Pharyngula

What are you doing, Alberta?

The province of Alberta has decided to make education optional. If there’s something in the real world that you don’t like, such as that you evolved from other apes, or that gay people exist, or perhaps that understanding the motion of bodies requires some of that difficult math stuff, students will be allowed to close their eyes and plug their ears and pretend those uncomfortable complexities don’t exist. How sweet! And then they can graduate without ever learning anything new, and go on to be ignorant voters who will no doubt continue the trend of dumbing down everything.

This is a very stupid move by stupid people that will produce more stupid people.

It neglects a fundamental property of education: that in order to learn, you have to be exposed to many new and sometimes difficult ideas. We teach about subjects that no one thinks are good, because you need to know about them to have an informed opinion. The Holocaust was horrible and painful — shall we allow children to avoid exposure to it? Fundamentalist parents may gnash their teeth in fury at the very idea of evolution — but how can they disagree with it rationally, if they don’t even know what it is?

Somehow we’ve acquired this bizarre notion that learning is about being eased along, never stressing ourselves, never facing a challenge. We’ve mistaken education for an exercise in affirmation. And now Alberta wants to enshrine that idea in their educational system.

Well, at least if the future creates a lot of demand for jobs that require smugly oblivious, incompetent people, industry will know precisely where to go for them.

Comments

  1. #1 Zombie Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 30, 2009

    It neglects a fundamental property of education: that in order to learn, you have to be exposed to many new and sometimes difficult ideas. We teach about subjects that no one thinks are good, because you need to know about them to have an informed opinion.

    Teach the manufactroversy with Intelligent deign morons in 3…2…1…

  2. #2 Zombie Rev. BigDumbChimp
    April 30, 2009

    oh good grief

    design

  3. #3 Alex
    April 30, 2009

    I ‘member back when I was comin’ up we were learned some new fangled a-rith-ma-tick called gazintas. I tell you whut, it aint nuthin like fishin’.

  4. #4 'Tis Himself
    April 30, 2009

    I liked this quote from the article:

    All they’ve done is make Alberta look like Northumberland and sound like Arkansas,

  5. #5 Sven DiMilo
    April 30, 2009

    I wouldn’t be so quick to disparage this plan; do we know yet whether organic chemistry is included?

  6. #6 PZ Myers
    April 30, 2009

    If I were a student, yeah, I’d demand my right not to ever have to learn about alkanes ever again. Maybe I’d even go so far as to skip that whole challenging hydrolysis business.

  7. #7 AH
    April 30, 2009

    Speaking of organic chemistry, I finished my last ochem lab today! Yay! I survived!

  8. #8 dWhisper
    April 30, 2009

    Hey now, I live in Arkansas, and I take great offense at the slight leveled at us by those Canuks. But at the same time, I look forward to seeing the redneck bumpersticker “heterosexuals have rights to, eh?

    Seriously, I saw that one, and just had to ask what straight rights were being restricted around here.

  9. #9 TheNewAtheist
    April 30, 2009

    Wow, I didn’t expect this type of capitulation in Canada. Maybe Alberta should be Called North Texas?

    http://www.TheNewAtheist.com

  10. #10 JD
    April 30, 2009

    But da evilution hurts. Owwww.

  11. #11 Mario Pineda-Krch
    April 30, 2009

    Well spoken – or as they say ‘ignorance begets ignorance’. Most likely this refers to Bill 44: Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Amendment Act ( http://is.gd/vcJl ). Curiously enough the Bill does not say anything about evolution. Basically (from page 4),

    …shall provide notice to a parent or guardian of a student where courses of study, educational programs or instructional materials, or instruction or exercises, prescribed under that Act include subject-matter that deals explicitly with religion, sexuality or sexual orientation.

    Looks like we might have another Canadian politician at our hands that muddles up evolution with religion. [ http://is.gd/nO3Y , http://is.gd/nG18 , http://is.gd/vInu ].

  12. #12 steve8282
    April 30, 2009

    Texas North.

  13. #13 Jim Bob Cooter
    April 30, 2009

    If they pass this law, they also need to pass a law that makes it mandatory for all the kids who stay in class to make fun of the idiots with fundie parents, and maybe throw rocks at them. It will be good training for the fundie kids for when they try to get a job knowing nothing except how women are made from ribs.

  14. #14 Shawna
    April 30, 2009

    I’m from Alberta and saw this on the news last night. This is disappointing and embarrassing. If you opt out of a portion of a course, you shouldn’t be entitled to receive full credit. The school board should not let students graduate who haven’t fulfilled the entire curriculum. This is pathetic.

  15. #15 NeilD
    April 30, 2009

    I had thought we (Albertan’s) had more in common with western Europe but ignorance can sprout like weeds, anywhere. Camrose Alberta comes to mind.

  16. #16 Bloop
    April 30, 2009

    Oh crap. I heard about this a while and wanted find out how to put a stop to it. Then it just disappeared. Crap crap crap. My daughter will not fall prey to this shit.

    Note to steve8282 – texas north my ass. We don’t carry guns ‘just in case.’

  17. #17 TheElkMechanic
    April 30, 2009

    Well, at least if the future creates a lot of demand for jobs that require smugly oblivious, incompetent people, industry will know precisely where to go for them.

    But I didn’t think members of Congress could be from other countries? (Well, I suppose they could become citizens first…)

  18. #18 blf
    April 30, 2009

    Clearly, there’s a equal rights issue here.
    If a student can opt not to learn X, then a teacher can opt not to teach Y.
    So the teachers can opt to not teach the students that they can opt not to learn.

  19. #19 Ruttle
    April 30, 2009

    This is such a disappointment. Alberta always finds new ways to embarrass itself. This is the result of decades of conservative rule in the province. I wrote and called Dave Hancock, the minister of “education” and his secretary did not seem amused to hear from me. From her reaction to my comments, it seems she has spent the better part of the day dealing with angry calls.

  20. #20 melior
    April 30, 2009

    Well, at least if the future creates a lot of demand for jobs that require smugly oblivious, incompetent people, industry will know precisely where to go for them.

    Besides Liberty University, you mean?

  21. #21 jbrydle
    April 30, 2009

    Here’s his contact info
    http://www.davehancock.ca/contact.html

  22. #22 Alex
    April 30, 2009

    I can see the bumper stickers already:

    Come Live in Alberta, where the water is clean and thinking is optional!

  23. #23 Marcus Ranum
    April 30, 2009

    Somehow we’ve acquired this bizarre notion that learning is about being eased along, never stressing ourselves, never facing a challenge

    Most people don’t need a whole lot of education to live their lives and be good cogs in the machine, happy consumers, and taxpayers.

    In moments of paranoia, when I read about things like this, I wonder if the power elite’s “keep the electorate stupid and in debt” committee (AKA: “The Little Council”) are rubbing their hands and laughing.

  24. #24 magista
    April 30, 2009

    Okay, now I’m embarassed to be a science teacher in Alberta. Mostly physics, mind you, but we just began the biology unit in the general science class today with a discussion of germ theory (and a side of swine flu). Maybe I should have sent a note home? Bah!

    I keep on voting (religiously, even) for pretty much anyone but the Conservatives, but it’s such a lost cause around here. Heck, my federal minister is Rob “Nelson Mandela was a terrorist” Anders, so I’m screwed twice over.

    Union prez Frank is fighting the good fight, though, and we’ll be behind him all the way.

    I must say that I’m pleasantly surprised to see a coherent and reasonable argument from “The Dinger” in the Sun, though. He’s usually such a conservative mouthpiece, as is much of that paper.

  25. #25 Glen Davidson
    April 30, 2009

    Now that the pesky education is being taken out of education, it will become a lot more palatable.

    I’m wondering what the point of mandatory education is, if significant parts are being made non-mandatory. Is it like having a homeopathy degree, giving you a nice plaque for your wall, without having to know about the “real world”?

    The one thing I could fathom is if they took the trouble to say that students should be told only that they have to know the subject, not believe or accept it. Since when does one even have knowledge of one’s own position without bothering to find out what a differing position in the same subject is?

    Unfortunately, not learning even their own position thoroughly is almost certainly part of it. Learning what’s really involved with taking a creationist/ID position only exposes it for what it is.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  26. #26 Alex
    April 30, 2009

    So does that make them Athinkists?

  27. #27 Brownian, OM
    April 30, 2009

    Contact Ed Stelmach, Preeminent Moron here: http://www.premier.alberta.ca/contact/contact.cfm

    It’s a little-known tradition that Albertan politicians love receiving flaming bags of dogshit in the mail, so feel free to send some in!*

    (*It could be true. What do I know? I ‘opted out’ of any classes that might have taught otherwise.)

  28. #28 Zeno
    April 30, 2009

    A “student bill of rights” was one of the campaign planks of the right-wing Christian student government leaders at American River College in Sacramento (the same gang that endorsed Proposition 8 and implied the entire student body opposed gay marriage). As they explained it, the student bill of rights would protect students from prejudice in the classroom. Sounds good, right?

    Of course, what they meant was that young-earth creationists would not be oppressed by having to learn that the earth is really 4.5 billion years old and that militant homophobes would not be discouraged from some recreational in-class gay-bashing and that evangelical Christians would not be inconvenienced when history teachers disagreed with their notion of a worldwide Noachian deluge.

    Fortunately, the fundies were recently swept from office in a big turnout student election. Of course, such battles are never won once and for all. I see that a young woman in Sacramento’s Russian-immigrant community (who styles herself as a “laser therapist,” whatever that is) has decried the student election results and complains that the college administration “hijacked” the election. Here blog is here, in case anyone is curious how the other side views recent events.

    Maybe they’ll move to Alberta.

  29. #29 IceFarmer
    April 30, 2009

    I hate that stupidity of this nature is popping up in my own province. As a former educator and product of the Alberta education system I’m appalled.

    I’m writing my MLA immeditately to express my extreme dissatisfaction. If anyone else here is from Calgary and in the Fish Creek constituency, our MLA is Mrs. Heather Forsyth and her constituency email is calgary.fishcreek@assembly.ab.ca

    For other Albertans if you wish to contact your MLA but don’t know who they are or how to contact them, here’s how:
    http://streetkey.elections.ab.ca/

    I would also recommend sending emails to Premier Ed Stelmach as well as the Minister of Education, Dave Hancock.

    The stupidity and the censorship, it burns……

  30. #30 steve
    April 30, 2009

    “I’m Mike from Canmore.” explains a whole lot to me now. (Its a Canadian thing)

  31. #31 Adrian Thysse, FCD
    April 30, 2009

    I am an Albertan too, and this doesn’t surprise me. We have had the (Christian and conservative)Social Credit Party in power from 1935 to 1971. They lost to the ‘Progressive’ Conservatives who have been in power ever since.They have stayed in power largely due to their demonizing of the federal Liberal Party,(and thus all other liberals) during the oil boom era. Today they are considered ever further right then in the ’70’s. Of all the provinces, this is the Yahoo-iest

  32. #32 Bloop
    April 30, 2009

    At this Seldon knows what he’s talking about – http://www.chumirethicsfoundation.ca/main/page.php?page_id=185

  33. #33 bunnycatch3r
    April 30, 2009

    I ‘member back when I was comin’ up we were learned some new fangled a-rith-ma-tick called gazintas. I tell you whut, it aint nuthin like fishin’.

    LOL!

  34. #34 David
    April 30, 2009

    Wrote my MLA on 28 March regarding the issue.

  35. #35 Marcie Dietrich
    April 30, 2009

    Very disappointing.

  36. #36 Ryk
    April 30, 2009

    Darn compassion. If we only didn’t care what happens to people this would be a good plan. The kids that stay in school have jobs and prosper the ones that don’t, starve and die. Natural selection at work.

    Unfortunately we are cursed with empathy and these stupid children will end up being supported by some program or another.

    I still can’t believe Canada being behind the States in terms of stupid fundamentalists. How did that happen?

  37. #37 Kitecraft
    April 30, 2009

    I’m an Albertan.
    And I’m sad because of this.

    Thanks for posting about this PZ.

  38. #38 bobxxxx
    April 30, 2009

    A controversial Alberta bill will enshrine into law the rights of parents to pull their children out of classes discussing the topics of evolution and homosexuality.

    Of course this is a dumb law, but maybe not so bad for a biology teacher who doesn’t much care for harassment from Christian retards. And maybe not so bad for good students who don’t want to share a classroom with retards.

  39. #39 bobxxxx
    April 30, 2009

    I wonder if this Alberta bill says anything about the rights of students who don’t want to be as stupid as their parents. Can parents pull their children out of classes even if the student wants to learn about evolution?

  40. #40 Fl bluefish
    April 30, 2009

    Just a poll.:

    Churchgoers more likely to back torture, survey finds

    http://cnnwire.blogs.cnn.com/2009/04/30/churchgoers-more-likely-to-back-torture-survey-finds/

    Not surprised.

  41. #41 Sharon McEachern
    April 30, 2009

    You can be highly educated and still be stupid in your behaviors. We may be facing a pandemic with the swine flu for which the number one preventative we’re told is to WASH YOUR HANDS. Now which highly-educated group, with whom we entrust our very lives, do you think only wash their hands sometimes? It’s hard to believe and frightening, but it’s a fact that the chances are only 50-50 that the doctor treating Americans in the hospital has washed his hands.Yes, it’s physicians. (Perhaps they believe that Gods do not spread disease) The odds are the same as flipping a coin. Actually, it’s worse. According to the National Quality Forum in the U.S., hand-washing compliance rates at American hospitals are generally LESS THAN 50 percent. It’s a problem in other countries also — the media in Great Britain, Canada, and Australia have reported this problem in their countries also.

    Hospitals are desperate to get doctors to simply wash their hands and not spread infections in the hospital and are taking extraordinary means to try and influence them — including termination of employment and hidden cameras. Ethic Soup blog has an excellent article on this at:

    http://www.ethicsoup.com/2009/01/dont-kill-me-doctor-wash-your-hands.html

    Doctors who won’t wash their hands were a problem BEFORE the current swine flu epidemic! I think it’s a good idea when seeing a doctor to ask if they’ve washed their hands before touching you.

  42. #42 bobxxxx
    April 30, 2009

    Although Stelmach has confirmed the bill will give parents the authority to exclude their kids from classes if the topic of evolution comes up, Education Minister Dave Hancock said it won’t change anything.

    Another thing I wonder about: What if the biology teacher makes evolution part of every single lesson every single day? The Christian retards would have to skip the entire course.

    Definitely this a very bad bill. I didn’t know Canada was so backward.

  43. #43 africangenesis
    April 30, 2009

    PZ,

    “It neglects a fundamental property of education: that in order to learn, you have to be exposed to many new and sometimes difficult ideas. We teach about subjects that no one thinks are good, because you need to know about them to have an informed opinion.”

    Education is far from a science, so no such “fundamental property” can be defended with any rigor. Your definition of “education” seems to be more like “indoctrination”. Equally defensible at the other extreme, is unschooling. Human children and adults are even more curious than you run-of-the-mill mammals. They want to learn, just get out of their way and beavailable more as a mentor, model and resource librarian. Don’t worry about missing anything, if they learn how to learn, they can fill in any “gaps” later. The experience and ability to achieve depth and excellance in one field will translate in acquiring a new field better than broad shallow exposure dictated by a factory model schedule orthogonal to one’s interests.

    Glen Davidson,

    “I’m wondering what the point of mandatory education is, if significant parts are being made non-mandatory.”

    Presumbly the point is to retain the parts that ARE mandatory, or are they not worth retaining? You athoritarian types want it all, and it has to be done the way it has always been done. If you want to know how you Right Wing Authoritarians think, there is a good reference available for free, but it isn’t mandatory:

    http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

    From the article:

    “The proposed legislation has touched off a debate about just what kind of image Alberta’s government is trying to create around the world.”

    Yes, “image” is a very important consideration when considering whether or not to oppress others. Exactly whose are you trying to impress with a more authoritarian measure? Perhaps they would be even more impressed with torture.

  44. #44 Kevin Jones
    April 30, 2009

    As an Albertan, I’m none too pleased with this latest crap from our provincial government. Unfortunately, because the Federal liberals enacted a stupid protectionist oil policy briefly twenty-five years ago, we’re stuck with a permanent ruling conservative party. The only saving grace of these guys is they tend more to the business-conservative ideology over the religious-conservative, but they do pander to that crowd from time to time. *sigh*

  45. #45 gmm
    April 30, 2009

    dear alex who wrote:

    come to alberta where the water is clean and thinking is optional-
    our water is nasty, thanks to the oilsands. (we kill ducks and native people with it) and we have less of it due to the aforementioned oilsands. (and what we do have gets fought over by municipalities and golf courses- sometimes the golfcourses win.)

    but our new slogan is freedom to create, spirit to acheive, and our government paid 25 million to use a picture from britain to up our tourism industry- lol- so sad and yet so freaking funny…….. mostly because they denied at first, then said a weak mea culpa. after lying for days.

    except when it is not. there is a good clip on cbc news that i should hunt for where they spoke about this very thing this morning- i wanted so bad to beg pz to post this- but had no time….

    this is embarrassing.

  46. #46 Anonymous
    April 30, 2009

    The bright side for atheist kids:

    The new rules, which would require schools to notify parents in advance of “subject-matter that deals explicitly with religion…Parents can ask for their child to be excluded from the discussion.

  47. #47 Glen Davidson
    April 30, 2009

    Presumbly the point is to retain the parts that ARE mandatory, or are they not worth retaining? You athoritarian types want it all, and it has to be done the way it has always been done. If you want to know how you Right Wing Authoritarians think, there is a good reference available for free, but it isn’t mandatory:

    Really, it’s to retain the parts that are mandatory? You must be, like, a genius or something.

    Perhaps if you could think, you’d recognize that teaching mandatory science while pretending that some parts like evolution are so unimportant that they’re merely optional, means that the position you’re defending is horseshit.

    So, I’m the authoritarian type, because I think kids deserve a good education, not your Bowdlerized version. Of course you merely assert, indicating that your education wasn’t any too good. Probably the best argument against mandatory education is how it churns out cretins like you, but there are so many deficiencies in the system that it is unlikely that one can identify “mandatoriness” as the problem.

    And, oh please, tell me how such right wing authoritarian types as myself think. I would never have known anything about it from the many psychology and philosophy courses I’ve taken. I mean, the article to which you linked is about morons like you, though your mental deficiencies skew you toward Rand or some such nonsense.

    Course, you’re just ranting and name-calling without even an attempt at justification, because you can’t think. So I wrote this post for the recreation of it, and am unlikely to bother with your trollish lies again in this thread. Unless I end up with more time on my hands than I expect this evening.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  48. #48 Annick
    April 30, 2009

    Needless to say, the Alberta Teacher’s Association is having a fit about it. That doesn’t mean it won’t pass, but the teachers here are pretty decent compared to other places in the country. We’ve all been encouraged to email the MP responsible for crafting such a foolish bill (Lindsay Blackett) and you can too at calgary.northwest@assembly.ab.ca

  49. #49 africangenesis
    April 30, 2009

    Glen Davidson,

    “Perhaps if you could think, you’d recognize that teaching mandatory science while pretending that some parts like evolution are so unimportant that they’re merely optional, means that the position you’re defending is horseshit.”

    Wow, biology without evolution? I would make biology an elective before I would do that! You mandatory types sure create a lot of unncessary problems for yourselves.

  50. #50 TheNaturalist
    April 30, 2009

    First Nickleback and now this!!!??? Come on Alberta!

  51. #51 Denis Loubet
    April 30, 2009

    Your definition of “education” seems to be more like “indoctrination”.

    The nerve! Being indoctrinated in the theory of gravity! Indoctrinated in the rules of grammar. Indoctrinated in the laws of arithmetic!

    Presumbly the point is to retain the parts that ARE mandatory, or are they not worth retaining?

    Really? Are there any parts that are mandatory? Surely, if a parent desired, they could declare every subject objectionable, and pull their kid from every class.

    And The Authoritarians is talking about you, you moron.

  52. #52 Serenegoose
    April 30, 2009

    Wow, Alberta really is trying to ruin its credibility. At first I thought they just wanted to annoy us trans people by cutting us out of health care, but now I realise it’s not a personal vendetta, That part of Canada just wants to piss everyone with a brain off. That’s reassuring I suppose.

    (not from alberta, or indeed any part of canada)

  53. #53 Epinephrine
    April 30, 2009

    Alberta has been called the Texas of the North for a while now – it’s conservative, religious, full of cowboys, an oil producing province, etc.

    Heck, google “Texas of the North”. It’s sad, but honestly I’m not surprised that it’s Alberta pulling this shit.

  54. #54 Curtis Quark
    April 30, 2009

    I’m embarrassed and ashamed to be a member of a province enacting such a ridiculous law.

    It’s a shame that evolution was barely even mentioned when I was in school, but now they’re explicitly making it optional? To shame.

  55. #55 CryoTank
    April 30, 2009

    Teh stupid, it not only burns, it spreads Oo
    Run away!

  56. #56 africangenesis
    April 30, 2009

    Glen Davidson,

    “And, oh please, tell me how such right wing authoritarian types as myself think. I would never have known anything about it from the many psychology and philosophy courses I’ve taken. I mean, the article to which you linked is about morons like you, though your mental deficiencies skew you toward Rand or some such nonsense.”

    Whoooa, must have hit a nerve. Sorry, while I have considerable admiration for Rand for her insightfull protrayals of collectivists, I lean more towards Max Stirner, the objectivists would want to hang me, if they weren’t so darn respectful on individual rights. Don’t settle for Nietzsche, he is just a pale echo.

    I think you are confusing Altemeyer’s use of “right wing” with the politics, he makes it clear that RWAs are on the left as well. Read it, you may learn more about yourself.

  57. #57 Patricia, OM
    April 30, 2009

    If this passes in Canada it will spread like a plague here too. This is both sad and scary.

  58. #58 mikecbraun
    April 30, 2009

    Well, Canada needs farmers and hockey players–education just gets in the way. Hey, it’s a joke, people. But Saskatchewan, on the other hand… I’ll shut up.

  59. #59 ChrisKG
    April 30, 2009

    http://www.wretchedradio.com/ has a new poll, Does God Exist?

    Your choices are:
    “Yes” or “No, I am a fool.”

    I’d rather be a fool than an idiot.

  60. #60 Thomas Winwood
    April 30, 2009

    A good education system makes everything and at the same time nothing mandatory. Legalising truancy doesn’t help anyone.

    (On the other hand, I skived PE classes for more or less my entire time at secondary school on the basis that “PE” was little more than a code word for “rugby”; everyone else in the year group was larger than I, and I prefer my bones intact. Make of that what you will.)

  61. #61 Rugosa
    April 30, 2009

    What Bobxxx said in #38. The kids have a right to a decent education, their parents’ foolish beliefs aside. The parents have the right to try to indoctrinate the kids, but ultimately the kids will be adults who decide for themselves. They should hear the truth about science, just as they should hear the truth about sexuality. If they decide to reject the truth in favor of superstition, well, that’s their choice. If they don’t hear “both sides” how will they be able to choose?

  62. #62 hi thar
    April 30, 2009

    Well, at least if the future creates a lot of demand for jobs that require smugly oblivious, incompetent people, industry will know precisely where to go for them.

    Too easy, PZ! I believe those are required skills on the resume for any supervisory job, from night shift manager at Target to CEO of a Fortune 100 company.

  63. #63 Northernskeptic
    April 30, 2009

    Clearly us Albertans have to fight hard for critical thinking and reason in our schools…again. We already have a problem with publicly funded schools teaching creationism, this just goes one step further.

  64. #64 Rey Fox
    April 30, 2009

    It’s nice at least to check the first page of comments on that story and find everyone roundly disgusted, rather than on any US story that even grazes the word “evolution” where you have all sorts of “teach the controversy” ignant shit.

  65. #65 shoshidge
    April 30, 2009

    As I understand it, parents have always had the option to opt their kids out of classes where the subject matter might offend their religious beliefs, I know this has always been true of sex ed.
    I suspect parents in any province would be able to do this if they insisted hard enough so I don’t see this as big news.
    I know a lot of home and private schoolers and they are all very liberal, so this is not exclusively a conservative issue.
    My wife received an excellent home education from her hippie parents, and based on my experience in the public school system, with a few notable exceptions it would be hard to do worse than the apathetic droning that passed for teaching in the classes I was allowed to daydream through.

  66. #66 ScienceCat
    April 30, 2009

    New term for y’all coined by a (non-biologist) friend:

    “Drumheller Denialist”.

    This might be a redneck province but it is the redneck province that houses the Royal Tyrrell Museum. It takes a special kind of ignoramus to look an Albertosaurus in the… teeth and tell it is doesn’t look a day over 6000 or to ask where the saddle went.

    ScienceCat is an Albertan also, aced her Mechanisms of Evolution course back in the day (Hi Professors Fox and Palmer!) and is fed up with twits making a mockery of her education and her home province to the world. Seriously, it’s embarrassing us in front of all the UofT grads. SC let her blood pressure settle for a few minutes after reading the story then called her MLA’s office. Will see if he calls back – the staffer who answered asked if he could and was very patient during SC’s rant. Call yours, then write – too easy to toss letters. If they don’t call back you can always keep calling. For those of you fortunate or unfortunate enough to have opposition member MLAs, please consider bugging the closest government member also or call the minister’s office.

    It is the responsibility of the public education system to make sure children have some idea of how the world works. It is unjust to allow their parents to deny them this because there is something in the world that offends them. No-one has the right not to be offended and it’s going to happen. Deal.

    Pulling children out of “offensive” classes is also not going to work well for those trying it on. Firstly, what happens come exam time when they have to answer questions on the classes that they skipped? Will the teachers have to make up special exams in social studies for those with Holocaust-denier parents? How about chemistry exams for those who get squicky about electron sharing (SC has never seen an electron). Algebra exams for those whose parents object and claim that the Pythagorean Theorem is “just a theorem”? (Yes, SC knows the difference between a Theory and a Theorem – bet you many of these parents do not :P). Will these kids get to write special provincial exams? Yeah… right. This is a competitive province. Sucks to be you, snowflakes.

    SC has seen what happens when evo-denialists hit first year biology and it isn’t pretty. SC thinks that it is amoral to lie to children about important things and set them up to fail and that it is reprehensible to leave them open to pregnancy and STDs by denying them a proper sex education. We all know how well “abstinence education” works by now. SC also thinks it is an act of evil to teach children to hate gays/lesbians/ethnic group x,y,z/paleontologists/anthropologists and that the provisions in this bill would support the actions of parents who do just that by allowing parents to cut their children off from a guided alternative source of information.

    Secondly, if there is a better way to get teenagers interested in a subject like gay marriage or the Holocaust than their parents telling them that the topic is off-limits, SC would like to know what it is. This is the silver lining, should the bill pass with this provision intact.

    (They will get an eyeful – google and the web will educate them about gay sex in ways that no school system even contemplates O.o )

    If it does pass, parents who use it to pull their kids out of class for whatever their particular bugbear is are putting their kids at a disadvantage academically and setting them up for mockery by their peers (SC does not advocate picking on kids who chose their parents badly but it will happen). They are also setting themselves up for some serious distrust should their children find out that they have been lied to.

  67. #67 Somnolent Aphid
    April 30, 2009

    Sounds like very clever evolutionary psychology theory put to practice to me. How do dumb people increase their numbers, if not by mating with other dumb people which takes far too long, and by far too long I mean the rearing not the mating, and by rearing I actually mean child rearing, not the ma.. anyway… this is why I don’t post much.

  68. #68 Qwerty
    April 30, 2009

    Oh, well, the youngsters of Alberta will have to play nurse and doctor behind the barn to learn about sex just like their parents and grandparents did so many years ago.

  69. #69 Furious_Six_Claws_Mcgee
    April 30, 2009

    Who the frig cares about Alberta? All the best things about Canada come from the Maritimes to begin with. So if they want to stupid up their children it’s not going to hurt us in the slightest.

  70. #70 africangenesis
    April 30, 2009

    ScienceCat,

    “SC has seen what happens when evo-denialists hit first year biology and it isn’t pretty.”

    Tell us what happens SC, I’m sure we are imagining something far worse, but I bet it is nothing different than what happens in a first year computer course, “Duh, what is a computer?” Is it something that an evening curled up with “The Selfish Gene” won’t cure? Are you sure remedial university education isn’t more cost effective in the long run anyway? At least, the voluntary nature of university increases the likelyhood that the students actually are interested in learning.

  71. #71 Felix
    April 30, 2009

    Without having read the previous comments, I’d recommend to the teachers to announce at the beginning of every class (or every week) that homosexuality and/or evolution and/or general sex ed and/or anything dealing with religion will be discussed. Every week for the rest of the year. Every school year. Reveal the full absurdity of this idiotic decision by giving the parents the choice of taking their children out of school for the whole time if they want them to have a limited education.
    *I see bob above has had the same idea*
    Yeah, I know, poor children, what about their right to a complete and proper education? Alberta has decided that the parents’s rights over their children supersede the childrens’s rights to a dignified development of thinking, skill and knowledge.

    What would happen if the school failed to give this new notification to parents?
    Let’s say the teacher is a creationist, and as we have seen many of these can not exclude their propaganda from classrooms for long. …must…proselytize…must…slander science…
    Since he will probably not call up parents before class to tell them that he’s going to tell their kids about how much Jesus saves and how great crosses burned into their skin will look…
    I see schools being sued. What do they call this? Rule of unintended consequences?

  72. #72 Ichthyic
    April 30, 2009

    You mandatory types sure create a lot of unncessary problems for yourselves.

    when’s the next “survivor: pharyngula” again?

  73. #73 PA
    April 30, 2009

    Fuck, I’ve got to get out of this backwards province.

  74. #74 Newfie
    April 30, 2009

    This might be a redneck province but it is the redneck province that houses the Royal Tyrrell Museum. It takes a special kind of ignoramus to look an Albertosaurus in the… teeth and tell it is doesn’t look a day over 6000 or to ask where the saddle went.

    Yup… you only have to drive north for an hour for the real stupid that is The Big Valley Creation Seance Museum.

  75. #75 Ichthyic
    April 30, 2009

    Tell us what happens SC, I’m sure we are imagining something far worse, but I bet it is nothing different than what happens in a first year computer course, “Duh, what is a computer?”

    Indeed.

    and just how much time would you want to spend on remedial computer education in a college-level course, fuckwit?

  76. #76 Christov
    April 30, 2009

    A fundamental property of being human is liberty and freedom to make choices even if they are stupid choices. Nothing should ever be forced on someone, removing their choice, even if it is to their benefit.

  77. #77 Paul R. Welke
    April 30, 2009

    While I would never pull my son out of any science class, and will in fact take him to planetariums, wilderness centres, and the like, I don’t think that it is my place to force any aspect of education on other children. I also don’t think that it is the government’s place.

    The education of a child should be primarily be the responsibility of parents, who then choose to appoint people to act on their behalf (whether the state or someone who actually knows what they’re doing). The rights of a parent to decide for a child can and should overrule my own pro-science atheistic tendencies.

