I don't think I'm one of them either. I'm one of mine.

Month: January 2024


You are the mean, the median, the mode. You are average. You are not unique or special for being a man who is sexually attracted to women, someone who cannot see the difference between sex and gender, a white person in Europe or a country settled by Europeans. You may as well brag that you got average scores on standardised tests at school, or that you drive a Toyota or an Opel, that you shop at discount stores, and are neither poor nor rich. That you have a pulse. That you speak a language. That you shit, eat, sleep, and will eventually be six feet under.

In short, you are just like (nearly) everyone else.

Averageness as heterodoxy is nothing but a swindle. It is an Orwellian distortion of what it means to tackle the Big Questions. It is a way for dreary old bores to pretend they’re different by ostracising the truly different. You are nothing more than the primary-school bully who picks on the misfit kids—or you’re one of the misfit kids trying to overcompensate.

The rabid defence of social conformity is not and never will be heterodoxy. It is orthodoxy, and you are afraid of having the existing social order challenged. Call yourself a conservative, call yourself a traditionalist. But don’t call yourself heterodox. There’s nothing strange about fitting in.


Scams for the clever and gullible

This is a bit of a niche topic, but I really hate scammers and eugenicists. Paul Cooijmans, a self-appointed expert in human intelligence from the Netherlands, has built a career of designing “high-range” IQ tests.

He insists that “childhood age-peer scores” are invalid, as are classic ratio IQ tests (for example, a score of 100 means that someone’s “mental age” is the same as their chronological age), and only adult standard deviation tests (using an SD of 15) can be used to rank people.

But this is a scam designed to get people to take his tests. (You can apply these arguments to any of the other absurd high-IQ societies on the internet that sell their own bespoke tests.) Here’s why:

  • IQ tests were originally designed for children. Not because individual differences in adult intelligence are irrelevant (and the relative skill level is usually constant), but these tests are designed to identify kids’ skills in school. That’s what Alfred Binet intended when he created these tests. They were made to help kids, not give people bragging rights. Adult tests are especially useless for identifying one’s learning potential, since they are typically used for clinical purposes, such as identifying whether someone has difficulty with executive functioning or short-term memory. Once you’re grown up, it’s much clearer what you can do. David Wechsler was clear that his scales were clinical tests.
  • Also, modern-day tests like the WAIS do not include high-range scores like this on their adult tests. Remember that he considers adult scores with a standard deviation of 15 as the only acceptable ones. But these tests are typically cut off at 160 and are geared towards the middle of the bell curve (roughly 70 to 130).
  • He calls the Stanford-Binet test a “childhood test.” The Stanford-Binet is an all-ages test. Older versions, such as Form L-M, are also known to be better at identifying both highly intelligent children and those with intellectual disabilities. (Full disclosure: I’ve taken both Stanford-Binet and Wechsler tests.)
  • As far as I know, all modern tests use age bands to rank people. If a 20-year-old takes the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS), they will be compared with other 20-year-olds, not 18-year-olds or 40-year-olds. The same goes for the modern Stanford-Binet test and the Kaufman tests, and just about any other test you can find on the market. These are age-peer scores, just for adults rather than schoolchildren.
  • Cooijmans’s devaluing of childhood tests may be an artefact of his sexist views. People like Cooijmans believe that girls can be precocious (rather than intelligent or gifted) and plateau or regress to the mean in mid-childhood or adolescence, but boys take longer to mature, so their scores are valid at a later age. This is bullshit. The kinds of girls who show clear signs of high intelligence at a young age (existential concerns at 7, reading at 18 months, going to university at 10) are unlikely to drop to a 100 or 120 level as they get older.
  • He is specifically attacking the older Stanford-Binet tests (specifically form L-M), which were the only mainstream psychometric tests to produce scores above 160, using a special formula that combines a ratio and a deviation score. The standard deviation of the L-M  is 16, rather than the 15 used on modern low-ceilinged tests like the dreaded Wechsler scales. If Stanford-Binet results, typically taken in childhood, are invalid predictors of someone’s intelligence, then they’ll fork over for Cooijmans’s homemade IQ tests. His disparagement of these tests is in his financial best interests. When people make claims like this and sell a competing product, follow the money. You’ll rarely be led astray.
  • Cooijmans’s tests can’t be used to join mainstream high-IQ societies like Mensa. You can’t take them to a neuropsychologist to show your intellectual functioning. You can’t do anything with these tests but brag about them online. They’re an intricate puzzle, not a real IQ test.
  • The WAIS and similar tests will probably bore the hell out of someone who has strong logical and pattern-recognition skills, since the subtests tend to be rather basic and a bit dull. Also, they include a lot of subtests that involve motor, visual and other non-intellectual skills. They are inaccessible for a lot of people.

