Category: Puppies

Back to the revised history of a debarkle

In my last post I mentioned a Mad Genius post re-hashing the history of the Sad Puppies. Greg H popped in the comments to explain some of the numbers and I think it is more than fair to say that Greg knows the relevant numbers re Sad versus Rabid Puppy participation and he explains them well (and politely). Nobody will be surprised to hear this does not go down well.

Amanda Green (one of the more sensible and reality adjacent figures at MGC responds in a less than temperate manner: https://madgeniusclub.com/2019/02/16/fanhistory/#comment-125541

“Greg, come back and talk to us about fair when you can explain how it was fair of those same “majority of voters” to go to publishers and editors and try to get authors fired or forced to toe the “right line”. Come back and talk about fair when you can explain how they were fair by manipulating the rules to make sure the unwashed masses couldn’t take away their darling awards ever again. Came back and talk about fair when there was a mass campaign to prevent authors and editors from winning simply because the “majority” didn’t like who nominated them. Frankly, I’m tired of your holier than thou attitude and the way you continue to conflate Rabids with Sads.”

Ho hum. Let’s go through:

A majority of voters did not ‘go to publishers and editors and try to get authors fired or forced to toe the “right line”’ However, the Sad Puppies most certainly DID try to pressure a publisher into firing somebody and did try to get employers to force people to toe the line.

For example, here’s MGC endorsing a Tor boycott because they were angry with what a Tor employee had said: https://madgeniusclub.com/2015/06/07/dear-tor/

“Tor, let’s face facts: that you repeatedly allow straw man makers like John Scalzi to have a place in your stable, even as he vainly justifies his arrogant idiocy is absurd. To allow bigots like NK Jemisin bully pulpits without regard for fact or truth is wrong. “

That’s from Jonathan La Force as a guest post. The person who put the post up on MGC? According to the website, Amanda Green.

And here’s MGC member Dave Freer also asking for Tor to discipline an employee for her view: https://madgeniusclub.com/2015/06/08/communication-subjectivity/

Let’s move onto “manipulating the rules to make sure the unwashed masses couldn’t take away their darling awards ever again”. All rule changes happened slowly and democratically. The rule changes made nominations more inclusive and EPH (the most complex rule change) made it easier for Sad Puppy-sympathetic members to get works nominated and made it harder for a small clique to control nominations. Interesting that the Sad Puppies remain opposed to these rule changes, as the only thing they consistently prevent is a clean sweep on nominations by a well-organised slate campaign. The Sad Puppies claim that it was never their intention to sweep the nominations in the way that happened in 2015 and yet that consistently oppose (and still oppose) rule changes that prevent the thing they said they weren’t doing (and which help the thing they said they WERE trying to do). Revealing.

And moving onto: “there was a mass campaign to prevent authors and editors from winning simply because the “majority” didn’t like who nominated them”. There was certainly a campaign against the tactics used by the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies. It was never *simply* because the majority didn’t like who nominated them, although that clearly didn’t help. Nor was there ever one unified position by the people who were not Sad Puppies.

And lastly: “the way you continue to conflate Rabids with Sads” One thing I can say with confidence about Greg is that he is very careful about categories and making distinctions between them. I’m not saying he’s always right and I can think of many occasions where I have disagreed strongly with him but I doubt he often conflates the Sads and Rabids. Certainly in the comment Amanda Green is replying to, he does the EXACT OPPOSITE of conflating the two:

“In 2015, the Rabid Puppies were a much larger group than the Sad Puppies. At least in terms of the Hugo Nominations, over 70% of the votes came from Rabids, not Sads. In 2016, the Sad Puppies pretty much disappeared. Not sure why you’d think otherwise–I thought people on both sides agreed with that.”

https://madgeniusclub.com/2019/02/16/fanhistory/#comment-125538

The moral remains the same. The former Sad Puppies remain in denial and hence can’t move on while reality refuses to cooperate with their version of the past.

