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How bad ideas get started: The “Apex Fallacy,” the “Frontman Fallacy,” and the murderer Marc Lepine

Would blabla
Would MRAs still be into the Apex Fallacy if boards of directors looked like this?

So some Men’s Rightsers are up in arms because the powers that be at Wikipedia just deleted a page devoted to a phony “logical fallacy” invented by a friend of Paul Elam. According to the now-deleted Wikipedia page, “the apex fallacy refers to judging groups primarily by the success or failure at those at the top rungs (the apex, such as the 1%) of society, rather than collective success of a group.”

In other words, it’s a convenient way for MRAs to hand-wave away any evidence that men, collectively, have more power than women. Mention that men hold the overwhelming majority of powerful positions in the worlds of politics and business, and, I don’t know, podiatry, and MRAs will shout “apex fallacy” and do a little victory dance. Rich and powerful dudes don’t count, because of poor and powerless dudes!

On the Wikipedia discussion page devoted to the question of deleting the apex fallacy entry, one Wikipedia editor – who voted “strong delete” – noted that

This is men’s rights activist astroturfing. The guy above [in the discussion] isn’t posting examples of its usage because they’re all on websites showcasing brutal misogyny and hateful ignorance, like A Voice for Men.

He’s got a point. When I did a Google search for the term, my top ten results (which may be different than your top ten results, because that’s how Google works) included posts on The Spearhead; The Men’s Rights subreddit; Genderratic (TyphonBlue’s blog); Emma the Emo’s Emo Musings; and a tweet from the little-followed Twitter account of someone calling himself Astrokid MHRA. In other words, five of the ten results were MRA sites, several of them with explicit links to A Voice for Men. (That “MHRA” is a dead giveaway.)

The top result, meanwhile, linked to a post on the blog of the delightful Stonerwithaboner, who doesn’t consider himself an MRA, as far as I know. But he’s still kind of a shit, and he did recently confess to being (as I suspected) the person who was going around posting comments on manosphere sites as David H. F*cktrelle, Male Feminist Extraordinaire ™.

So, in other words , I think it’s fair to say that the term “apex fallacy” has not yet achieved academic or philosophical respectability just yet.

The deleted Wikipedia page attributes the term “apex fallacy” to Helen Smith, a psychologist who is a longtime friend to A Voice for Men, and dates it to an interview Smith gave to the odious Bernard Chapin in 2008.

But the idea seems to be a simple reworking of a bad idea that’s been floating around in Men’s Rights circles for a lot longer than that.

Back in the 1990s, New Zealand Men’s Rights Activist Peter Zohrab came up with what he called the “Frontman Fallacy,” a notion he spread via the alt.mens-rights newsgroup on Usenet and elsewhere; the term has been widely adopted in Men’s Rights circles since then. As Zohrab defined the term,

the Frontman Fallacy is the mistaken belief that people (men, specifically) who are in positions of authority in democratic systems use their power mainly to benefit the categories of people (the category of “men”, in particular) that they belong to themselves.  

So, in other words, if you mention that men hold the overwhelming majority of powerful positions in the worlds of politics, business, and podiatry, MRAs will shout out “frontman fallacy” and do a little victory dance. Rich and powerful dudes don’t count, because of poor and powerless dudes!

Like the extremely similar “apex fallacy,” this idea is rather too silly and facile to count as a real fallacy, but it has proven quite popular with MRAs. Looking through the google search results for “frontman fallacy,” I see links to a wide assortment of MRA sites using the term, including AVFM, Genderratic, Stand Your Ground, Backlash.com, Toysoldier, Mensactivism.org, Pro-Male Anti-Feminist Tech, Fathersmanifesto.net, Mensaid.com, and some others. Like “apex fallacy” it hasn’t made much progress outside the Men’s Rights movement.

What’s interesting about this to me is that this is not the only bad idea that Peter Zohrab has ever had.

Indeed, Zohrab had some extremely bad ideas about Marc Lepine, the woman-hating antifeminist who murdered 14 women at the École Polytechnique in Montreal in 1989.

