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9

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6

This is the Quality Contributions Roundup. It showcases interesting and well-written comments and posts from the period covered. If you want to get an idea of what this community is about or how we want you to participate, look no further (except the rules maybe--those might be important too).

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This month we have another special AAQC recognition for @drmanhattan16. This readthrough of Helen Joyce’s Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality garnered several AAQC nominations throughout the month:

Part 1 – The History of Transgenderism

Part 2 – The Causes and Rationalization of Transgenderism

Part 3 – How Transgenderism Harms Women And Children

Part 4 – How Transgenderism Took Over Institutions And How Some Women Are Fighting Back

Part 5 – Conclusion and Discussion

Now: on with the show!


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Contributions for the week of January 30, 2023

@gattsuru:

@TracingWoodgrains:

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2

The Wednesday Wellness threads are meant to encourage users to ask for and provide advice and motivation to improve their lives. It isn't intended as a 'containment thread' and any content which could go here could instead be posted in its own thread. You could post:

  • Requests for advice and / or encouragement. On basically any topic and for any scale of problem.

  • Updates to let us know how you are doing. This provides valuable feedback on past advice / encouragement and will hopefully make people feel a little more motivated to follow through. If you want to be reminded to post your update, see the post titled 'update reminders', below.

  • Advice. This can be in response to a request for advice or just something that you think could be generally useful for many people here.

  • Encouragement. Probably best directed at specific users, but if you feel like just encouraging people in general I don't think anyone is going to object. I don't think I really need to say this, but just to be clear; encouragement should have a generally positive tone and not shame people (if people feel that shame might be an effective tool for motivating people, please discuss this so we can form a group consensus on how to use it rather than just trying it).

-23

Hi, I'm a long time reader of Slate Star Codex and I used to post on the Reddit forum until I got banned. There are a few reasons that I believe I got banned.

  1. Uncharitably claiming that Leftist censorship was a threat to the rationalist community

  2. Advocating for violence

  3. Not being kind

I understand why all of these things could have been a problem on the Reddit community, but I would like to know if they're still going to be a problem here, since I don't want to invest a lot of time creating a profile and having good-faith discussions with people if I'm only going to be banned again. Here are the reasons that I think these three issues shouldn't be a problem anymore.

  1. I was right, and everybody who disagreed with me was wrong. The fact that the community had to move here proves it. I'm not expecting an apology but I think that time has proven me correct on that score.

  2. Violence is a completely justifiable response to tyranny. While calls to violence may be against Reddit rules (and the community was right to ban me from Reddit because my rhetoric could have caused problems for the mods) there are no such rules here. In fact, rdrama (which helped set up this offsite community, and whom you should all be grateful to) actively encourages calls to violence. If a rational and logical case can be made for violence then I think there is no good reason not to hear that case out. If you're forced to censor people you disagree with because you're unable to make a stronger case for pacifism over violence in the open marketplace of ideas, then you should question whether your pacifism is actually a worthwhile philosophy.

  3. Kindness and truth are different terminal values. If you optimize for kindness then it is self-evident that you will have to sacrifice truth at some point. Obviously the Reddit community has chosen kindness as its terminal value, but I'm hoping that this offsite community is enlightened enough to choose truth.

I'm linking to a few articles from my Substack here so you have a few examples of my style of writing and can make a better judgement about whether I would be a good fit for the offsite community. I'm also on rdrama where my username is sirpingsalot. If you think I'm not a good fit for the offsite either, then no hard feelings - I'm happy to take my ideas to more sympathetic communities instead. I just don't want to put in the effort of investing time and energy here if I'm only going to get banned again for the same reasons.

SS: Americans are rather ignorant about history. Moral reasoning by historical analogy is bad. Historical examples can be misleading for making predictions. These facts suggest that the utility of history courses is overestimated. In fact, they are mostly useless.

In many discussions I'm pulled back to the distinction between not-guilty and innocent as a way to demonstrate how the burden of proof works and what the true default position should be in any given argument. A lot of people seem to not have any problem seeing the distinction, but many intelligent people for some reason don't see it.

In this article I explain why the distinction exists and why it matters, in particular why it matters in real-life scenarios, especially when people try to shift the burden of proof.

Essentially, in my view the universe we are talking about is {uncertain,guilty,innocent}, therefore not-guilty is guilty', which is {uncertain,innocent}. Therefore innocent ⇒ not-guilty, but not-guilty ⇏ innocent.

When O. J. Simpson was acquitted, that doesn’t mean he was found innocent, it means the prosecution could not prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. He was found not-guilty, which is not the same as innocent. It very well could be that the jury found the truth of the matter uncertain.

This notion has implications in many real-life scenarios when people want to shift the burden of proof if you reject a claim when it's not substantiated. They wrongly assume you claim their claim is false (equivalent to innocent), when in truth all you are doing is staying in the default position (uncertain).

Rejecting the claim that a god exists is not the same as claim a god doesn't exist: it doesn't require a burden of proof because it's the default position. Agnosticism is the default position. The burden of proof is on the people making the claim.

1

Be advised: this thread is not for serious in-depth discussion of weighty topics (we have a link for that), this thread is not for anything Culture War related. This thread is for Fun. You got jokes? Share 'em. You got silly questions? Ask 'em.

2

The Wednesday Wellness threads are meant to encourage users to ask for and provide advice and motivation to improve their lives. It isn't intended as a 'containment thread' and any content which could go here could instead be posted in its own thread. You could post:

  • Requests for advice and / or encouragement. On basically any topic and for any scale of problem.

