Creative Destruction

September 21, 2006

Goodbye

Filed under: Blogosphere,Blogroll,Free Speech,Political Correctness — Tuomas @ 3:42 pm

Ilkka at Sixteen Volts has apparently quitted blogging, and took down all his previous posts. There was a scandal/investigation about some of his postings and sexism in them. I hope this was his own genuine choice. I couldn’t find the article, it was linked in Sixteen Volts, which is now defunct [found via Steve Sailer -Tuomas]. He will focus on his teaching career, which hopefully won’t suffer from the fallout.

In the online world and the blogosphere, it is just too easy to forget the real world and the people in it, especially for an introvert such as me. The whole thing just seemed to gradually escalate until I got this sudden wakeup call. Even for the times when I was right and did present many good ideas and observations, what good did there ever come out of it? When I add everything up, my online writing really did not make the world a better place, as a whole.

[…]

I am deeply humiliated and ashamed by this experience, and at least I understand my place in the whole world much better. This will therefore be enough of the virtual world for me. I will now sign off permanently, thanking everybody for bearing with me, and once more apologizing for everyone who I have hurt or insulted in my thoughtlessness. When I go out next time, I will be looking at the whole world in a very different way.

He was sometimes an insightful blogger, a prolific linker, and a good writer. His flaw was an increasing nasty undercurrent and commitment to schadenfreude, which sometimes overshadowed the points he presented, and tended to cultivate comments that were far more genuinely sexist and nasty than his own provocative points.

Ilkka always seemed to me a generous, critical and intellectually honest person who perhaps got caught in little too many flaming arguments.

[update: Of course, it is entirely possible that this is just until things calm down. Hard to know]

[update 2: Considering the credible threat to Dr. Kokkarinen’s career and reputation, I am even more convinced that this is an apology under the barrel of a gun. It appears that Canada’s commitment to Free Speech has given away to political correctness, and I urge you to give him support, no matter what you may think of his opinions]

[Update 3 : Never mind update 2. Tough call.]

[Update 4 : I removed 16 Volts from the blogroll, as it is now basically a tombstone]

29 Comments »

  1. I didn’t read Ilkka’s blog, so I can’t say whether he was as awful as his self-assessment suggests. But I can well undestand the forces that might lead a blogger to adopt an increasingly strident voice just to rise above the din. It would be curious to me if, for example, Michelle Malkin (whom I no longer read) looked inward, took stock, and arrived at the same shameful conclusion Ilkka came to. Seems that such a moment of truth is a rarity.

    Comment by Brutus — September 21, 2006 @ 5:12 pm | Reply

  2. I don’t think it was awful, I liked it quite a lot. It was provocative and sometimes over-the-top, though.

    I really can’t decide whether this was honest assessment or not, it could be either. His livelihood was under threat, and ending a blog and erasing all previous blog posts seems to me, well, bit much.

    But the guy loves his field and his work, that I am sure of.

    Comment by Tuomas — September 21, 2006 @ 5:27 pm | Reply

  3. Or actually, I’m somewhat sure it was mostly sarcasm. Whether he will really quit, I don’t know.

    Comment by Tuomas — September 21, 2006 @ 5:33 pm | Reply

  4. It never surprises me that folks who ought to know better (academics, for instance) still don’t get the idea of free speech. It’s really hard to support free speech when the speech that needs protection is nasty, vile, and lacking in merit. The ACLU earns kudos for doing just that, but it is mostly held in low esteem by those who allow their judgment of the speech itself to interfere with the right of free speech.

    I can’t begin to guess what’s behind the decision to take down 16 Volts, whether the blogger is serious, sarcastic, merely succumbing to pressure, or some combination. It does, however, reinforce my decision to remain anonymous, though as you point out, it probably wouldn’t be too difficult to unmask me.

    Comment by Brutus — September 22, 2006 @ 12:44 pm | Reply

  5. Perhaps the folks over at The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education might be willing to start a Canadian branch for this? Dr. Kokkarinen might wish to drop them an e-mail.

    After all, when a male publishes the rather correct, if oddly worded, opinion that “The female overrepresentation is heavily concentrated on the fluff fields that … which makes these fields suit the female mind better…basically all fields that don’t require any mathematics or logical and analytical thinking beyond the elementary school level.” (Taken from the article Steve Sailer linked to.), any Women’s Studies major worth their salt will scream bloody murder and demand their removal from the university. For they are simply defending their own part of the multicultural monolith.

