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Taboo words' impact mediated by context, listeners' likelihood of being offended
Taboo words provoke certain responses in readers' heart rates and brains, diminishing their attention and memory, research has shown.

A new paper by scholars at the University of Illinois suggests that the physiological and psychological effects of profanity and other taboo words on people who read or hear them may be due largely - but not entirely - to the context and individual audience members' likelihood of being offended.

Taboo words are words that are restricted from societal use. Much of the prior research on taboo words' effects involved recording participants' reactions as they viewed isolated taboo or neutral words, rather than in natural communicative situations.

"In the real world, taboo words are uttered or written by people in specific situations," said Kiel Christianson, a professor of educational psychology at the university. "Depending on the identity of the speaker and the appropriateness of the situation in which they say it, a given taboo word may have stronger or weaker psychological and/or physiological effects on the listener."

Christianson and his co-authors conducted two experiments in which they used eye-tracking software to monitor people's attention levels and memory while they read sentences containing swear words or the euphemisms for such words. Their findings were published recently in the journal Acta Psychologica.

Christianson hypothesized that the more surprising the use of profanity was - as defined by the speaker or the situation - the more attention people would direct to it. He also hypothesized that readers' likelihood of being offended by taboo words would mediate their attention level, affecting how rapidly they read each sentence, their ability to recall a probe word preceding the taboo word in every sentence, or both.

Eighty native speakers of American English read a series of sentences on a computer monitor that depicted "saints" or "sinners" - people viewed as likely or unlikely to use either swear words or their socially acceptable euphemisms in specific circumstances where swearing might be viewed as appropriate or inappropriate.

Participants also completed a survey that assessed their attitudes toward people who swear, which was used as a measure of each person's likelihood of being offended by profanity and the circumstances in which they might view it as acceptable.

"The eye-tracking software allowed us to see where and for how long readers' attention was directed," Christianson said. "According to binding theory, one of the two popular theories about taboo words' effects, participants' recall should have improved when they read sentences containing taboo words. However, according to global resource theory, the other current popular theory, their memory should have been poorer when a sentence included a taboo word."

Readers devoted more attention to taboo rather than nontaboo words, the eye-tracking software showed. However, context mattered: When saints used taboo words in taboo-appropriate situations, readers spent more time reading both the sentence and the taboo word itself, and their accuracy in recalling the probe words improved.

"Taken together, the results seem to support both global resource theory and binding theory, but only to an extent," Christianson said. "Our finding that a taboo word draws attention - either at the word or sentence level - when a 'saint' utters it in a taboo-appropriate situation is not accounted for by either theory."

Christianson conducted a second experiment in which all of the speakers in the sentences were saints, and readers were alerted at the beginning of each sentence to the taboo status of an upcoming word, i.e., "Everyone was shocked when..."

In that experiment, the participants who were expected to be offended spent greater time focused on the probe words, and their ability to recall them improved - except in surprising contexts, when they spent more time looking at the taboo words or their euphemisms.
"Participants' memory and attentional resources were diminished as their attention was increasingly allocated to the taboo word," Christianson said. "Conversely, as their likelihood of taking offense decreased, the details became more memorable due to the emotionally conditioned but nonthreatening taboo word. An utterance's shock value rises as a function of situational factors and an individual audience member's propensity for offense."

Since neither binding theory nor global resource theory individually accounted for taboo words' effects in the contexts studied, Christianson proposed combining them into a new theory called situated speaker-hearer individual difference theory.

"Strictly speaking, the predictions need not be limited only to taboo words," Christianson said. "However, given the pervasive negative associations and learning situations surrounding taboo words, they are the most likely type of words to display the interactive pattern of pragmatic and emotion-driven effects we found."

U. of I. alumni Peiyun Zhou, Cassie Palmer and Adina Raizen, who collaborated on the research while they were students at the university, co-wrote the paper.
Psychology  Language  db 
yesterday by walt74
The Actual Science of James Damore’s Google Memo
(The changed the headline 3 times for this, from „James Damore's Google Memo gets science all wrong“ to „The pernicious science of James Damores Google Memo“ to „The Actual Science of James Damore’s Google Memo“.)

IN EARLY AUGUST, a Google engineer named James Damore posted a document titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” to an internal online discussion group. His memo was a calm attempt to point out all the ways Google has gone wrong in making gender representation among its employees a corporate priority. And then, on August 5, the memo jumped the fence. Nobody else was calm about it.

It wasn’t a screed or a rant, but, judging by his document, Damore clearly feels that some basic truths are getting ignored—silenced, even—by Google’s bosses. So in response, the engineer adopted a methodology at the core of Google’s culture: He went to look at the data. “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” wants to be a discussion of ideas about diversity through solid, ineluctable science.

The core arguments run to this tune: Men and women have psychological differences that are a result of their underlying biology. Those differences make them differently suited to and interested in the work that is core to Google. Yet Google as a company is trying to create a technical, engineering, and leadership workforce with greater numbers of women than these differences can sustain, and it’s hurting the company.

Damore further says that anyone who tries to talk about that paradox gets silenced—which runs counter to Google’s stated goal of valuing and being friendly to difference. And, maybe helping make his point a little, last Monday Google fired him. Damore is now on a media tour, saying he was fired illegally for speaking truth to power. Hashtag Fired4Truth!

The problem is, the science in Damore’s memo is still very much in play, and his analysis of its implications is at best politically naive and at worst dangerous. The memo is a species of discourse peculiar to politically polarized times: cherry-picking scientific evidence to support a preexisting point of view. It’s an exercise not in rational argument but in rhetorical point scoring. And a careful walk through the science proves it.

The Incoherency Problem

Psychology as a field has been trying to figure out the differences between men and women, if any, for more than a century—paging Dr. Freud, as the saying goes. The results of these efforts are ambiguous. And psychologists are still working on it.