  • Updates to let us know how you are doing. This provides valuable feedback on past advice / encouragement and will hopefully make people feel a little more motivated to follow through. If you want to be reminded to post your update, see the post titled 'update reminders', below.

  • Advice. This can be in response to a request for advice or just something that you think could be generally useful for many people here.

  • Encouragement. Probably best directed at specific users, but if you feel like just encouraging people in general I don't think anyone is going to object. I don't think I really need to say this, but just to be clear; encouragement should have a generally positive tone and not shame people (if people feel that shame might be an effective tool for motivating people, please discuss this so we can form a group consensus on how to use it rather than just trying it).

SS: I make a case for drastically cutting back on education. I argue that education doesn’t achieve its desired goals. The material is irrelevant and students forget much of the material. Most information taught in schools is quickly accessible with a smartphone. Education might be warranted if it boosted cognitive ability but it appears to be increasing IQ scores rather than actual ability to think.

3

Be advised: this thread is not for serious in-depth discussion of weighty topics (we have a link for that), this thread is not for anything Culture War related. This thread is for Fun. You got jokes? Share 'em. You got silly questions? Ask 'em.

3

Do you have a dumb question that you're kind of embarrassed to ask in the main thread? Is there something you're just not sure about?

This is your opportunity to ask questions. No question too simple or too silly.

Culture war topics are accepted, and proposals for a better intro post are appreciated.

I am not a big fan of Alex Berenson. I don't like journalists because they don't understand population statistics. They are interested mostly in anecdotal cases and their duty is to write about them in an interesting and viral way. And yet, that is an important service to identify targets that are worth of deeper analysis.

In Alex case while he missed many times, he also hit some good targets.

  1. vaccine effectiveness against infection is lost withing 3-4 months

  2. prior infection provides stronger immunity than vaccination

The second was always suspected but the evidence was always lacking. Now it turns out that twitter supressed tweets that announced the first real evidence (even if not very strong) that it is the case. I believe that this suppression likely extended wider than just twitter and ultimately influenced the US policy to not recognise immunity from infection when vaccine mandates were put in place. In contrast, most European countries with mandates recognised immunity from prior infection in one way or another as inferior or equal to immunity from vaccination.

There might be some practical considerations – vaccination is easy to register and provide proof. Prior infection is more nebulous, requires expensive testing, some tests are less reliable. The whole idea casts shadow how reasonable vaccine mandates are in the first place. Some would worry that the recognition of immunity from prior infection could also encourage vaccine hesitant to seek getting infected.

Such policies however are very risky because they are conditional on us never finding out the truth. It was always more likely that prior infection confers stronger immunity than vaccination. It was stupid to try to supress the evidence at any time. Eventually it surfaced (as it was bound to) and made those attempts to control narrative look evil.

3

Do you have a dumb question that you're kind of embarrassed to ask in the main thread? Is there something you're just not sure about?

This is your opportunity to ask questions. No question too simple or too silly.

Culture war topics are accepted, and proposals for a better intro post are appreciated.

3

The Wednesday Wellness threads are meant to encourage users to ask for and provide advice and motivation to improve their lives. It isn't intended as a 'containment thread' and any content which could go here could instead be posted in its own thread. You could post:

  • Requests for advice and / or encouragement. On basically any topic and for any scale of problem.

  • Updates to let us know how you are doing. This provides valuable feedback on past advice / encouragement and will hopefully make people feel a little more motivated to follow through. If you want to be reminded to post your update, see the post titled 'update reminders', below.

  • Advice. This can be in response to a request for advice or just something that you think could be generally useful for many people here.

  • Encouragement. Probably best directed at specific users, but if you feel like just encouraging people in general I don't think anyone is going to object. I don't think I really need to say this, but just to be clear; encouragement should have a generally positive tone and not shame people (if people feel that shame might be an effective tool for motivating people, please discuss this so we can form a group consensus on how to use it rather than just trying it).

4

Do you have a dumb question that you're kind of embarrassed to ask in the main thread? Is there something you're just not sure about?

This is your opportunity to ask questions. No question too simple or too silly.

Culture war topics are accepted, and proposals for a better intro post are appreciated.

4

The Wednesday Wellness threads are meant to encourage users to ask for and provide advice and motivation to improve their lives. It isn't intended as a 'containment thread' and any content which could go here could instead be posted in its own thread. You could post:

  • Requests for advice and / or encouragement. On basically any topic and for any scale of problem.

  • Updates to let us know how you are doing. This provides valuable feedback on past advice / encouragement and will hopefully make people feel a little more motivated to follow through. If you want to be reminded to post your update, see the post titled 'update reminders', below.

  • Advice. This can be in response to a request for advice or just something that you think could be generally useful for many people here.

  • Encouragement. Probably best directed at specific users, but if you feel like just encouraging people in general I don't think anyone is going to object. I don't think I really need to say this, but just to be clear; encouragement should have a generally positive tone and not shame people (if people feel that shame might be an effective tool for motivating people, please discuss this so we can form a group consensus on how to use it rather than just trying it).

4

Be advised: this thread is not for serious in-depth discussion of weighty topics (we have a link for that), this thread is not for anything Culture War related. This thread is for Fun. You got jokes? Share 'em. You got silly questions? Ask 'em.

4

The Wednesday Wellness threads are meant to encourage users to ask for and provide advice and motivation to improve their lives. It isn't intended as a 'containment thread' and any content which could go here could instead be posted in its own thread. You could post:

  • Requests for advice and / or encouragement. On basically any topic and for any scale of problem.

