Sir Tim Hunt, a Nobel prize winner in biology, was rapidly fired from numerous British and European scientific and scholarly institutions because 9,000 km away from London, he told an audience that even in the lab, opposite sexes mostly attract and women cry more often than men.
While committing his blasphemy, Hunt totally forgot to point out that science, it's a girl thing, and it's all about the lipstick – the official definition of science according to the European Commission.
It is unnecessary for me to repeatedly explain what I find so crazy about the event. The American Thinker just published an essay about the event. I agree with the author and pretty much with all the commenters. Sometimes, they think that they argue but they don't really contradict each other and almost all the comments are right, too. This movement shouldn't be called PC, it's just evil. And even the term "cultural Marxism" is misleading because Marxism doesn't have any subdivisions. It's one ideology trying to take control of the whole society and to do so, it uses numerous strategies.
It's easy for them – and us – who are outside the university system to mock the reaction by the universities and point out the non-Western and sick values and mechanisms that produce such outcomes. You need much more courage to even express doubts about the lynching of Tim Hunt if you are inside the university system.
For this reason, I find it much more important to see what people inside the university environment dare to say about this crazy episode (extremely far from the first one of its kind).
Physicist Clifford Johnson posted a link to The Tuttle Rebuttal and recommended this external URL because it's "great". Honestly, I have no idea what anyone can find great about that page. There isn't anything true on that page, there isn't anything smart on that page, there isn't even anything creative or original or entertaining or provocative on that page.
Sarah Tuttle, a third-class astrophysicist (remove the non-cosmic papers by her namesake) whose main source of her subjectively perceived moral superiority is her vagina, just wrote a couple of the (by now) standard hateful clichés directed against achieved men such as Tim Hunt. I have no idea why anyone (regardless of his or her opinions) would link to those stupid tweets and how Tuttle's tweets differ from the tweets submitted by the other members of the mob. But there must be something very special about them from Clifford's viewpoint because he was self-evidently aroused.
In the comments, Moshe Rozali, another string theorist whom I know even better than Clifford, didn't seem to share Clifford's excitement about the way how Hunt was treated.
Now, you shouldn't have any doubts about the political affiliation of both men. In that very discussion, Moshe Rozali described themselves as "progressive academics". This made me laugh. I can't comprehend why someone would use such a totally discredited label basically equivalent to "obnoxiously pompous jerk" to describe himself. The communist regime was using similar labels to describe scholars it considered loyal but pretty much all of them would at least privately renounce it. They were telling their friends: "You know, I am the good one or good communist who is just improving or destroying the party from the inside." But Moshe doesn't see any irony and proudly talks about himself as about a "progressive academic" who is "aiding progressive causes".
I hope that this equivalent of the communist party ID will help Moshe at least a little bit because this is where his sympathies to the violent feminists on Twitter ended.
Regardless of his political affiliation, Moshe is understandably worried about the crazy speed and "lack of the formal, organized process" – a word he uses about 6 times. You know, regardless of one's political opinions, anyone in a remotely similar situation as Tim Hunt should be worried. People used to think about the Academia as a decoupled ivory tower that is shielded from the cruelty of some of the ordinary people. The idea is that this shield against attacks and distractions was needed to provide the scholars with a sufficient concentration – analogous to the mood that monks could enjoy in monasteries. Tenure was meant to be an even higher level of protection and I think that most people would agree that a Nobel prize should give one even more safety than just tenure. But even the last, triple shield, didn't help Sir Tim Hunt at all.
As Moshe says, one can become a bit inconvenient for some bosses and they will quickly professionally destroy him whoever he (or, less likely, she) is in order to help themselves.
Moshe is worried about the Twitter mobs more than about Hunt's innocent quotes, of course. He uses the term "mob" for the bunch of aggressive Twitter activists and the word "mob" means that 1) there is no proper process in the "trial", 2) the members of the mob are faceless and don't have any individual responsibility for their contribution to the lynching.
And Moshe Rozali worries that it's naive to think that similar mob lynching will systematically produce justice (totally agreed); and it's foolish to expect that such mob lynching won't be used against "progressive causes". Well, the latter point is probably wrong and I have good news for Moshe: as long as you remain a "progressive academic without heresies", you will be safe.
Angry Twitter users surely exist among left-wingers and right-wingers; climate alarmists and skeptics; they exist in virtually every large enough group. But some of these groups' Twitter anger doesn't produce any results because unlike your hardcore Stalinist friends such as Clifford Johnson, the angry critics of the leftists don't have any power in the Academia. It's that simple.
To mention an example, Catherine Hayhoe claims to be receiving 200 pieces of hate mail a day. (She is a strange hybrid of a crazy environmentalist and alarmist activist and a religious whackodoodle; this combination will become less shockingly crazy tomorrow when Pope Francis will release this document, Laudato si, which will turn him into a Hayhoe in a skirt LOL. It's like a summary of an IPCC report flavored with references to the Pope's Mother Earth, Brother Sun, and Sister Moon, among tons of other hilarious things.) But as you can see, 200 pieces of hate mail a day isn't enough to fire her!
