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A Mathematics Paper Two Math Journals Were Mau-Maued into Suppressing

Academic discourse is increasingly under threat from activist professors.

According to Professor Ted Hill, Amie Wilkinson, a senior professor of mathematics at the University of Chicago, launched a successful campaign to get one mathematics journal that had accepted his paper withdraw its acceptance, and a second journal to "unpublish" the paper after publishing it online, apparently because discussing even mathematical models of hypothetical sex differences is forbidden if someone might interpret the discussion as conflicting with feminist orthodoxy. The saga is recounted in the linked story.

It seems to me that an appropriate response of the bullying described in the story is to get the paper as wide a circulation as possible, and create a Streisand effect.

Here is the abstract:

An elementary mathematical theory based on "selectivity" is proposed to address a question raised by Charles Darwin, namely, how one gender of a sexually dimorphic species might tend to evolve with greater variability than the other gender. Briefly, the theory says that if one sex is relatively selective then from one generation to the next, more variable subpopulations of the opposite sex will tend to prevail over those with lesser variability; and conversely, if a sex is relatively non-selective, then less variable subpopulations of the opposite sex will tend to prevail over those with greater variability. This theory makes no assumptions about differences in means between the sexes, nor does it presume that one sex is selective and the other non-selective. Two mathematical models are presented: a discrete-time one-step statistical model using normally distributed fitness values; and a continuous-time deterministic model using exponentially distributed fitness levels.

You can read the entire paper here.

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  • RobC_||

    Seeking as wide a circulation as possible for the paper is fine, but it's the suppression of it that's the real story here, and that deserves to be held up to public ridicule. It may be that academics have to be shamed into doing the right thing. As our shamer-in-chief would say, sad.

  • GKHoffman||

    That's a good suggestion, but alas academics do not experience shame. See Orwell: "There are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them."

  • ||

    Maybe this is a "second front" for evolutionary scientists. On the other front are creationists who hate evolution because they have their own competing theory. The second front will be those who hate evolution because of political correctness.

    But even that is not the third rail. Think of poor Richard J. Moore who's book The Bell Curve dared to mention the links between intelligence and race. All he has to do is set foot on a campus and the riots start.

    It will eventually become like The Emporor's New Clothes. They will find how genetics influences anything and everything; everything except intelligence because that is taboo.

  • MarkW201||

    Who is this Richard J. Moore you speak of? Do you mean Richard J. Hernnstein, who co-wrote The Bell Curve with Charles Murray?

  • gormadoc||

    He tunes pianos, according to Google.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    You can tune a piano, but you can't tuna fish.

  • Smooth Like a Rhapsody||

    REO Speedwagon

  • Naaman Brown||

    Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Bell Curve.
    Richard J. Moore?
    That boys and girls is why I have learned to preview and check notes before post.

    Could be my experience commenting at Volokh Conspiracy, History News Network, the legal forum at TheHighRoad, etc. Could be decades working on the data bases for an economics journal for thirty years.

    Don't rely on memory and don't trust autocorrect.

    And when I am called pedantic, I take it as a compliment. It is better than being roasted and toasted for getting a fact wrong.

  • ||

    Whoops, my error. I googled the book title and found that name. A pretty gross error on my part.

  • AmosArch||

    A lot of the Internet atheist/skeptic community have graduated to fighting social 'justice'/feminism etc. Unfortunately a good portion have decided to push the same. Why someone who supposedly values secularism and logic would prefer a new modern phenomenon with all the relevant aspects of a state religion to the memory of a past one is a bit mysterious.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    There has never been a human society anywhere, ever that hasn't had some form of religion. It's almost as if religion is somehow necessary to the human psyche.

  • mad_kalak||

    Voltaire said "if God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him."

  • RoyMo||

    I think humans have a need for religion, just as they have a need for food that tastes better, people to like them, etc...if it isn't provided they will find it, if they can't find it they will create it.

  • nicmart||

    People don't require God, per se, but need for mysticism, for superstition. Now priests who rape are declared "sick," not demon possessed, even by bishops.

    "Well then, maybe it would be worth mentioning the three periods of history. When man believed that happiness was dependent upon God, he killed for religious reasons. When he believed that happiness was dependent upon the form of government, he killed for political reasons. After dreams that were too long, true nightmares we arrived at the present period of history. Man woke up, discovered that which he always knew, that happiness is dependent upon health, and began to kill for therapeutic reasons." -- Adolfo Bioy Casares

    "Who are the witch doctors? Psychoanalysts and psychiatrists, of course." -- Richard Feynman

  • FlameCCT||

    Witch doctor? Sounds like a weird song to me!

