William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Stream: March For Science Descending Into Farce

Nye demonstrates how to protect yourself against global warming heat rays.

Apologies for the re-send. Certain events intervened and I posted the original too early. The Stream article is now live.

March For Science Descending Into Farce: Intersectionality and Diversity edition.

Last thing the March for Science needs, say some agitated folks, is Bill Nye, the errorproneScience Guy” co-leading the parade. Why?

See, Nye is white. And a man. And some organizers are concerned that onlookers will notice Nye is white, and a man, and project his male-whiteness onto Science itself. That in turn will cause the gullible to figure Science is mostly done by white men.

Which, historically and in many current fields, it was and is. Now this fact is for good or for bad, but it is a fact. And it’s not likely those who say they are “for” Science and “Reason” would be pleased were the contributions from white men removed from Science. So long, Calculus!

Or maybe they would be. Because it seems organizers believe scientific results are less important than who is producing them. Diversity trumps Science.

Proof? Buzzfeed reports that, so far, the March for Science has already gone through “four diversity statements“. And for instance the Twitter account @ScienceMarchDC tweeted (and later deleted) “colonization, racism, immigration, native rights, sexism, abelism, queer-, trans-, intersex-phobia, & econ justice are scientific issues.” The tweet also pictured a black power fist and rainbow flag icons.

Actually, of course, Science is silent on all these matters. But that’s because Science is mute on every moral and ethical question put to it. Including the question whether to deign to include a white man holding a Science baton.

[…]

The March organizers want us to know what they stand for (emphasis original).

[…]

Sound like politics to you, and not Science? That was the effect they were going for. Organizers insist “It was a mistake to ever imply that the March for Science is apolitical — while this march is explicitly non-partisan, it is political” (the original statement was in bold type).

Yet the positions taken by the politicians, activists, and many others involved in the March are, as is obvious, explicitly partisan. Insistence on Diversity, by which it is always meant rigorous, mandatory
and monitored balance between people from favored political groups, is not a scientific concept. It is pure politics. And anti-scientific politics, at that.

There is zero evidence, for example, that men and woman are equally competent research mathematicians. Marchers call this a “disparity”. The rest of us call it a banal consequence of Nature. Yet Marchers insist on the theory of Equality, which says that men and women are innately equal in all abilities.

When theory is more important than observation, we are in the realm of politics. And we observe, for instance, throughout all of history and in all circumstances an enormous preponderance of men occupying the top seats of mathematics. The theory of Equality (when applied to mathematical ability) is therefore almost certainly false. The observation has thus quashed the theory. When observation is allowed to rule over theory, we are in the realm of Science.

[…]

March on over to see the rest.

12 Comments

  1. Here (http://www.pbs.org/newshour/making-sense/truth-women-stem-careers/) is a piece from PBS’s NewsHour from a couple of years ago that puts a clearer light on all this. It’s a combination of factors, and there are no easy answers to any questions here, but the writer sums it up nicely at the end of the piece…

    “The bottom line
    Women are clearly capable of doing well in STEM fields traditionally dominated by men, and they should not be hindered (which is what I would say you are contributing to in your piece), bullied, or shamed for pursuing careers in such fields. But we also should not be ashamed if our interests differ from men’s. If we find certain careers more intrinsically rewarding than men do, that does not mean we have been brainwashed by society or herded into menial fields of labor. Instead, we should demand that greater intrinsic and monetary compensation be awarded to the work we like and want to do.”

    It’s a shame you are unable to understand this – preferences. You look back at history – which is absurd on the face of it. You look at numbers without considering why they are what they are, just that they are. Anything but preferences, because that’s where it gets complicated.

    It’s why conservatives get so angry about “liberal academia,” or the “liberal media.” For a host of reasons, some we understand more than others, women and men, liberals and conservatives, rural people and urban people, people from one culture and people from another, have different preferences for what they want to do with their lives. A conservative is less likely to want to be a college teacher than an evangelical preacher. A rural person is more likely to want to be a veterinarian than a subway cop. Again, there are exceptions, as always, there are all sorts of causes, yes, biology seems to play a small role, but so does a host of other factors.

    But this piece of yours here is just more insecure-conservative-man clap-trap.

    JMJ

  2. JMJ–this has nothing do with “girls can’t do science” when of course they can. This has to do with the absurdity of targeting Nye as a White Guy.

