Sci Am op-ed: Lander the wrong choice as Biden’s science advisor because he won’t use science as a “tool for justice”

January 24, 2021 • 9:30 am

Recently President Biden named biologist Eric Lander, a well known professor of biology at MIT and co-founder of the famous Broad Institute, to be the new Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), a position that Biden made into a Cabinet-level post. Lander played a big role in the Human Genome Project and was, under Obama, co-chair of the Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

I’m not a huge fan of Lander as a human being. When I was doing work for the defense in criminal cases involving DNA profiling, Lander was frequently on the other side, an expert witness for the prosecution who worked closely with the FBI.  I felt that Lander was overly zealous in trying to adopt DNA profiling and its attendant statistics before the method and the stats were ready for prime time. He is, to my taste, too ambitious and self-aggrandizing.  And, in Lander’s written history of the development of CRISPR-Cas9 system, he almost completely ignored the contributions of the two women who actually won the Nobel Prize for it—Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier—in favor of touting his own boy, Feng Zhang at the Broad. (Zhang didn’t share the Nobel.)

Despite Lander’s personality and ambition, it’s undeniable that he has the chops and the experience to do the Cabinet-level job of advising Biden on science. As I said, he was a major player and organizer of the Human Genome Project, he helped set up the Broad Institute, a reputable and highly funded research organization, and he’s had government experience under the Obama administration. Since the remit of Lander’s new job is to advise the President on science and technology, he’s certainly highly qualified.

But a consortium of women scientists, “500 Women Scientists“, finds the choice of Lander wanting, and explained why in a new op-ed in Scientific American. The problem, as they see it, is that the government in general, and science advisors in particular, are not sufficiently diverse. Lander’s problem—they do mention his personality, but that’s not the main issue—is that he’s a white male: just more of the same. The 500 Women Scientists group has written six stories already for Sci Am, so one might suspect that the journal itself supports their views.

Given the diversity of both cabinet positions and science advisors already appointed by Biden, however, I think the authors are misguided. Click on the screenshot to read:

The issues are several. First, the consortium sees the position as one that should be filled by a woman or member of a minority group, as there’s not sufficient diversity in the government and in science decision-making. But if you first look at the Biden cabinet itself, you see an overall diversity that, in fact, exceeds even “equity”. Here’s my tally so far, as best I can suss out ancestry. I’ve included Kamala Harris since she’s part of Cabinet meetings, and I’ve included all people listed in the Wikipedia article on Biden’s cabinet-level appointments and nominees.

And here’s the breakdown of those 24 people by sex and ethnicity, with the overall proportions in the American population given in parentheses. You can see that there is indeed “equity” here in the sense that representation in the Cabinet reflects representation in the population as a whole (source for population statistics is given below):

This is surely a Cabinet that “looks like America,” and that’s great.

But what about science? The consortium who wrote the op-ed feels that there aren’t enough women and people of color among them, and Lander, as the cabinet-level advisor, is therefore clearly a suboptimal choice. Yet the group mentions the several women and minority men already appointed by Biden for other science posts—and they don’t even add Rochelle Walensky, a highly qualified woman whom Biden just appointed to head the Center for Disease Controls and Prevention. That is surely a position as powerful, if not more so, than Lander’s. After all, the CDC head implements policy, while Lander just advises on policy. Further In the midst of the pandemic, head of the CDC is arguably the most important science post going, and Walensky has a real chance—literally a life and death one—to ensure that resources (vaccines) are equitably distributed.  Now there’s a chance for equity!

As reader Mark reminds us in the comments, Biden has filled another science post—that of Assistant Secretary of Health—with a transgender woman, Rachel Levine.

