Freedom of speech in online communities

I have debated freedom of speech countless times, and it is my contention that today (in 2021) the meaning of that concept is lost.

The idea of freedom of speech didn’t exist as such until censorship started to be an issue, and that was after the invention of the printing press. It was after people starting to argue in favor of censorship that other people started to argue against censorship. Freedom of speech is an argument against censorship.

Today that useful meaning is pretty much lost. Now people wrongly believe that freedom of speech is a right, and only a right, and worse: they equate freedom of speech with the First Amendment, even though freedom of speech existed before such law, and exists in countries other than USA. I wrote about this fallacy in my other blog in the article: The fatal freedom of speech fallacy.

The first problem when considering freedom of speech a right is that it shuts down discussion about what it ought to be. This is the naturalistic fallacy (confusing what is to what ought to be). If we believed that whatever laws regarding cannabis are what we ought to have, then we can’t discuss any changes to the laws, because the answer to everything would be “that’s illegal”. The question is not if X is illegal currently, the question is should it? When James Damore was fired by Google for criticizing Google’s ideological echo chamber, a lot of people argued that Google was correct in firing him, because it was legal, but that completely misses the point: the fact that something is legal doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right (should be illegal).

Today people are not discussing what freedom of speech ought to be.

Mill’s argument

In the past people did debate what freedom of speech ought to be, not in terms of rights, but in terms of arguments. The strongest argument comes from John Stuart Mill which he presented in his seminal work On Liberty.

Mill’s argument consists on three parts:

  1. The censored idea may be right
  2. The censored idea may not be completely wrong
  3. If the censored idea is wrong, it strengthens the right idea

It’s obvious that if an idea is right, society will benefit from hearing it, but if an idea is wrong, Mill argues that it still benefits society.

Truth is antifragile. Like the inmune system it benefits from failed attacks. Just like a bubble boy which is shielded from the environment becomes weak, so do ideas. Even if an idea is right, shielding it from attacks makes the idea weak, because people forget why the idea was right in the first place.

I often put the example of the idea of flat-Earth. Obviously Earth is round, and flat-Earthers are wrong, but is that a justification for censoring them? Mill argues that it’s not. I’ve seen debates with flat-Earthers, and what I find interesting are the arguments trying to defend the round Earth, but even more interesting are the people that fail to demonstrate that the Earth is round. Ask ten people that you know how would they demonstrate that the Earth is round. Most would have less knowledge about the subject than a flat-Earther.

The worst reason to believe something is dogma. If you believe Earth is round because science says so, then you have a weak justification for your belief.

My notion of the round Earth only became stronger after flat-Earth debates.

Censorship hurts society, even if the idea being censored is wrong.

The true victim

A common argument against freedom of speech is that you don’t have the right to make others listen to your wrong ideas, but this commits all the fallacies I mentioned above, including confusing the argument of freedom of speech with the right, and ignores Mill’s argument.

When an idea is being censored, the person espousing this idea is not the true victim. When the idea was that Earth was circling the Sun (and not the other way around as it was believed), Galileo Galilei was not the victim: he already knew the truth: the victim was society. Even when the idea is wrong, like in the case of flat-Earth, the true victim is society, because by discussing wrong ideas everyone can realize by themselves precisely why they are wrong.

XKCD claims the right to free speech means the government can't arrest you for what you say.
XKCD doesn’t know what freedom of speech is

The famous comic author Randall Munroe–creator of XKCD–doesn’t get it either. Freedom of speech is an argument against censorship, not a right. The First Amendment came after freedom of speech was already argued, or in other words: after it was already argued that censorship hurts society. The important point is not that the First Amendment exists, the important point is why.

This doesn’t change if the censorship is overt, or the idea is merely ignored by applying social opprobrium. The end result for society is the same.

Censorship hides truth and weakens ideas. A society that holds wrong and weak ideas is the victim.

Different levels

Another wrong notion is that freedom of speech only applies in public spaces (because that’s where the First Amendment mostly applies), but if you follow Mill’s argument, when Google fired James Damore, the true victim was Google.

The victims of censorship are at all levels: society, organization, group, family, couple.

Even at the level of a couple, what would happen to a couple that just doesn’t speak about a certain topic, like say abortion?

What happens if the company you work for bans the topic of open spaces? Who do you think suffers? The people that want to criticize open spaces, or the whole company?

The First Amendment may apply only at a certain level, but freedom of speech, that is: the argument against censorship, is valid at every level.

Online communities

Organizations that attempt to defend freedom of speech struggle because while they want to avoid censorship, some people simply don’t have anything productive to say (e.g. trolls), and trying to achieve a balance is difficult, especially if they don’t have a clear understanding of what freedom of speech even is.

But my contention is that most of the struggle comes from the misunderstandings about freedom of speech.

If there’s a traditional debate between two people, there’s an audience of one hundred people, and one person in the audience starts to shout facts about the flat-Earth, would removing that person from the venue be a violation of freedom of speech? No. It’s just not part of the format. In this particular format an audience member can ask a question at the end in the Q&A part of the debate. It’s not the idea that is being censored, it’s the manner in which the idea was expressed that is the problem.

The equivalent of society in this case is not hurt by a disruptive person being removed.

Online communities decide in what format they wish to have discussions in, and if a person not following the format is removed, that doesn’t hide novel ideas nor weakens existing ideas. In order words: the argument against censorship doesn’t apply.

But in addition the community can decide which topics are off-topic. It makes no sense to talk about flat-Earth in a community about socialism.

But when a person is following the format, and talking about something that should be on-topic, but such discussion is hindered either by overt censorship (e.g. ban), or social opprobrium (e.g. downvotes), then it is the community that suffers.

Ironically when online communities censor the topic of vaccine skepticism, the only thing being achieved is that the idea becomes weak, that is: the people that believe in vaccines do so for the wrong reasons (even if correct), so they become easy targets for anti-vaxxers. In other words: censorship creates the exact opposite of what it attempts to solve.

Online communities should fight ideas with ideas, not censorship.

Why renaming Git’s master branch is a terrible idea

Back in May (in the inauspicious year of 2020) a thread in the Git mailing list with the tile of “rename offensive terminology (master)” was started, it lasted for more than a month, and after hundreds of replies, no clear ground was gained. The project took the path of least resistance (as you do), and the final patch to do the actual rename was sent today (November).

First things first. I’ve been a user of Git since 2005 (before 1.0), and a contributor since 2009, but I stopped being active, and only recently started to follow the mailing list again, which is why I missed the big discussion, but just today read the whole enchilada, and now I’m up-to-date.

The discussion revolved around five subjects:

  1. Adding a new configuration (init.defaultbranch)
  2. Should the name of the master branch be changed?
  3. Best alternative name for the master branch
  4. Culture war
  5. The impact to users

I already sent my objection, and my rationale as to why I think the most important point–the impact to users–was not discussed enough, and in fact barely touched.

In my opinion the whole discussion was a mess of smoke screen after smoke screen and it never touched the only really important point: users. I’m going to tackle each subject separately, leaving the most important one at the end, but first I would like to address the actual context and some of the most obvious fallacies people left at the table.

The context

It’s not a coincidence that nobody found the term problematic for 15 years, and suddenly in the height of wokeness–2020 (the year of George Floyd, BLM/ANTIFA uprising, and so on)–it magically becomes an issue. This is a solution looking for a problem, not an actual problem, and it appeared precisely at the same time the Masters Tournament received attention for its name. The Masters being more renowned than Git certainly got more attention from the press, and plenty of articles have been written explaining why it makes no sense to link the word “masters” to slavery in 2020 in this context (even though the tournament’s history does have some uncomfortable relationship with racism) (No, the masters does not need renaming, Masters Name Offensive? Who Says That?, Will Masters Be Renamed Due to BLM Movement? Odds Favor “No” at -2500, Calls for The Masters to change its name over ‘slave’ connotations at Augusta). Few are betting on The Masters actually changing its name.

For more woke debates, take a look at the 2 + 2 = 5 debate (also in 2020).

The obvious fallacies

The most obvious fallacy is “others are doing it”. Does it have to be said? Just because all your friends are jumping off a cliff doesn’t mean you should too. Yes, other projects are doing it, that doesn’t mean they don’t have bad reasons for it. This is the bandwagon fallacy (argumentum ad populum).

Even if it was desirable for the git.git project to change the name of the master branch for itself–just like the Python project did, it’s an entirely different thing to change the name of the master branch for everyone. The bandwagon argument doesn’t even apply.

The second fallacy comes straight out of the title “offensive terminology”. This is a rhetorical technique called loaded language; “what kind of person has to deny beating his wife?”, or “why do you object to the USA bringing democracy to Iraq?”. Before the debate even begins you have already poisoned the well (another fallacy), and now it’s an uphill battle for your opponents (if they don’t notice what you are doing). It’s trying to smuggle a premise in the argument without anyone noticing.

Most people in the thread started arguing why it’s not offensive, while the onus was on the other side to prove that it was offensive. They had the burden of proof, and they inconspicuously shifted it.

