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May 15, 2015

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Thanks Doc. That one was just... That thread should have been the "At long last? Have you left no sense of decency?" moment for Torgersen, if not for puppies as a whole. But I guess these days McCarthy would answer "Lol, NO!" and go on to a cushy spot as a New York Times opinion writer.

I'm really glad Wade answered that one, though it hurt to see.

FWIW My hurt was for Torgersen too, though I expect he'd tell me to stuff it. For the bind he's gotten himself and much of fandom into. For the glimmer of sympathy and regret in his first reply to Wade's post, before he does indeed shake the dust from his sandals, harden his heart and double down. Again.

BTW typo hunt. You've put Making Like instead of Light.

I think a big part of the "editing history" is that people genuinely misunderstand the situation at the beginning, and their memory of that misunderstanding overwhelms subsequent events. Once they have a narrative, they'll force everything to fit it. Especially when this is based on people's public statements, they can convince themselves that people are refusing to talk about their real motivations out of fear or embarrassment, so their statements about why they're doing things can be disregarded.

In this case, for example, I'm sure that Torgerson was so excited to have Wade on his list that he interpreted her agreement as agreement with the whole Sad Puppies ideology. When she asked to be removed, he didn't want to accept that as a rejection of his project, so he misinterpreted it as her being scared off the Puppies list by SJWs. Once he made those two leaps- her acceptance as validation and her rejection as being out of fear- he was willing to reinterpret everything along the same lines, even when faced with documentary evidence to the contrary.

The woman just bit your hand in a public setting.

how dare she! doesn't she know her master only wants what's best?

i'm surprised he didn't finish that off with "...the ungrateful bitch"

Thank you, Shane! fixed now

The simple answer here is that General Buck is not listening to Wade and has no interest in listening to Wade because he is too busy trying to shape a narrative that can carry a movement. He's being purely epideictical in his writing and Wade's objections only get in the way of what he is doing. She's not a part of his audience. She opted out of his carefully gerymandered slate and put the legitimacy of his motives in question. In doing so, she ceased to matter as a person and became instead a symbol, to be manipulated in whatever manner would best help define his community of believers. Listening to her -- acknowledging her account -- gets in the way of his business, which is to praise the bravery of his likeminded fellows and blame the ruination of the world on the depredations of the SJWs.

I always thought "The Stars My Destination" was the better Alfred Bester novel. "Psychoshop," which he was in the middle of writing when he died (and which was subsequently finished by Roger Zelazny) is also pretty entertaining.

Tenser said the tensor,
Tensor said the tenser,
Tension, apprehension, and dissension have begun!

Or something like that (what the villain thought-repeated to foil mind readers in "The Demolished Man").

"The Stars My Destination" was more of a tour-de-force, but "Demolished Man" was good enough to make me remember phrases from it about 50 years after I read it.

You guys should do a seminar series of posts on Bester, like they do at "Crooked Timber" - just a suggestion. Similarities between "The Stars My Destination" and "The Count of Monte Cristo", for example.

Oh yeah, Sad Puppies are sad.

Torgersen appears to be intent on shaping his own reality, with any contradictory facts simply ignored.

In most areas of life, this would be considered a serious psychological pathology. But apparently he expects to come under the political exception: if your motivations are, or can be construed to be, political, then a connection to reality is not required.

His politics appear to resemble theology more than anything else, so that fits.

UrsulaV: The thing is, thinking of my grandmother--well, I loved her very much, and she was not a stupid woman, but I don't think she could have stopped herself. It wasn't like she was making conscious choices to change history, she just...did it. Even if there was a paper trail, even if every word was recorded, she would have kept doing it.

I wondered what was so familiar about it when I read the exchange between Torgersen and Wade on File 770. My mother used to do something similar.

It didn't matter how many witnesses there had been to any conversation she'd had with someone, or how many people said she was misremembering it, in her mind her version was the "true" one. In fact, there was no point arguing with her at all, because it would just make her more and more angry.