From the op-ed:

We applaud the return of science back to the White House after four years of unprecedented damage. We celebrate the nomination of leaders like Deb Haaland—a Native American woman chosen to lead the Department of the Interior, which is largely responsible for managing tribal land—and Michael Regan—a leader with experience in environmental justice tapped to run the Environmental Protection Agency. We have cheered the nominations of people of color, women and members of the LGBTQ+ community in the wake of an administration that systematically chipped away at their rights and protections. Nominations that reflect America’s diversity of backgrounds and experiences should be the norm. That we are now celebrating so many firsts speaks to how far we still have to go to make society equitable and just.

. . . To pursue this agenda, the Biden-Harris team has equipped Lander with some of the greatest minds leading in science and society. The OSTP deputy director for science and society, Alondra Nelson, is a social scientist and distinguished scholar of race and social inequalities. She is one of the world’s most respected experts on the history of science, medicine and technology, and she wrote a book about the history of grassroots organizing around medical rights for civil and human rights. Maria Zuber and Frances H. Arnold will serve as co-chairs of the PCAST.

But that’s not enough. Lander is a straight white male, and that’s not great, despite his qualifications and experience in administration, both private and governmental. His Caucasianicity (he is Jewish, though) apparently means that he’s not sufficiently keen to use his position to effect social justice. This whole discussion presume that there are different ways that a white man would advise Biden from the way a white woman would advise Biden, and that would differ from the way a black Man, a Hispanic Man, or a black woman would advise Biden. It presumes, in other words, that one’s point of view is deeply connected with one’s sex, gender or ethnicity. I find that doubtful when it comes to science. (My emphases in the following.)

Despite this slate of diverse leadership, we can’t help but notice that the recently announced nomination of presidential science adviser Eric Lander fails to meet the moment. His nomination does not fill us with hope that he will shepherd the kind of transformation in science we need if we are to ensure science delivers equity and justice for all. We had high hopes that the Biden administration would continue its pattern of bold nominations when envisioning a newly elevated cabinet position of science adviser. There was certainly no shortage of options, with a deep bench of qualified women and Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) whose expertise and experience can transform the place of science as a tool for justice.

As you see, the issue is not just Lander’s race and sex; it’s that the consortium sees promulgation of social justice and equity as perhaps the most important remit of Lander’s job. There’s the last sentence above, asking for science to be a “tool for justice”, as well as these statements:

The late Ruth Bader Ginsberg told us, “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.” Yet high-level decision-makers in the U.S. federal government have continued to be overwhelmingly white and male, especially when it comes to science leadership positions. From a historic lack of federal leadership on environmental justice to health disparities born of systemic racism and economic inequality, science policy reflects and amplifies inequities within science. The Biden administration has a huge opportunity to change the face of scientific decision-making, particularly amidst a global pandemic, calls for racial justice from research institutions across the country, and the looming impacts of climate change.

. . . and this:

Lander, an MIT geneticist and former co-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)—exemplifies the status quo. With this nomination, the opportunity to finally break the long lineage of white male science advisers has been missed. This was a chance to substantively address historical inequalities and transform harmful stereotypes by appointing someone with new perspectives into the top science adviser role. Despite a long list of supremely qualified people that could have held this position and inspired a whole new generation of scientists, the glass ceiling in American science remains intact.

Every statement above is questionable, either on the grounds of truth (I’ve just shown that four very important science advisors are women, one of them a Native American, and another is a black man. Further, the head of the CDC is a woman.  Where, exactly, is the glass ceiling in Biden’s science appointments?

And I disagree with the consortium that an important function of the science advisor is to “deliver equity and justice” or that science should serve as a “tool for justice.” That is Woke ideology that misunderstands what a science advisor should do. Certainly an advisor should not deliver injustice, or promulgate policies that are unfair or bigoted, but the function of a science advisor is to advise Biden on science. The rest of the Cabinet, and of the Biden administration (including ethicists at the CDC) are charged with taking into account whether policies are just, which is also the purview of the Congress. Science is not a tool to bend society to the wishes of the woke—or to any other ideology—it’s a tool for finding out what’s true in the Universe.

