Predatory journals

I had my first Twitter controversy. So:

I pointed out in the reply to this, that they don’t actually charge that much normally. The comparison is here. The prices are around 500-3000 USD, with an average (eyeballed) around 2500 USD.

Now, this is just a factual error, so not so bad. However…

If anyone is wondering why he is so emotional, he gave the answer himself:

A very brief history of journals and science

  • Science starts out involving few individuals.
  • They need a way to communicate ideas.
  • They set up journals to distribute the ideas on paper.
  • Printing costs money, so they cost money to buy.
  • Due to limitations of paper space, there needs to be some selection in what gets printed, the resulting system is peer review. In the system, academics write papers, they edit them, and review them. All for free.
  • Fast forward and what happens is that big business takes over the running of the journals so academics can focus on science. As it does, the prices rise becus of monetary interests.
  • Academics are reluctant to give up publishing in and buying journals becus their reputation system is built on publishing in said journals. I.e. the system is inherently conservatively biased (Status quo bias). It is perfect for business to make money from.
  • Now along comes the internet which means that publishing does not need to rely on paper. This means that marginal printing cost is very close to 0. Yet the journals keep demanding high prices becus academia is reliant on them becus they are the source of the reputation system.
  • There is a growing movement in academia that this is a bad situation for science, and that publications shud be openly available (open access movement). New OA journals are set up. However, since they are also either for-profit or crypto for-profit, in order to make money they charge outrageous amounts of money (say, anything above 100 USD) to publish some text+figures on a website. Academics still provide nearly all the work for free, yet they have to pay enormous amounts of money to publish, while the publisher provides a mere website (and perhaps some copyediting etc.).

Who thinks that is a good solution? It is clearly a smart business move. For instance, popular OA metajournal Frontiers are owned by Nature Publishing Group. This company thus very neatly both makes money off their legacy journals and the new challenger journals.

The solution is to set up journals run by academics again now that the internet makes this rather easy and cheap. The profit motive is bad for science and just results in even worse journals.

As for my claim, I stand by it. Altho in retrospect, the more correct term is parasitic. Publishers are a middleman exploiting the the fact that academia relies on established journals for reputation.

Review: The Digital Scholar: How Technology is Transforming Academic Practice (Martin Weller)

Someone posted a nice collection of books dealing with the on-going revolution in science:

So i decided to read some of them. Ironically, many of them are not available for free (contrary to the general idea of openness in them).

The book is short at 200 pages, with 14 chapters covering most aspects of changing educational system. It is at times long-winded. It shud probably have been 20-50 pages shorter. However, it seems fine as a general introduction to the area. The author shud have used more grafs, figures etc. to make points. There are plenty of good figures for these things (e.g. journal revenue increases).

Review: G Is for Genes: The Impact of Genetics on Education and Achievement (Kathryn Asbury, Robert Plomin)

So i kept finding references to this book in papers, so i decided to read it. It is a quick read introducing behavior genetics and the results from it to lay readers and perhaps policy makers. The book is overly long (200) for its content, it cud easily have been cut 30 pages. The book itself contains not much new to people familiar with the field (i.e. me), however there are some references that were interesting and unknown to me. It may pay for the expert to simply skim the reference lists for each chapter and read those papers instead.

The main thrust of the book is what policies we shud implement becus of our ‘new’ behavioral genetic knowledge. Basically the authors think that we need to add more choice to schools becus everybody is different and we want to use the gene-environment correlations to improve results. It is hard to disagree with this. They go on about how labeling is bad, but obviously labeling is useful for talking about things.

If one is interested in school policy then reading this book may be worth it, especially if one is a layman. If one is interested in learning behavior genetics, read something else (e.g. Plomin’s 2012 textbook)

Review: Making sense of heritability



This is a GREAT book, which goes down to the basics about heritability and the various claims people have made against it. Highly recommended. Best book of the 29 i have read this year.


The denial of genetically based psychological differences is the kind of sophisti-

cated error normally accessible only to persons having Ph.D. degrees.

David Lykken


Quote checks out.



I was introduced to the nature–nurture debate by reading Ned Block

and Gerald Dworkin’s well-known and widely cited anthology about

the IQ controversy (Block & Dworkin 1976a). This collection of arti-

cles has long been the main source of information about the heredity–

environment problem for a great number of scientists, philosophers, and

other academics. It is not an exaggeration to say that the book has been

the major influence on thinking about this question for many years. Like

most readers, I also left the book with a feeling that hereditarianism (the

view that IQ differences among individuals or groups are in substantial

part due to genetic differences) is facing insuperable objections that strike

at its very core.


There was something very satisfying, especially to philosophers, about

the way hereditarianism was criticized there. A strong emphasis was on

conceptual and methodological difficulties, and the central arguments

against hereditarianism appeared to have full destructive force indepen-

dently of empirical data, which are, as we know, both difficult to evaluate

and inherently unpredictable.


So this looked like a philosopher’s dream come true: a scientific issue

with potentially dangerous political implications was defused not through

an arduous exploration of themessy empiricalmaterial but by using a dis-

tinctly philosophical method of conceptual analysis and methodological

criticism. It was especially gratifying that the undermined position was

often associated with politically unacceptable views like racism, toler-

ation of social injustice, etc. Besides, the defeat of that doctrine had a

certain air of finality. It seemed to be the result of very general, a priori

considerations, which, if correct, could not be reversed by “unpleasant”

discoveries in the future.


But very soon I started having second thoughts about Block and

Dworkin’s collection. The reasons are worth explaining in some detail

I think, because the book is still having a considerable impact, especially

on discussions in philosophy of science.


First, some of the arguments against hereditarianism presented there

were just too successful. The refutations looked so utterly simple, elegant,

and conclusive that it made me wonder whether competent scientists

could have really defended a position that was somanifestly indefensible.

Something was very odd about the whole situation.



There is indeed something about this. This book is a premier case of what Weinberg called mentioned with his comment “…a knowledge of philosophy does not seem to be of use to physicists – always with the exception that the work of some philosophers helps us to avoid the errors of other philosophers.”





Of course,Bouchardwould be justified in notworrying toomuch about

these global methodological criticisms if the only people who made a

fuss over them were philosophers of science. Even with this unfriendly

stance becoming a consensus in philosophy of science, scientists might

still remain unimpressed because many of them would probably be sym-

pathetic to JamesWatson’s claim: “I do not like to suffer at all from what

I call the German disease, an interest in philosophy” (Watson 1986: 19).


Source is: Watson, J. D. 1986, “Biology: A Necessarily Limitless Vista,” in S. Rose and L.

Appignanesi (eds.), Science and Beyond, Oxford, Blackwell.



At this point I am afraid I may lose some of my scientific readers.

Remembering Steven Weinberg’s statement that the insights of philoso-

phers have occasionally benefited scientists, “but generally in a negative

fashion – by protecting them from the preconceptions of other philoso-

phers” (Weinberg 1993: 107), they might conclude that it is best just to

avoid reading any philosophy (including this book), and that in this way

they will neither contract preconceptions nor need protection fromthem.

But the problemis that the preconceptions discussed here do not originate

from a philosophical armchair. Scientists should be aware that to a great

extent these preconceptions come from some of their own. Philosophers

of science uncritically accepted these seductive but ultimately fallacious

arguments from scientists, repackaged them a little, and then fed them

back to the scientific community, which often took them very seriously.

Bad science was mistaken for good philosophy.


Sesardic clearly saw the same connection to Weinberg’s comments as i did. :)



It may seem surprising that Jones dismissed the views of the founder

of his own laboratory (Galton Laboratory, University College London)

in such amanner. But then again this should perhaps not be so surprising.

One can hardly be expected to study seriously the work of a man whom

one happens to call publicly “Victorian racist swine” – the way Jones

referred to Galton in an interview (Grove 1991). Also, in Jones’s book

Genetics for Beginners (Jones & Van Loon 1993: 169), Galton is pictured

in a Nazi uniform, with a swastika on his sleeve.


The virulent antinazism among these lefties is extraordinary. It targets everybody having the least to do with ideas the nazis also liked. It is a wonder no one attacks vegetarians or people who campaign against smoking for being nazis…



Arthur Jensen once said that “a heritability study may be regarded

as a Geiger counter with which one scans the territory in order to find

the spot one can most profitably begin to dig for ore” (Jensen 1972b:

243). That Jensen’s advice as to how to look upon heritability is merely

an application of a standard general procedure in causal reasoning is

confirmed by the following observation from an introduction to causal

analysis: “the decomposition of statistical associations represents a first

step. The results indicate which effects are important and which may be

safely ignored, that is, where we ought to start digging in order to uncover

the nature of the causal mechanisms producing association between our

variables” (Hellevik 1984: 149). High heritability of a trait (in a given

population) often signals that it may be worthwhile to dig further, in the

sense that an important geneticmechanismcontrolling differences in this

trait may thus be uncovered.8


Another great Jensen insight.


Citation is to: 1972b, “Discussion,” in L. Ehrman, G. S. Omenn, E. Caspari (eds.), Genetics,

Environment and Behavior, New York, Academic Press.



Second, even if a trait is shared by all organisms in a given population

it can still be heritable – if we take a broader perspective, and compare

that populationwith other populations. The critics of heritability are often

confused, and switch from one perspective to another without noticing it.

Consider the following “problem” for heritability:


the heritability of “walking on two legs” is zero.And yetwalking on two legs

is clearly a fundamental property of being human, and is one of the more

obvious biological differences between humans and other great apes such

as chimpanzees or gorillas. It obviously depends heavily on genes, despite

having a heritability of zero. (Bateson 2001b: 565; cf. Bateson 2001a: 150–

151; 2002: 2212)


When Bateson speaks about the differences between humans and other

great apes, the heritability of walking on two legs in that population

(consisting of humans, chimpanzees, and gorillas) is certainly not zero.

On the other hand, within the human species itself the heritability may

well be zero. So, if it is just made entirely clear which population is

being discussed, no puzzling element remains. In the narrower popula-

tion (humans), the question “Do genetic differences explain why some

people walk on two legs and some don’t?” has a negative answer because

there are no such genetic differences. In the broader population (humans,

chimpanzees, and gorillas) the question “Do genetic differences explain

why some organisms walk on two legs and some don’t?” has an affirma-

tive answer. All this neatly accords with the logic of heritability, and cre-

ates no problem whatsoever. The critics of hereditarianism like to repeat

that heritability is a population-relative statistic, but when they raise this

kind of objection it seems that they themselves forget this important



Things like the number of finger is also heritable within populations. There are rare genetic mutations that cause supernumerary body parts:


However, these are very rare, so to spot them, one needs a huge sample size. Surely the heritability of having 6 fingers is high, while the heritability of having 4 fingers is low, but not zero. Of the people who have 4 fingers, most of the casesare probably caused by unique environment (i.e. accidents), but some are caused by genetics.



(4) It is often said that in individual cases it is meaningless to compare

the importance of interacting causes: “If an event is the result of the joint

operation of a number of causative chains and if these causes ‘interact’

in any generally accepted meaning of the word, it becomes conceptually

impossible to assign quantitative values to the causes of that individual

event” (Lewontin 1976a: 181).But this is in fact not true.Take, for example,

the rectangle with width 2 and length 1 (from Figure 2.3). Its area is 2,

which is considerably below the average area for all rectangles (around

100). Why is that particular rectangle smaller than most others? Is its

width or its length more responsible for that? Actually, this question is

not absurd at all. It has a straightforward and perfectlymeaningful answer.

