Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

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More on distortion of literary works

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After my texts on the distortions of the books of Roald Dahl ([1]) and the semi-cancellation of Scott Adams, I ran into a great number of texts on related topics. To look briefly at some of them:

The vandalism of Dahl’s books is made the worse by Dahl’s strong objections (long before the fact, of course):

*Here and elsewhere with reservations for e.g. formatting.

He told [friend Francis] Bacon: “I’ve warned my publishers that if they later on so much as change a single comma in one of my books, they will never see another word from me. Never! Ever!”

In the recording, the writer, who had Norwegian roots, added: “When I am gone, if that happens, then I’ll wish mighty Thor knocks very hard on their heads with his Mjolnir. Or I will send along the Enormous Crocodile to gobble them up.”

(For my part, I can only second this opinion: I absolutely and categorically forbid such vandalism of any and all of my writings and other works, be they current, past, or present.)

In stark contrast to the vandalizing Brits, the French and the Dutch are saner, distance themselves from such acts, and seem set on keeping the existing translations*.

*Of course, the fact that the translations are translations automatically implies some level of distortion, and those capable of reading a book in its original language should try to do so, but this is a distortion of a different kind and, when done with sufficient competence and professionalism, a distortion that is not grossly unethical and destructive. (Unlike e.g. some absolutely atrocious German translations, e.g. of works by Terry Pratchett.)

However, as expected, Dahl is not the only victim. After the many failures of Blofeld and SPECTRE, James Bond finally takes a hit. The problem is similar to the one with Dahl—use of “sensitivity readers”* to determine what is and is not acceptable to real readers, while leaving the will of both the real readers and the author out of the picture. Who is next? Paddington Bear for stereotyping foreigners or for being offensive to abandoned children? And why has no-one taken down Jane Austen yet? Is not her books filled with stereotypical and offensive depictions of men and women in those horrifying, outdated, and sexist traditional gender roles?

*Also see below for some info on such “sensitivity readers”.

Then we have a case of defacement. This article deals with an (unsurprisingly, both female and deranged seeming) bookbinder who rebinds “Harry Potter” books in order to remove references* to their author and “create a ’safe space’ for fans who struggle to align themselves with the writer’s views”.** This is idiotic, as removing a name does not change the authorship or history of the books; and anyone who actually wishes to own and read the books, while being “triggered” by the mere name of the author on the cover, shows both a wish to have-one’s-cake-and-eat-it-too and an inability to understand what is important.*** It is, however, yet another interesting example of a Leftist tendency to believe in “word magic”. I am also reminded of the very common Leftist (implicit or explicit) view that individuals only exist to serve the collective or some party/cause/whatnot—produce all you want, but expect no recognition or reward.

*Including, apparently, replacing the copyright pages with “alternative versions”, which could raise very serious questions about the legality of the operation. (Note that she is not performing an on-demand modification of books already purchased by a long-term owner. She, herself, “seeks out second-hand copies of the series” and sells the modified versions at exorbitant prices.)

**The quoted statement, in my eyes, means something different from what is obviously intended. (And is very awkwardly formulated, even aside from the issue of meaning.)

***In contrast, a “I will never buy Rowling again!!!” would at least be somewhat understandable. It would, from what I have seen until now, be based on a faulty premise of Rowling as some hateful and evil individual, out to oppress and “discriminate” transsexuals, but, given that someone holds the premise to be true, it might not be unreasonable.

Another article from the same source deals with imagining “Harry Potter” without Rowling. In light of this, it is not inconceivable that we will see a long-term trend of detaching authors from their works, in order to deny any sign of accomplishment to those deemed heretics and to allow the True Believers to enjoy these works without themselves being viewed as heretics and/or falling victim to the “guilt by association” tactic so popular on the Left. Indeed, looking at [1] and the removal of references to Kipling in favor of Austen, would it not be expedient to just credit the one “approved” author with the works of someone not “approved”? If, say, a book mentions a character reading “The Jungle Book”, why not just proclaim it a work by Austen? (Or some other, preferably female, author who is a better chronological fit.) This would not just solve the PC problem of having the “wrong” authors show up, it would also remedy the “under-representation” of this-and-that and ensure that at least half of all important works were seen-as-written by women, that various minorities are credited with works in proportion to their numbers, etc.

Steve Sailer links to a National Review piece on the “sensitivity readers” behind the vandalism of Dahl’s works. Unfortunately, the latter page does not display for me, but Sailer has some quotes (and the comment section contains more than a few comments of interest).

Of the “sensitivity readers” mentioned in the text, at least four out of six are women*, the fifth a “transgender male poet”,** and the sixth a “queer, trans, and intersex individual” (my emphasis). Of the four official women, they are all at least one of LGBT-etc.-etc., Black, “neurodiverse”,*** and Muslim.

*Or, at any rate, have traditionally female names and/or are referred to with traditionally female pronouns. In the particular context at hand, this might not mean anything at all.

**Which likely implies “transgender female poet”, as abuse words is very common in these contexts. A woman who wants be a man is a transgender female resp. transgender woman, but is usually mislabeled as “transgender male” resp. “transgender man”.

***As a likely Aspie, I am puzzled by how many allegedly “neurodiverse” group with the Left. Stereotypical traits among the “neurodiverse” include a high degree of rationality, which is incompatible with the Left and many or most of their claims and behaviors. Whether such stereotypical traits match reality is often unclear, but I cannot suppress the suspicion that many of them are actually just “NTs” looking for another label to make themselves even more “intersectional” (note how often such individuals report with a handful of labels) or otherwise engage in mislabeling or misinterpretation. (Also note several comments following Sailer’s text.) It might even be argued that the “-diverse” part is a sign of a politically or ideologically driven identification, as opposed to actually being an Aspie, HFA, or whatnot.

This is a group that skews very heavily and very heavily into “demographics” with a strong tendency to support (and be manipulated by) the New Left, it is a group that is unlikely to be representative of mainstream readers, it is a group unlikely to be high in rational thinking, it is a group disproportionally likely to contain mental ill individuals, and it is a group that seems preselected to achieve a certain outcome. Even if (!!!) the idea of such rewrites had been legitimate, this would not be the way to go about it.

As an aside, if such skews are common, which seems plausible, it would go a long way to explain the excesses of e.g. many media franchises and how out of touch they can be with the actual audience.

In a similar direction, the British Prevent Scheme appears to deem an absurd amount of works normally considered harmless or beneficial as causing far-Right radicalization. A particularly interesting re-quote:

Historian and broadcaster Andrew Roberts said: ‘This is truly extraordinary. This is the reading list of anyone who wants a civilised, liberal, cultured education.[’]

‘It includes some of the greatest works in the Western canon and in some cases — such as Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent — powerful critiques of terrorism. Burke, Huxley, Orwell and Tolkien were all anti-totalitarian writers.’

To this, I note that some of the key differences between the Left and (at least portions of) the non-Left is their relative prioritization of conformance in opinion vs. critical/own thinking, the collective vs. the individual, big government vs. small government, and similar. Taking things to their natural conclusion, it is not really unexpected for someone on the Left to consider those who want to think for themselves and make decisions for themselves to be e.g. far Right, as their ideas/wishes/whatnot are antithetical to the Leftist ideal. Ditto to consider books “evil” that oppose government control of the people or do not indoctrinate into Leftist ideas but present ideas to be judged on their own merits or, worse, present ideas that contradict the Leftist dogmas. Etc.


Written by michaeleriksson

March 4, 2023 at 6:43 pm

Distortion of literary works / Roald Dahl

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I have repeatedly* written about the distortion of various past works by reader- and author-despising editors and whatnots—especially, those abusing their positions to push a PC extremist (or otherwise Leftist extremist) agenda.

*E.g. concerning Enid Blyton ([1]). Also note the overlapping issue of overruled choice.

As I learn today, Roald Dahl has fallen victim to a particularly large and ill-advised set of distortions. Several articles have appeared alone in “The Telegraph”, including [2] and [3], the latter partially discussing Salman Rushdie’s condemnation of the distortions.

To look at some quotes from [2]:*

*The usual disclaimers about formatting, etc., apply.

The publisher, Puffin, has made hundreds of changes to the original text, removing many of Dahl’s colourful descriptions and making his characters less grotesque.

Utterly inexcusable.*

*I use this formulation repeatedly. There is a reason for this—that the shoe fits! If anything, I use it too little: what goes on here should by rights be illegal.

The word “fat” has been removed from every book –
Augustus Gloop in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory may still look like a ball of dough, but can now only be described as “enormous”.

This is an example of a hysterical treatment of words and an obsession with words over meanings and implications. If he still looks like a ball of dough, why would it matter that the word “fat” is used? A word, I note, which was seen as perfectly harmless not long ago, and where only massive* pressure from deranged lobby-groups have brought on a very recent change—a change so recent that not even I had expected “fat” to be problematic in contexts like these. Then again, we have reached a state where pointing out that someone might live longer through eating better and exercising more is seen as fat shaming by such fanatics and where they consider well-trained models offensive.**

*Is “massive” still allowed?

