The Worm That (re-)Turned at CERN

“The dateline is 2012. England is in the grip of a new regime of terror. Traditionally a land of great heroes and brave statesmen — Nelson, Wellington, Disraeli, Churchill – Britain now laboured under the yoke of a power guaranteed to strike fear into the hearts of all men. The country is now being run by women.”

That’s how The Two Ronnies mini-series The Worm That Turned kicked off all the way back in 1980. I realise, however, that this, um, lost gem of eighties British TV may have passed some of you by. Let me rectify that right now. Here’s the first episode. Sit back and enjoy (for want of a better term) this classic take on gender politics by those masters of subtle-as-a-sledgehammer satire…

The Two Ronnies was a firm favourite in our household as I grew up during the 70s and 80s. The Worm That Turned ran for eight consecutive weeks, although my memory ain’t what it once was and I assumed that it had gone on for much longer. It certainly seemed that way at the time…

Much more amusing than the series itself, however, is that, almost forty years after it was broadcast, there’s a certain type of gentleman for whom the premise of The Worm That Turned is less hackneyed eighties comedy and much more a chillingly accurate prediction of the sub-Orwellian dystopia that he and his poor, repressed, downtrodden mates now have to endure. The comments under that YouTube video are comedy gold…

YouTubecomments.png

I was reminded, and not for the first time in recent years, of The Worm That Turned as I followed the reaction to Alessandro Strumia‘s overwrought, poorly-researched, and cliche-ridden diatribe about women in physics. For those of you who haven’t been following the story, in a nutshell this is what happened: Prof. Strumia stood up at the 1st Workshop on High Energy Theory and Gender  and delivered a talk bemoaning the drive towards greater gender balance in physics. He trotted out the same zombie arguments about male vs female ability/aptitude/preference for physics that have been addressed and/or debunked time and again. (More on this below but if you’re not aware of Angela Saini’s Inferior and/or Cordelia Fine’s Delusions of Gender and Testosterone Rex, put down this blog post right now and go and do something less boring instead (as another staple of 80s British TV used to put it). Read Saini’s and Fine’s books).

Tellingly, and not entirely unexpectedly, Strumia’s slides (which are here) include mention of cultural Marxism so one might guess that a certain Canadian YouTube guru (and social scientist [1]) inspired at least a little of the “woe is men” pearl-clutching. Just like James Damore before him (another fan of the ubiquitous Canadian guru), Strumia wears the mantle of the ever-so-courageous rational scientist “speaking truth to power” and just “telling it like it is”, when, in fact, and despite his loud claims to the contrary, he’s wedded to a glaringly obvious ideology and unscientifically cherry-picks his data accordingly. In Strumia’s case, there’s also a pinch of seething resentment mixed in. (But again, that’s hardly new. Gentlemen of Strumia’s persuasion tend to get very distressed and emotional about women getting above their station; anything from a Ghostbusters movie to female superheroes featuring on tins of pasta can set them off…)

Molyneux

The Guardian, The Times, The Independent, the BBC, and the New York Times, among very many other august publications, have covered the Strumia story in depth. It’s worth reading those articles, of course, but I would also take the time to trawl the Twitter thread below for the lowlights of Strumia’s talk…

Moreover, you should read Jess Wade‘s article in New Scientist.

[Update 10:41 03/10/2018. See Joachim Kopp’s comment below (and my response) re. Jess’ initial tweet above.]

Strumia’s arguments are tediously predictable and totally derivative. Like Damore, his cherry-picking of the data is at astronomical levels. Heterodox Academy, not exactly a left-leaning organisation, laudably took a detailed overview of the literature on gender differences hot on the heels of the furore about Damore’s “manifesto”. I recommend that you take a look at those HA articles; note that the literature is very, very far from unequivocal on the matter of gender differences.

