Don't Assume Your Doctor Practices Evidence-Based Medicine
I talk regularly with an epidemiologist who emphasizes what the headline of this post says, so I'm especially sensitive to this notion -- that maybe your doctor isn't acting in your (evidence-based) best interest.
I learned to look closely at the risks and potential benefits of a particular procedure, which is why I don't get knee surgery (not that I could afford it now with how Obamacare has ruined my healthcare). Instead, I do isometric exercises and I take glucosamine/chondroitin/MSM (per a Cochrane report), as well as krill oil, and curcumin to (I hope) help my knee.
In getting medical care, I think it's also important to remember that all drugs have side-effects and any procedure can go wrong -- or even dead wrong. The name for that is "iatrogenesis."
Despite being aware of all of this, I still found some of the stories shockingly upsetting in this (excellent) long read via Propublica and The Atlantic by David Epstein:
Not long after helping the executive, Brown and his colleagues were asked to consult on the case of a 51-year-old man from a tiny Missouri town. This man had successfully recovered from Hodgkin's lymphoma, but radiation and six cycles of chemotherapy had left him with progressive scarring creeping over his lungs. He was suffocating inside his own body. The man was transferred to Barnes Jewish Hospital, where Brown works, for a life-saving lung transplant. But when the man arrived in St. Louis, the lung-transplant team could not operate on him.
Four months earlier, the man had been admitted to another hospital because he was having trouble breathing. There, despite the man's history of lymphoma treatment, which can cause scarring, a cardiologist wondered whether the shortness of breath might be due to a blocked artery. As with the executive, the cardiologist recommended a catheter. Unlike the executive, however, this man, like most patients, agreed to the procedure. It revealed a partial blockage of one coronary artery. So, doctors implanted a stent, even though there was no clear evidence that the blockage was responsible for the man's shortness of breath--which was, in fact, caused by the lung scarring. Finally, the man was put on standard post-implantation medications to make sure he would not develop a blood clot at the site of the stent. But those medications made surgery potentially lethal, putting the man at an extremely high risk of bleeding to death during the transplant. The operation had to be delayed.
Meanwhile, the man's lung tissue continued to harden and scar, like molten lava that cools and hardens into gray stone. Until one day, he couldn't suck in another breath. The man had survived advanced-stage lymphoma only to die in the hospital, waiting until he could go off needed medication for an unneeded stent.
What the patients in both stories had in common was that neither needed a stent. By dint of an inquiring mind and a smartphone, one escaped with his life intact. The greater concern is: How can a procedure so contraindicated by research be so common?
When you visit a doctor, you probably assume the treatment you receive is backed by evidence from medical research. Surely, the drug you're prescribed or the surgery you'll undergo wouldn't be so common if it didn't work, right?
For all the truly wondrous developments of modern medicine--imaging technologies that enable precision surgery, routine organ transplants, care that transforms premature infants into perfectly healthy kids, and remarkable chemotherapy treatments, to name a few--it is distressingly ordinary for patients to get treatments that research has shown are ineffective or even dangerous. Sometimes doctors simply haven't kept up with the science. Other times doctors know the state of play perfectly well but continue to deliver these treatments because it's profitable--or even because they're popular and patients demand them. Some procedures are implemented based on studies that did not prove whether they really worked in the first place. Others were initially supported by evidence but then were contradicted by better evidence, and yet these procedures have remained the standards of care for years, or decades.
I'm lucky, in that I spend my days looking stuff up. Psych studies but studies nonetheless. So when I have something amiss with me, I look up papers on it and look at what the evidence says. That's -- of course -- no guarantee, because while there's been a replication crisis in psychology, what's more serious is the publication bias (shelving studies that don't come up with the desired effect) and other abuses and simply bad stat work in medicine.
At least some of the time, you'd better just hope you aren't being led astray by your doctor and at least ask questions and get a few opinions.
Here's a wonderful excerpt from Michael Lewis' The Undoing Project on a Toronto doctor who was influenced by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky in his work to help trauma surgeons avoid errors in judgment when life and death are on the line.
It's a bird, it's a panda...
The Accusation That You're Pandering To The Far Right For Being Out Of Line With Feminist Fundamentalism
It's the EZ chill on speech!
It's the tar that comes out fast on social media to punish people for, for example, not parroting the notion -- from radical feminist origins -- that it is wrong and terrible to appreciate a woman for her looks.
Take my post on Serena Williams from the other day.
Serena Williams is a tennis superstar and a bit of a fashionista. She is sexy, but not emaciated model sexy. She's strong, muscular Amazonian woman sexy, and I love seeing photos of her in any sort of dress or undress. She's also opinionated and vocal about her opinions. To contend that she is betraying women by posing for sexy photos is just silly.
Accordingly, I posted a blog item the other day sneering at an Irish Independent writer's notion that Williams had somehow degraded herself and sabotaged women from being judged for their achievements by posing for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.
Some PC weenie tweeted the typical attack tweet -- the easy low blow meant to provoke guilt and fear of being associated with the alt right:
It's so cute when tiny little people have to demonize you bc you think it's ok for Serena Williams to be photographed in a bathing suit. https://t.co/TqfP7PaAre— Amy Alkon (@amyalkon) February 23, 2017
Of course, all men -- including men who parrot radical feminist ideas -- are a product of evolution and the adaptations that drive men to go for features reflecting health and fertility. These features make up what we think of as beauty.
Oh, and I didn't want to give the person the validation of an extended conversation, but as @PersistentSeekr put it:
@amyalkon even funnier when they try to insult you by saying that you sexually service men they think treat women as sex objects
And let's back up a little on this "objectification!" thing. The truth is, sexually, hetero women typically see themselves as objects to be acted upon and men see themselves as the actors (the ones acting upon them). It's right in line with our physiology. Or just think of names for plugs and outlets. The "male" one is the one with the prongs. The "female" one is the one it goes into.