  • D-Pizzle||

    Most of the past "kill[ing] for religious reasons," when actually viewed under the totality of the circumstances, was actually for political reasons. Among the best examples of this are the Thirty Years War and the Crusades.

  • NToJ||

    This is true of violence, too.

  • Eddy||

    "Well, let's send out that paper to our outside reviewers. We'll have to hold the paper in front of them for them to read it, because their hands are too full to hold the paper themselves. All those pitchforks and torches, you see."

  • QuantumBoxCat||

    "activist professors"; "feminist orthodoxy"; "bullying"; and "Streisand effect"

    How did I end up on 4chan?

  • Rigelsen||

    I'm guessing you never left. Try the other browser tab.

    (Really, guilt by association because of the language used? I've heard of the "dog whistle" thing, but am always a little surprised to see a human pretend to be a dog.)

  • croaker||

    Dog Whistle (n) Someone whose ass is so tight only dogs can hear them fart.

  • FlameCCT||

    IIUC that would describe a Dog Whistler instead of a Dog Whisperer? :-)

  • Careless||

    If those are things that convince you you're on 4chan, you must live in a constant nightmare

  • AmosArch||

    Many faculty in colleges aren't interested in finding truth they already have found 'truth' and are now pursuing an agenda. They are priests now not academics.

  • RoyMo||

    But most are keeping their heads down.

  • DavidTaylor||

    There are close to 3 million college faculty in the U.S. How many is your "many"? I'd even be interested in knowing how many are 'priests' at the college or university in which you teach.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Is that for real? Almost 1 percent of the population as college faculty? Somehow we've failed at cost effective education if that is true.

  • Rossami||

    The last year for which I could find data was 2011 and was limited to "Staff at Federal Financial Aid-Eligible Colleges". According to that source, total staff was a bit under 4 million but only about 1.6 million were primarily focused on instruction and/or research. The rest are administration and other forms of overhead or support.

    It's also worth noting that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, just over half of professors "ranked among the top 15% of wage earners".

    So, yes, we have utterly failed at cost-effective education.

  • gormadoc||

    Total dick move to remove an accepted article. Mathematicians require articles to be available and verifiable in order to substantiate their worth. It mucks up the copyright status and value to any other possible publisher. Once they published it should have remained available. Just mark it with a disclaimer if they really feel it necessary.

  • bernard11||

    Yes.

  • perlchpr||

    Makes me wonder, would an agreement to publish involve any sort of contract? Does the author of the paper have a leg to stand on to sue the journal that screwed him?

  • Bubba Jones||

    Jim Watson (Nobel laureate for dna structure) was vilified for believing there might be genetic differences between races.

  • Naaman Brown||

    So, this submit a cheek swab to determine your ancestry is either a real thing or a fraud?

  • FlameCCT||

    Yes

  • D-Pizzle||

    Akin to this is something you hear leftists say often is that there is more genetic variation within a particular race than there is genetic variation among the various races. Oh, really? Then explain this: Why is it that every single competitive male "world class" sprinter, without exception, of strong west African descent, with it being the same among female "world class" sprinters but with a tiny minority of exceptions.

  • Joe_dallas||

    Maybe these anti-science zealots have been taking history lessons from Hitler who tried to ban a lot of science knowledge learned from any jewish scientists (or maybe these anti-science zealots are ignorant of history).

    ironic?

  • NToJ||

    Why would it be ironic? Your comment is idiotic on several levels. This is horrible. Not everything is about Hitler. Why did you bring up antisemitism?

  • Joe_dallas||

    Simply - Just another example of suppressing the advancement and understanding of science for what ever the reason.

    The irony is the progressives are engaging in similar behavior to preserve of their ideals as the person they loathe.

  • NToJ||

  • Lee Moore||

    Oh yes it is. Follow your own link, and then click on the further link to dramatic irony.

    Joe's example was, essentially, "Look how hypocritical these lefties are, trying to sweep science under the carpet, doing exactly what their bugbear Mr Hitler did, without realising it."

    This is a classic case of dramatic irony - the lefties unaware that their utterances are hypocritical, but the audience (us) aware of it. It is also, obviously, unconscious hypocrisy. The link to dramatic irony gives illustrations from A Doll's House of circumstances in which dramatic irony and unconscious hypocrisy intersect, which are much the same as Joe's example.

  • NToJ||

    No they aren't. Everyone can follow the link.

