February 20, 2013

"The Silicon Valley aristocrats Mark Zuckerberg, Sergey Brin and Yuri Milner have jointly established the most lucrative annual prize in the history of science..."

"... to reward research into curing diseases and extending human life. The newly created Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Foundation on Wednesday announces the first 11 winners of an award intended to inject excitement into the sometimes lonely, underfunded quests to understand and combat cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's disease and other maladies. Zuckerberg, who founded Facebook; Brin, who co-founded Google; and Milner, a venture capitalist, have dipped into their fortunes to sponsor awards worth $3m each, compared with a Nobel prize's monetary value of $1.1m."
"I had to sit down on the floor for a while. I thought it must be a practical joke or a Nigerian scam," said Cornelia Bargmann, 51, who has pioneered work on neural circuits and behaviour at the Rockefeller University. "The scale of this is so outsized I think it will have a huge impact on the life sciences." Asked how she would spend the money she hesitated. "It's so far outside my normal planning I don't know. Get the car fixed?"...
Titia de Lange, 57, who researches cell biology, genetics and cancer at Rockefeller university, said the award felt surreal. "I'm not used to having a lot of money. I don't really have possessions." Two women from a list of 11 fairly reflected the percentage of women working at that level, she said. "One would like it to be higher of course."
Young women! Enter the sciences. Silicon Valley aristocrats are dying to give you $3 million. The gender balance must be achieved. No sooner is this wonderful, generous prize announced than the criticism rolls in, gently at first, but you know there is a problem. The aristocrats want the honor of handing out honor and they must comply with the ethical structure of the Silicon Valley culture where they reign. There must be women recipients. 11 prizes? 6 should go to women!

So, ladies, get on it. There's big money here! And yet, women are apparently not so motivated by money. Oh, I don't know, get the car fixed. Gotta sit down on the floor. I don't really have possessions....

So funny. It's men who are offering big money as an incentive. But what if monetary incentives are a male thing, working mostly on men? And yet you have to include the women, equally, because even if women don't care so much about actually getting the money, they care immensely about equality and fairness. And everyone's watching. The symbolism counts, not just the effect of motivating improvements in life for the rest of us. What do you want more — cures for diseases or the appearance of gender equity?

105 comments:

edutcher said...

These guys are about 10 years late.

Too bad ObamaTax is going to kill off all medical innovation.

PS Titia de Lange?

A woman named Titia?

Where, O Where, is Titus?

Shouting Thomas said...

What if intelligence, ability and ambition are distributed unequally on the bell curve for men and women?

Men are greater risk takers and are more driven by testosterone.

My bet. You can't change this (that is without the severe negative consequences Althouse has begun to notice that resulted from the great feminist crusade). So, why try?

Shouting Thomas said...

A question I've been meaning to ask Althouse.

You've begun to notice the negatives of feminist indoctrination that you once accepted, in particular the notion that all women should have a job outside the home.

Has it occurred to you that you might be making the same mistake with the gay rights crusade that you made with the great feminist crusade? The mistake was that you fooled yourself into thinking that intellectual concepts of fairness and equity trumped the reality of human experience and human nature.

Seems to me that the odd thought might be creeping into your head that the traditional way of looking at gays, and the traditional way in which they were integrated into society, was something more than just arbitrary BS based on "discrimination."

Mitchell the Bat said...

Young women! Enter the sciences.

There's no shortage of female veterinarians around here.

Sorun said...

Funding this type of research is a great investment for these relatively young guys. Brilliant.

sparrow said...

These recipients are already top in their fields. Each has had years of success and recognition. They aren't especially short on $ either. Scientists are not motivated solely by money anyway. This is no more than a feel good gesture for the billionaires.

AlanKH said...

Life extension is another argument for term limits. I don't want Harry Reid and John Boehner to still be arguing over sequestration 50 years from now.

Richard Dolan said...

"But what if monetary incentives are a male thing, working mostly on men?"

Have no fear. Spending is an acquired skill, and unfortunately easy to learn. Women are fast learners.

Michael K said...

One of my students, a young woman, told me a couple of weeks ago that she was interested in pediatric neurology. I suggested that if she wanted that area of interest, she should think about autism. I gave her some recent papers on basic research in that area. That will be a major area and autism will probably be understood and treatable in the next 25 years.

There are lots of basic concepts that will be understood in this century that were beyond any study when I was a student. Of course, medical research will be stymied by the insane legislation like Obamacare.

rhhardin said...

Shopping!

jacksonjay said...