This doesn't mean any woman wants to be just an object, like a plant, a lamp, or a coffee table. But really, it's the rare sex act (necrophilia?) in which a woman is simply an object and not a person in the slightest. And frankly, it's up to the individual woman to be with a man who treats her the way she wants to be treated -- and to have enough to offer that she's respected for it.
Oh, and this "male gaze" bullshit -- women as objects for the "male gaze" -- comes out of the feminist film critic Laura Mulvey's utterly ridiculous Freudian take on women in film. (And remember what I learned when I read Freud -- the guy basically just made a lot of shit up, but had the serious looking glasses and the couch that helped us all ignore the lack of evidence behind his claims.)
Finally -- hilariously -- check out this shot posted on @37thRealm's Facebook page. (Posted by @37thRealm.)
I'm sure @37thRealm just appreciating her for all the library books she must have checked out.
Hah, Hah, Hah...They Think Trump Is A Republican
That's so cute.
Trump, who has rarely held a position that he didn't once hold the other side on, is a crony capitalist ME! ME! ME!-publican and/or a ME! ME! ME!-ocrat, depending on who's listening and what his whim happens to be at a particular moment.
Adorably, we've got a free-market think tank dude who seems a little confused about this.
Rob Nikolewski writes in the SD Union Trib that ethanol is still clinging to life, thanks to Trump. In fact, ethanol should be perking up quite nicely at the news -- a letter the President sent to the Renewable Fuels Association:
"I have something to read," Bob Dinneen, chief executive of the Renewable Fuels Association, said Tuesday to the crowd at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, before he recited a letter from Trump.
"Rest assured that your president and this administration value the importance of renewable fuels to America's economy and to our energy independence," Trump's letter said. "As I emphasized throughout my campaign, renewable fuels are essential to America's energy strategy."
Trump went on to call ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) important to rural economies and said his administration was looking to reform regulations that "impede growth, increase consumer costs and eliminate good-paying jobs."
It was welcome news for ethanol producers but a setback for critics of the RFS, the federal program that requires billions of gallons of biofuels be mixed into the fuel tanks of American drivers.
"I thought if anyone would be the one to do it, it would be a Republican in power and now it appears, no," said Robert Bryce, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a free-market think-tank. "Unfortunately, Trump has decided he's going to continue along one of the longest-running ripoffs of the American taxpayers in this country's history."
From Reason TV:
Ethanol, especially the corn-based variety, is bad for taxpayers, bad for consumers, bad for the environment, and horrible for the world's poor. In fact, even environmentalists are critical of ethanol subsidies these days. The ethanol craze has distorted markets and increased the price of food worldwide. The only people who still support ethanol subsidies are the ethanol producers-and politicians from both sides of the aisle. Together, they make sure the subsidies keep coming.
CBS All Access Is Too Expensive In A Market With A Lot Of Other Choices
I liked "The Good Wife," and I really liked the first episode of "The Good Fight," the Christine Baranski spinoff.
However, it's on CBS All Access, which means no access without paying -- Hello?! -- $5.99. A month. And that's for the version with commercials. The version without is $9.99.
So, I'll watch the two freebie episodes, and then, sayonara.
I really, really do want to watch this. The thing is, there's just too much good TV all over the place that doesn't cost that. We're watching "The Man in the High Castle" now, along with "Homeland" (a little weak this season), and we'll start back up soon with "Billions."
Maybe they'll eventually sell it to Netflix or put it up on Amazon, and we'll watch it then.
In short, I think CBS made a mistake in their pricing.
But Gregg came up with a workaround: Wait till they drop all 10 episodes, then get the CBS All Access for a month and watch them all. (Or, if there's a two-week free trial period, binge-orama!)
P.S. I love Christine Baranski. I actually got to record her a few times when I was producing commercials. She's a class act and a terrific actress.
What's With The Assumption That Criticism Equals Hate?
This is the thinking all too often these days, and it's particularly prevalent in regard to Islam.
Take the term "Islamophobia." It is anything but phobic to fear that pernicious Islamic ideology -- which calls for the death or conversion of "the infidel" and a world without individual rights -- will have negative effects on our society and our lives.
You can feel this way while understanding that individual Muslims must be judged as individuals, and, if they are in America, should have constitutional rights and protections, just like the rest of us, including being presumed innocent until proven guilty. (See James Madison.)
You can also feel that way while hoping for a reformation of Islam -- while believing that it is probably impossible, due to how the Quran is considered the word of Allah (infallible and unquestionable), how Islam calls for violent jihad, and how Islam commands death to apostates.
In short, I think Clay Routledge puts this well:
You can fight prejudice against Muslims, support Muslim reformers like @MaajidNawaz, and criticize Islamic theocracies all at the same time.— Clay Routledge (@clayroutledge) February 22, 2017
They'd be by Fleischer, if we could reincarnate him.
Site Migration Note
It's done. Commenting is good again!
Is There No Activity That Can't Be Twisted To Say Women Are Victims?
I love Serena Williams. She's beautiful in this Amazonian woman way. I love to see photos of her -- in any sort of dress. Or undress.
In the Irish Independent, Sinead Kissane claims that by posing for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, Williams has somehow degraded herself and sabotaged women from being judged for their achievements:
By baring (practically) all in this Swimsuit issue, Serena has loaded importance on her body parts rather than what her body enables her to do as a tennis player.
These kinds of photos are reductive, they're about how women look rather than about what women like Serena have to say (cos there ain't all that much going on in America these days).
These photos switch Serena into the traditional passive role for women who are objectified as things to be ogled.
The most laughable notion is that these photo-shoots are 'empowering' women as if they're something to celebrate.