It meant that one had to be very careful when dealing with her - any issue she had with her friends/doctor/prayer group that she wanted help with had to be approached with huge caution, because it was quite likely that she would misrepresent the issue and any family members who strode in on her 'side' were quite likely to end up with egg-on-face.

I loved my mother dearly, but I was also realistic about her failings.

That always made my life complicated (to be clear, my mother has now passed on) but the way that Torgersen approached Wade was worse.

It appeared to me that in presuming to speak for her, and then failing to stop when this was pointed out, he was guilty of one of the worst examples of online sexism that I've ever seen played out. It was really outrageous, and didn't do his argument any good at all - if you're a writer, being able to read plain English and respond to a straight question is a necessary skill. Or so I would have thought.

Lexin, Nous: sounds like narcissistic personality disorder.

The "I'm know what you think, even if you disagree" seems to be a symptom.

Snarki:

How can you tell the difference between narcissistic personality disorder, and a memory disorder?

It's perfectly normal to re-write one's own memory, after all -- one reason last year's "The Truth of Thought, the Truth of Feeling" is such a great story. The difference with the people we're discussing is that the re-writing happens while you watch -- as though the normal process has just been sped up.

@Shane: If McCarthy was like Torgesen, his response to "Have you no sense of decency?" would probably have been, "No, they don't. Thanks for sympathizing with me."

Dr. S; by no means an expert, so I'm probably using the wrong label, and it's not NPD at all.

Certainly one believes ones own memory is 'true'.
it's what you remember, and you don't remember
rewriting it.

It's the reaction to contradictory information that is telling: the inability to even admit the possibility of being mistaken, the 'I know what YOU were thinking better than you do, no matter
what you say about it'

Some people will do stuff like that, for reasons of politics or other status-games. For others, that's their worldview, and IMO it's dysfunctional.

@John Seavey. Yeah, "I'm rubber they're glue" sounded dumb in third grade, but works just fine in national politics, or deep matters of ethics in speculative fiction.

"Eight, sir; seven, sir;

Six, sir; five, sir;

Four, sir; three, sir;

Two, sir; one!

Tenser, said the Tensor.

Tenser, said the Tensor.

Tension, apprehension,

And dissension have begun."

And round and around it goes like these culture wars.

In the end, we find out that Reich mis-heard the message

Or rather, mis-read -- one of the minor points of the story was that business communications were transcribed into and from a private code.

because he was already determined to kill D'Courtney -- who, it turned out, was his biological father.

I seem to recall that Reich's knowledge (that D'Courtney was his father, and his Oedipal hatred for him as his father) was supposed to be subconscious, not something that he consciously has in mind at any point. It is something of a mystery after all, since Reich's true motivation has to be discovered -- it is obscure even to himself.

As you wrote, very Freudian.

This sort of "message revision" and "motivation revision" is a form of a widespread abusive technique known as Gaslighting. In point of fact, it's SUCH a widespread technique of abusers the world over that it happens on a cultural level, to the point that it's not conscious at all. The problem is that in order to combat it, individuals have to become conscious of the tendency, or they will simply continue.

This form of gaslighting is predicated on a presumption that the victim is incapable of interpreting their own experiences, their own motivations, and so have to be *told* what their motivations and experiences are. It's incredibly insulting and dismissive.

Even his attitude of sorrow and the supposed "kindness" of his words is designed to cause the victim to doubt the validity of their own emotional reactions, which is the foundation of gaslighting. In this, I firmly believe that he is outing himself as behaving in an abusive manner.

This isn't to say that those who abuse are "bad people". That is a false dichotomy that only feeds into the efforts of abusers to maintain control over their victims because everyone has positive traits that are valuable. But change cannot happen for a person until that person understands that what they have been doing is wrong.

Because changing someone against their wishes is abusive, and is, in fact, one of the goals of gaslighting.

I have no idea what this thread is about, I know nothing from Sad Puppies and the whole string of posts on the Hugos is mind boggling. Quite the intrigue.

