Tuesday, January 04, 2022

Racist things this week: E.O. Wilson, normal distribution, ...

E.O. Wilson, a Harvard-Duke biologist sometimes nicknamed "the natural heir to Darwin" and "father of biodiversity" and "father of sociolbiology" (in the narrow sense, the world's most celebrated ants expert) died on Dec 26th. It has actually been 20 years when I reclassified Unscientific Unamerican as a worthless far left cesspool ("science defends itself from the skeptical environmentalist" did it for me back in 2002) and I am confident that I haven't seen a single valuable text there in the 2 decades (although it is true that I didn't try too much).



Maxim Turbulenc's song based on a poem by Josef Kožíšek. An ant fell ill, the whole colony knows it. At midnight, they called the ant physician. After knocking on the patient's heart, the doctor is writing a medical prescription... Of course the ant will get fine. Czech kids' most famous ant is Ferdinand the Ant by Ondřej Sekora, however.

How deep the cesspool has sunken by 2022 is truly incredible. To mark the departure of the famous biologist, UnsciUnam published the "opinion piece"
The Complicated Legacy of E. O. Wilson
by a black nurse who looks like a Bill Maher decorated in a transsexual, transracial way. Her "scientific" "articles" universally follow the template "How to make sure that a black patient or a black nurse is a true pain in the aß for the whites in the hospital", garbage that shouldn't have been written, let alone be listed on Google Scholar. The text says something like the following:
We must reckon with Wilson's racist ideas [subtitle]. The ideas are racist, just like Mendel's and Darwin's ideas, because they have claimed that biology influences humans. He has even used the so-called normal distribution which is racist because the mean [the author doesn't seem to know the word "mean", however] represents white supremacy that blacks must be compared to. All people doing this white empiricism [in our white English, it's called science] must be eliminated and replaced with nurses who would fire everyone who would dare to do anything resembling the evil white empiricism.
Add about 10 typos and replace some words with repetitive ones. Excellent. Let me propose an alternative solution. Every adult that is left in the room (of the Academia and hospitals) must immediately fire the author and every single individual who either agrees with this staggering garbage (like a shockingly moronic female calling herself the editor-in-chief), or who is uncertain for more than 5 seconds. These creatures must be stripped of their high school diplomas because high schools do teach all successful students about the importance and universality (and apolitical character) of natural sciences, their giants, the normal distribution, and lots of other things and the high school alumni simply cannot be animals who just mindlessly and stupidly throw their excrements on these essential things.



Great. This hit piece was so bad that even the ultimate slick opportunist Sean Carroll sort of denounced it. Needless to say, Richard Dawkins was strongly against the opinion piece, and so was Scott Aaronson and his friend Ašutoš Jogalekar. In the discussion on Aaronson's website, you can see the shocking split of the opinions. Even when the issue is a Sokal-hoax-level claim about the "racism of the normal distribution", you will find about 50% of the people who will defend the indefensible. It may really be close to 50% among Aaronson's readers now. It may be around 50% of the people who comment on the article through Twitter (after the sensible people were largely banned by the platform). This may be what many university departments look like, too. The subset that means it seriously is arguably small (like 10%) but they have managed to blackmail and manipulate the bulk of the "opportunists" who like to join because they expect their atrocious behavior to bring them personal material advantages.

The degree of contamination by absolute garbage and people who absolutely shouldn't be there seems totally unlimited or divergent by now. And a few decades ago, it was starting as an innocent summer wind. "Why don't we hire this or that person who doesn't belong here, to increase the diversity, it cannot hurt, can it?" It could hurt and it did hurt. With this philosophy, the evolution towards the current catastrophe was basically unavoidable.



