Do Sexual Preferences Make You Racist, Homophobic, Sexist etc?

I’ve been meaning to talk about this topic for a while. A few months ago Tyler Oakley tweeted this:

tweet

Just the other day, Riley J. Dennis, made a video (it will be embedded at the bottom of this post if you want to watch it in its entirety) that said if you wouldn’t date a trans person that you’re discriminatory. She also said that you can control who you’re attracted to.

Anyhow, I thought this would be an interesting topic of discussion. I’m going to give you my take, and feel free to give me yours in the comment section.

I think both Riley and Tyler are wrong. Here’s why.

I think everyone does this. Everyone has sexual preferences. I’ve met people who only like to date tall guys, people who look at a person’s teeth first to make sure they’re intact, people who like overweight people and people who only like athletic types. They actively weed out possibilities with those preferences in mind, and I see nothing wrong with that.

As for Tyler, if I say men just aren’t my type, does that make me sexist?

No one has the right to tell me who I should have sex with.

Riley opens her video asking whether I’d date certain people. So before moving forward, I’ll answer those questions really quick.

Would you date someone who was:

  1. Trans – No
  2. Fat -Yes
  3. Black – Yes
  4. Disabled – Yes

Telling me that I have to be open to dating someone with a penis or else I’m some sort of ‘phobic’ is blatantly ridiculous to me. I’m not going to dislike someone based on whether they have a penis or not, how they choose to dress or whether they feel like a male or female, but when it comes down to having sex, I don’t want penis. Telling me that I must be willing to want penis makes me think you feel entitled to have sex with anyone, despite how they may feel.

People are complex. We like and dislike all sorts of things and thankfully there are all sorts of people out there who like the opposite of what I prefer in a partner. There are people who prefer Asian people and some who prefer white people. There are some who prefer large people and some who prefer small. Some who prefer blue eyes and some who prefer brown.

Also, science suggests that we are attracted to certain things (in general) for specific evolutionary reasons.

For example, facial symmetry can play a part:

However recent research suggests that there are universal agreements about beauty which hold true across all cultures and even throughout the animal kingdom.

Probably the most important is facial symmetry. Having a face which is equal on both sides is a biological advert which tells prospective partners that good genes will be found in this body.

And body size matters as well:

Women are unconsciously looking for a man who has a waist-to-hip ratio of 9:10 and are attracted to a partner with a big jaw, a broad chin, an imposing brow. The angle between their eyes and mouth, cheekbone prominence, and facial length all play a role as well as does facial hair. Most women prefer heavy stubble to either a beard of clean shaven. However men with full beards are viewed as better fathers.

The perfect man should also have body fat of around 12 per cent which is an important indicator of how well the immune system works.

Bottom line to me is that people don’t get to tell me or any other person who they should sleep with. Sex is a very complex thing and no one should be able to shame another simply because they have sexual preferences.

I think my favorite part of the Riley video was when she said that if you are attracted to penis or vagina, you’re basically objectifying them based on their genitals. She called this ‘genitalifying’.

I kid you not.

Anyhow, what are your thoughts? Are sexual preferences racist, discriminatory etc?

As always, thanks for reading.

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Will Artificial Intelligence Kill Us All?

I really enjoyed this video where Sam Harris discusses the dangers in continuing to develop artificial intelligence.

Sam argues that artificially intelligent beings might decide to treat us in much the same way we treat ants.

I hope you’ll give it a watch and leave your thoughts below. I thought it would be nice to escape the topic of the election for just a little while.

 

Transgender: Biological or Belief?

I had an interesting conversation with The Arbourist that started here and ended here, about the nature of transgender people. You can read the full discussion by following the links, but suffice to say that he believes that transgender people hold a set of beliefs or ideologies and that transgender is not biological in nature but a belief:

Transgender: the belief that one “feels” like the opposite sex

this is fundamentally impossible without the assumption that male and female minds are biologically wired to conform to gender (aka stereotypes) which is demonstrably untrue and incredibly sexist

When I asked about the ideologies a transgender would hold (even writing it sounds ridiculous) he posted this:

Robert Jenson –

“Transgender is defined as “A term for people whose gender identity, expression or behavior is different from those typically associated with their assigned sex at birth.” The transgender movement rejects the automatic sorting of males and females into the categories of man and woman, but does not necessarily reject gender roles. Some in the transgender movement embrace patriarchal gender roles typically attached to the cultural categories of masculinity and femininity.