  • swood1000||

    Maybe these anti-science zealots have been taking history lessons from Hitler

    I didn't think that Godwin's law was supposed to operate that quickly.

  • Lee Moore||

    I agree that giving Ted Hill's paper as wide a circulation as possible is a good idea, but I also think his article is worthy of the same treatment. At one level it's a depressingly familiar tale of the doctrinaire troglodytes infesting academia and its backwaters, but another, IMHO deeper, level it's a window into the hell that is totalitarianism, of which we lucky Westerners are so far largely ignorant. Ted Hill's article shows us fortunate naifs how it works.

    Aside from the depressingly numerous Witchfinders, there are some tragic characters in the story - Sergei Tabachnikov, Marjorie Senechal and Mark Steinberger - who seem to be ordinary, good people, but who, when faced with unbearable pressure, found their courage was not enough.

    Most of us, fortunately, have not faced what poor old Mark Steinberger, the founder of the NYJM, faced :

    "..half his board, he explained unhappily, had told him that unless he pulled the article, they would all resign and "harass the journal" he had founded 25 years earlier "until it died." Faced with the loss of his own scientific legacy, he had capitulated. "

    From our armchairs we can now point out that his journal and his legacy are even more wrecked than if he'd stood up for his prnciples, ruat caelum. But that's what totalitarianism does - it applies the pressure until you have a choice between ruin and ruin. Steinberger is not the villain of the piece, he's one of the victims.

  • perlchpr||

    From our armchairs we can now point out that his journal and his legacy are even more wrecked than if he'd stood up for his prnciples, ruat caelum. But that's what totalitarianism does - it applies the pressure until you have a choice between ruin and ruin. Steinberger is not the villain of the piece, he's one of the victims.

    Yeah, I'm not going to hold my breath that he's going to face any consequences for having caved.

  • Lee Moore||

    You're thinking about consequences outside his head. Inside his head there'll be consequences.

  • perlchpr||

    Maybe true. I've found a lot of people to be capable of a lot of self-justification after the fact if it was for something that had a significant personal benefit.

    I guess it sucks for this guy either way. Still, I think in his shoes, I'd rather have gone out guns blazing, having done the right thing. After all, the attempted smear job could backfire on the smearers.

  • NToJ||

    The consequence is that the thing he loved (free, peer reviewed, scholarly journal refereed by people outside the editorial board) no longer exists. He had to kill it to save it. That's unfortunate.

    The consequences for the rest of us is that there is a new obstacle being erected in the path of scientific advancement. That's troubling.

  • perlchpr||

    The consequences for the rest of us is that there is a new obstacle being erected in the path of scientific advancement. That's troubling.

    Agreed. That's some BS.

  • ricketson||

    As an evolutionary biologist, discussing current political events in a scientific publication seems inappropriate

    (from the blog post by the author):

    "..Senechal suggested that we might enliven our paper by mentioning Harvard President Larry Summers, who was swiftly defenestrated in 2005 for saying that the GMVH might be a contributing factor to the dearth of women in physics and mathematics departments at top universities."

    This statement contradicts the author's earlier description of the paper, which sounds like a totally legit scientific paper:

    "My aim was not to prove or disprove that the hypothesis applies to human intelligence or to any other specific traits or species, but simply to discover a logical reason that could help explain how gender differences in variability might naturally arise in the same species."

    So the author admits that he inserted political commentary into a mathematical biology paper. By doing this, he undermined any claim to scientific rigor. So why did the editor suggest he do it?

    The journal in question ("the mathematical intelligence" - https://www.springer.com/mathematics/journal/283) looks odd. It's not really a scientific journal -- it's more of a commentary journal. So it makes sense to have this discussion in that journal -- but this blog post misrepresents the nature of the publication. This was not a mathematical modeling paper -- it was social commentary.

  • ricketson||

    Now I've read the paper on arXiv, which I'm guessing is the draft submitted to NYJM. This draft does not mention Summers, and seems like a straight modelling paper. The only problem that I noticed upon skimming it is that it does rely too heavily on human intellect (i.e. test scores) for its empirical evidence. If the paper were focused on variation in human test scores, then it would in fact "oversimplifies the issues to the point of embarrassment." Since that was not the stated purpose of the paper, if I were reviewing it, I would have suggested that the biological references focus primarily on non-human animals (and not worker bees either, which do not reproduce). However that would be a small point. The next point is whether the NYJM editor accepted the publication inappropriately -- but even if he did, there should have been a formal retraction. As for the issue of how powerful people (particularly with powerful families) can threaten people's careers, I'm not sure what to do about that.