**But then we have the opposite risk, should we dare suggest that someone is not fat enough, as seen in e.g. a discussion of bad-faith assumptions. (Search for “Gabriella2”.)

This also comes with the problem of what to do when fat-as-a-substance is intended. I have seen Feminists flip out over use of the word “bitch” in the context of dog breeding—might not any use of “fat” be targeted next? (Also note the discussion of “female” below.)

And what happens when someone decides that not just a description as “fat” is illicit, and that Augustus must now be made entirely generic and as skinny as Charlie? What then would the point of the character be? And why would being fat be worse than being a spoilt brat, an idiot, or whatever applied to Augustus and/or some of the other children?

Passages not written by Dahl have also been added. In The Witches, a paragraph explaining that witches are bald beneath their wigs ends with the new line: “There are plenty of other reasons why women might wear wigs and there is certainly nothing wrong with that.”

Not only an inexcusable act of vandalism*—but something entirely superfluous. Comparing this with some vandalism mentioned in [1], far greater future issues are to be expected in the future, unless the backlash is strong enough, say, turning Blyton’s “Famous Five” into social-justice warriors or removing direct or indirect criticism of the Left from other works (maybe, those by George Orwell).

*I stand by that word. This is not a matter of creating a new (if highly disputable) mustached version of the “Mona Lisa”—it is a matter of doing away with the original, so that only the mustached version is ever seen.

References to “female” characters have disappeared – Miss Trunchbull in Matilda, once a “most formidable female”, is now a “most formidable woman”.

Another example of hysterical treatment of words. I note, in particular, that some seem to have an obsessive and irrational hatred of the word “female” (but not “male”; I have e.g. seen texts contrasting “women” with “males”), despite this being a perfectly normal and highly useful noun,* both for variation and for flexibility—even when restricted to humans, “female” has a wider meaning in common use, as e.g. a girl of five is a female but not typically considered a woman. It might or might not be argued that some individual (noun) use would benefit from “woman”, in order to avoid misunderstandings when specifically an adult human female is intended, but this is not the choice that the author made—and these changes are driven by irrationality and a PC agenda, not a wish for disambiguation. (And this without opening the can of worms created by the theft of the word “woman” to refer to men-who-want-to-be women.)

*And the main or sole option as a modifier. For instance, “women physicians” are gynecologist and the like (and might or might not be women, themselves), while physicians-who-are-women are correctly referred to as “female physicians”. Also note the enormously misleading headline of “Women abusers on the rise” mentioned in [4].

“Boys and girls” has been turned into “children”. The Cloud-Men in James and the Giant Peach have become Cloud-People and Fantastic Mr Fox’s three sons have become daughters.

The first is a pointless modification, unless the editor is, utterly inexcusably, trying to enforce a “sex does not exist” agenda. My extremely vague recollections of “James and the Giant Peach” does not allow me to comment in detail, but if the change was along the lines of “prefer humankind over mankind” it is, at best, an illicit, if possibly well meant, distortion of the author’s language, while a change of a previously male group into a mixed group would be utterly inexcusable. The Fox daughters, finally, are a horrifying spread of screen distortions to the written word—bad on the screen; utterly inexcusable here, as the screen version is a mere adaption, while here the original is distorted.

Matilda reads Jane Austen rather than Rudyard Kipling, and a witch posing as “a cashier in a supermarket” now works as “a top scientist”.

Blatant, utterly inexcusable, agenda pushing.

To boot, one that makes Matilda looks worse, as Jane Austen appears to have far less to offer as an author, especially from an intellectual point of view, than Kipling did. Mathilda is reduced from reading literature to reading chick-lit. (Cf. an earlier discussion of “Pride and Prejudice”.) And, no, Kipling was by no means just a children’s author, no matter what the relative popularity of his works might lead the modern reader to believe. He wrote novels, short stories, and poetry for adults too, received a Nobel Prize, and is rumored to have been offered (but declined) the position as Poet Laureate. For that matter, I would not rule out that “The Jungle Book” and “Kim” are worthier reads even for an adult than “Pride and Prejudice”.*

*My own contacts with the two former are too far back to say for certain, but took place at an adult age and left a more positive memory.

To boot, one that could potentially* miss an important point, e.g. (!) that “evil might be found anywhere”, which can work as both a life lesson and as a means to increase the scare value of a certain book/scene/character. (Monsters under the bed are much worse than monsters in some faraway forest.)

*Here too, my own contacts are too far back to say for certain. (Not even at an adult age, this time.)

The words “black” and “white” have been removed: characters no longer turn “white with fear” and the Big Friendly Giant in The BFG cannot wear a black cloak.

Here we reach a point of such insanity that even my own nightmare scenarios cannot keep up: A little more than a month ago, I wrote that “[…] the words ‘black’ and ‘brown’ have so far not been under general attack (presumably, something still too absurd even for the modern Left) […]”. The simply truth appears to be that nothing is too absurd for the modern Left.

Written by michaeleriksson

February 19, 2023 at 11:55 pm

More on pronouns and the war on pronouns

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Disclaimer: I wrote most of the below two weeks ago. To avoid further delays, I finish the text off today with an eye at getting it done rather than at quality and completeness. This as I have already dealt with large portions of this topic repeatedly (cf. below links) and my main intent was simply to point to (a) the ever worsening and ever more absurd situation and (b) my growing suspicion of the below-mentioned war on pronouns.

Quite a few oddities could be explained if we assume an outright war on pronouns, a wish to effectively kill off anything except “they” and its variations (for which I will use “they” as a shorthand).* This, then, likely as a part in a greater war on the individual/on individualism. (Apart from human stupidity, incompetence, and irrationality, forces never to be underestimated, the only other reason that I see as somewhat plausible is a mentality of forcing others to comply with absurdities for the sake of compliance in a “Nineteen Eighty-Four” manner.)

*For now, the problem is largely one of the second person, with a drift from an earlier replacement of “he” as the generic singular with the absurd “they”, to replacing all second-person pronouns with “they”. It might be that things will end there, as the first and third persons are more restricted in forms; it might be that the problem will spread to them too.

The most obvious perversion of pronouns is the “preferred pronoun” mania,* which has no** actual benefits for its users/proponents, but (a) makes “they” the more prominent at the cost of “he” and “she”, (b) introduces ambiguity and confusion around numbers and group belongings, and (c) serves to remove individuality. Note that there is an increasing drift towards using “they” for someone of a known sex but an unknown “preference” (where the logical thing to do, even if someone believes in “preferred pronouns”, is to default to the natural sex-specific ones.*** This the more so, as most of us do not have an explicitly stated preference, have not spent much time on the issue, and/or consider the idea of “preferred pronouns” (as opposed to those dictated by standard English) an absurdity.

*Something highly wrong-headed, as it presumes to force others to use pronouns in a non-standard and ultimately arbitrary manner. Forcing others to such non-standard use is certainly a greater violation, more harmful, and more offensive than any consequences of ignoring the “preferred pronouns”. Moreover, the additional burden (and the risk of accidental errors) in terms of remembering the right set of pronouns for the right person is ridiculous. Then there is the issue of how to handle unknown preferences.

**Indeed, the mere idea that use of non-standard pronouns would somehow be better (or use of standard pronouns worse) for someone is a complete non sequitur. In an interesting contrast, I recently (cf. [1]) wrote about actually offensive and rude use of pronouns—and a use which has paradoxically raised very few objections. Here we do have a case where preferences should be respected, as they relate to a legitimate aspect of choice, but where they are not.

***Consider, by analogy, if animals were labeled as “omnivores” until the correctness of an individual “carnivore” or “herbivore” had been established—and this even when the status as one of the two was highly likely to begin with, and this despite “omnivore” being a mislabeling of, say, a carnivore to the same degree as labeling an omnivore “carnivore”.

The more important is the abuse of “they” in various cases where it does not belong, notably: as a generic second-person singular; as an attempt to be “gender neutral” for animals (where “it” is the traditional form and the obvious solution); as a blanket term for any noun with a collective connotation (even if not an outright “collective noun”), foregoing the often superior “it”; as a perverted coordinate of “one”;* etc. (Cf. a number of older texts, including at least [2], [3], [4].) However, over time, I have seen more and more cases of the use of “they” when an “it” is called for, including such absurdities as “a soul makes their way” instead of “a soul makes its way”,** a known man/woman with no “gender confusion” referred to as “they”,*** and similar. The sheer volume of abuse of “they” is simply so large that it is hard to avoid the conclusion that something truly unsavory is going on, that either individual authors/speakers or content-creating/-controlling businesses (e.g. Disney) deliberate push idiotic uses to achieve an ideological purpose.