  • Updates to let us know how you are doing. This provides valuable feedback on past advice / encouragement and will hopefully make people feel a little more motivated to follow through. If you want to be reminded to post your update, see the post titled 'update reminders', below.

  • Advice. This can be in response to a request for advice or just something that you think could be generally useful for many people here.

  • Encouragement. Probably best directed at specific users, but if you feel like just encouraging people in general I don't think anyone is going to object. I don't think I really need to say this, but just to be clear; encouragement should have a generally positive tone and not shame people (if people feel that shame might be an effective tool for motivating people, please discuss this so we can form a group consensus on how to use it rather than just trying it).

Highlights:

4

Be advised: this thread is not for serious in-depth discussion of weighty topics (we have a link for that), this thread is not for anything Culture War related. This thread is for Fun. You got jokes? Share 'em. You got silly questions? Ask 'em.

The linked post seeks to outline why I feel uneasy about high existential risk estimates from AGI (e.g., 80% doom by 2070). When I try to verbalize this, I view considerations like

  • selection effects at the level of which arguments are discovered and distributed

  • community epistemic problems, and

  • increased uncertainty due to chains of reasoning with imperfect concepts

as real and important.

I'd be curious to get perspectives form the people of the Motte, e.g., telling me that I'm the crazy one & so on.

Regards,

Nuño.

5

Do you have a dumb question that you're kind of embarrassed to ask in the main thread? Is there something you're just not sure about?

This is your opportunity to ask questions. No question too simple or too silly.

Culture war topics are accepted, and proposals for a better intro post are appreciated.

7

This is an effortpost inspired by this subthread in Small Scale Questions Sunday. The question is what would a modern Grand Tour look like?

Basic assumptions:

  • The purpose of the Grand Tour is to experience the greatest achievements of European culture. A certain amount of hedonism is permitted (the brothels of Venice were a staple of the original Grand Tour) but the primary purpose is educational.

  • We take for granted that Western Civilisation is a distinct culture, that its roots are in Classical antiquity, that it is Christian, and (whether because it is superior or just because it is ours) it is the thing we are looking at.

  • We are looking at a living culture where possible, not just museums. This was an important point of the original Grand Tour - the tour ideally included fencing lessons in Paris, drawing lessons in Florence, and music lessons in Naples - in all cases these were the centres of living traditions at the time. Obviously, European culture is still very much alive and we will take this into account.

  • The modern tourists are a small mixed-sex group of early-20's Americans (or Canadians or Australians) from upper middle-class backgrounds whose parents are funding them to do the Grand Tour (the closest analogy to the original English aristocratic tourists).

  • Like the original Grand Tour, this is not an actual pilgrimage. Although a lot of religious sites make the itinerary for their historical or cultural importance or their architectural merit, we are not interested in spiritual importance as such.

  • We have 4-6 weeks (based on @grognard's comments). This is obviously a lot less than the original Grand Tour, but we can travel faster. I also assume we are doing this in during the summer, which affects what is open and such like.

From these we get the following conclusions:

  • We are not going to be wasting much time admiring the scenery. I am a proud European who has done a lot of travelling, but I don't think we have anything that stands up against the Grand Canyon or the Yosemite Valley.

  • We will do most of our travelling by train - both because it is the easiest way to get into European cities (traffic and parking are a nightmare) and because the European high-speed rail network is itself an outstanding achievement of modern European culture.

The original Grand Tour had a fairly standardised outbound route: London -> Paris -> Geneva -> through Switzerland and across the Alps to Northern Italy -> visits to various northern Italian cities including Venice and Florence -> Rome -> Naples. The return via German-speaking Europe was less standardised. @2rafa suggested a rough itinerary for the round trip on the other thread. I am going to disagree, and suggest a one-way Grand Tour: London (probably actually York) to Naples overland via Paris, Lausanne, Bologna, Florence and Rome. Why?

The core of the European culture that exists now is England and France. This historic core of European high culture (both in classical antiquity and the Renaissance) is Italy. London/Paris/Rome or London/Paris/Florence/Rome is the quintessential European itinerary for a reason. I think the return leg is relatively less valuable than it was in the eighteenth century. Vienna and Budapest are fascinating, but the culture that built them didn't survive World War I. A lot of the German sites that the original Grand Tour included was destroyed by allied bombing or Soviet criminality, or rendered culturally dead by de-Nazification. Berlin has a thriving modern culture, but I am inclined to exclude it from the Grand Tour on grounds of degeneracy. Also, changing religious norms mean that there is no longer the need to balance time spent in Catholic and Protestant countries. For example, the more intellectually inclined original tourists spent time in Heidelberg partly because the university in Catholic Bologna wasn't open to them.

The other controversial suggestion I am going to make is skipping Venice. It is a detour from the route I am proposing, and in my experience (I have visited twice) it is not worth it - it is now a culturally dead tourist trap (unless you are in town for the Biennale) and apart from the novelty of a city in a lagoon, it doesn't do anything that Rome and Florence don't.

What are the things we want to see:

  • Architecture and the visual arts. Obviously. A huge part of the point of the original Grand Tour, and easily accessible as a tourist.

  • Scientific achievement. Less accessible as a tourist, but I have tried to fit it in.

  • Engineering achievement. Apart from the trains and the various civil engineering marvels you see on the way, I have struggled here. The sine qua non of European engineering achievement is the British industrial revolution, but I don't know how to engage with that as a tourist. As an American, you can probably argue that this is less important because 21st century Europe is not noted for its engineering excellence. A lot of the most tourist-accessible engineering achievement is in military museums.

