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Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Anna Krylov and the Peril of Bullshit part 2

PART 1 ~ PART 2 ~ PART 3 ~ PART 4

I was so appalled by Anna Krylov's bullshit essay The Peril of Politicizing Science I decided to email Krylov, although not really expecting a response, since it's pretty obvious I was calling her a hypocrite. 

I wrote:

I find it curious you oppose politicizing science, when your Wikipedia page indicates you “are active in the promotion of gender equality in STEM fields, especially in theoretical chemistry."


While I think the promotion of gender equality in STEM is a worthy goal, it is definitely a political one.

How are your political efforts in science different, or less perilous, than some of the examples you cite in your article, like changing the term “Newton’s Laws”, to “the three fundamental laws of physics”? 

Her response: 

I do not consider activities that ensure fairness and merit-based approach in science to be political. Fairness and merit-based evaluation is one of the core principles of the scientific enterprise, an essential part of the Mertonian norms (CUDOS). There is nothing political in requiring equal opportunity and equal recognition of people regardless of their gender or race!

I was astounded she would seriously claim "there is nothing political in requiring equal opportunity" - has Krylov never heard of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Since when has demanding equal opportunity in society ever been anything but a political struggle? It doesn't matter whether you agree that promoting women in STEM is a good idea (which I do), you can't just redefine a political struggle as non-political because you agree with the goal!

And of course I presented evidence in part 1 that the role of women in STEM is a controversial and politicized issue. I presented similar evidence to her in my later response.

But she wasn't done astounding me yet in this email which ends:
What my article speaks about is the intrusion of political ideology into science and education, which is already making a lot of damage-- see for example, this very recent article:
Yes, your eyes do not deceive you. She actually cites the right-wing race pseudo-science promoting rag Quillette to support her position. In my response I said:

Do you not know anything about Quillette’s politics, or are you in agreement with them? Why on earth would you use Quillette to make a point?

Her response was to give me a condescending little lecture about science and truth and then she made unsupported claims about Quillette:

In science, we look at the essence of findings and not who said it or where it is published. This is also part of Mertonian norms. Truth is truth, irrespective of clothes. 

Are you really willing to dismiss an insightful article simply because it is published not in your favorite outlet? You should read the content and then decide for yourself whether these labels are justified. This particular paper is well supported by the data. Quileute is non-partisan and does not have a political agenda. Most of the authors are of liberal political orientation. 

Anybody who has read this Pinkerite blog knows what utter bullshit her claims are about Quillette. 

However, I was prompted by her response to read the article she shared, more carefully and I was not disappointed. The article, like just about everything else published in Quillette was dedicated to promoting right-wing positions. I wrote back, and couldn't resist getting a little snarky in response to her condescension:

Quillette is a right-wing publication and has been known as such since soon after its inception.




Right up to the present.


"In this age of dull-witted Fox News propaganda, Q-adjacent conspiracy nonsense, and sophomorically glib Quillette contrarianism, it’s not easy to find truly thoughtful conservative writing on American politics."


It’s also a fact that one of Quillette’s known funders is right-wing Mark Carnegie.


...You claim “most of the authors (of Quillette) are of liberal political orientation.”

Let’s have the data supporting that claim, like we do in, you know, science.

Finally, the article you shared is not “insightful” it’s the usual right-wing drivel, which is why the link it provides for “promising models” for schools is to an article by Rick Hess, director of Education Policy studies of the right-wing Koch-funded American Enterprise Institute, and that article praises charter schools including the controversial “Success Academy” and the Trump administration’s Betsy DeVos.


An article in Quillette that links to a Koch operative - but I imagine Krylov would claim that's not political either.

But I couldn't find out because she didn't respond to me after that. The entire exchange is available here.

 I'd like to believe she gave up because she could see I had the much stronger position since I actually bothered to provide evidence, like we do in science, but who knows. She clearly has no qualms about re-defining words to suit her needs.

We saw Steven Pinker do something similar a couple of years ago, when he decided it would be perfectly fine to quote people in such a way that it made it look as though they agreed with him, when they did not. Phil Torres justifiably criticized him for this, and Pinker's response was "so what"? and then Michael Shermer called Torres a "cockroach" on Pinker's behalf. 

More about Krylov's curious relationship with words in part 3.

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