But I assume, yeah yeah, from just the facts in evidence here that Torgerson knows Wade at least as well as I know say Doc,
and, perhaps has an understanding of her motives beyond what she wrote. Perhaps she is being less than honest and he is trying to make that point as nicely as possible.

even if not, in the world of Hugo mania, he probably has a right to his opinion of her overreaction.

all of the above is meant to be a completely different interpretation of the facts in evidence not influenced by a mental disorder or political agenda.

It should be noted that after Welch made his "have you no decency" speech during that hearing, it's not as if McCarthy crumpled like a movie villain. McCarthy just went on with the hearing as if nothing had happened, certainly not realizing till later how badly Welch had wounded him, and probably never questioning his actions at all. It wasn't for McCarthy himself that Welch was making that speech... and it isn't for Torgersen himself that people are pointing to his behavior in that thread. It's for anyone who might be on the fence about the Puppies.

But I assume, yeah yeah, from just the facts in evidence here that Torgerson knows Wade at least as well as I know say Doc,
and, perhaps has an understanding of her motives beyond what she wrote. Perhaps she is being less than honest and he is trying to make that point as nicely as possible.

"As nicely as possible" would be privately. At the end of the day, even if we ascribe improbably generous motivations to him, he's still performing for his audience.

I would also add to the point that Nombrilisme Vide makes above, that "assuming that Torgersen has an understanding of Wade's motives" and that they are not as she states (which seems to me unlikely and also rude) undermines the point that Wade is making - that he is speaking for her in a way that is unacceptable.

If he did believe her motives were not as stated, he could have said that - though as Nombrilisme Vide says, perhaps taking the discussion offline would have been best, and the option of saying, if he believed it to be the case, that they were speaking at cross purposes would have been open to him.

What he did was speak for her, in public, which was the worst possible choice to make.

it's shocking that someone who leads a movement to force sifi to turn away from being more inclusive of female and minority viewpoints would think he is entitled to speak for a woman writer, even though that woman publicly says he has no right to do so. shocking.

I don't see what the point of speculating about a memory disorder in Torgersen's case, or even a run-of-the-mill memory alteration of the sort we've all probably done.

Wade's own words were right there. Right there at the top of every page of comments, and right there in the comments too. It wasn't a matter of memory to represent them accurately. It required only scrolling up.

Which is what makes it so jaw-dropping that Torgersen would for an instant believe the rest of the digital room would take his words over hers.

Well, those denizens of the digital room who aren't sexist enough to take a man's word over a woman's when the subject is that very woman's own perspective and motivations. The poster going by the name GK Chesterton was quite pleased to help Torgersen promote the version of Wade he'd made up in his own mind, versus the reality of Wade who was perfectly capable of speaking for herself.

Speaking of sexist men thinking they can better represent a woman than she can herself - Martin, any particular reason you're so ready to believe that Torgersen knows Wade better than Wade knows her own mind, or that Torgersen is a more honest witness of Wade's motivations than Wade herself is?

"But I assume, yeah yeah, from just the facts in evidence here that Torgerson knows Wade at least as well as I know say Doc,
and, perhaps has an understanding of her motives beyond what she wrote."

Half the point of Torgersen's endlessly astounded victim puppy schtick is precisely that he and he alone knows his own innocent mind and so interpretations of that mind based on what he actually wrote aren't valid unless he says they are. So, no, I don't think Marty's set of assumptions is going to quite cut it in grown-up world, even if we play by Torgersen's Rules.

Shorter Marty: Let me mansplain it to you.

BTW Doc, nice link with the Bester book. It works really well.

I'd like to sarcastically thank you for the chance to hear* that mindworm again, and again and again. But that would be unfair, because actually I've never forgotten it in the years since I read the book.

And yes, I said "hear" it, not read, because of course I said it out loud as soon as I saw it.

This type of behaviour is certainly characteristic of the abuse known as gaslighting. It need not necessarily be unequivocally abusive though.
The combination of self-dramatisation untethered in reality, and (unwittingly ridiculous) condescension is interesting.
"Irritating" is also diagnostic.