The science of difference is a mushball, and trying to understand differences among populations only makes it messier. Every cognitive or personality trait will have a wide distribution among a given population—sex, ethnicity, nationality, age, whatever—and those distributions may only vary slightly. Which means huge chunks of the population may overlap. For any given trait, men may be more different from each other than from women, let’s say.

That said, Damore’s assertion that men and women think different is actually pretty uncontroversial, and he cites a paper to back it up, from a team led by David Schmitt, a psychologist at Bradley University in Illinois and director of the International Sexuality Description Project. The 2008 article, “Why Can’t a Man Be More Like a Woman? Sex Difference in Big Five Personality Traits Across 55 Cultures,” does indeed seem to show that women rate higher than men in neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.

As always, the issue is the extent of the difference (and what causes it—more on that in a bit). Also, as Damore himself notes: Google hires individuals, not populations.

Damore argues that greater extraversion and agreeableness, on the whole, would make it harder for women to negotiate and stake out leadership positions in an organization, and that higher neuroticism would naturally lead to fewer women in high-stress jobs. The first-order criticism here is easy: Damore oversells the difference cited in the paper. As Schmitt tells WIRED via email, “These sex differences in neuroticism are not very large, with biological sex perhaps accounting for only 10 percent of the variance.” The other 90 percent, in other words, are the result of individual variation, environment, and upbringing.

It is unclear to me that this sex difference would play a role in success within the Google workplace.

A larger problem, though, is measuring the differences in the first place. Personality traits are nebulous, qualitative things, and psychologists still have a lot of different—often conflicting or contradictory—ways to measure them. In fact, the social sciences are rife with these kinds of disagreements, what sociologist Duncan Watts has called an “incoherency problem.” Very smart people studying the same things collect related, overlapping data and then say that data proves wildly different hypotheses, or fits into divergent theoretical frameworks. The incoherency problem makes it hard to know what social science is valid in a given situation.

The impulse to apply those theories to explain human behavior is as strong as it is misguided. Women as a group score higher on neuroticism in Schmitt’s meta-analysis, sure, but he doesn’t buy that you can predict the population-level effects of that difference. “It is unclear to me that this sex difference would play a role in success within the Google workplace (in particular, not being able to handle stresses of leadership in the workplace. That’s a huge stretch to me),” writes Schmitt. So, yes, that’s the researcher Damore cites disagreeing with Damore.

Damore does this over and over again, holding up social science that tries to quantify human variation to support his view of the world. In general, he notes, women prefer to work with people and men prefer to work with things—the implication being that Google is a more thing-oriented workplace, so it just makes sense that fewer women would want to work there. Again, the central assertion here is fairly uncontroversial. “On average—and I emphasize that, on average—men are more interested in thing-oriented occupations and fields, and that difference is actually quite large,” says Richard Lippa, a psychologist at Cal State Fullerton and another of the researchers who Damore cites.

But trying to use that data to explain gender disparities in the workplace is irrelevant at best. “I would assume that women in technical positions at Google are more thing-oriented than the average woman,” Lippa says. “But then an interesting question is, are they more thing-oriented than the average male Google employee? I don’t know the answer to that.”

Semantics aren’t helping here. Is coding a thing- or people-oriented job? What about when you do it in a corporation with 72,000 people? When you’re managing a team of engineers? When you’re trying to marshal support for your proposed expenditure of person-hours versus someone else’s? Which is more thing-oriented, deep neural networks or database optimization?

And maybe the most important question: How useful are psychological studies of the general population when you’re talking about Googlers?

Nature vs. Nurture

Damore essentially forecloses the possibility of changing sex roles and representation at Google—or anywhere, really—by asserting that not only are the differences between men and women significant but that they are at least in part intrinsic. Damore doesn’t assert that biology is the only factor in play, and no scientist does either. But how important biology is to psychology is—again—in heavy dispute.

Here’s Damore’s take: “On average, men and women biologically differ in many ways.”

Nothing to argue about here. If men and women didn’t differ biologically, it would make sexual reproduction very difficult indeed. Also, men and women differ in height (on average), bone mass (on average), and fat, muscle, and body hair distribution (on average). No one thinks those differences are socially constructed.

Damore, though, is saying that differences in cognitive or personality traits—if they exist at all—have both social and biological origins. And those biological origins, he says, are exactly what scientists would predict from an evolutionary perspective.

Evolutionary psychology and its forebear, sociobiology, are themselves problematic fields. Two decades ago evo-psych was all the rage. It’s essential argument: Males and females across species have faced different kinds of pressures on their ability to successfully reproduce—the mechanism, simplistically, through which evolution operates. Those pressures lead to different mating strategies for males and females, which in turn show up as biological and psychological differences—distinctions present in men and women today.

The problem with that set of logical inferences is that it provides a convenient excuse to paint a veneer of shaky science onto “me Tarzan, you Jane” stereotypes. It’s the scientific equivalent of a lazy stand-up comedian joking about how all men dance like this—the idea that nature hardwires our differences. In fact, evolutionary biologists today race to point out that the nature-versus-nurture dichotomy is outdated. No serious scientist finds it to be a credible model.

Internal Messages Show Some Googlers Supported Fired Engineer’s Manifesto

In 2005, Lawrence Summers, then president of Harvard, suggested publicly that women might not have as much “innate ability” as men to succeed in academic disciplines that require advanced mathematical abilities. In response, psychologists got together to assess more than 100 years of work and present a consensus statement about whether Summers was right. They concluded that a wide range of sociocultural forces contribute to sex difference in STEM achievement and ability, including family, neighborhood, school influences, training experiences, cultural … [more]
Google  Googlememo  Feminism  Journalism  db 
yesterday by walt74
Pro-Trump Discord Server 'Centipede Central' Says It's Being Monitored
Discord, a Slack-like chat app originally designed for gamers and the birthplace of some of the internet's most vile memes, announced today that it would take action against hateful rhetoric on its servers.

Several of Discord's popular chat servers have made a name for themselves as a safe haven for white supremacists and those bearing the "alt-right" banner. Not all of Discord is populated by Nazi propaganda (in fact, much of it is delightful), but as the app grew to over 25 million users, Discord has faced criticism for not acting quickly or strongly enough to combat rampant hate speech.