I should note that the Consortium also makes a virtue of necessity, recasting Frances Arnold’s retraction of a paper as evidence of her integrity:

In 2018, Arnold won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry and she was the first woman to be nominated to all three National Academies (Science, Engineering, Medicine). She has also demonstrated her commitment to scientific integrity, retracting a paper she had published when evidence of its flaws came to light.

I’m sorry, but it’s not a virtue to retract a paper when you find out it’s wrong (in this case, the data could not be reproduced). It is what every scientist is supposed to do, and, as my dad used to tell me, “Jerry, you don’t get praised for doing what you’re supposed to do.” Arnold in fact apologized for the retraction, saying that she didn’t do her job well and was “busy when this was submitted” (i.e., she didn’t properly oversee the paper). That is a fault, not a virtue. But she did correct herself. Her tweet:

But while overlooking Arnold’s missteps, the consortium refuses to overlook Lander’s. Those include his overly self-serving omission of Doudna and Charpentier’s contributions to the CRISPR system (a bad move, I think), and Lander’s having toasted James Watson at Watson’s 90th birthday party. Watson, of course, is a racist, and toasting him is seen by the Consortium (as it was by many others) as a “gross error in judgment”. Watson’s downplaying of Rosalind Franklin is also mentioned, though he later apologized for that.

In 2018, Lander was pressured to publicly apologize for making a gross error in judgement—and in leadership—by toasting James Watson, who was forced to step down from leading Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory after a long history of racist and sexist comments, and who himself failed to acknowledge the contributions of Rosalind Franklin.

It’s part of this self-righteous criticism that the consortium overlooks Arnold’s deficiencies—believe me, if Lander retracted a paper, that would have been seen as a flaw—turning them into a virtue, while not forgiving Lander for toasting one of his colleagues (Watson in fact started the Human Genome Project for the government), despite apologizing for it. The self-serving history of CRISPR was a genuine misstep, something I wouldn’t have done, but I can’t find myself damning Lander for toasting one of his former colleagues on his 90th birthday. Yes, Watson is a flaming racist, but that’s not all there is to the man. But in the end, there is no forgiveness among the Woke. Praising Watson? Not in the cards. Damning a colleague for toasting him? Virtue flaunting.

Once again I prognosticate that Wokeness will not abate under the Biden administration. On the contrary, it will intensify. And this sanctimonious piece is surely infused with Wokeness. Of course Biden should take ethnicity and gender into account when he appointed his Cabinet. But he did! And he should also have taken into account experience and competence. He did that, too! His appointment of his science advisors reflects both considerations, and though I’m no fan of Eric Lander, I don’t agree with the consortium that his new appointment is a problem.

46 thoughts on “Sci Am op-ed: Lander the wrong choice as Biden’s science advisor because he won’t use science as a “tool for justice”

  1. Is it my 13-year old male brain (surrounding my inner lizard brain) that finds phrases like “tool for justice” funny sounding? But seriously, such phrases do serve to label statements containing them as Wokish.

    The lauding of Frances Arnold for retracting a paper is also funny. I prefer my scientists not to have to retract their work.

    “Once again I prognosticate that Wokeness will not abate under the Biden administration. On the contrary, it will intensify.”

    Maybe but this is not an example of it, right? I presume Biden will ignore this Sci-Am op-ed. I still hope that Biden will allow his cabinet to make Wokish statements but hold the line at making his platform woke. As you point out, making his cabinet as diverse as the American population is reasonable. I also think repealing Trump’s 1776 order is reasonable. Passing a 1619 resolution would be a step too far, IMHO, but I’m hoping he won’t do that.

    BTW, BuzzFeed has an article about this controversial pick:

  2. This is an example of General Wokeness, not Biden’s wokeness, and I predict that general Wokeness will intensify. I also worry that it will intensify in the Biden Administration, too, but I wasn’t referring to Biden’s wokeness here.