To some, women like Serena who are not short of money, have fit athletic bodies and decide themselves to take their kit off is proof of how far women have come.
Apparently, she's not allowed to be a person -- an individual fulfilling her own needs and desires. She's got to represent the political aims of feministkind.
Once again, it's the silly argument about "objectication" -- the assumption that if we do any appreciating of a woman's looks, we've turned her into a mere object.
The reality is, if you don't feel like an object, and if you haven't had your mind kidnapped by ideologues, you can probably appreciate being appreciated for your looks -- or for anything else anybody admires.
The way I see it, when someone compliments you for something, if they aren't yelling, "TITS!!!" out of a moving car, it's nice to say thank you.
Oh, and P.S. I'll know we've "come a long way, baby" when women can pose all sexypants in a magazine and nobody lectures them on how they've failed the sisterhood by looking kinda smokin' in a bikini. Or a one-piece -- like in this Sports Illustrated shot:
The Big Migration
UPDATE: We haven't started migrating yet, so comments are still good. Migration will take place tonight at 6 p.m. Pacific Time; 9 p.m. Eastern Time.
Chances are, an "under construction" sign will go up. If you are in a place where site has already propagated, the site will show and work.
The site is migrating to a new server after 9 a.m. Eastern, 6 a.m. Pacific on Monday -- or at least, I'll have the schedule then. It maybe will take a few hours; I'll know more Monday morning.
I'm guessing it won't start right at the crack of 9 a.m. Eastern.
However, comments left in the two-hour window when the migration is happening will be lost. But I'll post a note when the migration is done. And try to update in general here (in between deadline days stuff).
Wendy McElroy Explains The Ugly Place SJW Thinking Leads
Wendy describes herself as a pro-capitalism individualist anarchist feminist. She's also a thinker I greatly respect.
Wendy interviewed at SF Review of Books by Joseph Ford Cotto.
Cotto: Beyond any other factor, what is at the core of the social justice warrior spirit?
McElroy: There is a difference between the spirit and the intellectual content, of course, but the two are intimately connected. A core belief is that ideas and words define the cultural narrative and so create the society itself. This is meant in the most literal sense possible; they do not influence society, they *create* the society in which everyone lives.
Thus ideas and words cease to be individual expressions of people who may differ in beliefs and then peacefully go their own ways. The personal becomes political. Because ideas and words create society they must be controlled in order to establish a proper ones. Ideas that go in the opposite direction become acts of oppression in and of themselves because they are responsible for injustice which SJWs see everywhere. "Incorrect" ideas and words must be eliminated, sometimes with intimidation and open censorship, at other time with the encouragement of "correct" views such as the massive funding of PC within academia.
This explains why SJWs consider dissenting words, ideas and consciences to be not only their business but also violence. To censor and control the minds and mouths of others becomes an act of self-defense and defense of the marginalized. Their absolute commitment to a hyper-narrow vision of justice makes them fanatical about controlling heretics, down to the use of words such as "he" or "she." SJWs become willing to commit brutal cruelty and (sometimes) even violence against the heretic who is hated. After all, his disagreement with the "true God" is an act of violence against them.
We're Long Overdue For An Injection Of Islamo-Reality
Neither terrorism denial nor pretending that all Muslims are a danger makes sense.
The truth is, Islam is a pernicious ideology, incompatible with Enlightenment values, that commands Muslims to convert or slaughter the rest of us.
The other truth is that not all Muslims practice it that way.
Or as Claire Lehmann put it:
There needs to be some sensible middle ground between "there is no threat" & "ban all the Muslims". Seriously. https://t.co/5KDZQptKuE— Claire Lehmann (@clairlemon) February 4, 2017
Andrew Glover writes at Quillette about the ridiculous pretense that Islam does not call for the violence it actually calls for over and over and over:
It's become increasingly apparent that some proportion of the left is engaged in a kind of 'terrorism denial', believing that terrorism poses no real threat, or at least not one worth talking about. They cite the relatively modest fatalities in the US and other western countries from terrorist attacks since September 11 -- and it's always 'since' -- as evidence of this apparent lack of threat.
These numbers are misleading for a number of reasons. Simply adding up the body count from various causes of death doesn't reflect why terrorism should concern us -- how and why these deaths occurred is also important. Accidental deaths should be less concerning to us than deaths caused on purpose. Lawnmowers and armed toddlers may indeed do us harm, but they don't intend to do it. More importantly, they don't seek to do more harm than they actually do. In contrast, the ambition of a terrorist is rarely modest. In almost all cases, the goal is to create as many casualties as possible in any given attack. As a matter of public interest and public policy, those who have no upper limit in the amount of harm they want to cause are more of an existential threat than those who do. As Sam Harris argues, jihadist inspired terrorism 'takes the guard rails off of civilisation' in a way that these more mundane causes of death don't.
But what is most spurious about these numbers is that they ignore the deaths prevented from security and counter-terrorism measures that managed to thwart attacks before they occur. Every day the US and other Western countries are fighting the war on terrorism. They are saving lives before it becomes apparent to the rest of us that they ever needed saving. This may sound dramatic, but it needs to be understood if people believe that the war on terror is a fantasy, or less of a threat than bathtubs. The relatively low death tolls from terrorism in the West are, in part, due to the success in thwarting attacks, not because there is no threat in the first place.
In this respect, terrorism denial commits the same faulty reasoning that the anti-vaxx movement uses to deny the reality of the threat posed by infectious diseases and pandemics. Anti-vaxxers argue that the small number of deaths caused by infectious diseases in recent times is evidence of them posing no threat. However, those who understand the underlying science recognise the nature and scale of the threat, and the critical role that vaccination and pandemic prevention play in neutralising it. Were we to stop vaccinations -- or counter-terrorism -- it's clear that the death toll from both these threats would rise significantly.
