the victim a woman. To boot, “Mäns våld mot kvinnor” is painted as gigantic problem, while it in reality is a marginal issue: The vast majority of men do not in any way, shape, or form abuse their women.

    Unfortunately, feminist populism has become such a staple in Swedish mainstream political rhetoric that this type of hate speech and sexist rhetoric is regularly uttered even by high level politicians.

Written by michaeleriksson

January 13, 2017 at 6:11 am

Intolerance of opinion and the threat it poses to society

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It is no secret that intolerance of opinion is one of the things I loathe the most—when people do not merely disagree, be it ever so drastically, but when the one party presumes to consider the other party morally defect, evil, worthy of being shot, whatnot based on the difference in opinion.

(Not to be confused with considering someone worthy of being shot, be it literally or metaphorically, because of the methods used and actions taken. No-one should be shot for being a Nazi. Those who invade Poland and gas Jews, those are a very different matter—even if they happen to belong to another ideology.)

I will not expound in detail on this topic in general here (again), except in as far as noting that it almost invariably does harm (cf. medieval inquisitions, Nazi or Communist censorship, or, although less violently, the Politically Correct of today); that “Fascist is as Fascist does” (where I use the word “Fascist” in the incorrect but dominating everyday sense); and that no matter how convinced we are that we are the ones in the right, other opinions must be tolerated and only fought with facts, arguments, and reasoning—because there always, absolutely always remains a possibility that we are wrong. (After all, religious and ideological fanatics are almost by definition utterly convinced that they are right—even when they are obviously wrong in the eyes of others.)

Instead, I will point to the immense danger that we are currently exposed to through the intolerance of politically correct fanatics and populists through their attempts to use opinions as a criterion to ban people from work, political office, and similar.

In just a few weeks time, I have read news stories about e.g.:

  1. A young employee in Germany being fired for having made racists posts on Facebook, with no regard whatsoever to his actual performance at work, and even though his statements were irrelevant to his employer. (For instance and to the best of my knowledge, he did not insult his employer or leak secret information.) In effect, those having certain opinions will not be able to utter them for fear of losing their jobs.

  2. Hulk Hogan being thrown out of a hall of fame for professional wrestling for having expressed racist opinions—despite almost certainly being the most famous professional wrestler of all times. Notably, his fame and his importance in the (mis-) development of wrestling in the past thirty or so years is utterly unaffected by this, except in as far as he might become even more well-known because of it.

    If they had at least thrown him out for ruining the action performance art of wrestling and turning it into half-an-hour of muscle mountains screaming at each other, then I might have had some sympathies.

  3. Today, Donald Trump suddenly moved from a prime presidential candidate to a persona non grata over allegedly sexist statements.

I have seen many other examples over the years, including:

  1. The inexcusable firing of Larry Summers for making non-conclusive statements that are, by and large, supported by both science and common sense.

  2. A number of athletes being banned from competition, including the Olympics, or being forced to make (fake?) apologies for allegedly racist statements that by and large were either harmless, in the heat of the moment, or merely racial. (And even if some of them were racist, seeing that I am unlikely to be aware of the details of every case, they still had nothing to do with athletic performance. Note that the criticism raised has, to my knowledge, always been the irrelevant “racist”—not “lacking in sportsmanship”, which in some extreme cases may have been a legitimate reason to act.) A very young triple jumper, e.g., was banned from the Olympics for making a single joke that could realistically only be criticized for not being very funny…

  3. One or several U.S. colleges tried to instigate a policy where students of education would not merely be prevented from teaching unless they were sufficiently politically correct—bad enough, seeing that this would propagate the politically correct brain-wash from generation to generation. No: They would actually be prevented from receiving their degrees! This irrespective of actual academic accomplishment.

  4. The (with very few exceptions) utterly unscientific, prejudiced, and whole-sale condemnation of “The Bell-Curve” as racist, including the absurd idea that Wikipedia should not even provide an article on the book! (Basically, due to it being so evil that it would be best to bury it in silence, as if it were the Necronomicon or some similar work of darkest magic.)

  5. German Leftist extremists calling for a ban of all parties they do not like—much like Hitler in 1932… Again: Fascist is as Fascist does.

