“Honesty is Hard”, indeed

Yesterday I got a pingback on the social context post from this blogpost. Didn’t think much of it, except then the same pingback showed up on Almost Diamonds, and I got curious. The first half was blandly uninteresting, but when I got to the second half, my SIWOTI Syndrome was triggered. So, here it is, taken apart Marjanović-style:

[...]I’m bothered by two (somewhat related) themes I keep seeing crop up in these discussions:

1) It’s wrong to want sex from people without being interested in getting to know them

Well, that’s off to a bad start. It’s not wrong to want sex with anyone* and I highly doubt anyone said that. What’s been under discussion is not “want” but “ask”. There’s a lot of people I want a lot of things from, but I only ask them for it if/when it’s appropriate. So this “theme” that this writer is bothered by doesn’t even exist. So here it is, with corrections:

1) It’s wrong inappropriate to want ask for sex from with people without being interested in getting to know them sufficiently well to establish whether such asking would be appreciated

Moving on.

This is generally couched in reasonable-sounding language like this from PZ Myers:

I have a simple suggestion. Think of sex as something two or more friends do; but also keep in mind that most friends don’t have sex together. When you’re at a meeting, plan to make friends promiscuously, but remember: the purpose first and foremost is friendship, not sex partners.

At first glance, this seems like a reasonable suggestion. Most people prefer to get to know people before having sex with them, and most people would rather have sex with someone they like for nonsexual reasons also. But some people just want sex, and there is nothing wrong with that. [emphasis mine]

And this is where the “honesty is hard” part starts to come in. This writer quotes PZ talking about doing sex, but then answers as if it were about wanting sex. So: is this writer too stupid to accurately read the very bit they quote, or are they being dishonest?
I should also note that this quote from PZ is about atheist conferences, the main purpose of which is indeed friendly socializing, not fucking. Hence, his advice about priorities is quite accurate, given the social context.

It’s not up to us to tell people what their goals should be in a social interaction.

This is another inaccuracy, since PZ didn’t say fuck-all about goals. The quote is about methods and general priorities for socializing at atheist conferences. If your first-priority goal is to find a zipless fuck with someone you don’t want to have to talk to, there are meet-ups for that, but atheist conferences ain’t it.

Denigrating anonymous men for wanting to “bag a young hottie” (which is Jen McCreight’s paraphrase, not an actual quote from anyone) at each speaking gig sends the sexnegative message that desiring sex with a person you find attractive (which is how I would have phrased it) is WRONG and CREEPY.

And again we’re in “honesty is hard” territory, since plucking that phrase from Jen’s post without context is pretty fucking close to quote mining**. Jen wasn’t “denigrating”. This quote is from the post in which she retells how women had started sharing stories about speakers’ behaviors towards women (themselves or others) with her. And of course, she and the women who shared these stories with her are absolutely entitled to feel uncomfortable with any of these behaviors and thus want to avoid the men thusly described. Just like dude can want/try to fuck a young woman at every speaker event, so these women can want to not be targets of these advances and stay the fuck away from dude and warn other women, in case they also don’t want to be targets. It’s not sex-negative for women to decide that they do not wish to be targets of this dude’s depersonalized*** agenda, nor is it sex negative to share that information with others. In fact, using “sex-negative” in this sense implies that women having individual boundaries and personal preferences is “sex-negative”; a rather problematic implication, to say the least.

In addition, speaking about it as something that only men do…

More BS. Jen didn’t say it was something only men do. As it happens, she was warned by other women about men. Likely there simply aren’t enough lesbian/bi/pan speakers for the entitled douchenozzles to have made an appearance, and thus women were warning other women about sexual behavior from men. Should they have made up shit about being sexually objectified by women, for the sake of equality? And if any straight female speakers were behaving inappropriately towards other male speakers, why would Jen know about this? It’s not like dudes knew about the warnings circulating amongst women, so why would these women know if similar warnings about women circulated among men?

And in any case, when the conversation expanded to sexual harassment as a whole (i.e. not just inappropriate behavior from speakers), a female entitled douchenozzle appeared rather promptly (See Elyse’s encounter with the swinger-couple. The straight, and therefore woman-including, swinger couple). Like I said, it’s bullshit to say people are claiming only men behave like this.

In addition, speaking about it as something that only men do contributes to the myth of men not being hot.

I would like everyone to read this, and think about the incredibly fucked up assumptions this one simple sentence contains. Apparently, being propositioned inappropriately is a sign that you’re hot, and not getting unwanted sexual propositions from strangers in inappropriate contexts means you’re fugly; instead of, you know, the fact that some groups of people feel, because of socialization, more entitlement to ask sex “from” people, especially if those people are members of the Sex Class. Therefore, I guess, women shouldn’t complain about inappropriate, unwanted sexual advances (they’re a compliment), and we shouldn’t ever point out that men are more likely to act on their sexual urges regardless of whether signals of interest are present and regardless of the appropriateness of such a proposition given the context (because that would imply that men are ugly, not that there’s a difference in privilege/entitlement and differences in the way men are seen (as people) and the way women are seen (as members of the Sex Class)). wow.

McCreight puts desiring sex with attractive women in the same category as talking only to a woman’s chest, nonconsensual groping, and following a woman to her hotel room.

Again, the conflation of wanting with asking. Is this writer comprehension-challenged, having a hard time being honest, or actually incapable of telling the difference between wanting something and actually acting on that want?
and anyway, if all those things are “things Jen doesn’t want to experience from other speakers”, then they are in the same very broad category. The category of “Jen does not want”, and apparently also the category of “things other women told Jen they didn’t want, but experienced from speakers anyway”. What the writer seems to be trying to imply is that Jen equated these things as equally bad, and I think that claim is a stretch.

There is nothing wrong with desiring sex for purely physical reasons.

More conflation of wanting and acting. Blah blah, moving on.

Resorting to slut shaming is not necessary to discuss harassment.

Slut is a gendered term, a slur against women and women’s sexuality. Claiming “slut-shaming” against men is like claiming racial discrimination against whites.

2) Dishonesty is expected, and even encouraged, where sexuality may be involved

This is a direct lie related to my “social context” post. I’ll explain below, when we get to the specifics.

This is related to Point 1 by virtue of the fact that if wanting sex is wrong…

Blah blah wanting acting blah blah.

…then people who want sex are going to be encouraged to hide that fact until the socially appropriate time.

Interesting phrasing. It implies that there is something wrong with putting a filter between your wants and your actions, by using the word “hide” (as opposed to simply not acting on something), and by connecting it to the previous claim of sex-negativity, as if the demands for filtering between wants and actions was a special case because it was sex. By that logic, it shouldn’t be considered rude to eat or talk loudly in a theater if I want to; it shouldn’t be considered inappropriate to drop my pants and piss whenever and wherever I feel the urge to; it shouldn’t be inappropriate to tell other people that I think they’re ugly, smelly, dumber than a moldy avocado, have no sense of how to dress, their voices are annoying, et cetera; lie down to nap wherever and whenever I feel like; et cetera ad nauseam. In reality of course, basic filters between wanting and acting on those wants is expected of every neurotypical person over the age of 5, and of all adult people considered fit for socialization with other adults. Sex is no exception.

People who just come out and say they want sex (even in the least coercive and lowest pressure way I can think of) are disrespectful, objectifying, and should be ashamed of themselves.

This refers to Elyse’s encounter, and is therefore a lie of omission, since the disrespectful, objectifying part was not the “just come out and say they want sex” part, but the “while I was at work, from complete strangers, in violation of the convention’s policy” part.

