“The Racialization of Epistemology in Physics”

Is this the dumbest thing I have ever read? It definitely is a contender: “Making Black Women Scientists under White Empiricism: The Racialization of Epistemology in Physics.” The link goes to an abstract of an article that was published by the University of Chicago–God help us!–by one Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and Department of Women’s and Gender Studies University of New Hampshire. You think that is a weird combination? Well, it is a weird paper. I studied physics many years ago, and as I recall there are laws of physics that have been empirically tested and verified. How could race possibly have anything to do with it? Silly me:

In this article, I propose that race and ethnicity impact epistemic outcomes in physics, despite the universality of the laws that undergird physics, and I introduce the concept of white empiricism to provide one explanation for why. White empiricism is the phenomenon through which only white people (particularly white men) are read has having a fundamental capacity for objectivity and Black people (particularly Black women) are produced as an ontological other.

Which somehow impacts their ability to solve physics problems, evidently.

White empiricism comes to dominate empirical discourse in physics because whiteness powerfully shapes the predominant arbiters of who is a valid observer of physical and social phenomena. Based primarily on their own experiences, white men, who are the dominant demographic in physics, construct the figure of the observer to exclude anyone who does not share the attending social and intellectual identities and beliefs.

This is completely insane. I can only assume that it is an embarrassing excuse for an unsuccessful career.

To provide an example of the role that white empiricism plays in physics, I discuss the current debate in string theory about postempiricism, motivated in part by a question: why are string theorists calling for an end to empiricism rather than an end to racial hegemony?

Hmm, let me hazard a guess. Because it doesn’t have a damn thing to do with race, maybe?

This suggests a lack of understanding of basic physics:

Albert Einstein’s monumental contribution to our empirical understanding of gravity is rooted in the principle of covariance, which is the simple idea that there is no single objective frame of reference that is more objective than any other (Sachs 1993). All frames of reference, all observers, are equally competent and capable of observing the universal laws that underlie the workings of our physical universe. Yet the number of women in physics remains low, especially those of African descent….

Much more at the link; there is no end to the stupidity. Just one more:

White empiricism produces a prestige asymmetry between the viewpoints of white scientists and Black scientists, a disparity inscribed by white supremacy. Given the historical construction of Blackness as those who manually labor for free and whose children are destined to do the same and whiteness as those who are not Black, Native, or Asian, the prestige asymmetry between physics specializations runs parallel to that of Black people as manual laborers and white people as intellectual high achievers.

The reader who emailed me a link to this travesty draws a practical conclusion:

My only question is: why are we paying for this garbage? Because taxation is the basic foundation of the academic-industrial complex. This bimbo has a PhD, which requires a six year process massively subsidized and aggressively self-aggrandizing in scope.

Shut this s*** down by massive defunding….

If the taxpayers had any idea what they are paying for, they would burn down Washington and many state capitals.

Meanwhile, responding to Ms. Prescod-Weinstein’s screed about the dominance of whiteness in physics–a legacy of slavery!–Steve Sailer posts this photo of the 2018 U.S. Physics Team, consisting of top high school physics students who represented the U.S. in the international Physics Olympics:

How white can you get? Making up excuses for failure has been common throughout human history, but only in the 21st century has absurd excuse-making become a taxpayer-funded industry.

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