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Gamergate is ever so concerned about internet mobs

I finally got around to reading Larry Correia’s take on the Amelia Zhao affair. For those not familiar with this kerfuffle, Zhao is an aspiring YA author whose debut fantasy book was due to be published in June (https://ameliezhao.com ). The book received a substantially less than warm welcome within YA-social media. The core of the criticism was from people who had read the book but the wider antagonism against the book was more secondhand. Feeling besieged by claims of racism within the work and debatable plagiarism (as I understand it more like cases of cliches or being very derivative), Zhao withdrew the book. [That’s my potted version, corrections welcome]

There’s an important issue here on legitimate criticism of creative work versus collective bullying or bad-faith verbal attacks on authors. It is more than possible for a given situation to include all three. Unintentional bullying tactics (eg the classic internet comment section dogpile) where any one individual is just expressing a reasonable opinion but which adds to what appears to be the infamous/nebulous internet “mob”. I don’t know what the solution is to these issues but “nobody can criticise authors or there works” isn’t it.

So I’m parking that question of practical ethics for the moment. I’ve got my own code around internet arguments (always be more civil and more charitable to the person you are arguing with than the person you are arguing with) but that doesn’t address questions of unintended collective bullying.

Anyway, quicker than you can say “SJW” in a sneering tone, our old pal Larry Correia waded in to castigate all and sundry: http://monsterhunternation.com/2019/01/31/to-the-book-community-go-fuck-yourself-an-anti-apology/#comment-93892 (link for reference – you can probably guess the tone and overall message).

Several points spring to mind:

  • If you are an aspiring writer and ever doubt your capacity to put word to page, don’t forget that Larry Correia is a very successful writer commercially and makes a good living from his books. He himself has pointed out that having an entertaining story to tell is more important that your wordsmithing capability. Tell a fun story and don’t worry whether you are actually brilliant at putting sentences together: Larry isn’t and it hasn’t held him back and seriously, good for him.
  • That first point might be inspiring but it contains the seeds of author obnoxiousness and self-entitlement that keeps cropping up. Sure the Sad Pups were a particular political example but it’s not confined to the right. One reaction to the self-doubt that plagues anybody in a creative industry is to adopt a toxic quasi will-to-power mentality that treats any and all criticism as an attack that needs to be met with greater force. Authors that think they have to adopt Sean Connery’s dictum from The Untouchables is the flip side of toxicity within book communities. It’s same seed of rejecting criticism that makes Scientology attractive to actors. Success in creative domains has a degree of unpredictability that enables superstition.
  • Larry was and remains a vocal supporter of Gamergate. So when he talks about horrific bullying by internet mobs he knows what he’s talking about. Sure, it’s from a point at the very depths of hypocrisy given he endorsed one of the worst cases of mass internet bullying and intimidation but we can rest assured that any ignorance demonstrated in his piece is wilful rather than accidental.

Put another way, in attempting to make discussion within a genre-community less toxic, safer and less inclined towards bullying (intended or unintended) the rants of Larry is not what is needed.

And Larry Correia keeps on lying

As pointed out in the last post, Larry Correia is once again telling big fibs to make himself look persecuted. Despite nobody being able to quote a supposed offending comment where somebody (again nobody knows who) said (gasp) that Larry was not a ‘real Gamer’, Larry is now saying:

“multiple fans still insist with 100% certainty that the comment did exist, and when they went back it had been disappeared.”

https://www.facebook.com/larry.correia/posts/2641913162486263

And also that “got 3 witnesses who still swear they saw it”. Quite why this comment was so offensive that he’s posted multiple posts about it with quite extreme invective in them and verbal attacks on other people (Cora Buhlert has been singled out in particular is not something he can explain.

Interestingly Larry made his comment on January 12. Meanwhile on January 9, somebody did make an archive version of the File 770 post that outraged Larry.

https://web.archive.org/web/20190109071550/http://file770.com/stackpole-resigns-from-gama-board/

The last comment was on January 8 and at the time the page was archived on January 9 there were no more comments. Notably NOBODY in the comments was discussing Larry Correia. So, who brought Larry into the conservation?

On January 10, a Sad Puppy supporter makes a new comment unconnected to the previous discussion: http://file770.com/stackpole-resigns-from-gama-board/#comment-940171 Prior to that, nobody was discussing Larry Correia.

