One week ago, we discussed a breathtaking talk by Marika Taylor that was scheduled as a regular talk at the Strings 2017 conference. The speaker bragged that at least in the U.K. and the Netherlands, she is making sure that people are being hired and conferences and projects are being funded primarily according to the gender of the applicants. And in fact, we heard, this ideologically driven, political manipulation of the institutionalized science has been her main daily job in recent years.
The video with the talk has attracted some 1300 viewers so far and 25 out of the 35 votes – and 6 out of 8 comments – were negative. People including several of you pointed out that stuff like that doesn't belong to a scientific conference.
Well, two comments have been posted to support the talk. Both of them are new comments from recent 3 days. One was written by alecbg919 who simply wrote
Good talk about something that needs to be talked about more.This short message indicates that the anonymous poster didn't really have anything to say and he or she was urged to write something positive to compensate for the negative backlash.
Much more interestingly, hours ago, John Schwarz created a new YouTube account just in order to post the following comment:
As a founder of string theory, let me assure you that the polite applause at the end of Marika's excellent talk was sincere. I have witnessed impediments, even hostility, that women in physics have encountered. The standards of behavior in physics are gradually Improving, and women feel more welcome. There is room for further progress, but you shouldn't be misled by anonymous people who post hostile comments.In the previous decades, John Schwarz didn't find it important or useful to create a YouTube account and he does it at the moment... when he wants to try to defend such an indefensible talk? Can you appreciate the degree of his ideological fanaticism that this fact shows?
Can you imagine that some years ago, I went to Caltech and thought about a preliminary job offer over there? Do you think that I could feel safe and happy over there? Going to Caltech could be on par with a Jewish tourist's educational trip to Auschwitz in 1944.
Schwarz's comment is nothing else than the classic feminist hogwash – the writer's being a pioneer of string theory was obviously not sufficient to make his comment reasonable or fair.
Let's go through these comments. Has the applause been sincere? Well, some of it. Much of it was as sincere as the applause during rallies we remember from communism or fascism. Many people feel that they would be in trouble if they booed instead – and the applause may bring them some marginal advantages.
Klaus Fuchs, a TRF commenter who is also an achieved particle phenomenologist and his real name is known to me (but will be kept in secret) has described the psychology of many people whose private opinions about the matter are compatible with ours but who pay lip service to the feminist ideology in their grant applications and in other official situations.
So Dr Schwarz's statement that the applause was sincere is at least a half-lie.
What about the statement that women in physics have encountered impediments, even hostility? Surely, many women have often encountered impediments and hostility. But what Dr Schwarz doesn't tell us is that so did many men. In fact, men have encountered many more impediments and much more hostility than women have. It's just demagogic to single out women as the "victims".
OK, you could say that Schwarz meant that some women have encountered impediments and hostility because they were women. Is it true? Well, to a large extent, it has been true in many situations. For example, her being a woman was almost a necessary condition for Marika Taylor to ignite this backlash. But again, it would be misleading to say that she has experienced the backlash exactly because she is female. Other female speakers didn't experience any hostile reactions like that.
Did Philipp Lenard face some hostile reactions because he was Aryan? Not really, some wise people despised him because he was a Nazi. The case of Marika Taylor is analogous. She didn't face the backlash because she is female; she faced the backlash because she wants to impose some special advantages and disadvantages for various groups that may do physics – she is politicizing science pretty much in the same way as Philipp Lenard, the main representative of the German Physics, did.
Other women may have encountered impediments and hostility because they were feminists, too. Others could have had similar problems because they were behaving in other ways that were considered disruptive. Some of them have been whining. Others were married but had a romantic relationship with another man – greetings to Marie Curie. Some of the negative reactions seem justified to us, some of them seem unjustified to us. Some of them have affected both women and men, others were more characteristic of women.
A century ago, women had some illegitimate trouble to get scholarly jobs – Emmy Noether, Marie Curie, and others had some stories of this sort. But even a century ago, it wasn't so bad, as the fate of these women mostly shows – many ingenious men have had much harder lives. However, Schwarz got his physics PhD at Berkeley (...) in 1966. I just don't believe that he has experienced systematic institutionalized impediments and hostility towards women powered by the idea that women shouldn't be in the Academia.