    The bottom line is that these kids still have to write their standardized Diploma tests in Grade 12. If they go into it without full knowledge because their parents pulled them out of the part of Bio dealing with genetics, that just means that they are likely to do worse on these tests than my kid, who will be exposed to extra-curricular science education.

    The bottom line is that not everyone gets to be an astronaut, and that the world will always need people to change the grease in the fry pans and clean toilets. This just raises the probability that these jobs will go to fundies’ kids and not mine.

  78. #78 Canuck
    April 30, 2009

    I am truly ashamed to be Canadian. Alberta is the home of our right wing ideological PM, Stephen Harper. We hope to dispose of him in the next election. He’s an embarrassment.

  79. #79 africangenesis
    April 30, 2009

    Ichthyic,

    “when’s the next “survivor: pharyngula” again?”

    You are too easy, that is what I was looking for, the typical Right Wing Authoritarian response, excessive punishment, only wanting to associate with those who reinforce your beliefs, and so sure that you are right. You should read “The Authoritarians” and take a good look in the mirror.

  80. #80 RMM Barrie
    April 30, 2009

    Do not confuse Alberta with the rest of Canada. It is indeed North Texas, well connected by the oil patches. Calgary was one the first places George Bush gave a speech, after he left office, and made the remark that it was one of the few places that would have him.

    This is another example of how conservative, right wing stupid ideology, manifests itself, no matter where, or what culture. Oddly enough, I am not even embarrassed by it, as a Canadian, since here we do not expect much more from Alberta, unlike the 3 that I know of, creationist legislators at the Federal level.

  81. #81 africangenesis
    April 30, 2009

    Ichthyic,

    “and just how much time would you want to spend on remedial computer education in a college-level course, ******”

    It’s their time and money. It was sad, there is no way they could compete with the nerds, someone who was actually INTERESTED in the subject. They thought attending public school and getting “A”s, was all that was necessary. They didn’t realize that education was their and their parents responsibility.

  82. #82 barfy
    April 30, 2009

    OK, so my children (Texas A&M and Pomona College) vehemently disagree with the following:
    I don’t just have a right, I have a responsibility to educate my children as to my worldview until they are biologically adults (around 21 according to neural development.)
    The only abdication or confiscation of any of that responsibility to society should be if society reasonably and EVIDENCE BASED can show that my parenting is demonstrably harming my progeny.
    Remember when ‘bleeding’ to balance the humors was state of the art medical care? Egregious and copious corporal punishment was the ‘norm.’ Etc. Etc.

    Therefore, although I vehemently agree with the teaching of evolution AS WELL AS the grossly harmful and destructive outcomes of religious belief, I also, at this time, feel that it is a parent’s duty to opt out of the above if it is in conflict with their Bronze Age worldview. The world needs ditch diggers, too.

  83. #83 Wowbagger, OM
    April 30, 2009

    when’s the next “survivor: pharyngula” again?

    Probably not soon enough. Maybe if we announce that being boring is a taxable behaviour it’ll keep things less tedious around here.

  84. #84 argystokes
    April 30, 2009

    Of course parents should be able to pull their kids out of a lesson or unit. The kid will then not receive credit for the missed work/learning, and will be at risk for failing the course.

  85. #85 Ichthyic
    April 30, 2009

    It’s their time and money. It was sad, there is no way they could compete with the nerds, someone who was actually INTERESTED in the subject.

    ah, and here I thought you were interested in education.

    my bad.

  86. #86 ScienceCat
    April 30, 2009

    @africangenesis #69

    Someone who does not know anything but who wants to learn can usually be taught(in some cases sent off with the right books to learn the basics on their own time because it is expen$ive to make a university make up for stuff missed in grade school). How do you teach someone who is deeply convinced that what you are trying to teach is a pack of lies? Some of these indoctrinated kids were so bright otherwise and they all had to get past the provincial exam to even BE there… what a terrible, horrible waste of potential (and classroom/lab space). SC was a scalpel-wielding lab TA at the time and can only imagine how much worse it must have been for the professors :(

    @Newfie #73. Yup, those would be the special ignoramuses (ignorami?) right thar. BTW – isn’t it spelled “Big Valley Sceance Museum” – where science hasn’t got a ghost of a chance?

    (Now SC feels really bad for the folks in Big Valley – imagine having that to live down!)

  87. #87 Diagoras
    April 30, 2009

    Not sure if this is a totally bad thing; it sure makes the US look less stupid by comparison. Seriously though, this is just another step towards a real life Idiocracy.

  88. #88 Ichthyic
    April 30, 2009

    The world needs ditch diggers, too.

    as usual, Jefferson had something relevant to contribute:

    “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.”

    would you trust your government to someone wholly uneducated about it? How about just mostly? partly?

    wait, how was it that Shrub got re-elected again?

    also:

    “The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment.”

    -Robert Hutchins

    who also said:

    “Education is not to reform students or amuse them or to make them expert technicians. It is to unsettle their minds, widen their horizons, inflame their intellects, teach them to think straight, if possible.”

    which, of course, brings us full circle to what PZ and the vast majority of thoughtful educators say on a near daily basis.

    “We teach about subjects that no one thinks are good, because you need to know about them to have an informed opinion.”

    -PZ Myers

  89. #89 Mark M
    April 30, 2009

    Is it something in the water? or is there some sort of weird genetic drift toward stupidity in North America?

  90. #90 jay
    April 30, 2009

    The bottom line is that not everyone gets to be an astronaut, and that the world will always need people to change the grease in the fry pans and clean toilets.

    Not even that drastic. Probably 90% of careers do NOT depend on a knowledge of evolution. Indeed letting thw wackos opt out is a better choice than the dumbing down of biology classes that happens elsewhere.

  91. #91 Smuggley O'Blivious
    April 30, 2009

    I am proud to say that I led a walkout from the classroom
    the day they tried to indoctrinate us with improper fractions!
    My Doctor of Divinity degree from the SW Kansas
    Mail Order Academy of the Wholesome Arts has stood me in
    good stead over the years, & I still think it was the best
    $25 I ever spent. Open your minds to the truth, people!

  92. #92 Anonymous
    April 30, 2009

    Not even that drastic. Probably 90% of careers do NOT depend on a knowledge of evolution. Indeed letting thw wackos opt out is a better choice than the dumbing down of biology classes that happens elsewhere.

    Job training isn’t the sole purpose of education. Furthermore, I don’t see any reason we should deny quality education to students just because their parents are morons.

  93. #93 Wowbagger, OM
    April 30, 2009

    Indeed letting thw wackos opt out is a better choice than the dumbing down of biology classes that happens elsewhere.

    But the problem is that there are plenty of wackos demanding that no-one, not just their own unfortunate offspring, be taught biology (unless it’s hand-in-hand with Intelligent Design) – if they were content to just just opt out and let those who wanted to learn about actual reality rather than the Flintstones version do so we’d be fine; however, that doesn’t seem to be the fundie way.

  94. #94 ScienceCat
    April 30, 2009

    at the risk of feeding the next Survivor wannabees:

    @africangenesis #80 Maybe your computer course (taught where?) might just be your student’s time and money. University biology courses in Canada are a lot of *taxpayer’s* time and money and they are bloody expensive to run. SC is little-c conservative enough to hate wasting money and space on wastes-of-space (when there are other students who need the spots) and enough of an “use animals wisely and ethically” little-l liberal bio geek to DETEST wasting even a cockroach’s, previously-used-research rat’s, or hit-by-car cat’s life/body trying to get comparative anatomy and evolution across to a mind closed by some kid’s trusted authorities.

  95. #95 africangenesis
    April 30, 2009

    Ichthyic,

    “ah, and here I thought you were interested in education”

    I enjoyed teaching them actually, well the Q&A and one on one part. I hated listening to myself drone in the lectures. I was looking forward to teaching my own children, but homeschoolers become so dang self sufficient and independent, even math, I thought for sure I was going to get to help there. Teachers must enjoy the teacher dependency that develops in factory model schools, it makes them feel so, well … needed.

  96. #96 Russell
    April 30, 2009

    If the bill passes, every math and science and history teacher should make sure that every one of their courses includes something relevant on evolution, and require parents to sign permission at the beginning of the semester for students to attend their courses. Every one.

  97. #97 Jonathan
    April 30, 2009

    “Well, at least if the future creates a lot of demand for jobs that require smugly oblivious, incompetent people, industry will know precisely where to go for them.”

    Alberta has a major oil industry. Just sayin’.

  98. #98 Doug M
    April 30, 2009

    Yeah this is embarrassing. The Royal Tyrell Museum will be hosting a talk on May 16 about “Supporting the Teaching of Evolution: a Multi-faceted Approach.” Apt timing I guess.

  99. #99 edujmacation
    April 30, 2009

    That’s it! I declare spelling and grammar against my religion… oh and calculus and biochemistry… and physics (because I want to float around with the clouds).

    Anyone who refuses to give me my medical degree, I am soooo suing based on religious something.

    All that being said, I’ve invented a cure for AIDS. It may look and taste like tap water but I assure you that after having the ten top most holy men bless and energize the water, it’ll cure anything… provided the person needing healing has true faith and plenty of money.

    whoops, a little off topic…

  100. #100 JM Inc.
    April 30, 2009

    Of course the NDP has something sensible to say on the subject, as always.

  101. #101 Krystalline Apostate
    April 30, 2009

    such as that you evolved from other apes, or that gay people exist

    Or some of us evolved from gay apes…what? What?

  102. #102 2 cents
    April 30, 2009

    “To be prepared against surprise is to be trained. To be prepared for surprise is to be educated.”

    The first sentence applies to conservatives, the second to liberals.

    Learning HOW to think instead of WHAT to think is the basis of all innovation, creativity, progress, etc. One of the best questions in the world: Why?

    Oh, and AG? You really missed Altemeyer’s main point. Reread him.

  103. #103 Johnny
    April 30, 2009

    I’m another Albertan embarrassed by this.

    Regarding the comments by “Furious_Six_Claws_Mcgee” @68, if we stupid up our children, that means we won’t have any money, and if we don’t have any money, who is going to pay the bills for the Maritimes?

  104. #104 barfy
    April 30, 2009

    To icthyic:
    I sincerely enjoy the intelligence of your comments and quotes re my ditch diggers statement.
    Although I agree that it would be better if people were ‘educated’ when it came to voting in a representative democracy, I would never propose an intelligence or knowledge test as a requirement. And yes, I know that you and Jefferson did no such thing, but it isn’t that steep a slippery slope when you talk about what constitutes a satisfactory educational attainment to make a reasoned decision.
    For instance, PZ’s own Minnesota is giving us Al Franken – a liberal counterpoint to PA’s ousted Rick Santorum…neither of whom belong(ed) in the Senate if voted on by reasoned, educated people. However, the democratic political process, flawed as it is in the above examples, tends to be the best acceptable alternative to a fascistic ‘educated’ elite knowing and deciding what is best for the rest.

  105. #105 Crudely Wrott
    April 30, 2009

    The province of Alberta has decided to make education optional.

    So. When your children begin to ask uncomfortable questions, seal them in barrels and feed them through the bung.

  106. #106 barfy
    May 1, 2009

    re#103
    What I think I meant was a short and steep slippery slope.
    Maybe like the one that describes my forehead (according to my kids.)

  107. #107 Nate
    May 1, 2009

    Forgive my ignorance, but is America really this bad? or are these places just isolated pockets? I find it hard to believe people who know so little are put in control of education!

  108. #108 Sara
    May 1, 2009

    This makes me so sad. Reading the comments was depressing too. I can only hope this stupid thing won’t pass. If they don’t want to learn the entire class they shouldn’t get the credit and shouldn’t graduate. If they want to insert their bigotry and ignorance into a curriculum they should just make their own school. Of course a diploma from said school should not be acceptable at any respected university. I can only hope the Alberta stupidity does not spread to other provinces :/

  109. #109 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 1, 2009

    Forgive my ignorance, but is America really this bad? or are these places just isolated pockets? I find it hard to believe people who know so little are put in control of education!

    Well technically Alberta is “America” as in North America but as far as countries go, it’s Canada.

  110. #110 Gary
    May 1, 2009

    I taught biology and science in Alberta for almost 35 years. Evolution is the basis for understanding biology – it is the foundation that the comprehension of biology is built on. This proposed law, if passed, would suggest that parents would need to decide that their children will not take high school biology as it is currently taught because the concept of evolution by natural selection, genetic drift or other scientific theories may arise during any class period. Evolution is not taught as a separate topic at a predefined time. It is obvious that the Stelmach government does not understand this or chooses to ignore it.

    I am not surprised though. We must remember that one of the first items that was passed by this government was to increase their salaries by 30%. Their logic? They want to attract more ?professional? and higher quality candidates to run for legislative positions. Ironically this implies that the current crop is inadequate. This government proposal proves it.

    I am retired from teaching in the classroom but if I were still teaching biology it is likely that this proposal would end my career because I could not fulfill its requirements. Alberta may find that this proposal may dissuade many potential science teachers who have more than a B.Ed. from entering the profession. It will only hurt education in Alberta in the long-term.

  111. #111 JohnnieCanuck
    May 1, 2009

    Gary, I think you wouldn’t have needed to resign over the legislation. All it requires is that the teacher give notice of when evolution or sex education will be discussed.

    At the start of the semester, you simply provide a note that every biology class will be based on an understanding of evolution and that sexual or asexual reproduction might be referenced at any time. Then make it so. After all, “Nothing makes sense in biology, except in the light of evolution”.

    They want a career in medicine, or they need it for a science credit, they take the course.

  112. #112 Ritchie Annand
    May 1, 2009

    Just for those interested, Bill 44 is here. It’s a lot of explicit protection for sexual orientation.

    The gem we are talking about here is sandwiched right in there at number 9:

    Notice to parent or guardian

    11.1(1) A board as defined in the School Act shall provide notice to a parent or guardian of a student where courses of study, educational programs or instructional materials, or instruction or exercises, prescribed under that Act include subject-matter that deals explicitly with religion, sexuality or sexual orientation.

    (2) Where a teacher or other person providing instruction, teaching a course of study or educational program or using the instructional materials referred to in subsection (1) receives a written request signed by a parent or guardian of a student that the student be excluded from the instruction, course of study, educational program or use of instructional materials, the teacher or other person shall in accordance with the request of the parent or guardian and without academic penalty permit the student

    (a) to leave the classroom or place where the instruction, course of study or educational program is taking place or the instructional materials are being used for the duration of the part of the instruction, course of study or educational program, or the use of the instructional materials, that includes the subject-matter referred to in subsection (1), or

    (b) to remain in the classroom or place without taking part in the instruction, course of study or educational program or using the instructional materials.

  113. #113 ScienceCat
    May 1, 2009

    Ritchie # 111:
    Those sections of the Bill that you posted do not appear to refer to the teaching of evolutionary biology(SC still hates it, my precious, because it’s stupid to legislate like this and because of the lalalaican’thear you implications for sex education and sexual orientation information). If evolution and genetics sections of biology class qualify by being possible sticking points for religion then so should the physics and chemistry classes where they talk about electricity and lightning, since that might offend followers of Thor* or Zeus** and most of the history sections in social studies, which could offend, oh just about anyone who wants to be offended.

    SC notes happily that the bill does not seem to have any provisions that would force teachers to come up with special exams for the delicate offended snowflakes or leave ‘controversial’ topics off the exams, nor does it say how specific the notice must be regarding when during the course this stuff will be taught. It appears to be rather badly written if it was intended to actually do anything. There’s not many subjects out there that aren’t going to offend someone’s religious sensibilities, if you allow equal care for the views of whackaloon fringe groups. Fringe groups can get mighty fringy. So all the school board has to do in theory is what some have suggested and announce at the beginning that subject x may be offensive to some at some point during the term

    *(offending bad-tempered, hammer-wielding thunder god who may or may not exist = bad move if using Pascal’s Wager as a decision making tool)
    ** (this goes double for irresponsible lightning-bolt tossing gods with poor self-control who may or may not exist. Why take chances?)

  114. #114 Ritchie Annand
    May 1, 2009

    Howdy, ScienceCat!

    Like a lot of off-base legislation I have seen south of the border, it does not take much to turn that legal section into a more-than-truck-sized hole.

    Here’s a CBC article on the same thing (for those who do not know, Ed Stelmach is our premier, akin to a governor or what have you, for the whole province):

    “This government supports a very, very fundamental right and that is parental rights with respect to education,” said Premier Ed Stelmach.

    Although Stelmach has confirmed the bill will give parents the authority to exclude their kids from classes if the topic of evolution comes up, Education Minister Dave Hancock said it won’t change anything.

    (Then why include it?)

    “With respect to values, religion and sex education have always been areas of concern for parents, and they’ve always been areas parents have had the right to be notified about and to exempt their students from,” Hancock said.

  115. #115 Ponder
    May 1, 2009

    This is insane. Fine, withdraw from school, don’t learn what might offend your delicate sensibilities or what you might find a bit difficult. But don’t then calim you’ve got an education, and don’t get surprised and complain if a potential employee passes you over for someone who has one.

    There is such a thing as BEING WRONG. And it doesn’t give a damn what your personal beliefs are.

  116. #116 sardeth
    May 1, 2009

    As a teacher and resident of Alberta I can only sadly shake my head. It will be a sad day for education in my province if Bill 44 passes.

    We will continue to fight the ignorance, but in Alberta it is an uphill battle. I hope the temerity of such vapid legislation such as this will mobilize people to vote our beloved conservatives out of office.

    It’s been 38 years of conservative rule, I think we may be ready for change….

  117. #117 Cat
    May 1, 2009

    #8 – Seriously, I saw that one, and just had to ask what straight rights were being restricted around here.

    That’s easy, the same rights being violated that the Christian and white supremacists are concerned about: The absolute right to shit all over everybody else without them being able to lift a finger in protest.

    You know, a lot of fundie parents seem to see this as simply an extension of a parent’s right to choose what type of movies their kids can watch, what types of swear words their kids can be exposed to, etc. Honestly, I don’t like it, but at the same time I do see where they’re coming from. I don’t support the spread of ignorance, and honestly I don’t see what the fuss is about since the parents could very well teach their kids their worldview if they weren’t so damn lazy that they rely on others to do all their teaching for them.

  118. #118 Dena Annand
    May 1, 2009

    Thanks hubby, for posting the particulars of the bill. (#111) :)

    I am a secondary science teacher in Alberta, and I am upset and embarrassed at this. At the same time, I continue to be impressed with folks like Alberta Teachers’ Association head Frank Bruseker. Clearly, he takes the mission statement of the ATA very much to heart:

    “The Alberta Teachers’ Association, as the professional organization of teachers, promotes and advances public education, safeguards standards of professional practice and serves as the advocate for its members.”

    Parents have always been able to pull their children from classes they object to. There are things about that I disagree with and feel that such parents are willfully causing their children disadvantages beyond merely being able to perform as well as others on standardized tests, but there will always be parents that will have their kids excluded from certain aspects of the educational programs of study provided. I accept that and understand it is part of their parental rights in regards to their child.

    What I strenuously disagree with in regards to this bill is having it mandated that excluding your children from certain classes will occur “without academic penalty”. The logistics of making this happen are mindboggling the more I consider what this would entail – changing assignments, quizzes, midterms, projects, final exams, and then what of the provincial exams? If it is mandated that parents can formally have their children excused from aspects of classes “without academic penalty”, then the diploma exams themselves must be changed. And as others have indicated, this does not just affect science education, though it is science education that takes a mighty hit.

    Frank Bruseker was absolutely correct when he said that the public school system is not the place for this. There are politicians and school administrators out there who start to slide down a very slippery slope when they mistake their primary duties as those of PR over pedagogy.

    The public school system is for *everyone*, and this does not mean that it should be kowtowing to every special interest or objection that arises. Ultimately, virtually everything could be eliminated or made optional if we took that kind of approach. If parents don’t want their children to participate in something, fine! But a zero participation in that area should equal a zero credit. I can’t even begin to think of how much I would have to cut from my Biology 20 course for a student that was not supposed to hear about sexual reproduction, evolution and natural selection, etc! “No academic penalty” would equate to a final mark with easily between 1/3 to 1/2 of the course content excluded… This would result in an academic transcript mark that effectively awards the student in question with something for nothing, and erroneously represents that student as having successfully completed the entire Biology 20 course. How can we distinguish between a student who earned 68% through participation in the entire course from a student who earned 68% in only the 2/3 of the course their parents allowed them to participate in?

    Thank you for your thoughts Gary – I agree! (#109)
    JohnnieCanuck, if this goes through, I will definitely be following your letter suggestion. :) (#110)

    What the public school system being for everybody means, is that we plan and deliver the best, truest program of learning that we can and we make it available to everyone! For highly special interests, there are indeed other places to go – home schooling, private and charter schools…

    For Alberta Education Minister Dave Hancock to say that this bill “won’t change anything”… he’s off his nut! Mandate this, and all it will take is one parent who objects to something strenuously enough to push changes through to the max. They will have the legal backing to do so.

  119. #119 Cannonball Jones
    May 1, 2009

    “subject-matter that deals explicitly with religion, sexuality or sexual orientation,”

    SO how exactly does this allow parents to pull kids out of science classes? Where is the religious component of evolution? It should, however, allow rational parents to pull their kids out of any religion-based classes! This should really be a spectacular own-goal for the fundies but unfortunately won’t be interpreted as such :(

  120. #120 cass_m
    May 1, 2009

    Frank was my MLA for a bit (and I voted for him) so he should be very effective. As for withdrawing kids from classes. Kids decide what classes to attend (or not) depending on their interests and what their friends do. This is backward legislation but how are parents going to make sure their kids DON’T attend?

  121. Science Cat when you refer to your self in the third feline as SC you are going to confuse people here as we have a very frequent and long time poster who’s moniker is SC.

  122. #122 Evolving Squid
    May 1, 2009

    Except that religion has nothing to do with evolution any more than it does with automobile repair… I guess the mental giants in Alberta don’t understand that.

    Canadians do tend to consider Alberta to be our Texas (or Kansas).

  123. #123 graven
    May 1, 2009

    Maybe the rest of the Canadian provinces need to take the following stance, should the bill pass:

    Any child graduating with a highschool diploma from Alberta, and who wants to continue in the biological sciences or medicine, will have to take remedial courses in the sciences to ensure they meet the minimum standards for entry to a credited university.

  124. #124 KI
    May 1, 2009

    Why should parents be the determinator for children’s education? Why should smart capable educable kids be held hostage to their stupid asshole parents idiotic nonsense? Fuck parents and families, kids should be allowed to opt out from their parents at about the age of eight. I would have dumped my thumper fuckwad parents in a heartbeat given the chance, and I bet most kids of fundies feel the same (until they just give up and join in the woo).

  125. #125 Mike
    May 1, 2009

    Alberta: Canada’s Texas

  126. #126 Don Martin
    May 1, 2009

    You point out:
    This is a very stupid move by stupid people that will produce more stupid people.

    Does not breeding true make them a species?

  127. #127 MrrKAT
    May 1, 2009

    Holocaust is excluded out too. ID’s have shown that it has something to do with religion and historian say that lutheran and catholic priests were mixed in it too. So it insults us lutherans too and so many children may kept out during those lessons ..

  128. #128 raven
    May 1, 2009

    My first reaction was let them opt out of evolution in biology. Fundies set their kids up to fail, sad, but the way it goes.

    But it isn’t very workable. So the kid hangs out in study hall for a few days and misses biology. No big deal. Until the tests are given, intraclass and the achievement type tests. They aren’t going to do well on the biology part.

    Besides which, this is just pure censorship and fear mongering. Schools can’t make kids believe anything nor should they. They are required to know what scientists have found out about the world. Whether they believe it or not is their business.

    Shows how much “faith” these fundie parents have in their cult religion. Afraid a few facts will demolish it.

    And also, yes this is censorship to maintain a cult viewpoint. It isn’t going to work. Information on evolution is ubiquitous on the internet, in the libraries, and many popular publications. It will work about as well as trying to hide how babies are made.

  129. #129 gb
    May 1, 2009

    I’ve lived in conservative Alberta for 30+ years and this religious objection to science, to be enshrined in law under the guise of “parental rights”, is totally unacceptable! This has all the hallmarks of a retaliatory strike by the Alberta conservative politicians who have watched their role models (US Republicans) slip into nothingness. I think they see the writing on the wall as Canada moves towards a liberal majority again and wish to fast-track this stupid policy while the fast-tracking is good.

  130. #130 Steve LaBonne
    May 1, 2009

    Well, at least if the future creates a lot of demand for jobs that require smugly oblivious, incompetent people

    “Conservative voter” is precisely such a job description, just like “Republican voter” is here in the US.

  131. #131 Matt Heath
    May 1, 2009

    In an abstract way I think africangenesis@43 actually says something of worth. There probably is an extent to which formal schooling sucks the curiosity out of kids and there probably are points in favour of unschooling. I can especially see a case for making attendance voluntary as kids get closer to adulthood (although not for excusing them from knowing stuff come exam time). But if you think that either the purpose or the likely outcome of this law is anything to do with unschooling you are nuts. Read the article. This is about high-RWA parents (since AG mentioned The Authoritarians) being able to shield their (and it’s “their” in a possessive sense) children from information that isn’t vetted by the in-group.

  132. #132 Matt Heath
    May 1, 2009

    What does the NDP fellow mean by “look like Northumberland”? The county in England? If so what about it?

  133. #133 craicmonkey
    May 1, 2009

    As someone living in Alberta, I died a little when I heard this one. At first I thought, fine, whatever, pull your kids and teach them whatever fairy stories you want. But then I thought, no. If we are going to break the chain of ignorance, we have to do our best to give the next geration the access to a proper science education. It’s really odd how the religious folk talk about seeing the light, when in fact, they do their best to keep in the dark.

    And on a purely political and personal note: Shut the fuck up Stelmach! Your good ol’ Ukrainian boy from the farm shtick may have won you the hearts of Conservative Alberta, but it’s clear you can’t argue your way out of a paper bag.

    Argh! That’s it! I’m done! HULK SMASH!

  134. #134 Coemgenus
    May 1, 2009

    I can’t see the problem. It says you have to tell-tale to parents when you teach about religion. This is about science, isn’t it? Why should anyone mention religion in a science class? I’m confused. It doesn’t apply. Does it?

  135. #135 L.Minnik
    May 1, 2009

    I don’t believe that parents have the right to restrict their children’s access to information.

    Restrictions are for keeping children safe, not for controlling them.

  136. #136 Your Name's Not Bruce?
    May 1, 2009

    I thought Alberta was a “safely” Conservative province. This is the sort of pandering I would expect if the Conservatives were losing their “one party province” grip on power and desperately needed to shore up their social conservative vote. After all, who else would those people vote for?

  137. #137 HJ Hornbeck
    May 1, 2009

    Hello all, I’m a long time lurker, and unfortunately a resident of Alberta. Here’s a copy of the letter I sent to the Premier and Education Minister:

    I just heard about your government’s proposal to make sex education and evolution optional in our schools. I consider this a mistake.

    The Southern states in the USA have watered down sex education, and consequently have the highest teen pregnancy and STD rates in the First World. Without proper education, ignorance has taken over to the detriment of those who pay the medical bills.

    As for evolution, the controversy has been manufactured by a subset of the religious who believe it contradicts their holy texts. In reality, many biologists are religious yet have no quarrel with evolution. The theory has survived 150 years of criticism, and become as factual as germ theory and general relativity.

    Making both subjects optional puts Albertan students at a disadvantage to the rest of the country, and makes us an embarrassment on the world stage.

    Thank you for your time.

    HJ Hornbeck

  138. #138 watchful.stone.guardian
    May 1, 2009

    I’m surprised this wasn’t Saskatchewan who came up with this idea given the number of “Bible-thumpers” out here. Then again now that Alberta has suggested it the sheep.. err I mean the provincial branch of the Reform/Conservative Party aka the “Saskatchewan Party” government will surely think it’s a good idea for this province too!

    wsg

  139. #139 Val
    May 1, 2009

    “…is buried in a bill that extends human rights to homosexuals.” Yes! Homosexuals will finally be considered humans! Wait…WTF?

  140. #140 africangenesis
    May 1, 2009

    Matt Heath#131,

    “But if you think that either the purpose or the likely outcome of this law is anything to do with unschooling you are nuts. Read the article. This is about high-RWA parents (since AG mentioned The Authoritarians) being able to shield their (and it’s “their” in a possessive sense) children from information that isn’t vetted by the in-group.”

    The really fearful fundies don’t unschool, they setup little desks and homeschool with totally prescribed curricula complete with hickory sticks. Perhaps we should have some faith in the children. They usually successfully wear their parents down with pleas to escape to the schools, by junior or senior high. Even if they are taught abstinence, I assume these modern human children are still intelligent enough to find a way to get their genes to the next generation. “Life will find a way”

    I think it is all a battle between right and left wing authoritarians anyway. The fundies vs the PC nazis. IMHO the latter are worse, the former want to authority over their own children, the latter over the children of others.

  141. #141 Randy
    May 1, 2009

    “Knowledge is Good”
    -Emil Faber, Faber College

  142. “Knowledge is Good”
    -Emil Faber, Faber College

    The time has come for someone to put his foot down. And that foot is me. — Dean Wormer

  143. #143 africangenesis
    May 1, 2009

    “One’s first step in wisdom is to question everything – and one’s last is to come to terms with everything.”

    Georg C. Lichtenberg

  144. #144 Chompy McGruff
    May 1, 2009

    Another Albertan here.

    First, I’m sad to say that I’d been so busy the last few days I had missed this story, so thanks PZ for both highlighting it and commenting.

    I immediately composed a letter to my MLA and the Minister of Education to object, and I pointed out that the legislation, Bill 44 (which is indeed an amendment to existing legislation that already grants this “right”), produces a conundrum. It is illegal to discriminate on the basis of religious beliefs according to our HUMAN RIGHTS, CITIZENSHIP AND MULTICULTURALISM ACT.

    The problem is the words ‘…the teacher or other person shall in accordance with the request of the parent or guardian and without academic penalty permit the student…’, specifically the words ‘and without academic penalty’.

    Either our education system is allowing parents to opt out of lessons our government has deemed important or it is requiring some students to learn, and be graded on, lessons the government considers irrelevant while giving a pass to others. Both of these situations are predicated on the religious belief of either the student or the parent, and penalizing, or discriminating, on the basis of religious belief is against the law.

    The event has exposed a section of our laws that need reforming, not just for legal reasons.

    We have a compelling interest, including the force of law, to ensure that our citizens have a certain level of education available to them equally and that there be a penalty for depriving your children of this education. Removing the words “and without academic penalty” is necessary.

    Being refused credit for lessons not completed and risking charges for truancy are both natural, logical, reasonable and foreseeable results of any parent who removes their children from classes for religious reasons.

    We require our parents to be responsible for their children and to protect them, but no government should provide a legal shield to parents from their own education system.

    Either scrap our current education system and remove all lessons that could be considered objectionable on religious grounds (that might not even leave morning assembly let alone any other lesson), thus devaluing the degrees our government grants to students, or do not protect a section of our population from penalty based on their religious beliefs. Only one of those solutions conforms with our laws and ideals, and it isn’t granting a whole class of people anything based on their religious beliefs.