    Most (but not quite all) gender and ethnic studies departments are simply fluff, if not just full of fluff coursework. (I would cite Grambling as having a non-fluff African-American History major as being the exception that proves the rule.) In many cases, not only are courses in formal logic or statistics not required, they are frowned upon as being the tools of the evil whitey/penis-controlled/land-stealer/fill-in-the-blank enemy. They are, quite frankly, collectively the Underwater Basket Weaving major of modern times whose main modus operandi is to visit the sins of the fathers upon the heads of the sons ad infinitum.

    And when you, as a white male, even suggest that this is the case, they will call for your head. Top or bottom, it doesn’t matter. Remainder of body not required. Dr. Kokkarinen spoke the actual, and quite painful, truth. He has my support.

    Comment by Off Colfax — September 22, 2006 @ 4:00 pm | Reply

  6. Perhaps the folks over at The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education might be willing to start a Canadian branch for this? Dr. Kokkarinen might wish to drop them an e-mail.

    Why do you think Ilkka’s free speech rights have been violated? Here’s what Ilkka himself says about him taking his blog down:

    I am doing this completely in my free will to become a much better person than I used to be. No entity whatsoever has threatened me with any kind of consequences for blogging. This is not any kind of violation of my rights or free speech. In particular, if any of you want to start email or other campaigns about this, or in some other way publically accuse people and organizations for having treated me wrong, please don’t. I seriously mean this. The recent events were merely a fortunate wakeup call for me to take a good hard look back at what I am and had become. This is not some underhanded attempt to grovel because I am afraid of losing my job or something. Because I’m not, as far as I know.

    The article linked to doesn’t indicate a groundswell of “fire him!” sentiment; it indicates that a single WS major wrote a letter, and some administrators are bleating about sensitivity training (ick!) while others are defending his free speech rights. Ilkka himself doesn’t seem to feel that he’s been censored, or that his job is threatened.

    If someone can show me that Ilkka is being censored, of course I’d support his free speech rights. But there doesn’t seem to be anything going here but paranoid we’re-so-victimized whining from Ilkka fans who can’t tell the difference between criticism and censorship.

    Most (but not quite all) gender and ethnic studies departments are simply fluff, if not just full of fluff coursework. (I would cite Grambling as having a non-fluff African-American History major as being the exception that proves the rule.) In many cases, not only are courses in formal logic or statistics not required, they are frowned upon as being the tools of the evil whitey/penis-controlled/land-stealer/fill-in-the-blank enemy. They are, quite frankly, collectively the Underwater Basket Weaving major of modern times whose main modus operandi is to visit the sins of the fathers upon the heads of the sons ad infinitum.

    My god, you’re right! Your sharp argumentation has persuaded me completely of the error of my ways. I’m amazed that I was ever so blind as to disagree with you, when your anti-WS case is so well-developed and shows such independent thought and a deep knowledge of the field.

    I especially like the way you parodied the typical WS lack of logic and evidence by completely abstaining from logical argumentation or evidence while making your own case. You don’t often see witty satire like that on blogs – especially now that Ilkka has closed shop.

    Comment by Ampersand — September 22, 2006 @ 9:17 pm | Reply

  7. […] The end of Dr. Kokkarinen’s blog has become something of a hot topic these days.  Not having been a regular reader of Sixteen Volts, I cannot be sure just what sort of “mean things” “offended” and “hurt” so many that would compel a blogger to throw in the towel as a matter of profound shame (his word).  Steve Sailer notes that his university employer objected to his “skepticism about the intellectual consistency of lesbian-feminist theory,” which it deplores as “sexist” and “homophobic” (natch).  But apparently what really did it for Dr. Kokkarinen was that his woman said he was being mean. […]

    Pingback by Eunomia · Don’t Be Cruel — September 22, 2006 @ 10:18 pm | Reply

  8. Gosh, Amp, he said he wasn’t being coerced, so obviously he wasn’t. I mean, it isn’t at all possible that someone would coerce him into saying he wasn’t coerced. Like you now, if a woman accuses a man of rape and it is discovered that he taped her saying “I am consenting to sex. I am not being raped,” then obviously, he couldn’t have raped her, because it’s not like that statement could have been coerced.

    “I especially like the way you parodied the typical WS lack of logic and evidence by completely abstaining from logical argumentation or evidence while making your own case.”

    Uh, yeah – because obviously that is the only thing he has ever written on the subject, and unless you put a logical argument into every single paragraph, you must not have been using logical arguments at all.

    Comment by Glaivester — September 23, 2006 @ 8:17 am | Reply

  9. Sorry, the first part should have read:

    “Gosh, Amp, he said he wasn’t being coerced, so obviously he wasn’t. I mean, it isn’t at all possible that someone would coerce him into saying he wasn’t coerced. Like, you know, if a woman accuses a man of rape and it is discovered that he taped her saying “I am consenting to sex.”

