Fear of the hand that feeds

The fact that government bureaucrats are literally silencing scientists doesn’t appear to bother science fetishists anywhere nearly as much as the idea that somewhere, someone has a textbook with an evolution sticker on it.

Hundreds of federal scientists said in a survey that they had been asked to exclude or alter technical information in government documents for non-scientific reasons, and thousands said they had been prevented from responding to the media or the public.

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), which commissioned the survey from Environics Research “to gauge the scale and impact of ‘muzzling’ and political interference among federal scientists,” released the results Monday at a news conference. PIPSC represents 60,000 public servants across the country, including 20,000 scientists, in federal departments and agencies, including scientists involved in food and consumer product safety and environmental monitoring.

In all, the union sent invitations to participate in the survey to 15,398 federal scientists in June. A total of 4,069 responded.

Twenty four per cent of respondents said they “sometimes” or “often” were asked to exclude or alter technical information in federal government documents for non-scientific reasons. Most often, the request came from their direct supervisors, followed by business or industry, other government departments, politically appointed staff and public interest advocates.

He that pays the gold makes the rules. Science prostituted itself when it got in bed with government and now it has to pay the price. Big science is bad science.


Mailvox: on evidence for gods

Shagrat’s Friend explains his perspective on the distinction between atheism and agnosticism:

[A]theism and agnosticism answer two different questions. Regarding the religions that inhabit the earth (or have done so), X -1 must be false, since they’re mutually exclusive (to the extent that there’s any substance to their claims). If at least X -1 must be false, it’s really not too hard to imagine that X -1 +1 are false. (I’m not going to get into any sort of veridical arguments about the “truthiness” of any given belief system. You want to believe that the New Testament tells a cohesive story that’s internally logical, go right ahead. Just don’t bother me with all the sophistical razzmatazz necessary to explain what exactly happened when Jesus was born or what happened to Judas after he counted his money.)

As for the broader picture, yes, it is impossible to disprove the existence of some hypothetical deity. Yeah, maybe that is who started the Big Bang (if it really happened) or makes the earth spin on its axis and revolve happily around the sun day in and day out or who winds up the clockwork that makes all that stuff happen. Sure, maybe there are some Epicurean entities who spend their existence in solitary blessedness beyond the travails of this mortal coil and outside the ken of us mere humans. So to that extent, I am an agnostic.

But if that’s all “God” boils down to, who cares? I see no rational evidence for the day-to-day involvement of any deity in the regular affairs on earth. You want to believe that the sun stopped shining and an earthquake dumped the dead out of their tombs and they milled around for a while when Jesus died on the cross? Be my guest. Or that God held his nose or averted his eyes at Treblinka or Kolyma? Talk it over with Augustine and Orosius. But leave me out of that argument with all its a priori-isms that are invalid in my eyes.

A few corrections:

(1) It is not true to say that X-1 must be false or that most religions are mutually exclusive. For example, Judaism and Christianity part company on a single claim: that Jesus Christ is the Messiah. Most religions make no grand universal claims and both Christianity and Islam, the two great universal religions, comfortably encompass many, if not most, other religions by virtue of their distinction between a sovereign Creator God and the panoply of lesser gods subject to His Will.

(2) There is a considerable quantity of rational evidence for the day-to-day involvement of a deity in regular Earthly affairs. Indeed, this is the core basis for my own Christian faith. The Bible posits that the world is ruled by an arrogant, evil, intelligent, and malicious deity and we have no shortage of documentary, testimonial, and experiential evidence of his existence.

(3) There is no reason to assume that the supernatural is any less complicated, or any less full of detailed variety, than the natural. To repeatedly attempt to boil down a concept as a god, let alone The God, to a simple binary question is so intellectually vacuous as to appear either uninterested or intellectually stunted.

That being said, I can only agree that there is little point in engaging in “all the sophistical razzmatazz necessary to explain what exactly happened when
Jesus was born or what happened to Judas after he counted his money”. One might as profitably attempt to determine Martha Washington’s juggling ability or describe the loss of Alexander the Great’s virginity.