Asking for sex is not seeing a person “as your plaything.” It’s just asking for sex.

There’s no such thing as “just” asking for sex. Nothing is “just” anything when it comes to human communication and interaction. Most actions involving other humans have subtextual and contextual meanings beyond “just” the surface-message. And so, me asking someone to dinner is not “just” asking someone to take in nourishment in my physical vicinity, and nor is asking a convention speaker you have no acquaintance with and no reason to assume they’re into your kink to sex “just” asking to touch bodies for physical pleasure. this is once again the denial of social context that pissed me off when JT was doing it, except here it’s even worse. The last two quotes taken together read as if the writer despises the existence and insistence on acknowledgment of social contexts in general. The writer, in other words, is starting to sound like Holden Caulfield.

Objecification only happens if you see the other person’s desires as irrelevant.

not irrelevant; merely less important that your own desires. Which breaking a conference-policy and asking for sex from someone while they’re at work absolutely is.

As long as you are genuinely seeking enthusiastic consent, if you want sex, you ought to ask for it!

yeah. I should totally ask my hot, monogamously married prof to have sex with me. Because fuck social context, my ability to always act on my wants is more important than making other people deeply uncomfortable and disregarding their desire to be seen as professionals instead. *rolleyes*

Hiding your intentions is just being dishonest, not respectful.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Holden Caulfield, indeed.
Also, desires are not intentions. Intentions are intentions.

As one commenter on this blog put it:

I too find smart, interesting people who think about things quite sexy, yet am generally skittish of strangers. I’m also alternately oblivious to and skeeved out by the way flirting (in most mainstream venues) happens most times. Still, I’d far prefer for someone to tell me they think I have great boobs and would like to make out with me than to just hint at it, assuming they are respectful of my possible “no thank you.” I like transparent, respectful asks, and people who ask for consent frequently and sincerely.

because social interaction in general is a game of lowest-common-denominator, where if one person doesn’t mind socially inappropriate behavior, we must all abandon our own boundaries and definitions of socially inappropriate behavior.
Wait, no. In reality, to behave like a civilized social being, you should behave as is considered appropriate to the given social context, and only when you learn someone’s personal preferences do you get to move on from there. since that’s tricky for socially inept people, we made buttons. Use them, if you prefer bluntness, but don’t force bluntness on others. Your desires for bluntness do not override my desire not to have my boobs commented on constantly, when the social context is such that my boobs are not considered an appropriate subject (now, if I entered a “best boobs” competition, that would be different).

In addition to those desiring of sex being encouraged to remain silent

This is, incidentally, another dishonesty. Behaving in a socially appropriate manner given the social context, and (if your primary goal is fucking), finding social contexts in other people’s primary goal is also fucking is not silencing, it’s modulating. It’s telling you to not scream but whisper while in a movie theater.

women who are objects of such desire are also encouraged to be dishonest about their refusals.

this includes a link to my social context post. The writer here claims that my social context post is about encouraging women to be dishonest. As mentioned above, this is (self-evidently, to anyone who has actually read my post) a blatant lie.

The (true) observation that rapists ignore refusals is used to suggest that women shouldn’t be encouraged to clearly communicate their own desires.

More lying. The social context post suggested that women are being quite clear, using socially understood means of “letting someone down easy”, and that certain men simply choose to ignore them. The writer conflates “clear” with “blunt”, even though the mythcommunication link explains quite well that women’s communication is quite clear and understandable even when it’s not blunt.

The (also true) observation that women are socialized not to clearly communicate a refusal is used to suggest that we should not be encouraging women to break free of that socialization and be more honest about what they want.

This is also a lie, since I have in fact included a suggestion of how to encourage women to be willing to be more blunt.

This is confusing the “is” and the “ought.

This is just confused. The “ought” in question is to ask women to break through socialization-pressures for the benefit of men. I reject this as a valid ought because of the realities of the “is” of the consequences to women of breaking through this socialization, which are greater than the consequences of them not breaking through or (as I suggested) of them demanding that first, the dudes put some effort into changing the dynamic that reinforces the socialization.

The undeniable state of mainstream heterosexual flirting is that men are expected to be the aggressors, that clearly communicating a desire to have sex is disfavored, and that a clear refusal is often met with hostility. None of this is an argument that the status quo is the way things ought to be.

Well, good thing then that I didn’t make that argument, eh?

We should all be encouraged to be more open and honest about what we want from a social interaction, even if the we may be subject to negative social consequences.

Who’s “we”? And if the writer had paid any attention to the post they’re criticizing, I actually suggested means by which women can be encouraged to be more blunt. However, demanding of disprivileged strangers one doesn’t know that they should subject themselves to social punishment for the benefit of the privileged class is an asshole move. How about the privileged ones put pressure on each other to lessen social punishment, instead?

The exception, of course, is when physical safety is in question.

Because emotional harm is just hysterical whining, amirite? Besides, women should all want to spend their leisure time being made to feel like shit for the greater good, eh?

Of course, the flipside of this is that we should stop punishing women for being blunt. A woman who clearly communicates a “no” is not being harsh, she’s being honest. A woman who says she’s not interested in someone (even if s/he hasn’t made any advances) is just being communicative. Hurting someone’s feelings through deception is a dick move. Hurting someone’s feelings by telling them the truth is a brave and awesome thing to do, and we should encourage people to do it.

This is just repeating what I said as if it were some clever thought the writer themselves came up with.

However, the danger of social disapproval is not a good reason to be dishonest.

Communicating in a clear but non-blunt fashion is not dishonesty. Claiming that subtlety is the same as dishonesty on the other hand is dishonest.

If the object of your affection will see you as creepy for being clear about your sexual interest, that’s not a reason to hide your interest.

Actually, yes it is. If you can’t proposition someone in a non-creepy fashion, don’t proposition until you learn how to interact appropriately to the given context, or find social contexts in which your behavior is seen as socially appropriate. Your horniness is not a right to sleaze on other people any more than my full bladder is a right to pee on a bus.

It does not follow that dishonesty is justified. If flirting should be about creating intimacy, then it relies on both parties behaving in a trustworthy way (i.e. not lying to each other).

More equating of tact with outright lying. Our Holden Caulfield is morphing into Gregory House now.

Jadehawk disagrees:

You can’t remove the social context because the social context is what determines how women will respond. they’re not flirting with you in a social vaccum, and pretending otherwise is just fucking stupid. We have to fix the social context first (i.e. not punish women for being above-average-assertive, and instead shut down those why try to punish women for blatantly and “rudely” setting boundaries and even taking initiative themselves), before you can seriously expect women to consistently “help” socially inept guys at flirting by being blunt with them.

Not a word in that quote about how lying is good. And the stuff in the brackets is exactly the same as what the writer just proposed themselves, except without the use of the gendered expletive. Shocking. Who knew this champion of honesty would be such a blatant liar?

I agree that it’s unrealistic to expect anyone to completely go against their socialization, but that doesn’t mean that we should not ask them to do so

Will the writer explain why we should ask women to deal with social punishment to make men’s lives easier, instead of asking men to stop the punishment to make everyone’s lives easier?

Society socializes us to do many things that we reject. Dishonesty could be one of them. Jadehawk’s view is that women are just brainless products of society’s conditioning, and have no choice in how to act.

More lies. Women have a choice, and most of them, in the risk-benefit analysis of “being blunt, risk punishment, but make d00dz lives easier” vs. “behaving averagely, not getting punished, not caring whether some inept d00d won’t get laid”, most women will rationally chose the second. A rational person would then of course work to diminish the risk of punishment, not bullshit about how explaining and defending women’s right to do so is somehow calling them brainless.

