26 Oct: Daily Homily (Weinstein and Determinism) and Tweets

Given the heinous nature of the actions of Harvey Weinstein, there are still plenty of tweets about him in the Twitterverse. He’s getting plenty of attention elsewhere too, and rightly so. In today’s fast moving news cycle, things get old too fast too often.

Today Jerry Coyne was one of those who wrote a post about the a$$ho£e: ‘Harvey Weinstein, creep or psychopath?‘. He looks at the issue from a deterministic viewpoint. I was asleep (it was about 4.30 am here) so I wasn’t part of the discussion.

As a determinist, I agree with Jerry’s point of view in relation to Weinstein.

What I want to talk about though is how Weinstein came to be the way he is. Weinstein is the tip of a very big iceberg. There are a lot of men who are as bad as him. However, there are literally billions who are misogynist or sexist to a greater or lesser extent. Many of them, perhaps most, don’t even realize it.

Casual sexism is such a big part of our society that many don’t even realize they’re doing it. And it’s not just men. There are plenty of women that don’t even notice the sexism. They just take it for granted.

Part of what creates men like Weinstein is genetic, and we can’t do anything about that. Well, not yet anyway. But part of it is also the environment in which he was brought up and in which he lives his life. We can do something about that.

One of the things we can do is teach the children in our lives how to treat others. The Golden Rule is to treat others how we would like to be treated ourselves. We must lead by example too. We cannot, for example. tell our children that violence is bad and no way to solve a problem, then smack them when they do something wrong.

The revelations of the sexually predatory behaviour of Weinstein and others has led to an increase in an awareness of this problem in our society. Lets hope it influences people to change their own behaviour and in turn what they model to those they influence. It is the only way to at least reduce this happening in the future.

Political Tweets

Ron Reagan, son of the late former president and board member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation made this statement.
(Via Ann German.)


Thank goodness the courts are still following the law, even if the Trump administration isn’t.
(Via Ann German.)



Just sayin’.
(Via Ann German.)


Environment Tweets

Scott Pruitt has no fu€king idea. He’s the worst of all Trump’s cabinet picks in terms of the mess he’s making, and that’s saying something.
(Via Ann German.)


I’ve tweeted this before from another source, but it’s worth posting again. We need to see the good stuff from the Obama era that’s still helping to balance the depressing news from the Trump era.


Human Rights Tweets

Another brave Iranian woman.


More brave women in Iran.


Religion Tweets

The hypocrisy of the religious never ceases to amaze me.
(Via Ann German.)




Art Tweets

Very cool!
(Via Ann German.)


A storm in a teacup!


Entertainment Tweets

I remember this! Do you?
(Via Ann German.)


Scenic Tweets

Love it! (That’s one way to hide the bomb damage!)


Science Tweets

What a fantastic kid!


Very cool!


Other Animals Tweets

If you’re in the UK, please consider giving your vote to the amazing people at SWCC. They named a hedgehog after me! They must be good!


This is one of the reasons why the good people at SWCC need your help.


Operation Baby Doormice! These gorgeous wee creatures need rescuing because they were born too close to hibernation time. They’re apparently normally weaned at around 40 days, but they’re only 17 days old and mum wants to hibernate.


What a cutie!


Bird Tweets

The big news is that this year the winner of New Zealand’s Bird of the Year competition was the Kea! Yay!!! Thank you to all of you who put in a vote. There were more votes this year than ever before thanks to international interest in the competition, and that means some of you. So, of course, we have to have lots of Kea tweets today.






Had enough yet? I haven’t …









I haven’t finished yet!





Dog Tweets

I’ve got a sibling who did this as a toddler. I won’t out the miscreant online. You know who you are!


Learning about hiccups!


Cat Tweets

This is the kitten I want!


This bloke has his priorities right!

Aren’t they lovely?!

It’s amazing what cats can manage when they want to get in stuff!


And they get into some weird sleeping positions too!



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17 Responses to “26 Oct: Daily Homily (Weinstein and Determinism) and Tweets”

  1. j.a.m. says:

    “The @GOP arguing about who paid for the Steele Dossier would be like a robber asking who paid the phone bill for the phone used to call 911.”

    That analogy only works if you assume that the 911 call was a malicious prank — and you blame the victim.

