Friday, September 30, 2011

Caine, Fluer du Mal Is A Lying She-hag, and other observations

Ok, it's not just about her, but some of the other bedeviling bandits at PZ's place. Thanks to Spence for bringing this to my attention (though indirectly, or generally).

Before we get into this, ask yourself this: if you're not an expert in a given field, or even of roughly average-level understanding of it, and someone uses a word from that field you think is dubious should you a.) wikipedia it real fast, b.) ask someone who knows the field to explain it to you, c.) do neither and just starting calling the person a retard?

That's right, 'c.' is the correct answer.

Enter username donkane, who has a question as to why there are more women in churches than in atheism. Aside from the patriarchy (which is the answer to all not answered by 42 - itself still being investigated as an agent of the patriarchy), Don goes back and forth with some of the usual cast: sallystrange, caine, John Morales (hi, John!), jadehawk, Salty Cu[rre]nt and dear Claire. Be easy on Claire; she's a bit touched.

So, round and round they go with all of the porcupine up in the ass invitations, and cupcake offers, and well, standard fare at the boring shake shoppe.  Don writes at comment 413,
Hmm. I like part of it. It does explain the usual phenotypes of many of the atheist women, strong and outspoken and notlikelytotakeshit.
I'm not a biologist, but like most science students I've taken the introductory classes. So, I'm vaguely familiar with the term to the extent that I can remember having to calculate ratios bearing that name. Punnet squares were fun. At any rate, not being an expert if I wanted to call Don here on his use of it, I'd have done the due diligence and looked it up. I'll use wikipedia because it's listed later on as being not good enough:
A phenotype is an organism's observable characteristics or traits: such as its morphology, development, biochemical or physiological properties, behavior, and products of behavior (such as a bird's nest). Phenotypes result from the expression of an organism's genes as well as the influence of environmental factors and the interactions between the two.
This is consistent with what I remember from high school and college: phenotype deals with things one can see about an organism. So, yeah.  But I'm not the scholar PZ's readers all are (just ask them!), so let's see how I stack up against their combined intellectual weight.

Sally @ 416:
This word, “phenotype”… I do not think it means what you think it means.
Don @ 424:
sorry. I’m a geneticist. just part of my vocab.
Now the fun starts, after he notes he has some grants to reject and "Consider, for example, that women are more socially adept creatures and religion might play into that talent somehow? Just something to chew on"

Sally @433:
Donkane is a cowardly liar. Feel free to come back and prove me wrong, Donkane. Yes of course, all those research grants. Busy busy now! And those BIG BIG words! “Phenotype,” golly, what a smart cookie you are!
 Jade @ 438:
also, the suggestion to chew on a dead, beaten horse is kind of gross.
 Caine @ 449:
No, Cupcake. The problem is your utterly abysmal comprehension abilities. Have a porcupine, Sugarbrain. Be sure to pound it hard and please don’t leave assprints on our door. Ta.
John Morales @ 574:
Cultural influence is not meant to be part of definition, as your quotation (“… and products of behavior (such as a bird’s nest)”) apparently (but misleadingly) implies.