Strumia is clearly a well-cited scientist — he was not exactly shy about highlighting this during his talk — so he must know that any useful review of the literature should be well-balanced and cite both sides of any controversy. But he made no attempt to do this during his talk at the CERN workshop. Instead, he behaved like any tabloid hack, evangelical MRA YouTuber, or pseudoscientist keen to play to the gallery, and completely skewed his sampling of the literature so that he selected only those publications that aligned with his ideology. That’s not how we physicists do science. (Well, at least it’s not how we squalid state physicists do science…)

I’ve been down this road before. Many times. I wrote a post titled The Natural Order of Things a couple of years back to rebut the arguments of those, like Strumia, who misleadingly present the literature on gender differences as cut-and-dried in their favour.  And yet, instead of attempting to address the points I make in that post, those who contact me to complain about my views on gender balance instead trot out the received wisdom ad nauseum, with no attempt to revise their stance in the light of new data or evidence. (With that potent mix of arrogance and ignorance that is the signature characteristic of so much internet traffic, they cite The Blank Slate or Baron-Cohen’s work, assuming, on the basis of no evidence at all, that I have yet to read either.)  I’ll quote Philip Ball yet again: “It’s as if they’re damned if they are going to let your actual words deprive them of their right to air their preconceived notions.”

Apart from the cherry-picking, there’s also the inadvertent comedy of Strumia’s credulous and uncritical methodology to savour. He assumes — on the basis of what evidence? — that citations scale directly with IQ levels, assuming a nicely arbitrary “6 sigma among 10^9 persons” (why 6 sigma? why 10^9?) criterion to ‘fit’ his data. Leaving aside his plucked-from-thin air” assumptions here, there’s a rather more robust analysis of the “tails of the distribution” argument from Janet Hyde and Janet Mertz in their analysis of gender, culture, and mathematics performance.

Why would IQ be immutable? Or independent of environmental influences? And why would citations be solely dependent on IQ? Do prestige, track record, and/or serendipity not play a role? And this is before we even get to the question of the extent to which citations are a measure of scientific quality in the first place. Not everything that counts can be counted…

I’m not going to rehearse, (re-)repeat and rehash the arguments here. They’re covered at length in both The Natural Order Of Things and in a stream I did shortly after the furore about Damore’s manifesto hit:

The slides I used for the discussion in that stream are here. I’ll just highlight one slide in particular:

MathsPerformance.png

On the left hand side of that slide are the distributions of eighth grade girls’ and boys’ mathematics scores (in the traditional — well, recently traditional — blue and pink, respectively) for the 2007 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). Unlike Strumia’s naive, unquestioning, and simplistic argument that males “universally” feature in the tails of IQ distributions, what we see here are strong geographical differences in maths ability [2]. While boys in Bahrain outperform girls in the tail of the distribution towards higher maths scores, in Tunisia the situation is reversed, whereas in the Czech republic the mark distributions overlap. So, far from having an innate, immutable, “hard-wired” distribution, there are strong geographical variations.

Similarly, and as discussed elsewhere in that stream above, there are distinct temporal variations when it comes to male vs female performance in maths over the years. It is rather difficult to reconcile these geographical and temporal variations with Strumia’s argument that everything can be reduced down to innate male vs female aptitudes and/or preferences. (That’s not to say that there aren’t real differences in male and female brains…)

Despite disagreeing entirely with Strumia’s lazy ‘analysis’, however, I have deep qualms about just how his comments and views are being addressed. Suspension (or, worse, dismissal) plays directly into the martyrdom mindset that underpins and strengthens the popularity of Peterson, Damore et al. (“Those feminazis are quashing free speech.”)  Strumia is in a much different position to Tim Hunt, for example. The latter — despite loud, uninformed protestations (that continue to this day) about a man “losing his livelihood” — was retired at the time he made his misjudged comments at a science journalism conference in Korea back in 2015. Hunt was, in fact, an honorary professor at UCL (and, by definition, was therefore not paid by the university). Strumia is not retired, although some are strongly of the opinion that he should be retired forthwith.