So E.O. Wilson – who was partly a researcher, partly a left-wing author and ideologue inspiring people to care about things like biodiversity – and Scott Aaronson – who once wanted to chemically castrate himself to beat the toxic masculinity inside himself (a great story for his kids) – are gradually turning into far right bigots, relatively to the environment that they have been building for a few decades. According to some reasoning, this evolution is unavoidable. The likes of Aaronson have done a lot of "let us try to find even more far left, unhinged people for our group" and they have observed the consequences for a long enough time to realize that they have helped to create a scary monster whose physical liquidation may turn out to be rather difficult now (but it is one of the most important tasks that need to be done). He must have a very bad conscience because his responsibility for this outcome is nontrivial, indeed.

So tons of the extreme, left-from-Aaronson, people argue that the nurse didn't really label Wilson a racist (you can find these claims on many other servers including Hacker News and Twitter). Just the subtitle says that "we must reckon with Wilson's racist ideas" and the same word "racist" appears in three basically equivalent places of the article. The whole rant seems to be all about the accusation that Wilson was a racist who needs to be canceled. And indeed, the environment has been radicalized sufficiently for these accusations to liquidate people's careers. How can someone be so incredibly braindead or be such a breathtaking liar to deny even this self-evident point, that UnsciUnam published a hit piece trying to cancel Wilson as a racist?



"Let the Bug Live" by Juraj Kukura (SK actor [emigrant to WestDE] singing in CZ). As Darwin correctly pointed out, a cockchafer is an animate being, too.

Needless to say, all the argumentation by the nurse is absolutely idiotic. The normal distribution is just a statistical distribution, a mathematical function telling you what fraction of the elements in a set have a certain quantity near various values. Its mathematical form may be parameterized by the mean and the standard deviation but the "location of the mean" doesn't play any privileged role. It is just a calculable value (calculable from all the elements, no one is discriminated against) – again, it is the mean of the elements of the distribution – and it carries no unavoidable political message – one can calculate means (averages) of any numbers, and the normal distribution is universal across sciences, social sciences, and even some other pseudosciences. The central limit theory guarantees that. Also, indeed, Wilson did make many insights of the type "biology matters". So did all biologists because this is what biology does. Biology matters. More so than the black lives. Too bad if you don't get this trivial point.

As Wilson's favorite creatures, ants, make it very clear, Wilson was interested in the behavior and organization of groups and promoted group selection theories. Aaronson, while a staunch critic of the nurse, is still uneducated and irrational enough to claim that the group selection theories are "discredited". Please, give me a break. Many species' survival and well-being, and ants are surely a great example (but so are humans, to quite some extent), depend on the cooperation, the organization in between individuals in the same species. These behavioral patterns and therefore "social systems" are (a) largely encoded in the DNA as well, (b) influence the survival of the colonies. So of course the genes responsible for the individuals' behavior, especially within a community, influence the survival of the communities. The defeat of the Soviet bloc in the Cold War is just a non-ant example of the same group selection although in this case, I am much less certain that the affinity to communism was in the Russians' DNA.

Great. Lots of people who either are strict members of the Academia and other "clever institutions"; or who consider themselves "honorary members" of these environments are incapable of seeing that the nurse's rant is batšit crazy. What can you do about it? The most constructive solution seems to be cry, cry, cry. ;-)



"Ants in the Cupboard, they say it is a wrong combination. But I live alone, letting everything animate to live. They come from outside, everyone has a sweet tooth..."

Aaronson correctly compares these woke witch hunts to Stalinism and its ramification within sciences, Lysenkoism. Trofim Lysenko was an ordinary farmer and a crackpot who claimed to improve plants and animals' genes by doing something to these organisms while they are already alive (he mostly plagiarized the old, Lamarckian and therefore non-Darwinian, versions of "evolution"). If you pour potato chips on a field of potatoes, the potatoes will ultimately learn to grow as potato chips automatically, and so on. Lev Landau, the greatest Soviet Jewish physicist, once asked Lysenko during a conference: "So, comrade Lysenko, you claim that if we keep on drilling holes into cows' ears, the cows will eventually be born with the holes, is that correct?" – "Yes, that is a nice summary of my discovery." – "So could you please explain to us, comrade Lysenko, why girls are still born as virgins after all those years?" Landau clearly had a sense of humor, and it was a very intelligent humor. If you didn't get the joke, you need to think harder, at least as hard as the people who tried to change the girls' genes! ;-)

