Category: Conservative Crisis

Faking Shared History


A longish post on Debarkle history today. Too many elements for me to resist – in particular, an overlap between the nature of truth, belief, memory, knowledge and ethics. Also, can a genuinely held belief still be a lie?

One reason I decided to keep a timeline of quotes and events in the Puppy Debarkle was that I suspected that quite rapidly people would start distorting events – indeed it had already begun early in the conflict. I didn’t assume having a timeline would stop that process but I did think it would help me not add to the process. It is easy to confuse cause and effect around events that occur in close proximity and it is easy to conflate somebody saying something that IMPLIES X with that person directly saying X. Worse, such error compound themselves as people come to believe the revised version of what was said in a revised order in which it was said.

There are a few things I would still like to unravel and find the ‘real’ story for as a version still gets repeated in Puppy circles. Some though are lost for all time… [more after the fold]

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Ringo on Correia?

Rumblings continue in the Puppylands around Larry Correia’s dis-invitation to the Origins Game Fair. At Larry Correia’s own blog, he has been arguing that his supporters should NOT target vendors attending Origins as he sees the fault lying mainly with the convention organiser.

Interestingly in the comments there is a notable dissenting voice on this:

“John Ringo

I disagree, strongly, with ‘don’t screw the vendors.’

This is going to go on and on as long as cons allow it. The ones who stand up may survive. The ones who cave have to fold. The way to get them to fold is to hit them in the wallet. It’s the only thing that will work.

So, yes, tell your fans to hit the vendors. Hit the authors who do attend. Refuse to go to the con. Ask the pros who are attending, why they support bullying. Don’t buy their books. Don’t buy their products.

Boycott, Divest, Sanction.

We need to stop rolling over and BRING THE PAIN.”

I don’t know if that is the John Ringo but it would be odd for Larry to let the comment stand if it was somebody impersonating Ringo. If it is him that it is a very bold statement that I think organisers of conventions would pay careful attention to but perhaps not in the way the writer imagines. As I pointed out in an earlier post not even considering inviting some people would be the easiest way to avoid that kind of pushback. As a way of demonstrating that outspoken right wing authors are a good choice to invite as a guest speakers, it looks like the exact opposite of a good plan. Partly, that’s why I’m wondering if the comment is genuine or whether it is some unknown person sh_t-stirring?

People should also be mindful of giving support to people who may be suffering from being targeted by Larry Correia’s fans at the moment.

Les Moulins de Mon Cœur

So the original French title of the song “Windmills of Your Mind” translates as “Windmills of My Heart”. Somebody with more talent than I could probably spin that factlet out into a lengthy essay on the difference between the Continental and Analytic strands of philosophy in the Twentieth Century.

Instead it behooves me to bow to the inevitable wheel within a wheel and present to you like a tunnel within a tunnel, like a turd within a loo, Vox Day reviewing Jordan Peterson’s Twelve Rules for Life. Regular Link and Archive Link.

Fairs fair, I’ll concede to agree with a lot of what Vox Day writes about Peterson here. Elsewhere, Vox is going further off the rails trying to dismantle Peterson’s theory of truth. Of course, Peterson doesn’t actually have a theory of truth, he’s just spouting the first thing that comes into his head and then covering up the mess with argle-bargle. Vox’s main concern is that Peterson is offering a heretical alternative to Vox’s more extreme position on the question of ‘how pro-fascism can we be without admitting it’. Peterson I’ll grant is somebody who really doesn’t want to be a fascist but for reasons best known to him has accepted a whole pile of premises which makes him susceptible to right wing authoritarianism. Is ‘fascist ideation’ a concept? I feel uneasy just making up a term by adding ‘ideation’ to it.

“However, the more sophisticated reader cannot help but notice that Peterson does not follow his own rules, particularly the three which relate to speaking precisely, telling the truth, and getting one’s own house in order before trying to fix the world.”

Correct and I think this is the most obvious and negating of Peterson’s book. He fails on all three fronts in the book itself and even more broadly when you look at his wider statements, videos etc.

