Well, this blew up & became super popular! Some of you are having your own within-thread chats already while I really do need to respond to some other people directly. Unfortunately that won't be this evening due to consulting commitments.

Promise to get my finger out in due course.

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Yes it flowered into a very interesting comment thread. I wanted to respond to Katrina Gulliver's very interesting comment about the narrow parochialism of Western feminist outrage but, as sometimes happens, my reply got buried under a ton of other stuff. So here it is again: All very well said. I have written about these very things in this essay: "The essay that follows is an updated version of one I wrote in 2020. An abridged version was published in City Journal. It was inspired by reading Our Bodies, Their Battlefield: What War Does to Women by Sunday Times war correspondent Christina Lamb. I was deeply moved by its “extraordinarily powerful account of women's suffering in war”. But it also left me with a profound sense of frustration with the narrow - you could almost say parochial - focus of most Western journalism on the subject of sexual violence whereby the casting-couch-type harassment experienced by famous actresses warrants more outrage than the rape, brutalisation and subsequent social ostracism of millions of women on the fringes of the Western media’s mental universe" .https://grahamcunningham.substack.com/p/life-in-the-shadows-of-metoo

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Dec 3, 2023Liked by Helen Dale

Thawed it much better than I could. Thanks.

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Dec 3, 2023·edited Dec 3, 2023Liked by Helen Dale

Fascinating piece Helen. It triggers for me a question that I think conservative discourse has never really got a grip on. What exactly is it that makes stupid pseudo-intellectuals quite so SUCCESSFUL in their stupidity? The usual line of discourse is to attack the vacuity and wrong-headedness of their 'ideas'. But this is to take them too seriously. There is some strange psychological syndrome that makes such people both self-inflate their egos whilst simultaneously be magnetically attracted to academia. Once enough of their ilk have already got ensconced there, the new recruits will of course get a huge leg-up from those peers. Also the more patently absurd, self-engrossed and self-pitying their 'ideas' are, the more click-baity they are for journalists - even conservative ones - so they get unwarranted traction that way as well. I've tried many times to come up with a neat encapsulation of the nature of this psychological syndrome in an accesible few words but never quite got there. And of course psychology, as a discipline, is itself now just too full of just such people to be any help. Maybe Eric Berne's Transactional Analysis 'Games' and 'Life Script' concepts would be a good place to start.

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"What exactly is it that makes stupid pseudo-intellectuals quite SO stupid?" Reflecting on this type of question, I keep coming back to Thomas Sowell's unconstrained visionaries vs. the constrained vision adherents. That is not to say that the "rest of the best" of us have never thought, said, or done something stupid, but we will (if we have to) eventually admit that "yes, that was truly stupid! I should have known better."

"Once enough of their ilk have already got ensconced there, the new recruits will of course get a huge leg-up from those peers." This is perhaps the element of the march through the institutions that we failed to recognize and address in time. If our view was initially "who would hire those idiots? How can they earn a living selling or promoting that drivel? They will end up flipping burgers, so we can ignore them after uni." I guess we forget just how many (regular and community) colleges and university departments there were for these people to "hide out" and continue to infect their students, in turn. There were already "semi-valid" issues with HR related legislation and regulation in the race and sexual harassment realm in (at least) the 1980's that basically required "HR experts" to traverse those legal mine fields. Once they breeched the CRT/DEI barrier, it was all "Katy bar the door!"

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Yes this question would, ironically, make for a great academic study - in both Sociological and Psychological disciplines. But we're not holding our breath for this to happen are we?

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Overall your whole comment is great! Rich for amplification. :-)

"And of course psychology, as a discipline, is itself now just too full of just such people to be any help."

Maybe if we can focus on the few decent contributors? Jonathan Haidt? Steven Pinker [not to be confused with Peter Singer}? Those studies with sufficient population size to justify confidence in their statistical analyses? Some results relatable to fMRI/MRI experiments conducted in tandem? Selected hypotheses from explorations of evolutionary psychology? This is far from my area of expertise, and such exposures as I have had are too episodic for me to have integrated them all into a coherent picture. Thus I look to others for their insights.

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Yes, good point. There will be a few academics who've probably gone at least some way to answering my puzzle...Steven Pinker? Jordan Peterson? I have respect for both. But, like you, I'm a layman and so get my perspective almost entirely from journalism. Maybe it's one for Lorenzo?

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You might like my comment about brain differences.

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Here is an idea I have played with. The bulk of their students are between 18 and 25; freshman to graduate level. They are young and impressionable and as yet untested by real life to any great extent. Much more easily programmed. Now imagine if the average student was middle aged, had lived a life, had a career, raised a family. Most of their silly ideas would be ground up and spit out by this more mature cohort.

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Yeah, it is called the school of hard knocks! :-)

Or Reality Is Not Optional!!

And yet it is the professors and grad student instructors who are pushing this nonsense. Why haven't they experienced those same life lessons as their mature students?

[I think it was Upton Sinclair who partially answered that - something about earning a living even via wrong think.]

That question is the crux of Graham Cunningham's comment at the beginning of this thread.

Maybe the mature student says either "he is the knowledgeable professor so I should believe him after all" or they just drop the course and get on with their lives, not bothering to do battle against academic stupidity.

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Because they, the professors, have never left school. The immature student body reflects their ideas back to them because they are too young and inexperienced to be properly critical. It's leads to a kind of arrested development and an ideological silo.

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Good point! And something similar can be said about those politicos that never live or work in the private sector after leaving law school. Clerk with a judge, become staffers on a govt payroll, then run for local or state office, etc. Never have to face (directly or indirectly) profit and loss or payroll obligations, etc.

In fact, many decades ago my engineering mentor, the chairman of the dept., mentioned that someone had told him it was not a good idea for STEM graduates to go directly on to grad school, without some real world seasoning. My mentor disagreed, but back then people were still more aware of the real world outside the university. I was really disappointed to find that CRT/DEI had breached the STEM department "logical fire wall", even at MIT!

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I strongly recommend "Political Ponerology" by Andrzej Łobaczewski.

This is what my buddy Google Bard has to say on the matter,

Łobaczewski (1921-2009) was a psychiatrist and psychotherapist who lived through and witnessed the horrors of both World War II and the communist regime in Poland. His experiences deeply influenced his work, leading him to develop his unique theory of "ponerology," the study of evil.

Published in 1984, "Political Ponerology" analyzes the psychological and social mechanisms that underpin totalitarian regimes and the behavior of their leaders. Łobaczewski argues that certain personality types, characterized by traits like pathological narcissism, sadism, and psychopathy, are predisposed to engaging in evil acts and manipulating others for their own gain.

