”She Lacks Reading Comprehension Skills”, or Schemas and Motivations as Obstacles to Perception

Recently I have caught the attention of the BluePill subreddit. What they wrote made me think. I noticed they often commented on how I “lack reading comprehension skills”, but they excuse me because English is not my first language. That’s funny, as another snarky commenter said the same thing about me on the Bodycrimes blog. As someone who wants to improve my understanding of everything, I started wondering if they were correct, or it was just something people say when they have no arguments.

The Accusations

  1. First, they commented that I was comparing the lifetime rape percentage for Norwegian women, with the yearly rape percentage for Congolese women. I double checked the links, but saw that both definitely surveyed people for ever being raped in their lifetime:

“Approximately 1.69 to 1.80 million women reported having been raped in their lifetime (with 407 397–433 785 women reporting having been raped in the preceding 12 months)
Read More: http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2010.300070

  1. Second, they said I quote-mined the Wikipedia article to pick the lowest rape statistic in Congo and make my point look more valid. According to them, I should have mentioned this: “According to research conducted by The Journal of the American Medical Association in 2010, 39.7% of women in the Eastern Region (North Kivu, South Kivu, and Province Orientale) of the DRC reported to have been exposed to sexual violence during their lifetime, most commonly taking its form in rape.[20] Another study conducted in 2010 found that two in five women living in the eastern region have been the victims of sexual violence.[21]” (emphasis mine) That’s fine, but I was comparing national statistics. And if the stat is that high in some regions of Congo, does it mean some other regions are much less dangerous than Norway overall (considering national stats are similar)?
    Also, when providing the lowest stat, I said this:

    “And this page provides an estimate of 200 000 (I guess the topic is under-researched and under-resourced).”

    – ( from https://emmatheemo.wordpress.com/2014/05/02/women-more-likely-to-be-raped-in-norway-than-in-congo/ ).That is what Wikipedia stated in the beginning of that article, so that is what I repeated, partially because 200 000 did seem a bit small to me. Not to mention, I also provided another link where the national percentage was 12%.

  2. This thing:

How would you interpret it? I will show you my path of interpretation, based on premises laid out by moemurray (http://moemurray.wordpress.com/2013/09/17/forney-on-female-self-esteem/ ).

1. Both hot and average/unattractive girls get all the same propaganda about being strong independent women.

2. Being strong and independent woman is something feminists promote and encourage.

3. Hot girls (minority) learned that beauty is power and have confidence. Average/unattractive (majority) girls don’t have confidence to buck the system.

4. If a man isn’t born with the strength and drive to carve out his own path in the world, he’ll do more or less what the people in charge suggest. Same for women.

5. The system, headed by People in charge are those dispensing propaganda, which today happens to be the encouragement to be a strong independent woman. + average/unattractive woman don’t have the confidence to buck it –>

6. Majority of women can’t resist the propaganda of feminist ideals. And since feminism is quite mainstream and seeps into people’s minds quite easily, it’s not much of a stretch for me to add to that, and say that the majority of women swayed by feminist ideals are just not independent or smart enough to resist it on their own. That’s just how the majority of people are. I’m agreeing with what moemurray was getting at, and combine it with the implications. To be fair I could have avoided putting them in.

  1. Last, but not least, the commenter at Bodycrimes commented on my tweet:
    Actually, I had an idea why the Eating Disorder article on ROK was offensive, but I still saw some similarities with my post, and decided to comment on it. I also noted, separately, that men aren’t offended by sexual attention, even when presented a bit crudely like I have.
    I’m aware that the article encourages women with internal problems to hold onto those problems, so that someone (who cares more about their looks than wellbeing) can have fun with their body. My article, on the other hand, might be completely inoffensive to guys who “just want to be themselves” and get sex and a loving gf all without achieving anything. Being a beta or an omega doesn’t involve any inherent mental suffering (apart from potential celibacy, which is fixed with sex for free). To be fair, Ellie couldn’t have known any of this, as Twitter only allows 140 characters and I can’t go into detail.

So, what I got from all of this is that
1. I could always write more clearly
2. My critics are interpreting my stuff in their own way, and concluding that I just don’t read well.

The Internal Obstacles to Comprehension

Why do people from opposing groups often interpret each other’s words in very bad ways? They don’t read well? Got bad grades in English when they went to school? I doubt it (although it makes a nice insult). Truth is, we don’t perceive meaning simply by reading words, combining them into sentences and then into text. We all have mental schemas (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schema_%28psychology%29 ), which are organized patterns of thought about some aspect of the world. They are our mental organizers, preconceived ideas, and help us remember new information. There are also perceptual sets – readiness to perceive stimuli in a certain way. A good way to illustrate that stuff is the Austin Powers toilet scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBtC_eKVVEE

The man in the hat hears a bunch of strange sounds, which on their own are hard to interpret. But since he is in the men’s room, his perceptual set of “In the restroom, people poop” makes him interpret the sounds in a hilariously wrong way.

These mental traits are useful and are there for a reason, but they can also distort our memory and understanding or what’s going on. Perception of things varies with culture, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it also varies with subcultures.

Obviously, one can’t say no one can ever understand anyone. Schemas or no schemas, we can still understand each other’s point of view, and usually it works. But understanding is made harder by our own motivations and desires.

