Parallax Views w/ J.G. Michael
Ep. 80: Ben Burgis DESTROYS the Right w/ LOGIC, FACTS, & REASON

Ep. 80: Ben Burgis DESTROYS the Right w/ LOGIC, FACTS, & REASON

April 10, 2019

There's a meme, perpetuated by figures like "Facts Don't Care About Your Feelings" Ben Shapiro and "Not An Argument" Stefan Molyneux, that the left runs only on emotion while the right are the bastions logic, reason, and Rationality(TM). Ben Burgis, author of the upcoming book Give Them An Argument: Logic for the Left, disagrees and joins us on this supersized edition of Parallax Views to DESTROY the right-wing noise machine. Ben Burgis is a regular contributor at The Michael Brooks Show, The Serfs, and Zero Books (publisher of Ben's upcoming book) as well as a Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University.

Ben Burgis DESTROYING someone like Ben Shapiro on The Majority Report w/ Sam Seder

 The conversation begins with Ben describing his background as a professor who teaches critical reasoning before explaining what drove him to write the upcoming book Give Them An Argument: Logic for the Left. We then delve into online obsession, particularly on YouTube, for debates with "[X] DESTROYS [Y]" in the titles and how Ben feels about the way rhetoric, logic, and debate have been twisted by the right. In addition, Ben and I discuss some of the fallacies that occur during debates such as the ad hominem and the appeal to authority.

From there the discussion takes many twists and turns too numerous to get into in this synopsis. We discuss issues such as transgender acceptance, "Social Justice Warriors", deplatforming, cultural appropriation, the notion of "The West", Hume's Law as it relates to Ben Shapiro, social constructivism vs. standpoint epistemology, how Ben DESTROYS the right's "I AM AN APACHE ATTACK HELICOPTER" argument, equality of opportunity vs equality of outcome, and the ideas of Karl Marx amongst much, much more. We even get into the idea of panpsychism unexpectedly but naturally!

Hear Ben Burgis on
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Ep. 79: David Golumbia on The Silicon Valley Ideology, Racism, and AI

Ep. 79: David Golumbia on The Silicon Valley Ideology, Racism, and AI

April 8, 2019

On this edition of Parallax Views, we probe the possible intersection between the ideology of Silicon Valley tech culture's obsession with strong AI, or General Artificial Intelligence, and the issues of racism and white supremacy with David Golumbia, author of The Cultural Logic of Computation, The Politics of Bitcoin: Software as Right-Wing Extremism, and the recent essay (and subject of this episode) "The Great White Robot God: Artificial General Intelligence and White Supremacy".

We begin the conversation by discussing how David became interested in the topic of philosophy and ideology as it relates to tech culture. David explains how he was interested in the analytic philosophy of figures like Hilary Putnam, specifically the philosophy of language as it relates to mind, and its relation to the left intellectual tradition. In particular, David discusses the computational model of understanding the mind and why he has been critical of it. Additionally, David notes how he saw the early tech culture, or computer liberation, as engaging with right-wing ideology as opposed to left-wing intellectual traditions. During this portion of the conversation we delve into the philosophical differences between the left and right's intellectual traditions, and especially how they view freedom in extremely different ways.

From there delve into what's been called the Silicon Ideology or the California Ideology, and in particular it's obsession with logic and rationality. During this portion of the conversation we delve into the elevation of rationality to a place of almost quasi-religious veneration by both elements of the tech community and the alt right as well as the denigration of emotion by both these elements. This leads us into the main topic of this episode, namely David's essay "The Great White Robot God: Artificial General Intelligence and White Supremacy".

Sam Harris, the New Atheist leader that has become embroiled in the race/IQ discourse

David explains how New Atheists like Richard Dawkins and, in particular, Sam Harris served to spur his interest in writing the Great White Robot God essay. David notes that figures like Harris and Dawkins have become entangled in Islamophobic rhetoric and the race/IQ discourse. We delve into how the ideology of New Atheists seem to coincide not only with a number of right-wing talking points but also the Silicon Valley tech culture. David navigates us through the ways in which Artificial General Intelligence, or strong AI (see The Terminator or The Matrix movies for pop culture imaginings of the topic), seems to coalesce with the race/IQ discourse. During this portion of the conversation we discuss how the popular conception of AI is, in David's words, philosophically incoherent, why David views ideas like Ray Kurzweil's Singularity as crankery, and delve into the ideas of Eliezer Yudkowsky and his Machine Intelligence Research Institute (MIRI). Although Yudkowsky steadfastly distances himself from the alt right, David argues that Yudkowsky's thinking, along with much of the Silicon Valley tech community as a whole, dovetails with the alt right.