If somebody starts a debate accusing you of racism, you already lost, especially if you try to defend yourself.

Sorry progressives, the word “master” is not “offensive terminology”. That’s what you have to prove. “What kind of project defends offensive terminology?” Is not an argument.

Adding a new configuration

This one is easy. There was no valid reason not to add a new configuration. In fact, people already had configurations that changed the default branch. Choice is good, this configuration was about making it easier to do what people were already doing.

The curious thing is that the only places in the thread where the configuration was brought up was as a diversion tactic called motte and bailey.

What they started with was a change of the default branch, a proposition that was hard to defend (bailey), and when opponents put enough pressure they retreated to the most defensible one (motte): “why are you against a configuration?”

No, nobody was against adding a new configuration, what people were against was changing the default configuration.

Should the name of the master branch be changed?

This was the crux of the matter, so it makes sense that this is where most of the time debating was spent. Except it wasn’t.

People immediately jumped to the next point, which is what is a good name for the default branch, but first it should be determined that changing the default is something desirable, which was never established.

You don’t just start discussing with your partner what color of apartment to choose. First, your girlfriend (or whatever) has to agree to live together!

Virtually any decision has to be weighted in with pros and cons, and they never considered the cons, nor established any real pro.


If the word “master” is indeed offensive, then it would be something positive to change it. But this was never established to be the case, it was just assumed so. Some arguments were indeed presented, but they were never truly discussed.

The argument was that in the past (when slavery was a thing), masters were a bad thing, because they owned slaves, and the word still has that bad connotation.

That’s it. This is barely an argument.

Not only is very tenuously relevant in the present moment, but it’s not actually necessarily true. Slavery was an institution, and masters simply played a role, they were not inherently good or bad. Just because George Washington was a slave owner, that doesn’t mean he was a monster, nor does it mean the word “master” had any negative connotation back then. It is an assumption we are making in the present, which, even if true; it’s still an assumption.

This is called presentism. It’s really hard to us to imagine the past because we didn’t live it. When we judge it we usually judge it wrong because we have a modern bias. How good or bad masters were really viewed by their subjects is a matter for debate, but not in a software project.

Note: A lot of people misunderstood this point. To make it crystal clear: slavery was bad. The meaning of the word “master” back then is a different issue.

Supposing that “master” was really a bad word in times of slavery (something that hasn’t been established), with no other meaning (which we know it isn’t true) this has no bearing in the modern world.


A misunderstanding many people have of language is the difference between prescriptive and descriptive language. In prescriptivism words are dictated (how they ought to be used). In descriptivism words are simply described (how they are actually used). Dictionaries can be found on both camps, but they are mainly on the descriptive side (especially the good ones).

This misunderstanding is the reason why many people think (wrongly) that the word “literally” should not mean “virtually” (even though many people use it this way today). This is prescriptiveness, and it doesn’t work. Words change meaning. For example, the word “cute” meant “sharp” in the past, but it slowly changed meaning, much to the dismay of prescriptivists. It does not matter how much prescriptivists kick and scream; the masses are the ones that dictate the meaning of words.

So it does not matter what you–or anyone–thinks, today the word “literally” means “virtually”. Good dictionaries simply describe the current use, they don’t fight it (i.e. prescribe against it).

You can choose how you use words (if you think literally should not mean virtually, you are free to not use it that way). But you cannot choose how others use language (others decide how they use it). In other words; you cannot prescribe language, it doesn’t matter how hard you try; you can’t fight everyone.

Language evolves on its own, and like democracy; it’s dictated by the masses.

So, what do the masses say about the word “master”? According to my favorite dictionary (Merriam-Webster):

  1. A male teacher
  2. A person holding an academic degree higher than a bachelor’s but
    lower than a doctor’s
  3. The degree itself (of above)
  4. A revered religious leader
  5. A worker or artisan qualified to teach apprentices
  6. An artist, performer, or player of consummate skill
  7. A great figure of the past whose work serves as a model or ideal
  8. One having authority over another
  9. One that conquers or masters
  10. One having control
  11. An owner especially of a slave or animal
  12. The employer especially of a servant
  13. A presiding officer in an institution or society
  14. Any of several officers of court appointed to assist a judge
  15. A master mechanism or device
  16. An original from which copies can be made

These are not all the meanings, just the noun meanings I found relevant to today, and the world in general.

Yes, there is one meaning which has a negative connotation, but so does the word “shit”, and being Mexican, I don’t get offended when somebody says “Mexico is the shit”.

So no, there’s nothing inherently bad about the word “master” in the present. Like all words: it depends on the context.

By following this rationale the word “get” can be offensive too; one of the definitions is “to leave immediately”. If you shout “get!” to a subordinate, that might be considered offensive (and with good reason)–especially if this person is a discriminated minority. Does that mean we should ban the word “get” completely? No, that would be absurd.

Also, there’s another close word that can be considered offensive: git.

Prescriptives would not care how the word is actually used today, all they care about is to dictate how the word should be used (in their opinion).

But as we saw above; that’s not how language works.

People will decide how they want to use the word “master”. And thanks to the new configuration “init.defaultbranch”, they can decide how not to use that word.

If and when the masses of Git users decide (democratically) to shift away from the word “master”, that’s when the Git project should consider changing the default, not before, and certainly not in a prescriptive way.

Moreover, today the term is used in a variety of contexts that are unlikely to change any time soon (regardless of how much prescriptivists complain):

  1. An important room (master bedroom)
  2. An important key (master key)
  3. Recording (master record)
  4. An expert in a skill (a chess master)
  5. The process of becoming an expert (mastering German)
  6. An academic degree (Master of Economics)
  7. A largely useless thing (Master of Business Administration [MBA])
  8. Golf tournaments (Masters Tournament [The Masters])
  9. Famous classes by famous experts (MasterClass Online Classes)
  10. Online tournament (Intel Extreme Masters [IEM])
  11. US Navy rank (Master-at-Arms [MA])
  12. Senior member of a university (Master of Trinity College)
  13. Official host of a ceremony (master of ceremonies [MC])
  14. Popular characters (Jedi Master Yoda)
  15. A title in a popular game (Dungeon Master)
  16. An important order (Grand Master)
  17. Vague term (Zen master)
  18. Stephen Hawking (Master of the Universe)

And many, many more.

All these are current uses of the word, not to mention the popular BDSM context, where having a master is not a bad thing at all.


Even if we suppose that the word is “bad” (which is not), changing it does not solve the problem, it merely shuffles it around. This notion is called language creep (also concept creep). First there’s the n-word (which I don’t feel comfortable repeating, for obvious reasons), then there was another variation (which ends in ‘o’, I can’t repeat either), then there was plain “black”, but even that was offensive, so they invented the bullshit term African-American (even for people that are neither African, nor American, like British blacks). It never ends.

This is very well exemplified in the show Orange Is The New Black where a guard corrects another guard for using the term “bitches”, since that term is derogatory towards women. The politically correct term now is “poochies”, he argues, and then proceeds to say: “these fucking poochies”.

Words are neither good or bad, is how you use them that make it so.

You can say “I love you bitches” in a positive way, and “these fucking women make me vomit” in a completely derogatory way.

George Carlin became famous in 1972 for simply stating seven words he was forbidden from using, and he did so in a completely positive way.

So no, even if the word “master” was “bad”, that doesn’t mean it was always bad.

But supposing it’s always bad, who are the victims of this language crime? Presumably it’s black people, possibly descended from slaves, who actually had masters. Do all black people find this word offensive? No.

I’m Mexican, do I get offended when somebody uses the word “beaner”? No. Being offended is a choice. Just like nobody can make you angry, it’s you the one that gets angry, nobody inflicts offense on other people, it’s the choice of the recipients. There’s people with all the reason in the world, who don’t get offended, and people that have no reason, and yet they get easily offended. It’s all subjective.

Steve Hughes has a great bit explaining why nothing happens when you get offended. So what? Be offended. Being offended is part of living in a society. Every time you go out the door you risk being offended, and if you can’t deal with that, then don’t interact with other people. It’s that simple.

Collective Munchausen by proxy

But fine, let’s say for the sake of argument that “master” is a bad word, even on modern times, in any context, and the people that get offended by it have all the justification in the world (none of which is true). How many of these concerned offended users participated in the discussion?


That’s right. Not one single person of African descent (or whatever term you want to use) complained.

What we got instead were complainers by proxy; people who get offended on behalf of other (possibly non-existent) people.

Gad Saad coined a term Collective Munchausen by proxy that explains the irrationality of modern times. He borrows from the established disorder called Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy.

So you see, Munchausen is when you feign illness to gain attention. Munchausen by proxy is when you feign the illness of somebody else to gain attention towards you. Collective Munchausen is when a group of people feign illness. And collective Munchausen by proxy is when a group of people feign the illness of another group of people.

If you check the mugshots of BLM activists arrested, most of them are actually white. Just like the people pushing for the rename (all white), they are being offended by proxy.

Black people did not ask for this (the master rename (but probably many don’t appreciate the destruction of their businesses in riots either)).

