You’re not as rational as you think you are

I found this article the other day and thought I would share it:

A short summary of the article: humans often mistake correlation for causation. We assume that if two things happen in quick succession or according to a sort of pattern that we expected, they must be connected to each other. We also tend to be biased in favor of information we’ve already seen and accepted, and biased against data that disagrees with that information we’ve accepted, regardless of which information is correct.

It’s interesting to see clear examples of how irrational humans can be and not realize it. It’s rather concerning to see this illustration of how we double down on our bad logic. The implications are pretty huge, and I’m not really sure of any way around it. I don’t imagine any of us are exempt from this sort of behavior, at least not completely. I imagine some people have a greater propensity for this sort of bias than others, but, in general, this is how human brains work. Even experts, like the doctors discussed in the article, are prone to this “illusion of causality,” and these are the sorts of people we count on to be able to help us make decisions we’re not equipped to make on our own. I’m not suggesting that doctors aren’t reliable, but it is worth keeping in mind that even experts are human and can harbor biases, even simple misunderstandings based on correlation, not causation.

One thing we can take from this information is that effective messaging should keep this in mind. The article ends with this: “If you want someone to accept information that contradicts what they already know, you have to find a story they can buy into. That requires bridging the narrative they’ve already constructed to a new one that is both true and allows them to remain the kind of person they believe themselves to be.” It isn’t enough to present someone with new information. It isn’t enough to explain to them that how they came to their conclusion is wrong. It’s also not enough to explain your opinion or facts or arguments. I imagine this is a large part of why internet arguments never get anywhere, people are biased towards the information they already have and have accepted. Effective messaging isn’t about simply arguing your point better. In fact, it might have nothing to do with arguing your point or even what your point is in the first place. We’re far less rational than we like to think, which is why so much of political messaging is about grabbing people’s emotions or appealing to their identity (as an American, a worker, a taxpayer, a victim, etc).

On Experts

A friend shared an article with me on how contemporary culture is leading to a devaluation of experts ( It’s a good article, and I think it makes some good points, but I had a few thoughts to share on it.

It’s true that experts should know more about their subject than the average person. Depending on the subject, though, that knowledge might be highly subjective or controversial. Even experts are still human, and bring their own biases into a discussion. While more technical subjects tend to be more cut-and-dry, there are still opposing camps when it comes to philosophy and approach. This leads to a pretty basic issue with relying on experts.

The problem is that experts can disagree on things. In such a case, they can’t both be correct, so appealing to the knowledge and wisdom of experts doesn’t necessarily get you closer to a solution. Thomas Sowell and Paul Krugman, for example, disagree on economics. They are both experts. They are both more likely to be right than I am on such matters, but they can’t both be right when they disagree. In fact, they might both be wrong, but other viewpoints might be excluded from the debate for any number of reasons.

If A and B are opposing points supported by experts, and someone comes along with C, they might be excluded for not being an expert even if they’re right. Even if they are an expert, they might lose some status for suggesting C if both A and B are the widely accepted viewpoints, regardless of which of the three is correct. C might not be a very big camp of opinion, or it might be based on new information that hasn’t been involved in previous discussions. By the time C emerges as a position, people involved in the A vs B debate may already be committed through spending of finances and effort. As humans, their egos may be committed to remaining in camp A or B, entire careers may depend on their stance on this issue. And this is all aside from what is actually true, assuming of course that C is the correct position. There might not be enough information to say whether A or B or C is correct, and it could even be that there isn’t a correct answer. Maybe A, B, and C are all just perspectives or opinions, and there’s no factual “correct” answer to the situation.

I guess what I’m saying is that science is not a democracy. Facts are facts regardless of layman or expert opinion. Experts are likely to have a better understanding of the situation and may be quite a bit more likely to come to the correct position based on fact, but as humans we’re all fallible and we might all be wrong until something proves to us that what we thought was true isn’t true. Science is a great system, and it can lead us to some amazing discoveries and move humanity forward. At times, though it seems things would go much more smoothly without humans involved.

The Spread of Ignorance

A friend shared this article with me today ( and I figured I had a few thoughts to share on the topic. The article is a good read and I think there are a few really good points made there. It does seem to slanted slightly leftward, but the discerning reader can recognize that and move past it. There are examples of this sort of thing going both ways.

