SIO41: Talking Free Speech, with Michael Shermer

I’m very pleased to be speaking to Michael Shermer this week, someone who has been more on the free speech war side of things, and someone who has said previously that liberals won’t dialogue with him. Well, to his credit, he eventually noticed my Twitter chirpings at him and was willing to have a long form conversation about our disagreements. I think there’s a lot of room for optimism at the result, so check it out!

Links discussed: Overblown Piece on WaPo Advocating Censorship; Study on Racism and Trump Voting; George Mason Study on Dissonance and Party Affiliation; 538 Article on Perceived Discrimination;

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5 Replies to “SIO41: Talking Free Speech, with Michael Shermer”

  1. You need to let go of the Jordan Peterson thing. You’re coming across as a nut job, like a toy terrier that has someone by the pant leg and won’t let go. This was off topic for a Michael Shermer interview. You just wanted validation from someone at the big people’s table.

    Other than that, it was an interesting interview. You actually make some good points about white identity politics dominating the American scene since forever (don’t forget it’s white male identity politics—women don’t count no matter what color they are). What you don’t get is that you have about three years to change the culture of white male America. Don’t feel bad; less than 1% off the irredeemable regressive left understand this. You don’t have to change white male minds—which you can’t do anyway—you have to change white male culture. The progress that the politically correct left thought had been made from the ’70s, say, till 2016 was an illusion. White males had been taught to keep their mouths shut about political correctness and affirmative action, but their attitudes toward it hadn’t changed one whit. What Mr. Shermer said about Middle America not voting for Trump, but rather voting to stick their finger in the eye of the regressive left is very true. And they’ll do it again in 2020.

    What Sam Harris says about there needing to be a complete overhaul of the political left and probably a scrapping of the existing Democratic Party is true, but there’s not enough time for that either, not even if the whole American political left got behind such an effort. But we’re not getting behind remaking the left. Many of us think the regressive left lost because it was not regressive enough and we will be doubling down on a failed strategy in 2020.

    Embrace the Void! Defer to the despots! Viva Il Duce!

  2. What I’ve learned from this is Michael Shermer has not seen fit to look into racial and feminist theory (“who are the racists making bad decisions behind closed doors?” is not an informed way to describe how racism/sexism functions in a society), seems to be aware of discrete studies that address the effect of racism and sexism when presented with them, but feels pretty comfortable dismissing explanations that try to contextualize these findings because they seem “complicated” or immediately counterintuitive. Honestly, that was disappointing.

    I thought you did a great job pushing back in a way that was thorough, pointed, and respectful.

    And, in fairness to Shermer, it does sound like he was receptive to your feedback, and that he’s willing to acknowledge the validity of interpretations of the things he says/tweets that exist apart from his intentions. I think he deserves credit for that.

  3. Hello,

    do you believe in evolution? Do you believe that evolution has an effect on the brain?

    The biggest problem in the argument of sexism in the hard-fields in STEM is the disregard of actual diffences between the sexes. If you look into the data in psychological differences you see that a) women are more interested in people b) men are more interested in things. This has been proven to be true across multiple cultures, and even the infants speaking against the tabula rasa -model. This is a very large explaining factor explaining the differences in the academical fields (as Shermer pointed out). This is NOT stereotype threat.

    It has also been shown that the more egalitarian the society is e.g. the Scandinavia (where I am from) women are EVEN MORE likely to go to study in non-STEM fields. Do you think that Scandinavia (e.g. Sweden) is more sexist than the U.S.? I don’t see that this is a position that one can defend.

    Also speaking of stereotypes, they been proven to be one the most accurate phenomenom in social psychology (

    Implicit bias has been quite well proven to be inaccurate in predicting behavior, and the methodological faults paint it in very bad light (which was also mentioned by Shermer). That is just shoddy science.

    One more interesting thing in mathematical areas is that IQ has been proven to be more variable in men vs. women (the average IQ being the same, there is a good lecture on this by Steven Pinker). At the top of the curve the ratio between men and women is very large, explaining why the top 0,01% of physics and mathematics are men.

    Correlation does not imply causation. Sexism and stereotyping do not explain the differences in stem-fields, that theory is just lazy thinking disregarding the actual biological facts.

  4. There’s not an option to edit past comments, but in light of Shermer’s recent publication and personal endorsement of a vacuous hit piece on gender studies, I feel the need to take back my statement about him deserving credit, and to insist on calling him a conceptual penis.

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