Reheated (72)

Some items from the archives:

No Black Lights Were Available.

New York Times contributor is oppressed by pedestrian-crossing traffic lights.

Mr Kaufman - who can doubtless detect racism in the motions of subatomic particles - would have us believe that his friend was using the word white as a racial descriptor, rather than, as seems more likely, an unremarkable acknowledgement of a traffic light’s colour when talking to a child. In light of which, Mr Kaufman’s claims of being “bombarded” with racism – daily, everywhere – become at least explicable, if not convincing. 

The pedestrian crossing signal that so distresses Mr Kaufman – a rudimentary humanoid figure, made of white lights on a black background – can be seen here, from a safe distance. You may want to steady yourselves. It’s all very upsetting, at least for the exquisitely sensitive. Mr Kaufman then goes on an investigative journey, in which he learns why, in a society with lots of non-English speakers, crossing signals with words are being replaced by simple, universal graphics, calibrated to capture attention – say, by using lights of a certain hue. Which all sounds quite sensible. Rather than, say, a nefarious racial conspiracy intended to break the will of the negro.

You May Clap When Moved.  

Mr Reed Altemus rubs his trousers, awaits applause.

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In Space No-One Can Hear You Scream

“Decolonizing” the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence (SETI) could boost its chances of success, says science historian Rebecca Charbonneau.

From Scientific American, obviously.

You see,

Increasingly, SETI scientists are grappling with the disquieting notion that, much like their intellectual forebears, their search may somehow be undermined by biases they only dimly perceive—biases that could, for instance, be related to the misunderstanding and mistreatment of Indigenous peoples and other marginalised groups…

But of course. Some editorial trajectories are, I guess, inevitable. As one might imagine, the author of the article, Camilo Garzón, is keen to signal his own modish sensitivities, and so the interview with Ms Charbonneau begins as it means to go on: 

“Decolonisation” seems to be a problematic term,

This prompts much rhetorical nodding, along with the news that space exploration is “a stand-in for encounters with Indigenous peoples.” Sadly, before this claim can be explored or tested in any way, we shift sideways in search of a point. Says Ms Charbonneau:

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Hand-Me-Down Trauma

In the pages of Scary Mommy, where progressive ladies roar, Elaine Roth wishes us to know about her mental health problems:

There’s a running monologue whispering in the back of my mind. Maybe it’s whispering in the back of your mind, too. 

Place your bets

My running monologue isn’t unique to me. Countless women across the country — maybe across the globe — experience a similar monologue. It results from a shared trauma, and it’s got a name: Patriarchy Stress Disorder, or PSD.

I fear woo may be incoming.

PSD is the idea that the mental, physical, and emotional impact of gender inequality is a trauma that impacts woman and builds over time, and over generations. 

It is, we’re assured, a “collective intergenerational trauma,” and “genetically transmitted,” “passed down in our genes” - albeit in ways left entirely mysterious.

PSD can impact anyone, including nonbinary people and men. Still, few people have heard of patriarchy stress disorder,

You see, you haven’t heard of it, this new and modish ailment, for which no convincing definition is offered, beyond unspecified “systems of inequality” and repeating the word patriarchy many, many times. And yet apparently, simultaneously, we’re assured that said ailment – and its purported transmission - is the obvious go-to explanation for why “high-achieving women” – ladies much like Ms Roth - have so often failed “to have it all and thrive,” despite the promises of feminism. Why supposedly empowered ladies fail to “own their own shine.”

We’re told that the term patriarchy stress disorder was coined by “Dr Valerie Rein, Ph.D.,” and that Dr Rein - allegedly a “women’s mental health expert” - “learned that trauma could be genetically transmitted.” A link is provided, introducing us to “Dr Valerie” - though, again, no explanation or evidence of this alleged genetic transmission is included. We’re merely told that “trauma lives in our nervous system.” Which, as you can imagine, is immensely helpful. A second link, written by the expert in question, supposedly explaining Patriarchy Stress Disorder and its transmission, does no such thing. A third link, to the pages of Good Housekeeping, is similarly mysterious and short on particulars.

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Deep Space, Baby

Or, Prattle Beyond The Stars

Physicists at MIT and SUNY Stony Brook recently announced findings that the total surface area of two black holes was maintained after the two entities merged. While this research was a welcome confirmation of both Stephen Hawking’s work and the theory of general relativity, it failed to address a crucial matter: what were its racial implications?

Heather Mac Donald browses an astronomy course at Cornell University, titled Black Holes: Race and the Cosmos, and premised on the question, “Is there a connection between the cosmos and the idea of racial blackness?” It seems unlikely that said course will enable any great scientific revelations, despite marshalling the combined forces of “Black Studies theorists” and the late jazz musician Sun Ra, who claimed to have visited Saturn; though it promises to “conjure blackness through cosmological themes.” 

