Friday, August 04, 2017

The New York Times Boy Opinion Columnists on Women

Well, some of them, the ones who write about women* at all.  That would be David Brooks and Ross Douthat and, earlier, John Tierney.  I want to put those posts together, because the New York Times is viewed as part of the libtard fake news industry, so one might expect fewer of such biased takes on gender science.

But the focus of diversity at the opinions stable of the Times doesn't seem to reach to correcting their coverage of issues pertinent to women.

* This post is relevant for understanding what writing about women in science and politics often means.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Terry Pratchett As Comfort Reading In The Current Political Situation

One of my escape valves* from the Trump Reich has been re-reading Terry Pratchett's Discworld books.  Several of them offer excellent parables to the American "fake news" phenomenon.

Two examples:

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Echidne on Right-Wing Christianity and Politics

I wrote about Ross Douthat's sermon on religion to liberals last April.  In this post I want to understand better why over eighty percent of white Evangelicals voted for Donald Trump last November:

Exit polls show white evangelical voters voted in high numbers for Donald Trump, 80-16 percent, according to exit poll results. That’s the most they have voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 2004, when they overwhelmingly chose President George W. Bush by a margin of 78-21 percent. Their support for Trump will likely be seen as part of the reason the GOP candidate performed unexpectedly well in Tuesday’s election, according to Five Thirty Eight.
White evangelicals are the religious group that most identifies with the Republican Party, and 76 percent of them say they are or lean Republican, according to a 2014 survey. As a group, white evangelicals make up one-fifth of all registered voters and about one-third of all voters who identify with or lean toward the GOP.
The obvious answer to my question is that white Evangelicals overwhelmingly identify with the Republican Party.  But why is that the case?  Most of the sayings of Jesus appear to directly contradict the Republican platform, after all.

A more detailed answer might also tell us why Hillary Clinton seems to be especially disliked by white Evangelicals, why they voted for a heathen womanizer who probably only goes to church when the cameras are present, rather than for the woman who actually is religious.

So let's try this one:

Evangelical support for Trump, a thrice-married, casino-building businessman, was puzzling to some. For instance, leaders like Focus on the Family founder James Dobson who has long opposed gambling, ended up supporting him once he became the GOP Party nominee. Clinton is a churchgoing United Methodist who taught Sunday school and, as a senator, attended weekly prayer breakfasts.
Trump’s support from evangelicals could be explained at least in part by their deep dislike for Clinton. According to a Post-ABC poll in October, 70 percent of white evangelicals held an unfavorable view of Clinton, compared with 55 percent of the public overall who say the same thing.
Clinton has symbolized much of what evangelicals have tended to oppose, including abortion rights advocacy and feminism. As first lady, she is tied to conservative Christian loss of culture war battles during Bill Clinton’s presidency.

Bolds are mine.  I find the importance of opposition to abortion by the right-wing Christians interesting, because the Bible doesn't say anything at all about abortion*.  Yet two interviewed leaders of white and Latinx Evangelical in this article were both very much focused on two issues:  the banning of abortion and support for the state of Israel.**

Others have argued that white Evangelicals, in particular, love Trump because he is Trump:

But Trump and his evangelical supporters think alike in more ways than people realize. Fundamentalist approaches to evangelicalism have long fostered anti-intellectual, anti-rational, black-and-white, and authoritarian mindsets—the very traits that define Trump.

Whichever of those explanations one prefers, it's hard not to wonder if those white (and Latinx) Evangelicals who voted for Trump didn't make a pact with the Christian Devil.  Or if they never read this in their presumed holy book:

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like unto whitewashed sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outwardly but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.

Heh.  That's a bit strong, right?  But despite my severe criticism of various types of fundamentalists on this blog, over many years, I have always on some level assumed that those believers take their religious views seriously, that they walk their talk, and that both the walk and the talk are based on the holy books they tell me they follow.

When the exact reverse seems to have happened, when the votes seem more based on tribal, patriarchal and financial considerations,  but are explained as religious ones, well, it's difficult not to think of whitewashed sepulchers.


*  Which suggests to me that the link between the dislike of abortions and the dislike of equal rights for women may be closer than is usually admitted.

**  To explain that support, see here.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

When Sexism And Bad Evolutionary Psychology Meet. The Russian Case.

I like this post not because of its quality --  it's mediocre -- but because it ties together many of my interests in one bundle (domestic violence prevention, Trump's Russia connection and terrible research joyfully spread online) and even puts a nice bow on it.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Women and American Politics. Second Monday

These three posts are about the influence of gender on the 2016 elections.  This one tells how men and women voted, based on exit polls.  This one and this one analyze the impact of sexism (and racism) on the results.

The results of the 2016 elections did not change the total number of women in the Congress.  Women are still 19% of the Congress and over 50% of all Americans.   So while the Congress became somewhat more racially diverse it stayed put in terms of gender. 

But things could be even worse, of course, and they are inside the Republicans in the Congress:  Roughly ten percent of the Republican Senators and nine percent of the Republican Congresscritters are women.

Incidentally, the US News piece the last link goes to a somewhat unhelpful beginning statement:

But increased diversity in the new Congress is largely around the edges, with women and minorities each making up less than 20 percent of lawmakers.
I blame the concept of diversity for that, because it is essentially undefined.  If we use the concept of fair or proportional representation, then we would expect each minority group to be roughly represented at the same percentages that it commands in the overall US population*, and we would expect the same for women when viewed as a class.  

It doesn't make much sense to lump all minorities together in this context (though it can be useful in other contexts**), because we could have a situation where one minority is vastly under-represented and another vastly over-represented, but pooling all minorities into one group could disguise such developments.

It's also possible that some future Congress will have all minority ethnic and racial groups fairly represented, but mostly by men.  The tendency to lump all the different groups together and then tag them with the label of "diversity" is  really not terribly helpful.  I much prefer "fair representation" to "diversity."
* With the exception of very small demographic groups.  Some years such groups would be over-represented and some years under-represented, in a somewhat fairer world, so that the long-run average percentage would match the population percentages.

** In, say, analyses of white male percentages in the Congress.  But in many other cases lumping together all the people who don't fall under that label can hide important differences in the reasons for under-representation.