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Essay talk:An opinion on the nature of the movement

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Looking forward to reading this. I get the sense that it's easier to build a community based on a shared belief (in anything, be it a deity, a political programme or that a sports team is good) than a shared disbelief. She said her name was Billie Jean and she was fresh in town/I didn't know her stage-line ran from hell. 03:19, 30 April 2013 (UTC)

My thoughts[edit]

Some good points, especially with the possibility that geek culture's aversion to women could be due to psychological projection from the social inadequacies of teenage life (it explains why the 19-34 audience is so significant before "the girls marry the smart guys in the end" meme kicks in). I also agree with the need to break from the "cold and lifeless" stereotype of science, and if that means popular science needs to be at the forefront again so be it. We need our Carl Sagans and Bill Nyes back, and hopefully Cosmos II will pull this off next year.

One thing though: mainstream economics isn't Keynesian in "roughly the same way that biologists are Darwinist"; there's a reason why worldwide economic policy during the Great Recession has been termed the Keynesian resurgence. Economic thought has been in a tug-and-pull between Keynesianism and the Chicago school for a few generations, otherwise austerity wouldn't be a thing right now. Osaka Sun (talk) 04:52, 30 April 2013 (UTC)

Further thoughts[edit]

Not sure whether this is an argument for making "skepticism" more "educational" or just inveighing against the libertarian/techno-utopian wing. If the latter, it doesn't really let the center-left faction off the hook about the things they are insufficiently "skeptical" of. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 17:03, 1 May 2013 (UTC)

