We need to talk about “common sense”…

No two words in the English language have done more damage to the cause of human rationality than “common sense”.

(At least, I would like to simply assert that as some opening rhetoric/hyperbole, as quantifying that last sentence to prove it might be a little difficult and more trouble than it’s worth.)

Everyone’s heard of “common sense” before. There’s 62 million results for it if you bung it into Google, it’s probably been spat in your face since forever.

“We need more common sense!” you’ll hear from politicians as they begin to dismantle complex laws built up over time, or “you have no common sense!” you’ll read in a backwater comments section as if it refutes actual studies and research, “this is just common sense” says someone in support of their argument.

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But what does it mean? Let’s run to Wikipedia and grab the first line:

Common sense is a basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge things that are shared by (“common to”) nearly all people and can reasonably be expected of nearly all people without need for debate.

Okay, not bad. We can all agree on that. And if you asked anyone who made an appeal to “common sense” this is probably what they’d cite as their definition.

Hopefully, though, you shouldn’t take too much convincing to know that there’s a big difference between what people say that they mean, and how they act out what they mean. Someone who is adamant that Jesus will protect them at all times will still look both ways when crossing a busy road. Someone with a stated mistrust of science and doctors will still knock back aspirin and paracetamol like it’s going out of fashion to cure their headache. Someone will proudly proclaim “I’m not a racist!” and then proceed to cite The Bell Curve and argue that Asians are all good at maths and that can’t be racist because it’s a positive thing. An intersectionalist will decry overgeneralisations, racism, assumptions, and promote the need to assess everyone as an individual that’s a sum of all their experience – and then rant about how terrible white people all are. The list goes on.

So it shouldn’t take too much imagination to realise that when someone says that “common sense” means “something obvious to all of us”, they might not really use it that way.

How is it used? As in, actually used by people who say it, and what do they want to achieve by saying it. Words themselves don’t have inherent meaning, but they do have use-cases and an intended effect by the users.

It doesn’t take too long to search a right-wing tabloid for examples of the phrase. That hardened bastion of “common sense”, The Daily Mail, is full of them. Lord Falconer proposes “common sense” human rights – doesn’t seem to suggest anything, just uses it as an excuse to throw out other ways. “She’s intelligent but doesn’t have common sense” – again, to dismiss someone or some other way. “Insult to common sense” – said about laws to stop workplace harassment.

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These are random-ish examples, but in each one there’s not much reasoning to be found that’s “common to everyone” as the definition suggests. There’s a lot of “common to everyone who thinks like me” as a matter of course, but not much common to everyone. Everyone who thinks like a Daily Mail reader will certainly think lewd and sexist comments toward barstaff is acceptable, because “common sense” says that’s okay because at least it’s not really lewd and sexist. But I don’t agree with that conclusion, it’s not obvious nor self-evident to me without need for debate. I think it’s fine to stick a recommendation, regulation or law in place that says “that’s not acceptable”. That’s why laws exist – to tell people that something isn’t acceptable when they may well think it is. Do I “lack common sense”, or do I just have a different view of the world and would like to make it better for people? It seems that the “without need for debate” section of that Wikipedia definition should be bold, italic, underscored and in a much larger font-size than the rest of the definition.

I’ll leave you alone to stick things like “climate change” and “common sense” into Google to fill out those examples for yourself – it’s just too depressing otherwise.

Let’s look at another particularly insidious example. You’ve probably read a few things like this before – “Common Sense Died Today!” reads the usual headline, though there are many variants.

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I want to use this example to convince you that while “common sense” supposedly  means “something obvious agreed upon by everyone”, it’s really used to mean “this heuristic that I’ve used for years and will now uncritically apply to a new situation whether it’s applicable or not” in addition to the “we won’t debate this” part.

This reflects how humans actually think – our brains are huge stores of prior experience and one of the reasons we can think and act so quickly (and sometimes efficiently) is that we look to these old experiences to help us deal with new ones. I don’t need to calculate the exact way I need to move my spine to counter-balance on one foot every time I walk – my brain is simply looking it up from prior experience. That’s what things like “practice” leads to.