Monday, Discord tweeted that it has shut down the server, which was created in June by the white nationalist website. Richard Spencer is the American Editor of, where he published a racist "Charlottesville Statement" prior to the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday. Other Discord channels that promoted the rally, like the popular r/The_Donald offshoot channel Centipede Central, are still online. Discord told Motherboard that it is "aware" of Centipede Central, and the head moderator of the channel said it's preparing for a crackdown.

"Today, we've shut down the server and a number of accounts associated with the events in Charlottesville," Discord said in a tweet. "We will continue to take action against white supremacy, nazi ideology, and all forms of hate."

I asked Discord whether the company has plans to address other servers' participation in the white supremacist rally and the terror attack in Charlottesville over the weekend—namely Centipede Central.

"We have no further comment on any additional servers or users we are removing right now but we are aware of Centipede Central," Eros Resmini, CMO of Discord, told me in an emailed statement. "We can share that when we are made aware of violations of our community guidelines via any channel, we take immediate action and investigate the server and/or individuals."

Resmini also provided a statement regarding the shutdown of's server:

"We unequivocally condemn white supremacy, neonazism, or any other group, term, ideology that is based on these beliefs. ... We will continue to be aggressive to ensure that Discord exists for the community we set out to support—gamers."

A Centipede Central admin posted an announcement in the server following Discord's statements, explaining that anyone breaking Discord's Terms of Service would be removed. Members' reactions ran the gamut:

A screenshot of the statement from the Centipede Central server.
The lead admin for Centipede Central, who goes by the name Based, told Motherboard that Discord developers showed up in their server today. "I think they're monitoring, weighing whether or not they're going to let us stay or not," Based said in a voice chat. "They're going to have to draw a line somewhere. I'm banking on them drawing the line—we're the limit of where they're willing to let political servers go. We're not going to be encouraging violence or glorifying it."

Though there are "a lot of users in our server who identify as white nationalists," Based said, they aren't planning to drive them out unless they start supporting or inciting violence.

The difference between the posts in Centipede Central and the server is that the altright server's users support the driver of the car that killed one person and injured several others at the rally, Based said. "From my perspective, it looks to me like he murdered or was trying to murder people, and that's completely outside what I would consider good behavior or anything you want to associate with. We're taking a hard line against that kind of stuff. I don't care what side you're on—right or left, you shouldn't have to worry about getting beat up."

Based said that while the Centipede Central server did have an announcement about the Unite the Right rally, admins didn't know it would become violent. "I don't think any of us had an inclination it would be a tiki torch march down the middle of campus and a day of extreme violence."

Based added that admins are telling members to "friend" the staff of the channel on Discord, so that if the server is shut down, they can regroup in a new channel. "We've been on discord for over a year and a half now—if they shut us down, we'll regroup on discord and do some things different if we can to stay alive."
Discord  Nazis  db 
yesterday by walt74
Amateur Sleuths Aim to Identify Charlottesville Marchers, but Sometimes Misfire
After a day of work at the Engineering Research Center at the University of Arkansas, Kyle Quinn had a pleasant Friday night in Bentonville with his wife and a colleague. They explored an art exhibition at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and dined at an upscale restaurant.

Then on Saturday, he discovered that social media sleuths had incorrectly identified him as a participant in a white nationalist rally some 1,100 miles away in Charlottesville, Va. Overnight, thousands of strangers across the country had been working together to share photographs of the men bearing Tiki torches on the University of Virginia campus. They wanted to name and shame them to their employers, friends and neighbors. In a few cases, they succeeded.

But Mr. Quinn’s experience showed the risks.

A man at the rally had been photographed wearing an “Arkansas Engineering” shirt, and the amateur investigators found a photo of Mr. Quinn that looked somewhat similar. They were both bearded and had similar builds.

By internet frenzy standards, that was proof enough.

View image on Twitter
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Ferris Bueller @YoungWaxGod
This isn't KYLE QUINN .:. Who is he ??? #Namethenazi ???? .:.
10:21 PM - Aug 13, 2017
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Mr. Quinn, who runs a laboratory dedicated to wound-healing research, was quickly flooded with vulgar messages on Twitter and Instagram, he said in an interview on Monday. Countless people he had never met demanded he lose his job, accused him of racism and posted his home address on social networks.


Kyle Quinn Credit Jennifer Mortensen
Fearing for their safety, he and his wife stayed with a colleague this weekend.

“You have celebrities and hundreds of people doing no research online, not checking facts,” he said. “I’ve dedicated my life to helping all people, trying to improve health care and train the next generation of scientists, and this is potentially throwing a wrench in that.”

Continue reading the main story

A Guide to the Charlottesville Aftermath AUG. 13, 2017

Far-Right Groups Surge Into National View in Charlottesville AUG. 13, 2017

Before Charlottesville, a String of Killings Raised the Specter of Far-Right Violence AUG. 14, 2017
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For someone whose only sin was a passing resemblance to someone else — the actual man in the Charlottesville photo has not been conclusively identified — Mr. Quinn bore the direct consequences of the reckless spread of misinformation in breaking news, a common ritual in modern news events.

There is considerable controversy around the practice of “doxxing,” a term for publicly identifying — often with sensitive personal details like addresses, phone numbers and employer information — people who were otherwise anonymous or semi-anonymous. Many social media platforms, including Twitter, consider it a violation of their rules.

But it is also a standard practice in journalism to track down and identify individuals caught up in a public news event. While professional news organizations have had their fair share of misidentifications, the ability of anyone to launch a name to national prominence with a few mistaken retweets has heightened the likelihood of destructive mistakes.

In the case of Charlottesville, social media users hoped identifying rally participants would lead to real-world consequences for racism. One Twitter account, @YesYoureRacist, was retweeted tens of thousands of times by people trying to help name the men in several photos.

