The Physics of Diversity

While screams of racism rang out following Nino Scalia’s ham-handed question during oral argument in Fisher v. University of Texas II, the more interesting, and far more difficult, question was posed by Chief Justice John Roberts.

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: What unique perspective does a minority student bring to a physics class?

There was a quick and unhelpful retort that the nation’s foremost astrophysicist and all-around badass, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, happens to be black, but that doesn’t actually answer anything.  A group of STEM academics reacted by writing an open letter to the Supreme Court.

Justice Roberts asked, “what unique perspective does a minority student bring to physics class?” and “What [are] the benefits of diversity… in that situation?” Before addressing these questions directly, we note that [it] is important to call attention to questions that weren’t asked by the justices, such as, “What unique perspectives do white students bring to a physics class?” and “What are the benefits of homogeneity in that situation?” We reject the premise that the presence of minority students and the existence of diversity need to be justified, but meanwhile segregation in physics is tacitly accepted as normal or good. Instead, we embrace the assumption that minority physics students are brilliant and ask, “Why does physics education routinely fail brilliant minority students?”

Aside from a bit of grand-standing, and that writing letters to the Court isn’t exactly a procedurally appropriate means of getting one’s two cents in, they too don’t answer the question. They can reject the premise all they want; they’re not on the Court so they don’t get a vote.

In his New York Times column, Frank Bruni adds fuel to the fire by raising the backend problem.  Even when diversity is a driver of admissions, colleges fail miserably to make use of it because of their acquiescence to the desires of students once they show up on campus.

THE Supreme Court listened anew last week to arguments about affirmative action in higher education, and we heard yet again about the push by colleges to assemble diverse student bodies.

That’s a crucial effort.

It’s also an incomplete and falsely reassuring one.

Ouch.

Have you spent much time on campuses lately? Leafed through schools’ promotional literature? Listened to their come-ons?

If so, you’ve probably noticed how often they promise students academic and social experiences customized to their already-established preferences, tailor-fitted to their predetermined interests, contoured to the particular and peculiar niches they want to inhabit.

Remember all those demands being made by affinity groups?  They share a core component, put my tribe first, put my interests first, put me first, and recreate the supposedly diverse campus to make it the way I want it to be.  To the extent admissions decisions may be driven by the goal of diverse experience, campus life is driven by segregation, isolation and shutting down the benefits of diversity.  As Bruni notes, we’re a tribal species, and we prefer to be with others who are just like us, if left to our own devices.

“Without such nudges, students will default to sameness,” he concluded. That’s the human way. We’re clannish. Tribal.

And this, amazingly and counter-intuitively enough, gives rise to an answer to CJ Roberts’ question.

Unlike humanities or the soft sciences, hard science like physics is unforgiving.  The math involved isn’t black or white or green. It’s just math, regardless of who crunches the numbers.  The answer doesn’t change for a black student or a white student, for a male student or a female student. You either get the right answer or you don’t, and when put through the wringer of a rigorous course of physics study, what is uncontestable is that there are students of all races, genders who can cut it. And who can’t.  There is no wiggle room.

But that only applies to the basics, as dawned on me as I watched a nearly four hour video of a class, lovingly called 2.009, at MIT (the official name is “Product Engineering Processes,” but all classes, not to mention majors and buildings, at MIT are known only by their numbers).  At the fringe of hard science, the amount of imagination in solving the unknown is extraordinary.

My epiphany came from the convergence of a couple things. First, that the faces of the students included all hues. Second, that their approaches to doing the impossible were completely different. Third, that they were compelled to work in teams, the “nudge” that Bruni argues is missing when students are allowed to have their own way. And finally, that this culminated in their doing the “impossible.”

The question posed by CJ Roberts, what diversity could bring to physics, ends up being a two-part question in reality.  When it comes to learning the known, the only honest answer is not much. The math, the study of particles, the nature of stuff that physics students need to know, gains nothing from differing perspectives.

But the second part of the question is higher order physics, taking the rote lessons to the next level, where students go past the known into the “impossible.”  The breadth and scope of the different approaches solving the unsolvable (yes, it’s hardly unsolvable, obviously, but it seems that way to those of us who aren’t up to the task) is where the promise of diversity, the places different minds go, the directions born of widely different experiences, matter.