    Comment by Glaivester — September 23, 2006 @ 8:18 am | Reply

  10. Kokkarinen has never, to my knowledge, claimed elsewhere to have been censored, so the analogous situation would be of a woman who appeared on tape having apparently consensual sex who did not accuse anyone of rape.

    Most people, including many feminists, would regard that as presumptively not rape. Since your remark was addressed to Amp, do you have any reason to think he would view it otherwise?

    Comment by Daran — September 23, 2006 @ 8:44 am | Reply

  11. The analogy was faulty. Let me rephrase: if, after a date, a woman you know acted exactly like a rape victim, the man she was on a date with was known for being violent and for making comments indicating that he thought it was okay to rape women, and she seems terrified of him now, how would you react if, when addressing people in a public forum, where he was present, she stated: “No, the sex was completely consensual. He did not force me to have sex with him, and he is not forcing me to deny that he forced me to have sex with him.”

    In any case, my general point still stands. If someone is being forced at the meaphorical barrel if a gun, to recant things he said earlier, he obviously is not going to be allowed to admit that that is what he did.

    If you read what he was writing right up until this occurrence, he obviously didn’t show any evidence that he was rethinking his beliefs.

    Let’s pretend that Ampersand had a job writing a mainstream syndicated comic. Let’s say that someone who works for the syndicate he writes for brings up his blog, disapproving of his “anti-male” writings, and one of the syndicate’s columnists writes up an article about it, where it is revealed that some of hte people above him disapprove of the ideas on the blog.

    Ampersand then suddenly shuts down Alas, leaving only one posting that expresses his regret for offending so many people, and says how deply humiliated he is for hurting the feelings of so many men.

    Then later, he posts something saying that he was in no way pressured to do this by the syndicate he works for.

    Would anyone who is not an idiot believe him?

    So, what next? Is Ampersand now going to start believing soldiers in Iraq who tell us how great the war is going, I mean, as long as they deny that the government is threatening them if they don’t tow the line?

    Comment by Glaivester — September 23, 2006 @ 12:13 pm | Reply

  12. Glaivester:

    In any case, my general point still stands. If someone is being forced at the meaphorical barrel if a gun, to recant things he said earlier, he obviously is not going to be allowed to admit that that is what he did.

    Instead of playing around with analogies, why don’t you point to some evidence that this is what happened. All I can see is an article critical of his opinions.

    If you read what he was writing right up until this occurrence, he obviously didn’t show any evidence that he was rethinking his beliefs.

    I didn’t read him, no. “Rethinking his beliefs” isn’t something that would necessarily be gradual.

    Let’s pretend that Ampersand had a job writing a mainstream syndicated comic. Let’s say that someone who works for the syndicate he writes for brings up his blog, disapproving of his “anti-male” writings, and one of the syndicate’s columnists writes up an article about it, where it is revealed that some of hte people above him disapprove of the ideas on the blog.

    Ampersand then suddenly shuts down Alas, leaving only one posting that expresses his regret for offending so many people, and says how deply humiliated he is for hurting the feelings of so many men.

    I would email him. I’m not, however, going to email Kokkarinen, because I don’t know him, and didn’t read his blog.

    Then later, he posts something saying that he was in no way pressured to do this by the syndicate he works for.

    Would anyone who is not an idiot believe him?

    If Amp said that, both in public and in email, then I would accept it, yes. I’ll leave the question of whether I’m an idiot to the judgement of others.

    So, what next? Is Ampersand now going to start believing soldiers in Iraq who tell us how great the war is going, I mean, as long as they deny that the government is threatening them if they don’t tow the line?

    The views of soldiers who say that the war in Iraq is going great should certainly be given due consideration, since there is no reason to believe that soldiers are being coerced into saying anything at all about how the war is going. However we have alternative sources of information which indicate that it is not going well.

    Your argument is nothing more than one from personal incredulity. You find it unlikely that he would voluntarily have made such a retraction. I find it more unlikely that he would have been coerced into retracting so abjectly. Forced retractions are usually fairly perfunctory affairs, and the coercee is rarely also coerced into denying that they were coerced.

    Comment by Daran — September 23, 2006 @ 1:27 pm | Reply

  13. Daran, Kokkarinen may not have stated he was censored or coerced, however, I doubt he was unaware of the response a similar statement made by Larry Summers last year received. Given that Summers “resigned” for voicing an opinion (which ironically would have been backed by a study had he waited for a year and some change) after a great deal of heat, it is not far-fetched to assume that Kokkarinen’s decision was “influenced.” Also, since we are unaware of any comments, emails, letters or phone calls he may have received prior to making his decision we honestly cannot say he was not coerced, particularly given that stating he was might make the situation even worse for Kokkarinen.