The internet vigilantes claimed some successes over the weekend. One rally participant, Cole White, resigned from his job at a hot dog restaurant in Berkeley, Calif., according to Berkeleyside.

“The actions of those in Charlottesville are not supported by Top Dog,” the restaurant said in a sign that was posted on Sunday.

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Another man, Peter Tefft, was repudiated by his entire family in a letter to The Forum, a North Dakota newspaper. Signed by the man’s father, the letter said he would no longer be welcome at family gatherings.

And Peter Cvjetanovic, 20, of Reno, Nev., was forced to defend himself after a picture of him shouting at the rally spread widely. He confirmed it was him but told KTVN-TV that “I’m not the angry racist they see in that photo.”

While the @YesYoureRacist account was one of the most visible leaders in the name-and-shame effort, it also made a misstep. The account apologized for using an old photo of Joey Salads, a YouTube star, from a different event in which Mr. Salads said he was wearing an armband with a swastika as an “experiment.” He was not at the rally. And the person behind @YesYoureRacist — who could not be reached for comment — was the target of an apparent doxxing by another Twitter user, who posted what appeared to be phone numbers and other personal information. Twitter deleted that tweet and suspended the account.

As news organizations have learned — sometimes through high-profile mistakes — misidentifying a person accused of wrongdoing can have bad consequences, from lawsuits to a loss of credibility.

Journalists at Storyful, a news agency that verifies social media content, aim to find eight to 10 pieces of corroborating information before confirming an identity, said Ben Decker, a research coordinator. Identification must be approved by several editors, he said. (The New York Times is a Storyful client, and Mr. Decker works directly with The Times.)

Simply looking at a photo can often lead to mistakes. There’s a lot of potential for human error related to lighting, positioning, how much of the face is seen, and how many similar faces are in the world, Mr. Decker said.

Having a name isn’t enough, either. For example, there are several men with military backgrounds in the United States named James Alex Fields, the name of the man charged in Saturday’s fatal attack with a car on protesters in Charlottesville, Mr. Decker said. An attempt at confirming an identity in that case would have required a date of birth and address, at least.

As for Mr. Quinn, the University of Arkansas professor, he fell victim to a resemblance to one of the rally participants, but the possibility that he was there wouldn’t have held up with more careful checking, Mr. Decker said. Such mistakes routinely happen during amateur sleuthing, he said.

“There’s ostensibly a very quick jump into the first detail that emerges,” he said.

People who then try to correct the record often feel drowned out by the false information.

Mark Popejoy, an art director in Bentonville, Ark., attempted to correct dozens of Twitter accounts that had inaccurately pegged Mr. Quinn as the Charlottesville rally participant. He would point out that the University of Arkansas had confirmed that Mr. Quinn was not involved, and ask that the Twitter users delete their erroneous tweets.

While some appreciated the new information, others adamantly refused to change their minds, he said in an interview on Monday. He said he didn’t know Mr. Quinn but sympathized with his position.

“I think it’s dangerous just to go out accusing people without any kind of confirmation of who they are,” he said. “It can ruin people’s lives.”
Outrage  OutrageMemetics  Nazis  db  Charlottesville 
yesterday by walt74
Timescale | an open-source time-series SQL database optimized for fast ingest, complex queries and scale.
An open-source time-series database fully compatible with Postgres for fast ingest and complex queries.
timeseries  db  database  postgresql  time  postgres  sql 
2 days ago by eownis
Opaleye tutorials : haskell
haskell database query-constructing library using arrows
haskell  database  db  library 
2 days ago by tswaterman
Gender-Studies: Der Rufmord
Judith Butler und Sabine Hark werfen mir und der Zeitschrift "Emma" Rassismus vor. Da zeigt sich die Kluft zwischen Theorie und Wirklichkeit dieser Berufs-Denkerinnen.
Von Alice Schwarzer

Der Beitrag in der aktuellen Emma, um den es geht, ist vom ehemaligen Gender-Studenten Vojin Saša Vukadinović verfasst und basiert auf der Textsammlung Beißreflexe. Darin kritisieren Queer-Aktivisten ihre eigene Szene. Bereits als das Buch erschien, gab es heftige Kontroversen, wurde den Autoren Gewalt, ja "Waffengewalt" angedroht. Nun, nachdem Emma der Debatte Raum gegeben hat, reagierten Judith Butler und Sabine Hark persönlich und antworteten in der ZEIT. Und sie reagierten heftig.

Die Chefdenkerin der Queer-Theorie, Judith Butler, unterstellt Emma nicht nur undifferenziertes Denken und "Hassreden", sondern sogar Rassismus. Ein Argument, das uns definitiv ins Unrecht setzen soll. Bezeichnend auch, dass es in dem Text vor allem um die Form und kaum um Inhalte geht. Und das wohl nicht zufällig in einer schwer zugänglichen, selbstreferenziellen Sprache, die nicht auf Kommunikation oder gar Verständnis angelegt ist. Der Linguistin Butler müsste das bewusst sein.

Doch der Reihe nach. Worum geht es eigentlich wirklich? Es geht um zwei Sichten auf die Welt, um gegensätzliche politische Konzepte. Das verdeutlicht sich an drei Themen: den Geschlechtern, den Juden und den Muslimen. Immer ist da eine Kluft: eine Kluft zwischen (hehrer) Theorie beziehungsweise Ideologie und (niederer) Wirklichkeit.

Ich kann nicht voraussetzen, dass alle ZEIT-Leser mit den Gender-Theorien vertraut sind, denn die sind außerhalb des akademischen Milieus entweder unbekannt oder zur Karikatur verzerrt. Ersteres liegt auch daran, dass die Gender-Theorien sich einer lebensabgewandten, elitären Sprache bedienen – die Kritik an der Herrschaftssprache aus den sechziger Jahren scheint vergessen. Letzteres liegt daran, dass sie an den Grundfesten der Geschlechterordnung rütteln. Wir Feministinnen kennen das. Wir tun das ja schon länger.