Saving SF from Strong Female Characters V

The fifth part of the ongoing series, in which John Wright makes it clear that the Strong Female Character in SF/F is nothing less than the written feminist version of Soviet Realism:

Now, I do not mean to sound cynical, so I will ask rather than speak my opinion. Is there any strong woman character which meets with the approval of the Politically Correct who also happens to be, as the characters in Lewis and Tolkien, reflect a Christian worldview, or, as happens in Burroughs or E.E. Smith, to reflect what one might call the traditional heroic worldview, a worldview reminiscent of the Stoic and Military virtues of the ancient Romans and Greeks?

I have heard some Leftists praise the female characters of Robert Heinlein, who, with one exception, I myself find to be somewhat demeaning to women. (The one exceptions is  Cynthia Randall in ‘The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag’, perhaps the only honest portrayal of a woman throughout his whole oeuvre.) Others despise his portrayals.

My cynical question is this: when they ask for ‘strong’ female characters, are they actually honestly asking for strong female characters, Deborah from the Bible, Antigone from myth, Britomart from poetry, or are they only asking for Leftist female characters, poster children for Leftist causes?

If so, what they are asking for is Political Correctness, which means, substituting true narratives about the real glories and sorrows of the human condition for a false narrative, an advertisement for Leftwing political causes, which tell lies about the glories and man, bemoan with crocodile tears only the sorrows of their particular mascots and special causes, and make false promises about the cure for the world’s pain.

If so, they are giving up art for an ad.

Myself, I want to see women writers not because they are women, but because I would like to have the genius of distaff half the human race writing new and brilliant science fiction stories for us to enjoy. But, as far as I can tell, this is akin to the complaint that Science Fiction is meant for juvenile audiences. That has not been true during my lifetime. I have not seen even the slightest trace of the all-boy club mentality ever, neither in any writer nor in any editor nor in any reader.

I have seen plenty of people like me, who are annoyed with the cheerless preachy monotony of Political Correctness and would like the dullards to stop ruining good stories with their sucker punches and pauses for their political advertisements, but, hey, the PC types answer any criticism of PC  by calling the complainer a sexist, or saying he is paranoid, or saying that PC does not exist. Any lie will do, just so long as it is an accusation.

To tell the truth about what they are doing, which is informal censorship, that is, thought policework, is the one thing they fear.

As I said before, they think they are fooling us into thinking they are honest and compassionate people, and we know they are not, and they know they are not, but they do not know we know, so when one of us mentions, for the umpteenth time, that the Emperor has No Clothes, they react with exaggerated fear and fury. Because they are afraid of anyone, no matter how humble or obscure, who punctures their little daydream of make-believe, their land of colored cloud where they are the saints and the saviors of the world.

The fact of the matter is that those who demand Strong Female Characters don’t actually want genuinely strong women possessed of the feminine virtues. They simply want to substitute a nominal woman for a man and claim the masculine virtues for their Mary Sues in order to make themselves feel better about themselves.

Remember, most Pink SF is written in order to let the gamma male or shambling shoggoth author retroactively triumph over his persecutors from junior high and high school. Hence the lack of credible action and the interminable focus on “witty” dialogue that always allows the author stand-in to come out on top. To say nothing of the inevitable love triangles focused on the Mary Sue. It is wish-fulfillment of a very different kind than the adventurous fantasy of Blue SF.

Now, few Pink SF writers go so far in their wish-fulfillment as McRapey, who in addition to having male infantry soldiers swapping blow jobs as currency has now apparently paralyzed his female characters in his next novel. (A subconscious confession due to the weight of all that Rohypnol plaguing a guilty conscience?) The two primary focuses of the fantasy in Pink SF are the sexual desirability of the author/Mary Sue and the belated revenge of the author on his real-life enemies. These take the place of the Blue SF triumph of the protagonist over the environment, his fictional enemies, and himself.

Knowing themselves weak in life, the writers of Pink SF stride confidently through their fantasies as the demigods they wish themselves to be. And anyone who dares to observe that those fantasies bear no resemblance to reality is not merely mean, but indubitably evil.