I was strongly reminded of a character in the long running BBC radio series The Archers, Lynda Snell (a bien pensant Guardian reader type):
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/profiles/2SBf17mJq4P9jsvHgJlZLlS/lynda-snell

"Love her or hate her, she certainly gets things done. If you need a piece of land protecting or a building saving, Lynda's your woman. She will grasp a campaign and pursue it like a terrier until all around her wilt under the pressure...

"Lynda's deeply deluded, big on self-regard, low on self-awareness, has no sense of humour and a deep-down insecurity ("only Robert understands me") - but is also well meaning and basically good-hearted...

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linda_Snell#Other_Ambridge_residents
"According to a BBC survey, she is the most annoying character on the show, although this will be regarded as praise by the production team, as she is intended to be."

You know... all this stuff about how people remember events differently... it reminded me of Ted Chiang's "The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling" <https://subterraneanpress.com/magazine/fall_2013/the_truth_of_fact_the_truth_of_feeling_by_ted_chiang> ".

Maybe he really does remember it that way.

(Interestingly, I only knew about the Chiang because it was on last year's Hugo ballot. If the Puppies had dominated the ballot then, would I have ever seen it?)

I always thought the term "gaslighting" meant an attempt to manipulate someone into questioning their own sanity. The techniques overlap with other abusive/delusional behavior, certainly.

Snarki,

I've always thought of it the same way. But twisted a bit, gaslighting is basically asking -- over and over -- "Who do you believe? Me or your own lying eyes?" until the answer is "you".

You set up weird, surreal, strange things (or do them or say them) and then flatly deny them. You force the victim to decide whether his or her own memory and senses are true.

And you do this by exploiting a basic flaw in human thinking: We're just not really good at dealing with certain types of dishonesty. Specifically when faced with a flat contradiction of what we know to be true, and what we know THEY know to be true, we struggle to reconcile it.

The base question is "Why would you lie when you've been caught?" -- so when someone, metaphorically covered in blood and holding the knife you just watched them stab someone with, starts telling you that no, in fact, the dead body committed suicide via gun and denying they're even HOLDING a knife --- most people can't process such blatant dishonesty. It's easier to believe you must have been mistaken than to believe this person would lie right to your face about something you can clearly see.

That whole problem with human thinking is exploited all over the place: The Big Lie, for instance.

Or Torgenson doubling down on his statements, despite them being flatly contradicted in writing right there for anyone to read.

People will automatically assume that there MUST have been some ambiguity, because what normal human would lie about something when you can just scroll up and see for yourself?

We invent missing facts, alternative interpretations, because that sort of action is a weird blank spot in our thinking.

So I missed the part where the argument had anything to do with the sex of either person. What was the gender basis for the argument?

There was no explicit one. However, before you conclude that one therefore cannot exist, allow me to specify that the reason it arose is because gaslighting is a rhetorical strategy very commonly used against women by men, in manners pretty much analogous to this. There's not a "gender basis" - the observation that Torgenson was gaslighting is just that - an observation. It's comparable to observing that someone's begging the question, or appealing to authority; the observation stands on its own. In this case, however, it's taken as more insidious than a logical fallacy because of how pervasively gaslighting seen to be foremost a male-to-female rhetorical technique as opposed to male-to-male, female-to-male, or female-to-female. Which is to say, the "gender basis" (by which I assume you mean the relevance of gender to the matter at hand) is that Torgenson is dismissing Wade's POV in a manner which is commonly associated with implicitly or explicitly gendered discourse. To the degree to that gender was made an issue, it was made an issue by Torgenson's unadmirable choice of rhetorical ploy.

I have seen both sides of the dispute active in my FB feed, and haven't really engaged, because I really don't have a dog in this fight.

That aside, Torgersen's exchange with Juliette Wade is bizarre. What you do when you speak for someone else and are told by that person that their words don't represent your opinions is, at a bare minimum, withdraw everything that you have said on their behalf. First. Before anything else. And then, if you're smart, shut up about the whole topic.

An apology would also be perhaps good form, but you have to do those other things first and foremost.

