The controversy continues about naming the Webb Space Telescope; the woke won’t give up in the face of the facts

December 20, 2022 • 10:00 am

This article in a recent New York Times tells a sad tale of the vindictiveness of scientific ideologues and their determination to gain control over science by flaunting their own victim status, as well as by blatantly ignoring the truth. It involves the naming of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) over the objections of people who asserted, wrongly, that Webb was a homophobe who fired gay people from NASA and the government (he was administrator of the organization from 1961-1968, and before that the Undersecretary of State from 1949 to 1952).

Click to read the article; if it’s paywalled, judicious inquiry will yield a copy. This is a piece worth reading, and shows that the NYT is not completely woke, for the piece gives an evenhanded story that winds up putting the woke in a pretty bad light.

For a long time, ideologues have criticized the name of the telescope, demanding it be changed (NASA refused to change it). The kvetchers argued that Webb, as both Undersecretary of State and NASA administrator, helped fire gay scientists under orders from people higher in the government. This all stemmed from an executive order issued by President Eisenhower in 1953 barring gay Americans from working for the federal government—an order that wasn’t formally rescinded until Bill Clinton barred job discrimination based on sexual orientation in 1998.

During this period, between 5,000 and 10,000 gay employees were booted out of government jobs. The allegations about Webb arose when NASA decided to name the space telescope after him, claiming that he was complicit in this firing.  But extensive delving into the historical record by several people and agencies shows that these allegations were false. From the NYT (all quotes indented):

Hakeem Oluseyi, who is now the president of the National Society of Black Physicists, was sympathetic to these critics. Then he delved into archives and talked to historians and wrote a carefully sourced essay in Medium in 2021 that laid out his surprising findings.

“I can say conclusively,” Dr. Oluseyi wrote, “that there is zero evidence that Webb is guilty of the allegations against him.”

That, he figured, would be that. He was wrong.

The struggle over the naming of the world’s most powerful space telescope has grown yet more contentious and bitter. In November, NASA sought to douse this fire. Its chief historian, Brian Odom, issued an 89-page report that echoed Dr. Oluseyi’s research and concluded the accusations against Mr. Webb were misplaced.

NASA acknowledged that the federal government at that time “shamefully promoted” discrimination against gay employees. But Mr. Odom concluded: “No available evidence directly links Webb to any actions or follow-up related to the firing of individuals for their sexual orientation.”

. . . As Dr. Oluseyi discovered and NASA’s report confirmed, it was not Mr. Webb but a different State Department official who oversaw the purge and spoke disparagingly of gay Americans.

Indeed, Webb helped to slow down the firing of gay governmental employees:

Secretary of State Dean Acheson denounced the “filthy business” of smearing diplomats. And President Harry Truman, records show, advised Mr. Webb to slow-walk the Republican investigation, while complying with its legal dictates. Mr. Webb did not turn over personnel files to Senate investigators, according to the NASA report.

Webb also has anti-racist bona fides:

Mr. Webb, who died in 1992, cut a complicated figure. He worked with Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson to integrate NASA, bringing in Black engineers and scientists. In 1964, after George Wallace, the white segregationist governor of Alabama, tried to block such recruitment, Mr. Webb threatened to pull top scientists and executives out of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.

Finally, historians who work on gay history haven’t deemed Webb worthy of indictment:

Historians who specialize in this era in gay history said such expectations ignore the historical context. Mr. Webb did not lead efforts to oust gays; there was not yet a gay rights movement in 1949; and to apply the term homophobe is to use a word out of time and reflects nothing Mr. Webb is known to have written or said.

“The activists who say that James Webb should have stood up and spoken against the purges are anachronistic,” said Dr. Johnson, whose Twitter handle is @gayhistoryprof. “No one in government could stand up at that time and say ‘This is wrong.’ And that includes gay people.”

You’d think that would end the kvetching, right? WRONG!  People who argued that Webb was a homophobe didn’t change their tune in light of the multiple studies showing they were wrong. Instead, led by the notoriously woke physicist and activist Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, a professor at the University of New Hampshire and an activist who doesn’t miss a chance to parade her intersectional victim status (see below), they simply recalibrated their claims, saying that Webb should have stood up to the government. She and her colleagues had written several pieces objecting to the naming of the JWST on the grounds that Webb was a homophobe.