While Zohrab, to my knowledge, never explicitly justified Lepine’s killings, he described the massacre in one notorious internet posting as an “Extremist Protest Against Media Censorship.” Of Lepine himself, he wrote

I bet you don’t know he wasn’t a misogynist – because you have been conned by the media (as usual). In fact, he was a Men’s Rights activist (albeit an extremist one), and one of the things he was protesting about was media censorship.

Zohrab went on to say that it was clear from Lepine’s writings – or at least writing alleged to have been written by him —  that

he [was] against Feminists — not against women — he clearly states that he is protesting against various issues which are aspects of Feminist sexism.

Indeed, Zohrab seems not only sympathetic towards Lepine’s “cause” but seems to feel that he was being unfairly misrepresented:

The write-ups on Marc Lepine concentrate on character-assassination. They take things out of context, in the same way that fathers are slandered in the divorce/family court, in order to deprive them of custody or access. …

Marc Lepine was not only not sexist, as the media stated – he was actually fighting sexism!

Lots of MRAs love talking about the “frontman fallacy” or the new and improved “apex fallacy.” They don’t seem much interested in talking about Zohrab himself.

Like it or not, MRAs, this man is one of the leading figures in the emergence of the Men’s Rights movement online, and in the intellectual history of the movement, such as it is.

If I were a bit more paranoid, I might wonder if the emergence of the “apex fallacy” was some sort of an attempt as a rebranding, an attempt to push the “frontman fallacy” and its creator, the old, odd duck Peter Zohrab, with his embarrassingly sympathetic feelings toward a mass murderer of women, down that famous memory hole.

P.S. Don’t read the comments to that MensActivism.org posting, unless you want to get really depressed.

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Brooked
Brooked
7 years ago

@kitteh

I haven’t been in Chicago for almost a decade so my recommendations would be out of date, but definitely google best pizza in Chicago and get in some deep dish pizza. I personally have fond memories of Lou Malnati’s, but it’s been a while.

Unimaginative
Unimaginative
7 years ago

My tastes in pizza actually changed over time. I used to LOATHE Conan’s Pizza as a child, and then I grew up and was like THIS IS GODSAUCE.

I’m the same way with maki. Specifically, California rolls. Could not stand them, thought the nori ruined the flavour, they were too mushie. Then, suddenly, (I can’t remember why I tried them again) they lit up EVERY PLEASURE RECEPTOR IN MY BRAIN. *foodgasm*

katz
7 years ago

I once hated lasagna and now I cannot fathom what my possible objection was.

contrapangloss
7 years ago

Take and bakes are sometimes awesome. However, whoever decided cheeseburger pizza (pickles, mustard, and all) was a good idea…

…needs to never, ever come near an oven again. Most disgusting thing ever. Even the smell was terrible. School lunch soggy cardboard and pepperoni pizzas beat that atrocity, hands down.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
7 years ago

My objection to frozen sushi would be the rice more than the fish (lots of tuna, for example, has been frozen before it became sushi). I just can’t figure out how you could freeze and defrost sushi rice without ending up with a soggy mess.

Biot
Biot
7 years ago

Ooh, ooh! Count me in on the pizza discussion!
The best place in Chicago (so far; I haven’t been to many pizzerias there) would be Pizzeria Due (“Due” as in the Italian for “two,” which is pronounced “due-ay”). It’s sort of the kid brother of the Uno Chicago Grill franchise (formerly known as Pizzeria Uno; the original restaurant is only about a block away) since the guy who started Uno’s later opened Pizzeria Due since Pizzeria Uno was so popular.
Anyhoo: Pizzeria Due’s deep dish is pretty darn good, but fairly expensive–a large deep dish will set you back $28 or so before tax. You usually place your order first and then stand around for a bit if you eat there, and then you get to sit down a few minutes before the pizza is brought out to you. The crust is strong, the business is lively, and there is plenty of Chicago-related stuff inside Pizzeria Due’s, including a signed photo by the Blues Brothers – Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
7 years ago

Random – although most pizza in California is thin crust (or “flatbread”, which basically means thin crust with fancier ingredients and a much bigger price tag), we do actually have a decent deep dish option.

http://www.yelp.com/biz/zacharys-chicago-pizza-berkeley

Takes forever to get seated if you go to the one in Rockridge, though.