The comparative danger of eating disorders

It’s fascinating how “eating disorder” as it is conventionally used doesn’t appear to cover the statistically most dangerous health consequence of eating abnormally. And, for some reason, in an overstuffed society we’re supposed to worry about the women who are too skinny:

A “disease” that affects 30 million people and kills one out of every 206,897 of the individuals who contract it is simply not a serious societal problem, especially not when considered in light of how diabetes contributed to 231,404 deaths in 2011. 28.5 million Americans suffer from diabetes, so the risk of death from diabetes is one in 111. That means the risk of dying from diabetes is 1,855 TIMES HIGHER than the risk of dying from an eating disorder.

Stuff that in your piehole, fatty. Better yet, stick your finger down your throat if you want to live… and that’s not even considering amputations, blindness, and other non-fatal complications.

Read the rest at Alpha Game.


The butter knife at the gun fight

While Tom Kratman doesn’t assert there are no atheists in foxholes, in the afterword of the Tuloriad, he expresses his doubts about the survival prospects of a culture that relies on putting large quantities of atheists on the front lines.

Where was Secular Humanism at Lepanto?
The moral of this story, this afterword, is “Never bring a knife to a gunfight.” Keep that in mind as you read.

In any case, religious fanatics? Us? We don’t think so.

We’re not going to sit here and lecture you on the value and validity of atheism versus faith. We’ll leave that to Hitchens and Dawkins or D’Souza or the pope or anyone else who cares to make the leap. One way or the other. Hearty shrugs, all around. A defense of the existence of God was never the purpose of the book, anyway, though we would be unsurprised to see any number of claims, after publication, that it is such a defense.

Sorry, it ain’t, either in defense of Revelations or in defense of Hitchens’ revelation that there was no God when Hitchens was nine years old. (Besides, Dinesh D’Souza does a much better job of thrashing Hitchens in public than we could, even if we cared to.)

Moreover, nope, we don’t think it’s unethical to be an atheist. We don’t think it’s impossible, or really any more difficult or unlikely, to be an atheist and still be a highly ethical human being. The same, sadly, cannot be said for governments. Thus, consider, say, the retail horrors of the Spanish Inquisition which, from 1481 to 1834 killed—shudder—not more than five thousand people, few or none of them atheists, and possibly closer to two thousand. Compare that to expressly atheistic regimes—the Soviet Union, for example, in which a thousand people a day, twenty-five hundred a day by Robert Conquest’s tally— were put to death in 1937 and ’38. And that’s not even counting starved Ukrainians by the millions. The death toll in Maoist China is said to have been much, much greater. Twenty million? Thirty million? A hundred million? Who knows?

Personally, we’d take our chances with the Inquisition before we would take them with a militantly communist, which is to say, atheist, regime. The Inquisition, after all, was a complete stranger neither to humanity nor to the concept of mercy.

But that’s still not the point of this book or this afterword. Go back to the afterword’s title. Ever heard of Lepanto? Everyone knows about the Three Hundred Spartans now, at least in some form or another, from the movies. Not enough people know about the battle of Lepanto….

Now let’s suppose, just for the moment and just arguendo, that God doesn’t exist, that He’s a pure figment of the imagination. What then won the battle of Lepanto? No, back off. What got the Christian fleet together even to fight the battle, for without getting together to fight it it could never have been won?

The answer is, of course, faith, the faith of the pope, Pius V, who did the political maneuvering and much of the financing, and also the faith of the kings, doges, nobles and perhaps especially the common folk who manned the fleet. And that answer does not depend on the validity of faith, only upon its sincere existence. Faith is, in short, a weapon, the gun you bring to a certain kind of gunfight.

If you’ve got any interest in the atheism/religion debate or military history, you simply must read the whole thing. And then reflect upon the likelihood that the West’s secular humanist culture will survive either the challenge of Islam in the Dar al Harb or the third world’s Christian revival.


3 days to QUANTUM MORTIS

Today and tomorrow you can still preorder the hardcover of QUANTUM MORTIS A Man Disrupted for $14.99. This is a 35 percent discount from the retail price of $22.99 and it also includes a free copy of the $4.99 ebook, so if you even suspect you may eventually want a print copy, this would be right the time to do it. As you can see, Kirk has already finished the jacket, so it should be apparent that in addition to symbolically serving as the bluest of Blue SF, the hardcovers will arrive in plenty of time for Christmas.