The rectangleswith thatwidth (2) have on average the area that is identical

to the mean area for all rectangles (100.66), so the explanation why the

area of that particular rectangle deviates so much from the mean value

cannot be in its width. It is its below-average length that is responsible.


Even the usually cautious David Lykken slips here by condemning

the measurement of causal influences in the individual case as inherently

absurd: “It is meaningless to ask whether Isaac Newton’s genius was due

more to his genes or his environment, as meaningless as asking whether

the area of a rectangle is due more to its length or its width” (Lykken

1998a: 24). Contrary to what he says, however, it makes perfect sense to

inquire whether Newton’s extraordinary contributions were more due to

his above-average inherited intellectual ability or to his being exposed

to an above-average stimulating intellectual environment (or to some

particular combination of the two). The Nuffield Council on Bioethics

makes a similar mistake in its report on genetics and human behavior:

“It is vital to understand that neither concept of heritability [broad or

narrow] allows us to conclude anything about the role of heredity in the

development of a characteristic in an individual” (Nuffield 2002: 40). On

the contrary, if the broad heritability of a trait is high, this does tell us

that any individual’s phenotypic divergence from the mean is probably

more caused by a non-standard genetic influence than by a non-typical

environment. For a characteristically clear explanation of why gauging

the contributions of heredity and environment is not meaningless even in

an individual case, see Sober 1994: 190–192.


This is a good point. The reason not to talk about the causes of a particular level of g in some person is not that it is a meaningless question, it is that it is difficult to know the answer. But in some cases, it is clearly possible, cf. my number of fingers scenario above.



Nesardic mentions two studies that fysical attractiveness is not correlated with intelligence. That goes against what i believe(d?). He cites:


Feingold, A. 1992, “Good-looking People Are NotWhatWe Think,” Psycholog-

ical Bulletin 111: 304–341.


Langlois, J. H., Kalakanis, L., Rubenstein, A. J., Larson, A., Hallam, M., and

Smoot, M. 2000, “Maxims or Myths of Beauty? A Meta-Analytic and Theo-

retical Review,” Psychological Bulletin 126: 390–423.


But i apparently dont have access to the first one. But the second one i do have. In it one can read:


According to this maxim, there is no necessary correspondence

between external appearance and the behavior or personality of an

individual (Ammer, 1992). Two meta-analyses have examined the

relation between attractiveness and some behaviors and traits

(Feingold, 1992b2; L. A. Jackson, Hunter, & Hodge, 1995). Fein-

gold (1992b) reported significant relations between attractiveness

and measures of mental health, social anxiety, popularity, and

sexual activity but nonsignificant relations between attractiveness

and sociability, internal locus of control, freedom from self-

absorption and manipulativeness, and sexual permissiveness in

adults. Feingold also found a nonsignificant relation between at-

tractiveness and intelligence (r = .04) for adults, whereas L. A.

Jackson et al. found a significant relation for both adults (d = .24

overall, d = .02 once selected studies were removed) and for

children (d = .41).


These meta-analyses suggest that there may be a relation be-

twe^n behavior and attractiveness, but the inconsistencies in re-

sults call for additional attention. Moreover, the vast majority of

dependent variables analyzed by Feingold (1992b) and L. A.

Jackson et al. (1995) assessed traits as defined by psychometric

tests (e.g., IQ) rather than behavior as defined by observations of

behaviors in actual interactions. Thus, to fully understand the

relations among appearance, behaviors, and traits, it is important to

broaden the conception of behavior beyond that used by Feingold

and L. A. Jackson et al. If beauty is only skin-deep, then a

comprehensive meta-analysis of the literature should find no sig-

nificant differences between attractive and unattractive people in

their behaviors, traits, or self-views.


So, maybe. It seems difficult that g and pa (phy. attract.) is NOT associated purely by effect of mating choices, since females prefer males with high SES and males prefer females with have pa. Then comes the mutational load hypothesis, and the fact that smarter people presumably are better at taking care of their bodies, which increases pa. I find it very difficult indeed to believe that they arent correlated.



In my opinion, this kind of deliberate misrepresentation in attacks on

hereditarianism is less frequent than sheer ignorance. But why is it that a

number of peoplewho publicly attack “Jensenism” are so poorly informed

about Jensen’s real views? Given the magnitude of their distortions and

the ease with which these misinterpretations spread, one is alerted to

the possibility that at least some of these anti-hereditarians did not get

their information about hereditarianismfirst hand, fromprimary sources,

but only indirectly, from the texts of unsympathetic and sometimes quite

biased critics.8In this connection, it is interesting to note that several

authors who strongly disagree with Jensen (Longino 1990; Bowler 1989;

Allen 1990; Billings et al. 1992; McInerney 1996; Beckwith 1993; Kassim

2002) refer to his classic paper from 1969 by citing the volume of the

Harvard Educational Review incorrectly as “33” (instead of “39”). What

makes this mis-citation noteworthy is that the very same mistake is to

be found in Gould’s Mismeasure of Man (in both editions). Now the

fact that Gould’s idiosyncratic lapsus calami gets repeated in the later

sources is either an extremely unlikely coincidence or else it reveals that

these authors’ references to Jensen’s paper actually originate from their

contact with Gould’s text, not Jensen’s.


Gotcha. A nice illustrating case of the thing map makers used to use to prove plagiarism.


Incidentally, in this case it ended up having another use! :)



Nesardic quotes:


In December 1986 our newly-born daughter was diagnosed to be suffering

from a genetically caused disease called Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa

(EB). This is a disease in which the skin of the sufferer is lacking in certain

essential fibers. As a result, any contact with her skin caused large blisters

to form, which subsequently burst leaving raw open skin that healed only

slowly and left terrible scarring. As EB is a genetically caused disease it

is incurable and the form that our daughter suffered from usually causes

death within the first sixmonths of life . . .Our daughter died after a painful

and short life at the age of only 12 weeks. (quoted in Glover 2001: 431 –

italics added)


from: Glover, J. 2001, “Future People, Disability, and Screening,” in J. Harris (ed.),

Bioethics, Oxford, Oxford University Press.


Nasty disease indeed. Only eugenics can avoid such atrocities.



On the contrary, empirical evidence suggests that for many important

psychological traits (particularly IQ), the environmental influences that

account for phenotypic variation among adults largely belong to the non-

shared variety. In particular, adoption studies of genetically unrelated

children raised in the same family show that for many traits the adult

phenotypic correlation among these children is very close to zero (Plomin

et al. 2001: 299–300). This very surprising but consistent result points

to the conclusion that we may have greatly overestimated the impact

of variation in shared environmental influences.6The fact that variation

within a normal range does not have much effect was dramatized in the

following way by neuroscientist Steve Petersen:


At a minimum, development really wants to happen. It takes very impov-

erished environments to interfere with development because the biological

system has evolved so that the environment alone stimulates development.

What does this mean? Don’t raise your children in a closet, starve them, or

hit them in the head with a frying pan. (Quoted in Bruer 1999: 188)


But if social reforms are mainly directed at eliminating precisely these

between-family inequalities (economic, social, and educational), and if

these differences are not so consequential as we thought, then egalitar-

ianism will find a point of resistance not just in genes but also in the

non-heritable domain, i.e., in those uncontrollable and chaotically emerg-

ing environmental differences that by their very nature cannot be an easy

object for social manipulation.


All this shows that it is irresponsible to disregard constraints on mal-

leability and fan false hopes about what social or educational reforms can

do. As David Rowe said:


As social scientists, we should be wary of promisingmore than we are likely

to deliver. Physicists do not greet every new perpetual motion machine,

created by a basement inventor, with shouts of joy and claims of an endless

source of electrical or mechanical power; no, they know the laws of physics

would prevent it. (Rowe 1997: 154)


I will end this chapter with another qualification.Although heritability

puts constraints on malleability it is, strictly speaking, incorrect to say

that the heritable part of phenotypic variance cannot be decreased by

environmentalmanipulation. It is true that if heritability is, say, 80 percent

then at most 20 percent of the variation can be eliminated by equalizing

environments. But if we consider redistributing environments, without

necessarily equalizing them, a larger portion of variance than 20 percent

can be removed.


Table 5.5 gives an illustration how this might work.

In this examplewith just two genotypes and two environments (equally

distributed in the population), themain effect of the genotype on the vari-

ation in the trait (say, IQ) is obviously stronger than the environmental

effect. Going from G2 to G1 increases IQ 20 points, while going from the

less favorable environment (E2) to the more favorable one (E1) leads

to an increase of only 10 points. Heritability is 80 percent, the genetic

variance being 100 and the environmental variance being 25. Now if we

expose everyone to the more favorable environment (E1) we will com-

pletely remove the environmental variance (25), and the variance in the

new population will be 100. The genetic variance survives environmental

manipulation unscathed.




But there is a way to make an incursion into the “genetic territory.”

Suppose we expose all those endowed with G1 to the less favorable

environment (E2) and those with G2 to the more favorable environment

(E1). In this way we would get rid of the highest and lowest score, and

we would be left only with scores of 95 and 105. In terms of variance, we

would have succeeded in eliminating 80 percent of variance by manipu-

lating environment, despite heritability being 80 percent.


How is this possible? The answer is in the formula for calculating vari-

ance in chapter 1 (see p. 21). One component of variance is genotype–

environment correlation, which can have a negative numerical value.

This is what has happened in our example. The phenotype-increasing

genotype was paired with the phenotype-decreasing environment, and

the phenotype-decreasing genotype was paired with the phenotype-

increasing environment. This move introduced the negative G–E corre-

lation and neutralized the main effects, bringing about a drastic drop in



The strategy calls to mind the famous Kurt Vonnegut story “Harrison

Bergeron,” where the society intervenes very early and suppresses the

mere expression of superior innate abilities by imposing artificial obsta-

cles on gifted individuals. Here is just one short passage from Vonnegut:


And George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little

mental-handicap radio in his ear – he was required by law to wear it at all

times. It was tuned to a government transmitter and, every twenty seconds

or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like

George from taking unfair advantage of their brains. (Vonnegut 1970: 7)


We all get a chill from the nightmare world of “Harrison Bergeron.” But

in its milder forms the idea that if the less talented cannot be brought

up to the level of those better endowed, the latter should then be held

back in their development for the sake of equality, is not entirely with-

out adherents. In one of the most carefully argued sociological studies

on inequality there is an interesting proposal in that direction, about

how to reduce differences in cognitive abilities that are caused by genetic



Asociety committed to achieving full cognitive equality would, for example,

probably have to exclude genetically advantaged children from school. It

might also have to impose other handicaps on them, like denying them

access to books and television. Virtually no one thinks cognitive equality

worth such a price.Certainlywe do not.But if our goalwere simply to reduce

cognitive inequality to, say, half its present level, instead of eliminating it

entirely, the pricemight bemuch lower. (Jencks et al. 1972: 75–76 – emphasis



So although Jencks and his associates concede that excluding geneti-

cally advantaged children from school and denying them access to books

may be too drastic, they appear to think that the price of equality could

become acceptable if the goalwas lowered andmeasuresmademoremod-

erate. Are they suggesting that George keeps the little mental-handicap

radio in his ear but that the noise volume should be set only at half



I wonder if someone cud make a good video based on this… Oh that’s right…



David Lykken had a good comment on this tendency of some

Darwinians (he had John Tooby and Leda Cosmides in mind) to pub-

licly dissociate themselves from behavior genetics, in the hope that this

move would make their own research less vulnerable to political criti-

cisms: “Are these folks just being politic, just claiming only the minimum

they need to pursue their own agenda while leaving the behavior geneti-

cists to contend with the main armies of political correctness?” (Lykken



There are some obvious, and other less obvious, consequences of polit-

ically inspired, vituperative attacks on a given hypothesisH.On the obvi-

ous side, many scientists who believe that H is true will be reluctant to

say so, many will publicly condemn it in order to eliminate suspicion that

they might support it, anonymous polls of scientists’ opinions will give

a different picture from the most vocal and most frequent public pro-

nouncements (Snyderman & Rothman 1988), it will be difficult to get

funding for research on “sensitive” topics,19the whole research area will

be avoided by many because one could not be sure to end up with the

“right” conclusion,20texts insufficiently critical of “condemned” views

will not be accepted for publication,21etc.


