August 10, 2017

"It is impossible to consider this field of science without grappling with the flaws of the institution—and of the deification—of science itself."

"For example: It was argued to me this week that the Google memo failed to constitute hostile behavior because it cited peer-reviewed articles that suggest women have different brains. The well-known scientist who made this comment to me is both a woman and someone who knows quite well that 'peer-reviewed' and 'correct' are not interchangeable terms. This brings us to the question that many have grappled with this week. It’s 2017, and to some extent scientific literature still supports a patriarchal view that ranks a man’s intellect above a woman’s. It’s easy to end up in an endless loop of using our prodigious scientific skills to carefully debunk the shoddy science that props up this argument. This is important and valuable work, but it’s also worth considering why this loop exists at all. Science’s greatest myth is that it doesn’t encode bias and is always self-correcting. In fact, science has often made its living from encoding and justifying bias, and refusing to do anything about the fact that the data says something’s wrong...."

From "Stop Equating 'Science' With Truth/Evolutionary psychology is just the most obvious example of science's flaws," by particle physicist and philosopher of science Chanda Prescod-Weinstein in Slate.

IN THE COMMENTS: Matthew Sablan said:
Who is arguing the things claimed in the first paragraph? I haven't read the manifesto, but I thought he was talking trends and averages while reinforcing that individuals can fall anywhere on that continuum. What scientist is arguing for sexism in the workplace?
You need to go read the first paragraph at Slate to see how horribly Prescod-Weinstein summarizes what James Damore wrote. Scientists are untrustworthy, she argues and, simultaneously, demonstrates.

139 comments:

exhelodrvr1 said...

Sorry, the science is settled. There is no possibility that anything that is currently agreed upon by 97% of scientists (according to a very accurate survey) will eventually prove to be incorrect.

Curious George said...

"Science’s greatest myth is that it doesn’t encode bias and is always self-correcting. In fact, science has often made its living from encoding and justifying bias, and refusing to do anything about the fact that the data says something’s wrong...."

Science, you have some 'splaining to do.

David Begley said...

"It’s easy to end up in an endless loop of using our prodigious scientific skills to carefully debunk the shoddy science that props up this argument."

So when does the attack of CAGW begin?

Christopher said...

It's the current year! Paging Steve Sailer!

The left cannot be reasoned with, even when it comes to science, specifically because they are Lefties before they are scientists.


Nick said...

The modern "scientific community" has set itself up as a religion, with it's members as high priests of reason. Just look at the cult following of Degrasse-Tyson and Nye.

The value of the actual scientific method is not just in searching for truth, or at least reliable Constants. It is the process of first forcing us to examine what, in fact, we DO NOT know yet. That set is far more broad than most "scientists" let on.

Danno said...

Blogger exhelodrvr1 and David Begley- Exactly!

But but CAGW is different! /sarc

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Science is bullshit when it concludes things I don't like

It's sacred when it concludes things I do

Matthew Sablan said...

Who is arguing the things claimed in the first paragraph? I haven't read the manifesto, but I thought he was talking trends and averages while reinforcing that individuals can fall anywhere on that continuum. What scientist is arguing for sexism in the workplace?

Biotrekker said...

This is what is maddening about the Left/Progs: the glaring self-serving contradictions in their "philosophy". Things are only true if they serve the narrative - this is the essential element of the Soviet system and the Leftist/Prog system.

1. Science is TRUE when it means we can take people's cars away and tax them for having a life. Science is FALSE when it makes me feel bad.

2. There are NO biological differences between female and male brains when explaining imbalances in participation in a profession. The biological differences between men and women are ALL THAT MATTER if someone claims to be "transgender" (ie, a transexual)

Matthew Sablan said...

Wait. She notes this other woman mentions that women have different brains than men, then complains that science says men have better brains. Those are two different arguments, and we should not let them be confused as one.

Michael The Magnificent said...

"Science’s greatest myth is that it doesn’t encode bias and is always self-correcting. In fact, science has often made its living from encoding and justifying bias, and refusing to do anything about the fact that the data says something’s wrong...."

GHCN-v2: Geographic distribution of adjustments to monthly mean temperatures (USA 1970-2009)

Fudging climate data (i.e. encoding bias) set to video.

daskol said...

Problematizer of science more apt than philosopher of science. Or maybe comedienne of science. Because this is pretty funny:

"As someone on Twitter reminded me last week when I posted a new paper on particle physics, because the authors of the paper are women, based on the results of one featured study in that Nature Astronomy issue, we can expect 10 percent fewer citations."


Matthew Sablan said...

When it comes to her field, she'll argue with her family that nuclear technology isn't flawed it is how people use it. When it comes to global warming, she'll scoff at the idea technology is progress because of the harm it does.

PaladinQB said...

"Science’s greatest myth is that it doesn’t encode bias and is always self-correcting. In fact, science has often made its living from encoding and justifying bias, and refusing to do anything about the fact that the data says something’s wrong....*"

*unless it supports the Holy Zeitgeist of The Current Year in which case you are a flat-earth troglodyte if you question it

Michael P said...

Wow, where to begin?

You'd think that she might bother to link to some studies that "still support[] a patriarchal view that ranks a man’s intellect above a woman’s". At least Damore linked to studies that more or less said what he said. Isn't it Althouse's observation that differences between men and women must be portrayed to make women look better?

You'd also think that she might find a more reputable, reliable, careful source for "debunking" the "shoddy" neuroscience that she objects to than Gizmodo.

She totally lost me when she called Damore "Google bro". To paraphrase someone smarter and wiser than me, the way to stop discriminating on the basis of sex is to stop discriminating on the basis of sex. Alleging that other people unfairly stereotype women while applying a very recent stereotype of men really undermines her argument.

Amadeus 48 said...