In a blog written with three fellow scientists, Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, a cosmologist at the University of New Hampshire with a low six-figure Twitter following, said that it was highly likely that Mr. Webb “knew exactly what was happening with security at his own agency during the height of the Cold War,” adding, “We are deeply concerned by the implication that managers are not responsible for homophobia.”

We’ve met Prescod-Weinstein on this site before—as author of a dreadful article on “white empiricism” that tried to conflate physics with social justice.

And she influenced others. Like all the critics of the JWST, Prescod-Weinstein didn’t do the research that NASA and Hakeem Oluseyi had done; they went after the man and his telescope based on rumors and distortions. Note below that Scientific American, now a woke, inflammatory rag of a magazine, participated in the tarring of Webb (see its two articles “The James Webb Space Telescope needs to be renamed“, of which Prescod-Weinstein was a coauthor, and “New revelations raise pressure on NASA to rename the James Webb Space Telescope“).

. . . . as the telescope neared completion, criticism flared. In 2015, Matthew Francis, a science journalist, wrote an article for Forbes titled “The Problem With Naming Observatories for Bigots.” He wrote that Mr. Webb led the anti-gay purge at the State Department and that he had testified of his contempt for gay people. He credited Dr. Prescod-Weinstein with tipping him off, and she in turn tweeted his article and attacked Mr. Webb as a “homophobe.”

Those claims rested on misidentification and that portion of Mr. Francis’ article has been deleted without notice to the reader. Mr. Francis declined an interview.

Oops!

In October, the Royal Astronomical Society in Britain waded in, declaring that Mr. Webb engaged in “entirely unacceptable” behavior. The society instructed that no astronomer who submits a paper to its journals should type the words “James Webb.” They must use the abbreviation JWST.

The American Astronomical Society demanded in April that NASA issue a formal and public report on its naming decision. And a trio of top scientific publications — Nature, New Scientist and Scientific American — published essays and editorials sharply critical of Mr. Webb with nary a dissenting word. Dr. Oluseyi said Scientific American rejected a letter from him pointing out flawed statements in its essays and rejected his proposal to write about his findings on Mr. Webb.

Scientific American’s editor, Laura Helmuth, declined an interview and wrote in an email that its coverage had been “timely, thorough and fair.”

petition demanding NASA rename its telescope has garnered more than 1,700 signatures, a majority from faculty and graduate students.

“This is about who we canonize and who are our real saints,” Dr. Prescod-Weinstein said in an interview. “We can’t just exonerate a dead white guy who was in the thick of a repressive government.”

There it is: a dead white guy, as if him being dead, white, and male count towards his perfidy. And even though he didn’t fire anybody, he was—as was every government employee in America—”in the thick of a repressive government.” This is what nasty wokesters say when they can’t pin malfeasance directly on someone. She also said this:

Dr. Prescod-Weinstein wrote that if Mr. Webb had been “a radical freedom fighter,” he would not have served in the Truman administration.

There were NO “radical freedom fighters during the Truman administration”!

Prescod- Weinstein’s rancor was exacerbated by Oluseyi’s report, which alluded to her, though not by name:

When Dr. Oluseyi wrote his essay on James Webb, he took to task journalists and an astrophysicist, whom he did not name, for not rigorously researching the accusations. He said that the scientist, who was cited by name in the Forbes article, had “propagated unsubstantiated false information.”

Dr. Prescod-Weinstein wrote on Twitter that she was this unnamed scientist in Dr. Oluseyi’s article and that he “is writing poorly researched articles that are basically hit pieces on me.”

“The leader of a professional society and a senior scientist,” she wrote, is “going out of his way to justify historic homophobia” and “attack a junior queer Black woman professor.”

Months, later, in August 2021, George Mason University recruited Dr. Oluseyi as a visiting professor, and Peter Plavchan, an astronomy professor, offered a tweet of welcome to the man he played a role in recruiting.