    1. That makes sense. In the minds of the Woke, Biden’s presidency gives them the license to ask for the world. Even if he detests Wokeness, it is unlikely he will come out against it in any kind of meaningful way for political reasons. That said, I could imagine him saying something against Cancel Culture generally. Oh well.

  3. It seems that people think that various institutions, like Science and the Press, should have their focus as equity rather than truth. Of course, if the facts are against one, it helps one to distort the mission of the institution. If the essence of the Trump administration was falsehood, the opposite of that is not equity.

  4. Mr. Lander is one person in one role. In the world of woke, how can one person ever, EVER fulfill all the identity requirements? I guess we could turn all federal positions into committees, but then the same aggrieved crowd would end up fighting forever over ‘equitable representation’ of some granular piece of identity grievance.

    While we must never take our eye off them, let’s try to leave the woke to their circular firing squad and we’ll get on with getting on.

  5. I fear in some minds gender equity in the political arena will only be achieved when there are no white cis-gendered heterosexual males left .

  6. And, in Lander’s written history of the development of CRISPR-Cas9 system, he almost completely ignored the contributions of the two women who actually won the Nobel Prize for it—Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier

    This might be hard to answer, but did he do this because they were women, because they were not working for his team or some combination of the two?

    I’m not bothered about his toasting of James Watson, but this would concern me slightly. I would question his ability to remain impartial in his advice to the president in matters where he has an interest.

    Having said that, it is pleasantly refreshing that the worst criticism of Biden’s appointments is that one of them is a white man whose worst crime is self aggrandisement. Four years ago we were lamenting appointees who were openly hostile to the departments they were appointed to e.g. Betsy DeVos or who lied about their connections with foreign powers e.g. Michael Flynn or who were completely ignorant about what they were supposed to be administering e.g. Ben Carson.

  7. I think he neglected Doudna and Charpentier because they were his huge rivals, not because they were women (the Broad is having a HUGE patent fight over CRISPR with Charpentier and Doudna). It’s scientific rivalry, not misogyny.

  8. ‘And I disagree with the consortium that an important function of the
    science advisor is to “deliver equity and justice” or that science should
    serve as a “tool for justice.” That is Woke ideology that misunderstands
    what a science advisor should do.’

    This is the ultra-critical point. The Woke mindset on science is not that different, at a more general level, than Trump’s: viz., the point of science is not to get the very best picture of how the universe really works, but to promote a particular cause. What if science is inconvenient to Trump’s view of his own reelection chances? Junk it in favor of what *is* favorable. What if science uncovers some truths that are inconvenient for Woke-think (as will certainly be the case in the issues that the ‘Trans women are women’ slogan raises)? Junk it and denounce the scientists who’ve done the research as hatemongers. The only difference is whose ox is getting gored.

    Neither of these fundamentally anti-science perspectives seems to recognize, or at least care, about the fact that reality doesn’t actually give a rat’s ass what your ideology is. If Lander can effectively deliver the state of the art information about the science of major problems that policy depends on, what does it really matter—so far as reality is concerned, anyway—how his ancestors put parts of the gene pool together to arrive at him?

  9. The statistics our host compiled on President Biden’s appointments demonstrate that the “500 Women Scientists” are innumerate. It is fortunate that none of their them was appointed to jobs, such as traffic supervision, that require the ability to count. Perhaps this is why they are irate.

    They do reveal their view that science, like everything must be a “tool for justice”, an approach which was tested out in the late-lamented USSR in the 1930s. As Wiki reports in connection with the Great Purge : “After sunspot development research was judged un-Marxist, twenty-seven astronomers disappeared between 1936 and 1938. The Meteorological Office was violently purged as early as 1933 for failing to predict weather harmful to the crops.” Although Wiki does not report specifically, we can be assured that anyone who made a politically incorrect toast (such as of Jim Watson) would certainly have been swept up in the Purge.

