Thursday, February 26, 2015

Homophobia without Fear or Irrationality


This meme I saw today reminds me of my dislike for the derogatory label, “homophobia”. Mostly because it fails the ideological turing test so badly. Can you accurately describe your opponents point of view? If your description is of a phobia, then you can’t.

We all know that a phobia is an irrational fear of something, homophobia must then be the irrational fear of homosexuals. I don’t think it is irrational in the normal sense of the word, and I don’t think it’s fear.

Fear first. Yeah, sure you’ll hear some conservative on Facebook ranting about how gays going to take over the planet. That’s fear but it’s not representative. Exclude him and look at the typical anti-gay person. They run into a male-male kiss at the supermarket, do they respond in any way with the kind of fear that other phobias incite? Nope. They go the other way and grumble to themselves about how the world is going to hell in a hand basket. They might say “ew”, but that’s disgust, not fear.

When the typical anti-gay person runs into a statistic proclaiming the popularity of homosexuality, they aren’t afraid of them taking over, making everyone else gay, and worrying about how we’re going to keep the earth populated. They’re sometimes angry, sometimes despairing, and sometimes self-justifying, but they don’t show the kind of response an arachnophobe shows to spiders.

I think about my objection to the “irrational” part of homophobia a lot more.

The truth is that homophobia is technically irrational. A (good) reason can’t be given for being anti-gay, but in the same way that all moral intuitions are irrational. What seems to be triggered in the “homophobe” is the moral disgust feeling that lots of people have about lots of things.  Brother and sister sex is morally disgusting to lots of people. The example I like to compare anti-gay moral disgust to is moral disgust toward the destruction of nature. What is triggered in the anti-gay person at the sight of a homosexual kiss is the exact same feeling someone else has when they think of a forest being leveled by bulldozers.

Moral disgust is often rationalized into care for harm – they’ll say that these morally disgusting things are causing pain to life and that’s the real problem. But when you suggest scenarios which try to adjust for care for harm the moral objection persists.

That’s why homophobia comes off to me as derogatory and slurish. It’s just a bad name you give to people who disagree with you. It means you’re sick with irrationality and fear. It has become common enough that some people use it more neutrally now, but the term still doesn’t accurately capture their opponents beliefs.

I don’t share moral disgust for homosexuality or the destruction of nature by the way.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Slate Star on Pharma Money

Behold the wit and insight of Slate Star Codex:

lots of studies have shown Seroquel is effective for depression, lots of guidelines suggest Seroquel as a backup depression treatment, and doctors have been (correctly) prescribing it for such for a long time. Doctors also very commonly prescribe it for sleep and dementia; I think is less evidence-based, but it’d be a lie to say it wasn’t common as dirt or that it didn’t work for these things (safety is the problem).

So what was happening was that AstraZeneca was promoting Seroquel for the things it was actually being used for, as opposed to the thing the FDA said it was supposed to be used for. Doctors are allowed to use drugs for whatever they want based on their own analysis and their best judgment, but pharmaceutical companies are only allowed to promote it for the FDA-approved indication, which at that point was psychosis and bipolar depression.

The reason the FDA hadn’t approved Seroquel for depression wasn’t because it was a bad idea. It was because in order to get the FDA to approve anything for anything, you must perform the appropriate ritual of putting a zillion dollars into a big pile, then burning it as a sacrifice to the Bureaucracy Gods. AstraZeneca had performed the ritual for bipolar and psychosis, but was still in the process of performing it a third time for depression. Once they finished, the FDA approved it as an adjunctive medication for depression, but also fined them hundreds of millions of dollars because they had advertised it for depression – merely based on evidence and clinical practice – before the FDA had told them they were allowed to.

“Doctors are allowed to use drugs for whatever they want based on their own analysis and their best judgment, but pharmaceutical companies are only allowed to promote it for the FDA- approved indication…”

“To get the FDA to approve anything for anything, you must perform the appropriate ritual of putting a zillion dollars into a big pile, then burning it as a sacrifice to the Bureaucracy Gods”

A ritual which, I might add, takes over a decade to perform.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Animal Planet and the Human Condition

Someone I know recently mentioned how difficult it was for him to watch animal planet. The sheer brutality of it reminds him of how terrible human beings can be – how animalistic humans can be.

Maybe this is why natural evil exists? The cruelty of nature interrupts his life and causes him to step back and reflect on man and the human condition. I think this is a natural reaction. It indicates that there is not only purpose to natural evil, but mercy in it.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Monday, February 2, 2015

Bee Death Hype

I have to bring this up again, the beepocolypse is near!

“This new pesticide, Flupyradifurone, is very similar to an existing class of pesticides called “neonics”. Neonics are systemic pesticides -- they don't just remain on the surface, but are absorbed into plant tissues, and this new pesticide works in the same way. Research shows that neonics severely impair bees' immune systems, making them vulnerable to deadly viruses.”

So that must mean that Flupyradifurone must also severely impair bees’ immune systems? If Flupyradifurone is like neonics in one way, they must be the same in another?

It’s simple -- no bees means no food for us.

Oh, except for all those other thousands of insects that pollinate crops. Bees are important pollinators, but they’re not the difference between food and no food. The world of crops is huge, and there are many substitutes for the bee produced crops we happen to find in our grocery store.

Last winter, almost 30 percent of Canada's bee colonies were devastated, and strikingly, we lost over half of our bee colonies in Ontario.

Okay, some perspective. In a normal winter 15% of bees die over the winter anyway. That’s just normal bee life.

Colony Collapse Disorder is real. More bees are disappearing over the winter than usual. What they don’t tell you is that bee population is stable. How can this be(e)? Bees are bred by “splitting” hives. So the beekeepers split some more hives to make up for the lost bees. The extra cost is a small fraction of the price of the final consumer product. Problem solved.

If you’re very concerned about global warming, then you probably blame global warming for the death of the bees. If you’re very concerned about pesticides or gmos, then you probably blame those for the death of the bees. The intellectually disciplined will suppress their villain stories and admit that we just don’t know. People also shouldn’t dismiss the possibility there are natural reasons for bee deaths, since there is no such thing as the balance of nature.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

LiveScience on the Happiness Gene

Is there a Happiness Gene?

The new research examined the average genetic makeup of people in more than 100 countries, and compared how similar their genes were to people living in Denmark — a measurement called genetic distance. They found that the greater a nation's genetic distance from Denmark, the lower the reported well-being of that nation.

The findings held even after the researchers took into account other factors that could affect happiness, such as GDP level and cultural differences

…researchers looked to see if the link between genetics and happiness was passed down from generation to generation. They examined well-being surveys from a group of Americans, and then traced the origin of their ancestors. They found that the happiest Americans descended from immigrants from the happiest countries.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Article Cites Paper Refuting Article

Good job world:…/how-big-is-economics-sexism-problem-this-a…/

"Why are top-notch female economists not being taken seriously? Why are they having trouble being recognized for their contributions to the profession? Why do women still have a hard time in the economics profession in general?...

In their recent academic paper “Women in Academic Science: A Changing Landscape,” Stephen J. Ceci, Donna K. Ginther, Shulamit Kahn, and Wendy M. Williams document the gender gap in economics and discuss many possible hurdles at each stage of a female economist’s career."

Eli finds and reads paper…/Women-Academic-Scienc…

"We conclude by suggesting that although in the past, gender discrimination was an important cause of women’s underrepresentation in scientific academic careers, this claim has continued to be invoked after it has ceased being a valid cause of women’s underrepresentation in math-intensive fields"

So the journalist article cites an academic paper for support, when the academic paper says exactly the opposite of what the journalist article is saying. Can you say fail?