  145. #145 deang
    May 1, 2009

    Well, Alberta is sometimes referred as the Texas of Canada.

  146. #146 africangenesis
    May 1, 2009

    Chompy McGruff,

    I take it you are fundamentally opposed to the half of the compromise legislation that you don’t like. So, does that mean you prefer the status quo?

  147. #147 tm
    May 1, 2009

    i have a vested interest in one of alberta’s medical schools. i wonder if this applies to soon-to-be doctors too? that would make my life a whole lot easier.

    which genius came up with this idea?

  148. #148 Alan
    May 1, 2009

    “Well, at least if the future creates a lot of demand for jobs that require smugly oblivious, incompetent people, industry will know precisely where to go for them.” I think this has been a trend in the UK for many years now. Most schools are extensions of the state bureaucracy. They inculcate bureaucratic values, and produce people primarily suited to be bureaucrats – the “employment” envisioned by bureaucrats. An excuse is as good as a result. No-one actually cares about results – just “saying something” at the “appropriate” time. The teachers are only concerned about the ritualized performance of bureaucratic procedures, and display no sense of responsibility for the real-world consequences of their actions. Consequences are not their problem. In this state they serve as role models for the children, who of course copy what they see adults doing. Increasingly, real teachers have been driven to resign since they cannot work in the intensifying bureaucracy. Industry doesn’t have a need for the output of these schools, but they are all it can get. So corporate cultures are becoming bizarre “private sector bureaucracies” where arrogant, cavalier negligence has replaced any notion of customer service – and just as with the teachers, those who fail to “fit in” are quickly squeezed out. One reason why I welcome the growing economic recession is that it might just cause a regrounding in reality within surviving firms and so improve the psychological health of the whole culture. Unfortunately, economic recession is less likely to reverse a decline due to religious fundamentalism.

  149. #149 Vicky
    May 1, 2009

    Makes me oh so proud to be an Albertan. Knowledge that challenges what we’ve already decided is the truth is scary!

    If you’re trying to get into University and you happen to have a Biology 30 requirement, the schools you’re looking at are going to expect that you’ve actually covered everything you were supposed to in that course. With this, they’re no longer going to have that guarantee, so everybody’s Bio 30 is suspect. Because some children are–at their parent’s insistence–standing off to the side with their fingers in their ears during class time, everyone else is put at a disadvantage.

  150. #150 JM Inc.
    May 1, 2009

    Matt Heath, #132: “What does the NDP fellow mean by ‘look like Northumberland’? The county in England? If so what about it?

    He’s talking about the fact that the province of Alberta just spent a lot of money trying to revamp their image, including, among other things, adverts for tourism featuring pictures of English beaches not identified as such. He’s saying that if all the Alberta government can do to improve the province’s image is to make Alberta look like England and sound (educationally speaking) like the deep south, they’ve got some problems.

  151. #151 africangenesis
    May 1, 2009

    “He’s saying that if all the Alberta government can do to improve the province’s image is to make Alberta look like England and sound (educationally speaking) like the deep south, they’ve got some problems.”

    Uneducated southern bells on english style beaches!!! Have defective condoms, will travel! Can I get the firewood locally in Alberta? Next generation, here are the genes for you, raise’em Christian, Muslim, however you like!! They aren’t just painting a pretty picture are they?

  152. #152 Tom Buckner
    May 2, 2009

    Have you seen this yet? “Friday, May 1, 2009
    High school teacher guilty of insulting Christians… A Mission Viejo high school history teacher violated the First Amendment by disparaging Christians during a classroom lecture, a federal judge ruled today.

    James Corbett, a 20-year teacher at Capistrano Valley High School, was found guilty of referring to Creationism as ?religious, superstitious nonsense? during a 2007 classroom lecture, denigrating his former Advanced Placement European history student, Chad Farnan.”
    More at link.
    http://www.ocregister.com/articles/corbett-religion-court-2387684-farnan-selna

  153. #153 Slugsie
    May 2, 2009

    From my quick scan of that article, it looks like they want to make Religious topics optional. Fair enough. How does that affect evolution? That’s not Religion, it’s Biology.

  154. #154 'Tis Himself
    May 2, 2009

    How does that affect evolution? That’s not Religion, it’s Biology.

    Because there are a group of people called “creationists” for whom evolution is a religious topic. These “creationists” believe that the universe, the Earth, and all life were created some 6,000 years ago in six 24-hour days by a deity called Yahweh. This belief comes from a literal reading of a 2,500 year old creation myth in a religious book called the “Bible.” Anything that contradicts this myth, like evolution, is rejected by “creationists” as being against their religious beliefs.

    If the Bible says one thing and science says another, I have to go with what the Bible says. -Rick Warren

  155. #155 africangenesis
    May 2, 2009

    Tom Buckner#152,

    This is the flip side of the Dover trial. Now that the Dover trial is a precendent ruling that Intelligent Design and Creation Science are not science but are religion, they are now protected by the establishment clause. Any statements by public school teachers or other officers of the government touching upon ID or creationism must pass the Lemon test:

    First, the it must have a secular purpose; second, its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion; finally, the it must not foster an excessive government entanglement with religion.

    Here is the relevant part of the ruling:

    But there is more to the statement: Corbett states an unequivocal belief that creationism is ?superstitious nonsense.? The Court cannot discern a legitimate secular purpose in this statement, even when considered in context. The statement therefore constitutes improper disapproval of religion in violation of the Establishment Clause.

  156. #156 africangenesis
    May 2, 2009

    The California Teachers Union was given permission to intervene on Corbett’s behalf, but perhaps Corbett really needed the Discovery Institute’s help. They could have intervened to argue that since ID and creationism are sciences, Corbett had not violated the establishment clause. If the judge accepted this argument then we would have conflicting rulings in different juridictions that might eventually have to be resolved by the supreme court. But even if the judge did not accept the Discovery Institutes arguments, Corbett could have argued that there was at least some controversy and dispute over the status of these two alleged sciences, and that he could not know whether he was violating the eastablishment clause.

  157. #157 blf
    May 2, 2009

    These “creationists” believe that the universe, the Earth, and all life were created some 6,000 years ago in six 24-hour days by a deity called Yahweh.

    That is the brand of lunacy known as YEC (Young Earth Cretinism). There are other brands, such as OEC (Old Earth ?) who, as I understand it, claim Yahweh/Jehovah did its creation gig billions of years ago (in line with current estimates of the age of the Universe(? or at least of the Earth)). There are other variants as well, but all with the common un-falsifiable un-testable belief that life and/or the Universe was supernaturally magicked into existence.

    Then, for added amusement, some of the cretinistas also believe the earth is flat, or is the centre of the solar system or even of the Universe. And/or that a worldwide flood happened and did amazing, impossible things, and life only continued to exist because a certain Mr Noah had a big wooden ship(? boat?) built in which he, his family, and all the world’s animals could ride out the storm and flooding.

    And they also believe everyone else is both wrong and must also agree with their beliefs. Or else.

    Unfortunately, some legislators go along with this insanity.

  158. #158 strange gods before me
    May 2, 2009

    I think it is all a battle between right and left wing authoritarians anyway. The fundies vs the PC nazis.

    Altemeyer’s “left wing authoritarians” are Stalinists who literally support the mass murder of political enemies.

    To compare this to “political correctness” just shows how incredibly stupid you are, AG.

    Just like minimizing the suffering of Hitler’s victims is a form of Holocaust denial, your stupid comparisons are apologia for Stalin.

    http://everything2.com/node/620237

  159. #159 Matt Heath
    May 2, 2009

    Thanks JM-Inc. And pffft. There are some pretty beaches up in the North East of England, but they hardly global tourist destinations worth lying about.

  160. #160 africangenesis
    May 2, 2009

    strange gods#158,

    You don’t know what you are talking about. Read the book. Authoritarians are a type that crosses the political spectrum. If you don’t have time to read the book, this is a good summary:

    http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=364×1615619

    The PCnazis are followers, highly self reighteous bullies who “believe that it is ok to be cruel to those who do not follow the rules.” Look who is doing the shouting down and attacking on campuses, look who is engaging in destructive “mass action” against globalization, look who is shouting down and demonizaing skeptics of the AGW hypothesis. Look at a lot of the behaviors on this blog, the mobbing, mocking, namecalling and obscenity. Look at the attempt to push out any voices they disagree with with cruel games.

  161. #161 Walton
    May 2, 2009

    Altemeyer’s “left wing authoritarians” are Stalinists who literally support the mass murder of political enemies.

    To compare this to “political correctness” just shows how incredibly stupid you are, AG.

    Just like minimizing the suffering of Hitler’s victims is a form of Holocaust denial, your stupid comparisons are apologia for Stalin.

    Surely there are degrees of authoritarianism on both the left and the right (insofar as either term really means anything at all)? The authoritarianism of present-day American fundamentalist-theocrats is, obviously, considerably less bad than the authoritarianism of Hitler; yet this does not mean that the former should not be criticised for what it is. Likewise, the authoritarianism of modern democratic socialists is considerably less bad than the authoritarianism of Stalin. But it’s still authoritarian.

    One must remember that the antonym of “authoritarian” is “libertarian”. There is one political ideology – and only one – for which freedom is, always and in all circumstances, the number one priority. All other political groups willing to suspend freedom in the name of implementing their own grandiose schemes (whether this be religious fervour and “traditional values”, or economic equality and the ending of capitalism). By contrast, for libertarians, no outcome – however desirable it might seem – can possibly merit a substantial increase in the power and intrusiveness of the state.

    This doesn’t mean that libertarians are necessarily correct – because it’s perfectly possible that there are outcomes more important than freedom, and I’m not going to argue that point. But neither the left nor the right ought to talk about “freedom” as if they really believed in it. They don’t. And so they ought to be honest about it, and explain why their desired social or economic outcome merits a reduction in freedom.

  162. #162 Matt Heath
    May 2, 2009

    OFFS. I got what I deserved for trying to find a charitable reading of ag’s post, didn’t I. I should have known that any engagement with him would lead to the pretence of staying OT regarding mandatory education slipping away to reveal the only topic he’s really interested in: “ZOMG teh libruls criticise people for being bigots and think supermen like me shouldn’t be allowed indentured servants. They are Commie-Nazis!!!”

  163. #163 Ritchie Annand
    May 2, 2009

    The extra horror story for me here is that this addition requires, by law, notification by school boards on potentially-violating topics, without legal guidelines as to what constitutes “subject-matter that deals explicitly with religion”.

    If evolution, which we know is not itself explicitly religious, can quality, then essentially, it ends up being illegal to fail to notify the parents of things that the parents would find offensive to their religion, without the school boards knowing what those could be. How much paranoid imagination will the school boards have to have to avoid inadvertently running afoul of this law? Can you imagine the depth of CYA behaviour that this would have to engender?

    At the very least, legislation like this should put the onus on parents to provide the school boards with such information.

    It’s not like the programs of studies are secret!

    Quite frankly, things like evolutionary theory should be exempt, especially in this province. Quite apart from the fact that it’s science and not religion, if you don’t take Biology 20, you don’t encounter it, except in that Christian program in the school in Cochrane where they lambast evolutionary theory 4-5 years before you would ever take the subject in our schools.

    I don’t think you should be allowed to be a pissant and have your child take a course from which you know in advance you will pull the exemption card for a third or more of the material.

  164. #164 africangenesis
    May 2, 2009

    Matt Heath,

    I can speak for myself, don’t try to protect those followers too weak to think for themselves by mischaracterizing my positions. Don’t try to play to the crowd by attacking me, just because engaging in personal attacks is not just tolerated but enjoyed in this blogs culture.

  165. #165 strange gods before me
    May 2, 2009

    Dumbass Africangenesis,

    You don’t know what you’re talking about. I have read Altemeyer’s book. Here, I’ll quote from it. The right wing authoritarians are people who strongly endorse the following statements of violence against political enemies:

    ___ 3. Our country desperately needs a mighty leader who will do what has to be done to destroy the radical new ways and sinfulness that are ruining us.

    ___ 7. The only way our country can get through the crisis ahead is to get back to our traditional values, put some tough leaders in power, and silence the troublemakers spreading bad ideas.

    ___ 10. Our country will be destroyed someday if we do not smash the perversions eating away at our moral fiber and traditional beliefs.

    ___ 14. What our country really needs is a strong, determined leader who will crush evil, and take us back to our true path.

    ___ 16. God?s laws about abortion, pornography and marriage must be strictly followed before it is too late, and those who break them must be strongly punished.

    ___ 17. There are many radical, immoral people in our country today, who are trying to ruin it for their own godless purposes, whom the authorities should put out of action.

    ___ 19. Our country will be great if we honor the ways of our forefathers, do what the authorities tell us to do, and get rid of the ?rotten apples? who are ruining everything.

    ___ 22. This country would work a lot better if certain groups of troublemakers would just shut up and accept their group?s traditional place in society.

    The people advocating “political correctness” (right wing code for “the decency to take other people’s feelings into consideration”) are not calling for violence or murder of their opponents. There simply is no equivalent. Altemeyer gets even more specific, emphasis mine:

    You could have left-wing authoritarian followers as well, who support a
    revolutionary leader who wants to overthrow the establishment. I knew a few in the
    1970s, Marxist university students who constantly spouted their chosen authorities,
    Lenin or Trotsky or Chairman Mao. Happily they spent most of their time fighting
    with each other, as lampooned in Monty Python?s Life of Brian where the People?s
    Front of Judea devotes most of its energy to battling, not the Romans, but the Judean
    People?s Front. But the left-wing authoritarians on my campus disappeared long ago.
    Similarly in America ?the Weathermen? blew away in the wind. I?m sure one can find
    left-wing authoritarians here and there, but they hardly exist in sufficient numbers
    now to threaten democracy in North America.
    However I have found bucketfuls of
    right-wing authoritarians in nearly every sample I have drawn in Canada and the
    United States for the past three decades. So when I speak of ?authoritarian followers?
    in this book I mean right-wing authoritarian followers, as identified by the RWA scale

    You are so stupid, AG. You compare “political correctness” to Nazism, and in so doing you minimize Hitler’s victims and engage in Holocaust denial.

    Look who is doing the shouting down and attacking on campuses,

    Oh waaaa, free speech.

    look who is engaging in destructive “mass action” against globalization,

    By this standard the 1773 Boston Tea Party was a bunch of fascists.

    look who is shouting down and demonizaing skeptics of the AGW hypothesis. Look at a lot of the behaviors on this blog, the mobbing, mocking, namecalling and obscenity. Look at the attempt to push out any voices they disagree with with cruel games.

    Waaaa, more free speech. AG, if you weren’t so stupid, you wouldn’t be an anti-science crank who denies the facts. You come here spouting lies and bullshit and you complain that you’re being shouted down? You’re free to leave at any time. Stick around and be a science denialist, well, you know the tone at Pharyngula. Calling you a moron still is nothing like calling for you to be thrown in a gulag.

  166. #166 Matt Heath
    May 2, 2009

    Another OFFS this time for Walton. Yes “Libertarian” is etymologically the antonym of “Authoritarian” (more or less). If you think that implies that those who style themselves Libertarians are the opposite of authoritarians, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. You say yourself your only concerned that the state doesn’t accumulate more power. Authority =!= state and right “libertarians” are always in favour of freeing non-state power to build tyrannies (look at what lightly regulated businesses do in the real world). Chomsky has “libertarians” in the American sense right: wannabe feudal masters.

    strange gods: The feudalist is kind of correct about Left Wing Authoritarians in Altermeyer. “Right” and “left” have weird definitions in that book. LWAs would be anyone that wanted to enforce a very non-conventional order. So weird New Age cults would probably count and Trot-sects certainly would. Orthodox Stalinists in the USSR scored as high-RWAs

  167. #167 strange gods before me
    May 2, 2009

    Surely there are degrees of authoritarianism on both the left and the right (insofar as either term really means anything at all)?

    Walton, read the fucking book before we talk. I’m in no mood to educate you on well defined sociological phenomena that you’re flagrantly ignorant of and trying to stretch the meanings of.

    Likewise, the authoritarianism of modern democratic socialists is considerably less bad than the authoritarianism of Stalin. But it’s still authoritarian.

    Like I said, read the fucking book. What you’re talking about does not relate at all to Altemeyer’s rigorous findings. Voting is not an authoritarian act.

    One must remember that the antonym of “authoritarian” is “libertarian”.

    Funny, you ought to look up what “libertarian” means, then. http://www.infoshop.org/faq/secA1.html#seca13 The word originally referred to left-wing anarchists. I don’t normally fall back to weakass arguments-by-dictionary, but if you’re going to play that game, you already lose.

    There is one political ideology – and only one – for which freedom is, always and in all circumstances, the number one priority.

    Whatever that political ideology is, it’s not your right-wing libertarianism.

    Your idea of freedom is my freedom to starve to death in the street.

    I thought you were learning to get beyond these stupid platitudes and deal with nuance. I’m very disappointed to see that you’re still spouting ideology at odds with your own understanding of practicality. Please, afford me the intellectual respect you know I’m due. I’m making an effort to give you the same.

  168. #168 Matt Heath
    May 2, 2009

    ag. I’m not project anything on you. The fake-quote was not debate it was mockery which at this stage is all you deserve since all you ever do is hijack threads into OT general discussion of libertarianism. If you stuck to discussing the subject of the post from a libertarian position it wouldn’t deserve mockery but all you ever do is try to make every thread about what you think. This is rude, dickish behaviour and the only response it deserves is mockery. Anyway I shan’t mock you again because I’m just going to ignore you from now on.

  169. #169 strange gods before me
    May 2, 2009

    strange gods: The feudalist is kind of correct about Left Wing Authoritarians in Altermeyer. “Right” and “left” have weird definitions in that book. LWAs would be anyone that wanted to enforce a very non-conventional order.

    Yes, I’ve read it. I know what you’re talking about. But Africangenesis is not making the “Old English ‘riht'” distinction that Altemeyer makes, and I did not think it useful to further educate him on the nuances of a book he clearly did not understand. For the purposes of our discussion so far, the rights and lefts have coincidentally lined up.

    LWAs would be anyone that wanted to enforce a very non-conventional order.

    But to score as high-LWAs, that is, dangerous people who we should fear, they’d have to strongly endorse violent purging of their opponents. And that’s where AG fucks up. As Altemeyer notes, such people are incredibly rare in North America, whereas the violent high-RWAs are frighteningly common.

  170. #170 strange gods before me
    May 2, 2009

    And Walton, as long as you’re going to play this word game where any restriction on freedom whatsoever is “authoritarian,” then court systems which prosecute murder are authoritarian, because they are restricting my freedom to hunt down and purge libertrollians. ;)

    Under this reflexive, nuance-loathing definition that you read from the back of your Nolan chart, the only people who truly are not authoritarians are ascetics living alone in mountain caves.

  171. #171 Matt Heath
    May 2, 2009

    Strange Gods: Yeah I was just nitpicking the word “Stalinist” really since the Trots and such can be just keen on punishing deviants. In the main I’m in agreement with you.

  172. #172 strange gods before me
    May 2, 2009

    Strange Gods: Yeah I was just nitpicking the word “Stalinist” really since the Trots and such can be just keen on punishing deviants.

    Granted. But here I’ll piss off any Trot readers by deliberately making little distinction. After all, Trotsky was a murdering asshole in his time, and his exile was more of a blatant power struggle than any fundamental policy disagreement.

  173. #173 africangenesis
    May 2, 2009

    Come Matt Heath,

    Quit indulging your authoritarian side. Address the substance that I addressed. Right here on this left wing posting, you have all the self reighteous support for the public school establishment. Note the way that any impact on the image of Alberta was taken with personal embarassment. Note the presumption of knowing what is best for other people’s children.

    Note your own faulty reasoning, you saw some validity in something I said and withdrew it later for unrelated reasons. The validity of point is not dependent upon who said it. One of Altemeyer’s key intellectual points was that Right Wing Authoritarianism was not right or left politically. He did a poor job of implementing his test that way however. For academic and scientific validity he should have paid more than just lip service to the presence of authoritarianism on the left. There are prejudiced poorly reasoning demonizing PZ sychophants, Noam Chomsky sycophants, AGW consensus sycophants, Obama sycophants, etc. Most of their followers will probably be the follower RWA types, sticking to blogs and other places where their beliefs are not questioned, where they can attack in mobs, where they seek confirmation of behavior that violates the principles of openness they profess to hold.

  174. #174 strange gods before me
    May 2, 2009

    He did a poor job of implementing his test that way however. For academic and scientific validity he should have paid more than just lip service to the presence of authoritarianism on the left.

    You’re a fucking idiot. He studied it the same way he studied right-wing authoritarianism, and he got results that were so statistically insignificant they could barely be counted, let alone thought politically significant.

    Quit indulging your authoritarian side. Address the substance that I addressed. Right here on this left wing posting, you have all the self reighteous support for the public school establishment.

    And did Matt Heath say that homeschoolers should be murdered or thrown in gulags? Or is your comparison utterly facetious.

    Note your own faulty reasoning, you saw some validity in something I said and withdrew it later for unrelated reasons.

    No, he withdrew it because you weren’t applying your arguments consistently.

    There are prejudiced poorly reasoning demonizing PZ sychophants, Noam Chomsky sycophants, AGW consensus sycophants, Obama sycophants, etc.

    Not here, there aren’t. You mistake agreeing with someone sometimes and disagreeing with them other times for sycophancy. You’re an imbecile, that’s obvious, but not even an honest one. You repeatedly show that you cannot be engaged meaningfully, unlike for instance Walton who holds many of your contemptible views but who generally argues honestly. When we tell you to get the fuck out of here, but tell Walton to please read more, you ought to take the fucking hint that you’re not welcome because of your actions, not just your beliefs.

  175. #175 africangenesis
    May 2, 2009

    Strange Gods#159,

    “But to score as high-LWAs, that is, dangerous people who we should fear, they’d have to strongly endorse violent purging of their opponents.”

    No, that isn’t Altemeyer’s point at all. The high RWAs in our society are almost never violent, and the are almost univerally productive members of society, the backbone of it. His point was that they COULD follow and be mislead and strick out and be dangerous. Politically left wing RWAs would be similarly innocous in most circumstances. But there is the same dangerous potential, look at the demonization of libertarians and fundamentalists and people of european descent that rises to the level of hatred and racism. Look at the strong belief in AGW despite lack of any familiarity with the evidence, and the assumption that if they can’t address arguments and don’t have the evidence that some-else must. Look at the appeal to consensus, and the insistence that it exists despite evidence to the contrary. Look at the attempt to argue from analogy to the consensus for evolution which has quite a different standing. The danger is already quite apparent, the central control that will be exercised over the economy if cap and trade is implemented, the opportunity cost of lost economy growth can be measured in not just dollars but lives.

  176. #176 strange gods before me
    May 2, 2009

    where they seek confirmation of behavior that violates the principles of openness they profess to hold.

    You and Ben Stein ought to have a pity party.

  177. #177 africangenesis
    May 2, 2009

    Strange Gods,

    “You’re a fucking idiot. He studied it the same way he studied right-wing authoritarianism, and he got results that were so statistically insignificant they could barely be counted, let alone thought politically significant. ”

    Easy to say, more difficult for you to actually cite.

  178. #178 strange gods before me
    May 2, 2009

    No, that isn’t Altemeyer’s point at all.

    The fuck it’s not. My quotes from the survey itself prove you wrong.

    But there is the same dangerous potential, look at the demonization of libertarians and fundamentalists and people of european descent that rises to the level of hatred and racism.

    Speaking as a man of European descent, I can say without reservation that you must have an extra hole in your head.

    Look at the strong belief in AGW despite lack of any familiarity with the evidence,

    Look at how you’ve never made a coherent argument against AGW despite your many months of quackery here.

    The danger is already quite apparent, the central control that will be exercised over the economy if cap and trade is implemented,

    Great Hayek’s Ghost! Market trade of carbon credits is exactly like a Soviet Five Year Plan!

  179. #179 Matt Heath
    May 2, 2009

    yawn.

  180. #180 strange gods before me
    May 2, 2009

    Easy to say, more difficult for you to actually cite.

    Jesus Christ. Page 10.

    I?m sure one can find
    left-wing authoritarians here and there, but they hardly exist in sufficient numbers
    now to threaten democracy in North America. However I have found bucketfuls of
    right-wing authoritarians in nearly every sample I have drawn in Canada and the
    United States for the past three decades.

    Page 207.

    If you look at just the New Democrats? and the conservatives? scores on the
    RWA scale, party affiliation correlated .82 on the average with authoritarianism,
    which is one of the strongest relationships ever found in the social sciences.

    The RWA scale divides these two groups almost as cleanly as a vote in the legislature would.
    Nothing else, so far as I know, correlates so highly with left-wing versus right-
    wing politics, anywhere. In Canada at least, when you are talking about the ?left-to-
    right? political dimension among politicians, you are talking about the personality trait
    measured by the RWA scale. At least until something sharper comes along. This
    might be true in the United States as well, but it doesn?t show up nearly as crisply in
    terms of party affiliation mainly because the Democrats have a lot of high RWAs in
    some of their caucuses, particularly in the South.

    So Blue Dogs score high-RWA. No surprise, that’s exactly why progressives have been waging a sustained primary war to throw them out and replace them with Better Democrats.

    But the likes of Zell Miller are not by any stretch of the imagination “left wing authoritarians.” With any luck, a black president will be the final straw that breaks the Blue Dogs’ backs and sends them packing on a New Dixiecrat platform. And we’ll say good riddance.

    And in Canada the authoritarianism scale correlates very specifically with party identification. The lower on the authoritarianism scale, the more likely to vote NDP.

    You suck at this.

  181. #181 Walton
    May 2, 2009

    And did Matt Heath say that homeschoolers should be murdered or thrown in gulags?

    Did George Bush or Rush Limbaugh say that left-wingers should be murdered or thrown in gulags?

    This is an absurd strawman.

  182. #182 africangenesis
    May 2, 2009

    Strange Gods,

    From your own quote of Altemeyer:

    “I?m sure one can find left-wing authoritarians here and there, but they hardly exist in sufficient numbers now to threaten democracy in North America”

    He does not say he STUDIED left-wing authoritarians, he just expresses his opinion. There is no evidence he produced a test without the “god” and “homosexual” references and required to focus on detecting the left RWAs. He may be as blind to authoritarianism on the American left as you are.

  183. #183 sardeth
    May 2, 2009

    If parents want to shield their students from knowledge, then take them out of the public school system.

    The freedom of educational choice exists in Alberta. There are plenty of schools that will indoctrinate children with the insipid sky-fairy belief system. This is where the argument should end.

    The rub of this bill and suddenly hi-jacked thread is that letting kids opt-out of necessary public school curricula because it offends ‘religious sensibilities’ is just inane silliness. Bill 44 courts and condones ignorance, and should not be passed into law.

  184. #184 africangenesis
    May 2, 2009

    Sardeth,

    I think you forget that Bill 44 is a gay rights bill. If gay rights aren’t worth giving parents a little more choice within the public school system, so be it, but don’t oppose the bill lightly and without full appreciation of what you are doing. If this compromise troubles you, would you be more receptive to vouchers to private schools for those who want to opt out?

  185. #185 strange gods before me
    May 2, 2009

    Africangenesis, authoritarianism has been studied rigorously since World War II. Altemeyer’s work continues decades of earlier studies. The search for high-LWAs in North America has been fruitless. You give anecdote after anecdote, instead of data. You are welcome to become a sociologist and do the work you believe is being overlooked. You are welcome to search the literature looking for the earlier research that you believe was improperly abandoned, and show the statistical errors you believe are there which should have led to continued study.

    Until then, you have no basis on which to criticize Altemeyer’s work except an argument from personal incredulity.

  186. #186 strange gods before me
    May 2, 2009

    Did George Bush or Rush Limbaugh say that left-wingers should be murdered or thrown in gulags?

    Bad examples, Walton.

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,982270,00.html

    In the Denver Post on December 29, 1995, Rush Limbaugh wrote, “I tell people don’t kill all the liberals, leave enough around so we can have two on every campus; living fossils, so we will never forget what these people stood for.”

    http://www.rollingstone.com/nationalaffairs/index.php/2009/03/02/the-bushyoo-axis/

    ?The government?s compelling interests in wartime justify restrictions on the scope of individual liberty,? Yoo wrote in one memo [titled "Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activity Within the United States"]. ?First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully.?

    The Bush administration made plans to suspend the First Amendment. What would the enforcement would have been, do you think they would have only issued fines, or do you think they would have imprisoned speech criminals? I can’t say prison definitively, and neither can you say fines definitively. Since this was rationalized as necessary for national security, I doubt that fines would have been understood as sufficient. But I think we can agree that either approach is highly authoritarian.

    I suggest you read the book. Altemeyer’s study is specific to certain data and meanings of the term “authoritarian,” like any scientific jargon, and I don’t want us to be talking past one another. How about that more fruitful discussion of gender pay discrimination we were having, any more thoughts there? And I read your April 30 post and replied here, not sure if you saw that, also not sure if you had expected me to have some other reaction.

  187. #187 Walton
    May 2, 2009

    How about that more fruitful discussion of gender pay discrimination we were having, any more thoughts there?

    I had to go away and think about that one, since you have a point.

    I have never denied that there’s a great deal of subliminal misogyny in our society. I’ve been involved extensively with student politics over the last year, and some of the comments made about female candidates’ personal lives – particularly on a notorious anonymous gossip website – have been particularly unpleasant (in some cases amounting to systematic character assassination). There’s also a widespread, and often entirely unfair, assumption that attractive women are elected because of their looks, not their abilities. Some of the men who are doing this now will no doubt be responsible at some time in their lives for employing people, and so it doesn’t necessarily surprise me that some employers are sexist, and – probably subliminally, for the most part – allow their assumptions about gender roles to cloud their judgment.

    So don’t think that I’m unaware of sexism. I do, however, stand by my statement that it hurts men as well. Men who don’t conform to masculine stereotypes often have a very hard time socially. Men are judged against a standard which is, in many ways, just as restrictive and stifling as those against which women are judged.

    I would also say that, while sexism is a real and very serious problem, there is very, very little we can or should do about it from a political angle. Business is a private matter, and private employers’ choices of employee is not the State’s concern; furthermore, restrictive regulation of the labour market, however noble its aims, disincentivises employment and drives jobs out of the country. As to misogyny in politics, there is nothing the State could do about it without abridging freedom of speech, which I trust you would not advocate.

    All we can do is try to change the culture. You may notice that I do call people out, on this very site, when they describe people like Sarah Palin or Ann Coulter as “bitches” or when they talk about women in a degrading fashion (recollect the dispute I had with FlameDuck on another thread). I personally have no tolerance for misogynistic or degrading remarks towards women, and I consider myself to have a responsibility to publicly dissociate myself from and disavow any such sentiments.

  188. #188 Walton
    May 2, 2009

    I suggest you read the book. Altemeyer’s study is specific to certain data and meanings of the term “authoritarian,” like any scientific jargon, and I don’t want us to be talking past one another.

    I don’t have time to read the book. Can you direct me to a decent online summary?