On the less obvious side, a nasty campaign against H could have the

unintended effect of strengthening H epistemically, and making the criti-

cism of H look less convincing. Simply, if you happen to believe that H is

true and if you also know that opponents of H will be strongly tempted

to “play dirty,” that they will be eager to seize upon your smallest mis-

take, blow it out of all proportion, and label you with Dennett’s “good

epithets,” with a number of personal attacks thrown in for good measure,

then if you still want to advocate H, you will surely take extreme care to

present your argument in the strongest possible form. In the inhospitable

environment for your views, you will be aware that any major error is a

liability that you can hardly afford, because it willmore likely be regarded

as a reflection of your sinister political intentions than as a sign of your

fallibility. The last thing onewants in this situation is the disastrous combi-

nation of being politically denounced (say, as a “racist”) and being proved

to be seriously wrong about science. Therefore, in the attempt to make

themselves as little vulnerable as possible to attacks they can expect from

their uncharitable and strident critics, those who defendHwill tread very

cautiously and try to build a very solid case before committing themselves

publicly. As a result, the quality of their argument will tend to rise, if the

subject matter allows it.22


Interesting effects of the unpopularity of the views.



First of all, the issue about heritability is obviously a purely empirical

and factual one. So there is a strong case for denying that it can affect

our normative beliefs. But it is worth noting that the idea that a certain

heritability value could have political implications was not only criticized

for violatingHume’s law, but also for being politically dangerous. Bluntly,

if the high heritability of IQ differences between races really has racist

implications then it would seem that, after all, science could actually dis-

cover that racism is true.


The dangerwas clearly recognized byDavidHorowitz in his comments

on a statement on race that the Genetics Society of America (GSA)

wanted to issue in 1975. A committee preparing the statement took the

line that racism is best fought by demonstrating that racists’ belief in the

heritability of the black–white difference in IQ is disproved by science.

Horowitz objected:


The proposed statement is weak morally, for the following reason: Racists

assert that blacks are genetically inferior in I.Q. and therefore need not

be treated as equals. The proposed statement disputes the premise of the

assertion, but not the logic of the conclusion. It does not perceive that the

premise, while it may be mistaken, is not by itself racist: it is the conclusion

drawn (wrongly) from it that is racist. Even if the premise were correct, the

conclusion would not be justified …Yetthe proposed statement directs its

main fire at the premise, and by so doing seems to accept the racist logic.

It places itself in a morally vulnerable position, for if, at some future time,

that the premise is correct, then the whole GSA case collapses, together

with its case for equal opportunity. (Quoted in Provine 1986: 880)


The same argument was made by others:


To rest the case for equal treatment of national or racial minorities on

the assertion that they do not differ from other men is implicitly to admit

that factual inequality would justify unequal treatment. (Hayek 1960:


But to fear research on genetic racial differences, or the possible existence

of a biological basis for differences in abilities, is, in a sense, to grant the

racist’s assumption: that if it should be established beyond reasonable doubt

that there are biological or genetically conditioned differences in mental

abilities among individuals or groups, then we are justified in oppressing

or exploiting those who are most limited in genetic endowment. This is, of

course, a complete non sequitur. (Jensen 1972a: 329)

If someone defends racial discrimination on the grounds of genetic differ-

ences between races, it is more prudent to attack the logic of his argument

than to accept the argument and deny any differences. The latter stance can

leave one in an extremely awkward position if such a difference is subse-

quently shown to exist. (Loehlin et al. 1975: 240)

But it is a dangerousmistake to premise themoral equality of human beings

on biological similarity because dissimilarity, once revealed, then becomes

an argument for moral inequality. (Edwards 2003: 801)


Good point indeed.

Review: Who Stole Feminism? (Christina Sommers)

Downloaded from here:



I came across Sommers years ago when i read her interview here:


It had this bit:


MS. PAGLIA: Well, one of the things that got me pilloried from coast to coast was when I wrote a piece on date rape for Newsday in January of 1991. It got picked up by the wire services, and the torrent of abuse that poured in. I want women to fend for themselves. That essay that I wrote on rape begins with the line “Rape is an outrage that cannot be tolerated in civilized society.” I absolutely abhor this broadening of the idea of rape, which is an atrocity, to those things that go wrong on a date –acquaintances, you know, little things, miscommunications — on pampered elite college campuses.

MS. SOMMERS: I interviewed a young women at the University of Pennsylvania who came in in a short skirt and she was in the Women’s Center, and I think she thought I was one of the sisterhood. And she said, “Oh, I just suffered a mini-rape.” And I said, “What happened?” And she said, “A boy walked by me and said, `Nice legs’.” You know? And that — and this young woman considers this a form of rape!




after having concentrated on studying the scientific side of things:


I started reading more on the polemic and political side of things:


and now the time has come to give feminism itself a closer view. i cant say this was a pleasurable read, it was mostly disturbing. Worse, its from 1994 so who knows how bad it has become since then?! I had to give this 5 out of 5 for opening my eyes to the insanity that goes on in feminist circles. If feminism has indeed been stolen, it is time to denounce it entirely. After all, no one really wants to take away women’s civil rights anyway (except muslims and radical xtians), so there is no need for explicit equity feminism anymore.




In Revolution from Within, Gloria Steinem informs her readers that “in

this country alone . . . about 150,000 females die of anorexia each year.”1

That is mor e than three times the annual numbe r of fatalities from car

accidents for the total population. Steinem refers readers to anothe r fem­

inist best-seller, Naomi Wolf s The Beauty Myth. And in Ms. Wolf s boo k

one again finds the statistic, along with the author’ s outrage. “How, ” she

asks, “would America react to the mass self-immolation by hunge r of its

favorite sons?”2 Although “nothing justifies comparison with the Holo­

caust,” she cannot refrain from making one anyway. “When confronted

with a vast numbe r of emaciated bodies starved not by nature but by

men, one mus t notice a certain resemblance.”3


Where did Ms. Wolf get her figures? Her source is Fasting Girls: The

Emergence of Anorexia Nervosa as a Modern Disease* by Joan Brumberg, a

historian and former director of women’ s studies at Cornel l University.

Brumberg, too, is fully aware of the political significance of the startling

statistic. She point s out that the wome n wh o study eating problems “seek

to demonstrate that these disorders are an inevitable consequence of a

misogynistic society that demeans women.. . by objectifying their bodies.”5

Professor Brumberg, in turn, attributes the figure to the American Anorexia

and Bulimia Association.


I called the American Anorexia and Bulimia Association and spoke to

Dr. Diane Mickley, its president . “We were misquoted,” she said. In a

1985 newsletter the association had referred to 150,000 to 200,000 suf­

ferers (not fatalities) of anorexia nervosa.


What is the correct morbidity rate? Most experts are reluctant to give

exact figures. On e clinician told me that of 1,400 patients she had treated

in ten years, four had died—al l through suicide. The National Center for

Health Statistics reported 101 deaths from anorexia nervosa in 1983 and

67 deaths in 1988.6 Thoma s Dun n of the Division of Vital Statistics at the

National Center for Health Statistics reports that in 1991 there were 54

deaths from anorexia nervosa and no deaths from bulimia. The deaths of

these young wome n are a tragedy, certainly, but in a country of one

hundre d million adul t females, such number s are hardly evidence of a



Yet now the false figure, supporting the view that our “sexist society”

demeans wome n by objectifying their bodies, is widely accepted as true.

Ann Landers repeated it in her syndicated column in Apri l 1992: “Every

year, 150,000 American wome n die from complications associated with

anorexia and bulimia.”7


I sent Naomi Wol f a letter pointing out that Dr. Mickley had said she

was mistaken. Wol f sent me word on February 3, 1993, that she intends

to revise he r figures on anorexia in a later edition of The Beauty Myth.8

Will she actually state that the correct figure is less than one hundred per

year? And wil l she correct the implications she drew from the false report?

For example, wil l she revise her thesis that masses of young women are

being “starved not by nature but by men” and her declaration that

“women mus t claim anorexia as political damage done to us by a social

order that considers our destruction insignificant.. . as Jews identify the

death camps”?9


This is the OPENING of the book. What the fuck. No wonder feminists are batshit insane if they read this and think its true.



Virginia Held, a philosophy professor at the City University of New

York, reported on the feminist conviction that feminist philosopher s are

the initiators of an intellectual revolution comparable to those of “Coper ­

nicus, Darwin, and Freud.”1 9 Indeed, as Held points out , “some feminists

think the latest revolution will be even mor e profound.” According to

Held, the sex/gender system is the controlling insight of this feminist

revolution. Ms. Held tells us of the impact that the discovery of the sex/

gender system has had on feminist theory: “Now that the sex/gender

system has become visible to us , we can see it everywhere.”2 0


One if reminded of the crackpot index:


“40 points for comparing yourself to Galileo, suggesting that a modern-day Inquisition is hard at work on your case, and so on. “



Anyone reading contemporary feminist literature will find a genre of

writing concerned with personal outrage. Professor Kathryn Allen Ra-

buzzi of Syracuse University opens her book Motherself by recounting this

incident :


As I was walking down a sleazy section of Second Avenue in New

York City a few years ago, a voice suddenly intruded on my con­

sciousness: “Hey Mama, spare change?” The words outraged me. . . .