Dang! Get that woman on CAGW! She is all about un-encoding bias and denouncing the self-correcting myth. Has she met Neil Degrasse-Tyson and Bill Nye? Did she give them noogies?

Matthew Sablan said...

Wait. Her argument is scientists fail to integrate social studies into science, and cites examples of how racist applications of social studies corrupted Jefferson's science. Wasn't the problem too much social studies and non science?

The Vault Dweller said...

I think she makes a good point that too many people in society accept scientific claims as fact. I think there is a good 20% of people who read the NYTimes that would believe literally anything in a headline as long as it starts out with, "Scientists claim that..." or "Studies show that...". However I think she makes this claim so that she can continue to believe her own Null hypothesis, that there are no inherent differences in the traits or choices that men and women tend to make and any differences observed in the population are a result of discrimination or social factors. Given the observed heritability of intelligence in people, it seems reasonable to postulate that there is a biological component to intelligence. If there is a biological component it is not unreasonable to assume that there could be a difference in the distribution of that characteristic among males and females. Most of the data I have seen indicate that men and women have similar average IQs but that men have a higher standard deviation in their distribution.

Matthew Sablan said...

Uh... The ending confuses me. Didn't Google bro be a scientist about it by reviewing the literature and producing an argument? You can't run experiments on people and large scale economies, that's why for things like economics and global warming you have complex models and literature reviews.

Her experiment idea is snark that ignores the situation. Good snark, but just snark.

Chuck said...

I suspect that Atlhouse knew precisely what she was doing, in choosing that quote for her front page. Holy inconvenient truth, that is one hell of a quote.

Brava, Althouse.

Renee said...

https://ifstudies.org/blog/straight-talk-about-sex-differences-in-occupational-choices-and-work-family-tradeoffs

The more equal we become, the more opportunities women have to be flexible and choose different fields or 'gasp' have the ability stay at home and raise children.

I love being Catholic, where man and woman are complementary to each other. My husband and I don't have to deal with all of this nonsense.

Matthew Sablan said...

The current top comment at Slate makes me think Slate will delete and disable the comments soon.

iowan2 said...

Men and women are different.
Why cant we celebrate the difference? Or to modernize it, celebrate the diversity.
That's what I dont understand. Diversity is the goal, as long as everyone is the same?

jwl said...

Debra Soh, PhD in neuroscience - Globe and Mail:

As mentioned in the memo, gendered interests are predicted by exposure to prenatal testosterone – higher levels are associated with a preference for mechanically interesting things and occupations in adulthood. Lower levels are associated with a preference for people-oriented activities and occupations.

As well, new research from the field of genetics shows that testosterone alters the programming of neural stem cells, leading to sex differences in the brain even before it’s finished developing in utero. This further suggests that our interests are influenced strongly by biology, as opposed to being learned or socially constructed.

In fact, research has shown that cultures with greater gender equity have larger sex differences when it comes to job preferences, because in these societies, people are free to choose their occupations based on what they enjoy.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/no-the-google-manifesto-isnt-sexist-or-anti-diversity-its-science/article35903359/

Eleanor said...

If (a) there is no difference between the male and female brain, then (b) it's impossible to think or feel "like a woman". If (a) there's no difference in how men and women think or feel, then (b) transgenderism doesn't exist. If (a) there's no difference in how women and men think and feel, then (b) there's no intrinsic value in diversifying classrooms or workplaces based on sex or sexual orientation for that matter. If we all think alike, then we're completely interchangeable. We should be hiring based solely on merit. Let the best person have the job. The one with the highest level of skills and the deepest commitment to getting the job done.

Hagar said...

"Science" and "scientist(s)" are meaningless terms unless accompanied by the names of the person(s), their field of research, institutions associated with, if any, past achievements and general reputation, etc.

Same with "engineer" and "engineering."

Ralph L said...

If the sexes' brains were the same, how did one sex manage to dominate the other since forever? It wasn't just physical strength.

Scientific studies became trash in order to discredit The Learning Curve, but only some of them. The PC ones are AOK.

If they're all inherently biased, why should the taxpayer have to continue to fund them?

Henry said...

There are only so many Grecian Urns to go around.

MikeR said...

What an incompetent job that author did. Dismiss all opposing evidence because of bias. Accept all evidence that agrees. QED. Exact same technique used by those who reject climate science, or GMO foods.

Henry said...

I sometimes like to play ad-lib with screamer headlines like this.

Replace "science" with "search" for example.

Or replace "science" with "elephants"

You realize the writer's thesis is a template for anything the writer wishes to say.

Henry said...

That is a disgraceful, embarrassing, article.

CJinPA said...

The bias in science could just as likely be working on behalf of folks like Chanda Prescod-Weinstein.

As quoted in this very blog on June 21:

[Jonathan] Haidt is a social psychologist (at the NYU Business School), and he observes the strong bias against conservatives in psychology departments: "If you say something pleasing to the left about race, gender, immigration, or any other issue, it’s likely to get waved through to publication. People won’t ask hard questions. They like it. They want to believe it... [It's] a real research-legitimacy problem in the social sciences."

rhhardin said...

Science is social, to women in science. It holds their interest that way.

David said...

It's kind of a loopy article. Self devouring as well. As Spock would say, "Fascinating!"

rhhardin said...

Thurber did the science in "Is Sex Necessary?"

I recommend the chapter "A Discussion of Feminine Types."

Lem said...

the science is not settled?

Barry Dauphin said...

In her Slate article, she questions the assumptions of science, but then goes on to cite scientific findings in support of her politics. Go figure.

Virgil Hilts said...