Another example is the huge backlash J. K. Rowling received for some supposedly transphobic remarks, but the people that complained were not transgender, they were professional complainers that did so by proxy. What many people in the actual transgender community said–like Blair White–is that this was not a real issue.

So why on Earth would a group of people complain about an issue that doesn’t affect them directly, but according to them it affects another group of people? Well, we know it has nothing to do with the supposed target victim: black people, and everything to do with themselves: they want to win progressive points, and are desperate to be “on the right side of history”.

They are like a White Knight trying to defend a woman who never asked for it, and in fact not only can she defend herself, but she would prefer to do so.

This isn’t about the “victim”, it’s all about them.

The careful observer probably has already noticed this: there are no pros.


Let’s start with the obvious one: it’s a lot of work. This is the first thing proponents of the change noticed, but it wasn’t such a big issue since they themselves offered to do the work. However, I don’t think they gauged the magnitude of the task, since just changing the relevant line of code basically breaks all the tests.

The tests are done now, but all the documentation still needs to be updated. Not only the documentation of the project, but the online documentation too, and the Pro Git book, and plenty of documentation scattered around the web, etc. Sure, a lot of this doesn’t fall under the purview of Git developers, but it’s something that somebody has to do.

Then we have the people that are not subscribed to the mailing list and are completely unaware that this change is coming, and from one day to the next they update Git and they find out there’s no master branch when they create a new repository.

I call these the “silent majority”. The vast majority of Git users could not tell you the last Release Notes they read (probably because they haven’t read any). All they care about is that Git continues to work today as it did yesterday.

The silent majority doesn’t say anything when Git does what it’s supposed to do, but oh boy do they complain when it doesn’t.

This is precisely what happened in 2008, when Git 1.6.0 was released, and suddenly all the git-foo commands disappeared. Not only did end-users complained, but so did administrators in big companies, and distribution maintainers.

This is something any project committed to its user-base should try to avoid.

And this is a limited list, there’s a lot more than could go wrong, like scripts being broken, automated testing on other projects, and many many more.

So, on one side of the balance we have a ton of problems, and in other: zero benefits. Oh boy, such a tough choice.

Best alternative name for the master branch

Since people didn’t really discuss the previous subject, and went straight to the choice of name, this is where they spent a lot of the time, but this is also the part where I paid less attention, since I don’t think it’s interesting.

Initially I thought “main” was a fine replacement for “master”. If you had to choose a new name, “main” makes more sense, since “master” has a lot of implications other than the most important branch.

But then I started to read the arguments about different names, and really think about it, and I changed my mind.

If you think in terms of a single repository, then “main” certainly makes sense; it’s just the principal branch. However, the point of Git is that it’s distributed, there’s always many repositories with multiple branches, and you can’t have multiple “main” branches.

In theory every repository is as important as another, but in practice that’s not what happens. Humans–like pretty much all social animals–organize themselves in hierarchies, and in hierarchies there’s always someone at the top. My repository is not as important as the one of Junio (the maintainer).

So what happens is that my master branch continuously keeps track of Junio’s master branch, and I’d venture to say the same happens for pretty much all developers.

The crucial thing is what happens at the start of the development; you clone a repository. If somebody made a clone of you, I doubt you would consider your clone just as important as you. No, you are the original, you are the reference, you are the master copy.

The specific meaning in this context is:

an original from which copies can be made


In this context it has absolutely nothing to do with master/slaves. The opposite of a master branch is either a descendant (most branches), or an orphan (in rare cases).

The word “main” may describe correctly a special branch among a bunch of flat branches, but not the hierarchical nature of branches and distributed repositories of clones of clones.

The name “master” fits like a glove.

Culture war

This was the other topic where a lot of time was spent on.

I don’t want to spend too much time on this topic myself–even though it’s the one I’m most familiar with–because I think it’s something in 2020 most people are faced with already in their own work, family, or even romantic relationships. So I’d venture to say most people are tired of it.

All I want to say is that in this war I see three clear factions. The progressives, who are in favor of ANTIFA, BLM, inclusive language, have he/him in bio, use terms like anti-racism, or intersectional feminism, and want to be “on the right side of history”. The anti-progressives, who are pretty much against the progressives in all shapes or forms, usually conservatives, but not necessarily so. But finally we have the vast majority of people who don’t care about these things.

The problem is that the progressives are trying to push society into really unhealthy directions, such as blasphemy laws, essentially destroying the most fundamental values of modern western society, like freedom of speech.

The vast majority of people remain silent, because they don’t want to deal with this obvious nonsense, but eventually they will have to speak up, because these dangerous ideologies are creeping up everywhere.

For more about the subject I can’t recommend enough the new book of Gad Saad: The Parasitic Mind: How Infectious Ideas Are Killing Common Sense.

It really is a parasitic mindset, and sensible people must put a stop to it.

Update: The topic has been so controversial that as a result of this post reddit’s r/git decided to ban the topic completely, and remove the post. Hacker News also banned this post.

The impact to users

I already touched on this on the cons of the name change, but what I didn’t address are the mitigation strategies that could be employed.

For any change there’s good and bad ways of going about it.

Even if the change from “master” to “main’ was good and desirable (which it isn’t), simply jumping to it in the next version (Git 2.30) is the absolute worst way of doing it.

And this is precisely what the current patch is advancing.

I already briefly explained what happened in 2008 with the v1.6.0 release, but what I find most interesting is that looking back at those threads many of the arguments of how not to do a big change, apply exactly in the same way.

Back then what most people complained about was not the change itself (from git-foo to “git foo”) (which they considered to be arbitrary), but mainly the manner in which the change was done.

The main thing is that there was no deprecation period, and no clear warning. This lesson was learned, and the jump to Git 2.0 was much smoother precisely because of the warnings and period of adjustment, along with clear communication from the development team about what to expect.

This is not what is being done for the master branch rename.

I also find what I told Linus Torvalds very relevant:

What other projects do is make very visible when something is deprecated, like a big, annoying, unbearable warning. Next time you deprecated a command it might be a good idea to add the warning each time the command is used, and obsolete it later on.

Also, if it’s a big change like this git- stuff, then do a major version bump.

If you had marked 1.6 as 2.0, and added warnings when you deprecated the git-foo stuff then the users would have no excuse. It would have been obvious and this huge thread would have been avoided.

I doubt anyone listened to my suggestion, but they did this for 2.0, and it worked.

I like to refer to a panel Linus Torvalds participated in regarding the importance of users (educating Lennart Poettering). I consider this an explanation of the first principles of software: the main purpose of software is that it’s useful to users, and that it continues to be useful as it moves forward.

“Any time a program breaks the user experience, to me that is the absolute worst failure that a software project can make.”

Linus Torvalds

Now it’s the same mistake of not warning the users of the upcoming change, except this time it’s much worse, since there’s absolutely no good reason for the change.

The Git project is simply another victim of the parasitic mindset that is infecting our culture. It’s being held hostage by a tiny amount of people pushing for a change nobody else wants, would benefit no one, would affect negatively everyone, and they want to do it in a way that maximizes the potential harm.

If I was a betting man, my money would be on the users complaining about this change when it hits them on the face with no previous warning.

What does “flatten the curve” really mean?

One of the most common phrases we hear of late when discussing about the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), is that we must try our best to flatten the curve. While this is true, many people don’t understand the reason why. It is important to manage our expectations about where we are, and what’s coming, and that’s what I will try to show in this article.

I will try to show that:

  1. We need to flatten the curve
  2. Most of us are going to get infected anyway

The curve

This is the curve many have seen:

I wrote a simulation using real data from USA as of today (SIR model). And as you can see it resembles the “flatten the curve” graphs you might have seen before.

USA model simulation

However, what you don’t see are the magnitudes; 12,000,000 people in the worst case scenario, and 3,000,000 people in the best. This Y axis is the number of active cases at any given day, provided that 50% of the cases are not noticeable, and only 15% might need hospitalization.

The total number of active cases would be 164,000,000 in the worst scenario, and 40,000,000 in the best.

And the time span is one year. The peak of the worst scenario would be at day 78, and in the best case scenario that day there would be 30,000, so sure; 30,000 is better than 12,000,000, but the true objective of flattening the curve is to delay the peak, which would happen at day 240 instead of 78.

So yes, it’s good to delay the peak from day 78 to day 240, and to reduce the active cases that need hospitalization from 12,000,000 to 4,000,000, so social distancing is good, but that will not be enough; the healthcare system will still be overwhelmed, and people will die as a result.

Healthcare limit

The totals

However, one thing is the number of active cases, which doesn’t look very good, another is the total number of cases.

Active cases
Total cases

In the worst case scenario there would be 326,000,000 cases, and in the best case 250,000,000. So to think that you will not get infected if everyone performs social distancing is delusional.

This is why experts say 70%-80% of the population will get infected (76% in this case) (even in the best case scenario).

So this is the actual curve people should keep in mind:

Active vs. total cases

The numbers

The difference in my model between the worst case scenario and the best, is the growth factor (worst: 1.2, best: 1.04), but what does that number mean?