Although I had by then been a mothe r for many years, never till that

momen t had I seen myself as “Mama” in such an impersonal , exter-

nal context . In the man’ s speaking I beheld myself anew. “1 ” disap­

peared, as though turned inside out , and “Mama” took my place.2 1


Ms. Rabuzzi informs us that the panhandler’ s term caused in her a

“shocking dislocation of self.” Similarly, University of Illinois feminist

theorist Sandra Lee Bartky recounts:


It is a fine spring day, and with an utter lack of self-consciousness,

I am bouncing down the street . Suddenly . . . catcalls and whistles

fill the air. These noises are clearly sexual in intent and they are

meant for me; they come from across the street . I freeze. As Sartre

would say, I have been petrified by the gaze of the Other . My face

flushes and my motions become stiff and self-conscious. The body

which only a momen t before I inhabited with such ease now floods

my consciousness. I have been made into an object. . . . Blissfully

unaware, breasts bouncing, eyes on the birds in the trees, I could

have passed by without having been turned to stone. But I mus t be

made to know that I am a “nice piece of ass”: I mus t be made to see

myself as they see me. There is an element of compulsion in . . . this

being-made-to-be-aware of one’s own flesh: like being made to

apologize, it is humiliating. . . . Wha t I describe seems less the spon­

taneous expression of a healthy eroticism than a ritual of subjuga­

tion.2 2


Marilyn French, the author of The War Against Women, finds herself

vulnerable in museums :


Artists appropriate the female body as their subject , thei r possession

. . . assaulting female reality and autonomy. . . . Visiting galleries

and museums (especially the Pompidou Center in Paris) I feel as­

saulted by twentieth-century abstract sculpture that resembles ex­

aggerated female body parts, mainly breasts.2 3


wtf am i reading


the sick part: THESE ARE PROFESSORS!!!


the ultrasick part: THIS WAS BEFORE 1994! ITS WORSE TODAY



This, for example, is wha t Professor Susan McClary, a musicologist at

the University of Minnesota, tells us to listen for in Beethoven’s Ninth

Symphony: “The point of recapitulation in the first movement of the

Ninth is one of the mos t horrifying moment s in music, as the carefully

prepared cadence is frustrated, damming u p energy which finally ex­

plodes in the throttling, murderous rage of a rapist incapable of attaining

release.”2 5 McClary also directs us to be alert to themes of male mastur ­

bation in the music of Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler.



Seneca Falls focused on specific injustices of the kind that social policy

could repair by making the laws equitable. In thinking about that first

women’ s conference, it is helpful to remembe r the state of the average

American woma n in the mid-nineteent h century. Consider the story of

Hester Vaughan. In 1869, at the age of twenty, she had been deserted by

her husband. She found work in a wealthy Philadelphia home wher e the

man of the house seduced her and, when she became pregnant , fired her .

In a state of terrible indigence, she gave birth alone in an unheated rented

room, collapsing minutes afterward. By the time she was discovered, the

baby had died. She was charged with murder . No lawyer represented her

at her trial, and she was not permitted to testify. An all-male jury found

her guilty, and the judge sentenced her to death.


Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony learned of her plight

and organized a campaign to help her. On e protest meeting drew nearly

a thousand women. Here is how the historian Elisabeth Griffith describes

it: “They demanded a pardon for Vaughan, an end to the double standard

of morality, the right of wome n to serve as jurors , and the admission of

women to law schools. . . . According to Stanton, Vaughan’s trial by a

jury of men . . . illustrated the indignity and injustice of women’ s legal

status.”3 6 Vaughan was pardoned. More crucially, her champions and thei r suc­

cessors went on to win for American wome n in general full equality before

the law, including the right to vote, the right to hold property even in

marriage, the right to divorce, and the right to equal education.


The aims of the Seneca Falls activists were clearly stated, finite, and

practicable. They would eventually be realized because they were

grounded in principles—recognized constitutional principles—tha t were

squarely in the tradition of equity, fairness, and individual liberty. Stan­

ton’s reliance on the Declaration of Independenc e was not a ploy; it was

a direct expression of her own sincere creed, and it was the creed of the

assembled men and women. Indeed, it is worth remembering that Seneca

Falls was organized by both me n and wome n and that me n actively

participated in it and were welcomed.3 7 Misandrism (hostility to men, the

counterpar t to misogyny) was not a notable feature of the women’ s move ­

ment unti l our own times.


dafuq, but good it got changed!



Recently several male student s at Vassar were falsely accused of date

rape. After thei r innocence was established, the assistant dean of students ,

Catherine Comins , said of thei r ordeal : “They have a lot of pain, but it is

not a pain that I would necessarily have spared them. I think it ideally

initiates a process of self-exploration. ‘How do I see women?’ ‘If I did not

violate her , could I have?’ ‘Do I have the potential to do to her what they

say I did?’ These are good questions.”8 Dean Comins clearly feels justified

in trumping the commo n law principle “presumed innocent unti l proven

guilty” by a new feminist principle, “guilty even if proven innocent.”

Indeed, she believes that the student s are not really innocent after all.

How so? Because, being male and being brought u p in the patriarchal

culture, they could easily have done wha t they were falsely accused of

having done , even though they didn’ t actually do it. Wher e men are

concerned, Comins quite sincerely believes in collective guilt. Moreover,

she feels she can rely on her audience to be in general agreement with

her on this.





Does it matter that academic feminists speak of replacing seminars

with “ovulars,” history with “herstory,” and theology with “thealogy”?

Should it concern us that mos t teachers of women’ s studies think of

knowledge as a “patriarchal construction”? It should, because twenty

years ago the nation’s academies offered fewer than twenty courses in

women’ s studies; today such courses numbe r in the tens of thousands .

Such rapid growth, which even now shows little signs of abating, is un­

precedented in the annal s of higher education. The feminist coloniza-

tion of the American academy warrants study. Wha t is driving it? Is it a

good thing?


u know, i thought it was a parody when critics said “herstory”. But it wanst!



The misplaced efforts to avoid slighting women lead quickly to exten­

sive “re-visionings” of history, art , and the sciences. The Center for the

Study of Social and Political Change at Smith College did a critical study

of three of the mos t widely used new high school American history

textbooks. Because of state mandates for gender equality, the author s of

the new textbooks had to go out of their way to give wome n prominence.

The Smith researchers were not happy with the results:


There is one major problem .. . in writing nonsexist history text­

books . Most of America’s history is male-dominated, in par t because

in mos t states wome n were not allowed to vote in federal elections

or hold office unti l the twentieth century. This may be regrettable,

but it is still a fact. What , then, is a nonsexist writer of the American

history textbook to do? The answer is filler feminism.1 9


Filler feminism pads history with its own “facts” designed to drive

home the lessons feminists wish to impart . The following passage from

one of the mos t widely used high school American history texts, American

Voices, is a good example of the sort of “feel good” feminist spin that has

become the norm in our nation’s textbooks:


A typical [Indian] family thus consisted of an old woman, her

daughter s with thei r husbands and children, and her unmarried

granddaughter s and grandsons . . . . Politically, women’ s roles and

status varied from culture to culture. Wome n were mor e likely to

assume leadership roles among the agricultural peoples than among

nomadi c hunters . In addition, in many cases in which women did

not become village chiefs, they still exercised substantial political

power . For example, in Iroquois villages, when selected men sat in

a circle to discuss and make decisions, the senior women of the

village stood behind them, lobbying and instructing the men. In

addition, the elder wome n named the male village chiefs to their

positions.2 0


Though some of the information about the Iroquois is vaguely correct ,

the paragraph is blatantly designed to give high school student s the

impression that mos t Native American societies tended to be politically

matriarchal . Since that is not true, the textbook “covers” itself by the

formal disclaimer that “in many cases .. . the wome n did not become

village chiefs.” (In how many cases? A smal l minority? A large majority?)

This is patronizing to both Indians and women , and there is no basis for

it. There are mor e than 350 recognized Indian tribes—one can n o mor e

generalize about them than one can about “humanity. ” Here is wha t

Gilbert Sewall of the American Textbook Counci l says about this passage:

“Female-headed households? Bad old history may cede to bad new his­

tory. The presentist spin on Indian society found in the American Voices

passage is less versed in evidence than aligned to contemporary feminist

politics and perspectives.”2 1



I think the EU recently tried something like this as well, but i cant find the ref.



The problem of “filler feminism” will get worse. Transformationists are

wel l organized, and thei r influence is growing apace. Because of transfor­

mationist pressures , the law in some states now actually mandates “gen­

der-fair” history. The California State Department of Education has issued

guidelines called “Standards for Evaluation of Instructional Materials with

Respect to Social Content. ” According to Education Code section

60040(a) and 60044(a) , “Whenever an instructional material presents

development s in history or current events, or achievements in art, science,

or any other field, the contributions of wome n and men should be rep­

resented in approximately equal number.”2 6 In effect, this law demands

that the historian be mor e attentive to the demands of “equal representa­

tion” than to the historical facts. Needless to say, histories and social

studies presented in this “fair” but factually skewed manne r constitute an

unworthy and dishones t approach to learning.

In the history of the high arts the absence of wome n is deplorable but

largely irreparable. Few wome n in the past were allowed to train and

work in the major arts. Because of this, me n have wrought mos t of the

works that are commonly recognized as masterpieces. But here, espe­

cially, the temptation to redress past wrongs through “reconceptualiza-

tion” has proved irresistible.



In their critique of the imperial male culture, the transformationist

feminists do not confine themselves to impugning the history, art , an d

literature of the past . They also regard logic and rationality as “phallocen-

tric.” Elizabeth Minnich traces the cultural tradition to a “few privileged

males . . . wh o are usually called ‘The Greeks. ‘ “3 4 In common with many

other transformationists, Minnich believes that the conceptions of ratio­

nality and intelligence are white, male creations: “At present . . . not only

are student s taught ‘phallocentric’ and ‘colonial ‘ notions of reason as the

forms of rational expression, but the full possible range of expression of

huma n intelligence also tends to be forced into a severely shrunken no -

tion of intelligence.”3 5 Note the reference to a “colonial” rationality with

its implication of deliberate subjugation. It is now commo n practice to

use scare quotes to indicate the feminist suspicion of a “reality” peculiar

to male ways of knowing. For example, the feminist philosopher Joyce

Trebilcot speaks of “the apparatuses of ‘truth, ‘ ‘knowledge, ‘ ‘science, ‘ ”

that men use to “project their personalities as reality.”3 6


The attack on traditional culture has thus escalated to an attack on the

rational standards and methods that have been the hallmark of scientific

progress. The New Jersey Project for reforming the public schools circu­

lates a document entitled “Feminist Scholarship Guidelines.” The first

guideline is unexceptionable: “Feminist scholars seek to recover the lost

work and thought of wome n in all areas of huma n endeavor.”3 7 But after

that , the guidelines unravel : “Feminist scholarship begins with an aware­

ness that muc h previous scholarship has offered a white, male, Eurocen­

tric, heterosexist , and elite view of’reality. ‘ ”


The guidelines elaborate on the attitude toward masculinist scholarship

and methods by quoting the feminist theorist Elizabeth Fee: “Knowledge

was created as an act of aggression—a passive nature had to be interro­

gated, unclothed, penetrated, and compelled by ma n to reveal her se­

crets.” Fee’s resentment and suspicion of male “ways of knowing” follows

a path wel l trodden by such feminist thinkers as Mary Ellman, Catharine

MacKinnon, and Sandra Harding, whose views of patriarchal knowledge

and science have quickly become central gender feminist doctrine. Play­

ing on the biblical double meaning of knowing to refer both to intercourse

and to cognition, Ellman and MacKinnon claim that men approach nature

as rapists approach a woman , taking joy in violating “her,” in “penetrat ­

ing” her secrets. Feminists, says MacKinnon, have finally realized that for

men, “to know has meant to fuck.”3 8 In a similar mood, Sandra Harding

suggests that Newton’ s Principles of Mechanics could jus t as aptly be

called “Newton’ s Rape Manual.”