As a prophet, Mohammed was no Jesus:
Muhammad's efforts to recruit peacefully at Mecca netted less than 100 followers in 13 years - mostly friends and family. His tactics changed drastically during his last ten years. Once he obtained the power to do so, he began forcing others to accept his claims about himself at the point of a sword. In many places in the Hadith, he tells his followers that he has been ordered by Allah to fight unbelievers until they profess their faith in Islam (the Shahada).
During these later years, Muhammad did not seem at all bothered by conversions that were made under obvious duress. These include that of his sworn enemy of Abu Sufyan and his wife Hind. According to Muslim historians, when Abu Sufyan went to seek peace with Muhammad, he was instead forced to embrace Islam. The exact words spoken to him in Muhammad's presence were, "Submit and testify that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is the apostle of Allah before you lose your head" - (Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 814, Ibn Kathir v.3 p.392). He did.
The entire city of Mecca followed suit, even though the residents and leaders originally detested Muhammad and resisted his preaching. Most of them "converted" to Islam the day that he abruptly marched into their city with an army. Only the most credulous of believers would think that this was a genuine religious epiphany - just happening to coincide with the sword at their necks.
...Through the centuries, Muslims have forced Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, pagans and others to accept Islam, either by bluntly offering them death as an alternative, or by making their lives so miserable (ie. taxes, denial of rights...) that the conquered eventually convert to Islam under the strain.
Forced conversions persist among extremists. Recently in Egypt, a Christian girl was kidnapped and told that she would be raped if she did not convert. In 2010, an 11-year-old Christian boy in Pakistan was kept enslaved in chains (1, 2) by his Muslim landlord, who proudly told the world that he would liberate the lad if he embraced Islam.
Neither of these examples of attempted forced conversion was condemned by Islamic organizations, even in the West. From the Muslim perspective, the victim in each case technically retains the "choice" to convert, even if the only alternative is death. In fact, some even lauded the Pakistani slave-owner for being magnanimous in offering freedom and debt relief to his subject for embracing Islam.
Southern California: The Wild World Of Weather Weenies
It rained more than three drops over the past few days, and all over Los Angeles, the lights went out.
Yes, Los Angeles: First world power prices; third-world power grid:
We've got the dog on a little wheel, following a piece of bacon, to keep the lights on. https://t.co/G3j3G5g0A6— Amy Alkon (@amyalkon) February 19, 2017
How Trumpspeak Plays Into Donald Trump's Attacks On The Media
Donald Trump, at war with the media, tossed out yet another howler. Via RTE:
"The White House is running so smoothly, so smoothly" he said.
"The dishonest media, which has published one false story after another, with no sources... they just don't want to report the truth," he said.
The WSJ columnist Bret Stephens writes in TIME that Trump is "trying to substitute news for propaganda, information for boosterism" -- and he's succeeding pretty damn well at it:
His objection to, say, the New York Times, isn't that there's a liberal bias in the paper that gets in the way of its objectivity, which I think would be a fair criticism. His objection is to objectivity itself. He's perfectly happy for the media to be disgusting and corrupt -- so long as it's on his side.
But again, that's not all the president is doing.
Consider this recent exchange he had with Bill O'Reilly. O'Reilly asks:
Is there any validity to the criticism of you that you say things that you can't back up factually, and as the President you say there are three million illegal aliens who voted and you don't have the data to back that up, some people are going to say that it's irresponsible for the President to say that.
To which the president replies:
Many people have come out and said I'm right.
Now many people also say Jim Morrison faked his own death. Many people say Barack Obama was born in Kenya. "Many people say" is what's known as an argumentum ad populum. If we were a nation of logicians, we would dismiss the argument as dumb.
We are not a nation of logicians.
I think it's important not to dismiss the president's reply simply as dumb. We ought to assume that it's darkly brilliant -- if not in intention than certainly in effect. The president is responding to a claim of fact not by denying the fact, but by denying the claim that facts are supposed to have on an argument.
He isn't telling O'Reilly that he's got his facts wrong. He's saying that, as far as he is concerned, facts, as most people understand the term, don't matter: That they are indistinguishable from, and interchangeable with, opinion; and that statements of fact needn't have any purchase against a man who is either sufficiently powerful to ignore them or sufficiently shameless to deny them -- or, in his case, both.
If some of you in this room are students of political philosophy, you know where this argument originates. This is a version of Thrasymachus's argument in Plato's Republic that justice is the advantage of the stronger and that injustice "if it is on a large enough scale, is stronger, freer, and more masterly than justice."
Substitute the words "truth" and "falsehood" for "justice" and "injustice," and there you have the Trumpian view of the world. If I had to sum it up in a single sentence, it would be this: Truth is what you can get away with.
What may explain Trumpspeak -- at least in part? Roy Cohn. Jon Wiener writes at LA Review of Books:
Trying to explain his behavior, pundits have said we were witnessing Trump's "inability to restrain his worse impulses," or that he "blindly follows his ego," or that he's "like a two-year-old" (here and here). And many have been saying he is simply crazy. In fact if you Google "Trump and crazy," you get 66 million results -- starting with President Obama, who said recently that Trump comes from "the swamp of crazy."
There's a better explanation. Trump's statements are not infantile or impulsive or insane, but rather are part of a conscious, consistent, long-term strategy for dealing with criticism and opposition. It's all there in Art of the Deal, Chapter 5, "The Move to Manhattan," where Trump tells the story of how in 1973 he managed to join a private club -- of course it was "the hottest in the city and perhaps the most exclusive," and of course its members included "some of the most successful men and the most beautiful women in the world." It was the kind of place, he wrote, "where you were likely to see a wealthy seventy-five-year-old guy walk in with three blondes from Sweden." In other words, Trump's kind of place.