If yesterday the total number of active cases was 32,859, and today they are 43,112 (as of 2020-03-23), that means dividing today by yesterday you get 1.312 (32,859 * 1.312 = 43,111). Is this good or bad?

Right now South Korea is 0.98, and Italy is 1.07, so yeah, 1.312 is pretty bad, so bad in fact that it’s 10% worse than my worst case scenario, and the worst case scenario is 15% worse than the best. When the growth factor is 1.0 that means the curve is at its peak; South Korea presumably has passed it already.

When people say “flatten the curve” what they really mean is reduce the growth factor; when you reach 0.0 the curve is flat.

Imagine you are in a car, and the accelerator pedal is stuck; not only will you be moving forward, you will be moving forward with an ever increasing speed. Surely you wouldn’t feel safe until the accelerator is unstuck, and that is the inflection point; the point in which the velocity stops increasing.

It’s easier to see the two points by visualizing the new cases per day (velocity); the point in magenta is the inflection point (deacceleration), the blue one is the top of the curve.

When you visualize the total number of cases the inflection point is different, and when reached you should expect the total number of cases to be twice as they are at that point.

The important thing to note here is that as long as no inflection point is reached, the growth is exponential, and there may be many orders of magnitude to go, so basically there’s no end in sight.

Where are we?

Have we reached an inflection point? The short answer is: we can’t say yet. There’s too much day-to-day volatility, and conditions in every country are drastically different.

USA growth factor rolling average

As you can see USA not only is in bad shape, but it’s getting worse; the graph should be moving closer to 1.0, not away.

Growth factor rolling average

Fortunately not every country is in the situation of USA; some countries are getting significantly closer to 1.0, even though not quite there yet.

World growth factor rolling average (except China)

Worldwide we are all over the place.

I think it’s safe to say we are nowhere near any inflection point.

But wait

Say that somehow miraculously we reach an inflection point and we are on our way to a perfectly flat curve. Can we be content now?

Well, no, the virus can make a comeback, depending on the seasons, or even mutations. The Spanish flu of 1918 did in fact do so; the second wave was much deadlier than the first, and it wasn’t the last one.

Spanish flu waves

Even in the most ideal of situations like in South Korea, the nature of a pandemic makes it so not any country is “safe” until the whole world is safe; the virus can be reintroduced into the country, in fact, many times over.

As a simplification you can think of the world as a neighborhood. You can choose to stay home and delay the inevitable, but if everyone else is infected you will eventually be too, unless you stay inside for years.

The solution

The only realistic solution (other than let things run their natural course) is vaccination, but as of today no vaccine is expected in less than 18 months.

So we can try to delay the worst by social distancing, closing airports, and pretty much everything you can think of, and we may be able to delay the worst (reduce the growth factor to less than 1.04), but even so it might not buy us enough time for the vaccine.


It’s too soon to tell where we are and where we are heading. Many of the parameters needed to make reasonable predictions are not known with any real confidence. The model I used is one of the simplest models, and the growth factors I used are pretty much guessed. Even so we know something for certain: it can be really bad, even if we try our best.

So yeah, you should still perform social distancing in order to help others, particularly those that are more susceptible such as the elderly; by reducing the growth factor we give breathing room to the healthcare system.

But you will get infected, or at least you should operate under that assumption, it’s only a matter of when.

To keep track of the number of cases per country in real time you can use this graph I developed. I will publish more graphs as I have them.

The power of words

Quite often in a discussion I’ve heard the phrase “semantics”, as if the meaning of words didn’t really matter in a discussion. Words are the building blocks of complex ideas, and if we don’t have a solid agreement on what they mean, then how can we hope of ever transmitting our message? We might not need to use a specific meaning offered by a dictionary, we might not even need to use a real word, but we need the idea to be packaged in a neat container–a word–which we can send back and forth multiple times in a conversation.

Words do more than simply package ideas in a singular conversation; they can serve as Eureka moments; the first time an idea is not only realized, but packaged, captured like an exotic Pokémon. People might have had Eureka moments before the word “Eureka” was widely used, but it wasn’t until the coinage of the idea that our collective minds became fully aware of such phenomenon.

Have you noticed that when you learn a new word, it suddenly appears everywhere? You probably saw and heard such word many times before in your life, but you never paid any attention to it. It’s called the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, which maybe you have never heard of before, but now that you have; ironically–it will pop up everywhere 🙂

It’s hard to explain how our minds work (or the current scientific understanding of it); but if I attempt to summarize; it’s all about recognizing patterns, and feedback loops. That’s why the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon makes so much sense: we can’t recognize a pattern we haven’t seen before, but once we identify it; our brain will try to see the world through different lenses in order to check if the pattern applies, if it does; the feedback loop will reinforce the idea so we can recognize the pattern better in the future.

So it makes sense to think that language affects our worldview, which is the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis. Imagine we didn’t have a word for “thought”, how would you describe a thought? It’s hard to describe a mind if you don’t have the word “thought”, so it is to describe “believe”, “remember”, “forget”, and dozens of other ideas related to thoughts.

This is not merely a theory (or rather; a hypothesis); we know it happened in Nicaragua in the Seventies because there were no schools for deaf people. When the first school was established dozens of people without language gathered, and they slowly created their own sign language. However, their language was very rudimentary. The second generation of kids learned the language from the first generation, but they added new words. These new words did not merely amplify their vocabulary; they changed the way they thought. The first generation merely focused on describing events, the second generation talked about feelings, thoughts, ideas. They got better at thinking about thinking, in one generation, simply because of language.

There is an test called the Sally-Anne test; it is used to measure the ability of a person to attribute false beliefs of another; something that cannot be done without theory of mind. The test goes as follows:

Sally takes a marble and hides it in her basket. She then “leaves” the room and goes for a walk. While she is away, Anne takes the marble out of Sally’s basket and puts it in her own box. Sally is then reintroduced and the child is asked the key question, the Belief Question: “Where will Sally look for her marble?”

Fully functioning adult persons know the answer: Sally would look in her basket. But young children answer differently: Sally would look in Anne’s box. They don’t understand that Sally’s worldview is different than their own; they don’t understand that each person has a different worldview, a mind different of their own. The ability to understand that each person has a different mind is called theory of mind; something so incredibly simple most people take for granted, is actually a gift that young children don’t have, neither do most animals. And it turns out the first generation of Nicaraguan kids didn’t have this ability either, even after they became adults, even in their fifties. Language is the tool that helps us understand other people’s minds; it is words like “belief”, “mind”, “point-of-view”. The second generation of Nicaraguan kids had these words, and with them they easily acquired theory of mind.

Imagine the first time somebody used the word “empathy“. Surely the concept of empathy existed long before the word was coined. However, like many patterns; it was elusive, hard to explain, and thus hard to identify, discuss, mold, evolve. How can I say “the most basic level of empathy arrives with theory-of-mind” if I don’t have the word “empathy” at my disposal, and for that matter, the word “theory-of-mind”?

The word “economy” wasn’t widely used until after the 19th century, and again; surely people understood the concept of economy long before the word, but they couldn’t exactly discuss it. How would you say “the economy is bad lately”? How would you discuss different economic models, like capitalism, or communism? How would you measure something that doesn’t have a name, like using the GDP? The answer is: you couldn’t, and they didn’t. It was the word that gave people such power, in a way the word “economy” changed the world. Certainly there were many other factors revolving the industrial revolution, but the coinage of the word “economy” was instrumental.

A more recent example is the word “meme“. Again; memes existed long before the word, in fact; words themselves are memes; they spread around society like viruses. Curiously enough the word “meme” wasn’t coined until the word “virus” sank into wide use, which could only happen after viruses were discovered, at the end of the 19th century. It is no coincidence that the word “meme” was coined by an evolutionary biologist–quite familiar with viruses.

But words do more than expand our understanding of the world, they change it, shatter it, shift it. Consider the word “gender“. Previously the word “gender” was fixed to the word “sex”, so a male is masculine, and a female feminine. Today we’ve been forced to change that notion, mainly due to transgenders. So a transgender man might have been born with a female biological sex, but considers himself to have a masculine gender as far as society is concerned. This paradigm shift hasn’t settled still with many people, which consider both gender and sex to be the same thing. Inevitable society will have to change its worldview, otherwise transgender people couldn’t fit, and they must.

An even more dramatic shift happens with the word “person“. The concept of personhood has changed dramatically through history, in many cases excluding certain races, or considering one sex less of a person than the other. Today we accept that all people regardless of sex or race should be considered full persons, and the people that don’t accept that are considered bigots; sexists, or racists. So grand of us, isn’t it?

But that’s still not enough. Consider a human being so psychologically disturbed that he lacks any consideration towards other beings, incapable of empathy, even without theory of mind… Is he a person? How about a dog that truly loves his human companion, cares for him, would risk his life if the need arises, and would miss him to death if he was gone.. Isn’t he a person? Indeed; many dog lovers would attest that their dogs are better beings that many humans, and they might be right. A dog doesn’t care for race or sex, and in that sense he might be better than many family members that gather at your typical Thanksgiving.