  • NToJ||

    "...then it would in fact..."

    Why?

    "...and not worker bees either, which do not reproduce..."

    Why?

  • Alpheus W Drinkwater||

    Apparently, they don't reproduce due to enforced, altruistic kin selection. I had some trouble with this myself in my younger days.

  • Krayt||

    They don't have to reproduce as long as they are genetic clones working for the hive as a whole to reproduce as a super-orgsnism.

    For that matter, they need not be exact clones either, s the 99.99% in common rules toe roost. The remaining variation is only useful to explore the gradient descent fitness space, which becomes irrelevant if tje remaining 99.99% of shared DNA is sitting fat and happy in a massive local minima.

  • Don Nico||

    The arXiv paper does not look to be a commentary paper about mathematics or mathematician. Rather it is a paper of mathematics or at least about mathematical models.

    Having said that I'd guess that it was Appendix A that first provoked Amie Wilkinson

  • bernard11||

    I suspect you are right about Appendix A.

  • TPKeller||

    From the blog linked inside:

    "If bullying and censorship are now to be re-described as 'advocacy' and 'academic freedom,' as the Chicago administrators would have it, they will simply replace empiricism and rational discourse as the academic instruments of choice."

    Western Civilization cannot survive this.

  • perlchpr||

    Welcome to the Endarkenment.

  • GKHoffman||

    Clever new word. I'm going to steal it.

  • perlchpr||

    My friend Billy Beck came up with it. I'm sure he'd be happy to see it given more use.

    Raise a toast to the extinguishing of Enlightenment values. You're probably going to want to be drunk for this.

  • ReaderY||

    It does seem that withdrawing an accepted and published paper is very different from simply not highlighting particular research on your newsletter.

    In addition, there doesn't seem to be any legitimate claim that the mathematics is wrong. Here, the critics aren't criticizing the thought itself at all. Rather, they don't want it to be thinkable. They are attempting to suppress the thought, not because they have any reasot to believe it isn't true, but because they are afraid of what might happen to existing beliefs and the existing social order if it is.

    Doubleplus ungood.

  • RoyMo||

    That the publication claimed to enjoy being a provocateur before caving only makes them seem more vile. Nobody respects the censorious provocateur.

  • Careless||

    the sad/funny thing is that we know the exact biological mechanism for about half of the greater variability in human males. It's the very small number of genes on the Y chromosome. The people freaking out about this are flat earthers

  • Perseus`||

    Unbeknownst to us, Amie Wilkinson, a senior professor of mathematics at the University of Chicago, had become aware of our paper and written to the journal to complain. A back-and-forth had ensued. Wilkinson then enlisted the support of her father—a psychometrician and statistician—who wrote to the Intelligencer at his daughter's request to express his own misgivings...

    Amie Wilkinson: "DADDY! That boy is being a big meanie to us girls! Make him stop!" [Give that woman a fainting couch and a stuffed animal in a safe space.]

    It is quite ominous that the complaining professor is math professor at the University of Chicago. Is the University of Chicago going to hell in a hand basket too?

  • RoyMo||

    A stuffed animal? She is not a girl, give her an embroidering hoop.

  • Don Nico||

    There is a simple procedure in most journals: Write a paper "Comments on..."
    Editors will (at least I do) ask the commenter to first write to the original author.
    And then will process the paper with one referee being the author of the original. The final draft of the Comment is then usually published along with the response of the initial paper.

    That is what is called open scientific discourse.

  • Longtobefree||

    Interesting point. What has it go to do with the university of chicago bully?

  • Michael P||

    I took it as a contrast of how academic journals are supposed to work with how they worked in this case.

  • Naaman Brown||

    In handling the citations database and assisting in typesetting of an economics journal at a book manufacturer 1974-2003, I saw the academic article-comment-reply sequence frequently enough to know it is (or was) a standard procedure in academic publishing.

    However, I have observed a Comment (Ayres 2003) on an Article (Lott 1997) treated by the student editors at Stanford Law Review as a "new" article instead of as a comment, allowing Ayres to reply to Lott&coauthors; reply/"comment". The student editors also allowed Ayres to edit their comment/"article" in response to the reply/"comment" as well as reply to the reply/"comment". (The academic standard would have been to acknowledge error in their reply rather than edit their comment/"article" in response to the reply/"comment".)

    For certain issues, normal academic standards do not apply.
    Guns, race, sex.