    And while I take your point, you must appreciate that, since you and AG have both read the book and seem to have drawn entirely different conclusions from it, I can’t really accept either viewpoint at face value.

  189. #189 strange gods before me
    May 2, 2009

    Walton, I haven’t got any substantial summaries on hand, and google didn’t turn up anything great. You could watch Nixon’s lawyer John Dean explain a bit about what he learned from Altemeyer’s research. But I have a feeling it would just turn you off, because you’re not very inclined to see the Bush administration as authoritarian, as far as I can tell, Yoo’s memo or not. And this interview was conducted during what were, to progressives, frightening times. But here it is. http://www.democracynow.org/2006/8/15/fmr_white_house_counsel_john_dean

    There’s also this interview of Bob Altemeyer by John Dean, which is interesting but maybe not the depth you want. http://writ.news.findlaw.com/dean/20070406.html

    I’ll suggest an abridged version. You could probably get most of the book by just skimming chapters 1, 2, 5, and maybe 7. Since the hyperlinked footnotes in the PDF are something like half the book, if you only click on the notes that you find incredible, you could save a lot of time.

    So don’t think that I’m unaware of sexism. I do, however, stand by my statement that it hurts men as well.

    Great, because I stand by that statement too. I’ve consistently said as much. I keep getting this feeling like I’m agreeing with you and you’re not hearing that part. Look at your examples:

    Men who don’t conform to masculine stereotypes often have a very hard time socially. Men are judged against a standard which is, in many ways, just as restrictive and stifling as those against which women are judged. …

    I also think men suffer from society’s expectations; heterosexual men are expected to display certain outward traits of masculinity (physical aggression, liking sports, drinking to excess, etc.) and are mocked, especially as children and teenagers, if they don’t live up to these standards. …

    there are some traits which are seen as characteristically “female” and others as characteristically “male”, and both genders are measured and judged against certain stereotypes. …

    Look at war, for example. Historically, when a country is in a state of total war, men have been drafted; and those who escaped the draft, or refused to serve for any reason, were treated as cowards by the general populace. …

    What we need is a broader cultural recognition that everyone – man or woman – is an individual, with the right to define themselves and their own identity however they wish, without being judged against some arbitrary traditional gender stereotype.

    Those could have been excerpts from an Intro to Feminist Theory student essay. These are all examples of patriarchy’s impositions upon society. You’re trying to tell me some of the same things that I’m trying to tell you. (Aside to afgen, don’t think for a second that I give a shit what you think about any of this. You’re wasting your time replying, because I will ignore you.)

    As to solutions, I still don’t want to go there yet. What you haven’t said is whether you can find an equivalent to all those lost wages. If there isn’t something else that hurts men equivalently, then male privilege exists. I don’t think this would be a big deal for you to agree, but you don’t seem to want to go there.

  190. #190 Walton
    May 2, 2009

    If there isn’t something else that hurts men equivalently, then male privilege exists. I don’t think this would be a big deal for you to agree, but you don’t seem to want to go there.

    OK. Yes. I will concede that the evidence suggests that, in quantifiable economic terms, sexism probably hurts women substantially more than it hurts men.

    But as you have gathered, I don’t particularly like the term “male privilege”. While I don’t doubt that you know far more than I do about how the term is used among academic feminists and scholars of gender studies, I can tell you how it comes over to a lay person. To someone such as myself with little grounding in feminist theory, the phrase conjures up impressions of some sort of entrenched, systematic, organised conspiracy to allow men to control and oppress women – and of a desire for state-led, radical change, including compulsory “positive discrimination” against men.

    By contrast, what I have noted is merely that our society has strong cultural expectations about the different characteristics of men and women – and that one side effect of this is that, as men are expected to be “primary breadwinners” and to be more aggressive than women, women can sometimes be unfairly disadvantaged in the workplace (either via sexist attitudes on the part of employers, or via cultural expectations placed on them to sacrifice their careers for the sake of brinigng up children). On this point we agree, so I think we’re really disputing terminology more than substance.

    However, this is largely academic, as you seem reluctant to engage in a discussion about what – stipulating that the problem exists, as we seem to agree on that point – should be done about it. And that’s where we move from social observation into political ideology.

  191. #191 Anonymous
    May 2, 2009

    Strange gods,

    “authoritarianism has been studied rigorously since World War II. Altemeyer’s work continues decades of earlier studies. The search for high-LWAs in North America has been fruitless”

    Is that the closest you can come to admitting you were wrong when you stated:

    “He studied it the same way he studied right-wing authoritarianism, and he got results that were so statistically insignificant they could barely be counted, let alone thought politically significant”

    So you couldn’t find any evidence that Altemeyer produced a test for RWA in the American left wing. He didn’t “study” it at all.

    “Until then, you have no basis on which to criticize Altemeyer’s work except an argument from personal incredulity.”

    Like you, he made statements denying authoritarianism on the American left without providing any references or having performed any studies. Yet he stated things in a way that left you with the impression that he could be authoritative on it. It did not occur to you to question it, until you I pressed you on it.

    You have to realize that social science is not a science, and that tests they way that Altemeyer designs them are more like political polls. There is no rigorous way to design the questions.

  192. #192 africangenesis
    May 2, 2009

    Walton#88,

    “I don’t have time to read the book. Can you direct me to a decent online summary?”

    You don’t need to read the whole book, the introduction and the 1st chapter demonstrate the concept that is alleged to be a universal human trait and the political bias in the way he tested for it.

  193. #193 strange gods before me
    May 2, 2009

    Africangenesis, you moron.

    So you couldn’t find any evidence that Altemeyer produced a test for RWA in the American left wing. He didn’t “study” it at all.

    You are so stupid. If you wanted this information you could find it as easily as I did. But the far more important point, which I too generously tried to spell out for you, is that Altemeyer did not invent this idea, and he wasn’t the first to study it. My answer was to point out that if you want to know why left-wing authoritarianism has been abandoned as an area of study, you’ll have to back further in the literature than Altemeyer. But yes, he’s studied it.

    http://www.hylidaea.com/altemeyer/authoritarians.htm

    High ?RWAs? are authoritarian followers who have submissive attitudes toward established authorities, show a general aggressiveness toward persons ?targeted? by those authorities, and adhere tightly to social conventions. Research on such folks goes back to The Authoritarian Personality (Adorno, Frenkel-Brunswik, Levinson & Sanford, 1950), and by now we know quite a bit about them ? which my publishers hope you will want to learn. Assessed by reactions to statements on the RWA scale such as ?Our country desperately needs a mighty leader who will do what has to be done to destroy the radical new ways and sinfulness that are ruining us,? and ?The only way our country can get through the crisis ahead is to get back to our traditional values, put some tough leaders in power, and silence the troublemakers spreading bad ideas,? high RWAs have proven to be relatively submissive to government injustices, unsupportive of civil liberties and the Bill of Rights, supportive of the Experimenter in the Milgram situation, high shockers themselves in a ?punish the learner? situation, punitive toward law-breakers, mean-spirited, ready to join government ?posses? to run down almost everyone (including themselves), happy with traditional sex roles, strongly influenced by group norms, highly religious (especially in a fundamentalist way), and politically conservative (from the grass roots up to the pros, say studies of over 1,500 elected lawmakers). They also have remarkably compartmentalized minds, endorse a multitude of contradictory beliefs, apply a variety of double standards to their thinking on social matters, are blind to themselves, dogmatic, fearful of a dangerous world, and self-righteous to beat the band. (You will find the evidence for this perhaps startling thumbnail sketch in Altemeyer, 1996. You will also see that the search for left-wing authoritarians continues largely to draw a blank.) …

    Altemeyer, B. (1996). The Authoritarian Specter (pp. 130?136). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    You want to know more those studies, go to the library. There’s your reference, you lazy ass.

    Like you, he made statements denying authoritarianism on the American left without providing any references or having performed any studies. Yet he stated things in a way that left you with the impression that he could be authoritative on it. It did not occur to you to question it, until you I pressed you on it.

    Ha ha, liar, it’s you who made statements denying the existence of any such studies, without having spent 2 minutes googling for references. How embarrassing.

    You have to realize that social science is not a science, and that tests they way that Altemeyer designs them are more like political polls. There is no rigorous way to design the questions.

    Clearly not a scientist yourself. Let me explain it to you slowly. A “science” is a field of empirical study that can make testable predictions.

    So when on page 36 he explains that the RWA test has an alpha coefficient of .90, you can know that the test questions are highly internally consistent, which wouldn’t be possible if the questions weren’t rigorously designed.

    And what does it mean in the real world outside of the survey? Several dozen things you deliberately overlooked in the book, but for example right there on page 20 you can see that high-RWAs are more willing to blame the victim of the Milgram electric shock experiment than low-RWAs. That’s a testable, repeatable, falsifiable prediction. Science!

    How did you get to be so stupid? That you would try to tell Walton that the whole book is useless right after you told Matt Heath it was so accurate that he could see himself in it? AG, you suck.

  194. #194 strange gods before me
    May 2, 2009

    Walton, after skimming the book again, let me revise my recommendation. I honestly believe that you personally would be glad to start with chapter 7 and then go back to chapter 1.

  195. #195 strange gods before me
    May 2, 2009

    OK. Yes. I will concede that the evidence suggests that, in quantifiable economic terms, sexism probably hurts women substantially more than it hurts men.

    This is the part where I scream “oppressor!” and cut off your testicles.

    To someone such as myself with little grounding in feminist theory, the phrase conjures up impressions of some sort of entrenched, systematic, organised conspiracy to allow men to control and oppress women

    Organized? Well sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t.

    I think you’d agree that it was organization if Bart Ehrman is right that Paul’s followers edited extant copies of his first epistle to the Corinthians to say women could not speak in church. http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Christianity/2006/03/Did-Scribes-Edit-Women-Out-Of-The-Bible.aspx They weren’t thinking, “this will keep women down for nearly two millenia, lol!” But that was the effect, and they were thinking that they didn’t like it when, at that time and place in history, women could speak in the church as long as their hair was covered. Within a few years there were different copies of Paul’s epistle going around, with and without those verses, and it took many further particular decisions, of which to copy and which to discard, until the earlier were mostly lost to history.

    You’d have to agree that the opposition to suffragettes was organized, as there were organizations formed for precisely that purpose. Many of the opposition were women, too, just as there were house slaves who publicly opposed emancipation. There are always relative social benefits for those who support the status quo. So patriarchy, while organized, is not simply men against women. It is men and women who enforce traditional gender roles against women and men who do not conform to those roles. If you were harassed in your youth for not acting stereotypically tough and athletic, wait and see what happens when/if you decide to identify as a male feminist, or pro-feminist.

    It’s not organized when an individual man abuses his girlfriend. It may be organized if he and his neighbor have a mutual understanding not to call the cops for overheard abuse.

    You saw it organized when conservatives and fauxgressives built websites and went on TV to attack Hillary and Palin for being loud, weak, strident, bitchy, emotional, scheming, and dozens of other choice adjectives.

    Systematic?

    You and I and Adam Smith know that systems don’t need central planning. They don’t even need two people explicitly conspiring. Systems arise organically whenever individuals act in their own self-interest, especially if distinct sets among them have similar interests, similar methods will eventually become entrenched.

    So I ask you again to consider the analogy of evolution at http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/04/obamas_speech_to_the_national.php#comment-1598006 “given that there are always benefits and incentives for one group to dominate others, and given that men and women are physically and socially delineated enough for such domination to occur, what could stop one gender from dominating the other?”

    You yourself said that in many cases sexism comes out subconsciously, not at the premeditated choice of the individual. You also acknowledged that it’s not instinctual. Well, it doesn’t come from nowhere. If it’s not instinctual, and it’s not the result of individual people rationally weighing all their options and deciding to be sexist, then what else can it be but systematic?

    Entrenched?

    Patriarchy was already with us thousands of years ago when the stories that became the Torah and the Vedas were oral tradition. You’ll agree it was still here at the beginning of the twentieth century. Tell me that’s that’s not entrenched. And if you think it ended sometime in the last hundred years, then when was that? Surely if there was some identifiable end of patriarchy, you can give a date. And if you can’t, then it’s still entrenched.

  196. #196 Anonymous
    May 2, 2009

    But for much of the above I’m conflating patriarchy and male privilege. That’s because it was hard to respond to you while making the distinction over and over, because for the most part you are conflating the two. That’s understandable.

    We’ll start by making this distinction. You can choose to not participate in furthering patriarchy. You cannot choose to not receive the benefits of male privilege. Your own little individual slice of patriarchy is a choice, or rather a series of choices, that you get to make. But male privilege is conferred upon you by others, and as long as the wider society is patriarchal, it will continue to grant you male privilege. So the only way to end male privilege, for yourself and for me, is in a roundabout way to fight against the patriarchy that grants it.

    I hope that makes sense.

    and of a desire for state-led, radical change, including compulsory “positive discrimination” against men.

    That’s your assumption, not my fault, not my problem. The facts of the matter do not necessarily imply any particular solution. If you can’t see feminist critique as anything but some outrageous totalitarian plot, well, that’s hilarious. Definitely an indicator that you still haven’t bothered to spend twenty minutes googling. Still didn’t matter to you. Fine, fine, I’m getting bored with that. Here’s your cheat sheets, they’ll take you at most 5, 10, and 5 minutes, respectively.

    http://brown-betty.livejournal.com/305643.html

    http://www.amptoons.com/blog/the-male-privilege-checklist/

    http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/03/11/faq-what-is-male-privilege/

    From the last, “it?s not about one person saying or doing one thing, it?s about a whole lot of people saying and doing things that, collectively, end up giving men an overall advantage.”

    At the very least you can try to be more aware of these advantages, something you’re doing right now, thanks, even if getting this far was a hard sell. There’s more, which I doubt would be any great violation of your liberty: you can pass the word along.

  197. #197 strange gods before me
    May 2, 2009

    Damn anonymous “feature.”

  198. #198 africangenesis
    May 2, 2009

    Strange gods,

    “Clearly not a scientist yourself. Let me explain it to you slowly. A “science” is a field of empirical study that can make testable predictions.”

    Sorry, the physical scientists are not going to let the social “scientists” off that easy.

    “So when on page 36 he explains that the RWA test has an alpha coefficient of .90, you can know that the test questions are highly internally consistent, which wouldn’t be possible if the questions weren’t rigorously designed.”

    No, the questions obviously were poorly designed. That alpha coefficient could be achieved merely by trying a large numbers of questions and pruning to the statistical test.

    On the shocking test, I’ve no doubt the high RWA scorers punished as described on the shock test. The point is that if the test were good enough to also pick up the American left wing high RWA scorers, they would perform similarly. Just look at how the left wing sycophants here pile on to out-groups here at PZs command. They behave with incivility as quickly as any others with the least bit of encouragement or the cloak of anonymity. You know, calling me a liar would have more credibility if you could back it up.

  199. #199 africangenesis
    May 2, 2009

    Strange goods,

    “Damn anonymous “feature.””

    Yeah. I’ve learned not to sweat it, if I forget, I forget. Does anyone know what happened to the capability of logging in with openID??

  200. #200 strange gods before me
    May 3, 2009

    Sorry, the physical scientists are not going to let the social “scientists” off that easy.

    So naturally you offered a more limited definition of science. No, wait, you didn’t. Jesus Christ you are stupid. How embarrassing for you.

    The point is that if the test were good enough to also pick up the American left wing high RWA scorers, they would perform similarly

    First you said you were looking for a test to detect left-wing high-LWAs, now you want to find left-wing high-RWAs. The latter are well addressed in the book; again, they can be found as Blue Dogs. The questions about god and homosexuality amount to a few points’ difference, and do not preclude the identification of left-wing high-RWAs who may be atheists or gay-friendly. It’s not nearly the deal breaker you’re trying to pretend it is, else you’d equally have to say that anyone answering liberally on the questions pertaining to women’s rights would be precluded from scoring high-RWA through the other questions, and the math (simple addition in this case) doesn’t support you there.

    But left-wing high-RWAs are a completely different animal from left-wing high-LWAs (or right-wing high-LWAs for that matter). Altemeyer doesn’t address LWAs in this book because he already studied them in the 1996 book and could not find significant numbers. You can go to the library and verify that, instead of complaining to me.

    Do you even remember which it is you’re trying to complain about? Showing a basic familiarity with the book’s jargon would probably make you a bit more credibility. Seeking out the reference that you asked for and I supplied, instead of just complaining more, might give you more credibility.

    You know, calling me a liar would have more credibility if you could back it up.

    I did. I gave you the 1996 reference that you lied about and claimed did not exist.

    No, the questions obviously were poorly designed.

    “Obviously,” for those values of obvious which appeal to your blinkered and scientifically ignorant prejudices.

    You aren’t even trying any more. You are a troll. I am done talking to you.

    Go ahead and get the last word in. Convince yourself that no one wants to talk to you because you’re so threateningly correct, rather than an obnoxious and ignorant troll who only wants to fight rather than following the too generously provided references.

    Ignore the hint that Walton consistently gets substantive replies from dozens of his political opponents whereas you get shit on. Ignore the fact that you are the the one consistent feature in all your failed attempts at human interaction. It can’t be your fault. It must be everyone else.

  201. #201 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 3, 2009

    Yawn, another thread the libertardians hijacked for their morally bankrupt philosophy sophistry. They will finally get a clue when they realize the best thing they can do is to just not post here, as anything they say hurts their cause.

  202. #202 africangenesis
    May 3, 2009

    Strange Gods#200,

    “First you said you were looking for a test to detect left-wing high-LWAs, now you want to find left-wing high-RWAs. The latter are well addressed in the book; again, they can be found as Blue Dogs. ”

    If I said I was looking for a test to detect left wing high LWAs, it was a typo or brain glitch. It is a test for the left-wind high RWAs that think there should be a test for, and no the Blue Dogs don’t qualify, they are just in the democratic party without being truly left wing.

    BTW, I’ve done a search and I never said I was looking for the high-LWAs.

  203. #203 Walton
    May 3, 2009

    Strange gods:

    From one of your links above on male privilege –

    29. If I?m not conventionally attractive, the disadvantages are relatively small and easy to ignore.

    Ha. Ha. Ha.

  204. #204 Walton
    May 3, 2009

    From the last, “it?s not about one person saying or doing one thing, it?s about a whole lot of people saying and doing things that, collectively, end up giving men an overall advantage.”

    OK, I understand that. And I will concede that there is empirical evidence to support your argument that male privilege exists.

    I very much suspect that male privilege is very much more endemic in some communities and professions than others. As regards my personal experience: as I’ve observed before, there is a hell of a lot of (covert) misogyny in student politics, and I would definitely acknowledge that men are institutionally privileged when it comes to getting elected to public office. This is probably more-or-less universally true in public life in most countries. Likewise, in terms of geographical location, some parts of the UK (and US) are much more “unreconstructed” in their cultural attitudes than others.

    In a way, I suppose, the kind of privilege to which you refer is much more pernicious than the overt privilege which existed in the past, and which still exists in Muslim countries and some other non-Western cultures. Where women are banned from voting, working in professional occupations or going outside without a chaperone, then the discrimination is self-evident and obvious, and to abolish it merely requires a legislative repeal. But the kind of privilege to which you refer is invisible, undetectable and near-impossible to quantify.

  205. #205 Walton
    May 3, 2009

    Entrenched?

    Patriarchy was already with us thousands of years ago when the stories that became the Torah and the Vedas were oral tradition. You’ll agree it was still here at the beginning of the twentieth century. Tell me that’s that’s not entrenched. And if you think it ended sometime in the last hundred years, then when was that? Surely if there was some identifiable end of patriarchy, you can give a date. And if you can’t, then it’s still entrenched.

    There certainly was no identifiable “end” of patriarchy, but it’s being gradually eroded. I don’t think anyone would question that we live in a substantially less patriarchal society than we did in 1959; nor that 1959 was less patriarchal than 1909. Things are changing. This isn’t to say that the trend will continue; as I understand it, it’s largely contingent on economic changes, as these make the decisive difference to lifestyles and familial relations.

    Yes, traditional religious attitudes were certainly incredibly male-centric, though I suspect these were the symptoms rather than the causes of patriarchy. A society’s mythology reflects the cultural outlook of that society; and since early Near and Middle Eastern society (from which virtually all our modern major religions stem, ultimately) was fiercely tribal and governed by patriarchs, our religious traditions reflect that. It’s worth noting that as Western culture has become less patriarchal, so too have most forms of Christianity and Judaism (the majority of Protestant churches now ordain women, for instance; I think I’ve met more female than male Anglican priests in the last few years).

  206. #206 Walton
    May 3, 2009

    You saw it organized when conservatives and fauxgressives built websites and went on TV to attack Hillary and Palin for being loud, weak, strident, bitchy, emotional, scheming, and dozens of other choice adjectives.

    Kudos for recognising that there is sexism on both sides of the political divide.

  207. #207 strange gods before me
    May 3, 2009

    BTW, I’ve done a search and I never said I was looking for the high-LWAs.

    Good job, you lying troll, you successfully trolled me into replying one more time. You said it at 140, then at 160 you described the characteristics you expected of them, which are “political correctness” against the prevailing classist/sexist/racist/heteronormative social order, and anti-establishment property destruction against prevailing capitalism, further at 173 “Noam Chomsky sycophants,” and then at 182 responded to my quote on LWAs by arguing that he didn’t study them instead of saying that no, you were looking for left-wing RWAs.

    Those weren’t typos or brain glitches, those were fundamental misunderstandings of the topic.

    Since you’re too stupid to grasp your glaring error, I’ll spell it out. Altemeyer’s studies are limited to mainland North America, and there is no such thing as a “left-wing RWA in mainland North America,” that’s a contradiction in terms. The establishment here has been conservative capitalist for over two hundred years. I should hardly have to say this, but Noam Chomsky is not the establishment, he’s barely allowed on television. (And a Noam Chomsky authoritarian is another contradiction in terms, like the “International Central Committee of the Left Anarchists” that SC uses to mock your endless stupidity.) Authoritarian anti-capitalism, such as Leninism, is exclusively an LWA thing in North America, just as my first and second comments to you made clear: “You could have left-wing authoritarian followers as well, who support a revolutionary leader who wants to overthrow the establishment.”

    If you want to study “left-wing RWAs” you’ll have to go to some place like Cuba, where the political left is the establishment. And for example if you wanted to find “right-wing LWAs,” you’d have to look for capitalist dissidents in Cuba.

    There’s an old saying in Tennessee, I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee, that says, troll me once, shame on … shame on you. Troll me?you can’t get trolled again. Hopefully.

  208. #208 strange gods before me
    May 3, 2009

    Ha. Ha. Ha.

    If you’re really as hideous as you claim, then that one won’t apply, as it’s still referring to unconventional attractiveness, which most people have, but perhaps you don’t. Though, more probably so do you, and your lack of luck in love so far is most likely attributable to shyness than visceral disgust. I, of all people, have little desire to try to make you feel better. I’m just saying it’s truly rare for a person to be as repulsive as you imply you are, but very common for both men and women to judge themselves universally unattractive when they are merely unconventionally attractive. Has anyone trustworthy, who had no intention of taunting you, ever told you that you really are quite ugly?

    I very much suspect that male privilege is very much more endemic in some communities and professions than others.

    Maybe. But one of the most pervasive forms of male privilege is that a man can interrupt other people talking and often be seen as smart and confident, while a woman who does the same thing is perceived as rude and bitchy. This is something we learn as children — boys are permitted some leeway to interrupt and be assertive while girls are chided for it, and even if parents know better there are teachers and aunts and uncles and neighbors who reflexively enforce this social order — so when we grow up it ends up pervading every profession, and becomes a barrier to professional women almost universally.

    If you start trying to list occupations where male privilege is relatively minor, it’ll be a pretty short list, and the work will probably all be “pink collar” jobs with low pay and few benefits.

    In a way, I suppose, the kind of privilege to which you refer is much more pernicious than the overt privilege which existed in the past,

    In many ways, yes. The invisibility leads many people to judge everything at face value, which they’d never do in their own lives (being well aware that their own interpersonal relations have hidden dynamics) but they see the rest of society only superficially. This may be similar to the Fundamental Attribution Error.

    So we get exchanges like this: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/05/daughters_need_letters.php#comment-1606334

    The speaker of the house is a woman. That’s not a patriarchy. The Secretary of State is a woman. That’s not a patriarchy. In Washington State, where I live, the governor and both our US senators are women. That’s not a patriarchy and I voted for them. The reactionary right wants to make Sarah Palin president. That’s not a patriarchy. She’s a reactionary asshole but, as the conservative governor of the conservative state of Alaska, sexism doesn’t appear to have held her back, which, in this case, is unfortunate.

    Yes, the existence of a few women in positions of power totally proves your point. Now Nancy Pelosi, who has never – EVER – been the subject of misogynist hysteria, just needs to rally the 51% female House of Representatives and… oh, wait. 75 of the 534-member 110th Congress are women. That’s 14%. So, what exactly was your point about there not being a patriarchy?

    What grolby might also have pointed out there is that Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, Olympia Snowe, et al, are examples of exceptional women. Likewise an exceptional black man like Barack Obama can become president. But the fact is, we all recognize and acknowledge that these people are exceptions to the norm. The fact that a few exceptional people can succeed implies nothing about the opportunities for the average millions. The rules for average men are still different than the rules for average women, the rules for average whites still different than those for average blacks. Very few of us are truly exceptional, so it’s misleading to look at these people and expect that they imply anything about us. John Rawls’s proposal of the “veil of ignorance” may be instructive here.

    There certainly was no identifiable “end” of patriarchy, but it’s being gradually eroded. I don’t think anyone would question that we live in a substantially less patriarchal society than we did in 1959; nor that 1959 was less patriarchal than 1909. Things are changing. This isn’t to say that the trend will continue; as I understand it, it’s largely contingent on economic changes, as these make the decisive difference to lifestyles and familial relations.

    And at least in the USA, 1959 was more patriarchal than 1924. Now, when you start trying to identify how all these women’s freedoms were won, you consistently find they were driven by the determination of feminists, and you consistently find that they were opposed in their time by people who said things were good enough already.

    Three months ago when the Lilly Ledbetter Act was passed, every male Republican Senator except for now-Democrat Arlen Specter voted against it. And every female Republican Senator voted for it, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, Lisa Murkowski and Kay Bailey Hutchinson. Each one of these women is staunchly pro-business, conservative party line on economic issues. But in this case, even though their constituencies would not punish them for voting no, they believed the correct economic choice was to vote yes. We have to wonder if perhaps they could see an overwhelmingly compelling necessity that was invisible to their male counterparts.

    Regardless of the merits of that particular legislation, it remains that the unenviable role of dragging society kicking and screaming toward equality always falls to feminists. And until we all get there, feminists have our work cut out for us. So the slogan “I’ll be post-feminist in the post-patriarchy.” Covert sexism grows like kudzu on everyone’s unchallenged assumptions, and there are still millions of overt sexists for tradition who would like to see us rest. Even well meaning advice to relax is not helpful. http://www.spunk.org/texts/cartoons/wildcat/sp000585.gif

    Yes, traditional religious attitudes were certainly incredibly male-centric, though I suspect these were the symptoms rather than the causes of patriarchy.

    In the beginning, but then it quickly becomes a feedback loop of mutual causation.

    It’s worth noting that as Western culture has become less patriarchal, so too have most forms of Christianity and Judaism

    In part due to the influence of early twentieth century spiritualism, a movement largely driven by feminist women. It’s very hard to find any trend toward gender equality that wasn’t pioneered by feminists.

  209. #209 Walton
    May 3, 2009

    In part due to the influence of early twentieth century spiritualism, a movement largely driven by feminist women. It’s very hard to find any trend toward gender equality that wasn’t pioneered by feminists.

    I’d challenge that claim. A great deal of the trend towards gender equality in the last two centuries – just like the trend towards racial equality and democracy – stems, IMO, from economic factors.

    Political power is to a great extent contingent on economic power; this is an uncontroversial statement of fact. Without one’s own source of income, it’s very difficult to achieve any political influence. I would point out that women in the pre-industrial era mostly worked in the home, and had little or no economic independence. I would suggest that the Industrial Revolution, which allowed many women to work outside the home and earn money for the first time – and, indeed, the First and Second World Wars, in which, out of necessity, many women entered jobs which were previously considered “men’s work” – were decisive factors in the trend towards gender equality. I realise this is a broad brush generalisation, and that one can find counterexamples; but it seems to me to be a fairly good descriptor of a trend.

    (Likewise, the political dominance of the landed aristocracy, at least in Britain, was broken in the nineteenth century by the Industrial Revolution; since more and more wealth came from manufacturing and trade rather than land, the traditional dominant class no longer monopolised economic power and, therefore, no longer monopolised political power. This is part of why I see industrialisation and capitalism as a good thing from a sociological perspective.)

    I see religion and political ideology as symptoms and indicators, rather than causes, of the power relationships within society. Women had little power in pre-industrial society not because religion prevented them from having power, but because their economic position prevented them from having power; and, because men consequently dominated all social institutions including those of religion, the religious dogma of the time reflected male dominance. Similarly, feminism was able to come about, and to achieve change, because economic change had given women a level of independence which they had never previously possessed.

  210. #210 David Marjanovi?, OM
    May 3, 2009

    africangenesis, if you have evidence against AGW, why don’t you put it on the table? And how come you completely overlooked this thread, where half of us disagree with PZ, and 3/4 of us disagree with each other?

    Concerning sociology, as a biologist I have no problem whatsoever with saying that it can be done as a science, even though it often isn’t (“the closer you get to humans, the worse the science gets”).

    Walton, if I misunderstand your situation, please tell me. So far it looks like you’re lamenting the fact that you still haven’t found a girlfriend at the age of 19. Is that right? If so… while it is rare nowadays, it does happen; I’m 26 and have still never had one. I still don’t despair, because the world population is so high, I get around the world much (…even though, being a nerd, I don’t get out much… in fact, hardly at all), and I don’t think it’s a particularly urgent problem. In fact, now, during my ridiculously time-limited French thesis, it’s highly questionable whether I even have time to socialize (…that I don’t already spend online, that is).

    There’s an old saying in Tennessee, I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee, that says, troll me once, shame on … shame on you. Troll me?you can’t get trolled again. Hopefully.

    Day saved!

  211. #211 strange gods before me
    May 3, 2009

    On the contrary, it is not at all established that women gained either wages or independence from the industrial revolution.

    http://eh.net/bookreviews/library/burnette

    For a historian relying on non-quantitative sources, Pinchbeck did an admirable job of describing the patterns and trends in women’s work. Later historians using more quantitative methods generally agree with her descriptions. A good example is Sara Horrell and Jane Humphries’ 1995 Economic History Review article, which begins with the sentence, “Ivy Pinchbeck argued 65 years ago that the changes in the British economy during the industrial revolution promoted increased dependence on male wages and male wage-earners” (Horrell and Humphries, 1995, p. 89). Using a probit equation to predict female labor force participation, they find a downward trend in female labor force participation throughout the first half of the nineteenth century, which leads them to the conclusion that “Sixty-five years on we find that our evidence largely supports Pinchbeck’s views” (Horrell and Humphries, 1995, p. 113).