Yeah, AlanKH, let's rid humanity of all maladies and extend life expectancy by another 20 or 30 years! Fewer babies and more geezers, living longer, will not cause any policies problems! Is that stupid anti-science thinking?

edutcher said...

Shouting Thomas said...

What if intelligence, ability and ambition are distributed unequally on the bell curve for men and women?

Men are greater risk takers and are more driven by testosterone.


I agree with what you say up to the testosterone part.

Risk takers, we are, although even that differs, but, I think it's one reason women are underrepresented in the STEM fields.

As one math teacher of mine (a woman) observed pithily in class, "There is no multiple choice in math".

No nuance, you're either right or you're wrong, and perhaps most women can't take that.

If so, all you'll do is lower standards so the work is valueless.

edutcher said...

jacksonjay said...

Yeah, AlanKH, let's rid humanity of all maladies and extend life expectancy by another 20 or 30 years! Fewer babies and more geezers, living longer, will not cause any policies problems! Is that stupid anti-science thinking?

I believe you misconstrue.

What he said, "I don't want Harry Reid and John Boehner to still be arguing over sequestration 50 years from now.", would appear to be an argument against it.

AllenS said...

If their last names were Jackson, they could buy a lot of bling.

bagoh20 said...

There is something really hot about women who like science. If they like the outdoors and get MST3K then there should be a prize for the perfect woman.

Colonel Angus said...

But what if monetary incentives are a male thing, working mostly on men?...And yet, women are apparently not so motivated by money.

You're kidding right? I suppose monetary incentives have nothing to do with those May December marriages you see everyday.

jacksonjay said...


For term limits-will never happen and against trying to live for ever! I think I got his point!

bpm4532 said...

What if monetary prizes so large convince the winner to stop researching and enjoy the wealth? I'm not sure the remote chance of winning one of these is enough to convince someone to go into the field, nor are these assured to be given in 20 or 30 years. Is this thing fully funded or is it something that each of the 3 contributors pony up each year?

traditionalguy said...

There are many diseases that have such small numbers of patients that Big Pharma does not fund the research to create and test drugs for them because that won't hit a jackpot in sales volume.

That is where grants are needed, such as in Tuberous Sclerosis

But there is not enough publicity in that either. So forget about it.

jacksonjay said...


bagoh20 sez,

There is something really hot about women who like science. If they like the outdoors and get MST3K then there should be a prize for the perfect woman.

Bernadette Rostenkowski - Smokin

Amy Farrah Fowler - Not

cubanbob said...

What difference does it make who discovers these cures?
I'll be greatfull no matter who makes the discovery.

Terry said...

In mathematics, all the geniuses are men (I don't think that their are any exceptions). I don't have a good source for this, but I've heard that men tend to have a broader distribution for intelligence than women -- more idiots, and more intellectual superstars, than woman.
It really is amazing how much a small shift in the center of the IQ curve of a population can make to representation of that population in careers where IQ is an important factor.

Michael said...

We want gender equality, the appearance of gender equality, a lot more than the other stuff. So technical and borimg the other stuff.

Michael said...

We want gender equality, the appearance of gender equality, a lot more than the other stuff. So technical and borimg the other stuff.

Shouting Thomas said...

It's interesting, isn't it, that Althouse, with her obvious high IQ, chose to go into an opinion/literary biz, instead of a technical biz?

So, despite the high IQ, she still prefers the kind of social things associated with women. For instance, she's always reading opinion, political, novel stuff.

Pretty typical for women.

Bruce Hayden said...

Risk takers, we are, although even that differs, but, I think it's one reason women are underrepresented in the STEM fields.

The problem with that statement is that while it is true at a high level, it is much less true when you get down into the various disciplines. High in the biological sciences, and low in much of engineering. My understanding is that a majority of bio-type majors are female, and I think maybe even chem majors, along with med school admits. Not sure though how that translates into PhDs. Plenty of math majors, including my mother and her aunt, who got her masters from Columbia in the mid-1920s (but some of them apparently still can't read maps).

Which gets you to the bell curve of IQs, and the greater male standard distribution, along with far more testosterone, and a willingness to work 60 hours a week for 20 years on their dreams, which is something that women will likely never be nearly as willing to do.

elkh1 said...

The aristocrat Zuckerberg zucks up multi-billions of tax credits that could be invested by those who really know what they are talking about.

Their real goal is to own a slice of medical breakthrus on our dimes.

traditionalguy said...

ST... aren't we all reading Althouse Posts too? Does that make us women?

Seeing another's POV is actually exciting for us old time narrow minded guys.