But it wasn't the blondes at that club that most interested him. It was a New York lawyer named Roy Cohn. For liberals and leftists in New York, Roy Cohn was the personification of evil, the reptilian right-hand man and snarling chief counsel for Joe McCarthy during the darkest days of the blacklist, and later a notorious legal attack dog and fixer for mobsters and corrupt politicians.
Roy Cohn taught young Donald Trump two simple precepts: Always hit back. Never apologize. That's exactly what we've seen Trump doing throughout the campaign, and especially the last several weeks. So if a Venezuelan beauty queen says you treated her cruelly, you say she made a sex tape. If the father of a dead soldier criticizes you on TV, you say he didn't allow his wife to speak. And if the most powerful Republican in Washington says he won't defend you any more, you spend days calling him "weak and ineffective." Because you always hit back. And you never apologize. That's what Trump learned from the man who became his mentor.
Inka Binka Bottle Of Link
Today only at Amazon: Up to 80% off 40 best-selling books on Kindle. $1.99 to $4.99 today only.
And don't forget Amazon groceries -- get the stuff you need delivered, right to your door.
Please consider throwing in a copy or two of my science-based book, "Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck," with the fab cover by St. Martin's Press's Danielle Fiorella. New copies -- only $11ish! -- support the author.
To buy things not seen in my links and give me the credit (at no cost to you!) Search Amy's Amazon.
Thank you all for supporting the work I do on this site with your purchases!February 18, 2017
Weekend Site Migration False Alarm
Our usually wonderful hosting company screwed up. Site migration will likely be next weekend.
Feel free to post random links here.
False Allegations Of Rape: Ruining A Guy's Life Because She Needed An Excuse For Being Late
Not only do women sometimes make false allegations of rape but they sometimes do it for the most inconsequential of reasons.
His tweet links to an open-access study by André W. E. A. De Zutter, Robert Horselenberg, and Peter J. van Koppen:
The list of motives by Kanin (1994) is the most cited list of motives to file a false allegation of rape. Kanin posited that complainants file a false allegation out of revenge, to produce an alibi or to get sympathy. A new list of motives is proposed in which gain is the predominant factor. In the proposed list, complainants file a false allegation out of material gain, emotional gain, or a disturbed mental state. The list can be subdivided into eight different categories: material gain, alibi, revenge, sympathy, attention, a disturbed mental state, relabeling, or regret.
...Complainants were primarily motivated by emotional gain. Most false allegations were used to cover up other behavior such as adultery or skipping school. Some complainants, however, reported more than one motive. A large proportion, 20% of complainants, said that they did not know why they filed a false allegation. The results confirm the complexity of motivations for filing false allegations and the difficulties associated with archival studies. In conclusion, the list of Kanin is, based on the current results, valid but insufficient to explain all the different motives of complainants to file a false allegation.
...An illustration hereof is the notorious case of Gary Dotson. Kathleen Crowell Webb fabricated a rape after unprotected consensual sex with her boyfriend to obtain contraceptive medi- cation. Coincidentally, Gary Dotson resembled Kathleen's fab- ricated rapist and was convicted of rape (Webb & Chapian, 1985). Kathleen recanted her false allegation of rape out of remorse, but her initial allegation was so convincing that some scholars and the judge who reviewed the case did not believe her retraction (Taylor, 1987).
Gary Dotson spent years in and out of prison as a consequence of the false allegation and it was not until the advent of DNA research that he was exonerated (Heath, 2009). Kathleen wrote a book with the self-explanatory title ''Forgive Me'' (Webb & Chapian, 1985). False allegations of rape are not a myth but are not ubiquitous either. Ferguson and Malouff (2016) found a rate of 5% confirmed false allegations in their meta-analysis on seven studies on the prevalence of false allegations.
...If regret is the motive to file a false allegation, the com- plainant experiences negative feelings such as disgust, shame, and sorrow. The negative feelings are typically noticed by close friends or relatives who will ask about the source of the negative feelings. The sexual encounter may then be labeled as rape by others. The complainant may not have the courage to admit that she also played a vital role in the sexual encounter. The com- plainants are often persuaded by others to file a false allegation (Veraart, 1997).
In sum, there are several motives to file a false allegation: material gain, alibi, revenge, sympathy, attention, a disturbed mental state, relabeling, or regret. Gain is the underlying driving force of every form of motive with one exception: Complainants with sexual hallucinations have no interest in either emotional or material gain.
Although most motives can be reduced to some form of gain, the underlying emotional states are so diverse that it makes sense to treat them as separate motives. As a consequence, we argue that the list proposed by Kanin (1994) is not adequate because it does not cover all the motives provided by complainants.
We propose an expanded list in which gain is the predominant factor. In the list, complainants file a false allegation out of material gain, emotional gain, or mental disturbance. The list can be subdivided into eight different categories: material gain, alibi, revenge, sympathy, attention, a disturbed mental state, relabeling, or regret.
It is my belief that when there's proof that a false allegation was made, that the person making it gets the jail time the accused would likely have gotten.
Admittedly, thinking ahead to unintended consequences, there is a problem in this: It may lead to less likelihood of confessions about false accusations. Then again, maybe conscience -- not being able to sleep nights -- is something that takes hold and leads to the confessions. This is something that should be looked at in a study -- if that's even possible. (Not sure how that study design would work to come up with any sort of reliable answer.)February 17, 2017
We Will Be Migrating This Weekend
Me, myself, and my server for advicegoddess.com, that is.
Gregg says to tell everyone that the site will be offline after 11:30 p.m. Friday night, Eastern Time.
The migration will take 24 to 48 hours. I'm hoping for the 24 side of things.
I'll miss you all for that time!