*E.g. “one must keep their promises” over “one must keep one’s promises”. Note how this use of “their” is not only entirely pointless and redundant but also, as is so often the case with abuse of “they”/“their”/“them”/whatnot, outright misleading, as the implication of the faulty version is that “one” should keep the promises of some unspecified others. (If this implication is the actual intent, the use is both correct and harmless; however, the opposite is very often clear from context.)

**I recently encountered this case, or something very close to it, in the movie “Mindcage”.

***As in e.g. a straight woman discussing a date-with-a-straight-man with others who know this man, and where there has been no prior sign of e.g. gender confusion or “preferred pronouns”, but where she still resorts to phrases like “I wonder whether they want a second date”.

Other cases referring to a singular someone include:*

*Here my draft from two weeks ago contained a few notes for expansion and the intention to provide more examples. I have just turned the existing cases into a list instead. In all cases, replacing “they” with “he” resp. “she” would be correct; however, the point of the examples is that this is not necessary and that a “gender neutral” version can be had without abuse of “they”—indeed, is often very natural.

  1. Turning “who it was” into “who they were” (e.g. “I know who it was” vs. “I know who they were”).
  2. Unnecessary use of “their” over “the” (“the child throws the[ir] ball”).
  3. Unnecessary use of “their” over “a[n]” (“the speaker stated [an/their] opinion”)

Written by michaeleriksson

January 7, 2023 at 9:59 am

Weak Leftist argumentation and playing the victim / Follow-up: The purpose of women-only competitions vs. inclusion of trans athletes

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To follow-up on a sub-theme from earlier today:

The Feminists vs. trans activists conflicts are a good example of the extreme “we are victims” pushing that is so common on the current Left. As destructive and tragic as this is when directed at the non-Left, men, Whites, whatnot, it becomes almost humorous when the one group of “victims” comes into conflict with another. Here, e.g., we have a virtual dialogue of:

Trans activist: We are the victims!

Feminist: No, we are the victims!

Trans activist: No, WE are the victims!!!

Feminist: NO, WE ARE THE VICTIMS!!!!!!


It is particularly telling that there are many Feminists (or women in general?) who come out to protest certain behaviors today, when they are used by some other group(s) to gain advantages at the cost of Feminists/women—while the decades of use by Feminists, at the cost of others, never was deemed worthy of criticism. (Ditto, m.m., certain attitudes, certain lines of pseudo-argumentation, whatnot.)

This consistent pushing of “we are the victims” (and related/overlapping “us vs. them”, “X are evil oppressors”, “we are good; they are evil”, etc.) also shows the lack of factual arguments of the Left. The popularity of such tactics arises from the facts that (a) they work, and (b) the Left has no real arguments: With very few exceptions, Leftist factual arguments do not differ mainly in their degree of correctness, rationality, whatnot, but in how much inspection is needed before they turn out to be incorrect, irrational, or otherwise specious.

Apart from “we are the victims” (etc.), Leftists resort to sloganeering, emotional arguments, personal attacks, or even outright shouting, because they do not have the arguments on their side.

Indeed, even when the Left might have a reasonable argument, it resorts to these tactics over attempting that argument. Abortion* is a great** example. Here pro-abortionist could raise arguments about what should be considered life in a meaningful sense, what intelligence in a meaningful sense, where human rights should begin, whatnot, and what value any “preliminary” interests of a growing fetus should be given relative the interests of the mother-(not-)to-be.

*Discounting the question of whether abortion is truly a Leftist issue, as specifically the strong U.S. pro-abortion movement definitely is Leftist and the methods that it uses definitely those of the Left and/or Feminism. More generally, however, (a) conflicts around abortion are typically rooted in religious or, more rarely, philosophical objections, not “Left vs. Right”, (b) there is much less conflict in most other Western countries than in the U.S., and opponents to abortions in (at least!) the first trimester are very rare throughout the entire political spectrum in e.g. Sweden and Germany.

**So great that I find myself coming back to abortion for the umpteenth time, although I do not have a strong opinion on the underlying issue—just on the pseudo-argumentation of the Left around abortion.

Instead, the most common argument is a cheap slogan—which, to boot, entirely misses the point! Cf. e.g. My body, my choice—my ass! and note that it is actually the body of the fetus which is at stake. (Which is why the above areas of argumentation would be so much more valuable, relevant, and constructive.)

Lesser arguments include claims that pro-lifers want to “oppress women” (instead of preventing what they often see as murder), that access to abortions would be central to a woman’s rights/opportunities/whatnot,* and similar rhetoric—much of which falls exactly in categories like “we are the victims”. The post-Dobbs situation brought a number of examples, including misrepresentations of new U.S. abortion laws,** misrepresentation of the motivation of the court as anti-woman instead of pro-constitution, and, of course, the claim that Dobbs made abortion illegal—when it just moved the decision of legality back to the democratically elected law-makers in the individual states or, as case may have it, the federation.

*Another non sequitur, which overlooks factors like the option to avoid careless sex and to use contraceptives, that many women of the past did exceptionally well without abortions, that being pregnant and having a child need not be e.g. a career interrupter in most jobs in the current West, that it might be better for both mother and child with a birth now rather than in ten years, etc. (Note that women who do not want children at all, be it today or in ten or twenty years, can have a tubal litigation.)

**For instance, misrepresenting laws with rape and incest exemptions as not having such, misrepresenting laws with a time interval (e.g. the first trimester) with legal abortion as not having such a time interval, and misrepresenting these time intervals as more restrictive than e.g. those in Europe. This often along the lines of “abortion is now illegal in state X”, with no qualifications, where a truer statement might be “late-term abortion is now illegal in state X, unless the life of the mother is at risk, and unless the pregnancy arose through rape or incest”.

This while a strong-seeming argument, which I have mentioned myself in the past, seems to have stood on shaky legs from day one: that legal abortion avoids highly dangerous illegal abortions, with a correspondingly reduced risk to the women involved. Not only is there a problem with historical/propaganda claims likely being highly exaggerated,* but this also glosses over improved abortion technology, the existence of “plan b” pills, and better preventative methods compared to “yore”.

*I read some material on this around the time of Dobbs and/or the preceding leak, but do not remember where. A brief web search found e.g. [1] and [2], which appear to cover similar ground. (I do not vouch for the details of these pages. Note that both focus on misrepresentation around deaths, which does not rule out that there is a higher number of non-lethal complications.)

To this might be added how problems with abortions are glossed over, e.g. that there is a remaining physical risk to the woman (even with a modern and legal abortion), that some (many?) develop psychological issues in the aftermath, and that a too easy availability of abortion can lead to more careless behaviors. However, such glossing over is quite common in politics, even outside the Left, and exemplifies a more general problem of the politically active being more interested in convincing others than in finding the truth and refining their own opinions.

To look at another family of victim argumentation: I have recently heard several complaints about U.S. media using phrasings like “hit hardest by” to push a victim image. While I do not want to bagatellize the U.S. situation, it is worse in Sweden. In particular, there is a very clear division between how a male resp. female advantage/disadvantage in outcomes is handled (barring cases where e.g. an ascription to the “Patriarchy” or similar takes place): if women come out ahead, the formulation, with minor variation in detail, is “kvinnor är bättre på X” (“women are better at X”); if women come out behind, it is “kvinnor hårdast drabbade av X” (“women hit hardest by X”). A “män hårdast drabbade av X” (“men hit hardest by X”) I have seen once (!)—and I was so surprised that I almost fell off my chair. I have at least one prior reference to the topic (cf. [3])—from 2011.

Note that these formulations do not just have a one-sided “women are victims; men are not” take, but are also asymmetrical with regard to women’s success/failure: if women fail, it is because some external force has effected their failure; if they succeed, it is something that women have actively achieved through their own qualities.

To boot, there is often an odd angling where the situations of men and women are not measured according to the same standard, e.g. in that men are assumed to do something voluntarily and women something similar out of necessity or that the personal gain/cost is misrepresented. Note e.g. how [3] discusses proportions of children helping with housework and how what-more-girls-than-boys do for their own benefit is considered such help.* Also note (which I failed to do, myself, when writing [3]) that there is an asymmetry in how activities indoors (more stereotypically female) and outdoors (more stereotypically male) are handled: the indoor tasks are split over three or four entries,** while the outdoor ones are grouped into a single generic entry. (The “three or four” arises through “Takes care of siblings”, which could be seen as either an indoor task, for “four”, or a location-neutral task for “three”.) Moreover, the intensity and duration of a task is not given due consideration—contrast e.g. mowing the lawn with emptying the dishwasher.

*The original angle of [3] is “incompetent researchers”, and this might well be the truth of the matter; however, the contents otherwise fit well in the current context, and I have grown more open to “researchers had a hidden agenda” over the years.