That's what Clarence Thomas said for an hour at Harvard law school yesterday. If Thomas is therefore womanly, then maybe I am too.

Colonel Angus said...

It's interesting, isn't it, that Althouse, with her obvious high IQ, chose to go into an opinion/literary biz, instead of a technical biz?

Please. Law school isn't rocket science. Considering my idiot brother in law was accepted and graduated law school tells me its a barely a step up from journalism.

Anglelyne said...

Terry: In mathematics, all the geniuses are men (I don't think that their are any exceptions). I don't have a good source for this, but I've heard that men tend to have a broader distribution for intelligence than women.

Yup. Iirc, there are twice as many men around IQ 120 or so than women, and the ratio gets larger and larger toward the tail, into the 20:1, 30:1 range. (Can't be arsed to look it up right now.) So it just makes perfect sense to strive for 50:50 representation at the highest levels in all fields, no?

furious_a said...

Asked how she would spend the money she hesitated. "It's so far outside my normal planning I don't know. Get the car fixed?"

It's their money (and all power to the winners) but wouldn't grants that enable new or continuing research be preferable to jackpots that are "so far outside normal planning"...if the foundation's intent is to support lonely, underfunded quests?

Hagar said...

That is not what "lucrative" means.

Terry said...

Furious_a wrote:
but wouldn't grants that enable new or continuing research be preferable to jackpots that are "so far outside normal planning"...if the foundation's intent is to support lonely, underfunded quests?

Not necessarily, furious_a. A lot of what academic scientists do is career-oriented humbuggery. Grant applications, managing grad students and post-docs, etc. Having the means to do research without worrying about building a solid career path would free them to do what they would really like to do.
Like tenure, but granted by an outside agency rather than your peers and competitors.

Sam L. said...

so.....not money. Howzabout a dozen roses delivered daily for the rest of your life?

Ann Althouse said...

They should put the money into scholarships for women who go into the sciences.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

When plotting mean IQs by various attributes (gender,age,occupations,marital status, etc) none can compare to the scales-falling-from-eyes effect of plotting by Race.

Its explanatory shock is exceeded only by the tragedy of its truth, and the realization of its permanence and resistance to remedy.

ALP said...

No nuance, you're either right or you're wrong, and perhaps most women can't take that.
***********
I would take this further and suggest that most *Americans* can't take it, hence the large numbers of computer programmers from China and other cultures where rigid rules are not questioned as openly. I am a typical female artsy/language type that has done some computer programming and designed and built one desktop. There is something so inherently rigid about the way computers think (and rules of math I would imagine) its very tough to understand, embrace, accept - and live within it. I did quite well as a programmer in an academic setting - but I fucking hated it with a passion - that pull, the fascination with the machine just isn't there. And you need that to get you over tough struggles with complex logic, OR you have a couple of hard driving, Chinese parents cracking the whip. Me? I downed a couple of glasses of wine before I hit "execute" on my programs so I would not bust an artery if I got an error message. I have gone to school recently with young Chinese exchange students. The existence of Skype means Chinese parents can harrass and nag their charges 24/7 - I have seen young Chinese students ready to bail on studio mates at 3 am - one Skype chat with mom and dad...more coffee and more work instead of bed.

Drago said...

Terry: "In mathematics, all the geniuses are men (I don't think that their are any exceptions). I don't have a good source for this, but I've heard that men tend to have a broader distribution for intelligence than women."

Anglelyne: "Yup. Iirc, there are twice as many men around IQ 120 or so than women, and the ratio gets larger and larger toward the tail, into the 20:1, 30:1 range. (Can't be arsed to look it up right now.) So it just makes perfect sense to strive for 50:50 representation at the highest levels in all fields, no?"

I think it might have been Hernstein/Murray's "The Bell Curve" which discussed these IQ distributions and led to some of what was mentioned by Terry and Anglelyne.

The authors were attacked as racists (naturally) for too many items to recount here.

When it came to differences by gender, I believe it was Murray who stated somewhere that in any given gathering of individuals, he could just about guarantee that the smartest person in the room was probably a male.....but also that the dumbest person in the room was probably male as well (there's the "broader distribution for me" kicking in).

The gals have a more narrow distribution with a mean that was either near or slightly above the male mean. (I'd have to look it up)

What made the charges of racism funnier than usual was that Murray postulated that Asians, as a whole, had the highest IQ (including Indians (from India!)).

So much for white supremacy!

Colonel Angus said...

They should put the money into scholarshipsfor women who go into the sciences.