While not all people who identify as transgender have sex-reassignment surgery or use hormones or other treatments to modify their bodies, the transgender movement as a whole accepts and/or embraces these practices.”

“Transgenderism is a liberal, individualist, medicalized response to the problem of patriarchy’s rigid, repressive, and reactionary gender norms. “

After this I pointed out that the ideologies he referred to seemed to be more about the ideologies of radical feminists than about transgender people, such as that ‘some in the transgender movement embrace patriarchal gender roles’.

The transgender person is just existing. By their mere existence, they are contradicting the ideologies held by the self-professed radical feminist.

It reminds me of how an ethical atheist, by virtue of their mere existence, contradicts the ideology that you need to be religious to be a good person.

I also hate to break it to you, but there are a lot of males and females who embrace gender roles as well. It’s not just a transgender thing.

In fact, if you read the beginning of the conversation, he actually makes the analogy that transgender is the same as a religion. When I questioned him about this, he said:

@GC

“So you see cis and trans as a belief system similar to a religion?”

Enough rough parallels to make a go of it. Sure, why not? If it helps in comprehending the objections to trans-ideology.

In that same comment he said:

There is no hate for Trans people here – my quarrel rests with their ideology. A) Because it erases women and their struggle in society and B) it makes specious claims about sex and gender that are not supported by evidence.

So now that I’ve laid the groundwork, are his claims true? Is transgender merely a belief or is it based on biology?

It turns out that preliminary research on transgender people show that it might be biologically driven and not a belief at all:

DR. JOSHUA SAFER, Boston University: In most people, chromosomes, body parts, gender identity align. So, somebody with a male chromosome, somebody with male body parts is going to have male gender identity. That is the usual circumstance.

All of these are independently controlled biologically, and therefore it is no surprise that, in a given subset of the population, one part is not aligned, that whatever genes are controlling that happen to be different for that individual, and that’s what’s happening with transgender individuals.

Or this:

Their results, published in 2013, showed that even before treatment the brain structures of the trans people were more similar in some respects to the brains of their experienced gender than those of their natal gender. For example, the female-to-male subjects had relatively thin subcortical areas (these areas tend to be thinner in men than in women). Male-to-female subjects tended to have thinner cortical regions in the right hemisphere, which is characteristic of a female brain. (Such differences became more pronounced after treatment.)

“Trans people have brains that are different from males and females, a unique kind of brain,” Guillamon says. “It is simplistic to say that a female-to-male transgender person is a female trapped in a male body. It’s not because they have a male brain but a transsexual brain.” Of course, behavior and experience shape brain anatomy, so it is impossible to say if these subtle differences are inborn.

Or this:

Medical care of transgender patients, including surgical and hormonal treatment, has largely been met with resistance by physicians in favor of psychiatric treatment, owing to misconceptions that gender identity can be changed. According to a review article in Endocrine Practice, there is increasing evidence of a biological basis for gender identity that may change physicians’ perspective on transgender medicine and improve health care for these patients.

The arguments The Arbourist was making are the same sorts of arguments religious people made to deny same-sex couples their rights – they would tell people that their sexual orientation was just a belief, and therefore they didn’t deserve the same protections heterosexual people enjoyed.

There are no ideologies or set of beliefs specifically associated with being transgender, gay, heterosexual etc, and the evidence points towards transgender being biological in nature and not a belief at all.

So Freaking Sore…and Stuff

I was lazy.

After about a month off from the gym, I went back on Wednesday to do an upper body workout. Then I went again Thursday to cripple my lower body.

I can barely put a jacket on without wincing in pain. It’s getting worse by the minute.

I just came back from eating supper with my partner in crime, and when we stood up to put our jackets on, I nearly asked her to help…but I didn’t. My pride wouldn’t let me. I cried a little inside as I stretched my arm out to put it in the sleeve.

Asgardia, baby!

In other news, I ran across this story about a proposed space station. They’re taking applications for citizenship:

Asgardia, named after the Norse gods’ home of Asgard, will be a democracy with an emphasis on the freedom of the individual to develop space technologies, according to Igor Ashurbeyli, Asgardia project team leader and founder. People can now apply to be selected as one of the first 100,000 citizens through the nation’s website, asgardia.space. At the time of publication, the number of applicants has reached more than 84,000, according to the website. While Asgardia is not officially a nation (yet), prospective citizens must fulfil the legal requirements for Asgardia’s United Nations application — for example, they must be from nations that allow multiple citizenships.