I think we all have a choice, regardless of what we’re told, or how we’re taught. I don’t think “the social context is what determines how women will respond.”

Five bucks says our writer has libertarian leanings. Belief in Counter-causal free will is, of course, a given.

I think women will respond based on their own individual choices, in light of the social context.

This, as if it were somehow a contradiction to what I said. Precious.

If you intend to send the message for someone to back off, do it clearly. Don’t use subtle social cues that are open to interpretation.

And here the writer shows that they either didn’t read or didn’t understand the “mythcommunication” essay, since it makes it very clear that what women’s forms of rejections are actually clear. And than men chose to pretend that they’re open to interpretation. It also makes clear that this writer has no fucking clue how human interaction and communication work, demanding that language be stripped of half the work it does****. Whether that’s only in the case of sex, or whether the writer actually wants people to blurt out all their feelings and opinions and desires in crassly blunt language regardless of context is unclear.

If you want to get to know someone, do that. If you intend to communicate sexual interest, do it clearly. Don’t do it by pretending you want to get to know someone.

This goes back, I think, to the earlier quote by PZ. If so, it shows clearly that the writer completely misses the point of the quote, because PZ suggested that a)atheist conferences aren’t a good place if your primary goal is getting laid, and therefore b)that people should come to these with the expectations to socialize and make friends, not get laid (as I said, if you want to get laid, there are meetups for that). But beyond that, it’s posing a false dichotomy, in that, unless you’re in a darkroom (and therefore already know the intentions of the other people there explicitly), you always need to get to know a person you have the hots for at least well enough to know whether they’d be interested in your proposition (and often also to let them get to know you enough to decide whether you’re someone they want to fuck). Cold-propositioning in a not explicitly sexual context is being an entitled douchenozzle, noting more, nothing less.

And don’t pretend you’re interested in sex if you’re only interested in getting to know someone.

Nobody actually does this, but it’s a common stereotype about women that they “string guys along” or are “being a tease”. Propagating bullshit, sexist stereotypes falls under “honesty is hard”, too.

My only problem here is dishonesty about one’s intentions.

Not actually true, since it’s evident that the writer’s problem is actually impulse control and/or distaste for the social norm that requires people to have impulse control. Also, inability to not lie about other people’s writing; that also seems to be a problem.

Flirting is not easy. But if we try, we could make it a little easier.

Rejecting the notion of impulse control and the existence of appropriate and inappropriate contexts for sex and flirting won’t make any of this “easier”; it will however make for an even chillier climate for most women.

- – – – – – – – – – – -
*wanting sex from people is an… interesting phrasing, however. Sex is not something you “get”, nor do you get it “from” people, because it’s not a service or good (unless we’re talking about prostitution). sex is something you “do”, and you do it “with” people; because it’s a form of social interaction.

**also, I don’t know why this writer assumes to know that “bag a young hottie” is not a quote? Maybe the person who told Jen that particular story actually used the term. Maybe that person even quoted the dude in question. Point being, the lack of quotation marks doesn’t allow for the degree of certainty the writer espouses on this point.

***it’s absolutely inarguable that wanting to “bag a young hottie at every event” is depersonalizing, since the “young hotties” are interchangeable. This is comparable to “I want to get married” before you ever meet someone you might feel like marrying: it’s a depersonalized goal into which you then try to stuff the people you run into, as long as they fit the qualifications.

****Steven Pinker to the Rescue ;-)

46 comments on ““Honesty is Hard”, indeed

  1. Jarreg says:

    Have I told you lately that you’re a badass? Excellent post.

  2. Eleanor says:

    Great post. I read the other blog post after it was linked at Pharyngula and it made me seethe. This is an excellent response. Also reading “dumber than a moldy avocado” made me giggle so much I weed a little bit.

  3. shaunphilly says:

    Jadehawk,

    I think that there is a bit of misunderstanding occurring here. I know Wes fairly well, and I think you may be misunderstanding the message intended in his post. I cannot speak for him, but being around him frequently and sharing more than a few opinions with him, I can say that your representation of him here is at least partially in error. Libertarian? lol….

    In my view, lack of clear communication is indeed a form of dishonesty. What seems clear to a communicator is not necessarily clear to the listener. And while I personally try to be generous with interpretation, sometimes a follow-up direct question is relevant to make sure I am getting the intended message. I didn’t see you asking for clarification above where ambiguities in language could have led to you understanding Wes’ intentions better. I saw you running with less-than-ideal interpretations. I don’t think you did so intentionally.

    It is not a lack of impulse control that is at issue here, as I see it. What is at issue here is that we need to be honest with ourselves with what we actually want, and if we are going to seek a desire that involves another person, we need to be unambiguous about it. That is, once we have decided that this is not a time to reign in an impulse we have (assuming, indeed, that we have free will), we need to be direct about it because veiling our intentions is a form of lying, even if it a common and socially accepted form of lying. The question is whether this socially accepted form of lying is something we, as rational, skeptical, people, should perpetuate or not. I think the answer is no, and you may or may not agree with me. That is a discussion worth having.

    So, I think we all need to be direct and honest, to not veil our interest, and to learn (as a society) to get used to hearing and answering that honesty (Have you sen The Invention of Lying?). And while this does not have to include cold hitting on, it may include that. And I agree that a conference about atheism/skepticism is not be the best place for such cold approaches, if that is indeed what a person wants there is nothing disrespectful about doing it. It just is unlikely to succeed, so a smart person may put off, temporally, that expressed desire That is, they do not pretend to have another goal, they just might put off communicating it until introductions and other conversational things are established. I personally would not coldly approach someone for sex, as my desires do include to get to know someone a bit better before asking for such a thing, but I certainly would not think less of a person for doing otherwise than what I personally want. I find such directness refreshing, mature, and very respectable.

    Some people’s boundaries exist elsewhere. Some people WANT or even DEMAND direct and blunt questions, and others want some issues to be rarely if ever addressed. The issue of whose boundaries we accept as the default is not so easy as you seem to argue above. Why defer to a lower threshold of boundaries, which infringe on those with higher thresholds? A case needs to be made for that (And I accept that such an argument may exist. I just have not seen one I find convincing).

    The issue is this. There is a real tension between the important issue of harassment by disrespectful people and sex positivity. The reason this tension exists is that there is a continuum that stretched from assault on one extreme and enthusiastic consent on the other. In the middle are things like harassment, being extremely annoying, being amusingly annoying, finding the proposition interesting but not compelling, considering the proposition seriously, accepting it, etc. The line between unwanted attention and wanted attention will differ, greatly, for different people.

    For example, a person coming up to me and putting their arm around me, telling me they think I’m cute, and inviting me to their room for sex crosses no line for me. It does not matter their gender (I’m heterosexual and male), attractiveness, etc. I will either say no, perhaps (and discuss what we’re into to see if we’re compatible), perhaps some other time, or “yes! let me get my stuff and I’ll be right with you.” (Yes, yes, I have privilege which makes this situation non-threatening to me, but I know many women who feel the same way). For other people, this situation would be harassment. That’s a problem.

    Because leaving out extreme examples, there will be cases where what I find acceptable is considered unacceptable by others. Clear, unambiguous, blunt questions and answers are the only way to be sure. And because of our social values of politeness, this is, indeed, hard.

    But I am not Wes, so I cannot speak for him.