**As quoted from the source. I suspect that the list is abbreviated, which could increase these “three or four” further, while the single generic outdoors entry would almost certainly remain a single entry.

Excursion on a likely “Jerusalem Post” victimizing distortion:
Earlier today, I encountered the claim that Jerusalem grocery bans women at certain times of the day. Deeper in the text, I found the more nuanced claim that men and women had different “special times”. If so, the headline severely distorts the situation in a “women are victims” manner, as there would equally be times when men are banned. In fact, the reverse headline “Jerusalem grocery bans men at certain times of the day” would have been equally justified. (I tried to find a better source to clarify this, with an eye at writing a text on the topic. Unfortunately, I found no such source and contend myself with this brief excursion. Note that much of Israel-internal news is in Hebrew, which I do not speak.)

Written by michaeleriksson

December 23, 2022 at 11:51 pm

The purpose of women-only competitions vs. inclusion of trans athletes

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The issue of trans athletes and of men competing as/against women seems to be on the table again. However, every discussion that I have encountered so far has missed the core question of why there are separate classes for men and women in most sports. Instead, we have, with minor variations: (a) The one camp whining about women’s rights, “abolishment” of women,* and whatnot, thereby demonstrating that it does not understand or care about the underlying core issues, but is merely an offspring of mindless Feminism and/or self-centeredness. (b) The other camp insisting that being allowed to compete as a woman, never mind the results of the competition or any unfairness in terms of sporting outcomes, would somehow be a divine right for all those who “self-identify as women” or a critical aspect of living the life that they want to live. In both cases, claims about “discrimination” are common; in both cases, destructive identity politics is a major issue,** just that the one prioritizes women, the other transsexuals/-genders.

*An absurd non sequitur even by the standards of modern Feminism.

**Often including an implicit common idea of a favored group, whose interests trump those of everyone else, common methods, whatnot. In some ways, the trans-movement is just the result of applying modified Feminism to another group.

The best that can be hoped for is that someone acknowledges the unfairness of allowing men into women’s competitions or, in some sports, the increased injury risk for female competitors—which comes close to hitting the core issue, but still falls short.

The true reason for the classes is that it was assumed that women would not be competitive* in most sports and that they would need own classes for competitive sport to make sense—just as it is assumed that boys are not competitive among men, girls not among women, lightweight boxers not among heavyweight boxers, etc. Usually, the assumption is correct. There are even cases, notably chess, where women are allowed to compete against (only) other women or against men, as they see fit, but where the reverse is not true—despite the absence of the obvious physical advantages of men so relevant in most other sports.**

*With a secondary, partially overlapping, reason being that women’s competitions sometimes arose because women were not allowed into men’s competitions. In both cases, the aforementioned injury risk might have been an additional/contributing factor; in the secondary, sufficiently early on, that some sports might have been seen as too dangerous for women regardless of the other competitors.

**Implicitly, this amounts to there being an open class and a women’s class (or some other specific set of non-open classes), which might be a fine solution to the overall problems, including the issue of trans athletes and whether women should be allowed into men’s competitions. However, the result of this is that the trans athletes end up in the open class (or in e.g. a specific trans class), not the women’s class.

If we now allow men to join women’s competitions, this will invalidate the reason for having separate classes and competitions for women. The logical conclusion would then be to abolish these, and just have men and women compete together in general—which would be fine by me, but would likely lead to loud female protests, for obvious reasons, and trans protests, as the artificial advantage that trans-opportunists like Lia Thomas have would disappear. (Note that even an alternate rule like “everyone is allowed to compete with men or women as he/she sees fit” would be pointless, as there would then just be two roughly equivalent classes, both dominated by men, and both watered down relative the single men-only class of old.)

From another (if overlapping) point of view: Having female classes is inherently and per se discrimination. Changing the criterion for participation from “must be a woman” to “must self-identify as a woman” does not reduce the discrimination—it just alters the criterion of discrimination.* Moreover, it alters the criterion in a manner, which, again, goes against the justification for the division into male and female classes.

*Note that this applies even if the word “woman” is misleadingly redefined to include “men who self-identify as women”. The meaning matters—not the words used.

As an aside, the fact that members of the PC movement are trying to force male participation by redefining what woman means, when they could, instead, have lobbied for new classes,* points to a hidden agenda—that it is not truly a matter of sports participation but of something more perfidious. Maybe, this “something more perfidious” is the redefinition, it self; maybe it is something else, e.g. an attempt to create a big symbolic issue, a further attack on individuality, or an attempt to divide-and-conquer by turning more and more segments of society against each other. (The options and their relative likelihood will, in part, depend on who or what is the ultimate driving force.)

*E.g. a formal division into “men-who-feel-like-men only” and “everyone else”; or “men-who-feel-like-men only”, “men-who-feel-like-women only”, “women-who-feel-like-women only”, “women-who-feel-like-men only”. Also note the above footnote on open classes.

Excursion on medical adjustments:
A common idea seems to be that a competition involving both men and women would become fair once the men had undergone some type of medical correction, e.g. by bringing their testosterone levels down for a long enough time. There are two fundamental flaws to this idea: Firstly, there are advantages that do not change even with e.g. hormone therapy.* Consider e.g that a lack of testosterone does not cause someone to retroactively grow shorter, and that more than marginal, if any, changes to limb proportions and similar are unlikely. Secondly, even if we were to assume that such interventions worked sufficiently well, there is no realistic way to tell when fairness has been reached. There is a near certainty that any regulation of the “may compete after medical correction X” type will either over- or undershoot the mark. Moreover, it is likely to fail through individual variation, as different competitors are likely to react differently to X.** We could, of course, try something like measuring a performance level and allowing those in who hit the exact right level—but competitive sport would border on the pointless, if the competitors were all equally good.***

*At least, after some point of bodily development has been reached and barring much more invasive procedures—and procedures that need not even be feasible in the foreseeable future. In some cases, this “point of bodily development” might be prenatal, e.g. in that success in some sports might depend on physical aspects of the brain that diverge at a very early stage.

**With the additional complication that it would be hard or impossible to tell what individual variation is, in some sense, fair resp. unfair with an eye at what would have been a fair individual variation, had the man at hand been born as a woman.

***To which must be added practical complications like someone pretending to be worse than he is, that the level of performance might change over time in a different manner for different persons, that the sport might change over time, that finding out what to measure might be impossible, etc. Worse, the sport might change because men are let in: Assume e.g. that we have a sufficiently fair measure of basketball ability to allow men into the WNBA. Chances are that doing so, even at a fix average ability, will slightly change the game by increasing the average player height, hand size, ability to dunk, whatnot, while decreasing some other aspects. As the game changes, a previously fair measure need not remain fair.

To this, note that even a comparatively small advantage can have major effects. In sprinting, for instance, the difference between a victory and a missed medal can* amount to a one percent difference in performance—and five percent amounts to an eternity of time. How do we ensure that any remaining advantage, in either direction, is less than one percent? Is even one percent sufficiently little? As an analogy, imagine that Marathon runners were given the choice between running the full distance, as is, and running a shorter distance with a weighted vest. What amount of weight would correspond to what distance for a fair competition? (And note that this problem is much easier than the one posed by trans athletes.)

*With a reasonable level of probability. Much smaller margins can occur. A particularly interesting case is the 2019 men’s world championship in shot put, where the three medals went at 22.91/22.90/22.90. (Although, admittedly, the difference to 4th place was considerably larger.)

Written by michaeleriksson

December 23, 2022 at 6:10 pm

Traditional dictionaries vulnerable too / Follow-up: Some issues with spellcheckers

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Just two days ago, I wrote:

[…] a traditional dictionary might base on years or decades of work by specialists, while a spellchecker dictionary will typically only reach that bar if the contents are taken from a traditional dictionary—and even then there is an issue of with what competence, with what effort, and with what honesty the transfer is made. Now, if you wanted to manipulate language use, would you rather exert pressure on a group of specialists to change a recommendation that has been present in ten editions of their dictionary or on some software CEO, who can simply dictate that the next version of his dictionary will contain a certain change?

(Footnotes omitted.)

Today, I was given a harsh reminder that even traditional dictionaries are vulnerable to similar pressure, as Cambridge Dictionary Joins Merriam-Webster With Woke Definitions of Man, Woman. I am not privy to what goes on internally with either of these dictionaries, and cannot say whether the specialists were swayed, whether some bigwig of the respective organisation ordered a change, whether this was a result of the continuing abandonment of prescriptive linguistics in favor of descriptive,* or yet something else. It is and remains highly unfortunate, despicable, and yet another example of how those who should be in the frontline of defense against abuse of language, distortion of facts, abandonment of reason and reasoning, etc., are among the first to turn around and join the attackers.