  • Performing arts, including classical music, including both traditional high culture, and excellent modern culture. The aim is as far as possible to experience arts in their spiritual home. Most of what we are looking for post-dates the original Grand Tour. I will assume that the modern tourists are able to get tickets to sold-out shows (most of the tickets I am going to list are easy to get hold of if you book well in advance).

  • Sport. This wasn't a thing at the time of the original Grand Tour, but is obviously a hugely important part of European culture, and can be experienced as a tourist if you can get tickets.

  • Food. Again, a hugely important part of European culture that is easy to experience as a tourist. French and Italian cuisines are globally recognised as excellent.

I have made a slightly arbitrary decision to exclude places which are associated with historically important events but where there is nothing spectacular there now - in particular I am not including any battlefields.

It is now after midnight in London - more route details to follow tomorrow.

Update

If anyone is still reading, I have finally got some time to write down the actual itinerary my brain was staggering towards.

1. London

I think we have 1 week in and around London. Within Central London, the key sites are:

  • Art galleries: National Gallery, Tate Britain and Tate Modern are obvious no-brainers. If you have the time and interest, several people in the thread have mentioned Sir John Soane's museum, which I have also heard good things about. When I am showing people round London, I go for the Cortauld Institute, partly because of the collection of Impressionists and partly because it is in Somerset House, which is a worth-the-visit building architecturally.

  • Unique and spectacular bulidings: Westminster Abbey, St Paul's Cathedral, the Tower of London (not only is this one of the best-preserved medieval fortified castles on the planet, it is also a Royal palace with the associated traditions and pagentry, and the hopefully-final location of the nearest thing this Earth has to a Silmaril - the Koh-i-Noor diamond), the Houses of Parliament (if you are visiting in summer, Parliament is in recess so the building is open to public tours). Tower Bridge - it is worth paying for the tour, which includes a visit to the machine rooms and the opportunity to cross on the top walkway. Spend some time wandering around the City (the one square mile historic core of London that is now the financial district - there is either a Wren church or a spectacular modern building round every corner.

  • Other museums: British museum (finest collection of looted antiquities in the world, and it isn't close), South Kensington museums - the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum are no-brainers, the Victoria & Albert would be as well except that it suffers from the all-to-common problem of modern museums that no curatorial effort goes into the permanent collection - the temporary exhibitions are spectacular, but touring the permanent collection feels like touring someone's attic. The Museum of London is

  • Museums relavant to special interests: The Bank of England Museum, the London Transport Museum, the Wellcome Collection (history of medicine), the British Library treasures collection (historically significant manuscripts, including one of the 4 surviving sealed originals of Magna Carta), the Imperial War Museum (which does exactly what it says on the tin), the Design Museum (likewise), the Handel/Hendrix museum (two composers in different eras lived in different flats in the same building - the whole building is now a museum).

  • Victorian interiors: This is not really Grand-Tour worthy, but my understanding of American anglophilia is that Victoriana is a big part of it. The Linley Sambourne house (Punch cartoonist) and the Leighton House (pre-Raphaelite artist and aristocrat) are spectacular preserved examples.

I am not including:

  • Madam Tussauds and the London Dungeon (tourist traps)

  • The Churchill Rooms (reluctantly, but it falls under the "battlefields are not achievements" criterion)

  • The London Eye or any viewing platforms (we already have views from Tower Bridge, the St Paul's galleries if you go up, and the chimney at Tate Modern)

  • The Zoo and Aquarium (great fun, but not quintessentially European or Western in any way)

  • Buckingham Palace (unspectacular architecturally)

  • Any Harry Potter attractions (ephemera, but I have no objection if you want to add them).

1a. London suburbs

There are two obvious suburban excursions in my view - both would be long half days.

Maritime Greenwich. The British seafaring tradition is one of Western Civilisation's crowning achievements - in fact I would be willing to defend the proposition that it was Western Civilisation's single greatest achievement until Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon. Greenwich is its spiritual home. Key attractions are the Cutty Sark, the National Maritime, the Royal Observatory, and the buildings of the Old Royal Naval College (Inigo Jones and Christopher Wren both did some of their best work there). It is traditional to travel one way by riverboat and the other by commuter rail.

Hampton Court Palace The Old Palace was built by Cardinal Wolsey in a deliberate and subversive attempt to compete in majesty with the King's palaces, and was confiscated by Henry VIII after Wolsey's fall. The Baroque palace added on by William III and Mary II after the 1689 Glorious Revolution was Cristopher Wren's answer to Versailles. The formal gardens (including the world's largest vine) and maze are also world-famous.

Other possible suburban excursions include Windsor (obviously), Kew Gardens (world's finest botanical garden, including the famous Victorian glasshouses and a gorgeously silly replica Japanese pagoda), and the Dulwich Picture Gallery (which stars a collection of Dutch Old Masters that had been bought to be the core of the Polish National Gallery collection, but the deal fell through when Poland was conquered in the 1790's - and it is a National Gallery worthy collection).

1b Day-trips from London

There are two obvious compulsory ones here:

Oxford or Cambridge (just under an hour by train). The University is the quintessential Western institution, and these are the second and third-oldest surviving universities, and are in the top 10 in contemporary rankings. Unfortunately it is hard to experience an ancient university as a university on a day-trip as a tourist, but the architecture of the Colleges and the various university museums make it worth the journey. The spirit of the original Grand Tour would include spending a couple of weeks participating in something like the Cambridge International Summer Programme (only weakly selective - you don't need to be an elite-university calibre student to participate), but we don't have time for that. You only need to do one of the two universities - Cambridge has the edge because of King's College Chapel, but Oxford has the advantage if you are doing Xtreme Tourism that it is on the same railway line as Stratford-upon-Avon, so you can spend most of the day in Oxford and get to Stratford in time for an evening Shakespeare performance.