Dr. Prescod-Weinstein objected. In a stream of tweets, she said Dr. Oluseyi had championed “a homophobe.”

She wrote that Dr. Plavchan’s welcome was “a reminder that senior men in astronomy can treat junior women” poorly — using an expletive — “and be welcomed by colleagues with open arms.”

Notice the emphasis on her identity, and the victimhood she emphasizes by being attacked by a a “senior” man. When criticized for her inflammatory words, Prescod-Weinsten always brings up the fact that she’s black, gay, a woman, and, sometimes Jewish as well. More from the NYT:

Ms. Prescod-Weinstein, 40, was born in Los Angeles to a family of left-wing activists and is among a handful of Black women to work in theoretical cosmology. Charismatic and outspoken, she describes her writings on race and gender and science as inseparable.

“The civil rights versus gay people schtick is marginalizing and pathetic,” she said. “It’s straight people arguing about the straight canon. As a Black queer Jewish person, I’m not interested.”

Well, Dr. Weinstein, as a white, straight Jewish man (and an old one to boot), I do care: about the truth. Apparently you don’t, and your behavior reeks of self-aggrandizement and sheer nastiness.  Further Prescod-Weinstein also participated in the demonization of Oluseyi by spreading rumors—which again turned out to be false—that he was guilty of transgressions at his former university, Florida Tech.

The attacks against Dr. Oluseyi had shifted, as some accused him of personal misconduct.

Dr. Plavchan said that in July 2021, as word circulated in academia that Dr. Oluseyi might win an appointment at George Mason, he heard from a professor at a different university who claimed that Dr. Oluseyi had mishandled a federal grant and sexually harassed a woman.

Dr. Plavchan said that he reported these accusations to George Mason. Soon Florida Tech officials were combing through records and thousands of emails. They found nothing to substantiate these charges, according to Hamid K. Rassoul, a physics professor at Florida Tech and former dean who took part in the investigation. George Mason went ahead with its appointment in the fall of 2021.

Prescod-Weinstein, who must spend hours a day on Twitter, repeated these false rumors:

On Twitter, Dr. Prescod-Weinstein has pushed some of the same accusations, while not naming Dr. Oluseyi directly. “It continues to be the case that academic institutions play pass the harasser,” she wrote in a veiled reference to Dr. Oluseyi in August 2021. And this past November she questioned on Twitter why journalists have not asked why he left his last job.

Dr. Prescod-Weinstein did not reply to three emails asking for more information.

She’s clearly out to get Oluseyi, and since she didn’t get him for homophobia, she’s wants to get him for sexual harassment.

Another person who had no comment was the editor of Scientific American, whom we know well:

Scientific American’s editor, Laura Helmuth, declined an interview and wrote in an email that its coverage had been “timely, thorough and fair.”

Well, read this Sci Am op-ed, by Prescod-Weinstein and two colleagues, and see if it’s thorough and fair. A few quotes:

When he arrived at NASA in 1961, his leadership role meant he was in part responsible for implementing what was by then federal policy: the purging of LGBT individuals from the workforce. When he was at State, this policy was enforced by those who worked under him. As early as 1950, he was aware of this policy, which was a forerunner to the antigay witch hunt known today as the lavender scare. Historian David K. Johnson’s 2004 book on the subject, The Lavender Scare, discusses archival evidence indicating that Webb, along with others in State Department leadership, was involved in Senate discussions that ultimately kicked off a devastating series of federal policies.

. . . This struggle is not limited to science or to the past: Just a few months ago Representative Joaquin Castro of Texas introduced the LOVE Act of 2020, which “requires the State Department to set up an independent commission to review the cases of individuals who were fired since the 1950s as a result of their sexual orientation, receive testimony, and correct employment records.” Passage of the act would not only prompt an apology from Congress for its past complicity in the lavender scare but also provide protections for queer diplomats at home and abroad.