And here’s where Cooijmans comes in. He says that only tests like the WAIS produce valid scores. These scores cut off most people who are drastically different from the norm. People who desperately want to prove themselves then spend money on Cooijmans’s tests. His business preys on people who want to prove their intellectual bona fides. This is nothing but a scam that preys on the relatively intelligent (but gullible), rather than the average person’s multilevel marketing or anti-cancer bracelets.


Russia’s not the only source of anti-queer moral panics

… as anyone who’s watching US news closely should know. A Florida state rep recently filed a bill that could target LGBTQ+ content as “grooming,” reminding one of Russia’s various “gay propaganda” bills filed over the past ten years or so. This isn’t to let Russia off the hook, of course, but this is a worldwide problem led by coordinated “anti-gender” actors, mostly extreme-right politicians (e.g., Vladimir Putin and Viktor Orbán) and conservative Protestant, Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox Christian groups, as well as their useful idiots: TERFs and members of centre-right parties like the British Conservatives. The anti-gender movement’s role is to enshrine rigid gender roles by pushing anti-LGBTQ+ policies, banning abortion, and encouraging women to stay home and have children.

According to Sonia Corrêa of CREA, a Global South–centric feminist NGO, the Vatican had a huge hand in establishing the anti-gender movement in the 1990s. Corrêa also goes on to say that the anti-gender movement is a reactionary backlash against the increased position of women and gender minorities in various societies. And in modern-day Europe, the biggest financial supporters of anti-gender political activism are European Catholic groups, US right-wing Christian organisations like the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Putin regime, and a few Russian oligarchs. The rise of Russian funding seems to be recent, but then again, Russia has redoubled its efforts to destabilise Western countries over the past decade.

TERFs are being taken for a ride by these fundamentalist nutjobs, but I don’t feel sympathy for any movement that is focused on restricting others’ rights. Also, the reactionaries behind the anti-gender movement know damn well what they’re doing. They want to disenfranchise women. It’s less about trans people on their own and more about their obsession with the patriarchy. TERFs’ “sex-based rights” bullshit is a one-way ticket to depriving women of the vote by claiming that it is men’s “sex-based right” to make political decisions and women’s “sex-based right” to be protected from predatory men by being excluded from the public sphere.

It is not just Russia and it will never be just Russia. Patriarchal oppression must be defeated, both there and everywhere else.

Passive-aggressive pastels

(a rare content warning for this blog: brief mention of child abuse)

A graphic on a purple/pink/blue gradient background that says 'Passive-Aggressive Pastels: You are lovely and valid. Except when you piss me off. Then fuck you.' There are disco ball, heart and star decorations.

I talk a lot about social justice assholes, usually the more obvious ones. After all, I was raised by blatant assholes (well, blatant once the doors were closed). Depraved, abusive, cultish, creepy, incestuous, manipulative, cruel, selfish assholes. We’re talking about fathers who leer at their middle-school children’s bodies—and mothers who go a bit further. We’re talking about the kinds of people who yell for hours on end at their hapless nine-year-old because their bedroom was mess or they struggled with long-multiplication drills, until that nine-year-old dissolves into a puddle of self-abasement and misery.

So if you seem too nice, my instinct is to bolt, since you’re taught that everyone who cares about you is going to give you tough love, even if that “love” is nothing but unvarnished abuse and cruelty. It’s not that I want to be around jerks. I don’t attract them the way I used to. But I prefer nice people with an edge, a tendency towards sarcasm and self-depreciation. The kinds who will satirise what they’ve gone through, rather than sit in an affirmation circle.

Well-meaning wielders of saccharine platitudes

If you seem too earnest and you are over the age of 21, I’m going to wonder whether you’re trying to sell me something, or if you’re gullible enough to have someone else sell you something. Of course, these people probably are earnest, but the focus on affirmation and supposed antidotes to the 24/7 cycle of bad news that I sometimes find online gives off that too-nice, I-can’t-trust-this feeling. Everything I read makes me think of lying in a bath with strawberry candles around the ledges, bath foam skimming off the top (probably from a Lush bath bomb), chill-out music playing on Spotify on your phone. They’ll say you’re valid, that you deserve to be here, that you are loved and welcomed.

They’ll pull out their Sacred Affirmation Tarot Cards, make hazy graphics on Canva with goopy 1970s-revival fonts and soft purple-and-blue gradients (admittedly, I do like that aesthetic every so often), light Our Lady of Queer Revival candles that riff off the Catholic ones, make Instagram posts that lavish praise on all their followers and fans, write confessional posts about how I Am Multiply Marginalised And You Can Too.