Why? What exactly is holding women back now from entering the sciences? Other than perhaps, lack of interest?

Original Mike said...

"The scale of this is so outsized I think it will have a huge impact on the life sciences."

$3M is not big money when it comes to funding a lab. Wait until Cornelia learns that Rockefeller University will expect a 50% cut for overhead.

Kirk Parker said...

"If they ... get MST3K"

Wait--what's not to get?

Rabel said...

Cornelia Bargmann:

"It's so far outside my normal planning I don't know. Get the car fixed?"

From Bargmann's bio:

"She received the 2012 Kavli Prize in Neuroscience, the 2012 NYU/Dart Biotechnology Achievement Award, the 2009 Richard Lounsbery Award from the U.S. and French National Academies of Sciences, the 2004 Dargut and Milena Kemali International Prize for Research in Basic and Clinical Neurosciences, the 2000 Charles Judson Herrick Award for comparative neurology, the 1997 Takasago Award for olfaction research and the 1997 W. Alden Spencer Award for neuroscience research."

The Kavli prize is a cool one million. The Lounsbery 70k.

She must have one hell of a car problem.

Shouting Thomas said...

Why? What exactly is holding women back now from entering the sciences? Other than perhaps, lack of interest?

The "discrimination" model of thinking is deeply imbedded as a romantic ideal, and cannot be discarded.

Hagar said...

Sitting down on the floor and wondering if she can afford to get the car fixed now, is a feminine reaction, all right.
Not good with numbers.

Terry said...

Althouse wrote:
They should put the money into scholarships for women who go into the sciences.

Before doing that, the logical thing to do would be to see if the relative scarcity of women at the graduate level in the STEM fields is due to a lack of scholarships. Otherwise your distorting the market, e.g., discriminating against men.

Schorsch said...

On balance, this is a horrible idea. The founders say the money is to "make life easier." These are men and women near retirement age. The easiest thing to do with $3 million is to retire. No more productivity from the top life scientists. Why not make it an enormous grant, an incentive to do more (presumably great) science?

Consider also: most of these people have endowed chairs (no teaching burden), multiple awards accumulated (quite a retirement nest egg), and some are HHMI scholars (off of the federal grant treadmill). Their lives are comparatively very easy.

So, why the cash prize, no strings attached? The winners become part of the awarding committee. My cynical guess? Buying cool friends.

Original Mike said...

This is bizarre.

R. Chatt said...

There must be something wrong with that woman, Cornelia Bargmann, to be so good in science. At least that would be the conclusion from the comments here.

Terry said...

R. Chatt wrote:
At least that would be the conclusion from the comments here.
Why are you using passive voice to state your opinion, R. Chatt?

edutcher said...

ALP said...

No nuance, you're either right or you're wrong, and perhaps most women can't take that.

I would take this further and suggest that most *Americans* can't take it, hence the large numbers of computer programmers from China and other cultures where rigid rules are not questioned as openly. I am a typical female artsy/language type that has done some computer programming and designed and built one desktop. There is something so inherently rigid about the way computers think (and rules of math I would imagine) its very tough to understand, embrace, accept - and live within it.


Calculus is the discipline on which computer science is based and calc is a very cruel mistress.

rehajm said...

They should put the money into scholarships for women who go into the sciences.

The pat answer- throw money at a problem. A woman demonstrating an ability and commitment to the sciences can get a free ride already.

Lack of funds isn't the problem.

Shouting Thomas said...

@R. Chatt

I don't see that.

More along the lines of Bargmann is an extraordinary outlier among women, and why expend so much energy to try to direct other women to something they don't want?

Cedarford said...

"

Michael K said...
One of my students, a young woman, told me a couple of weeks ago that she was interested in pediatric neurology. I suggested that if she wanted that area of interest, she should think about autism. I gave her some recent papers on basic research in that area. That will be a major area and autism will probably be understood and treatable in the next 25 years."

================
If nothing else, what we have learned in the last 30 years is there are no "miracle drug cures" for most genetic and brain malformation disorders.

NO evidence autism will ever be treatable if it is part of a sufferer's DNA hardwiring.
If it is "treatable" in may be "treatable" in the way we have greatly diminished the prevalence of Downs Syndrome. Discover how to test early for it in pregnancy, and abort the defective.




Cedarford said...

It is nice to see some money going for benefiting all humanity, instead of being targeted only for 3rd world nations with too amny people and not enough jobs and resources.
Googles founders, others in intellectual property may indeed find there is a hell of a lot more betterment for humanity collectively from spending 30 million on scientific prizes. Instead of 30 million spent Bill Gates/Buffett style devoted to supplying Haitian and Congolese mommas with "necessities of life" stuff for their 12 kids.