Yet we can honor the incredible heroes who worked tirelessly to liberate others. Before she became a conductor on the Underground Railroad, a disabled and enslaved Harriet Tubman almost certainly used the North Star, just as it is documented that others did, to navigate her way to freedom. Naming the next Hubble the Harriet Tubman Space Telescope (HTST) would ensure that her memory lives always in the heavens that gave her and so many others hope.

Shoot me now! At any rate, Oluseyi (and remember, he’s president of the National Society of Black Physicists) gets the last word:

Dr. Oluseyi is aware of the risk of damage to his reputation. For just a moment, he sounded plaintive.

“Look, I didn’t care about James Webb — he’s not my uncle,” Dr. Oluseyi said. “I had no motivation to exonerate. Once I found the truth, what was I supposed to do?”

The lesson is that being a black, gay, Jewish woman (or a woman editor of Scientific American) doesn’t give you special abilities to discern homophobia if there is no evidence, nor does it make you immune from criticism. If there’s any lesson Prescod-Weinstein should have learned as a member of the scientific community, it’s that the truth is independent of the personal characteristics of the person who finds it.

But then, in another post I wrote about Prescod-Weinstein, I analyzed her Slate piece called “Stop equating ‘science’ with truth.” To her, the truth is simply what is produced by those who have power, a distinctly postmodern position.

The final lesson is this: the woke never apologize (and they double down on their victims who do apologize), and they never admit they were wrong. Wouldn’t it be lovely if Helmuth and Prescod-Weinstein, along with the other critics of James Webb as a homophobe and Oluseyi as a sexual harasser, admitted they were wrong?

Don’t hold your breath.

56 thoughts on “The controversy continues about naming the Webb Space Telescope; the woke won’t give up in the face of the facts

  1. A while back I was against the naming after James Webb because, as a scientist, I prefer major missions to be named after scientists rather than administrators.

    But people like Prescod-Weinstein and Brain Nord (co-author on the SciAm op-ed) are poisonous. Judging by their meagre record in publishing actual science, they appear to be diversity hires who only have their job owing to ticking the box labelled “black”. But instead of being grateful for that favouritism (and trying to be notable for their actual science), they spend all their time complaining about how victimised and hard-done-by they are.

    PS Worth noting explicitly, according to Prescod-Weinstein a “dead white guy” has to have been a “radical freedom fighter” to avoid cancelation.

    But if you’re a black woman, merely having used the north star for navigation is enough to merit high laudation.

  2. I read Prescod-Weinstein’s piece on white empiricism, where I was schooled on how deeply her ideology colors her ability to reason. We won’t be reading a correction of the record from her any time soon.

    Fortunately there are people around who care about the truth. One has to hope that those truth-tellers will eventually win out. So far NASA has rightly rejected the call to change the name. They need to hang tough and not be bullied.

  3. Readers without a subscription may find it useful to know that most articles in the NYT (and WAPO) can be read by turning off JavaScript in the browser. This can be done most easily in Chrome by installing an extension. However, I personally use the Brave browser for the purpose, where the “Block scripts” option may be turned on and off on a site by site basis. This also works for Brave on iOS, where Chrome extensions are not supported.

      1. Since once criticism lobbed against the woke is there inability to place actions in the context of the time and place they were performed perhaps Professor Weinstein should have to weight in on if government administrators during the Cold War simply should have been oblivious to the potential for blackmail that existed among closets gays in that time. This is an unfortunate example of two truths being right at the same time. Gays were persecuted and discriminated against and there was real potential for blackmail and national security risk.

  4. The OP has “notorious antiwoke”. Shouldn’t that be “notorious woke”?

    Also, so she’s tweeting. Big fat hairy deal. Can’t she just be ignored by NASA (or whomever)? I mean, it’s not like she’s going to fire them is she? Or am I misunderstanding? (I am not involved in social media in any way, and dislike the “lynch mob” mentality it encourages and enables).

    1. You’re right, she can’t fire them, but if she stirs up enough trouble (note the petition signed by 1700 people) administrators will start getting twitchy and think they have to do her bidding, and start firing people.

      1. Pardon my French, but that’s dumb (not you, the administrators). Why would they think that? As Jeremy Pereira comments immediately below, why not just treat it as more noise?