Hier also in groben Zügen die Positionen. Der 1990 erschienene Essay Das Unbehagen der Geschlechter von Butler löste den Wechsel von der Frauen- oder Geschlechterforschung zur "Gender-Forschung" aus. Dabei handelte es sich nicht wirklich um einen Paradigmenwechsel, eher um neue Begrifflichkeiten für das alte Problem. Das (biologische) Geschlecht und die (soziale) Geschlechterrolle hießen nun sex and gender, Begriffe aus der amerikanischen Sexualforschung. Für Butler ist nicht nur Gender relativ, sondern auch Sex; also nicht nur die Geschlechterrolle, sondern auch das Geschlecht selbst. Was konsequent ist. Denn in dem Moment, wo die Geschlechterrolle nicht mehr zwingend an ein biologisches Geschlecht gebunden ist, verliert es seine Bedeutung.

DIE ZEIT 33/2017
Dieser Artikel stammt aus der ZEIT Nr. 33/2017. Hier können Sie die gesamte Ausgabe lesen.
Butler ist beileibe nicht die Erste, die so argumentiert, handelt es sich bei der Infragestellung des "kleinen Unterschiedes" doch um den Kern des feministischen Denkens. So schrieb Simone de Beauvoir schon 1949 in Das andere Geschlecht den Jahrhundertsatz: "Man wird nicht als Frau geboren, man wird es." Will sagen: Geschlecht ist nicht biologisch, sondern kulturell, ist Prägung; konstruiert, wie es heute heißt – kann also auch dekonstruiert werden. Könnte.

Und genau an dieser Stelle fängt das Problem mit Butler und ihrer Anhängerschaft an. Sie halten ihre radikalen Gedankenspiele für Realität. Sie suggerieren, jeder Mensch könnte hier und jetzt sein, wonach ihm gerade zumute ist. Und er, der Mensch, müsse auch keinesfalls wählen zwischen zwei Geschlechtern, schließlich gäbe es viele Spielarten und Facetten der Geschlechteridentität. Einfach queer sein!

Was für ein schöner Gedanke. Einfach Mensch sein. Das wär’s doch. Die feministische Utopie an sich.

Doch die Verhältnisse, die sind nicht so. Leider sind wir in der bunten Welt der Queerness noch nicht angekommen. Noch sind Menschen in den Augen der anderen – meist auch in ihren eigenen – Frauen oder Männer (und nur selten, wenn auch zunehmend, dazwischen). Oder weiß, schwarz et cetera. Doch so allgegenwärtig in der Queerszene die Sensibilität für Rassismus ist, so abwesend ist der Sexismus, das Wissen um das Machtverhältnis der Geschlechter. Ja selbst das Wort "Frau" ist abgeschafft oder nur noch mit einem angehängten * zulässig. Will sagen: Frau soll jeder Mensch, der sich situativ als Frau versteht, sein können – unabhängig von Sozialisation und Biologie.

In der Realität jedoch sind die weiblichen Menschen in unserer Kultur weiterhin die Anderen, es gilt für sie ein anderes Maß als für Männer. Entsprechend sind sie zum Beispiel in erster Linie zuständig für Einfühlsamkeit und Fürsorge, Kinder und Haushalt, sie verdienen weniger und können selbst in Liebesbeziehungen Opfer von (sexueller) Gewalt werden. In anderen Kulturen – wie in islamischen, in denen die Scharia Gesetz ist – geht es noch viel ärger zu. Da sind Frauen vollends relative Wesen, sind rechtlose Mündel von Vater, Bruder oder Ehemann, werden in den fundamentalistisch-islamischen Ländern unter das Kopftuch oder den Ganzkörperschleier gezwungen und aus dem öffentlichen Raum verbannt. Sie riskieren schon beim kleinsten Ausbruch aus der Frauenrolle ihr Leben.

Diese Verhältnisse werden von Butler im Namen einer "Andersheit der Anderen" gerechtfertigt. So erklärte die in Berkeley lebende und lehrende Butler 2003 in einem Interview zum Beispiel zur Burka: "Sie symbolisiert, dass eine Frau bescheiden ist und ihrer Familie verbunden; aber auch, dass sie nicht von der Massenkultur ausgebeutet wird und stolz auf ihre Familie und Gemeinschaft ist." Und weiter im O-Ton: "Die Burka zu verlieren bedeutet mithin auch, einen gewissen Verlust dieser Verwandtschaftsbande zu erleiden, den man nicht unterstützen sollte. Der Verlust der Burka kann eine Erfahrung von Entfremdung und Zwangsverwestlichung mit sich bringen."

Das geriert sich einfühlsam und edel, ist aber lebensfern und zynisch. Die algerische Politikerin Khalida Toumi (ehemals Messaoudi) nennt diese Art von Kulturrelativismus die "Kulturfalle": zweierlei Maß in Sachen Menschen-/Frauen-Rechte im Namen einer kulturellen Differenz.

Ist das ein Missverständnis?

Vor allem aber: Millionen zwangsverschleierte Frauen in der islamischen Welt, die davon träumen, die Welt und den Himmel sehen zu dürfen, werden eine solche Rechtfertigung der Burka durch eine amerikanische Intellektuelle als reinen Hohn empfinden. Verstärkt vor dem Hintergrund, dass Judith Butler selbst sich die – von der Frauen- und Homo-Bewegung erkämpfte! – Freiheit nimmt, mit einer Frau verheiratet zu sein. Für ihre "Andersheit" würde Butler in diesen von ihr so generös verteidigten anderen Kulturen mindestens geächtet, im schlimmsten Fall getötet werden.

Die Akzeptanz des "Anderen" muss also da ihre Grenzen haben, wo es um elementarste Menschenrechte geht. Und diese Menschenrechte sind weder okzidental noch orientalisch, sie sind human und universell. (Auch wenn der Begriff Menschenrechte seit einigen Jahren politisch missbraucht wird für ganz andere Interessen, wie bei den hegemonialen Interventionen. Aber das ist wieder ein anderes Thema.)

