Monday, January 14, 2008

This is what I hate...

This article was linked to on Penny-Arcade, and I am prone to agree with Tycho's opinion with regards to the author if this article. A friend of mine was kind enough to give a nice little writeup of the extent to which there is sex, nudity, and all around "risqué" behavior in Mass Effect. I quote,
The extent of nudity and sex in Mass Effect is actually fairly little. The most you see is a naked female booty and Kaden's bare chest. No actual "lewd" body parts are shown, except perhaps the beginning of the curve of a breast, but that's it. No nipples, no vaginas, no penises... nothing. Otherwise it would definitely have an adult-rating only. You know that Shepard and Shepard's love interest have sex, but you don't see it. You see them make out, then naked as the female crawls into the bed on top of the boy. It's not lewd, and there's nothing offensive. Unless people take contention with seeing asses for all of like 3 seconds, which would just be silly considering asses are on tv ALL THE TIME.
Wow, it seems like Kevin really did his research. But maybe the flaw lies not within his (poor) reasoning skills, but his personal experience; because for a man in his late thirties to early forties, he surely can't be serious? If these few seconds of non-sexual semi-nudity are his idea of "the most realistic sex acts ever conceived" then he has apparently never viewed a pornographic film, never seen an HBO drama, television drama, or engaged in any sexual acts himself. I'm not sure where he got this idea, but it certainly didn't come from any orifice north of his physiological border.

He also calls the title dishonest. I was not aware that titles had any concept of honesty; I'm pretty sure it's the authors behind the titles that are responsible for its content. Anyway, here's the quote I'm going to pick apart next:
Then there's the dishonesty behind the game' title. "Mass Effect" sounds like a war game with a deadly virus that is spreading unless the GI-Joes are able to defeat the evil and deadly substance and it's covert war plan.
I don't know what made him think of a deadly virus, but I personally thought of a sci-fi game, and planetary bodies, you know, massive objects, as in, having mass. Thus the obvious "sci-fi" genre. If he thought that the game was about a deadly virus and super-soldiers fighting it then wouldn't the title be "dishonest" even if it were, say, a puzzle game that involves balancing a solar system so its planets don't fall out of orbit? (Valve are you reading this? It's a good idea! ;) ) I mean, if the title makes him think the game is about X, and this does not turn out to be about Y, doesn't that mean it's dishonest? If so, so many titles would be dishonest that his argument would be moot. In fact, it's such bad logic that it's moot anyway.

As a slight aside before I continue with the poor logic and lies he has spewed, I have to take issue with another statement purely from the perspective of a gamer/geek.
But it IS marketed for the X-Box 360, perhaps the most visually stimulating gaming system ever made.
Apparently this man has also never heard of the Playstation 3. Or for that matter, any high-end gaming computer (which would technically be a gaming system, were its main intention to be used for gaming). Yet another lie, or perhaps this man is truly the most ill-informed consumer of computer/video games ever to be born!

Back to more of my problems with this man's arguments.
Yet here's a question that deserves to be asked, and in all likelihood will not be: "How much moral judgement should the President push into legislative issues that are likely to severely damage our children's innocence, function, and capability?"

I agree that the president should put "moral judgement" into such thoughts, though I disagree with him as to what these "legislative issues" are. It's people like him who severly damage our hcildren's function and capability; they would have children grow into "Proper Christians" whose sexual and mental frustrations are turned inwards or outwards, which results in physical or emotional harm. He would have them deny the truth of the world, of scientific data, he would have them be believers not skeptics. I cannot think of anything more harmful to a child's function and capability than telling them not to ask "why?".