As one of the early reviewers has observed, by modern standards A MAN DISRUPTED is an impossible book. It violates many, if not most, of the fundamental precepts of modern Pink SF. It is a subversion of the subversion.

The story begins with Tower offering his help to Hildreth, the beautiful policewoman in charge of the case. Both Tower and Hildreth are assisted by their respective ever-present AI ‘augments’. His interest in her is clear from the outset, creating a warm atmosphere that sometimes borders on adolescent merry naiveté. He is happy to go out of his way to lend a hand and she is happy to accept. But if you know anything about the authors you know that this cannot be the story of the white knight, the damsel in distress, and the happy ending that was in plain sight from page one. For the same reason it cannot be an ode to the strong empowered independent fighting female that needs no man. It cannot be the story of the loser antihero, or the invincible superhero, for that matter. So, obviously, this book is impossible; at least, inside the hegemonic frame of political correctness. 

If you find Pink SF to be tedious and repetitive, if you wonder whatever happened to the exciting futures that were created by authors like William Gibson and Neal Stephenson, or you find it impossible to believe that novels like The Quantum Rose and Redshirts are truly the best and most intriguing that the world of SF has to offer, there is at least a reasonable chance that you’ll find QUANTUM MORTIS to be worth your while.


The ahistorical atheist

Armarium Magnum explains why so many atheists are historically illiterate:

After 30+ years of observing and taking part in debates about history with many of my fellow atheists I can safely claim that most atheists are historically illiterate.  This is not particular to atheists:  they tend to be about as historically illiterate as most people, since historical illiteracy is pretty much the norm.   But it does mean that when most (not all) atheists comment about history or, worse, try to use history in debates about religion, they are usually doing so with a grasp of the subject that is stunted at about high school level.

This is hardly surprising, given that most people don’t study history past high school.  But it means their understanding of any given historical person, subject or event is (like that of most people), based on half-remembered school lessons, perhaps a TV documentary or two and popular culture: mainly novels and movies.  Which is why most atheists (like most people) have a grasp of history which is, to be brutally frank, largely crap.

Worse, this also means that most atheists (again, like most people) have a grasp of how history is studied and the techniques of historical analysis and synthesis which is also stunted at high school level – i.e. virtually non-existent.  With a few laudable exceptions, high school history teachers still tend to reduce history to facts and dates organised into themes or broad topics.  How we can know what happened in the past, with what degree of certitude we can know it and the techniques used to arrive at these conclusions are rarely more than touched on at this level.  This means that when the average atheist (yet again, like the average person generally) grasps that our knowledge of the past is not as cut and dried and clear as Mr Wilkins the history teacher gave us to understand, they tend to reject the whole thing as highly uncertain at best or subjective waffle at worst.  Or, as Grundy put it, as “crap”.

All this leads some atheists, who have fallen in to the fallacy of scientism and reject anything that can’t be definitively “proven”, to reject the idea of any degree of certainty about the past.  This is an extreme position and it’s rarely a consistent one.  As I’ve noted to some who have claimed this level of historical scepticism, I find it hard to believe they maintain this position when they read the newspaper, even though they should be just as sceptical about being able to know about a car accident yesterday as they are about knowing about a revolution 400 years ago.

This is something I, too, have noticed with regards to many atheists, beginning with Bertrand Russell and Richard Dawkins. It is obvious they don’t know any more about history than they do about theology; no one who knows anything about history believes religion causes war, thinks that the Spanish Inquisition was one of the most lethal institutions in human history, or finds the assumption that Jesus was not a legitimate historical figure to be a reasonable one.

However, I do have to take exception to this statement: “This rejection can be more pronounced in atheists, because
many (not all) come to their atheism via a study of science.
This observably isn’t true. Armarium Magnum has the order reversed. The vast majority of atheists become atheists as teenagers, before they have embarked upon any course of study, and they become atheists for reasons that are entirely emotional by their own account. They then turn to science for the explanations that they can no longer seek in religion, and are understandably disappointed and embittered when they cannot find them there either.