  6. A German IT company requiring that their employees, their contractors, and the employees of their contractors (!) have no connections with the Scientology movement. As I answered them upon hearing this requirement for a possible collaboration: Scientology might be a religion for idiots, but if you want exclude them in this unethical manner, well, then I will in return exclude you.

Unless we want to end up in a world were freedom of opinion has no more value than in North-Korea, it is high time that we take a stand and refuse to accept such intolerance and de facto censorship. A far more enlightened and worthy attitude is found in the words attributed to Voltaire:

I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.

Freedom of speech and freedom of thought by their very nature must not be “say whatever you like—as long as you agree with me”.

(A similar principle appears in many other cases. For instance, “innocent until proved guilty” becomes hollow and hypocritical when taken as “innocent until proved guilty—unless the accusation is of crime A or B, because these particular crimes are so horrible”. Indeed, the entire concept could be seen as invalidated, because possibly the single greatest advantage is removed: Protection against deliberately false accusations, be it from a dictatorial regime, modern day witch-hunters, or feuding neighbours.)

Written by michaeleriksson

August 8, 2015 at 11:11 pm

Evil is, as evil does

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Today, I encountered a blog post titled The nazi-behaviour of the lefte (“Vänsterns nazistbeteende”), written by a member of the controversial and much maligned party Sverigedemokraterna (SD)—perfectly timed for the blog post I had planned. A pertinent quote:

I jämförelse med judarna i 1930 talets Tyskland har jag det avsevärt lättare. Men jag har drabbats av Berufsverbot och stötts bort från ett arbete. Man har inte målat Davidsstjärnan på min dörr, utan texten RASIST. Varför? Jag har varit folkvald riksdagsledamot för SD.

Är det någon skillnad i den grundläggande mekanismen om en jude får Davidsstjärnan målad på sin dörr och får yrkesförbud eller om en sverigedemokrat får sin dörr hatsprejad och likaledes beläggs med yrkesförbud?

Så vilka är de verkliga fascisterna?

(Compared to the Jews in the 1930s Germany, I have it considerably easier. But I have been affected by Berufsverbotw and been rejected from a job. The Star of David has not been painted on my door, but the text RACIST. Why? I have been a publicly elected member of parliament for SD.

Is there a difference in the basic mechanism if a Jew gets the Star of David painted on his door and receives a profession ban or if an SD member gets his door hate-sprayed and also receives a profession ban.

So, who are the real fascists?

This is a special case of something I have seen again and again: Some people are merely because of their opinions considered so evil that evil actions are taken against them in the name of good. To make matters worse, as with SD, the opinions in question are normally not even the actual opinions of the victims, but the opinions that their abusers claim they would have…

The politically correct, leftists, self-proclaimed anti-racists and equally self-proclaimed anti-fascists are among the dominant sources of such evil. (A recurring topic in my writings. Cf e.g. [1], [2].) These people are often blind to the burning cross in their own eyes, while complaining loudly about the ember in their neighbour’s.

Let us repeat and generalize that important question:

So, who are the real fascists?

So, who are truly evil?

The underlying problem seems to be the neglect of a simple principle:

Evil is, as evil does.

It is neither urges nor opinions that determine whether someone is evil, but his actions. Indeed, the figure who actually considers himself evil is found in children’s cartoons and comic books—not real life. Even the likes of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao tend to see themselves as … good. Did Hitler kill Jews because he enjoyed causing suffering or out of a mere disregard for human life? No: He did so because he considered the Jews a force of evil that must be fought with all means for the benefit of society … Whether he tried to exterminate Jews, Nazis, the educated, or sailors is beside the point, as are his exact motivations: What matters is that he tried to exterminate and in doing so caused the world an evil that outweighed anything positive he (strictly hypothetically) could have achieved.

To bring out the difference between action and thought, consider two people:

The first is a pedophile. The second is dedicated to the well-being of fellow humans. The first has resisted every urge, for fear of harming children. The second is a believer in corporeal punishment as a means of building character and discipline, and takes every opportunity to give a child a solid thrashing.

Which of the two does harm in this world and which is harmless?