  • Naaman Brown||

    For some reason Ayres & Donohue and Lott & Mustard with no blanks around the & got the amoersand and word deleted but Lott & coauthors with no blanks passed. Could be the comment system seeing the & capital letter as an escape code.)

  • Lee Moore||

    This, from the Quillette article, was priceless :

    Diane Henderson ("Professor and Chair of the Climate and Diversity Committee")

  • Paul Sand||

    I have a suggestion for Ted Hill's next paper: a mathematical model of the Streisand Effect.

  • Stephen Lathrop||

    I have no opinion on the withdrawal controversy, because I haven't had time to try to understand it. I do note the headline, A Mathematics Paper Two Math Journals Were Mau-Maued into Suppressing.

    That, of course, is a racial provocation, having nothing to do with any issues of scholarly policy, the paper's accuracy or appropriateness for publication, or really anything. The choice of, "Mau-Maued," is simple click-bait signaling by Bernstein, showing careless willingness to gratuitously goad racist anger.

    I should note that I am familiar with the source of the term, having read, Radical Chic, and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers when author Tom Wolfe, and ‎Farrar, Straus & Giroux published that book in 1970. The acceptability of Wolfe's invention in its original context does nothing to confer acceptability on Bernstein's use of the derivative term in this context.

    When it comes to deploying borderline-racist invective, right wingers seem drawn moth-like toward danger. Too many seem incapable of mastering the subtleties of context required to pull it off. In consequence, many right wingers end up baffled and enraged when called out for their blunders. They suppose mistakenly they are the victims of a double standard, when in fact they should have simply used the trivial judgment necessary to steer clear of dangers they don't comprehend. The proof is Wolfe himself, a conservative who showed he did know how to do it.

  • gormadoc||

    Of course, language and terms never change, either in connotation or denotation, and must always be defined how you believe they should be. Like it or not, mau-mau doesn't require a racist context and simply means to intimidate.

    I wonder how you would fare in non-white Anglophone countries, where many terms rarely mean what a white English-speaker would expect.

  • Stephen Lathrop||

    gormadoc, is your first paragraph a two-sentence mix—sarcasm first, and your forthright view second?

  • Lee Moore||

    I should note that I am familiar with the source of the term, having read, Radical Chic, and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers when author Tom Wolfe, and ‎Farrar, Straus & Giroux published that book in 1970. The acceptability of Wolfe's invention in its original context does nothing to confer acceptability on Bernstein's use of the derivative term in this context.

    I find this - presumably derived from some secret anti-racist catechism - quite mystifying. I was familar with the original Mau-Mau, but not with the Tom Wolfe reference (though I have now looked it up.) The original Mau Mau were, of course, black, and engaged in intimidation (both of the white colonists and of black locals.) Tom Wolfe appears to have coined the term mau-mauing to refer to intimidation by racial minorities in SF. So he's referencing the intimidation, and the "colonial" structure of SF minorities being administered by whities. So the mau-mauing has a definite racey flavor in Tom Wolfe's formulation. As well as being a rich and original neologism good for attracting eyeballs.

    Bernstein's use of the term has no racey flavor at all. Race has got nothing to do with the story. Bernstein has just used Wolfe's term as a synonym for intimidation. OK it's derivative, but hardly hackneyed. What kind of a dog do you have to be to detect a racist dog whistle here ? Come and read this story and discover ....that it's got nothing to do with race ?

  • Stephen Lathrop||

    You were born when, Lee?

    Anyone old enough to remember the Mau Mau uprising will probably understand from memory that the term, "Mau Mau," in the mouth of a white person, is as indelibly stained with racist aggression as is the term, "nigger," in the U.S. today. If Bernstein is not that old, then he is at least old enough to exercise more caution while wandering near the fraught edge of his comprehension.

  • Absaroka||

    "Anyone old enough to remember the Mau Mau uprising will probably understand from memory that the term, "Mau Mau," in the mouth of a white person, is as indelibly stained with racist aggression"

    Oh, bollocks. Even HuffPo uses the term:

    "American discourse has been hijacked by right-wing demagogues who win by smear, reign by fear, demonize dissent, treasonize reason, and accuse any public utterance which reveals their lies or intent as "liberal media bias." ... Newspapers and networks have been so effectively mau-maued by reactionary talking-heads and politicians that they have largely abandoned the effort to separate true from false..."

    Painting Marty Kaplan as a racist aggressor or right wing dog whistler seems like an uphill battle to me.