The reason the rejection is often more pronounced in atheists is because they are observably less rational than most people who are interested in history. No one who does not believe in the existence of gods through a rational process can legitimately call himself an atheist, for the obvious reason that it is impossible to rationally prove the non-existence of gods. An agnostic’s lack of god belief may have a rational basis, an atheist’s non-belief never can. Their irrationality not only makes them unusually susceptible to swallowing falsehoods that thirty seconds on Wikipedia would render obvious, but makes it hard for them to give up their ahistorical dogma.

What’s worse is that I’ve also experienced
atheists who have been shown extensive, clear evidence that the medieval Church
taught the earth was round and that the myth of medieval Flat Earth belief was
invented by the novelist Washington Irving in 1828, and they have simply
refused to believe that the myth could be wrong.

Neat historical fables such as the ones about Christians
burning down the Great Library of Alexandria (they didn’t) or murdering Hypatia
because of their hatred of her learning and science (ditto) are appealing
parables.  Which means some atheists fight
tooth and nail to preserve them even when confronted with clear evidence that
they are pseudo historical fairy tales.  

And before anyone angrily denounces Armarium Magnum as another theistic polemicist cut out of the same godbothering cloth as me, perhaps it should be noted that the gentleman is himself an atheist. It’s a good piece and I even learned something. It’s more than a little amusing to be informed that belief in the medieval belief in a flat earth is intellectually akin to belief in the Headless Horseman. And that will certainly make for a useful rhetorical device.


Nature on science fraud

Even the mainstream journals are being forced to tacitly admit that science skeptics are justified in their skepticism about modern professional science:

Retractions of scientific papers have increased about tenfold during the past decade, with many studies crumbling in cases of high-profile research misconduct that ranges from plagiarism to image manipulation to outright data fabrication. When worries about somebody’s work reach a critical point, it falls to a peer, supervisor, junior partner or uninvolved bystander to decide whether to keep mum or step up and blow the whistle. Doing the latter comes at significant risk, and the path is rarely simple. Some make their case and move on; others never give up. And in what seems to be a growing trend, anonymous watchdogs are airing their concerns through e-mail and public forums.

The reason that the watchdogs have to be anonymous is because scientists are far less amenable to having their mistakes exposed than most people are capable of imagining and the secular priesthood reliably retaliates against those who pull back the curtain on the myth.


Saving SF from Strong Female Characters IV

The fourth installment in John C. Wright’s detailed explication of one of Pink SF’s barbaric ills and the various ideological and religious reasons that underlie it:

My objection is to falseness, insincerity, propaganda, bad drama, bad art, and treason against the muses.  My objection is to using art for propaganda purposes. My objection is to Politically Correct piety. My objection is to the Thought Police.

My objection is to the spirit of totalitarianism.

For about ten years now, I have been writing and posting essays and articles on my electronic journal, and in all that time, I have been subjected to the Leftist mob tactics of mass hatred once and once only. It was the time I mocked the Sci-Fi Channel for kowtowing to Political Correctness. My motive for objecting was perfectly clear to everyone: I would like to write without censorship, formal or informal, based on political considerations. Formal censorship is state enforced; informal is enforced by organized mob-tactics, minority pressure groups, yelling, screaming, boycotts, hysteria mob-tactics and general bullying.

Because I would like to write without informal censorship interfering with my livelihood, I objected to Sci-Fi channel, or anyone in my field, surrendering to the minority pressure groups screaming and yelling and mob-tactics and bullying. So I mocked the Sci-Fi channel for encouraging the bullies by bowing in the knee to them.

And in return the mob tried to bully me, of all people. As if I give a tinker’s damn for the opinions of these yowling halfwits. (There was exactly one person of the seven hundred or so who wrote in to me who seemed sincerely offended, and to him I apologized. To remaining six hundred and ninety-nine or so, I offered defiance in public, and in private prayed for their fool souls, hoping despite all appearances they were not damned fools.)

This taught me a lesson, but not the one the mob organizers wanted to teach. It taught me what they were afraid of. Not of me: no one can be afraid of a fat and balding nearsighted science fiction writer with a dull swordcane.