Personally, I see empathy as the essence of person; if you can’t feel another person’s suffering, then what good are you in a society? Every dog owner has seen the expression of tilting the head to one side; it’s an attempt dogs make in order to understand humans’ emotions (probably because they have trouble seeing our mouths due to their snout), they do this because they are empathic; they understand their human might be sad, even if they themselves feel happy. Contrast this with a human infant, who is barely able to see anything beyond his own hunger, and certainly doesn’t have a theory of mind. Who is more of a person? Why should the word “person” be fixed to the word “human” then?

When you see from this vantage point, you realize that if it’s hard to say a human infant is truly a person, then it’s even harder to call a human fetus a person, which is barely distinguishable from a chicken embryo–both in terms of physiology and mental processes. Certainly less of a person than a fully functional adult woman, whose life might get ruined by abortion laws.

Thus the importance of thinking about the meaning of words, specially important ones like “person”, regardless of how firm you think you have your grasp on it. Because of the way minds work; it’s much more difficult to change the meaning of a word, than it is to learn a new one; it’s much easier to recognize a new pattern than it is to change an engraved one, thanks to feedback loops–much like a drop of water falling on a rock millions of times–the damage is already done. But if you don’t do that paradigm shift, you might end up in the wrong side of history, just like your bigoted, racist and sexist ancestors, you might end up being the bigoted family member in a future Thanksgiving, facing your son’s spouse which might be–let’s go for a long shot–an artificial intelligence; not a human, but still a person, as worthy of our respect as any other.

Being honest about Islam

The typical leftist has the idea that everyone should be respected, and every idea as well. That we shall all live in an inclusive world where every faith is tolerated, and all cultures are valued equally. It sounds lovely, an utopia we all should thrive for.

One of the latest examples is Khizr Khan’s speech at the US Democratic convention; the father of a muslim American soldier. Of course the media celebrated this event as an example of their culture inclusiveness. One more step toward the multiculturalism utopia. How progressive of us to accept cannon fodder of all faiths.

There is one caveat with this inclusiveness notion, and I’m going to show it with a single word, but first, it shouldn’t be hard to see that there’s a problem with inclusiveness; our body can’t ingest any substance. There are such things as toxic substances, things that just don’t belong inside our body–that are actively harmful. Similarly, there are certain ideas that are harmful, and can’t be included in a modern society that thrives to progress. If you have trouble thinking of one, here is an example: Nazism.

Now, the word Nazism is often overused, to the point that it has become a joke, but in this case it’s a good analogy; it’s an ideology that is toxic to modern values, and even the most inclusive societies must reject such ideology, we all agree on that. However, Islam is not Nazism, it’s a religion, it can’t be toxic, after all, we often hear it’s a religion of peace, right?

But is it a religion of peace? Let’s convert some of the common Muslim memes to Nazism to perhaps remove the veil: Nazism is an ideology of peace, not all Nazis are extremists, you are a Naziphobic.

So, if you follow the previous statements you might start to see a couple of issues. First of all, saying “Islam is a religion of peace” is worthless, you have to actually prove that it is (which I will try to explore in this post, it’s as worthless as saying “Nazism is an ideology of peace”). Second, when an ideology is toxic, it doesn’t matter if you are moderate or extreme; you are still toxic. And third, using a trump word like Islamophobic against all critics is not fair; the word implies an irrational fear against that ideology, but is it irrational? Plenty of Islam critics have been murdered, so would it be irrational for say, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, to fear for her life when her life has actually been threatened plenty of times?

A religion of peace

We often hear that Islam is a religion of peace, and that the terrorist attacks are an aberration of the faith. Sounds very reasonable, but is it true?

Christians often assume that Muhammad was like Jesus; peaceful, benevolent, surely Muhammad said something similar to turn to them the other cheek when you are hit. But that couldn’t be further from the truth: Muhammad was warlord, he spread the religion through the sword, many people had to die for his religion to be established.

Let’s see some verses from the Qur’an, to see how peaceful this religion is:

Quran (2:191-193) – “And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out…”

Quran (8:39)“And fight with them until there is no more fitna (disorder, unbelief) and religion is all for Allah alone.”

Quran (9:123)“O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness.”

And there’s many more.

Very peaceful indeed! You might be tempted to justify this on Christian terms and say; “the Bible also has violent verses, but that’s the Old Testament”, or something along those lines. However, even the Old Testament wasn’t so violent as to encourage killing all unbelievers, and also, a key difference between the Bible and the Qur’an is that the later has the principle of abrogation: when verses conflict, the earlier is discarded. So, you might see a benevolent verse in the Qur’an about how to treat unbelievers, but that’s superseded by a later verse. The earlier parts of the Qur’an are more benevolent, and the later more violent. So there is significantly less room for interpretation.

So, when an ISIS fighter kills an unbeliever, is he really distorting the faith? The Qur’an is pretty much telling him to do so, without room for interpretation.

Islam is a violent religion. In fact, when people say “Muslim extremists” are the violent ones, that is pretty much conceding the point; they take their violent religion too seriously. Contrast that with Jane extremists, which are extremely peaceful, since Jainism is a truly peaceful religion.

Moderate Muslims

So maybe the religion itself is violent, but fortunately not all Muslims take the religion too seriously, and we shouldn’t worry about the vast majority of Muslims.


Let’s start with a number from a Pew poll: 36% of Muslims (around 580 million) want the death penalty for leaving Islam. So if you have ten Muslim friends, and one of them leaves the religion, four of them would want him to be executed. And they are the moderates.

68% of Muslims think Sharia law should rule. Another reason why Islam is different than other religions, like Christianity, is that it is more than just a religion; it also comes with a legal framework, and other ways to run the society. In modern inclusive societies we follow the principle of secularism, so that all faiths are accepted, or at least, the ones compatible with modern values. Unfortunately, Islam is not one of such; it wants  to subvert the society’s legal framework, and impose its own; it’s incompatible.

So yeah, not all Muslims are extremists, not all Muslims want the death penalty for apostates, and not all Muslims want Sharia law, but dangerously high numbers of them do. So we have to be honest about their views and values; we know we don’t want extremists, but we don’t want Islamists either.

The only real difference between an extremist and an Islamist, is that the Islamist doesn’t kill people, they want to implement Sharia law through political means, so they disagree on the method, but they want the same goal.

Hear it from the mouth of one:

Now, take the example of Belgium; it accepted large number of Muslim immigrants (5%-7%), and now it is suffering the consequences, not just from terrorist attacks from the extreme minority (a minority of a large number of people is still an issue), but from the “moderate” Muslims who don’t agree with the attacks themselves, but they do agree the objective; the Belgium society must change to be more in accordance with the Qur’an, and they will not rest, through political movements or otherwise, until it does happen.

Islam is not compatible with modern secular societies, it is toxic, and there is a direct correlation between the amount of the Muslim population in a country, and the violence and terrorist attacks in such country.

Even moderate Muslims are a problem.


Let’s jump to the real issue with Islam; denial. As violent and dangerous as the ideology is, the real problem the denial of it. Just like the public health problem of tobacco smoking was exacerbated by the denial that happened in the sixties. Just like prominent doctors made quite a bit of money denying the link from tobacco smoking to lung cancer, so is people like Reza Aslan profiting by telling multiculturalist leftists what they want to hear; that there is no link between Islam and terrorist attacks. But the reality is very different.

To exemplify the extent of the denial I will use the case of the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting, in particular I want to use the speech that president Obama made.

While it’s true that U.S.A. has an issue with gun control, and mental public health, the motivation of the killer was clearly religious, however, due to political correctness, and fear of Islamophobia Obama didn’t even mention the word “Islam”. Sure, he probably wanted to use this incident as a political tool to promote his anti-gun agenda, but to avoid the word completely is astonishing.

The media, again, in the name of multiculturalism, denied the link between Islam and the hate of homosexuals. But is there really no link?

For starters we have an Imam in Orlando, just before the attack saying that death is the sentence for homosexuality.

Maybe that’s just one crazy leader, and the majority of Muslims don’t share his views. So let’s see what the polls about homosexuality in different countries say:


There is essentially no acceptance for homosexuality in the Muslim world, in fact it’s punishable by death in many Muslim countries. And it’s not that different in western countries like the U.K. where not even 1% of Muslims agreed homosexuality was morally acceptable in a recent poll.

The Qur’an is also clear (this is just one example):

Quran (7:80-84)“…For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds…. And we rained down on them a shower (of brimstone)”

So there is absolutely no reason to think that Muslims are O.K. with homosexuality, and yet when a Muslim person with links to terrorist Muslim groups, throws a terrorist attack in a gay nightclub the media denies any link between his ideology and the attack, and the president doesn’t even mention the word “Islam”.

How hard must reality hit us in the face before we accept it?