Male scholars specializing in their masculinist academic disciplines

(from chemistry to philosophy) are known to transformationists as “sep­

arate knowers. ” The author s of Women’s Ways oj Knowing, a text muc h

cited by transformationists, define “separate knowing” as “the game of

impersonal reason,” a game that has “belonged traditionally to boys.”4 0

“Separate knower s are tough-minded. They are like doormen at exclusive

clubs. They do not want to let anything in unless they are pretty sure it is

good. . . . Presented with a proposition, separate knower s immediately

look for something wrong—a loophole, a factual error, a logical contra­

diction, the omission of contrary evidence.”4 1


Separate knowers—mainly men—pla y the “doubting game. ” The au­

thors of Women’s Ways of Knowing contrast separate knowing with a

higher state of “connected knowing” that they view as the mor e feminine.

In place of the “doubting game,” connected knower s play the “believing

game.” This is more congenial for wome n because “many women find it

easier to believe than to doubt.”4 2


not science!



Linda Gardiner , editor of the Women’s Review of Books, which is housed

in the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women , wonder s

whether Western philosophy speaks for wome n at all. “We might begin

to question the impor t of Descartes’ stress on logic and mathematics as

the ideal types of rationality, in a society in which only a tiny percentage

of people could realistically spend time developing skills in those fields,”

she writes.5 9 Noting that the philosophical elite is biased in favor of the

abstract , methodical , and universal , Gardiner suggests that a feminist

philosophy would be mor e concrete and mor e suspicious of logic and

method. “What would a female logic be like?” she asks, and answer s that

this would be like asking wha t female astronomy or particle physics

would be like. “We cannot imagine wha t it would mean to have a ‘female

version’ of them.”6 0 For that , says Ms. Gardiner , we should first need to

develop different epistemologies. Reading Gardiner’s spirited argument s

for the thesis that classical philosophy is essentially and inveterately male

biased, one cannot avoid the impression that the feminist critic is mor e

ingenious at finding male bias in a field than in proposing an intelligible

alternative way to deal with its subject matter .


Reminds me of:


“You can buy any number of books on ‘quantum healing’, not to mention quantum psychology, quantum responsibility, quantum morality, quantum aesthetics, quantum immortality and quantum theology. I haven’t found a book on quantum feminism, quantum financial management or Afro-quantum theory, but give it time.”
- Richard Dawkins, A Devil’s Chaplain (Page 147)


Just replace “quantum” by ”feminist” and u apparently can get “feminist particle physics” “feminist astronomy” and “feminist logic”.


What the fuck am i reading



Feminist critics have looked at the metaphor s of “male science” and

found them sexist. I recently heard a feminist astronomer interviewed on

CNN say in all seriousness that sexist terminology like “the Big Bang

Theory” is “off-putting to young women ” wh o might otherwise be inter­

ested in pursuing careers in her field.64 It is hard to believe that anyone

with an intelligent interest in astronomy would be pu t off by a graphic

description of a cosmic event . Othe r critiques of science as masculinist

are equally fatuous and scientifically fruitless. After asserting that “the

warlike terminology of immunology which focuses on ‘competition, ‘ ‘in­

hibition, ‘ and ‘invasion’ as major theories of how cells interact reflects a

militaristic view of the world, ” Sue Rosser, wh o offers workshops on how

to transform the biology curriculum, concedes that “a feminist critique

has not yet produced theoretical changes in the area of cell biology.”6 5

She does not tell us how the “feminist critique” could lead to advances in

biology, but she considers it obvious that it must : “It becomes evident

that the inclusion of a feminist perspective leads to changes in models,

experimental subjects, and interpretations of the data. These changes

entai l mor e inclusive, enriched theories compared to the traditional , re­

strictive, unicausal theories.”6 6



Yet although the transformationists have every reason to celebrate thei r

many successes, they have recently experienced a setback from an unex­

pected quarter . Whe n Mcintosh, Minnich, and thei r followers demande d

that the oppressive European, white, male culture being taught in the

schools be radically transformed, they had not imagined that anyone

could look upo n them as oppressors. The transformationist leaders are

not men, but they are white, they are “European,” they are middle-class.

Minority wome n have begun to deny that the leaders of the women’ s

movement have any right to speak for them. Most member s of the wome n

of color caucus boycotted the 1992 Austin National Women’ s Studies

Conference I attended for its failure to recognize and respect their political

identity. The slighted group sent the conferees an African-American wom­

en’s quil t made from dashiki fabrics, as both a reprimand and a “healing

gesture.” The assembled white feminists sat before it in resentful but

guilty silence. In the game of moral one-upmanship that gender feminists

are so good at, they had been outquilted, as it were, by a mor e marginal ­

ized constituency. Clearly any number of minority groups can play the

victimology game, and almost all could play it far mor e plausibly than

the socially well-positioned Heilbruns, Mclntoshes, and Minniches.


Hahahahaha! Pwned at their own game.



Women: A Feminist Perspective is said to be the best-selling women’ s

studies textbook of all time. The first selection, “Sexual Terrorism” by

Carole J. Sheffield, is a good example of how the feminist classroom can

“infuse” anxiety and rage. Ms. Sheffield describes an “ordinary” event that

took place early one evening whe n she was alone in a Laundromat : “The

laundroma t was brightly lit; and my car was the only one in the lot.

Anyone passing by could readily see that I was alone and isolated. Know­

ing that rape is a crime of opportunity, I became terrified.” Ms. Sheffield

left her laundry in the washer and dashed back to her car, sitting in it

with the door s locked and the windows up. “When the wash was com­

pleted, I dashed in, threw the clothes into the drier, and ran back out to

my car. Whe n the clothes were dry, I tossed them recklessly into the

basket and hurriedly drove away to fold them in the security of my home.

Although I was not victimized in a direct , physical way or by objective or

measurable standards , I felt victimized. It was, for me, a terrifying expe­

rience.” At home , her terror subsides and turns to anger: “Mostly I was

angry at being unfree: a hostage of a culture that , for the mos t part ,

encourages violence against females, instructs men in the methodology of

sexual violence, and provides them with ready justification for their vio­

lence. . . . Following my experience at the Laundromat , I talked with my

student s about terrorization.”





For the pas t few years I have reviewed hundreds of syllabi from wom­

en’s studies courses, attended mor e feminist conferences than I care to

remember , studied the new “feminist pedagogy,” reviewed dozens of

texts, journals , newsletters, and done a lot of late-into-the-night reading

of e-mai l letters that thousands of “networked” women’ s studies teachers

send to one another . I have taught feminist theory. I have debated gender

feminists on college campuses around the country, and on national tele­

vision an d radio. My experience with academic feminism and my immer ­

sion in the ever-growing gender feminist literature have served to deepen

my conviction that the majority of women’ s studies classes and other

classes that teach a “reconceptualized” subject matter are unscholarly,

intolerant of dissent , and full of gimmicks. In other words , they are a

waste of time. And although they attract female student s because of their

social ambience, they attract almost no men. They divert the energies of

students—especially young women—wh o sorely need to be learning

how to live in a world that demand s of them applicable talents and skills,

not feminist fervor or ideological rectitude.


In other words, a feminist argument for why feminism as a field is bad.



The feminist classroom does little to prepare student s to cope in the

world of work and culture. It is an embarrassing scandal that , in the name

of feminism, young wome n in our colleges and universities are taking

courses in feminist classrooms that subject them to a lot of bad prose,

psychobabble, and “new age” nonsense. Wha t has real feminism to do

with sitting around in circles and talking about our feelings on menstrua­

tion? To use a phrase muc h used by resenter feminists, the feminist

classroom shortchanges wome n students . It wastes their time and gives

them bad intellectual habits. It isolates them, socially and academically.

While male student s are off studying such “vertical” subjects as engineer ­

ing and biology, wome n in feminist classrooms are sitting around being

“safe” and “honoring” feelings. In this way, gender feminist pedagogy

plays into old sexist stereotypes that extol women’ s capacity for intuition,

emotion, and empathy while denigrating their capacity to think objec­

tively and systematically in the way me n can.


A parent should think very carefully before sending a daughter to one

of the mor e gender-feminized colleges. Any school has the freedom to

transform itself into a feminist bastion, but because the effect on the

students is so powerful it ought to be hones t about its attitude. I would

like to see Wellesley College, Mount Holyoke, Smith, Mills, and the

University of Minnesota—among the mor e extreme examples—print the

following announcement on the first page of their bulletins:


We wil l help your daughter discover the extent to which she has

been in complicity with the patriarchy. We will encourage her to

reconstruct herself through dialogue with us. She may become en­

raged and chronically offended. She will very likely reject the reli­

gious and moral codes you raised her with. She may wel l distance

herself from family and friends. She may change her appearance,

and even her sexual orientation. She may end u p hating you (her

father) and pitying you (her mother) . After she has completed her

reeducation with us , you will certainly be out tens of thousands of

dollars and very possibly be out one daughter as well .


At the Austin conference, my sister and I attended a packed worksho p

called “White Male Hostility in the Feminist Classroom,” led by two

female assistant professors from the State University of New York at

Plattsburgh. What to do about young me n wh o refuse to use gender -

neutral pronouns? Most agreed that the instructor should grade them

down. One of the Plattsburghers told us about a male student wh o had

“baited her” whe n she had defended a fifteen-year-old’s right to have an

abortion without parental consent . The student had asked, “What about

a 15-year-old that wanted to marry a 30-year-old?” She referred to this as

a “trap.” In philosophy, it is known as a legitimate counterexample to be

treated seriously and deal t with by counterargument . But she wanted to

know wha t advice we had to offer.


Haha, well played! If 15 year olds are to have the freedom to get abortions, why shud they not likewise get the freedom to date much older men? Which is the more dangerous?



The claim that all teaching is a form of indoctrination, usually in the

service of those wh o are politically dominant , helps to justify the peda­

gogy of the feminist classroom. Feminist academics often say that apar t

from the enclave of women’ s studies, the university curriculum consists

of “men’ s studies.” They mean by this that mos t of what student s normally

learn is designed to maintain and reinforce the existing patriarchy. To

anyone wh o actually believes this, combatting the standard indoctrination

with a feminist “counter-indoctrination” seems only fair and sensible.


The British philosopher Roger Scruton, aided by two colleagues at the

Education Research Center in England, has pointed to several prominent

features that distinguish indoctrination from normal education.1 8 In a

competent , well-designed course, student s learn methods for weighing

evidence and critical methods for evaluating argument s for soundness .

They learn how to arrive at reasoned conclusions from the best evidence

at hand. By contrast , in cases of indoctrination, the conclusions are as­

sumed beforehand. Scruton calls this feature of indoctrination the “Fore­

gone Conclusion.” According to Scruton, the adoption of a foregone

conclusion is the mos t salient feature of indoctrination. In the case of

gender feminism, the “foregone conclusion” is that American men strive

to keep wome n subjugated.