    Pinchbeck’s most controversial conclusion is her claim that the Industrial Revolution made women better off. Jane Rendall (1990, p. 7) claims that “Most modern historians would see her interpretation . . . as unduly optimistic.” Many historians see the period as one during which women lost rather than gained. The disagreement seems to be mainly one of interpretation. Pinchbeck notes that many women withdrew from the labor force, and she interprets this as a gain. Women had more leisure, and more time to devote to their housework. Other historians, observing the same change, have interpreted it as a decline in women’s position as they were forced out of the labor market. Women may have gained leisure, but they lost independence and bargaining power. Davidoff and Hall (1987, p. 273), for example, note that “the loss of opportunities to earn increased the dominance of marriage as the only survival route for middle-class women.”

    As to the question of what economic independence pre-industrial women had that could be lost, see http://www.psupress.psu.edu/books/titles/978-0-271-02969-6.html

    The heyday of feminism was shortly before and during World War I, but the war proved to be a mixed blessing. Afterward, an anti-feminist social backlash drove many women to give up their jobs and get back on the mommy track.

    Gender and power in Britain, 1640-1990 by Susan Kingsley Kent, chapter 12 http://books.google.com/books?id=8qgrUNv92ewC&pg=PA287&lpg=PA287

    For all “scientists of sex” in the 1920s and 1930s, sexual activity was firmly located within marriage, and its chief and central aim, after the carnage wrought by the Great War, was procreation. (G.K. Chesterton, as quoted by Dora Russell, wrote that “sex without gestation and parturition is like blowing the trumpets and waving the flags without doing any of the fighting.”) A more insistent ideology of motherhood demanded that women leave their wartime jobs, give up their independence, and return to home and family, where their primary occupation — their obligation, in fact — would be the bearing and rearing of children. …

    Legislative reforms, along with the gains women had made in employment and wages during the war, contributed to an impression that the war had been a boon to women, that it had enhanced their position in the workplace and in political life, and that it had done so at the expense of men.

    As early as 1916, in fact, the Factory Times urged that “we must get the women back into the home as soon as possible. That they ever left is one of the evil results of the war.” Removing women from their wartime jobs so as to eliminate competition with men for work was regarded as one way to assure, as Ray Strachey put it, “that everything could be as it had been before.” Where once women had received accolades of the highest order for their service to the country during wartime, by 1918 they were being vilified and excoriated for their efforts. …

    Denied husbands, many of them, by the destruction of the Great War, single women were visible reminders of the war that had only recently ended. Feminism soon became linked in the public mind not merely with sex war, a somewhat familiar concept, but with armed conflict, death, and destruction. Arabella Kenealy, a lecturer at the Royal College of Physicians in Dublin, argued in 1920 in a book pointedly titled Feminism and Sex-Extinction, that:

    “men and women are naturally dependent upon one another in every human relation; a dispensation which engenders reciprocal trust,affection and comradeship. Feminist doctrine and practice menace these most excellent previsions and provisions of Nature by thrusting personal rivalries, economic competition and general conflict of interests between the sexes.”

    She urged women to recognize the inevitability of sex differences and to give up their wartime jobs to men, explaining that men would use violence against them if they refused to vacate their positions. …

    For millions of laboring men and women, the newly justified gender ideals of bread-winning male and stay-at-home wife could not easily be realized. The years of depression that began in Britain as early as 1921, when one million Britons were out of work — that number rising to 2.5 million by 1935 — severely challenged one of the most fundamental of criteria for masculinity, that of bread-winner status. Men who prided themselves on their independence and on their ability to keep their family found themselves out of work, sometimes for years at a stretch. Women had to make do on dramatically reduced pay-packets or on the unemployment assistance that came to be called, derisively, “the dole,” going without food themselves in order that their husbands and children might eat, and introducing economies that they withheld from their husbands’ knowledge for fear that his diminished sense of manliness might be further eroded.

    Ironically, anti-feminism driving women out of the workforce may have contributed to the economic collapse. But this would be social convention driving economic forces, rather than the other way around as you have it. I don’t deny that economic trends can drive social and political trends — the whole of Marxist theory until very recently was predicated upon this, and though I am not a Marxist politically, the economic studies are indispensable — but the whole truth cannot be reduced to this trajectory. Otherwise you end up saying “women had little power in pre-industrial society not because religion prevented them from having power, but because their economic position prevented them from having power”, without any explanation of how women came to have that economic position. You can go back to the enclosure of the commons or earlier, but eventually you’re going to trace it back to a sociopolitical trend of patriarchy driving women into certain positions of subservience; those positions were never an economic inevitability.

    The post-WWII period had the same kind of backlash, but since feminism had largely been crushed by the beginning of that war, women ended up back in the home much quicker. The reduction of women’s roles to the 1950s housewife, along with the increase in men’s wages that began to allow a middle class life on a single earner’s salary, is much more widely known than the interwar period, and I hope needs no citation, though I will supply if requested.

  212. #212 Walton
    May 3, 2009

    Otherwise you end up saying “women had little power in pre-industrial society not because religion prevented them from having power, but because their economic position prevented them from having power”, without any explanation of how women came to have that economic position. You can go back to the enclosure of the commons or earlier, but eventually you’re going to trace it back to a sociopolitical trend of patriarchy driving women into certain positions of subservience; those positions were never an economic inevitability.

    Are you sure? Couldn’t it be partly that most occupations, in the pre-industrial world, involved intense manual labour, for which men are physically better-fitted than women?

    I would suggest, in fact, that modern, technological capitalist economies – in which economic productivity does not rely on muscle power – have levelled the playing field to a very great extent, compared to the situation in less advanced societies. One’s economic success in a modern society relies much more on intelligence and communication skills than on physical strength, thereby putting men and women on an equal footing.

    (Indeed, I will point out – as libertarians often do – that it makes no economic sense, from a rational perspective, to discriminate against women in employment. An employer who does so will be economically disadvantaged compared to an employer who does not, since he will end up hiring less efficient employees. Some libertarians will use this to argue that the free market will eliminate discrimination on its own, since it separates economic efficiency from irrelevant factors; I would concede, however, that this is slightly too strong a claim, and is not backed by empirical evidence.)

    This is really a chicken-and-egg question, and I don’t doubt that sociopolitical attitudes played a major part – but I still think it’s a little simplistic to blame religion and cultural attitudes for all the male privilege in history.

  213. #213 africangenesis
    May 3, 2009

    Strange Gods and Walton,

    I’m involved in some separate discussions, so I haven’t had time to review the patriarchy data presented. So, I wonder, did any of it control for height? In the US, it is strange that even since women got the majority in the electorate it is nearly always the taller candidate that wins. How would we recognize when patriarchy has ended if the height prejudice remains?

    Also, just an anecodotal observation, but it seems to me that women who are doing well competing with men, even in the more egalitarian professions, are having fewer children than other women. Was there any data to back this up, or studies that analyzed whether less patriarchal societies were less evolutionarily fit? BTW, Nancy Palosi is a refreshing exception to this.

  214. #214 africangenesis
    May 3, 2009

    Strange Gods#207,

    From altemeyer:

    “It?s an aspect of his personality, not a description of his politics. Rightwing authoritarianism is a personality trait, like being characteristically bashful or happy or grumpy or dopey.”

    Perhaps this is where I have gotten confused. I thought the RWA trait encompassed all the in-group vs out-group behavior and authoritiarian following and that LWA would have to be something different. The unquestioning herd behavior, censorship,demonizing and license for incivility assumed by those belonging to the herd seen in PZ’s and Chomsky’s followers and organizations like move-on.org all exhibit the RWA trait. Are you saying that there is no different LWA trait, it is just the same trait exhibited by left-wingers? I thought Altemeyer was after a more subtle distinction than than, then just the same trait, different name.

  215. #215 africangenesis
    May 3, 2009

    David Marjanovi?,

    “africangenesis, if you have evidence against AGW, why don’t you put it on the table?”

    You know you are reversing the burden of proof, but I’ve presented the evidence anyway. Recall my peer review cittions documenting that the sun was recently in a “grand maximum” and also documenting that the models were not yet good enough to attribute more of the recent warming to AGW or solar. Technically, this would be evidence against any confidence in the conclusion that AGW is responsible for most of the recent warming. But then there isn’t evidence against the solar hypothesis either.

    But I am arguing that with the Texas state climatologist over here, come join us:

    http://www.chron.com/commons/readerblogs/atmosphere.html

  216. #216 Anonymous
    May 3, 2009

    David Marjanovi?#210,

    “And how come you completely overlooked this thread, where half of us disagree with PZ, and 3/4 of us disagree with each other?”

    That thread is both commendable and encouraging, and I hope becomes more the norm than the survivor threads.

  217. #217 Eosine
    May 3, 2009

    I live in Alberta. It’s all sadly sadly true. My teacher skipped over the chapter that went over the earth’s age and whatever time periods. I to this day do not know what precambrian means! I hear about it from time to time. This stupid law won’t change anything. Evolution is not taught anyways. They touch on species in bio-30, but evolution is not mentioned. This will just cut off any remaining teachers (not from this province) who might try to say something about it. Nobody here knows what the heck evolution is. My grade eight teacher, who is now a principle, just said evolution is stupid because it says we come from monkeys. The science education here is a JOKE. It shows in how much we are suffering from oil prices going down. Even our medical system is going alt med. The nurses here are taught how great alt med is. The stollery children’s hospital in Edmonton is integrated. http://www.lethbridgecollege.ab.ca/health/ We are heading to a private health care system now too, unlike the rest of Canada.
    I’d flee the province, but don’t know where to go. BC is letting naturopaths subscribe meds now, any kind.

  218. #218 Eosine
    May 3, 2009

    Er, I meant prescribe meds above. oops.

  219. #219 africangenesis
    May 3, 2009

    Eosine,

    “I live in Alberta. It’s all sadly sadly true. My teacher skipped over the chapter that went over the earth’s age and whatever time periods. I to this day do not know what precambrian means! ”

    Teacher dependency is one of the problems with the current factory model school systems, but you are taking it to an extreme. May I suggest that you google “precambrian”.

  220. #220 Sven DiMilo
    May 3, 2009

    This piddly little thread? Only CCXIX posts, and most recently AG? Hardly worth one’s attention.

  221. #221 'Tis Himself
    May 3, 2009

    I to this day do not know what precambrian means!

    Here’s a graph of the various geological ages. The Precambrian Age is 4,500 million years ago to 543 million years ago.

  222. #222 africangenesis
    May 3, 2009

    Eosine#217,

    Perhaps you can convince your parents to let you drop out of school, here is a book which might help you with that:

    The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education by Grace Llewellyn

  223. #223 Josh
    May 3, 2009

    And if you want to keep up with the most recent ages:

    http://www.stratigraphy.org/

  224. #224 'Tis Himself
    May 3, 2009

    There’s the Age of Rock (and Roll).

  225. #225 Josh
    May 3, 2009

    Sigh. Then of course there might be more than one age…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvNOZegkVXo

  226. #228 Ichthyic
    May 3, 2009

    since AG is still spouting nonsense, and he’s managed to hook someone…

    I’ll address that someone else who seemed to support his nonsense without thinking:

    I can especially see a case for making attendance voluntary as kids get closer to adulthood (although not for excusing them from knowing stuff come exam time).

    we already do that.

    It’s called college.

  227. #229 'Tis Himself
    May 3, 2009

    I killfiled AG a long time ago.

    Instead of looneytarianism, let’s consider

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7-i43W4mqw

  228. #230 Ichthyic
    May 3, 2009

    And how come you completely overlooked this thread, where half of us disagree with PZ, and 3/4 of us disagree with each other?

    because he’s here to troll, which is why he ended up being nominated in the survivor threads, and why, of course, he relegates much more import to them than is warranted:

    That thread is both commendable and encouraging, and I hope becomes more the norm than the survivor threads.

    …as if the survivor threads were in any way a regular feature around here.

    I smell fear.

  229. #231 SC, OM
    May 3, 2009

    Are these supposed to be bad songs?

  230. #232 'Tis Himself
    May 3, 2009

    Are these supposed to be bad songs?

    Josh and I have been posting songs with “rock” in the title.

  231. #233 Josh
    May 3, 2009

    nope…not bad songs…gotta look closer than that…

  232. #234 'Tis Himself
    May 3, 2009
  233. #236 'Tis Himself
    May 3, 2009

    Oops, I was wrong. One of the songs I posted had “roll” in the title instead of rock.

  234. #237 Sven DiMilo
    May 3, 2009

    If there’s anything worse than a rickroll, it has to be a meatloafroll. It’s making me afraid to click.
    Here’s a (theme-appropriate) antidote:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsTFCA2zeMI

  235. #238 'Tis Himself
    May 3, 2009

    Velvet Fucking Underground? Your taste is all in your mouth, Sven.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99DH5Eg-VcQ&feature=related

  236. #239 Josh
    May 3, 2009

    Hah! Awesome ‘Tis.

    Okay, I need to bow out until later. See you all on the other side.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0upu_DhFK1I

    Nous Défions

    *pops smoke*

  237. #240 Sven DiMilo
    May 3, 2009

    A snarky quip about musical taste followed by a link to John Cougar Cougar-Mellencamp Mellencamp??

    Really?

  238. #241 'Tis Himself
    May 3, 2009

    Since it’s 2200* here and I have to be to work tomorrow at O dark 30, I’ll leave you with one more video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3T_xeoGES8

    *That’s 10pm, for those who have trouble subtracting 12s.

  239. #242 SC, OM
    May 3, 2009

    I fear clicking on any of these (although I will – I’m a slave of my curiosity and musical interest…). Asked for the links to come over here and now I’m fading… Sorry! Thanks all for the entertainment! Good night!

  240. #243 africangenesis
    May 3, 2009

    “That thread is both commendable and encouraging, and I hope becomes more the norm than the survivor threads.” — ag

    “…as if the survivor threads were in any way a regular feature around here. I smell fear.” — Ichthyic

    Admit it, you like it, the in-group comaradery, reinforcing your hate, the license to attack in all self-reighteousness, basking in the sanction and approval of your leader. Strange Gods would say you were a Left-Wing Authoritarian (LWA). I say it is no different a trait than RWA.

  241. #244 Sphere Coupler
    May 3, 2009

    Alright Everyone’s gone guess I’ll have to clean this up, course I’ll use my favorite chose of weapon.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3A6ar44Ecec

  242. #245 Wowbagger, OM
    May 3, 2009

    Africangenesis wrote:

    Admit it, you like it, the in-group comaradery, reinforcing your hate, the license to attack in all self-reighteousness, basking in the sanction and approval of your leader. Strange Gods would say you were a Left-Wing Authoritarian (LWA). I say it is no different a trait than RWA.

    False dichotomy. There are plenty of people here who aren’t anything like what you’ve described but who still find you sphincter-tighteningly insipid – and that includes those who share much of your particular worldview – and consider that the worst crime of all.

  243. #246 Ben in Texas
    May 3, 2009

    Wowbagger is right.

  244. #247 Stanton
    May 3, 2009

    Admit it, you like it, the in-group comaradery, reinforcing your hate, the license to attack in all self-reighteousness, basking in the sanction and approval of your leader. Strange Gods would say you were a Left-Wing Authoritarian (LWA). I say it is no different a trait than RWA.

    You were spouting this exact same crap back when you were accusing and lambasting everyone where for being cruel atheists who had “holes in their hearts.”

    So, africangenesis, if you really don’t like anyone here, and have no intention of getting anyone to like you, why can’t you leave?

  245. #248 africangenesis
    May 3, 2009

    Stanton,

    “So, africangenesis, if you really don’t like anyone here, and have no intention of getting anyone to like you, why can’t you leave?”

    What, so you wouldn’t have to think anymore? Thinking is hard, and “agreeing” is so much less challenging.

  246. #249 Stanton
    May 3, 2009

    Trying to belittle me does not excuse the fact that you are using the exact same accusation of the commenters here being a group of slavering yes-zombies at PZ Myers’ beck and call you made when you were accusing everyone of being cruel, hole-hearted atheists.

    As for “agreeing being less challenging,” this is just more bullshit on your part in order to distract from the fact that your smug bullshitting gets on people’s nerves. I have a lot to disagree with here, anyhow, given as how I’m studying acupuncture, but, at least I try to make an attempt to be sociable, unlike you.

    So, I repeat: if you really don’t like anyone here, and have no intention of getting anyone to like you, why can’t you leave?

  247. #250 Wowbagger, OM
    May 4, 2009

    What’s the difference between being a slavering yes-zombie and being a contentious, contrary no-zombie? Either way you add nothing to the discussion.

  248. #251 africangenesis
    May 4, 2009

    “Trying to belittle me does not excuse the fact that you are using the exact same accusation of the commenters here being a group of slavering yes-zombies at PZ Myers’ beck and call you made when you were accusing everyone of being cruel, hole-hearted atheists.”

    Give me some credit Stanton, back then I was foundering to make sense of the mob behavior, I was trying to make sense of it and categorize it. It is NOT the same now, I’ve read “The Authoritarians”, so I can point to the characteristic behaviors of the fearful authoritarian followers. So I can paint a more coherent picture now.

    So, you are accusing me of being slightly repetitive, what exactly is original about the namecalling, and mobbing eh?

  249. #252 Wowbagger, OM
    May 4, 2009

    So, you are accusing me of being slightly repetitive, what exactly is original about the namecalling, and mobbing eh?

    And you dodge the question yet again. If you find it so distasteful, why are you still here?

  250. #253 africangenesis
    May 4, 2009

    Wowbagger,

    “And you dodge the question yet again. If you find it so distasteful, why are you still here?”

    Apologies, I didn’t realize it wasn’t rhetorical, another way of saying “go away”.

    I’m here to figure out why you are here, why you are behaving as you do, what your beliefs and goals are, and what effects reason and evidence have on you. (Read that as the plural “you”.) I’m not asking you why, I doubt I could trust your self report, because you may not be conscious of your real reasons. I am basically doing a threat assessment of what is going on here and seeing if it can be perturbed by evidence. I think a lot of those participating here are naive and haven’t encountered reasonable persons with opinions different than their own. I also there are a lot of fearful protectors here, that want to keep the naive in the fold. Does that help?

  251. #254 Ken Cope
    May 4, 2009

    I think a lot of those participating here are naive and haven’t encountered reasonable persons with opinions different than their own.

    Who could not be swayed, nay, humbled, by such persuasive rhetoric?

  252. #255 Wowbagger, OM
    May 4, 2009

    I think a lot of those participating here are naive and haven’t encountered reasonable persons with opinions different than their own.

    How delightfully condescending – and profoundly ignorant. We don’t agree, so we mustn’t have heard it before. While I admit that was actually the case for me (Libertarianism and its variants don’t seem to have had much exposure in Australia; something I’m now rather proud of, actually) it’s hardly true of the posters in general.

    Anyway, you’ve been boring us senseless for months now; do you think you’ve made any progress? Has any poster thanked you for bringing the obvious benefits of your particular interpretation of libertarian theology to their attention?

    Heck, I would actually suspect it was the opposite – anyone who had considered your position to be in any way indicative of a well-adjusted mindset would have realised by now that it’s not the case.

    I guess the real question here is this: How long will you keep at it before you realise no-one here is interested and find some other group to bother?

  253. #256 Stanton
    May 4, 2009

    I think a lot of those participating here are naive and haven’t encountered reasonable persons with opinions different than their own. I also there are a lot of fearful protectors here, that want to keep the naive in the fold. Does that help?

    It doesn’t occur to you that the reason why you generate so much hostility here is because people find you to be unctuous and unpleasant, especially since you’re a bad judge of people and don’t care to realize this.
    Claiming that you’ve read the “The Authoritarians” does not grant you immunity to the fact that you do irritate people here. Why else do you think you were nominated in the Survivor elimination challenges?

  254. #257 Wowbagger, OM
    May 4, 2009

    Who could not be swayed, nay, humbled, by such persuasive rhetoric?

    Thanks for that, Ken. I came painfully close to spraying myself, my screen and most of my workstation with mocha after I read that.

  255. #258 africangenesis
    May 4, 2009

    Ken Cope,

    “Who could not be swayed, nay, humbled, by such persuasive rhetoric?”

    They don’t have to be persuaded. Exposure to alternatives and the plausibility of alternatives, reinforced by seeing the people who they thought they agree with engaging in fearful mob behavior, decreasing the signal to noise ratio, trying to drown out the signal. A little more questioning and reflection is possibly innoculating. What are they following here? Why are the Chomskyites and anarchists shouting down libertarians and conservatives even though they are fellow athiests who accept evolution? Why are the Chomskyites and anarchists silent and unobjecting when the statist status quo is supported and not exposing any positive programs of their own to scrutiny (SC excluded)?

  256. #259 Stanton
    May 4, 2009

    I guess the real question here is this: How long will you keep at it before you realise no-one here is interested and find some other group to bother?

    Probably not until PZ finally gets fed up with his blather and gives him the boot once and for all.

  257. #260 africangenesis
    May 4, 2009

    “Probably not until PZ finally gets fed up with his blather and gives him the boot once and for all.”

    Oh Stanton, that’s precious. Is that the type of person you think PZ is? Is that why you are here? Why are you here at this science blog? Why do you think this kind of community has sprung up? Do you have any signal or are you just noise?

    You know, I’m actually interested in the science and have contributed to those dicussions as well, but the “community” is interesting from biological, evolutionary, cultural, political and sociological perspectives.

  258. #261 Ichthyic
    May 4, 2009

    basking in the sanction and approval of your leader.

    “O captain! My captain!”

    phht.

    you need to get out of the fucking house more.

  259. #262 Ken Cope
    May 4, 2009

    signal to noise ratio, trying to drown out the signal

    Is there no free blogging software and web-hosting available for the dissemination of such a fiercely pure and overwhelmingly plausible thesis? If there are any technical hurdles that might hinder the execution of such a worthwhile endeavor, AG, there are courses available for you to take at most community college campuses, for an extremely modest fee, unless their very availability, made possible by a plurality and the pooled resources of the State, offends your delicate sensibilities.

  260. #263 Wowbagger,OM
    May 4, 2009

    Probably not until PZ finally gets fed up with his blather and gives him the boot once and for all.

    And yet that still wouldn’t make him pause and consider that it was his rhetorical style (or lack thereof) and attitude which ‘did him in'; rather, he’d claim that it was the ‘far-left anarchists’ conspiring against his shining the bright beacon of libertarianism, ensuring the truth was kept from all the naive minds kept in the dark by the ‘Chomskyites’ here at Pharyngula.

  261. #264 Ichthyic
    May 4, 2009

    Is that why you are here?

    the question is best directed at yourself, troll.

    why ARE you here, anyway?

    surely you aren’t really pretentious enough to believe what you said here:

    Exposure to alternatives and the plausibility of alternatives, reinforced by seeing the people who they thought they agree with engaging in fearful mob behavior, decreasing the signal to noise ratio, trying to drown out the signal.

    right?

    that was all fucking bullshit, right?

    because otherwise, you’re completely delusional.

    so, which is it?

    you’re delusional

    or

    you’re trolling

    I can come to no other conclusion based on weeks of seeing your inane screeds.

  262. #265 bastion of sass
    May 4, 2009

    Hmmm. Looks like the others may have gone to bed early.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rB8HudfbaTE

  263. #266 africangenesis
    May 4, 2009

    Ichthyic,

    “why ARE you here, anyway?”

    Perhaps you will be able to understand it, if I boil it down to one word: curiosity

    This is a science blog after all. Do you have the grace to respond, why are you here? Why are you such a reacting (a reactionary?)? Apologies, but I don’t recall seeing any signal in your posts. Is there something I missed that you can point to?

  264. #267 Kagato
    May 4, 2009

    I’m here to figure out why you are here, why you are behaving as you do, what your beliefs and goals are

    I think it is safe to say most of us are here because we enjoy reading PZ Myers’ blog posts, and the spirited discussions which follow. Many readers, though certainly not all, are atheist, which is unsurprising given the topics that crop up here. Pretty obvious.

    Or are you looking for something deeper — and “you” means, say, the “Atheist-Socialist-Authoritarian Secret Internet Cabal”?

    and what effects reason and evidence have on you.

    That’s rich. Are you planning on showing any?
    On what subject? I’m pretty sure you’re not thinking about science.

    I’m not asking you why, I doubt I could trust your self report, because you may not be conscious of your real reasons.

    Whereas you are the paragon of objectivity, because after all, you’ve read a book.

    I am basically doing a threat assessment of what is going on here

    *snort* “Threat assessment”? Are you worried that the comments here will somehow breach the site and tear down the pillars of civilisation? No wait, we’re “fearful Authoritarian followers”, so I guess that would be fortifying the pillars or something.

    I think a lot of those participating here are naive and haven’t encountered reasonable persons with opinions different than their own.
    I also there are a lot of fearful protectors here, that want to keep the naive in the fold.

    And surely no-one could perceive such a moderate and reasoned attitude as offensively arrogant.

  265. #268 Ken Cope
    May 4, 2009

    Ichthyic,

    “why ARE you here, anyway?”

    For starters, Ichthyic has not scrupulously worn out his welcome.

  266. #269 Ichthyic
    May 4, 2009

    Apologies, but I don’t recall seeing any signal in your posts.

    asked and answered. I can’t help that your observational skills are on a par with your logic.

    frankly, I don’t give a shit WHAT you think, but as for curiosity, I would say you’ve answered my question.

    you’re just trolling.

    so,

    fuck off, eh?

  267. #270 africangenesis
    May 4, 2009

    Kagato,

    “On what subject? I’m pretty sure you’re not thinking about science.”

    You must be new. I was just reading my sciencenow about dark matter and dancing cockatoos.

    “Or are you looking for something deeper — and “you” means, say, the “Atheist-Socialist-Authoritarian Secret Internet Cabal”?”

    You see them too?

  268. #271 Wowbagger, OM
    May 4, 2009

    Yawn. I didn’t think it was possible, but boring troll is even more boring when it’s trying to be funny.

  269. #272 Walton
    May 4, 2009

    Anyway, you’ve been boring us senseless for months now; do you think you’ve made any progress? Has any poster thanked you for bringing the obvious benefits of your particular interpretation of libertarian theology to their attention?

    If I haven’t, I should have done… I think AG’s views are interesting, and often agree with them.

  270. #273 Rorschach
    May 4, 2009

    Time PZ posted something,we’re so bored we are attacking each other again LOL

    I will say that I think AG is not the worst troll,and I wouldnt support banning it,at least it’s trying at times.

    This new trend here lately of painting everyone male you disagree with as “misogynists”,i.e.poisoning the well,is much worse,and much more like your garden variety fundie tactics.
    There,that should keep us going until PZ wakes up..:-)

  271. #274 Wowbagger, OM
    May 4, 2009

    Walton wrote:

    If I haven’t, I should have done… I think AG’s views are interesting, and often agree with them.

    Then why the heck don’t you invite him to post his soporific fantasies on your blog and leave us the hell alone? The two of you can engage in magical libertarian mutual-masturbation for the rest of time.

  272. #275 africangenesis
    May 4, 2009

    Wowbagger#274,

    I think the younster will benefit more from seeing freedom, evidence based reasoning and civility well defended in a hostile environment and the very best a progressive science blog has to offer. That ‘OM means that you are among the best, right?

    The mocking, mobbing, and spitting vitriol are typical left wing behavior when the taken out of their comfort zone.

  273. #276 Wowbagger, OM
    May 4, 2009

    I think the younster will benefit more from seeing freedom, evidence based reasoning and civility well defended in a hostile environment and the very best a progressive science blog has to offer.

    Really? Then do let us know when it starts because, so far, I’ve seen nothing resembling ‘evidence based reasoning’ in any post below your handle. You’re just peddling the dogma of another nonsensical fantasy-based religion. Walton’s ideal cult-member material; of course he’s impressed by it.

    He wants to be led and you want to lead; it’s obvious. So, instead of wasting your time here, go to Walton’s blog and wax poetic about your idealistic feudal society there instead of here. He’ll lap it up – heck, you might even get him to send you money. Which is the only yardstick by which someone like you can measure value, isn’t it?

    Oh, and make sure you tell him he’s a good boy; he needs the reassurance.

  274. #277 africangenesis
    May 4, 2009

    Wowbagger,

    Yes, I pick environments where I encounter only sycophants who agree with me. A libertarian cult? It is not possible, because we are all different. “I’m not” Walton’s learning by swimming. Occassionally he may benefit from seeing someone else swim. I’m usually out a little deeper than he is anyway. I think it is more educational for the naive followers here to see that even a devils advocate extreme is as plausible as some of what they are being fed here by the seldom questioned culture. It is definitely not the libertarians here that are authoritarian followers.

  275. #278 windy
    May 4, 2009

    Hmmm. Looks like the others may have gone to bed early.

    Ahem.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3J1xWp0417A

  276. #279 Emmet, OM
    May 4, 2009

    That ‘OM means that you are among the best, right?

    No, it means that he won a popularity contest one month.

    No? wait? Doh!

    :o)

  277. #280 SC, OM
    May 4, 2009

    Apropos of nothing – Emmet, remember that discussion we had in our first couple of emails? It increasingly appears that you were quite right.

    ***

    Hey, speaking of OMs…

  278. #281 Wowbagger, OM
    May 4, 2009

    Yes, I pick environments where I encounter only sycophants who agree with me.

    So, you’re a proselytizing martyr then? I guess that makes us the hair-shirt over your scourge-marks. No doubt when you pray to the market you feel you’re earning points.

    I’m usually out a little deeper than he is anyway.

    Oh, you’re in it deep all right. But it ain’t water.

    I think it is more educational for the naive followers here to see that even a devils advocate extreme is as plausible as some of what they are being fed here by the seldom questioned culture.

    Again, do let us know when this ‘education’ is going to start, because up until now all you’ve done is parrot the hollow rhetoric of your religion and the result has been a chorus of disdain, even by those who aren’t subscribers to the opposite pole of political thought – no matter how often you like to describe anyone who calls you on your bullshit bullshit a ‘left-anarchist’.

    You flatter yourself by using the expression ‘Devil’s Advocate’. ‘Devil’s fluffer’ would be far more accurate.

    It is definitely not the libertarians here that are authoritarian followers.

    Again with the pointless, inaccurate generalisations. The majority of people here oppose you because your ideas are odious and your presentation of them tedious. Multiple individuals may reach a consensus on something without any influence from authority. No doubt you meet significant opposition from people who’ve never heard of PZ – or are you implying there’s a conspiracy of some kind to shut you down?

    That you can’t possibly entertain the notion that anyone could oppose your fanciful wacky-woo for any other reason is quite telling.

  279. #282 Wowbagger, OM
    May 4, 2009

    No, it means that he won a popularity contest one month.

    It was the swimsuit portion that clinched it for me.

  280. #283 SC, OM
    May 4, 2009

    It was the swimsuit portion that clinched it for me.

    Sure, but you didn’t get Mr. Consnarkiality for nothing.

  281. #284 Emmet, OM
    May 4, 2009

    It was the swimsuit portion that clinched it for me.

    In that case, it was the make-up people who deserve the award.