The victims and the heroes

Although the western world has seen the tip of the iceberg that is the horrific doctrine of Islam, the real victims are Muslims, in Muslim countries, since they suffer the bulk of the violence, predominantly for believing in the wrong flavor of Islam. And the heroes are Muslims, or ex-Muslims, who recognize the threat that nominal Islam is, and want to reform it, risking their own lives in doing so.

Many religions, including Christianity, had to change, to evolve, in order to be compatible with modern liberal values. Currently there is no religion that needs it more than Islam, and many Muslims recognize that reality. Unfortunately they are the minority.

Our job as defenders of liberal values should be to empower these reformist Muslims, like Maajid Nawaz (an ex-radical), who want to transform their religion into a version that is compatible with modern secular societies. Unfortunately we do the opposite; Maajid is constantly criticized by popular media, and denied a platform, in fact, he is called an Islamophobe (even though he is Muslim).

The current, nominal, version of Islam is incompatible, it is toxic, it is a cancer in modern society, and it is openly at war with us. Tolerating an intolerant ideology is a recipe for disaster. And the more time we deny the link between Islam and terrorism, the more people will suffer, both Muslims and non-Muslims. I wonder how many more Muslim terrorists attacks will have to happen before we as a society realize the truth; they will not stop until we do something about it.

Social justice warriors and feminism, poster boys of the regressive liberals

A new term has been coined; the “regressive left” (or liberal), which perfectly describes a kind of thought that has become more and more prevalent of late, and it’s a real danger to real liberals, or “progressive” liberals, in fact, a danger to society in general.

Liberalism vs. conservatism

First of all, we have to define what a liberal person is. In it’s essence it’s the opposite of a conservative, a conservative is a person that doesn’t embrace change, that wants things to remain the same, because if it has been the same way for decades, centuries, or even millennia, it must be good, right? A liberal believes the opposite: we need to move forward, away from barbaric and backwards behaviors and thinking, that’s the way we progress as a species. A more appropriate term might be “progressive”, because, well, we want progress.

However, the crux of the matter is to find such things that need to be changed in order to progress. It might seem obvious to a rational person, but it turns out most liberals don’t realize this simple fact: not all change is good. Do we really need to even discuss about this? Apparently we do, as we will later see in this blog post; many liberals do not realize that just because a change is proposed, we must embrace it. Obviously just because we’ve frowned upon stealing for thousands of years, does it mean it’s time to change it? No.

So that is the key point: is the change progress or regress? Liberals tend to think change means progress, conservative that it’s regress. More often than not, liberals are right, and they end up being on “the right side of history“. Studies have shown that liberals tend to be smarter and better educated than conservatives, they tend to attend university and travel more, etc. However, society needs conservatives as much as liberals, in order to make sure that changes are going in the right direction. Sure, we need change in order to progress, but we also need devil’s advocates in order to make sure it’s progress, and not the opposite. Change for the sake of change is not good, and sometimes things are better the way they are, sometimes conservatives are right (although not often).

One of the best examples of progress in society was the abolition of slavery. In general, liberals were on the right side of history (as they often are), however, some conservative arguments did actually make sense, for example: some black people ended up worst being free that being slaves. We have moved ahead since those times, but still, in the United States black people fill their prisons and thus provide a good chunk of essentially free labor. Perhaps conservatives were right that you “can’t just abolish slavery”, maybe USA should have done it differently. Sometimes resisting change is a good thing, not just to make sure the change is in fact progress, but if change must be made, to find the best way to go about it, and not just go balls to the wall about it.

So it should now be clear what a “regressive liberal” is; a person that advocates change for the sake of change, and is in reality moving society towards the wrong direction; regressing.

Regression and reality

Lately there has been a tendency for liberals to act in an irrational manner, something that has historically not been the case. That is one of the problems with being right so often; you sometimes forget you can be wrong.

There are numerous examples of this way of thinking, too many to explore them all in dept, but I’ll mention a few.

Vegetarianism today is viewed as a liberal tendency; most vegetarians are liberal, many of them see it as a moral statement, some think we all should be vegetarians, and even go as far as saying that humans are vegetarian in nature. It’s the latter argument I want to tackle. I don’t have a problem if you are a vegetarian and say you do it for moral reasons, or health, or even push it to the rest of society for economic reasons, those are all valid arguments, and I might disagree, but the jury is still out.

The problem comes when people deny reality. It is very obvious to everyone that humans are not herbivores: first of all; we can eat meat, herbivores can’t. You give meat to a deer, and it will die of starvation. The opposite is true of carnivores as well. But we humans are in neither of these categories, we are omnivores, like dogs, and bears. We eat everything. It’s also very obvious from our physiology; we don’t have the stomachs of herbivores, nor the teeth. Since we have the technology and resources to gather vegetables from all over the world, we might be able to sustain a vegetable-only diet and be healthy, although it’s probably not economically feasible, not to mention that many vegetarians have health issues, precisely because it’s not easy to find all the nutrients with such diet (not impossible, it can be done, but it’s certainly not easy). The fact of the matter is that through most of the history of our species we have been omnivores; we are omnivores, we can eat both meat and vegetables in large amounts, and that’s an uncontroversial and undeniable scientific fact.

Yet there are some people–liberals, who deny those facts, who deny science, and claim that humans are vegetarians by nature. Things would be much easier if we were vegetarians, perhaps it would be ideal, but we are just not. When you deny reality, and reject facts in order to fit your ideal of how things should be, you are engaged in what is called wishful thinking. Reality doesn’t care about your ideals, things just are the way they are, it might not be fair, it might not be nice, but it just is. Is it fair–or ideal–for the female praying mantis to eat the head of the male during sex? Probably not, but that’s nature, that’s reality, we have to accept that such is the case.

A more controversial example is the whole idea that “Islam is a religion of peace”. In order to explore this topic I’m going to use many of Sam Harris’ arguments, which has done a superb job of shining light on the issue.

First of all, we have to understand that religions are different, that’s why there are so many of them, and they are not interchangeable. Religions are different, in the same way that sports are different; you can’t compare rugby with golf, and you can’t compare Jainism with Christianity; they are way too different to make any meaningful comparison. And you can’t generalize either; say that all sports are violent, or that all religions are peaceful. Different religions are different, and their differences matter.

Second, religions are ideologies, ideologies affect the behavior of people, and while it’s true that ideologies can be twisted to the point of breaking their core principles (at which point it can be argued you are not really following that ideology), the ideology itself remains having certain ideas, independently of how people interpret them. For example, a nazi that doesn’t consider the aryan race superior can’t really be considered a nazi, a nazi that adores the state can be said to be perfectly within the ideology. A Jainism follower that advocates violence is not really a Jane (violates the core principles), but one that is vegetarian is perfectly within.

The question then becomes; can a violent person be called a Muslim? By extension; does the ideology condone violence? There’s many verses on the Qur’an about violence, for example: (8:12) “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them”. It’s pretty clear to anyone reading the Qur’an that it not only condones violence, it advocates it.

So it’s that simple: Jainism doesn’t condone violence, Islam does; Jainism is a religion of peace, Islam is not. Yet some people, liberals, like Reza Aslan, claim that all religions are exactly the same, and their holy books interpreted in any way, the problem is not the ideologies, but the people, the followers of the ideologies. We know this not to be true with ideologies like nazism, Islam is no different; we have to look at the ideology in order to decide if it’s peaceful or not, and just because an ideology happens to be a religion, that doesn’t mean it’s inherently peaceful.

It would be nice if what Reza Aslan said was true; all religions are equally peaceful and/or violent, all religions are faces of the same prism through which we see the same truth. But just because something is nice doesn’t mean it’s true; that is wishful thinking. However, many liberals drink this Kool-Aid, precisely because of that; it would be nice if it was true, therefore it must be true. The evidence is clear; not all religions are equal, Islam is a violent religion, the Qur’an endorses violence, as much as we would want it to be otherwise, we shouldn’t deny reality, the praying mantis is the way it is, and the Qur’an is the way it is.

Now, there’s a difference between is and ought. One thing is to recognize human nature, another is accept it as desired behavior. We humans have a tendency to crave sugar, does that mean we ought to eat a lot of sugar? No. In order for humans to progress, we first must recognize our nature, in order to reject it and actively fight against it. If science demonstrates humans are xenophobic by nature (which seems to be the case), the answer is not to close our ears to the evidence, the answer is to accept it, and find ways to fight against our nature.

By rejecting evidence, and thus denying reality, liberals are doing a disservice to society, and pushing for changes that might as well be moving us backwards. If liberals push for vegetarianism because humans are herbivores, that’s wrong. If liberals want to label every criticism of Islam as islamophobe, on the basis that it’s a peaceful religion, like any other religion, that’s also wrong. Both liberals and conservatives must seek to be in contact with reality, even if reality is not nice.

Third wave feminism

This is the definition of feminism:

1: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
2: organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests

Once upon a time, not long ago, women did not have the same rights nor opportunities as men, so a movement was needed to achieve equality between the sexes by pushing for women’s rights, and that was perfectly fine, that was feminism.