One point I thought to be worth making is that another factor that appears to contribute to the spread of ignorance, but isn’t ignorance so much as a general mistrust of disseminated information. This factor is that organizations have agendas, even if they’re organizations you’re inclined to agree with. As an I recall a conversation in college about global warming where I told the other party that I was willing to accept information about global warming if I could be convinced it was true, but it was too hard to trust any information I got because both sides manipulate the public. I’m willing to be convinced, but I don’t want to be manipulated. Manipulation of information is such a fruitful endeavor that it’s not enough to have truth on your side of an argument, even people with correct information have to spin it to get traction. I’m still a skeptic on several parts of the global warming debate, and it’s largely because I’m a libertarian. I have my own views, and it seems that everyone who is wound up about saving the earth from global warming only proposes big government solutions that adds further regulatory/legal/tax burdens on people and gives more power to the government. That seems like a conflict of interest to me. That wouldn’t be enough on its own, but when it’s added to a lack of good answers to some questions I have along with general political manipulation, I just can’t buy into the whole thing. It reminds me of a blog post by Scott Adams about feminism and fair pay ( He determined in his post that women are treated more or less equally in the situations he discusses, but this is largely because feminists have stretched the truth. By exaggerating the actual inequality, activists have gotten peoples’ attention and gotten things changed. He concluded that therefore, although women are fairly treated in most of the categories he examined, he said it was acceptable for activists to lie about the truth of the matter because that led to an acceptable outcome that otherwise probably wouldn’t have been reached for a long time. It’s a very complicated problem to deal with.

Another complication is missed in the article, which gives the great example of Obama’s birth certificate. Many people speculated that Obama withheld his birth certificate for such a long time because it got some of his detractors to spread the rumor that he was not born in the US. Nobody switched sides to oppose Obama over the birth certificate issue, so he really lost nothing by not releasing it. When he finally got around to releasing his birth certificate, everybody who had latched onto this thing and made a bunch of noise about it for years looked stupid and was called a racist conspiracy theorist. This flip side of the spread of bad information makes things complicated as well, it can actually benefit both parties in a conflict.

The spread of some ignorance is intentional and strategic, but other times, it’s just a general mistrust of institutions or people we’ve already been given reason not to trust or whose values and interests don’t align with our own. There isn’t a clear-cut solution to this, and it’s difficult to tell what is false information and what is legitimate skepticism or conflicting information. We can’t simply assume trust in any party on an issue, because then we’re just favoring our pre-established bias and assuming the false narrative is on the other side. This is all rather vexing.

a guest post i wrote elsewhere

I don’t know if anyone actually reads this blog, but I figured I should cross-post this to my blog in case anyone cares to read what I wrote on my roommate Jeff’s blog back in March. I believe the original question I was addressing is something along the lines of “how do you properly write a dystopian story,” or something roughly equivalent to that.

80 signs you’re an INTJ

I came across this list a while back on buzzfeed (

I thought I’d repost it here, but with my own comments on the entries. “80 signs you’re an INTJ”

1. You feel like an alien visiting a distant planet

80 Signs You're An INTJ

it’s equal parts amusing and disenchanting.

This is rather vague, but okay…

2. You didn’t have to look up disenchanting just now

80 Signs You're An INTJ

because you read the same way alcoholics binge and verbosity is a given.

Did anybody have to look that up though? “Disenchanting” isn’t exactly a strange word, I use it occasionally.

3. Meta-judging

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Either you get it or you don’t.

This list is starting out with some pretty weak entries. Yes, we tend to judge things. It’s a good thing, as long as we get used to being disappointed. Most of life isn’t all that exciting or useful. 

4. The prospect of research gets you excited

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Bring the knowledge!

Hah. Yes. I love to dig into things to learn tiny little details. 

5. Delusional people bring out your misanthropy

80 Signs You're An INTJ

I refuse to believe anything which could make you bliss out so will end well.

Even just happy people make me misanthropic sometimes. 

6. You come across as aloof on first meeting

80 Signs You're An INTJ

or every meeting.

I really am working at this, I’ve learned the usefulness of trying to appear friendly upon first meeting someone. It’s a useful tool. People are more willing to cooperate with you and feel more comfortable around you if you appear friendly. They also listen better.

7. Since appeals to emotion leave you cold

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Why should I invest in this with feelings? Give me reasons, dammit!

I’m not immune to emotional manipulation, but it doesn’t motivate me. The best you’ll get out of this is making me feel bad. 

8. You have a secret rebellious streak

80 Signs You're An INTJ

enticed by possibility. Blame the N.

I mostly resist rebellion, it causes problems. I don’t really have much to rebel from. I do what I want because I want to. It just so happens that what I want to do is not all that rebellious most of the time. Still, I don’t like being told what to do. 

9. You have immutable principles

80 Signs You're An INTJ

owing to your somewhat broader perspective.

This is rather vague, but I think the point being made is that there’s a unity of principle between my values and viewpoints, and that’s definitely true.

10. You’re blunt when you respect someone

80 Signs You're An INTJ

and sharper when you do not.

This one is really more complicated than stated here. I tend to not be sharp with people I don’t care about, I mostly just leave them alone. Being sharp doesn’t do any good and I’ve grown tired of those sorts of interactions.

11. You habitually converse in layers of sarcasm, lofty reference and riddle

You habitually converse in layers of sarcasm, lofty reference and riddle

to duly note whom appreciates it.

If you’ve spent any time with me, particularly if my roommate Jeff is around, you know this is true. 