Yeah, if Torgenson was "gaslighting", it was a ridiculously pathetic attempt. I think it's far more likely that he's a raging narcissitic asshole with a self-opinion that is larger than the average planet.

Someone dares to disagree with his intelligent and well-informed opinions? INCONCEIVABLE!

Well, that all seems a big stretch. Bad manners, rude, anything you like. But mansplaining is crap. There isn't s single fact in evidence that Torgerson wouldn't have reacted exactly the same way if Wade were male. So, just sayin, its s big leap to create a sexist slant in this, and a bigger one to apply that to me. Or is it fine to speak for me? Which is the most bizarre part of all this, people assume motives of others on this blog all the time, despite direct written rebuttal. Because people here all think they know the regulars well enough to dispute what they say. I really struggle with understanding the second hand indignation.

So I missed the part where the argument had anything to do with the sex of either person.

it's here:

It sucks being in a room with people who not only won't give a man the benefit of the doubt, but will invent any reason — any reason whatsoever — to declare a man a villain.

maybe he's using "a man" as a reference to a person of any gender, but that seems strange. and surely he's aware that English has many ways to talk about non-gendered anonymous individuals ("you", "a person", "someone"). no, it seems obvious that was going for the "a man can't get a fair hearing" angle.

which is not only an apparently unprovoked passive-aggressive complaint against unnamed man-haters, but it's bullshit since he was the one doing all the inventing.

There isn't s single fact in evidence that Torgerson wouldn't have reacted exactly the same way if Wade were male.

...and that's the beauty of this! It may be an example of highly gendered behavior, but there's no proof that the behavior was actually motivated by Wade's gender in this particular case. Togerson might have likewise called a man an unprincipled coward, so therefore it's sick and evil and sexist of us to do anything but give him the benefit of doubt here. Much like companies accused of "mommy-tracking" female employees; how can we know the motives of those managers? It might just be that all the women were unfit for management positions, and it seems like a big stretch to assume that there could possibly be sexism involved simply because we see "patterns". Each individual and each event must be viewed by itself and in isolation, or else we're biasing our POV with data unrelated to the case at hand. Paying attention to context will only lead you astray, don'cha'know?

--

Although setting all of that firmly to one side, I'm deeply amused by your last comment, Marty. Are you actually so un-self-aware as to be complaining that we're unfairly attacking Torgerson because all he's doing is assuming Wade's motives, and that's no big deal... so how dare we assume motives on his part? I mean, if your complaint had been that we're hypocrites for holding him to a standard that we ignore it would be one thing, but your point of attack has been that we must necessarily give Torgerson the benefit of doubt because it's logically possible that he's acting in good faith*...

*Although I find it a bit telling that your "kindest" interpretation was that Torgerson is acting in good faith and is correct in his assumptions, while Wade is willfully disingenuous, rather than both having acted in good faith while making faulty assumptions about the other. In keeping with the spirit of things, I will assume this is reflective of biases on your part, though to mix things up a little I'll go with conservative tribalism instead of sexism.

...although cleek has a very good point that I overlooked. He did explicitly playing the man card pretty hard.

Nv, I don't assume the motives of either one. I have no history of either one. I was evaluating the facts and offering an alternative, one where he wasn't assuming anything. He may know from previous interaction what her motives are, or not. You almost certainly don't know the motives of either person. Yet....

And cleeks comment is intense mind reading on a pretty normal choice of words.

But mansplaining is crap. There isn't s single fact in evidence that Torgerson wouldn't have reacted exactly the same way if Wade were male. So, just sayin, its s big leap to create a sexist slant in this, and a bigger one to apply that to me. Or is it fine to speak for me?

Why not? I probably have as much experience with you - which is to say damn little, and that only electronically - as Torgerson had with Wade. Why shouldn't I tell you what your real motives are? Who are you to contradict me?

And cleeks comment is intense mind reading on a pretty normal choice of words.

delusional.

Marty, again, it really isn't intense, or even perforce mindreading, because of context. Torgerson was decrying the evil of SJWs, and one of the standard complaints leveled against them by his ilk is that they're man-hating misandrist fanatics. Contemporary bigotry is rarely clear and defiant bigotry; rather, it tends to be a sly bigotry of the gaps, hiding in plain sight under a translucent veneer of of ambiguity and deniability, both plausible and incredible.