I don’t think it will happen anytime soon, but it’s a pretty cool story nevertheless.

Pakistan says schizophrenia isn’t a mental disorder

Last but not least, I saw this story about Pakistan ruling that schizophrenia isn’t a mental disorder:

The Supreme Court in Pakistan has ruled that schizophrenia is not a mental illness, paving the way for the execution of a paranoid schizophrenic man convicted of murder.

Imdad Ali was declared clinically insane after killing a cleric in 2002.

Safia Bano, Mr Ali’s wife, had appealed against her husband’s conviction on the grounds that he was insane.

But the court rejected the appeal on Friday, saying schizophrenia was “not a permanent mental disorder”.

This despite The American Psychological Association determining schizophrenia to be a serious mental illness:

The American Psychological Association defines schizophrenia as “a serious mental illness characterised by incoherent or illogical thoughts, bizarre behaviour and speech, and delusions or hallucinations, such as hearing voices”.

The UN has said it would be against International Law to execute the man, but the decision means he could be hung within a week.

So depressing and what a step backwards for human rights.

On that note, I’m going to take my tired, old, sore body to bed. I hope you all have a fantastic evening and weekend.

 

Could The Terminator Be Reality?

Big_dog_military_robotsPretty crazy news story out about high profile tech specialists and scientists signing a petition to ban autonomous weapons:

Robotics experts from around the world have called for a ban on autonomous weapons, warning that an artificial intelligence revolution in warfare could spell disaster for humanity.

The open letter, published by the Future of Life Institute, has been signed by hundreds of AI and robotics researchers, as well as high-profile persons in the science and tech world including Stephen Hawking, Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. Celebrated philosopher and cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett is among other endorsers who’ve added their names to the letter.

Damn. Those are some big names and some smart people. But what exactly are autonomous weapons?

The article also answers that:

“An autonomous weapons system is a weapon that, once activated or launched, decides to select its own targets and kills them without further human intervention,” explains Sharkey, who is a member of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots — an organisation launched in 2013 that’s pushing for an international treaty to outlaw autonomous weapons. “Our aim is to prevent the kill decision being given to a machine.”

You mean giving a machine the ability to kill without human tethering is a bad idea?

I never would have guessed.

If these guys are signing a petition, we must be super close to creating autonomous killing machines. Probably some would argue that there would be less human casualties if robots went to war instead of humans, but they’d also make perfect assassins.

I’m with Hawking and the rest. Creating robot terminators is a very bad idea.

Can’t we all just get along and stop building new contraptions designed for the sole purpose of killing each other?

Does Split Brain Surgery Show There Is No Soul?

Cerebral_lobesI’ve been recently reading up on split brain surgery, and how it effects behavior. What made me originally curious was Sam Harris’ newest book, Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion.

In that book, Sam Harris talks about consciousness and what makes us who we are. He describes (paraphrasing) how we feel as if we’re something riding around in our heads and looking through our eyes. He explains what consciousness is

 “an experiential internal qualitative dimension to any physical system.” Put more simply, consciousness is what it’s like and how it feels to be you.

He then goes on to talk about the ego or the sense of ‘I’ that we experience as human beings:

“The sense of being an ego, an I, a thinker of thoughts in addition to the thoughts. An experiencer in addition to the experience. The sense that we all have of riding around inside our heads as a kind of a passenger in the vehicle of the body…. Now that sense of being a subject, a locus of consciousness inside the head is an illusion. It makes no neuro-anatomical sense. There’s no place in the brain for your ego to be hiding.”

Later he talks about a medical procedure called calloscotomy, which inhibits the right hemisphere from communicating with the left. They have done this procedure to people who suffer from severe epileptic seizures.  They’ve also performed this procedure on various animals, including cats and monkeys.

So here’s the really interesting part. In my opinion anyways – when they do this procedure, it’s as if they create two consciousnesses in one skull. It’s creepy but it’s almost as if two people are sharing the same body.

In one test, they showed a subject who had undergone this procedure a set of four different colored blocks. Then they showed him a picture of the blocks in some arrangement in front of him and asked him to duplicate it with his blocks. The subjects right hand (the left hemisphere controls the right side as well as visual-motor capacity) was easily able to complete the task, but the left hand (controlled by the right hemisphere) could not.