In December 1989 I received a phon e call from a ma n wh o told me he

was a graduate student at the University of Minnesota. He asked me to

look into some “frightening” things campus feminists were u p to. He

mentioned the Scandinavian studies department . He told me he did not

want to give me his name because he felt he would be hurt : “They are

powerful , they are organized, and they are vindictive.”



Having heard “both sides” of the feminist question at Minnesota, I felt

ready to tackle the mystery of the Scandinavian studies department . It

turned out not to be a mystery at all—only a disturbing example of

extreme feminist vigilance.


On Apri l 12, 1989, four female graduate student s filed sexual harass­

men t charges against all six tenured member s of the Scandinavian studies

department (five me n and one woman) . The professors were called to

Dean Fred Lukerman’ s office, notified of the charges and, according to

the accused, told they’d better get themselves lawyers.


In a letter sent to Professor William Mischler of Scandinavian studies,

Ms. Patricia Mullen, the university officer for sexual harassment , informed

Mischler that he had been accused of sexual harassment and would be

reported to the provos t unless he responded within ten days. Similar

letters were sent to the other five professors. Mischler’s letters contained

no specific facts that could be remotely considered to describe sexual

harassment . Whe n Mischler made further inquiries, he discovered he had

been accused of giving a narrow and “patriarchal” interpretation of Isaak

Dinesen’s work, of not having read a novel a student deemed important ,

and of having greeted a student in a less than friendly manner . Two of

Mischler’s colleagues were accused of harassing the plaintiffs by not hav­

ing given them higher grades.


The plaintiffs had drawn u p a list of punitive demands , among them:

1. the denial of meri t pay for a period of not less than five years;

2. monthly sexual harassment workshops for all Scandinavian core

faculty for at least twelve months ; and

3. annual sexual harassment workshops for all Scandinavian core fac­

ulty, adjunct faculty, visiting faculty, graduate assistants, reader -

graders, and graduate students .


Lacking any suppor t from the administration whatsoever , the profes­

sors were forced to seek legal counsel . On October 13, six month s later,

all charges against four of the accused were dropped. No explanation was

offered. A few month s later, the charges against the remaining two were

dropped, again without explanation. All of them are still shaken from

what they describe as a Kafkaesque ordeal . “When I saw the charges,”

says Professor Allen Simpson, “I panicked. It’s the mos t terrifying

thing . . . they want me fired. It cost me two thousand dollars to have my

response drafted. I can’ t afford justice.”


Professor Mischler requested that the contents of the complaint s be

made public to the Minnesota community. But, according to the Minne­

sota Daily, Patricia Mullen opposed disclosure on the grounds that “it

would dampe n people from coming forward.”4 5


My efforts to reach someone wh o could give me the administration’s

side of the story were not successful. Ms. Mullen declined to speak with

me. Fred Lukerman, wh o was dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the

time, also proved to be inaccessible. I finally did talk to a dean wh o

assured me he was very supportive of feminist causes on campus , but that

he believed the Scandinavian studies affair was indeed a “witch hunt. ”

“But please do not use my name, ” he implored.



In math, at least, it appear s that the vaunted correlation between self-

esteem and achievement does not hold. Instead of a bill called “Gender

Equity in Education,” we need a bill called “Commo n Sense in Educa­

tion,” which would oversee the way the government spends money on

phony education issues. The measure would not need a very big budget ,

but it could save millions by cutting out unneeded projects like the ones

proposed for raising self-esteem and force us instead to address directly

the very real problems we mus t solve if we are to give our student s the

academic competence they need and to which they are entitled.



Paglia’s dismissal of date rape hype infuriates campus feminists, for

whom the rape crisis is very real. On mos t campuses, date-rape groups

hold meetings, marches , rallies. Victims are “survivors,” and their friends

are “co-survivors” wh o also suffer and need counseling.4 1 At some rape

awareness meetings , wome n wh o have not yet been date raped are re­

ferred to as “potential survivors.” Thei r male classmates are “potential

rapists.”4 2





In The Morning After, Katie Roiphe describes the elaborate measures

taken to prevent sexual assaults at Princeton. Blue lights have been in­

stalled around the campus , freshman wome n are issued whistles at ori­

entation. There are marches , rape counseling sessions, emergency

telephones. But as Roiphe tells it, Princeton is a very safe town, and

whenever she walked across a deserted golf course to get to classes, she

was mor e afraid of the wild geese than of a rapist . Roiphe reports that

between 1982 and 1993 only two rapes were reported to the campus

police. And, whe n it comes to violent attacks in general , male student s

are actually mor e likely to be the victims. Roiphe sees the campus rape

crisis movement as a phenomeno n of privilege: these young wome n have

had it all, and whe n they find out that the world can be dangerous and

unpredictable, they are outraged:



Othe r critics, such as Camille Paglia and Berkeley professor of social

welfare Nei l Gilbert , have been targeted for demonstrations, boycotts, and

denunciations . Gilbert began to publish his critical analyses of the Ms./

Koss study in 1990.5 7 Many feminist activists did not look kindly on

Gilbert’s challenge to thei r “one in four” figure. A date rape clearinghouse

in San Francisco devotes itself to “refuting” Gilbert ; it sends out masses

of literature attacking him. It advertises at feminist conferences with green

and orange fliers bearing the headline STOP IT, BITCH! The words are not

Gilbert’s, but the tactic is an effective way of drawing attention to his

work. At one demonstration against Gilbert on the Berkeley campus ,

student s chanted, “Cut it out or cut it off,” and carried signs that read,

KILL NEIL GILBERT! 5 8 Sheila Kuehl , the director of the California Women’ s

Law Center , confided to readers of the Los Angeles Daily Journal, “I found

myself wishing that Gilbert , himself, might be raped and .. . be told, to

his face, it had never happened.”


That’s so extreme it probably was illegal.



Betty Friedan once told Simone de Beauvoir that she believed women

should have the choice to stay home to raise their children if that is what

they wish to do. Beauvoir answered: “No, we don’ t believe that any

woma n should have this choice. No woma n should be authorized to stay

at home to raise her children. Society should be totally different. Wome n

should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice,

too many wome n will make that one.”4


The totalitarianism shines thru once again.



I can’ t help being amused by how upset the New Feminists get over

the vicarious pleasure wome n take in Scarlett’s transports. All that incor­

rect swooning! How are we ever going to get wome n to see how wrong it

is? Nevertheless, the gender feminists seem to believe that thirty years

from now, with the academy transformed and the feminist consciousness

of the population raised, there will be a new Zeitgeist. Wome n who

interpret sexual domination as pleasurable will then be few and far be­

tween, and Scarlett, alas, will be out of style.


Is this scenario out of the question? I think it is. Sexuality has always

been par t of our natures , and there is no one right way. Men like Rhet t

Butler wil l continue to fascinate many women. Nor will the doctrine that

this demeans them have muc h of an effect. How many women who like

Rhet t Butler-type s are in search of suppor t groups to help them change?

Such wome n are not grateful to the gender feminists for going to war

against male lust . They may even be offended at the suggestion that they

themselves are being degraded and humiliated; for that treats their enjoy­

ment as pathological .



So far, the efforts to get wome n to overhaul their fantasies and desires

have been noncoercive, but they do not seem to have been particularly

effective. To get the results they want , the gender feminists have turned

thei r attention to ar t and literature, wher e fantasies are manufactured and

reinforced. Ms. Friedman calls our attention to Angela Carter’s feminist

rewrite of the “morning after” scene in Gone with the Wind: “Scarlett lies

in bed smiling the next morning because she broke Rhett’s kneecaps the

night before. And the reason that he disappeared before she awoke was

to go off to Europe to visit a good kneecap specialist.”3 0


This is meant to be amusing, but of course the point is serious. For the

gender feminist believes that Margaret Mitchel l got it wrong. If Mitchell

had understood better how to make a true heroine of Scarlett, she would

have mad e her different. Scarlett would then have been the kind of person

wh o would plainly see that Rhet t mus t be severely punished for what he

had inflicted on he r the night before. More generally, the gender feminist

believes she mus t rebut and replace the fiction that glorifies dominant

males and the wome n wh o find them attractive. This popular literature,

which “eroticizes” male dominance , mus t be opposed and, if possible,

eradicated. Furthermore , the feminist establishment mus t seek ways to

foster the popularity of a new genre of romantic film and fiction that

sends a mor e edifying message to the wome n and men of America. A

widely used textbook gives us a fair idea of what that message should be:


Plots for nonsexist films could include wome n in traditionally male

jobs (e.g. , long-distance truck driver). . . . For example, a high-

ranking female Army officer, treated with respect by men and

wome n alike, could be shown not only in various sexual encounters

with other people but also carrying out her job in a human e manner .

Or perhaps the main character could be a female urologist . She

could interact with nurses and other medical personnel , diagnose

illnesses brilliantly, and treat patients with great sympathy as wel l

as have sex with them. Whe n the Army officer or the urologist

engage in sexual activities, they will treat their partners and be

treated by them in some of the considerate ways described above.3 1


The truck driver and the urologist are meant to be serious role models

for the free feminist woman , humane , forthrightly sexual , but not discrim­

inating against either gender in her preferences for partners, so consider­

ate that all wil l respect her . These model s are projected in the hope that

someday films and novels with such themes and heroines will be pre ­

ferred, replacing the currently popula r “incorrect” romances with a mor e

acceptable ideal .


It seems a futile hope . Perhaps the best way to see wha t the gender

feminists are u p against is to compare their version of romance with that

embodied in contemporary romance fiction that sells in the millions. Here

is a typical example:


Townsfolk called him devil. For dark and enigmatic Julian, Earl of

Ravenwood, was a ma n with a legendary temper and a first wife

whose mysterious death would not be forgotten. . . . Now country-

bred Sophy Dorring is about to become Ravenwood’s new bride.

Drawn to his masculine strength and the glitter of desire that burned

in his emerald eyes, the tawny-haired lass had her own reasons for

agreeing to a marriage of convenience. . . . Sophy Dorring intended

to teach the devi l to love.3 2


Romance novels amoun t to almost 4 0 percent of all mass-market pa­

perback sales. Harlequin Enterprises alone has sales of close to 200 mil ­

lion books worldwide. They appear in many languages, including

Japanese, Swedish, and Greek, and they are now beginning to appear in

Eastern Europe. The readership is almost exclusively women.3 3 The chal­

lenge this present s to gender feminist ideologues is mos t formidable since

almost every hero in this fictional genre is an “alpha male” like Rhet t

Butler or the Earl of Ravenwood. It was therefore to be expected that the

New Feminists would make a concerted attempt to correct this literature

and to replace it by a new one.



Ripping books from UMDL Text: Leta S. Hollingworth’s Gifted children, their nature and nurture

Due to this book repeatedly coming up in conversation regarding the super smart people, it seems to be worth reading. It is really old, and should obviously be out of copyright (thanks Disney!), however it possibly isn’t and in any case I couldn’t find a useful PDF.

I did however find the above. Now, it seems to lack a download all function, and it’s too much of a hassle to download all 398 pictures manually. They also lack OCR. So, I set out to write a python script to download them.

First had to find a function to actually download files. So far I had only read the page source of pages and worked with that. This time I needed to save a file (picture) repeatedly.