  4. [...] of comments; since Wes linked to a post by Jadehawk in his post, Jadehawk has subsequently posted a response to Wes.  I read it today, and my impression is that emotions are getting in the way of clear [...]

  5. Jadehawk says:

    I know Wes fairly well, and I think you may be misunderstanding the message intended in his post.

    I’m not interested in the “message” of that post, I’m interested in correcting the lies about my post as well as the misrepresentations of others’ writing

    Libertarian? lol….

    please read more carefully, m’kay?

    In my view, lack of clear communication is indeed a form of dishonesty.

    irrelevant, since the mythcommunication essay makes it very clear (with science!) that women are not, in fact, being unclear when they say “no” in averagely tactful and averagely subtle ways.

    What seems clear to a communicator is not necessarily clear to the listener.

    this is a strawman, read the mythcommunication essay and leave me alone with your incorrect notions.

    I didn’t see you asking for clarification above where ambiguities in language could have led to you understanding Wes’ intentions better.

    This is precious. Did Wes ask me any questions before completely misrepresenting and misconstruing my writing? Plus, again, I’m not in the slightest interested in the writer’s intentions, this was a post correcting his misrepresentations of other people’s writing.

    It is not a lack of impulse control that is at issue here, as I see it. What is at issue here is that we need to be honest with ourselves with what we actually want, and if we are going to seek a desire that involves another person, we need to be unambiguous about it.

    which is completely irrelevant as none of the people your buddy misrepresented in his post are against knowing what you want and being unambiguous.

    That is, once we have decided that this is not a time to reign in an impulse

    in what universe is being at a non-kink conference a time to not reign in sexual impulses? Besides, no, your buddy didn’t distinguish at all between wanting and acting on a want.

    (assuming, indeed, that we have free will)

    we don’t. but that has fuck-all to do with acting on a want, since that doesn’t require contra-causal free will.

    we need to be direct about it because veiling our intentions is a form of lying

    you’re just as stupid as your friend, if you think any of the people he misrepresented has advocated Nice Guy-ism. Beyond that, however, it’s not lying to establish mutual interest with a chat rather than cold-propositioning.

    The question is whether this socially accepted form of lying is something we, as rational, skeptical, people, should perpetuate or not.

    no, that’s not the question, because none of the people your buddy misrepresented were promoting Nice Guy-like behavior.

    That is a discussion worth having.

    not really. that discussion, in fact, has already been had: Nice Guy-like behavior is sexist bullshit; claiming that women are too ambiguous to understand is sexist bullshit; demanding that women change their behavior and attitudes for the benefit of men (which is what the post your buddy lied about was actually talking about) is sexist bullshit.

    And if you want people to hit you over the head with a cluebat every time they talk to you, you can buy the button Rebecca made for that specific purpose: http://www.skepticalrobot.com/socially-inept-button/

    (Have you sen The Invention of Lying?)

    yes. it was incredibly fucking stupid.

    And I agree that a conference about atheism/skepticism is not be the best place for such cold approaches

    which is pretty much the only thing the people your buddy was misrepresenting were saying: that you need to get to know someone enough to see whether there’s mutual interest instead of whipping your dick out in front of them, metaphorically speaking.

    That is, they do not pretend to have another goal, they just might put off communicating it until introductions and other conversational things are established.

    which is what all the people your buddy has been misrepresenting have been advocating.

    I personally would not coldly approach someone for sex, as my desires do include to get to know someone a bit better before asking for such a thing, but I certainly would not think less of a person for doing otherwise than what I personally want.

    cold-propositioning outside of an already sexual context is entitled douchebaggery. I will absolutely think less of a person who thinks they’re entitled to such behavior, in the same way I’ll think less of a person who thinks they’re entitled to talk loudly on their phone in the movie theater.

    ome people WANT or even DEMAND direct and blunt questions

    you can’t demand that less privileged people break social conditioning for your benefit. As I explained in the post your buddy lied about, to speak to one stranger more bluntly than is socially acceptable, one has to do that to all people thusly, and it’s not acceptable to expect that from people less privileged than oneself. But one can encourage such behavior towards oneself, individually, by wearing the goddamn button.

    The issue of whose boundaries we accept as the default is not so easy as you seem to argue above.

    It’s actually very easy, if the goal is to attract more people and make it so everyone has a good time. Establishing that you have to get to know someone at least well enough to be able to tell where their comfort-level lies and potential interest in more-than-friendly interaction before venturing further is entirely reasonable. teaching dudes to assume women are people first, objects of sexual interest second would be helpful, too. And if that means training them to not engage sexually for one weekend (*gasp*!) then so be it; I’d hope such drastic measures aren’t necessary, but if it turns out dudes can’t or won’t behave in a manner that doesn’t prioritize sexual possibility, then I’m not against such drastic measures.

    Why defer to a lower threshold of boundaries, which infringe on those with higher thresholds?

    because you’re not sexually harassing someone when you engage them more subtly and slower than they like. It’s that simple.

    I just have not seen one I find convincing

    I don’t know what to say to someone who thinks a method of social interaction that prevents instances of inadvertent sexual harassment and prevents the creation of a “chilly climate” is not convincing.

    The issue is this. There is a real tension between the important issue of harassment by disrespectful people and sex positivity.

    No, there really isn’t. “Sex-positive” means not shaming someone for their sexuality, and supporting the mutually agreed upon expression of sexuality. It does not entitle anyone to impose their sexuality on others by engaging in sexual behaviors towards others that they have not yet established to be welcomed by those others.

    The reason this tension exists is that there is a continuum that stretched from assault on one extreme and enthusiastic consent on the other.

    O.o
    Thinking of sexuality as such a continuum is toxic, patriarchal bullshit that comes from thinking of relations between the sexes as adversarial. Sexual assault is not on the same continuum as enthusiastically mutual sex.

    For example, a person coming up to me and putting their arm around me, telling me they think I’m cute, and inviting me to their room for sex crosses no line for me.

    irrelevant, since this isn’t about you.

    For other people, this situation would be harassment. That’s a problem.

    only if you think your comfort-level and the comfort-level of the person who’s being so presumptuous about other people’s boundaries is more important than the comfort of people who might get triggered by being touched and propositioned without warning.

    Clear, unambiguous, blunt questions and answers are the only way to be sure.

    that is, of course, bullshit. for one, because it conflates clarity with bluntness. for another, because blurting out your wants like a 5-year-old is in fact not the only way to navigate social interactions.

    And because of our social values of politeness, this is, indeed, hard.

    this is, again, bullshit. read the mythcommunication essay and stop saying stupid crap like that.

    and once more: if you want to encourage people to be more-than-averagely-blunt to you personally, buy yourself that goddamn button instead of imposing your demands on others.

  6. shaunphilly says:

    Well, I would like to talk more, but I don’t see the point. You really don’t seem interested in hearing anything we have to say. Nonetheless I’m a bit of a masochist, so…

    I will only address this:

    not really. that discussion, in fact, has already been had: Nice Guy-like behavior is sexist bullshit; claiming that women are too ambiguous to understand is sexist bullshit; demanding that women change their behavior and attitudes for the benefit of men (which is what the post your buddy lied about was actually talking about) is sexist bullshit.

    This is not what I said; not even remotely. I’m demanding that everyone change their behavior to be more honest and direct, not just women. Men are guilty of this as well, and I will hold them up as easily ans any other gender. I am not asking anyone to do anything for the benefit of men. I’m asking everyone to do it for the benefit of everyone.

    and this:

    you can’t demand that less privileged people break social conditioning for your benefit.