  282. #285 Wowbagger, OM
    May 4, 2009

    In that case, it was the make-up people who deserve the award.

    This is why my waxer (BC&S expert) was first on my list of people to thank…

  283. #286 Nico
    May 4, 2009

    I graduated from an alberta high school in 93. I don’t recall evolution being in the course curriculum, but that was 20 years ago.

    However this IS Alberta, hotbed of religious-nuttery and right wing insanity, holocaust deniers, homophobes and all manner of things of which I fled the instant I was handed that diploma.

    The high school of which my husband attended has turned fundamentalist catholic, and all manner of very right wing religious politician has crawled from the muck in my former hometown. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that Alberta is where this ridiculousness would start.

  284. #287 Ben in Texas
    May 4, 2009

    AG, many weeks ago, I pointed out that your reception here has to do with your attitude, not the substance of your arguments. Many others are saying the same thing. If you value evidence-based reasoning, you would take this chorus of voices as pretty good evidence. Another good bit of evidence is that many dissenting voices here are not treated the same way as you.

    In short, quit being a condescending prick and you might get treated better.

  285. #288 africangenesis
    May 4, 2009

    Ben,

    “In short, quit being a condescending prick and you might get treated better. ”

    I think I only take a condescending tone in response to self-reighteous name calling or mocking.

    The other thing I will do, is if someone puts something forward as if it is true and they are sure everyone will agree, if I think they contrary, I will put it forward with every bit as much certainty and confidence, partially to shock them out of their complacency. I’ve no problem with you concluding I am a self-reighteous prick if you will fairly apply the standard you have in mind to the earlier posts. You will realize there are lots of self-reighteous pricks on this site, but people only notice the ones that dissent. And if what you say is true, I might be one of the few. What could be more self reighteous than the vitriolic mocking and name calling:? They get even more frustrated when I stick to the substance and have an informed opinion. I’m sure if you are fair you will see that there is considerable discrimination in which self-reighteous pricks are singled out for attack. Consider NICO above:

    “However this IS Alberta, hotbed of religious-nuttery and right wing insanity, holocaust deniers, homophobes and all manner of things of which I fled the instant I was handed that diploma”

    That is a rather self-reighteous prick statement, don’t you think. But noone will probably bring it to her attention if I don’t, and I almost always don’t. I bet half the statements above mine on nearly any posting qualify similarly as self-reighteous prickish. So you see, it isn’t really my prickishness that is the issue. It is my dissent.

  286. #289 Ben in Texas
    May 4, 2009

    “I think I only take a condescending tone in response to self-reighteous name calling or mocking.”

    Based on our interaction at the TFN blog, I would say this isn’t accurate. Is it possible that you’re being condescending without being aware of it?

  287. #290 Stu
    May 4, 2009

    They get even more frustrated when I stick to the substance and have an informed opinion.

    Yeah, exactly. Except that never happens.

    So you see, it isn’t really my prickishness that is the issue. It is my dissent.

    No, it’s you persisting in viewpoints proven wrong. But don’t let that disturb your pathetic little delusions of grandeur.

  288. #291 africangenesis
    May 4, 2009

    Ben,

    Do you think Stu#290 has done the work necessary to know that this statement is true:

    “Yeah, exactly. Except that never happens.”

    It seems rather self reighteous and prickish. You are familiar with many of my posts where I presented peer review evidence. Could you correct him for me. I might appear prickish if I corrected him myself.

  289. #292 Militant Agnostic
    May 4, 2009

    I think this idiocy stems from a couple of things. One is the one cow one vote distribution of ridings (eletoral districts) which gicves cotrol of the provincial legislature to the the rural ridings despite something like 2/3 of the population living in Calgary and Edmonton. The other thing (resulting form the importance of the rurla vote) is a fear of losing the right to the Wild Rose party. I think champion AGW denialist and ultra conservative blowhard Dave Yeager will become leader of the WRP and the Conservatives are running scared of losing votes on the right, so they are pandering to the most ignorant and relying on the Liberals and NDP (social democrats) to split the vote on the left.

  290. #293 Stu
    May 4, 2009

    It seems rather self reighteous and prickish. You are familiar with many of my posts where I presented peer review evidence.

    Would you like a whaaahburger with your French cries?

  291. #294 PZ Myers
    May 4, 2009

    Rule #1: Do not bore me. Do not spawn long tedious threads that encourage others to do nothing but talk about you, and in which you do nothing but talk about yourself and your wonderful, noble behavior because that bores me greatly. Do not turn the comments section of my site into places where the only thing discussed is your defensive sanctimony and self-righteousness, because that really pisses me off.

    You’ve got a history of doing this kind of thing, africangenesis, and I despise it even more than I despise your ‘contrary’ (your word for stupid, apparently) opinions. Knock it off. I can tolerate you when you stop by to drop your occasional turd in the discussion, but I will not abide it when you make a wankfest about how wonderful your turds are.

    Look at the pixels on your screen. Imagine cutting one in half. That’s how close you are to being banned.

  292. #295 strange gods before me
    May 4, 2009

    Walton,

    You can go back to the enclosure of the commons or earlier, but eventually you’re going to trace it back to a sociopolitical trend of patriarchy driving women into certain positions of subservience; those positions were never an economic inevitability.

    Are you sure? Couldn’t it be partly that most occupations, in the pre-industrial world, involved intense manual labour, for which men are physically better-fitted than women?

    If you’re talking about the medieval period, I think you have overestimated how many men actually did “intense” labor. Some did, but a huge portion of the economy consisted of millers, bakers, brewers, cobblers, fullers, weavers, tailors, potters, chandlers, skinners, tanners, furriers, and others whose occupations did not require brute strength. There are records of women working in many of these trades, single women independently, and in families alongside fathers and husbands.

    In the early agricultural period, the hardest of hard labor was working the fields, and women have always worked the fields. So too raising livestock, though that’s less intensive. Then there’s carrying water, traditionally women’s work, and that can be one of the most strenuous daily tasks. http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/water/?section=noranydrop&page=noranydrop_e Making pottery and grinding grain to flour, then baking, all these necessities have been women’s work. There was no early agricultural work so difficult that women did not participate, but we know that thousands of years ago, patriarchal systems were already commonplace; this suggests their economic dependence was not from a division of labor by physical strength. To drive the point home, though monument building was not exactly a major source of income in most cultures, there is archeological evidence that women participated in the stonecutting and/or hauling during construction of the pyramids. Again, not a common sort of job for men or women, but indicative of physical capability. http://www.nationalgeographic.com/pyramids/pyramids.html

    By the medieval period, we enough written records to observe social backlashes against women’s relative economic independence. From Barbara Hanawalt’s summary, Women and the Household Economy in the Preindustrial Period, (not available for free online, but it’s an article in Journal of Women’s History, 11.3 (1999), if you want to track that down)

    David Herlihy attempted a summary of scholarly knowledge about women’s work in Opera Muliebria. The book’s most valuable chapter examines the Paris Books of the Taille, 1292-1313, which are the tax records of Paris and list people and their occupations. Herlihy found that women headed 15.4 percent of Paris households, compared to 14.3 percent in Florence. Women appeared in 172 occupations in 1292, but the number had declined to 130 by 1313. Women appeared in a number of different positions such as moneylenders and mint workers, but they predominated in the less prestigious ranks of household servants, food provisioners, retailers, workers in silk and linen, and clothiers. … Martha C. Howell in Women, Production, and Patriarchy in Late Medieval Cities showed how guild and urban regulations became more restrictive over the Middle Ages, so that women in the Low Countries and elsewhere increasingly were excluded from craft and trade positions that carried prestige and power in the marketplace. Men replaced women as masters of women’s guilds in Paris, for instance, and guilds restricted men from employing women outside their family to aid in production of goods.

    Such guild restrictions obviously were no inevitable economic necessity. We can find the same sort of social backlash at many different times and places. So yes, I’m sure, not simply because it sounds plausible, rather, because it’s documented. Artificially imposed restrictions on women’s growing power are a historical norm, not the exception. And I can give you some exceptions, periods of relatively open opportunity, but they are actually rarer as the timeline approaches the modern era.

    (Indeed, I will point out – as libertarians often do – that it makes no economic sense, from a rational perspective, to discriminate against women in employment. An employer who does so will be economically disadvantaged compared to an employer who does not, since he will end up hiring less efficient employees. Some libertarians will use this to argue that the free market will eliminate discrimination on its own, since it separates economic efficiency from irrelevant factors; I would concede, however, that this is slightly too strong a claim, and is not backed by empirical evidence.)

    But you know what makes even more economic sense? Imagine if you could hire a person for an entire lifetime, to prepare your food, make and launder your clothing, tend your livestock, produce cheese and butter, clean your home, bring your water, give birth to, nurse, babysit and teach your children, and either spend the rest of their waking day assisting you in your own trade or producing other goods on their own that you could then sell. Imagine if, in return, you only needed to ensure enough food and shelter for this person’s survival. And imagine if they were not permitted to leave.

    In those periods of history when husbands owned the output of their wives’ labor and wives were not permitted to initiate divorce, wives were slaves. No hyperbole, that’s slavery, a statement that you may find shocking but you will not find substantive fault with. And slavery is usually the most profitable economic arrangement possible.

    Laws granting husbands ownership of the household output, and restricting women’s initiation of divorce, are the norm throughout recorded history. This pattern is not a mere coincidence, and it’s not an economic necessity. It’s predictable, “given that there are always benefits and incentives for one group to dominate others, and given that men and women are physically and socially delineated enough for such domination to occur.” But these arrangements don’t occur without certain social assumptions about what women are worth.

    If I haven’t, I should have done… I think AG’s views are interesting, and often agree with them.

    That’s very kind of you to say, considering you’re orders of magnitude smarter than him.

  293. #296 bastion of sass
    May 4, 2009

    africangenesis wrote:

    The mocking, mobbing, and spitting vitriol are typical left wing behavior when the taken out of their comfort zone.

    Yes, so totally unlike the behavior of those on the right who never mock, mob, or spit vitriol when taken out of their comfort zone.

    Those on the right are typically in their comfort zone when they mock, mob, and spit vitriol.

  294. #297 Walton
    May 4, 2009

    In those periods of history when husbands owned the output of their wives’ labor and wives were not permitted to initiate divorce, wives were slaves. No hyperbole, that’s slavery, a statement that you may find shocking but you will not find substantive fault with.

    No, I don’t find it shocking; it’s absolutely true. As – *gasp!* – any libertarian will say, someone who cannot own property in her own right, and cannot keep for herself the fruits of her labour, is a slave. So yes, women in many historical periods were, in effect, enslaved.

    And slavery is usually the most profitable economic arrangement possible.

    I’d have to challenge that statement. Surely a slave, since he enjoys none of the fruits of his own labour, has an economic incentive to do as little work as possible, and to consume as much as possible? By contrast, a free worker, who can earn more money by working harder and producing more, has an incentive to work hard.

    Such guild restrictions obviously were no inevitable economic necessity. We can find the same sort of social backlash at many different times and places. So yes, I’m sure, not simply because it sounds plausible, rather, because it’s documented. Artificially imposed restrictions on women’s growing power are a historical norm, not the exception. And I can give you some exceptions, periods of relatively open opportunity, but they are actually rarer as the timeline approaches the modern era… It’s predictable, “given that there are always benefits and incentives for one group to dominate others, and given that men and women are physically and socially delineated enough for such domination to occur.” But these arrangements don’t occur without certain social assumptions about what women are worth.

    Yes, I completely agree with you. (And thanks, by the way, for the painstaking research and evidence you’ve presented on this point. It’s unusual to see someone put so much effort into an online discussion, but as a result I’ve actually learned quite a bit about economic and social history, a field I’ve never had a chance to study in much depth. So I do appreciate it.)

    I think, in fact, that this illustrates quite neatly why libertarians support free trade and oppose guild restrictions and labour laws – because, as you yourself point out, such laws can be used by the governing class to oppress other groups and to keep them in an economically subservient position. By contrast – as you have just neatly and eloquently illustrated – if all people, regardless of gender, are guaranteed the rights of individual autonomy and private property and are left to make their own way in a free market, women and other historically oppressed groups will have a fair chance to improve their own economic situation, and, therefore, their power and standing in society.

  295. #298 Stu
    May 4, 2009

    if all people, regardless of gender, are guaranteed the rights of individual autonomy and private property and are left to make their own way in a free market, women and other historically oppressed groups will have a fair chance to improve their own economic situation, and, therefore, their power and standing in society

    Jebus Tapdancing Cripes, Walton.
    http://tinyurl.com/dcwpm7

  296. #299 Walton
    May 4, 2009

    Stu, I expressed that poorly (and you took it out of context). Since the whole latter part of this thread has been about employment discrimination, and we’ve discussed it in a great deal of detail, rest assured that I am not unaware of the problem.

  297. #300 bastion of sass
    May 4, 2009

    ATTN: Josh, Windy, Sphere Coupler, ‘Tis Himself, Sven, SC.

    I suggest we move the battle of the 80’s songs over to the Open Thread. See you there–unless I don’t.

  298. #301 Ichthyic
    May 4, 2009

    Surely a slave, since he enjoys none of the fruits of his own labour, has an economic incentive to do as little work as possible, and to consume as much as possible? By contrast, a free worker, who can earn more money by working harder and producing more, has an incentive to work hard.

    you forgot to take costs into account.

  299. #302 Ichthyic
    May 4, 2009

    The mocking, mobbing, and spitting vitriol are typical left wing behavior

    I take it back, with this much projection, you ARE delusional.

  300. #303 Walton
    May 4, 2009

    The mocking, mobbing, and spitting vitriol are typical left wing behavior

    I take it back, with this much projection, you ARE delusional.

    Neither left-wingers nor right-wingers are, in my experience, abnormally prone to “mocking, mobbing and spitting vitriol”. There are certainly plenty of people on both sides who do that; but I haven’t ever noticed any significant correlation between political ideology and being unpleasant.

  301. #304 Walton
    May 4, 2009

    The mocking, mobbing, and spitting vitriol are typical left wing behavior

    I take it back, with this much projection, you ARE delusional.

    Neither left-wingers nor right-wingers are, in my experience, abnormally prone to “mocking, mobbing and spitting vitriol”. There are certainly plenty of people on both sides who do that; but I haven’t ever noticed any significant correlation between political ideology and being unpleasant.

  302. #305 Ichthyic
    May 4, 2009

    Neither left-wingers nor right-wingers are, in my experience, abnormally prone to “mocking, mobbing and spitting vitriol”.

    um, you’re 19, and apparently live in a cave.

    your “experience” counts for all of…

    well, you fill in the blank.

  303. #306 'Tis Himself
    May 4, 2009

    I suggest we move the battle of the 80’s songs over to the Open Thread. See you there–unless I don’t.

    See you over there, since I’m gone from here.

  304. #307 strange gods before me
    May 4, 2009

    I’d have to challenge that statement. Surely a slave, since he enjoys none of the fruits of his own labour, has an economic incentive to do as little work as possible, and to consume as much as possible? By contrast, a free worker, who can earn more money by working harder and producing more, has an incentive to work hard.

    In the absence of other factors, yes. But you forget violence. Slaveowners throughout history have noticed the phenomenon and found that it’s still cheaper to hire someone to beat the piss out of the slowest slaves than to free them.

    And if you have only one slave, your wife, or just a handful, your wife and a few children, then you don’t even have to hire someone else to beat them. You can mete out the necessary violence yourself.

    Yes, I completely agree with you. (And thanks, by the way, for the painstaking research and evidence you’ve presented on this point. It’s unusual to see someone put so much effort into an online discussion, but as a result I’ve actually learned quite a bit about economic and social history, a field I’ve never had a chance to study in much depth. So I do appreciate it.)

    You’re welcome. If you knew me you’d not be surprised. Now for more disconcerting news, it was precisely this habitual attention to detail that ensured my departure from libertarianism. Of course, you have no way of knowing for sure whether or not I’m yanking your chain, but there it is.

    By contrast – as you have just neatly and eloquently illustrated – if all people, regardless of gender, are guaranteed the rights of individual autonomy and private property and are left to make their own way in a free market, women and other historically oppressed groups will have a fair chance to improve their own economic situation, and, therefore, their power and standing in society.

    Slow down. You’ve stumbled upon the fallacy of denying the antecedent. What I’ve illustrated is that artificially imposed economic restrictions can be used to oppress an underclass. But it does not follow that removing those restrictions is sufficient to put the underclass on a fair and level field of competition.

    It also does not mean that all artificial economic restrictions create an underclass; progressive taxation is one sort that does not.

    And it also does not mean that abolishing the guilds, for instance, would have been the only useful route. Imagine instead a Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 1309. If women had standing in the courts to challenge discrimination, guild membership could have been equalized. Of course they had no such legal standing, but they do now, so your prescriptions for the middle ages don’t automatically apply here and now.

    Anyway, we have very different ideas of what constitutes economic freedom, so it’s not going to be useful for us to expect even similar presumptions there.

  305. #308 Walton
    May 4, 2009

    Imagine instead a Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 1309.

    As I understand it, all the “Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act” does is adjust the starting point for the statute of limitations, regarding actions in respect of salaries alleged to be discriminatory, and therefore makes it easier in practice to sue for pay discrimination. It adjusts a technical point; it doesn’t introduce a new principle. Pay discrimination was already illegal in the United States (whether it should be is another matter). So I don’t see why you’re getting so excited about it.

    The Supreme Court’s interpretation of the original statute in Ledbetter v Goodyear was perfectly tenable; it was a matter of statutory construction, not a political statement. (As a law student, I can attest that poorly-drafted and ambiguous statutes are a very, very common problem.) It was thrown out on a technicality, and the technical point has now been changed. That’s all. It doesn’t represent a paradigm shift in the history of employment law.

    My personal opinion is that the government has no business intervening in private-sector pay awards in the first place. Goodyear’s money is not the federal government’s money, and it should not be for the federal government to dictate how it should be spent. No one has a “right” to “equal pay”; they are entitled to receive whatever amount of pay is agreed in their contract of employment, nothing more and nothing less.

  306. #309 Walton
    May 4, 2009

    Imagine instead a Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 1309.

    As I understand it, all the “Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act” does is adjust the starting point for the statute of limitations, regarding actions in respect of salaries alleged to be discriminatory, and therefore makes it easier in practice to sue for pay discrimination. It adjusts a technical point; it doesn’t introduce a new principle. Pay discrimination was already illegal in the United States (whether it should be is another matter). So I don’t see why you’re getting so excited about it.

    The Supreme Court’s interpretation of the original statute in Ledbetter v Goodyear was perfectly tenable; it was a matter of statutory construction, not a political statement. (As a law student, I can attest that poorly-drafted and ambiguous statutes are a very, very common problem.) It was thrown out on a technicality, and the technical point has now been changed. That’s all. It doesn’t represent a paradigm shift in the history of employment law.

    My personal opinion is that the government has no business intervening in private-sector pay awards in the first place. Goodyear’s money is not the federal government’s money, and it should not be for the federal government to dictate how it should be spent. No one has a “right” to “equal pay”; they are entitled to receive whatever amount of pay is agreed in their contract of employment, nothing more and nothing less.

  307. #310 Walton
    May 4, 2009

    It also does not mean that all artificial economic restrictions create an underclass; progressive taxation is one sort that does not.

    Yes, I’ll give you that… but what it does do is discourage the productive members of society from producing more wealth for themselves. Even leaving aside the moral question of whether it is right to force someone to surrender the fruits of his or her labour for the benefit of others, there is an obvious practical problem with this. If you disincentivise the creation of wealth, people will create less wealth. I don’t see how there is any valid counter-argument to this simple statement; it’s absolutely self-evident.

    Thus, anyone who advocates progressive taxation must be in the position of arguing that social equality is more important than wealth creation – which is a perfectly valid position, but I’m not personally inclined to agree with it.

  308. #311 Walton
    May 4, 2009

    In the absence of other factors, yes. But you forget violence. Slaveowners throughout history have noticed the phenomenon and found that it’s still cheaper to hire someone to beat the piss out of the slowest slaves than to free them.

    Yes, I’ll concede that point.

    (In fact, it’s interesting that – if I remember my Roman law* correctly – by classical times, there were a number of laws about how a master could treat his slaves, and he was forbidden from arbitrary killing or excessive use of violence. This is interesting on two levels: firstly, it seems that the Romans were much more civilised in their treatment of slaves than were eighteenth-century European powers, which allowed masters to do whatever they wished to their slaves; and secondly, it begs the question of how slavery actually remained profitable without the ability to beat one’s slaves. But I could be wrong about the Roman situation, of course.)

    *Still a required first year course for law undergraduates at Oxford, for some reason. They’ve been teaching it for seven hundred years, and aren’t going to stop now.

  309. #312 africangenesis
    May 4, 2009

    Strange Gods,

    I reviewed at least the last half of your interchange with Walton, and frankly, I don’t see where you are going with it.

    You think that there are past social relationships that were near the equivilent of slavery and seem to regard unequal economic starting points as oppression. You seem worried that slavery may be profitable enough that it might spontaneously occur with too much freedom. You refer to no longer being a libertarian, but don’t say what you have become. While the moral consciousness of libertarians have them openly having to justify anything coercive they impose on others, the general assumption seems to be that once you leave libertarianism and pledge allegiance to equality that all coercion should be accepted without particular attention to justification as long as it is for equality or good.

    For example, what if you are in a society that has both inequality but also well documented and demonstrated social mobility, how do you continue to justify progressive taxation? Or do you not have to justify it? Is your analysis all about national boundaries and materialism? Can the exfootball player with the cheerleader wife and 5 kids who enjoys his beer and football on Sundays but ended up lower middle class still be happy and darn glad that he isn’t in the rat race doing supply chain management? Should the deferred consumption, education getting supply chain manager be taxed more to make the exfootball player “more equal”?

    How is the slavery relevant today in the modern western world? Even in the 19th century it required a legal framework to support recognize slaves as property and to return runaways. The closest things to slavery today are conscription such as still occurs and Germany and other european countries and prison labor forced upon those incarcerated for victimless crimes, and confiscatory taxation. How do you eliminate these in whatever society you have in mind? It seems to me, unless you maintain as careful a moral awareness, as libertarians do, to what you can justify doing to others, your concerns about equality and willingness to characterize some voluntary relationships as exploitation, have often ended up being carte blanche for coercive centralization power.

    It was strange reading your interchange with Walton, where you could question justifications but were vague about justifying any alternatives. Did I miss something?

  310. #313 strange gods before me
    May 4, 2009

    So I don’t see why you’re getting so excited about it.

    Because nobody else gets excited about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 anymore. I’m cheerleading. But it does make the Civil Rights Act more enforceable, and that is significant. Better still would be requirements for transparency in pay.

    But you’re right, the analogy for 700 years ago was weak, unless you’ll assume that it implies the earlier equality legislation as well.

    Goodyear’s money is not the federal government’s money, and it should not be for the federal government to dictate how it should be spent.

    We the people provide Goodyear with copyright law, patent law, trademark law, and limited liability. These are privileges granted, not natural rights. In return for these privileges we grant, we are rightfully entitled to impose certain responsibilities. Whatever those responsibilities should be are open to debate, but it is not unreasonable to say that because we the people value certain ideals of gender equality, that can rightfully be one of our demands. Goodyear wants limited liability, we want gender equality in pay.

    No one has a “right” to “equal pay”; they are entitled to receive whatever amount of pay is agreed in their contract of employment, nothing more and nothing less.

    Goodyear presents itself as a company that pays men and women equally for equal work. If they publicly present themselves so, then Ledbetter had a right to that expectation.

    More importantly, why do you presume that a sexist’s power to disadvantage women should deserve more legal protection than a woman’s power to level her own playing field? You now acknowledge shades of gray in questions of basic welfare versus taxation. But you’re reflexive here. Perhaps it implies something about privilege coloring your values. http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/05/missouri_absolves_pharmacists.php#comment-1609994

    If you disincentivise the creation of wealth, people will create less wealth. I don’t see how there is any valid counter-argument to this simple statement; it’s absolutely self-evident.

    You ought to ask ‘Tis Himself. But I can give one response. If you’re assuming a universal desire to maximize wealth, then you’re required to assume that people will always choose wealth over leisure. But that’s unfounded. If some people would prefer to maximize leisure, then those people already have an incentive to work less, and will do the least amount of work necessary to make enough money to allow them to spend the rest of their time in leisure. Even assuming that only these two utilities exist, there is no a priori reason to assume which one of these is true for most people. To the extent that people prefer to maximize leisure, progressive taxation is an incentive to get them to be more productive than they otherwise would be. To the extent that they prefer to maximize wealth, progressive taxation is a disincentive. Any realistic model of human behavior has to admit that both utilities are motivating factors, at different degrees for different people, and averaging that, there will be some intersection of the two trends, some amount of progressive taxation where either more or less would be disincentive to further production at the macroeconomic scale. What exactly that amount is, is an empirical question, not a priori self-evident.

    it begs the question of how slavery actually remained profitable without the ability to beat one’s slaves.

    You’d be disgusted at the levels of abuse that were not considered “excessive.” In practice, anything short of permanent disability could be inflicted without risk of legal penalty.

  311. #314 strange gods before me
    May 4, 2009

    Comment by africangenesis blocked. [unkill]?[show comment]

  312. #315 Stanton
    May 4, 2009

    How is conscription akin to slavery?

  313. #316 Sven DiMilo
    May 4, 2009

    How is a raven like a writing desk?

  314. #317 Walton
    May 5, 2009

    We the people provide Goodyear with copyright law, patent law, trademark law, and limited liability. These are privileges granted, not natural rights.

    That’s true. I don’t believe that “we the people” is a meaningful concept, but I agree that the State does provide Goodyear with the above legal privileges, and that they are not “natural rights”.

    (Indeed, that’s one of the silly things about Rothbardian anarchocapitalists. They seem to believe that all our complex network of modern property rights and legal relations are, in some sense, “natural rights” which would still exist, and still be enforced, without the State. This is unrealistic, as you rightly point out.)

    In return for these privileges we grant, we are rightfully entitled to impose certain responsibilities. Whatever those responsibilities should be are open to debate, but it is not unreasonable to say that because we the people value certain ideals of gender equality, that can rightfully be one of our demands. Goodyear wants limited liability, we want gender equality in pay.

    No. This is where I can’t agree. When a property right is granted and protected by the State, it certainly does carry with it reciprocal responsibilities – but those responsibilities must consist solely in an obligation to respect the corresponding property rights of others. If the State imposes further obligations beyond that, then it imposes a burden which is grossly disproportionate to the benefit.

    It’s really a case of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If I want my property rights to be respected, I have to respect others’ property rights; that’s common sense and basic justice. But it’s absurd to then claim that, if I want my property rights to be respected, I also have to conduct my private business according to a whole host of ideologically-motivated rules with which I may or may not personally agree.

    You ought to ask ‘Tis Himself. But I can give one response. If you’re assuming a universal desire to maximize wealth, then you’re required to assume that people will always choose wealth over leisure. But that’s unfounded. If some people would prefer to maximize leisure, then those people already have an incentive to work less, and will do the least amount of work necessary to make enough money to allow them to spend the rest of their time in leisure. Even assuming that only these two utilities exist, there is no a priori reason to assume which one of these is true for most people. To the extent that people prefer to maximize leisure, progressive taxation is an incentive to get them to be more productive than they otherwise would be. To the extent that they prefer to maximize wealth, progressive taxation is a disincentive. Any realistic model of human behavior has to admit that both utilities are motivating factors, at different degrees for different people, and averaging that, there will be some intersection of the two trends, some amount of progressive taxation where either more or less would be disincentive to further production at the macroeconomic scale.

    Yes, OK – I expressed myself too simplistically. However, the people who are hit hard by progressive taxation are, (except for the very small number of people who have hereditary wealth) ex hypothesi those who value wealth over leisure. (Or, in the more complex real world, they may value some other factor over both wealth and leisure – for example, brain surgeons earn a lot of money, but most of them don’t go into their profession solely for that reason. But I digress.)

    Basically, what I’m saying is that the class of people to whom you refer – those for whom leisure is a greater utility than work, and who would rather work less and earn less* – is not going to be affected by the highest tax brackets. Rather, the people who will be harmed are, by and large, those who are keen on creating more wealth for themselves – and, by disincentivising those people from doing so, you essentially discourage the creation of wealth.

    Bill Gates, Thomas Edison, and other entrepreneurs – who, for their own benefit and own profit, made a whole host of new consumer goods available to ordinary people – have done more good for the world than any politician or humanitarian in history. Did they do so to make the world a better place? I doubt it. They did it to make themselves a lot of money – and our world needs far more like them. If you discourage the creation of wealth, you discourage the next Bill Gates.

    *I myself am in the category of people who would rather work less and earn less. I’m honestly not bothered about earning a lot of money; so please don’t think I’m arguing this point for selfish reasons, as it’s unlikely ever to detrimentally affect me personally.

  315. #318 Stephen Wells
    May 5, 2009

    Walton, you really need to get off this “taxation disincentivises wealth creation” trope. I do something, I get money for it, I pay some tax, _I have more money than I did before_, and I have _more money than people who did nothing_. And since progressive income tax hasn’t discouraged Bill Gates noticeably… what exactly is your point?

    Also, I’m pretty sure the first guy to bang the right rocks together and make fire has done more good for the world than Bill Gates ever will, so tone down the hyperbolic hero-worship of rich people, mmmkay?

  316. #319 strange gods before me
    May 5, 2009

    I don’t believe that “we the people” is a meaningful concept,

    Too bad for you. It’s the only concept that legitimizes the American form of government, and we do find it both meaningful and indispensible. You can stay on your island if you want to insult us like that. Even I know better than to publicly wipe my ass with the Union Jack and then expect to be welcomed in Britain.

    When a property right is granted and protected by the State, it certainly does carry with it reciprocal responsibilities – but those responsibilities must consist solely in an obligation to respect the corresponding property rights of others.

    Limited liability is not a “property right” under any definition of the term. It is just a certain legal fiction, intended to produce a certain outcome. And the intended outcome is to promote business interests at the expense of non-business interests, so that no matter how badly a company hurts you in the course of doing business, you cannot recover any damages from the owners’ private assets. I’m not going to argue for or against that right now. I’m just pointing out what it is. Limited liability is not like freedom of speech; not everyone can make use of it. We cannot all be entrepreneurs, not unless we become an agrarian society again. So limited liability protects one class of people at the expense of another class. Business owners are granted a legal privilege that is not and can not be extended to everyone else.

    There’s no a priori reason why anyone who is not a business owner should have to consent to this; limited liability is one of those “ideologically-motivated rules with which [we] may or may not personally agree,” in this case an ideology of corporatism. We could take limited liability away if we want, and if it’s going to be granted freely with no other strings attached, then we should take it away, because it’s a net loss to the rest of us. The only way to make it fair, and worth keeping from the perspective of both business owners and everyone else, is to attach certain responsibilities. As it happens, most of “everyone else” happen to be employees. So the fiction of limited liability is, speaking generally, a privilege granted from employees to employers. It makes good transactional moral sense, then, for the attached responsibilities to pertain to employee treatment. If we can’t sue an owner personally into bankrupcy, then in return we may ensure that the owner cannot choose to deliberately financially harm a particular segment of employees. Hence Title VII.