        In a related vein, if we get up a petition with 1,700 signatures denouncing her as a leucophobe and a misandrist, would these same administrators start thinking that maybe they need to fire her?

        And who puts all these mindless administrators in charge anyway? I had a brief waking fantasy a few days ago about a university’s teachers and professors getting together and firing the administrators! (Yes, I understand the power politics behind this; treat this last as a rhetorical question).

  5. This all stemmed from an executive order issued by President Eisenhower in 1953 barring gay Americans from working for the federal government …

    The so-called “Lavender Scare.” Hunting down gays in government was a sideline for Joe McCarthy and that closet-case Roy Cohn, when they weren’t otherwise occupied looking under the bed for Reds.

    I’d commend to the attention of anyone with an interest in this era the documentary released a couple years ago entitled “The Lavender Scare.” See also here.

    These “scoundrel times” (as playwright Lillian Hellman called them) occurred a decade-and-a-half before the Stonewall Uprising, back when the only folks standing up for homosexual rights were some brass-balled gay cats in the Mattachine Society.

    1. Pleading for some context:

      I accept as true the claim made in Lavender Scare that no homosexual working for the U.S. government ever betrayed secrets under blackmail. The story is told entirely from the point of view of sympathetic elderly homosexual people who knew they were themselves innocent. The now long dead architects of the policy are not able to explain themselves.

      Homosexuality was regarded in good faith at the time, and for two decades after, as a mental illness or moral character defect, like we regard pedophilia today. It was therefore not unreasonable in those paranoid times to worry that employing “perverts” in the government would expose the nation’s secrets to compromise, either from blackmail or from the mental instability that homosexuals were thought to be afflicted with. (I can show you old medical catalogues with curative devices.) That this is now known to be unfounded is not an indictment of what the government accepted as the prevailing medical opinion then, “following the science”. Since homosexuals don’t advertise the fact and can look completely normal, you have to examine closely. The Canadian government used a type of polygraph called a “Fruit-o-meter.” I can’t find a reference on Google. I thought I had succeeded with the “GY-2 Fruit Penetrometer Hardness Tester Meter”, complete with photograph but no, it’s strictly agricultural. So they claim.

      The personalities of the people who relished doing the investigating are beside the point. Indeed, if you are dirty yourself, best to take a lead role so you can close doors that lead back to you or your protectors.

      In this light, criticizing or exonerating James Webb because he was or wasn’t “homophobic” * or just said “not my department” instead of resigning is misplaced. Had one of his shielded staff turned out to have been a spy, Webb would surely have been fired and forgotten. I am glad governments in the end apologized to these men and women and reinstated those still of working age. But I would not think less of Webb if he had cooperated fully with the national security demands of his job, even if it had cost him some good staff.

      The Eisenhower XO came two years after Maclean and Burgess (the first of the Cambridge Five, all homosexuals) defected from the United Kingdom to the USSR. This, and later revelations as the other three were sequentially and secretly unmasked, did great damage to UK-USA intelligence cooperation and led the Americans to conclude that something was seriously broken with British intelligence. That thing was actually communism–yes, really–but I think it was assumed to be homosexuality, even though MI5 and MI6 and the British civil service generally were heavily homosexual, or looked that way to American OSS and CIA types, given where they recruited from. So probably a red herring. There is no evidence that homosexual blackmail played any role in the decision of any of them to betray their country They were just communists.
      —————-
      * Homophobia in those days just meant that you were afraid that you yourself had homosexual tendencies or temptations. The term wasn’t used as a pejorative for people who didn’t like homosexuals.

  6. One is sadly reminded of the ridiculous story from eight years ago involving the British astrophysicist (Matt Taylor) who issued a public apology for having worn an “offensive” shirt given to him by a friend; this foolishness attracted more attention in the media than the remarkable achievement of sending a probe to a distant comet (Rosetta mission, Philae probe).

