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bad science cultural marxism Dunning–Kruger effect entitled babies misogyny

Italian physicist suspended by CERN after giving a talk claiming men’s brains are more suited to science than women’s

Brave male scientist ponders the mysteries of the human female

By David Futrelle

Last weekend, Italian physicist Alessandro Strumia gave a talk at a CERN conference in which, he claimed, he would use “bibliometrics data” to answer questions about “a new global symmetry.”

In fact, the talk had nothing to do with high-energy physics, per se; instead, Strumia trotted out a series of flawed arguments and problematic studies in order to “prove” that the preponderance of men in the field is not the result of discrimination against women but rather reflects the fact that men’s brains are better suited to physics than women’s.

Physics, he declared, was “invented and built by men” who are now being undermined in their field, and discriminated against, by “cultural Marxists” determined to tear down their manly accomplishments.

At one point in the presentation, he noted that he himself had been passed over for a job that was given to a woman he implied was less qualified because she had fewer citations than him. He identified her, and a woman on the selection committee, by name.

While the talk itself is not available online, Strumia’s slides are, and they give a pretty clear picture of his presentation.

Here’s one of the slides, which will give you some idea of the quality of his presentation. (Click on the image for a larger version.)

Yesterday, CERN announced that it was suspending Strumia “from any activity at CERN with immediate effect, pending investigation into last week’s event.”

Well, we can only assume the scientist they are suspending is Strumia, since they didn’t mention him by name. Indeed, while CERN was quick to denounce the substance of Strumia’s talk, they haven’t exactly been forthcoming about their organization’s long ties to the researcher.

The group’s first statement on the incident referred to him only as “an invited scientist.” The updated statement announcing the suspension identified him as “a scientist from one of the collaborating universities.” Never mind that Strumia, who teaches at Pisa University, has been working with CERN for many years and uses a CERN email for professional correspondence.

Strumia has also been suspended by the National Nuclear Physics Institute (INFN), an Italian research agency which he also worked with.

In other news, Donna Strickland of the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics today for her work on lasers; she shares the award with two male researchers.

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IgnoreSandra
IgnoreSandra
2 years ago

Proof, it seems, that being a scientist does not mean you are smart.

Shame on CERN for apparently attempting to just not mention their ties to Strumia.

Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
2 years ago
Mexican Hot Chocolate
Mexican Hot Chocolate
2 years ago

Is this where I point out that the only person to ever win a Nobel Prize in two different science is Marie Curie?

Chris Oakley
2 years ago

Quoth the raven: LOLWUT?!

Sounds like Dr. Strumia’s one footnote short of a thesis, if you get my drift.

Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
2 years ago

One quark short of a hadron.

Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
2 years ago

But see the comments policy … with the note that his state is self-inflicted via drinking the alt-right Kool-Ade.

Ariblester
Ariblester
2 years ago

What the fuck is Strumia trying to say with that slide? That perpetuating a victim mentality in women causes more women to enter STEM? Does he think that everyone is as driven by spite as he is?

And congratulations to Donna Strickland, the third woman, ever, to win a Nobel Prize in Physics (even she seemed surprised that the number was so low).

Diptych
Diptych
2 years ago

Possibly… possibly that women in STEM only report experiencing discrimination because they’ve been primed to expect it by Evil Feminists? But it’s not terribly coherent.

weirwoodtreehugger: chief manatee

Proof, it seems, that being a scientist does not mean you are smart.

Also proof that being a physicist does not make you an expert in psychology, evolutionary biology or neuroscience. Maybe better equipped to understand them than a person with absolutely no scientific background, but not an expert.

There seems to be a lot of men in certain field, mostly physics and engineering that believe themselves to automatically be experts in every hard science field and every social science field.

Pseudonym
Pseudonym
2 years ago

If you got passed over for a research leadership job by someone whose academic metrics are lower than yours, that by itself is interesting.

If you are the sort of person who will whine about it in public, maybe even give a whole seminar whose title could be “wah wah I didn’t get that job”… then it could be that academic metrics aren’t the only factors that were taking into account. Maybe the selectors picked up on these personality traits and decided that they didn’t want a petulant asshole running their String Theory research group.