How motivated are opposing groups to understand each other, when they are arguing bitterly? Do internet enemies usually try to see things from the point of view of the other (empathy)? Often it doesn’t look like that to me. What do you think is more likely to happen, if you tell your “enemy” something?
a) They will think “He means X, because in HIS world, his words mean X” or
b) they will think “He means Y, because in MY world, his words mean Y”

If you’re on a snark site, you’re there to get a dose of gratifying feelings one gets from mockery. You’re ready to perceive your targets are backwards, brainwashed, worse than you in every way (f. ex. self-esteem, relationships, life satisfaction department, etc.), and doomed to some kind of self-induced failure/pain. And why would you try harder? The site is “just a parody site”, so your critical thinking is likely turned off and bullying mob instinct turned up.

It’s one thing to be unaware of each other’s schemas and to misunderstand. It’s another to be aware of them, but choose to act like you aren’t. It might be possible to show people in the first group what you meant (they might at least give it a try), but not people in the second group.

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12 Responses to ”She Lacks Reading Comprehension Skills”, or Schemas and Motivations as Obstacles to Perception

  1. caprizchka says:

    I think that your English is just fine even if you have unconventional phrasing. Most of what U.S. schooling is about (and it works so well it is being perpetuated world wide) is the memorization of memes and slogans. If your phrasing is distinct from the memes and slogans of a particular generation of schooling then you are presumed to be “ignorant”, whereas the good rote memorizers are told that they are “intelligent”. Inducing an addiction to novelty (dopamine) furthers the sense of “empowerment” and “invincibility” and that goes for men who follow the majority feminist memes as well as women. I think that you are giving your credits too much credit although I am gratified that you realize how their own narrative or cognitive dissonance contributes to their overblown sense of “superiority”. Very pleased to be following your blog.

    • emmatheemo says:

      Thanks for commenting, I’m pleased to have interesting people with interesting comments following my blog 🙂 . That’s a new one – phrasing. I guess it could affect understanding, too. But I try to be clear.

  2. caprizchka says:

    credits = critics

  3. I have always found it puzzling that people put so much energy into protecting their beliefs from falsification rather than revising them. However, it does have some social and cognitive advantages.

    • emmatheemo says:

      What social and cognitive advantages are those, you think?

      I already have an idea, but curious what you think. I’d say it’s hard to be ready for action (like in politics) if you’re open-minded. It seems in politics, you need to take some thought shortcuts, be more strategic about what you say rather than be honest. And if you’re open-minded, you might seem less confident to the observers than a fool who’s dead sure about his correctness.

  4. Peter K. says:

    I think he meant social advantages go to those with beliefs that fit the norm.

    And cognitive advantages go to those not dealing with cognitive dissonance.

    Personally I’d rather have beliefs that are consistent with reality. No dissonance that way, although the social alienation is admittedly tough to deal with.

  5. SirNemesis says:

    In general, rape rates are strongly linked with opportunity. In countries where young women and men hang out together without supervision of family, and where there is a lot of drinking, rape rates are higher. In countries like those in Asia, rape rates are much lower due to lack of opportunity. Delhi might be getting a bad rap for all the rapes there, but that is largely because Indians find rape such a serious crime (almost akin to murder) that there is so much outrage – Delhi has much higher rape rates than elsewhere in India, although it still pales compared to the West.

  6. moemurray says:

    I actually didn’t write that part very well, so it’s no surprise there was confusion.

    • emmatheemo says:

      Thanks for stopping by. Now that you are here, I want to grab the opportunity and ask if I understood you correctly. Did i?

      • moemurray says:

        Not really. “Bucking the system” here refers more to “Becoming a rich, stylish housewife/hostess” than “Consciously disbelieving in the precepts of feminism.” They’re linked, but since people tend to consciously believe in precepts when it’s in their interest to do so, “Disbelieves in feminism” is the lagging indicator. Make sense?

        There’s truth in what you say though. The confidence that comes with beauty allows women to be anti-feminists, racists, Beliebers, etc., knowing people (esp. men) will love them regardless. But it’s not as if beauty-induced self-confidence translates very well into intellectual self-confidence.

  7. PVW says:

    You have some interesting thoughts. I’ll provide a different take on “bucking the system,” and it is similar to what MoeMurry has said.

    “Hot girls (minority) learned that beauty is power and have confidence. Average/unattractive (majority) girls don’t have confidence to buck the system. The system, headed by People in charge are those dispensing propaganda, which today happens to be the encouragement to be a strong independent woman. + average/unattractive woman don’t have the confidence to buck it…”

    You take it to mean they can’t buck the system of feminism. I see it in a different light. Perhaps they buck the system that benefits the more attractive women. They have no choice but to go along with the system of feminism and attempt to be strong and independent, because they can’t compete in the other field of those who can afford to reject feminism and play off their looks to land a man, because they don’t have the confidence that they will ever be able to get the time of man the others can attract. They have to go out there and pursue careers, otherwise they will starve. Now, must they be obnoxious about it? Of course not, it is possible to have great reserves of strength, be resilient and accomplished, but without being a radical feminist.

  8. PVW says:

    Oh, and some further thoughts. Notwithstanding any lack of critique of feminist perspective about all men as sexists bent on oppressing women, their home environment might propel them to believe that it is better to be “strong and independent.” Did they grow up in a traumatic environment of some sort, whatever it might be, domestic abuse, divorce, harmful single parenting? These examples could pus them towards thinking the feminist perspective is a legitimate one they should support. Or simple pragmatics might encourage it–failure to marry, divorce, early death of a partner might mean a woman has some strength and independence. But again, it should be balanced.

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