David Golumbia

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Ep. 78: The Satanic Panic & the Repressed Memory Myth w/ Joseph L. Flatley and Lucien Greaves

Ep. 78: The Satanic Panic & the Repressed Memory Myth w/ Joseph L. Flatley and Lucien Greaves

April 5, 2019

On this edition of Parallax Views, we uncover a world of mass hysteria and medical malpractice known colloquially as the Satanic Panic with journalist Joseph L. Flatley, author of Satan Goes to the Mind Control convention, and Lucien Greaves, founder of The Satanic Temple.

In Reagan's America, the 1980s, the suburbs became gripped with a paranoia. Through and amalgamation of the Christian Right, television hucksters, and "repressed memory therapists" a narrative arose that cadres of secret-devil-worshippers-next-door were conspiring to bring impressionable youths under the thrall of Satan through everything from Dungeons and Dragons to heavy metal. Out of this came a number of people claiming to have been victims of "Satanic Ritual Abuse" and mind control alongside a number of dubious mental health professionals who bolstered them. Joseph and Lucien describe how this strange moment in American pop culture came to be and it's serious ramifications for both those accused and for the patients taken advantage of by the mental health figures that helped promote the panic.

Dr. Colin Ross

At the center of Joseph's telling of this sordid affair is the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation and it's founder Dr. Colin Ross. Joseph and Flatley fill listeners in with what this seemingly credible-sounding organization really believes and what they promote including conspiracy theories about Satanic ritual abuse, mind control, and other conspiracy theories. In addition we delve into the character of ISSTD's founder Dr. Colin Ross and the case of one of his patients, Roma Hart, who suffered greatly under Ross's "care". Ross claims to be an expert on mind control, often citing the legitimate and disturbing CIA project MK-ULTRA, but, Joseph and Lucien argue, seem to engage in some of the very same practices of MK-ULTRA and various cults. Roma's story, in particular, is a chilling one that we cover in-depth.

Additionally, we discuss "The Satanic Panic" in light of the "conspiracy presidency" of Donald J. Trump and conspiracy theories like QAnon and Pizzagate. Also, Lucien discusses some matters related to the Satanic Temple including his appearance on Tucker Carlson's FOX News program and the Satanic Temple bid to erect a Baphomet statue at the Oklahoma Capitol in response to the Christian Right's attempt to install a Ten Commandments Statue there.

Joseph L. Flatley

Lucien Greaves

Grey Faction, a Campaign by the Satanic Temple to Expose the Past and Current Impacts of the Satanic Panic and ISSTD

Ep. 77: Journalist David Bixenspan on Reporting on Pro Wrestling & Wrestlemania 35

Ep. 77: Journalist David Bixenspan on Reporting on Pro Wrestling & Wrestlemania 35

April 3, 2019

On the eve of WrestleMania 35, which will be presented by WWE this Sunday April 7th, 2019, journalist David Bixenspan joins us on this edition of Parallax Views to discuss his reporting on the world of pro wrestling. Hot off the heels of John Oliver's recent segment on treatment of pro wrestlers within the industry, David and I discuss all of wrestling's various controversies from pay to steroids to the depiction of race and gender in the sports entertainment spectacle. Additionally, we discuss how media has covered the topic over the years and how the product has changed through the decades.