12. Your pet peeve in others is incompetency

80 Signs You're An INTJ

and you abhor the phrase ‘pet peeve’.
You can be cruel to those you perceive as imbeciles or willfully ignorant.

I have long stated that the phrase “pet peeve” is my pet peeve. And, yes, incompetence is extremely frustrating. I think willful ignorance is worse, though, because such a person is actually putting effort into retaining ignorance. 

13. You keep expectations low and downgrade accordingly

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Yes, non-INTJs, you read that correctly.

Very true. Also, I don’t know how well that gif fits this entry in the list, but that is a wonderful gif.

14. Your pragmatism can be scary to sensualists

80 Signs You're An INTJ

“What do you mean, how?”

I don’t know about this, I haven’t discussed it with anyone. I don’t really see the point.

15. When you decide on a course you are unwavering

80 Signs You're An INTJ

To the point of insanity.

This can actually be a great weakness, and explains why I’m so bad at chess. It’s terribly difficult to put together a good approach to something you don’t entirely (or at least mostly) understand, and when it begins to fail, I don’t find myself to be very good at improvising because I don’t know why it failed. This is another reason INTJs tend to be information sponges, particularly on topics that we find important or interesting. We try to amass a large body of knowledge and understanding so that we can approach things more effectively.

16. You are hasty in doling out consequences

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Perhaps too hasty.

Actually I usually find myself not hasty enough. I think that’s the nice Midwestern upbringing in me. I do often think about doling out consequences very hastily.

17. You have a low tolerance for the norm

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Learn to deal a bit.

We learn to entertain ourselves.

18. You experiment with social taboos to see what will happen

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Curb that shit. Don’t tell me you can’t, liar.

This is not always a good thing. Entertaining, sure, but not everyone appreciates having social norms messed around with. 

19. At least try to be less smug about the fallout

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Visibly smug?

I take great pleasure in watching people reap the consequences of their actions. Sometimes I think the best part about being a libertarian is that we haven’t had a chance to see our ideas fail, whereas there are so many great examples of communist/socialist/fascist states failing. It’s fun to watch. But only from a distance.

20. Disrupting formal groups for personal amusement isn’t good for your career

80 Signs You're An INTJ

You’re going to ignore that, aren’t you?

Sometimes self-amusement is more important.

21. Suffice to say you’re a bad influence

80 Signs You're An INTJ

From the perspective of the other guy.

Yes it’s true, I can be a really bad influence if I want to be. Particularly when I’m bored. I’ve carefully cultivated a set of personal guidelines to help me be a better influence on people. Too much information or explanation can cause problems for some people, and then they don’t do what I want.

22. Your truly losing an argument is the stuff of legend

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Riddle me this: Why do people start them regardless? You enjoy them as a learning process and your pride won’t allow you to back down.

I must admit, I hate losing arguments enough that I’ve mostly stopped arguing, because I get impatient or frustrated and then lose interest, and I don’t want the other person to think they’ve won just because I don’t care anymore.

23. “Technically-“

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Watch them run out of good points and make with the insults.
I must go upright and vital and speak the rude truth in all ways. ~ Emerson

Haha, yes, we do have a bad habit of correcting minor things that people say, even if we’re not arguing. Eventually I’ve learned that it doesn’t help anything and it’s easier to just let people be wrong most of the time. 

24. Finding a point of agreement in a discussion is buried treasure for you

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Mutual recognition feels!

The gif says it all, that’s really quite perfect. 

25. This systematic approach gives you an uncanny ability to resolve conflicts

80 Signs You're An INTJ
I’m pretty sure that Lucius Malfoy isn’t an INTJ, but it’s true that we are good at resolving conflicts. We also don’t like to be in conflict in the first place, so this is a good trait combination. Unfortunately, lots of other parts of the INTJ personality can easily cause conflict with other people. I do suppose this gives us some extra practice.

26. You almost never use it for that

80 Signs You're An INTJ

AU fun ftw.
Non-INTJ translation: I wonder what would happen if I didn’t intervene?

Hahaha, perfect. “I wonder what would happen if I didn’t intervene?” So great. 

27. Your history is kinda mysterious

80 Signs You're An INTJ

and it’s bloody staying that way.

So true. I’m a very private person. I like to keep personal information to myself. Particularly emotions and inner conflicts. And yes, those are two different things, most of my conflicts are informational and logistical, not emotional.

28. At parties

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Weirdly, especially when you love those present.

This is me all the time, particularly in groups of people I don’t know.

29. But you can rock a corner

80 Signs You're An INTJ

The better to watch you in.

Find a quiet corner and just watch

30. Small talk is an endurance sport

80 Signs You're An INTJ

This is why we avoid meeting new people.

I’m getting better, it takes practice. But yes, it’s rather draining and tedious. I’d rather talk about real things. 

31. “What have you been reading?”