Bernard 'the retard' Bumner responds to John @ 576:
Phenotype is usually applied to behaviour with a primarily genetic basis, but certainly with an inherent organismal basis. Not only is it probably innappropriate to describe the majority of typical human behaviour as phenotypic, since human behaviour is probably primarily culturally derived, the mooted explanation for the behaviour in question was clearly cultural . . .As someone with a Ph.D. in geneticis, I find this abuse of the terminology by a geneticist like donkane somewhat puzzling.
Carlie offers emphatic intellectual support @578:
One can’t get away with using a Wikipedia definition for a science term on a science blog.
That’s almost as bad as “it’s just a theory”.
 ChasCPeterson spikes the serve back to Carlie @583:
It’s all very well to sniff at Wikipedia, but you’re unfamiliar with the entire field of ethology/behavioral ecology? Tinbergen’s questions, etc.?
 Bernard @588 notices something's awry:
True enough, but I think it is very difficult to describe typical complex human behaviour as a phenotype. Not because there is no phenotypic effect on human behaviour, but because it seems unlikely that any phenotype could be clearly defined for typical complex behaviour . . .What is certain is that phenotype cannot legitimately be used to describe culturally-derived behaviour.
 Carlie breaks out the pom-poms @589:
Everything Bernard just said. I assumed it was clear that I was talking about complex behavior of the type I was directly referencing re: the “women, who can understand ‘em?” comment, but I guess it wasn’t.
 ChasCPeterson again tries talking sense to Bernard, et al, regards Bernard's last quoted sentence @593:
Arguing semantics is a waste of time, but even this statement is problematic. Anything observable about an organism is part of its phenotype. Every phenotypic trait–morphological, physiological, biochemical, yes, behavioral–is expressed as the product of some combination of genes and environmental influence. Sometimes it’s all one or all the other, but very often an interesting question is how much nature and how much nurture? (This is the whole subject of phenotypic plasticity, reaction norms, etc.). Even a putatively purely cultural complex behavior (e.g. fishing for termites with a grass stem) is most certainly part of the phenotype, by any coherent definition.
Unless you have been trained to presuppose all ‘complex’ behavior to be purely cultural in origin, there is no way to draw a bright line dividing ‘culturally derived’ behaviors from ‘phenotypic’ ones a priori. There is also no complexity cutoff.
So, sorry, holding the line on this one.
Don returns @597:
“What is certain is that phenotype cannot legitimately be used to describe culturally-derived behaviour.”
Thought I would chime in here.
I used phenotype correctly, to mean any morphological or behavioral manifestation of the genotype, and it was based on the fact that women in freethought groups tend to be “strong and outspoken and notlikelytotakeshit”. (data not shown) These are traits and they would be expected to have a genetic basis even if their penetrance and expressivity are modulated by culture and other personal experience.
You know, it’s why you dont buy puppies sired by a dog that bites…?
And the idea was to ask about that the idea that something more than cultural bias might explain the simple observation that women are in church more than men. What something in the female phenotype is, on average, different from the male phenotype?
You know, genetic differences between the sexes, like most other animals on the planet.
and the data not shown, that was a multi level joke.
 Bernard learns a heart-warming lesson @599:
 My failure to distinguish personality trait a subset (as I see it) of culturally-derived behaviour, as the thing I was describing does mean that my general case argument was weakened. (It is perfectly plausible, even likely, to suggest that some culturally-derived behaviours can interact with inherent traits to the point that phenotype is the best description.)
 Pteryxx comes late to the party and immediately shows his stupidity @601:
How the FRICK do you get off calling yourself a “geneticist” while expounding a fallacy covered in introductory genetics? Citation FRICKIN’ needed, creature . . .I want donkane out of the genetics boat, NOW.
 Don does response to Bernard (quoted by him) @606:

“Unless you’re arguing that essentially any trait of a an organism can be described as a phenotype simply by virtue of the genetic basis of life, then I think you cannot make that statement.”
Sorry. Any trait. We sort of gloss it over and call it “wild type” or “normal”, but that is just all the traits together.
Take someones face for example. Various “traits” were inherited from her mom and dad, like the shape of her nose, her eye brows, the way her forehead wrinkles, the dimple in her chin. but they all are phenotypes that are expressed from semi-dominant genes she inherited from her parents.
And behaviors are traits too. You can argue that the genetic basis for “temper” is complex, but it is still a trait, just like fruit fly sex-specific mating behaviors.
But I return to my first question, which has been only criticized on this thread not answered: are there sex specific traits that cause females to like organized religions?
 Sally shows off her pedigree, and acumen @608:

are there sex specific traits that cause females to like organized religions?
Well, I don’t know, champ.
As my 11th grade chemistry professor, Mr. Rorschach, would say: “What do you think?”

So, this is the tune they were singing on the 28th of this month.

Fast forward to today when @342 Caine decides to insult Don some more, taking a note from Echidna who was insulting an unrelated person:

Therefore I call BS on the idea that you have science to do.
Hee. Oh, pardon my amusement, Echidna. You must have missed donkane in this thread. Him is a geneticist, oh yes!

What are they squawking when PZ finally decided to be honest for a moment when he said @348?
Actually, I know donkane in real life. He is a geneticist, a good one, and he was using “phenotype” perfectly appropriately.