“Common sense” sounds like it fits this heuristic-based description quite well, but all good skeptics and rationalists should recognise that doing exactly as you did before sometimes isn’t a good idea. It might work in 90% of situations, but applying those hard-learned rules to that remaining 10% could end pretty badly. Yes, we can live with those odds, a few screw ups is a small price to pay for efficiency the majority of the time – but I want to argue that if the only reason and rationale you give is “common sense” or “we’ve always done it like this”, then you’re far, far more likely to be operating in that 10% of situations where it’s not going to work. Because, of course, people who are right just give a reason that they’re right – they don’t need to say “this is just common sense” and refuse to give further reasons.

Anyway… back to the “death of common sense” trope. This is a very common meme associated with “common sense”, and I want to unpick that one I linked to in particular, and hopefully convince you that it is, in fact, utter nonsense…

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you can earn)…

Right from the off we have something that’s actually very much wrong – or at least painfully oversimplified to the point of being effectively useless. Everyone has to accrue some form of debt to get things done. No-one really buys a house in cash, few even buy a car outright – we all spend more than we earn, usually as a form of investment so we might earn more later. In fact, businesses run on this principle pretty much exclusively.

Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate…

This is uncited bollocks, since it’s unlikely anyone would be able to charge a minor for sexual harassment – not because it’s “common sense” but because they don’t have legal capacity to be responsible for their actions. But mostly, damn fucking right that’s sexual harassment you stupid fuck.

It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student…

Further demonstrable nonsense because, get this, you’re their teacher not their doctor. It sounds like great “common sense” to just hand out painkillers to kids, but you don’t know their medical history. You don’t know what else they’re taking that could react with it. You don’t know their allergy information – and if you’re dealing with a school kid you can’t trust them to reliably tell you. What? The kid complains of a headache and wants teacher to give them paracetamol – you sure they didn’t take some before arriving at school? They go to a lesson an hour later, ask for more… before long this “common sense” has caused a kid liver failure.

Another version of this bit talks about elastoplasts – yeah, great, risk giving someone a dangerous reaction to latex because your “common sense” overruled actual medical responsibility.

…but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Also not true. Generally speaking, teachers have no legal obligation to inform parents… nor do they have a legal obligation to confidentiality. But are you trying to imply that “common sense” dictates that you must go behind the back of a student you have a duty-of-care over in order to tell their parents about something without discussing it first? I really don’t want to be seen dead doing this “common sense” thing.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Randy Cassingham’s True Stella Awards is no longer active, but catch the page while it’s still up to learn while this one true but misreported. The full list of others nonsense lawsuits that have been fabricated can be found here, in case you spot one in a variant of this meme.

Okay, so a lot of the above is wrong on a factual basis – yet they still are, to a degree, intuitively correct. People will certainly go around pretending some of the points sound reasonable. But reality is far from intuitive. First-aid (particularly mental health first-aid) is hugely counter-intuitive. “Oh, you’ve broke your arm, clearly… here, give it to me while I yank it about and put it into a splint… stop screaming! This is just common sense that you need to do this!!” – erm, no, if someone has broken a bone and they’re cradling it, it’ll be literally in the most stable and comfortable position you can get it in, so much for common sense. “You want to self harm? NO! Stop that! You’ll hurt yourself!!” someone will scream, citing that it’s “common sense” to protect someone – the reality says if you remove someone’s stabilising mechanism you’re likely to do more harm in the long run. Someone might say “but you’re describing common sense!” – but, no, I’m not. This isn’t common. These things are genuinely counter-intuitive. They’re not well-known facts. And I certainly won’t defend them by saying “it’s just common sense”.

Exceptions come along far more regularly than you might expect – and, remember, if your main reasoning is intuition and “common sense”, then you’re probably dealing with one of those exceptions.