"Political Ponerology" remains a controversial work, praised by some for its insightful analysis of human nature but criticized by others for its generalizations and lack of empirical evidence. However, it undoubtedly sparked important conversations about the psychology of evil and its role in shaping political systems.

To which I personally would add that Harrison Koehli has an excellent substack dedicated to this work and it's more modern implications


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Thanks for this summary. My thinking along these lines has not gelled nearly to any cogency, but I will see if the book is available on interlibrary loan (I live in Goshen, Indiana, so our lack of big bookstores protects me from spending our life's savings buying great books.)

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Amazon still has my number, given how many books I buy after reviewing the emails they send me! But you can also buy them used, or via library book sales, etc. Surprising the selection sometimes available at those sales.

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The answer is brain differences (and I'm really not joking). High trait Openness to New Experiences is only slightly correlated with IQ, but there is a specific area in the brain which relates specifically to processing new information which has been found to be enlarged in Left-leaning liberals.

This might seem like an advantage, until one considers that the negative consequences of a single bad idea are equivalent to the positive consequences of five good ideas. Those High in trait Openness to New Experiences are idea machines. The problem is they are absolutely terrible at vetting bad ones, particularly when the bad idea lends itself to a narrative which feels emotionally satisfying.

Academia and specific disciplines functioned pretty well when there was a good balance between the Left and social conservatives, with their natural scepticism. The evidence seems to suggest that even when the Left-orientated outnumber the conservatives by a ratio of five-to-one the field can remain relatively functional. But there are now a significant number of disciplines which have succeeded at purging almost all conservatives, and the predictable result is the series of replication crises we've been seeing in areas like psychology.

The other thing to consider is self-selection as a polarisation issue across a distributed network. It tends to be difficult to argue against ancap libertarians, because they accept none of the usual premises, but one good argument is that even relatively small functional social units like a community or a university tend to polarise destructively over time. The evidence is history itself.

This speaks to a larger truth. Basically, people are naturally drawn by wishful thinking into the types of pursuits they feel they would like or enjoy, and not what the market or their aptitudes would dictate they should choose. To use the example of the prison system- a conservative would naturally be drawn to a role as a prison warden, protecting society, whilst a liberal would love the stories of redemption and change witnessed as parole board member. But this is not what civilisation should want of them. An aptitude-based or market system would choose the liberal to try out all sorts of weird and wacky ideas trying to reform the inmates, whilst the conservative is naturally better suited towards applying scepticism to judge their successes or failures.

A lot of academics end up bitter and promoting fringe theories for the simple reason that they haven't chosen a field which is right for them. The benchmark for good epistemology is falsifiability. At the same time, creatives are put off by the demands for conscientiousness placed upon students by the sciences- made doubly ironic by the fact that creatives generally only succeed when they learn self-discipline or develop obsession. Add to this the fact that many fields have become cubby holes for frustrated creatives teaching aspiring creatives and one can understand why many areas of Academia has become factories for lunatic ideas.

What a lovely title for a Substack. I've always found that poem particularly jarring. I wonder whether the poet meant to convey a hidden irony to the piece. Did he get caught up in the apocalyptic self-conceit of every age, or was it just poetic flourish taken to an exceptional level? The use of word 'Slouches' is particularly telling, don't you think? I also love the last lines of the first stanza. It sums up Bertrand Russell's sentiment about doubt and certainty rather well. What do you think?

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I would need to ponder long and hard before I could be entirely convinced by ALL of this but some of it certainly. And as a tour de force of an answer to the question I posed, it would be hard to better! I think that naive faith in the Enlightenment fairytale that 'education' inevitably leads to independent-mindedness is also part of the story. Also that naive faith in electoral pluralism has allowed this academia takeover to advance largely unnoticed till too late.

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I join Graham in saying there is a lot to unpack in this comment, and I won't succeed or bother trying here, in full.

I certainly agree that much of our diverse psychological natures result from our genetic mix, augmented with good or not so good nurturing. The evolutionary psychologists have been exploring some of that, but since we do not yet have good ways to measure brain responses down to sufficiently detailed inputs, a lot of their ideas come across as "just so" theories. Reasonable but not yet proven (or perhaps even provable?)

Until we can identify some brain response that reflects "constrained vision" and then relate that to a particular set of genes, we are largely guessing. Reasonable but not assured guesses. Plus, I believe even Sowell did not mean to imply a hard and fast dichotomy or separation of visions, but that they could exist along a mental spectrum from one side to the other.

"... processing new information which has been found to be enlarged in Left-leaning liberals." Do you have a link for this? And as you recognize, number of neurons involved does not necessarily say anything about the "observed quality" of output from those neurons.

"... idea lends itself to a narrative which feels emotionally satisfying." But don't emotional responses provide that satisfaction for any "ah ha" moment, whether the end result is good or bad? Or involves Leftist vs. Right ideas?

"... polarisation issue across a distributed network..." alludes to what we are trying to reconcile in the political (or academic) realm: how can we get those "ignorant jerks" to change their mindset?

On your remarks about career path selection: back in 1978 I learned about something called Success Factor Analysis. The core idea is to examine your past successes, identify the capabilities/skills you had/used to achieve them, and use that "know thyself" knowledge to purse future career directions/ assignments/ jobs that maximized your chances of using those capabilities and thus achieving further successes. These capabilities are to be emphasized in your job searches, irrespective of formal educational credentials, etc. By extension, you would also try to avoid situations requiring you to use your less capable traits, except for a distinct purposeful attempt to enhance them, too.

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The Success Factor Analysis seems remarkably similar to the Pareto Principle- 80% of all value is created with 20% of one's time, with the reverse stats also true.

I like the idea of a spectrum to the constrained vs. unconstrained view. I've watched Sowell himself talk wistfully about the public housing of the past, where residency was a real status achievement for lower income workers- psychic social profit that the family or individuals involved were trustworthy and dependable, regardless of their socio-economic station.

Have you ever been to Sweden? My brother lives there with his Swedish wife. Swedes might be politically progressive, but it only works because they are incredibly socially conservative. Of course, they go out and drink at weekends like so many Western populations, but woe betide you if you happen into one of the state-run alcohol vendors midweek, when on holiday visiting family. Stern looks of disapproval are guaranteed- a complete departure from our rights-obsessed Anglosphere.

'"... polarisation issue across a distributed network..." alludes to what we are trying to reconcile in the political (or academic) realm: how can we get those "ignorant jerks" to change their mindset?'

Too true. Both Scottish Public Health Policing and the remarkable academic result improvements of the London challenge, point to the fact that liberals and conservatives can be incredibly productive when they engage in an open contest of policy ideas, and attach decent metrics to measure results.

