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Monday, August 23, 2021

Anna Krylov and the Peril of Bullshit, part 1

Recently I came across Razib Khan retweeting Steven Pinker, promoting an essay, The Peril of Politicizing Science by Anna Krylov, and so I immediately suspected that Krylov's essay would be bad.

I was not wrong.

Krylov is a chemist, who, according to her Wikipedia page:

...is active in the promotion of gender equality in STEM fields, especially in theoretical chemistry.[25] She created and maintains the web directory Women in Theoretical and Computational Chemistry, Material Science, and Biochemistry,[26] which currently lists more than 400 scientists holding tenure and tenure track academic positions, or equivalent positions in industry, national laboratories, and other leading research establishments. She has delivered several talks on gender equality in STEM including a lecture at the international symposium in Uppsala, Sweden.[27]

Now I happen to believe gender equality in STEM is a worthwhile goal but even I wouldn't argue it's not a political issue. 

Certainly it is a political issue for the Quillette/IDW industrial complex, of which Steven Pinker is a member in good standing. 

In 2017 James Damore was fired by Google for publishing a memo on a company discussion board, in which he argued that women were, as a group, not as good at STEM as men, using the standard evolutionary psychology reasoning that Pinker and most or all members of the IDW favor. 

And of course Steven Pinker was a vocal defender of Damore, tying the controversy directly to electoral politics:

Steven Pinker, a Harvard University cognitive scientist, said on Twitter that Google’s actions could increase support for Mr. Trump in the tech industry.

Steven Pinker agrees with Damore about women in STEM, and according to this Guardian article, Damore got his ideas directly from Pinker.

Damore, stupidly, sued Google for firing him. The lawsuit was dismissed in 2020

Pinker's book "The Blank Slate" discusses his evolutionary psychology views at length. The book also has heaping helpings of Pinker's own political views including his division of feminism into two camps, the "gender feminists" (the bad kind) and the "equity feminists" (the good kind.) He includes Camille Paglia, the pedophilia supporter, in the good feminist camp.

Although Krylov is on the opposite side of the women in STEM issue from Pinker, she is firmly on Pinker's side in her Peril article. But in all cases, Anna Krylov herself is just as guilty of politicizing science as those she criticizes. Hypocrisy seems to be an absolute requirement to be part of the Quillette/IDW industrial complex.

Anna Krylov cites Bari Weiss, a political operative, on the issue of changing terminology.

Bari Weiss tweeted a link to her own article "The Miseducation of America's Elites" with a pull quote about the renaming of "Newton's laws" to "three fundamental laws of physics." The article is on Weiss's substack account but it was originally in - and I assume written for and paid for by - the City Journal, a publication of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, funded by Charles Koch, among others.

Charles Koch is not interested in pure science. Charles Koch is interested in politics.

In her article, which was published a month after Weiss's article, Krylov cites Weiss:
Today’s censorship does not stop at purging the scientific vocabulary of the names of scientists who “crossed the line” or fail the ideological litmus tests of the Elect.11 In some schools,33,34 physics classes no longer teach “Newton’s Laws”, but “the three fundamental laws of physics”. Why was Newton canceled? Because he was white, and the new ideology10,12,15 calls for “decentering whiteness” and “decolonizing” the curriculum. 
Now I didn't expect Krylov would be in so deep with the Quillette/IDW industrial complex before I began reading her Peril article. I know, I know, even after doing this Pinkerite blog for almost three years I'm still stunningly naive sometimes.

In addition to Weiss, Krylov cites McWhorter (Quillette author, Koch employee), the blog of Jerry Coyne (race pseudo-science, reactionary and Pinker's #1 fanboy) and grifters Helen Pluckrose and James "your mom" Lindsay, employee of Christian identity extremist Michael O'Fallon.

But then I had an email exchange with Krylov and it gets even worse. More about that in part 2.