You should compare the non-existent implications of these 200 pieces of hate mail e.g. with one mail that a Stalinist named Lee Smolin sent to Harvard faculty when he didn't like my review of a pseudoscientific book he wrote at amazon.com. The mail described me as a chauvinist and a homophobe and all these weird things and they had to deal with me. And make no doubts about it, I became immediately harassed by the spineless department chair John Huth and indirectly others. Just imagine how creepy it is: nonsensical and surely totally off-topic accusations of my being a "homophobe" were being used as a tool to make me erase a review of a book on a topic that I understand about 100 times better than Lee Smolin – that was really why I was hired to that job. No, you really shouldn't be surprised that I want an electrical chair treatment for the likes of Smolin because that's the kind of the behind-the-scenes behavior they do 7 days a week – the main source of their "success" in the system.
Most of the colleagues (professors) would privately agree with me. As far as I know, none of them has provided me with any principled defense that was so needed at that time. None of them has made it clear to Smolin that I not only had the right to write reviews at amazon.com but I was really hired to that Harvard job because I knew a lot about the topic that his book unsuccessfully tried to address. Those were the times when I was learning how badly damaged and existentially dangerous the environment was.
I do believe that despite being a self-described "progressive academic", Moshe Rozali does feel some ethical constraints. But even if you're not an active enforcer of the Stalinist rules, Moshe, you are a part of the problem. Clifford Johnson is one of the hardcore and unfair enforcers of the ideological purity, a counterpart of the guards in a concentration camp, and your disagreement simply isn't credible or strong enough to actually stop any of these things.
So even though I appreciate the infinitesimal portion of courage that you have exposed by mildly disagreeing with Clifford, I am afraid that it's clear that the Tim-Hunt-like terror against Nobel prize winners who dare to preserve their common sense would lead to the professional assassination in your very department, too.
Clifford Johnson, the hardcore Stalinist in the exchange I am discussing, doesn't like the label "mobs" for the activity of the mobs on Twitter. He celebrates Twitter for giving the voice to the people who feel "daily undermined and underrepresented". "It's not just women," he adds, suggesting that he also means blacks like himself. Please give me a break with this outrageously ludicrous cr*p, Clifford. If there is someone in your department who has enjoyed special privileges throughout his life, who really deserves to be called a spoiled brat, then it's you.
Concerning the voicelessness, you know, some people and some groups remain "voiceless" or unable to enforce political decisions they would prefer – and it is mostly a good thing. When a thousand of angry scientists whose main virtue was their vagina were unable to sack a Nobel prize winner just because he said an obvious truth that they would prefer to treat as heresy, the world was a better place. These angry scientists who try to eliminate basic aspects of our civilization such as the freedom of speech are and have always been a risk for the Western society and centuries of evolution were able to minimize the risk. There were very good reasons why such mobs became basically voiceless.
Twitter itself is just a technical tool. It allows users to gather lots of supporters very quickly. Rozali and Johnson discuss whether this quantitative difference produces a qualitative one – and Rozali correctly yet ironically reminds Johnson of the law of Marxist dialectics about the transition of quantity into quality. ;-) But I do agree that Twitter, a technical tool, can't be considered the ultimate culprit.
The ultimate problem is in the universities and committees and boards etc. that fire people in similar situations as Tim Hunt's. These committees and boards are mixtures of hardcore Stalinists such as Clifford Johnson who badly and sincerely want to ruin other people's lives for ideological reasons; and people like Moshe who know that it's wrong but they don't have the balls to make any difference. The outcome is often inevitable.
An obvious reason why I don't consider Twitter to be the "ultimate" cause of the problems is that I believe that almost everyone understands that it is easy to get many copies and retweets etc. So everyone takes this fact into account when he decides whether some "Twitter campaign" is important or not. If you see one thousand of retweets by angry feminists, it is clearly not such a big deal relatively to hundreds of other events on Twitter that we still consider inconsequential. There simply exists some portion of the population – millions of people – who will get angry by something and some fraction of these angry people (fraction that depends on the luck and well-connectedness of the founders of the campaign) may participate in a Twitter lynching exercise.
But the real problem is the combination of the outright hostility to the freedom of speech (Clifford Johnson is a symbol of it) and the spinelessness of the people who make similar administrative decisions in the Academia (Moshe Rozali). Moshe, it's still bad when you find it appropriate to join the lynching by repeatedly saying – for absolutely no good reason – that "you have no sympathy for Hunt and he is disgusting". He is not disgusting. He just has common sense that you have lost years ago and he has the right to preserve it. Moshe, as long as you are unable to make it clear that Johnson's support of the lynching is unethical and you may tangibly oppose such things in the future, you are a part of the problem – a component of the spineless part of the problem, but it is still a part of the problem, anyway.
And that's the memo.
P.S.: By the way, Brian Cox, the media's favorite caricature of a particle physicist, dared to defend Hunt against the mobs. And so did Boris Johnson, the mayor of London. A Labour Party MP swine immediately threatened Boris Johnson, too.