80 Signs You're An INTJ

The entire list?

This is a lot bigger question than it seems.

32. You never look embarassing somehow

80 Signs You're An INTJ

even falling over or silly dancing look like a knowing injoke.

Is it savoir faire? Sprezzatura? Éclat?

This isn’t true. I dislike dancing, and I try to avoid being noticed in general.

33. Your thinking face looks angry

80 Signs You're An INTJ
It’s true, I’m sure I look angry. 

34. Your angry face looks serene

80 Signs You're An INTJ
I don’t think my angry face looks “serene,” I think it probably looks about the same as no expression at all. Inside, though, there’s a lot going on.

35. You have an incredibly long fuse with a bomb at the end

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Must I at length the Sword of Justice draw?
Oh curst Effects of necessary Law!
How ill my Fear they by my Mercy scan,
Beware the Fu
ry of a Patient Man. ~ John Dryden


36. Consequently, people find you hard to read

80 Signs You're An INTJ
I suppose that’s true. I guess I don’t really know.

37. Your business face ensures no one tries to fuck with you

80 Signs You're An INTJ

The word evil has been applied to it at least once.

Not sure about this one either

38. You snatch victory from the jaws of defeat

80 Signs You're An INTJ
I can’t think of when I’ve done this, but it does sound rather nice.

39. You can pass for charismatic

80 Signs You're An INTJ

It eventually wears down with your patience.

Haha yes, it is tiresome and usually not worth the effort, but I can fake charisma when I need to. If I seem friendly and conversational, I’m either hitting on you, I’ve had a ton of caffeine, or I’m faking it.

40. You obsessively admire and respect true intelligence

80 Signs You're An INTJ

and search for elements of their method to incorporate into your own plans.

Yes. We learn practical tools (social, intellectual, conversational, etc) and look to apply them as needed to achieve our desired results.

41. You are forthright in conceding your expertise

80 Signs You're An INTJ

which can make you appear arrogant but if asked respectfully, you’re equally forthright in conceding knowledge gaps.

We tend to know what we’re good at and what we’re not good at. 

42. You demand respect for your expertise

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Attempts to humiliate you by insisting you pass impromptu interrogation will result in abrupt humiliating and instructive traumatizing of the crude idiot.

I’m not sure quite why this seems so personally insulting, but we to tend to be rather prideful when we’re doubted about something that we actually know a lot about. I think it’s because we value competence and knowledge so much, we treasure what we’ve mastered.

43. How do you make an INTJ enemy?

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Underestimate them.

80 Signs You're An INTJ

INTJs can become ruthlessly Machiavellian when they feel their intellect is unappreciated, their loved ones are threatened or wronged.

On one hand, I’m rather glad to not have made any enemies I’d have to destroy. On the other hand, I think I would rather enjoy it. Plotting the demise of people I’m angry at helps me calm down.

44. You are a quick thinker and find slowing down for other’s benefit tedious

80 Signs You're An INTJ

yet going through the motions make you appear mercurial and irritated.

I put up with this a lot better when I know that I’ll benefit from the other person understanding what I’m trying to explain

45. There are times …

80 Signs You're An INTJ

with irrational protocols…

80 Signs You're An INTJ

with self-contradictors…

80 Signs You're An INTJ

with misinformed moralizers…

80 Signs You're An INTJ

with politically-motivated scientism fans…

80 Signs You're An INTJ

with magical thinkers…

80 Signs You're An INTJ

and people who cannot see the consequences of their ideas

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Their evidence-denying hypocrisy makes you shut down, cut them off and retreat somewhere you can recover from the contaminating force of their stupidity in peace. To an untrained eye, this makes you the bad guy.

80 Signs You're An INTJ

46. People ask your advice constantly

80 Signs You're An INTJ
I think the limiting factor in this is that most people won’t ask advice unless they feel like they are close enough to me to be comfortable asking me what I think. I don’t usually mind either way, I can put together an opinion on just about anything, even if I don’t know the person. 

47. The things you predict constantly come true

80 Signs You're An INTJ

because they ignored you.

Haha yeahhhhh…

48. You treat these people with contempt forever after

80 Signs You're An INTJ
I’m more forgiving and understanding than this stereotype 

49. Your mind is an endless source of entertainment

80 Signs You're An INTJ

My mind to me a kingdom is;
Such present joys therein I find,
That it excels all other bliss
That earth affords or grows by kind:
Though much I want that most would have,
Yet still my mind forbids to crave.
 ~ Sir Edward Dyer

You should hang out in my mind sometime, it’s a pretty interesting place

50. You have a slightly addictive personality

80 Signs You're An INTJ
I don’t really know, you’d have to ask my friends

51. You have numerous creative outlets

80 Signs You're An INTJ

At least one work is a parody.