To go back and answer a previous question – how is it used? What is the intention behind someone saying “common sense”? Far from being an example of reason, it seems to be there principally to rebuke it – screw your argument, it’s common sense! It seems to be used to defend the status quo – a six-year old kissing a classmate without their consent isn’t sexual harassment, common sense says so! It’s there to shut down reason, with the implicit assumption that someone proposing something lacks the fabled “common sense” and so is, deep down, just stupid just because.

So, instead of appealing to “common sense” to defend something, how about appealing to an actual reason. You should be able to give one if you happen to be right. After all, isn’t that just common sense?

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What if Trump’s tax returns really aren’t incriminating?

 

Rachael Maddow says she has Trump’s tax returns!

Yay! At last we get to see what’s really controlling The Donald! Is it the Russians? Has he avoided tax for a few decades? Does he claim his ridiculous crotch-length ties as a deductible expense?!

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Oh, they’re from 2005, show he earned some millions and actually paid tax that year. Whoop-de-shit.

This is obviously quite a let down and a damp squib for some people. They expected a smoking gun, a big chunk of money from the Russians to show he was in their pocket or something. Obviously, this hasn’t happened. The reality has been, so to speak, a pretty dull affair that’s hard to string out into more than two minutes of discussion.

“Ah, but wait…” I can hear someone say. “…these tax returns are 10 years old, what do the more recent ones say.

“Quite…” says the next guy. “…they’re also just front sheets, they don’t say where the money comes from.”

“But we know he’s a criminal, we just have to go looking for the right tax return to show it.” – Genuine quote I’ve seen in a comments section.

Spot a pattern?

This is the foundation of conspiracy theory thinking. Not full-blown just yet, but it’s where it starts – because at this stage it still sounds reasonable to think like that.

But superficially reasonable or otherwise, it still says that the evidence didn’t support our hypothesis, therefore the evidence must be wrong, or limited, or incomplete. It says the real evidence is still out there to be found. Suddenly, this revelation, which doesn’t say much incriminating on its own, actually becomes incriminating by he sheer fact that it it isn’t. It must be evidence of the cover-up!

It’s a train of thought to be aware of, and hopefully protect yourself against. Don’t fall for it, take the evidence on board like a good skeptic, or rationalist, and treat it as what it is. Don’t fill in the gaps yourself.

Maddow and others have begun to spin it already. The real story, so it goes, is that these returns can be found. And fair play, Trump’s insistence that he couldn’t release them is very evidently, to use the technical term, utter bollocks.

Yet, I think Maddow made a very piss-poor choice in releasing and publicising such weak sauce early (and David Cay Johnston, too, if he also had a hand in saying “go public with this now!”). This leads to the above conspiracy-like thinking described above. It deepens the conjecture, and thanks to the backfire effect may well strengthen the opinion that Trump’s tax returns do show criminal behaviour and weaken belief in the alternative (whereas the evidence doesn’t seem to have a consequential effect so far).

I understand the desire to do so, though. Breaking the story of getting his tax returns? Gold dust. A quick victory for the liberal left? Definitely worth it after two months of groin kicks. But in the long term, I think this could push toward irrationality. The liberal-left can suddenly go crazy – being seen to overreact to a leak that means very little. Or it can descend into conspiracy theories – as more completely non-incriminating tax returns appear and everyone refuses to believe it. Either is likely, and would be a boon for right-wingers who already control the narrative that the left are stupid whiners who won’t give Trump the chance he deserves.

Or we can wait, quietly and attentively, for evidence that can actually say something useful.

Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch are paid less because they’re women – but the real reason why will shock you!

Clickbait title… #drink… But I couldn’t think of anything snappier that got the point across.

Yes, Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch are paid less to star in The Big Bang Theory than the rest of the cast, and that’s about to change, it seems, thanks to a fairly honourable decision by the rest to take pay cuts to finance this.

Yay for gender equality!

Or not… as people insist on saying, because being paid less has nothing to do with them being women.

Except it does. Really, it does. Just not in the way you think. No one in a studio has sat and said “they’re women, they don’t deserve better pay”. Precious few people think that, thankfully, so if that’s your impression when you hear some feminazi whine like a harpy about the wage gap, you’re just wrong. The actual reason is a bit more nuanced and complex than that.