Instead of outright dismissing the man, Strumia’s views should be dissected and dismissed for what they are: hyperbolic, over-simplistic, cherry-picked polemic more befitting a politician than a scientist. His arguments, such as they are, should be taken apart and used as, for one, an example of the lazy lack of appreciation and/.or cherry-picking of the wider literature that is the hallmark of the “Men just are hard-wired to be better at science. Deal with it, ladies” mindset. Let’s not play directly into his and others’ hands by fuelling the narrative that they are oh-so-brave free speech warriors silenced by the “feminazi establishment”.  Their fevered imaginations can conjure up scenarios much worse than Messrs Barker and Corbett ever did…

Update 09:29 03/10/2018: Just been sent a link to Jon Butterworth’s biting and brilliant take on Strumia’s attack of the vapours. Thoroughly recommended.


 

[1] Yes, psychology is a social science. It’s always chuckle-worthy to hear fully paid-up members of the Cult of Peterson whine incessantly about the social sciences while simultaneously failing to appreciate just where psychology lies on the academic landscape. (And while we’re on the subject, psychology is hardly the most robust of the sciences in terms of reproducibility and credibility. Peterson really should follow his own teachings (and parables) and spend a little more time considering the beam in his own discipline’s eye before whining about the mote in others’…)

[2] I should note that, despite some physicists’ biases to the contrary, ability at math(s) is not the be-all-and-end-all when it comes to intelligence.

Author: Philip Moriarty

Physicist. Rush fan. Father of three. (Not Rush fans. Yet.) Rants not restricted to the key of E minor...

29 thoughts on “The Worm That (re-)Turned at CERN”

  1. thanks for the article on this shameful episode at what was otherwise a very successful workshop. A small correction though: Strumia is by no means “head of theory @CERN” – he is not even a regular staff member. (@jesswade has corrected her statement right away after being made aware this – you are quoting here the original, misleading, tweet.) The actual head of the CERN Theory Division is Gian Giudice, who has been one of the organizers of the “High Energy Theory and Gender” workshop, demonstrating that his views on the issue are fortunately quite opposite to Strumia’s.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi, Joachim.

      Thanks for your comment. Jess’ correction tweet is further down the thread I’ve embedded above but I take your point — I should have added a note to clarify this. I’ll update the post to link to your comment.

      Thanks again,

      Philip

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  2. Thanks for writing this, even if ‘his cherry-picking of the data is at astronomical levels’ made me laugh. The trouble with not taking serious action is it means that female postdocs and students and staff have to make room for this guy, despite the fact he thinks that they shouldn’t be there. Assuming these views mean that he can’t be involved with recruitment or supervision of students (or presumably teaching or examining) it means he gets to sit and do research while his colleagues pick up the work around him. I can cope with adding to a martyr complex if it means the rest of the field can trivially ignore him.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A nice debunking but, AFAIK, the suspension isn’t for his views, but for comments about specific individuals. And female theoretical physicists should be allowed to be angry-this is the environment that we’re forced to function in on a day-to-day basis. Quite how much time should we be spending repeatedly dissecting these views, rather than actually doing science?

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    1. Hi, Anne.

      Thanks for your comment. I understand entirely the anger. I fully share your anger and also completely understand the calls for Strumia’s dismissal. The reason I suggest that we don’t have a headlong rush for his head on a plate is entirely to do with politicking and messaging (or, to use the term du jour, “optics”).

      Strumia’s views are, worryingly, much more widespread than one might hope. Peterson’s vacuous reactionary witterings — and it is clear that Strumia is rather a “fanboy” when it comes to Peterson and Damore — attract millions of views and earn him a very substantial income via Patreon, let alone knows how much more via personal appearances. (It’s worth noting that the demographics for physics undergrads are not entirely distinct from those for Peterson’s audience.)