Nor were they offended by calling sodomites sexual perverts, which I have done frequently before and since, never eliciting a single angry comment in reply, or attracting the slightest notice.

Since my legions of drug-maddened terror troops are all stranded on Salusa Secondus, the third planet of Gamma Piscium, 138 lightyears away, surely they are not afraid of any physical force I can bring to bear. Neither am I in a position to deny any man any economic opportunities, nor am I influential enough to provoke public opinion or create any controversy. I doubt I could even do as much myself against them as they have done to me, such as hack a Wikipedia page or send around an open letter and expect it to be published and reprinted.

To explain what they are afraid of, I am afraid I have to explain something of the pathology of Leftism.

They actually think they are fooling us.

Pink SF/F is a crystal-clear picture of Dunning-Kruger effect in action. Which is ironic, considering that the pinkshirts love to cite that effect, almost always inappropriately.  As Wright wryly notes:

“They think they are smarter than us. These undereducated boobs who cannot follow a syllogism of three
steps, who do not speak a word of Greek or Latin, who do not know the
difference between Arianism and Aryanism, who have never read ORIGIN OF
SPECIES or DAS KAPITAL or THE REPUBLIC and who do not even know the
intellectual parentage of all their ideas, these vaunting cretins whose
arguments consist of nothing but tiresome talking points recited by rote
and flaccid ad hominem, whose opinions are based on fashion, they, of
all people, think they are smarter than the rest of the world.”

Because degrees. Never mind that these magic credentials primarily consist of being willing to go into debt in order to obediently listen to serial monologues by poorly-read academics with no experience of the real world.


I don’t think I’ll ever forget being called “parochial” by a fan of a monolingual Canadian who grew up in the sticks of Western Ontario, graduated with an MA from the University of Western Ontario, and now lives in Canada’s 15th largest municipality, which happens to be located in southwestern Ontario. That, more than anything, made it obvious that Pink SF not only has no interest in reality, but can’t recognize it even when it is standing right in front of them, poking them in the nose.


Happy Thanksgiving

Among the many things for which I am grateful to God:

  • Marcher Lord Hinterlands. I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to be able to write in the full knowledge that I can write whatever I want and see it professionally edited and published in a timely manner. One has to have repeatedly put up with the vagaries of mainstream publishing to fully appreciate this.
  • Kirk and JartStar. Yesterday I received the QM:AMD dustjacket from the former and a high-res image of the QM:GK cover from the latter. Spectacular on both accounts. I’ve seen so many writers try to grin and bear it, try to pretend that they LOVE LOVE LOVE the dreadful cover that the publisher’s crack team of stock photography contorters have produced, that it is a true luxury to know that the cover is all but guaranteed to be the best part of the book.
  • John Scalzi, Andrew Marston, and the various anklebiters. When motivation is lacking, they are always there for me, an endless pool upon which to draw. It may sound strange but I’ve realized that they are, in their Platonic Form, my collective muse. But perhaps it’s not so strange; most male athletes respond better to curses, insults, and derision from their coaches than flattery and praise.
  • My football team and my continued good health. I’m the second-oldest man on the team, but I was selected to start more than half the games this year. Not too bad for someone who thought he was finished due to injury six years ago.
  • My partner in game development. Markku has worked himself nearly to the bone and we’re not finished yet. But First Sword is going to be really good, perhaps even great with a bit of luck and a tailwind.
  • The reviewers of my novels. Many writers and publishers have marveled at how many reviews my books get in comparison with their sales. Every novelist has his fans, but a higher proportion of mine are sufficiently motivated to take the time to tell others what they think, and better yet, to do so in an intelligent way that shows they are no mere fanboys and fangirls.
  • The readers of this blog. I blog out of compulsion, not out of the desire for fame or fortune. (NB: I’m no St. Francis; the latter is why I design games.) So, in one sense it doesn’t matter if anyone reads VP or not. But I was re-reading the debates with both Nate and Dominic yesterday, and it is very clear that the product of the interaction with the readers is superior to what I can produce alone.

So give thanks today. And be cognizant of to whom you are giving thanks. For without God, not only would there be nothing for which to give thanks, there would be no consciousness to be thankful.