Alan Sokal critiques a bizarre paper from Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

November 1, 2023 • 9:30 am

I’ve been critical of the papers and views of Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, an American cosmologist and particle physicist at the University of New Hampshire, with appointments in both physics and gender studies. You can see some of my critiques here, here and here, but my most severe criticism involved the paper below, published in the University of Chicago journal Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. Click on the screenshot to see it, or get the pdf here.

The paper’s thesis was that black women (more than black men; it’s intersectional) face huge bigotry in physics which keeps them not only out of the field, but also from contributing to the canon of knowledge in the field. The bigotry supposedly reflects the hegemony that knowledge claims in physics reflect a “white spistemology”, and that soon after black women enter the field in substantial numbers, our ways of doing physics, as well as what we learn, will change dramatically.  Here’s the paper’s abstract:

In this article I take on the question of how the exclusion of Black American women from physics impacts physics epistemologies, and I highlight the dynamic relationship between this exclusion and the struggle for women to reconcile “Black woman” with “physicist.” I describe the phenomenon where white epistemic claims about science—which are not rooted in empirical evidence—receive more credence and attention than Black women’s epistemic claims about their own lives. To develop this idea, I apply an intersectional analysis to Joseph Martin’s concept of prestige asymmetry in physics, developing the concept of white empiricism to discuss the impact that Black women’s exclusion has had on physics epistemology. By considering the essentialization of racism and sexism alongside the social construction of ascribed identities, I assess the way Black women physicists self-construct as scientists and the subsequent impact of epistemic outcomes on the science itself.

I won’t go through that word by word; you can see the problems.

This paragraph from the paper sums up its repeated conflation between physics and social justice. I’ve bolded an especially bizarre part:

Yet white empiricism undermines a significant theory of twentieth-century physics: General Relativity (Johnson 1983). 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 (Sachs 1993). All frames of reference, all observers, are equally competent and capable of observing the universal laws that underlie the workings of our physical universe. Yet the number of women in physics remains low, especially those of African descent (Ong 2005; Hodari et al. 2011; Ong, Smith, and Ko 2018). The gender imbalance between Black women and Black men is less severe than in many professions, but the disparity remains (National Science Foundation 2018). Given that Black women must, according to Einstein’s principle of covariance, have an equal claim to objectivity regardless of their simultaneously experiencing intersecting axes of oppression, we can dispense with any suggestion that the low number of Black women in science indicates any lack of validity on their part as observers.

Remember this statement, as it will be examined again by Alan Sokal (below).

I wrote this about that:

Statements like that make me wonder if Prescod-Weinstein knows that she’s distorting science in the service of social justice. Einstein’s principle simply states that the laws of physics are invariant under frames of reference, not that “all observers are equally competent and capable of observing the universal laws [of physics].” To say that the theory of relativity shows objectively that racism against black women is unscientific is to mistake the laws of physics with a moral dictum. In other words, Prescod-Weinstein is committing the naturalistic fallacy. Certainly all groups get the same opportunity, should they wish to become physicists, to study the laws of nature, but not everyone, least of all me, is “equally competent.” What Prescod-Weinstein should be arguing is not that Einstein’s theory explicitly makes all people morally equal and with equal claims to objectivity, but that considerations of well-being and empathy make all people morally equal. Dr. King didn’t need Einstein to convince America that segregation was wrong.

Here’s another quote from Prescod-Weinstein arguing not only about pervasive and pernicious forms of racism exist in physics, but that admitting more black women might well get rid of the doldrums that string theory finds itself in:

In effect, white physicists are considered competent to self-evaluate for bias against other epistemic agents and theories of physics where there is no empirical grounding to assist in decision making, while Black epistemic agents are considered incompetent to bring a lifetime of knowledge gathering about race and racism to bear on their everyday experiences. This empirical adjudication is the phenomenon of white empiricism. It is reflected in string theorists’ ability to actively argue for continued investment in their ideas via funding and faculty hiring while at the same time Black people—particle physicists or not—are often considered to be making controversial or “evidently wrong” statements about racism.

And my take on that:

These statements, particularly the last one, show Prescod-Weinstein’s confusion between empirical studies of physics and evaluation of the “lived experience” of racism by black women. I’m not denying, of course, that some physicists have racist attitudes. But to say that one must accept a black women’s views about racism because science says you must is to equate subjectivity with objectivity, anecdote with scientific consensus. And, in fact, Prescod-Weinstein gives no examples of white male physicists rejecting black women’s views about racism.

