Saturday, 2 June 2012

Update: Stefan Molyneux still hasn't responded to any of the recent criticisms, yet is finding lots of time to throw evidence at strawmen and self-servingly and unfalsifiably psychoanalyse them

Here's his new vid, with a written overview of its content. It's nice to see a few of his listeners express disappointment.

The only part of the video that is "on topic" as far as the recent criticisms of his claim that parenting styles have substantial systematic long-term effects go is right at the beginning, where he tries to find fault with twin studies as a way of proving him wrong. Even if we were to unqualifiedly grant his objections, that would still leave him without any evidence for his claim - and it would still leave a lot of evidence against it intact.
And yes, he's still reiterating arguments that Michael McConkey and I had previously pointed out as constituting gross mistakes, in articles he claims to have read.

The rest is an attack against the idea that environmental factors have zero influence on personality... Hey, if you can find me a contemporary psychology researcher who holds this strange view that Stef keeps attacking, I'll buy you a Minecraft account. Or something else if you already have one or can't see the appeal in breaking and stacking virtual blocks.

If there's anything from the video you'd like me to comment on, please let me know. Otherwise, I'm moving on to other things (Yaaaaay!)

Peace out :)


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  2. This is gross, "I'm certainly happy to be corrected on these arguments, but given these restraints, I can't for the life of me see how any responsible scientist could claim to have clear evidence of a purely genetic influence over personality." Does Stef even know what a Strawman is?

    1. "Everybody knows everything all the time." :P

  3. Ok i see you feel that responding to criticisms is important. Have you heard about Geoffrey Sampson? He's referenced in the wikipedia article for Steven Pinker. Here's the url for his page

    I think its worth noting that pinker has NOT responded to the criticism.

  4. Thanks, but this is not relevant to my interests :) (at least not in the present context). Please don't just guess what my intentions are and then accuse me of inconsistency based on your guesses.
    If there's anything you'd like to say about the CONTENT of my posts on this blog, please do.

  5. Im confused, i thought it was important to respond to criticism? You seem to base most of your content on the work of Steven Pinker so i just assumed you would be interested in the counter arguments. Im sorry if i intruded, there was no offense intended.

  6. No worries :) I probably came across as telling you off, sorry about that.

    To clarify: I think that concluding from the blog post above that I think "it is important to respond to criticism" in the relevant sense is pretty far fetched.

    From my experience with Freedomainers, including Stef, it seems very common for them to argue that their "opponent" self-detonates or is otherwise inconsistent or hypocritical, on the basis of a very questionable interpretation of what their "opponent" means or intends.
    Identifying inconsistencies in "opponents" seems to be the preferred approach, codified in "UPB"; I would encourage everybody to be quite suspicious of the assumptions Freedomainers make in order to argue that their "opponent" is inconsistent.

  7. I'm a big fan of Stefan Molyneux and Steven Pinker, being a fan of Pinker's first.

    There are mountains of data to support the proposition that both early childhood experiences and genetics influence a person's development and personality. They each have their areas of focus, but I hardly consider them mutually exclusive.

    Take intelligence. The vast majority of IQ comes from genetics, although stressful situations in childhood will lower IQ, whether it's through the effects of the stress and pain itself on the brain or through a simple lack of modelling early reasoning as a means of problem solving.

    I've criticised Molyneux for not taking genetics into account sufficiently enough, but on the other hand, what we are learning from neuroplasticity, the ACE study, and many many other sources support his contentions.

    I'd love to see a debate between the two of them, of course, but remember, you'd have to convince Pinker, not just Molyneux. I've seen Molyneux express an openness to debating Pinker before when asked about it. I am not sure what Pinker's take on it, but you can hardly apply different standards to Molyneux than to Pinker.

  8. Thanks for your comment, Christoph, and sorry for the very late reply. It had slipped my mind, having been very busy and without proper internet access when I first read your comment.

    Environmental and innate factors both play a role, as I have argued throughout this blog. Stefan Molyneux makes claims that are much, much stronger than just to say that environmental factors are important, however. He claims that the effects of parental behaviour on the long term psychological outcomes of children are highly systematic and very large. This is wrong (at least in most respects), it does not mesh with the data *at all*.
    As I have argued in earlier posts, the ACE studies are of no help with this particular (strong) claim, since they have done nothing to determine to what extent the observed correlations between children's and parents' traits are accounted for by factors of heredity as opposed to factors of parental environment. It's not news that people's traits are highly correlated with the traits of their biological parents, but in almost every respect in which this has been studied, it turns out that these correlations are almost entirely accounted for by heredity.

    Indeed, I would not expect Steven Pinker to be very interested in debating Stefan Molyneux. Also, Stefan has once written on Facebook that he did not intend to invite Pinker on his show because he did not want to take out the time to read The Blank Slate as it's a very long book.