Michael K said...

Too bad they didn't know Max Perutz who got no support from anyone but still built the field of molecular biology at Cambridge.

All that we know as molecular biology began in his lab. He was not even financially or academically secure until he was awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize. A friend, who had been his student, gave me a copy of his biography a few years ago. My review of the biography is here.

edutcher said...

Ann Althouse said...

They should put the money into scholarships for women who go into the sciences.

A lot of the sciences pay pretty well (YMMV, of course).

As someone noted years ago when contemplating whether he'd want to be Michael Jordan or Bill Gates, noted there was no cachet in being "microchip boy".

I'm sure this extends to girls.

Maybe even more so.

Again, YMMV

CyndiF said...

These are men and women near retirement age. The easiest thing to do with $3 million is to retire. No more productivity from the top life scientists...

What senior scientists are typically doing is running a group. They may or may not be as directly productive themselves, but they set up the environment and provide the $$ for students and young researchers to be productive. And they won't just retire because of a cash windfall. When you are doing what you love and being paid for it, why stop?

Crimso said...

"Why? What exactly is holding women back now from entering the sciences? Other than perhaps, lack of interest?"

Anecdotal, but my class rosters for this semester are 42 women/30 men, 21 women/14 men, and 15 women/21 men (all 4000 level biochemistry courses offered in a chemistry department; 4000 would be considered "senior"), and 6 women/1 man (6000 level biochemistry in a chemistry department).

Paco Wové said...

"There must be something wrong with that woman, Cornelia Bargmann, to be so good in science"

You don't understand probability distributions, R.C.

Crimso said...

And 2 women/1 man for undergraduate research.

Oso Negro said...

And then there is the theory that if women would shut the fuck up and study more.....

http://www.scienceworldreport.com/articles/5073/20130220/why-women-talk-more-men-language-protein.htm

Crimso said...

I hope these guys see Chelyabinsk as a shot across the bow (as it were).

ricpic said...

If they found a cure for the combined diseases of homosexuality and lesbianism it would solve the childless future problem.

Colonel Angus said...

Anecdotal, but my class rosters for this semester are 42 women/30 men, 21 women/14 men, and 15 women/21 men (all 4000 level biochemistry courses offered in a chemistry department; 4000 would be considered "senior"), and 6 women/1 man (6000 level biochemistry in a chemistry department).

That would seem to refute Althouse's belief that women need money thrown at them to enter the sciences.

CyndiF said...

It's also always entertaining to read non-scientists explain so emphatically what makes a good scientist and how the field works.

Male or female, scientists typically are not strongly motivated by money. Although most of us aren't suffering (at least once grad school is done), we all could be making more and chose to pursue this route anyway.

What does motivate scientists (aside from the work)? Prestige and reputation. That $3M will be appreciated, I'm sure, but its value as a signaler of the eminence of the recipient is the real prize.

wyo sis said...

"willingness to work 60 hours a week for 20 years on their dreams, which is something that women will likely never be nearly as willing to do."

I work 24/7 on my dreams so far for 39 years. I expect to go on doing that for the rest of my life. My dreams are in my children.
Find the value of that using a mathematical formula.

Rabel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rabel said...

"If they found a cure for the combined diseases of homosexuality and lesbianism it would solve the childless future problem."

The intolerant callousness with which you would wreak devastation upon the fashion, entertainment and news industries is offensive.

Roger J. said...

Rabel: LOL very good comment tongue in cheek notwithstanding. well done

R. Chatt said...

I do understand probability distributions, and that Cornelia Bargmann is an extraordinary woman. I was making a joke about the general attitude about women in science and the fact that many women in science have reported difficulties being in fields so dominated by men. They have created organizations to overcome that, etc.

Also, the brief experience I had subbing in public high schools, about nine years ago, showed me that there are still many girls who are afraid of turning guys off by appearing being too smart in areas that are traditionally male. After all these years of feminism I was really surprised to see how many girls behaved like their first obligation was to make themselves pleasing and acceptable to guys rather than focusing on their own educational aspirations. So clearly there is social pressure having an influence on their career choices, or maybe it is innate biology. I don't know.

I don't think there is any need to have quotas but simply have an open mind. Why shouldn't women be good in science? Crimso indicates that is changing by his class. We live a lot longer than our ancestors. Society evolves, people evolve.

Michael K said...