To my regular readers – all 0.78 of you – the reason I’m about to go into won’t actually be shocking. In fact, it should be fairly trivial and obvious. Everyone else, though, this may take a bit of thought and processing.

First, I should say that I… like The Big Bang Theory, I suppose. I watch it, find it funny, and that’s it. It don’t roll around the floor like the studio audience does and it hasn’t changed my life and I don’t eagerly await each new episode as if it’s the ejaculate of Christ himself, nor do I froth at the mouth every time it’s mentioned, feeling the need to take to the internet to proclaim my dismay that it’s still a thing. That’s allowed, you know. All I’m trying to say is that, unlike most other people who are bone-crunchingly critical of it, I actually bother to watch it.

Onward…

Let’s go through the non-gender reasons for why two actors would be paid less than the rest of the cast in any particular TV show, and break them down for this show in particular.

  • They’re not in the main cast. This is no longer true, Bialik and Rauch have been full-time main cast and not supporting/recurring for some time.
  • They’re main cast, but not as important to the story. Also no-longer true. Since they finally painlessly euthanized the aged and decrepit will-they-won’t-they between Penny and Leonard, Amy and Bernadette are pretty much the only characters given any real plot or development any more. Good for them.
  • They’re main cast, and important, but not as good. Oh, please. You’ve watched this, right? No, of course you haven’t.
  • They’re main cast, important, and good at it, but haven’t been in it as long. Yep,  there we go.

And that’s where the train of logic and reason ends for a large bunch of people. All is fair, they claim, because these two haven’t been in the show as long. And you know what? That is very much valid as a reason. It wouldn’t be practical, nor expected, that they’d be paid on par with Jim Parsons after a few weeks on the show.

However, it is a bit of a stretch to use this as the only reason, since Bialik and Rauch have been in the show longer than they haven’t. In fact, I think they’ve been main cast in the show for longer than they haven’t been in it and were only recurring. And it would be an extreme stretch to justify the absolute magnitude of the pay disparity between them considering their position in the cast and that the entire show now pivots around them as much as it does with the others.

Now we need to go into why they haven’t been in it as long as the other five actors. For this, we need to fly back to 2007 when I was a pesky project student, the worst we had to worry about was Sarah Palin, and The Big Bang Theory first started.

The show began as a pretty troperific sitcom about standard nerds-who-can’t-get-dates and the hot blonde that moved in next door. I don’t want to go into how tired that trope was even by 2007, but my main point is that out of five central characters, only one was female. The entire cast was systematically one-sided to favour male leads from the start. This is important to realise, although right now I can hear the cogs working in your brain screaming out “beta cuck mangina feminazi snowflake”.

In the grand scheme of things (we’re on double-digits of seasons now), this state of affairs didn’t last very long. Two women were added way back in season 3 and gradually made into main characters. Although the show’s had/has a remarkable habit of tossing interesting women aside quite quickly, these two stuck around and helped balance out the utter sausage-fest that was the first 2-3 years.

Their introduction wasn’t perfect, by any means. They were presented as two competent (by TBBT’s lax health & safety standards) and passionate scientists, and have often been allowed to be funny in their own right – but they still fell into the usual sitcom trope of the nagging, disapproving wife/girlfriend. They’re in with the science, but look down on the nerd-culture aspects of TBBT because girls simply aren’t allowed to be into cosplay, comics, superheroes or Star Trek Wars. (note: my ‘Standard Nerds’ friends list on Facebook is predominantly female) They were also underused when it came to making any kind of commentary on women and science in society; there was a brief flirtation with asking whether women in science could also be considered sexy , in addition to intellectual, but this important commentary came a couple of years too late to the party and was brushed aside quickly by the writers who clearly were out of their depth in addressing social context. (If you think that’s a weird thing for me to want to see, note that the sexuality of the male characters informs much of the founding premise of the show), Despite these flaws, on balance, Amy Farrah Fowler and Bernadette Rostenkowski are probably a net-positive contribution to the world of televised fiction for both women and science.