*I.e. instead of telling the user of a dictionary, grammar, whatnot, what the correct use is, telling him only how others use a word, a grammatical construct, whatnot, with the pseudo-argument that there can be no right or wrong in linguistics, that if anyone uses something in some manner, it is automatically correct and/or that the majority use is automatically correct. This is, of course, also a symptom of PC thinking.

Even in the past, traditional dictionaries have not been beyond error. A particularly tragic example is the common inclusion of the ridiculously incorrect definition of “Feminist” as someone who wants equality between the sexes, while Feminism is actually, going back to times immemorial, a rights-for-women-and-equality-be-damned movement. Anyone who truly wants equality is, by any reasonable definition, anti-Feminist. Nevertheless this ridiculously incorrect definition is present in countless dictionaries and is an ever recurring pseudo-argument used by Feminists to justify their self-claim of being the “good guys” (or “girls”, for all I care) instead of the “bad guys”, to spuriously include thinkers of old among Feminists, etc. Also note an older text on the fellow-traveler fallacy and some related guidelines, which partially explain how Feminists managed to push this ridiculously incorrect definition.

Written by michaeleriksson

December 13, 2022 at 9:53 pm

Brownstone drops the ball / Follow-up: Why would trans-mania be an attack on women?

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A few days ago, I wrote a text on trans-mania vs. women ([1]) with the central issue:

Opponents of the trans-mania often criticize it for being “an attack on women” or some other thing relating specifically to women.

Why on women? Why not on men?

Today, I encountered an excellent example of this mis-characterization—and to boot one from Brownstone, which features on my current blogroll for its fight for COVID-sanity, but which repeatedly, as now, has included irrational and/or Leftist nonsense.* In this case, it is a massive case of Feminist propaganda and distortion, often trying to blame men for what women have done or the trans-movement for what Feminism has done (and which the trans-movement has merely continued and/or co-opted.) It is also, for the most part, extremely confused, poorly reasoned, and irrational drivel, which pretends to be non-Leftist, but manifestly shares too much of Leftist values and intellectual limits to be credible as such.

*Indeed, I have an almost completed text, intended as either a private email or an open letter to Brownstone, on this issue. To date, I have refrained from completing and sending/publishing it, because it seemed too finicky (for want of a better word) and “glass one-quarter empty” to me, but I might have to reconsider this in light of the below atrocity.

Specifically, Preferred Pronouns Lit the Path to Covid Science Denialism is chock-full of Feminist or quasi-Feminist propaganda (and contains few arguments to support its title*). To boot, it describes exactly the type of hypocrisy that I address in an excursion to [1] (which I repeat towards the end, due to its high relevance). To look at some portions of the text:**

*Indeed, while a more general idea (that various Leftist, PC, Woke, and or Feminist attacks on science, reason, language, whatnot might have lit the path) has some plausibility, reducing this to just “Preferred Pronouns”, or the trans-mania overall, is nonsensical and indicates either a gross ignorance of what has gone before, for decades, or a deliberate attempt to distort history.

**Some formatting changed for technical reasons. Various oddities were present in the original.

The no-limit trans spectrum seems to run from genuine gender confusion to fetishism, perversion, paedophilia, child abuse, misogyny and denial of female same-sex attraction in the insistence that lesbians who refuse to have sex with trans-males are transphobic and gender-critical lesbians are TERFS.

Note how “misogyny” is included, but not “misandry”; how lesbians are included, but not gays; and how “gender-critical lesbians” are singled out over both “gender-critical gays” and those gender-critical in general. Extreme and extremely irrational reactions to the gender-critical is not limited by sex or sexual preference. To paint it as such is intellectually dishonest and misleads the readers. The best that can be said in defense of the author is that “TERF” is the only actual label that I recall. Moreover, these reactions are only variations of the types of reactions that Feminists have shown against their critics for decades, until the trans-movement took over as a more successful user. Indeed, the trans-movement is in many ways just an off-shot of the Feminist and/or LGB movement.*

*Note the difference between being an L, G, or B and being a part of the LGB movement. I have nothing against the former, but little more than contempt for the latter (in its modern incarnation; the state in the days of Harvey Milk, e.g., might have been very different). Ditto being T vs. being part of the T-movement. (The same applies to women vs. Feminists, of course, but far fewer run the risk of conflating the two.)

As to the specific claim “lesbians who refuse to have sex with trans-males* are [denounced as] transphobic”: It is unclear how often this situation would naturally arise, and whether it is a legitimate problem, as there is no need for anyone to give a reason to refuse sex with a non-partner. Instead of saying, e.g., “I’m not having sex with a man! Yuck!” just go with some of the usual reasons or excuses that a straight woman might use towards a straight man (and, I suspect, a lesbian woman towards another lesbian woman). Yes, issues of “it’s you; not me” do happen in the wake of failed sexual approaches—many straight men, me included, have at some point been called “gay” (or similar) for turning a woman down. Firstly, however, not so often that it is truly a reason for complaint.** Secondly, as can be seen, there is nothing male or trans about such accusations.

*Which I contextually take to imply men-who-want-to-be-women, as the sentence becomes quite odd if the gender-maniacs preferred women-who-want-to-be-men-and-therefore-ARE-men is applied. (I strongly favor the men-who-want-to-be-women meaning myself. No PC group has the right to co-opt existing words to distort language. If they want a word for a new concept, they should pick a new word—not an old word already associated with an old concept.)

**An interesting difference between women and men, as well as, m.m., between “grievance” groups and others, is that women often make a storm in a teacup over something that men tend to shrug off. Similarly, women seem to often attribute motivations and whatnots in an unwarranted manner. For instance, if male driver A steals a parking spot from driver B, a male B would typically react with “Asshole!”, while a female B (or “Feminist female B”?) might well land at “He is a misogynistic pig, who only stole that parking spot because I am a woman and he thinks that women don’t count!”.

As an aside, I have long speculated that it is only a matter of time before straight men who do not want to have sex with gay men are condemned as homophobic. I am not aware of any such case to date, but the idea of calling lesbians transphobic in the corresponding scenario seems like nothing more than a natural evolution of the LBG movements. In many ways, here and elsewhere, a traditional group of aggressors is finding itself on the receiving end and does not like this dose of its own medicine. (Also see excursion.)

Many of us are still trying to puzzle out with Covid just what happened. How did we ignore science and reject data to get to where we are? Well, before Covid, the trans movement was the single most successful drive to displace science and data with ideological dogma, at least in the West.

No. The most successful drive to displace science and data with ideological dogma was, is, and remains Feminism! (Cf. any number of older texts.)

This quote is followed by a list of examples, beginning with “Elevation of feelings above facts, dogma over data”—which has been a core issue with Feminists for decades before the trans-movement took off (and with e.g. many Post-Modernists, PC social “scientist”, Leftists, whatnot; as well as with many women in general). The same applies to most other entries in this list, be it directly or after adjusting for details. Consider e.g. “The laws then being used to coerce citizens into compliance”, “Shame being used as a key psychological tool of emotional manipulation” and “The partnership with Big Tech to ‘fact-check,’ censor and disappear contrary viewpoints”. (See the original text for the full list.)

What Peterson asserted as his freedom of speech [regarding use of pronouns] was denounced by opponents as hate speech.

Again, something that is extremely common with e.g. Feminists, although the exact denunciation can vary (e.g. “misogyny” instead of “hate speech”). The trans-movement is just one of many Leftist movements that uses such intellectually dishonest denunciations, sloganeering, and similar in lieu of factual arguments and on a large scale.

Language matters, for it controls the narrative. The war against women’s identity, rights, privacy and dignity is lost once you accept the science fiction of addressing a 6’6’ bearded man with a functioning male organ which he will proudly display in a woman’s spa, regardless of how embarrassed and offended the Korean-American girls and women in there might feel, as ’she/her.’

Yes, language matters.* However, the rest is cheap Feminist rhetoric. What war against women’s this-and-that? There is no such war. This is nothing more than Feminist nonsense. Indeed, if (!) there is a war on either of the sexes today, men would have the greater claim of being the victims, as natural male norms and behaviors are increasingly condemned, school and college is increasingly geared towards women, as women receive many an artificial leg up at the cost of men, etc. The frequency of misleading and sexist unwords like “mansplaining” and “toxic masculinity” alone should be enough to set off the alarm bells. Also note how the author gives an example of a man in a woman’s setting, but fails to give a woman in a man’s setting. (A few minutes before reading the text under discussion, I encountered an article on a girl in the boys’ locker room and how a man was being punished for daring to object.)

*In fact, I have an own text in the pipeline, using examples like “gender-assigned at birth” and the risk that the eventual conclusion, if and when this type of thinking has become the norm through such language distortion, is “stop assigning gender at birth”.