      Strumia has fallen hook, line and sinker for Peterson’s shtick. He certainly won’t be the only physicist out there to praise the emperor’s new clothes and hold Peterson in high regard. By sacking Strumia and his ilk, I genuinely believe that we play right into their hands and help foster a resentment that not only helps bring their reactionary, clueless nonsense to a wider audience but fires that audience up: “grrrr…those vicious feminazis…destroying a man’s career…simply because all he did was speak the truth… if he’s wrong, why don’t they show he’s wrong instead of dismissing him…they must have something to hide.”

      Given the rise we’re seeing in reactionary, regressive, and, at worst, far-right sentiment in politics across the globe, I think we need to think carefully about how we handle the likes of Strumia. I would suggest that censure may be preferable to censorship in that context.

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      1. While the alt-right have clearly adopted Strumia as their latest poster boy, my guess is he’s actually just a common, garden misogynist himself. I completely agree that blanket no-platforming and declaring ‘no debate’ are not the way to address dissenting views. However there are, legally and morally, limits to free-speech. This isn’t a hypothetical academic debate. This is the real environment that female physicists have to function in. How would/should his employers, the high energy theory community and the broader public have reacted if he’d replaced women with, for instance, Black people?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hi, Anne.

          I agree thoroughly with everything you say. There are very strong and damaging “real world” impacts and effects resulting from Strumia’s ideology. A key problem, however, is that even if he’d replaced “women” with “black people”, there’d still be a substantial level of public support in some (ever-growing) quarters for Strumia’s faux-scientific ranting. (I’d prefer not to call it pseudoscience as that suggests at least some similarity to scientific methodology). See, for example, Sam Harris’ support for “race realism”: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/3/27/15695060/sam-harris-charles-murray-race-iq-forbidden-knowledge-podcast-bell-curve

          Where we’re slightly at odds is on how to tackle Strumia’s influence. I maintain that we need to be more canny in how we deal with this. (That article about Harris linked above is also important in this context.) Strumia will clearly be the next Damore — your “poster boy” description is spot on. I don’t think it’s too much of an exaggeration to say that this martyrdom can, at worst, effectively “radicalise” certain types of individual: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/15/alt-right-manosphere-mainstream-politics-breitbart

          Outright dismissal, sacking, or silencing could ultimately be counter-productive in terms of minimising Strumia’s influence (and the influence of those like him). It just plays directly into their hands, validating the stereotypes they use against those of us who strive for diversity and equality: “You’re not interested in debate. Why are you so scared of the science? Of the truth?” (When, of course, Strumia’s slides were a masterclass in how *not* to interpret, analyse, and treat data. One fallacy piled on top of another…)

          What would I suggest in terms of concrete action?

          1. Strumia’s clueless whining and pseudostats should be comprehensively and publicly demolished, point by point, just as in this eloquent and powerful statement: https://www.particlesforjustice.org/ (which I recommend we all sign).

          2. Instead of being dismissed/fired, his views should be highlighted to incoming undergrads and PhD students at the University of Pisa as an example of how we don’t do science. Despite the words of that eighties pop classic, for a scientist, ridicule is always something to be scared of…

          3. Strumia should be heavily mentored and his supervision of students always co-supervised (at a minimum level of 50%). Yes, this has resource and time implications but I am convinced that sacking him will only help foster exactly the type of begrudging, resentful misogynistic culture we are trying to tackle.

          4. (…and this, I know, will be particularly contentious…) By making Strumia and others like him a pariah, we substantially reduce the odds of them ever escaping the reactionary “echo chamber” they currently occupy. Much better to at least provide some opportunity for a way back. In the best case, we could hope for something akin to this: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/10/books/review/eli-saslow-rising-out-of-hatred.html (And no, before the tediously literal-minded Strumia supporters start rattling their keyboards, I am not suggesting that Strumia is a White Nationalist.)