    And you should not ask people to not ask others around them grow and improve as people, whether either of those people are privileged. Just because someone is privileged does not mean they don’t have something to say worth considering. It’s not for the benefit of the privileged; it’s for everyone’s benefit.

    Your comment at my blog tried to identify my sexism, and missed the mark completely. I am an extremely emotional person who finds myself hampered by that emotion. It’s part of my personal disorder, and I am sensitive to it and very aware of it. It was not about you being female (I actually had no idea what your gender was when I wrote it). It was about your responses not being completely fair or rational (although I did agree with some of your points).

    That also has nothing to do with your gender.

  7. Jadehawk says:

    You really don’t seem interested in hearing anything we have to say.

    yes. giving you a point-by-point reply is totes lack of interest.

    This is not what I said; not even remotely.

    I didn’t claim you said it, pay attention. I said that the discussion about appropriate social interactions, honesty, and changing social norms is already been had, and I gave you the conclusions, which your friend ignored or misrepresented when he used my post as his strawfoil in his own post.

    And you should not ask people to not ask others around them grow and improve as people, whether either of those people are privileged.

    this is barely English, but assuming I parsed it correctly: actually, I absolutely can ask people to not be privileged idiots and ask people to lift themselves up by their own bootstraps, be that economically or socially. This is what I meant by libertarianish behavior: the blindness to power-gradients, and expecting those with the greater burden and greater risk to be able and willing to do potentially harmful things in the same degree that those with a lighter burden and lesser risk could.

    Also, your implication that having tact is a personal fault has been duly noted and dismissed; a society of Gregory House’s would not be a better society.

    It’s not for the benefit of the privileged

    you have not read the post that your buddy misrepresented, or you wouldn’t be whining about this, since my post was in direct response to exactly a demand that women change for the benefit of dudes. That your buddy misrepresented my post to mean something else is not my fault.

    Your comment at my blog tried to identify my sexism, and missed the mark completely.

    you asserted this, but shown no evidence for that to be the case.

    It was about your responses not being completely fair or rational

    as opposed to your buddy’s misrepresentations, which were cooly rational and fair. but maybe it wasn’t sexism; maybe it was just boring-ass tribalism, to ascribe emotional brainfog to me but not to your buddy, even though I have not misrepresented his post, while he has completely and utterly butchered mine.

    also, you’ve not actually shown a lack of rationality in my responses, and btw the existence of emotions, or even the expression of them, do not preclude rationality. That is dichotomous and fallacious thinking.

  8. Paul says:

    It was about your responses not being completely fair or rational (although I did agree with some of your points).

    When someone is responding to a blog post that completely butchers a post that they made, why are they expected to read the entire corpus of the butcher to know what his point may have been? You also didn’t extend Jadehawk the courtesy you expected her to show your buddy, if you didn’t even know she was female. It’s not exactly a secret, if you read absolutely anything she’s ever written. And curse that Fundamental Attribution Error! She’s being unfair and irrational, whereas your buddy’s points are just being “misunderstood”.

  9. Alex says:

    I absolutely can ask people to not be privileged idiots and ask people to lift themselves up by their own bootstraps, be that economically or socially

    Does that require contra-causal free will?

  10. Paul says:

    Does that require contra-causal free will?

    No more than teaching oneself to breathe through one’s nose instead of mouth.

  11. Jadehawk says:

    Does that require contra-causal free will?

    the lifting, or the asking?

    either way, the answer is obviously “no”

  12. Jadehawk says:

    btw, just as a warning: Alex = Pilty, so engage at your own risk

  13. Paul says:

    Ah, thanks for the warning. I was never very fond of playing with Pilty.

  14. David Marjanović says:

    *meekly joins the bandwagon of praise*

    The constant confusion of intent and action strikes me as Christian projection. First there’s “thou shalt not covet”, and then Jesus doubles down and says the slightest intent of adultery is adultery*. I think this attitude is very widespread and often deeply held in culturally Christian places.

    * At least when a man does it. B-)

    Marjanović-style

    While I may have driven the style to previously unreached lengths*, I don’t think it should be implied that I invented it. I got it from, or was at a minimum inspired by, the Dinosaur Mailing List.

    * And I think you’ll soon surpass me. I may not ever have filled more than 23 laptop screens this way. You just did 22. ♥ :-)

    In my view, lack of clear communication is indeed a form of dishonesty.

    Not just of laziness or indeed lack of imagination? People blithely assuming that what they just said or wrote can’t possibly be unclear happens all the time.

    veiling our intentions is a form of lying

    :-| Then so be it. I’ll continue not to publicize intentions that I won’t act out because acting them out would have undesirable consequences. Sue me.

    For example, a person coming up to me and putting their arm around me, telling me they think I’m

    Stop right there. All this would immediately trigger me for bullying several times over.

    (OK, “triggering” is probably exaggerated, I haven’t been traumatized, but I think you know what I mean.)

    Total stranger, coming up to me and putting their arm around me? Translates as “I can effortlessly prevent you from going away and mentally or otherwise torture you till I’m done with you – and look, nobody so much as tries to stop me! You’re doomed!”

    Total stranger coming up to me and telling me what they think about me? If it’s negative, it’s bullying. If it’s positive, it’s mocking and therefore also bullying.

    I’ll refrain from acting out my pet peeve about the use of cute in English as a euphemism for both “sexy” and “lovable”.

    This is precious. Did Wes ask me any questions before completely misrepresenting and misconstruing my writing?

    Time for my standard anecdote! When I started writing scientific papers, the first thing my thesis supervisor said to me was (paraphrasing): “you will be misunderstood – by someone, sometime, somewhere, for some reason –; therefore, it is your responsibility to avoid opportunities for being misunderstood.” If other people need to ask you afterwards what you meant, you weren’t clear enough.

    Well, I would like to talk more, but I don’t see the point. You really don’t seem interested in hearing anything we have to say.

    Wes misrepresents what people have written.
    Jadehawk points that out.
    shaunphilly writes: “Well, I would like to talk more, but I don’t see the point. You really don’t seem interested in hearing anything we have to say.”

    Non sequitur.

    Also, your implication that having tact is a personal fault has been duly noted and dismissed; a society of Gregory House’s would not be a better society.

    …if only because House is a callous, most likely sadistic asshole at times who not merely offends people by telling them the truth they can’t handle, but routinely lies to them and performs experiments on them without so much as informing them about that.

    Of course, he’s a Hollywood Atheist. That’s a great article, but I digress.

    also, you’ve not actually shown a lack of rationality in my responses, and btw the existence of emotions, or even the expression of them, do not preclude rationality. That is dichotomous and fallacious thinking.

    This, too, has an article on TV Tropes.

    …So does even “false dichotomy”, linked to from there.

  15. Paul says:

    The constant confusion of intent and action strikes me as Christian projection. First there’s “thou shalt not covet”, and then Jesus doubles down and says the slightest intent of adultery is adultery*. I think this attitude is very widespread and often deeply held in culturally Christian places.

    Without disagreeing, it also seems like an extension of the mindset that intent is magic! I can see why Jadehawk was positing libertarian leanings. Since they mean well, they can’t deal with the idea that perhaps there is a problem with their behavior as it touches other people, so they need to instead retreat to a position where they’re being persecuted for thoughtcrime. It’s unpleasant to witness.

  16. David Marjanović says:

    Since they mean well, they can’t deal with the idea that perhaps there is a problem with their behavior as it touches other people, so they need to instead retreat to a position where they’re being persecuted for thoughtcrime.

