Pseudo-science

Feminism and astrology

Both spend more time explaining why their predictions don’t explain things than explaining things

Feminism, like gravity and astrology, is a theory. It’s a guess about how things work, based on observations about reality.

While theories can be complex, the test of a theory’s relevance is brutally simple: does it, in fact, account for what we observe? For example: gravitational theory predicts that an apple will fall from a tree towards the ground. It does this so well that we can predict the velocity of the apple as it hits the grass.

A Physicist who observed an apple ‘falling’ from the ground back up into the tree could not claim that the force we call ‘gravity’ was operating. Faced with such a startling observation, the Physicist would have to make a choice: abandon the claim and search for another; or expand the claim with another accounting for why, on this occasion, the core claim should be relieved of the burden of explaining this particular observation—an excuse, if you will.

Excuse me?

Theories divide neatly into two groups according to which choice is made in the face of such inconvenient observations about reality.

The first group consists of theories that don’t make excuses. Theories that fail to describe and predict reality are simply ejected from the group. The survivors grow by expanding the number of core claims that can be made about observable reality for which no contradictions can be discovered. Unsurprisingly, this group contains the major systems of rational human thought, through which we discover novel truths about reality.

The second group consists of theories that tolerate failures of their core propositions to describe and predict observable reality. These grow through the expansion of the number of explanations required to accommodate and excuse such failures. This group is the home of religions and pseudo-sciences - astrology, homeopathy, neoclassical economics, etc. -

A quick review will remind you that the total absence of explanatory power of theories in the second group is seldom a matter of concern to their adherents, for whom attachment to the core propositions (or the benefits from the programs for which the propositions are necessary justification) is often stronger than their attachment to any consistency with observable reality.

Show me the evidence

With that groundwork in place, let’s turn to western feminism and ask a simple question: to which group of theories does it belong?

A core claim of western feminism is the presumption of so-called ‘male privilege’, enacted through a ‘patriarchy’. Society - so it is argued - is presumed to be organised around the occupation of key institutional positions by men, from which women are systematically excluded and exploited. The arrangement confers privileges on men which benefit men and harm women. This legitimises and mandates the exercise of political power in the allocation to women of resources, privileges and political power. Men are disqualified from participation in any democratic scrutiny of this claim, or consent to any proposed remedies.

What might a reasonable test of this claim’s descriptive and predictive power be?

Surely (to the point of tautology) there must be observational evidence of men benefitting - and women suffering - from the effects of male privilege. Indeed, to merit such draconian remedies, evidence would have to be unambiguously clear.

We would therefore expect a male society tainted by male privilege to allocate resources disproportionately toward male health care, male education, and male social social security.

We would expect men benefitting from male privilege to live longer than women, to be better educated than women, to be homeless less frequently than women, to kill themselves less often then women, to be exposed less frequently to occupational injury than women, and to get killed in war less often than women.

We would expect courts organised around male privilege to allocate more legal resource to men than women, to incarcerate women more often than men for the same crimes, to execute more women than men for the same crimes, to award child custody more often to men than women, to imprison delinquent non-custodial mothers more often than delinquent non-custodial fathers, to define rape advantageously to men rather than women, to punish male rape and domestic violence less harshly than female rape and domestic violence, and provide more resource for male victims of rape and violence then women.

We would expect schools organised around male privilege to score boys more highly than girls in normative tests, and for teachers to drug girls more often than boys for schoolroom behaviours male teachers defined as inappropriate.

We would expect to see the widespread availability of masculism curriculae in universities, affirmative action to promote male interests in universities, and promulgation of laws by international courts prohibiting criticism of masculism.

Remarkably, we don’t. Even homeopathy and astrology, like the stopped watch that tells the time twice a day, occasionally yield the outcomes their champions claim for them. Yet feminism scores 0% in a basket of the most basic tests its core proposition should be capable of predicting, in support of remedies so draconian that only unambiguously clear evidence could be acceptable.

Pseudoscience

Rather, in feminism, we observe the equivalent of the apple falling from the ground into the tree. And therefore it should not surprise us when we also observe all of the apparatus of pseudo-science’s defence of its core propositions in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

And not just ordinary protective apparatus, mind. The European Union (from where I write this) is proposing legislation that would make criticism of feminism illegal. A group of feminist technologists are raising funds for a database that will register my identity and home address, and make it available via social networks to feminist groups with sadly violent histories.

Feminism, in short, has no observable predictive capability and a correspondingly vigorous defence mechanism for its core propositions. It is a pseudo-science.