However, it gets even stranger:

But more surprising was this: As the right hand kept trying to get the blocks to match up to the picture, the more capable left hand would creep over to the right hand to intervene, as if it realized how incompetent the right hand was. This occurred so frequently that Gazzaniga eventually asked Jenkins to sit on his left hand so it wouldn’t butt in.

When Gazzaniga let Jenkins use both hands to solve the problem in another trial, he again saw the two brain hemispheres at odds with one another. “One hand tried to undo the accomplishments of the other,” he wrote. “The left hand would make a move to get things correct and the right hand would undo the gain. It looked like two separate mental systems were struggling for their view of the world.”

The take away from this experiment and many more that they’ve done since is this:

“The demonstration that you could in effect split consciousness by splitting anatomy—by just making a tiny change in anatomy … It was one of the most remarkable results in neuroscience, with huge implications,” said Patricia Churchland, a philosopher at the University of California, San Diego, whose work focuses on the relationship between philosophy and neuroscience. “If you thought that consciousness and mental states were independent of the brain, then this should have been a real wake-up call.”

Helping to illuminate the relationship between the mind and the brain, according to the cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker, is one of split-brain research’s most important contributions to modern psychology and neuroscience. “The fact that each hemisphere supports its own coherent, conscious stream of thought highlights that consciousness is a product of brain activity,” he told me. “The notion that there is a single entity called consciousness, without components or parts, is false.”

We have often described our ‘self’ as something separate from our bodies. Most of our religions describe some sort of soul that leaves or changes as we die, but this experiment shows that by simply cutting off communication between our two hemispheres, we can create two consciousnesses that are independent of one another.

While you’re reading this, you could have two different opinions of this piece, depending on which hemisphere you asked.

How creepy but fascinating is that? And are there more ‘I’s’ lurking around in our skulls that we haven’t discovered yet?

No matter how you look at it, I think this shows that the soul doesn’t exist if you think your consciousness or the thing that you describe as ‘I’ or ‘you’ is essentially what your soul is.

What do you think?

Does Your Dog or Cat Get Jealous?

What's this I hear about you touching another dog?

What’s this I hear about you touching another dog?

A new study shows that dogs can feel jealousy:

A study by scholars at the University of California, San Diego found that dogs showed jealous behaviors when their owners displayed affection toward an animatronic stuffed dog that barked, whined and wagged its tail. The dogs snapped at and pushed against the stuffed dog and tried to get between it and the human.

And:

“These results lend support to the hypothesis that jealousy has some ‘primordial’ form that exists in human infants and in at least one other social species besides humans,” the study said.

Although most animals clearly demonstrate primal emotions such as anger or fear, studies have been less conclusive in determining whether dogs are capable of more complicated feelings such as guilt or shame, Bekoff said.

But research has shown that dogs do understand when they’re being treated unfairly, he said.

“Dogs are really keen social observers,” Bekoff said.

I think anyone who has owned (or owns) a pooch of their own probably knew this long before this study was published. My dog (Dexter) doesn’t even have to witness the contact of another dog, before he sniffs me and gives me the eye. He also tries to interject himself between me and my wife if we cuddle too long without including him. We will sit on the couch and eat dinner, which is fine with him. He’ll lay on the floor and watch us. After dinner, he will leave us alone for maybe ten minutes, before trying to fit his fat ass up on the couch with us. My wife usually takes the brunt of it, as she tries desperately to remove herself from beneath the dog.

You see, there is a natural order to things, according to Dexter. The one side of the couch is his. He’s always laid there and when I share the couch, he often lays on my chest. He’s done this since he was small enough to almost fit in the palm of my hand.

No one else can lay there unmolested – including his mommy.

If one of the girls try to sit there, he will try to get up on the couch and continually press his wet nose to the side of their face. He’ll give them the puppy eye or try to make them uncomfortable enough to leave.

For me, it’s sort of humorous to watch, but it’s a form of jealousy in my opinion. Dexter wouldn’t hurt a fly, but that doesn’t stop him from making his feelings known.

We also have two cats, and they don’t exhibit the same sort of behavior. I wonder if cats are capable of jealousy. I’m thinking they might be capable of it, but less prone to feeling or acting on the emotion.

Do you have any stories about your pooch acting jealous? Or any other animal for that matter?