All just a replay of Chanda's reaction to Larry Summers 10 years ago when she compared the President of Harvard U to white kids hanging nooses from a tree branch in Louisiana to intimidate blacks. She's a fanatic who believes that certain accepted truths cannot be wrong and that any science that undermines (or any experiments or analysis or discussions or debates undertaken that might undermine) such truths is racist, sexist and evil. She is neither unusual nor interesting.

Fernandinande said...

Men throughout all of history and everywhere in the world have done far "more stuff", good and bad, than women have done. (@Paglia, Mozart the Ripper)

Damon's paper is mostly correct and it matches the reality that everyone can observe, which is what gets the feministas and fellow SJWs all worked up.

If the paper were really false or mostly false, nobody would be talking about it.

Science’s greatest myth is that it doesn’t encode bias and is always self-correcting.

I've never heard anyone claim either of those things.

Most saliently in the context of the Google memo,

No, it's not salient at all.

our scientific educations almost never talk about the invention of whiteness

Said the racist POC.

Perhaps next time They will get a neurologist to critique physics papers.

traditionalguy said...

Scientific discoveries are always fiercely opposed by the most revered Scientists working in Academia and for Government bureaucracies. They have a sinecure based on old theory and often faked test results.

Bill Bryson's A Short History of Everything does an excellent job revealing that this "Established Science" has always been the enemy of the new discoveries.

sparrow said...

The text is loaded down with self promotion e.g. "our prodigious scientific skills". The writer is condesecending to write to her inferiors. If Google continues on this path they will alienate enough people to create a groundswell for antitrust action to curb them.

Roughcoat said...

When I hear an academic use the word "encoding" I reach for my pistol.

rhhardin said...

It's a mistake to get a woman in science to defend women in science.

There's a self-selection problem that will always disprove what is to be proved. She's always the head of the Women's Workplace Issues committee.

Otto said...

Yesterday we got unfair labor practices and today we got transhumanism fed to us by Ann. All have nothing to do with the original thesis of the google engineer that women on the whole don't gravitate, give a sh*t or have the acumen for hard Science and Engineering. As stated before history and university enrollments bear that out. Sorry life is not fair.

Robert Cook said...

"Science is bullshit when it concludes things I don't like.

"It's sacred when it concludes things I do."


An axiom for the age.

rhhardin said...

I like the newsbabes in North Korea. It's not all misogyny.

Xmas said...

"particle physicist and philosopher of science"

Not a biologist, sociologist, or medical doctor.

M Jordan said...

Man was formed, woman was built. That's the Hebrew in Genesis 2. I'm buying it. Further, man was formed out of dirt, woman built out of man.

Really makes you think.

rhhardin said...

Women are not serious people when it comes to abstracting away.

Hence their choices.

Fernandinande said...

traditionalguy said...
Scientific discoveries are always fiercely opposed


No they're not.

"Established Science" has always been the enemy of the new discoveries

No it's not.

Lem said...

Did they interview fauna to support their findings?

rhhardin said...

I don't know what philosopher of science is supposed to imply.

Women in philosophy is pretty rare. The exceptions who are good manage to notice the difference in women's and men's thinking and apply correctives, thinking both ways and discovering mistakes and amusing suggestions.

Vicki Hearne, mistakes are tricky things especially when something follows from them.

David said...

There is a lot of intersectionality going on with this woman. Celebrity is one of them, inducing my skepticism. I have no way of evaluating whether she is a sound contributory scientist in her field. I do note that she strays from that field a lot, which is certainly a valid choice. (See our hostess as an example of that.) She is, or so she says, the 63d American (?) black woman to get a phd in Physics. Or some branch of physics? Apparently there have been about 20 more since she got hers, so the flow is increasing. We will see where all of this leads. Perhaps a new star is born. Certainly she hopes so.

daskol said...

Reading this in slate is funby. I feel very badly for colleagues and students who have to contend with this sort of thinking in an academic forum.

Angel-Dyne said...

"Women in science" (not to be confused with "women scientists") have been publishing this article, with very little variation, since at least the 1980s. (Iirc, it was an instance of this that was the last straw provoking me to cancel my subscription to Scientific American back in the '80s.) No matter how much disconfirming new science appears over the years, no matter how many times their "philosophical" "critiques" get debunked for the twaddle they are, they keep republishing the same old crap.

The only change over time is that the content and style become ever more embarrassingly dumbed-down.

Fernandinande said...

rhhardin said...
I don't know what philosopher of science is supposed to imply.


Nowadays it means someone who dreams up philosophical reasons for rejecting scientific findings that they don't like.

"Philosophy of science is about as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds." -- Feynman

Static Ping said...

I stopped reading at the moment the author claimed that Thomas Jefferson repeatedly raped Sally Hemings.

Hey Skipper said...

[Eleanor:] If (a) there is no difference between the male and female brain, then (b) it's impossible to think or feel "like a woman". If (a) there's no difference in how men and women think or feel, then (b) transgenderism doesn't exist. ...

And homosexual conversion therapy would totally work.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Science is only science when it gives the correct answers.
If science seems to give the wrong answer it's only because that wasn't really "science," that was the product of bias and we need more, and better, science to point that out.

Things that support incorrect answers are shoddy, ludicrous, and amateurish, but real science--science that gives the correct answer--is thorough, believable, and professional.

Kinda sounds like the science equivalent to "it's not over until we win!"
It's not science until it says the right thing. Once it does, of course, the "science is settled" and there's no disputing the results.

It would be funny, but this kind of bullshit actually poses a threat to the continued advancement of civilization. All because we decided that avoiding hurting people's feelings is more important than empirical reality!

rhhardin said...

The nagging instinct is not sufficiently taken into account.

whitney said...

For a lot of scientists the research runs counter to their biases. They tend to be apolitical or lean towards the left.

Michael K said...

"
"Established Science" has always been the enemy of the new discoveries

No it's not."