In ihrem ZEIT-Text räsonieren ausgerechnet Judith Butler und Sabine Hark (Leiterin des Zentrums für Interdisziplinäre Frauen- und Geschlechterforschung an der TU Berlin), sie wollten "zurückhaltender und bedachter mit apodiktisch daherkommenden Verallgemeinerungen" umgehen und "Begrifflichkeiten wählen, die Ambivalenzen auszudrücken erlauben. Die totalisierende und versämtlichende Sichtweisen zurückweist." Kurzum, sie wollten, "die Welt teilen, ohne die Andersheit der Anderen auszulöschen".

Wer will schon Andere "auslöschen"? Die Emma! Ist das ein Missverständnis? Nein, es hat Methode. Denn Kritikerinnen, denen man unterstellt, sie seien Rassistinnen niederer Machart, die den eigenen hohen Gedanken kaum folgen können, solche Kritikerinnen brauchen den Mund gar nicht mehr erst aufzumachen. Sie sind schon von vorneherein erledigt.

Der Ton von Butler und Hark verschärft sich beim Thema Islam. Die Politisierung des Islams mit all ihren Folgen – von der rigiden Geschlechtertrennung bis hin zum blutigen Terror – wird seit Jahrzehnten von aufgeklärten Muslimen ebenso bekämpft wie von universell denkenden Westlern, aber das ignorieren diese selbst ernannten "Anti-Rassistinnen" geflissentlich. Bei ihrer Kritik an der "Kritik am Islam" (was bedacht heißen müsste: Islamismus) fällt ihnen nur drohende "Verwestlichung" und "Freiwilligkeit" der Kopftuch- und Burka-Trägerinnen ein. Haben die erklärten Anti-Rassistinnen da eigentlich keine Angst vor dem sonst so gerne beschworenen "Beifall von der falschen Seite", nämlich der Islamisten?

Da ist es nur folgerichtig, dass Butler 2010 auch den "Zivilcourage-Preis" des Berliner CSD abgelehnt hat. Argument: Die Verantwortlichen des CSD seien "Rassisten". Warum? Weil einige von ihnen gewagt hatten, die Schwulenfeindlichkeit in der arabischen und türkischen Community zu thematisieren. Dazu von der taz befragt, antwortete Butler 2010: Man solle sich lieber um die homophoben Attacken der Neonazis kümmern. "Was ist mit dem Zusammenhang von Homophobie und rechtsextremen Bewegungen?", fragt sie vorwurfsvoll. Nun, einmal abgesehen davon, dass auch Islamisten Rechtsextreme sind, ist es doch erstaunlich, dass eine Wissenschaftlerin aus Berkeley, die auch mal in Heidelberg studiert hat, noch nicht einmal zu ahnen scheint, dass genau zu dieser Frage in Deutschland und Europa seit einem halben Jahrhundert geforscht wird. Denn in der Tat: Der männerbündische Faschismus ist, ganz wie der Islamismus, auch – nicht nur, aber eben auch – eine gesteigerte Form des Männlichkeitswahns.

Doch dererlei Defizite konnten den Ruf der Berufs-Denkerin nicht schmälern. Im Jahr 2012 erhielt Judith Butler den Adorno-Preis. Dagegen protestierte … [more]
Feminism  db 
2 days ago by walt74
Presto | Distributed SQL Query Engine for Big Data
Distributed SQL Query Engine for Big Data - Added November 30, 2016 at 12:24PM
data-engineering  db  devtools  distributed-systems 
3 days ago by xenocid
The President Is The Nation: The Central Metaphor Trump Lives By
Metaphors in the Brain

We know from neuroscience that most thought is unconscious, carried out by neural circuitry. In Metaphors We Live By, Mark Johnson and I showed that much of that unconscious thought is metaphorical, and further, that we often live our lives according to those metaphors. A simple example, we understand time as a money-like resource, seen in expressions like saving time, wasting time, budgeting our time, and putting some time aside to see friends. Many of us budget our time, worry about wasting time, and try to save time. We not only take the metaphors as real but we act according to the metaphors — and in fact much our social and business reality is structured by those metaphors, which reinforces their effect. Given human brains, living by metaphor is normal and probably unavoidable.

The Central Trump Metaphor

Louis XIV, King of France, was famous for saying, L’état, c’est moi — I am the state — a metaphor that a king could live by, or at least try to. Roger Cohen, on May 19, 2017, in a NY Times op-ed titled L’état, c’est Trump, pointed out ways in which Trump has acted as if he had absolute power, like a despot. True. But there is a lot more to say. When John Lengacher and I closely analyzed language coming out of the White House, it became clear that Trump has internalized and has been living by a central metaphor: THE PRESIDENT IS THE NATION.

What Ideas and Actions Follow

The job of senior government officials is to serve the nation. Under this metaphor, their job is to “serve the President.”
The American people swear allegiance, that is, support to their nation. Under the metaphor, the phrase “the American people” comes to mean the supporters of the President. Thus, “The American people want …” means Trump supporters want…” “The American People love the President” means the President’s supporters love the President.
National security becomes the security of the President. The security of the President can be threatened in many ways.
He could be shown by the Mueller investigation to be a criminal, doing money-laundering and associated racketeering with the Russian mafia and American mafia figures.
He or his closest associates and family members could be shown by the Mueller investigation to have colluded with the Russians in their attack on the 2016 election. The Mueller investigation thus becomes a threat to the President’s security, and an enemy attack to be countered and ended. That his why he has attacked Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself, which led to the appointment of Mueller. The President sees the Attorney General as having the job of protecting his security.
Since revelations by the press also endanger the President’s security, the President sees the press as his enemy and, via this metaphor, calls the press the enemy of the American people.

The President’s tax returns could show Russian involvement or money laundering in his business, and so the revealing of his tax returns would be a threat to his security.

The legitimacy of his election could be questioned, for example, by the 3.5 million vote majority of Hillary showing that he is a minority president. The facts of Hillary’s majority must therefore be shown to false, say, by show that the votes were fraudulent.
Trust in the President could be undermined by revelations of underhanded immoral or illegal things he is doing.