Caine showing she still doesn't understand don's question (and lying about not impugning his scientific acumen which was only in question because of the use of phenotype) @349:
Okay. I wasn’t referring to the phenotype business though, but his obtuseness when it came to grasping simple points about women entrenched in patriarchal religions.
Echidna not at all late to the party @351:
I checked out your link to DonKane wielding “phenotype” so sloppily. Faking expertise as a geneticist on a biologist’s blog is hilarious.
And Echidna @353:
My sincere apologies.
The rest of them? Not a peep. Call him a liar and get told by PZ (who apparently had little choice but to be honest given that Don knows him IRL and has control over grant proposals?) and what do you do? You apologize profoundly, right?

Nope. Ignore it and get back to handing out those pocupines.



Spence said...

Yeah, this speaks volumes about the modus operandi of the Phawrongulan horde.  If you disagree with us, you are wrong about everything.

Thanks for doing the legwork cutting out the relevant comments!  I did start out doing it but you beat me to it :^)

The Justicar said...

You know me: anything I can do to point out their, um, novel understanding of intelligent discourse.  That one took two cups of coffee, and one 7.5mg Vicodin. Assholes.

I mean, anything I can do to make my blog more marketable. lol

Feel free to copy and paste from here for your place. The more places this is pointed out the better.

Again, thanks for pointing it out at Abbie's place. If you run into future such things, just e-mail me about it and I'll get to work doing the right thing about it.


Phil Giordana Fcd said...

Justi, this is a masterpiece of a post that needs to go in the Hall of Fame of Phawrongulite debunking!

Gotta share it right now!

The Justicar said...

I fully support the notion!

Also, readers, do be sure that you check there to make sure I've not misrepresented anything. This is a guide, a quick reference if you will. But, as always, check the source (if you can stomach it).

0verlord said...

Really it's more like... We want to call you -- someone, ANYONE REALLY! -- a fucking moron or a morally bankrupt rape apologist and generally sick fuck fuck fuck so we can flaunt our all too obvious intellectual superiority and use bad words! 

Hipster progressivism with a liberal sprinkling of arrogance and entitlement.  We're so forward thinking, like yah!

0verlord said...

donkane actually does ask a really interesting question that I would really enjoy seeing answered.  To be fair in my judgment of The Horde™, I would not be at all surprised to learn that ChasCPeterson is a real scientist doing real science. 

Pretty much all of the others were Typical Horde Mentality.

The Justicar said...

ChasCPeterson seemed perfectly reasonable and cogent. I'm sure s/he will pay dearly for that in the not too distant future.

Phil Giordana Fcd said...

 Acountability is among my most favored internet concepts. The source points to exactly what you depicted, and thus makes your point stronger.

I think I've ranted about that at times before...

Spence said...

Ah yes, but that's not what you said here!

Kidding.  Chas did actually try harder than most of the trolls on Abbie's posts, and also noted he wanted to distance himself from some of the more crazy Phawrongula behaviour.  Although he failed to tackle anything more than the bad werdz used on ERV.

windy said...

Sorry, he's a hypocrite. He gets to contradict the accepted feminist wisdom because he's just 'calling it as he sees it', when others do it it's because they are insensitive boors, apparently.

Scented Nectar said...

I can't stomach the source, so I'm just going to trust you. :)

Notung said...

Could he be this guy?

Either way, if I was a blog owner and a respected scientist (or anyone for that matter) posed an interesting question, I'd hope my commenters would engage with it with some thought and some respect. That comment by "Caine" especially is just garbled nonsense, and an embarrassment to the commentariat. The comments by "SallyStrange" look like they were written by a young school bully.

I don't believe in censoring comments, and it would therefore be wrong to blame the blog owner for the trash written by others. However, I note that both Caine and SallyStrange have been awarded a "Molly" (surely that award is irreversibly discredited now) for the "quality of their writing".

Someone with some knowledge of web programming should create a "Caine comment generator". Refresh the page and it produces random comments in which every other word is either "porcupine", "cupcake" or "brain", and concludes with a variation of "don't let the door hit you on your way out". Cut and paste these "quality comments" into Pharyngula under a different name, and you'd win a Molly for sure.

0verlord said...

Guess I didn't get that impression.  Meh. *shrug*

The Justicar said...

Me too!

The Justicar said...

Ha ha! No clue we'd crossed paths.

Good thing I haven't made the stupid mistake of saying people are irredeemable shits, huh? =P

The Justicar said...

I think Sir Arthur Conan Doyle easily dealt with this: mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself while talent instantly recognizes genius.