This next paragraph by Vox Day also is hard to disagree with:

“Peterson is an engaging and accessible writer when he is simply recounting events of the past or relating experiences from his own life. He is a sympathetic author, and he effectively communicates the way in which the tragedy and suffering he has experienced throughout his life have made a deep impression on his psyche. It is when he tries to wax profound and articulate his underlying philosophy that his writing invariably wades into a swamp of nonsensical name-dropping that is less Jungian than Joycean, a meandering waking stream of consciousness that not only fails to substantially support the nominal premise, but often bears no relationship to it whatsoever.”

After that Vox’s review becomes less insightful. His agenda here is to try and negate the influence of Peterson on people within Vox Day’s target audience – the ideologically adrift anti-left seeking order. His capacity to critique Peterson is limited by his inability to address many of Peterson’s more silly ideas because Vox shares many of them (e.g. IQ essentialism, dominance hierarchies as the main tool for analysing society etc.)

Vox correctly points out that Peterson is not a conventional Christian but then neither is Vox Day. He also says that Peterson is not of the right but fails to explain how he is of either the centre or the left. Vox is closer to understanding Peterson when he focuses on his essential incoherence but pushes on as if the contradictions Peterson pushes don’t matter and a single message can be divined within the details.

Who is worse? Vox is a clearer writer when it comes to non-fiction but then he says much worse things than Peterson does but then again Peterson seems to be a more prevelant gateway drug for this nonsense. It’s just a layers of appaling really…it’s like…it’s like…

Like a fascist reviewing fascists,
Like a heel reviewing heels,
Like some nonsense written clearly,
Like some similie on wheels,
Like some appalling human being
With a mega-selling book,
Like a wannabe sci-fi author,
With a podgy skin-head look,
Like a tunnel in a tunnel with a tunnel underneath,
Like a really boring lecture on the nature of belief,
Like a song with too many lyrics,
Like Canadian academe,
Like you really hate this party,
But you don’t want to make a scene,
Like the windmills that you start,
In the Netherlands of your heart.


How the Right is Ignorant of the Right

This is an observation based on a post by Sad Puppy/Mad Genius/Tor-Boycotter Peter Grant. After the terrorist attack in Toronto, Grant was shocked to learn about so called’incel’ culture for the first time:

“I must have lived a sheltered existence.  I had no idea that the so-called ‘incel subculture‘ was a thing, until this week’s terror attack in Toronto, and this article.”

Grant was a Sad Puppy supporter rather than one of Vox Day’s Rabid Puppies during the Hugo Debarkle* and I’ve no doubt his politics are not those of Vox Day but he is a Castalia House published author and he has defended Vox. The point being not that he’s somehow contanimated by these ideas but just that he is essentially living in the neighbourhood of these ideas. They are only a hop and skip away from people he has an active and on-going commercial relationship with and part of a very loud cultural-political conflict that he was an active participant in.

Again, to repeat, I’m not implying any particular commonality of viewpoint or guilt-by-association here. I’m just genuinely amazed, despite repeated evidence, of how ignorant different rightwing factions and movements are about other rightwing factions and movements. Grant isn’t generally ignorant of world events or incapable of following a set of ideas and yet was blissfully unaware of a notable section of the people engaged in the same culture war as he is until one of them staged a major terrorist attack.

But I guess, it is so much easier to stay confident in a belief that you are right if you ensure you know as little as possible about people who differ from you but who repeat the same points and ideological attacks.

*[Yes, I’m sticking with this now.]

If Rabbits Fought Lobsters Who Would Win?

So, on average a rabbits weighs say 2 kg and I don’t know, maybe a lobster typically weighs 0.5 kg? Rabbits can be surprisingly aggressive but lobsters have a thick exoskeleton and claws. Obviously, rabbits can run away more easily but we haven’t determined where this conflict is occurring. Sure, a rabbit can adapt well to a wide range of terrestrial environments but they aren’t aquatic mammals and would simply drown if they tried to engage a lobster on the sea floor. You’d think that lobsters aren’t cut out for sustained warfare in burrows but if we extend our range of what we count as a ‘lobster’ then we’d need to consider the Engaeus aka the Tasmanian Burrowing Crayfish. Burrowing crayfish also live on mainland Australia in southern Victoria – so it’s not impossible that there are recorded cases of rabbits fighting crayfish. Having said that, if we are extending out the definition of “lobster” to a completely different species we may as well extend “rabbit” to include wombats.