    Rather, the people who will be harmed are, by and large, those who are keen on creating more wealth for themselves – and, by disincentivising those people from doing so, you essentially discourage the creation of wealth.

    And yet, if this were true, you should be able to map marginal tax rates onto historical production rates. Good luck with that.

    If you discourage the creation of wealth, you discourage the next Bill Gates.

    Comparing Bill Gates to Thomas Edison is laughable. What world are you living in? You’ll get only the opposite of sympathy for your position with that argument. Thomas Edison used his own ingenuity to make things. Bill Gates never contributed to any portion of MS-DOS or Windows, the products you think he “made available.” He used money from his father’s law practice to employ Tim Paterson and then made his fortune by exploiting Tim’s labor. Microsoft’s expensive licenses have been a barrier to innovation in developing nations, keeping people in poverty. Discouraging the next Bill Gates could only be a good thing. The products that have allowed innovation in poor countries have been derivatives of Linux, spread under the GNU GPL, a sibling of the GFDL that licenses your own work at Wikipedia. Work you’ve never been paid for, yet you nevertheless found incentive to produce.

    But Bill Gates III is an interesting choice. His father, Bill Gates Sr., is famous for advocating progressive taxes. And he consistently says that his son, the wealthiest man on earth, agrees with him. If the son disagreed and did not want his father speaking for him, it should be possible to find at least one example of him saying “Dad’s not quite right about that.” No such example is forthcoming. http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2007/sep/26/bill-gates-sr-continues-income-tax-crusade/

    Read this one closely, it’s a good explanation of why it’s easy to find rich people like Gates and Buffett and Soros who believe that they should be taxed at higher rates than the rest of us: http://www.pbs.org/now/transcript/transcript_inheritance.html

    And Bill Gates III endorsed Obama, knowing that it would mean a repeal of the Bush tax cuts. Somehow he’s decided that progressive taxation is no disincentive to his own personal wealth creation. http://news.in.msn.com/international/article.aspx?cp-documentid=1686613

  317. #320 Walton
    May 5, 2009

    There’s no a priori reason why anyone who is not a business owner should have to consent to this; limited liability is one of those “ideologically-motivated rules with which [we] may or may not personally agree,” in this case an ideology of corporatism. We could take limited liability away if we want, and if it’s going to be granted freely with no other strings attached, then we should take it away, because it’s a net loss to the rest of us. The only way to make it fair, and worth keeping from the perspective of both business owners and everyone else, is to attach certain responsibilities. As it happens, most of “everyone else” happen to be employees. So the fiction of limited liability is, speaking generally, a privilege granted from employees to employers. It makes good transactional moral sense, then, for the attached responsibilities to pertain to employee treatment. If we can’t sue an owner personally into bankrupcy, then in return we may ensure that the owner cannot choose to deliberately financially harm a particular segment of employees. Hence Title VII.

    So, on this argument, employment legislation should apply exclusively to limited companies, and should have no application to employers who trade under their own name (as sole traders) or as a partnership.

    (Since sole traders tend to be the smallest businesses – and therefore those who are hit hardest by employment regulations – I’d actually be quite happy with that. Wal-Mart can afford to improve its employees’ working conditions without going out of business; Fred’s Takeaway can’t.)

    And yet, if this were true, you should be able to map marginal tax rates onto historical production rates. Good luck with that.

    You and I both know that economics isn’t that kind of exact science. People’s lives aren’t governed by simple deterministic economic laws, and there are any number of extraneous factors which can affect production rates.

    Comparing Bill Gates to Thomas Edison is laughable. What world are you living in?

    OK, Bill Gates may not have been a fantastic example. But you cannot deny that there are many entrepreneurs who’ve drastically enhanced the quality of life of the masses by making cheap consumer goods readily available. And they did so for their own profit – meaning that, if you take away the profit motive, the innovation and productivity simply will not happen.

  318. #321 Knockgoats
    May 6, 2009

    Read the article. This is about high-RWA parents (since AG mentioned The Authoritarians) being able to shield their (and it’s “their” in a possessive sense) children from information that isn’t vetted by the in-group. – Matt Heath

    Indeed. AG has stated explicitly on previous threads that parents own their children.

  319. #322 Knockgoats
    May 6, 2009

    Political power is to a great extent contingent on economic power; this is an uncontroversial statement of fact. – Walton

    I’m delighted to see you recognise that elementary fact, Walton. So, the large economic inequalities you admit would follow from a “libertarian” political order would produce large political inequalites. Now, take it a step further: what will the politically powerful rich do with their political power? We don’t need to guess about this, we can just look at the world: they will use it to entrench and increase economic inequality, and to ensure that their own children inherit their political and economic power. Among other things, they will use it to limit the freedom of the poor to organise to reduce inequality. The fundamental inconsistency of “libertarianism” is thus exposed, and you will of course abandon it immediately ;-)

  320. #323 Walton
    May 6, 2009

    I’m delighted to see you recognise that elementary fact, Walton. So, the large economic inequalities you admit would follow from a “libertarian” political order would produce large political inequalites. Now, take it a step further: what will the politically powerful rich do with their political power?

    Which is why what we need is a state which is so small, and so powerless, that no one – rich or poor – can use it to further their own interests. As Grover Norquist said, government so small you can drown it in a bathtub.

  321. #324 Ichthyic
    May 6, 2009

    Which is why what we need is a state which is so small, and so powerless, that no one – rich or poor – can use it to further their own interests.

    *sigh*

    fail.

    you failed to grasp the money=power theme.

    how CAN you be so inept at learning? Are you homeschooling yourself or something?

  322. #325 Stephen Wells
    May 6, 2009

    Walton, if the state is sufficiently powerless, the rich get to do what the hell they want and the poor have no means of furthering their own interests.

    Now for the love of fuck _stop expecting us to care about your uninformed opinions_. You are not yet twenty. You don’t seem to have travelled or seen anything of the world. You have no experience of, for example, living in a state without universal public health care or education, and are thus blind to their value. You have no job and pay no taxes. When large numbers of people who _do_ know what they’re talking about disagree with your empty second-hand theorising, you should take that as a hint that you might be _wrong wrong wrong_.

    Please, just get a drink, get laid, finish your degree and _then_ get back to us.

  323. #326 strange gods before me
    May 7, 2009

    So, on this argument, employment legislation should apply exclusively to limited companies, and should have no application to employers who trade under their own name (as sole traders) or as a partnership.

    (Since sole traders tend to be the smallest businesses – and therefore those who are hit hardest by employment regulations – I’d actually be quite happy with that. Wal-Mart can afford to improve its employees’ working conditions without going out of business; Fred’s Takeaway can’t.)

    The law is effectively very close to that. The authors evidently shared your concerns about very small businesses. “The term ?employer? means a person engaged in an industry affecting commerce who has fifteen or more employees” http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/vii.html

    However, I still have to ask, “why do you presume that a sexist’s power to disadvantage women should deserve more legal protection than a woman’s power to level her own playing field?” The decision to empower small business owners at the expense of their employees is a judgment of the parties’ relative worth. This is still a decision by the state to favor business interests over non-business interests. Such favoritism may be effective toward certain goals and upon certain assumptions, but it’s not a naturally fair way of things.

    You and I both know that economics isn’t that kind of exact science. People’s lives aren’t governed by simple deterministic economic laws, and there are any number of extraneous factors which can affect production rates.

    So you can trot out a supposed empirical relationship and insist that it must be “self evidently true,” but when I note that the evidence does not support your claim, I’m being unfair. If “people’s lives aren’t governed by simple deterministic economic laws,” then you can’t even assume that your premise is accurate for a single individual. Whatever. You don’t have evidence, and we’ll leave it at that.

    OK, Bill Gates may not have been a fantastic example. But you cannot deny that there are many entrepreneurs who’ve drastically enhanced the quality of life of the masses by making cheap consumer goods readily available. And they did so for their own profit – meaning that, if you take away the profit motive, the innovation and productivity simply will not happen.

    You’re denying the antecedent again. It was a fallacy at the beginning of the week, and it’s still a fallacy today.

  324. #327 strange gods before me
    May 7, 2009

    Following Knockgoats and Stephen, have you wondered what Daddy Gates is talking about when he says these sorts of things?

    GATES: “You earned it” is really a matter of “you earned it with the indispensable help of your government.” You earned it in this wonderful place. If you’d been born in West Africa, you would not have earned it. It would not have occurred. Your wealth is a function of being an American. The huge disparity in wealth that’s happening, is something that is, I think, really dangerous. Wealth is power. And it just is not a good situation. And the examples of the aristocracies of Europe are so clear. We don’t want to have a country like that. It was Louis Brandeis who said, you know, we can either have a situation where we have a small number of people with a huge amount of wealth or we can have a democracy. But we can’t have both. That’s clear wisdom.

    MOYERS: Are we living in a new gilded age…do you fear that we’re living in that kind of time again?

    GATES: I do. I do. You know, the data is very clear. We have this enormous accretion of wealth in the top levels, and it’s hugely out of balance. The disparity is very disturbing.

    COLLINS: The establishment of the estate tax in 1916 was in a sense a response to the excesses of the first Gilded Age a century ago, that there was a social movement of farmers and workers, people like Andrew Carnegie and Teddy Roosevelt who said, we should have an estate tax because too much concentrated wealth is going to backfire and create an American aristocracy. … We should be concerned about the estate tax repeal precisely for the reason we have an estate tax, which is to prevent the wealthy and powerful from writing the rules and changing the rules of our culture and society.

    These are wealthy people trying to tell you that class warfare is real, not the rhetorical invention of Marxists, and that the rich will try to control the rest of us if they accrue enough power to do so.

    And they don’t need the government to do it. Raw wealth is power, itself, with or without government. The more we weaken the government of, by, and for the people, the more power the rich have to create their own feudal systems. Weak central governments have never stopped them in the past.

    Even besides that, the libertarian critique of strong governments as being uniquely vulnerable to manipulation is unrealistic. There is no government that cannot be made violently powerful under manipulation of the rich. Take away benefits for corporations, and they can pay the courts to declare that corporations are persons with inviolable rights. Amend the constitution and they can bribe their way to a reversal amendment.

    You would have us give up all the accumulated work that was done to create a government that can protect freedom, for some experiment to see what happens when the government is as weak as possible. We already know what happens. Feudalism happens. And it takes hundreds of years to get back from there to a system that protects freedom.

  325. #328 phantomreader42
    May 7, 2009

    Walton @ #323:

    Which is why what we need is a state which is so small, and so powerless, that no one – rich or poor – can use it to further their own interests. As Grover Norquist said, government so small you can drown it in a bathtub.

    And once the government has been drowned in that bathtub, what then?
    What’s to stop corporations from wholesale lying to rip off their customers? No more truth-in-advertising laws, no regulation whatsoever. What could they possibly lose by charging millions for a cancer cure that’s just a sugar pill? By the time anyone notices, the chumps are dead and the crooks have already got the money, and once you have their money, you never give it back! A libertarian utopia, where every business is built on fraud and deceit, because it’s so much more cost-effective to lie about your products than to go to the trouble of selling quality merchandise!

    Speaking of lies, what about corporate-owned media? Hell, Fox News got a court ruling years ago that they are allowed to lie in news programs! How much worse would the propaganda be without any regulation at all? Without even the chance for anyone to bring a libel suit when falsely accused by well-connected liars (no courts, remember), what kind of bullshit would they put on TV?

    What’s to stop corporations or the wealthy from reinstating slavery? No government means no laws and no law enforcement, so who could tell them they’re not allowed to kidnap children and force them to work their entire lives? You think the miracle of the market will fix this? HA! How would customers even know? There’s no requirement for disclosure, no accountability, no profit in telling the truth when you can get away with lying through your teeth.

    What would be left to prevent unscrupulous businessmen from having anyone they find inconvenient murdered? No police to keep hired assassins in check, not even any news organizations left that aren’t wholly owned subsidiaries of the very corporations they’re reporting on. Forget whistleblower protections, why fire them when you can just have them shot before they even leave the office! No way for anyone to do anything about it, or even know.

    Is this the world you want to live in, Walton? A free-for-all, where the truth is a lie, freedom is slavery, money is power, and those without enough money aren’t even human. And can you be sure if YOU would be a citizen or a serf in this world?

  326. #329 africangenesis
    May 7, 2009

    Phantomreader#42,

    “And once the government has been drowned in that bathtub, what then? What’s to stop corporations from wholesale lying to rip off their customers?”

    Apparently you don’t realize that corporations are artificial legal entities wholy dependent on the government, and existing at the governments discretion, when the government ceases, or ceases to recognize them, they disappear.

    In any market, lying and rip-off, are controlled by laws against fraud and also by information and reputation about the past behavior of the corporation.

  327. #330 phantomreader42
    May 7, 2009

    Nice dodge, AG. So, your version of libertarian fantasy requires the complete abolition of all corporations, and allows wealthy and unscrupulous individuals to lie and rip people off with impunity, enslave their workers, steal and murder at will. How is this any different than corporations doing those things? And would YOU be a citizen or a serf in this world?

    Why this fetish for drowning government in the bathtub, while fleeing in terror from questions about the consequences of that action?

  328. #331 africangenesis
    May 7, 2009

    phantomreader#42,

    You are thinking of anarchists, not limited government constitutionalists. They apparently think there is some way to prevent or control rich people without government, but they have never explained how. You might want to read my post explaining anarchism, since they are not very forthcoming:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/05/open_thread_frog_vent_the_blas.php#comment-1611162

    I think they would agree with me that corporations would not exist without government.

  329. #332 phantomreader42
    May 7, 2009

    No, I am talking about people who want to drown government in a bathtub, and have said so. I am talking about anti-government conservative nutjobs who have publicly declared their wish to abolish the rule of law, then lie about it when asked tough qutestions. I am not talking abut your made-up groups of absurd strawmen, but about the people YOU ally yourself with, who scream that everything government does is evil and the market should be allowed to regulate everything, then flee in terror when shown evidence of how bad the market actually is at regulation.

  330. #333 africangenesis
    May 7, 2009

    phantomreader42,

    ” I am not talking abut your made-up groups of absurd strawmen, but about the people YOU ally yourself with”

    I couldn’t have guessed that from your characterization. I doubt they have any better idea how things wuuld work without government than the anarchists. I could be your huckleberry for such a discussion, since I’m literate in economic matters, and have done some thinking about the government failures that contributed to current recession. But, perhaps we could move the discussion to an economic blog somewhere. Can you sugggest a venue?

  331. #334 strange gods before me
    May 7, 2009

    phantomreader42, africangenesis is an ideologue of the purest form. You can’t have a productive discussion with him.

    If Walton comes back, his answer will be that he doesn’t want government to be nonexistent, he just wants it to be some value of “this small and no smaller or larger.” He’s relatively progressive for a libertarian; he allows that there should be basic welfare services for example.

    He’s just laboring under the mistake that it’s possible to make a government that cannot be bought, or would not be worth buying. Whatever the rich want to get a government to do for them, they can pay for. If the government isn’t capable of meeting their needs yet, they can pay to make it capable. A minimalist government is impossible, no matter whether you call courts the minimum or whether you add life-saving infrastructure.

    There is no magic bullet. The only thing that works to keep government in check is continual civic involvement from as many citizens as possible. It’s hard work to keep people involved. The lazy libertarian fantasy is attractive, but it’s fundamentally impossible.

  332. #335 'Tis Himself
    May 7, 2009

    There is a difference between the dog-eat-dog anarchy that the anarcho-capitalist looneytarians want and the capitalist controlled oligarchy that minimalist looneytarians like AG want to establish. The anarcho-capitalist dream is a world run by robber barons fighting among themselves for an additional acre of land or a dozen more serfs. This was the situation in Germany in the 14th and 15th Centuries before certain nobles like the Habsburgs and the Wittelsbachs gained power over the rest. The minimalists prefer the era of the Thirty Years War, when nobles like the Hapsburgs and Wittelbachs fought each other for an additional county or a couple of thousand more serfs.

  333. #336 Walton
    May 8, 2009

    A minimalist government is impossible, no matter whether you call courts the minimum or whether you add life-saving infrastructure.

    I agree that it’s very difficult (hence why there are few truly libertarian states), because there are always people with a vested interest in expanding government to benefit themselves. This can be seen most clearly in the iniquity of farm subsidies. US and EU agricultural policies subsidise overproduction, while impoverishing producers in the Third World who can’t compete on an equal footing. There is no rational or moral justification for the tariffs and subsidies; but because the farm lobby is so powerful, we’ll never get rid of them. In terms of the number of people killed each year, or kept in abject poverty, agricultural protectionism is the most destructive policy pursued by Western countries. Wars and the arms trade pale into insignificance when it comes to the sheer human cost of the US farm bill or the EU’s CAP.

    There is no magic bullet. The only thing that works to keep government in check is continual civic involvement from as many citizens as possible. It’s hard work to keep people involved. The lazy libertarian fantasy is attractive, but it’s fundamentally impossible.

    I agree that there’s no magic bullet, but disagree with your proposed solution. You place far too much faith in “the citizens”. In reality, most citizens are not even aware of many of the iniquitous things their governments are doing; few people really understand the extent of the harm done by agricultural subsidies, for instance. (And the people most hurt by it – Third World farmers – have no say in our political processes.)

    Rather, I would suggest that governmental powers need to be much more tightly limited by constitutional provisions. The US Bill of Rights is good, but doesn’t go far enough. There needs to be a guaranteed, judicially-enforceable international right to free trade, for example.
    While courts are far from perfect, history has shown that they are better than voters at protecting minority rights and ensuring that governments cannot persecute any part of their population. After all, it was the courts, not democracy, which ended racial segregation in the American South; and it is the courts, not democracy, which are now in the forefront of extending the right to same-sex marriage to more and more states in the US. Courts are good at protecting individual liberty; and we need to give them more power to do it.

  334. #337 Feynmaniac
    May 8, 2009

    Walton,

    After all, it was the courts, not democracy, which ended racial segregation in the American South; and it is the courts, not democracy, which are now in the forefront of extending the right to same-sex marriage

    This ignores the huge impact activists played in both battles. The only reason courts got involved in either situation was because of people bringing attention to the issue. While you may look down condescendingly at “citizens”, they can become quite active when their personal freedoms are at stake.

    “Changes and progress very rarely are gifts from above. They come out of struggles from below.”

  335. #338 Kel
    May 8, 2009

    The courts are enabled by the democratic process. To say it was one and not the other is to misrepresent the issue.

  336. #339 Walton
    May 8, 2009

    The courts are enabled by the democratic process. To say it was one and not the other is to misrepresent the issue.

    Yes and no. The courts are empowered by a country’s constitutional framework. It’s true that if the majority of the citizens lost faith in constitutional governance, the courts would no longer be able to operate. But on a day-to-day level, the courts frequently hand down decisions which run counter to the will of the population: for example, the legalisations of same-sex marriage in several states where the voters had already voted to ban it.

    This role of the courts – in protecting individual rights against the popular will – is why I am strongly opposed to an elected judiciary (as, I believe, thirty US states have). A judge should be able to make a legally correct decision which protects the rights of the minority against the wishes of the majority, without the voters being able to unseat him. The Founding Fathers had it right when they provided for federal judges to serve for life, except in case of impeachment.

    This isn’t necessarily a libertarian viewpoint; plenty of liberals would agree with me, since liberals and libertarians tend to share a commitment to personal freedom and civil liberties. The difference is that I extend the same individual-centred, anti-collectivist approach from the social into the economic sphere; just as the government has no right to tell you who you can marry or to detain you without trial, so too it should have no right (beyond reasonable limits) to prescribe how your money can be spent, or to take away haf your income in tax. (Or to impoverish millions of Third World farmers who have no voice in the Western democratic process. I love the way everyone is quietly ignoring this, the greatest failure of democracy. If you really believe in the democratic process, then get out there and start campaigning for the repeal of the US farm bill; if not, you are complicit in the deaths of millions of African children.)

  337. #340 Kel
    May 8, 2009

    Democracy on it’s own is useless, but that’s not the argument here walton. Just because it’s unfavourable or even voted down, it doesn’t make it anti-democratic. Protecting the minority from the tyranny of the majority is part of any liberal democratic system, so of course at times the courts are going to go beyond the will of the people. It’s still democracy at work.

    Honestly the greatest threat to pure democracy as I see it is the establishment of a two-party system whereby the parties are split down ideological bounds. It doesn’t ever put forward the case for serious reflection at the poll booth, and that should be what concerns people as opposed to “activist judges”

  338. #341 africangenesis
    May 8, 2009

    Kel,

    “Honestly the greatest threat to pure democracy as I see it is the establishment of a two-party system whereby the parties are split down ideological bounds. ”

    I agree, it can’t be good that each change in party in control means a complete switch in ideologies. The US of system of winner take all geographical districts helps prop up the two party system. There may be potential for sizable minor parties that can’t get a foothold because they aren’t a majority anywhere. One reform I favor, is changing the house of representatives to proportional representation. The constitution and courts have failed to protect minorities, so they must have political power with which to protect themselves. In the internet age, I think we are ready for representatives “elected” by subscription regardless of geographic district. It you get a certain number of registered voters to subscribe, you are in the House of Representatives. That branch of congress will have to act more like a parliament forming alliances and forging compromises. It will moderate the changes from administration to administration. I don’t know where Tis’ Himself got the mistaken impression that I am an anarcho-capitalist and an idealogue. I’m obviously not, even though I reject his idea that somehow a distinction between left anarchy and anarcho-capitalism can be maintained without some as yet undislosed mechanism. That mechanism will have to be coercive and there is no guarantee that participatory democracy will have the will to keep up the coercion necessary to maintain it. See my analysis at:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/05/open_thread_frog_vent_the_blas.php#comment-1611162

  339. #342 Kel
    May 8, 2009

    We have proportional representation in the senate here, each state gets 12 senators and 6 are elected at a time. It means that usually 5 of the 6 elected are from major parties and one is usually from a minor party / independent. This leaves the senate balancing on a knife edge. 2 elections ago, the conservative party won both houses and they really ran havoc on the country – so much so that there was a landslide election against them in 2007. The balance of power is screwed up atm (balanced between a few green party members, a Christian fundamentalist party and a guy who wants to ban pokies) so it’s not working as well as it used to back before our Democrat party imploded.

    It’s by no means a perfect system, but it does reinforce the idea that there needs to be checks and balances. The lower house is not proportional representation, and since areas remain of similar political demographics, there is rarely any seat shifting. Basically there are about 25 seats or so out of 150 that decide the election.

  340. #343 Kel
    May 8, 2009

    I kind of posted that a bit early.

    What I wanted to say what that because there are so few seats that decide the election, the government of the day does all it can to fund those seats in order to keep itself re-elected. It’s pretty shameless but it works. In 1998, Howard lost the popular vote but won because he focused on those marginal seats. They released data on grant money recently and no surprise almost all of the seats where the money were were marginal or safe Coalition seats. That’s no way to run a country…

  341. #344 africangenesis
    May 8, 2009

    Kel,

    Does a single party still get a majority of seats in you system? It sounds like the seats are still geography based, so the money influence is like US earmarks going to a particular geography to incentivise support for an incombant. I suspect in the US, the Dems and Repubs would lose 10 to 15% of the seats to each of the libertarians and greens. The major parties would still hold sway in the Senate, which would stay geographical in order to preserve the compromise between the populous and rural states that makes the union possible.

    Do you think the money influence on holding seats would still work if the seats were not geography based? There would still be people voting their pocketbook or single issues, but there would be no ability for a slim majority to vote on behalf of sizable minorities, leaving them voiceless.

  342. #345 Kel
    May 8, 2009

    In the lower house, yes it does. Whoever does forms government and our leader is the leader of the party with the majority seats in the lower house. Which is why it is so important to have a balance of power in the senate, though we’ve gone from one extreme to another in that respect – both houses being controlled by one party, to a senate where the balance of power is between minority parties of polar opposite policies. it’s gone through a state where the government of the day could get anything in unchecked to where almost nothing is getting through because separate deals have to be brokered for each party.

    The money influence doesn’t seem a huge problem, like you say people vote on single issues. The distribution of socioeconomic factors plays a much larger part – which is why 120 of those 150 seats are pretty much safe. If the seats where not geography-based, it may lead to a better 3rd party representation. Greens usually poll about 10% of the vote here, they would go from having 0 members in parliament to 15 or so.

    The one thing we have here which kind of helps with 3rd party representation is preferential voting, we have to vote (not technically true, we have to show up to the poll booth and get our names crossed off) and for a vote to be valid we have to number all candidates in preference. So you can vote for a 3rd party already then direct your preferences to the lesser of two evils, i.e. the major parties. Though a lot of people don’t seem to understand this process so taking away geographical distribution could lead more votes to 3rd parties giving the chance to get elected.

    Though here the local member actually does play a role in the community, they are a direct interface so it couldn’t be foreseeable in the not-too-distant future to change that. While ideology and party politics play a part in major decisions, the illusion that the local member is playing a part in the community is important. To take that away would be problematic, especially with the minimisation of state power.

  343. #346 strange gods before me
    May 8, 2009

    I agree that there’s no magic bullet, but disagree with your proposed solution.

    Oh, do you? And how do you think you’re going to convince people to implement your proposed solutions, without continual civic involvement from as many citizens as possible?

    Are you just going to pray for it?

    You place far too much faith in “the citizens”. In reality, most citizens are not even aware of many of the iniquitous things their governments are doing;

    If I said “everyone should vote and that would be enough to fix everything” then you’d have a point. I didn’t, and you don’t. Does civic involvement mean showing up to a touchscreen once a year? I am talking about grassroots democracy, people taking an ongoing interest in their communities rather than letting them be run by the entrenched interests who’ve learned to game the system for themselves.

    You cannot make government unusable by interest groups. Therefore the only question is whether government will be used by a few special interests for their pet projects, or by everyone in the broadest interests for the most general utility.

    There needs to be a guaranteed, judicially-enforceable international right to free trade, for example.

    Brilliant. That way every nation’s economy can race to the bottom, with no way to compete against the dumping of goods produced by factory slave labor.

    And if free trade is a guaranteed right, what stops the trade of weapons-grade nuclear material to terrorists?

    If you really believe in the democratic process, then get out there and start campaigning for the repeal of the US farm bill; if not, you are complicit in the deaths of millions of African children.

    http://www.gp.org/press/pr-national.php?ID=59

    I wonder if you can even begin to name the damage done to third world nations by anti-democratic institutions like the World Bank, IMF and WTO.

  344. #347 Walton
    May 8, 2009

    I wonder if you can even begin to name the damage done to third world nations by anti-democratic institutions like the World Bank, IMF and WTO.

    As I understand it, the damage they’ve caused is largely down to the hypocrisy of Western governments – using the World Bank and IMF to force Third World countries to abolish trade barriers and tariffs, while maintaining billions of dollars’ worth of domestic subsidies and protectionist measures in the US and EU.

    The problem is not with free trade; it’s with partial free trade. All nations, rich and poor, should abolish trade barriers, tariffs and subsidies. Now. Whether their citizens like it or not. There will be short-term pain for us as economically unsustainable Western industries (such as inefficient farming and auto manufacturing) go under; but there will be long-term gain, especially for people in the Third World who are currently kept in poverty by US and EU trade policies.

    Unfortunately this will never happen – because your beloved democracy doesn’t work. Special interests, who benefit from protectionism, lobby to keep it in place; while the average voter simply doesn’t know or care. The people who suffer, meanwhile, are those in the Third World who have no voice in our political processes.

    I, and many conservatives and libertarians in this country, actively campaign for Britain to withdraw from the EU, so that we can escape the iniquitous Common Agricultural Policy. You cannot claim that I don’t care about Third World poverty; indeed, I’d say it’s one of the great moral issues of our time – especially as we are keeping Africa in poverty, and murdering millions of African children every year, for the sake of a few inefficient, greedy farmers in France and Iowa. It is disgusting.

    The Green Party page to which you linked is not good enough. Yes, subsidies should be taken away from big agribusiness – but they shouldn’t be given to small farms either. Rather, the concept of a “farm subsidy” (or any other type of subsidy, tariff or trade barrier) should be completely expunged. It is evil – plain and simple – and there can be no compromises.

  345. #348 Walton
    May 8, 2009

    Does civic involvement mean showing up to a touchscreen once a year? I am talking about grassroots democracy, people taking an ongoing interest in their communities rather than letting them be run by the entrenched interests who’ve learned to game the system for themselves.

    Which is why I strongly support the devolution of virtually all government power to local municipalities. Typically, the most unaccountable governments, and the ones which commit the most iniquitous abuses with taxpayer funds, are those which operate on a large scale – the EU, the US federal government, the Indian federal government, the PRC government, etc.

    In a UK context, everything which can be devolved to local councils should be so devolved. Westminster should retain power over foreign affairs, defence, epidemic control and a few other matters; and the EU should be dissolved entirely. Similarly, in the US, the federal government should do as little as possible; the bulk of governance should be carried out by city and county governments, on a basis of local participatory democracy.

  346. #349 Kel
    May 8, 2009

    Is withdrawing from the EU really going to help farmers in the third world? It seems like a red herring argument.

  347. #350 Walton
    May 8, 2009

    Is withdrawing from the EU really going to help farmers in the third world? It seems like a red herring argument.

    Yes, but only if we ensure that the CAP isn’t replaced by any domestic farm subsidies or tariffs. What worries me is that, even if we ever succeed in escaping the EU, domestic special interests in the UK will still manage to procure the continuance of farm subsidies.

  348. #351 Kel
    May 8, 2009

    Yes, but only if we ensure that the CAP isn’t replaced by any domestic farm subsidies or tariffs.

    And can you honestly see that happening?

  349. #352 strange gods before me
    May 8, 2009

    As I understand it, the damage they’ve caused is largely down to the hypocrisy of Western governments – using the World Bank and IMF to force Third World countries to abolish trade barriers and tariffs, while maintaining billions of dollars’ worth of domestic subsidies and protectionist measures in the US and EU.

    Then you’ve barely begun to scratch the surface. Read John Perkins and get back to me.

    Unfortunately this will never happen – because your beloved democracy doesn’t work. Special interests, who benefit from protectionism, lobby to keep it in place; while the average voter simply doesn’t know or care.

    And yet you posture like you’ve got a better idea than democracy. There is no government that cannot be bought. Only by involving as many people as possible can you raise the pricetag so high that the cost of buying government becomes prohibitive.

    The Green Party page to which you linked is not good enough. Yes, subsidies should be taken away from big agribusiness – but they shouldn’t be given to small farms either. Rather, the concept of a “farm subsidy” (or any other type of subsidy, tariff or trade barrier) should quack quack quack. Quack quack evil – quack quack simple – quack quack quack quack quack quack.

    I thought you said you were going to cut back on the duckspeak. http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/05/missouri_absolves_pharmacists.php#comment-1616673

    Walton, you already favor subsidies. Basic welfare provisions for starving people, which you endorse, act as subsidies. The government ends up paying for more food that could otherwise be bought. It’s a market distortion; now will you tell me this compromise, a safety net against starvation, is “evil, plain and simple”?