Sadly, polarisation seems to achieve the opposite- the intent to bludgeon the other side over the head with success, paired with the inability to admit abject failure when it occurs. It also seems to be the case that the failing party always seems to be the culturally dominant one.

Have you seen the recent articles relating to Biden's miraculous crime reductions? Easily achieved when one has the biggest violent crime rises in a single year to work against... According to the CDC in 2022 a Black man's lifetime chance of dying through homicide was 4.3%.

On the nurturing issue have you read or heard of Richard Tremblay? Jordan Peterson tried to interview him, but by then he was well past his prime. This earlier and obscure YouTube video which he himself presents is a far better precis of his work.


One of his papers alludes to cytokines as a potential epigenetic trigger. It only stuck in my memory, because cytokine storms in the lungs were a feature of Covid death amongst the rare relatively healthy (most of which were caused by very rare environmental exposure to very high viral loads). This might suggest that a combination of environmental and epigenetic factors could impede vascular function at a developmental level. Improved cardio-vascular function through a fitness routine is the only known way to improve IQ through conscious effort.

The feminists got it wrong by the way. Aggression is biological. Self-control, on the other hand, does tend to be socially constructed, as witnessed by the fact that there are wildly different offending rates for teenage boys and young men, depending upon home and community fathering rates. The social construction of self-control also explains the Vikings!

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I am not going to try and respond to all of this. Some other things I have to do, too. :-)

But the brain study link was interesting. Done in 2011, so who knows what they think they know now. But finding a political orientation correlation to a brain volume 1/7" on a side still probably means 100's of thousands of neurons, right? And the article did supply plenty of caveats. Still, perhaps a step closer to greater real understanding.

On SFA and Pareto, I surmise SFA is intended to help find those 3 to 8 core characteristics, out of maybe 30 to 60, to help us focus on our strengths and try to avoid our limitations (i.e., know thyself). In addition to your own personal analysis (which might take 30 to 50 hours to do, mostly to recall details of your past and to find supporting documentation of quantifiable accomplishments), you can ask friends and coworkers what they perceive as your strong points. That can be insightful as well.

I may explore the Tremblay video later, or just not have the time. I now have over 100 tabs open on my browser!! After removing 50 or 60 of them. They are still almost too small to use. :-(

Thanks for today's dialog.

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Alas modern Western feminism is not spending much time trying to influence Islam (see the relative lack of response to the Taliban or the women bravely protesting the Hijab in Iran). That kind of thing used to be a big part of discussion among campus feminists 20+ years ago. But now the focus is entirely on discrimination etc in the West, which while it exists, is nothing like living under the Mullahs. This is partly the narcissism of victimhood, partly parochial ignorance, and in a big part a reluctance to critique any situation where the misogynists are not white.

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Dec 3, 2023·edited Dec 3, 2023Author

Sadly true. But it would help if in relatively more liberal countries like Turkey or Egypt that the people who do go to university could read something persuasive. I remember being flummoxed when I came across Brownmiller (admittedly not in Arabic) in a Damascus public library circa 1998.

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Dec 3, 2023·edited Dec 3, 2023

I don't know who Brownmiller is (or my memory is really poor and she one of the two ladies you had on during the last few weeks? :-( ), but if you and the Muslim world are not already familiar with Western "critical historical" scholarship addressing Islam over the last 30+ years, spending some time with the You Tube videos provided by Jay Smith and Pfander Media might prove educational. Among other points, they bring out that:

(1) The Quran might well have evolved out of Christian liturgical materials initially written in Syriac/Aramaic, and then (poorly) converted to Arabic, leaving room for much misinterpretation.

(2) That initially "Mecca" was probably really located at Petra (in Western Jordan), and later moved when Petra flooded. Early mosques pointed their "qiblah" towards Petra, not modern day Mecca.

(3) That there is considerable question if Muhammad actually ever existed*, but if he did it was nearer the Dead Sea than Mecca.

(4) The inscriptions showing "Muhammad" on the Dome of the Rock (built in 691 CE, not near 622) can be interpreted as meaning a title of "anointed one" and potentially referring to Jesus in a largely Hellenized and Christianized Levant.

(5) No credible historical evidence of Islam exists prior to around 750 CE*, over a century after 622 to 632 CE, and later Arabian conquests of the Middle East, India, and North Africa. A decent supposition is that the Caliphs of that later time decided they needed a "religion" to both (A) match and surpass that of the Jewish, Christian, Zorasterian, or Hindu populations that they now controlled, plus (B) even more firmly establish their political dominance and justify further moves of conquest, rapine, and plunder.

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Dec 3, 2023·edited Dec 3, 2023

[Is there a word count limit on comments? This last material did not display after I did some editing on the above text???

*This view is not universally accepted by scholars, as Patricia Crone and I think Tom Holland, and probably some others, did/do currently accept the conventional Muslim provided time line, based on a couple of reports from the 637 CE (+/-) time frame. But I have not yet seen any counter arguments against the evidence in (1) to (4) above.

Still, it is going to be pretty difficult to persuade 1300 million Muslims that they have been played by a con, even if it is one that is in sync with their general cultural preferences and orientation. Perhaps the groups that were conquered by the Arabs would/could/ should reconsider just why they now follow a religion imposed via conquest by the foreign Arabs!!?? [I think there are now maybe "only" 300 million or so Arabs?] Probably easier to convince the Femi-Nazi's that they are wrong or hold excessively misaligned views.

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I don't have the credentials to dispute your 1-4 above, but I would suggest that the Alexandrian library was sacked well before 750. Be that as it may, I would challenge some of your statements relating Islam to Christian roots. I'll be so forward as to suggest that you invest time and thought getting familiar with Jewish and Christian source documents, and especially that you will consider the sine qua non of Christian belief, that Jesus lived, died, and rose again. Muhammad is apparently buried in Madina, near some or all of his wives....

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David, I saw this comment last night but decided to wait overnight to let my head clear before responding. I was rather annoyed at the disrespect of "I'll be so forward as to suggest that you invest time and thought getting familiar ... " To be honest, I have never read the Bible, but I have read many sources about Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, to the point I believe I know the Cliff Notes version. My parents were not religious and I never attended church or Sunday school, but they did indicate I could make up my own mind regarding religion. Unfortunately for believers such as yourself, by age 8, for me the secular die was cast.