52. Your close friends know to steer you away from bookshops

80 Signs You're An INTJ
Nonsense. My friends love book stores too.

53. You believe rationality is the key to the universe

80 Signs You're An INTJ
It’s rather inescapable 

54. You perceive the world as a sequence of interlocking systems

80 Signs You're An INTJ

each with its own delicious rules

80 Signs You're An INTJ

and you devour details when calculating something specific

80 Signs You're An INTJ

55. You are a natural-born optimizer

80 Signs You're An INTJ
a.k.a. engineer

56. You’re on a quest to tinker with and transform the world

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Been shifting around all the variables and yup, we should just make you Master of the Universe.

Like I said, engineer

57. You pull off daring moves

80 Signs You're An INTJ
Not really. I’m not a big risk taker. 

58. You know Life is a game of strategy

80 Signs You're An INTJ

and spoiler: even when you win, you die.

I don’t understand how this gif applies

59. You give up blending

80 Signs You're An INTJ

when you realize the people you’re emulating are equally clueless.

Blending can be a useful tool though

60. You perceive the profundity of the mundane

80 Signs You're An INTJ

and can dredge the truth from completely contrary sources of information.

I’ve long spoken to certain people about the beauty of the mundane

61. Your sense of fun seems bizarre to outsiders

80 Signs You're An INTJ
I would probably lick that window too. The fox is on to something.

62. You have apathy where offense usually is

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Why waste the energy?

This is a developed trait, we INTJs are rather egotistical in our own ways, and can take great offense in certain seemingly surprising circumstances.

63. You apply your brains to lazy ends

80 Signs You're An INTJ
This is part of the appeal of optimizing. We relish leisure, so we help to enable it in our own lives.

64. When you like something you observe it

80 Signs You're An INTJ

This may have disturbing consequences if you like a person.

This definitely has disturbing consequences if I like a person. I stare a lot. I’m sorry. This entry is the one that made me think I should add my comments to this list in the first place. Anything that grabs my attention merits studious observation. This doesn’t necessarily mean I’m attracted to the people I stare at, sometimes there’s just something that intrigues me. More often than not, I think they look like someone else I know. But I do definitely stare at people I find attractive or intriguing.

65. You avoid deepening relationships without good reason

80 Signs You're An INTJ

This concerns well-meaning non-INTJ friends.

Relationships involve a lot of risk and have a pretty big personal cost to me, I tend to keep everyone at a safe distance.

66. Being in love terrifies you

80 Signs You're An INTJ

You have more red flags than a bull tamer.

It’s a dangerous game, still not sure if there’s much benefit to it

67. As does the merest prospect of emotional dependence

80 Signs You're An INTJ
This is rather terrifying, to be honest. It’s hard to imagine being comfortable letting someone have that kind of power over me. 

68. Your sensitive disposition is constantly on the lookout for rejection

80 Signs You're An INTJ

Sincere flattery is greatly appreciated and repaid in kind with interest.

I am really sensitive to rejection. I also don’t take complements well and generally ignore them entirely. Few people and few kinds of complements actually get through to me. I think, in the end, the things that do get through would probably surprise most people.

69. You become formal and polite when hurt in public

80 Signs You're An INTJ

shrinking back into your mind’s sanctuary to tend your wounds.
You never let it show.

I do fall back on formality when I’m in an uncomfortable situation. 

70. You go quiet and become hesitant when hurt in private

80 Signs You're An INTJ

trying to deduce the superior course of reaction.
Your pride will stubbornly refuse to allow other proof of injury and redouble efforts to push away the offending person, never to be forgiven again.

Yes. Very true. 

71. When you trust someone, silence is golden

80 Signs You're An INTJ

We don’t need to talk the entire time.
If you promise to keep a secret, you will take it to your grave.

We are extremely loyal, to a fault, and we keep secrets well. Tell me all your secrets.

72. Your closest friends have passed a list of secret tests

80 Signs You're An INTJ
I don’t think I could even actually explain what these tests have been.

73. Your close friends = Friends who have seen you cry

80 Signs You're An INTJ
There aren’t too many of these. Count yourself among the privileged few.

74. Duty is something you sign up for or rebel against

80 Signs You're An INTJ

There is no middle ground. Intensely devoted or intensely repulsed.

We like to make our own allegiances. If you try to make a decision like this for me, don’t be surprised if I simply ignore your decision and let you deal with things on your own.  

75. You resent being controlled above all else

80 Signs You're An INTJ
Just like the previous entry. We hate being manipulated, tricked, or coerced. We can make our own decisions and value autonomy over almost anything else.

76. You’re overjoyed to find precise answers

80 Signs You're An INTJ
The desire for precise answers can cause a lot of problems when it comes to interpersonal issues.

77. When INTJs find a perfect solution

80 Signs You're An INTJ
It’s such a beautiful thing

78. You relish having the last word or lasting impression

80 Signs You're An INTJ

79. You’re difficult to impress

80 Signs You're An INTJ

It surprises you when it happens.

Yes. Good gif to accompany this entry.