Big headline of Feminist sloganeering with no support through actual arguments:

Men Erasing Women


The idea behind the move to preferred pronouns is that everyone’s own conception of their* gender identity deserves the protection of law. The unintended and perverse yet entirely predictable consequence is that the wilful suspension of biological reality with pretend facts is a threat to women.

*Note how the author implicitly and hypocritically supports similar PC ideas by abusing “their”. This is an example of “gender-neutral” language, which the author (cf. below) claims to reject.

The author neither establishes that this is a threat to women, nor is any hint given as to why men would not be equally threatened, if a threat exists. (See [1] for more on this.)

There is good reason to create women-only safe spaces in toilets, changerooms, refuges, crisis services, prisons and sports*.

*As “changerooms” is a separate item, I take this to imply that men and women should remain in different competitive classifications, e.g. in that there are separate medals for men and women at the Olympics. If the intention is something else, adjustment of my text might be needed.

Maybe there is in some cases, but (barring sports) the same applies to men—I do not want some strange woman ogling me when I am naked, for example. Refuges and crisis services seem a disputable example, one of the many cases where Feminists have driven a hard and defamatory line of “women need protection from evil men”, where men’s services are much more limited, and despite the fact that women are slightly more likely to perpetrate domestic violence than men, the fact that men are much more likely to be victims of male violence than women, etc. The use of the borderline shibboleth “safe spaces” might be an indication that the author has a flawed Leftist worldview and/or has grown up in an over-coddling environment.

Efforts to use the full force of the law to coerce and compel everyone to genuflect to biologically false facts is reminiscent of communist totalitarian systems where people must show obeisance to party diktats or risk the public humiliation of show trials, confession of errors and spells in re-education camps.

This is a typical Leftist/Feminist/whatnot tactic, which has nothing to do with specifically the trans-movement. (Except that we might sometimes have to replace “biologically” with the more generic “scientifically”.)

Their intolerant and belligerent demand amounts to: pay us the respect due to us men as self-identifying women, or we will make you pay for your lack of respect.

And again.

The “preferred pronouns” culture feeds into and enables abusive men while silencing their victims. Irish teacher Enoch Burke has preferred to go to prison rather than address a trans-male student as “they” instead of “he.” J K Rowling mocks bearded males defining what a woman is.

What abusive men?!? What victims?!? This screams of Feminist hate propaganda. The pronoun nonsense has been driven by women from the beginning, while the few who have taken a stand against it have disproportionately been men, like I or the aforementioned Peterson. Indeed, the author gives yet another man, Enoch Burke, as an example of a victim—likely in the mistaken impression that he was a woman.* Bearded men do not (try to re-)define what a woman is—a general, non-sex specific, trans-movement does. To try to shove this onto specifically men is idiotic. The repeated references to bearded men have a light of the absurd, as if emphasizing a traditional male attribute would have any bearing on the discussion, and as if the typical man-who-wants-to-be-a-woman is paradoxically wearing a beard instead of shaving as closely as he can.

*To make certain, as names can sometimes be misleading, I have checked on Wikipedia ([2]).

Too many have been cowed into silence and go along meekly with the claim that “penis holders” are really women, men can become pregnant, doctors, nurses and midwives must be trained to help men give birth, trans-males committing rapes must be documented as women rapists, and males self-identifying as women must be allowed to compete in women’s competitive sports despite decisive biological advantages in size, strength and stamina.

While not wrong, this paragraph shows the incoherence and lack of reasoning of the author: the idea that men can become pregnant/give birth is based on women-wanting-to-be-men being classified as men, which under no circumstances can be seen as an argument for the author’s ideas.

In effect men are once again deciding all the core rights about women. On the one hand, none of this would be possible without first denying that sex is a biological fact that cannot be subsumed under gender as a social construct. On the other, once the preferred pronoun movement is appeased in law, what defence is left against its extreme claims?

And more hateful Feminism. How the HELL are men deciding core rights of women, when a woman-driven off-shot of a woman-driven Feminist/PC movement redefines language? The idea that men would do so again is another sign of Feminist propaganda and a hateful and horrifyingly distorted Feminist worldview. Gender as a social construct, etc.? Again, just an application of Feminist, Post-Modern, whatnot reality distortion to another area—for which women carry a greater or far greater responsibility than men.

“Gender-neutral” language is neither neutral nor inclusive but anti-woman. It erases more than half of humanity as a distinct category and excludes their rights to safety, dignity and privacy.

And yet more Feminist bullshit. Why would it be anti-woman instead of or in addition to anti-man?!? Why would “half of humanity” (implied: women) be erased and not the other half?!? And, again, note that “gender-neutral” language is something created by and forced onto society by Feminists, not the trans-movement. I was, myself, complaining about “gender-neutral” language, maybe, fifteen years ago.

By the way, remember that old-fashioned “manly” virtue? Unconsciously, the wokerati have confirmed the point by putting on a play at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre no less, that portrays Joan of Arc as a trans — because no woman could have been that brave and soldierly — with accompanying “they/them” pronouns. As the (fictional) Titania McGrath tweeted: “A female Joan of Arc would have been too busy knitting, gossiping and shopping for shoes to fight the English.” To coin a phrase, this is “literally violence” against English language and literature. But the same theatre has also done this to Elizabeth 1, one of England’s greatest queens.

So, we have one or two decades of men being replaced by women in traditionally male roles in fiction, often including recasts of long-established-as-male characters, not to mention a similar “Black washing” of White characters and artificial introduction of homo- or bisexuality to heterosexual characters,* and suddenly one single instance of a woman being moved from regular woman to trans is worthy of criticism—while Feminists have kept quiet or outright lauded the earlier distortions. The claim in the text is, of course, entirely invalidated by these prior distortions, as the 100-pound teenage girl who beats up 200-pound adult men is bordering on a cliche by now.

*“Doctor Who” will shortly be an example of all three, as a bisexual, a woman, and a black man. I seem to recall Feminists being ecstatic over the casting of Jodie Whittaker. And, yes, I have seen calls for the next Bond to be a woman.

Another good example of an unintended consequence comes from Scotland. A 66-year old male blood donor Leslie Sinclair, who has given blood for nearly 50 years, was turned away this year because he refused to answer a pre-donation question on his pregnancy status.

And what sex is now being erased, the male or the female? If a man cannot turn down a question that has a self-evident answer for any man, then that is a far stronger sign of the male sex being erased than anything the author provided to support the idea that the female sex would be erased.

Excursion on the sex of the author:
In an almost comical twist, I have to raise some doubts as to the sex of the author. Going by the style of writing, the weak reasoning, the Feminist propaganda, etc., I took it for granted that the text was written by a woman—and I doubt that many men would and could have written a text like this. Nevertheless, when I hit the byline, the author was given as “Ramesh Thakur”, with “Ramesh” being a man’s name. What is behind this, I do not know, but it certainly makes an exceptionally odd text even odder.

Excursion on female hypocrisy and censorship:
In [1], I had an excursion on female hypocrisy and censorship, which I, in light of the above, repeat here:

An interesting phenomenon over the last few years is that women, even Feminists, who have remained conspicuously silent, or even positive, whenever men have been victim of Feminist censorship and cancellation attempts, suddenly speak out for freedom of speech and object against censorship—now that women and/or Feminists are increasingly on the receiving end from other PC groups. (Note e.g. the debates around J.K. Rowling.) To these, I say: You did not speak up when first they came—and now they have come for you. Enjoy a dose of your own medicine and learn your lesson.

Excursion on fake men-who-want-to-be-women:
Some of the examples given in the text, if taken at face value, could point to non-trans individuals who abuse the possibilities that the trans-movement has opened. For instance, if we do find a bearded man waving his penis in the women’s locker room, chances are that he is not trans to begin with, and only uses the claim to get into the locker room. While this is a bad thing, it is only indirectly related to the trans-movement, and care should be taken when assigning blame.

Excursion on other factors than male/female:
A further complication from a man’s point of view is that many of the problems that Feminists ascribe to men, period,* are actually caused by smaller subgroups of men. For instance, in the U.S. the relative rate of rapists is much higher among Black men than among White men—something that goes carefully unmentioned in Feminist propaganda and, in turn, often creates the impression of “White men are rapists”, when the brunt of the responsibility actually rests with Black men.**/*** The increase of rapes in Sweden due to extensive immigration was long used by Feminists to decry how men were being meaner and meaner towards women, but to mention the actual cause was to ask for excommunication. I have never seen any racial (or other) statistic on bearded penis-wavers, but it would be entirely unsurprising if something similar applies, and, if so, complainers should direct their complaints where they belong, not raise blanket accusations against a far larger group.

*For instance, I grew up hearing Feminist claims like “all men are rapists”, which is extremely contrafactual. (Also note that many alleged problems are gross misrepresentations to begin with, as with e.g. the 77-cents-on-the-dollar bullshit, or considerably exaggerated, as with e.g. the frequency of rape.)

