This piece of toxic feminism appeared in The Conversation on August 3rd –The female brain: why damaging myths about women in science keep coming back in new forms. Increasingly the Conversation, a periodical sponsored by a number of UK Universities, is a go-to place for toxic-feminism. That, in turn, tells us a lot about the degradation of academia by woke ideology.
Broadly speaking, the article attacks a crude caricature the arguments promoted by some respectable scientists that there may be small but significant differences between male and female brains. And that this by means of complex interactions with societal factors may account for the differential representation of men and women in STEM. It should be noted that almost nobody is claiming that differential representation is entirely accounted for by neurobiology. However, the opposite extreme view, that the difference is purely socially constructed is mainstream and departure from this orthodoxy can have serious consequences for employment or advancement. Just ask James Damore or Allessandro Strumia.
In the second paragraph, the author claims that Rosalind Franklin was the co-discoverer of the helical structure of DNA. This is factually inaccurate. Rosalind Franklin was initially opposed to the helical theory of DNA and invited Maurice Wilkins to a funeral service for the helical theory of DNA structure.
So what was Rosalind Franklin’s role in the elucidation of the double-helical structure of DNA? Well, she certainly wasn’t the co-discoverer. The famous image 51 was prepared in a laboratory Franklin shared with Maurice Wilkins. At that time she was preparing some of the best, or perhaps the best, X-ray crystallographic images in the world. The famous image 51, however, was prepared by her student Raymond Gosling aided by Maurice Wilkins. The latter suggested the addition of a condom over the specimen to prevent dehydration of the sample. Watson and Crick did not as is sometimes claimed steal image 51. Rosalind Franklin sent a report to Max Perutz in Cambridge and from there it was seen by Watson and Crick who were already working on the helical structure of DNA that had been dismissed by Franklin. They were quicker to analyse the data than Franklin and the reference to ‘bessalised’ injections in the note above was a dig at Francis Crick who was using Bessel functions to analyse the crystallographic data.
Subsequently, and to her great credit, Rosalind Franklin was prepared to change her mind and accept the helical model proposed by Watson and Crick. So was Rosalind Franklin a great scientist? Undoubtedly. Has her contribution been overlooked? Hardly- it has been hyped to breaking point and that is to the detriment of other scientists who made important contributions to the field. Michael Creeth at Nottingham who showed that DNA was held together by hydrogen bonds and who came up with a helical theory of sorts, Raymond Gosling who prepared image 51, Linus Pauling who was usefully wrong, and W.T Astbury who’s crystallographic images, though inferior to those of Rosalind Franklin, started Watson and Crick on the right track. Feminist mythology like all mythology should be treated with suspicion.
The author of the article then proceeds to a cavalier dismissal of any evidence about innate differences that she doesn’t like. For example, stating that ‘there is increasingly strong evidence that females often outperform males in many spheres of science’ a claim that is not backed up by primary sources.
Most disturbing however is the author’s whac-a-mole analogy. Men who dare to depart from blank slate orthodoxy even when they back their claims with evidence (with which you can agree or disagree) have faced threats of violence and have often lost their jobs. James Damore who is referred to by Gina Ripon, expressed ‘incorrect opinions’ that many would agree with, in an internal memo at Google. For that, he received threats of violence from fellow workers and was subsequently sacked.
Gina Ripon claims, without providing any evidence, that women face prejudice in hiring decisions. Alessandro Strumai was sacked for producing data in a lecture at CERN that women were actually being appointed with fewer publications. This may have been right or wrong but that was never the issue, you are simply not allowed to challenge feminist dogma. There is indeed a game of whac-a-mole in progress.
There are two kinds of extremist in this debate; those who think differences in job choice are all down to innate factors and those who think those differences are is purely socially constructed. The truth is probably a poorly understood and complex mixture of the two. Gina Miller clearly lies on one extreme pole of that spectrum. Would The Conversation publish an article from someone at the other end of that spectrum? They wouldn’t dare – that would get ‘whacked like a mole’.