Avery Abernethy’s comment sets off a new discussion, which can be followed continuously. There’s zero indication of any break in the conversation. Abernethy has also been commenting at Larry Correia’s own blog but at no point does he either confirm or deny the existence of this mysterious “not a real gamer” comment. Weird, given that Abernethy was actively commenting when this comment was supposed to have occurred that he hasn’t mentioned its existence.

I believe Avery Abernethy has commented here before. I’m curious as to what he has to say about this…

The Sad Puppies have totally moved on, completely, definitely, forgotten all about it, yes siree

Is it because it’s January? Is it because Hugo Nominations are open? For whatever reason a couple of outbreaks of emotive re-hashings of the past going on. First, at File770, an avowed Sad Puppy trying to revive John Scalzi bashing (apparently still sore from losing an argument in the comments to this post from 2007). Second, Larry Correia re-starts his game of claiming that people are being mean about and gets caught making stuff up. He’s since gone off on a further spittle-flecked rant about the fact that he got caught lying about stuff (not linking to it, it has zero content and is just very nasty invective).

Making stuff up to show how mean people are to him is not a new genre for Larry. A passing mention in a Guardian story about gender in science fiction. This was an accurate description of Larry’s stated position:

‘For writers and fans like Larry Correia, whose virulent attack on MacFarlane was excellently dissected by Jim C Hines, sex is a biological imperative and the idea of gender as a social construct is a damn liberal lie! But Correia boils it down to a much simpler argument. However accurate a queer future might be, SF authors must continue to pander to the bigotry of conservative readers if they want to be “commercial”.’

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/apr/11/science-fiction-needs-to-reflect-queer-fluid-gender-identity

This brief mention has since been spun out by Larry into a claim that he was slandered and that it was also part of a conspiracy by The Guardian and writer and unknown Worldcon admins to make him look bad because he’d been nominated for a Hugo.

Prior to that Larry had claimed that his previous nomination for a Campbell Award resulted in this:

‘A European snob reviewer actually wrote “If Larry Correia wins the Campbell, it will END WRITING FOREVER.” ‘

http://monsterhunternation.com/2013/01/08/how-to-get-correia-nominated-for-a-hugo/

‘Actually wrote’ as in ‘never wrote at all’. Larry changes the quote from time to time:

My favorite post however was from a British blogger who said that “if Larry Correia wins the Campbell it will end literature forever”.

https://monsterhunternation.com/2014/01/23/some-reactions-to-sad-puppies-2-rainbow-puppy-lighthouse-the-huggening/

The only source for either quote is…Larry Correia. In the past, I’ve speculated that it was a misremembering but the simplest explanation is that Larry makes stuff up and then claims that it is true. Specifically, he makes stuff up about what people he doesn’t like have said about him to cast himself as a victim of systematic persecution. It is a particularly odd habit as he’s not short of actual critics and people pointing out actual flaws in his behaviour and work.

It’s a weird tactic: avoiding criticism by heaping invective on yourself so that you can respond in kind.

The simple fact is that Larry Correia hates Mike Glyer and File 770 because the site presented accurate and truthful coverage of Sad Puppies. Mike gave Larry the kind of coverage that Larry thought he wanted because he expected everybody to be awed by his awesomeness. When they weren’t and his campaign spiraled into awfulness instead, he blamed the messenger. Don’t believe me that File770 gave the Larry the coverage he wanted? Let’s ask Larry:

‘On this note, I’d like to extend an olive branch to Mike Glyer at File 770. We’ve gone around a few times, but I’ve got to hand it to him. Recently he’s been fully quoting my side and letting our arguments stand without interpretation. Well done, sir.

https://monsterhunternation.com/2015/04/06/a-letter-to-the-smofs-moderates-and-fence-sitters-from-the-author-who-started-sad-puppies/

More for completeness than for anything else

I decided to ensure I kept track of re-writings of the Puppy Debarkle by notable Sad Puppy figures for multiple reasons, not least of which is to see how the story would change and morph over time. Now there’s a lengthy account by Sarah Hoyt on her blog and I am going to but a link here precisely because I do want to keep track of these things and heck, it’s a public statement on a public blog etc. Having said that I’m not going to pull it apart and I’ve closed comments on this post.