    1. The rejection of colour-blind approaches is what the woke mean by “equity”. When our host writes “You can see that there is indeed ‘equity’ here in the sense that representation in the Cabinet reflects representation in the population as a whole” he means “equality”. In the woke lexicon, those words are not synonyms. “Equity” means accounting for and making up for past inequality. In Biden’s cabinet, greater “equity” would be achieved if every cabinet member represented an under-represented group. If all cabinet members were Black or female, that cabinet would be more “diverse” than a cabinet with a mix of white and Black men and women.

      1. I take issue with your interpretation of wokeness, and others agree with me. To me, “equity” means “equal representation”, while “equality” means “equal opportunity”. In his column this week, Andrew Sullivan has the same interpretation, and that’s how I always construed those terms. Equity can indeed be conceived of as making up for past inequality of treatment by making sure that everybody is represented in some organization in proportion to their numbers in the general population. You can conceive of that as the RESULTS of equal opportunity so long as each group has the same motivations and interests to take advantage of that opportunity.

        1. Doing a little googling, it is hard to see exactly how people are defining these two terms. I suspect their dictionary definitions differ very little, which makes their differentiation by CRT problematic, IMHO. Without doing a lengthy study, it appears that the CRT folk are trying to define “equity” as extending “equality”, the state of two things being equal, by adding activism to it and helping to achieve equality. This seems consistent with CRT’s main thesis that we each must become anti-racist or we’re still racist. According to them, we will never achieve racial equality if we aren’t all actively seeking it.

          1. This is part and parcel of the CRT/Woke method – use special definition of words and insist everyone else does as well. They use words as cudgels to harm others and gain power or sometimes, as is the case here, to obfuscate – to hide what exactly they mean in order to get people to go along with them (this latter is the chief strategy of the BDS movement, for example).

            This is a common tactics; many Wokes carefully define “racism” to include power in such a way that only White people can be racist. This is very convenient for them as it means they can blame all inter-racial conflict on one group while absolving all others of complicity. It is a power structure they impose on the definition such that being “racist” no longer means using racial characteristics to discriminate against people, it is only when White people (i.e. those who have power) do it that someone is racist.

            We see the same redefinition of words like “woman” and “female” which, according to the Woke, no longer mean what we think they mean.

            We aren’t yet at the place where forgetting the brave new meanings of words will result in a prison sentience, but slipping up now can already cost a job, a place in school, end a career.

          2. I’ve thought that it might be wise to invest in older dictionaries, like an old set of the OED. Sort of like the “clean money” that lacked “in god we trust”, except they would be pre-woke and lacking their CRT-based redefinitions.

        2. In the grant proposal guidelines and other administrative initiatives that I have to follow in my job, “equity” means making up in positive ways for past discrimination or bigotry aimed at members of a group. It specifically does not mean equal representation or equal opportunity.

          I’m not saying those definitions are correct, or that yours are wrong. I agree with yours! But they are not the definitions in common usage in my recent experience.

          Apologies for the late reply. Thanks for engaging with me.

      2. Precisely. If a cabinet, or any other assembly of individuals with power and status, were 100% BIPOC, it would win accolades from woke media and the professional diversicrats for its super-Diversity.

        The motivation of much woke rhetoric, and for the frequent calls for segregated housing and Centers and affinity groups and “caucuses” in academia, is transparently a resentment by some members of minority groups against—being a minority, When these attitudes are taken up by members of the majority population the results will not be pretty. We can hope the Biden team is aware of this dynamic, and is trying to head it off, a tricky operation.

  10. According to Wokeism (= Postmodern Critical Social Justice Theory), scientific scholarship and political activism go hand in hand. Scientists are expected to be partisan scholar-activists helping to realize (and enforce) the Woke’s ideological goals; and if they refuse to do so, it is demanded that they be “cancelled”.

    1. Makes me wonder if the Sci-Am management allows this in order to appear relevant and virtuous and to boost circulation rather than any deep dedication to wokeness. After all, it’s all about money and Sci-Am can’t be doing well these days, can it?