    1. Oh gosh, that was such a sad situation. The man was made to cry on television in front of the entire world, knowing that his dream job was on the line if he didn’t show proper contrition for his celebratory t-shirt with cartoon drawings of slightly sexy women. Those are the kinds of moments we don’t often get to see in public, but that are crucial to exposing the emotional effects of this kind of harassment. The kinds of moments usually happening behind closed doors regularly from the harassment and censorship brought to bear by both Left- and Right-wing extremists (in Taylor’s case, it was very much the Left).

    2. Yes, and a while before that Tim Hunt was ‘hung out to dry’ for a joke.
      He made a joke and the woke, mostly feminism then, took it up until he was forced to resign from various positions.

      He cried too.

  7. Since Louis Pasteur was never a radical freedom fighter against the Second Empire, we can expect a polemic in Scientific American demanding abolition of “Pasteurization” as a
    term, and as a practice. And then, since neither Alessandro Volta, Georg Simon Ohm, André-Marie Ampère, or James Watt ever filed a Diversity Statement, we will surely be admonished to correct electrical terminology. I can see the title of this campaign now:
    electron social justice or possibly circuit labels matter.

    These renaming campaigns do not even rise to the dignity of a “displacement activity”. They are at once more childish—being obvious devices for a few individuals to gain attention for themselves—and more bureaucratic, providing many hours of committee activity (recall the cases of Huxley names) for the kind of academic drones who are incapable of using their time better.

    1. And all this energy and emotion spent over naming something after a dead white guy! Meanwhile, those with this sort of energy will do zip on helping real people in the real here and now. There is no clearer example of being a poseur.

  8. “Instead, led by the notoriously woke physicist and activist Chanda Prescod-Weinstein…”

    Oh boy, one of the “people of three names”. That’s a great term that Glenn Loury and John McWhorter coined during one their many enlightening discussions on the ridiculous antics of the “anti-racist” woke.

    Ideologues have their distinctive markers. Can’t wait until they try to one-up each other with four, five or even six names. Maybe Chanda Prescod-Weinstein-Hamster-Smith-Smyth-Smith….

  9. On a side note, young white guys inexorably become old white guys, (unless they jump this step) and always dead white guys, that goes smoothly. However, no guy can become a biological gal, even with great effort, young, old or dead.
    Since Tuval I’m less sure about race though.

  10. People like Prescod-Weinstein show the danger of cultural “superweapons”: tools we give to certain groups that usually allow them to get away with anything and destroy anyone they want. This woman is clearly used to having it be enough to merely accuse someone of homphobia and, if that doesn’t work, sexual harassment, in order to get what she wants. She’s also clearly used to using her identity to get what she wants. And she’s absolutely apoplectic at the idea that it didn’t work this one time.

    Dr. Oluseyi didn’t even mention her by name, and she’s now been on a long campaign to literally destroy the man’s career and life. I pity her. It must be terrible to live with so much hate and rage, day after day, constantly tilting against windmills in a futile attempt to keep yourself in the limelight and justify your own actions against innocent people. The cognitive dissonance alone must be terrifying if she takes even more than one second to examine the morality of her own actions.

    1. I pity her. It must be terrible to live with so much hate and rage, day after day, constantly tilting against windmills in a futile attempt to keep yourself in the limelight and justify your own actions against innocent people.

      Bravo! Well said!

      The cognitive dissonance alone must be terrifying if she takes even more than one second to examine the morality of her own actions.

      The woke literally never do this. They are so besotted with the power gained by accusing others that they don’t have the time or inclination to do so.

      “In science it often happens that scientists say, ‘You know that’s a really good argument; my position is mistaken,’ and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn’t happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.” (Carl Sagan)

      1. great quote – it bears mentioning a distinction, perhaps, with regard to the “-ist” words out there.

        Sagan is, in my view, referring to “scientist” as a profession, as a general sort of professional commitment with regard to the operational workings and such of how to get the work done. In the same way “car mechanic” is used, though they are not individually “car mechanic-ists”. They also require some training to do it – one does not simply roll out of bed and change a brake line.

        However – and, it takes me work to do this – but one might see that word – “scientist” – and say “ah, yes – their IDENTITY as a scientist, of course.” This is incorrect, in my view. Likewise, one might say “ah, the car mechanic IDENTIFIES as a car mechanic”.

