I’m tired of beating up on Scientific American, even though the magazine saw its best days years ago and is superannuated—it was founded in 1845 and has published work by 200 Nobel Laureates. No, I’m not going to say that—I’ll let someone else do it. That someone is Peter Burns, who, at Medium, wrote the article below (click on the screenshot to read it):
There’s not a lot new here, as Burns just reiterates that Sci. Am. published the much-discussed hit piece on Ed Wilson, calling him a racist (Gregor Mendel was also tarred with that label) only a few days after Wilson died. I know of no evidence that Wilson was a racist, though some hint darkly that they will produce that evidence. And surely Mendel was not a racist. He might have been an ageist (see below), but I’ll eat my hat if they dig out evidence that the friar was dire.
Burns goes through Monica McLemore’s ludicrous hit-job, but says about the same thing I did, so you can read for yourself. He did dig into McLemore’s links, though, and here’s a bit of Burns worth reading:
The author then points to other pearls of wisdom.
“Other scholars have pointed out that feminist standpoint theory is helpful in understanding white empiricism and who is eligible to be a worthy observer of the human condition and our world.”
Now this is the first time I heard of “white empiricism”, and so I clicked on the linked study. I was hit with more instant classics.
“White empiricism undermines a significant theory of twentieth-century physics: General Relativity. Albert Einstein’s monumental contribution to our empirical understanding of gravity is rooted in the principle of covariance, which is the simple idea that there is no single objective frame of reference that is more objective than any other. All frames of reference, all observers, are equally competent and capable of observing the universal laws that underlie the workings of our physical universe.”
“Why are string theorists calling for an end to empiricism rather than an end to racial hegemony? I believe the answer is that knowledge production in physics is contingent on the ascribed identities of the physicists.”
“Through the recognition of white empiricism, a bifurcated logic that serves white supremacist traditions in science while deontologizing marginalized Black women physicists, I propose that the Black feminist theory intersectionality should change physics — and not just through who becomes a physicist but through the actual outcomes of what we come to know.”
WTF? Can someone please give me a translation from woke speak? Now, I support the promotion of diversity in the science field, but the laws of the universe don’t change according to your gender or color of your skin.
You really should read that study; it’s an all-time classic of conflating science with ideology—and yet its inanities are taken seriously!
Before I go, I want to do two more things. First, make a joke (at bottom) and second, give a list of all the ludicrous pro-“elect” articles (I’m reading McWhorter’s book) that have recently appeared in Scientific American, as well as articles that are purely ideological and have nothing to do with science. The Wilson hit-job was not a one-off thing. The bits in bold below link to my posts, and in plain text to the Sci. Am. articles. These are just articles I’ve written about that were called to my attention by readers; I don’t read the rag, and I’m sure there are others. I’ve not included the Wilson hit piece, which I discussed here.
6.) Scientific American publishes misleading and distorted op-ed lauding Palestine and demonizing Israel, accompanied by a pro-Palestinian petition. Title: “Health care workers call for support of Palestinians.” (The title is still up but see #7 below)
7.) Scientific American withdraws anti-Semitic op-ed. Title of original article is above, but now a withdrawal appears (they vanished the text): “Editor’s Note: This article fell outside the scope of Scientific American and has been removed.” Now, apparently, nothing falls outside the scope of the magazine!
and one more for an even ten, as I’m not going to spend another minute doing this:
Is ten enough to show you where the magazine is going? I’m surprised that the sub-editors don’t quit en masse. After all, these article were all published within the last three years.
Let me finish by recounting a joke I made in my first post defending Mendel that several authors have now claimed for themselves. This is what Burns says:
Seriously, how was Gregor Mendel a racist? This guy spent his entire life in a monastery in Brno (in what is now the Czech Republic) observing peas grow. Unless he wrote somewhere that yellow peas are racially superior to green peas, I don’t see why his name was on the list.
I won’t call him out for theft of humor, but here’s what I said in my first post:
We’ve talked about most of these people before, and yes, they had ideas that today would be considered racist, but Darwin was also an abolitionist. And MENDEL, for crying out loud? Find me one piece of Mendel’s writings that suggest that the good friar was a racist! Were green peas considered superior to yellow peas? Here we have McLemore simply making stuff up: throwing Mendel’s discoveries of inheritance into the pot with the other accused “racists.” This is dreadful scholarship, almost humorous in its ignorant assertions.
Look, the green vs. yellow trope was mine (it’s slight but it’s okay), but if you want to steal something better, here’s a trope I suggest:
Mendel found that the shape of round peas was genetically dominant over that of wrinkled peas. This is nothing more than ageism on Mendel’s part.
If you read that anywhere from now on, remember that it’s been lifted from here. And I’ll be here all year, folks!