Luzbelitx
7 years ago

I just ran into this article and while checking the links… I noticed the userfied page (a sub-page in a user profile) for Apex fallacy now contains a link to this very article as a source.

It was added on May 1, 2013

Bahram
Bahram
7 years ago

Are you actually going to consider to try debunking it, or just talk shit about people who use the term?

kittehserf
7 years ago

This is a mockery site, genius.

Viscaria
Viscaria
7 years ago

No doubt, Bahram, you took the time to read (or at least skim) all 15 pages of comments before announcing that no attempt was made to debunk the supposed fallacy? I hope it didn’t take up too much of your valuable time.

leatapp
leatapp
7 years ago

Don’t worry, Bahram. I’ve made a similar mistake before.
I tried to get a comedian to do my taxes once.
It didn’t work out.

Howard Bannister
7 years ago

Oh, yes. We’re going to take a whole lot of time to debunk the Apex Fallacy.

Because it doesn’t fail on the merits alone, no sir. There’s no way anybody could just say ‘that’s so dumb nobody would believe it.’

Here, let me propose a counter: the Apex Apex Fallacy. Just because a bunch of people appear to be in charge doesn’t mean they aren’t secretly being controlled by a bunch of people in the exact same demographic.

Are you going to debunk that, Bahram? Are ya?

weirwoodtreehugger
7 years ago

Bahram,
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. If you people want anyone to take the concept seriously, the burden of proof is on you.

sparky
sparky
7 years ago

This isn’t a debunking?

In other words, it’s a convenient way for MRAs to hand-wave away any evidence that men, collectively, have more power than women. Mention that men hold the overwhelming majority of powerful positions in the worlds of politics and business, and, I don’t know, podiatry, and MRAs will shout “apex fallacy” and do a little victory dance. Rich and powerful dudes don’t count, because of poor and powerless dudes!

I mean, it’s right there. Right in the OP.

Why don’t necrotrolls read?

Howard Bannister
7 years ago

Nononononono, sparky, don’t you see?

Because they conveniently handwave all evidence aside, that means any time you try to debunk by bringing evidence you’ve been preemptively handwaved aside. You’re in a paradox, where any attempts to evidence are swept aside.

Thus the troll can confidently assert that you’ve never debunked it, because, as a matter of fact, HANDWAVE.

It’s the beauty of any handwave that says the evidence is a lie.

Because… THAT’S JUST WHAT THEY WANT YOU TO BELIEVE!

Because… ISN’T THAT EVIDENCE AWFULLY CONVENIENT?

Because… SURE, BUT FACTS ARE COLD AND IMPERSONAL!

I’m sure there are other handwaves like this. They’re just so convenient and wonderful, how could there not be!

cloudiah
7 years ago

Ha ha ha, someone just posted this on r/mensrights.

Howard Bannister
7 years ago

See, I can’t even make fun of that. It does all the work for me.

LBT
LBT
7 years ago

This is going to be the next Roko’s Basilisk isn’t it? It’s just so absurd IT MUST BE TRUE.

Dante D'Anthony
7 years ago

“Would MRAs still be into the Apex Fallacy if boards of directors looked like this?” (Picture of well dressed, well fed, coddled group of middle women). Well, let’s look at some OTHER MEN besides the board of directors (and their spiffy plump wives) fromk the very same era. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_ZFthdB6ovtU/TGSPdCo1WmI/AAAAAAAAAXM/MGl9oMQp4g0/s1600/lh1.jpg

emilygoddess
emilygoddess
7 years ago

Congratulations, Dante, you’ve discovered classism!

But since you’re responding to literally the first text in the post, I have to wonder: did you read any further?

LBT
LBT
7 years ago

Seeing how he’s over a year late, I doubt it, emilygoddess.

Dante D'Anthony
7 years ago

Nope. Read it all before. The premise that gender is the derfining place of status and privilege in Human society is a false premise. It’s not. Women in the upper classes have always enjoyed better lives than men in the lower classes-society is divided in classes, not genders. The division of labors within the classes was largely based on size (men were expected to do the heavy labor and warfare) and the fact that there was no birth control and people like to **** which invariably led to babies, lots of babies.