My credentials regarding Islam (or most things) are also modest, which is why I pointed to the Jay Smith You Tube series. But my understanding is that the Alexandrian library was sacked by Christians to destroy earlier pagan thinking and ideas, not by Muslims, although the Arabs did then overrun North Africa in the 600's CE or later. It appears you also did not understand the pro-Christian position that the Dome of the Rock was probably originally used for Christian worship, only later appropriated for Islamic use. From what I have read, I have strong doubts that Moses, Jesus, or Muhammad ever existed as actual historical real people, while the ideologies/ religions adopted in their names advanced the political aims of various kings, priests, and caliphs. But doubts are not certainties, so I try to keep an open mind, but not an emptied one.

I now hope to keep this shorter than my initial intent, so I will forego a discussion of the probable coexistence of brain elements and psychological features supporting both faith based and intellectual and logical analysis capabilities in the human "mind".

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I'm sure I was far ruder than I intended to be (which was not at all) but I am glad for your thoughtful reply. I visited Jerusalem more than once, and the guides on site explained that the Dome of the Rock was built (and I affirm that its architecture is thoroughly Muslim) to commemorate Muhammad's night-time visit to (I do forget whether it was to one, several, or the Third) heaven. I understand that one of Muhammad's wives questioned whether Muhammad actually went to Jerusalem and thence to heaven, but the imprint he is said to have left on the rock was quite deep and is counted as proof that he was actually there. Listen, though, I do not want to say anything more, lest I offend Muslims, for I mean no disrespect to their traditions or beliefs. (And dear me, I may be confusing the Dome of the Rock, which I remember as the name of the gold-domed building dominating Temple Mount; whereas the rock which is the center of (I almost said of worship in the Hajj, but that would be wrong) the Hajj is housed in an impressive black cube in Mecca, which name I forget--sorry, run-on sentence lost the point!)

I'll risk again offending you, though I really do hope not to offend but to encourage you to genuinely seek. You posted: To be honest, I have never read the Bible, but I have read many sources about Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, to the point I believe I know the Cliff Notes version. My parents were not religious and I never attended church or Sunday school, but they did indicate I could make up my own mind regarding religion. Unfortunately for believers such as yourself, by age 8, for me the secular die was cast.

And to a great extent, you validate my point that by learning second- or third-hand without reading the source materials, the eyewitness- and nearly eyewitness accounts of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection, you don't see more there than the Cliffs Notes version. I never understood either the facts or reality of Christianity until I was 18. I urge you to keep exploring, especially in one or more of the many excellent modern translations of the oriiginal accounts.

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When feminists meet Islam...



Oriana Fallaci met the Ayatollah Khomeni. She gave him WhatFor.

He broke out laughing.

She wrote he was the most attractive man she ever met.

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Is that an example of genetics overwhelming culture?

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No , he was just a man, a very powerful man and he mocked her when she challenged him.

Exactly the right answer.

Khomeini had game.

Women are Full Of 💩

That’s their “genetics”


The real gains of feminism are enslaving men as labor, without the pesky benefits or children.

Or so some women think...

... in truth their state mandated income got sucked back in by consumerism, taxes, dependency on state.

Every Marxist Cloud was always underwritten by Capitalist Silver linings.

(See Taylorism and the USSR. )

Feminism is Double the consumerism and taxes at half the wages!

GO ENGELS! (Founder of Feminism).

People don’t remember Engels took his Father’s inherited sweatshop and traded up to a seat on the London stock exchange. 🤣🤣

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Can't comment on her meeting with Khomeini but Fallaci was always very impressive. As a teenage girl in Florence she participated in armed resistance to the Germans and she was highly intelligent and spirited. Her comments after 9/11 were inspirational in their acuity and ethical force. If there were more feminists like her the world would be a vastly better place.

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But the world isn't a better place because of feminists.

And the Italians didn't defeat the Germans.

I can go on.

>Israel's finished by the way, hope the hostages were worth it....the next Razzia is the last. At the top it was keeping US citizenship and the US as refuge, as opposed to ending up like the Shah, Marcos, or the Diem Brothers. Not hostages.

The next Razzia is the Last.

[Razzia is Arab raid, you just saw one 10.7].

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So your assessment is that the Israelis have definitely lost?

I fully agree that prioritising the hostages over destroying Hamas was certainly ill-considered.

Your cynicism over the Israeli leadership is probably well-founded. The Israeli government, like political elites across the GAE, are too well integrated into the empire to be true nationalists.

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What possible personal benefits would accrue to a western feminist by dedicating even their entire lives to reforming gender relations in Islamic countries?

Old school Christian missionaries literally put their lives on the line to convert foreign nations to their way of thinking, but they had a very different calculation of the rewards for their actions.

Once you notice the self-serving and performative nature of feminist activism you start to notice it everywhere. Feminist leaders wearing the hijab, even in their own countries for example, former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is a good example of that. Her case is particularly interesting as she publicly stated that she left her families' Mormon faith because of its stance on LGBT issues.

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Feminists are not interested in confronting muslim misogyny even in their own countries as they see them as allies in destroying western society. That's why the ever obnoxious british feminists were silent about the mass rapes of thousands of english girls by men from south asian muslim communities in places like Rotherham despite the assaults being public knowledge for at least a decade before being confirmed by an official enquiry.

Even for feminists (muslim, POC) bros before (white, underaged) hoes.

That's intersectionality.

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All very well said. I have written about these very things in this essay: https://grahamcunningham.substack.com/p/life-in-the-shadows-of-metoo

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I like the term "competency crisis".

In a meritocratic system, individuals are motivated to develop their skills and contribute meaningfully, fostering a culture where merit, rather than background or privilege, paves the way for success. While not without its flaws and imperfections, meritocracy remains the most effective framework for human progress.

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I wish everyone who mentions meritocracy as a positive thing would reflect, just for a moment, on how and why the term was coined. Sadly, most seem not to be aware of it's original usage. It's almost as bad as the way the ignorati bandy fascist about.

Competency and merit are not synonymous. Meritocratic is beloved by bureaucrats for a reason.

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I'm aware of this, and have written about it extensively. Michael Young was indeed furious with what was done to his coinage. However, even he believed in "the best person for the job" (on the basis that no-one wanted a lawyer who'd failed contract or a doctor who'd failed anatomy).

What he objected to - and what I, Matt Ridley, and Steve Davies object to as well - is the idea that certain jobs (as obtained on the basis of academic credentials) are "higher" or "more moral" than other jobs.

That's the kind of thinking that led to the French Revolution, and no doubt loads of other historical nasties as well.

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The history of being a doctor in the U.S. was it wasn't a particularly high prestige, or income, occupation until the AMA formed and got control of the granting of licenses to practice (and accreditation of and admission to medical schools).

Mises mentions the haughtiness of the 19th century Prussian bureaucrat in Bureaucracy - not much different from the earlier French aristocracy.