Ever considered that as a possibility?

littlem
littlem
2 years ago
Drungarios
Drungarios
2 years ago

Ironically, a young lady I know just got accepted to a really cool program at CERN. I’m really hoping she wasn’t stuck in the room for this travesty (probably not, I doubt she would have let Alessandro leave under his own power if she had to be subjected to this).

Bina
2 years ago

Pretty sure that Dr. Strickland’s Nobel is what left him with that taste of sour grapes in his mouth, so he just HAD to exorcise it somehow. And how he exorcised it: By exercising his machista stupidity. Congratulations to her, and neener-neener-sucks-to-be-YOUs to him.

Bina
2 years ago

Ooooo! And speaking of neeners:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V83JR2IoI8k

“All my tubes and wires, and careful notes, and antiquated notions…”

Jane Done
Jane Done
2 years ago

Yet again some self-appointed regressive pundit quote mines, cherry picks data and generally just makes shit up to support male supremacy (let’s be honest: no amount of scientific papers can erase the fact that in the imaginary make-belief world where each sex has it’s “role” that still means women are valued less unless you subscribe to the extreme-far-right view of benevolent male chauvinism) and women have to spend the next month going through every single point with a fine tooth comb to justify our right to be treated as human beings.

It’s like that perverse western trope where the local bandit shoots at some random stranger’s feet screaming “dance!”.

16 Cats and Counting
16 Cats and Counting
2 years ago

I was very pleased to hear about Dr. Donna Strickland winning the Nobel Prize. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some manosphere blowback to the effect that her two male colleagues did all the heavy lifting and she was just kind of thrown in to be politically correct.

Catalpa
Catalpa
2 years ago

In other news, Donna Strickland of the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics today

*gasp* My alma mater! Sweet! I’m super pleased to have shared the same school with a physics Nobel Laureate! (Even if the extent of the physics that I dealt with in my degree was boring old classical/Newtonian stuff.) Congrats to Dr. Strickland!

Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
2 years ago

Reminder that the director of CERN, head of the LHC’s most famous and successful experiment and discoverer of the Higgs boson particle is… A woman.

Dvärghundspossen
Dvärghundspossen
2 years ago

Publication lists weigh heavy, but they’re not the only thing that matters. I got the job I currently have although a man on the shortlist had a slightly better (not vastly better) publication list, but I had better teaching experience (had taught a much wider array of subjects, for instance) and was also deemed a better fit. These things happen, and they’re not strange.
Also, some countries (I’ve heard this to be true in particular for the US and the UK, although the UK is reportedly getting better in this area) will put a lot of weight on which university you graduated from, and prefer people from the fanciest universities over people from less fancy universities even when the latter is more accomplished. This isn’t great, but it’s certainly not the fault of feminists, or anything that will generally play in women’s favour.

Bakunin
Bakunin
2 years ago

I think the slide might be going for, “women are underrepresented in STEM fields because of feminists exaggerating harassment, so they are less likely to go into them because of fears of being harassed.”

Also, is it just me, or does anyone else go straight to Rebecca Watson for the red haired person? I feel like I’ve seen a similar misogynistic caricature of her before

Kimstu
Kimstu
2 years ago

weirwoodtreehugger:

Also proof that being a physicist does not make you an expert in psychology, evolutionary biology or neuroscience.

Not to mention sociology, anthropology or a whole host of other related fields. For some reason a lot of very intelligent scientists (and I think it’s fair to say physicists are the most prone to this) are susceptible to some kind of “localized Dunning-Kruger syndrome”, in which they simply can’t fathom the notion that there could exist a complicated phenomenon outside the “hard sciences” that they can’t easily comprehend, or that doesn’t align smoothly with their personal prejudices when “correctly” interpreted by a “real” scientist.

Pie
Pie
2 years ago

He actually used the words “cultural marxism” in his presentation as if it were a real thing. That kind of unthinking credulity does not belong in any research group or scientific or educational institution. If he weren’t such a fucking awful speaker and incompetent presentation-writer, he’d have a grand future peddling lady-hatred on youtube… “hey, I’m just like peterson but i do real hard manly science!”