Googling gave me: urllib.urlretrieve

So far so good right? Must be easy to just do a for loop now and get it overwith.

Not entirely. Turns out that the pictures are only stored temporarily in the website cache if one visits the page associated with the picture. So I had to make the script load the page before getting the picture. Slows it down a bit, but not too much trouble.

Next problem: sometimes the picture wasn’t downloaded correctly for some reason. The filesize however was a useful proxy for this purpose. So had to find a way to get the filesize. Google gave me os.stat (import os). Problem solved.

So after doing that as well, some pictures were still not being downloaded correctly. Weird. After debugging, it turned out that some of the pictures were not .gif but .jpg files, and located in a slightly different place. So then I had to modify the code to work that out as well.

Finally worked out for all the pictures.

I OCR’d it with ABBYY FineReader (best OCR on the market AFAIK).



The python code is here:

Polymaths, freedom of information, and copyright – why we need copyright reform to more effectively increase the number of polymaths

I forgot to mention that i hav riten a post about polymathy and copyriet reform over at Project Polymath. Reposted below. Direct link to post.


Polymaths are people with a deep knowledge of multiple academic fields, and often various other interests as well, especially artistic, but sometimes even things like tropical exploring. Here I will focus on acquiring deep knowledge about academic fields, and why copyright reform is necessary to increase the number of polymaths in the world.

Learning method
What is the fastest way to learn about some field of study? There are a few methods of learning, 1) listening to speeches/lectures/podcasts and the like, 2) reading, 3) figuring out things oneself. The last method will not work well for any established academic field. It takes too long to work out all the things other people have already worked out, if indeed it can be done at all. Many experiments are not possible to do oneself. But it can work out well for a very recent field, or some field of study that isn’t in development at all, or some field where it is very easy to work it things oneself (gather and analyze data). Using data mining from the internet is a very easy way to find out many things without having to spend money. However, usually it is faster to find someone else who has already done it. But surely programming ability is a very valuable skill to have for polymaths.

For most fields, however, this leaves either listening in some form, or reading. I have recently discussed these at greater length, so I will just summarize my findings here. Reading is by far the best choice. Not only can one read faster than one can listen, the written language is also of greater complexity, which allows for more information acquired per word, hence per time. Listening to live lectures is probably the most common way of learning by listening. It is the standard at universities. Usually these lectures last too long for one to concentrate throughout them, and if one misses something, it is not possible to go back and get it repeated. It is also not possible to skip ahead if one has already learned whatever it is the that speaker is talking about. Listening to recorded (= non-live) speech is better in both of these ways, but it is still much slower than reading. Khan Academy is probably the best way to learn things like math and physics by listening to recorded, short-length lectures. It also has built-in tests with instant feedback, and a helpful community. See also the book Salman Khan recently wrote about it.

If one seriously wants to be a polymath, one will need to learn at speeds much, much faster than the speeds that people usually learn at, even very clever people (≥2 sd above the mean). This means lots, and lots of self-study, self-directed learning, mostly in the form of reading, but not limited to reading. There are probably some things that are faster and easier to learn by having them explained in speech. Having a knowledgeable tutor surely helps in helping one make a good choice of what to read. When I started studying philosophy, I spent hundreds of hours on internet discussions forums, and from them, I acquired quite a few friends who were knowledgeable about philosophy. They helped me choose good books/texts to read to increase the speed of my learning.

Finally, there is one more way of listening that I didn’t mention, it is the one-to-one tutor-based learning. It is very fast compared to regular classroom learning, usually resulting in a 2 standard deviation improvement. But this method is unavailable for almost everybody, and so not worth discussing. Individual tutoring can be written or verbal or some mix, so it doesn’t fall under precisely one category of those mentioned before.

How to start learning about a new field
So, suppose one wants to learn something about a given field of study. Where to begin? Obviously, the best place to begin almost any study is the internet, especially Wikipedia. When one has read the article about the field on Wikipedia, one can then proceed to read the various articles referred in that article, or jump right into some of the sources listed. However, it is better to get ahold of a good textbook and learn from that. After all, textbooks are exactly the kind of book that is written to introduce one to a field of study. It would be very odd indeed if some other kind of book was better at introducing people to a field. That would mean that textbook authors had utterly and completely failed in their mission. I hammer this point through, because for some people, perhaps including some polymath aspirants, this fact is not obvious. Especially with philosophy, people have some strange idea that the best way to begin is reading huge, incomprehensible works (say, Being and Time), or just ‘start from the beginning’ with the pre-Socratics. See my post here. But it applies equally well to other fields. The best way to start learning physics is not to read Newton’s Principia.

Now, since polymaths need to learn a lot, and the preferred method of learning is reading, it follows that they need to read a lot. However, this can be an economic problem: Information is still costly to acquire. Polymaths are often dedicated to learning and spend their entire day learning (I spend >10 hours most days). So this means that having a job is not a viable solution. There isn’t enough time available. Thanks to the internet, there is now a wealth of information freely available. However, not all the information is freely available, and this presents a problem for would-be polymaths and already established polymaths who want to expand to another field of study. One could buy the material oneself, but this can quickly get expensive. One could lend the material from a library, but this requires that one reads paper books, which is not optimal, and also one cannot keep them around for future reference.

Primarily, there are two kinds of written sources that are not completely freely available yet, 1) journal articles, 2) books. Another less important source is newspaper articles.

Many polymath or stud.polymaths are university students or teachers and thus usually have access to academic journals through their university. However, often the university does not have access to all of the journals, and so if one stumbles upon an interesting paper which happens to be published in some obscure or perhaps defunct journal, it can be hard to find it. One can always try to ask the authors for the paper by email, and this often works, but again, not always. The authors may not want to help, they may be dead, or the email address mentioned out of order. This is clearly unsatisfactory for the polymath, whose curiosity is often insatiable. I know it annoys me very much whenever this happens.

Fortunately, journals are moving in the direction of open access, and the scientific community is increasingly unhappy with the way journals operate or used to operate. Usually researchers want their papers to be read, not hidden away behind a paywall. Even mainstream newspapers are writing about the issue. Countries and universities (Danish) are forcing their researchers to publish in open-access journals, or upload their papers to sites like arXiv or SSRN, where they can be freely downloaded. Internet activist Aaron Swartz also tried to liberate millions of papers recently, but was apparently unfortunately caught in the act. The absurd legal consequences of this act probably contributed to his reason to commit suicide. Still, the situation is improving quickly with respect to getting free access to the information in the journals.

If we legalized non-commercial copying of copyrighted works, then the situation would change almost instantly. Very quickly, companies like Google would make access to all academic papers ever published, at no cost at all to the user. This enormous improvement would of course not only help (stud.)polymaths, it would help anyone wanting to learn more. Most people are not university students or teachers, and so don’t have access to the academic journals. People who are unaffiliated with a university, polymaths or not, stand to win the most with such a change. A huge benefit to society at large.

A lot of good information still exists only in paper book form, and books are prohibitively expensive for a non-wealthy polymath. I don’t consider myself extreme among polymaths, but I read something like >30 nonfiction books a year (reading list). Buying all of these is out of the question – much too expensive. Rare academic books can cost hundreds of dollars to buy in a paper copy. An absurd situation, and extremely unsatisfying for a polymath. It is possible to fight back, however. One can buy books and set them free. Either ebooks, crack the protection and spread them. Or paper books, scan them or have them scanned for you, and then release them.

Of course, a lot of books can be found in ebook versions for free, either legally or not. However, the situation has recently deteriorated due to the copyright industry (in this case, the book publishers) successfully shutting down several of the best illegal ebook downloading sites (specially was very good). Due to the way torrents work, they are ill-suited to handle the sharing of thousands of different books, although several sites have tried (and shut down again, perhaps due to legal pressure). Still, one can find millions of ebooks torrent, either in huge compilations of books about a given subject (e.g. this one is of interest to polymaths, or this, or this), or books in single torrents. Single book torrents are usually only for famous books. Useful at times, but not satisfactory at all.

To be sure, books that are out of copyright can often be found and downloaded legally at great sites such as Project Gutenberg. Surely, if the copyright duration was released, Gutenberg and other similar projects would immediately start working on making millions of more old books freely available. Getting books from Gutenberg and other sites like it is mostly useful for historical studies, and fields where the dating of the books matter less. E.g. in philosophy, there is still much to learn from reading Hume, or John Stuart Mill. But there isn’t that much to learn in empirical science from reading papers from the 17th century, except out of historical interest.

Google have already scanned millions of books. They are made somewhat available for free via the Google Books service, but copyright law demands (and settlements with the publishing industry) that parts of the books are left out. However, if copyright were changed tomorrow, what would happen is that Google would quickly unblock these parts of the books, making the information therein completely freely available. Google has already collaborated with various large libraries in scanning their books. When it comes to freedom of information, the internet pirates and libraries are on the same team. The internet is the world’s greatest library of culture and information. It will get much better when copyright law changes.

When copyright law changes, both books and academic papers will be free, and we will enter the true information age. The question is only a matter of time. This will benefit almost everybody, including polymaths. The losers will be the now obsolete middle-men. It will be much easier, especially for poor people and people not affiliated with a university to become polymaths, and of course for others to learn as well. At that time, only time, interest, and abilities will set the limit – not money.

Paper: The Rhetoric and Reality of Gap Closing (Stephen J. Ceci & Paul B. Papierno)

The rhetoric and reality of gap closing—when the “have-nots” gain but the “haves” gain even more.

Many forms of intervention, across different domains, have
the surprising effect of widening preexisting gaps between
disadvantaged youth and their advantaged counter-
parts—if such interventions are made available to all stu-
dents, not just to the disadvantaged. Whether this widening
of gaps is incongruent with American interests and values
requires an awareness of this gap-widening potential when
interventions are universalized and a national policy that
addresses the psychological, political, economic, and
moral dimensions of elevating the top students—tomor-
row’s business and science leaders—and/or elevating the
bottom students to redress past inequalities and reduce the
future costs associated with them. This article is a first step
in bringing this dilemma to the attention of scholars and
policymakers and prodding a national discussion.

interesting points no doubt.

Review: The One World Schoolhouse (Salman Khan)

The One World Schoolhouse – Salman Khan ebook free download pdf

This is a short, easy to read, nonacademic (few references) book. it has som shortcomings on matters dealing with test taking and intelligence tests, but isnt that important for the main topics of the book. this book shud be read by anyone interested in public policy regarding education.



As always, quotes and comments below. quotes ar in red.




I was born in Metairie, Louisiana, a residential area within

metro New Orleans. My father, a pediatrician, had moved

there from Bangladesh for his medical residency at LSU and,

later, his practice at Charity Hospital. In 1972, he briefly

returned to Bangladesh and came back with my mother—who

was born in India. It was an arranged marriage, very traditional

(my mother tried to peek during the ceremony to make sure

she was marrying the brother she thought she was). Over the

next several years, five of my mother’s brothers and one cousin

came to visit, and they all fell in love with the New Orleans

area. I believe that they did this because Louisiana was as close

to South Asia as the United States could get; it had spicy food,

humidity, giant cockroaches, and a corrupt government. We

were a close family—even though, at any given moment, half

of my relatives weren’t speaking to the other half.