Today, the world is different (at least the western modern world ), and women have as many rights as men, if not more, women have as many opportunities as men, some argue even more. Today, the need to push exclusively for women’s rights is just not as urgent as before, and perhaps even not necessary.

Today the discourse about sexism and gender issues has advanced tremendously, in part thanks to the first wave feminists, and that’s why today we recognize that actually men have gender issues as well, like being raped in prisons, be victims of domestic violence, much more likely to commit suicide, and die earlier than women from disease. Males are also raped, but society doesn’t want to hear about it, even ridicules them, that’s an issue, why are feminists who supposedly fight for the “equality” of sexes not fighting to change this? Why is Emma Watson’s movement called “he for she”? What happened to “she for he”?

The fact of the matter is that feminism was never about male issues, we all know that, even the name itself implies which gender was the focus of the movement. That might have been necessary in the first wave of feminists, but now?

Some people argue that in fact, women are the privileged gender today, and with good reason, yet third wave feminists continue to push to privilege women even more. Society is catching up to the fact that perhaps liberals pushed way too hard and we are in effect moving backwards in terms of gender equality.

These third wave feminists want still more change, as liberals that’s expected, but they are doing so denying plenty of evidence that goes against their agenda.

One particularly worrying aspect is that many deny that men and women are in effect different. We all know we are different from our anecdotal evidence, we have always been different since the dawn of time, and plenty of parents of boys and girls see this obvious fact. Yet these “sameness” feminists deny that fact and argue that it’s all due to culture, even though it has happened in all cultures in history.

Differences in men and women are not just obvious, they are scientifically proven. Sexual dimorphism happens through all the animal kingdom, why would humans be the exception? Yes, some differences can be explained by culture, like blue for boys, pink for girls, but certainly not all of them.

Let’s keep in mind that being different doesn’t mean one is better than the other, just different. Women seem to be better at some things, men at others, there’s nothing wrong with that. But more importantly; if our understanding of human nature advances to the point where we find that in truth, men are better than women (in general), what does that mean? Nothing. That’s just reality. But fortunately for us, no gender seems to have a leg up, and even if it did, it probably wouldn’t be by much, and evolution is always happening anyway, so things might flip in the future.

Let’s look at a very concrete example: chess. Men dominate the competitive chess scene, even though women have been given every opportunity, and many women have become indeed pretty good at chess; they haven’t reached the top positions. Why is that? “Sameness” feminists would argue that it’s all because of culture; women are discouraged from such endeavors, the culture of chess is toxic, women feel inferior, therefore they act inferior. While all of that might be true to some extent, there are always exceptions, and there are strong women who don’t give a damn about society’s expectations of them, or the culture around an activity, and that’s why many women through history have achieved great things despite the fact that they were not supposed to. Still, no woman has become a chess world champion, even come close to that, even with all the help from feminists to “empower” them in such activities.

IQ might be a controversial way to measure general intelligence, but certainly not the intelligence needed to play chess; if you are good at chess, you have high IQ, if you have high IQ, you have potential to be a good chess player. So, is men’s IQ higher than women’s?


The answer is; not likely, but this graph shows the distribution is different. You are likely to find a good amount of really stupid men, but also, really intelligent ones, on the other hand, the average woman is smarter than the average man. Does this not match to pretty much everyone’s experience? Most of the women I know are pretty smart, smarter than most men, yet, the smartest people I know, are men. And that’s why we don’t see women in the top chess competitions; exceptional men are more exceptional than exceptional women, at the same time stupid men are more stupid than the stupidest woman. It’s just a matter of distribution.

Why would we want to change that? It’s just chess. Plenty of men are bad at chess, the vast majority of men are bad at many disciplines that require exceptional people. Women are better at plenty of other things that men, and that’s fine.

The more science finds about the nature of the human brain, the more we find that there are plenty of inherent differences between the genders, that’s just a fact, that’s reality, and there’s still plenty more to find.

Why can’t we embrace and accept our differences? One example scientists have found is that a region of the brain called the corpus callosum tends to be bigger in women, what does that mean? It means women in general are more likely to associate seemingly unrelated ideas, which is very useful in the arts in general, so is it really a surprise that women are more artsy than men? Plenty of men have complained that when discussing with their partners, women often bring issues of the past, issues that–in the opinion of men–are not related at all. Why can’t we just accept this and say: “I’m sorry honey, but I just don’t see what X has to do with Y, I’m a man, remember?”? It’s not an excuse for us men, but it’s an explanation, and a reason for us to try harder.

It’s not sexist to say that praying mantises females eat the males’ heads, that’s just a fact, so if science proves that men and women are different in certain aspect, that’s not sexist either, just reality. Yet “sameness” feminists insist–and will keep insisting–that we are the same, and to argue otherwise is sexist. I don’t see a better recipe for unhappiness than denying our human nature.

In fact, studies have shown that women have become unhappier of late, in a pretty significant way, and this trend started–unsurprisingly–when feminism started. Maybe women really like to feel protected, maybe demonizing stay-at-home moms was not such a great idea, maybe there was nothing wrong with women being feminine. I personally don’t know, but what seems to be clear is that the feminist movement doesn’t seem to be moving us forward as a society any more.

Every indication seems to suggest that third wave feminism might be the first liberal movement that is actually on the wrong side of history (as far as I know). Society, especially millennials, are starting to turn away from this bitter form of feminism, and people are realizing that maybe there’s nothing wrong with masculinity. Polls suggest that the feminist movement is collapsing, and in a couple of years the amount of women that identify themselves as feminists have decreased from 28% to 18% in the US (source). Given the fact that feminism has never pushed for men’s rights, and has no intention of doing so, and really have failed completely to try to understand the male position, and discover the reality of gender differences, it seems that such backlash is well deserved. Perhaps it’s time to stop talking about feminism, and start talking about equalism.

True equality

Richard Dawkins when asked about MRAs said “I hardly know there was–is there a men’s rights movement? I mean… If there is discrimination against men, then that’s bad too. I don’t know whether there is, I haven’t heard of it”. I think that is pretty much the experience the vast majority of people, including men, and including me, until not long ago.

However, there are two possibilities: a) either there is no discrimination against men, or b) there is discrimination, but we haven’t heard of it.

There is in fact a men’s rights movement, and it is largely ignored or attacked. They do claim there are men issues, I won’t go through all of them, I’ll just focus on one: men are held financially responsible for fathering a child.

In the face of it, it seems perfectly reasonable to hold men responsible for the future of a child they bred, but let’s look at the women’s perspective. If a woman doesn’t want a child, she can just have an abortion (depending on the local laws), the father doesn’t even have a say on that, he might not even know about it, but even leaving the controversial issue of abortion aside, a woman can chose to give the baby away for adoption. Let’s look at this closely; a woman can opt out of parenthood. It also seems reasonable; a woman’s life is a woman’s choice, and the baby might not suffer at all from that choice, it might benefit him/her, and perhaps never be aware that such choice was made. Where is the man’s choice? Can a man opt out of parenthood? No. Can a man hold a woman responsible, raise the child, and demand alimony from the mother? No. Where is the equality in that? It seems to me this is a real gender issue, one that genuinely destroys many lives of men.

To be honest, I never really thought about it, but now that I’m aware of it; it’s impossible not to see the discrimination against men in this case. So, maybe it’s b): there is discrimination against men, but we just haven’t heard of it.

Well, no problem, we just have to make a social movement to bring these men’s issues to light, and surely enough society will mobilize to fix these problems, just like it happened with the women’s right movement. Wait a second, wasn’t there already a movement that claimed to advocate for the rights of both genders? I have never heard a feminist bring up this issue, in fact, I have never heard a feminist complain about any male issue.

When an educated man like Richard Dawkins is not even aware of men’s right issues, it becomes pretty clear that somebody has not been doing their job of shining a light on these issues. If feminism truly aims to advocate for men’s rights, they have done such a poor job.

We are all perfectly aware of feminism, we all know all the women’s issues, or at least the claims, some of us might not agree with all of them, or the severity of them, but we are aware of the claims.

If anybody laughed at a women’s issue, that person would be harshly criticized, but not only we can’t laugh at the issues, we can’t even criticize them. A commonly mentioned issue is the wage gap: women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns—for doing the same work. This factoid is repeated again and again by the media, politicians, celebrities, activists, you name it. In reality, it turns out to be a myth.

Wage gap

The only way this number could be true is if you ignore a variety of factors, like life and career choices, but if you take those into account, the gap essentially disappears. Yet we can’t even say the wage gap is a myth without being labeled as sexist, misogynist, patriarchal.

However, when Richard Dawkins claimed he didn’t know about men’s issues, the whole audience laughed, even more, I saw shows where people replayed this bit, and the host laughs as well. What is there to laugh about? The fact that men have gender issues too? The fact that some men complain about these issues? Wasn’t feminism supposed to advance equality for both genders? Maybe that was a joke too.

The fact of the matter is that feminism has managed to mobilize entire societies to the pursuit of wellbeing solely for women, while at the same time completely ignoring the male perspective. Men rights activists are mocked, bullied, and completely ignored. Every time somebody mentions a gender issue that affects men, they are ignored, and immediately people point out a women’s issue, because apparently, those are the only ones that truly matter.

