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Pelgrane Press disassociates Jonathan Tweet from 13th Age/Pelgrane

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Registered User
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Full disclosure as the guy who provided the original quote—I didn’t go back to look it up, and it’s possible that I butchered the spelling or phrasing.
You did butcher the spelling somewhat, but Spatula corrected that to a form with correct spelling and plausible phrasing in the first sentence I quoted.
My nitpicking was only aimed at the second sentence.


More Ideas Than Time
RPGnet Member
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No, "Lern" is not a word. It's basically just like in english: "work liberates" is the original, "working liberates" is another way to say the same thing, "learning liberates" is a play on that, "learn liberates" doesn't make sense, because "learn" can't be the subject of a sentence.
Happy to be corrected! German classes were a long time ago for me...


Weird Science Nut
Validated User
It’s hard to make sense of it all together, apart from just filing it all under “contrarian.”
That's certainly the metric some people use. Take for example one of my father's friends. He's an old hippie of the anti-establishment, Fight The Man sort. Usually votes Green Party. And somehow he's decided that the best alternative news source to the biased American mainstream media is... Russia Today. Because they tell you the things you won't hear anywhere else.

Does that make a lick of sense? Not to me! But somehow in his head it's consistent with his other beliefs and actions.


Godwin's Lawman
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That's certainly the metric some people use. Take for example one of my father's friends. He's an old hippie of the anti-establishment, Fight The Man sort. Usually votes Green Party. And somehow he's decided that the best alternative news source to the biased American mainstream media is... Russia Today. Because they tell you the things you won't hear anywhere else.

Does that make a lick of sense? Not to me! But somehow in his head it's consistent with his other beliefs and actions.
To be fair to him, that's RT's shtick: "we question everything". They just... don't really cover anything that makes Russia look bad. They're the news outlet equivalent of the guy who says, "I'm not a racist/sexist, I'm a misanthropist."


Not the rod of Asclepius
Validated User
Someone here gave a link to a guy who does a blog on politics and... statistics? Science? Something?

And he boiled politics down to Red and Blue for conservative and liberal, but also Gray, for the people who believe in intellectual logic in such a way as to put them with Blue a lot of the time, but not all the time, because they don't hold a sentimental attachment to it. I'm almost certainly getting it wrong, but the "intellectual who wants to dispassionately debate the subject, regardless of what the subject is" feels like a good read here.

Tweet feels like a classic Gray.

And that "I'm not going to get emotional, I'm going to go through this calmly and logically," is both tone-deaf given how people's daily lives are impacted by these things, and also unfortunately a bad look these days because assholes regularly co-opt the veneer of this style in bad-faith arguments.

EDIT: The article in question!
You can't hinge an argument about any significant social issue on logic. Applying logic requires a formal framework, and discussion of social issues inherently addresses things outside of a formal framework. Logic is an intellectual tool, not a philosophy.

Bruce Redux

Not flying or biting
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I am so glad that I am not the only one who found this. I tried to read his stuff to see what was going on and try to judge whether he was making a good point but using bad language, or buying into bad rhetoric, and my ultimate takeaway was that I had a hard time getting where he was coming from, which probably doesn’t help regardless of what one’s actual politics are.
Part of it is that Jonathan sees himself as a teacher, and reacts poorly to every suggestion that he lacks the knowledge to make the sort of assertion he just did, or that life experience routinely trumps theoretical constructions (or should) in moral judgments, and stuff like that.

(Edited to add: particularly these days when some of the people who blatantly decline to accept his teaching authority are literally young enough to be his kids. Aging catches us all.)

... And then people believe it, people believe Earth has 6000 years and demand Creationism should be taught, people burn witches.

Ignorance never helped.
But many of the people Jonathan quotes approvingly and cites as influences are themselves howlingly ignorant (and in some cases, pretty clearly deliberately so), too. In fact that's the problem.
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Dweller in Darkness

Validated User
This reinforces my view that Twitter is a terrible medium for many types of communication. If he was really trying to go "here is a dumb thing people believe, and here is why it's dumb", it's very hard to do that without introducing a lot of potential for it to be read in different ways.
I dunno, you managed to do it quite succinctly.

Bruce Redux

Not flying or biting
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I want to come back to one more thing. Jonathan and a bunch of his sources talk about being told that this or that is "taboo", and I don't think that's an adequate description of what actually goes on most of the time. (Let's grant here that you can always find some sufficiently dedicated crank and talk about trends.)