And you can’t get to the edge of science without going through the routine stuff, learning the physics 101 curriculum so that you have the basis for reaching the place where experience becomes the difference between discovering the next “God particle” and missing it completely.

It’s not, as us lesser minds would assume, just a matter of looking backwards at science already discovered and known, to which students of any color or gender have little to add. It’s the outer limits of science, how to find them, deal with them, imagine them, prove them, where flights of imagination become everything. When the cutting edge is guided by imagination, it’s the difference in perspective that distinguishes everybody seeing things the same from that one person who sees it differently enough to change everything.

So in answer to the question, judge, the black perspective probably doesn’t add anything to the study of electromagnetic fields, but it could very well make the discovery of the next Higgs Boson possible. And you can’t get from here to there without diversity.

If that doesn’t explain it well enough, there is one more thing that came of the inclusion of the faces of different races and genders. These students didn’t seem to give a damn about whether the other students in their groups were part of their tribe, but whether they had ideas that contributed to solutions. From this, they learned that neither skin color, eye shape, sexual organs nor who they find most attractive makes any difference in who comes up with viable answers to intransigent problems.  That’s a sufficient lesson in itself.

Brilliance doesn’t come in colors, as the academics wrote, but solving the unsolvable requires a spectrum of thought and ideas, and that may well come from the convergence of all experiences. Without diversity, that potential is lost, and with it the next great discovery in science might never happen.

79 comments on “The Physics of Diversity

  1. David Stretton

    With respect, you didn’t answer the question either. Your response is an answer to a different question than the very simple one posed by CJ Roberts. Diversity in all it’s forms in a class or student body is a Good Thing, as you clearly state. But the Chief’s question was not about human diversity; it was about race, and only about race.

    1. SHG Post author

      I suspect that some people will see your comment as tainted with racism, but I do not. When it comes to an issue as controversial as race, hard questions need to be asked and answered. You have a point: what is the hard aspect of racial diversity, as opposed to any other type of diversity, that applies here. It’s a good question.

      So, I’ll try to be more explicit. I think “white privilege” is a real thing, and conversely, so is “black handicap.” That gives rise to a level of tenacity, perseverance, imaginative means of circumventing untenable situations and attitudes, patience, outside-the-box solutions, that comes of the experience of being a racial minority. Are these aspects of race that can’t be found otherwise? Probably not, but they are aspects that are prevalent and better developed in black students who have endured and overcome their handicap than white students who have never experienced the handicapped life that black students endure.

      That may not be enough of an answer to satisfy everyone, but it works for me. Maybe others can add to this, or offer a different perspective. And others may think my answer is inadequate. We’re allowed to disagree, but my thought is that this is a valid and sufficient justification for racial diversity.

      1. j a higginbotham

        Is there any historical evidence of past instances where a “black handicap” perspective solved a hard-science problem insurmountable to “white privilege” scientists? [People like George Washington Carver and Henry McBay may have worked in areas which benefited blacks but did their results require a black perspective or merely a desire to help blacks?]

        Also, given the huge number of people applying for the very few faculty research positions at major universities, is there any reason to doubt that those hired (of whatever race, gender, etc) already possess most of the qualities attributed above to “black handicap”? [Off-topic: Faculty hires tend to be students of other well-known faculty. Isn’t coming from a small school working for a relative unknown a much bigger handicap than race?]

        1. SHG Post author

          That’s a good question, and I don’t have an answer. You’re still hung on the uniquely “black perspective” aspect, though, which I suspect begs the question.

          1. j a higginbotham

            How about nature vs nurture? It is my (largely unsupported) contention that scientific genius (and sports ability e.g.) need cultivation and development but must be already present in someone. Training, perseverance, desire, cultural environment, etc cannot by themselves create a Richard Feynman, Peter Joppich, Albert Einstein, or Muhammad Ali. Those influences can make a person good at something (especially learning in schools) but not great (“extending the frontiers of science”). The “black handicap” argument takes the opposite approach.
            It seems to me that the qualities deriving from “black handicap” would actually help students do better in university (where native brilliance isn’t the most important factor) than in leading research (where it is more important).

            [The distinction made between learning science and doing science is a good one which many do not appreciate. Science outreach programs such as SHArK try to introduce young students to this.]

            I don’t know where the “still hung on”, especially the “still” came from.
            Or why captcha IX + . is not 9.