  11. And so you end up with a Government of cabinet level majors in Social Justice and minors in Treasury, Agriculture etc. What could possibly go wrong?

    You can reasonably argue that Social Justice is important, but so many of the special interests are working at cross purposes and are not subject to any falsification tests.

  12. “With this nomination, the opportunity to finally break the long lineage of white male science advisers has been missed. This was a chance to substantively address historical inequalities and transform harmful stereotypes…”

    That said, the Woke are using harmful stereotypes about white people, especially white men. Wokeism itself contains racist and sexist generalizations; but that is unproblematic for its adherents as long as the persons targeted are white (and male).

  13. The Consortium with its ” not sufficiently diverse ” – notice
    specifically in a .s c i e n c e advisor. reflects the explanation of
    University of Pennsylvania Law Professor Dr Mary Frances Berry’s take
    on this morning’s Firing Line with Margaret Hoover: there is the
    .symbolism. of a woman within the position of the Administration’s
    science advisor.

    This ‘ld be the same as the symbolism explained upon p684
    of Dr Pinker’s Better Angels in re Mr Tsutomu Yamaguchi’s take
    only a few years’ time ago about w h o it is that ACTUALLY should
    be g o v e r n i n g within ALL of the nations possessing science’s
    nuclear weapons: ” The only people who should be allowed
    TO GOVERN countries with nuclear weapons are mothers,
    those who are still breast – feeding their babies. ” Yeah,
    those governors and presidents.

    With dis – ease and with sicknesses, in particular and over the last
    ~200 years’ time, the human beings who were the female ones were
    ACTUALLY stopped and relegated AWAY … … and led AWAY BY
    the men of the American Medical Association ( literally ) … … from
    their roles as the World’s p r i m a r y healers of human beings.
    Women and girls who cleaned up the humans and cleansed
    their homes of the slops, using what little science of
    what they were aware in doing so, seemed, voila ! … … to help people.

    And people ACTUALLY liked Us women and girls FOR that. Well, some
    people liked us: the ones who got better from their illnesses, that is.
    And their loved ones. The others ? Especially the other World leaders ?
    They called us … … witches. And murdered Us.

    Since ? Since about y1840 – ish ? Few World leaders, very, very few,
    have wanted to even listen to Us human beings who are
    the female ones in re, NOW, the science behind … … healing.
    Let alone, the science behind nuclear weaponry. Or climate change.
    Or sustainable foods’ growths / preparations. Or clean waters.
    Clean air. Ya’ know, the stuffz that ‘ll make people … … feel better.

    They should. Cuz, in not doing so ? In not doing so, these leaders do
    that NOT – listening … … at their own, and their countries’ populations’, perils.


    1. Excuse me? What do you want to tell us? I speak and read English pretty well, but this is completely incomprehensible.

      1. Really? The gist seems to me to be that besides being oppressed and discriminated against, women have been ignored forever, and still are besides a few symbolic appointments. It’s hard to argue with that.

        1. I find it pretty easy to argue against. Throughout almost all of history, 99% of people had terrible lives, were ignored, discriminated against, etc., just in different ways.

          In ancient Rome, would you rather be a woman, or a man who was either on years-long military campaigns, working in mines, farming from dawn to dusk, working in the sewers, doing construction, etc.? I don’t know. Both sucked, although I imagine that a lot of the things the men had to do were worse than what women went through.

          In feudal Europe, would you rather be a peasant man or peasant woman? I don’t know. If you were a peasant man, you still had no power, but you had to be ready to fight in a war any time your lord was called upon to provide troops, break your back working the land, etc.

          In Victorian England, would you rather be working in absurdly unsafe factories, doing manual labor, etc., or be a woman forced to stay at home, dress in absurd ways, and so on?