And so, while some observe the merging of bogglingly massive astronomical objects, others regard themselves as a more fascinating topic, and “conjure” their own “blackness.” Via farce, contrivance, and racial narcissism.

Consider this an open thread. Share ye links and bicker.


From the archives, one of my favourites. Alex Gorosh and Wylie Overstreet’s short film about the Moon - and what can sometimes happen when people stop to look at it. Seemed oddly appropriate. If you haven’t seen it before, enjoy.

As is the custom here, posting will be intermittent over the holidays and readers are advised to subscribe to the blog feed, which will alert you to anything new as and when it materialises. Thanks for another 1.5 million or so visits this year and thousands of comments, many of which prompted discussions that are much more interesting than the actual posts. Which is pretty much the idea. And particular thanks to all those who’ve made PayPal donations to keep this rickety barge above water. It’s much appreciated. Curious newcomers and those with nothing better to do are welcome to rummage through the reheated series in search of entertainment.

To you and yours, this year more than most, a very good one. 

Those Aboriginal Telescopes

Developments down-under – specifically, from a press release by Australia’s national science research agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation: 

The 64-metre telescope is located on Wiradjuri country in central west New South Wales, approximately 380km west of Sydney. It received the name Murriyang, which represents the ‘Skyworld’ where a prominent creator spirit of the Wiradjuri Dreaming, Biyaami, lives.

It remains unclear whether the radio telescope, which relayed mankind’s first steps on the Moon, will be able to detect aboriginal creator spirits, rainbow serpents, celestial emus, or Barraiya, the aboriginal deity who, as you’ll doubtless be aware, created the first vagina.

Executive Manager of CSIRO’s Office of Indigenous Engagement, Louisa Warren, said giving the telescopes traditional names acknowledges and pays respect to the astronomical knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The particulars of that “astronomical knowledge,” also referred to as “ancient wisdom,” and its bearing on modern radio astronomy, are, alas, not shared in the press release. We are, however, told that the “telescope naming project,” which involved CSIRO staff, Wiradjuri Elders, the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group and various other bodies, required “over two years” of work. Readers intrigued by the promise of astronomy being enhanced with, and perhaps superseded by, ancient aboriginal wisdom can partake of this cosmic bong rip.

Update, via the comments:

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Elsewhere (284)

Janice Fiamengo on inclusive, decolonised, anti-rational academia:  

This is probably now the top hot-button issue at Canadian universities - the move to replace ‘European-based knowledge’ as exclusionary, inadequate and subjective, and to replace it in some cases with “indigenous knowledge,” and even something called “indigenous science”… what some might say is superstition or magical beliefs… The idea that “indigenous knowledge” is not to be questioned, that it has value equal to supposedly ‘European’ science… is an incredibly worrisome and strange idea.

Do watch in full for the anecdotes about the realities of so-called “affirmative action,” and the faculty lounge response to hearing of the 9/11 atrocities. If you’re new here and unfamiliar with Professor Fiamengo’s observations on campus culture, I recommend watching this

Somewhat related, scenes from Cape Town’s decolonised academia, where “science people” are scolded for “disrespecting progressive space” – specifically, for doubting the claim that Africans can throw lightning at their enemies.

Lia Eustachewich on Harvard’s woke racism: 

A Harvard University dean testified that the school has different SAT score standards for prospective students based on factors such as race and sex — but insisted that the practice isn’t discriminatory… [Dean of admissions, William Fitzsimmons] said Harvard sends recruitment letters to African-American, Native American and Hispanic high schoolers with mid-range SAT scores, around 1100 on math and verbal combined out of a possible 1600… Asian-Americans only receive a recruitment letter if they score at least 250 points higher — 1350 for women, and 1380 for men.

The words that come to mind are systemic and institutional. See also this and this

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As If Millions Of Physicists Suddenly Cried Out In Terror

Our beloved state broadcaster brings tidings of intersectional joy

Reading about quantum physics has really helped me understand my queer identity... It is in this model of space-time as a series of entanglements that I’m able to piece together all of the fragmented sects of my identity – being able to identify as British and Iraqi, as queer and Muslim, as someone of many genders and potentially no genders at all.

Readers may wish to imagine the faces of, say, Erwin Schrödinger or Max Planck on hearing their field being compared with the staggering intellectual heft and rigour of “queer theory.” By a chap with blue eyebrows, fake boobs and voluminous pink acrylic hair.

Via sk60.

Elsewhere (272)

Via Herb Deutsch, Heather Mac Donald on identitarian dogma versus scientific proficiency: 

Yale has created a special undergraduate laboratory course that aims to enhance minority students’ “feelings of identifying as a scientist.” It does so by being “non-prescriptive” in what students research; they develop their own research questions. But “feelings” are only going to get you so far without mastery of the building blocks of scientific knowledge. Mastering those building blocks involves the memorisation of facts, among other skills. Assessing student knowledge of those facts can produce disparate results. The solution is to change the test or, ideally, eliminate it. A medical school supervisor recently advised a professor to write an exam that was less “fact-based” than the one he had proposed, even though knowledge of pathophysiology and the working of drugs, say, entails knowing facts.