Now, some may protest that the pedophile is an accident waiting to happen or that the risks are too large. To a large part, this is just prejudice, built on media portrayals and political propaganda: To my knowledge, there is no indication whatsoever that pedophiles would be more different from non-pedophiles than homosexuals from non-homosexuals, Christians from atheists, or women from men. (Indeed, compared to the last case the difference is bound to be smaller, and the same may well be true for typical individuals in the former two cases.) Further, most of us spend a majority of our lives with sex partners that are far from what we consider optimal—or go without partners entirely. Why should pedophiles be considered unable to control themselves when almost everyone else is?

Indeed, this is one of the most common problems with the issue: It is seen as near unavoidable that the pedophile will lose control and rape the neighbour’s children; that the member of the “extreme right” will (metaphorically or literally) build concentration camps and invade Poland, should he land in power; etc. Notably, this happens even when the risk is objectively small and when in direct opposition to the own judgment or stated opinion of the presumed perpetrator. A particular problem is circular reasoning along the lines of “X is evil because he has opinion A. That X denies having opinion A is irrelevant—after all, he is evil and, therefore, a liar.”, which leaves the victim without a defense.

Besides, if we set out to eliminate every possible risk of evil, we would create a despotic police state with no regard for human rights—which certainly would be a thing of very great evil.

To expand on the above discussion of Hitler: How do we know that Hitler was evil? Well, Hitler’s evil did not manifest in hating Jews or being a nationalist—but in waging unjustifiable wars and committing genocide. If we look merely at his opinions and ideology, there are, today as well as then, hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of people with opinions of a similar extremeness—some on the left, some on the right; some Christian, some Muslim, some atheist; some men, some women; some German, some Tibetan; some vegan, some meat loving; some racist, some anti-racist; … What makes the difference is not what they believed, but what they actually did. Someone who hates Jews is merely misguided—not evil. Someone who kills the Jew-hater, despite his being innocent of anything other than thought—now, he is evil. Indeed, if hate against a particular group of people was a crime worthy of punishment (be it capital or otherwise), then very few of us would go unpunished: Those of us who have never hated another group, no matter their current feelings, are a very small minority. Then again, how many of us actually acted on that hate? In contrast, how many have now overcome it?

My urgent plea to those who are convinced that they do the work of good and that the means justify the end against the evil they fight: Remember that “evil is, as evil does” and re-examine your own actions for signs of actually having become a greater evil than the evil you set out to fight. The road to Hell is built with good intentions.

Disclaimer: The above is not intended to be a full treatment of the concept of “evil”, and deliberately ignores a number of issues (including whether evil truly exists and whether e.g. a mentally ill person could be considered evil). The topic is more narrowly focused on a “bad guy”/“good guy” differentiation.

Written by michaeleriksson

July 10, 2011 at 8:45 pm

IQ myths

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A great annoyance when IQw is on the table is that many of the PC persuasion make cocksure, yet absolutely incorrect, statements about it—often “proving” the opposite of reality in the process.

For instance, on a recently discussed blog entrye (where I still cannot comment) someone today made the following two claims as a means to dismiss The Bell Curvew:

  1. IQ is not given by nature, which is proved by how easy it is to train it.

    In reality, IQ has comparatively little yield (less than e.g. a time for the 100 m dash), even having very strong correlations between results at e.g. ages 10 and 30. Even if training has an effect, the thing most likely to change is not actually the IQ proper (or, in its core, g), but the test taking ability. (A reason why some prefer to only give tests to pristine subjects. Note that the proportion of people who are repeated test takers is limited and the distortion of overall numbers, in particular between groups, is small.) Doing this might give better room for bragging, but changes neither reality nor the value of IQ tests.

  2. IQ is unlikely to be inherited, which is proved by unspecified claims about adopted Third-World children being closer to their adopted than native countries in terms of IQ.

    In reality, IQ is very strongly hereditary, which has been shown again and again by a great number of studies—including those involving twins placed into foster homes of different SES.