80. You enjoyed the INTJ-indulgent length of this list

80 Signs You're An INTJ

You have the strong temptation to fact-check/correct

80 Signs You're An INTJ

I don’t mind.

It was a good length, any fewer would have felt vague and incomplete. This was nice.

bit of a refocus

Inspired by my roommate Jeff, I think I’ll start posting some ramblings on here about the novel I’m writing. I think it will help for me to have a bit of a blank slate beside the actual writing to throw ideas out and form coherent thoughts about the novel that are external to the novel itself. 

I’m not going to bother explain the whole novel here because I don’t think anyone will bother to read this blog anyway, but here’s the gist of it: near-future post-apocalyptic story where most of the population is gone and everyone left is fighting to survive, my protagonist is a kid  of about 10-12 years of age living out on his own. That’s all I’ll share now because I don’t feel like saying a lot. 

I recently retooled my antagonist and I think he’ll work a lot better this way. He was going to be a bit of a mastermind and manipulator, but I think what I’ve changed him into is a lot better fit to the story and a better contrast to the protagonist. He’s now a more pitiful character, sort of a cross between Peter Keating from Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead and Cersei Lannister from George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, particularly around the time of books 4 and 5. The antagonist, who I still haven’t come up with a good name for, is going to be a weak and scared character who feels entitled to things he hasn’t earned and doesn’t deserve. He sees himself as a victim and he is willing to do just about anything to serve his own ends, which doesn’t work out so well for him by the end, as we shall see. 

Anyway, that’s enough for now, I’m just stalling on the actual writing. Stay tuned.

some comments on a feminist essay

I will likely offend some people with this post, but I think that’s okay. I’m taking this opportunity to do a couple things. First, I’d like to point out to feminists a few of their arguments that aren’t working. Additionally, I’d like to present the remaining arguments in a way that may convince a few people that they are already feminists.

I could just ramble on here for a while, but instead I think I’ll get down to the point and maybe I’ll come back and fill this all in a little bit better afterwards. A friend of mine reposted a non-academic essay on why society still needs feminism. I could critique an academic essay, but I find this boring and I know most people don’t care about academic works on the topic anyway. This non-academic essay does a good job of presenting a few common points that feminists make. Several of these are very good points. A few of them are bad points. I am going to offer my remarks on them. I’ll post the essay in bold, and any comments of my own that I insert into it will be in italics. Also, there’s a bad language warning, in case you care.

Why Society Still Needs Feminism

Because to men, a key is a device to open something. For women, it’s a weapon we hold between our fingers when we’re walking alone at night. I’ve done this before too, actually. I didn’t need it, but it’s nice to know I’ve got something to stab with if I need it.

Because the biggest insult for a guy is to be called a “pussy,” a “little bitch” or a “girl.” From here on out, being called a “pussy” is an effing badge of honor. I think as adults, we can move on from these childish insults. I don’t think these insults came around from particular animosity towards women, boys just want to be seen as men. That doesn’t excuse this, but it offers an explanation. Don’t let your kids use these terms as insults, it’s not helping anybody. 

Because last month, my politics professor asked the class if women should have equal representation in the Supreme Court, and only three out of 42 people raised their hands. This is a bit misleading. Personally, I wouldn’t have raised my hand either. It’s not that I don’t think women should be allowed equal representation, I just don’t think that a gender balance would necessarily improve the Supreme Court. Thomas Sowell has some great things to say about diversity and why it doesn’t make sense to treat diversity like it’s a definite positive thing. I don’t have a problem with more women being in the Supreme Court, but I don’t think we should be actively pushing to get more diversity there just for the sake of diversity. By that standard, I think the professor’s question was a false choice, and it should have been further discussed and clarified.

Because rape jokes are still a thing. Yeah, seriously, this isn’t funny. At all. Don’t joke about it.

Because despite being equally broke college kids, guys are still expected to pay for dates, drinks and flowers. Some of us don’t mind. In fact, I often pay for even just female friends if I’m out somewhere. Male friends too, sometimes. I like paying for people. I don’t think it should be assumed that we’re required to pay. More on the male/female thing later.

Because as a legit student group, Campus Fellowship does not allow women to lead anything involving men. Look, I know Eve was dumb about the whole apple and snake thing, but I think we can agree having a vagina does not directly impact your ability to lead a college organization. Private groups should be allowed to enact any rules they want to, as long as it’s legal. If you don’t like that they don’t allow women to lead anything involving men, start or join a new group that has the policies that you prefer. That’s freedom of speech. 

Because it’s assumed that if you are nice to a girl, she owes you sex — therefore, if she turns you down, she’s a bitch who’s put you in the “friend zone.” Sorry, bro, women are not machines you put kindness coins into until sex falls out. Yeah, seriously, girls can make their own choices. If you’re looking for sex, you may get shot down. Sorry, bro. Interpersonal interactions always hold risks. If you’re hoping to get sex in return for being nice, you might get it and you might not. We all have free choice in how we treat other people and how we respond to their actions. If she doesn’t want to have sex with you, that’s her choice. If you want to be nice to her, that’s your choice. If you think those two things should always go together, you’re a moron.