Kevin then goes on further, to pure lies.
We now know because of the lengthy track record of serial killer after another that addictive use of pornography was prevalent in case after case - long before the switch got flipped and what their masturbatory imaginations have given into became what they were forcing real live human beings to do.
To begin with, there is no such "lengthy track record". I am certain he is using only anecdotal evidence at best, and the fact that he does not provide any source reveals his ignorance not only of the truth but of also how to write a convincing paper (If this were eighth grade, I would give him a C-/C for not properly supporting his arguments and numerous grammatical mistakes). In fact, I'm more than certain.
The amount of empirical research on men who commit sexual murders is scarce, and no distinction has been made between those who have victimized adults and those who have victimized children.
Well there's your track record for you. Unfortunately I only have access at the moment to the abstract for this article, but when I'm back in school I'll look through our library for the actual journal entry so I can give a more detailed analysis of the results. However, from the abstract we can gain important information about just how wrong Kevin is.
It appears that sexual murderers of children are more often victims of sexual abuse during childhood and present more often deviant sexual fantasies as compared to sexual murderers of women. The results show also that sexual murderers of children more often use pornography prior to crime, have contact with the victim prior to crime, and commit a crime more often characterized by premeditation, strangulation, the hiding of the body, and its dismemberment than the sexual murderers of women.
What can we gleam from this nugget of knowledge? That child-abusers are most often themselves abused as children. Seeing as this is a significant part of their psychological profile, this should be the most likely cause. The fact that these people view pornography prior to the crime is merely a correlation, possibly with a deeper psychological meaning, but this DOES NOT imply that pornography is a cause. I cannot emphasize this enough, as it is a logical fallacy that permeates our culture. CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION. Just because there is a correlation between two things does not imply that one causes the other. If, in the summertime, there is an increase in the consumption of ice cream, as well as an increase in violent crimes, does this mean that consumption of ice cream causes violent crimes? Or that violent crimes cause the consumption of ice cream? No. There could be another factor contributing to both statistics, and further study is required. This correlation involves no causation, and such is the case with pornography and sexual child murders. I will also do a follow up if I can find this article, as I'm curious to see how they accounted for the very small number of sexual murders of children they included in their study (only eleven). This seems like a statistically insignificant number, especially when they had sixty-six cases of sexual murders of women. Thus, expect some kind of follow up.

Kevin is also completely wrong about masturbation. I almost want to quote the entire article here, not only because it is short, but because it also clears up the origins of the fabrication (thus proving that his beliefs on masturbation are, indeed, a myth).
Masturbation was -- and, in principle, remains -- the ideal mental illness. First, it is a form of behavior: that is, something people do, not something that happens to them. Second, it is a form of behavior universal to mankind, engaged in from early childhood:* this makes it ideally treatable, since behaviors can be controlled, especially in children who are powerless to resist the well-intentioned brutality of adults. Third, the act makes use of a sexual organ, ideally suited for attaching fantasies of great harm (as well as great pleasure) to its uses and abuses.

Not surprisingly, masturbation is a disease of modernity. In antiquity and the Dark Ages, people worried about real diseases, such as the plague and consumption. Only after the Enlightenment did people awaken to the possibilities of scientific medicine, assigning material (physical), rather than spiritual (religious), causes to disease, disability, and death.

Not having the faintest idea what caused most diseases, the medical mind went in search of a scapegoat and found it in self-abuse. By the end of the 1700s, it was medical dogma that masturbation caused blindness, epilepsy, gonorrhea, tabes dorsalis, priapism, constipation, conjunctivitis, acne, painful menstruation, nymphomania, impotence, consumption, anemia, and of course insanity, melancholia, and suicide.

How did physicians know and why did people believe that masturbation caused all these diseases? The same way that physicians now know and people believe that chemical imbalances cause mental diseases, such as attention deficit disorder: By "diagnosing" and "treating" the (involuntary, child) "patient" and by discovering "cures" for the disease. Among the widely accepted treatments of masturbation, the most important were restraining devices and mechanical appliances (about which more in a moment), circumcision, cautery of the genitals, clitoridectomy, and castration. As recently as 1936, a widely used pediatric textbook recommended circumcision, double side-splints (such as those used to treat fracture of the femur), and cauterization of the clitoris.

