On petunias and whales: part 3

Read Part 1 and Part 2

I’ve outlined some of the issues and looked at one core issues with Dave’s argument. To move on I’ll need to quote some more of Dave’s post:

What is the chance that a novel/short/novella etc will come from someone who is politically outspoken, who loudly champions causes dear to the Left wing (for example, Gay marriage, affirmative action, abortion, militant feminism, pro-Socialism) or Right wing (for example Anti-abortion, the right to concealed carry, equality of opportunity not outcome, pro-death penalty)? Defining the open left/right thing is difficult, because what do you call someone who admits he is communist or a republican but pointedly avoids pontificating on it? That’s why I left proportions at a generous 0.15.

To Dave’s credit, he tells us a lot about his underlying assumptions. This is key to considering what his argument tells us. There are two issues here:

  1. How best to characterize those positions so we can get some good estimates from general population data?
  2. In what ways, relevant to Dave’s argument, are authors different from the general population?

I’ll deal with point 2 first as I reject the tyranny of mere numbers. Continue reading


On petunias and whales: part 2

Read Part 1 first.  A discussion of “A very surprised looking sperm whale and a bowl of petunias” by Dave Freer.

Previously I’d listed the various ways Dave’s argument could go wrong and I claimed (without support) that it had gone wrong in each of them.

Firstly I’ll pick on the easy one. If we assume Dave had shown statistically that the Hugo results show bias (he hadn’t but let’s go with it) then what he had not done is shown the source of the bias. Wikipedia has a page entitled “List of Jewish Nobel laureates“. The page notes that Jewish people have won a disproportionate number of awards when compared to the world’s population. Even accepting a European bias in the awards, the numbers are disproportionate compared with the historical size of the Jewish population in Europe. It takes only a moment’s reflection (assuming you aren’t a raving anti-Semite) to see that this statistical “bias” is not a bias in the judges of the Nobel prize or the mechanism by which the prize has been awarded. Indeed given the levels of antisemitism in 20th century Europe, we know that if anything Jewish people would have faced at least some degree of institutionalized prejudice when being considered for the award. Continue reading

On petunias and whales: Part 1

Several posts in and I’ve finally got to the blog comment that was getting way, way to long to be a blog comment.

The story so far: The Hugo Awards have been dominated by Sad/Rabid Puppies who have claimed left-wing cliques of ruining the awards. A rag tag team and/or an unruly mob and/or revolutionary cadres (delete according to preferred narrative) of anti-puppies have reacted in various ways and Puppies have reacted back etc. My post is dealing with a relatively early pre-2015 nomination argument from puppy supporter Dave Freer. Dave Freer is an author based in Australia who posts on the Mad Genius Club blog among other places. The Mad genius Club is one of three main pro-puppy blogs (the other two being Brad Torgersen and Monster Hunter Nation )

Dave takes an approach I like – which isn’t to say his argument holds water (it doesn’t) but it is an argument that attempts something other than vague accusations. Continue reading

Puppies and Hugos

On to specifics. Recently I’ve been finding myself commenting more on the Internet. The specific cause of my increased level of web-based verbiage has been the kerfuffle over Hugo Awards. As some of my comments at various places (e.g. here http://file770.com/?p=22634 and here http://www.philipsandifer.com/2015/04/guided-by-beauty-of-their-weapons.html ) were getting into blog-post level themselves, I thought it best if I wrote less on other people’s blogs and wrote more somewhere else. That way I can could point to what I wrote and say “this”.

Some background for anybody who comes here unfamiliar with the brouhaha.

The Hugo Awards are given every year to various works in science-fiction and fantasy. While they resemble other literary awards they are somewhat unusual. Instead of being decided by a panel of judges, the awards are actually associated with an annual fan convention WorldCon. Members firstly nominate (some months before) and then vote on the shortlist of nominees.

Recently there has been a backlash by some active writers who felt the awards were cliquish and too leftwing. This backlash took the form of a campaign called “Sad Puppies”. This year the campaign was joined by a more assertive campaign called “Rabid Puppies”. Both campaigns put forward slates of nominees that, for one reason or another, ended up dominating the final set of nominees…

Further reading: