Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Stanford's "physics for minorities" is toxic racism

Two more "pure ideological indoctrination" physics courses may be even worse

Wrath-0f-Khan has pointed out a remarkable story in Breitbart
Stanford Launches Physics Course for ‘Underrepresented’ Minority Students
(see also Campus Reform)
about a new Stanford physics course, Physics 41E. The content is supposed to be identical to Physics 41, a mechanics course, except that the enrolled students are supposed to be students from minorities who had little or no high school physics or calculus. Such students obviously have to be given more care – so they receive "learning assistants" (LAs) who get an extra $1,700 stipend for their work. I suppose that the students from the minorities don't have to pay for this extra expense.

A female professor whose first name resembles Lisa – a faculty member and a blogger with the defunct "Cosmic Variance" weblog around Sean Carroll (who switched to the "Preposterous Universe") – seems to be the main driving force of this extremely unfortunate idea. It's natural to think that certain people have already gotten into the system with the help of the illegitimate ideologically driven distortions – and their gratitude helps them to spread this distortion further.

Incidentally, it's funny to realize that most of the people behind the split of courses to Physics 41 and 41E have been attacking South Africa and the U.S. for segregation, the ultimate crime. Now it's their wonderful new idea!

You know, almost 15 years ago, your innocent humble correspondent was forced to notice the stunning racist and sexist approach to students – and the terror against instructors who don't join it – for the first time. Perhaps because of my naivite, perhaps because of my limited experience, I still believed that Harvard was a fair university and even the grading was accurate and meticulous. But in a course, my TA – who was a perfectionist and whose work I was sufficiently verifying to have a full confidence in him – has determined some final grades for the students, based on some homework and/or exams.

Soon afterwards, I was contacted by various senior people and told that it was impossible for someone to get a C or a D in that course because she was female; and a similar comment about another student who had to get a better grade because he was brown. A famous professor associated with the birth of grand unification seemed to be one of the bullies, too. I was completely shocked and frankly speaking, I am completely shocked even now, 15 years later. This was like a policy from Nazi Germany and the people who pretend that the analogy is misleading are lying to themselves. They still haven't answered my question whether Harvard really wants race-based grading; or whether they believe that a junior professor whom they hired – I – plus his TA wasn't respecting the basic principles of fairness. Well, everyone actually knows it's the former.

As far as I can say, the treatment and grading of female and non-white students in Harvard courses (and at almost all universities, I guess) is pretty much corrupt so you should pay no attention to these grades and perhaps even degrees. They are not trustworthy – especially the relative grades between minorities and non-minorities seem to be complete garbage. An A in a physics course may have been well-deserved for a "minority" student but as far as I can say, based on my experience, it's far more likely that it is not and it is a result of ideologically-driven fraud and blackmail.

The situation has gotten much worse in the following years and the professors who apparently matter today seem to be completely fanatical. The aforementioned ex-blogger is offering us some "theory":
Many students from all backgrounds and identities come to Stanford excited about physics, and this interest does not strongly depend on race or gender. But we lose a larger number of Black, Latinx and Native students, as well as women of all races, in the first two years of undergraduate study. A lot of that is due to the lack of community and overall climate. People from underrepresented groups often do not feel welcome in physics classes.
What a pile of junk. The interest in physics in an ethnic group (or anywhere) is clearly heavily correlated with the actual number of members of the group who choose to study physics or its prerequisites and because far fewer blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians go to physics than the percentage of the Jews, Asians, and whites, you may be pretty sure that they're also far less interested in it. That's also why many of them decouple from those who are actually more interested in physics – and good at it – which is why the less motivated or talented physics students generally feel less welcome, too.

In other words, if someone hasn't had any calculus and/or physics at the high school, it shouldn't be shocking that he's more likely to decouple during the first years of the Stanford physics courses. The reasons may really be explained without any concept of the race. One just needs prerequisites to be good at some course. So the actual reason why the people of color are more likely to fail during the first years is the racism in admission policies – people who are unprepared are being admitted to Stanford because of their race or ethnicity! It's outrageous for the ideologues to blame the effect on someone else because it's clearly their fault, a result of their other racist policies.

More generally, independently of races, I find it highly unlikely that it's a good idea to teach a "university course on mechanics" to someone who hasn't been exposed to calculus and/or physics as a high school student. There is no general rule that such a person with this limited background cannot comprehend mechanics. But it's very likely that he or she won't. The education must be assumed to be a somewhat gradual process. If it assumes that a student jumps from a kindergarten level of physics knowledge to the graduate school physics right away, it's not a realistic assumption and the resources and time spent for such schools will probably be mostly wasted. The discontinuity in the learning isn't the only problem with their plan; another problem is that the absence of the prerequisites is quite a hint that the person wasn't keen on similar things – so he or she is likely not to be too keen on the higher but related topics, either.

So I just said that if someone wasn't exposed to calculus and physics during the high school years, you should also ask "Why" and think about the answer a little bit carefully. Do you always want to push the "discrimination of the people of color" down the people's throats? Does everyone have to believe this explanation at every level – and even after 50 years in which the discrimination at universities, if any, has been in favor of the people of color, as every sane person knows? If a non-white newborn is measured to have a lower IQ, is it also due to the discrimination by the evil whites in its mother's vagina?