In academia, when you want to experiment on people, you have to deal with some kind of IRB - Institutional Review Board - which will demand to know why you're doing this, what safeguards you are taking for the well-being of subjects, and so on. When it comes to social and moral questions, we are all a sort of free-range IRB, and we are doing just fine when we ask questions like:

"Why are you doing this?"
"What measures are you taking to protect the people that you are, for now, using as objects?"
"A lot of examiners have come before you on this and find your premises and/or methods suck. Explain what you think they're wrong about there, and why. And show us the past history that justifies trusting you over them."
"Why are you not subjecting people much more like you and sympathetic to you to this treatment first?"

...and so on.

And it turns out that many bringers of enlightenment really hate being called to answer on such things. They call it suppression, but it's not. It's precisely the same treatment given to others who want to poke at people as objects for the sake of an experiment or an ideology. But they'd rather not engage in any exchange where there's a true, serious presumption of equality in which they must answer. So they say that we're calling it taboo and go off to do something else. But we are treating it as the opposite of a taboo - you just have to have good reasons that you can explain for what you're doing, and yes, you must accept that sometimes the weight of relevant opinion will go against your doing it. Then you can do what everyone else does - accept, modify to make it acceptable, whatever.


Validated User
It really appears that the "taboo" stance is a mix of that, calls for more diversity in academia (based on the belief that the voices are too one sided) and the question of "If it's really happening, isn't that bad and shouldn't something be done about it?" I'm very unqualified to make that determination, so I defer to those who actually know better.

Jonathan Tweet

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My differences with Pelgrane go back years. While we seem to have similar social-justice goals, we differ sharply on semantics, strategy, and science.

The latest controversy is over the questions of why racist pseudoscience is surging back and what we can do about it. Some people have expressed doubt that this is a problem, but Amy Harmon of the NY Times has been investigating this phenomenon for least 18 months and talked to me at some length about it. Progressives' efforts to keep racist pseudoscience in check have evidently failed. If they worked, I would not criticize the strategy. Most of my fellow progressives seem to want to maintain the taboo against contemporary medical knowledge about human variation by continental ancestry ("race"). If they have reason to think that the taboo is our best bet, then I support them in doing what they think is best.

In my estimation, denying science makes progressives look biased and unscientific. The taboo worked for decades, and I used to enforce it myself, but with the rise of the Internet it's impossible to keep taboo information from circulating. Angela Nagle and others have argued that people on the alt-right use the errors of the left to make themselves look relatively informed and reasonable. My proposal is that we fight pseudoscience with real science. If others want to maintain the taboo, that's a difference in strategy. I'm happy with any strategy that seems like it will work, and if someone has a better idea than promoting legitimate science, I'd be happy to hear it.

What science? Twenty-five years ago, I thought that modern science had revealed "race" to be no more based in biology than astrology. This "discovery" is what Lewontin and Gould taught. Then my biracial daughter was born, and gradually I learned what doctors know about differences among populations. It's a bunch of innocuous differences that doctors need to know about to do their jobs right, all stuff that would bore your average racist. African-descended babies, like mine, reach gross-motor milestones earlier than Eurasians. In lay terms, they're "advanced", and sometimes you can find black people online crowing about it. Also, the BMI-obesity charts that are based on white bodies are inaccurate for East Asians (who suffer the effects of obesity at lower weights) and for Africans (who can carry more weight before suffering from obesity). If my daughter ever needs a bone marrow transplant, it's going to be harder for her to find a match than it is for the average white patient. I think that denying these differences makes us progressives look bad. I understand that opinions vary, and maybe I'm wrong. I've changed my mind on big topics before. For me it's a question of evidence.

I try not to bear hard feelings over this. I myself used to think that "race" was entirely a social construct because that's what I was taught. I don't think that I was stupid or bad 25 years ago, nor do I think that the good people at Pelgrane are stupid or bad. I hope that they succeed at their social-justice goals because I share them. If I thought they had a winning strategy, I would back that strategy myself. But I don't like the track record that we progressives have experienced over the last several years, and I don't think that continuing to suppress science is going to help.

I accept that plenty of people feel quite differently about this hot-button issue. It took me years to change my mind about biology and human ancestry, so I don't expect people who disagree with me today to change their minds tomorrow just based on evidence. I know that crossing these lines means that people will shame me and slander me online. It's unfortunate, but I'm an atheist, and I'm sort of used to being despised by well-meaning people. For years progressives were winning. Remember gay marriage? While we were winning, I kept quiet about my concerns about Gould's and Lewontin's narrative. But now things are going south, and I think it's legitimate to question the strategies that are no longer getting us the results we want.

I say, fight pseudoscience with real science. If you think that the taboo is a better bet, I can understand why you would be angry at someone violating the taboo. If you have evidence that I'm wrong, please share. Evidence is the thing that has gotten me to change my mind before.

Some people have expressed dismay that someone with my record of promoting multiculturalism and gender diversity in RPGs would be tarred as a racist. I would ask that folks not add to the acrimony that has already surfaced over this controversy. Thanks.
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