          My fundamental point is that by sacking the likes of Strumia we will contribute to the very problem we’re trying to tackle. And this includes his simple-minded, nasty criticism of named colleagues. Any physicist with even 1st-year-undergrad-level training can drive a horse and carriages through Strumia’s narcissistic (and-oh-so-Trumpian) “I’ve got lots of citations and they haven’t” . Let’s not give him the martyrdom he so clearly relishes…

          Liked by 1 person

  4. There has been no excess official criticism. In particular, it is very important that the University of Pisa has opened an investigation on this. Frankly, if I were a female student, I would have serious doubts that Strumia would honestly evaluate my exam – and in Italy most exams are oral, so it’s hard to contest an unjust result. As I have been a female student [of mathematics but this includes physics courses] in Pisa, and bothered by sexist comments, I feel very strongly about this.

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    1. I agree entirely. The likelihood of Strumia being able to put his far-from-unconscious biases to one side when examining students is slim to none. You are right to be very worried about this and I share your concerns. The point I make in the closing paragraphs in the post above — and I am more than willing to be convinced otherwise — relates more to the “optics” of the situation; of attempting to stem the growth of the type of reactionary regressive ideology Strumia espouses. (See also my response to my colleague Anne Green above).

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  5. So what explains the tendency for nations that have traditionally less gender equality to have more women in science and technology than their gender-progressive counterparts do?

    That question above is posed here: https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/02/the-more-gender-equality-the-fewer-women-in-stem/553592/

    Can anyone refute the statistics given there by :-
    1) alternative statistics showing that given more choice, more women do elect to study/enter STEM fields, or
    2) Show that, universities and/or the Science community have been and still are discriminating against women who want to enter STEM university courses and then to work in STEM, and that explains the numbers. Or
    3) Explain the stats in a way that neither explicitly or implicitly refers to an alleged difference in the way men and women might think. Or,
    4) Explain the stats with clear, proven data that women are not entering STEM in equal numbers, even right now in the West, because of the actions of their mothers/fathers, their school teachers, or any other role models or environmental factors. Or
    5) some other reason along with relevant proof.

    Unless there is a consensus of credible proof that the reason for low women numbers n STEM is that they are being discriminated against in some way, I personally will elect to believe it is down to their free choice and agency rather than down to victimhood.

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    1. Bear with me, David. I’ll write a dedicated blog post on this study in due course. Give me a few days. Some other posts, the day job, and family to attend to before then.

      For now, note these responses to that Atlantic article: https://www.theatlantic.com/letters/archive/2018/03/letters-the-more-gender-equality-the-fewer-women-in-stem/555371/

      Note also that the Atlantic article (and study cited therein) does nothing to rebut Strumia’s pseudoscientific correlation of citations with IQ, or any of his other exceptionally poor points. See https://www.particlesforjustice.org/ for a point-by-point dissection and dismissal of Strumia’s embarrassingly weak ‘arguments’.

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      1. Thank you for your reply Philiip and I look forward to that article.

        So far, sitting on the fence in this matter, I’ve seen no point by point uniquivicable rebuttal of each of Strumia’s slides. Only supperfical attempts where someon interprets 1-3 slides differntly to Strunio and uses that interpretation to claim everything he said is fallacious.

        Instead of a genine attempt at proving him wrong, what we see iare widespread claims of ‘poor arguments’, ‘shameful’ type comments followed by ad hominem attacks and the cherrypicking and vague assertions in the open letter itself. And of course suspension.

        This is sad, unexpected, and (in my mind) unprofessional. If those in science are in the business of rebutting numbers and graphs (even ‘bad’ numbers and graphs) with insults, anger, and tears of hurt feelings, then it doesn’t engender confidence in the scientific commumity working dispassionatlely. It imples political bias rather than an honest quest for the truth – because what if that truth is ‘uncomfortable’? Scionce should not be concerned with feelings. What next – trigger warnings outside conferences?

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        1. Dear David,

          Did you take the time to read the letter here: https://www.particlesforjustice.org/ ?

          In what sense is that “tears of hurt feelings”? They carefully and systematically take apart the stack of fallacies underpinning Strumia’s overwrought, ideologically biased, and far-from-dispassionate ‘analysis’. I see a great deal more emotion and, to use your term, “victimhood” in Strumia’s presentation.