    Bingo. The intent is good, so the consequences are automatically good, too – when they’re not, a rationalization must be found at all costs, or reality must be simply ignored for having a well-known bleeding-heart-liberal bias.

  17. Alex says:

    the lifting, or the asking?

    The lifting considered as a response to the asking.

    If physics fixes all the facts and my actions have already been determined by my brain before I consciously ‘decide’ to do them, then how can my ‘decision’ whether or not to be a privileged idiot etc be understood as a considered response to your request? If physics fixes all the facts and physical processes have no intentional content, how can our conscious thoughts give meaning to our actions? How can our conscious thoughts themselves be meaningful?

  18. Paul says:

    If physics fixes all the facts and my actions have already been determined by my brain before I consciously ‘decide’ to do them, then how can my ‘decision’ whether or not to be a privileged idiot etc be understood as a considered response to your request?

    “I” does not exclude “my brain”. Your brain is constantly learning and changing, and oddly enough this goes along with “your decisions”. Quit trying to dichotomize what you think and what your brain does. Simply because your brain is a result of physical states does not divorce it from your thought process; your thought process is directly related to said physical states, and influences them in turn.

    I get the feeling you’re not really interested in the answer, though.

  19. Jadehawk says:

    The lifting considered as a response to the asking.

    the lifting, as caused by the asking, rather obviously has fuck-all to do with contra-causal free will. the rest of your post is irrelevant silliness, especially conflating intention with contra-causal free will, as if intentions were their own uncaused causes.

  20. David Marjanović says:

    how can our conscious thoughts give meaning to our actions? How can our conscious thoughts themselves be meaningful?

    What do you mean by “meaning”? That’s not a rhetorical question.

  21. Congratulations, shaunphilly. Your comments managed to come across as creepier, and turned Wes into someone creepier, than the impression I’d got from Jadehawk’s post. Your knowledge of Wes has been quite helpful, in the sense that I want to be even further away from him (and you) now.

    ******

    As a close-enough-to-woman who has attended various male-dominated events and therefore had my share of expressions of sexual interest from what-looked-to-me-to-be-men, I don’t experience the conflation of intent and action as being based in Christianity or “intent is magic” or whatever. What it feels like, when you are a close-enough-to-woman on the receiving end, is that the dude’s general sexual interest got focussed on you, and he somehow experiences that as you causing that. In other words, I am apparently some kind of magical sex-robot thing that can warp men’s minds, and not an entirely separate independent human being who may not have noticed he exists. But I likely have no fu*#ing interest (so to speak) in him, however he feels about me (or rather, the magical sex-robot thing in his mind inspired by seeing me).

    So the resulting conversation is not a negotiation between two equal humans about whether or not sexyfuntimes should be had, it’s a careful talking-him-down-from-the-cliff, explaining that, sure, he may find me attractive, but that’s not because I want him to find me attractive, not because I sent out my sex-robot magic beams, “leading him on”, but something that happened entirely in his brain and I have no responsibilities or obligations to him as a result. And yeah, I’m probably not being “blunt”, but that’s because one learns to talk very carefully to people who suffer those kinds of delusions.

  22. Alex says:

    Paul:

    Simply because your brain is a result of physical states does not divorce it from your thought process; your thought process is directly related to said physical states, and influences them in turn.

    Jadehawk:

    the lifting, as caused by the asking, rather obviously has fuck-all to do with contra-causal free will.

    How can the process of ratiocination itself be subsumed into a mechanistic physical process? Jadehawk’s exhortation “causes” me to act in a certain way because I consider it, find it has merit and decide to act on it. By contrast a stone caused to fall by gravity does not consider whether to obey the laws of physics. If my mental activity is part of a deterministic causal chain then my response to Jadehawk’s entreaty is the predetermined result of physical laws. Whether I accept or reject her arguments, I am no more free to do otherwise than a stone is free not to fall. My every perception, thought, feeling and act is caused by a specific neurological substrate, which was in turn necessitated by a causal network of physical events stretching back indefinitely. If this is really the case, to say I choose to accept or reject an argument according to whether it seems true to me is as absurd as saying a chemical chooses whether or not to react to another chemical.

    David Marjanović:

    What do you mean by “meaning”?

    In his book “The Atheist’s Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life Without Illusions” the (atheist) philosopher Alex Rosenberg makes the point that if thought is nothing but a neurological process, then it would seem that when a person thinks about Paris, a bunch of neurons concern themselves with Paris. In some sense, these neurons become about Paris. Rosenberg writes: “The first clump of matter, the bit of wet stuff in my brain, the Paris neurons, is about the second chunk of matter, the much greater quantity of diverse kinds of stuff that make up Paris. How can the first clump – the Paris neurons in my brain – be about, denote, refer to, name, represent, or otherwise point to the second clump – the agglomeration of Paris …? A more general version of this question is this: How can one clump of stuff anywhere in the universe be about some other clump of stuff anywhere else in the universe – right next to it or 100 million light-years away?

    It is this quality of “being about, denoting, referring to, naming, representing, or otherwise pointing to” is what I mean by ‘meaning’. Philosophers denote this quality of ‘other-directedness’ or ‘aboutness’ with the term ‘intentionality’. Can matter, arrangements of matter or material processes exhibit that quality? Rosenberg thinks not: “Physics has ruled out the existence of clumps of matter of the required sort. There are just fermions and bosons and combinations of them. None of that stuff is just, all by itself, about any other stuff. There is nothing in the whole universe – including, of course, all the neurons in your brain – that just by its nature or composition can do this job of being about some other clump of matter.” That is surely correct. Biochemistry doesn’t mean or represent anything. An important part of the modern scientific project has been to deny that physical processes can exhibit intentionality; because intentionality is a kind of teleology incompatible with a mechanistic model.

    So how can we think about Paris? Rosenberg’s answer is that we don’t. Our thoughts have no meaning and our actions have no purpose. “This book isn’t conveying statements,” he states about “The Atheist’s Guide to Reality”. “It’s rearranging neural circuits,”. You have to pay £17.99 for the privilege of having your neural circuits thus rearranged. There are some things even radical eliminativism hesitates to eliminate.

  23. shaunphilly says:

    @Aqua,

    *shakes off Aqua’s magical sex-robot powers*

    Well, I just don’t know what to say to that. I’ll let Wes’ subsequent answer do some walking:

    http://polyskeptic.com/2012/06/20/honest-is-hard-rudeness-is-easy/

    I definitely think there is some miscommunication of ideas going on here. I think that if you ever were to meet either (likely both) of us, you would see that we are not horrible sex-monsters. I think what the point we are talking about is and what your description of delusional magically sex-manipulated “what-looked-to-me-to-be-men” differ somewhat.

    I personally don’t assume the person I find attractive has a mutual attraction, but if I am to talk with hir, I will not hide that I am attracted to hir while I ascertain if it is mutual. This does not mean I simply blurt out ” I want to sex you up you sooo bad!”, but it might mean that I maintain even eye-contact, smile a little, and start light conversation with some playful flirting. I know social queues well enough to get an idea, and if I get the sense that they are flirting back I might ask if they might like to get together sometime (possibly later that evening), and will probably mention that I find hir attractive.

    I don’t think any of that is revolutionary. I think that is how adults (should) communicate. Our issue (Wes and I agree mostly on this), is that most of our culture does not encourage (ideal) adult behavior, because sometimes it’s (apparently) more polite to tell slight lies to not hurt feelings or to save some sort of face. It’s often considered more polite to misrepresent our feelings and opinions to not offend.