          And today, would you rather be part of the population that dies five years earlier (seven years earlier worldwide, and usually from factors resulting from increased stress — from heart attacks to drug overdoses — or occupation), makes up 98% of workplace injuries and 99% of workplace deaths, fights on the front lines of wars, does all the crappy and most dangerous jobs, and so on?

          Point is that we often measure these things in terms of political power and, until very, very recently, 99.9% of people had no political power, be they men or women. The number of people who have significant political power even now is vanishingly small, even smaller than a statistical error. The vast majority of people have had it shitty throughout history, just in different ways. I don’t think there’s any right answer regarding whether you’d rather be a common man or woman in most given societies throughout history, but inequality in power was largely about class (and/or religion, and/or ethnicity), not sex. Just like now, where we focus on race and sex while ignoring class, when the number one correlation by far to whether you’ll lead a comfortable and secure life, whether you’ll be discriminated against, whether you’ll get a good education, whether you’ll have a long and healthy life, etc. is class.

          I’m glad women finally have equality under the law throughout the Western world and are being given the political power they always should have possessed, but the idea that men had it easier than women throughout history is an extreme oversimplification of matters that requires a deep ignorance of history and the role of men and women in societies throughout the existence of our species.

          1. If you think women had it easier than men, or that men didn’t hold all the power, political and otherwise, throughout all we know of history, then there’s nothing to talk about.

            1. But ‘men’ didn’t hold all the power, political and otherwise… almost all the power holders were men, true, but the majority of men held no power.

              1. Having .L E G A L. rights
                by ONLY ALL men and boys
                of beaucoup, if not ALL, countries
                over ALL the World over ALL of Time
                o v e r … … the beatings, the rapes and
                the taking away of children TO or FROM
                ONLY girls and women ? some instantiations =
                these ? And so – termed h o n o r murders /
                killings ? Of mothers, daughters, sisters, nieces ?
                ONLY ? Of the murders of born humans who are
                the babies that are the female ones ? ONLY ?
                Ya’ know, femicides ? Clitoridectomies ?

                WithOUT UNtoward consequence. Cuz, ya’ know,
                these horrors are, for men and boys ONLY,
                L E G A L ? For millennia & hourly then,
                NOT crimes ?

                That ? That, A C Harper, is ” no ” power ?

                That ? That is THE ULTIMATE. IN having power.


            2. When someone writes multiple arguments and their interlocutor replies with “there’s nothing to talk about,” it sounds a lot more like, “I don’t want to answer any of these questions.”

              And I did address the one point you’ve made here. Yes, men did hold all the power, but the number of them that did was vanishingly small. Nearly every man had no power at all, just like every woman.

    2. In re persons’ i g n o r a n c e of history, thus of
      page 3, Introduction, Dr Miles’ The Women’s History
      of THE WORLD,

      ” Yet some would say, why women’s history AT ALL ?
      S U R E L Y, men and women have always suffered together
      its rights and wrongs ? It is a C O M M O N belief that
      WHATEVER THE SITUATION, both sexes faced it alike.


      The male peasant, however cruelly oppressed,
      The black slave had to labor for the white master by day,
      but he did not have to service him by night, AS WELL.

      This GRIM PATTERN continues TO THIS DAY,
      with women bearing an EXTRA RATION of
      the CIRCUMSTANCES. ”

      Ya’ know, Imagonna make up those
      ” whatever percentages ” and call that percentage,
      ah, like, ah, ya’ know, ” 99.9% ” or some such
      made up – number. Like that ‘ne. Dr Miles ‘ld argue
      FOR that number IN her trying to alleviate
      the ” deep ignorance of history ” even though
      she had had, for that percentage, no statistical proof
      or evidence of that number.

      How do I k n o w that about Dr Miles ? Because I say so.
      That is how I know. Ya’ know: confidence – bias or
      wha”ver throwing any percentage – number out there … …
      is termed.