Well, I didn’t have much space to do a complete analysis, but Alan Sokal, mathematician at University College London and famous (and infamous) for his Social Text hoax, has done a thorough critique of the same paper in Peter Singer et al.’s new venue, The Journal of Controversial Ideas. (This journal is where a bunch of us published published our paper “In Defense of Merit in Science,” and I predict that the journal will increase in quality and visibility as authors objecting to au courant nonsense, mostly of the Leftist social-justice variety, place there papers there, for woke journals will not accept “controversial” and often antiwoke discourse. Sokal, by the way, has a whole history of debunking nonsense, as in his book with Jean Bricmont, Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals’ Abuse of Science.)

At any rate, in the journal Sokal has a long and devastating takedown of Prescod-Weinstein’s “White Empiricism” paper, and you can see it by clicking on the screenshot below (you can find the pdf here):

Sokal first notes the wide approbation the paper got, but with a footnote that I (along with John McWhorter!) was one of only two people who actually criticized it:

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein’s article, “Making Black women scientists under white empiricism: The racialization of epistemology in physics” (Prescod-Weinstein 2020), has been widely cited and praised. It is #56 in the Altmetric ranking of the Top 100 Most Discussed scholarly articles for 2020.It has been cited 37 times in the scholarly literature – including 14 citations in the Science Education literature – all of them completely uncritically.(footnoter 2). There has not, to my knowledge, been any detailed engagement with the content of the article’s reasoning.

And footnote 2, just to be self-aggrandizing:

2. Web of Science as of 1 March 2023. I have checked all 37 articles (except one to which I was unable to get access), and none of them contains even the slightest critical commentary on, or critical analysis of, the reasoning in Prescod-Weinstein (2020). The only critical citations of which I am aware are a blog by biologist Jerry Coyne (2019) and a brief comment in the book of linguist John McWhorter (2021, 109–110). Google Scholar, which has a wider scope than the Web of Science, shows 90 scholarly citations as of March 2023.

Enough bragging: where else can one criticize such a paper except on a website? (Surel the journal would reject criticism!).  This is why The Journal of Controversial Ideas is so essential.

I don’t want to summarize the entire critique of Sokal, as it’s very detailed and you can read the paper itself, which is straightforward, clear, and sometimes funny. Sokal avoids any nasty or ad feminam remarks, though in my view he bends over backwards too far trying to find merit in Prescod-Weinstein’s thesis. (Well, my Ph.D. advisor Dick Lewontin told me that a good critique involves “giving with one hand and taking with the other”, so Sokal’s method is probably more efficacious than mine.)

Here’s his own preface and rationale:

There has not, to my knowledge, been any detailed engagement with the content of the article’s reasoning.

That detailed engagement is the purpose of the present article. I will argue that the reasoning, both scientific and philosophical, in Prescod-Weinstein (2020) is deeply flawed. I will also argue that the article’s main contention – that “race and ethnicity impact epistemic outcomes in physics” – is valid, if at all, only in an extremely limited sense. I will finally argue that the flawed reasoning in this article, together with its uncritical acceptance in many progressive educational circles, threaten to have negative practical consequences both for science and for science education, and in particular for the goal of attracting more women and Black people (and especially Black women) to scientific careers. For all these reasons, I believe it is of some value that the reasoning in this article be openly and rigorously debated

I can give but a flavor of Sokal’s article through quotes (but again, there’s no substitute for reading the paper).

Regarding the conflation between Einstein’s theory and the neglect of black women as objective observers, Sokal says this (see paragraph above):

The first step in this reasoning is the elision between “frame of reference” in physics and “observer”. This elision is common in expository accounts of special relativity, beginning  with Einstein’s original paper (Einstein 1905); the elision is harmless provided that one understands that the “observer” need not be a human, but could well be a machine (and in contemporary experimental physics most often is). What is relevant in relativity is not the identity of the “observer”, but rather its state of motion. Discussions of special relativity (especially in textbooks) refer frequently to the “earth frame of reference” or the “train frame of reference”; it is irrelevant whether the “observer” (if any) located on the ground or the train is a white man, a Black woman, or an automated particle detector.