"NO evidence autism will ever be treatable if it is part of a sufferer's DNA hardwiring.
If it is "treatable" in may be "treatable" in the way we have greatly diminished the prevalence of Downs Syndrome. Discover how to test early for it in pregnancy, and abort the defective. "

Another ignorant comment from you-know-who.

Autism Research. 2013 Feb 14. doi: 10.1002/aur.1270. [Epub ahead of print]

Oxytocin and Vasopressin in Children and Adolescents With Autism Spectrum
Disorders: Sex Differences and Associations With Symptoms.

Miller M, Bales KL, Taylor SL, Yoon J, Hostetler CM, Carter CS, Solomon M.

Department of Psychology, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, California; MIND Institute, UC
Davis, Sacramento, California.

There has been intensified interest in the neuropeptides oxytocin (OT) and
arginine vasopressin (AVP) in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) given their role in
affiliative and social behavior in animals, positive results of treatment studies
using OT, and findings that genetic polymorphisms in the AVP-OT pathway are
present in individuals with ASD. Nearly all such studies in humans have focused
only on males. With this preliminary study, we provide basic and novel
information on the involvement of OT and AVP in autism, with an investigation of
blood plasma levels of these neuropeptides in 75 preadolescent and adolescent
girls and boys ages 8-18: 40 with high-functioning ASD (19 girls, 21 boys) and 35
typically developing children (16 girls, 19 boys). We related neuropeptide levels
to social, language, repetitive behavior, and internalizing symptom measures in
these individuals. There were significant gender effects: Girls showed higher
levels of OT, while boys had significantly higher levels of AVP. There were no
significant effects of diagnosis on OT or AVP. Higher OT values were associated
with greater anxiety in all girls, and with better pragmatic language in all boys
and girls. AVP levels were positively associated with restricted and repetitive
behaviors in girls with ASD but negatively (nonsignificantly) associated with
these behaviors in boys with ASD. Our results challenge the prevailing view that
plasma OT levels are lower in individuals with ASD, and suggest that there are
distinct and sexually dimorphic mechanisms of action for OT and AVP underlying
anxiety and repetitive behaviors. Autism Res 2013, ●●: ●●-●●. © 2013
International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


One of hundreds of such papers. A woman with Asberger's syndrome has been successfully treated with considerable improvement.

Ignorance is also genetic.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

What made the charges of racism funnier than usual was that Murray postulated that Asians, as a whole, had the highest IQ (including Indians (from India!)).

So much for white supremacy!


It's much more than a "postulate", it's true. And I'm pretty sure that is was not Whites that created the "White Supremacy" term - so there's that too.

R. Chatt said...

Here's some good comments on Why Women Talk More Than Men: Language Protein Uncovered

Schorsch said...

What senior scientists are typically doing is running a group. They may or may not be as directly productive themselves, but they set up the environment and provide the $$ for students and young researchers to be productive. And they won't just retire because of a cash windfall. When you are doing what you love and being paid for it, why stop?

What you say is true, and conforms with my experience as a (very) junior scientist. But it certainly isn't incentive against retirement, and it's hard to see how it's incentive for future work. It's also not capital towards building their empire, as the money is deliberately designated as personal cash.

I can't see how this prize is at all productive. It doesn't encourage more output from the winners, can't encourage young people to strive towards it (it won't exist in 5 years), and it's just "walking around money" for a few high-performers. It's either useless or negative, if a small number of winners are at all encouraged to retire earlier because of it. And believe me, no matter how much you love it, the hours required keep you from doing anything else you might also love.

I'm starting to think that rich people can't be friends with the non-rich, and have developed these prizes in order to justify giving money to those they would like to befriend.

Terry said...

After all these years of feminism I was really surprised to see how many girls behaved like their first obligation was to make themselves pleasing and acceptable to guys rather than focusing on their own educational aspirations.
R. Chatt, do you think that it would be a more desirable outcome for women to focus on their educational aspirations than making themselves pleasing to to guys? Why? From whose POV? Yours? Theirs?

Scott M said...

Two women from a list of 11 fairly reflected the percentage of women working at that level, she said. "One would like it to be higher of course."

I wonder why this is? Because of some loyalty to her gender? A desire to see the other gender reduced in number (in this context)? Because she works better with other women?

Why?

Isn't it supposed to be about merit in the sciences?

Scott M said...

The intolerant callousness with which you would wreak devastation upon the fashion, entertainment and news industries is offensive.

Best comment of the week so far, IMHO. Well-crafted.

CyndiF said...