Because only 29 percent of American women identify as feminist, and in the words of author Caitlin Moran, “What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? Did all that good shit get on your nerves? Or were you just drunk at the time of the survey?” I’ll get back to this later.

Because when people hear the term feminist, they honestly think of women burning bras. Dude, have you ever bought a bra? No one would burn them because they’re freaking expensive. I have nothing to add here.

Because Rush Limbaugh. Okay, I know he said a really stupid and sexist thing. However, when it comes to the issue that was being discussed, whether or not the government should pay for women’s birth control, I agree with his side of the argument. It’s not the government’s job to give you birth control. The government shouldn’t be granting anyone positive rights, we are only given negative rights and it’s for a very good reason. I’m not going to get into it here, but I will make the statement (which will probably get me into some trouble) that if women are so strongly against being subjugated by men, shouldn’t they be equally against being reliant on the government to provide for them? What part of women’s liberation don’t you understand? Somehow you’re suddenly supposed to be granted freedom and equality, but a part of that is that everyone is now required to pay for your birth control? This will never make any sense to me, it’s just transferring dependency from men to the state, and somehow that’s supposed to be a good thing.

Because we now have a record number of women in the Senate … which is a measly 20 out of 100. Congrats, USA, we’ve gone up to 78th place for women’s political representation, still below China, Rwanda and Iraq. I make the same point here as I do for the Supreme Court statement earlier. 

Because recently I had a discussion with a couple of well-meaning Drake University guys, and they literally could not fathom how catcalling a woman walking down University Avenue is creepy and sexist. Could. Not. Fathom. I prefer to call this immaturity. Creepy would depend on the circumstances. “Sexist” is vague and I think it probably depends on the circumstances as well. I’ll get back to this too.

Because on average, the tenured male professors at Drake make more than the tenured female professors. Let the free market sort it out. I’m not going to get into this, but forcing equal pay will only further damage the system. This is a part of why I think all feminists should be libertarians.

Because more people on campus complain about chalked statistics regarding sexual assault than complain about the existence of sexual assault. Priorities? Have them. I don’t know what this means so I’ll leave it alone.

Because 138 House Republicans voted against the Violence Against Women Act. All 138 felt it shouldn’t provide support for Native women, LGBT people or immigrant women. I’m kind of confused by this, because I thought LGBT people and women of color were also human beings. Weird, right? I will definitely get back to this. This is INCREDIBLY misleading.

Because a girl was roofied last semester at a local campus bar, and I heard someone say they think she should have been more careful. Being drugged is her fault, not the fault of the person who put drugs in her drink? Please carefully read and consider my response here before you get mad at me. I completely agree that it’s the fault of the person who drugged her drink. However, I do have a problem with this sort of argument because I hear it all the time but it’s one of those things that nobody is allowed to call into question. If I say “yes but,” I am immediately shouted down as a horrible person. I’ll offer an example though to illustrate what I mean. Let’s say I’m walking around in a bad part of town, and someone walks up and stabs me. In the hospital, someone tells me I should be more careful where I’m going for walks. Is that person evil for suggesting that? No, they aren’t. They aren’t saying it’s my fault, because it obviously is the fault of the person who stabbed me. The stabber’s actions are inexcusable. And even if the person commenting is wrong, I don’t get offended by it. Now, yes, this is not the same issue, and I understand that it’s very easy to write off rape or women getting roofied or whatever as being something they should have been more careful about. My issue with the rabid, unquestionable assertion that no one is allowed to say anything except that it was the guy’s fault is causing a new issue. We’d all like the world to be a perfect place, but it isn’t. Also, I don’t want any woman blaming herself for what happened. Ignoring the fact that there are things that can put you at greater or lesser risk, though, is neglecting to address the situation. Some people would like a world where a woman is completely safe passing out buck naked in an alley in a bad part of town. I would like this too, that sounds like a very safe (albeit disturbing) type of world. I don’t think any woman should do this in the real world, though. Something bad will likely happen to them, and that’s not a sexist thing to recognize. Anything that did happen to them would be the fault of whoever assaulted/raped them, but there may be something they could have done to lessen the possibility of them getting assaulted/raped, such as not passing out buck naked in an alley in a bad part of town. You can connect the dots from there. I do understand the danger of blowing off this kind of argument and letting the woman take part of the blame, I just wanted to point out the weakness of this kind of argument and express my frustration with people who refuse to admit that it’s a weak argument.

Because Chris Brown beat Rihanna so badly she was hospitalized, yet he still has fans and bestselling songs and a tattoo of an abused woman on his neck. Yeah, this is stupid. Pop culture is absolute garbage. Granted, abuse probably has nothing to do with his music, but I haven’t listened to his music so I don’t know. I do think it’s pretty stupid that we idolize such a terrible person though.