In Nazi Germany, the politicization of science affected theoretical physics. In particular, relativity was labeled a Jewish pseudoscience. This was an official attitude but of course Werner Heisenberg, although he was quite a German patriot, realized that all that stuff was rubbish and he couldn't have "stopped believing" relativity. For physics itself, smart dudes like Heisenberg were unavoidably more important than some fanatical Nazis who had no idea about physics. Germany was still a normal country where many things worked well and sometimes very well. In the Soviet Union, genetics became the politically incorrect science, mainly because Stalin fell in love with Lysenko and Lysenko gained the power to prosecute geneticists.

But that's it. In the Soviet Union, no other field of science has ever been totally corrupt by the poison of the political or ideological control. The discussion on Aaronson's blog also asked whether quantum mechanics was banned because it clearly wasn't compatible with Marxism-Leninism (as I was explaining many times on this website: all dissatisfaction with quantum mechanics follows from the people's innate Marxist materialist prejudices – it's just a different way to describe the supremacy of deterministic, classical physics). Well, the reality, as clarified by Vladimir's comment #69, was less totalitarian. It was indeed the case that there were Marxist-Stalinist ideologues and inkspillers who were writing essays proving that quantum mechanics (but even the Big Bang and other theories) were against Marx's and Lenin's teaching. These were clearly rants designed to be "as compatible with the regime as you can get". The imbeciles and slick scumbags who were writing this garbage were drilling into Marx's, Lenin's, and indirectly Stalin's rectum as deeply as they could. But it just wasn't enough to kill quantum mechanics in the Soviet Union simply because (just like in Nazi Germany) almost everyone who actually mattered in science realized that their brains were just filthy cesspools and the desire to "make physicists obedient" simply cannot trump the physicists' independence of thinking because it's essential for proper science. If physicists are prevented from using their brain, the whole country would suffer, both Nazi Germans and the Soviet citizens (and officials) realized. It's worse today because the ideologues don't actually want the U.S. or the West to thrive or survive so they don't fudging care about the consequences of a ban on great brains' thinking!

So of course, the Soviet Union has produced quite amazing physicists. Lev Landau (who was also a head of a legendary institute with many students he helped to create). And Piotr Kapitsa. Leonid Mandelstam. And of course, Andrei Sakharov. And the people who are active today: Belavin, Poljakov, Zamolodčikov etc. I could keep on talking. The Soviet physics worked. It was really comparable to the best physicists in the world. It is common sense that the Soviet Union had to be pretty good in physics and related fields. Otherwise it couldn't have become the leader in the space research, nuclear energy and bombs, and several other activities. Stalin wanted to have the bomb. He was pragmatic and rational enough to realize that it was more important than some ideological obedience of the Soviet physicists!

I am mentioning the situation in the Soviet Union to highlight the terrifying observation that the situation of science in the U.S. is already worse than the situation of science in Stalin's Soviet Union. There used to be very accurate counterparts of this insane anti-Wilson nurse in the Soviet Union. But the society was still intelligent enough to collectively recognize that their writing wasn't valuable and these authors were just excessively fanatical ideologues who had to be considered fringe thinkers. In the U.S., a rag called the Scientific American – which is really one of the oldest journals in the U.S. and one that peaked sometime in the 1980s – you can read a rant that is stupider and more fanatical than anything that has ever been written by people labeled "scholars" in the Soviet Union, and some 50% of the people who comment on the rant seem to be fine with it. They actually want to replace actual scientists like E.O. Wilson with worthless pseudointellectual junk like the nurse.

Back in 1989 or so, I surely wouldn't have believed that I was going to observe a world that deserves to be summarized in this way – America has become more fanatical, antiscientific, led by self-evidently crappy beings, more dishonest than anything we could have ever seen in the Soviet scholarly institutions. But we're here. Welcome to 2022.

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