Now imagine the same argument but I said that a rabbit weighs 55 pounds based on a misunderstanding of this article It is worthwhile considering if the quality of argument has actually got much worse if it included that error. One way to think of this is in terms of local versus global issues in an argument. I’m borrowing freely from how Imre Lakatos talked about counter-examples in mathematical arguments and applying it badly to the exact opposite – nonsensical arguments.

  • The rabbit mass error is an error but it has little impact on the whole argument (which is a silly argument). The scope of the error is highly limited. The pro-lobster side of the argument may feel happy when they debunk the error but their position hasn’t improved.
  • The redefinition argument, so as to include crayfish under ‘lobster’ has a much wider scope. It changes the nature of the argument and has a much broader impact.
  • Neither of those two issues actually address the broadest level of the argument which is that the premise is silly. Lobsters and rabbits are not in direct conflict because of the kinds of animals that they are. For them to actually be in a direct conflict they would need to be different kinds of animals and hence none of the actual features of either rabbit of lobsters is relevant to the question.

‘Yes, thank you for clarifying that,’ I hear you say as tiny voices in my head, ‘but what has this got to do with anything and could you maybe just draw more beard pictures instead?’

It’s Vox Day feuding with Jordan Peterson – yes I’m sure Vox would prefer wolves rather than rabbits but obviously, lobsters would beat wolves*.

I was tempted to discuss the argument in more depth but it really is about as silly as lobsters versus rabbits but with added racism (specifical anti-semitism). The problem with looking at either of their arguments in any detail is that they globally make little sense and are full of local errors. To discuss the local errors in any detail requires assuming for the sake of argument the more absurd premises – which would be one thing if we were looking at, say, homoeopathy but in this case, the absurd premises are particularly venomous ones i.e. anti-Semitic or more generally racist ones.

Both Peterson and Vox Day are IQ essentialists. That is they think

  • that IQ *is* intelligence (which it almost certainly isn’t),
  • and that evidence of hereditary aspects of IQ demonstrates that intelligence is overwhelmingly genetic (which is doubly questionable),
  • and evidence of some correlations between IQ and social success in modern societies demonstrates that social success is genetic (which is now a stack of suppositions),
  • and that different degrees of social success among different ethnic groups/nations is CAUSED by differences in IQ of those groups (which we can probably assume now is just plain wrong),
  • and that those differences are genetic.

It is a house of cards but one with some numbers based on research of very variable quality. Also, it is definitively a racist theory, as in it is literally a theory that asserts that different groups of humans are more or less inferior on a very broad range of traits due to inherent differences. I’ve discussed IQ many times before, so I won’t rehash all those arguments, other than to say the first point is the core error: we can collect interesting and useful numbers using scientific and ‘objective’ methods but the INTERPRETATION of those numbers is not simply established by having reliable numbers. That the numbers used in IQ arguments such as these tend not to be that reliable ANYWAY is a more local issue.

Peterson and others that we might call ‘moderate racists’ if that wasn’t an oxymoron, like these IQ essentialist style arguments because they see them as being a bulwark against demands for equality. For them, it demonstrates that modern societies are a meritocracy and that inequality of outcome is due to fundamental biological differences between people.

Vox Day’s ideology is far more overtly racist but the rationalisation is much the same. So shouldn’t Vox Day and Peterson be pals? Ah, you might think that but remember both Vox and Peterson also both believe strongly in dominance hierarchies as a biological imperative and as a kind of the social norm for masculine behaviour. Which is a kind of weird self-fulfilling psychological theory i.e. Peterson’s psychology is largely bunk but it does actually sort of work for people who believe Peterson’s psychology. Put another way: Vox and Peterson are warring lobsters. They’ll react to others encroaching on their territory as either:

  • Obviously superior lobsters – who they’ll acknowledge as such.
  • Lobsters of equivalent rank but who are both willing to stay a safe difference away in the neatly defined territory.
  • Rival lobsters that require a showy dominance display so they stick to their own territory.
  • Lower ranked lobsters who can be easily chased away.