I wonder why this is? Because of some loyalty to her gender? A desire to see the other gender reduced in number (in this context)? Because she works better with other women?

Studies have shown that when any particular group is a minority in a situation, the members of that group are judged as a collective rather than individually. There is a classic xkcd cartoon about this:

How it works

The more women are in science, the more woman scientists can work and be evaluated more freely.

edutcher said...

Scott M said...

Two women from a list of 11 fairly reflected the percentage of women working at that level, she said. "One would like it to be higher of course."

I wonder why this is? Because of some loyalty to her gender? A desire to see the other gender reduced in number (in this context)? Because she works better with other women?

Why?

Isn't it supposed to be about merit in the sciences?


This is why Facebook is tanking.

R. Chatt said...

Terry said, R. Chatt, do you think that it would be a more desirable outcome for women to focus on their educational aspirations than making themselves pleasing to to guys? Why? From whose POV? Yours? Theirs?

As I said, I don't know whether this behavior is socially constructed or if these girls are acting out their biological blueprints. It seemed to me that free public education is an invaluable opportunity and a boon in any person's life and yet frequently under appreciated and squandered.

Terry said...

R Chaitt wrote:
free public education is an invaluable opportunity and a boon in any person's life and yet frequently under appreciated and squandered.

I'm not trying to pick on you, R. Chaitt, I really want to know how you come to your conclusions. Anything that is free to the user is likely under appreciated and squandered.

As I said, I don't know whether this behavior is socially constructed or if these girls are acting out their biological blueprints.
Personal choice doesn't enter into it? If their life choices have their origins in a genetic blueprint or social programming, why give them the illusion of having a choice at all?
I know people who hate that Jefferson changed 'life, liberty, and property' in the Declaration of Independence to 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness'. I think that it was sublimely subversive.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

The intolerant callousness with which you would wreak devastation upon the fashion, entertainment and news industries is offensive.

Best comment of the week so far, IMHO. Well-crafted.


But only if it is, indeed, sarcasm.

Palladian said...

If they found a cure for the combined diseases of homosexuality and lesbianism it would solve the childless future problem.

If they found a cure for the combined diseases of stupid and asshole it would solve the having-to-read-ricpic's bullshit in the future problem.

Michael K said...

"Personal choice doesn't enter into it? If their life choices have their origins in a genetic blueprint or social programming, why give them the illusion of having a choice at all?"

my high school girlfriend. If that photo is (2008)current, she looks damn good for 70. She's now 75, like me.

She was very attractive in high school but we went to different schools on scholarships. She married a classmate of mine from high school who went to Purdue with her. We used to socialize with them but I haven't seen her in 20 years.

She raised her kids before going back to work. Perfectly normal person. I did help her with algebra before exams.

Scott M said...

But only if it is, indeed, sarcasm.

Don't you oppress Rabel.

Palladian said...

I find it particularly... amusing... that an old Jewish person like ricpic would find pleasure in consigning an innate human characteristic to the category of disease and then wish for a solution to the supposed societal problems caused by that "disease".

Palladian said...

I did help her with algebra before exams.

"Algebra", eh? So that's what they called it back then...

Revenant said...

If they found a cure for the combined diseases of homosexuality and lesbianism it would solve the childless future problem

If they found a "cure" for homosexuality it would raise the American birth rate from 1.9 children per couple to 1.95 children per couple.

In other words: in addition to being a horrible human being, you're also bad at math.

Palladian said...

If they found a "cure" for homosexuality it would raise the American birth rate from 1.9 children per couple to 1.95 children per couple.

But don't you get it, Revenant? Us queers & dykes not only lower the birth rate by not having our own children, we prevent otherwise "normal" people from reproducing too! Our evil powers turn otherwise fecund Americans into barren tattoo designers who sit at hookah bars and scorn nativity! Like ricpic says, if science could finally come up with some sort of solution and "cure" our diseased presence, babies would bloom like a thousand flowers from every womb!

Revenant said...

I've been waiting for a good time to bring this up, but I *would* appreciate it if you gay people would stop ruining my sex life, Palladian.

Kirk Parker said...

As an annual prize, this may do some good. But how much better something like the X-prizes, which are awarded only on specific goals, rather than a committee deciding "who's on top" in a given year.

William said...

My early work with crystallized proteins showed promise of being able to cure most forms of child cancers. I was very grateful to the Nobel people for their recognition of my work. If I could have those years over again, believe me, I would not piss the money away in strip clubs and on a meth addiction. I've gotten straight in recent years and regard the past as a learning experience.. If I could get some Zuck bucks or a MacArthur grant, I believe modern medicine would really profit from my hard earned wisdom.

