Author Archives: illuvitus

Some Binary Skepticism

I’ll continue two things today: the longest streak of posts I’ve written on this blog to date (a trend I hope continues), and another unrelated topic to my previous posts (which can’t go on forever, can it?). This topic isn’t too deep and it isn’t too controversial, but it’s been on my mind. It’s nice to take a break from pressing issues.

A number of memes have made their way onto my monitor in the past few weeks about extroversion and introversion. I remembered reading a blog post years ago on the topic, and managed to find it. I highly recommend it.

While I usually hear the term “binary” used by radical inhumanists who deny our sexual reproductive nature, I think the binary of introversion and extroversion really does deserve some scrutiny. Back in middle and high school, I considered myself an introvert. I was quiet, shy, and didn’t have too many friends. But even back then, I noticed that something strange would happen as I’d spend time with people I knew well: My personality would change.

It took many years to think about the ramifications of that fact, but it seems pretty obvious now. There’s really no such thing as an introvert or an extrovert. One particular meme I’ve come across presents the two as getting “energy” from different sources; the introvert from time alone and the extrovert from time spent with others. The implication is that “energy” would be drained by spending time with others (for the introvert) or spending time alone (for the extrovert). But “energy” is ambiguous. And I can’t think of anyone who could spend every waking moment in conversation with other people or totally isolated for years on end. At some point, we need time to ourselves, and at other points, we need time with others. The ratios may be different, but they probably change over time and with different circumstances.

As the blog mentioned early says, people who claim to be extroverts are happier and have more productive, full lives. You can spend your time concerned with placing yourself into (what seem to be) arbitrary categories, but that’s a waste. Better to spend time on simply acting in the way you’d like to act. If you want the benefits of being an extrovert – just act that way.

It seems at first like this is asking too much. I suspect several friends of mine would think so. But I have some genuine personal experience that lets me know it’s possible. Even today, it takes work for me to make small talk and even leave my home sometimes. But I do the work anyway, and reap the rewards for it. I rarely enjoy going to big events, but I go anyway.

I put the suggestions in that post to work, and predictable results followed: Despite my personality being about what it was over a decade ago, I now lead teams, give presentations, and speak in front of groups all without any problems. I still dread it sometimes, and as I said, it still takes work to pull it off – more than it might for others. But I do it anyway. None of this is to boast, but to say it can be done. And now that I know it, I find the terms “introvert” and “extrovert” to be without any good use. While real binaries exist (like the sexual binary), there’s no need to invent new ones and then force oneself into them permanently.

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The American Propaganda Assocation

The American Psychological Association just published this, and it’s breathtaking.

APA issues first-ever guidelines for practice with men and boys

The article is full of political claims that might as well have been spoken by Democrat operatives. A full display of ignorance regarding the economy and incentives is only matched by the total failure to understand (or even recognize) the differences between men and women – something a PSYCHOLOGY organization ought to have mastered.

But lets be honest. The APA doesn’t really care about science. It’s just a bunch of ideologues who are bad at philosophy doing philosophy while pretending to be scientists.

This should have already been obvious since they’ve changed their categories for mental illness in response to threats from lobbyists.

Unlike real medicine where there are observable facts like “this leg is broken”, the APA gets to define “health” in any arbitrary way they want. They’ve settled on pure relativism: mental health is what ever you, the patient, want it to be. Imagine a surgeon asking you what you consider a “healthy heart” and then doing whatever you ask in the operating room.

Replace “surgeon” with “therapist” and “heart” with “mind”, and that’s exactly what the APA defines as mental health. That’s why they don’t say pedophilia is a mental illness, but -guilt- about pedophilia is. Because guilt is bad (you don’t want it), but unnatural desires are good (they are things you want).

The APA has outdone themselves with this far-left-feminist-ideology-as-science though. As someone who has studied and worked in hard science fields, my intelligence is under assault every time I read anything this organization publishes.

h/t Captain Capitalism

Federal Welfare Is a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

This can be demonstrated by syllogism:

  1. Welfare effectively replaces fathers as provider and patriarch of a family
  2. Broken homes (single-mothers with children) are the primary source of poverty and crime*
  3. The poor overwhelmingly vote for federal welfare
  4. Therefore, given (1) and (2), welfare causes poverty
  5. Therefore, given (3) and (4), welfare causes welfare

Welfare necessitates more welfare and creates poverty, crime, broken homes, mental health problems, sexual confusion, psychological disorders, addictions, school dropouts, and ghettos along the way.

It’s not hard to determine that it is utterly immoral to vote for politicians who embrace these policies of federal largess. No Christian should ever do so.