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Would it also be fair to say that the medical community's medical knowledge was in fact rather limited up to the early 1900's. Even with discovery of the germ theory of disease, I gather not too many afflictions could be treated until several decades into the century. Thus lower prestige and income was not out of line, even granting the eventual semi-monopoly from the AMA and licensing boards?

Now, as an engineer, I wonder how well engineers of the 1860-1900+ timeframe were paid, and with what prestige they were held. Roebling and Brooklyn Bridge, Hoover and his dam? Eiffel Tower? Statue of Liberty and other tall buildings in NYC and Chicago, etc. Steel bridges and locomotives and steam power, electrical power, hydropower, etc. Then telecomm of various types. I suppose, given relative rarity, they rose to positions of project leadership and senior deputy to the financial, business, or political leaders - so not really a servant class but only just bumping up against the "elite class".

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Oh make no mistake - I much prefer the market for medicine and doctors today to what was available a century and a half ago. As recently as 1960, healthcare was around 6% of GDP versus the 18% of today. We have better, but you can't say it's been a bargain. And it is still amusing to recall what patented medicine meant just over 100 years ago.

The status manipulation is a different matter. Fauci certainly imagined himself much like the cited Prussian Interior Minister, above any and all criticism of the common people.

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"... you can't say it's been a bargain." But I can!

Consider what fraction of your income* and your wealth you would really be willing to spend IF YOU HAVE TO to prolong the health and life of yourself or a loved one. Probably if push comes to shove you would offer up much more than 18%. Now, there are any number of caveats and restrictions that governmentally supplied medicine [and medical reality] insert into this view, but if you decide the current medical establishment is not doing all that they could [and maybe we cannot really know as laymen?], you might well seek out a specialist in another city or state (or country?). Perhaps these impediments are more severe in the UK or OZ than in the US - not sure** - but typically an alternative option is or should be available.

*Food, clothing, shelter, even transportation take up smaller and smaller fractions of our income. Taxes and insurance are now my main / major categories. This leaves more personal resources available for medical care in strained situations, on top of governmental inputs.

**There was a case of some boy not being allowed to leave the UK for possible treatment elsewhere [in France? or Brazil?] - don't recall details off hand. An atrocious anti-freedom posture!!!

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I disagree. Some jobs are inherently more moral, it's just our value hierarchies are all screwed up. An engineer can build a bridge which saves thousands of lifetimes of traffic purgatory. We can live clean, heated or air-conditioned lives, completely with modern dentistry and cheap abundant energy powering access to a world of high quality information (if only our political lords and masters would allow it)- all thanks the work of engineers and a few scientists.

And the best scientists are by their very nature, good engineers. They look at deeply pragmatic ways to improve the world. Fritz Haber, Carl Bosch and Norman Borlaug all fit the bill. These men should be defied for the lives that they've saved, as should the legions of men and women who make modern living just about bearable, if still replete with the ever-lurking spectre of tragedy.

The question is why won't we correctly assign moral value by its works? Because we don't want to. First of all, science and engineering is hard, and it would relegate the bright but not exceptional children of the socio-economically privileged to a GATTACA style secondary role. In the worst fields, Maths and Physics, only a three point difference in IQ reduces the chances of discovery by a factor of 200.

Plus, it wouldn't suit our hubristic notions of political evangelism. If morally virtuous acts can only be accomplished by hard work and dedication, what is to done with the world of politics, activism, the collectivist desire to make the world a better place through nothing other than wishful thinking, tax and coercion?

And let's face it- we creatives are no better. All of us secretly wish for some sublime eureka moment which magically slots all the pieces of the puzzle together- an insight for which we are both lauded and rewarded.

The fallacy is in believing that moral good is to be found through the pursuit of the world of ideas. Sure, great art and great literature can be essential to living, if we first concede that great art is also to be found on football field and in a roofer's sporting aspirations for his son or daughter. But a more just value hierarchy of moral good would require humility and the recognition that those who make the world better place in practical and measurable terms, should justly be elevated above the likes of Churchill, Gandhi, Kennedy and MLK.

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Good thing I found your earlier "brain oriented" comment above, before responding to this one. A real conundrum as to whether comment threads should be nested or purely chronological. I would like to think with hyper linking we could provide nested equivalence in a chronological thread. Or provide each comment with an easily found ID number?

Another good deep thinking comment, but I don't agree with you unless and until we have a common understanding/ definition of "morality".

"The question is why won't we correctly assign moral value by its works? Because we don't want to."

As a nonreligious but still moral person (at least within a Judeo-Christian culture), I have come to the conclusion our moral sense is a combination of (1) those evolved inherent instincts we possess (an "absolute" component) and (2) whatever our culture introduces into our societies that aid our survival, based on experience (and representing the "relative" or "subjective value" component of morality.)

Larry Arhnart suggests 20 evolved natural desires for the instinctual elements. The distinction on attitudes about "honor killing" pretty well shows the degree of separation possible via cultural influences. These are of course also all "brain oriented".

Again, a lot buried in your comment, but it would take 3 or 4 hours across the table discussing them to achieve some form of reconciliation. I still want to explore John Quiggin's links below about Pinker, so I will stop here for now. :-)

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The honor killing issue is a pretty interesting example. Haidt's Moral Foundations is fairly simplistic (with the added benefit that it draws out the moral dichotomy in the West, particularly with regard to the historical uniqueness of WEIRD people), but the 'purity' distinction is an important one.

One of the more interesting aspects of memetic viruses or ideologies, is how they become more benign for their host over time (though not necessarily for either individuals within the society, or external cultures). Communism, Nazism, Socialism and Fascism all provide an insight into the types of sociocultural constructs humans tend to come up with in the absence of faith-based systems- all of them disastrous.

But I will posit a potential hypothesis. I think the ancient imperatives on homosexuality are informative on this issue. If we look at hunter gatherer societies, then it's a reasonable hypothesis that an epigenetic mechanism for producing additional non-breeding adults is an evolutionary advantage- more adults to children during periods of food scarcity probably aids group survival in glacial periods.

As human's began to form more complex societies, homosexuality probably became a proto-cultural disadvantage. Contrary to the thoughts of many on physical evolution for intelligent tool-using species, humans have been evolving at a faster, not slower, rate over the last 50,000 years- particularly with regard to prosocial behaviour. The problem is it's a process, not an end-state. It's highly likely that as humans pushed beyond simple kinship bonds to extended clans, and finally towards more complex intertribal societies, then homosexuality would have become a distinct cultural disadvantage. Arranged marriages between clans and tribes would have been a key method for fixing in social cohesion.