(obligatory SMBC)

Malatesta
Malatesta
2 years ago

@Kimtsu

In a sense, yes.
But it’s not that they can’t fathom complexity outside of applied physics; it’s mostly a general disregard for anything you can’t immediatly monetize after graduation for it’s surely the sign of an “easy” and “shallow” subject, something no serious smart people would take more than a couple of books to master and they are most assuredly very smart people; that means every engineer or physician or applied economist believes s/he has a perfect grasp of philosophy or sociology and whatnot because s/he has got a really difficult degree which enables complete understanding of the human condition.
Or something like that.
In a sense, in Italy we’re pretty close to the american “STEMlord” worldview, also because of dissemination of those concepts via the Internet.
It’s pretty depressing. 🙁

Weatherwax
Weatherwax
2 years ago

I came here to say pretty much what WWTH has already said, far more eloquently.

The press coverage has glossed over the fact that the conference itself was to talk about the role of gender in the field. This is why the audience was predominantly young women. This makes his presentation so much more egregious. Although I’m sure his inner teenager really enjoyed being the contrarian in a feminist space.

http://press.cern/press-releases/2018/09/updated-statement-cern-stands-diversity

Johanna
Johanna
2 years ago

Some more interesting points about Donna Strickland:

She got the award for research she did during her PhD. I don’t have exact numbers, but this is really uncommon. People usually have to work for years after their PhD to make Nobel-worthy contributions to their field.

She’s still just an associate professor. Not a full professor. I wonder if it has something to do with people like this dude.

She didn’t have a Wikipedia page until an hour after the announcement that she won the Nobel prize. If Twitter is to be believed Wikipedia editors rejected a page for her as recently as May this year, stating that her research was not significant enough to merit a page.

rugbyyogi
rugbyyogi
2 years ago

OT bit: I have an appointment with a divorce lawyer next week. Hurray! Finally gonna get it done.

My ex got totally sucked into the Cultural Marxism debacle. In one sense it’s not a totally unreal thing in that many different groups compete for cultural currency – hence the networked charismatics and their fight to put leadership in the 7 mountains of culture (or whatever BS they call it). Cultural Marxism is the label that those on the right give a collection of views. What isn’t real is the vast ‘left-wing’ conspiracy to destroy culture so it can be rebuilt in a new Marxist utopia. For them they see any attempt to redress the balance as an attempt to destroy the whole culture – including those unearned privileges that don’t seem that unearned to individuals.

I can guarantee you that Strumia got breaks for being male, but that wasn’t enough, he also had to be smart and clever and work bloody hard. #Notallmen have a position at CERN. (And now one fewer does…)

When unspoken privilege is handed out it can be difficult to spot if you’ve received it, there are all kinds of reasons why you wouldn’t want to spot it.

Cultural Marxism allows men of a certain bent to explain away disappointment but it’s not exactly a new theory. My grandfather who was a darn good physicist used to joke about how it would be better to be a black disabled lesbian ‘these days’ and this was well before CM started gaining currency among the embittered. He was incapable of seeing that the way society was structured gave him a leg up for being male. He was able to have a family and fun and dedicate himself to physics. He could only see his disadvantages and how he’d overcome them (and they were many, mainly income and class and personally a dysfunctional family of origin – he had to work bloody hard to get where he was) not that other people had even bigger barriers in front of them that didn’t even allow them to get on the first rung of a science career.

My partner, also a scientist not a physicist, has had a number of really lucky breaks in his career – not least that he switched sciences because the one he was in didn’t allow him to meet many girls. But no doubt also because he’s male. I did the same undergraduate degree as he did, but was a classic case of women falling out of the pipeline – as well as my own personal problems. I was suffering from depression and I went for a job interview where it became clear that the only reason I was brought in was because they wanted me to fill out the equal ops form. I kinda gave up after that. If I’d been mentally fully healthy or if I’d not had that experience maybe I’d have stayed in science. I wish I’d been mentally healthier at that stage in my life, but I wasn’t and I didn’t have the fight in me. If I had it to do over, I would do many things differently.

None of this excuses what he said and what he did and he deserves the implosion of his public career that will almost surely follow. He’ll still have his home position and he’ll carry on publishing. But I suggest he’ll also fall further into that CM crap and start publishing a blog or contributing to some vile platform.