Note, when I say ‘lobsters’ these are Petersonian-lobsters, not the actual crustaceans who actually have nothing to do with this at all. Also humans don’t really behave this way – this is a kind of self-imposed behaviour.

Peterson isn’t smart enough to impress Vox (here Vox is correct) but Peterson is getting a lot of fuss and attention as a thinker on the right. Hence, following the psychological theory of both of them, they have to fight. Specifically, they are fighting over anti-Semitism and when I say ‘fighting’, I think is mainly Vox moaning about Peterson rather than vice-versa.

Peterson decided to counter anti-Semitic arguments by arguing that the success of some Jewish people in Western society was due to on an average higher IQ of Ashkenazi Jews. That offends Vox as he likes to push anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Of course, the factual basis Peterson’s claims is based on weak and dodgy research and requires assuming complex social phenomenon can be explained by one numerical parameter. Vox’s could then mount a counter-argument that picks holes in Peterson’s position by pointing out errors and weaknesses. Now it doesn’t matter to Vox that many of the weaknesses he points out are actually the same weaknesses in Vox’s own arguments about IQ (e.g. over generalising from a weak study with few participants who aren’t a random sample) nor does it matter that neither of them address relevant questions about who exactly they are talking about.

Peterson set up his argument as a false dichotomy (success of some Jewish people in America being either genetics or conspiracy) and then arguing for ‘genetics’. By doing so, the very way he framed the argument helps more overt anti-Semites because somebody like Vox Day can point to weaknesses and errors in his argument (mainly local ones) and declare that they’ve proved the other part of the false dichotomy. Put another way: bad arguments generate worse arguments.

Peterson thinks he’s scoring a point against anti-Semitism when he uses what is racial theory in a positive light towards a group that has been persecuted and marginalised. However, there is never any positive way to use racism – all he manages is to create a strawman for more overt racists to knock over. The effect is like a ratchet of prejudice – Peterson pulls readers into accepting a set of dodgy ideas that once accepted make it difficult to avoid believing a whole set of even worse ideas.


*[wolves are basically just dogs and any dog I know, if it saw a lobster would just freak out and run away. So, in this specific case, the question has an answer: lobster beat wolves by being weird looking.]

The Elephant in the Room Points Out the Elephant in the Room

I covered the revisionism of Sarah Hoyt’s account of the Sad Puppy debarkle yesterday. Lots of people noticed a very weird issue with her account – no Rabid Puppies were mentioned. Now true the two campaigns were different (we are a polypuppyist school here unlike those monopuppyists)  but it is weird to discuss the actions and motivations of everyone else involved without mentioning the Rabid Puppy campaign. By omitting the ‘alt-right’ from the account, Hoyt herself blurred the distinction between the campaigns.

What is obvious to the critics of the Sad Pups is also obvious to the hydrophobic hounds also. Here is Vox Day’s commentary on the Hoyt piece (direct link and archive link if you don’t want to give clicks).

“I find this rather fascinating for what it omits. The Baen cum Sad Puppies crowd is in an uncomfortable position not terribly different from that of Never Trump and the cuckservatives. They are accustomed to being the sole opposition to the SJWs in science fiction, and viewing themselves as the proper and respectable opposition, so they really don’t know what to do about the Rabid Puppies…”

And the lyssavirus  labradors continue:

“So, they push a narrative to the public in which we don’t exist, even though without us, Sad Puppies would have remained what it was prior to our involvement, a minor bump in the road that didn’t even require any suppression outside of the usual routine. This is not to say that what they did was not admirable, and indeed, their construction of the Dragon Awards will likely prove to be more significant in the long run than our demolition of the Hugo Awards. I merely observe that their efforts would have been insufficient in our absence.”

