Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The Decline and Fall of Western Civilization

When they write of the decline and fall of Western Civilization they will surely have a chapter or two on identity politics. By now the infestation has reached the hallowed halls of academic science departments. It no longer matters whether your experiments prove or disprove your hypotheses. What matters is that your lab is sufficiently diverse. What matters is what you have done to promote the careers of women and people of color.

You would have thought that science was immune to the contagion. Alas, it is not. At a time when most of the doctoral candidates in science are Asian, and where our competition with the Middle Kingdom is proceeding apace, we do not want them to take their degrees and their knowledge and move back to Asia.

And yet, if American science is forced to bow down to the gods of diversity, you can be fairly confident that this will happen. We will lose out in scientific innovation but will feel totally virtuous for being diverse.

In this story, they should save a footnote, at least, for an Australian astrophysicist. You see, he has moved from Australia to China. It’s only one case, but perhaps it’s a canary in the coal mine. If a senior astrophysicist thinks that he will have more freedom to do research in Xi Jinping’s China, what does that say about Australia’s university system? Clearly the lunatics have taken over the asylum.

Peggy Sastre reports on this and other cases in a French magazine, called Le Point. True enough, it’s a fairly conservative publication, but it is not an opinion magazine. The site Quillette has had the article translated, for our edification, and to warn us.

Surely, it’s a symptom that the man must remain anonymous. Sastre quotes him:

“At the moment I prefer to stay anonymous,” explains an astrophysicist. “I am not proud of this, but I have to eat, and I am also responsible for the research opportunities of my students and my postdocs.” He hadn’t killed anyone. Rather, he had just chosen to move from Australia, the country where he earned his degrees and spent most of his career, to China. Why? Because, as a researcher, he has more freedom in China. As unbelievable as this may sound, it’s true. Indeed, for more and more scientists, the pressures in universities and other research institutions to be “politically correct” (for lack of a better term) are so great that going into exile in a non-democratic country, where dissidents disappear and religious minorities are sent to re-education camps, has become a stopgap solution for those who want to be left alone to pursue their research interests. “I left Australia because I am fed up with seeing job and grant opportunities dwindle for real astronomers,” he says.

He continues, describing the conditions in Australian universities. Is the same culture rot now metastasizing in America?

It’s very hard to find a tenured job in astronomy if you don’t belong to a protected group (alas, I am a white hetero Christian male, bad luck!) and/or you don’t do enough visible activism (or at least enough virtue signaling) for a number of green-left issues. In China, it’s highly likely that Chinese astronomers are subject to the same political interference from the Communist Party, but at least a foreigner like me is left alone, and I can do astronomy in peace, without wasting my time with diversity initiatives. And I see first hand that astronomy jobs are still given to the best candidates regardless of gender, ethnic origin, etc. Unlike my Australian boss, my current Chinese boss has never berated me for not being socialist enough.

And the astrophysicist describes the levels of discrimination:

There are many levels of discrimination. At one level, you have an increasing number of jobs, fellowships and grants officially reserved for women and “first nation” people. At another level, for jobs open to white males, there will be special clauses in the application to make sure the candidates are sufficiently woke. For example, you’re required to write a “diversity statement”—which is nothing more than a pledge of allegiance—to illustrate how you have shown “leadership” when it comes to diversity issues in your previous jobs, your teaching and your research (organizing workshops, writing reports, giving talks for women-only audiences, etc.)

Similar events are occurring in Europe. In the University of Pisa a professor of particle physics, one Alessandro Strumia has been harassed for having politically incorrect views about scientists and gender. In many instances he has been attacked for saying things that he did not even say.

Sastre explains how Strumia found himself beset with problems:

On September 28, 2018 at CERN the physicist participated in a workshop entitled “High Energy Theory and Gender.” Based on the work he’d done over several months designing algorithms to improve the method for evaluating the impact of academic research, Strumia presented data—going back half a century—concerning publication bias, citation bias and hiring decisions in physics. According to his calculations, these data were very encouraging: women are not victims of gender discrimination in his discipline. And his findings are consistent with a major report published in October 2014 by the Association for Psychological Science (APS), which concluded that, despite frequent claims to the contrary, researchers in the field of psychology are judged according to their skills, not their identity—and the same is true of the geosciences, as well as engineering, economics, mathematics, and computer science. These are all scientific fields in which men are generally much more numerous than women and are suspected of being hotbeds of “systemic discrimination.” But according to Strumia, such an assessment would be based more on an ideological prejudice he labeled “cultural Marxism” than on tangible and measurable reality. Strumia argued that any discrimination in his field actually favors women, who tend to get jobs earlier in their careers, and with fewer publications and citations, than their male colleagues.

Thus, there is no real discrimination in scientific fields. If anything, there is a bias toward women. Naturally, Strumia was immediately denounced as a sexist:

Two days later, the man hunt began on Twitter. Jessica Wade, a physicist affiliated with Imperial College London and an activist committed to greater female participation in STEM, accused Strumia (whom she wrongly identified as the head of CERN’s theory division) of giving a “sexist” presentation in which he had argued that female physicists were inferior (also wrong). After hundreds of likes and retweets, Wade managed to elicit a reaction from Marika Taylor, one of the seminar’s organizers, who confirmed that Strumia’s presentation included “personal attacks,” “erroneous facts,” and showed a “patent lack of professionalism.” Taylor tweeted: “We did not expect personal attacks, mistruths, false facts and blatant unprofessional conduct. Formal complaints will follow.”

Taylor, who is also head of the Department of Applied Mathematics at the University of Southampton, announced that formal complaints were imminent. A few hours later, despite Taylor promising that Strumia would be given an opportunity to defend himself before judgment was pronounced, the slides, audio, and video recordings of his talk were removed from CERN’s website. By the time the story reached the BBC, Strumia had become a dangerous misogynist who believes women are “not made” for physics.