It’s not that I don’t trust people to comment but we’ve seen before how “friends” of the writer have used commentary here to intentionally stoke up a persecution narrative for the writer and I assume even posting a link will be used as evidence of some kind of conspiracy to deprive the writer of money or career opportunities despite me having zero power or influence over such things. So here are the links as they are. Make of them what you will.

https://accordingtohoyt.com/2018/11/27/a-lengthy-explanation/

https://web.archive.org/web/20181127173852/https://accordingtohoyt.com/2018/11/27/a-lengthy-explanation/

Ye Olde Skull & Lobster: Reading Vox Day So You Don’t Have To: Part N+1

When P.Z. Myers is cited positively and unironically by Vox Day, you know there’s something amiss with the universe. There’s heresy in the air and right-on-right attacks going down.

On the one hand, we have Jordan Peterson: transphobic right-wing purveyor of semi-coherent self-help books for people frightened by women going to university. On the other hand, we have Vox Day: a man who regards the terrorist child-murder Anders Brevik as a hero and who pushes a violent nationalism based on pseudo-scientific race theories. While we could see Peterson as at least being more moderate than Day, we can’t ignore that Peterson is a kind of gateway drug into the morass of confused thinking based on male resentment at a changing society. What Vox has in toxicity, Peterson has twice as much in reach.

Who is the more appalling of the two? Perhaps we need another candidate…

[more appalling people after the fold]

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A Shared Mythology

I’ve semi-seriously discussed quasi–pseudo-academic debate of monopuppyist versus duopuppyists i.e. was science fictions attempted right-wing coup in 2015 one movement (with internal differences) or two movements (with some shared features). One reason I keep looking at those events (and those distinctions) is the way they were a microcosm of broader ideological movements among the right.

Taking stock of those broader movements, similar issues arise. How are things different and how are things the same? There is scope for error in lumping diverse beliefs together and in becoming too focused on points of difference to see the commonalities. I spend a lot of time reading rightwing websites and comment sections (not just former Sad Puppy related ones) and two things stand out as commonalities:

  • Unmoored anti-leftism. ‘Unmoored’ because while the anti-leftism is common the rationalisations offered are not. For example, left opposition to the Bush Jr. Iraq war remains a sore point for many on the right (who ignore Democrat support for the war) but is ignored by the section of the right who also opposed the war (who don’t ignore Democrat support for the war but do ignore left opposition to it).
  • Common mythology. By this, I mean a set of beliefs about the world that are quasi-factual in nature.

The common mythology is a social glue and also a medium of cultural exchange. These are beliefs about how the world is that are:

  • Very specific, i.e. more specific than economic or social models that may be more ideological in nature.
  • By their nature beliefs that can be examined critically against facts but…
  • …which are either NOT examined critically against facts or more often run counter to established facts.

That such mythological-like beliefs exist among the right isn’t a new observation. However, many which we might associate with the right lack this common currency aspect. For example, many people in this broader right I’m discussing are not creationists (although most creationists are of the right), likewise Holocaust denial is still regarded as objectionable by many on the right. Anti-vaxxer beliefs are drifting more rightwards but still cross ideological boundaries. However, a broad habit of believing things that just aren’t so has become entrenched on the right.

I’d like to suggest the following as a core-common shared set of mythologies that act as a means of group identity. These ideas are shared uncritically in diverse parts of the US/Anglosphere right and questioning them too much leads to social ostracisation.