He's not that old. When he got his PhD, feminism was already in charge. Schwarz has spent half a century in the Academia and throughout this long time, he must have seen that women have enjoyed tons of advantages, affirmative action, and all this stuff. If he doesn't realize it, he is either detached from reality or he's so hardcore that he would prefer an even more skewed attitude of the institutions to the two genders. After all, he is telling us that "there is room for further improvement" so maybe he doesn't find the contemporary affirmative action and whole institutions with tons of parasitic Marika Taylor's to be sufficient.
He must have gone through meetings of admission committees, like one I attended at Harvard, where the new students were accepted and they were sent letters of acceptance before someone like Melissa Franklin realized that she didn't impose the feminist quotas. Disinvitation letters were cold-bloodedly sent to the boys near the edge. "Hi, this is Jane Harvard speaking. Please throw the previous letter to the trash can, it's pure šit. Too late for you to cut your f*cking penis, we want to accept applicants with a preferred sex instead now." At that time, I was so stunned (and ashamed to be Harvard faculty) that I remained speechless, if I remember well. It wasn't something I considered possible in the real world. How many things like that Dr Schwarz must have seen in his 50+ years in the Academia? I am pretty sure that he actively cooperated on many such amazing events.
At the end, the accidental viewers are told not to be misled by anonymous posters of hostile comments. Well, I know the names of at least some of the authors of the comments that have criticized Taylor's talk. And I am not anonymous at all. Interestingly, Schwarz failed to mention that the only other pro-Taylor comment that was posted before his was anonymous as well – well, more anonymous than almost all the "hostile" comments because those are signed by nicknames that already have a "brand" on the Internet.
So his suggestion that the people shocked by Taylor's talk are particularly "anonymous" is a demagogy by itself.
But physicists employed at places such as Caltech may have rather existential reasons to remain anonymous. They're being blackmailed every day. Taylor's talk was an explicitly articulated threat directed against everyone who realizes that institutionalized feminism is unacceptable in science. She made it clear that the people who would dare to oppose her and her Mafia may lose their funding and jobs.
Just days ago, someone innocently placed the logo of CNN on a head in a funny Trump wrestling video. CNN has gone after the author's neck, found his identity, and is threatening everybody that it will personally fight against everyone who does similar things in the future. (Well, hundreds of similar videos have been created but they probably mean something "newer".) These are direct threats against the basic freedom of speech. Some pundits have conjectured that the whole Internet is against CNN now. I am less optimistic, of course.
But a similar bullying by the feminist Mafia is comparably dangerous to the people which is why many of them prefer to remain in anonymity.
The reason why I am shocked by this and why I wrote this blog post is that even Dr Schwarz has exposed himself as a full-blown totalitarian. He is apparently writing a message addressed to all the people who could watch this talk at Strings 2017 and he tells them that "they shouldn't be misled". Can't he imagine that some of the people who watch the video or attend the conference – or some of the graduate students, postdocs, and faculty at Caltech – actually agree with the critics (or are among the critics) and disagree with Taylor? Has he hired reliable thought policewomen who make sure e.g. that no voter of Donald Trump makes it to his department, even though these voters won the latest election?
Does he really struggle to impose the ideological unity over his environment in which garbage talks like Taylor's cannot even be criticized? It surely looks so and I am utterly disgusted by that, Dr Schwarz.
Exactly on the same day when Taylor's talk was posted, the Telegraph reported that University professors [were] afraid to teach controversial subjects for fear of being sacked, conference hears . Charles at Watts' blog summarized the article by the proposition that it's all over for the U.K. science. Sadly, string theory's pioneer Dr John Schwarz is among the vigorous warriors to suppress the freedom of thought in the scholarly world. This has already led to quite some intellectual degeneration of the university world but it seems that the likes of Schwarz still see "further room for improvements".