Perhaps it is because men are privileged, and women are oppressed, but is that truly so? Maybe it was at some point in history, perhaps most of history, but it certainly doesn’t seem to be the case now. Yet hardcore feminists insist men are privileged, men hate women, men are patriarchal, and prefer men over women for work. None of this is really true, but I can’t provide a succinct way to prove otherwise, except for the claim that men hate women, for which I will provide an excellent comment by Karen Straughan:

I don’t think there is a universe that could exist where men, in general, hate women.

So maybe the first thing would be to stop accusing men of hating women? And to call out the women in positions of power who accuse men of hating women? And to call out the women like Quinn Norton who claim that men are raised to hate women, or Chloe Angyal of Feministing who claim that our entire society hates women?

Honestly, the Nazis hated the Jews. The Hutus hated the Tutsis. The KKK hated blacks. And yet this male dominated society, where men hold the majority of the positions of power, somehow HATES women despite not a single lynching of a woman for wronging a man, despite NOMAAS and the White Ribbon Campaign and HeForShe and a male feminist president, despite Boko Haram’s sparing of girls while burning boys in their dormitories, despite the unbelievable (and unbelievably unspoken-of) gender gap in executions and criminal sentencing in Islamic countries, despite males being the primary receptacles of violence by both males and females from infancy to old age GLOBALLY, despite not a single genocide in history that DIDN’T begin with the systematic extermination of almost exclusively men and boys.

And you think men hate women. If men hate women, then how do men feel about men? On any given day, any given male is more likely to assault a male, undermine a male, ignore a male in need, murder a male, celebrate the suffering of a male wrongdoer, hit his male child, make a decision to mutilate his male child, arrest a male, convict a male, and sentence a male to incarceration or death, than he is a female.

And yet women–yes, women–have allowed a narrative to become entrenched in all our systems and institutions that males favor other males at the expense of females. That somehow, there is a “team men” that has been oppressing, subjugating and subordinating women since the dawn of human history. That men have waged a “war on women” since we descended from the trees and first tottered on two legs on the African Savannah.

Men have bled for their women, fought to protect their women, died for their women, and admonished each other for millennia to love their virtuous women as Christ loves the Church, to treat their honorable women as queens and as jewels, to present to them the heads of the men who displease them, and to duel to the death to defend their honor. The literary canon, written primarily by men, has always lauded a masculinity that protects women–the villains identified by their willingness to harm women, and the heroes identified by their willingness to avenge those harms.

And you think men hate women?

Men have never hated women. Men will never hate women.

(complete comment)

In fact, we love women so much, that we have given them many rights and privileges without asking anything in return, so much that more and more men give up their masculine human nature, just because of the fear of being labeled as misogynistic.

We have done so much just to please women that quite honestly, it’s ridiculous.

I wouldn’t go as far as saying that men are being oppressed, but we are certainly suffering. The worst jobs are done by men (military, trash collection, construction), the most job-related injuries are suffered by men, men have a huge societal pressure to succeed, men are much more likely to commit suicide, men die at a younger age. On top of that, we can’t complain about any of these issues, because apparently we are oppressing women, and we can’t argue that either. We can’t follow our masculine nature, because doing that would be sexist, apparently now even smiling to a woman is sexist.

If a woman breaks her hand hitting a man in the face, guess who is going to jail?

Call me crazy, but this doesn’t seem to be fair towards men.

Social justice warriors

If staunch feminism wasn’t enough, we now have social justice warriors, which do exactly the same things as feminists do (most of them are feminists anyway), because well, feminism has done such great things for our society! But they do it on all aspects of it.

The modus operandi seems to be: find an ideal, make it a cause, do everything in your power to advance that ideal, ignore any evidence that it’s really not the best thing to do, and label everyone that criticizes this ideal as a backwards, close minded, bigoted person.

For example, ideally all religions should be peaceful, therefore we should tolerate all religions, some people are intolerant towards Islam, that must be changed, there is evidence that Islam is in reality not a religion of peace, ignore that, label anybody that criticizes Islam as a racist and an islamophobe, and you win.

What doesn’t seem to enter into this equation is: what if you are wrong? For some reason SJWs never entertain the possibility that they might be wrong, which is the quintessential feature of a rational person. If you don’t entertain the possibility that you might be wrong, well, you will end up being wrong plenty of times. If you are wrong with your life choices, well, so bad for you, but if you push society towards the wrong direction, that’s actually terrible.

A study showed that you only need 10% of the population to believe in an idea in order for it to spread to the rest of the population. It doesn’t matter if the idea is true or false, if 10% of the population believes in this idea wholeheartedly, it will spread. Feminists believe it’s absolutely true we live in a misogynistic society, so, we all as a society believe that. It doesn’t matter if it’s indeed true or not. Such is the danger of herd mentality, and such is the power of ideas.

Even worse, apparently universities today have a concept called “safe places”, where susceptive people can go when there’s a talk about a subject they find distressing, but even more, prevent certain talks to happen altogether. Universities are supposed to be the place where all ideas are discussed, if you can’t discuss a topic in a university, where can you? Endangering free speech because some people might find the comments offensive, especially in a university, is certainly one of the worst policies ever.

Why would SJWs act this way? Why would anybody reject evidence, reality? When you are confronted with evidence that contradicts your beliefs, you enter into a state called cognitive dissonance, which doesn’t feel good. If the objective is to better society, then you must confront your wrong beliefs, and you must risk feeling bad, and realizing you were wrong. So why don’t they do that? It seems pretty clear that their objective is actually not to better society, but to feel good about themselves, thinking they are bettering society, while in effect they might be doing the opposite.

The way forward

This is where we are today, thanks to staunch feminists, thanks to SJWs, thanks to the whole “political correctness” idea. We can’t criticize feminism, we can’t criticize Islam, we can’t criticize certain ideas, because some people find that “offensive”. It is such a recipe for disaster.

It is quite ironic that the places where most women are genuinely objectively oppressed are Islamic countries, however, even the most staunch feminists wouldn’t touch the subject, because, well, it’s not politically correct (a few feminists truly do). So the people that push for women’s rights the most around the globe, might very well be atheists (or new atheists as some people like to say). The people that prevent the women’s right to choose (pro-choice), are not actually men, or “the patriarchy”, but the ones that follow “christian values”, in fact mostly christian women.

The whole situation is incredibly depressing. Even if feminism seems to be on the way out, pretty much the same manner of dealing with social issues is spreading through liberal circles. Such an epidemic of–quite frankly–stupid liberals, deserves a name: regressive liberals.

Hopefully the majority of liberals can recognize this toxic behavior and distance themselves from these regressive liberals, otherwise we are heading to a period of pretty much no progress in society.

Feminism symbol

Open Source and a new kind of management

I’ve been watching some videos from Dan Pink, an American writer that concentrates on the science of motivation and I think they’re actually very interesting for most people, but specially reassuring for FOSS people…

If you ask an artist why they became an artist, a lot of them will say: I can’t do anything else; I have to do this… It’s the same thing. — John Yodsnukis

Dan Pink argues that for most of the tasks of the 21st century (which are more right-brain thinking), carrot and sticks (extrinsic motivators) don’t work, instead, intrinsic motivators should be used.

Continue reading

Technology that just doesn’t work

I was looking at some Phillip De Franco post and due to some copyright he didn’t include the video. Fortunately he has a link to it on CNN, I just have to watch a couple of ads and then… nothing. I really hate to watch advertisements and not the content I want. Thanks to YouTube I could watch it, I’m not sure if it’s illegal or not, but I watched CNN’s ads anyway already.

That reminds of the constant ads I have to watch when I see some Colbert Report videos. I have almost memorized the same Doritos ad, at least the could try to put different ones to be less annoying. Oh, and I can’t find any Doritos on Finland, so it’s a waste of time for them and for me.

It also makes me think about DRM. A lot of companies put a lot of locks so you can’t download online videos, you need to watch their ads, or pay some money, or you can buy some music but you need a DRM capable player, which limits the platforms you can run that of.

Did these big companies missed the memo? Scarcity is over with digital content. Stop faking scarcity and just let me watch the content when I want it, where I want it, thank you.

For the record the day In Rainbows was released I tried to buy the thing, but I was too lazy to get my debit card, fill all those fields, get the notification e-mail and all that stuff. I got it from bittorrent, I listened to it and the next day I bought it online for 10 euros. I don’t like MP3’s but I don’t have any other option. When the album is available in CD format I’ll download the torrent in FLAC format from bittorrent.

Links of 15.04.07: Web2.0, Open Source Software and Books

Meet Tim Bray

Linux Journal provides an interesting interview with Tim Bray.

I didn’t know this guy, but his interests seem pretty similar to mine ones. Ruby, XML, Atom, equal oportunity to the world.

I specially liked the quote:

The Net itself is a contribution, by humanity to humanity, the engine of future contribution and experience.

I don’t know about you but I’ll definetly add his blog to my blogroll.