The Emoluments Clause of the Constitution makes it crime to profit from the Presidency. Therefore, showing that the President purposely acts so as to profit from the Presidency is unconstitutional and a possible basis for impeachment.

“Leaks.” The “leak” frame is about national security leaks: truths that could harm national security is revealed to the public or enemies of the nation. Under the metaphor, “leaks” become truths that could harm the security of the President. Since national security leaks are crimes against the nation — unpatriotic and un-American, so under the metaphor, “leaks” threatening Presidential security become crimes against the nation that are unpatriotic and un-American, matters for the Justice Department and the FBI to look into and for the Justice Department to prosecute.

This explains the much-publicized call that then-communications director Anthony Scaramucci placed to Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker, which Lizza recorded and later published. Scaramucci had gone on a rampage to stop leaks. Lizza had tweeted that “ a senior White House official” informed him of an important meeting at the White House with Scaramucci, the President, Sean Hannity, and others. Scaramucci called Lizza and demanded that Lizza name his source. Lizza refused. Scaramucci then said, “You’re an American citizen, this is a major catastrophe for the American country. So I’m asking you as an American patriot to give me a sense of who leaked it.” This makes sense only if you assume that the “leak” was a breach of national security. That follows from the metaphor.

The President and the conservative members of the Republican Party share what I have called Strict Father Morality and all the policy positions that follow from that view of what is right and wrong. But the Republican Party does not believe in the President-as-the-Nation metaphor, since it elects legislators and the Legislative branch is a check within the nation on the authority of the President. This created a potential threat to the security of the President and a tension between Reince Preibus and both the President and Anthony Scaramucci. The President depends on the Republican Party both to carry out the policies he shares with conservative Republicans. But, since they failed on health care, his rationale for keeping Preibus was no longer operative and Preibus had to go. He also depends on the Republican Party to help maintain his security. But in the case of Jeff Sessions’ recusal, Republicans support Sessions, who is a former Republican senator and one of their own.
What the Metaphor Explains

From all of these considerations, it seems clear that the President is living by the metaphor, with enormous repercussions for our nation and the world. We see this in his speeches, his tweets, and his official actions. It also explains the tension with Reince Preibus and why Preibus had to be replaced.

How Can Progressives Counter The Metaphor and Its Effect.

As one of the discoverers and principal analysts of conceptual metaphors and their power, I have an obligation to report how this metaphor works and the effects it has. As an American citizen, I have the obligation to make these findings public so that it can be countered.


We need to reveal the existence of the metaphor. That is why I have written this paper, and why the paper has to be sent out far and wide and its contents spread both by the mainstream media and social media. Pass this paper on to both the mainstream media outlets and to your friends on social media.
We need to shift the frame to undermine the metaphor. We and the media have messages to be communicated. Each message must point out to the White House staff and members of the administration that they serve the nation, not the president, in a myriad of ways. Go through the list of nation’s needs:
On health care, the duty to the 22 million people whose needed care would be eliminated under republican plans
On the environment, global warming, weather disaster, and sea level rise. Cite examples.
On the rights of transgender people, 15,000 of whom are serving in the military.
On gun violence and the need to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill and criminals.
on Russia’s threat to democracy both at home and in many other countries, from Ukraine and Georgia to the Baltic states;
and on and on, go down the list.
In example after example, the job of those in the administration is to serve the nation first in all cases, rather than serving the president. The message must be constant in mainstream and social media every day, in every part of the country. And it has to become part of electoral campaigns in red districts. Patriotism is about the nation.

(3) Since the metaphor is inconsistent with the Republican role in Congress, press Republicans to choose to serve the nation over the President.
DonaldTrump  db 
3 days ago by walt74
Why Meritocracy Doesn’t Work
Reading the mystery Googler’s anti-diversity manifesto really pissed me off. The least of the problems was his terrible use of footnotes.

Inclusive Diverse Team

It’s easy to have a knee-jerk reaction, so I’m not going to go into all the bad arguments because frankly there are too many. If someone can’t identify the issues with citing biological differences as a basis for discrimination, it’s not likely that logic or research is going to sway their mind.

I would like to have a serious discussion about diversity, but I’m not going to treat racist and sexist claims as if they qualify for serious discussion.

So if we’re going to seriously discuss the actual intellectual arguments that genuinely smart people seem to actually believe in, I’ll try and dust off my philosophy brain. I strongly encourage anyone to find the holes in this argument and then build it up to make it better as I’m going to skip over or simplify some things.

This may invite a lot of trolls, but so be it. The one upside to the recent sexual harassment scandals in venture capital and the mystery Googler’s anti-diversity manifesto is that now we can see the issue in broad daylight.

I would rather see the issue and speak out against it than be in the dark or be silent.

I will focus on one claim that seems to be the general undercurrent of all anti-diversity arguments in the valley: Meritocracy is the best form of governance.

Faith in Meritocracy

There is an absolute insistence and faith in meritocracy from many, many people in Silicon Valley.[1] In case you’re not familiar, a meritocracy is a political system where power is allocated to those with the most ability. In the case of Silicon Valley, this equates to “the best ideas win and the best people get promoted.”

Best ideas win, best people get promoted

The idea that Silicon Valley is a functioning meritocracy is then used as a basis for saying that policies like affirmative action and diversity quotas are bad. I am not agreeing with this argument, just making sure the argument against diversity policies is clear.

The basic argument is:

This is a meritocracy.
Meritocracy is good.
In a meritocracy, only ability is considered for advancement.
Diversity policies require factors outside of ability to be considered for advancement.
Therefore diversity policies undermine meritocracy.
Therefore diversity policies are bad.
Diversity at Euclid Co.