Because out of 7 billion people on the planet, more than 1 billion women will be raped or beaten in their lifetimes. Women and girls have their clitorises cut out, acid thrown on them and broken bottles shoved up them as an act of war. Every second of every day. Every corner of the Earth. Inexcusable. This needs to end. I don’t think anyone disagrees with that statement.

Because the other day, another friend of mine told me she was raped, and I can no longer count on both my hands the number of friends who have told me they’ve been sexually assaulted. Words can’t express how scared I am that I’m getting used to this. Yeah it’s pretty sad that we end up just accepting this as normal. I know of several of my friends that have been raped. It’s a horrible thing, and somehow we just let it fade into normalcy.

Because a brief survey of reality will tell you that we do not live in a world that values all people equally and that sucks in real, very scary ways. Because you know we live in a sexist world when an awesome thing with the name “feminism” has a weird connotation. Because if I have kids someday, I want my son to be able to have emotions and play dress up, and I want my daughter to climb trees and care more about what’s in her head than what’s on it. Because I don’t want her to carry keys between her fingers at night to protect herself.

Because feminism is for everybody, and this is your official invitation.

— Caitlin O’Donnell, Drake University.

Now for a few of the things I said I’d bring up afterwards.

Men and women are different. There, I said it. It’s a fact. Granted, these differences are not binary, that is to say, there is overlap. However, by-and-large, men are men and women are women. Society has developed ideas of what this means, and these ideas are not always correct. However, biologically and psychologically, there are differences. As a man, I like to be a provider. This is a part of why I like paying for people, it makes me feel good about myself. No one should assume I’m going to pay for them, but I think a lot of guys are this way. Probably some women too. Being offended by peoples’ assumptions about male and female expectations is one thing, but being offended by the fact that society exists is another. When it comes to cat calls, this just isn’t my style at all so I don’t have a whole lot to say about it. However, some women don’t find it horrifying or degrading if it happens occasionally and briefly. I personally just don’t do this sort of thing, so you won’t have this problem from me. However, I think this is another male/female issue, where some women are offended by it and some women aren’t, and men don’t see the problem. I’m tempted to say just deal with it, but that would be sexist, wouldn’t it.

The Violence Against Women Act is a great political play by whoever’s idea it was. I’m not going to bother look it up. However, which of these situations do you think is more likely: 138 Republicans want more violence against women or 138 Republicans had some other problem with the bill? If you didn’t pick the second one, I’m not going to even bother to try convincing you, because you’re stupid. If you’re interested in why some people opposed the bill, you can easily find it by googling something like “why oppose violence against women act,” you’ll find some results that explain the votes against. This shouldn’t be this hard, people. There’s no excuse for not knowing. A big reason I’m bringing this up, as well, is because feminism is being used as a political weapon, and women don’t benefit when that happens. Do you remember the Patriot Act? Wire taps, intrusions into constitutionally protected privacies, etc? If you didn’t support it, you obviously hated America, right? You couldn’t possibly have opposed it for any reason besides hating America, that just wouldn’t make any sense. I’ll get back to politics in a minute.

I think at this point you are likely aware of why some people don’t identify as feminist, or don’t realize that they are feminists. The span of ideas that are attached to the word “feminist” are extremely broad, and range from “women should be allowed to vote” to “until men and women are equal in every possible way, all sex is rape.” Can you see why people have trouble with the term feminist? Nobody likes being attacked for not being crazy. I have decided to identify myself as feminist (some people would claim that I’m not) because I think some of these issues are very very important. I’m willing to argue with the crazies in order to find some common ground in preventing rape.

To the feminists, if you want more support in your endeavors, try distancing yourself from the lunatics and stop politicizing your efforts. Also, don’t use bad arguments. I don’t support government-supplied birth control, but that doesn’t mean I’m pro-rape. Stop insulting my intelligence and the intelligence of all of these other decent people. Also, learn to recognize legitimate resistance to your efforts. If someone opposes the Violence Against Women Act because they find the financial structures complicated and lacking in oversight, and see that nearly all organizations that were given grants through the program violated the terms of those grants, they have a reasonable criticism. By attacking these people, you’re causing a divide on the issue and losing support for your extremely reasonable core goals. Very few people are pro-rape, it shouldn’t be hard to unite our society against rape.

I could go on for hours, but that’s plenty for now. In general, I agreed with a lot of the things that were in the essay, I just wanted to draw some attention to a few of the points that needed attention. Some of the things I said may be incorrect or bad logic, and you’re welcome to critique them. I just wanted to be a voice for reason and pull some people into this conversation.

Quick Edit: What I’m saying is that if you want to win people to your side of an argument, you need to try to grab the average person with reasonable arguments, not try to swing everyone to an extreme position.


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