Let me be clear—I think it’s essential for everything that

follows—that at the start this was all an experiment, an impro­

visation. I ’d had no teacher training, no Big Idea for the most

effective way to teach. I did feel that I understood math intu­

itively and holistically, but this was no guarantee that I ’d be

effective as a teacher. I ’d had plenty of professors who knew

their subject cold but simply weren’t very good at sharing what

they knew. I believed, and still believe, that teaching is a sepa­

rate skill—in fact, an art that is creative, intuitive, and highly



i think he is right about that. so, it makes no sens to me when danish politicians focus on having research-based education. this means that the teacher must be a researcher himself. but given the nonperfect and perhaps low (?) correlation between teaching ability and researcher ability, that seems like at best at bad idea, and at worst, a dangerusly bad idea.



It ignores several basic facts about how people actually learn.

People learn at different rates. Some people seem to catch on to

things in quick bursts of intuition; others grunt and grind their

way toward comprehension. Quicker isn’t necessarily smarter

and slower definitely isn’t dumber. Further, catching on quickly

isn’t the same as understanding thoroughly. So the pace of

learning is a question of style, not relative intelligence. The tor­

toise may very well end up with more knowledge—more use­

ful, lasting knowledge—than the hare.


it pains me to read stuff like this. u gotta into g mr. Khan.



Let me emphasize this difference, because it is central to

everything I argue for in this book. In a traditional academic

model, the time allotted to learn something is fixed while the

comprehension of the concept is variable. Washburne was

advocating the opposite. What should be fixed is a high level

of comprehension and what should be variable is the amount of

time students have to understand a concept.


obvius, but apparently ignored by those that support the current one-size fits all system (based on age). well almost one size. ther is special education for those simply too stupid or too unruly or too handicapped to learn somthing in a normal class.



The findings of Kandel and other neuroscientists have much

to say about how we actually learn; unfortunately, the standard

classroom model tends to ignore or even to fly in the face of these

fundamental biological truths. Stressing passivity over activity is

one such misstep. Another, equally important, is the failure of

standard education to maximize the brain’s capacity for associa­

tive learning—the achieving of deeper comprehension and more

durable memory by relating something newly learned to some­

thing already known. Let’s take a moment to consider this.


yes, this is very important. hence why mem-based learning works really well (an online learning site,, is based on this idea, and it works very well!). also think of how memory techniqs work – they ar based on associations as well. cf.


recently, quite a few books hav been written on this subject. probably becus of the recent interest in memory as a sport disciplin. cf.



Active learning, owned learning, also begins with giving

each student the freedom to determine where and when the

learning will occur. This is the beauty of the Internet and the

personal computer. I f someone wants to study the quadratic

equation on his back porch at 3 a.m., he can. I f someone thinks

best in a coffee shop or on the sideline of a soccer field, no prob­

lem. Haven’t we all come across kids who seem bright and alert

except when they’re in class? Isn’t it clear that there are morning

people and night people? The radical portability of Internet-

based education allows students to learn in accordance with

their own personal rhythms, and therefore most efficiently.


good application to fix the morningness vs. eveningsness problem (in DA: a-menneske vs. b-mennesker). cf. and



Tests say little or nothing about a student’s potential to learn

a subject. At best, they offer a snapshot of where the student

stands at a given moment in time. Since we have seen that stu­

dents learn at widely varying rates, and that catching on faster

does not necessarily imply understanding more deeply, how

meaningful are these isolated snapshots?


yes they do. achievement tests correlate well with g factor.



And all of this might have happened because of one snapshot

test, administered on one morning in the life of a twelve-year-

old girl—a test that didn’t even test what it purported to be

testing! The exam, remember, claimed to be measuring math

potential—that is, future performance. Nadia did poorly on it

because of one past concept that she’d misunderstood. She has

cruised through every math class she’s ever taken since (she

took calculus as a sophomore in high school). What does this

say about the meaningfulness and reliability of the test? Yet

we look to exams like this to make crucial, often irreversible,

and deceptively “objective” decisions regarding the futures of

our kids.


it implies that it isnt a perfectly valid test. no one claims that such tests hav perfect validity.


it doesnt say anything about reliability afaict.



What will make this goal attainable is the enlightened use of technology. Let me stress ENLIGHTENED use. Clearly, I believe that technology-enhanced teaching and learning is our best chance for an affordable and equitable educational future. But the key question is how the technology is used. It’s not enough to put a bunch of computers and smartboards into classrooms. The idea is to integrate the technology into how we teach and learn; without meaningful and imaginative integration, technology in the classroom could turn out to be just one more very expensive gimmick.


[had to type it off, apparently, the OCR cudnt handle bold text???]


Surely mr. Khan is right about this.



I happen to believe that every student, given the tools and

the help that he or she needs, can reach this level of profi­

ciency in basic math and science. I also believe it is a disservice

to allow students to advance without this level of proficiency,

because they’ll fall on their faces sometime later.


living in a dream world. good luck teaching math to the mentally retarded.

lesson: this is why NOT to use words like <every> and <all>. it is not possible to raise everybody to full mastery of basic math and science. but it is surely possible to lift most people to new heights with better teaching etc.



It turned out that Peninsula Bridge used the video lessons

and software at three of its campuses that summer. Some of

the ground rules were clear. The Academy would be used in

addition to, not in place of, a traditional math curriculum. The

videos would only be used during “computer time,” a slot that

was shared with learning other tools such as Adobe Photoshop

and Illustrator. Even within this structure, however, there were

some important decisions to be made; the decisions, in turn,

transformed the Peninsula Bridge experience into a fascinating

and in some ways surprising test case.


The first decision was the question of where in math the kids

should start. The Academy math curriculum began, literally,

with 1 + 1=2. But the campers were mainly sixth to eighth

graders. True, most of them had serious gaps in their under­

standing of math and many were working below their grade

level. Still, wouldn’t it be a bit insulting and a waste of time to

start them with basic addition? I thought so, and so I proposed

beginning at what would normally be considered fifth-grade

material, in order to allow for some review. To my surprise,

however, two of the three teachers who were actually imple­

menting the plan said they preferred to start at the very begin­

ning. Since the classes had been randomly chosen, we thereby

ended up with a small but classic controlled experiment.


The first assumption to be challenged was that middle-

school students would find basic arithmetic far too easy. Among

the groups that had started with 1 + 1, most of the kids, as

expected, rocketed through the early concepts. But some didn’t.

A few got stuck on things as fundamental as two-digit subtrac­

tion problems. Some had clearly never learned their multiplica­

tion tables. Others were lacking basic skills regarding fractions

or division. I stress that these were motivated and intelligent

kids. But for whatever reason, the Swiss cheese gaps in their

learning had started creeping in at a distressingly early stage,

and until those gaps were repaired they had little chance of

mastering algebra and beyond.


The good news, however, is that once identified, those gaps

could be repaired, and that when the shaky foundation had been

rebuilt, the kids were able to advance quite smoothly.


This was in vivid and unexpected contrast to the group that

had started at the fifth-grade level. Since they’d begun with

such a big head start, I assumed that by the end of the six-week

program they would be working on far more advanced con­

cepts than the other group. In fact just the opposite happened.

As in the classic story of the tortoise and the hare, the 1 + 1

group plodded and plodded and eventually passed them right

by. Some of the students in the “head start” group, on the other

hand, hit a wall and just couldn’t seem to progress. There were

sixth- and seventh-grade concepts that they simply couldn’t

seem to master, presumably because of gaps in earlier concepts.

In comparing the performance of the two groups, the conclu­

sion seemed abundantly clear: Nearly all the students needed

some degree of remediation, and the time spent on finding and

fixing the gaps turned out both to save time and deepen learning in

the longer term.


if that is really true, thats a HUGELY important finding. any replications of this?



As we settled into the MIT routine, Shantanu and I began

independently to arrive at the same subversive but increasingly

obvious conclusion: The giant lecture classes were a monu­

mental waste of time. Three hundred students crammed into

a stifling lecture hall; one professor droning through a talk he

knew by heart and had delivered a hundred times before. The

sixty-minute talks were bad enough; the ninety-minute talks

were torture. What was the point? Was this education or an

endurance contest? Was anybody actually learning anything?

Why did students show up at all? Shantanu and I came up with

two basic theories about this. Kids went to the lectures either

because their parents were paying x number of dollars per, or

because many of the lecturers were academic celebrities, so

there was an element of show business involved.


i feel exactly the same about my university classes. i want to learn goddamit, not sit in class waiting for it to end.



Then there are the standardized tests to which students are

subjected from third grade straight on through to grad school.

As I ’ve said, I am not antitesting; I believe that well-conceived,

well-designed, and fairly administered tests constitute one of

our few real sources of reliable and relatively objective data

regarding students’ preparedness. But note that I say prepared­

ness, not potential. Well-designed tests can give a pretty solid

idea of what a student has learned, but only a very approximate

picture of what she can learn. To put it in a slightly different

way, tests tend to measure quantities of information (and some­

times knowledge) rather than quality of minds—not to men­

tion character. Besides, for all their attempts to appear precise

and comprehensive, test scores seldom identify truly notable

ability. I f you’re the admissions director at Caltech or in charge

of hiring engineers at Apple, you’re going to see a heck of a lot

of candidates who had perfect scores on their math SATs. They

are all going to be fairly smart people, but the scores tell you

little about who is truly unique.


mr. Khan obvisuly knows little about intelligence tests. sure, SAT, ACT, GRE tests are achievement tests, but those correlate moderately to strongly with g factor, so they are okay to decent intelligence tests. and ofc, IQ tests like RPM are really good at measuring g factor. they really can measure a students potential, in that it measures the students ability very well, and that is closely related to the students potential.



For me personally, the biggest discovery has been how hun­

gry students are for real understanding. I sometimes get push-

back from people saying, “Well, this is all well and good, but it

will only work for motivated students.” And they say it assum­

ing that maybe 20 percent of students fall into that category. I

probably would have agreed with them seven years ago, based

on what I’d seen in my own experience with the traditional aca­

demic model. When I first started making videos, I thought I

was making them only for some subset of students who cared—

like my cousins or younger versions of myself. What was truly

startling was the reception the lessons received from students

whom people had given up on, and who were about to give up

on themselves. It made me realize that if you give students the

opportunity to learn deeply and to see the magic of the universe

around them, almost everyone will be motivated.


it will be interesting to see just how many students care.



Is Khan Academy, along with the intuitions and ideas that

underpin it, our best chance to move toward a better educa­

tional future? That’s not for me to say. Other people of vision

and goodwill have differing approaches, and I fervently hope

that all are given a fair trial in the wider world. But new and

bold approaches do need to be tried. The one thing we cannot

afford to do is to leave things as they are. The cost of inac­

tion is unconscionably high, and it is counted out not in dol­

lars or euros or rupees but in human destinies. Still, as both an

engineer and a stubborn optimist, I believe that where there are

problems, there are also solutions. I f Khan Academy proves to

be even part of the solution to our educational malaise, I will

feel proud and privileged to have made a contribution.


indeed, never trying anything new implies no progress.


reminds me of another book i want to read soon.