To make this simpler and more concrete, let’s say we have a company called Euclid Co. with a population of 60 blue squares and 40 red triangles. We have 10 job openings for senior polygon, and only 10 percent of the population is qualified for this position. This means 6 blue squares qualify and 4 red triangles qualify. Let’s assume that the population outside of Euclid Co. is 50 percent blue squares and 50 percent red triangles.6 blues to 4 reds

The meritocracy argument says that any diversity quota that dictates that the jobs be given to a 50-50 split to match the population would be unfair. This is because only 4 red triangles qualify, so the sixth blue square is going to be shut out of its dream job because a red triangle is going to be randomly allocated to the senior polygon position that they don’t deserve.

The blue square is sad.

Sad Blue Square

How Meritocracies Really Work

This argument equates any diversity policy designed to combat discrimination with discrimination against the majority. It flips the anti-discrimination argument like this:

Discrimination is bad.
Diversity policies are discriminatory.
Therefore diversity policies are bad.
Essentially it challenges anyone campaigning against discrimination to justify why their diversity policy isn’t discriminatory and regards any such policy as an undeserved handout.

To put it even simpler, the meritocracy argument says that diversity policies tilt the level playing field in favor of the undeserving.

Bias in Big Company Hierarchies

Let’s reset the scenario at Euclid Co. and see what happens when we introduce bias. We’ll make the company bigger so the math is easier. There are 60,000 blue squares and 40,000 red triangles. There are 10,000 senior polygon positions open, and 10 percent of the population is qualified: 6,000 blue squares and 4,000 red triangles.

Unfortunately, there is a small bias in the promotion process. In a 100 question skill assessment, one of the questions is, “Why are 90 degree angles the most perfect type of angle?”

Red triangles, of course, don’t understand the question because they enjoy all sorts of angles. They are triangles, after all, and come in all sorts of angles, whereas squares only have 90 degree angles. So the triangles get the question wrong, and the squares get it right.

Confused Red Triangle from 1 percent bias

However, believing that a 90 degree angle is perfect doesn’t have much impact on the job performance of a senior polygon and there are lots of other questions that don’t predict job performance. So let’s imagine that this question or another similar factor has introduced a minor 1 percent bias.

This small 1 percent bias means that 11 percent of blue squares are considered for promotion and only 9 percent of red triangles are considered. That’s 6,600 “qualified” blue squares and 3,600 “qualified” red triangles —10,200 candidates total.

So if there are only 10,000 positions open and they are divided evenly among the pool of candidates, we will get 6,471 senior blue squares and 3,529 senior red triangles.

This small 1 percent bias has already resulted in a loss of representation. From 40 percent to 35.29 percent.

Continuing this math with the same small 1 percent bias, we will have only 30.86 percent red triangles represented at the VP level, 26.75 percent represented at the senior VP level, and down to 23 percent at the C level.

More levels of seniority will compound biased representation. In other words, hierarchies amplify any bias in the system.

(For those wondering, even a “small” company of only 2000 people can have 9 levels of seniority. Also, yes…the lack of diversity in the U.S. Congress probably has something to do with this phenomenon.)

The Bias of a Growing Company

Some will argue, “We don’t have hierarchies. We don’t even have titles!”

First, get real. Even when we remove titles, people sort themselves into a pecking order. People use other ways of indicating social status, including who talks first and last in meetings. But okay, let’s just assume that Euclid Co. has no hierarchies.

Will this lack of hierarchy eliminate the problem? Maybe, but only if that company doesn’t hire anyone.

Let’s say that Euclid Co. starts with a small population of 5 red triangles and 5 blue squares, and there are no promotions. Euclid Co. is going to grow from 10 people to about 10,000 — every Silicon Valley company’s dream.

As Euclid Co. starts to grow, there is a slight 1 percent bias in the hiring process that gives new blue square hires an 11 percent chance of getting the job and red triangles a 9 percent chance of getting the job.

In the beginning, this makes very little difference. By the time Euclid Co. is ~20 people it will be ~51.58 percent blue and ~48.42 percent red. But things quickly escalate.

By the time the company is ~10,000 people, it will be 69.69 percent blue and 30.31 percent red. Again a pretty radical problem in representation introduced by a relatively small bias over time just by a bad hiring process.

It’s true that we don’t hire fractional people so the math here is off. However, rounding the hiring bias makes the situation worse. With standard rounding, the company will be 76.19 percent blue at just 21 people and 99.95 percent blue at ~10,000 people.Time Clock

Time will amplify any bias inherent in the system.

Meritocracy by Democracy

Of course, some will say, “Our hiring process has no biases.” The variant of this that I have heard is, “Our hiring process has no biases because it’s peer-to-peer and we vote.”

This is a kind of magical “democracy beats racism” in a meritocracy argument. Unfortunately, in a democracy, discrimination can go viral.

Let’s say blue squares are really biased and only hire other blue squares. Red triangles hire only red triangles. Clearly no problem. Everyone is equally biased and the representation will remain proportional.

However, if only one part of the population is biased, problems show up quickly. Let’s say that blue squares only hire blue squares while red squares hire equally.

If the population starts at 50 red and 50 blue, in just one round of hiring, blue will hire another 50 blues. Red will meanwhile hire 25 reds and 25 blues. So in just one round, there will be 62.50 percent blue and 37.5 percent red.

Democracy Can Actually Help

It’s worth digging out a spreadsheet and playing with the numbers in many of these scenarios because a relatively fair-minded population can erase a lot of biases over a sufficient length of time by voting. If you’re more technically minded, try playing with genetic algorithms to see the same thing.

It gets very interesting when constraints are put on the population, such as a limited number of senior polygon positions, limited venture capital funding, limited housing, and so forth. But that’s too complicated for a Sunday night essay.

The end result is that if blue is only slightly biased, this effect may be relatively insignificant and the bias in representation can approach a limit. However, that’s the point. If people make great decisions, democracy is great.

This greatness requires two things:

All people are perfectly rational.
All people have access to perfect information.
Neither of these are true.

Even if the counterargument is, “In our company we make perfectly rational decisions,” it doesn’t matter. There just has to be some bias somewhere in the system for things … [more]
Meritocracy  Googlememo  Google  Diversity  db 
3 days ago by walt74

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