Citerior Motive
Citerior Motive
2 years ago

@Johanna: Wikipedia is a complete trainwreck as far as social justice is concerned.

Queex
Queex
2 years ago

This man’s nonsense led me to tweet a whole thread.

Queex
Queex
2 years ago

This nonsense led me to tweet a whole thread.

https://twitter.com/ChthonicQueex/status/1046771118059790336

Hexum7
Hexum7
2 years ago

Why, if you are going to give a presentation that you have to know is going to upset a lot of people, wouldn’t you run it by some of the people of the gender you are attacking first?

Or ask anyone if they felt your speech was appropriate?

Could he have actually believed that his presentation would be appreciated by the majority of his colleagues?

Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
2 years ago

@Hexum

You’re thinking like a normal human being, not a Nazi troll. Being upsetting and inappropriate – “Triggering the libs” – was his entire point.

@otherwise

The Chemistry Prize was just awarded to Frances Arnold, another woman.

booburry
booburry
2 years ago

My money is on Chanty Binx. Mangry men will never ever stop being mad at a red head yelling at a group of dudes.

Ariblester
Ariblester
2 years ago

@Hexum7

Could he have actually believed that his presentation would be appreciated by the majority of his colleagues?

I think it was more that he prides himself about being able to confidently make statements that run against the commonly-held dogma. See the last line in his presentation slides:

PS: many told me “don’t speak, it’s dangerous”. As a student, I wrote that weak-scale [supersymmetry] is not right, and I survived. Hope to see you again.

@SFHC

“Nazi troll” is a bit strong, I feel. “STEMlord student in Sociology 101 lecture” seems closer to the mark.

Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
2 years ago

It’s not always just when they pontificate outside of their own fields. Some experts have major blind spots inside theirs, particularly in medicine:

https://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/everything-you-know-about-obesity-is-wrong/

booburry
booburry
2 years ago

Whoops – my comment was in response to Bakunin 🙃

Lukas Xavier
Lukas Xavier
2 years ago

He actually used the words “cultural marxism” in his presentation as if it were a real thing

Tells you a lot about what he’s reading in his spare time.

Gaebolga
Gaebolga
2 years ago

@Nequam

I once knew a guy who was brilliant – perfect SAT scores, taught himself to code at age 9, got a scholarship to Harvard – but also extremely stupid about very basic stuff. As an example, he used to regularly borrow money from all of his friends and acquaintances because he was usually broke, but when we helped him move his apartment, we literally found almost $10,000 in uncashed paychecks that had fallen behind various pieces of furniture (most were so old he couldn’t cash them).

I coined the term savant idiot because of him.

Mish of the Catlady Ascendancy

@Queex

That thread is a good thread. I haz followed you.

Re OP – if I tried to teach a class with slides that looked like MS Paint had mated with 4Chan, I’d be laughed out of the room, and with damn good reason.

Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
2 years ago

@Ariblester

Considering that the phrase “Cultural Marxism” was made up by Nazis to mean “THE JOOZ” and is used by Nazis and nobody else… Yeah, no, I’ll stick with what I said, thanks.

Allandrel
Allandrel
2 years ago

@Kimstu

Not to mention sociology, anthropology or a whole host of other related fields. For some reason a lot of very intelligent scientists (and I think it’s fair to say physicists are the most prone to this) are susceptible to some kind of “localized Dunning-Kruger syndrome”, in which they simply can’t fathom the notion that there could exist a complicated phenomenon outside the “hard sciences” that they can’t easily comprehend, or that doesn’t align smoothly with their personal prejudices when “correctly” interpreted by a “real” scientist.

The example that springs to my mind is Richard Dawkins and his ludicrously pseudo-scientific “meme theory” that basically amounts to:

“Obviously, the social sciences works exactly like genetics. To conclude otherwise might mean that there is a subject that I am not the leading expert in. And that’s as unthinkable as someone else’s personal experience differing from mine.”

Button
Button
2 years ago

I’m sad, the archived version of the slides doesn’t include the pictures.

That said, I did find this thigh-slapper, in the midst of an argument about men having higher max IQs: “Smarter people less affected by implicit bias”

lol self-own

magnesium
magnesium
2 years ago

The worst part of this dingus’ stupid parade is that because of him that doofus with the Google manifesto started showing up in my Twitter feed, despite his 15 minutes having been up months ago.