Links and Resources for This Episode:

Fall Guys: The Barnums of Bounce

David Bixenspan Article Archive

The Concussion Legacy Foundation (founded by former WWE superstar Chris Nowinski)

Ep. 76: JP Sottile on the Mueller Report and Russiagate Fallout & Jaya Sundaresh on Journalism and Ishmael Reed’s Anti-Hamilton Play

Ep. 76: JP Sottile on the Mueller Report and Russiagate Fallout & Jaya Sundaresh on Journalism and Ishmael Reed’s Anti-Hamilton Play

March 29, 2019

On this edition of Parallax Views it's another double feature! Two guests, one episode! First up a return conversation with "The Newsvandal" JP Sottile recorded only hours ago on the hot off the presses developments in the fallout from Russiagate and the end of the Mueller Probe. Then journalist Jaya Sundaresh joins us to discuss a number of topics related to media and activism as well as her recent piece on a new play by the legendary playwright Ishamel Reed that criticizes the musical phenomenon of Hamilton on historical and political grounds.

JP Sottile

Jaya Sundaresh

Ep. 75: Confronting the Right w/ Twitch Streamer “Destiny” Steve Bonnell II & Antifascist Activist Shane Burley

Ep. 75: Confronting the Right w/ Twitch Streamer “Destiny” Steve Bonnell II & Antifascist Activist Shane Burley

March 26, 2019

The far right has been on the rise internationally as many citizen around the globe feel themselves disaffected by globalization. How should the Left respond to this dangerous development. On this edition of Parallax Views, two guests join us to answer that question. First up is Twitch gaming steamer Destiny aka Steven Bonnell II who has become popular for debating right-wing ideologues on topics like race, immigration, gun control, gender identity, and more. Then, noted antifascist activist and author Shane Burley rejoins the show to discuss the VICE's Lords of Chaos, fascism and antifascism in the black metal and neofolk scenes, and the recent Christchurch terror attack in New Zealand.

Destiny aka Steve Bonnell II

Our first guest is Destiny aka Steve Bonnell II, a video game streamer turned political debate maverick. Destiny fills listeners in on his journey into political debating from the gaming world and his transition from libertarianism to a more center left position. From there Destiny and I delve into his infamous debate with the popular YouTube and video game personality JonTron, which garnered coverage in TIME for showing JonTron's transition to the alt right. We use this to discuss how much of the New Atheist movement went in an alt right direction. Destiny and I then discuss the right's rhetoric of "facts don't care about your feelings" and "realz over feelz" and why Destiny believes that it is actually these reactionaries who are arguing from a place of emotion rather than rationality.

We then begin to discuss how Destiny tries to counter some of these arguments and how he views the people he is debating. Destiny argues against assuming that the vast majority of people he debates are acting in bad faith. We then discuss political debates as they relate to families, which has become a major topic since the election of Donald Trump, and Destiny's debates with his highly right-wing mother. From there we delve into the topic of social shaming, how right-wing pundits like Dave Rubin try to claim the mantle of being "left", the controversies around de-platforming, and free speech.

We then pivot into the topic of Destiny's debate with white nationalists describing themselves as "race realists" and biological determinists who rail against changing gender norms and the transgender community. During this portion of the conversation Destiny and I define the concept of social constructivism and his recent debate with Carl Benjamin aka Sargon of Akkad about transgender people. Additionally Destiny gives his take on the right's flirtation or outright acceptance of biological determinism. At the same time, he says, many of them believe in libertarian free will. Destiny, in contrast, says he is a hardline determinist but that his determinism is more related to environmental determinism.

We then delve into what actually persuades people when it comes to debates. Destiny argues that facts and logic aren't what convinces people to change their minds. Instead, he argues. We then discuss the story of how Destiny exposed fellow YouTuber JF Gariepy, a self-described "race realist", as a sexual predator who takes advantage of disabled women. Destiny gives his take on why JF's supporters defended him despite the facts of the situation. We then discuss how reactionaries falsely accused Destiny of being involved in sexual abuse of underage girls, how this led to a visit from the FBI. Additionally, Destiny and I briefly discuss his banning from Twitter.

We begin wrapping up by discussing Destiny's debates with the Deplorables Choir and Jesse Lee Peterson, a black conservative media personality who refers to Trump as the "Great White Hope". We briefly cover his latest appearance on Peterson's show debating gun control with Vincent James. Finally we delve into Destiny's views on capitalism. While Destiny takes a pro-capitalist view he does feel that there is a need for reform to help the most vulnerable members of our community.