It is if it is government supported. The Human Genome Project vs Craig Venter is an example.

Tommy Duncan said...

Fifty years ago the philosophy of science was synonymous with Thomas Kuhn's book "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions".

It now appears to be a branch of women's studies.

Laslo Spatula said...

Betamax3000 covered women in science...

LEGO Scientist Woman says.

"I wrote an important memo today reminding people not to poop in the hall but to use the restrooms instead. Maybe someone was so caught up in their project they just forgot where they were: REAL SCIENTISTS can be funny in that absent-minded way. Still, pooping in the hall is not acceptable, people."

I am Laslo.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I've read the linked Slate article.

The term screed has been floating around for the past week. It has finally found a place to rest.

Henry said...

@Static Ping -- That one caught my attention as well.

gregq said...

Ann Althouse writes:

Scientists are untrustworthy, she argues and, simultaneously, demonstrates.

*Zing*

You win comment of the week, across all the interwebs!

Laslo Spatula said...

If Damore was so obviously wrong it would seem quite easy to debunk.

I guess they'll get to that, after all the emotional pseudo-science abstracted intersectionality.

Sometimes you need a good cry before you get down to the real work.

I am Laslo.

William said...

There's an overt bias against white men. Why choose Thomas Jefferson as a demon figure? What about his contemporaries in that world? The khans, kings, sultans, and aristocrats in Jefferson's world raped with far more abandon than he ever did. She's nurturing ideas that were first hatched by Jefferson, not by her grandmothers and definitely not by her grandfathers........Newton believed in astrology and alchemy. These beliefs were not extraneous to his other, more scientific views, but were rather what motivated his drive to understand the universe. Irrationality is part of the cosmos and, indeed, our wish to understand the cosmos is to some extent irrational.

madAsHell said...

Remember the time when Google helped that blogger move to her own domain......althou.se?

Fernandinande said...

Michael K said...
It is if it is government supported. The Human Genome Project vs Craig Venter is an example.


That's a hassle over patents, or some such, isn't it? A pretty trivial example of not much.

Electromagnetism, relativity, quantum mechanics, and atomic energy are far better examples - of the acceptance of new and very significant ("paradigm changing") scientific ideas, as are blood-typing, antibiotics, vaccinations, etc, etc.

John Lynch said...

Anyone miss "fisking?" You used to have to read, and refer to, the writing that you were critiquing.

EDH said...

Her poor husband.

The Cracker Emcee Activist said...

"I don't know what philosopher of science is supposed to imply."

It means they found anything beyond freshman calculus to be impenetrable.

Henry said...

I'm not sure how many more Damore posts we're going to get, so I wanted to post one aside on the story that makes me laugh. It's the repeated reference to length of the essay in pages. It was 10 pages, man! That guy must be crazy to write so many pages.

Bob Ellison said...

Good science seeks truth, but does not claim to own it. It's only a model, no matter the subject.

Isaac Newton's formula for gravity was a model. It was negligibly incorrect until we took up space travel.

Similarly, a good neurologist should say that the conclusions drawn from studies of brains about differences between men and women are testable, refutable, and worth discussion and explanation.

Bruce Hayden said...

same, how did one sex manage to dominate the other since forever? It wasn't just physical strength.

Simple answer, being a masculinist, is that male organization is far more efficient than female organization.

Ran into a link to an interesting article (by a woman) today at Instapundit: The Myth of the Peaceful Woman by outofthedarkness that makes this point.

Female social structure is completely different from male social structure. Men tend to organize in a hierarchy of sorts. There’s one guy at the top, a few guys he trusts underneath him, etc. downward until you reach the guys that are on the bottom of the pile. The structure makes sense. It’s efficient, everyone knows who’s in charge, and it’s largely based around the individual. Someone can rise or fall in this hierarchy based on any number of things, but their position is usually pretty clear from the outside looking in.

Female social structure is more fluid. It’s based more on group identity than on individual characteristics. You tend to have one woman who is kind of in charge, your queen bee as it were. Those in her favor circle around her, and the circles continue outward until you have the women who are not part of the group. They aren’t at the bottom of the pile, they pretty much don’t exist. At least, if they’re lucky they don’t. One’s position in the social hierarchy can change at any time, to include who the queen bee is. Remember the scene in Mean Girls where Regina tries to sit at the lunch table with the other plastics but isn’t wearing the right color clothes? She was just knocked out of her position in the social hierarchy.

In a social structure like this, there’s no room for difference of opinion or people who stand out too much. If an individual, even by noncompliance, threatens the group identity; she will gain the ire of the entire group. They will hunt her without mercy until she complies with the demands of the group, is removed from their reach by either death or physical distance (which is getting much harder with the internet), or manages to win enough females to her side to either form a new group around her or replace the existing leader. The last option allows her to push her standard on the group as a whole. There is no option to live and let live. In other words, female social structure is closer to the Borg than the complex world we currently enjoy.

Rick said...

It was argued to me this week that the Google memo failed to constitute hostile behavior because it cited peer-reviewed articles that suggest women have different brains. The well-known scientist who made this comment to me is both a woman and someone who knows quite well that 'peer-reviewed' and 'correct' are not interchangeable terms.

What are the chances this is an accurate summation of this conversation? I'd say effectively zero.

The point about peer review isn't to demonstrate Damore's opinions are indisputably correct, it's to point out they aren't indisputably wrong and therefore are legitimate opinions to hold rather than proof of sexism. Prescod-Weinstein is claiming non-left opinions are only allowed if indisputably true which effectively blacklists the vast majority of opinions which are neither provable nor falsifiable.

Mike said...

Progressivism is on a collision course with the "reality based community" because of their deification of politicized science. The constant appeals to authority and citations of 95% and 97% and 99% consensus on this or that has produced a generation or two of mushy headed liberals who really believe their own bullshit, really believe the facts are on "their side." As if science is another word for consensus instead of a description of a process, the throw the word around.