Fascinating: The Hijab As A Tool Of Female Intrasexual Competition
Often, it's other women, not men, who work to keep women down. As I wrote in a column:
Social psychologists Roy Baumeister and Jean Twenge report that it's widely believed that men drive the "cultural suppression of female sexuality" -- which could include shaming women for how they dress. However, in reviewing the research, they make a persuasive case that it's primarily women (often without awareness of their motives) who work to "stifle each other's sexuality."
A few quotes from their paper from 2002:
The view that men suppress female sexuality received hardly any support and is flatly contradicted by some findings. Instead, the evidence favors the view that women have worked to stifle each other's sexuality because sex is a limited resource that women use to negotiate with men, and scarcity gives women an advantage.
...We did find that men have exerted pressure on their wives to be sexually faithful. This does not seem remarkable, nor does it differ much from women's wishes that their husbands re- main faithful. Crucially, it does not seem to carry over into suppressing female sexuality altogether. Men seem to want their wives to have sexual desire and pleasure, just to have them with their husbands rather than with other men.
This view -- on hijab-wearing and female intrasexual competition -- from a chapter by Nayereh Tohidi, "Modernity, Islamization, and women in Iran."
She notes that "contrary to a widely held assumption about women as mere victims or passive followers of Islamic fundamentalism, certain strata of women actually played an important rule in the ... articulation of the 'model of Islamic women'..."
And take this all the way -- from the hijab to the burka. Basically, mate competition becomes easier if the women who are prettier than you have to go around in the same black tablecloth you do. So, support for Islamic fundamentalism is a helpful way for a woman to disappear the competition behind a black curtain while presenting oneself as a better kind of Muslim.
Here's a passage on this from Tohidi's book:
Trump, With His Know-Nothing Certainty, Is A Threat To Public Health
In New York Review of Books, Daniel Smith writes:
Measles is a severe virus than can result in high fever, diarrhea, pneumonia, deafness, brain swelling, and death. It is very hardy and therefore wildly contagious; it can survive in the air for up to two hours after an infected person has sneezed or coughed. Among those who aren't immune, nine out of ten people who are exposed to measles will contract the virus. It is one of the leading causes of childhood death worldwide--and it is a growing threat to the United States.
In 2014, the US Centers for Disease Control recorded twenty-three separate outbreaks of measles in the United States, involving 668 individual cases--the highest number in twenty years and more than the previous five years combined. Many of these cases were contracted by children whose parents had refused to vaccinate them, out of a fear that doing so would cause developmental problems. And now in 2017 we have President Donald Trump, a man who is not only the most prominent and media-savvy fear-monger in the English-speaking world but also a dedicated, unabashed, very loud purveyor of myths about the dangers of vaccines.
...Trump has frequently promoted his views on Twitter, in a number of his characteristic modes: brash certainty ("Massive combined inoculations to small children is the cause for big increase in autism..."), cartoonish storytelling ("Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn't feel good and changes--AUTISM. Many such cases!"), shameless slander ("I am being proven right about massive vaccinations--the doctors lied").
It is at the very least wearying to have to refute these claims. Diagnoses of autism have indeed increased dramatically in the past thirty years. But there is not and never has been an autism "epidemic." Nearly every reputable social scientist who has examined the data has concluded that the rise in diagnoses has mainly to do with the use of a "broader autism phenotype"--that is, we have progressively and radically expanded our understanding of what "autism" means. No child receives "ten or twenty" shots at a time. If a pediatrician is adhering to the CDC's Recommended Immunization Schedule, as most do, then the most shots a child will receive in a single doctor's visit is five. Usually it is lower. These shots are not even remotely "massive." Most contain less than one milliliter of fluid. That's four thousandths of a cup.
But now that he is vested with all the powers of the chief executive, Trump's ignorance and exaggerations could have far-reaching consequences. Since the late 1990s, anti-vaccination activists have sought allies in positions of high political power. They have been largely unsuccessful. In Trump, however, they have an obvious, even an enthusiastic, champion. In November, it was reported that Trump met over the summer with Wakefield and three other anti-vaccination activists. The activists gave Trump a copy of Vaxxed, a documentary Wakefield produced and directed, and pleaded with him to support their cause. They say he pledged to do so.
Vaccine conspiracy theorist RFK, Jr., has been asked by Trump to chair a presidential commission on "vaccine safety and scientific integrity." Because the states have the power to decide which shots a kid needs to enroll in school, Trump has limited power to do damage to public health with this commission. However, Smith explains: "But his real power as president is his ability to amplify and broadcast skepticism and fear--to sow widespread doubt about the credibility of scientific fact."
Rudeness: You Don't Have To Be Rude, Though You Might Have To Preplan Not To Be
Novelist Rachel Cusk has a piece on rudeness in New York Times Magazine. An excerpt:
In a clothes shop in London, I sift through the rails, looking for something to wear. The instant I came in, the assistant bounded up to me and recited what was obviously a set of phrases scripted by the management. I dislike being spoken to in this way, though I realize the assistant doesn't do so out of choice. I told her I was fine. I told her I would find her if I needed anything. But a few minutes later, she's back.
How's your day been so far? she says.
The truth? It's been a day of anxiety and self-criticism, of worry about children and money, and now to top it all off, I've made the mistake of coming here in the unfounded belief that it will make me look nicer, and that making myself look nicer will help.
It's been fine, I say.
There's a pause in which perhaps she is waiting for me to ask her about her own day in return, which I don't.
Are you looking for something special? she says.
Not really, I say.
So you're just browsing, she says.
There is a pause.
Did I tell you, she says, that we have other sizes downstairs?
You did, I say.
If you want something in another size, she says, you just have to ask me.
I will, I say.
I turn back to the rails and find that if anything, my delusion has been strengthened by this exchange, which has made me feel ugly and unlikable and in more need than ever of transformation. I take out a dress. It is blue. I look at it on its hanger.