Then, returning guest and antifascist activist joins us to discuss his critique of VICE's Lords of Chaos movie and how the movie obscures some of the far-right underpinning of the book it is based on. Shane argues that Lords of Chaos's author, Michael Moynihan, paints the Norwegian black metal scene as a force of total nihilism driven by a racial awakening against modernity. Shane explains how Moynihan's portrait of Norwegian black metal is also driven by a strange Jungian mysticism.

From there we discuss Jonas Akerlund's cinematic adaptation of the book, which Parallax Views previously covered in a recent episode with Alex Gendler. Shane takes a very critical view of the movie and feels the Akerlund's portrait of the Norwegian black metal scene is too sympathetic given the serious outbreaks of violence that came out of the Norwegian black metal scene. From there we discuss Shane's take on the film's depiction of Varg Vikernes, who serves as the film's protagonist, and how Vikernes has reacted to it. I then ask Shane what he believes was the impetus behind adapting Lords of Chaos. Additionally, Shane gives his overall take on why the movie's depiction of the events that make up Norwegian black metal's early history is irresponsible.

Shane points out, however, that the black metal scene as a whole is not fascist and that fascism only makes up a small part of the scene known as "National Socialist Black Metal" (NSBM). From there we discuss Shane's upcoming article on antifascist black metal bands like Feminazgul and Neckbeard Deathcamp. We then use this as a launching point to discuss Shane's work attempting to highlight antifascism in the neofolk scene, a genre prevalent in the goth subculture that is dominated by a Nazi element.

We then wrap up by looking at the Christchurch terror attack and it's fallout. How has the alt right reacted to the events and what what does it mean for the revival of white nationalism? How can events like this be prevented in the future and how can antifascists continue to pushback against this movement? Shane answers some of these questions and the hope there is for antifascist action going forward.

Ep. 73: Radio Gunk’s Monique on The Hypocrisy of Howard Stern

Ep. 73: Radio Gunk’s Monique on The Hypocrisy of Howard Stern

March 23, 2019

Howard Stern has gone from a sleazy shock jock interviewing C-list celebrities to a pop culture icon whose a friend of Jimmy Kimmel and a judge on America's Got Talent. Not all of Howard's fanbase have stayed with him through thick and thin, however. In fact, a group of former fans have started a podcast called Radio Gunk dedicated to exposing what they see as the alt-radio host's hypocrisy. Radio Gunk's Monique joins us to discuss the podcast and her journey from Howard fanatic to Stern critic.

Howard Stern has been feuding with shock jockette Wendy William who accused Howard of being a sell out recently

Monique and I begin the conversation by discussing the genesis of Radio Gunk. Then Monique turns the tables to ask why a non-Howard Stern listener like myself invited her onto the show. From there we delve into why the Radio Gunk crew have become ex-Howard Stern fans since Stern's famous jump from K-Rock to Sirius Radio. We then discuss a number of issues related to the hypocrisies of Howard Stern and even how Donald Trump and Howard Stern, who fancies himself as a feminist Democrat nowadays, have a lot in common.

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Ep. 73: Phil Torres on Existential Risks, Steven Pinker’s Sloppy Scholarship, & Superintelligent AI

Ep. 73: Phil Torres on Existential Risks, Steven Pinker’s Sloppy Scholarship, & Superintelligent AI

March 22, 2019

Catastrophic Climate Change. Superintelligent AI. It's the end of the world as we know it on this edition of Parallax Views as author and researcher Phil Torres joins us to discuss the emerging field of study known as existential risks. The concept of existential risk, which philosopher Nick Bostrom describes as "One where an adverse outcome would either annihilate Earth-originating intelligent life or permanently and drastically curtail its potential", may seem like the stuff of a dystopian sci-fi story, but in an age of rising right-wing populism, declining democracies, and anthropomorphic climate change it may be worth considering the topic seriously.

Additionally, Phil and I also delve into his recent run-ins with New Atheist. Despite being influenced by the New Atheists, Phil has been more than willing to criticize where he feels they get things wrong. In particular Phil recently took issue with what he argues is the poor and sloppy scholarship of juggernaut New Atheist public intellectual Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now. Phil and I discuss why he critiqued Pinker's latest book, the fallout from it, and his run-ins with other New Atheist and "rationalist" adjacent figures like Peter Boghossian.