  • Global warming data and theories have been corrupted by politically active scientists. Note this isn’t quite the same as denial of global warming but obviously works very closely with it. The belief that temperature records and other aspects of global warming have been meddled with allows discussion of the reality of global warming to be avoided.
  • Universities and colleges routinely indoctrinate students with Marxist social theories. This belief over-extrapolates the existence of actual courses (perhaps a course somewhere on queer theory) and asserts that this is the norm for all students. The belief has a bedrock of fears by evangelical Christians about their children becoming less religious at college or exposed to things like evolution but in the form, I am describing is more general and less tied to religion.
  • The Democratic Party routinely engages in mass voter fraud at a highly organised level. The belief is very pertinent today given the headlines but the work on this idea is constant and on-going. US conservatives are primed to believe this idea against any facts to the contrary.
  • Mass illegal immigration is an intentional policy of leftists and foreign governments. This deeply disturbing myth and surrounding rhetoric about ‘invasion’ is widely believed and extends beyond the alt-right & more overtly ideologically racist parts of the right.
  • Europe is on the verge of (or already is) being controlled by or dominated by Islam. There’s a vagueness here as to what the actual proposition is. Partly this is due to the age of the claims. 10 years ago, claims about an imminent Islamic take over of Europe were very common on the right and 10 years later the claims are similar. In the face of ridicule of some claims (e.g. ‘no-go’ zones in places that aren’t ‘no go’ zones), the broader beliefs have become vaguer and less open to immediate refutation.
  • Cities are places of rising violent crime. At some point, of course, this idea gets to be true. Crime stats go up and down but what is remembered is the ‘ups’ and what is ignored is the ‘downs’ as well as general trends. What marks this belief as mythology is that it remains unchanged over decades: violent crime is always rising but somehow the point where violent crime was low shifts around.
  • Home invasions and violent attacks on middle-class suburbs or rural areas are common and imminent. These two form a pair and of course relate closely to gun ownership and NRA propaganda.

There are other beliefs that I could list but which I feel are more clearly ideological. For example beliefs around public healthcare relate to specific policy positions overtly advanced by conservatives for decades. Similarly, beliefs around affirmative action or even ‘PC culture’ have a closer connection with ideology. There is a common thread of seeking to avoid facts or to examine these ideas critically that gives them a similar quality of belief that would only be true in a parallel universe.

A relevant question is whether these beliefs are sincere. Salon writer Amanda Marcotte had a recent Twitter thread where she examined some of the anti-factual claims of the right and argues that they are insincere i.e. overtly lies:

Her argument is a strong one and there’s a longer analysis in this 2016 piece she wrote: https://www.salon.com/2016/09/26/its-science-stupid-why-do-trump-supporters-believe-so-many-things-that-are-crazy-and-wrong/

Clearly, some of these viral claims are trolling. The argument that ‘birtherism’ was insincere holds water. However, I think the ones above are held with sincerity of a kind. There is a lot of advocation of beliefs that don’t stand up to critical scrutiny going on that CAN’T be primarily about trolling people on the left. I can be confident of that because these are often beliefs that people on the right do not wish to discuss with the left or raise with the left. To point out factual or logical errors in particular beliefs is seen as trolling BY the left rather than the left being trolled. Readers familiar with the Sad Puppy debarkle will have many ready examples to hand.

Marcotte also raises the group identity aspect as part of the issue i.e. that asserting false or dubious beliefs ties people together, as they act as a marker of loyalty. However, in addition, the soup of false beliefs fostered by creationism on one hand and corporate propaganda on issues such as pesticides, smoking, guns and global warming has entrenched confused thinking as a habit among the right. These poor cognitive habits encourage the ‘grift’ culture I’ve talked about before within the right, that often makes them prone to both perpetuate and be victims of scams and dubious money-making schemes. Marcotte points out Trumps willingness to say what he is thinking is often mistaken for honesty and forthrightness by his supporters. This kind of uncalculated, unhedged speech without weasel words can be refreshing in a world where many people try to avoid being caught in a literal lie. Meanwhile, the new acting Attorney General of the USA was himself part of a company that deliberately targetted military veterans in a scam https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/nov/09/matthew-whitaker-acting-attorney-general-wpm-scam

What’s trolling, what’s an Emperor’s New Clothes kind of public misbelief, what’s a scam and what’s people being scammed and what is just the inevitable confused belief of poor thinking habits is hard to disentangle. What the shared mythology has in common is that I think these are largely internally believed and which act as defence mechanisms for other beliefs or expressions of fears. In particular fears about race and social change among conservatives who see themselves as ‘libertarian’ and ‘not-racist’ require hoop jumping rationalisations that they can express by changing classifications (racial fears changed to fears about violent people in cities or rule-breaking immigrants). The ‘scam’ part here is that more openly racist parts of the right (i.e. the parts that are more willing to own the label ‘racist’) can control those fears via propaganda.