Yet there was absolutely no place for them at all for the first few years of the show. If the casting call went out, it would have been four reasonably developed male leads with backgrounds, ambitions and personalities and one girl that must be hot. If ten people auditioned with an equal 50:50 gender split, then one man would have been disappointed, but four women would have been.

This is what we mean when we talk about various -isms being systematic. The system was built up to disadvantage them in the first place. There’s actually no route that Bialik and Rauch could have taken for them to satisfy the criteria of being on the show for as long as the other cast. Even if they hopped into a time machine to get their past selves to audition for the first season, their gender would have systematically and significantly lowered the probability of them landing a leading role. Which is the point.

More broadly, since there is more to life than one sitcom, there are fewer leading, well-paid roles available for women.  When they open up in later seasons of a show, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to stick around and build themselves up to the same level as the initial cast.

Since the opportunities are fewer, and the availability to progress is lower, this manifests as a major disparity in pay between men and women. Yes, women do take on roles that are lower paid, but that explains the existence of a tangible wage gap in the same way that “because it’s in orbit” explains why the Earth goes around the sun – it’s a tautology that fails a test any four year-old could administer by saying “….why?“.

Of course, immediately people are going to lash out and scream “but there are other shows with leading women!!” and probably mention Two Broke Girls (I don’t watch it, so have no opinion on it, I assume from the title that there’s at least two female leads) or something. Yet actual studies show this holds to be true systematically – with fewer roles made available to women who aren’t 20-something and hot, fewer in leading positions and fewer with opportunities to earn as much as male leads. This situation is gradually improving, at least. There are more roles coming out and more opportunities now than there were even a decade ago. Although people are still steadfast against accepting this incredibly basic statistical argument coupled to a simple logical syllogism; if all was equal, we wouldn’t see a broad discrepancy, we see a broad discrepancy, so all can’t be equal.

Have shows, movies and games with female leads been less successful? Yeah, pretty much. Is it because they’re objectively worse forms of art? Why is that? Is it because only novice writers get to make them? Is it because they’re given low budgets because studios and publishers consider them a risk? Is it because they lack the publicity and marketing budgets to ensure their success? Is it because society will outright reject them because of conditioning? Or is it because women are literally worse at everything so either belong in the kitchen or deserve unequal representation in fiction?

Those are questions that are worth asking, and worth discussing. And, to be honest, I don’t particularly mind if you do think that “yes, women are shit and unfunny so don’t deserve to be well-paid to appear in a comedy” – because that’s at least a reason, and not a flat-out denial like “it has nothing to do with gender”.


Addendum: as, generally, a skepticism/rationalism blog – I think, what is my subject, again? – undoubtedly someone is going to bring up Bialik’s vaccine stance or her attachment-parenting thing. Great. But that’s not for here. Go find another blog that is hosting that discussion right now if you need to say it.

Chemistry re-written… again!

A while back, I asked whether creationists had ever gone after chemistry as much as they try (and fail) to tackle biology and physics. Yes, came the unfortunate answer – and lead me to doing a quick write-up on it.

To cut it as short as I can, Artem Oganov and co. from Stony Brook University managed to make some unusual sodium chloride compounds. NaCl is common table salt, and is a classic example of how an ionic solid is created, and stabilised, by transferring one electron from where there’s an excess (in sodium) to where it’s needed (in chlorine) because that gives them 8 electrons each – the “octet rule”. Oganov’s team, however, managed to make a lot of new and strange combinations that should, on the face of it, violate this neat little principle – such as Na3Cl, Na3Cl2 and NaCl3.

To chemists, this was cool but mostly unsurprising. Solid state structures aren’t exactly known for following such arcane rules on covalency. Sodium metal itself, for instance, violates a strict and literal interpretation of the octet rule by being made purely of atoms with apparently 1 valance electron each. But to the popular press (driven by a rather naughty university press office, IMHO), this was chemistry “overturned”. A fundamental rule had been violated, chemistry must be rewritten, everything we know is wrong… and so, up steps the Discovery Institute, who declared “If chemistry is wrong, then so could evolution!