Secondly, in general relativity (Einstein 1915) the relevant concept is general covariance, i.e. the covariance of the equations under arbitrary smooth changes of coordinates. It is dubious whether most of these coordinate systems can be associated in any sensible way to “observers”.

But the fundamental and glaring flaw in this passage is, once again, the series of elisions from physics to social epistemology. In the first sentence, “there is no single objective frame of reference that is more objective than any other”, the second use of the word “objective” is not wrong – the accounts of a particle collision from the earth frame of reference and the train frame of reference are indeed equally objective – but it paves the way for a more tendentious interpretation of this word in what follows. The second sentence, “all frames of reference, all observers, are equally competent”, explicitly elides “frames of reference” to “observers”, and then introduces the new adjective “competent”: an adjective that would be bizarre for describing a frame of reference (earth or train) or an automated particle detector; it can now only be intended to refer to a human observer, contrary to the meaning of “frame of reference” in physics. The conclusion, “Black women must, according to Einstein’s principle of covariance, have an equal claim to objectivity”, is then a pure non sequitur: Einstein’s principle of covariance says nothing whatsoever about any humans’ claims to objectivity. Indeed, Einstein’s principle of covariance says nothing whatsoever about any human social issues. But – it goes without saying – one doesn’t need general relativity to argue that all humans, regardless of race or sex, are potentially capable of doing physics, with their work being evaluated on its merits.

This is of course a far better and clearer analysis than mine.

Below is Sokal’s reaction to Prescod-Weinstein’s claim that native Hawaiian opposition to constructing the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, reflects a pushback against “White Empiricism” by  indigenous “ways of knowing”—in this case the native Hawaiian system of ethics, land use, and religion/spirituality. I’ve bolded one sentence I love:

But one thing should be clear: nothing is gained by mixing these ethical, political and legal debates with flawed philosophical and scientific arguments. Whatever can be said in favor of the “cultural knowledge” of the Indigenous Hawaiian communities – and undoubtedly much can be – that knowledge certainly cannot compete with modern science in the domain of astronomy and cosmology. To point this out is not to engage in cultural arrogance; it is simply to state facts. No premodern belief system – whether Western (e.g. fundamentalist Christianity) or non-Western– can compete with modern science as an account of reality. Indeed, even modern science 100 years ago – after the development of general relativity (1915) but before the modern understanding of galaxies (1920s), the discovery of the expansion of the universe (1930s), of the cosmic microwave background radiation (1965), and of the accelerated expansion of of the universe (1998) – is vastly inferior to our present-day understanding of cosmology.

One more quote on Prescod-Weinstein’s claim that black feminist theory can change the content of physics knowledge (and the ethnicity of physicists):

Finally, what about the more ambitious claim, made by Prescod-Weinstein in her conclusion, that “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”? Alas, this claim is simply plucked out of the blue in the conclusion; not the slightest argument or evidence is provided, in the body of the article, that Black feminist theory, or indeed any feminist theory, has had or will have any consequences for the content of physics. And why on earth should it? The subject matter of feminist theory is human relations; it is very remote from the subject matter of physics. The relation between the two subject matters could be, at best, one of distant analogy. In fact, Prescod-Weinstein concedes that, despite four decades of trying, feminist ideas have not yet had any significant effect on the substantive content of physics (Schiebinger 1999, 178–179; Rolin 1999; Bug 2003). The claim that feminist theory (intersectional or otherwise) will in the future change the content of physics – and not merely the social structure of the physic community – is nothing more than a promissory note, unbacked by any assets.

At the end, Sokal asks why on earth should we care about critiquing a slight and deeply misguided paper conflating science and social justice? Because, he says, it has three bad side effects. The first is that it will “engender sloppy thinking”, promoting the idea that it’s okay to reject sound reasoning if its conclusions are not “politically congenial.” (This is a point that Luana and I made in our paper on the ideological subversion of biology, and it was also made by Orwell in his famous and essential essay on “Politics and the English Language“.) Second, the sources cited by Prescod-Weinstein often don’t say what she says they do, and this again reflects sloppy thinking as well as a tendency of social-justice advocates to support their arguments with either flawed data or other people’s misguided arguments. Most important, Sokal argues that Prescod-Weinstein’s repeated assertion that physics is strongly and systemically racist may well discourage black students from going into physics:

Beyond the purely intellectual flaws of half-baked philosophies of science, these “antiracist” screeds may also have a negative practical effect: namely, discouraging some talented Black students from entering or remaining in physics. Obviously, any exaggerated portrayal of racism in a particular community is likely to deter Black students from entering such a purportedly inhospitable environment.