    As for the specific claim, the lack of source makes it hard to make a definite statement. (But I do vaguely recall having heard similar claims on other occasions.) However, the fact that Third-World children were chosen would make the applicability in general low: The Third-World has problems with e.g. nutrition that make the impact of environmental factors far larger than in the First World—and it is quite possible that merely removing these detrimental factors could account for more than half the gap. This, however, has no impact on the observations made in the First World.

    (Generally speaking, the relative influence of nature and nurture on a group will depend not only on their “absolute” influence, but on how much variation is present. For a simplified example consider the influence of x on f(x, y) = x + y when x varies between 0 and 10 and y between 0 and 1 resp. 0 and 100.)

Other popular incorrect claims include:

  1. Scientists like Stephen Jay Gouldw have disproved IQ.

    They have not: Experts see great value in IQ and Gould has been criticized for making unqualified claims, referring to a state of research decades behind even his time (and note that his The Mismeasure of Manw is another thirty years old by now…), misrepresenting scientific consensus, and building strawmen—with a more than good chance even of ideological bias on Gould’s part.

  2. IQ only determines how good you are at taking IQ tests.

    In fact, IQ shows a high degree of correlation with a variety of tasks. There is even a correlation between IQ and speed of reaction. It is true that IQ is a very imperfect (but far from worthless!) predictor for individuals. However, for groups it is very useful. Further, even for individuals it can make statements about e.g. what work positions are at all possible.

  3. IQ is “culturally loaded”, biased against non-White, non-Christian, non-European men, or similar.

    Decades ago, this was to some degree true. Since then, great efforts have been made to investigate and eliminate such problems. One of the purest tests, Raven’s progressive matricesw, shows the same general group differences as have so often been ridiculed as caused by cultural bias. Indeed, cultural bias can often reduce a group difference: By reducing the g loading and making knowledge and experience more important, a smaller difference in these areas will mask the difference in g.

Finally, there is a claim that is true, but often used in a misleading manner:

IQ and intelligence are different things and IQ does not measure intelligence

IQ is indeed only a proxy for intelligence, even increasingly a proxy for g. Notably, it can be argued that removing “culturally loaded” questions (e.g. relating to word knowledge) has made it a lesser proxy for intelligence… To some approximation, it can be said that IQ measures the inborn part of intelligence—which makes it highly valuable and allows it to (approximately) fulfill the demands that are put on it today. In an earlier entry, I compare basket ability and height with success in life and IQ, noting that it would be equally foolish to dismiss IQ for success as to dismiss height for basketball—it would be several degrees more foolish to dismiss IQ when talking about intelligence.

For a decent overview with many further sources, I recommend the original link to Wikipedia. This page is not perfect, often being altered by PC zealots, but the facts usually shine through.

Finally, I would like to throw in a recent Dilbert stripe that not only matches most uses of the word “racism” I have ever encountered on the Internet, but which is particularly apt for discussions around IQ, “The Bell Curve”, and similar topics.

Written by michaeleriksson

June 14, 2011 at 11:14 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

The common thread of weak thinking in leftist opinions

with 3 comments

Even in my teens, I noticed the seemingly odd phenomenon that the Swedish left disagreed with the right on more or less every issue—even when these issues had nothing to do with left and right in the political sense (and disregarding that the left–right scale likely does more harm than good), including e.g. issues relating to Israel or nuclear power. As time has gone by, I have noted the same phenomenon in other countries: While there are great variations (in particular with the right being far less homogeneous than the left), there is a strong correlation between e.g. being left and strongly disliking Israel or nuclear power, respectively being right and being more pro-Israel (note that, outside of the US and Israel, it self, the relative “more pro-” is usually necessary, while the absolute “anti-” can stand on its own) or being pro-nuclear power. Similarly, the left tends to be pro-feminism, pro-affirmative action, anti-globalization, pro-political correctness, whatnot—all things that are not (or very weakly) tied to the left–right scale. (If someone wants to counter e.g. that feminism is obviously left because both the feminists and the left wish for equality for everyone, or similar: You merely prove that you do not understand typical right-wing positions on equality—or, for that matter, what modern day feminism actually implies.)