    Comment by toysoldier — September 24, 2006 @ 2:11 pm | Reply

  14. It may be that my first instinct — that he actually regretted his phrasing on many things — may have been correct.

    I am really torn about this case and apologize for my apparent “flip-flopping” on the issue (because I liked his writing, but not the schadenfreude), but Ilkka appears to be genuinely sorry about some of his writings. It was hard to tell at first, knowing as I do that he has a history of writing sarcasm*.

    * = This, of course, is the problem with sarcasm: It hinders one’s credibility when being sincere.

    Comment by Tuomas — September 24, 2006 @ 4:14 pm | Reply

  15. My Update 2 was before his posts “One more clarification” and “No more”.

    But there doesn’t seem to be anything going here but paranoid we’re-so-victimized whining from Ilkka fans who can’t tell the difference between criticism and censorship.

    Ampersand, like I said, Ilkka had a habit of writing sarcasm where his real opinion was essentially the opposite of the post, but usually one could tell.
    I don’t see “paranoid whining” all that much, but I do see much egging on (I have unfortunately done some of that myself, as it was gradual),as some people are clearly pissed of that Ilkka will refrain from shooting their favorite fishes in the barrel, and can’t get their daily dosage of angry bile.

    I’m going to take him by his word and believe that he hasn’t been coerced, and actually am kind of relieved that he is seeking actual happiness, even at the expense of his fans, to whom he owes absolutely nothing.

    Comment by Tuomas — September 24, 2006 @ 5:39 pm | Reply

  16. Daran, Kokkarinen may not have stated he was censored or coerced, however, I doubt he was unaware of the response a similar statement made by Larry Summers last year received. Given that Summers “resigned” for voicing an opinion (which ironically would have been backed by a study had he waited for a year and some change) after a great deal of heat, it is not far-fetched to assume that Kokkarinen’s decision was “influenced.” Also, since we are unaware of any comments, emails, letters or phone calls he may have received prior to making his decision we honestly cannot say he was not coerced, particularly given that stating he was might make the situation even worse for Kokkarinen.

    Did Sommers write an abject retraction of his controversial remarks? Did he post two further followups saying “I really really meant it”?

    This is getting to be like something from the Life of Brian: “He is the Messiah!”

    BTW, I don’t know whether men are more intelligent than women, but the study you cited is so obviously methodologically flawed that I can’t regard it as supportive of anything.

    Comment by Daran — September 25, 2006 @ 11:33 am | Reply

  17. I am really torn about this case and apologize for my apparent “flip-flopping” on the issue.

    I guess it’s a sign of the times that changing one’s opinion when confronted with new evidence has attracted such a derogatory epithet.

    Comment by Daran — September 25, 2006 @ 11:46 am | Reply

  18. I guess it’s a sign of the times that changing one’s opinion when confronted with new evidence has attracted such a derogatory epithet.

    Heh, true enough, Daran. But I’d say it’s not a new or unique thing, I think the “a man must stand by his opinion to the bitter end (even when wrong)” -sentiment is far older. And I don’t like it any more than you do.

    Comment by Tuomas — September 25, 2006 @ 12:33 pm | Reply

  19. This is getting to be like something from the Life of Brian: “He is the Messiah!”

    Since I have not read any of his posts, I cannot give him my support or condemnation. I can say that his decision could have been influenced by previous reactions to similar comments, which hardly seems unlikely given the responses he has received so far.

    BTW, I don’t know whether men are more intelligent than women, but the study you cited is so obviously methodologically flawed that I can’t regard it as supportive of anything.

    I am not backing the study, only stating that if he had waited he could have used the study, flawed or not, to support his statement.

    Comment by toysoldier — September 25, 2006 @ 3:35 pm | Reply

  20. Me:

    This is getting to be like something from the Life of Brian: “He is the Messiah!”

    toysoldier:

    Since I have not read any of his posts, I cannot give him my support or condemnation. I can say that his decision could have been influenced by previous reactions to similar comments, which hardly seems unlikely given the responses he has received so far.

    The point about LoB wasn’t about supporting him or condemning him. It was about the way people are not only refusing to accept what he’s saying about himself, but taking his saying it as evidence to the contrary. “Only the true Messiah would deny he was the Messiah”.

    It’s certainly possible that his decision could have been influenced by previous reactions, but so what? If he’s genuinely come round to the view (as I think he has) that he was behaving like an asshole (I never read him, so, like you, I can’t form an independent view on that), then what might have lead him to that view is hardly relevant.