It's still a work in progress, but I understand your point. I actually think I'm overemphasizing the ranty bits and trying to figure out what to scale back. But ranting is funnnnnnn... EVDebs (talk) 20:21, 1 May 2013 (UTC)
Ranting is very fun, until someone (who shall remain nameless, David Gerard) drops it on Reddit.... anyway, I like most of this. I realise I may have dropped some of this on talk:Thunderf00t just now (specifically how "feminist critics" don't draw a distinction between second-wave nutters and sex positive third wave liberals - which are so fucking different that putting them under the "feminist" umbrella is practically insane). Perhaps the whole skeptical purity thing does come from geek culture. If your background allowed you to spend most of your time growing up on the internet trawling the Dawkins and Randi forums (I was in my very-early 20s when I heard the calling of the "rational enlightenment"), we can safely say you probably didn't have a harsh, underprivileged childhood. We can probably also think that social skills and dealing with marginalised groups wasn't your priority. Cool, we get that. But thanks to the fact we all agree on the basics (in theory, at least), we can have this discussion and minds stand a chance of being changed. My opinions on social justice issues have been pulled in every single direction over the last few years and that cannot be anything but a good thing.
So I don't get why people might disparage others who want to talk about this with a skeptical/atheistic mindset. With creationists, we know they're beyond help because they're ignorant and proud of it. We can refute Answers in Genesis all day but that isn't going to stop creationism being the single most retarded, backwards, widely refuted idea in modern history believed in only by people who specifically declare that they would not change their minds if presented with evidence. Indeed, the only reason I'd consider dealing with that sort of thing to be worthwhile would be as an exercise in learning about the science myself and perhaps teaching it to other likeminded people. At least if you discuss feminism with an MRA that self-declares themselves to be a "skeptic", there's a glimmer of hope that something constructive may come from it. Scarlet A.pngpathetic 11:31, 5 May 2013 (UTC)
"So I don't get why people might disparage others who want to talk about this with a skeptical/atheistic mindset." Well, on one level, there is the general hostility in geek culture to anything that is not a "hard" science. And a sneaking suspicion that anyone who works outside of said fields is a brie-chomping, Derrida-reading postmodernist relativist fluff-head of some sort. Add on top of that the usual white dood privilege, and there you go.
"At least if you discuss feminism with an MRA that self-declares themselves to be a "skeptic", there's a glimmer of hope that something constructive may come from it." I don't know if I'd go that far.
Ultimately, the internecine battle between the center-left liberal faction and the libertarians is based on the faulty premise that political philosophies can be falsified. (At least, this is my impression from reading things like the Atheism Plus/FtB-style outlets.) That's not to say that there aren't loads of irrationalities and falsehoods in Chicago/Austrian school economics, transhumanist techno-utopianism, or pop evolutionary psychology. But it is ironic how many of these irrationalities are shared by the center-left faction. The neo-Keynesianism (or "bastard Keynesianism," per Joan Robinson) of the center-left faction shares many of the same, neo-classical, assumptions of right-wing economics. A similar, but less pronounced, techno-fetishism and general trend toward technocracy can also be found in the center-left, in addition to an often naive empiricism. Not to mention all the irrationalities peculiar to the liberals, which might fill its own essay. To me, it all boils down to another tired ideological battle over who gets to lay claim to the terms "reason," "rational," and "skeptic." Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 21:30, 5 May 2013 (UTC)
Well... neo-Keynesianism does seem to work, at least better than, say, monetarism or pure socialism (and certainly better than the Austrian school; if there's a better presentation of what turns out to be dogmatic fascist economics, I haven't seen anything more demonstrative.), so its initial assumptions are mostly important to keep people from going off into cargo cult territory. I don't think that I agree that there is such a thing as "naive" empiricism, although it might apply to the expectations of some empiricists regarding debate; I've never been convinced that technocracy is inherently a bad thing to begin with, though it's just a tool like many others for implementing and evaluating policy. (Left-wing technofetishism, on the other hand, describes perfectly some of the weird shit that's come out of Microsoft R&D, as well as the naive technical understanding of many radio pirates and a few civil libertarians.) If there's a message to the left here, IMHO it's that we should do what the left has always done best -- focus on what works, throw away what doesn't, but not before evaluating it to see what went wrong. (And stop trying to convince the overly dogmatic -- it will never happen.) EVDebs (talk) 22:36, 5 May 2013 (UTC)
The focus on what "works" is part of the problem I am talking about. What "works" is generally limited to what is considered "pragmatic" or "politically viable." The real question we should be asking about what "works" is "how?" and "for whom?" A capitalist economy based on Keynesian economic theory still works in favor of an economic elite, albeit with the rough edges of social Darwinism shaved off. In theoretical terms, neo-Keynesianism still has trouble dealing with the inherent instability of capitalism, and so, in practice, staving off the next crisis. This is to a large degree due to its importation of neoclassical assumptions and modeling, as Steve Keen points out in "Ptolemaic Economics." As far as technocracy goes, there are the classic analyses and critiques like Weber or Foucault, but for something that isn't dated or obnoxiously French, I recommend James C. Scott's Seeing Like a State. (Detailed summary here.) Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 23:13, 5 May 2013 (UTC)
Well... you have to be pragmatic. Sometimes brutally so. As for defining "works", well, it is heavily influenced by what exactly your desired outcome is, but essentially, making sure people can be who they want to be, on their terms, with enough information to make informed decisions and do what they need to do, is the left's ideal. Like I said, technocracy is a tool. It's not an end in and of itself; it's just a method for data-driven resource allocation and should be treated as that and no more. The fact is that no one philosophy of governance seems to be "best"; all of them have pathological cases that cause the system to collapse, some more than others, sometimes catastrophically so. That's why, when you get right down to it, the ultimate result of the Enlightenment ideal of politics would seem to be a patchwork of capitalism, socialism, and technocracy, with each balancing out the failures of the others as necessary. EVDebs (talk) 23:57, 5 May 2013 (UTC)
In regards to pragmatism, I don't mean the genuine article, but realpolitik designed to narrow the Overton Window such that "acceptable" policy is limited to that which serves elites, or at least leaves them largely unscathed. (See also Very Serious People.)
I don't see that merely saying "technocracy is a tool" answers the objections that have been made. How is the tool to be implemented without reinforcing existing power structures? In other words, how will the net effect be rational rather than rationalized?
Note that I don't mean to argue entirely with you here, I'm pointing out questions that seem to go unasked and problems that are overlooked by the center-left faction. The lack of awareness of the irrationalities of neo-Keynesianism and the enthusiasm for technocratic, "scientific" solutions are just two of these blind spots. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 16:14, 6 May 2013 (UTC)