Caine comment generator? I am no programmer, but I'm sure the start command for it would "Hello."

The Justicar said...

Nice article on the Kalam by the way. I haven't finished, but so far it seems spot on.

Notung said...

Yes, either "Hello", "I'm new here..." or "I disagree".

Spence said...

Yeah, but he only says that stuff to his *friends*.

windy said...

yeah... I would rather not be associated with nonsense like that reaction to donkane above. It's doubly embarrassing to me as a biologist and winner of that silly award. I don't know what went wrong over there.

The Justicar said...

The upshot is that you aren't. =^_^=

No one is associated with something until they indicate their assent to it.

I know what went wrong:  idiots trying to punch above their education.

ChasCPeterson said...

I am a real scientist doing real science. I have more than once paid for reasonable and cogent (imo) comments at Pharyngula by getting the receiving end of the Horde's full-on displeasure (under a previous nym, Sven DIMilo). I still sometimes flag bullshit when I see it there, but I try to avoid Certain Subjects, mostly stick to biology, and I'm no longer willing to argue much.

And I think that you, The Justicar, are an obliviously narcissistic asshole. I'm frankly embarrassed that you've quoted me approvingly.

The Justicar said...

I'm having a slight bit of trouble parsing your claim that you are embarrassed that there exists a person who would quote something you've said that is factually correct as being an example of a person being intellectually honest.

Indeed, if you were sincere in feeling embarrassment at being quoted for honestly representing what science says, one could easily point out there is a way to avoid that: stop being honest. Besides, you'd have a ready-made group waiting to welcome you with open arms.

As for your claim that I'm a narcissist, one is hard-pressed to see precisely how that is the case, unless of course you're taking to heart my comments about how it's rude I've been properly cited to as the originator of Twatson, and a few other things when I'm being referenced, but intentionally not by name.

If that factors into your conclusion, then you're a slight bit slow on the uptake on such matters. It is a running joke across several blogs. And I find it extremely entertaining that so many people notice it.

Also of note is the claim that I'm oblivious; this is patently not the case. Oblivious people don't have a nagging habit of not letting slip by all of the salient features that bear on a given set of situations, and then documenting them accurately. =P

As for the asshole bit, meh. I've been called worse things by better people. I'll somehow have to manage to pick up the pieces of my life, put on a brave face and muddle through somehow.

Also curiously enough I note that the one calling me a narcissist has to start off "I'm a real scientist". Does that come with a cape and some fucking tights, or do you take time off to let other people fly around and save the universe? Even further! 100% of your comments here on my crap blog have been in the first person. Why are you so obsessed with talking about yourself at my blog?

See? Two can play that stupid game.

Irony. I love it.

0verlord said...

Chas, I must also accept responsibility for having been the one who actually pointed it out.  I must offer my sincerest apologies for aiding and encouraging Justicar in causing your embarrassment with my own approving commentary. 

I therefore retract what I said in my previous comments, and I will refrain from causing you any more undue distress in the future.  Cheers.

Guest2011 said...

It's all gone! The fat fraud has removed all the juicy, ignorance-revealing comments! At the moment there's just "Andrew V69 (insert cutesy name-extension here)" left swinging on the gibbet, with one of his rotting hands also implicating "echidna".

"Freethought" blogs? Perhaps.

But the corpulent cunt certainly allows no such liberty with the written word.

Notung said...

Make sure you click on "older comments". They all appear to be there for me.

Guest2011 said...

Cocksocks. I have been confounded by the bloated bollock's splitting of comments over multiple pages. Ah well, I'm sure it won't be too long before the spherical sphincter's unstoppably dishonest phenotype provides more mirth.

The Justicar said...

Unfortunately, you're right. If the complete absence of being able to write it right there after being pointed out by a number of qualified, competent professionals in the field that it's a perfectly correct use of the term is anything to go by, Don will be waiting a long, long time before he sees an apology from most of them.

Hell, they needn't even apologize to make a step in the right direction. Just an admission of "I was wrong" would be a novel change of direction there.

Allison said...

I believe you are right. That odious "Caine, Fleur du Mal" (or whatever) says on her stupid blog (which obody reads) that she was raped and so forth. Of course by being such a despicable person she lets the rapist win...

Jon H said...

They remind me of the XMRV/chronic fatigue people.

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