Moreover, we also cover the topic of artificial intelligence (AI) and whether it is a threat to human life. Phil argues that, while the popular conception of a Terminator-style Skynet scenario isn't likely, there are real risks involved with the development of artificial intelligence. All that and much more on this edition of Parallax Views!

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Ep. 72: Billie Winner-Davis on Her Daughter Reality Winner, the 1st Target of Trump’s War on Whistleblowers

Ep. 72: Billie Winner-Davis on Her Daughter Reality Winner, the 1st Target of Trump’s War on Whistleblowers

March 21, 2019

Since the inception of the War On Terror there has been a parallel war waged by the National Security State to silence whistleblowers. Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, and John Kiriakou are just some of the victims in the War on Whistleblowers. In 2017 27 year old air force veteran and former NSA contractor Reality Leigh Winner became the first target of the Trump administration's continuation of this ongoing War on Whistleblower after leaking classified information concerning the possibility of Russian hacking in the 2016 Presidential election. Reality's mother, Billie Winner-Davis, joins us for an emotional conversation about her daughter's case and the ordeal Reality has been put through for being a conscientious citizen.

Billie Winner-Davis

Reality Leigh Winner

We begin the conversation with Billie giving us a brief outline of who Reality is as a person and her many passions. From there we delve right into how reality became a whistleblower after leaking classified information concerning claims of Russian hacking in the 2016 Presidential election to the online news outlet The Intercept. She describes how Reality was treated during her interrogation, how she was not read her Miranda rights, and the smears that were made against her during the trial. We also delve into the challenges Reality faces in prison and the ways in which she was not provided with proper care and services. In addition we discuss, in a very emotional moment of the conversation, how the now convicted Paul Manafort's treatment during the Mueller Probe stands in harsh contrast to what has been done to Reality. Moreover, we delve into the real, vibrant human being that most media coverage of the case has missed by speaking to Reality's artwork, activism, and love for figures like Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King. We also discuss Donald Trump's tweet seemingly in support of Reality Winner and how he has failed to follow through with that support. Billie Winner-Davis gives her take on the media's handling of the case before we begin to wrap up the conversation by telling listeners how they can Stand With Reality. On a final note Billie describes how, despite the nightmarish nature of Reality's ordeal, both Reality and her family have not had their spirits broken and how they are hopeful for the future.

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SUPPORT REALITY WINNER
AT
STAND WITH REALITY!

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Ep. 71: Journalist Albert Lanier on the College Admissions Scandal and Diploma Mill Skullduggery

Ep. 71: Journalist Albert Lanier on the College Admissions Scandal and Diploma Mill Skullduggery

March 21, 2019

Lori Loughlin, known as pop culture's beloved Aunt Becky on the hit 90s sitcom Full House, has been in the news lately, alongside Desperate Housewives actress Felicity Huffman, for being embroiled in a college admissions bribery scandal. But the story of this scandal is not limited to these two higher-profile celebrities and is a deep case of privilege and corruption in America's New Gilded Age. Joining us on this edition of Parallax Views is returning guest and veteran journalist Albert Lanier to unpack the whole shameful affair, including the Operation Varsity Blues investigation that has brought it to light, and discuss the adjacent scandal of diploma mill skullduggery.

 

 We begin the show by discussing how Albert Lanier got the news of "Collegegate" and why, unlike many, he was taken surprise by the college admissions bribery scandal. Albert explains how he was previously interested in the skullduggery of diploma mills and how he sees the college admissions scandal in a broader context. Additionally, he points out the impacts a higher education can have on one person's life and why the parents embroiled in this scandal were willing resort to illegal activities to ensure that their children received that education.

We then begin to discuss the relation of class and privilege to college admissions and this scandal in particular. Albert discusses the various ways in which the wealthy "rig" the system for their kids and focuses especially on how this is done with athletics. Albert discusses in-depth the concept of "the preferences of privilege" outlined by Daniel Golden in The Price of Admission.

We then change topics to another bit of education skullduggery in the form of diploma mills. Albert explains how he became interested in this specific issue and what its impacts are. Albert highlights how these diploma mills operate and a bit of their history. In addition he also tells us about the investigations that have sought to expose diploma mills scams. During this portion of the conversation we also discuss Trump University in relation to the broader problems of higher education.

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Albert Lanier

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