  2. John Gibson says:

    I must admit that I find this question of free will and determinism very confusing. Did Harvey Weinstein have a choice in what he did? According to determinists like Jerry Coyne, the answer is no. That seems clear enough, but if he did not have a choice, then nobody else does either. So if society responds to criminal acts in a vengeful manner, which Jerry Coyne disapproves of, then that too is determined. If everything is determined, then how can we choose to react in any other way?
    A pure determinist position is logical, but to me there has to be something more to enable us to break out of what would otherwise be an endless loop. For this reason I would regard myself as a compatibilist.
    I would be interested to know what others think.

    • I see the part of the problem being that people aren’t aware of determinism. If they knew about it, would that influence them to behave in a less vengeful and more constructive manner when it comes to crime? Every input influences behaviour, so knowing about determinism will change the future actions of some for the better. That in turn will influence others. The effects will ripple through society.

    • nicky says:

      It is obvious that at basic level determinism is true, the the thinking brain is a highly complex set of molecular reactions (life itself is a series of parallel chemical reactions). However, there are so many factors influencing that ‘will’ (whether ‘free’ or not) becomes some kind of ’emergent property’, backed by the strong illusion of “I could have done otherwise”.
      It is difficult to know which molecular reactions are important or decisive in the end. How to translate eg. the prospect of punishment, self righteousness or Hamlet into molecules (not to mention quarks)?
      The trope of the bat of a butterfly wing causing a storm across the ocean (no, I do not believe it really does) makes us think of the trillions and trillions of other insect wings trembling in nature’s dance. Not to mention their triple trillions of little legs.
      And I think that is an ‘easy’ problem (I might be mistaken there, of course) compared to the trillions of reactions in our (and I would include non human animals, of course) brains.
      In other words, determinism is true, I do not doubt that, but (the dreadful ‘but’) it is not a really practical approach, immo.

    • darrelle says:

      Hello John,

      A couple of quick points to consider.

      Per determinism we can “choose” to react to future events differently than we reacted to similar events in the past if in the intervening time we received new “input” that affects our brain’s “output”. Analogous to the way the output that a computer / program computes will change after the inputs that it uses to perform its computations change. Changing the inputs can’t, of course, change past results but it can change future results.

      Also, regarding compatibilism vs incompatibilism, the formal position of both is that determinism is true and that it rules human behavior. Granted, not everyone that argues theses positions understands what the “formal” positions are so you certainly can find compatibilists denying that determinism does not rule human behavior. Where compatibilists and incompatibilists disagree is on what the implications of determinism ruling human behavior are and or which implications are important and which ones are not.

  3. Lee Knuth says:

    Teaching children to respect others no matter their sex, religion or ethnicity is key to a more civilized society. Don’t know is that ever will be accomplished. Remember that Lucy episode fondly. It never gets old.

    • Unfortunately, it’s a change that while possible, isn’t going to happen quickly if it does happen. Religion isn’t going to want to relinquish their hold, and for many of them the notion of free will is essential. You can’t have God giving you the free will to choose salvation and still accept the reality of determinism. All that “eye for an eye” stuff goes by the wayside too. Knowledge of determinism would give us a more compassionate society than most religions ever could.

      • j.a.m. says:

        @HH: Maybe you didn’t get the memo about turning the other cheek, but all that “eye for an eye” stuff went by the wayside a couple of millennia ago. (And of course, “eye for an eye” was a big improvement over the unconstrained savagery that went on before, in the dark ages of atheistic prehistory.)

        Because you do have free will, you are perfectly free to choose to deny it.

        • You can’t be an atheist before gods are believed in. It’s like saying Neanderthals were anti-Trump. It makes no sense. And there were multiple other religions before the Abrahamic ones too, and many of the people who followed them were extremely civilized.

          Besides, if the Bible is to be believed, there was an enormous amount of brutality in Biblical times, much of it perpetrated by God’s followers. In fact, there were occasions when God apparently told them they weren’t brutal enough and urged them to do a bit if extra murder after battles were won, and to follow that by raping the women and taking them as sex slaves. What a sweet guy your God is!

