Researcher dismisses science 'conducted primarily by white men'
- A physics researcher at the University of Washington says the controversial Google memo is just the latest example of “shoddy science” that is “conducted primarily by white men.”
- Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein dismisses the memo's citations of peer-reviewed articles by arguing that “science has often made its living from encoding and justifying bias” and is “conducted primarily by white men.”
A physics researcher at the University of Washington says the controversial Google memo is just the latest example of “shoddy science” that is “conducted primarily by white men.”
“It’s 2017, and to some extent scientific literature still supports a patriarchal view that ranks a man’s intellect above a woman’s,” physics Research Associate Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein complained in a Slate op-ed last week, written in response to the memo in which former Google employee James Damore criticized the company’s efforts to effect gender diversity.
Specifically, Prescod-Weinstein takes issue with the contention—related to her by a “well-known scientist”—that “the Google memo failed to constitute hostile behavior because it cited peer-reviewed articles that suggest women have different brains,” arguing that “peer-reviewed” is not synonymous with “correct.”
Prescod-Weinstein asserts that, rather than placing value in the contents of peer-reviewed scientific articles, we should recognize that “science has often made its living from encoding and justifying bias” and is “conducted primarily by white men.”
Noting that Thomas Jefferson once wrote that black people were “inferior to the whites in the endowments of body and mind,” for instance, she contends that “rather than being much of a scientist, he was a biased white supremacist who hid behind science as a shield.”
Similarly, she says, claims such as those advanced by Damore (whom Prescod-Weinstein refers to as “Google bro”) rely on “shoddy science” to support a “patriarchal view that ranks a man’s intellect above a woman’s.”
“Most saliently in the context of the Google memo, our scientific educations almost never talk about the invention of whiteness and the invention of race in tandem with the early scientific method which placed a high value on taxonomies—which unsurprisingly and almost certainly not coincidentally supported prevailing social views,” she writes, declaring that the European Enlightenment was less a function of “objective ‘science’” than an outgrowth of “the rise of violent, imperialist globalization during the same time period.”
Most curricula, she elaborates, gloss over the fact that many European scientific advances during that time “were in fact collations of borrowed indigenous knowledge,” while “far too many universally call technology progress while failing to acknowledge that it has left us in a dangerously warmed climate” [emphasis in original].
Prescod-Weinstein has also been vocal on Twitter about the subject, in one instance challenging an interlocutor with the claim that “your ‘facts’ are out of sync with peer reviewed research on the experiences of women,” despite having questioned reliance on “peer reviewed” studies in her op-ed.
The Research Associate has also tweeted statements such as “We really don’t understand the biology of gender or sex!” and “Science has done little to combat racism and sexism and has mostly helped them.”
Aside from her research role at University of Washington, she has also served as a co-supervisor for undergraduate members of a research group in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Theoretical Physics, as well as an Associate Instructor in cosmology at MIT.
Campus Reform reached out to Prescod-Weinstein for comment and received no response.
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