@ Everyone: A small nit, but Brad's last name is spelled ending with "sen", not "son".

@ Nombrilisme Vide : I would suggest "implicit bias" or "subconscious bigotry", rather than "sly" (which to me implies at least some deliberation). Although you may be thinking of something in particular.

It's probably worth noting that Torgersen's response to Marko Kloos withdrawing from the ballot looked very different from his response to Wade.

It may be worth watching how Kary English is being treated currently on File 770.

https://file770.com/?p=22569&cpage=8#comment-263971

Followed the link over from File 770 and enjoyed this analysis. I was one of those watching the exchange in real time with my mouth hanging open.

I don't think anyone has really commented on Torgersen's repositioning as he shuffled off to do his duty for "king and country" (itself an odd phrase considering his vociferous patriotic posturing and high pride in being a member of the US military, a country which, last I checked, doesn't have a king).

Anyway, his first position was that Juliette was scared of the Puppy backlash and withdrew for that reason. Along came Juliette to very straightforwardly express her true feelings both toward the Puppy slate shenanigans and toward Brad's rewriting of her motivations.

She is clear and direct in her statements, and Brad's reaction to her is expressed in terms of pure emotion (bewilderment, sorrow) without any indication that he truly comprehends what she is saying. To be fair, since they know each other outside of blog interaction, there have may have been further communication behind the scenes.

but it is telling that his more comprehensive public reaction is in response to the one person who vocally supports him against Juliette. And you can see him rewriting the narrative real time at that point. Huh, he says, I guess Juliette and I have moved apart politically and/or has people whispering in her ear about me. Translation: I guess she's joined the Other Team.

Because you can only be for him or against him. You can't be opposed because you don't like Puppy tactics or the attack on the Hugos or you just don't want to hang out with someone who shows their ass on a regular basis. It must be that Juliette (and he says this more in sorrow than in anger of course) has jjoined or has always been an SJW.

I strongly suspect going forward this will be a fact in his mind, one he deduced based on her own words. And in his mind, it will be the Truth. And unassailable because it appears pretty obvious that Juliette was already keeping him somewhat at arms length and is now done with him, so it's not like they are going to hash this out in person any time soon.

If you aren't with him, you are against him. If you are saying publicly, over and over, that you are voting for No Award over slate candidates because you hate the entire concept of slates, that doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if, like Juliette Wade, you don't want to be on a slate that follows onto a slate that made you personally angry the previous year.

It's really because you are an "SJW" or a "CHORF" and hate him and conservative writers and good old fashioned pulpy science fiction and by damn, you just hate fun, because they are having fun with their books and they are having fun storming the Hugo ivory tower and you must hate fun BECAUSE THIS IS FUN, GODAMMIT, CAN'T YOU SEE HOW MUCH FUN THIS IS? MY TEETH ARE SHOWING WHICH MEANS I'M SMILING WHICH MEANS THIS IS FUN!!!

Why do you hate America?

"it's shocking that someone who leads a movement to force sifi to turn away from being more inclusive of female and minority viewpoints would think he is entitled to speak for a woman writer, even though that woman publicly says he has no right to do so. shocking."

Posted by: cleek

No, it fits in perfectly. As far as he is concerned, at best she is a legal/mental/social minor, to be told what to do, say and think.

"Torgersen appears to be intent on shaping his own reality, with any contradictory facts simply ignored.

In most areas of life, this would be considered a serious psychological pathology. But apparently he expects to come under the political exception: if your motivations are, or can be construed to be, political, then a connection to reality is not required."

Posted by: wj

Or (a) he's a pathological liar and/or (b) he's speaking to an audience who'll believe whatever he says, no matter how thin.

I noted that Theodore Beal posted a couple of comments, and they showed no sign of any three-sigma IQ. My guess is both that he's not that smart, and that he doesn't have to be, with that audience.

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