    Comment by Daran — September 25, 2006 @ 5:42 pm | Reply

  21. I used to read his blog daily. IK didn’t present himself as a nice guy, but much of his ranting I just didn’t take very seriously. I’m surprised that he apparently does. His profuse apologies seem as over-the-top as his previous, occasional, nastiness. (Look at them, if you can find them in a cache somewhere, they look like parodies). Frankly, it’s hard to believe in the sincerity of outpourings like “this ugly little blog that brought out the vilest in me and has now left me in deep shame for the rest of my life.” This whole thing seems to indicate some kind of severe mood swing.

    Anyway, as much as I liked his blog, it’s nice to see that IK is a nice guy instead of the tough cynic he presented himself as in “Sixteen Volts.”

    Comment by Sudif — September 25, 2006 @ 5:55 pm | Reply

  22. Daran says:


    BTW, I don’t know whether men are more intelligent than women, but the study you cited is so obviously methodologically flawed that I can’t regard it as supportive of anything.

    Could you point out these methodological flaws for those of us who are a little slow on the uptake?

    Comment by Loki on the run — September 25, 2006 @ 7:22 pm | Reply

  23. Ilkka has no responsibility to keep blogging. I’m taking his apologies at face value, since I think he was over the top fairly often.

    That said, we shouldn’t let his genuine insights disappear, and in fact he has no right to prevent us from discussing them. I’m working on posting a complete archive (copied from Google’s cache) of his web content at http://www.math.ucsd.edu/~chc007/ilkka.html; it should be done by Thursday.

    Comment by Dog of Justice — September 25, 2006 @ 7:39 pm | Reply

  24. One pedantic point about Larry Summers: As I understand it, Summers never claimed that men are smarter than women, I thought his point was that men have higher variety in intelligence.

    Comment by Tuomas — September 25, 2006 @ 8:02 pm | Reply

  25. Could you point out these methodological flaws for those of us who are a little slow on the uptake?

    The obvious one was pointed out in the article toysoldier cited: The sample population (those who took SAT tests) is self-selected and non-random.

    Comment by Daran — September 26, 2006 @ 12:08 pm | Reply

  26. Odd to come across a comments thread where my brain is deemed suited to fluffy stuff. In addition to this concern about the study:
    The sample population (those who took SAT tests) is self-selected and non-random.
    which is sufficient to explain the results as a higher percentage of women take these sorts of tests than of men, the authors are well-known for having a political agenda. For example:
    Rushton has stated that the evolution of intelligence is inversely related to the evolution of penis size, representing a genetic trade-off saying “it’s more brain or more penis. You can’t have everything.”
    From Wikipedia on Rushton

    Comment by Echidne of the snakes — September 27, 2006 @ 3:45 am | Reply

  27. Echidne of the snakes (quoting Wikipedia):

    Rushton has stated that the evolution of intelligence is inversely related to the evolution of penis size, representing a genetic trade-off saying “it’s more brain or more penis. You can’t have everything.”

    The result of the study would seem to contradict this, as it’s well-known that women have smaller penises than men.

    Comment by Daran — September 27, 2006 @ 11:47 am | Reply

  28. Tuomas wrote:
    It may be that my first instinct — that he actually regretted his phrasing on many things — may have been correct.

    I am really torn about this case and apologize for my apparent “flip-flopping” on the issue (because I liked his writing, but not the schadenfreude), but Ilkka appears to be genuinely sorry about some of his writings. It was hard to tell at first, knowing as I do that he has a history of writing sarcasm*.

    * = This, of course, is the problem with sarcasm: It hinders one’s credibility when being sincere.

    After reading this thread I googled his name and spent a few hours reading his posts on the topic of women, both in English and Finnish, and I must sadly conclude that he appears to suffer from misogynism of an unusually nasty type. Sarcasm doesn’t change that, and though he is obviously free to write about his hatred of women (and especially uppity women) he is still a fairly revolting specimen.

    Comment by Echidne of the snakes — October 3, 2006 @ 1:38 am | Reply

  29. Sarcasm doesn’t change that, and though he is obviously free to write about his hatred of women (and especially uppity women) he is still a fairly revolting specimen.

    My argument isn’t that Ilkka gets a free pass from criticism because he uses sarcasm, my argument was that his apology — which seems sincere — was weakened by his prodigious use of sarcasm.

    You’re (originally) Finnish (let’s get real, how many non-Finns know our noble language well enough, really?)?

    Nice to know🙂.

    Comment by Tuomas — October 4, 2006 @ 6:01 pm | Reply


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