    Now say there’s a small nation whose staple crops were devastated by disease this year. Farmers are going out of business, food stores are running out, shortages and then starvation are predicted soon. The government can step in to combat the disease, and subsidize next year’s growing season, keeping the farmers and their accumulated experience in the industry, ensuring relatively stable production again into the foreseeable future. Or they can stand back and let people starve to death. Your duckspeak doesn’t look so simple here.

  350. #353 Walton
    May 8, 2009

    Now say there’s a small nation whose staple crops were devastated by disease this year. Farmers are going out of business, food stores are running out, shortages and then starvation are predicted soon. The government can step in to combat the disease, and subsidize next year’s growing season, keeping the farmers and their accumulated experience in the industry, ensuring relatively stable production again into the foreseeable future. Or they can stand back and let people starve to death. Your duckspeak doesn’t look so simple here.

    Dammit, why do you have to make everything so complicated? You know perfectly well what I meant. The US farm bill, and the EU Common Agricultural Policy, should be abolished and not replaced. Do you seriously disagree with this?

  351. #354 Walton
    May 8, 2009

    And yet you posture like you’ve got a better idea than democracy. There is no government that cannot be bought. Only by involving as many people as possible can you raise the pricetag so high that the cost of buying government becomes prohibitive.

    I don’t have an alternative system, no. But what I have suggested is a twofold approach for reforming government: firstly, devolve virtually all powers from central government to local municipalities, which will encourage participatory democracy and accountability; and secondly, maintain rigorous judicial protection of fundamental individual liberties, even against the will of the majority. I don’t see how either of these conflict with any of your stated goals. Yet, by endorsing big federal government programmes, your views run contrary to both these principles.

    Obviously, the US political system is much better on both these fronts than our system in the UK is. (We have a highly centralised form of government, which is steadily surrendering more and more powers to the bureaucratic and unaccountable EU; and we don’t even have a written constitution, so our judicial protection for individual freedoms is fairly minimal.)

  352. #355 strange gods before me
    May 8, 2009

    Dammit, why do you have to make everything so complicated? You know perfectly well what I meant. The US farm bill, and the EU Common Agricultural Policy, should be abolished and not replaced. Do you seriously disagree with this?

    Ha! The world is complicated. I didn’t make it that way. If I complicate your mantras, you should thank me, it makes you less boring. And no, I cannot know perfectly well that you’re only talking about these specific instances, when you were the one who expanded the discussion from the specific to the general by saying ‘the concept of a “farm subsidy” (or any other type of subsidy, tariff or trade barrier) should be completely expunged.’

    What I’m getting at is that there can be good subsidies and bad subsidies. There’s nothing fundamental to all subsidies that make them always wrong, and there’s nothing fundamental to so-called “free trade” that makes it always right.

    I don’t know anything about the EU Common Agricultural Policy so I will do the wisest thing I can think of and refrain from prescribing an answer.

    The US Farm Bill is bad because of grain dumping. If the only politically plausible alternative were to get rid of the whole Farm Bill, then I could settle for that. But I don’t think we’re limited to this dichotomy.

    Citizens’ nutritional requirements are not being met because of our high-calorie, nutrient-deficient diets. This is a public health issue which will lead to early deaths and loss of knowledge and experience from the workforce, to everyone’s loss. It is worth considering whether government can provide economic incentives that may adjust this trend. It is worth considering whether limited subsidies to some fruit and vegetable crops can be of use. It is worth considering whether those subsidies could be limited enough to discourage dumping. Sorry for you, these are empirical questions.

    Your one-size-fits-all prescriptions of “free trade” are a reflex, an excuse not to think. I do not believe that ideological answers of any sort can address questions in the real world. When I don’t have an answer, I prefer to leave the question open, rather than pretend that some ideological mantra can solve it.

    I don’t see how either of these conflict with any of your stated goals. Yet, by endorsing big federal government programmes, your views run contrary to both these principles.

    I favor federal programs where federal programs work better, and devolved programs where devolved programs work better.

    The flow of money for welfare to poor families, for example, has been measured. It turns out that the largest flow is from New England to the Deep South. So the people in New England can do without the federal program. But the people in the Southern states need federal money to make ends meet. They also need education, as well as access to contraception and abortion, so that they can take more control of their own economic futures. But it would be even harder for them to reach those goals if federal welfare were cut off in the meantime; you can’t get an education when you’re too worried about when your next meal will be.

  353. #356 Walton
    May 8, 2009

    as well as access to contraception and abortion

    I realise this is tangential to your main point, but isn’t there a fundamental problem with public funding of contraception or abortion?

    You and I, as non-religious people, would justifiably be annoyed if we were taxed to support the Catholic Church, or any other form of organised religion; we should not be compelled to support beliefs and practices to which we don’t subscribe. Hence the importance of a secular state and freedom of religion. But, while sustaining this philosophy, can we justifiably compel Catholic taxpayers to fund contraception and abortions? (Or, for that matter, Jehovah’s Witnesses to fund blood transfusions?) Is it fair to expect people to pay for services which they find ethically offensive?

    This problem has been raised a few times in recent years. Some Quakers and other pacifists object to paying taxes to support nuclear weapons programmes. Similarly, there was a recent row about whether the NHS should be funding hospital chaplains.

    I realise this is not really related to what we were talking about, but I think it’s an important point – and is one of the key reasons why I’m a libertarian. One of the basic moral problems with government services, any government services, is that you force people to pay for things to which they may personally object on moral grounds. Obviously, this problem can’t be eliminated entirely; we can’t let pacifists refuse to fund the military, for instance. But it’s an argument for minimising the size of government.

  354. #357 Walton
    May 8, 2009

    (In further support of my comments above:

    Democracy is not an answer to this. Even if 99% of people in your country wanted to force you to fund the Catholic Church, it would still be morally wrong for them to do so. Likewise, even if 99% of people supported free contraception and abortion, it would be morally wrong for them to coerce the other 1% into paying for it.)

  355. #358 Kel
    May 8, 2009

    You’re right walton. We shouldn’t fund anything as individuals we don’t like. At the moment the department I am working for pays about $10,000 a head for a piece of software that is essentially repackaged open source. Hell, we just use the open source version because it runs better and isn’t bloated. Since my tax dollars are going towards something I can’t ethically support (paying for software) the government shouldn’t be doing it…

    You’re argument is a straw man. Imagine if a Jehovah’s Witness complained of the public funding of procedures involving blood transfusion. Their religion forbids it so it shouldn’t be funded by their tax dollars right?… if not, then what makes your argument against birth control not special pleading?

  356. #359 Knockgoats
    May 8, 2009

    “Even if 99% of people in your country wanted to force you to fund the Catholic Church, it would still be morally wrong for them to do so. Likewise, even if 99% of people supported free contraception and abortion, it would be morally wrong for them to coerce the other 1% into paying for it.” – Walton

    Why? Is there anything to which you think this does not apply? If so, why?

  357. #360 Knockgoats
    May 8, 2009

    @359,
    Sorry Walton, I see you do not apply this to funding the armed forces. On what grounds do you make this exception? Why is it that you and your fellow “libertarians” get to prescribe the limits of what is decided by majority rule to the rest of us? Is there any possible answer other than sheer bloody arrogance?

  358. #361 Knockgoats
    May 8, 2009

    “Which is why what we need is a state which is so small, and so powerless, that no one – rich or poor – can use it to further their own interests. As Grover Norquist said, government so small you can drown it in a bathtub.” – Walton@323

    This is a bunch of crap for two reasons. One has already been pointed out I think – with no state, or a weak enough state, but large differences in wealth, the rich will simply hire private armies. The other is that you (unlike “anarcho-capitalists) want the state to retain armed forces. You want to try drowning an army in a bathtub? You’re the one that will end up dead. So the state you want is strong in the sense that it has a monopoly of armed force – weak in the sense that it cannot restrain the concentration of economic (and hence political) power. IOW, a state that serves the rich and powerful.

    I note, BTW, that your hatred of democracy is becoming more and more evident. How close “libertarianism” turns out to be to fascism – the major modern ideology that explicitly repudiates democracy.

  359. #362 maureen Brian
    May 8, 2009

    To add to Walton’s reading list – Richard Titmuss’s The Gift Relationship – written long before W was born but it could teach him a thing or two. It was the mention of blood transfusions which sent me down that track.

    It’s available here.

  360. #363 maureen Brian
    May 8, 2009

    Sorry, folks. I can’t get a link to work but available on both amazon.co.uk and amazon.com.

  361. #364 strange gods before me
    May 8, 2009

    You and I, as non-religious people, would justifiably be annoyed if we were taxed to support the Catholic Church, or any other form of organised religion; we should not be compelled to support beliefs and practices to which we don’t subscribe.

    I’d be justifiably annoyed, but in the absence of the First Amendment, too bad for me. If I’ve got a problem with being taxed to support the Church, then it’s up to me to convince others to ratify the establishment clause. And guess what? I am currently being taxed to support the churches. Everyone in the US is, because churches are tax exempt, so the rest of us are forced to pay their share. It sucks, but I react like an adult and advocate for taxing the churches, instead of yelling that therefore I shouldn’t have to pay any taxes.

    You speak as though the fundamentalists have no options. They do. They can convince others of their position, they can leave, or they can buck up and live with it.

    I realise this is not really related to what we were talking about, but I think it’s an important point – and is one of the key reasons why I’m a libertarian. One of the basic moral problems with government services, any government services, is that you force people to pay for things to which they may personally object on moral grounds. Obviously, this problem can’t be eliminated entirely; we can’t let pacifists refuse to fund the military, for instance. But it’s an argument for minimising the size of government.

    No, it isn’t. It’s an argument for evaluating moral claims through public critique. That’s how the world has always worked. The Dominionists want the government to execute gay people. Look up the video Life and Liberty for All Who Believe if you think I’m exaggerating. They don’t want to pay for a law enforcement system that protects me from murder. Too fucking bad! We evaluate their claims and decide they are wrong.

    If your premise is correct, then it is wrong to make Dominionists pay taxes that won’t be used for killing gay people. Wrong to make them pay taxes to provide anti-retroviral drugs to HIV-positive parents in Africa to keep their children from becoming orphans. Wrong for you to require more deranged libertarians to pay any taxes to feed starving children.

    Well, what if it is wrong? I don’t think so, but you do appear to be having some real dilemma of conscience here, so I’m taking you seriously. Let’s say it’s a little bit wrong to take Dominionists’ money to provide me with police response if I should be assaulted. But we’ve got to weigh that against the alternative. What’s more wrong? Isn’t it worse for me to be deprived police protection and so at a higher risk of murder? There is no such thing as a laissez faire government in this case; the government has to choose to endorse one side or the other.

    Is it worse for a libertarian to be taxed, or for a child to starve to death? “Minimal government” isn’t an answer; it doesn’t address what even our minimal priorities should be.

    My answer remains the same: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/04/right_wing_inanity.php#comment-1590357

    In most cases of so-called moral objections to taxation, the alternatives are more deaths or lives ruined. We should not pretend that moderate taxation is comparably immoral. In general we should not even treat the question as reasonable. I’m answering you only because you’ve earned some respect from me, and because the question seems to be important to you. I hope my answer is helpful.

  362. #365 'Tis Himself
    May 8, 2009

    Likewise, even if 99% of people supported free contraception and abortion, it would be morally wrong for them to coerce the other 1% into paying for it.)

    Libertarians always whine about coercion. Thomas Paine had an interesting comment on the subject:

    The inescapable evils of coercive behavior are not unique to government. Our government is where we choose to channel and regulate them, because the alternative (private, unregulated coercion) gives much worse results, as the history of privately owned states (monarchies, dictatorships, despotisms) and private “law” such as slavery, warlords, etc. show rather clearly. We have constructed a government that is jointly owned by all, because private ownership gives too much incentive for profit through coercion of others.

  363. #366 strange gods before me
    May 9, 2009

    Thomas Pwned.

  364. #367 Militant Agnostic
    May 9, 2009

    We interupt this discussion of libertarianism to bring you an update from Alberta.

    The Conservatives have circled the wagons and are now shooting ech other in the foot. The MLA who proposed the bill has said that it never was intended to apply to science classes. Public opinion seems to be generally that this is making us look like a bunch of dumbasses to the rest of the world.

    I think the Conservative party would do well to listen to the speech Peter Lougheed (the first Premier in the Conservative dynasty) gave at the opening of the Tyrell Museum of Paleontology. He gave himself a pat on the back for making the construction of the museum possible by defeating the Social Credit government who were real creationists and would nver have funded it’s construction. The party has wandered a long way to the right since then.

  365. #368 Walton
    May 9, 2009

    What’s more wrong? Isn’t it worse for me to be deprived police protection and so at a higher risk of murder? There is no such thing as a laissez faire government in this case; the government has to choose to endorse one side or the other.

    It certainly is worse – because murder is the ultimate violation of personal sovereignty, and personal sovereignty is the fundamental premise on which libertarian theory is based. If you cannot defend yourself – which you have a right to do, hence why I support the right to bear arms – then the State must defend you. Otherwise there is no purpose in having a State at all.

    Is it worse for a libertarian to be taxed, or for a child to starve to death? “Minimal government” isn’t an answer; it doesn’t address what even our minimal priorities should be.

    This question – and a few of the things you’ve said previously – seem to reflect a presupposition that inaction, on the part of government, is as much an interference with citizens’ lives as positive action. For example, I believe you said earlier (I can’t find where) that by making small businesses exempt from employment law, government prioritises business interests above those of employees. But this is not true. Leaving people alone to do as they wish is the default. Inaction does not signify that government thinks the wealthy are more deserving than the poor. However, positive action to redistribute funds or privileges from A to B does mean that government considers B more deserving than A.

    Everyone has a prima facie right to do as they wish, to keep their own property for themselves and to spend their own money. This right is, however, limited by the need to respect the liberty of others, and to provide an infrastructure which provides each person with the means to fulfil their individual aims. So, for me, the starting point is always laissez-faire; but this can be rebutted by exceptional evidence that government intervention is needed. Thus I am happy for a minimal level of welfare to be provided, since it has a public good dimension; no society benefits from having thousands of starving people in the streets, begging and committing petty crime. Similarly, I support the state provision of police, fire services, the military, pollution controls, and other services which by their nature serve the common good rather than an individual’s good.

    Obviously, as you point out, the provision of some of the above public services will mean spending people’s coercively-extracted tax money in ways which they find objectionable. But that’s a necessary evil. Because these things are public goods which are non-rivalrous and non-excludable, they simply cannot be provided on an individual basis. It isn’t workable, for instance, to provide police and military protection only to those people who choose to pay for it. Ultimately, everyone benefits from such protection, and so everyone must pay for it.

    But there’s a pretty major difference between this and healthcare. The provision of contraception or abortion, or, indeed, blood transfusions, is an individual good. I don’t benefit from my neighbour being supplied with these things; my neighbour, alone, is the one who benefits. So there’s no self-evident reason why I should be compelled to pay for it. And while I personally have no objections to contraception, abortion or blood transfusions, this would not be the case if I were a Catholic or a Jehovah’s Witness. Ditto for religious services; I don’t benefit from my neighbour being provided with a Catholic priest, and I object in principle to paying for it. Thus, healthcare and religion are two things which, in general, ought to be funded on a non-coercive private basis.

  366. #369 africangenesis
    May 9, 2009

    Strange Gods,

    “Everyone in the US is, because churches are tax exempt, so the rest of us are forced to pay their share”

    There is a subtle ommision in your statement. “The rest of us are forced” by whom? “Their share” suggests that you associate a moral obligation associated with nation states. Presumably they inherited that from the moral obligations based upon the devine right of kings. Perhaps the church members paid the church’s “share”, much as club or union members are paying. Perhaps they paid two or three times the church’s “share”. Perhaps churches more than fulfill their social obligations without the inefficiency of a beaurocratic government in the middle.

    “Their share” suggests some standard of fairness. Is the fairest tax the use tax, where those who get the benefit pay the costs of providing that benefit? Is the fairest tax a tax on ability to redistribute to those with the need? How much ability does a church have? Or should the states ability be taxed to serve the church’s need?

    A little questioning of assumptions and critical thinking is in order.

  367. #370 Aquaria
    May 9, 2009

    The provision of contraception or abortion, or, indeed, blood transfusions, is an individual good. I don’t benefit from my neighbour being supplied with these things; my neighbour, alone, is the one who benefits. So there’s no self-evident reason why I should be compelled to pay for it.

    Bullshit.

    Unvarnished, unmitigated bullshit

    We do pay a price–all of us, when healthcare isn’t available to all.

    People wait to get illnesses taken care of–they don’t go to the doctor. Even people with insurance. Out-of-pocket expenses are so exorbitant in this country that a lot of us don’t get medical care when we really need it.

    At any given moment in America, emergency rooms are swamped with people who have not been able to get preventative treatment when it mattered, and are now in a life-or-death situation in the ER.

    This ties up doctors who need to be available for things like accidents and assorted unexpected injuries. Instead, they’re dealing with the diabetic in insulin shock because she couldn’t afford a doctor–or insulin. Or the heart patient who was trying to take his medicine less often, to save some freakin’ money.

    Emergency care is much, much more expensive than regular care. But we have to have more doctors than we really need, to take care of these people. And that hits consumers in the pocketbook.

    And of course the rest of us have to absorb these costs with higher premiums and more out of pocket expenses.

    Not only that, not having decent healthcare in this country results in billions (if not trillions) of dollars in lost work hours from employees not being well enough to work, or missing out on work because they haven’t been able to take care of their health the way they want.

    Walton, once again, please, please, stop commenting on issues that you know nothing about. Doing so makes you come across as a selfish, smug, ignorant and heartless prick.

  368. #371 Kel
    May 9, 2009

    To give a personal example (not the best way of arguing, I know)

    About 9 months ago I started at a new workplace. Within three days of coming to work, I came down with a flu that kept me out of action for a week and took me a few more weeks to properly recover. How come? because some inconsiderate fuck came to work ill and got half the office infected. Lots of lost productivity all stemming from the actions of one inconsiderate person.

    This is why I find libertarianism in it’s individualistic ideal naive at best and and all probability downright dangerous.We are social creatures, we interact with others. Healthcare is not an individual issue as individuals without healthcare increase the risk of infecting the population. Keeping people in good health gives a greater overall benefit to society and thus to the individual. This is the same reason we need to immunise whoever we possibly can. Herd immunity

  369. #372 'Tis Himself
    May 9, 2009

    Walton, once again, please, please, stop commenting on issues that you know nothing about.

    This is my biggest complaint about libertarians in general and Walton in particular, their refusal to accept that the real world doesn’t match their ideological fantasies.

    However, a thought just occurred to me. Libertarians render a service to the state which only they can provide. For all their complaints about its illicit extensions they concede, in their lucid moments, that the state rules far more by consent than by coercion. In present-state libertarian terms the state doesn’t rule at all, it merely carries out the tacit or explicit terms of its contracts. If it seems contradictory to say that coercion is consensual, the contradiction is in the world, not in the expression, and can’t adequately be rendered except by dialectical discourse. One-dimensional syllogistics can’t do justice to a world largely lacking in the virtue. If your language lacks poetry and paradox, it’s unequal to the task of accounting for actuality. Otherwise anything radically new is literally unspeakable. The scholastic “A = A” logic promoted by the Catholic Church which the libertarians inherited, unquestioned, from the Randites is just as constrictively conservative as the Newspeak of 1984.

    The state commands, for the most part, only because it commands popular support. It is, and should be, an embarrassment to libertarians that the state rules with mass support including, for all practical purposes, theirs.

  370. #373 africangenesis
    May 9, 2009

    Kel,

    Regarding your flu anecdote, first let me express sympathy for your suffering, and understanding of your desire to impose immunization upon everyone.

    However, what about your own personal responsibility, and I don’t just mean personal hygeine like hand washing. Why weren’t you immunized? Why didn’t you take tamiflu or other antivirals? And more timely, why aren’t you immunized against swine flu?

    The collective that you want to use to impose immunization upon others may not care about you, you are just a statistic, or it may care for you … to death. Perhaps, some individuals have evolved to trust their own judgement, and to question authority. A swine flu vaccine was developed years ago, but carried a slight risk, an increase in your risk of Guillain-Barre. Because of this not only did the collective deny you the option of swine flu immunization, you don’t even get the benefit of there being a greater amount of herd immunity in the population.

    When there was a bird flu scare, the collective that was supposed to protect you and supposedly cared, was woefully unprepared. Not only did it not have stockpiles of antivirals, its suppression of the market by banning individual stockpiles resulted in an industry with little productive capacity. Additionally, a culture had been cultivted among those granted the licensed monopoly on the prescription pad of undertreating illnesses such as yours with anti-virals in order to reduce the risk of resistence developmnet, futher suppressing any incentive for antiviral development and production.

    Real freedom may be a better individual strategy than hoping for an omniscient, omnipotent and benevolent collective to replace the God that you never really had anyway. You are irreplacable, gambling on the hero collective to come to your rescue, may be a bad bet, assuming even that it cares.

  371. #374 Rorschach
    May 9, 2009

    Additionally, a culture had been cultivted among those granted the licensed monopoly on the prescription pad of undertreating illnesses such as yours with anti-virals in order to reduce the risk of resistence developmnet, futher suppressing any incentive for antiviral development and production.

    *Sigh*
    Where to start.

    Undertreating flu with antivirals in order to reduce resistance? As someone “granted the licensed monopoly”,as you say,I must have missed the memo on that one.
    Utter rubbish.
    Pharmacies here are short on Tamiflu because every 18yo with a sneeze is getting the stuff prescribed after the swine flu scare.
    Not even talking about antibiotics for the common cold…

  372. #375 Walton
    May 9, 2009

    For all their complaints about its illicit extensions they concede, in their lucid moments, that the state rules far more by consent than by coercion.

    Interesting statement. (And quite relevant to the module in jurisprudence/legal philosophy I’m presently studying, so for once I can feel good about wasting time on the internet…)

    It’s true that every state rules by someone’s consent. Even a dictator must maintain the loyalty of his hired thugs in order to maintain effective power.

    In a constitutionally-governed nation such as the US or UK, the constitutional order must maintain some kind of “legitimacy” in the eyes of the majority of the people in order for the state to continue functioning. This doesn’t imply that a majority of the people must support the government of the day; but it appears to mean that a majority of the people must accept that the US Congress (in your case) or the Queen in Parliament (in our case) has the “authority” to tell them what to do. This is closely related to what H.L.A. Hart termed the “internal point of view” of a legal system.

    Thus, the majority of people must accept, actively or tacitly, the State’s authority in order to allow it to function. However, I, personally, do not accept that the State has any moral authority over me. I obey laws for either of two reasons: either because the substantive content of the law itself is morally right, or because I will suffer coercive sanctions if I disobey. Since I am currently economically tied to living in this country, I have no choice but to accept its laws, despite the fact that I disagree with most of them. But it is misleading to suggest that Parliament governs me “with my consent”. It does not. And if Parliament were to enact a law that was truly morally repugnant (such as a law requiring the internment of non-white people), then I would actively disobey it, regardless of the consequences to myself. In extremis, I would consider it right to use violence to resist the imposition of a morally unjust law.

    Ultimately, people like me are coerced into obeying the law. Not just via the “hard coercion” of state-imposed penal sanctions, but also the “soft coercion” of social pressure; someone who refuses to comply with society’s norms risks social ostracism, unemployment and poverty. But this doesn’t mean that I think the State or “society” has any moral right to tell me what to do. It doesn’t. I comply because, in practice, I have no other choice.

    Because of this, I reject your assertion that states rule “by consent”. They rule by consent of, at best, the majority. They don’t rule by the freely-given consent of everyone. And because I am anti-collectivist, and don’t believe that “the British people” or “the American people” can have any sort of collective will – why should I be bound by others’ wishes merely because we happened to be born in the same country? – I don’t believe that “the consent of the majority” is good enough to give the State moral legitimacy.

  373. #376 'Tis Himself
    May 9, 2009

    However, I, personally, do not accept that the State has any moral authority over me. I obey laws for either of two reasons: either because the substantive content of the law itself is morally right, or because I will suffer coercive sanctions if I disobey. Since I am currently economically tied to living in this country, I have no choice but to accept its laws, despite the fact that I disagree with most of them.

    The only states that claim to have moral authority are theocracies like Iran and North Korea.

    It’s only criminal laws that have any sort of moral basis. Murder, rape, theft, fraud, etc. are generally considered immoral, which is why there’s little argument about implementation of these laws. However, the majority of laws are regulations of various types. Municipal sanitation codes, urban zoning regulations, building codes, tax laws, licensing of various professions, are not based on morality but rather on determining how people can live with each other. There’s nothing immoral about your neighbor having a pig farm next to your house, but zoning codes separating agricultural areas from housing make life easier and more pleasant for both the home owner and the pig farmer.

    So your childhood dream of raising pigs in the suburbs of Swindon is dashed by those coercive zoning laws. On behalf of the inhabitants of Blunsdon St Andrew I apologize to you for this coercive behavior.

    Because of this, I reject your assertion that states rule “by consent”. They rule by consent of, at best, the majority. They don’t rule by the freely-given consent of everyone.

    Yes, there are always people who suffer under the burden of not being able to raise pigs anywhere they please. And it is really a shame that these poor, downtrodden pig farmers are forced to abide by the wishes of the majority. When you become King of the World, I have no doubt that you’ll mandate that a pig farm be located every three miles in every direction. That’ll teach the consenting majority to ignore the desires of the pig farming minority.

  374. #377 Aquaria
    May 9, 2009

    To give a personal example (not the best way of arguing, I know)

    Same here, Kel.

    I’m the person who always gets the cold that someone at work has, and I end up with bronchitis whenever I get a cold, often pneumonia as well. I can’t always avoid the sick people, either. We can work in some really close quarters sometimes.

    The USPS, though, seems to think there is no such thing as illness, and that sick leave is something you’re never to use. Seriously. You wouldn’t believe some of the crap they pull to make us come to work every day.

    So I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve been one of the people who’s gone to work sick. When it’s your job or working through pneumonia–you work through pneumonia. Hell, one of my co-workers has frickin’ lung cancer, and he’s at work every day, even if he has to leave early or come in late to take care of his chemo. Of course, he also has to work to pay his damned medical bills.

  375. #378 'Tis Himself
    May 9, 2009

    Hell, one of my co-workers has frickin’ lung cancer, and he’s at work every day, even if he has to leave early or come in late to take care of his chemo. Of course, he also has to work to pay his damned medical bills.

    I’m sure Walton or AG can explain that this guy getting company paid medical insurance is much more noble than having his medical bills paid for with [hack, spit] taxes. Oh wait, this guy works for the gummint. His medical bills are paid for with tax money. It’d be better for the guy to die than for AG to spend a cent for the guy’s treatment.

  376. #379 Walton
    May 9, 2009

    I’m sure Walton or AG can explain that this guy getting company paid medical insurance is much more noble than having his medical bills paid for with [hack, spit] taxes. Oh wait, this guy works for the gummint. His medical bills are paid for with tax money. It’d be better for the guy to die than for AG to spend a cent for the guy’s treatment.

    Well, what would you like me to say?

  377. #380 Walton
    May 9, 2009

    (And all postal services should be privatised, btw. It’s happened successfully in Germany and Japan, IIRC; why can’t we do the same everywhere else? State-run postal services are a stupid and inefficient anachronism.)

  378. #381 africangenesis
    May 9, 2009

    Tis’Himself,

    “Oh wait, this guy works for the gummint. His medical bills are paid for with tax money. It’d be better for the guy to die than for AG to spend a cent for the guy’s treatment.”

    That’s an invalid argument. There aren’t enough resources to solve every problem. Sorry he can die, because I’m fixing the water heater and putting my daugter through college instead. We all make these choices everyday, some of us just recognize them. Did you spend any money on something other than medical care for others this week? How many people could you have saved instead? There are sick and starving people out there you know.

  379. #382 Mike from Canmore
    May 10, 2009

    The evolution issue is grabbing all the headlines. But there’s another truly insidious part of Bill 44. While it enshrines sexual orientation in the province’s human rights legislation (10 years after the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that it is in fact part of the Charter, so it’s a formality, really), the opt-out provision also applies to teaching about sexual orientation.

    In other words, if a teacher doesn’t tell parents in advance that homosexuality is going to be discussed and give them a chance to pull their child out of that class, that teacher could face action before the Human Rights Commission.

  380. #383 Dave Hancock
    May 10, 2009

    It is not the Alberta Government’ intention “to make education optional”. Nothing in Bill 44, which merely seeks to enact a policy which is in effect with little fanfare or problem, that allows parents notification and involvement in religious education and education about sexuality. This is not about looking at every part of the curriculum through a religious lens and opting out. This is not about evolution or molecular biology, math or Shakespeare. This is about explicit instruction about religion. The CBC and other media have taken our Premier’s comment about parental choice in education and made a whole new movie. I invite intelligent and informed discussion. If the section is problematic because it raises concern that other interpretations may be raised – fair comment – but to paint a picture of Alberta as moving into a neanderthal period is pure science fiction.

  381. #384 Anonymous
    May 10, 2009

    Dave Hancock #384

    This is not about evolution or molecular biology, math or Shakespeare. This is about explicit instruction about religion.

    There are a fair number of people for whom evolution is explicitly about religion. How is Bill 44 dealing with their concerns and the concerns of others who want have opposing views?

  382. #385 Stanton
    May 10, 2009

    There are a fair number of people for whom evolution is explicitly about religion. How is Bill 44 dealing with their concerns and the concerns of others who want have opposing views?

    By allowing students to not learn anything that dare to contradict their personal worldviews as dictated to them by their spiritual handlers.

  383. #386 Leisha Camden
    May 10, 2009

    “Somehow we’ve acquired this bizarre notion that learning is about being eased along, never stressing ourselves, never facing a challenge. We’ve mistaken education for an exercise in affirmation.”

    http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/09-04-15

  384. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.

    If Alberta students get to learn about how wonderful sodomy is, can maybe they hear once or twice how wonderful private property rights are? As is, this is just a bunch of people with their own agenda who believe that “diversity of voices” in public schools are between left and far-left.

    Everything else you’ve read is just a smokescreen by these people.

  385. #388 usatoday
    May 11, 2009

    You see what you’re doing to the west, Alberta? What the hell is this?

    On another tangent, every poll that I’ve read in recent papers say that the Conservatives are trailing the Liberals. Stephen Harper’s going to loooose the next election! Too bad you never got your majority.

    See:

    http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/629620

    http://ca.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idCATRE5445I020090505

    http://www2.canada.com/topics/news/story.html?id=1557691

    They say in mid October there’ll be yet ANOTHER election (what the fuck?) … I’ll be laughing, the conservatives have a record of cutting sciences funding.

  386. #389 gmm
    May 13, 2009

    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/edmonton/story/2009/05/11/calgary-physical-education-classes.html

    HELP!! While our government is entrenching parent’s rights into law, they are also putting SPIRITUALITY as a component of our new physed curriculum- holistic wellness stuff. Please read this.

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