  • Lee Moore||

    I was born after the end of the Mau Mau rebellion and I probably first heard about it in my teens.

    the term, "Mau Mau," in the mouth of a white person, is as indelibly stained with racist aggression as is the term, "nigger," in the U.S. today

    This is the bit that is puzzling me. You are condemning Bernstein for using the term in a context where even the most demented screamer of "Raaaacism !" could not suspect that his reference has anything to do with race. (If any third rails are approached in this story it's the sex one, not the race one.)

    But - per Lathrop S - it was apparently OK for Tom Wolfe to use it in a context which has an obvious racial angle :

    The acceptability of Wolfe's invention in its original context does nothing to confer acceptability on Bernstein's use of the derivative term in this context.

    If I have understood Wolfe's usage from a brief sally to wikipedia then I agree his usage was perfectly reasonable, notwithstanding the race angle, because he appears to have been making a humorous analogy to colonialism, at the expense of gentry liberals, rather than trying to abuse minorities.

    Given your condemnation of any whitey using the term mau mau, together with your nod to the acceptability of Wolfe using the term, I can only conclude that Tom Wolfe must have been black. I had not realised this.

  • D-Pizzle||

    I argued with Stephen for years on a conservative website (rhymes with "Tashonal Teview), and I can tell you that he is an excellent writer. Thinker...not so much.

  • Bob from Ohio||

    "That, of course, is a racial provocation"

    No its not. Its use of a pre-existing term to describe a similar situation. Normal language development.

  • y81||

    If only Bernstein had said that white people smell like dogs. That is perfectly acceptable mainstream discourse.

  • swood1000||

    showing careless willingness to gratuitously goad racist anger

    mau-mau : to intimidate (someone, such as an official) by hostile confrontation or threats

    Why is there no indication of a racist meaning in any definition of this word?

    This is of course taken from the Mau-Mau uprising in Kenya against the British, in which both the British and the Mau-Mau committed war crimes. But even if the Mau-Mau were brutal why is this a racial rather than a cultural reference? Do you have reference to support your assertion that most people understand this to be a racist term?

  • AustinRoth||

    Doubleplusungoodthink.

  • DavidTaylor||

    We have Ted Hill's account. I'd like to hear from others involved, including the journal editor and Prof. Wilkinson, before drawing any conclusions.

  • Tom Dial||

    It would would be quite interesting to have responses from others, especially Prof. Wilkinson, (also her father and her husband) and various others, especially Prof. Tabachnikov (once a co-author), all three involved journal editors, and the NSF. It would be good also to see the correspondence Prof. Hill describes.

    For a variety of fairly obvious reasons it seems extremely unlikely that we will see or hear any of it in the foreseeable future. Until and unless we do, it makes sense to accept Prof. Hill's description as given.

  • D-Pizzle||

    Any response would probably be couched in the academic jargon for several paragraphs that would ultimately distill to "because woke."

  • MonitorsMost||

    Seems very strange. It's not an empirical study, it's a paper about a mathematical model. I have a hard time seeing how this isn't a overreaction by whomever is campaigning against this article.

  • bernard11||

    As Don Nico suggests above, the reaction was quite possibly provoked by Appendix A, which presents the results of a number of studies of the "Greater Male Variability Hypothesis," not all of which support the hypothesis.

  • Lee Moore||

    I should have thought he would have provoked a bigger reaction if he had omitted the studies showing a result neutral or contrary to his hypothesis.

    Didn't he do what you're supposed to do if you're doing real science ?

  • ||

    Should have submitted it to an economics journal. Economists look at stuff like this all the time, and do not regard sex differences as controversial. They'd also be interested in it.

  • D-Pizzle||

    "Economists look at stuff like this all the time, and do not regard sex differences as controversial."

    Yet. Stay tuned.

  • GoatOnABoat||

    Wouldn't want actual science interfering with gender identity politics...

  • ReaderY||

    In the 1830s, John Calhoun successfully persuaded Congress to prohibit sending anti-slavery through the mails, and did a great deal to support its repression throughout society. He used arguments almost identical to the ones being made here.

    Southerners (I.e. white southerners) were an oppressed minority struggling to achieve their rightful place in society. They were subject to vicious hate attacks from oppressive abolitionists who sought to impose religiously based morals on them and turn America's free, open society into a place of medieval oppression and intolerance.

    The presence of abolitionist thought served only to incite the haters at the dregs of society. Therefore, to preserve white southerners' ability to participate fully in society, literature that might lead people to hateful or bigoted thoughts about white southerners must be suppressed.