Bath (1hr 20 by train). As one of the Great Spas of Europe and home of the Roman Baths, this is the sort of place that would have been on the original Grand Tour if it included England. Apart from the Roman Baths, none of the individual sites are quite Grand Tour worthy, but the cathedral, fashion museum, Jane Austen museum, and fine Palladian architecture collectively make the bar.

Other candidates include:

Stonehenge. This is an odd duck. It is utterly underwhelming as a visitor (you can no longer get within touching distance of the stones unless you manage to wrangle a pre-arranged sunrise visit, and it is literally just a circle of large stones), but it is one of the outstanding achievements of Stone Age architecture anywhere in the world, is several hundred years older than the pyramids, and technically qualifies under the "scientific achievement" heading given that the alignment of the site is evidence of systematic astronomy. I struggle to imagine doing a serious Grand Tour without including it. Unfortunately the site is not easily accessible by public transport (if you try, it ends up being a full day with Salisbury Cathedral and Old Sarum thrown in as filler attractions) - there are various coach tour options including stopping off at Stonehenge on the way to or from Bath.

Canterbury (1 hour by high-speed train). As the mother church of the Anglican Communion and the place where St Thomas a Becket met his martyrdom, Canterbury Cathedral is a legitimate pilgrimage destination for Episcopalians or other Anglosphere Protestants who see the English Reformation as part of their religious tradition. Otherwise it doesn't make the cut - you are going to be seeing a lot of cathedrals on the Grand Tour and unfortunately (unlike Bath) the other attractions in Canterbury are a bit crap.

York (Just under 2 hours by train) In my view, too far for a day trip. There is a version of the Grand Tour that begins in Edinburgh and stops off in York en route to London, but I don't think we have time for it if we are going to get to Naples in 4 weeks.

1c Cultural experiences to enjoy in London

Theatre - obviously Shakespeare is on the menu. If you have enough evenings, it is probably worth seeing Shakespeare at the Globe (where they do it the way Shakespeare would have done it, which was not highbrow at the time - the main competition for the original Globe was the bear-baiting next door) and Shakespeare done highbrow (possibly in Stratford). I also think a West End show is worth it. Modern commercial theatre is clearly an achievement of Western civilisation, some of it is very good indeed, and the West End is a major centre with its own unique version of the tradition. The high-end product is large-scale music theatre - frankly, the Grand Opera of our time - and the best composer in that style is Andrew Lloyd Webber. So I would pre-book tickets to an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. (Phantom of the Opera is generally considered the best musically).

Music - if we are doing the London-Naples route, then London is probably the best place to take in a classical concert. (For other routes, the standard of classical music is generally higher in the German-speaking bit of Europe). I would leave the opera to Paris or Milan - it is normally sung in the original language anyway. I don't spend enough time in the contemporary music scene to know if it is worth going to gigs in London or not.

Football - this is a huge part of European culture, and the Grand Tour should include a match. If you want to play the sophisticated soccer fan back in the US, you need to go to an EPL game. Brentford/Crystal Palace/Fulham/West Ham have more easily available tickets than Aresnal/Chelsea/Tottenham Hotspur. But if you are only going to one football match, I would skip London and go to a Serie A match somewhere in Italy - the fan culture is much healthier, the tickets are cheaper, and the sporting standard is similar.

Other sport - given the nature of the Grand Tour, it might make sense (depending on dates) to attend one of the socially prestigious sporting events which form part of the London Season. Royal Ascot probably offers the best compromise between a high production values sporting and social occasion and tickets actually being available to the masses.

Clubbing - the European nightclub culture based around electronic dance music is distinct from American nightclub culture based around overpriced bottle service and therefore qualifies as permissible hedonism for Grand Tourers. The spiritual home of this culture is Ibiza, but London is the best clubbing city on the London-Naples route. I am too old to offer further advice, but @5434a recommends Fabric and Printworks. The Ministry of Sound is canonical, but probably qualifies as a tourist trap by now.

Food - we can obviously skip French and Italian (both are good in London, but not as good as in their home countries). For splurge meals, I would be looking at three choices:

  • Traditional British luxury. The Savoy Grill is the obvious choice, but the restaurants at any of the grand London hotels qualify.

  • Updated takes on traditional British cuisine (which doesn't suck if done right) - St John is canonical for this sort of thing. The Hawksmoor chain of steakhouses would also qualify - although the menu is a bit too similar to a smart American steakhouse to be distinctively British.

  • Some kind of weird modern fusion cuisine that could only exist in a city as diverse as London. Use Michelin or Zagat's to find candidates.

For more ordinary meals, some obvious pointers are:

  • Traditional fish and chips

  • Modern street food at Borough Market or Greenwich Market

  • Sandwiches at Pret a Manger (a ubiquitous chain that is actually good and mostly serves office workers)

  • Curry. The Brick Lane curry houses are tourist traps. Tayyabs in Whitechapel is canonical for City workers going for a curry after work, but there are hundreds of good curry houses in London. Chicken Tikka Massala is the canonical London curry - it is a British take on Butter Chicken. Balti is also thoroughly British - it comes from Birmingham.

Update - there appears to be a small amount if interest in going on, but I am close to the 20k character limit and still struggling with a crunch at work, so I am going to put some quick notes in the comments.