**But, of course, even among Black men, rapists are a minority—just a larger minority than for White men. Even in the subset of specifically Black men, the Feminist defamatory propaganda does not hold.

***Also note the extreme aversion that the press in many countries has against mentioning the ethnicity/race/whatnot of non-White perpetrators, and how keen they are on mentioning the ethnicity/race/whatnot of non-White victims.

Written by michaeleriksson

October 28, 2022 at 8:55 am

Why would trans-mania be an attack on women?

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Opponents of the trans-mania often criticize it for being “an attack on women” or some other thing relating specifically to women.

Why on women? Why not on men?

When we look at specifically sports and the attempt to force biological men into women’s competitions then, yes, I can see the point. But what about all other areas? How, e.g., would women be worse off career-wise through some male colleagues suddenly manifesting as men-who-want-to-be-women than men would be from female colleagues manifesting as women-who-want-to-be-men? Barring the possibility that women lose an artificial advantage* of being hired/promoted for being women to these men-who-want-to-be-women or that transgenders/-sexuals would have a greater artificial advantage, there is no obvious reason for a difference. (This assuming, of course, that such a manifestation would be negative for anyone—and, outside the possibility of pro-trans** discrimination, I see no obvious reason why such negativity should manifest.) Forget the office and look at science, politics, literature, music, art, and whatnot: Where is the actual female disadvantage? (Unless, again, we assume that women would simply lose an artificial advantage over men.)

*You believe that women actually have an artificial disadvantage? Then you are blind to the world or a victim of Feminist lies—but even if you were right, it would only strengthen my case.

**You find anti-trans discrimination more likely? Based on what I have seen so far, I would tend to disagree—but even if you were right, it would, again, only strengthen my case.

Men-who-want-to-be-women gathering honors that rightfully should be women’s, like most successful female Jeopardy participant or first woman to X? Well, outside of sports, this argument would backfire severely, because it is based on the assumption that men, at least at the top, are better at this-and-that than women, or else there would be no need for women to fear the new male competition over the old female competition. In as far as men are better, on the other hand, the disadvantage would only arise through prior special treatment of women, which is now weakened, just as if male and female athletes were to compete together as a matter of course. In sports, such a division might be justified,* but why should it be present elsewhere? Why e.g. would someone who is simultaneously the first woman and the tenth human to accomplish something be rated above the ninth, let alone second, man and human to do the same thing?** And why is being the first woman more important than being, e.g., the first Swede, the first red-head, the first teenager, the first Aspie, the first whatnot?

*Boxers and wrestlers have weight classes. Junior athletes have different competitions from full-grown men. Human runners do not compete against horses. Etc. Separate competitions and whatnot for men and women is nothing remarkable in this context.

**While I have not kept an example, I have seen several cases on Wikipedia where an entire paragraph is spent describing that some woman was the first woman to X—and a single sentence follows describing how some man, years or decades earlier, was the first human. This effectively rates a female late-comer above even the first human. A sane encyclopedia would give the first human the paragraph and the precedent in the text. The first woman would only warrant such attention if she actually were the first human.

Would transitioners somehow diminish the nature of womanhood? If they do, why would it not equally diminish the nature of manhood? (And is being a woman, as opposed to e.g. a human, a Brit, a teacher, a parent of two, that important to begin with? That seems like an unhealthy attitude to me. Also see excursion.)

There are more male transitioners than female? The statistics and more informal claims that I have seen so far* have been inconsistent, but overall it seems to me that the largest demographic of transitioners and those contemplating a transition is found among teenage girls.

*Admittedly, not much, as I have not had an interest in this sub-issue.

Does a sex-change operation destroy individual women by removing their womanhood and future ability to reproduce? Maybe it does destroy, maybe it does not—but if “does”, how is that different from what happens to a man who undergoes a sex-change operation? (Here, admittedly, a preponderance of teenage girls might have some relevance, but as they are not forced at gun point, the “attack on women” angle is still very hard to argue.)

All in all, if (!) we consider trans-this-and-that an attack on either sex, then I have yet to see a reason why it would be an attack on one sex and not both.

Excursion on being a man, woman, non-binary, whatnot first:
I am, frankly, a bit puzzled by the whole non-binary thing and the obsession with the difference between being X, Y, and Z. I cannot speak for the sum of humanity, of course, but I do not go around thinking “I am a man!” any more than “I am right-handed!”, and the consciousness of being a man only rarely has an effect on my behavior and my decisions. It does/did not govern what I do with my spare time, what I studied at uni, whether I am interested in women or men,* whom I support politically, etc. It might have some effect on what I wear, but I find much of what women wear sufficiently silly that I would likely not make a U-turn if I were or felt like a woman—the lady is not for turning.** From that point of view, the difference between me and someone who identifies as non-binary is actually quite small and the entire idea of being non-binary borders on being redundant and pointless, almost as if someone were to invent a new label for being a perfectly ordinary human.

*Being a biological male does increase the probability that I prefer women over men, but the fact that I do is, in terms of classifications and labels, ultimately a matter of my sexuality, not my sex or “gender”. Similar claims might apply to some other point, e.g. my spare-time habits.

**A phrase that I have heard about once a day for the last few weeks, courtesy of U.K. politics.

More generally, I think of myself as myself—not, unless the context calls for it, a man, a Swede, a writer, a blogger, a whatnot. I was born in Sweden, but who cares? Writing and blogging is less a matter of who I am and more of what I, from time to time, do. Etc. I suspect that if more forgot about all such labels and mere aspects of their lives, and instead focused on who they are as whole individuals, many of the current insanities would disappear with one stroke, including pronoun nonsense, identity politics, intersectionality, “you must vote Democrat or you are not Black”, “you must vote for Hillary if you are a woman”, …

Excursion on female hypocrisy and censorship:
An interesting phenomenon over the last few years is that women, even Feminists, who have remained conspicuously silent, or even positive, whenever men have been victim of Feminist censorship and cancellation attempts, suddenly speak out for freedom of speech and object against censorship—now that women and/or Feminists are increasingly on the receiving end from other PC groups. (Note e.g. the debates around J.K. Rowling.) To these, I say: You did not speak up when first they came—and now they have come for you. Enjoy a dose of your own medicine and learn your lesson.

Written by michaeleriksson

October 25, 2022 at 9:19 pm

Our elites / Follow-up: Some unfortunate words and uses

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A belated-because-too-long excursion to Some unfortunate words and uses:

A potentially problematic word, and one which should be used much more rarely, is “elite[s]”:

Many of the sources that I read make complaints about e.g. “our elites” or “our ruling elites”. (For various, usually correct, reasons ranging from poor results to a “rules for thee, but not for me” mentality.) Sometimes, the use appears ironic, e.g. when someone with a known low opinion of the competence levels of the “elite” uses the word—and that might be, barely, acceptable. Similarly, sometimes a clear implication of “self-appointed elites consisting of Dunning-Kruger victims” shines through. (Such writers also often use “midwit” or some other more suitable term.) Less acceptable are many uses that seem to take “elite” largely at face value, often with implied or stated ideas of “if only the elites could walk a mile in our shoes” or “[some negative thing] proves that rule by an elite is bad—we must let the people have a greater say”.*

*Note, with an eye on the below, that I do not disagree with the idea that even a true elite might benefit from that mile or that even a true elite needs some type of democratic check.

The latter presuppose that the “elites” actually are elites by a meaningful standard, which is, mostly, a faulty assumption. By all means, a typical U.S. senator (or similar figure in the country at hand) is likely to be above average in both intelligence and education, but the step from there to a true (intellectual) elite is quite large. If we look at some famous U.S. politicians, are Biden,* Hillary, Harris, Pelosi, AOC, or even Obama persons of truly great intellect?** If so, they have hidden it well, as they appear unimpressive even by the standards of politicians. The situation among Big Business leaders (another group often included in these “elites”) might be better, but is still not what it could be—and an increasing proportion of “diversity hires” on the higher levels does not help. Do not get me started on large parts of the academic “elite”.

*Even discounting his apparent severe mental degradation.

**The examples are all Democrat. This because (a) the problem almost consistently appears to be worse on the Left, (b) the Democrats are currently in charge (=> ruling elite), (c) the aforementioned sources tend to be more negative about the Left. Many cases can be found among e.g. Republicans too, however.

Correspondingly, to take current political “elites” as a sign that rule by (real) elites would be a bad thing is incorrect. Speaking for myself, I would be much happier and much more willing to trust or comply with politicians if they were true elite. (And I am on record as a proponent of e.g. IQ cut-offs both for voting and for holding office.) Many of the problems we have arise simply from non-elites presuming to make decisions for others—many of whom are more intelligent, educated, informed, whatnot, than the self-appointed nannies.