But then a properly prepared modern "scientist" like Ms. Weinstein reveals that progressivism and a rejection of the idea of objective TRUTH is more important to her -- as an individual and as a good liberal -- than are the facts of the issue at hand. And it doesn't matter if the issue is this engineer's memo at Groogle or climate change or transgender issues or fracking the good Progressive will always hold politics and current faddish thought in higher esteem than facts and truth.

Robert Cook said...

"Man was formed, woman was built. That's the Hebrew in Genesis 2. I'm buying it. Further, man was formed out of dirt, woman built out of man.

"Really makes you think."


Yes, it makes me think: Who could believe such blarney?

Bruce Hayden said...

Oh, and it hasn't been forever that males dominated. Our chimp relatives live in a fairly matriarchal society, which puts our male dominance at probably less than 7 or so million years. My guess is closer to maybe 10k years. One big problem with female dominated societies is that the hierarchy does not scale up well at all, whereas male organization does - so I am guessing that the real ascension of male organization over female dates from the time that we started seriously farming.

Mike said...

traditionalguy said

Bill Bryson's A Short History of Everything does an excellent job revealing that this "Established Science" has always been the enemy of the new discoveries.


Love that book. And yet, even as he's exposing all the stuff we "knew" that turned out wrong, Bill is shilling for global warming the whole time too. Very interesting read. And still, Bryson's work is less self-contradicting than the article in question!

Roy Jacobsen said...

Reality is sexist.

Tommy Duncan said...

I tried to read the article, but statements like the one below made me imagine Robert Hoover speaking before the student court on behalf of Delta House:

"It is the rare scientific education that includes a simultaneous conversation about the rise of violent, imperialist globalization during the same time period. Very few curricula acknowledge that some European scientific “discoveries” were in fact collations of borrowed indigenous knowledge. And far too many universally call technology progress while failing to acknowledge that it has left us in a dangerously warmed climate."

Lewis Wetzel said...

"In fact, science has often made its living from encoding and justifying bias, and refusing to do anything about the fact that the data says something’s wrong...."
So, Chanda Prescod-Weinstein believes her opinion is unbiased?

G. K. Chesterton wrote: "No materialist who thinks his mind was made up for him, by mud and blood and heredity, has any hesitation in making up his mind. No sceptic who believes that truth is subjective has any hesitation about treating it as objective."

JPS said...

Prof. Althouse:

"Scientists are untrustworthy"

As a scientist, I'm offended by that!

I'm kidding. Especially as a scientist, I agree. Anyway science isn't about trust. That's why we present data and how we got it, so that readers can decide for themselves whether we're right.

Michael K said...

That's a hassle over patents, or some such, isn't it? A pretty trivial example of not much.

Actually, it was a matter of whom discovered the human genome.

Venter did and the Watson run Project didn't. The credit was shared, probably because Bill Clinton was pissed that Venter's company did the DNA analysis on Monica's blue dress.

The best way to understand the Damore memo is to watch the Jordan Peterson interview of Damore.

It's about an hour and I rarely watch hour long videos.

Michael Guarino said...

If she's a philosopher of science, she's not really a scientist, even if it says so on her CV.

Fernandinande said...

Scientists are untrustworthy, she argues and, simultaneously, demonstrates.

The author isn't a scientist, she's an affirmative-action statistic.

As she demonstrated.

Achilles said...

In order for the left to succeed they need to eliminate the scientific method.

Static Ping said...

Blogger Robert Cook said... Yes, it makes me think: Who could believe such blarney?

It is the nature of reality. It is exceeding difficult to conceive of how we came to exist that is not objectively ridiculous by human standards. Created by God, seeded by space aliens, evolved from primordial soup, programs in a computer simulation, etc. are all fantastic claims. You either believe something ridiculous or you do not believe anything which may be even more ridiculous in the general order of things.

MaxedOutMama said...

So basically now you have to deny scientific reality or be bigoted? Because the science IS not disputable in this case.

Feminism has become a destructive cult.

The reality is that the differences are real (and child-bearing also plays into this), and therefore equality of outcomes in labor forces are not a realistic or achievable goal.

Discrimination on an individual basis is not justified - but demanding that women be equally represented in certain fields/careers is as stupid as thinking that the average woman is qualified to be an infantry soldier.

Fernandinande said...

Michael K said...
Actually, it was a matter of whom discovered the human genome.


You claimed that "Human Genome vs Venter" was an example of "'Established Science' has always been the enemy of the new discoveries", but it's not an example of that at all, is it?

John Lynch said...

Good advice, but only if applied to everything.

Bad Lieutenant said...


Roughcoat said...
When I hear an academic use the word "encoding" I reach for my pistol.
8/10/17, 8:04 AM


To be precise, you unsafe (unsecure; release the safety catch on) your Browning.

Wenn ich "Kultur" hore...entsichere ich meinen Browning!

iowan2 said...

From Static Ping
You either believe something ridiculous or you do not believe anything which may be even more ridiculous in the general order of things.

From G.C. Chesterton
“When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.”

Michael K said...

You claimed that "Human Genome vs Venter" was an example of "'Established Science' has always been the enemy of the new discoveries", but it's not an example of that at all, is it?

I understand that you are hostile to me for some reason I don't understand and hesitated to even quote your point.

What I was commenting about was the "Established Science" has always been the enemy of the new discoveries

No it's not."


There was no one more "Established" in Genetics at the time than James Watson who got equal credit with Crick for discovering the structure of DNA. In fact, Crick was the one who did the work with models but Watson had stolen Rosalind Franklin's work.

