After yesterday's post about the great women of computer science, I noticed my SciBling MarkH over at the Denialism blog had discovered Vox Day and his latest burst of stupidity, in which he alleges that the greatest threat to science is.... women. Because, you see, women are all stupid.
The bizarre propositions of equalitarianism always sound harmless and amusing at first because they are so absurd. What the rational observer often fails to understand, however, is that these propositions don't sound the least bit absurd to the equalitarian proponent because the average equalitarian is fundamentally an intellectual cave-dweller with no more interest in reason or capacity for logical thought than a hungry kitten. The idea of biology classes being taught by lesbian professors who believe that heterosexual procreation is a myth or calculus courses being taught by women who can't do long division may sound impossible today, but tell that to any software developer, and he'll be able to provide you with plenty of current examples of computer science engineers, some with advanced CS degrees, who have no idea how to even begin writing a computer program.
Women love education; it's the actual application they don't particularly like. Whereas the first thought of a woman who enjoys the idea of painting is to take an art appreciation class, a similarly interested man is more likely to just pick up a paintbrush and paint something - usually a naked woman.
This is... I don't know a word that sufficiently expresses the stupidity of this. Vox has a long history of being a moron with delusions of intelligence, but this one really takes the cake.
First, we've got Vox criticizing other people for allegedly talking about stuff rather than doing stuff... When in fact, Vox is a nebbish who doesn't actually do stuff. He writes about doing stuff, and about how other people allegedly don't do stuff... But he's a guy who's career pretty much consists of cashing Daddy's checks. He's a classic example of wingnut welfare: a moron who couldn't get a real job if his life depended on it, writing books that no one reads, which gets published because Daddy bankrolls the operation.
And he uses my field as an example.
I've definitely known some people with advanced degrees who couldn't
write a program if their lives depended on it. And you know what? Every one of them was a man.
Of course, given the well-known gender skew of the field, I've worked with
many more men than women. So it's not at all surprising that the idiots have all been men. Y'see, in research, there's some small percentage of theoreticians who can't code, and there's also a small percentage of people who are, to be frank, idiots coasting on the products of other people's work. In both cases, if the men outnumber the women by 20 to 1, you're 20 times more likely to encounter a male idiot.
My experience has, in fact, been quite the opposite of what Vox suggests. Of the very best people that I've worked with, the majority have been women. That's not a coincidence. There's enough bias against women that
the women who persist in the field, who keep going despite all the discouragement - are some of the most talented and determined people
that you'll ever meet.
I always like to tell a story about my experience with sexism in recruiting. Once upon a time, I was in charge of recruiting summer interns
for my department. We decided that in order to try to bring in more people
who weren't white guys, we'd give each department a quota of students it was allowed to hire - but we wouldn't count women or minorities against that. In fact, we had enough budget to hire about 50% more people than the official
We filled the quota within a day. The first batch of interns were all white guys.
There were, of course, lots of people in my department who still wanted to hire summer students. So I told them that they could look for a student
who was a woman or minority. Naturally, this was met by tons of ranting: "How dare you be so discriminatory? Why can't I hire a white guy if he's the best qualified?"
Two of the people who ranted most vociferously came back within a couple of days with women that they wanted to hire, and said "I found a woman
who was a better candidate than the guy I wanted to hire first!"
To which I responded, rather annoyed, "So why the hell didn't you find
them in the first place? You claimed that you carefully searched for the very best candidate, and you shouted at me about how awful it was that I couldn't let you hire them. But the moment you had to look at women candidates, you found someone better than your very best candidate?"
I worked with four summer students when I was at IBM. Two of them
were women, two were men. Both women were fantastic. The first one
was able to write beautiful code so quickly that I had a hard time
keeping up with her, to make sure she had work to do. The second
started her own research project, which was one of the most creative and
exciting projects I've had the good fortune to be involved in. The two men, one was good - not great, but good - and the other was absolutely dreadful, a total waste of my time.
But according to Vox, the women that I worked with are hallucinations. Because women simply aren't capable of doing math and science. Fran
Allen clearly must not exist; a woman couldn't have done what she did.
Grace Murray Hopper must have been a man in disguise. My wife, who's
an amazing computational linguistics researcher must be secretly using
my brain when I'm sleeping.
Or maybe, just maybe, Vox Day is a moron who has no idea of what
he's talking about. Gosh, y'think?