*”Crime in America”, “Adolescent Personality and Behavior”, “The Feminine Mystique”, hundreds of studies

Presuppositional Apologetics as a Weak Point

This post will be brief, but I’ll still provide a disclaimer: Theologically conservative Reformed churches are Christian churches, and this topic is an internal one between fellow Christians. I myself am not a Calvinist (for what I believe are very good reasons), but I don’t deny that Calvinists have true Christian faith. With that out of the way…

Reformed theologian Cornelius Van Til developed the concept of presuppositional apologetics (PA from here on out in this post) as a result of his theological work. When you combine the central tenets of Calvinism and push them to their most extreme form, you end up with the view that nothing in the entire world can be properly understood without the “light of the main doctrines of Christianity”, in Van Til’s words. In his mind, there is no such thing as a neutral ground of reason where both Christian and non can debate ideas. Even offering evidences outside of Christianity thus grants non-Christians their own presuppositions, meaning an apologist fails before he starts*.

If PA is the naturally outworking of a fully formed Reformed theological system, though, we have a problem. The Bible has many accounts where evidence is offered to non-Christians. The context of these passages makes it clear that such evidence is offered to convince people of the truth of Christianity (Jesus does this, for example, with His miracles and His fulfillment of prophecy. Paul does it as well, “reasoning” with the Greeks).

That means Jesus Himself and the Apostles don’t seem to understand the importance of PA, which is unattested in Scripture. More likely, Jesus and the Apostles do not see the value in PA (if they did, they presumably would have used that tactic).

This isn’t just a problem for PA, though. If PA really is the logical outworking of a strong Calvinist theology, then to reject PA is to reject the theological framework which necessitates it. That makes PA a huge liability for extreme Calvinists:

  • Logical conclusion of reformed theology -> Presuppositional apologetics
  • Presuppositional apologetics are not Biblical (it is both not attested, and its inverse offering evidence is well attested)
  • Therefore the logical conclusion of reformed theology is not Biblical
  • (Modus Tollens: P -> Q. Not Q. Therefore not P)

 


*I once got into an argument on social media with (Calvinist) James White, only to have my faith impugned because I didn’t agree with PA. This view really is the logical outworking of Calvinism, so much so that it seems to hold its own against doctrines like the Divinity of Christ and His death by the cross when some Calvinists determine if people are genuine in their faith.

How Google Search Results Work – Or, Technology Writers Can’t Do Philosophy

The AP published an article intended to counter the prevailing view that Google has biased search results. Google denies any bias whatsoever:

“We don’t bias our results toward any political ideology.”

So why do results so often seem biased? The technology writer at the AP promises to make everything clear for us.

Google has software which indexes every site it can find on the internet and keeps track of the most common search terms. So far, no chance for Google to inject bias of any kind, presuming this is what happens.

However, the rest of the article reveals a variety of ways Google employees can bias the results, and even ways they are required to bias results.

The technology writer for the AP cannot distinguish between a computer algorithm itself (which is mechanical) and the intent and effect of its design (which is based on the philosophy of its authors).

“Quality” Raters

According to the article, more than 10,000 “quality raters” judge the quality of search results using a 164 page document with such obviously political sections as:

“Using the Upsetting-Offensive Flag”

“Needs Met Rating for Upsetting-Offensive Tolerant Queries”

“Pages that Potentially Deceive Users”

“Lacking Expertise, Authoritativeness, or Trustworthiness”

“Mixed or Mildly Negative Reputation of the Website or Creator of the Main Content”

Who defines what is “upsetting” or “offensive”? Who decides what someone’s reputation is? Who decides if someone lacks expertise, authoritativeness, or trustworthiness?

Google.

It isn’t some mindless, apolitical machine that decides these things. It’s employees at Google, who bring their own beliefs with them. If these employees presume themselves to be neutral observers – as the author of the article seems to imply they are – it’s all the more dangerous.

What is high quality?

The example given for how quality might be determined is by looking at Pulitzer Prizes won by the author of the content. This presumes that the prize itself is neutral, that those who give the prize are neutral, that the authors receiving the prize are neutral, and that those who don’t receive the prize are of poorer quality. Every single one of these assumptions are political and philosophical, meaning that in the example which is given of how quality is determined, we already have a clear example of bias.

What is poor quality?

The pages which are given a low rating, on the other hand, are those which “spread hate, cause harm or misinformation, or which deceive users”.

For the Left, suggesting that women make less than men on average because of career decisions and not because of some evil mystical force called “the patriarchy” is considered “hateful” and “harmful” and “misinformation”. Google just fired an employee for suggesting this very thing.

The same people who fired him are the ones who determine what is “hateful” and “harmful” and “misinformation”. Again, for reasons unknown, the technology writer at the AP doesn’t think that this is a place where bias might enter into the design of Google’s algorithms.

Fake News

We are also told that sites are labelled “deceptive” if they “look like a news organization” but “in fact [have] articles to manipulate users in order to benefit a person, business, government, or other organization politically, monetarily, or otherwise”.

This presumes two things:

  1. That far-left employees at Google can determine the hidden motivations behind the authors of articles.
  2. That far-left employees at Google implicitly trust major news companies not to be deceptive in either what they report or what they fail to report.

Both of these things are examples of political bias.