          You’re trotting out the same old tedious stereotypes — that those who espouse diversity, equality, and social justice are somehow more emotional and disregarding the science. When, in fact, the sense of martydom, victimhood, and hurt feelings is palpable in Strumia’s talk. As I say elsewhere (see https://muircheartblog.wordpress.com/2018/06/25/growing-up-in-public/ )

          “Similarly, what I have always found striking throughout my time online is that those who claim vociferously to be solely driven by reason, logic, science, rational debate, and/or individualism — aka the Fuck Your Feelings (FYF) brigade — are often among the most hypersensitive, overwrought, tribal, and emotionally driven out there. The type of over-emotional response that the FYF tribe attribute to the big, bad bogeyman of “The Left” is equally, and often more, prevalent within their own ranks. (There are key parallels here with the deeply intolerant patriotic correctness of the right.”

          I will go through that Atlantic article in detail when I get a chance. In the meantime, please read https://www.particlesforjustice.org/ if you haven’t already done so. You may also be interested in this: https://muircheartblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/22/the-natural-order-of-things/

          (And, by the way, think carefully about how you use the term “proof” when it comes to science: https://muircheartblog.wordpress.com/2015/08/18/science-proves-nothing/ . )

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          1. Oh, also this: https://twitter.com/professor_dave/status/1047011082349502464

            If that’s not a “genuine attempt” to tackle Strumia’s ludicrous pseudoscience head on then I really don’t know what it is that you, as a genuine “fence-sitter” (who just happens to use exceptionally loaded terms like “victimhood”) want to see. Perhaps you can enlighten me as to what type of analysis you’ll find convincing?

            Anyone who finds it even infinitesimally credible to draw a direct relationship between citations and IQ is about as credulous and unscientific as it gets.

            And this: http://backreaction.blogspot.com/2018/10/gender-bias-in-academia-case-strumia.html

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            1. Hi Philip,

              Thank you for the link to David Smith.

              David is doing what we all do. He starts with an opinion, and sorts the millions of related facts into a hierarchy, with those at the top placed there to support his view. Then challenging any contrary opinions while accepting supporting ones.

              For example point 6. “If you are interested in whether there are innate gender differences between male and female brains, then you must read neuropsychologist Lise Eliot, who refutes the dominance of biology concluding socialization is vital.”

              So, Lisa Elliot is irrefutable? Are there no eminent biologists out there claiming the opposite?

              By suspending someone for a point of view, CERN are absolutely demonstrating that employees must adhere to an agenda or face suspension or dismissal. If I were a male or female there who had a contrary opinion to positive discrimination then obvously I would definitely keep my mouth shut. This is the the required end result and it will work.

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          2. Hi Philip, thank you for your polite reply,

            Yes, I did read the open letter. By and large, I saw data and graphs challenged by opinions. Neither you or I have all day, so let me quote here bullet #2 of 8.

            “2.Strumia argues that since women are more well-represented in theoretical physics in countries where discrimination is more brazenly institutionalized, this shows that their low representation in physics has nothing to do with discrimination. This claim ignores cultural differences, and also the possibility that women in such countries have fewer career options outside of academia. Without controlling for such effects, any attempt to draw conclusions is meaningless.”

            I see no facts and figures in that bullet (and very few in the other 7, just the occasional cherry-picked citation). They say how Strumia COULD be wrong, without showing he IS wrong. They vaguely refer to ‘cultural differences’ without even saying what those differences are. They talk of ‘the possibility that women in such countries…’. So, not a single counter fact or claim in that rebuttal, just opinions. Ironically, they surmise that “women in such countries have fewer career options outside of academia”. If that is indeed the case then they are admitting that, when given more choice and agency, women prefer not to go into STEM!