The lower class men (and lower class women) suffered lives of struggle and brutality together
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serfdom

The upper class men (and women) did not. This is how it has always been and how it still is.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-0XqEs3JjlrM/TyIJGwWLleI/AAAAAAAA1vI/G7S8A1_0VGE/s640/c%2B1775%2B%2526%2B1600%2BQueen%2BElizabeth%2Bportrait%2Bbased%2Bon%2B1575%2Boriginal.bmp

My father’s family was working class; his father and all their brothers worked in coal mines from the age of nine-just like in the picture I posted.

My mothers family was upper class, those women all went to college, for generations, and then married professional men who supported them and their children in Luxury.

The whole narrative of “oppressed women” is just that-a narrative. Created by upper class women to extract even more privileges from society than they already have, and to do it not only guilt free, but with self righteous indignation, stupidly and acidly ignoring the untold countless generations of poor and working class men whom have, in fact, born the brutal dehumanization of every construct that society-and women-have benefited from.

It’s a racket…it’s, well, the Woman racket.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Woman-Racket-Science-Explaining/dp/1845401506

Luzbelitx
7 years ago

Necrotroll is trollsplaining feminism. Get a life already.

katz
7 years ago

I have a woman racket. I use it to play badwomanton.

weirwoodtreehugger
7 years ago

The premise that gender is the derfining place of status and privilege in Human society is a false premise

I guess it’s a good thing that no one here ever said male privilege is the only kind of privilege there is.

Sir Bodsworth Rugglesby III
Sir Bodsworth Rugglesby III
7 years ago

Having trouble sleeping with all the noise females are making. If only they’d tone down that woman racket!

Luzbelitx
7 years ago

So that noise in my garden are actually crackets?

Ally S
7 years ago

The premise that gender is the derfining place of status and privilege in Human society is a false premise.

Many feminists acknowledge this by stating that class is a separate axis of privilege alongside gender, race, orientation, disability, etc.

Examples: mainstream intersectional feminists, womanists, Marxist feminists, and anarcha-feminists.

You haven’t “read it all before” if you are ignorant of such a massive part of feminist theory.

Ally S
7 years ago

(Sorry, I didn’t mean to imply there that womanists are feminists.)

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
7 years ago

It would be fun to introduce the anti-feminists who think that feminism is a subcategory of Marxism (and therefore evil because communists are scary) to the anti-feminists who think that feminism doesn’t realize that class exists. We could have a cage match! And sell tickets!

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
7 years ago

I have a woman racket. I use it to play badwomanton.

I use the male racket that I stole from a man on the street (I cried to distract him, then ran off with it) to plan temanis.

Ally S
7 years ago

It would be fun to introduce the anti-feminists who think that feminism is a subcategory of Marxism (and therefore evil because communists are scary) to the anti-feminists who think that feminism doesn’t realize that class exists. We could have a cage match! And sell tickets!

I’m dying to see this.

Toy Soldier vs. Dante D’Anthony! Begin!

(And yes, TS really does believe that feminism is connected to Marxism.)

katz
7 years ago

I also play maniature golf. It involves hitting a lot of balls.

Ally S
7 years ago

It’s so amusing when anti-feminist folks talk about class as the “only” axis of oppression. A meaningful analysis of class is impossible without any consideration of gender. It’s also impossible without the considerations of race, orientation, and disability, which play a very important rule in the maintenance of capitalism.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
7 years ago

You don’t even want to know how we play basketball in the Marxist feminist utopia.

Ally S
7 years ago

I also play maniature golf. It involves hitting a lot of balls.

MRA nightmare: a young man is trapped in a mini golf course run by a matriarchal bureaucracy of penguins and cats wearing pants. He goes to pay for his entry only to find that the counter is made of granite. And then he has to survive the horror of single moms wearing jeans and resurrected second-wave radical feminists striving to pickpocket him at every opportunity.

kittehserf
7 years ago

I also play maniature golf. It involves hitting a lot of balls.

::mops tea off monitor::

katz
7 years ago

MRA nightmare: a young man is trapped in a mini golf course run by a matriarchal bureaucracy of penguins and cats wearing pants. He goes to pay for his entry only to find that the counter is made of granite. And then he has to survive the horror of single moms wearing jeans and resurrected second-wave radical feminists striving to pickpocket him at every opportunity.