Having considered these observations off-and-on for a few weeks, I see a pattern of contributing factors relating to lack of rational thought and a tendency to jump where feelings lead without investigating the facts, that explain various typically leftist opinions (including much of the original left–right divide) and why these are so often not shared by the right:

  1. A weakness to emotional arguments; in particular, a tendency to believe whoever complains the loudest and has the best “sob story”. Prime examples are the anti-Israel and pro-feminism stances: On closer inspection, various militant Palestinian organisations are the greater villains in the drama, who just happen to be very good at painting themselves as victims (cf. the “Not touching! Can’t get mad!” stunt of the Mavi Marmara); while feminists rely on a mixture of lies, misinterpreted or falsified statistics, spreading of anti-male prejudice, whatnot (cf. any number of previous entries).

  2. An inability or unwillingness to check the facts, think a few steps ahead to look at mid- and long-term consequences, etc.: Examples include believing the 77 cents on the dollar nonsense, banning child-labour (as opposed to merely condemning it) without first ensuring that the families can prevail without it, etc.

    An illustrative non-political (and semi-fictitious) example: Assume that a plane has been hi-jacked and that the hi-jackers demand a ransom of 10 million dollars. A typical leftist-style reaction would be along the lines of “Oh! Those poor people, we have to save them no matter what the cost! It would be inhuman to think of money in a situation like this!”; while a rightist reaction would be “If we pay these hi-jackers, others will see that hi-jacking pays off—and we will see an increase in hi-jackings with more innocent people at risk.” (not the “Money is more important than people! Let them fend for themselves!” that the common leftist caricatures of the right would likely claim).

  3. A view of the world based on offender–victim or oppressor–oppressee relationships. Consider pairings like Israel–Palestinians, men–women, the US–the World, Whites–non-Whites, … Of course, this is unsurprising with an eye on Marxism—and, indeed, the rich–poor pairing is fundamental to many leftist ideologists and voters. Statements even to the point of claiming that the rich would hate the poor are not unheard of in e.g. Sweden.

    In reality, these pairings usually display misunderstandings, failures as per item 1, unfair generalizations, or are otherwise faulty or, at best, quarter-truths on closer inspection. In particular, the Swedish saying “Det är inte ens fel om två träter.”–“It is not the fault of the one [party], if two [parties] are feuding.” is too often neglected.

  4. A fear of that one big, but unlikely, disaster over the certain continual and continuous destruction. Nuclear power vs. coal and oil is the paramount example, but other examples abound in the small, including politically correct language changes, where the fear of insulting someone leads to negative language changes or restrictions on freedom of speech. (See e.g. my discussion of gender-neutral language.)

    Here it is vital to look at “opportunity cost” and “expectation value”—in particular when faced with situations like the recent Japanese nuclear scare: Note how few incidents there have been over the years, that Japan did not become a radioactive wasteland, that the earth-quake and tsunami did more damage on their own than the nuclear incidents/accidents did, …

    To make matters worse, these fears are often combined with a poor understanding of the issue (as discussed above). For instance, I recently encountered a blog comment with the completely incorrect claim that this-or-that reactor had x thousand times the nuclear material of the Hiroshima bomb—and that it would explode with x thousand times the power. Well, if that was a risk, I would likely be anti-nuclear power too… In reality, it is extremely unlikely, bordering on the impossible, for a nuclear explosion to take place—and even if, by some extraordinary fluke, it did take place, the yield would not be even remotely proportional to the mass of the nuclear material. (Consider that the hypothetical explosion would throw most of the core out of reach from the chain reaction at a too early stage or that a localized sufficient criticality would not imply a core-wide criticality.)

Note: I do not claim that these sins are the sole property of the left. On the contrary, they are fairly wide-spread (including both Republicans and Democrats in the US and the European, severely misnamed, “extreme right”); however, in most countries that I have insight into, the left appears to be far worse than the right—most notably in Sweden.

The reader may observe that there is a similar tendency of different thinking between men and women—and, indeed, women tend to be more leftist than men.

Written by michaeleriksson

April 5, 2011 at 8:28 pm

The myth of white male privilege

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I have had a post on the myth of white male privilege in the planning since January. The preliminary, late-running, product is now present on my website, having grown too long for the blog format.

Written by michaeleriksson

March 20, 2011 at 12:59 pm