    As I disagree with this when it comes to criticizing opinions about politics, religion, etc, I disagree that we should hide what we really think (generally; context can compel exceptions–I just think those exceptions should be pretty rare) about all sorts of issues, including whether we think the person we are talking to is attractive or not.

    And please, be blunt with me. I don’t need to be talked down from my delusional ledge, as I’m not the straw-man you take me for.

  24. Paul says:

    How can the process of ratiocination itself be subsumed into a mechanistic physical process? Jadehawk’s exhortation “causes” me to act in a certain way because I consider it, find it has merit and decide to act on it. By contrast a stone caused to fall by gravity does not consider whether to obey the laws of physics.

    Sorry to break it to you, but you’re not a rock. I have no interest in trying to convince you that you’re not a rock. Good day, sir.

    As a close-enough-to-woman who has attended various male-dominated events and therefore had my share of expressions of sexual interest from what-looked-to-me-to-be-men, I don’t experience the conflation of intent and action as being based in Christianity or “intent is magic” or whatever.

    Please note that mine and David’s sidebar were discussing Wes and shaun’s “apologetics” as they were on blogs and comment threads, and not male behavior at events in general.

    I don’t think any of that is revolutionary.

    Here’s the funny part: neither to any of the people you and Wes are trying to school on acceptable personal relationships. How do you still not get that?

  25. David Marjanović says:

    and he somehow experiences that as you causing that. In other words, I am apparently some kind of magical sex-robot thing that can warp men’s minds, and not an entirely separate independent human being who may not have noticed he exists.

    You mean, like people greeting famous people on the street because they momentarily forgot that, although they know the famous people, the famous people don’t know them back?

    Jadehawk’s exhortation “causes” me to act in a certain way because I consider it, find it has merit and decide to act on it.

    It causes you to act in a certain way because she feeds it into your consideration mechanism.

    That’s more complex than gravity; but, by all evidence, that’s a difference of degree, not one of kind.

    Mind is what the brain does. Ratiocination is what the brain does. Consideration is what the brain does… and the brain works according to the laws of electromagnetism.

    How can the first clump – the Paris neurons in my brain – be about, denote, refer to, name, represent, or otherwise point to the second clump – the agglomeration of Paris …?

    What a stupid word game. None of those verbs should be reified; I suppose only a philosopher can’t find that obvious.

    It is this quality of “being about, denoting, referring to, naming, representing, or otherwise pointing to” is what I mean by ‘meaning’.

    Then I still don’t understand it.

    That is surely correct. Biochemistry doesn’t mean or represent anything. An important part of the modern scientific project has been to deny that physical processes can exhibit intentionality; because intentionality is a kind of teleology incompatible with a mechanistic model.

    Complete jibberish.

    Of course biochemistry can represent stuff. To use an even simpler example: a cast represents its mold. Very simple causation there, only physical processes, pure mechanism.

    How you jump from there to teleology is completely beyond me – unless, that is, if you’re stupid enough to trip over polysemous words.

    Our thoughts have no meaning and our actions have no purpose.

    I still haven’t understood the English word purpose. It has two very different meanings that I understand, and I gather from contexts that it has at least one more that I’ve never figured out.

    “This book isn’t conveying statements,” he states about “The Atheist’s Guide to Reality”. “It’s rearranging neural circuits,”.

    That’s the same thing. He’s completely wrong to imply it’s a contradiction.

  26. Paul says:

    That’s the same thing. He’s completely wrong to imply it’s a contradiction.

    You don’t get it. He’s an atheist author. Therefore your life outlook is inextricably bound to agree with his in every way. Checkmate, atheists.

  27. Paul says:

    Sorry for spamming responses.

    Then I still don’t understand it.

    Specifically what I think he’s going for is the “representing” part. He’s doubting how (without contra-causal free will) his actions can be a representation of his “conscious intent” because “physics fixes all the facts”. I suppose it’s a feeble attempt at proof by contradiction, but it sounds more like wishing really hard that “free will, therefore God”.

  28. Jadehawk says:

    As I disagree with this when it comes to criticizing opinions about politics, religion, etc, I disagree that we should hide what we really think (generally; context can compel exceptions–I just think those exceptions should be pretty rare) about all sorts of issues, including whether we think the person we are talking to is attractive or not.

    why do you think the person you’re talking to needs to know whether you find them attractive? If it’s not something they need/want to know, or something that relates to the topic of conversation, why would you randomly volunteer that information?

  29. Alex says:

    Paul:

    How can the process of ratiocination itself be subsumed into a mechanistic physical process? Jadehawk’s exhortation “causes” me to act in a certain way because I consider it, find it has merit and decide to act on it. By contrast a stone caused to fall by gravity does not consider whether to obey the laws of physics.

    Sorry to break it to you, but you’re not a rock.

    If my thoughts are part of a mechanistic physical process, they are as determined by the laws of physics as much as a falling rock.

    David Marjanović:

    Jadehawk’s exhortation “causes” me to act in a certain way because I consider it, find it has merit and decide to act on it.

    It causes you to act in a certain way because she feeds it into your consideration mechanism.

    How does a mechanism consider? Can a watch tell the time?

    Mind is what the brain does. Ratiocination is what the brain does. Consideration is what the brain does… and the brain works according to the laws of electromagnetism.

    Ergo, ratiocination is ultimately subject to the laws of electromagnetism. What relation do the laws of electromagnetism have to the truth or falsity of a statement? How do they determine it? How do they convey it?

    How can the first clump – the Paris neurons in my brain – be about, denote, refer to, name, represent, or otherwise point to the second clump – the agglomeration of Paris …?

    What a stupid word game. None of those verbs should be reified; I suppose only a philosopher can’t find that obvious.

    I’m afraid I don’t understand what you mean when you say those verbs are being “reified” here.

    Of course biochemistry can represent stuff. To use an even simpler example: a cast represents its mold. Very simple causation there, only physical processes, pure mechanism.

    A cast’s form is determined by its mould, sure, but that is nothing like the sort of conceptual representation involved in thinking. When I think about a cat, my neurons do not assemble themselves into the likeness of a cat. So where does the sense of a cat come from?

    “This book isn’t conveying statements,” he states about “The Atheist’s Guide to Reality”. “It’s rearranging neural circuits,”.

    That’s the same thing. He’s completely wrong to imply it’s a contradiction.

    How do electrochemical reactions convey and interpret information?

  30. Paul says:

    If my thoughts are part of a mechanistic physical process, they are as determined by the laws of physics as much as a falling rock.

    You still haven’t justified dichomomizing your thoughts and the natural processes involved in “rearranging neural circuits”. Being “determined by the laws of physics” is a meaningless statement; until you demonstrate something that is impossible “by the laws of physics”, everything resides within that realm. And even if you find such, it would just result in a refinement of the laws of physics. Pointing out that something is determined by the laws of physics adds zero content to a discussion.

    Until you justify the dichotomy, I really meant what I said and have no interest in furthering this discussion.

    How do electrochemical reactions convey and interpret information?

    Do slime molds have contra-causal free will? They seem to interpret and act upon environmental information well enough.

  31. Jadehawk says:

    Alex, this is the last thread I let you hijack with your pointless wankery. If you ever monopolize any thread other than this and the 99% thread, I will either move the conversation there or delete it, depending on my mood.

    Also:

    How do electrochemical reactions convey and interpret information?

    lol

  32. eddyline says:
    That’s the same thing. He’s completely wrong to imply it’s a contradiction.

    You don’t get it. He’s an atheist author. Therefore your life outlook is inextricably bound to agree with his in every way. Checkmate, atheists.