Craig Venter did his work outside "Established Science" and planned to patent some genes. That horrified the "Establishment" but they were the typical government bureaucracy which moves slowly but spends quickly.

I will never quote a comment of yours again. I apologize for doing so.

Caligula said...


Science makes big errors, democracy often gets it wrong, capitalism can be oppressive.

OK, suppose I stipulate that all of this is true: the question still remains, what have you got to offer that's better? An argument that science is not perfect is hardly a refutation, for what created by the crooked timber of humanity ever has been?


Damore made an argument based on data and logic, and was then answered not with logic and data but with authority and derision. If Chanda Prescod-Weinstein wants to refute his argument she could offer data and logic, but instead chooses to use what is essentially an argument-by-authority (i.e., I'm a (great?) scientist so you should believe what I say). But, she's also arguing well outside her field of expertise; therefore, readers should suitably deprecate even this argument.

Damore's essay reads like a first draft; it really could benefit from some edit-revision cycles. Presumably it didn't get them because he expected it would be met with discussions based on reason and not by the hammer of authority. But now that it has been, perhaps could
offer an improved version?


"In the choice between changing ones mind and proving there's no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof." -- John Kenneth Galbraith

bagoh20 said...

You have to ask yourself if science, which you accept as valid, showed some fact that you really hate, and I mean really hate, would you change your mind about that thing, or rather try and find some way around the fact?

Henry said...

Damore's essay reads like a first draft; it really could benefit from some edit-revision cycles. Presumably it didn't get them because he expected it would be met with discussions based on reason and not by the hammer of authority.

If you watch the Jordan Peterson interview, Damore explains that one reason he posted the article internally at Google to get feedback from a known "skeptics" group.

I watched about half the Jordan Peterson interview, but quickly tired of Jordan Peterson. What was interesting was Damore's explanations about what happened and how he felt about it. What was not interesting was Jordan Peterson talking to the effect of "And you are so right, and so am I".

Lewis Wetzel said...

Blogger Achilles said...
In order for the left to succeed they need to eliminate the scientific method.

They've already done that by turning it from the scientific method (observe, hypothesize, experiment, repeat to eliminate independent variables), to scientific consensus.
Scientific consensus is socially driven.

Michael K said...

"I watched about half the Jordan Peterson interview, but quickly tired of Jordan Peterson."

You missed the most interesting (to me) part when Peterson, at the end, asked him "Why did you agree to this interview?" and Damore said he is a huge fan of Peterson.

That is very interesting. Peterson has become a bit of a cult figure among very smart people.

That's hopeful as he is pretty conservative in a Trump-like fashion.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Blogger bagoh20 said...
You have to ask yourself if science, which you accept as valid, showed some fact that you really hate, and I mean really hate, would you change your mind about that thing, or rather try and find some way around the fact?

Even if science indisputably proved that we had to give up fossil fuels to preserve human life, that wouldn't be a fact that could be hated. The social response to the fact could be hated, and that is not science.

Henry said...

There was no one more "Established" in Genetics at the time than James Watson who got equal credit with Crick for discovering the structure of DNA. In fact, Crick was the one who did the work with models but Watson had stolen Rosalind Franklin's work.

I'm not sure the word "stolen" is very accurate. "Failure to cite" would be better.

Crick and Watson's work at Cambridge based on X-Ray diffraction images created at Kings College is about as good a case of an "establishment" science breakthrough as there is.

Michael K said...

"Scientific consensus is socially driven."

The new Dean of Engineering at Purdue is going to take care of that.

The new head of Purdue University’s engineering education school wants to revise the curricula to emphasize “de-centering Western civilization,” according to a Wednesday report.

Donna Riley, head of Purdue’s School of Engineering Education, focuses on incorporating social justice initiatives like gender, and “social responsibility” into engineering, reported The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

“[Riley] focuses on applying liberative pedagogies in engineering education, leveraging best practices from women’s studies and ethnic studies to engage students in creating a democratic classroom that encourages all voices,” according to her Smith College faculty page.


Just read her research from her Smith College faculty page.

My scholarship currently focuses on applying liberative pedagogies in engineering education, leveraging best practices from women's studies and ethnic studies to engage students in creating a democratic classroom that encourages all voices. In 2005 I received a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation to support this work, which includes developing, implementing, and assessing curricular and pedagogical innovations based on liberative pedagogies and student input at Smith, and understanding how students at Smith conceptualize their identities as engineers. I seek as an engineering educator to be part of a paradigm shift that these pedagogies demand, repositioning concerns about diversity in science and engineering from superficial measures of equity as headcounts, to addressing justice and the genuine engagement of all students as core educational challenges.

Data be damned.



Michael K said...

"I'm not sure the word "stolen" is very accurate. "Failure to cite" would be better."

It's an interesting point. She should have been the third recipient of the Nobel but she was dead. Watson watched her presentation of her work on diffraction before he and Crick started on their very similar work.

Lewis Wetzel said...

So, basically, if you are woman or minority engineering student at Purdue, you won't be asked to do math.
I guess some institute of higher learning had to become the go-to place for affirmative action hires.

iowan2 said...

Purdue's shift in its Engineering College, is being noted by at least one international company that recruits on its campus. While Management at the company has made no statement, those that do actual recruiting have moved Graduates to a lower tier of prospects. Those showing exceptional abilities or specific hard to find areas of education.

mockturtle said...

Scientists are not untrustworthy. They are human and therefore prone to bias and ambition.

Paddy O said...

I think it's interesting that while the memo was emphasizing complexity (categories of people have tendencies but not all in those categories express those tendencies) some in this comment section drift back into "all women are..." model. The drive towards binary thinking that exemplifies much of the Modern project continues to shape a lot of analysis on both sides. Which then makes sense why Google did what it did. Even if Damore was careful in his analysis, those on both sides use his comments to declare an unimpeachable fact about a whole category of people.