Written by michaeleriksson

April 5, 2022 at 12:27 am

Some unfortunate words and uses

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There are many unfortunate words and uses of words, say, abuse of “they” where it does not belong or the abomination that is “homemaker”*. Below, I will discuss some of the more problematic cases. I stress, however, that there are a great many other examples. (Note e.g. earlier texts on “raising awareness”, “leader” (also see excursion), “create” ([1]), and “discrimination”.) There are also a great number of words, e.g. “diversity”, which are not necessarily used incorrectly, but are attributed with positive or negative characteristics in an incorrect manner.

*Consider e.g. the implication that a house or an apartment without a homemaker would be a mere residence—not a home. By PC standards, applied in the other direction, this would make the word offensive to e.g. a working single person, who would, then, be homeless. Or take a family where both parents pursue a career in the office: Would they not rob their children of a home? Would not the implication be a duty for a mother to stay back and make a home?

  1. Deserve:

    Ever more often, claims are made like “X deserves Y”—usually without an explanation. Often, especially in the case of “I deserve”, it is no more than wishful thinking,* a “I want” in disguise, or some cheap propaganda trick. Only rarely does it refer to something that someone has actually earned. (And when someone has earned something, then use “earned”! Do you “deserve” that raise or have you actually earned it?) This as if “deserve” would be a magic phrase that created an entitlement to whatever is desired—abracadabra.

    *Up to and including claims from many stupid and self-centered women that they “deserve” some variation of Prince Charming for a boyfriend—while giving every impression of having more in common with the Evil Step-Mother/Queen than with the Noble Heroine. (I note my extensive readings of relationship forums, maybe, some fifteen years ago.)

    In another direction, actual rights are often diminished by a “deserve”. For instance, the public in a democracy and Rechtsstaat does not*deserve free speech, secure and fair elections, answers about this-and-that government action, whatnot—it has a right to these things. A writer fighting for free speech should not hide under a wishy-washy “deserve”, thereby implying that there is no right and that the government is allowed to limit free speech, but should speak out loudly and clearly for the right.

    *Or, rather, whether it does or does not in some sense “deserve” is irrelevant.

    There might be need to clarify whether a particular right is based in law, e.g. the Bill of Rights in the U.S., whether it arises from an ethical principle (that a law might well violate), or whether some other set of principles, conventions, international treaties, … is the basis. Even so, a right is a right and should not be diminished to a mere privilege by words like “deserve”.

  2. Conversation:

    When used correctly, there is nothing wrong with “conversation”—say, for a talk about some trivial matter over tea and biscuits. However, now there appear to be “conversations” over the war in the Ukraine, the climate, the energy crisis, election laws, whatnot. These are not, and should not be, conversations, be it in private or on some general national or international level. These are topics for discussions, debates, and arguments* (which depends on circumstances and details).

    *In the strong-disagreement-or-worse sense; not in the support-of-my-claim sense used in most of the rest of this text.

    Whether the main problem is that the topic is diminished or that the approach is faulty, is unclear—but not that it is a problem. As to faulty approach: A conversation will often contain opposing views and disagreements, but only within limits, as pushing too hard will sour the mood or turn the conversation into an argument. At the same time, big issues must be open to strongly opposing views, the presentation of strong arguments for and against the respective views, etc. A conversation about whether Putin is trying to conquer Europe or protect the Donbas republics would be a pointless triviality. Even over tea and biscuits, nothing less than a discussion will do.

  3. Science:

    Again, when used correctly …

    During the COVID era, “science”* has degenerated into a mere slogan in the mouths of politicians, journalists, etc.—and use has often been problematic even before that. No, Fauci is not science incarnated—no matter what he likes to believe. On the contrary, he has shown a very un-, maybe even anti-, scientific mindset. Science journalists usually have a shallow and flawed understanding of science; politicians are the same; and there is little doubt that the official message has not been driven by science—no matter what they like to claim.

    *Here I refer to the word, as this is a text on words, but a similar discussion around science-with-scare-quotes would be quite possible.

    Science, by its nature, demands free debate, exchange of opinions and arguments, that factual arguments and observations take precedence over preconceived opinions, etc. A scientist supports his position with science—and abandons this position, if the other side has better arguments. The point is not to win* the argument, but to find the truth. A good scientist does not scream “Fake news! Fake news!”, does not proclaim himself to be science, does not attack* his opponents* with ad hominem in order to defeat* their positions (but does put the positions to the test by facts and arguments), etc.

    *Indeed, even thinking in terms of “win”, “attack”, “opponent” (let alone, “enemy”), etc. is contrary to a sound scientific mindset. While scientists might compete to get a certain result first, or hope that their pet hypothesis wins out over another hypothesis, they should view themselves as allies in the search for a greater scientific understanding. Only when someone, e.g. the likes of Fauci, puts science aside and engages in un-/anti-scientific behavior might an attack or the image of an enemy be justified.

    Similarly, consider “climate science”: There is real climate science (and I do not necessarily disagree with it), but what is reported as “science” (or “settled science”) is often fear-mongering, exaggerations, speculation based on models that have, at best, a checkered record, … Screaming that the world will end and that anyone who thinks differently should be ignored is not science—not even should the world actually be ending.

    Great doubts has to be raised against the use of “science” to refer to many (most? all?) softer sciences. (But historical reasons make this use hard to avoid.) To consider e.g. literary science a science is very dubious. Some social sciences could potentially be better off, but rarely actually are, as they have been polluted by ideology and a lack of scientific thinking—the “truth” is known and reality has to bend to fit “truth”. Some texts by Philip Carl Salzman at Minding the Campus describe a depressing degeneration of anthropology.* (Many other texts there deal with related issues in academia, but Salzman has an unusually long-term perspective on this field.) Certainly, grave doubts must be raised against any field dominated by postmodernism, postcolonialism, Marxism, …

    *I do not vouch for his view being correct and correct in detail, as these are one-sided accounts, but (a) he is well-placed to judge the issue, (b) his observations broadly match what I have seen in or been told about large parts of the softer sciences, in general.

  4. A very great number of words and expressions introduced, abused, or distorted by the PC crowd, the Left, and similar groupings could be added. I point e.g. to the long standing abuse of “racism” to denote much which is not racist and the newer attempts to redefine “racism” to exclude Black-on-White racism (generally, Black-on-X and Minority-on-White). A particular perfidious example is use of terms like “justice” and “equality” in a manner that is in direction contradiction to the meanings of these words, often by prefixing a “social”. As a joint example, “social justice” usually has implications of equality of outcome, which is both highly unjust and not equality at all—equality demands equality of opportunity and denying this in order to ensure equal outcomes is a great injustice.

Excursion on models:
It appears, both with COVID and the climate, that models are made and trained, used to make predictions, and then policy is made based on these predictions. This is sloppy and likely a strong reason why so many policy-influencing predictions have been wrong. Specifically, the first few rounds of predictions should be used to test the model—not to make policy. If these predictions match reality, then later rounds of predictions can be given at least some influence on policy; if not, it is back to the drawing board. (And great caution is needed, even when the tests are successful, especially for predictions that are far into the future, involve many unknowns, and/or involve chaotic systems.)

Excursion on “leader”:
I have already discussed “leader” in [1]. However, reading it again, I notice a major overlooked case: the use of “leader” to imply e.g. “administrator”. This is often a case of flattery or self-flattery, in that a school administrator might be addressed with nonsense like “educational leader” in an attempt to score points in a letter. (I saw an example of this quite recently, but do not remember where.) In some cases, e.g. with a school principal, it has some semi-justification in that a principal can be seen as the leader of the school. (Whether this makes for an educational leader might still be debated. Certainly, a formulation with e.g. “principal” would be fairer and more accurate, even here.) In most cases, however, these administrators are not leaders at all, notwithstanding that they might have some decision- or policy-making power.

Moreover, it is usually a bad idea to make or consider administrators leaders. Doing so makes for a flawed system, where persons of often lower understanding of the actual work, lower intelligence, and lower general ability are in charge. Look at a typical U.S. college: is that diversity manager of even remotely comparable competence and intellectual capacity to the physics professor whom (usually) she bosses around? Highly unlikely. Chances are that (usually) he is levels above her, and that he would be able to get a better grasp than she of what little of value her field contains within days—should he be so inclined. Or look at my own work experiences as a software developer: Hardly ever has the middle-manager or project leader in charge been the intellectual number one (even discounting my own presence). Often he has been above average, by developer standards, but about as often below average. Complete disasters have been found.

Let the people with real brains and the domain expertise do the leading and use administrators to take busywork off their backs. Just like accountants are hired to do the accounting, administrators should be hired to administrate—not lead. (Admittedly, there is a danger that the nature of an administrator’s position allows for gradual power grabs over time, implying that a sound original intention might be perverted over the years.)

Written by michaeleriksson

April 2, 2022 at 7:40 am