Part 1 – The History of Transgenderism: r/theschism, r/BlockedAndReported, themotte.org

Part 2 – the Causes and Rationalization of Transgenderism: r/theschism, r/BlockedAndReported, themotte.org

Part 3 – How Transgenderism Harms Women And Children: r/theschism, r/BlockedAndReported, themotte.org

Part 4 – How Transgenderism Took Over Institutions And How Some Women Are Fighting Back: r/theschism, r/BlockedAndReported, themotte.org

Part 5 – Conclusion and Discussion: r/theschism, r/BlockedAndReported, themotte.org

How Much Was Covered In The Series?

Firstly, I just want to say that, if you’ve read the book, you’ll know that I picked information and arguments out of reading order. That is, Joyce’s book is a list of chapters that can mostly be read out of order, but her original list isn’t how I organized my posts. There was a great deal of jumping around.

Secondly, I did skip a few sections, including the entirety of a chapter that contained nothing new or useful. For those are currently reading or plan to read the book, it would be chapter 12.

Overall Impression

I had gone into this book expecting a great deal more. I knew that Joyce was gender-critical, but I expected stronger argumentation or attempts at finding examples of what Joyce was concerned about. As it stands, the book isn’t bad, but it can come off as polemic.

The minimal citations hurt the book’s credibility. There were times that I wanted to know where Joyce was getting some information and I had to do my own research because she didn’t give a citation in the references at the end or just in passing (“Study X titled Y from Z”). You would think you were reading a US high school student’s essay if you took a look at the number of references.

Does this mean that Joyce is wrong on the details? Not for the most part, I think. Most of her history probably comes from How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States, which is a book that does have an extensive reference list.

I think Joyce has the history, harms, and ideological tenets mostly correct, but there’s a weakness in her arguments about the science, which is less forgivable when you realize this book didn’t come out in 2001, but in 2021. I’m not arguing her representations of the science are wrong, just that her arguments don’t really make you believe she’s considered the opposition’s arguments and evidence.

There’s also a very culture-warry practice in this book where Joyce fires arguments she doesn’t even necessarily care about. This results in sections that are too big to ignore, but too small to fully flesh out the argument with the amount of evidence needed to really justify it, and perfect for inciting long arguments between people who agree with her and those who find the arguments as presented in the book lacking. The best example of this is the part where she accuses rich, white, male billionaires of controlling the TRM.

Other Reviews

This book has obviously been reviewed by others, you can find a pretty good list on Wikipedia. There are multiple people who praise it for being an excellent analysis of the TRM, but a few acknowledge, like I do, that it has its shortcomings.

Jesse Singal ultimately agrees with me that the book is short on citations and on considerations for the arguments the opposition has made. Gaby Hinsliff doesn’t find it bad, but criticizes Joyce for making arguments without spending enough time on developing them further. She suggests Kathleen Stock’s Material Girls: Why Reality Matters for Feminism.

For the people who criticize more strongly, you can check out this review by a law professor who also suggests Material Girls to be a better book, though ultimately rejects them both.

Shout Outs

Lastly, I want to highlight some important responses which I think greatly added to the discussion across the 3 places I posted. I encourage you to check them out, though the last two link to a website which takes a certain amount of cavalierness to engage with.

/u/woodD was a frequent and important trans commenter who pushed back, generating good discussion. See these comments: 1, 2.

/u/gemmaem had a good comment about puberty blockers and desistance.

/u/professorgerm had an interesting point about the differences between the TRM and previous movements, along with a hypothetical about the same-sex marriage movement.

There was a thread about the social pressure on men to transition.

@gattsuru had an informative comment regarding puberty blocker clinical trials and the Canadian trans kid case mentioned in part 3.

@Folamh3 argued that the use of male/female to refer to sex and man/woman to refer to gender is not as widely held as some might thinkg.

Lastly, I just want to mention that I’m going to update all posts so that you can find all discussion threads from the links at the top.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed!

Part 1 – The History of Transgenderism: r/theschism, r/BlockedAndReported, themotte.org

Part 2 – the Causes and Rationalization of Transgenderism: r/theschism, r/BlockedAndReported, themotte.org

Part 3 – How Transgenderism Harms Women And Children: r/theschism, r/BlockedAndReported, themotte.org

Part 4 – How Transgenderism Took Over Institutions And How Some Women Are Fighting Back: r/theschism, r/BlockedAndReported, themotte.org

Part 5 – Conclusion and Discussion: r/theschism, r/BlockedAndReported, themotte.org

Last time, we discussed what Joyce thinks are the causes of transgenderism, how they render many or even most trans people as not really trans in the first place, and what gender-identity ideology (GII) says in the first place.

This time, we’ll go over what Joyce sees as the harms of transgenderism.

Think Of The Kids!

Joyce starts by reminding us that there is a fairly high desistance rate among cross-sex identifying kids and this was known since the 70s and 80s. But this is obviously an inconvenient fact for GII, Joyce asserts, so it gets ignored.

I don’t think this is a good start, I think the modern argument TRAs would offer are that you should not stand in your child’s way of deciding their identity, even if they would desist later. Jesse Singal’s famous (or infamous) 2018 Atlantic article highlights the alarming rhetoric aimed at parents skeptical of transition (“Would you rather have a live daughter or a dead son?”), but I don’t know of cases where desistance has been ignored. I do, however, see serious debate between pro-trans and anti-trans advocates on how many desist in the first place.

Anyways, let’s jump to the 1990s. Clinicians at the time began to wonder what could be done to help the kids who would not desist. It was not clear how to identify them, and if you simply waited until they were older, then you ran into a big problem.

Puberty.