Meanwhile to say all women are like "..." is clearly silly, even as it's clear that women aren't flooding engineering programs when given the chance. Life is complex and generalities can't be used to define particular situations or people. That's where freedom comes in, and leaving open doors for people rather than establishing rules based on broad assumptions.

Damore, it seems, is arguing for a free process that doesn't discriminate and takes stock of human tendencies in careers without limiting particular people to such tendencies. Others, I find, are taking what he's saying and making it about "Women are...," trying to assert a dogmatic position without complexity or real diversity within categories.

Google is dismissing Damore because of how his memo could be used rather than what it says. Which is responding to the social context not the scientific issues, but Google is very attentive to social contexts and tendencies as part of its success.

rhhardin, you might find the work of Nancey Murphy interesting.

mockturtle said...

Every time I hear the words "scientists agree" I laugh. Scientists seldom agree about anything.

Sebastian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Feste said...

“Eliminate structural biases in education, health care, housing, and salaries that favor white men and see if we fail. Run the experiment. Be a scientist about it.”

... all in the name of science.

I’m starting “Gyne Search, the younger, tighter, search engine.” Think of all the hits.

Sebastian said...

"Damore's essay reads like a first draft; it really could benefit from some edit-revision cycles." Yes. Let's get started.

1. James, you say here that you "don't endorse using stereotypes." Could you be more precise? Should we not use stereotypes at all, in any circumstances? If so, how does this square with evidence, some cited later in your own piece, that we all use stereotypes in many situations and that stereotypes convey meaningful, correct information? Doesn't Google itself use "stereotypes" to characterize user subgroups, as a way to target its ads and services?

2. James, you say here that "right biases" include respect for authority and "disparities are natural and just." Etc. How did you identify these biases? I did not see any evidence to support the distinction. Or are you proposing an ideal type of sorts, to contrast Google's dominant culture with alternatives? If so, why do you identify only two sets of biases? For example, you say you identify as a "classical liberal." In the current US political situation, that is a philosophy of the the "right." But classical liberals advocated change and questioned some kinds of disparity and authority. You also include a "pragmatic" attitude in your list of biases. Do you refer to common usage or actual philosophy? If the latter, why do you classify it as "right"?

3. James, you say here that Google tells employees that implicit biases hold women back. Could you be more precise? For example, does Google assert that implicit bias is the only or the most important factor in holding women back? Has Google itself collected evidence on this topic and shared it? If so, what form does this evidence take? If not, wouldn't the obvious first line of attack be to question the absence of evidence in a data-driven company? You jump straight to populations. But why not question the evidence behind the implicit bias narrative first? See Lilienfeld et al. (If you address this later in the paper and I missed it, bring it forward.)

4. About your writing: You say "Thankfully, open and honest discussion . . ."--which sounds a little sentimental--and Google "desperately" needs your perspective--which sounds over the top. Toning it down might increase the impact. But perhaps your rhetorical strategy is deliberate, playing on the emotions of your imagined opponents. Even so, I don't think your language helps your cause. Omit needless words--in this case, emotional verbiage that detracts from your rational account in favor of rationality.

Big Mike said...

The poorly-named "Progressive" wing of the Democrat Party is the most scientifically illiterate and junk science loving group of people in the entire Western world.

(Should be called the "Retrogressives" because every one of their ideas takes us backwards.)

Gahrie said...

“Eliminate structural biases in education, health care, housing, and salaries that favor white men

Women participate and benefit from education more than men do. White men (and Asians) face open and pervasive discrimination in education.

Much more money and resources are spent on women's health than men's health, and women live longer than men.

Women are much more likely than men to receive housing aid, including vouchers and cash than men.

Men tend to make more money than women because they work harder and in more dangerous jobs.

William said...

I watched part of the televised interview. Damore is far from charismatic and his screen presence is not dynamic. I didn't finish the interview because it struck me as boring. For all that, he has inspired quite a bit of discussion and controversy. His extremely low key persona both in his writing and his screen presence gives the lie to the claims that he's a hateful person full of hateful hate speech.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

mockturtle said...

Scientists are not untrustworthy. They are human and therefore prone to bias and ambition.

Scientists are not more untrustworthy than other people. My bias says they are probably more trustworthy on average, although that is not necessarily true of the ones attempting to influence public policy.

However, the beauty of the scientific method is that it is not based on trust.

William said...

Hermeneutics. Biology gives us a window, but culture determines whether it's a peephole or a picture window with a panaromic view of the mountain. You can argue Damore can only see one side of the mountain, but it's, nonetheless, a broad view. His Slate opponent can see the other side of the mountain but it's a peephole vision through tinted glass.

Michael K said...

Men tend to make more money than women because they work harder and in more dangerous jobs.

In an interesting section of the Peterson/Damore video that Ann thinks is "Phallocracy," Peterson comments on how feminists are only interested in high status and income jobs and there is little interest in the fact that almost all garbage collectors are men. Damore also laughs at the idea.

eddie willers said...

Science advances one funeral at a time.

Max Planck

Robert Cook said...

"'Blogger Robert Cook said... Yes, it makes me think: Who could believe such blarney?'

"It is the nature of reality. It is exceeding difficult to conceive of how we came to exist that is not objectively ridiculous by human standards. Created by God, seeded by space aliens, evolved from primordial soup, programs in a computer simulation, etc. are all fantastic claims. You either believe something ridiculous or you do not believe anything which may be even more ridiculous in the general order of things."