Vox is also prone to self-delusion but not to the same extent as Hoyt perhaps because he’s already accepted that his positions are appalling and inimical to freedom. Of course, he’s still deluded that somehow the Hugos were destroyed when they continue at least as actively as prior to the Sad Pups. However, parts of his analysis there are correct – the Sad Pups want credit for the scale of their actions but want to pretend the Rabids had nothing to do with – to the extent of airbrushing them out of the photo.

Exciting Alt-History! Sarah Hoyt on PJ Media

Sarah A Hoyt designated leader of Sad Puppies 5 aka The Pups of Ennui, has written a piece ostensibly about John Ringo pulling out of a con at Pajamas Media.

The piece re-litigates the Sad Puppies campaign (which as Chris Chupik has told us, the Pups all moved on from years ago).

Let’s count the errors, omissions and statements whose relationship with the truth varies from “It’s complicated” to “Not in a relationship”.

“For those of you wanting to follow this at home, the score card is this: Five years ago, my friend Larry Correia started a movement called Sad Puppies, which was a half joking attempt to get books not of solid leftist bent (not even right wing, just not preachy left) nominated for the Hugo”

The campaign being, of course, the “How to get Correia nominated for a Hugo” campaign and the books he wanted to get nominated for a Hugo were his own.

The revisionist stance of the Puppies means a rationalisation for later campaigns propogates backwards in time to change the rationalisation for earlier campaigns.

“When Larry tired of the game after two years, my friend Brad Torgersen took it over…”

i.e. After Larry got tired of repeatedly losing.

“Brad ran it creditably, suggesting fan-favorites who had never got nominated (over the last decade, the Hugos have become a log-rolling club of leftists.) He got people who’d never before nominated to nominate, increasing the number of people involved by three fold. “

Brad set out to create a slate of works. He did ask for suggestions: “Thus, I am going to slowly compile a slate. Of books and stories (and other things, and people) for the different categories.” but comparisons of suggestions given in the comments and his final slate show that basically Brad just picked people he liked with little regard for the quality of the work or whether the authors wanted to be associated with the slate.

Sarah then gets into a list of complaints about how the Sad Puppy slate was characterised:

“Imagine our surprise when we found out that:

1.We’d promulgated an immutable slate, that had to be voted for in order. We must have managed that by cleverly telling people to read and vote for those they liked, or add others, or whatever, just get involved.”

It is true that Brad did not ask people to stick tightly to his slate but he also made it clear that the works needed extra effort to get nominated: ‘As noted earlier in the year, the SAD PUPPIES 3 list is a recommendation. Not an absolute. Gathered here is the best list (we think!) of entirely deserving works, writers, and editors — all of whom would not otherwise find themselves on the Hugo ballot without some extra oomph received from beyond the rarefied, insular halls of 21st century Worldcon “fandom.”’

Sarah is also magically ignoring that this was part of an escalating campaign of rhetoric about the Hugos from her side including combative rhetoric around awards from Baen chief editor Toni Weiskopf: “So the question arises—why bother to engage these people at all? They are not of us. They do not share our values, they do not share our culture.”

‘2. We were against the participation of women, people of color, and people of different gender identification and orientation in science fiction and fantasy. (How we were supposed to divine all that except perhaps women, is beyond me. And even there, there are gender neutral names.) The fact that three of us, in the “inner council” were women made no difference. Since we’re not leftists, we’re obviously not “real women.”’

Sarah once again forgetting that the Sad Puppy 3 leader Brad Torgersen has repeatedly refered to women and people of colour winning Hugo Awards as example of “affirmative action” and has forgotten that people could see and read the comments and attacks by Sad Puppy supporters and who they tended to be directed at. People had already seen two years of Sad Puppy campaigns and the kind of nasty rhetoric used by those campaigns. Larry Correia make claims like this about Saladin Ahmed way back in 2013 “just having nominated a guy with an ethnic name will make the SMOFers feel all warm and tingly inside and good about themselves” was stuff that PEOPLE NOTICED

A core part of Sad Puppy rationalisations requires heavy compartmentalisation of facts. People are not supposed to put 2 and 2 together or notice patterns of behaviour, repeated themes or even overt statements made at different points.