When all is said and done, Prescod-Weinstein (2020) does contain some correct claims, even if they are correct only in a very limited way and are anyway not novel.

As I said, I think Sokal’s paper is an excellent critique, marred only slightly (and perhaps not at all) by Sokal’s bending over backwards to be charitable to Prescod-Weinstein. But he’s adhering to Dan Dennett’s tactic that if you’re going to take down a paper, first try to see what merit there really is in the paper’s arguments, and lay that merit out. That is supposed to give your own views more credibility, and it probably does.

It seem, at least for me, that Prescod-Weinstein’s paper has very little merit, if any.  Her claim of widespread and strong racism in physics is not supported, and neither is her view that the presence of not just black people, but black women in science will cause a sea change, expanding our knowledge of the universe and, perhaps, finally allowing us progress in seeing if string theory is true. Yes, more diverse people in physic—increasing “viewpoint diversity”—will certainly expand the way physicists approach problems, but Prescod-Weinstein’s argument that the important diversity is black women espousing intersectional feminism has no support.

It is shameful that such a misguided paper has accrued so much uncritical support. The widespread citation and approbation for the paper surely reflects the inability of people to think rationally about arguments when they involve ideology, and also the tendency of people to not look too hard at arguments that are politically congenial.  The paper is a good example of the ideological erosion of physics.

Cartoon by Tony Auth, used with permission

h/t: Alan Sokal, for calling my attention to his paper

41 thoughts on “Alan Sokal critiques a bizarre paper from Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

  1. It is shameful that such a misguided paper has accrued so much uncritical support.

    I seem to recall that the Emperor’s clothing elicited plenty of admiring compliments.

    Anyhow, if C P-W says:

    Given that Black women must, according to Einstein’s principle of covariance, have an equal claim to objectivity regardless …

    We can turn this around and insist that white males must therefore be granted the same epistemic authority to criticise “lived experience” and indigenous “ways of knowing”, thus negating one of their favourite tactics for discounting criticism. And we can do so quoting no less an authority than C P-W herself!

  2. One might well argue that what is most “problematic” in all this nonsense (a distraction from true scholarship) is the likelihood that anyone even mildly critical of Chandra’s foolishness will be accused of both “racism” and “sexism”.

    1. I’ll volunteer for the labelling. I’m not smart enough to make any significant contributions to the field of physics, and maybe other people should admit that is the reason why they don’t either. Not everything that you fail at is because of race or sex: sometimes it’s just you.

  3. “All frames of reference, all observers, are equally competent and capable of observing the universal laws that underlie the workings of our physical universe. Yet the number of women in physics remains low, especially those of African descent ”
    One of the greatest non sequiturs of all time! Relativity therefore racism!

  4. It is shameful that such a misguided paper has accrued so much uncritical support.

    But uncritical support is how the long march through the institutions keeps going. It’s a feature, not a bug.

  5. Thanks for this post and the link to Sokal’s critique.

    I enjoyed Dawkins’ review of Sokal & Bricmont: “Intellectual Impostures” (Nature 9 July 1998) and bought the English translation “Fashionable Nonsense” as soon as it was available. A fine book!

    (Hmph, well, this should settle things, I thought…)

    I still return to it now & then. But hey, wow, things have gotten…out of hand. I guess they always will.

    For light reading and a reminder of a quaint and more hopeful time, may I suggest: Frederick Crews: “Postmodern Pooh”.

    [sorry about the “….” where either italics or underlining would be better form but I haven’t mastered the required keystrokes for the transformations]

  6. “‘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’ [but] not the slightest argument or evidence is provided, in the body of the article, that Black feminist theory, or indeed any feminist theory, has had or will have any consequences for the content of physics…The claim that feminist theory (intersectional or otherwise) will in the future change the content of physics – and not merely the social structure of the physic community – is nothing more than a promissory note, unbacked by any assets.”

    That’s the most devastating critique for any empiricist. Dr. Prescod-Weinstein has been a black intersectional feminist physicist for a long time now. I’d say put up or shut up.