This would suggest that the evolution of culture generally protects the individual through group cohesion, but not necessarily to the advantage of specific individuals within the group. Honor killings might be a means of avoiding the more general socially contagious intratribal conflicts which arise through the betrayal of breeding contracts, potentially disastrous for smaller or weaker cultures. Generational feuds are only a few generations away in the West, after all- at least compared to a broader span of history.

Have you read about duplicons? This evolutionary process provides the mechanism for incredibly fast adaptions to environmental niches. Something like a diet-based epigenetic adaption to damp down the disgust urge during periods of plenty, paired with the epigenetic switch to increase it during periods of threat or starvation might provide an incredibly potent genetic advantage for some populations over others.

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On Haitd's purity (or sacredness?) criterion: I think it was Megan McArdle some time back who pointed out that even the liberals would actually have purity preferences for parts of their positions, although maybe the questions used by Haidt to solicit responses did not bring that to the fore. So some of the differences between conservative and liberal people are not so wide, after all?

On memetic viruses becoming more benign: one example where perhaps that did not happen was the French Revolution? Plus quite a few religious conflicts over the centuries? But if they don't become more benign, then I would expect them to have greater resistance from more people, to the point of potential loss or lapse.

On homosexuality: if the feelings/ response felt by heterosexuals is matched by equal intensity in homosexual people, then the whole idea of "life choices" becomes nonsense. I believe the Bible has 5 passages decrying men lying with men [but none in regard to women??], but growing up (as a non-churched person) I never heard any explanations as to WHY that should be wrong. My "social osmosis" did not provide an answer. I surmised later that an agricultural and pastoral society in the Levant or elsewhere desired/ required large families to prosper, so non-child producing situations were prohibited. I also recently learned that the ancient (Indo European and) Greek and Roman family oriented religions also needed a male heir to continue that religion, so homosexual behavior would have been forbidden. [I guess, per Oliver Stone, that changed later?? :-) ]

There is a TED talk video out there by a doctor defending the genetic support role of his homosexual son, but if homosexuals make up only 3% of the population, I question if that is high enough prevalence to have a meaningful impact. Are you suggesting that level might be much higher in times of scarce resources?? [Plus I don't know the breakdown of male vs. female homosexuality - that 3% number hides as much as it illuminates - a lot of sturm und drang for a relative small fraction of the population.]

"... suggest that the evolution of culture generally protects the individual through group cohesion, but not necessarily to the advantage of specific individuals within the group." Which is why the cultural impact of Judeo-Christian thought on the West, leading to ideas supporting individuals and their human rights, each with equal rights and dignity, "in the image of God", etc. is so important to understand more fully. Tom Holland (Dominion) and Larry Siedentop (Inventing the Individual) are my current go to sources for this idea, but I suspect many other writers have explored aspects of this over the centuries. While I give no credence to actual divine influence, this cultural impact may have come out of a dream Paul had, or he fell off his horse, or ??? I am trying to learn more about the details of early Roman political intent, bureaucratic control over the empire's various religions, etc. But a number of political and legal steps were also apparently needed to bring us to our current viewpoints.

On duplicons: I spent a few minutes search and now know the top level idea. But with our genome having 3 billion base pairs, it seems the study of genetics (for the layman) can occur at a top level of general observations, but a real understanding requires diving into a lot of detailed and arcane jargon, etc., plus following studies about specific genes, etc., to learn more. There seems to be little in the way of a middle level of study available.

"Something like a diet-based epigenetic adaption to damp down the disgust urge during periods of plenty, paired with the epigenetic switch to increase it during periods of threat or starvation..." I don't understand this? I would have thought the disgust aspect would decline during food scarcity, allowing eating of decaying food, etc., compared to being more selective when food was plentiful.

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Meritocracy is paper tests.

Then it became skin/gender tests.

But don’t worry, this part is ending.

Atlas is collecting disability.

Achilles Shrugs (the American Warrior caste has walked away- -means the easy money is over, you lost your muscle, you being The West).

Speaking of easy money and hiring for Face - I hung up Friday night on a zoom call from a Nail Salon in Gujarat , or at least that’s where they belong. Actually it was the $T daily ______ clearing house....

when they let Rajeet’s dim sister literally handle the real money (it’s not real until it clears, understand?) then... it’s over.

At least they were honest; “I’m not technical “ said 2 She’s.

This I believe.

Enjoy your retirement.

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Terrific. I have had the privilege of working with some genuinely intelligent and wise people in the engineering and aerospace fields, and its a truism that the highest general IQs are to be found (in academia, and hence life) within the faculties of math, physics and engineering (in that order). The IQs of the humanities faculties are considerably lower (not even considering the modern 'studies' faculties). It is also true that physicists are often categorized as being one-dimensionally intelligent, this is broadly not true, higher IQs (general cognitive ability) translate mostly into being more capable in EVERY area of intellectual ability. So while I agree that is not wise to write off your opponents as being thick, the evidence is that many of today's (and yesterdays) 'philosophers' including the 20th C Frenchmen were just not that bright. They may have on occasion had valuable insights, and we can value this, but overall their writing was atrocious. It is quite easy actually to spew sophist drivel, sound smart, but be dumb. It its FAR harder to write clear meaningful pithy prose.

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No, as Helen wrote, they were quite brilliant. There is a vast difference between being wrong and being dumb. Sartre, brilliant writer, sometimes unreadable, but wrong on so many topics...

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OK but I don't agree. Depends on what you mean by 'brilliant'? What does brilliant mean? Being a fast talker? Having a fast mental analysis speed (brain CPU speed basically)? Being original and creative? Now maybe Sartre had a high IQ, but overall the IQ of people in the humanities if far lower than that of mathematicians. And if someone is mostly wrong, I would say that is a clue to how smart they really are.

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I would add that while Sartre is perceived as 'brilliant' I would say his contemporaries like Von Neumann, Feynman (later), Popper and Russell were far more brilliant, and all of whom were mathematicians/physicists or adjacent. Non of the 'post-modernists' even hold a candle to the names I mentioned.

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Dec 3, 2023Liked by Helen Dale

I also appreciate your comments about the competency crisis, its a genuine problem, and we have only seen the very beginning of the serious consequences of diversity hiring.

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I was taught one of the rules of reading fiction is not to confuse the author with what they write. Harlan Ellison wrote good science fiction whilst having a reputation as a shit human being. Toni Morrison might have written good books and still be a numptie. I wouldn't know, if an author comes with a bow-wave of PC politics as to why I should read them; I don't. In my experience it'll be worthy tripe. Achebe and Morrison at a glance seem to be confusing the authorial voice with the author; they are akin to statue topplers in that respect. Even the great have clay feet; Achebe will always occupy a special place with me, not so much as an author but as Biafran nationalist and spokesperson.