I understand both of these guys cited the oft-debunked Baron-Cohen for their basic misunderstanding of human biology. Anyone who looks at Baron-Cohen’s heavily-flawed research methodologies and concludes that his results and absurdly overreaching conclusions are legitimate has no business working in any kind of research capacity.

Jenora Feuer
Jenora Feuer
2 years ago

A couple of additions to this…

On CBC’s “The Current” this morning ( https://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the-current-for-october-3-2018-1.4848364 ) one of the people they talked to was one of the women in the audience at the talk in question. She noted that part of the problem was that Strumia was one of the senior scientists there and most of the audience were juniors; this meant his opinions could have a direct effect on who got good reviews, promotions, acceptance for further time at CERN, that sort of thing. Which made his talk also a barely deniable threat of ‘don’t rock the boat by complaining about me or I’ll torpedo your career’.

As for the ‘I have more citations, why didn’t they pick me’ complaint… it’s also been noted elsewhere that the main reason why Strumia had more citations was that he was part of a very large research group. The vast majority of his citations weren’t papers where he was the primary author, they were papers written by the group he was a part of that also listed him because he happened to be vaguely involved at the time. He’s not the great researcher, he’s the workhorse who happened to tag along with a dozen other good researchers to get a citation list that long.

@Bina:
Strumia’s talk was reported on October 1st; Donna Strickland’s Nobel was reported on October 2nd. Unless he was on the Nobel selection committee, I don’t think there’s any way the latter caused the former.

Virgin Mary
Virgin Mary
2 years ago

As he is Italian, I’m afraid I am less than surprised. I have spent time in Italy, and I have found it to be a country which traditionally reinforces gender roles especially within family units. I hate to say it, but Italy for me seemed to be very old fashioned and anti progressive. Maybe this is a religious thing?

Cyborgette
Cyborgette
2 years ago

@Gaebolga

That can come from growing up with certain types of emotional abuse IME. It took me a long time to realize I actually could just do certain things as an adult, instead of waiting for an authority figure to give me permission.

I’d also be far, far less functional without software calendars and suchlike. Have some kind of autism spectrum thing going on, tend to get distracted by shiny ideas, and my short-term memory is limited. So without an exocortex, stuff just doesn’t get done.

Planning, organizational skills, and understanding of one’s own agency are IMO completely unrelated to things like math and verbal skill, or ability to learn things.

(And honestly, flying through most of high school without even trying does NOT help the first two of those.)

Cat Mara
Cat Mara
2 years ago

In other news, Lise Meitner would have wiped the floor with this Z-list hog’s pizzle twenty different ways without even taking her (very elegant) hat off

Violet the Vile, Moonbat Screech Junky
Violet the Vile, Moonbat Screech Junky
2 years ago

Oh wow, well I guess I will stop sciencing then! Silly me. Time to watch this again to remind myself of my limits: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LS37SNYjg8w

I am quite amused it has clearly never crossed his mind that women might be put off joining a field so misogynistic that researchers think presentations like this are ok.

About the identification thing: I wonder if that is because of this – if someone is undergoing legal/disciplinary proceedings, it is quite usual not to identify them by name in the press (even if everyone knows who they are). Tis an overcautious thing, usually because the organisation is paranoid about getting sued for libel if the proceedings don’t go their way. (source: I am an ex-PR professional)

Yutolia the Green Hash Thing
Yutolia the Green Hash Thing
2 years ago

I used to work at a big research university, and one time I was the staff representative/note taker for a faculty hiring committee. The things that make a difference are: who your advisor is/was (if it’s someone they know and are friends with recommending you, you have a much better chance), where you got your degrees, and not just how many citations you have (it is important), but how many papers you are first author on. And of course, the majority of the hiring pool the faculty picked was somehow always made up of white men.

TLDR;there’s a lot more that goes into hiring than what he’s saying.

Yutolia the Green Hash Thing
Yutolia the Green Hash Thing
2 years ago

Also, he really doesn’t understand statistics. The fact that he’s been allowed to get this far with this little understanding is a testament to sexism all on its own.