Moving on:

3. We’d done this to oppress people by being gatekeepers. Note our coalition was one best selling author (Larry Correia), a promising beginner (Brad Torgersen), a midlist author (me), and two indie authors (Kate Paulk and Amanda S. Green). None of us had or had ever had gatekeeping powers. In fact, the people who called calumnies against us to Entertainment Weekly (who later retracted) and other national publications were gatekeepers, since everything points to their working for TOR.

That the Sad Puppies 3 slate was gatekeeping is a simple fact. Brad picked who he felt should be nominated and asked people to vote for those people as part of what he saw (and other puppy leaders had characterised) as a culture war. He literally tried to set up a gate and tried to control that gate and had some success (not without help from the rabid elephant in the room*). That the Sad Puppies have not had much in the way of gatekeeping powers prior is irrelevant to whether they were attempting to gain gatekeeping powers. Manifestly they did attempt to do that. Claiming otherwise is just silly.

Nor did that attempted gatekeeping end with the Hugos. The sad story of the collapse of Sad Puppies 5 centred around Sarah Hoyt’s attempts to control and gatekeep what had originally be characterised as a wide movement:

Failing to be GOOD at gatekeeping is different from never attempting to be gatekeepers. The Sad Pups were just bad at it, that’s all. Failed gatekeepers but still wannabe gatekeepers.

“After our nominees were treated horribly at the 2015 Hugos, after leftists bought memberships by the dozen for the express purpose of voting “no award” over people they proudly admitted they’d never read, we thought there was no point.”

“Treated horribly” was people not voting for them and being happy when they didn’t win. Oh the horror! “Leftist” bought memberships for many reasons but the SAD Puppies where a side show – people where more motivated to vote against the Rabod Puppy campaign run by kyrpto fascist Vox Day (the said elephant in the room mentioned earlier).

No evidence of any individual buying multiple memberships for themselves. That claim is just a lie.

Onto Sad Pups 4:

“My friend Kate Paulk, probably the most conciliatory woman in the world, ran it the next year and did everything the left said they wanted done. They still attacked her.”

Who is “they”? Many of the so-called “Puppy kickers” that Hoyt could name either were neutral about Sad Puppies 4 or praised Paulk for trying to fix some of the worst issues of previous campaigns. Several noted Sad Puppy critics pariticpated in the recommendation process in good faith.

“I and Amanda claimed the right of succession, but never took it, because it was obvious the Hugos were dead, their reputation destroyed and only academics seeking tenure could be interested in them. The only reason we claimed them was to prevent a few deluded people from trying to ride a movement they had nothing to do with to fame.”

Except that is NOT what they said at the time. Sad Pups 4 had segued initially into Sad Pups 5 like this:

“In the near future, this site will be shut down and a new site for Sad Puppies 5 will go live. In the meantime, if you have any books, movies, etc., you think award-worthy, please list them in the comment section. Your recommendations will be migrated to the new site when it is ready.”

And in January 2017 Amanda Green had said this:

“So, let’s be very clear. The New Year is here and with it comes the time when we need to start thinking about the books we read and whether we feel they are worthy of being nominated for any of the various awards being offered this year. Be it the Hugo, the Dragon, the Rita or whatever, it is something we need to keep in mind and, if we are so moved, we need to nominate them for the appropriate award(s).”

Now, true the emphasis was off the Hugo Awards but that was already true for Sad Puppies 4. The campaign was ‘always’ (where ‘always’ means the rationalisation of the day which changes the next day), about promoting science fiction.

As for the claim that the Hugos is for academic seeking enure, I’ve debunked that more than once It is a claim that has almost no basis in anything factual.

Ho hum. One reason I began compiling a timeline back in 2015 was that I expected a degree of revisionism from the Puppy camp. The Ministry of Truth-style rewrites of past events was to be expected and along with it the unshakeable faith that this weeks re-write was always true even when it was at odds with last weeks re-write.

The Pups haven’t ‘moved on’. They can’t move on because that implies an element of personal growth that requires some engagement with facts and reality. Repeatedly lying to oneself is not the way forward.

*[Elephants can catch rabies]