I’m not interested in getting into a battle of text walls. I’ll comment on a few things, though:

As for your appeal to “logic and empiricism”, I guess logic in the strict sense does not play much of a role in these discussions (except accidentally), but could you give me a link to an empirical study correlating hypersexualized women in video games to violence against women (say, rape), the gender gap, or any of the empirically-documented forms of bias against women (of the kind involved in Laurie Rudman’s experiments)? If there’s something notably absent in Sarkeesian’s activism is that kind of empirical groundedness.

You have dismissed logic then asked for empiricism for an issue where logic is the basis for an argument. The basic premise behind Sarkeesian’s assertion is that representation matters. You may not agree with that, but it is a logical conclusion from that premise that negative representations of women in media have deleterious outcomes for women in reality. You can Google ‘why representation matters’ and spend all day reading links and decide for yourself about the validity of the premise that representation matters.

To make this idea more concrete, I wholly support the right of a pregnant woman to have an abortion and I believe all religions are little more than well-concocted lies, but that’s not part of the overlapping consensus, so I wouldn’t reject funding from the Vatican (well no, sociologically speaking religions are much more or much worse than well-concocted lies, but the point was clear).

As a member of an atheist religion, I have to disagree with this.

Nothing prevents a rapist (or a psychopathic murderer, like the Unabomber) from making insightful, true statements about, say, American society, and this principle should be held even higher for social science, which must have, like all science, normative neutrality as a regulatory ideal, even if we know it is an unattainable ideal.

This is something of a non-sequitur. The Unabomber wasn’t being funded by the American Association of Psychopathic Murderers to produce pseudo-scientific work advancing the case of psychopathic murder.

On a side note, I do believe that part of the problem in my observation regarding the current trend among some American progressives is the inability to grapple with empirical results that are likely to boost conservative or even reactionary agendas.

Precisely my point about Murray. He was found by other academics to have deliberately ignored data that didn’t fit with the narrative he was espousing in The Bell Curve. That was among the most damning criticisms of the book.

First of all, you may have many reasons, good reasons, to oppose the idea that there is any connection between “race” and IQ, but my only point was that believing there is such a connection does not make you a racist. I’m agnostic about such a connection, by the way, and will probably die an agnostic.

Advancing the argument that there is a connection between race and IQ on the basis of pseudo-science and dishonest methods does make you a racist. Murray either knew he was wrong and didn’t care, or he was so blinded by confirmation bias that he ignored evidence that contradicted his beliefs. Either way, he was advancing the cause of white supremacy, which is a decidedly racist thing to do. It’s extremely clear there was a non-scientific agenda at play with The Bell Curve, too, because it was not subjected to peer-review, likely because the authors and backers knew that if it had been, it wouldn’t have even gotten off the ground.

Anyway, this has all been covered before. We don’t really need to rehash the arguments for and against The Bell Curve. My position is that it is the product of morally dubious pseudo-science.

As for your own agnosticism or the hypothetical beliefs of other people on this subject, I have no way to know if they are racist without further information. There is a political element when it comes what we choose to be agnostic about versus what we choose to be more certain about. For instance, I call myself an atheist, not an agnostic, because of Russell’s Teapot. The Teapot applies here, as well. I recognize that I may be wrong, and that Teapot might be out there, but it’s absurd and impractical to go around being agnostic about everything because “anything is possible.” At the same time, it is totally reasonable to be agnostic about other things, where there is much more uncertainty and conflicting data. Where we draw the line is a case of a pragmatic application of inductive logic (ie — I would bet good money the Sun will rise again tomorrow).

But still consistent discrepancies that are satistically significant and robust are telling us something, even if we are often times not entirely sure what they are telling.

Nine times out of ten they tell us that a study has involved cherry-picking or that social scientists are only marginally adept at statistics. But, yes, that tenth time, they might be telling us something. This is at the very heart of science, and one of the things that separates it from pseudo-science. In a certain light, the main task of science is to invalidate previous science, not to validate biased assumptions. Unfortunately, science can’t make people believe things that are true and disbelieve things that are false. We rely on other means for that.

Just the facts: Writer. Gamer. Feminist. Educated in Astrophysics. Professional Gambler. Student of Language. Satanist. Anarchist.

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