      O. an’ I wanna know, too, from what year BCE
      to what year CE, women and girls HAVE had
      the men and boys of their families or farms / ranches /
      their plantations ? THE LEGAL RIGHT to do those
      violations / that violence ? WHEN ? and, then too,
      WHENEVER they wanted to ? like, say, hourly or daily ?
      Ya’ know, without UNTOWARD consequence to
      themselves. Cuz the beatings and the rapes were / are
      l e g a l ? When ?

      And one more query: Men before the Tender Years’ Doctrine
      always.always. HAD, IF THEY WANTED IT, T H E LEGAL RIGHTS
      WithOUT the woman around who was the machine growing
      these children IN to their first selves. WHAT YEARS, then,
      Sperm Sources ANYWHERE AROUND the Mothers and the
      Children ? WHEN did women have this LEGAL RIGHT ?
      Ya’ know, to relieve my deep state of ignorance of history.


      1. So two people, a guy and a gall, go into a movie theatre and although they watched THE SAME MOVIE they come out talking like they were in different cinemas watching utterly different shows.

  14. Dear Prof. Ceiling Cat,

    I agree with you 100%, and I am very troubled by the “our entire society is structurally racist/sexist/x-ist/x-phobic” narrative of the Woke.

    To counteract the narrative presented by the 500 Woke Women Scientists, it would be good to have an open letter published in a popular newspaper or magazine that would present the argument that you have made here. The problem is, who would sign such a letter?

    I am currently negotiating a STEM faculty position at a U.S. university and I would be afraid to sign my name to such a letter. Maybe it’s cowardice on my part, but I just don’t want to risk killing my career right as it’s beginning for the sake of taking a stand.

    I put this question to you, and to all readers who share my beliefs. How can we – by “we” I mean people who hold Enlightenment values – oppose the wokery without a) having our careers destroyed or b) making common cause with the hard right?

    Obligatory disclaimer: I loathe Agent Orange with the fiery heat of a million suns, I like Biden and I voted for him, and I want true equality and justice and a world in which, as MLK would say, everyone is judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

  15. Let’s keep some context here: having any reasonable scientist in charge of an active and fully staffed OSTP is a huge step up from the way OSTP was treated by the Trump administration.

  16. I think the first thing I need to point out is that whites are over 70% of the population, not about 60%. That very statistic itself is an SJW artifact. They discount white Hispanics, despite the fact that the term Hispanic simply means having some cultural Spanish descent (from Spain, that Europoean country with mostly white people in it).

    Second, racial or sexual diversity is never a good idea for any position which relies on some kind of competence in a discipline. You hire or appoint the people with the highest competency, who are willing to do the job (I think any political position is going to exclude the most competent people, because such people have no interest in becoming involved in politics). You cannot expect the pool of people capable of doing a job to be matched in composition to the population. When it comes to sex, that’s almost entirely down to inborn preferences at this point. When it comes to race, there are probably some inborn preferences, but the water is too muddy to sort them out, and the cultural differences (in the US) outweigh them.

    You gain absolutely nothing by trying to change the composition of that pool by selecting less able candidates over more able candidates. You can only do that by removing obstacles, and most of the obstacles over the past several decades (when it comes to race) have been intra-cultural (e.g. the widespread belief among insulated blacks that education is “white” – with a concomitant belief that anything “white” is to be shunned – leading to predictable consequences).

    This kind of “affirmative” action is counterproductive, because it puts a lot of people in positions to fail, which supports the false idea that the reason they failed is because people of the same sex and/or sex can’t succeed.

    The reality is that the pool of qualified candidates for any position does not conform to demographics ratios. When it comes to race, there’s no good reason to think those pools can’t be made more or less of the same makeup as the population. When it comes to sex, many pools will never be so proportioned, because men and women are different on many levels, including average ability and average interest. The only rational course of action is to remove obstacles to entering a given pool for any sex or race, and stop trying to make those pools reflect the populace at large.

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