          • j.a.m. says:

            Take up your quibble with the American Atheists, according to whom, “Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.” By this criterion it is clear that everybody was an illiterate atheist once upon a time (and indeed for most of the time that the human race has been around).

          • You have a problem with comprehension too? Yes, it’s a lack of belief in gods. But you can’t not believe in them until you know some people do. And besides, I thought you said God wasn’t a god?

  4. Randall Schenck says:

    I appreciate and understand that many at PCC site want to join in and analyze the mind of the sexual predator or the sexual harasser. And you are correct, the Weinstein and other personalities involved in this has put it on the front pages. But please note, there is nothing new about any of this and it has been a very big problem for years. Frankly I am a bit surprised to hear Jerry Coyne and other say they are surprised at how much of this seems to be going on. I also understand that academia would not be very educated in this matter. After all, they seem to think you can police this on campus with administrators and other non professional people. This is just wrong and shows lack of understanding.

    When I joined the work force in a large company in the 1970s this problem was very big. Remember the Anita Hill story? It was big for a while and classic sexual harassment. The stuff hit the fan in my company back then and several people were pulled into the issue and some fired. The result for a while was the idea that education and sexual harassment classes would somehow solve this thing. It did not. Our company finally figured it out and took the steps to kill this thing and it will also work in any institution. To me that is what is important, RESULTS. Fixing the problem. We know how to do so why all this gas and surprise that it still goes on today?

    • There was a tweet I put in a tweets post a few days ago that said something like, “Every woman has either been abused or knows someone who has been. Almost no men know a man who abuses women.”

      It shouldn’t be a surprise, but it is to so many men. At least some are now realizing it. Others are still denying there’s a problem – that people like Weinstein are unique and rare. Steve Bannon said on that recent 60 Minutes interview that Trump’s pussy grabber tape was just locker room talk and millions of his supporters agree with that. The ones that are denying this is a problem are enablers even if they’re not doing it themselves.

      Sean Hannity has never been accused of sexual harassment etc, but he had O’Reilly on recently, and has Trump on his show regularly. He’s an enabler even if he’s okay personally.

      • Randall Schenck says:

        Yes, Looked more like Bus talk than locker room. That is an excuse that does not even begin to be one. The Federal agency in the U.S. that probably knows more about sexual harassment than any is the EEOC. It was from this office that our company was investigated way back in the early 80s. The two women who had initially brought the claim were eventually given one grade promotion and back pay for nearly two years since the complaint was made. The company was required to put a statement on all bulletin boards in the building (roughly 10) that stated the outcome of this case. The idea was to publicly humiliate the firm. It was not until several years later that our firm initiated the process that eliminated this thing.

        • I think for a lot of people it’s easier not to be aware of reality. Others just put it in the “too hard” basket and ignore it. It’s not something most men suffer from, especially once they’re adults, so it’s off their radar.

        • nicky says:

          The problem with that bus talk is that it rings kinda true. A rich and famous guy often is allowed to just ‘grab the pussy’ (not to mention to let them insert the less savoury part of their anatomy into some intimate place). This kind of assault is difficult, on the one hand the victim acquiesces, but not always for ‘unduressed’ reasons.
          What about, say, ‘groupies’?

    • nicky says:

      “there is nothing new about any of this and it has been a very big problem for years”, I agree 100% . It would even be better if you replaced ‘years’ by ‘centuries’ or even ‘millennia’.
      I think mammal males, by the simple fact that females have a greater ‘investment’ in offspring, have a strong incentive to copulate with as many fertile females as possible. Of course, this drive is not really dampened by unfertile females, or maybe only if very obviously so (toddlers, shriveled grannies, highly pregnant women, etc). Note, for all clarity, I do not think this is the only motive driving male behaviour, but it is always there in the background (or in case of Weinstein and others, not so much in the background).
      It is well documented that males in positions of power have overwhelmingly used that power to get copulatory access to nubile females, be they despots*, war lords, slave owners, conquering soldiers, pop/sport stars, film directors or even teachers, or just rich ‘sugardaddies’ (nowadays called ‘blessers’ in SA).
      *[does the ‘Ius Prima Nocte’ ring a bell?]
      I think that “fixing the problem” (yes, it should be) will not be an easy endeavor, we’re up to a strong, instinctive driving force.

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