    Scratch out "[white] southerners," write in "women" in crayon, and you pretty much have Calhoun's exact argument, almost verbatim. This is nothing more than a pro-slavery argument with slavery struck out and something else written in in crayon. Doing so doesn't make it any less pro-slaveholder or pro-slavery.

  • Jon_Roland||

    What is needed here is the addresses of the journals, and for each of us to send letters of complaint to each. They respond to a handful of complaints. We need to overwhelm them with far more complaints. Don't remain silent while a handful holds sway.

  • Ghost on the Highway||

    Mau-maued? Racist overtones. Worse than "monkeying around".

  • Michael Cook||

    Henry Kissinger once commented that infighting between tenured academics often becomes spectacularly nasty because nobody has anything to lose. In the David vs Goliath instances, the entrenched Establishment Academic will be brutal because they can.

    The Anthropogenic Global Warming debate has shown up the many shortcomings of peer review as the gatekeeper of scientific understanding. The core of the problem is that all humans are subject to jumping too soon on the bandwagon of ideas that are fashionable for social or political reasons, and not jumping off soon enough once the bandwagon becomes a hay wagon with lots of economic payload and lots of new wheels added to it, but unfortunately it seems it was on the wrong road all along and can't be turned around.

  • Burkhard||

    reply 1/2

    Academics ought to be good at critically analysing facts. Lawyers ought to be good at critically analysing facts - and always remember that listening to one side only is a really ad idea. Legal academics should therefore be twice as good... Unfortunately, Prof Bernstein's post falls rather short of this ideal, as do the commentators who lap up the story because it confirms their preconceived ideas. Problem is - little of the story is true.

    Anne Wilkinson did not ask or lobby for the paper to be withdrawn, only that a critical response to be published that takes the science apart, as it should be:
    https://math.uchicago.edu/~wilkinso/Statement.html

    The editors did not respond to political pressure, but noted the the editor in chief had not followed normal peer review protocol, resulting in a substantially flawed and sub-standard paper
    https://www.math.uchicago.edu/~farb/statement

  • Burkhard||

    reply 2/2

    post-publication retraction in the sciences is rare (too rare for my liking) but not unheard of if the theory does not hold up to scrutiny. There might be a culture issue here - maybe in law, everything is just "opinions worth discussing", but peer reviewed science journals don't work like student edited law reviews, and facts are facts.

    Is the science in the paper bad? I'd say yes, but don't take my word for it, here an analysis by Sir William Timothy Gowers, FRS, Royal Society Research Professor at the Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics at the University of Cambridge, and Fields Medal winner. He too was worried initially about alleged political pressure - but concludes his devastating critique that the serious flaws in the analysis made a retraction necessary: here his analysis of the paper:
    https://bit.ly/2CLubb1

    So what has Prof Bernstein achieved? He promoted a deeply flawed paper in a field for which he has no expertise whatsoever, without even attempting to read and analyse it on its merits, just taking the author's word for its quality. He also repeated allegations that I'd say are at least near-defamatory, again without fact checking or asking the party accused.

    If this is how conservatives attempt to protect scientific integrity, then science is in even more trouble than I thought.

  • swood1000||

    Yet Igor Rivin, an editor at the widely respected online research journal, the New York Journal of Mathematics, along with Mark Steinberger, the NYJM's editor-in-chief, were very positive about the paper, as was the referee for NYJM. How do you reconcile this fact with your conclusion that the paper was "deeply flawed"? The layman might be justified in concluding that the intensity of the denigration had something to do with the sensitive nature of the subject matter.

  • Burkhard||

    Well, first we only have the author's word about the positive feedback. We don't have the referee reports.Besides the journal prides itself on fast turnaround times, and 2 weeks is very fast indeed - maybe resulting in lack of rigour? What we do have is a detailed analysis, publicly available for you to check, by a top mathematician. My own view on reading the paper was broadly the same, essentially another "assume a perfectly spherical cow on a zero-gravity earth with infinite supply of grass" paper. Gowers identifies further and more serious problems, in particular that it does not even work with these unrealistic assumptions.

    Gowers was concerned, as was I, that there was censorship. He does not consider the result, were it supported, problematic at all, and neither would I. So to me this seems like an entirely self-serving claim

  • swood1000||

    Well, first we only have the author's word about the positive feedback.