        Why do I go on? Because there are lots of “-ists” out there, like “racist”, or “sexist” which matter for this post.

        So, Sagan’s quote could be dismissed as merely how one identifies – the ideology one likes, I guess. Thus, his great quote would be reduced to merely the product of one ideology competing with others that gets absorbed from the milieu – a whim – not a product of training the mind in a rigorous way.

        But that’s just me, with the words and the language.

        1. Thyroid, you have this knack of making simple things very complex. It may not be according to Occam’s razor, but it can be fun.
          A simple mind like me likes to take things at face value, but I do not pretend that is the only way.

          1. My admittedly tortured exposition above is my attempt to gain insight to possible ways such pieces of writing might be interpreted.

            Do the “woke”, or anyone else, notice the distinction I tried to describe? I don’t know – but it seems when language can be bent, it will be bent – which Orwell explained.

          2. I forgot the example :

            The “actual neuroscientist” Mayim Bialik – is _that_ what she was doing with the word “neuroscientist”? She is not a working “scientist”.

      2. One of my earlier graduate students took up a curious phenomenon I had discovered for his PhD thesis, and completely demolished my (speculative) theory about how the
        effect worked. He received his PhD, I abandoned my theory, and I sent him to New Zealand.

    2. if she takes even more than one second to examine the morality of her own actions.

      She won’t, though. That’s the problem right there.

  11. The American Astronomical Society’s president emailed members today with a response to the NASA report which exonerates Webb. It’s a long email which — to my mind — fails to properly acknowledge that NASA have declared Webb “not guilty”. I’ve sent it in full to PCC(E) in case he wants to comment on it.

    1. President Johnson :

      ” “what am I aware of happening in my sphere today that I should act upon?” In 50 or 100 years, how will the coming generations look back on what we did and did not do today to make the world a better place? ”

      I find that a clear sign the woke religion has been successful. Note how not a single example is given. “100 years”? Really? Solving/acting on problems now that we won’t understand or be able to define for 100 years? And who could argue with “better”? Where does one start with doing that which we did not do today…?

      Baffling.

      1. I’d hazard that the quote is evocative of religion by suggesting “we” are born flawed, and it is our own fault, but there’s a way to end the suffering (referring back to the pain, I think the president wrote, of reviewing history) – the Good News.

  12. Do you suppose this item will appear over at P Z Myers’ site? Seems like that bunch was in high dudgeon over the “homophobic telescope”. Surely dedicated seekers after truth welcome every opportunity to amend their views when presented with updated evidence!

    Yeah yeah I know.

    1. P.Z. Myers’s group being in high dudgeon reminds me of the Monty Python election night sketch, “And Mary Whitehouse has taken umbrage, no surprise there.”

  13. Dr. Prescod-Weinstein said she would draw an exacting line and memorialize no government leader of that era. “Rename the Kennedy Center for Harriet Tubman,” she said.

    Harriet Tubman, for all her achievements, played no role in enabling NASA’s successes or, indeed, the exploration of space more broadly.

    1. You are forgetting two things: (a) “Space” is a social construct; and (b) exploration of this social construct does nothing to create Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the universe. In the near future, fortunately, scientific projects will be judged on how they contribute to Space Justice.

  14. Were there any gay NASA staff at the time that we know of? The only LGBT astronaut I know of offhand was Sally Ride.

  15. “the woke won’t give up in the face of the facts”

    The woke religion could keep them at it until they find someone Webb mistreated for whatever reason, knowingly or not, the more personal the better, and then we can claim he didn’t like them because of the person’s identity.

    1. The other side can be no different if they are the right wing version of woke and they can be no less toxic.

      Heck we can be guilty of being a bit toxic as well, at least I’m man enough to admit it.

  16. A wag on twitter noted, “I’m very keen on this notion that Harriet Tubman, who died in 1913 at the age of 90, held no opinions about gay people that would be considered homophobic by contemporary standards.”

    1. Off topic, but one of my favorite Harriet Tubman facts is that she was alive at the same time as both Thomas Jefferson and Ronald Reagan.

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