Good choice, the assistant says. I love that dress. The color's amazing.
Immediately I put it back on the rail. I move away a little. After a while, I begin to forget about the assistant. I think about clothes, their strange promise, the way their problems so resemble the problems of love. I take out another dress, this one wine-colored and dramatic.
God, that would look amazing, the assistant says. Is it the right size?
According to the label, it is.
Yes, I say.
Shall I put it in the fitting room for you? she says. It's just easier, isn't it? Then you've got your hands free while you keep browsing.
For the first time, I look at her. She has a broad face and a wide mouth with which she smiles continually, desperately. I wonder whether the width of her smile was a factor in her being given this job. She is older than I expected. Her face is lined, and despite her efforts, the mouth betrays some knowledge of sorrow.
Thank you very much, I say.
I give her the dress, and she goes away. I find that I no longer want to be in the shop. I don't want to try on the dress. I don't want to take my clothes off or look at myself in a mirror. I consider quietly leaving while the assistant is gone, but the fact that I have caused the dress to be put in the fitting room is too significant. Perhaps it will be transformative after all. On my way there, I meet the assistant, who is on her way out. She widens her eyes and raises her hands in mock dismay.
I wasn't expecting you to be so quick! she exclaims. Didn't you find anything else you liked?
I'm in a bit of a hurry, I say.
If inequality is the basis on which language breaks down, how is it best to speak?
God, I know exactly what you mean, she says. We're all in such a hurry. There just isn't time to stop, is there?
The fitting rooms are empty: There aren't any other customers. The assistant hovers behind me while I go into the cubicle where she has hung the dress. I wonder whether she will actually follow me in. I pull the curtain behind me and feel a sense of relief. My reflection in the mirror is glaring and strange. I have stood in such boxlike spaces before, alone with myself, and these moments seem connected to one another in a way I can't quite specify. It is as though life is a board game, and here is the starting point to which I keep finding myself unexpectedly returned. I take off my clothes. This suddenly seems like an extraordinary thing to do in an unfamiliar room in a street in central London. Through the gap in the curtain I can see into a dingy back room whose door has been left open. There are pipes running up the walls, a small fridge, a kettle, a box of tea bags. Someone has hung a coat on a hook. I realize that the theater of this shop is about to break down, and that the assistant's manner -- her bad acting, her inability to disguise herself in her role -- is partly to blame.
How is everything? she says.
I am standing there in my underwear, and her voice is so loud and close that I nearly jump out of my skin.
How's it going in there? How are you getting on?
I realize that she must be speaking to me.
I'm fine, I say.
How's the fit? she says. Do you need any other sizes?
I can hear the rustle of her clothes and the scraping sound of her nylon tights. She is standing right outside the curtain.
No, I say. Really, I'm fine.
Why don't you come out? she says. I can give you a second opinion.
Suddenly I am angry. I forget to feel sorry for her; I forget that she did not choose to say these things; I forget that she is perhaps in the wrong job. I feel trapped, humiliated, misunderstood. I feel that people always have a choice where language is concerned, that the moral and relational basis of our existence depends on that principle. I wish to tell her that there are those who have sacrificed themselves to defend it. If we stop speaking to one another as individuals, I want to say to her, if we allow language to become a tool of coercion, then we are lost.
No, I say. Actually, I don't want to come out.
There is a silence outside the curtain. Then I hear the rustling of her clothes as she starts to move away.
All right then, she says, in a voice that for the first time I can identify as hers. It is a flat voice, disaffected, a voice that expresses no surprise when things turn out badly.
I put my clothes back on and take the dress on its hanger and leave the cubicle. The assistant is standing with her back to me on the empty shop floor, her arms folded across her chest, looking out the window. She does not ask me how I got on or whether I liked the dress and intend to buy it. She does not offer to take the dress from me and hang it back on its rail. She is offended, and she is very deliberately showing it. We are, then, equal at least in our lack of self-control. I hang up the dress myself.
It wasn't my day, I say to her, by way of an apology.
She gives a small start and utters a sound. She is trying to say something: She is searching, I see, for one of her scripted phrases in the effort to reassume her persona. Falteringly, she half-smiles, but her mouth is turned down at the corners like a clown's. I imagine her going home this evening, unhappy.
When I tell the story afterward, making myself both its villain and its butt, it goes like this: I, currently dismayed by the sudden ascent of rudeness in our world and wondering what it means, am betrayed into rudeness myself by a personal sensitivity to language that causes me to do the very thing I despise, which is fail to recognize another human's individuality. But the person I tell it to doesn't hear it that way at all. He hears it as a story about how annoying shop assistants are.
I hate it when they do that, he says. It was good you made an issue of it. Maybe she'll give feedback to the management, and they'll stop making people say all that stuff.
Right. She's going to tell management "Your sales tactics are all wrong, you bozos!"
What that last comment is is a justification by Cusk for being rude -- the opposite of being accountable for it. Being accountable is what helps you change.
Passive aggressiveness seems to be at root in Cusk's behavior.
However, what makes her so annoyed, ultimately, is her neglecting to say what works for her -- to set up some boundaries.
Yes, once again, it's on her.
In a way, she's lost some freedom (though, yes, to a relatively small degree). Feeling a loss of freedom psychologist Jack Brehm found causes "psychological reactance" -- basically, rebellion against our freedom being impinged on.
If you're shy or freeze in the moment, you could do what I advise in "Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck" -- to preplan for situations like this. Remind yourself in advance that it's good to assert yourself. Politely -- as soon as you feel impinged upon: Like by saying, "Thanks, I'm just browsing."
You may need to say it twice, like if you end up in the dressing room and there's an attempt to give an opinion you don't want. I just say, "Thanks, appreciate that -- but I have a pretty particular personal style, so I'm good." Do I really "appreciate that"? Fuck no. I'm annoyed and don't want to be bothered. But why not stretch that tiny bit and cover that up -- because it's the kind thing to do?