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> Eliminating discrimination against women is important, but believing that women and men are born with indistinguishable minds is not.

It is truly bizarre how some people don’t want to recognize differences between men and women.

In 2017, former tennis player John McEnroe said that Serena Williams was the greatest female tennis player of all time. Asked by the NPR radio host why he wasn’t saying “the greatest player of all time,” he answered quite reasonably that Serena would be ranked about 700th if she were to play against men. This (somehow) was seen as controversial by some and created a furor.

A few years ago there was talk in the US about retraining coal miners as software engineers or nurses. The implicit assumption was that most men could be just as good nurses as women.

I have recently seen a movie (No Hard Feelings) and a TV series (Ballers) in which the nanny is a man. Nannies are rarely depicted on the screen. This gives the impression that either male nannies are common or should be. There are always exceptions, but I don’t believe most men have the interests, qualities and skills to be as good nannies as women.

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A nanny is what exactly? A surrogate parent. We recognise a need for two; a man and a women. Your position is daft.

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My position: women show more interest and love and have better qualities when raising newborns, infants, and toddlers (i.e. children up to about 4 years old). Is that daft? If so, can you share why?

In the US, nannies sometimes take care of older children, but they usually only take care of them for the first few years, and quite often just for the first year. Afterwards parents will send their child to daycare.

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Dec 3, 2023·edited Dec 3, 2023

Yes, Helen's whole quote from Steven Pinker was right on.

An anecdote similar to yours on tennis: I was truly surprised to read some short while ago about a team of 15 year old male soccer players beating a top ranked pro female team (presumably of 18 to maybe 35 year olds?). Beaten by a team of 18 year old males, for sure, but 15 year olds? (Maybe a team of 13 or 14 year olds would not quite manage that success?) There is also some You Tube video out there of a male track star basically "lapping" a qualified female track runner (perhaps over a one mile distance?).

"This gives the impression that either male nannies are common or should be." This has a parallel with increasing visibility of advertisements showing a minority or multiracial family enjoying the middle class benefits of whatever product or service is being promoted. Is this beneficial in showing (1) the minority group that this is the life style you can also attain?; (2) the white community that we should expect this to also be or become common?; (3) show the minority community in greater frequency than their respective share of the population as part of an affirmative action mindset?

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That was the "underpaid for equal work" US Women's National Team.

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Then I hope that all of the 15 year old players got complete 4 year college scholarships as their just remuneration for beating the ladies professional team. :-)

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I've seen people diving into the question of pro-women vs schoolboys football matches, and there were two interesting points raised: one, it has actually happened a few times in different places (I think there was at least one mentioned in both the US and Australia), and two, the matches are usually organised *as a favour to the women*.

If you're the US national women's football team, it's pretty much impossible to find a local female team who can really challenge you in training (by definition you're the best around) - but a male youth team can do exactly that. On the other hand, it apparently doesn't really give the guys much more than any random match in their normal competition.

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You mean either (US) flag football (not tackle version or rugby), or soccer, right? :-)

Maybe instead of the 15 yr age bracket, they should find a 65+ team of men, for training purposes? Ask their respective grandfathers to play "for fun" ????

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Football=soccer there, yes.

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"It is truly bizarre how some people don’t want to recognize differences between men and women."

Even better, one can argue that women were innately superior at a thing (which is not demonstrated) by virtue of their unique biological factors AND argue that gender doesn't matter - all at the same time. I am not making this up:


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This is a gem. Thank you for the link!

> From a metabolic standpoint, Ocobock explained, the female body is better suited for endurance activity

I don’t have a PhD in anthropology but I can google “world records for marathons and ironman competitions.” If women are indeed better suited for endurance activity, then why do men perform better in such competitions?

> “And I want people to be able to change these ideas of female physical inferiority that have been around for so long.”

I think that’s the crux of the issue. Some people don’t want to acknowledge physical differences (eg men are on average taller, heavier, and stronger) because they assume that would make men “superior” more generally. This is beyond silly. The fact that someone is taller doesn’t make them a more worthwhile person — just a taller person!

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Just to pile on here

I have done a certain amount of hiking/back packing and I have many acquaintances who do it much more than I do. Also friends in the armed forces.

In every single case when going on an extended hike loaded with tent/supplies etc. the men take more than half the load and leave the women with significantly lighter packs. This is the case even when the women are large muscular women and the men not as large. If they don't at least one of the women will seriously injure herself because of the load. You give women the lighter but bulkier stuff, drink from their water first and so on because that way everyone survives to enjoy themselves.

There is no way this has changed from our hunter gatherer forbears. Sure the woman may (but probably doesn't) have greater endurance but endurance to kill the critter is only half of the requirement for hunting. The other half is bringing the kill back to the band to eat and women will struggle to do that as well as men

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Yes, consider the prevalence of the large breasted "Venus" figurines from Neolithic times. I gather people can only guess as to whether that reflected respect for women's role in their society, worship of a fertility goddess for successful child births or harvests (later on), etc. But they were not all that rare.

And women had to carry the infants/ toddlers on their hip until someone (possibly even a man?!!!) figured out how to make front or back carrying contrivances out of hides, etc. I would hazard a guess this discovery occurred first in the colder clients as the child was being bundled up, or carried inside the clothing of the mother to keep it warm.

I wonder what role or contribution the wider pelvic bone structure of women plays in this difference in net carrying capacity. Evolution trading off superior results transiting the birth canal vs. muscle/tendon locations and gravity, etc.???

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Helen Joyce wrote a book about this rejection of biological differences- Trans. Thing is, men invented the pill; arguably the enabler of feminism, the post sexual revolution kind anyway. It’s difficult for modern people to grasp a world without contraception. Women have evolved differently around the central fact that we have the heavy machinery of reproduction and it is resource and labour intensive. We are like domesticated pets now, but we were designed or evolved for a very different life.

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"men invented the pill", except that "men" in the form of the male half of mankind did not do that, but rather some smallish group of people (possibly with female assistants/ assistance?) did. The question becomes their motive for doing so:

1) advance the male hierarchy dominance (even oppression?)?

2) provide for a condition, situation that allowed greater male sexual libertinism with reduced (or no) consequences? 2.5) or female libertinism, too???

3) truly trying to provide women freedom over their reproductive choices (number, timing, partner, etc.)? Is that attitude part of first wave feminism? Is this part of advancing human flourishing?

4) reduce the incidence of births to unwed mothers? (and the social ills thereunto appertaining)

5) make a profit selling something women (and many men) wanted/ would want? I suspect 3, 4, and 5 dominated in their thinking.