There’s nothing at the snack bar but bonbons and flavored bottled water.

weirwoodtreehugger
7 years ago

Is the upkeep of the maniature golf course funded by the sale of Party Lights scented candles?

Anarchonist
Anarchonist
7 years ago

I always get so pissed off at pretentious leftist guys who have just discovered class theory and treat it like the one-size-fits-all solution to all social wrongs. Personally, I’ve always felt social equality on a class level cannot be reached before other biases in society have been removed. As long as we have sexism, racism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. there will always be entitled straight white able-bodied cis men pissing their privilege all over the place, making class equality impossible. And they’ll still be too busy blaming other groups for not having enough interest in “real issues” (a.k.a. issues affecting straight white cis men).

To me, this latest troll’s ignoramble sounds like: “Whaaaaat? A woman can in some shape or form be in a socially superior position to a man? This will not stand! Viva la revolution! Power to the people! And by people, I mean real people, not women! Arglebargle!”

And let’s not even get started on the so-called anarcho-capitalists. Blerrrggghh.

I’m going to go marinate my brains in alcohol now. Ta-ta!

bluecat
bluecat
7 years ago

i used to play manicure golf, but it played merry hell with my cuticles.

Lea
Lea
7 years ago

“i used to play manicure golf, but it played merry hell with my cuticles.”

*falls out of chair laughing*

emilygoddess
emilygoddess
7 years ago

1) I’m a feminist who both grew up poor and has been poor in adulthood. I’m a worker, always have been, and have literally only spent a few months of my working life in a position where I could be said to have people working “for” me. I’m not as well versed on class theory as some people here, but then again, I’ve lived a lot of it, so please don’t ‘splain it to me.

2) If you’ve “read it all before”, why the fuck are you whining about the caption on a picture when it’s got fuck-all to do with the actual topic of the article? In fact, what are your thoughts on the so-called “apex fallacy”?

MRA nightmare: a young man is trapped in a mini golf course run by a matriarchal bureaucracy of penguins and cats wearing pants. He goes to pay for his entry only to find that the counter is made of granite. And then he has to survive the horror of single moms wearing jeans and resurrected second-wave radical feminists striving to pickpocket him at every opportunity.

And when he tries to hide in the men’s room, he finds it decked out with matching towel sets and scented fucking candles.

Personally, I’ve always felt social equality on a class level cannot be reached before other biases in society have been removed.

Right? Until we deal with things like trans housing discrimination, or racial employment discrimination, or the impact of health care costs on people with disabilities, or the ghettoization of “women’s work” (to name just a few of the ways oppressed status can affect one’s access to wealth), the class problem isn’t going to go away. Indeed, discrimination is the foundation it rests on.

Lea
Lea
7 years ago

But but but…
Classism is the worstest because it’s the only ‘ism that effects white, straight, cis men.

Everybody stop what you are doing and worry about the plight of the straight, white, cis dudes!

Ha, ha. No.

weirwoodtreehugger
7 years ago

Classism is another thing the misters only pretend to care about when it’s a convenient gotcha. When they complain about the high incarceration rates of men they act like it’s a government conspiracy to lock lots of men up. But it’s not misandry at work. It’s classism and racism. Classism is only a concern when they are comparing a wealthy woman to a poor white cis hetero man.

grumpycatisagirl
7 years ago

I have a woman racket. I use it to play badwomanton.

OMG, that’s the most hilarious thing I’ve read all week. I want an illustration of that.

grumpycatisagirl
7 years ago

Thank you necrotroll for showing up to be laughed at so, so beautifully.

Ally S
7 years ago

@Anarchonist

And let’s not even get started on the so-called anarcho-capitalists. Blerrrggghh.

What do you mean? Of course they’re anarchists. They’re just anarchists who favor class stratification by virtue of their support for private property and think that corporations should be allowed to hire private defense agencies that totally will never be abused and utilized as private mobs that function exactly like the police and –

Oops.

katz
7 years ago

How do the people who blame everything on class think the women and minorities got to be poorer in the first place?