    The Intelligencer's editor-in-chief is Marjorie Wikler Senechal, Professor Emerita of Mathematics and the History of Science at Smith College. She liked our draft, and declared herself to be untroubled by the prospect of controversy. "In principle," she told Sergei in an email, "I am happy to stir up controversy and few topics generate more than this one. After the Middlebury fracas, in which none of the protestors had read the book they were protesting, we could make a real contribution here by insisting that all views be heard, and providing links to them." …

    But, that same day, the Mathematical Intelligencer's editor-in-chief Marjorie Senechal notified us that, with "deep regret," she was rescinding her previous acceptance of our paper. "Several colleagues," she wrote, had warned her that publication would provoke "extremely strong reactions" and there existed a "very real possibility that the right-wing media may pick this up and hype it internationally."

    Do you also express doubt about the veracity of this part of the story? How did a paper with such stark deficiencies receive this kind of treatment from Prof. Senechal? Again, the layman might be excused for concluding that there was more going on here than an absence of technical merit, especially since this was Prof. Senechal's explanation.

  • swood1000||

    Are you open to the possibility that the Greater Male Variability Hypothesis is valid?

  • Burkhard||

    Sure. Nothing particularly dramatic would follow from it (and in particular the normative conclusions for eduction that the early proponents like Thorndyke and Hall drew are glaring non-sequiturs, as is I'm afraid quote a lot of the reasoning that goes on in the paper you linked).

    I'm also open to the possibility that the (mixed) empirical evidence is an artefact caused by cultural factors and the measurement methods, and the perception of GMV merely an example for out-group homogeneity fallacy- that seemed to be particularly the case for the early proponents whose evidential support was next to none.

    Quite happy to leave this to the empirical scientists, as I said, no normative consequences of any interest follow from it. But I am certain that IF GMV is true then it its not because of the reasons Hill gives, which have implications that are observably and clearly not true - in particular the percentage of "non-selected" males is nowhere near what his model requires.

  • swood1000||

    Sure. Nothing particularly dramatic would follow from it

    Something dramatic flowed from it for Larry Summers when he even suggested the possibility of such a thing.

  • swood1000||

    Sure. Nothing particularly dramatic would follow from it

    Something dramatic flowed from it for Larry Summers when he even suggested the possibility of such a thing.

  • swood1000||

    Sure. Nothing particularly dramatic would follow from it

    Something dramatic flowed from it for Larry Summers when he even suggested the possibility of such a thing.

  • Lee Moore||

    but don't take my word for it, here an analysis by Sir William Timothy Gowers, FRS, Royal Society Research Professor at the Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics at the University of Cambridge, and Fields Medal winner. He too was worried initially about alleged political pressure - but concludes his devastating critique that the serious flaws in the analysis made a retraction necessary

    I didn't take your word for it. I read Prof Gowers comment, which is neither devastating nor even mathematical above High School level. It's simply a commentary suggesting that the model is simplistic and that one could make other models with other assumptions. As one could. But there's nothing in it that suggests that the paper is mathematically flawed. And as Gowers himself sensibly concedes, he is not himself an expert on evolutionary biology, and so there's no reason to take his evolutionary speculations more seriously than anyone else's. If he were really picking holes in the math, then an appeal to his mathematical authority would be telling (at least for those whose math was insufficent to follow the actual math.) But he isn't.

  • ReaderY||

    A side note to Professor Bernstein:

    It might be better not to use a word like "mau maued" in a post like this. The mau-mau uprising was an uprising by native African tribes against colonialist settlement and British rule in Kenya in the 1950s and early 1960s. From the tribes' point of view, the uprising was completely just.

    So to use the term as a general synonym for unjust pressure is necessarily to take the colonialists' point of view. It's understandable that the term would become part of the English language - the colonialists were English - but I think it can, in the current political climate, be completely separated from its colonialist baggage.

    Consider, for example, if you had used one of the derogatory terms Southerners had coined to describe rule under reconstruction - carpetbaggers or scalawags, for example. I think use of such a term could be construed as a signal that you favored the Southern side. You can't completely detach it from its original context. I think the situation here is similar.

    So I'd avoid the term.

    Look at the amount of comments on the issue. Why create a side issue that results in a portion of your readership being automatically completely hostile to anything you have to say, when it's completely irrelevant and unnecessary to your main point?

  • Vader||

    Mau-Mau? More like the Cultural Revolution. It's students who are the fundamental drivers of this, shaming their professors, who in turn are terrified not to side with the students.

  • D-Pizzle||

    Agreed. Perhaps the better term to use would have been "Mao-Mao."

  • Dick King||

    There's a plausible mechanism.

    Any characteristic that's partially controlled by genes on the X chromosome will be more variable in males than in females. One example of such a trait is color vision. Color vision is partially inherited via the X chromosome, and wouldn't ya know it, it's more variable in males than females.

    -dk

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