There is evidence to support the idea that life "evolved from primordial soup," so it is not at all "objectively ridiculous," whereas there is no evidence to support the other notions you mention, which means they are all simply fantastic claims. (Although, the idea we were seeded by space aliens is within the realm of possibility, given that we have visited other astronomical bodies, directly and indirectly, and who can say we won't try seeding life on potentially viable planets? Or, microbes on meteors and other debris from outer space that lands on earth is another consideration.) And, even if there were a vast intelligence--let's call it "God"--that somehow initiated or planted life on earth--there is no evidence to link the creation myths of our various cultures with any actual events. In other words, even if there were a god, it doesn't mean we have the slightest idea how it thinks or works and no reason to assume our creation myths have even a glancing relation to how we came to be.

Fernandinande said...

Michael K said...
I understand that you are hostile to me for some reason I don't understand and hesitated to even quote your point.


The few times we've engaged you've almost immediately resorted to insults and slander, although up to now this thread was an exception. That's why.

Craig Venter did his work outside "Established Science" and planned to patent some genes. That horrified the "Establishment" but they were the typical government bureaucracy which moves slowly but spends quickly.

So they agreed on the actual science and I was correct that it's not exemplary of any entity being "the enemy of the new discoveries" and I was also right that it was about patents (a legal issue, not scientific) and you were wrong and you won't admit it.

I will never quote a comment of yours again. I apologize for doing so.

Apology accepted as long as you stick to your guns on that so I won't waste time correcting your false statements and misrepresentations.

Michael K said...

Somebody seems interested in assuming the Ritmo role.

Go for it but don't expect me to respond. I will now scroll past your comments.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

The following is anecdotal as hell, but just bear with it.

I graduated in mechanical engineering in 1983. My relatively small cohort of ME students-- about 60 in all-- included two women. Naturally, the university would have given just about anything to have more women in the program, but didn't get the applicants. The "patriarchy," in whom I include both students and instructors, were universally glad to have those women there. We rooted for them, helped them when they asked, and admired their grit and tenacity. Professors went out of their way to make sure they "got it." One of the women ended up graduating, the other dropped out in her third year with a C- average.

What does this prove? Nothing really. Lots of things might explain this set of circumstances. What I know first-hand, though, is that there was no assertion of privilege, no oppression, no denigration of gender choices. Quite the contrary. The thing about any engineering problem is that one answer is right, the rest are wrong. You cannot bullshit the wrong answer into being right because of feelings. When this changes, western culture will be irretrievably lost.

mockturtle said...

There are a few women who excel in predominantly male fields. The fact that they are 'as good as men' at what they do should not give license to usher in troops of unqualified, semi-interested females just to meet some quota. This applies to some minorities, as well.

Michael K said...

"There are a few women who excel in predominantly male fields."

My high school girlfriend went to Purdue and graduated in Chem E. She married a classmate, who I knew from high school, and moved to California. We used to socialize with them years ago but I have not seen her in years. I was unaware of any resistance to her career but she has recently become the President of the Society of Women Engineers and seems to have adopted some of the rhetoric of victimology. Maybe it's a necessity these days.

Michael K said...

Purdue, of course, has now hired the new Dean who plans to change Engineering to get rid of "Western Ideas."

JAORE said...

Scientists are untrustworthy.... especially when politics are involved.

Journalists reporting on science can be trusted.... to be ridiculously wrong.... in virtually every situation.

JAORE said...

FWIW my wife absolutely excelled in a male dominated field. Her record includes many "first woman to....". Best manager I ever saw in action. Every place she left did well for a time, but was worse after a year or so without her hand on the tiller.

One pet peeve is she was on numerous task forces and committees, purely on merit. She routinely spent the first few days proving she wasn't there based on plumbing. She spent the rest of the time leading the program.

Remarkable individual...

[Yes, I married UP!]

Anthony said...

I guess that means all of my neighbors will have to change their "In This Household We Believe. . ." signs.

"SCIENCE IS REAL.
(Except when it's not)"

Marc Puckett said...

Henry, That was a great observation about 10 pages?!?-- we all know that what's important in the culture can be expressed in 140 (120?) character texts so at least 9.75 of those ten pages are bound to be useless. Unless the subject is cats or gaming or Mr Trump's hair.

Char Char Binks said...

It it 2017, or is that just what The Man wants us to think?

Rabel said...

"Yes, it makes me think: Who could believe such blarney?"

Hillary Clinton?

Jim S. said...

The well-known scientist who made this comment to me is both a woman and someone who knows quite well that 'peer-reviewed' and 'correct' are not interchangeable terms.

Well, yeah. But God help you if you note this when discussing climate change.

Achilles said...

There is evidence to support the idea that life "evolved from primordial soup,"

Really? Do tell.

I am honestly interested and will check back. So far the experiments I have seen are decidedly weak.

CL said...

"patriarchal view that ranks a man’s intellect above a woman’s"--that is not what science says. It says 1) men have a wider distribution--more very dumb and more genius level. It is the genius level that Google hires. 2) Men's smarts tend more toward spatial/mathematical. Men often tend to be dumb as a post about other things.

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

Yes! We need to stop elevating science, as it is imperfect and fallible and that is an unforgivable sin! Reverting to the old ways of religion and superstition is much better!

Zach said...

There's an interesting contrast here with the "make out with Bill Nye" article.

Science is wonderful and sexy and fascinating and makes you "Science Guy and Perfect Man" as long as it's unchallenging and banal. Even better when it has uncomfortable implications for your political opponents.

But when it has uncomfortable implications for you, suddenly it's a human enterprise and a tool of the phallocracy.

Prescod-Weinstein is quite correct to say that peer review is no guarantee of correctness. Anyone who has been through peer review -- on either end -- would agree with that. A better way to think of it is that peer reviewed research meets community standards. It doesn't have any glaring procedural or logical errors, and its methods are good enough to fairly claim its results. But just like your local city council, there's a lot of bickering and argument before the community decides what its standards are today, and one document is never a full description of what the community thinks.