Puberty has strong and lasting effects determined by your sex (really, hormones) that cannot be fully undone by surgery. A trans woman who undergoes male puberty is going to have a deeper voice, certain facial features, and larger body (notably hands and feet). Trans men don’t have as many visible leftovers if they transition (barring breasts). But going through this was obviously discomforting to these kids, so why not try to delay puberty and see who desisted?

Thus, Amsterdam clinicians decided to start injecting small groups of kids with puberty blockers. This was predicted to be a free lunch – the kids who desisted would be taken off the blockers and develop as normal, the ones who persisted could grow up until they were 16 and old enough to consent to the irreversible stuff.

Joyce details a catastrophe as the outcome.

Of the seventy children enrolled in a study between 2000 and 2007, every single one progressed to cross-sex hormones. Almost all had surgery at age eighteen…These children were all highly gender-dysphoric, and had not desisted by the start of puberty.

Joyce admits that it was possible the clinic somehow picked out only persisters, but she is highly skeptical of this. If every other study Joyce cited found major desistance, then the more likely explanation was that puberty blockers had disrupted the body’s process for resolving dysphoria.

But the results were taken up with gusto by others, and Canadian and American clinics began prescribing these blockers not long after. UK’s Tavistock was initially cautious, but began routine assignment in 2014 after, according to Joyce, they were pressed by activists.

All this might have been more acceptable if the criteria for assignment were strict, but Joyce says they’ve been assigned more and more to kids with less severe dysphoria and even those who aren’t transgender, but non-binary or gender-fluid.

I’m not sure how to verify the numbers exactly (even Joyce admits we don’t have clear counts). The number is clearly greatly increasing, but it’s not clear if this just reflects that the right number of kids are getting them, or too many are. I will say that she’s correct on the broadening of who can get blockers. The Mayo Clinic, St. Louis Children’s Hospital, and Cleveland Clinic all say that you don’t have be trans, but just questioning your gender to get it.

But is the broadening of the accepted reasons really a problem? Assume for a moment that puberty blockers worked as advertised (no interference with normal desistance processes). Is there something inherently wrong with offering kids who are experiencing discomfort with their gender puberty blockers? One might argue that categories like non-binary or genderqueer don’t exist and are artificially created for ideological reasons, but if they do, I’m not sure what the issue is.

For Joyce, however, the problem goes beyond just kids on the verge of puberty. Pro-trans messaging has come to include the idea that kids from a very early age can indicate their gender. Diane Ehrensaft, Director of Mental Health and founding member of the Child and Adolescent Gender Center, is quoted as saying that kids as young as three years old can indicate their knowledge of their gender.

This is an inversion of John Money’s ideas, though no less highly unconventional. Where Money had argued that gender was malleable in the first 2.5 years of life and then unchangeable, the modern GII argument seems to be that gender is known from birth.

Both, however, would argue for social transition at an early age. This is unacceptable to Joyce because these are always presented as reversible (both transition and blockers), but part of what she calls the “cascade of interventions”. It does not appear that kids tend to desist even if you just socially transition them. The age at which interventions are happening is lowering as well, with some kids getting cross-sex hormones and even surgery before 16.

If you want to see how nasty activists of any sort can get if you question their views, Joyce points to a controversial figure in this discussion space, the man named Ken Zucker. Zucker is one of the biggest names in gender medicine and has seen at least 1500 gender dysphoric kids. He edits Archives of Sexual Behavior but is known for authoring studies which showed the high desistance rates among kids. Zucker even introduced puberty blockers alongside someone else into Canada in 1999.

I won’t detail the entire controversy, Singal has also covered that here here. Joyce, for her part, argues that the campaign to get Zucker taken down was very much to send a message to anyone else who tried arguing like he did.

Medical Issues With Puberty Blockers

Not only is there a dearth of reliable evidence that kids benefit from taking puberty blockers, Joyce argues that there are other side effects that complicate the matter.

  1. Only your natal hormones can make your ovaries/testicles mature.

  2. There is anecdotal evidence that your sex life may be less-than-fully realized.

  3. Puberty, even if partial, is what makes your penis or vagina develop into an adult’s, blocking it can keep your genitalia child-like, leaving not enough skin to do standard reassignment surgery.

  4. Eggs and sperm cannot be frozen for later if they are never active to start with, and they only activate in puberty.

  5. Trans men and women suffer from higher rates of diseases (not the same ones for both).

The drugs themselves are another issue. Joyce claims that they’ve never been put under clinical trials and aren’t even made for that purpose according to the manufacturers. They’re meant for treating adults for hormone-related conditions or to chemically castrate sex offenders. There are concerns that they may cause a significant IQ drop and prevent calcium from being laid down in bones.

From a cursory glance, I think Joyce is correct. Google Scholar doesn’t list too many studies that actually look at the issue, I only found one meta-review, published in 2020. There was also a piece from 2019 in the BMJ that discussed possible issues with even trying to study it from an ethical perspective. Wikipedia lists some adverse effects.

Progress Is A Circle

But there is another effect in promoting transgenderism, and gender-diversity to a lesser extent, in children – the reinforcement of gender stereotypes. Joyce picks Introducing Teddy: A Gentle Story About Gender and Friendship as her example of this, where the titular Teddy becomes a girl by turning his bow tie into a hair bow.

Such stories of children for children are increasing common, and they do not endorse any explanation of a child’s alienation from their sex other than a discordant gender identity. Joyce argues for familiar explanations: homosexuality or seeking (parental) approval.

Thus, it is damning to Joyce that so many pro-trans or trans-inclusive arguments and lessons to children just enforce gender stereotypes that are the product of the culture. Why are these people acting as if these stereotypes were instead naturally implanted into people?

