Thursday, April 20, 2017

Visibility, Disruptiveness, and Effectiveness: What Actually Counts in a Demonstration

NPR ran this story the other day about research on which intuitions are correct about what makes a demonstration effective:

http://www.npr.org/2017/04/18/524473948/researchers-examine-the-psychology-of-protest-movements

A couple notes: while this research shows the importance of protesters' not putting themselves in a negative light, it doesn't mean they should never do anything that could make people uncomfortable. As Nick Cooney points out in his book Change of Heart: What Psychology Can Teach Us About Spreading Social Change, disturbing images (as of animal abuse, for instance) may move people to action more effectively than warm-and-fuzzy ones. The key is whether the context makes viewers associate the unpleasant images with what's being protested or with those doing the protesting.

Another point: it's stated in the interview that sometimes there's a trade-off between visibility and effectiveness, with the latter being the bottom line that should determine protesters' choice of tactics. But there's also a sense in which they correlate, since the expectation of disruptive or violent tactics can reduce participation in an action. And, all other things being equal, a smaller action is a less visible one, as well as probably less effective.

Monday, April 17, 2017

An Unfunny Satire on "the MRA" Is Taken Down


After also reading the original written version of the piece, and the post on r/exredpill it was largely based on -- and as someone who has a particular interest owing to my adolescent involvement with a political cult -- I think it's important to make a distinction. People in the cultic studies field say there as many groups as there are people in the group; one member may have a cultic relationship with it while another doesn't at all. And the groups themselves are on a continuum. This is why those in the cult awareness field prefer to speak of cultic processes rather than of "cults" as a discrete category of groups.

The r/exredpill poster in question evidently developed a relationship with r/redpill (which, by the way, has basically nothing to do with actual MRAs or men's rights activists -- a common conflation in the feminist milieu) that had significantly cultic characteristics. But, as Alison and Karen point out here, this wasn't because anyone at r/redpill was using deceptive/manipulative recruitment tactics -- as are characteristic of "cults" in the strong , distinctly negative sense of that term -- but simply because he was desperate to find something that would make him feel like less of a loser. The cultic aspect of the relationship came mostly from him and not from conscious, covert manipulation by the group, as you would find in something more deserving of being called a destructive cult.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFEvB3C-YVA

Friday, April 14, 2017

Greens Play by Our Rules, Not the Establishment's

There's a story in the most recent Public Record on how some people are pushing the city Democratic Party to devolve endorsements from ward leaders to committee people, among other reforms, to address endemic corruption. I sent this letter in response:

As part of his exercise in denial about Democratic Party dysfunction, Bob Brady made this false statement: "The Republicans have the same rules, the Greens have the same rules."
In fact the Green Party does not have the same rules. Unlike Democrats and Republicans, the Green Party has no ward leaders, only a City Committee, which as a matter of policy does not endorse candidates for party nomination. The party's philosophy is that the individual Greens who attend monthly membership meetings are capable of deciding on nominations for themselves, without any need for "guidance" from party officers. All the City Committee does is inform the members in attendance of who is seeking nomination, as well as invite the candidates to appear and make their own case.
If you're a progressive who doesn't think party apparatchiks are entitled to be protected from competition with grassroots activists, as former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz openly stated, then you should consider joining the Greens.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Save Dina Ali Lasloom!

A Saudi woman who sought asylum in Australia was taken off her plane in the Philippines and is now being returned to Saudi Arabia where she faces execution for traveling without a male companion. Please join me in signing the petition to stop this!
https://secure.avaaz.org/ar/petition/mnZm_lfw_ldwly_Amnesty_nqdhw_dyn_ly_save_Dina_ali/?aQeaOjb
http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/888504/saudi-woman-seeking-asylum-in-australia-repatriated-from-ph

You only need to put your email address in the circled area.


Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Pinky Agrees with Me

No, not the mouse. I just watched this video by Steven Pinker on why some fear the rise of Artificial Intelligence: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gimu5nXWaWU

This is pretty much identical to what I wrote on my blog a couple years ago: http://stripey7.blogspot.com/2015/09/extant-has-gotten-entirely-too-silly.html One criticism: it's too sweeping a generalization to say women are a counterexample to the idea that high intelligence goes along with megalomania. I'm not even sure that it's statistically true, and there are certainly counterexamples: female cult leaders like Marlene Dixon and Elizabeth Clare Prophet, for instance.