  3. JMJ —

    Thanks for the neo-Marxist, SJW rant to add additional credibility to the points made by Briggs. Well done, comrade.

  4. “Instead, we should demand that greater intrinsic and monetary compensation be awarded to the work we like and want to do.”

    JMJ, are you aware that men are 11 times as likely to die from job-related incidents than women? How to you propose to factor this into your equal pay for equal worth agenda?

  5. JMJ –

    I would have preferred to be an NBA all-star or a Hollywood leading man. Unfortunately I was discriminated against by “skillist” and “lookist” discriminators, and had to settle for a statistics degree…..

  6. “Jersey McJones” seems retarded.

    There are twice as many males as females as one approaches the level of gifted IQ (130).

  7. LOL! Just so you know, it is highly unlikely that any of you who replied to my comment have an IQ higher than mine.

    JMJ

  8. JMJ —

    Did you just third-grade taunt us with your high intelligence?

    I’ll have to show my JMJ-intellect by replying, “And so are you!”

  9. JMJ –
    You might be surprised, given the rather specialized stuff our host provides. Anyway IQ “measurements” become, ah, rather difficult, after a mere 150 or so. It’s not a metric but an ordinal heterogeneous order.

  10. Just so you know, it is highly unlikely that any of you who replied to my comment have an IQ higher than mine.

    Dunning-Kruger?

  11. The March for Science organization has, on its website, a goal about discussing issues of bias in STEM-related fields…increasing awareness and thereby remedying some bias/discrimination.

    Harvard Business Review (HBR) notes (see https://hbr.org/2015/03/the-5-biases-pushing-women-out-of-stem ) that repeated basic studies show such bias exists — identical papers presented by a male vs female author, for example, get evaluated differently, consistently differently, with the female author consistently leading to a diminished perception of the research quality.

    The HBR article notes that this diminution of female contributions is observed by both white males AND other women/other minorities.

    So, the March organizers would, if they could get their way, be addressing the same bias in all groups–including the minorities.

    Is that really so bad?

    If a woman’s prowess at research & contributing to STEM fields is better than a male competing for a STEM position, wouldn’t it be better for all of us if she got the job?

    Wouldn’t it be worse for all of us if stereotypical bias, based solely on gender, led to the inferior [male] applicant getting the job?

    That’s the basic issue.

    Briggs, and some others here, seem to opt for maintaining the status-quo with all its biases; consider the remark:

    “There is zero evidence, for example, that men and woman are equally competent research mathematicians.”

    I’ll buy that wholly (we know that male brains tend to outperform female brains in such areas AS A GENERAL RULE). But I cannot accept Briggs’ remark without conceding that some women are truly exceptional (way out in the exemplary side of a curve’s tail) and truly outperform men in a general field in which men may generally dominate. The proof too the contrary is overwhelming (Marie Curie, and many many more since ought to come to mind).

    Briggs remark (among others here) serves to preserve the application of stereotypes by shutting down consideration of applicable nuances that matter to us all (if such ‘thought stopping’ is not the overt motive, the effect is the same, regardless).

    The “Marcher’s” are not asking for equality of representation in STEM fields, they’re asking for equality of opportunity to compete and gain access…big difference that.

    I say, give it to’m! If they can perform in a competitive STEM area, more power to’m…and if unfounded stereotypical biases are getting in the way, biases that favor an inferior contender [simply because he’s male] then those biases need to go.

    Briggs argues that the Marchers are engaging in politics — and he’s right about that…though they want to remove gender-based bias known to discriminate against women (in particular). That kind of bias IS politics…but not the type of politics we ought to be preserving via argumentative “sleight of hand” arguments that shut down objective considered evaluation. Sometimes, when politics is the problem, politics is also part of the solution.

  12. JMJ,

    “LOL! Just so you know, it is highly unlikely that any of you who replied to my comment have an IQ higher than mine.”

    You know you have a high Intersectional Quotient when you get an extra point for being differently Intersectionally Quotiented.

    Joking aside, it seems to me that your first post re Briggs’s article is connected with it only tangentially. Had you written it without first having read Briggs’s article then no-one, I suspect, would have been any the wiser.

    That is not to say that I think Briggs’s article is beyond criticism, but I understand the difficulty he will have had in finding the right balance when dealing with March for Science’s confused and hypocritical output. How does one make the blindingly obvious even more obvious?

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