I Guess I Shouldn’t Feel Badly About Facebook Banning Ethics Alarms…

…since the social media giants are slowly but surely revealing their true nature as machines of speech and viewpoint censorship, and social control.

Today’s Big Brother avatar: Twitter.

Ray Blanchard, Ph.D., a respected psychologist and adjunct professor at the University of Toronto was blocked on Twitter for expressing his opinion informed by clinical experience. His articulately and civilly presented  position was flagged for “hateful conduct.”

The professor served on the working group for gender dysphoria (the persistent condition of identifying with the gender opposite your biological sex) for the DSM V, which contains the official definitions that assist psychologists diagnose patient disorders. Over the weekend, he  tweeted his professional conclusions on transgender identity.

My beliefs include the following 6 elements: (1) Transsexualism and milder forms of gender dysphoria are types of mental disorder, which may leave the individual with average or even above-average functioning in unrelated areas of life. (2) Sex change surgery is still the best treatment for carefully screened, adult patients, whose gender dysphoria has proven resistant to other forms of treatment. (3) Sex change surgery should not be considered for any patient until that patient has reached the age of 21 years and has lived for at least two years in the desired gender role. (4) Gender dysphoria is not a sexual orientation, but it is virtually always preceded or accompanied by an atypical sexual orientation – in males, either homosexuality (sexual arousal by members of one’s own biological sex) … or autogynephilia (sexual arousal at the thought or image of oneself as a female) (5) There are two main types of gender dysphoria in males, one associated with homosexuality and one associated with autogynephilia. Traditionally, the great bulk of female-to-male transsexuals has been homosexual in erotic object choice. (6) The sex of a postoperative transsexual should be analogous to a legal fiction. This legal fiction would apply to some things (e.g., sex designation on a driver’s license) but not to others (entering a sports competition as one’s adopted sex).

This clinical opinion by a qualified expert was reported by at least one, probably many, Twitter users who, like the growing number of progressives within the Leftward social movement, believe that their power and control of society will arrive more swiftly if dissent and contrary views are marginalized, suppressed, and branded as hate speech. Twitter swiftly complied. The professor was silenced. His position was a thought crime: it would not be permitted in the interests of “the greater good.”

Fortunately, Ray Blanchard is internationally known, and Twitter’s tactic shook some nests with pretty big hornets inside. Helen Joyce, an editor at The Economist, wrote,

“Ray Blanchard served on the gender dysphoria working group and chaired the paraphilia working group for DSM V,” Joyce tweeted. “He is a world expert in the field. Twitter has just suspended his account for a thread setting out his findings from A lifetime of research. Unreal.”

Jesse Singal, contributing writer at New York magazine, wrote,

“Gender dysphoria is in the DSM-5. Despite endless rumor-mongering and misinformation to the contrary, it *is* considered a mental disorder. Maybe it shouldn’t be! But it’s beyond insane to suspend someone for expressing an opinion which lines up with the DSM. I have less and less faith that, as a journalist who often writes about science, I will be able to continue using Twitter without getting punished for communicating scientifically accurate information.”

There were many more who condemned Twitter’s nakedly political act. Oops! I guess we were a bit aggressive there! Better retrench, or everyone will be on to us!

After 24 hours, Twitter restored the professor’s account, and said it had made “a mistake.” The mistake, I submit, was that it jumped the gun in the Left’s rush to install totalitarian speech suppression. We’re not quite there yet. Facebook can block Ethics Alarms, because Ethics Alarms lacks allies in high places. If the social media platforms just quietly, incrementally pinch-off dissenting voices that challenge the tactics, distortions and actions of those representing “the right side of history,” the frog will be boiled before anyone notices.

If Twitter and Facebook were serious about supporting free speech, they would suspend the accounts of users who abuse the reporting system, and use it to stifle opinions they disagree with.

__________________________________

Pointer and Source: Tyler O’Neil

The Good Hoax

Frequent readers here know how much I detest hoaxes, even ones just designed to be funny. News hoaxes are especially vile, as they are often designed to fool people and news outlets. These cause false rumors to spread, and send disinformation through the web and into brains, especially mushy brains. Hoaxes that consist of sufficiently ridiculous components that anyone should know they are not to be believed aren’t really hoaxes at all; they are more akin to satire. They are benign and often illuminating.

What does one make of a hoax that is simultaneously ridiculous and designed to fool people who need to be fooled in the public’s interest? I regard that as an ethical hoax. NYU physicist Alan Sokal designed and pulled off  just such two decades ago, as he described here:

For some years I’ve been troubled by an apparent decline in the standards of intellectual rigor in certain precincts of the American academic humanities. But I’m a mere physicist: if I find myself unable to make head or tail of jouissance and différance, perhaps that just reflects my own inadequacy.

So, to test the prevailing intellectual standards, I decided to try a modest (though admittedly uncontrolled) experiment: Would a leading North American journal of cultural studies… publish an article liberally salted with nonsense if (a) it sounded good and (b) it flattered the editors’ ideological preconceptions?

The answer, sadly, was yes. Despite being salted with copious Authentic Frontier Gibberish like “catastrophe theory, with its dialectical emphases on smoothness/discontinuity and metamorphosis/unfolding, will indubitably play a major role in the future mathematics; but much theoretical work remains to be done before this approach can become a concrete tool of progressive political praxis,”  his article, “Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity,” was peer reviewed and published in the Spring/Summer 1996 issue of Social Text.

Later, Sokal explained his motives:

“While my method was satirical, my motivation is utterly serious. What concerns me is the proliferation, not just of nonsense and sloppy thinking per se, but of a particular kind of nonsense and sloppy thinking: one that denies the existence of objective realities, or (when challenged) admits their existence but downplays their practical relevance….In short, my concern over the spread of subjectivist thinking is both intellectual and political. Intellectually, the problem with such doctrines is that they are false (when not simply meaningless). There is a real world; its properties are not merely social constructions; facts and evidence do matter. What sane person would contend otherwise? And yet, much contemporary academic theorizing consists precisely of attempts to blur these obvious truths — the utter absurdity of it all being concealed through obscure and pretentious language.”

Sokal’s exposé of the sloppiness and lack of rigor in scholarship has spawned followers, as well it should. Using academic studies and papers is the ultimate appeal to authority in social and scientific policy disputes. If the journals that publish them are lazy and biased gate-keepers, they are untrustworthy authorities, which means that they aren’t authorities at all. That makes a Sokal-style hoax, properly and fairly executed, that rarity of rarities, The Good Hoax.

As they explained in the magazine Skeptic, Dr. Peter Bogghosian, a full time faculty member in the Department of Philosophy at Portland State University,  and James Lindsay,  a Phd in mathematics and the author of four books, wrote and submitted the most ridiculous paper they could think of. The title: “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct.” Here’s the abstract:

You read that right: the paper argues that penises affect climate change. Behold: Continue reading