Parents V. The World

Even more damning is how this divides parents from children. Obviously, transphobic parents would always have a problem with any suggestion of a trans child. But with an increasingly harsh attitude towards anyone who questions their child’s identity or the idea of teaching these ideas to children, there are now stories about kids cutting contact and leaving their homes.

There is evidence to support this indirectly, at least one school district in the US said that its staff were not permitted to reveal a trans kid’s status to their parents. This was picked up last year by right-wing media, which is presumably why the district removed the document from their site.

Schools are not the only intervening institution; the government is in on it as well. Joyce refers to a 2019 British Columbia court case involving a 14-year-old trans boy named Max and his father.

In 2016, aged twelve, she was referred to the school counsellor. Unbeknownst to her parents at the time, she mentioned feeling a commonality with the transboy protagonist of a film she had seen online. The counsellor concluded that Max was trans, arranged for a change of name and pronouns in school records, and referred Max to a psychologist, who recommended testosterone and made a further referral to a paediatric endocrinologist.

A consent form was sent to the Jacksons; the father refused to sign…But under British Columbia’s Infants Act, a child of any age has the right to medical treatment that is opposed by parents if the doctor thinks it is in the child’s best interests, and that the child is ‘mature enough’ to decide. In 2019, the supreme court of British Columbia ruled that Max could consent to medical transition independently of the father’s wishes (his ex-wife was no longer opposed). His refusal to refer to his child as a boy, and continued opposition to transition, were ruled ‘family violence’, and he was banned from speaking to the press.

Tangentially, I will note my confusion over this case. The Guardian reported the following:

“I will be stranded between looking and sounding feminine and looking and sounding masculine. I would feel like a freak,” the teenager wrote in an affidavit which was read out in court on Tuesday.

But I don’t know what would cause this. This may just be a teenager not able to speak clearly, but w/o drugs or surgery, how would you be stuck in such a manner? I would understand if Max was upset about looking/sounding feminine while trying to be masculine, but the wording is…odd.

A Threat To (Cis) Women

The elephant in the room for who stands to lose, according to Joyce, is cis women. They stand to lose many things they had once relied upon, not the least of which include single-sex spaces.

You may remember the name Jessica Yaniv if you’re more online. Yaniv is a trans women and trans activist who, in 2018, began asking wax salons if they would wax her genitals. The reporting I find from this time suggests that Yaniv hadn’t had surgery, meaning she still had her penis and testicles. This doesn’t work for Brazilian waxing; testicles are simply too sensitive to some of the techniques. When she was refused, she brought anti-discrimination cases in British Columbia against the women who refused.

Joyce says it was unclear which way the case would be decided. In the end, however, the court ruled that Yaniv was in the wrong and described her as a vexatious litigant who was acting in bad faith and motivated by money over actual discrimination.

Sounds like a victory for cis women, right? No, unfortunately. The court did not decide against Yaniv on the basis of the defendants having a religious right to refuse service, but on the basis that she had made self-admitted racist remarks against them. The defendants were South and East Asian women, you see.

What I don’t quite understand is where Joyce actually falls on this idea of religious freedom to not accept the tenets of GII. Does she greatly support religious freedom in all cases, or just strategically in this one because it happens to support her view that trans women are a threat to cis women?

The more classic problem, of course, is the bathroom question – is it okay to ban trans women from women’s restrooms? Here, I’ll point to there being no evidence that it’s problematic, but this may be because the culture hasn’t really caught up yet. I don’t think we can really extrapolate from the present to the near future.

Joyce, however, goes a different route – crime statistics.

The little evidence that exists shows that at least some of the males who identify as women are very dangerous indeed. Of the 125 transgender prisoners known to be in English prisons in late 2017, sixty were transwomen who had committed sexual offences, a share far higher than in the general male prison population, let alone in the female one.

So either transwomen are more likely than other males to be sexual predators, or – more probable in my view – gender self-identification provides sexual predators with a marvellous loophole. Whichever is true, allowing males to self-identify into women’s spaces makes women less safe.

Of course, prisoners are perhaps not representative of the overall trans population. But I would agree that self-ID is a dangerous thing and shouldn't be the basis by which we decided transgenderism. I would say that it specifically applies to spaces like women's restrooms, but I don't know of any practical way to allow for people to critically evaluate whether someone is trans that also accommodates self-ID.

There’s then a really uncharitable attempt at showing TRA hypocrisy.

Arguing that vulnerable males must be allowed to identify out of male spaces because males are so dangerous undermines any argument that males should be admitted to female spaces on demand.

Obviously, she and her opponents disagree on many things. But it’s not a contradiction if your opponents believe that sex is malleable like gender to also believe that trans women and women should therefore be kept in the same space, segregated away from cis men.

There are more arguments Joyce makes for the preservation of single-sex (basically only women’s) and the dangers of allowing trans women to enter those spaces, but they’re not very interesting or worth expounding on. If you understand the argument that males tend to be more violent, especially sexually, towards females, you’ve read about a dozen or so pages in this book already.

Mods are mean and limit me to 20k characters, check the comments for the rest of this post.

That's all for this part. Next time, we'll go over some more modern history and how some cis women are fighting back against this. Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed!

SS: I think that cognitive genetic enhancement is important for ensuring we have a better and lasting future. Many people have an intuitive dislike for the idea of using genetic enhancement to make a baby smarter but have little issue with in vitro fertilization (IVF). I try to build from a foundation of the acceptable practice of IVF to PGT-P for IQ.

13

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