Needless to say, I am pretty much convinced that for most of these students, the extra LAs (learning assistants) won't help much, anyway. The absence of the solid high school prerequisites is incomplete but non-trivial evidence in favor of the opinion that they have some barrier that prevents them from getting further in physics etc. The assumption that the LAs' help will be perfect and turn the Physics 41E students to the equivalents of the Physics 41 students is just an ideological meme or a wishful thinking with zero evidence to back it up – and many good reasons to seriously doubt it. Most of the Physics 41E students probably shouldn't have gotten to the college at all. They probably got there because of racism at another level, the admission process, anyway. I know quite something about that bias from the admission committees, too.

Even if this racism existed at one level only, the system could be considered a corrupt racist machinery. However, the racism and sexism seems to operate at a high number of levels – I think that all of them – so such schools are a complete mess. This racist and sexist treatment is surely being noticed by all intelligent people at a following level – who adjust their interpretation of the results from the lower stage. I have told you why you shouldn't take good grades and/or degrees of such minority students too seriously.

So the people at a higher level, e.g. employers, naturally try to extract the most accurate information they can get from the manipulated data. It may mean that they internally or subconsciously replace minority students' grades by grades that are worse by two levels or something like that. Of course a good minority student could sometimes deserve an A but the re-calibration is surely a good idea in average – to reduce the "sum of the squared error margins" if you understand this statistics jargon of mine. While Stanford will probably try to create the illusion that the students who have passed Physics 41 and Physics 41E are equally good in average, others will probably have very good reasons to think otherwise.

Needless to say, these sexists and racists want to impose their terror on all levels. So they would ideally love to punish the employers who try to undo the manipulation of the data they were served; and, for example, all the employers who will think that the education obtained from Physics 41 and from Physics 41E isn't really equivalent. Where can it lead? It can only lead to exponentially increasing lies and exponentially increasing terror against the people who don't like the proliferation of lies and the detachment from the basic reality. Without a massive effort to truncate the self-confidence of similar dishonest Marxist or neo-Marxist egalitarian leftists, such leftists pretty much unavoidably become new totalitarian rulers responsible for tens of millions of destroyed human lives or worse. Left-wing ideologies are unavoidably totalitarian for a simple reason: they want to defend the "natural equality of results", a big lie, and one needs terror and/or Gulags to defend a big lie.

Communism was dividing the people into "good" and "bad" classes – instead of "good" and "bad" races – but the general logic was almost isomorphic. To look nice in the eyes of Lenin's corpse in the Mausoleum, the communist party needed to preserve its roots in the "good" class, the working class, but for the country not to collapse completely, it still needed people who weren't uneducated idiots – and you can guess that it was damn hard to find the working-class people who have voluntarily joined the communist party and who were not complete idiots. So the communist party took some of those who had a chance to become working-class communists who weren't complete idiots and they were ordered to study schools and universities. Because it was in the interest of the whole regime for them to become chaps and ladies with diplomas, they got an unlimited number of attempts to pass any exam, aside from similar bonuses. Be sure that this experiment has proven that the patience of almost all examiners was finite! ;-)

How misguided the Stanford people must be if they want to recreate the same mess – with the analogous political interventions into schools – that we had during communism? It would be vastly better for Stanford and others to eliminate the actual self-evident racism, especially against the Russians and the East Asians.

The Campus Reform article says that the Stanford Republicans are "skeptical" (the word doesn't suggest that they have the balls to fight this horrible thing) but it also offers us news about two amazing "purely diversity" courses (announced in a press release):
“Physics 94SI: Diverse Perspectives in Physics” is a seminar course in which “physics faculty members from diverse backgrounds share the story of their lives and careers.” Physics majors can earn academic credit by learning “what it is like to be a female professor” or “a faculty member raised first-generation/low income.” The course takes place “over lunch” and consists of a discussion of the “lives and career trajectories” of various “diverse” professors.

A similar course, titled “Physics 93SI: Beyond the Laboratory: Physics, Identity and Society,” is led by students, rather than professors. In this course, physics majors can earn academic credit by generally exploring “issues of diversity and culture in physics,” by applying concepts such as “critical race theory.” An optional extension of the class allows students to receive additional credit for developing a workshop to teach high school students about “inclusion in science.”
Wow. As far as I know, Nazi Germany hasn't had similar purely ideological indoctrination courses and seminars pretending to be about physics. These neo-Marxists are already "beyond" the manipulation of the universities by the Nazis and I guess that they would love to punish everyone just for pointing this fact out.

Incidentally, I could say quite something about what it is like to be a first-generation faculty member – my father hasn't completed any high school with a final exam and my mother was a high-school-trained librarian – especially when it comes to the fact that the Nth-academic-generation faculty members are almost certainly increasingly spineless and ready to collaborate on increasingly disgusting policies (because their parents and maybe grandparents were probably teaching them that they have to attach themselves to the universities as ticks, whatever it costs; I had a tick 6 weeks ago and it literally sucked) – whether it's in Nazism, communism, or neo-Marxism. But I am not sure whether I would get the credits for these essential stories although the description seems to clearly say that exactly these stories are wanted. The distributors of the credits would prefer the opposite stories i.e. lies, wouldn't they?

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