Keeping up with the FITs, 1/24
Heather Heying on gender differences; Mike Solana on Hereticon; Razib Khan vs. Scientific American; Jordan Peterson vs. DEI; Glenn Loury hosts a school voucher proponent
High-risk tasks which require high strength, stamina, and/or burst speed are likely to be exclusively or nearly exclusively male tasks across the societies censused. See: the hunting of whales, or bison, or the cutting down of trees, or the mining of ores.
The scientific literature would, in large part, have you believe that women are less competitive than men. Look closely, however, and find a category error. It is not that women are less competitive, it is that we are, on average, differently competitive.
Every day I’m asked if I’ll release audio from last week, and this, in some form, is my intention. But the recordings of a few staged talks are also not Hereticon, because Hereticon didn’t happen on stage. Hereticon happened at the bar. Hereticon was a bunch of crazy people making friends and talking to each other, in person, which I cannot recommend more highly.
Most conferences have speakers and panels. I guess having speakers and panels helps to send a signal of who should attend. But speakers and panels are actually the worst part of any conference.
Razib Khan was not happy with Scientific American for its op-ed attacking the recently deceased E.O. Wilson.
My immediate reaction was that the op-ed was indecent. It was muddled and uninformed at best, disrespectful and misleading at worst. Along with many others, I expressed this view on social media and began to hear from yet more who weren’t speaking publicly. I heard through the grapevine that multiple Scientific American staffers were embarrassed by the piece and was I encouraged to submit a rebuttal. After a quick flurry of emails and direct messages, a few of us agreed this shouldn’t be allowed to stand without a rebuttal.
SA would not publish the rebuttal. This incident illustrates one of my aphorisms about the contemporary era. That is, we are living in a Golden Age of information, but it is not evenly distributed. Razib Khan represents the Golden Age, with his deep knowledge and clear writing on population genetics. Meanwhile, Scientific American’s values are neither scientific nor American. It probably still is more influential than Razib Khan. But I hope not for long.
It’s usually bad practice to promote somebody’s rant just because you agree with it. But I can’t help myself in the case of Jordan Peterson on Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity.
And all of you going along with the DIE activists, whatever your reasons: this is on you. Professors. Cowering cravenly in pretence and silence. Teaching your students to dissimulate and lie. To get along. As the walls crumble. For shame. CEOs: signalling a virtue you don’t possess and shouldn’t want to please a minority who literally live their lives by displeasure. You’re evil capitalists, after all, and should be proud of it. At the moment, I can’t tell if you’re more reprehensibly timid even than the professors. Why the hell don’t you banish the human resource DIE upstarts back to the more-appropriately-named Personnel departments, stop them from interfering with the psyches of you and your employees, and be done with it? Musicians, artists, writers: stop bending your sacred and meritorious art to the demands of the propagandists before you fatally betray the spirit of your own intuition. Stop censoring your thought. Stop saying you will hire for your orchestral and theatrical productions for any reason other than talent and excellence. That’s all you have. That’s all any of us have.
What is the counter-argument? DIE is a good thing, and we need more of it? DIE is not such a good thing, but Peterson grossly exaggerates the harm that it causes?
On Glenn Loury’s substack, Charles L. Glenn writes,
The irony is that this focus on empowering parents—especially those with modest resources—to make decisions about the education of their children, within appropriate safeguards, has come to be seen in “enlightened” circles as regressive. There are many calling for “social justice” who believe it essential for the state to promote the autonomy of children by radically limiting the influence of their families and communities.
Note that the craziness of the DIE movement in the academic non-STEM areas of decades ago has metastasized into taking over STEM education. The non-STEM (aka junk) sciences like the social sciences/humanities/X-studies departments have not solved any significant social problems while moving away from reality since the '70s as more and more resources have been devoted to their non-functional solutions.
Now in the STEM areas I have known professors where the academic search committee found him the "best" in the field and gave him an offer, which would make their department best in the world, only to have the University DEI overlords override the search committee because of an inadequate "diversity, equity, and inclusiveness statement". Besides, he was a white male who spend many decades becoming a world expert in his area (an area where DIE was totally irrelevant).
In very technical STEM areas, a good "DEI statement" is orthogonal to the actual knowledge necessary to actually understand or teach a complex scientific subject. Unlike most social science areas, you can't fake it with BS and your "own lived truth", you have to actually understand what you are teaching. To handle that problem, we are seeing STEM departments like Electrical Engineering/Computer science hire "lectures and adjuncts" at much lower costs and outside the tenure track DEI requirements to do the actual teaching of the students. Some teaching classes with 400 to 500 students and 20 teaching assistants for CS lab work.
Biological science department heads I know can't hire white males or Asian males or females for tenure track positions. It has been made clear to search committees that their choices are limited. One woman I know on a search committee said that the Ph.D. thesis and the transcripts of their academic work couldn't be examined. Race and gender information counted more than competence in the subject. She retired.
One of the best academics in my narrow field (very smart and creative) was forced to take one of the DIE training classes and on the second day stood up and said this was pure BS and a waste of time and walked out. He retired from his full professor tenured position and started a business.
Meanwhile, China is becoming the dominant STEM player in the world and the source of the majority of scientific papers I review each year (scientific journal peer review). While they pick people on competence, we use DIE. Guess who will win.
Richard posted a fascinating news clip of public schools teaching kids to spot "misinformation":
There is so much in these 3 minutes:
1) The teacher wears the least protective mask type and lets it slide under her nose often, by contrast the kids all wear more restrictive masks that cover their nose (anyone can tell you that these things are a lot less uncomfortable worn under the nose).
2) "My parents believe COVID is a hoax" is the big punchline of misinformation. Note that this is in a school district steep in COVID misinformation, that has been shut down and barely functional for two years over that disinformation, wearing masks that don't work, being taught by a woman whose mask doesn't even cover her nose.
Interestingly, the parents aren't interviewed for the news clip. Which you would think would be the most basic step in objective journalism.
3) At 30 seconds note that the quote: "everyone understands the importance of free markets...eventually" is considered "misinformation".
4) The teacher began teaching this 7 years ago, so 2015. This is pre-Trump and perhaps the cutting edge of what we might call wokeness. It reminds me of Auster's quote about talking to a teacher in the 90s who said that when she got her education degree they didn't talk about education but about race all day. Wokeness in education colleges goes back a long way.
5) The place that provided her this information is "non-partisan" and its used by 37,000 teachers.