Affirmation is all well and good, of course—but the words often ring hollow when you’re reading yet more news stories about how politicians in Texas or Russia want to ban you from existence, or about doctors who think that your kind should be wiped off the planet once they find enough “biomarkers,” or about how the planet’s going to burn if the world’s governments (mostly the US government) don’t get off their goddamn asses and do something. You get “good news” sites with magazine headlines like “What if everything turned out OK?” It’s not going to be OK if you’re just handing out platitudes and cute puppies, which is all you’re doing. (That’s what happened when I googled sites for good news after I was trying to break out of the Russia/Ukraine/GOP doomscrolling habit. And I was hit with high-fructose-corn-syrup glurge instead.) And no amount of affirmation is going to topple Ron DeSantis, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un, Bashar al-Assad, Viktor Orbán, or any other authoritarian dipshit from power (or in the case of Trump, keeping him from regaining it).

If you’re my actual friend, I know you mean it when you affirm me. I know it’s real and not just glurge. And because it’s real, I value it. But it doesn’t feel the same when I’m coming across it on a random Instagram feed, tweet (yes, I’m still calling it Twitter because fuck Elon Musk that’s why), or blog post.

What–or who–the hell are passive-aggressive pastels, anyway?

Methodological faults aside, the well-meaning wielders of saccharine platitudes really do want to do the right thing. Those really aren’t the people I’m pissed off at. Not at all. The ones I’m pissed off at are the kinds who are just as unpleasant and obnoxious as their blatant Social Justice Asshole counterparts, but they cover it all in affirmations about validity and lives that matter. A good friend of mine calls this aesthetic “passive-aggressive pastels.” (I’ll call them PAPs for short, which fits—after all, most of their posts are pap and little more.)

These are the Smol Beans™ on Tumblr (or TikTok nowadays, but I wouldn’t touch TikTok with a bargepole) who will pat you on the back as long as you perform wokeness the way they do. But once you step out of line, they’ll bite you in the back with passive-aggressive posts about how you’re being negative, how you’re being oppressive, violent, abusive, destructive. People like this tend to aim their passive aggression at members of their own community—for example, queer people, feminists, or disabled people. Often PAPs get away with this behaviour because they’re operating in small subcultures that are frequently marginalised or isolated in mainstream culture. This was often the case for queer and trans people in the early 2000s and 2010s, and that continues to be the case today for queer people who also belong to other minority groups (e.g., Black queer people in majority-white countries, or queer disabled people). And it’s absolutely the case in mental health/Mad/mental illness/psychiatric disability support groups, since it’s hard to find support when any mental health condition or perceived mental health condition is heavily stigmatised—unless it’s anxiety and minor clinical depression, that is. But try talking to your average person about bipolar, schizophrenia, DID/multiplicity/plurality, any personality disorder… people will look at you as though you’ve grown two heads. And this is where the PAPs come in. They know you’re a captive audience. They’ll shower you with love and attention. And no matter how much they turn on you and claim that you’re suddenly the Worst Person Ever, you keep coming back because there’s nowhere else to turn.

At least the normal Social Justice Assholes are honest. You know they’re jerks. They’ll rant and rave about how Hamas should kill Israeli citizens to right historic wrongs, call for the decapitation of every white cis man in sight, claim that trans women are all secret rapists there to violate women’s “sex-based rights.” PAPs will make the same claims, but under a haze of cutesy graphics and cryptic Instagram posts. They use use the same kinds of social policing methods as the Nice Southern Ladies I grew up around, the kinds who say “bless her heart,” but you know they’re silently hurling dark imprecations at the one who is supposedly being blessed. Like the Nice Southern Ladies, PAPs have authoritarian ideas and political stances, but they tend to use concern trolling and rhetorical sleight of hand rather than open claims. Nice Southern Ladies have “Live, Laugh, Love,” “#Blessed,” or “John 3:16” posters from Etsy on their walls. PAPs, on the other hand, will have “Protect Trans Lives” or “Black Lives Matter.”

The upshot is that PAPs, Nice Southern Ladies, Social Justice Assholes, and fire-and-brimstone right-wingers are all authoritarian jerks who value social conformity over human dignity, pluralism, or real equity. It’s just a different coat of paint.

I hate hip-hop

(To be fair, not all of it. But I hate most of it.)

But when I say that, people look at me as though I’ve grown two heads. Some assume that it’s about the lyrics and recommend more “conscious” rappers like Kendrick Lamar. Some think it’s some kind of racial self-hatred “because that’s our folks’ music.” Nope. (And I really don’t mean to throw shade at Kendrick; he seems like a decent guy.)

It’s more that I don’t like being talked at when I’m trying to listen to music. It’s like being accosted in a bar and having a guy ramble. I know rapping takes skills, especially freestyle. I know there are artists with great lyrics. But I process hip-hop as speech, not music.

I’m more likely to enjoy parody raps because it’s more like listening to a play or podcast. But Drake, Lil Wayne, 50 Cent, Ja Rule, or whoever? Turn it off now! (I’m clearly showing my age—does anyone still listen to 50 Cent and Ja Rule? *sighs* I sound like somebody’s dad, clearly out of the loop. Though I did hear Nelly’s “Country Grammar” on the radio a few weeks ago. Shades of ninth grade!)