Fast forward a few years, and Oganov has done it again, and gone one better. He’s made solid state compounds of helium. Helium – the last bastion of noble gases, since xenon and krypton (and even argon, now) have known compounds.  Absurdly high pressures are needed, of course, to get helium to form a solid state structure, but the data support the compound’s existence. As with the sodium chloride, this used an evolutionary algorithm coupled to some theoretical predictions to find a structure that should, in theory, be possible before then going ahead and making the thing!

A rewrite of chemistry is needed, again, declares some of the press articles on it.

Then again, maybe not. Helium compounds are quite well known, and even a trimer of helium is known to exist at ridonkulously low temperatures where van der Waals forces will hold it together more strongly than heat can tear it apart. It’s just a case of finding the conditions where these compounds will be stable, and sufficient heat and pressure will overcome most energy barriers eventually – the activation energy to convert graphite into diamond is immense, yet natural or synthetic diamonds can still be made if we shove sufficient energy into it.

So, as before, it’s not that textbooks need re-written. The textbooks were probably wrong to start with…

Actually, not even that. I don’t recall a textbook that says all of this is outright impossible, just that it doesn’t happen easily, or in ambient conditions, with just any old reactants. Which, despite Oganov’s fantastic work, still remains shockingly true and is highly unlikely to be overturned any time… ever.

Anyway… the final question – do I want to go through the Discovery Institute looking for them misrepresenting this story?

Every argument I ever see on the internet…

A: “Gloobs are the worst, they’re wrong.”

B: “But it isn’t a Gloob, it fargles.”

A: “You’re wrong, it is a Gloob, because Gloob’s bargle.”

B: “But it fargles, so it isn’t a Gloob by definition. And that’s fine.”

A: “No, it’s a Gloob. The definition includes how it bargles. And bargling is bad because Gloobs do it.”

B: “Then it’s fine because it’s not a Gloob. So it’s good.”

A: “But bargling is a bad.”

B: “Yes, bargling is bad, but it’s not a Gloob so it’s okay, it’s good.”

A: “Even though it bargles?”

B: “No, it fargles.”

A: “What’s fargle got to do with it?”

B: “Because it fargles.”

A: “Yes, I know it fargles, but it’s a Gloob.”

B: “But it’s not a Gloob.”

A: “Yes it is. So it’s bad.”

B: “But it fargles.”

A: “I think you find it bargles.”

B: “But that doesn’t make it a Gloob.”

Confused? Follow that? Possibly not. In fact, I hope not – because honest-to-fuck, people, this is what reading most of your crap sounds like to me. Well, not your crap, other peoples’ crap because you’re an intelligent rational being, and everyone else is an unenlightened sheep, QED.

“But it’s racist!” “No it isn’t!”, “It’s sexist!” “It’s not sexist!!!”…really, it’s inanity personified. You’re not fighting over what something is, you’re fighting over what to call it. And what’s more, you want to call it something because that controls what you can do with it and what you’re allowed to think about it afterward.

Okay, fine, let’s add in actual example since the above comes across as abstract nonsense.

Is an unborn baby a “life”?

“YES! And YES some more!” screams the pro-life crowd… and I’ll stick to and pick this one apart because the pro-choice argument mostly doesn’t make the identical but opposite argument of “no”.

When the pro-life crowd argue that a fetus is a “life”, they don’t care about that question. “Life” is an arbitrary concept, it separates the inanimate world of objects that we can’t eat and can’t eat us from the objects that we can eat or could eat us – and when examined in more rigorous detail, it repeatedly fails to find any real edge to it, the fuzzes away to nothing, as a continued spectrum. At no single point does “not-life” become “life” – because life is a process, not an event. Whether something “is” or “isn’t” life has little relevance to reality, only our social responses to it. Anyway, I don’t want to unpack this any further – if you disagree with this assessment, go ahead and assume that you’re just plain and simply wrong, it’ll save time later.