And, of course, Strumia lost his job:

In January, the University of Pisa accused Strumia of ethical violations and on March 7th CERN announcedthat it was not extending the physicist’s status as a “guest professor” and reaffirmed its “commitment to respect and diversity in the workplace” which it considered to be of “paramount importance.”

What does it all mean? Janice Fiamengo explained and Sastre quoted her:

From this point forward, every scientist will know that he or she must ensure that all statements, practices, and research are feminist-approved. Any research touching on social issues, particularly related to the status of women (though including race, religion, and other hot-button issues), must now affirm the ideological orthodoxies of our day: that there is no difference in interest and ability between peoples or groups, and that any inequalities in achievement must be a result of pervasive injustices and discrimination against under-represented groups. Even where hard data exists to show that the injustices and discrimination do not exist (even where it can be shown that the “oppressed group” is actually advantaged, as in Strumia’s presentation), such data must be ignored, denied, and preferably denounced.

So, you get the message. If the women attacking Strumia were confident in their scientific abilities they would not be waging cultural war against their male colleagues, even their male competitors.

For her part, Sastre closes her article by pointing out that the University of Pisa had previously been home to Galileo.


whitney said...

It's just rotten all the way through. The end of this culture see us killing babies and mutilating children and the women are whores. There's nothing left to save.

UbuMaccabee said...

Ithaca delenda est. Ithaca delenda est.

Cornell must be destroyed. Cornell must be destroyed.

The university is the source of all evil.

Sam L. said...

"He continues, describing the conditions in Australian universities. Is the same culture rot now metastasizing in America?" I'm pretty sure it's more "advanced" here.

"And his findings are consistent with a major report published in October 2014 by the Association for Psychological Science (APS), which concluded that, despite frequent claims to the contrary, researchers in the field of psychology are judged according to their skills, not their identity—and the same is true of the geosciences, as well as engineering, economics, mathematics, and computer science." BAD THINK!!!!!111!!!!
BAD THINK!!!!111!!!! BURN THE HERETIC!!!!11111!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Not hard to see how Lycenkoist groupthink took root in communist countries. Maybe that’s why the countries who fell for that bilge, which led to famine and death, are thus far resisting this idiotic ‘science.’ Maybe they are also laughing behind their hands watching us knee cap ourselves.


Anonymous said...

UbuMaccabeeApril 3, 2019 at 8:35 AM

"Ithaca delenda est. Ithaca delenda est.

Cornell must be destroyed. Cornell must be destroyed.

The university is the source of all evil."

So the lot unfolds...a little.
It's not ancient Ithaca, it's Cornell.
I would have offered up the Frankfurt School.

Ubu said:
"And all of it can be traced back to once source: Ithaca is the source of all evil. Every bad idea, every impossible and impractical notion of reality, every preposterous ideology, they all track back to Ithaca."

And I replied:

"Ubu - this isn't your first rant about "Ithaca".
Would you mind clarifying the source of your intense ire?

Upstate New Yorkers wanna know."


Anonymous said...

In regard to women in STEM fields, let's look at mathematics.
The top three prizes in math are the Fields, Abel, and Wolf prizes. Since 1950, there have been 139 prizes awarded, altho the number of winners is smaller, since some individuals have won more than one of the prizes.
Note that the prizes have been awarded only since 1950, i.e. during a period where women have had plenty of access to the universities.
Exactly one prize has been awarded to a woman. And 138 to men. Discrimination? Not likely.

Sam L. said...

Sit, Ubu,SIT.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

I think I get the Ithaca thing now, Ubu. I’m right there with you.

I have consistently shared, in my comments here on this blog, my belief that the modern college/university system is the delivery system for a good deal of the filth we find in our national culture. It’s a seminary for radical activists who become disillusioned about the society that coddles and sustains them.

It’s insane that we politically allow this to continue. The Left has zero self awareness. They’re spoiled children.

UbuMaccabee said...

"Ithaca is the source of all evil" is an esoteric reference to the Cornell Review. It could equally be said that Hanover, or Ann Arbor, or Princeton is the source of all evil. Together, the elite colleges make up the locus of every bad idea in America, and elite colleges worldwide make up the totality of all bad ideas in the world. For the life of me, I cannot remember who said it, it could be Ann Coulter, or it could be Alan Bloom. It sounds like Ann, but Bloom wrote at length about the degradation of the university and the student riots at Cornell.

But it stuck. It's an elegant way for people who have come to the full realization that the university is the moral equivalent of a leaking nuclear reactor to express their contempt, but without attracting attention. Leftists worship the university, it is their church and race/class/gender/environmentalism is their cult, and they are very malicious and fervent in defending it--so it helps to communicate in code--like the Marranos or early Christians.

I attended several universities late in life, after already been around the world a couple times, and what I encountered was a madhouse, a catastrophe of both reason and moral clarity. It was the most depressing experience of my life; all that wisdom kicked to the curb in plain view of the entire faculty. The modern university is in open revolt against wisdom.

And it's only going to get worse. Our Cultural Revolution has just begun. Weights, Krav Maga, and tactical weapons training are the activities befitting a modern man of culture.

Ithaca delenda est.

And while we destroy, we rebuild something more substantial to replace it.

The grand mission of modern men and women who treasure Western Civilization will be to reestablish the university system on original footing as we cut the old, dead system loose.

Ubu doesn't sit, I squat--upwards of 300 pounds for five reps, three times each week.

Sam L. said...

I was just remembering the end of FRASIER, Ubu.

UbuMaccabee said...

I know, Sam. The barking dog. That's me. Greatest closing tag of all time.