    Oh, that’s right; I forgot that atheism is a way of life and dictates all of our actions throughout our lives…no, that’s not it…that’s Xtianity.

    Remember that the only thing all atheists have in common, is the lack of a belief in a deity.

  33. eddyline says:

    …Or did I miss the sarcasm?*headdesk*

  34. yasmine says:

    “Alex, this is the last thread I let you hijack with your pointless wankery.”

    Sorry, but I really think that last bit was uncalled for. Just because someone disagrees with you is no excuse to use a sexual insult against them like that. If Alex had been abusive towards you your respose might have been unstandable but I see no evidence of that here. I really do think you need to step back a bit here Jadehawk, take a deep breath and chill. Please remember there’s more than one opinion in this world and even if someone else’s opinion winds you up losing your temper and calling them names when they’ve been perfectly civil to you is out of order.

  35. Jadehawk says:

    yasmine, if you don’t know who alex is, or his commenting history here and elsewhere, why do you feel the need to defend him, especially by calling me too emotional and strawmanning what happened here?

    and if you do know alex… why would you defend a misogynist, racist, homophobic etc. Catholic monarchist? as if he had some sort of inherent right to hijack conversations on my blog, as he’s wont to do?

  36. Alex says:

    Jadehawk:

    Alex, this is the last thread I let you hijack with your pointless wankery. If you ever monopolize any thread other than this and the 99% thread, I will either move the conversation there or delete it, depending on my mood.

    I apologise for my rudeness, Jadehawk; it had not been my intention to get carried away and derail the thread so drastically. I will endeavour to avoid such oafish behaviour in future and may I add that I appreciate the forbearance you have thus far extended to me here & on 99%.

  37. Alex says:

    Paul:

    You still haven’t justified dichomomizing your thoughts and the natural processes involved in “rearranging neural circuits”.

    I asked how electrical impulses could transmit information, to Jadehawk’s amusement. Obviously in one sense they can do that or we wouldn’t be having this exchange. I hope, pace Dr Marjanović, we can agree that the words we read on our computer screens convey this meaning. But the words on the screen do not ‘contain’ that meaning as a bowl of a pipe contains tobacco. If the bowl of a pipe were a radically different shape (say with a hole in the bottom) it might not be possible to use it to smoke tobacco. Yet the words on the computer screen can be be a radically different shape and still convey the same meaning – for example if the discussion were conducted in a different language with a different alphabet. Again, if the bowl of a pipe were made of a radically different material (eg ice) it might not be possible to use it to smoke tobacco. Yet the words on the computer screen could be reconstituted in a radically different material and still convey the same meaning – they could be ink marks on a page or sound waves emitted by a loudspeaker.

    So it would seem that the physical qualities of words are at once necessary to convey meaning yet insufficient to account for it. The words transmitted by the screen have no meaning in themselves, or to the computer that produced them, only to the observing mind that receives them. And when we turn to consider that receiver in physical terms, meaning seems equally elusive. If we were able to walk about inside a human brain, we would see a purely physical process – electrochemical reactions. What we would not see is any sense impressions or emotions, let alone thoughts. In other words, we can have knowledge of all the brain’s material facts without knowing any mental facts. So it would seem that mental activity cannot be reducible to physical activity. (When I put this to Dr Marjanović on a different occasion, he called mental activity an emergent phenomenon, a larger or more complex phenomenon emerging out of numerous smaller or more simple phenomena. He pointed out that if we were able to walk about between water molecules, we would just see molecules, not ‘water’. Which is true, but neglects to mention that ‘water’ is as susceptible to scientific analysis as molecules. ‘Liquidity’ is as valid a term of scientific discourse at one level of description as ‘molecular structure’ is at another, whereas mental acts cannot be direct objects of scientific analysis.)

    Being “determined by the laws of physics” is a meaningless statement; until you demonstrate something that is impossible “by the laws of physics”, everything resides within that realm. And even if you find such, it would just result in a refinement of the laws of physics. Pointing out that something is determined by the laws of physics adds zero content to a discussion.

    That’s just a statement of materialist dogma – Extra naturam nullae res.

  38. Paul says:

    That’s just a statement of materialist dogma

    It’s only dogma if you don’t understand what is meant by a “scientific law”. They are statements used to collate, describe, and explain observations. The only way that the “laws of physics” could not encompass something is if you believe there exist phenomena that are by nature incomprehensible or unexplainable. And if you do that, then how can you even be sure that such phenomena exist?

  39. yasmine says:

    No, I don’t know who Alex is jadehawk and I have no previous affiliation with him. I also admit that as I stumbled on your blog by chance I am unaware of what his previous history is in relation to you. However, I do note that he has since had the decency to apologise for any way in which he may have hurt your feelings and now imho you should reciprocate and say sorry to him for losing your temper and resorting to sexually violent and sexist language etc No, I didn’t mean to suggest that you should feel ashamed of getting emotional from time to time during a debate as being passionate about your cause is often a good thing but it is wise to try to combine this with rationality as well. Trouble is, once you lose your temper very often you have lost the argument and then have much less hope of convincing the other side of the validity of your opinion. You either end up alienating them completely or they end up laughing at you. Please remember, there’s more than one opinion in this world and when you start a discussion blog and invite comment you are going to get people who disagree with you.

  40. Jadehawk says:

    I do note that he has since had the decency to apologise for any way in which he may have hurt your feelings

    you’re naive

    now imho you should reciprocate and say sorry to him for losing your temper

    I didn’t lose my temper.

    esorting to sexually violent and sexist language

    “wanking” is neither. he’s engaging in metaphorical public masturbation, and I do not wish him to do so here, especially when it hijacks more useful conversations.

    I didn’t mean to suggest that you should feel ashamed of getting emotional from time to time during a debate as being passionate about your cause is often a good thing but it is wise to try to combine this with rationality as well.

    your implication that my comment to Alex was irrational has been noted and dismissed as factually incorrect.

    Trouble is, once you lose your temper very often you have lost the argument

    this is ludicrously wrong. emotion does not ever indicate having lost an argument, nor does it cause the loss of an argument.

    then have much less hope of convincing the other side of the validity of your opinion

    your dismissal of an evidence-based position as an “opinion” is duly noted. your naive and ignorant belief that, after… at least 4-5 years of many people arguing with Alex, there’s any hope for him to stop being a regressive ass has been duly noted and laughed at.

    You either end up alienating them completely

    I’m somewhat unconcerned about alienating someone who wants to institute a white-supremacist, ultra-conservative Catholic monarchy

    Please remember, there’s more than one opinion in this world

    I laugh at your implication that I might have forgotten this.

  41. Alex says:

    (For the record, I’m not a white supremacist, white nationalist or any variant thereof. Most WNs wouldn’t even regard me as white and who am I to argue?)

  42. Jadehawk says:

    For the record, I’m not a white supremacist

    your comments on the 99% thread show otherwise, self-labeling notwithstanding.

  43. David Marjanović says:

    More later… only came back yesterday evening from 2 weeks of digging in Poland…

    your comments on the 99% thread show otherwise, self-labeling notwithstanding.

    I’ll have to read those again, but I don’t think he’s an American-style white supremacist. As far as I can tell, he’s an old-school European nationalist who wants to be surrounded only by people who would fit into the rural England of Tolkien’s childhood (or, rather, Tolkien’s somewhat idealized memory).

  44. Alex says:

    “old-school European nationalist”

    Holy Roman Imperialist.

  45. David Marjanović says:

    On est français, quoi.

    NOUS SOMMES TOUS DES AMÉRICAINS

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