Design and Designer

What the author of the article fails to understand is the difference between a mindless algorithm that does whatever it is programmed to do and the mindful intentions of the authors of that algorithm. Because he likely agrees with the politics of Google engineers, he thinks the algorithm is neutral. After all, his own views are obviously neutral (or so he thinks).

Too many software engineers lack a strong philosophical background and make elementary mistakes in reasoning (like presuming their own neutrality) which, when ignored, lead to things like a far-left bias to the most influential search algorithm in the world. Unfortunately, the tech writer at the AP is similarly unaware of his own biases, or is simply defending Google because of their political leanings.

Double Standards – Round 2

A gossip forum picked up the defense of Lori Alexander’s article on what men prefer in marriage, and one of the commenters issued this thoughtful response:

“I married a good man. His father is a good man. And you know what? They wouldn’t be caught associating with a whiny bunch of man-children, who spend their days complaining about how unfair life is.”

If a man prefers sexual purity in his future wife, he goes against the Gospel, and women are permitted to complain about how unfair he is.

If a man says life is unfair or complains, he’s worthy only to be mocked. You can be sure this woman would advise against marrying him.

The double standards never cease.

Double Standards

Dalrock posted about one Lori Alexander who wrote an article that, whatever her intentions, served primarily to prove the existence of the Overton Window.

Phylicia Masonheimer was not going to take such an article without comment. Apparently, she married a man who was “bearing fruit”. Who had a “servant heart”. Who was “faithful”. Who “desired to grow in grace and knowledge of our Savior”. He had tattoos and debt and had slept with other women, but he met whatever her criteria was.

The target audience of Lori Alexander is too young to have slept around, but they are presumably Christians. She recommends that they remain sexually pure for their husbands, because husbands find that attractive. This would make their sexual purity a sort of “fruit of the spirit”, it would seem. For whatever reason, this fruit is not like that of Phylicia Masonheimer’s husband. It’s not appropriate to expect it or search for it.

Phylicia Masonheimer thinks this is legalistic. It grieves God to offer this advice. It isn’t Christianity. Because Lori Alexander is offering marriage advice which is not equivalent to the Gospel, she is wrong. Because Lori Alexander says that things besides faith in Christ are attractive to a spouse, she is “adding to the simplicity of faith”, which is “a distraction from what really matters”. Apparently, her advice is for women to find a guy who acts like a Christian and claims to be one, ignore everything he has ever done in his past, and be willing to marry him. Asking for anything else is not Christianity.

But she has an entire article on how to “choose a godly man”. Apparently, she does have some criteria after all.

Among them, the man needs to:

  1. Revere God and delight in His word
  2. Be relationally [sic], financially, and spiritually wise
  3. Be gracious, compassionate, and righteous
  4. Be generous and steadfast
  5. Have faith in God’s will and timing
  6. Be bold
  7. Be conscious of the needs of others

She follows it up by saying:

“…let these principles, given in God’s word, be your guide as you look for God’s man. And to the measure you use for a potential spouse, remember – he’ll be using the same measure for you. [bold in original]”

She justifies her criticism of Lori Alexander by saying:

In the name of Christianity, however, it articulated rules which are found nowhere in Scripture.

That’s not exactly true. Avoiding debt is an example of being financially wise, which she listed as one of her criteria for godliness (and how a woman should measure a potential spouse).

Being sexually pure isn’t on Phylicia Masonheimer’s list explicitly, but revering God implies sexual purity. And virginity, for someone who has always revered God.

The portions speaking of women living in obedience to their husbands is found throughout the New Testament. I’m sure Phylicia Masonheimer has read these passages before and promptly rationalized them away, but they remain in Scripture, against her claim.

The claims about college and its effects seem directly related to being spiritually wise. Worthless degrees and liberal indoctrination are not things a spiritually wise person endures voluntarily.

In fact, working through each of Lori Alexander’s suggestions, all can be related to one of the things which Phylicia Masonheimer herself has provided. But even if they couldn’t be, the Bible is not an instruction manual for finding a spouse. For all her talk about the importance of the Gospel and the clarity of the central Christian message, she seems to be deeply confused about the purpose of Scripture itself. While it offers advice on finding a spouse, it is not the sum total of all the things a man or a woman is looking for in the opposite sex. Men and women can and ought to look for more in a spouse than the limited items in Scripture. A man who wants children should not marry a woman who doesn’t like children or want them around. You don’t need it explicitly written in Scripture.

Phylicia Masonheimer has confused marriage advice with the Gospel. If we were to do the same with her article on marriage advice, we could ask why she would add so many things to the Gospel, when God forgives our mistakes. Her article is a non sequitur. And, it reveals a disturbing double standard: the imperatives of feminism (women getting college degrees, careers, postponing children, and living a life of sexual “liberty”) cannot be contradicted when offering marriage advice. To do so, in her eyes, is to impugn the Gospel. But any other marriage advice that allows for these imperatives is appropriate and not even worth commenting on.