I presume we agree that "enabling of feminism" (2nd wave or Femi-Nazism??) was not anyone's conscious intent.

"grasp a world without contraception..." is something that we should occasionally step back and reflect on as a past and still on-going condition for much of mankind. I am not positive if contraceptives are also involved, but we do know that as societies/ nations get wealthier, they then have fewer children.

Another (bad, sad, but related) thought I had last night was that too many women in Gaza are indoctrinated to act as baby factories to produce jihadi warriors against Israel. They have so many children they don't have (or avoid?) the same deep maternal link to the ones killed in battle. This leads to a logic that says the IDF should really target the women to reduce the production of future jihadi males!!

"We are like domesticated pets now..." Wow! That is a slap in the face! There is an element of truth in that view, but any reasonable man who respects his mother, wife, daughter, sister, niece, grandmother, aunt, or other women friends would resist that description.

But it also brings to mind the adage that mankind domesticated the wolf into the dog, but the reality is the dog domesticated us. :-)

I don't recall the proper phrasing, but isn't there a saying about women and civilization? Women are the domesticators as much as the domesticated??

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colder climates, of course! :-)

I taught myself to type on a manual typewriter when I was 10 years old, but now it seems the process of thinking to language to motor control of hands and fingers to keyboard result is deteriorating. Not too much of a problem most of the time, except when I use "not" vs. "now" or some other spell check allowed combinations that change the meaning in sly ways.

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Yeah that study appears to originate in a parallel universe.

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Men are probably fine as nurses. Plenty of examples in the military (navy cosrpsmen etc.) where male nurses are just fine. But not all men have the temperament to do it well (not all women do either) and one suspects that the sorts of men who are coal-miners will generally not be the ones with that temperament.

Of course the other thing that goes unmentioned is that men used to be teachers, if not nannies, to young children but the child abuse/pedophile scares have pretty much made it impossible for a man to be in such a role these days. Indeed it seems like most teachers all the way up to the end of secondary education are now female. This is almost certainly a problem but beyond the occasional scandal when one of them seduces a boy in her class no one mentions it.

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What we have done by comoditizing and tokenizing people is reprehensible.

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I liked your phrase "commoditizing and tokenizing", so I wonder why I am resisting your use of the word "reprehensible". For some reason I find that language too strong, while something like "regrettable" (or even "just wrong") might be more acceptable to me. Perhaps I did not adopt (consciously at least) the "bigotry of low expectations" and also accepted the probable necessity of some level of affirmative action to help overcome or jump start over past racial attitudes and practices.

For me reprehensible implies a level of intended evil, rather than merely the mostly benign neglect that I think most whites had even during the earlier decades of the 20th century.

I guess sometimes these social attitudes across the whole population are harder to gage than we expect - witness the large protests in support of Hamas and wider display of anti-Semitism than I have ever seen before.

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It is a strong word and I stand by it. The effect of injustice is deleterious on all who are affected by it and it cannot be remedied by further injustice. The token is forever stigmatized by the question of their capacity, no matter how well they may execute. It is a permanent blight on those who are qualified and capable on their own merit. It is a burden on those who must carry the load of those incompetents. It is an injustice to those denied a position they rightly deserved.

To the group tokenized, it is too often a disincentive to pursue competence and it is a lifelong and debilitating insecurity about their fitness for the position they hold. It has the effect of holding the tokenized group in a suppressed state while claiming the mantle of good intentions. It is despicable, and long past justification, if it could ever be justified.

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Savor the irony that CRT/DEI benefits Robin DiAngelo and Tema Okun over pretty much any two other proponents of it. I suppooooose you could argue that they know white privilege better than anyone.

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Dec 3, 2023·edited Dec 3, 2023

Did you mean to deny Mr. Kendi his place in the sun? Although I gather he has squandered whatever largess came his way as his "foundation" is collapsing??

Now, the BLMers' are the folks who really cleaned up!!! And maybe are still going strong?


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Dec 3, 2023Liked by Helen Dale

(I can't speak for the US.)

Affirmative Action started in the US in about 1968, at least for blacks, so any black American age 73 or younger could have been a beneficiary of it. (That is, born in 1950 or later, and of age to enter college in 1968 or later.) Of course, the practice started small, then was expanded to more and more groups over time, with government making it a requirement at some point.

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Another great contribution - making me glad I did jump for paid subscriptions for both your and Lorenzo's Substacks.

But is it a Substack controlled feature to put the text of a footnote on a separate line from the number? And double space between notes, to boot?

Also a good essay you linked to at Law and Liberty. I like L&L, as about half their essays/ reviews seem useful and helpful (at least the ones that are not too long, or those not too deep into the legal issues under discussion). And too often I find myself going down a rabbit hole following up on the "related" essays shown at the bottom. But around Oct. 2018 they dropped allowing comments for some reason. I went away for three weeks and when i came back, that feature was gone, with no explanation that I learned about. Maybe that was because the comments were more often critical of the content, thus indirectly insulting the editorial effort in selecting the essays displayed?

While my mother called herself a feminist in the 1950's, and let her sons know they should treat women with respect and that there were no significant intellectual differences between the sexes, I have not been able to keep track of the different "waves of feminism" evolving since then. Can you define or summarize them for me/us?

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Great clear essay, thank you. As a side note, Foucault was an early supporter of the Iranian Islamic revolution, Paris had the privilege of hosting both Khomeini and Pahlavi.

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I haven't read any Fanon, but am very interested in your categorisation of him as "thick as mince". I've never known your judgement in these matters to be wrong - but I recently listened to Leon Wieseltier on Eli Lake's "Re-education" podcast, and while joining Lake in rejecting Fanon's thesis, he had some very positive things to say about Fanon's analysis and prose in some of his other work (specifically the last chapter of Black Skin, White Masks, an earlier work than The Wretched of the Earth). He describes it as "...some of the most stirring human universalist pages I've ever read., and needs to be shoved in the face of all kinds of progressives who think they know who Fanon was".

Wieseltier does not appear any dummy, although I suspect that, prior to October 7th I would agree with him on very little. So is there two (or more) Fanon's?

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The attraction of mediocrity is predictability and docility. Midwits and affirmative action hires don't rock the boat. A regime that seeks to perpetuate itself will always aim to develop and deploy talent only where it is needed for absolutely essential tasks. The last thing that bureaucratically managed institutions want is an excess of intelligent people. They are a challenge to manage and potentially disruptive. And midwits are perfect at constraining talent at peer level and below.

Half-educated feminists police academia to ensure that things remain torpid. The mind-numbing education on offer in the social sciences and humanities is a humiliation ritual for those on the receiving end and feminists help ensure that it stays this way.

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