Joe said...

I heard this report on NPR. They interviewed Zuckerberg and, I think, Milner. The two rich dudes yacked about how this would bring focus to the people doing science, yet the report was all about the rich dudes, not science let alone the scientists.

Hearing rich people brag about the good they do is nauseating, no matter how noble their intents.

Beach Brutus said...

"Titia de Lange, 57, who researches cell biology, genetics and cancer at Rockefeller university, said the award felt surreal."

I think its past time to retire the word "surreal".... we can put "ilk" on the shelf too.

Maguro said...

As I said, I don't know whether this behavior is socially constructed or if these girls are acting out their biological blueprints. It seemed to me that free public education is an invaluable opportunity and a boon in any person's life and yet frequently under appreciated and squandered.

I'm going with "acting out their biological blueprints". Do keep in mind that despite all our alleged civilization and intellectuality, at the end of the day humans are just another mammal species. And for mammals, competing for a good mate is what the evolutionary struggle is all about, there is literally nothing more important.

roesch/voltaire said...

This post shows what little understanding Althouse has of science, research and the women involved in the activity. Maybe she should take a walk to the other side of campus and check out some women researchers to gain some perspective.

Nichevo said...

RV, that may be the first intelligent thing you've ever posted. Althouse doesn't value anything that she can't do or understand.

R. Chatt said...

Here's something interesting I have discovered about the backgrounds of two extraordinary women in the sciences, Cornelia Bargmann and Roberta Gleiter. They each came from backgrounds where academics were clearly emphasized. Cornelia. Bargmann's father was a statistician and computer scientist at the University of Georgia and Roberta Gleitner was placed in an all girls high school. "At the top of her 1956 graduating class in an all-girls high school, she wanted to be challenged in college, so she asked her mother which discipline would be the most difficult. Unsure, Gleiter’s mother suggested they ask their dentist, who looked into it and reported that chemical engineering was the most difficult..."
See this article from Purdue for her bio and her career challenges-- it has three photos of her at work but no glamour portrait unlike the recommended story by Michael K. with the attractive portrait.

Each woman was obviously nurtured to pursue her intellectual interests in science. This was a personal choice for each young woman but a choice which was encouraged and celebrated and in line with their family's wishes.

R. Chatt said...

When Titia de Lange was about 16 years old and living in Holland, she saw an electron microscope image of a chromosome in a Dutch newspaper. Seeing that image changed her life.

"I remember being completely struck by it," said Dr. de Lange. "Massive amounts of DNA were packaged in all of these endless loops. And our genetic information had to function within this element; that is how it has to work.

"But how could it work?" she said. "Everything I've done in my career goes back to that image and to that question."

Dr. de Lange began pursuing the answer as an undergraduate student. Organic chemistry was what she really wanted to focus on, but because there weren't many women in the field, and perhaps also because her grandmother was a biologist (who earned a Ph.D. in 1911), she chose biology instead. http://www.cancer.gov/ncicancerbulletin/121112/page7

Synova said...

Men are more likely to be aware of the practice of awarding prizes for science breakthroughs, a la X-prize, etc.

Which is undoubtedly where these guys giving out the prize got the idea.

*Spaceships* ladies! Hello?

Rusty said...

Original Mike said...
"The scale of this is so outsized I think it will have a huge impact on the life sciences."

$3M is not big money when it comes to funding a lab. Wait until Cornelia learns that Rockefeller University will expect a 50% cut for overhead.

I think the idea was to provide them with enough money to take care of the annoying, mundane life problems that eat up ones time. Like getting the car fixed. Fixing the roof. paying off debt.
Having a lot of money frees you up to consider other possibilities.
A problem I'll never have.

Rusty said...

roesch/voltaire said...
This post shows what little understanding Althouse has of science, research and the women involved in the activity. Maybe she should take a walk to the other side of campus and check out some women researchers to gain some perspective.


Yes. But how many of them are geniuses?

roesch/voltaire said...

Rusty, these women are so smart and dedicated to research they do not have time to post here, I assure you.

AlanKH said...

What he said, "I don't want Harry Reid and John Boehner to still be arguing over sequestration 50 years from now.", would appear to be an argument against it.

It's an argument against those guys still being in office 50 years from now. Yeesh.

Rusty said...

roesch/voltaire said...
Rusty, these women are so smart and dedicated to research they do not have time to post here, I assure you.

You're probably right. Good on em though.