If you do preplan, and you do assert yourself, it'll keep you from feeling increasingly abused -- until you blow up and go all ugly on some woman who's just saying those things because it's her job...surely not because she, personally, chooses to say them.
A Principled Conservative On Trump
In an interview at Fault Lines with Scott Greenfield and David Meyer-Lindenberg, OC Prosecutor and longtime blogger Patrick Frey explains:
A. I do not think that support for Trump, by itself, reflects a betrayal of limited-government principles. Plenty of my readers, like me, supported another candidate in the primary, and don't care for Trump. Many of those people voted for Trump just because he is not Hillary Clinton. That was not my decision, but I understand it and can't criticize that point of view.
However, on May 3, 2016, the day Ted Cruz bowed out of the race, I instantly saw that the Republican party was going to start conforming itself to Trump's vision more than I knew I would be comfortable with. Republicans were going to support big government initiatives, worry less about state sovereignty and the Constitution, and defend any number of outrageous Trumpy statements and positions. I wanted no part of it, and I wanted to disassociate myself from a Trump-led Republican Party in a very public and clear way.
My abandonment of the GOP, and my personal distaste for Trump, have been very disturbing to the part of my readership that is more partisan and less concerned with limited government principles. It's difficult to watch some long-time readers view me as a "leftist" and treat me contemptuously, as if I were the enemy, simply because I can't stand the demagogue that has seized control of the Republican party. But I don't change my views to suit my readers. I suspect some other bloggers have -- especially those who are dependent on their blogs for income. In that sense, it's nice to have a day job. It makes it easier to say what I really think.
I despise Donald Trump as a person. I liked that state senator's description of Trump as a "loofa-faced shitgibbon." He's obviously a vindictive, nasty, narcissistic, dishonest clown who has probably never read a book in his life. He is the best argument for the irrationality of the American voter we have ever seen. That said, I wasn't looking forward to Hillary Clinton being in office, and I think Trump has done and will do some good things. His selection of Neil Gorsuch to replace Justice Scalia was brilliant.
You asked about immigration. I'm very sympathetic to Trump's concerns over an influx of refugees from war-torn Muslim nations. I don't think that accepting those refugees in large numbers with insufficient screening has worked out very well for Germany. The Nordic countries have seen their very successful cultures threatened by an inordinate number of immigrants with a murderous ideology and a desire to inflict Sharia law on everyone. All that being said, I am a fierce critic of runaway executive power, and I think Trump should be working with Congress on this issue. It's also beyond debate that Trump's rollout of this particular executive order was hasty, slipshod, and illegal as applied to green card holders and other visa holders.
Patrick blogs here.
Linker Caesar's Pizza
Little Caesar's founder Mike Illitch, who died last Friday at age 87, "quietly paid Rosa Parks' rent for years."
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Thank you all for supporting the work I do on this site with your purchases!February 15, 2017
"Almost No One Has Ever Had Sex This Way": The "May I Touch Your Left Titty Now?" Standard
Maryland is now considering teaching the "affirmative consent" standard to high school students, via legislation introduced by two state lawmakers, Ariana B. Kelly and Marice Morales.
This is the "yes means yes" standard for sexual consent. As a WaPo piece by Josh Hicks notes, this is the definition of sexual consent as "clear, unambiguous, knowing, informed and voluntary agreement between all participants to engage in each act within the course of sexual activity."
Both California and New York have passed laws requiring colleges to use affirmative-consent standards in weighing charges of sexual assault. Morales proposed similar measures during Maryland's last two legislative sessions, but they failed to advance. She said she believes that changing what is taught at the high school level could be just as effective in curbing sexual assault.
One major problem with this is the ease at which this can be abused.
I predict that this would quickly be used -- or turned into -- a standard for deeming a sex act sexual assault, like if a person gets caught cheating, or daddy finds out and is outraged, etc.
As a commenter at the WaPo points out:
This is bad idea. I hope this is typical "dogooderism" getting carried away. There are lots of amorous acts that start out ambiguously. One partner saying "no" is pretty straight forward, but trying a mandate sequences of events is an overreach. However, I wonder if the real goal here is the lower the evidentiary standard for conviction of sexual assault to the alleged victim's accusation. That would turn the standards of justice on their head.
And this commenter has it exactly right:
To avoid confusion, the best and safest thing is for both parties to sign three notarized documents and register them with the Clerk of the Court prior to engaging in any sort of sexual relations.
This also comes back to how feminism has shifted from demanding equal treatment to what I describe as demanding that women be treated as eggshells, not equals.
I have never, ever had a sexual encounter -- and I have had PLENTY -- in which I was asked, "May I kiss you now." "May I feel your left titty?" As I used to say about a guy who'd ask, "Can I kiss you?" instead of just doing it -- preferably by grabbing me and doing it: "If you have to ask, you don't qualify. Go home and jerk off so I can go find a real man."
And I am not alone. The quote heading this post is from Ashe Schow at Watchdog.org. She explains what the standard means:
one accused of sexual assault has no true way to defend himself (or, in rare cases, herself) against an accusation, and proponents have answered no questions on the matter. How can an accused student convince anyone they have unambiguous consent when the accuser says they didn't? An accuser just has to say she was too drunk to consent, or say he didn't ask for consent for every single act (he may have asked to kiss her, touch her, or have sex with her, but if he didn't specifically ask for oral sex, he could be accused of assault).
And then there are the instances where "yes" doesn't even mean "yes," because an accuser just has to say he or she was too scared to leave or say "no."
A better alternative would be to encourage conversations between sexual partners, but not to punish people so easily for ambiguous sexual encounters.
But really, the state has no fucking business being all up in people's sex lives like this.