  7. … her view that the presence of not just black people, but black women in science will cause a sea change, expanding our knowledge of the universe and, perhaps, finally allowing us progress in seeing if string theory is true.

    I’m trying to imagine exactly what and how black women are specifically supposed to be able to come up with solutions in physics which couldn’t occur to physicists who weren’t black women. Like Sokol, I want distinctive, concrete examples.

    The first thing that occurs to me is they’re born with (or acquire through unique hardship) some sort of magical intuition or abilities. There’s a conference on String Theory and a black woman stands up and announces that, through a dream or during deep contemplation, she has discovered a test for StringTheory. She tells them what it is, to general amazement. It’s right, of course.

    Something like that?

    Or perhaps it’s the power of analogy. Because she has spent her life dealing with black women’s hair, particularly thorny issues in String Theory are mentally untangled by realizing that cornrows show how one dimensional objects could work together with supersymetric partners. Without her personal black woman experience, the Eureka moment isn’t possible. Could Prescot-Weinstein be thinking along those lines?

    Or maybe it’s more basic: black women have a special kind of intelligence which evades description. I don’t know. Frankly, all these possibilities sound not just unlikely, but insulting and racist. I’m pretty sure the author of the paper in question would reject these examples out of hand — particularly if they’re not expressly given by a woman who’s black.

  8. The prevalence of racist/sexist prejudice in Physics is so obvious to Prescod-Weinstein that she thinks it unnecessary to state evidence. So, on her behalf, here it is. (1) Not a single Nobel prize has been awarded for black feminist studies of subatomic particles, the technology of spectroscopy, lasers, and integrated circuits, or the discovery of exoplanets. (2) No Nobel prize has been awarded to Prescod-Weinstein. (3) Published references to her present paper has included two (Sokal and our host) which dared to breathe a word of criticism. QED.

    I also note the pervasive discrimination against those of us who identify as members of the plant kingdom. Think of how Biochemistry would be changed if our lived, vegetal experience were incorporated into, for example, the chemistry of photosynthesis.

    1. Also:

      • the Nobel committee still prefers to give prizes to people with whiteness over Black scientists.

      • the Nobel committee has not rescinded a single prize given to any person with whiteness when they should have – like for the year when lobotomies were recognized.

      • the Nobel committee has not retroactively given a prize to Black scientists in the past who were Excluded, like Percy Lavon Julian (a genuinely important scientist, no sarcasm).

      • the Nobel committee is composed entirely of whiteness.

      We might similarly examine the Fields medal, or using our Queer lens(es?).

  9. Somehow I find myself suspecting that Prescod-Weinstein’s paper is itself a Sokal-type hoax. How could it not be? How could a real physicist in a real physics department make such an argument? Surely she is pulling our leg!

    1. Xray: that occurred to me & therefore maybe others but there’s something about the earnestness & the times…

    2. X, you might be astonished at the extent to which university scientists like me can be cowed into not noticing this kind of bollocks when it is asserted by an aggressive, aggrieved person with Chanda’s intersectional standing (female, queer, black). As Rumpole might have called her, “She who must not be confronted.”

      Not all university science departments have such a person, but it only takes one or two to intimidate everyone else into silence because the professional costs of doing to one’s colleague what Sokal does in that paper are very high. That these costs are exacted is the fault of university administrators – in that sense I don’t fault Chanda, she’s just following the money and other incentives. Nobody in her department calls her out for this bullshit because the dean wouldn’t back them up if they did.

      1. [ sticking this comment here to make it work ]

        Then we need to know precisely how Weinstein defines “women”.

        Because the gnostic doctrine of Queer Theory asserts Queer is “an identity without an essence” (Halperin), and seeks “disruption of, rather than assimilation to, norms of identity.”(Drabinski).

        Weinstein might be disrupting identities if they do not fit her theory, or approving them if they fit.

      2. What you write about costs is what is so depressing and makes me think the West is already lost. In a healthy academic environment there would be no cost to criticizing rubbish like this other than that it takes up time better spent elsewhere. Everyone who defends the integrity of science would have the backing of most if not all of their colleagues and certainly the department head.

        How did deans acquire so much power that a single rogue can bring down a university?

        How can we reorganize universities so that the incentives favor maintaining the integrity of science and weeding out nonsense such as Chanda’s?