            I’m not saying Strumia was right or wrong, but going through the open letter point by point I do not believe an independent body would take the contained arguments as even worth the paper they are written on if there ever was a claim for unfair dismissal. They are cherry picking and subjective, and in that, they are no different to Strunia. They just cherry pick differently in order to make an argument for their narrative, not his.

            At the end: “In addition to these scientific shortcomings, we reiterate that Strumia’s arguments are morally reprehensible.”

            Here we have people putting in writing that they are more moral than Strumia and hence are entitled to judge him. Essentially: “we subset of scientists are the self-proclaimed arbiters of morality and we have the right to declare, as fact, that what you say is immoral and to deal with you accordingly’. That, in my mind, is dangerous talk, and the exact and specific thought process behind it has led to the justification of all manner of historical outcomes that would have been best avoided.

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            1. David,

              Please give me a week or so to deal with the day job, family matters, and some posts I have “queued” and I will write a point-by-point response to your comments as a separate blog post. (I’d also like to find time to read, in detail, the paper that is cited in that Atlantic article. One thing I’ve found is very common is for some to (mis)quote the conclusions of published work without ever reading the paper itself. I make this point in that “The Natural Order of Things?” post I mention above. (That post was also a point-by-point response to a rather misinformed and cherry-picked critique.))

              If anything else occurs to you in the meantime, please do not hesitate to comment here and I will also deal with it in the post.

              Thank you for raising the points you did in the way you did. It gives me a very helpful opportunity to tackle the “usual suspects” when it comes to support for Strumia et al.s pseudoscience. (I was surprised you didn’t also link to *that* Norwegian documentary, however. That’s a hardy perennial… 🙂 )

              Bear with me. More soon(-ish).

              Philip

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      1. Hi philip, I look forward to your next post whenever you have time to post it.

        Firstly, David Smith quotes Lisa Elliot – if you read her that’s his point made. No questions. I quote Diane Halpern, PhD, past president of the American Psychological Association: “There was too much data pointing to the biological basis of sex-based cognitive differences to ignore, Halpern says. For one thing, the animal-research findings resonated with sex-based differences ascribed to people.” https://stanmed.stanford.edu/2017spring/how-mens-and-womens-brains-are-different.html

        Who is right?

        I want you to know that I don’t agree with a lot of what Strumia says. But just because his reasoning on, say, IQ and number of citations is probably way off, it doesn’t mean that everything he says is way off.

        In general here is my position,
        1) I believe that someone’s race, sex, religion etc should not be a factor in what someone is allowed to say, or as a consideration in whether they get a job or not.
        2) Therefore I do not believe in positive discrimation since it involves negative discrimination against others. If person A is using sex in their decision to hire someone, they are also using it not to hire somone else.
        3) I do not believe in retaliation in the form of suspension or job loss, or verbal/written lynch mobs of 150 people against 1 person because that person (male or femail) challanges allowed norms. Apart from in extreme cases.
        4) I do not believe in group A deciding what is moral and then conveniently claiming they are morally superior to group B. There are some exceptions of course.
        5) I believe that femails have the same intelligence, (and in the West) the same potential and agency as males, and that in general if they are not in STEM it’s because they don’t want to be. There are more women than men in universities and unless someone can demonstrate the opposite, my presumption is that they are choosing the qualifications they are taking.
        6) I don’t believe in witch hunts, trial by twitter, or labelling a person’s indentity as x or y because they said a few things. In the rational world there is big difference beween saying ‘that was a misogynist remark’ and ‘you are a misogynist’.

        I watched my daughter graduate a couple of months ago. There were around 200 graduates in the Arts and Design ceremony that included catering, social work, graphics design, fine art, interior design, etc. Around 25 of them were men. Should we do something about that? After all, every woman taking those courses could have been doing STEM – they can’d do both. What SPECIFIC actions should we take such that we can persuade/inspire/force individuals from choosing the courses they want to do, and instead take the courses that will look good on diversity reports? Good luck with persuading my daughter (all the students are someone’s child!) to move from interior design to science!!

        David

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