Who were the beneficiaries of these medical miracles? Children and the insane -- then, as now, the two groups of ideal (involuntary) "patients." Powerless vis-a-vis their relatives and doctors, minors and mental patients could not resist being fitted with grotesque appliances, encased in plaster of Paris, having their genitalia cauterized or denervated, or being castrated -- for their own good.
Basically, masturbation is a natural process hard-wired into adolescents. There's nothing wrong with it. It feels good, it hurts nobody (including ourselves) and is actually beneficial to our health! What a surprise, something that has been hard-wired into our minds by evolution turns out to be good for us. Jeez, you'd almost think that doing things our body tells us to do would be good for you, eh?

Kevin also has a poor understanding of technology and the production of modifications (mods) to games. Some games, like Unreal Tournament and Half-Life have wonderful support for mods, all because of the developers of the game. Most often modifications of a game that change many or all of the features (called total conversions) require access to the tools the developers themselves used. Why? Because of the way games are made. Games are built upon an engine, which can be thought of as a framework. The details of the game are then built onto this framework. While these details can be great and very different from game to game (many games use the same engines) or mod to mod (based on a game), they are inherently limited by the skeletal framework of the engine. With the size and complexity of modern games, building in all these little, minute details would require impossible contributions of time and money if done entirely by hand. So what do developers do? They write tools to interface with the engine and produce what could take years of line-by-line coding in only a few months, or even days. Furthermore, since a game's engine is really its beating heart, many companies want to protect it. They build in security devices to prevent people from stealing this heart and making profit off of it. The company may license other companies to use their engine, and this is one way of making further profit off of an engine (especially because developing a new engine is an incredibly lengthy and expensive operation). So, in order to create a modification of a game, the user requires tools that interact with the game engine to produce the desired results, and these tools often protect the security of the engine. Thus, it is extremely difficult to modify a game without any of these tools, due to the security desires of the company that developed the engine. So when Kevin says "because of the digital chip age in which we live - "Mass Effect" can be customized to sodomize whatever, whoever, however, the game player wishes." he simply does not know what he's talking about. Unless you are a world-class hacker or have access to the tools used to create Mass Effect, you are NOT going to be able to modify the game, especially since it comes with the added security of being coded specifically and only for the Xbox 360. He's also wrong when he says " With it's "over the net" capabilities virtual orgasmic rape is just the push of a button away", and not just because it's 'its' not 'it's'! Mass Effect has no multiplayer capabilities. None. It will have downloadable content from the Xbox Live Marketplace, but NO MULTIPLAYER (If you want to know what to look for in that link, look under "modes" on the right side). That really puts a dampener on Kevin's hopes for "virtual orgasmic rape". It's a shame really, because the way he wrote that it sounds like he would've really enjoyed it.

What really gets me is this entire article was written about the presidential elections. Yep. That's right. Presidential Elections. Mass Effect. River linked me to another article on that same website, also about Mass Effect, but I simply can't read it. There's too much hate in the title for me to even fathom reading it; I think my head would explode. Since there's the possibility she may write a post about it, I'll leave that horrid task to her.

Articles like the one I am picked apart are only damaging to believers, not skeptics, but unfortunately the majority of the American populace is a believer. There are many reasons for this, but there are two major ones. Churches promote belief, and detest skepticism. So too, unfortunately, does our educational system. For numerous reasons, children are discouraged from asking questions (lazy teachers, poorly trained teachers, teachers unfamiliar with the subject matter). They are taught that they should simply believe whatever a person in an authoritative position says. They're even taught not to question the credentials of the authoritative figure. This is probably why people like Richard Hoagland can continue to appear in mainstream (or slightly off-stream) media as "authorities". Belief must be replaced with skepticism, as I have said numerous times before. Not only that but people need to get over sex. While I will admit there has not been enough rigorous scientific study put into sex, we need to get over our anecdotal and mythological beliefs to get to the truth.

Again, a BIG thanks goes out to River for letting me bounce ideas off of her and providing a couple links, as well as some ideas (The ice-cream and violent crimes correlation is something she mentioned)!

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