Tommaso Dorigo is being heavily criticised for his post about Lisa Randall. Although I understand the issue, the hypocrisy here is just running red down the walls! After two definitely-without-a-doubt on topic remarks (supporting Tommaso) on Asymptotia, I was put onto the moderation queue! So who is the worst offender here? The self righteous, politically correct heroes? Personally I’d rather discuss physics with a hot blooded Italian man who listens to what I say (and perhaps even gives constructive criticism) any day.

Sure, a world where one can have a decent conversation without worrying about anything would be nice, but let’s be realistic here: that just isn’t possible without some degree of equality.

Update: I’m told that moderation queues are automatic (sorry, Clifford) but if you read the comments on the relevant threads you might see my point.


9 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said,

    08 29 07

    Well since I wasn’t around to see the post, I am saddened that it has come to this. But don’t put all of that on Americans, asshattery is equally distributed among all rings of people…hehehehehhe

  2. 2

    Doug said,

    Hi Kea,

    Although Clifford V. Johnson is employed in the US at:
    Department of Physics and Astronomy
    University of Southern California
    Los Angeles, CA 90089-0484, USA

    I do think that that he is more British than American:
    Curriculum Vitæ
    Nationality British (place of birth: London, England)

  3. 3

    Kea said,

    Yes, true Mahndisa and Doug. Sorry about that. Didn’t mean it to be a generalisation.

  4. 4

    Counterfly said,

    Moderation queues are automatic!

  5. 5

    L. Riofrio said,

    In Italy the rules are different. Given that Tommaso has been so kind and supportive, I think the whole thing is a cultural misunderstanding.

    On the other hand, cvj is way out of line trying to lecture Kea on how women should be treated. He even prefaces all that by saying he “found many of your physics claims to be wanting.” He has used almost the same words on yours truly.

  6. 6

    Anonymous said,

    Kea, this may relevant to the topic of blog moderation.

    I posted a comment (it was for a time number 26) on Sean Carrol’s post entitled
    “Arguments For Things I Don’t Believe, 1: Research on String Theory is Largely a Waste of Time”
    over on Cosmic Variance,
    Sean deleted it without stating any reason
    he seems to have let stand (so far) my other earlier comment in that blog (number 17).
    Here is what my deleted comment 26 said:

    “I said “… At the 1984 APS DPF Santa Fe meeting, John Schwarz gave a talk … about SO(32) and E8xE8 superstrings entitled
    “A Unique Unified Theory That Could Be Finite And Realistic”,
    say[ing] that “… one unique scheme is singled out. … The unique model that is potentially finite and realistic is based on the gauge group SU(5).
    … The three-loop calculation could result in a dramatic failure and is therefore of utmost importance. …”.
    and that in Physics Letters B, Volume 160, Issues 4-5 , 10 October 1985, Pages 267-270, D. R. T. Jones and A. J. Parkes said that “Grand-unified theories … constructed out of supersymmetric SU5 theories which are finite at one and two loops … can never be three-loop finite …
    since then, whenever superstring theory has failed a test (such as specific searches for supersymmetric partners, etc) it has continued to morph into more and more vagueness (as of now the Landscape) …”.

    Sean replied “… The foibles of theorists should not be confused for the problems of theories … Talking about the sociology of physics … has no bearing at all on whether a particular theory is promising or not….”.

    My statement was clearly not about “foibles of theorists”.
    It was obviously about “the problems of [superstring] theor[y]”.

    Sean’s attempt to ignore a substantive comment and change the subject to “foibles of theorists” is sad,
    as is
    his statement that “sociology of physics … has no bearing at all on whether a particular theory is promising or not”,
    in light of the fact that it is the “sociology of physics” that has produced the blacklisting of realistic alternative models (including but not limited to my “particular theory”),
    blacklisting does indeed substantially affect whether or not a “particular theory” is “promising”, because blacklisting prevents fair evaluation which is necessary for a “particular theory” to be seen as sufficiently “promising” for the physics community to work on it.
    Tony Smith”

    I would appreciate it if you could allow this comment on your blog, so that it will be on the web for people to see the kind of discourse that Sean seems to be afraid to engage in his blog.

    Tony Smith

    PS – Over on Asymptotia, Elliot (in a comment) asked for “… an example of a male lecturing on physics which starts with something like…. He was wearing a neatly pressed blue blazer …”,
    I commented by mentioning that the book Genius by James Gleick said something like:
    “… Feynman .. repeated the talk … at … CERN … standing before them in his new dress suit …”.

  7. 7

    a quantum diaries survivor said,

    Kea, I send you a kiss for your support. Wow, a kiss! From a male! A colleague! How inappropriate! Wait. Kisses to Mahndisa and Louise too!

    I think what bothers me most in the end is that those who erect themselves as censors are usually the worst offenders. And it does show, in the way Clifford attempts to bully you.

    Mind you, I am not a saint… But at least, I love women for their brains as much as I love them for their looks.


  8. 8

    nige said,

    Clifford’s statement that many of Marni’s and Louise’s physics statements are “wanting” is unobjective because he isn’t precise about what he disagrees with (it’s like a crackpot saying that mainstream physics is wanting, without being more specific).

    If there is something “wanting” from a theory, that is not a problem because no current theory is complete: it is possible to say precisely the same thing about string being “wanting”, which is precisely what Lisa Randall did at a couple of places in her book.

    Lisa helpfully writes on page 295 of the UK edition of her book Warped Passages that:

    ‘even if string theory is correct, we are unlikely to find the many additional particles it predicts. The energy of current experiments is sixteen orders of magnitude too low. … because the string length is so tiny and the string tension is so high, we won’t see any evidence to support string theory at the energies achievable in accelerators, even if the string description is correct.’

    In addition, she admits the fact that not only are these speculations impossible to test convincingly, they are also extremely vague because there are many variations of the extra-dimensional theories. She remarks on page 456:

    ‘We now know that extra-dimensional setups can come in any number of shapes and sizes. They could have warped extra dimensions, or they could have extra large dimensions; they might contain one brane or two branes; they might contain particles in the bulk and other particles confined to branes. … Which, if any, of these ideas describes the real world?’

    Clifford probably means well by hurling insults at your physics because you believed (rightly or wrongly) that he had deleted some comment you made on the basis of your sex.

    Really, you should thank him for doing his best to defend feminism. He is just trying to make the world a better place for the kind of women who are struggling to be taken seriously, like Lisa.

    Actually, I think Lisa doesn’t need that sort of defence and Clifford is missing the real problem, but maybe I’m wrong. Political correctness, orthodoxy, fashion, etc., is what counts in science now. Gone are the days when scientists would proudly ignore all that and just focus on science objectively.

  9. 9

    Kea said,

    Thanks, all! Excellent points. And Tony, I have no intention of deleting any of your comments. Well, today is a stunning day and I’m off to Kaikoura with a car load of young people for a good walk…

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