Saturday, September 23, 2017

Journals try to deny group differences

Here is a Nature mag editorial:
Science provides no justification for prejudice and discrimination.

Physicians like to say that average patients do not exist. Yet medicine depends on them as clinical trials seek statistical significance in the responses of groups of people. In fact, much of science judges the reliability of an effect on the basis of the size of the group it was measured in. And the larger and more significant the claimed difference, the bigger is the group size required to supply the supporting evidence.

Difference between groups may therefore provide sound scientific evidence. But it’s also a blunt instrument of pseudoscience, and one used to justify actions and policies that condense claimed group differences into tools of prejudice and discrimination against individuals — witness last weekend’s violence by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the controversy over a Google employee’s memo on biological differences in the tastes and abilities of the sexes.

This is not a new phenomenon. But the recent worldwide rise of populist politics is again empowering disturbing opinions about gender and racial differences that seek to misuse science to reduce the status of both groups and individuals in a systematic way.

Science often relies on averages, but it thrives on exceptions. And every individual is a potential exception. As such, it is not political correctness to warn against the selective quoting of research studies to support discrimination against those individuals. It is the most robust and scientific interpretation of the evidence. Good science follows the data, and there is nothing in any data anywhere that can excuse or justify policies that discriminate against the potential of individuals or that systematically reinforce different roles and status in society for people of any gender or ethnic group.
This is really confused. I am not sure that group differences had anything to do the Charlottesville riot, or that there was any violence by white supremacists. I guess Google was using pseudoscience to justify its discriminatory policies, but the point is obscure.

I don't even know what it means to "discriminate against the potential of individuals". How does anything do that?

There certainly is data "that systematically reinforce different roles and status in society".

Nature's SciAm is apologizing for past such remarks:
In 1895 an article in Scientific American — “Woman and the Wheel” — raised the question of whether women should be allowed to ride bicycles for their physical health. After all, the article concluded, the muscular exertion required is quite different from that needed to operate a sewing machine. Just Championni√®re, an eminent French surgeon who authored the article, answered in the affirmative the question he had posed but hastened to add: “Even when she is perfectly at home on the wheel, she should remember her sex is not intended by nature for violent muscular exertion.... And even when a woman has cautiously prepared herself and has trained for the work, her speed should never be that of an adult man in full muscular vigor.”
We do have separate bicycle races for women; why is that?

That SciAm issue has an article by Cordelia Fine. See here for criticism from a leftist-evolutionist, Jerry Coyne, of her feminist polemic book getting a science book award.


  1. Greetings!

    This is a bit off topic, but how accurate is this timeline for the development of relativity?:

    It seems it doesn't give Poincare et al. enough credit for relativity and E=mc^2?

    How would you update it? Should we update it?

    Thank you!! :)

  2. This articles always over-personalize and over-credit Einstein. Notice how it says "his theory" in "Albert Einstein completes his theory of special relativity" and "Albert Einstein completes his theory of general relativity." No other scientist gets this sort of treatment.

  3. "I don't even know what it means to "discriminate against the potential of individuals". How does anything do that?"

  4. It is a funny video about knowing one's limits in a dinner table conversation, but is that what Nature is editorializing about?

  5. Clearly, the lady in the video had been reading Keynes rather than sticking to her knitting. Nowadays she would more likely have gone to university in England than her husband; there has been a switch from difficult exams to easier exams, exams which were based on exam papers taken at single sittings to ones based largely on course work, from hard science to softer less mathematical versions of the same, as well as to a focus on Arts subjects, at university. Clearly this is all part of a conspiracy to deprecate what men do best in favour of women in order to firstly diminish men and second to encourage women to take high status work instead of obtaining their status from their husbands and having children.