Note too the claim, by the National Science Foundation, that progress in science requires a “diverse STEM workforce,” seemingly regardless of how this goal is arrived at. And as if the insufficiently “diverse” scientists previously supported by the NSF, and who between them have racked up a mere 200 Nobel Prizes, were somehow under-performing due to antiquated expectations of actual competence.

Also at Yale, this. Because an “emotional support guinea pig” is now a thing that exists.

Noah Rothman on the cost of universities’ administrative bloat: 

In the 20-year period from 1985 to 2005, the number of administrators increased at universities by 85 percent while the number of students and faculty increased by only 50 percent. In that same period, the number of administrative staff ballooned by a staggering 240 percent. It is no coincidence that in nearly the same period… the cost of achieving a higher education exploded. Between 1985 and 2011, the cost of a four-year degree increased by 498 percent while consumer inflation rose by just over 100 percent.

And Toni Airaksinen smells more money being burned in the name of wokeness

The University of California-Irvine Esports programme is looking to help promote “social justice” in the competitive gaming industry. 

Consequently, computer-games enthusiasts will be “required to undergo ‘diversity and inclusion’ trainings.”

As usual, feel free to share your own links and snippets, on any subject, in the comments.

Brown Science

According to Cheryl E. Matias and Paul T. Le, both of the University of Colorado at Denver, the belief that the apprehension of, and substance of, scientific discoveries is independent of whatever one’s skin colour may happen to be, is a problem. One that results in the spread of “whiteness ideology,” and thereby “white supremacy.”  

Nikita Vladimirov pokes through the mental wreckage

According to Matias and Le, “our science is out of touch with the experiences of our students of Colour and, instead, represents post-colonial discourses of White power and control.” “Whiteness embraces White ideology, and because Whites are at the apex of the racial hierarchy, whiteness becomes normalized and is invisible to those who benefit the most from it,” the scholars observe. “This is particularly troubling because the normality of whiteness means that Whites do not believe that they are actively investing in White supremacy or racism, which keeps oppression intact.”

And Kafkatrapping, apparently, is the apex of woke scholarship.

Because if you demur, or suggest that the laws of electromagnetism don’t dramatically alter depending on the melanin levels of the person doing the maths, then you just don’t care about “students of Colour” being “victims of deculturalization” and being “invalidated.” Indeed, you are “erasing the values and culture of indigenous people,” and are bolstering “post-colonial discourses of White power and control over people of Colour via forcing the internalization of Western science knowledge.” Instead, all people of pallor must denounce themselves as oppressors, embrace “other ways of knowing” and “re-imagine what science education spaces can look like.”

Sadly, however, and despite the assertions above, the aboriginal alternatives to Maxwell’s equations and commutative algebra remain oddly unspecified.

Somewhat related


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Elsewhere (264)

Further to the first item here, biologist Heather Heying on the Mao-ling urge to shut down thought: 

When banal observations like “men and women are different heights” prompts the accusation that I’m both brainwashed and a Nazi, it’s clear that this was not good faith protest. It is true that the authoritarian-left is denying biology, but the deeper truth of the situation is perhaps even more concerning. The incoherence of the protesters’ responses and the fact that the walkout was scheduled in advance suggests something darker: the protesters are “read-only,” like a computer file that cannot be altered. They will not engage ideas — they will not even hear ideas — because their minds are already made up. They have been led to believe that exposure to information is in and of itself dangerous.

Via TomJ in the comments, Helen Pluckrose on the same: 

The problem [for the protestors] was that both of the people [invited to speak] had penises, those penises were white and, as far as anyone knows, responsive to those of the opposite gender. They were hegemonic penises and this was problematic… Resolution of the hegemonic penis “problem” was first attempted via the invitation of not one but, ultimately, all five members of the tenured and tenure-track Women’s Studies faculty at PSU… They all declined to attend, one insisting it was inconceivable that the discussion could be had in good faith given the participation of [James] Damore and [Peter] Boghossian.

Again, the word projection comes to mind.

Kirsten Grind and Douglas MacMillan on “diversity” in practice at Google, and attempts to hide it from public scrutiny: 

YouTube last year stopped hiring white and [East] Asian males for technical positions because they didn’t help the world’s largest video site achieve its goals for improving diversity, according to a civil lawsuit filed by a former employee. The lawsuit, filed by Arne Wilberg, a white male who worked at Google for nine years, alleges… YouTube recruiters were instructed to cancel interviews with applicants who weren’t female, black or Hispanic, and to “purge entirely” the applications of people who didn’t fit those categories.

Short version here

And Chris Rossi on the creep of “social justice” and wasting class time with voodoo: 

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