Instead, the question pro-life crowd are really asking is “should we be allowed to abort that pregnancy?” They want the answer to that to be a resounding “no” – but they don’t want to just come out and admit to that. Gods forbid, that might require some self-reflection.

The answer to abortion question is the reason they want the “is it a life?” question answered. Because it lets them treat abortion one way, rather than another – in other words, this is their motivation for the answer to be “yes” or “no”. The problem of whether someone is motivated toward one answer or another taints the question with an ulterior motive. In this case, and many others, it stops anyone realising the objective truth: the question is nonsensical.

(And not least it’s problematic for any pro-choice proponent who buys into this narrative and is forced to haphazardly argue the opposite. This makes it a very effective rhetorical strategy on the pro-life side. The only option open to refuting it is to clumsily go along with it and argue that the answer is “no”, or pick it back to the bare bones and convince them of the irrelevance of the question. The latter just isn’t going to happen ever.)

What about a different track… is something sexist?

Well, the thing itself is the thing itself, that’s not going to change. But if we get to slap the “sexist” label on it, it’s Bad. If we don’t, well, we can safely let it continue.

So, a woman working in a recruitment agency spots a man’s CV, and then throws it immediately into the discard pile because “why would a man want that job?”

“Sexist!!” cry one side. “She actively discriminated against someone because of their gender, that’s sexist by definition.”

“Not sexist!!” cries the other. “That doesn’t have a systematic bias against men as a class because sexism by definition requires power.”

Well, duh. It fargles and it bargles. But it’s only bad if we call it a Gloob. And Gloobs fargle, but they also don’t bargle, by definition, what are we to make of something that does both or neither?

Ultimately, these arguments are as absurd as arguing whether a blue ball is a round object xor a blue object.

For And Against Article 50 – What I’ve Seen So Far

There have been speeches presented in Parliament recently based around whether MPs should vote for an Act of Parliament to trigger the Article 50 process with the EU – and so start the process of leaving it. That Parliament should have this decision is a democratic and legal no-brainer, only opposed by complete idiots who have been suckered in by fascist newspapers. I’m sorry if that sounds harsh, but it’s as fair an assessment as I can muster.

So, what are the for/against arguments?

Based on some of the speeches and comments I’ve read so far, the arguments basically boil down to the following:

Arguments for MPs to vote against an Act of Parliament to invoke Article 50 Arguments for MPs to vote for an Act of Parliament to invoke Article 50
  • Consider the rights, views and future of 15 million people too young to vote
  • Consider the rights and views of 72% of the population that didn’t vote for this
  • Consider long term strategic stability of the country over the short-term points scoring of the government
  • Consider the lack of a strong democratic mandate from a supermajority for a major constitutional change
  • Consider that the Leave campaign on the referendum was built on many lies
  • Consider the number of people voting Leave only as a protest vote and have since changed their mind
  • Consider a lack of clear communication and planning from HM Government on the details of leaving the EU
  • Consider the lack of trained negotiators in order to continue the 2-year Article 50 process
  • Consider the effect of the US election on the world, leaving us only with a proto-fascist to trade with
  • Consider economic changes since June, including the strength of the pound
  • There was a vote, so shut up!

Pretty conclusive in favour of leaving hard and fast, I suppose.

Here’s an image version if you’d like, since apparently JPEG is now the standard format for communicating text.

bregsit

Piers Morgan’s self-emasculation

I don’t frequently comment on “current events” because by the time there’s enough information out there to make an informed decision they’re no longer current.

But here’s one observation regarding the last day or so of Pier’s Morgan’s triggered-snowflake meltdown over women invading his safe space…

Piers Morgan 12 hours ago:

morgan_1

I’m planning a ‘Men’s March’ to protest at [sic] the creeping global emasculation of my gender by rabid feminists. Who’s with me?

Piers Morgan 1 hour ago:

morgan_2

Given 127k more people now follow me than you, I’d pip down, [Lord Sugar]

Yeah… about that. Dude, if you’re getting into a petty spat with Alan Sugar about who has more Twitter followers, it’s not the ‘rabid feminists’ that are making you feel emasculated.