  10. Part of science is coming up with alternative explanations, right? Let me try if I can science…
    “There are few black women in physics”.
    Her hypothesis: racism on the part of physicist.
    Alternative explanation: a) there are disproportionately few black people who make it to university to begin with, for a multitude of reasons. b) most of the black women who have any academic talent get lucrative offers from companies that want to score some diversity points, and don’t even have to go into a field as demanding as physics.
    “There have been no breakthoughs in string theory for decades”
    Her hypothesis: too few black women in string theory.
    Alternative explanation: string theory is incorrect. Any excuses why we can’t observe any of its predictions have been elaborated upon decades ago, leaving us with lots of clever math and no observations to point the direction for further research.

  11. One thing I would like to point out related to her comment about the 30 meter telescope in Hawaii. A poll found that a majority of native Hawaiians support the telescope being built. It is only the native Hawaiian progressive activist community that opposes it, not the Hawaiian community at large.

      1. Hi Alan, a privilege to “meet” you. There’s an archived copy of the first article here (many paywalled pieces can be found by pasting the web address into the website and if there’s not already a copy it’s very easy to archive it yourself):

        1. Here’s a related article about the 2018 poll, which says:

          Conducted March 13-18 by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy of Washington, D.C., the poll asked 800 randomly selected registered voters across the state if they support or oppose the construction of the TMT on Mauna Kea.

          1. Thank you! I knew about; is similar? But how do these sites defeat the paywall? Did some subscriber upload the page?

          2. You’re most welcome. I don’t know how gets around the paywall, but I regularly archive paywalled articles myself (e.g. from the NYT) so that I can read them. It doesn’t work for everything (academic journals, for instance), but it’s always worth a try. 12ft Ladder ( ) is another useful site for getting beyond paywalls, but again isn’t infallible.

            I forgot to add that your article about Prescod-Weinstein’s paper was excellent – she could learn something from your wonderfully clear writing style (and, of course, from your rational thinking).

      2. Dear Alan:

        Thank you for writing a critic of Prescod-Weinstein’s BS. I’m afraid the problem is much larger though. In a free society, Prescod-Weinstein is of course free to spout utter crackpottery all she desires. On the other hand, we physicists should either ignore it; or, when the situation is growing serious, condemn it ruthlessly.

        Instead of distancing from her, however, thousands upon thousands of our colleagues signed onto her extreme Left Particles for Justice movement. Note that even this “White Empiricism” paper was funded not by some far Left Social Anti-Science Department or organization; but by physicists-run FQXi, which even has Nobel winners on its membership roll. She has been lauded by Nature and the deeply un-American Physical Society. This latter honor was in fact nominated by the Father of Inflationary Cosmology himself.

        The situation is very serious. Like I’ve been asking for quite a while now: Where are the seniors? We need you to speak loudly and assertively, for the hour is late. The longer we wait, the more drastic the action would be necessary to right the course.


  12. Thank you Jerry for these links and the discussion. You are in great company with Sokal and it looks to me that he built some of his discussion on the points you made.

  13. Encouragement NOT discouragement.
    Conservation of momentum! physics for black female physics should be applied… 🙃
    It needed to be criticized and well done, we want to know how nature works it’s universality, not for whom it ‘works’ for.

  14. I just worked through Sokal’s article. It would be interesting to know why the Prescod-Weinstein article got so little criticism. I can’t help but think that it’s because the article is so bad that criticizing it would take a lot of time—and who would want to spend one’s precious research time on such an endeavor? I’m glad that Sokal took on the task to devastating effect.

    When I read the Prescod-Weinstein piece the first time and saw that she conflated—purposely or through ignorance—Einstein’s relativity with her claim that Black women have an equal claim to objectivity, I immediately knew that I was reading crap. (But I persisted in reading the whole thing.) My guess is that most critical readers stopped reading at that point and have not expressed an opinion, leaving the appearance that the article is broadly accepted by the scientific community. I rather suspect that the high proportion of uncritical citations is a sampling artifact.

  15. Prescod-Weinstein’s argument, even at first glance, is very clearly a feeble attempt to argue by analogy in the mode of C. S. Lewis: “if x (a testable proposition) is shown to be true, then my statement y (an untestable assertion, backed by no evidence), which can be described metaphorically using similar terms, must also be true.” I’m not sure it even rises to the level of Deepak-Chopraesque spouting about quantum energies. It certainly has no place being regarded as academically responsible, or intellectually serious.

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