        2. delurking

          Your first paragraph misses the point. It is very rare that scientific progress comes from scientists working in isolation. There is research showing that diversity of life experience in a group of technical people working to solve a problem that requires innovation is beneficial, meaning that the problem is solved more quickly or in a better way by groups that have more diversity of life experience. [I do not understand at what the relevance of the results of Carver’s or McBay’s research is to your question.]

          There is no research that I am aware of that specifically looks to support the hypothesis that “black handicap” likely solved a scientific problem that a “white privilege” scientist could not solve. There is no research I am aware of that specifically tries to quantify either the effect of “black handicap” or, more broadly, diversity of life experience, specifically to the performance of the faculty in a given department at a research university. Such research is extraordinarily unlikely to yield a statistically-significant result, given the statistical power available.

          So, to summarize, the available evidence says that diversity of life experience in groups of technical people working together results in better technical progress. Given that, in both in hiring and in admissions, decision-makers have little reliable information to go on anyway, it makes sense to consider diversity of life experience.

          1. SHG Post author

            Given that empirical evidence provides support for concepts that may seem theoretically sound, it’s not wrong to ask for hard proof. The problem, as you point out, is that empirical evidence is sometimes inconsistent with how things happen in the real world, making it hard if not impossible to obtain. But just as the existence of empirical evidence can serve to prove a point, the absence of empirical evidence doesn’t necessarily disprove it, but merely leaves us with an unprovable thesis. Sometimes, that’s the best we can do.

      2. EH

        I think “white privilege” is a real thing, and conversely, so is “black handicap.”
        I agree, although the level of privilege/handicap depends on circumstance and how far out you look.
        That gives rise to a level of tenacity, perseverance, imaginative means of circumventing untenable situations and attitudes, patience, outside-the-box solutions, that comes of the experience of being a racial minority.
        Sure, perhaps, in some cases. More accurately, it is one of the things that can give rise to those traits. POC status is not the only progenitor of the traits, and POC status isn’t a guarantor of those traits.
        Are these aspects of race that can’t be found otherwise? Probably not, but they are aspects that are prevalent and better developed in black students who have endured and overcome their handicap than white students
        Perhaps. Perhaps not. But where’s the tradeoff?

        Generally speaking, equally motivated & smart people tend to end up with somewhat equal knowledge of “stuff.” Some folks are specialists; some generalists. Some know more about academics; some know more about machines; some know more about emotions; and so on. You only have so much time in the day, and you can’t do everything. There is always a tradeoff in life; nothing is free.

        If you do think that there are tradeoffs , then a claim “POC are better at X” implies a claim “POC are worse at Y.” That is not a socially-acceptable claim in the AA context, although it’s probably the most accurate one; it would be unlikely that group differences accrue only in a single direction.

        If you don’t think that there are tradeoffs, then a claim “POC are better at X” implies a claim that POC are, simply, better. Which is a statement of racial superiority… and that has its own very-dangerous sets of results.

        To avoid those issues, the rational thing is just to test for, and select for, what you actually claim to want. If you want “tenacity, perseverance, imaginative means of circumventing untenable situations and attitudes, patience, outside-the-box solutions,” select on those bases. If the traits are more prevalent in POC, then you’ll end up with racial diversity as a bonus. If the traits tend to be distributed differently–say, by economic class, or parental involvement–then you will still have diversity, albeit not RACIAL diversity.

        And if you CAN’T test or select for those things because you don’t know how, then there seems to be little justification for claiming that they’re more prevalent in POC: it’s just a guess.

          1. EH

            No.
            Yes.

            I think it’s reasonable to take steps to try to fix what we broke. In that sense I’m pro-AA.

            But I think it’s important to acknowledge that those steps are themselves very costly to society. Even if it is necessary in the short term to have a ton of people discriminating by race and assigning racial characteristics, it is very distasteful to do so.

            And I think it’s a bad thing to obscure reality, which is to say that I am much more comfortable with saying “we’re admitting this group even if they’re slightly less qualified on ____ measure, because of the ancillary benefits to society” than to do the magic “we’re all the same except when we’re different in a mysterious way that only racists discuss” dance. Or the “This group brings untestable benefits and no disadvantages, everyone move on” dance. So in that sense I end up arguing with a lot of AA proponents.

            But since I generally support the idea of fixing things, I’m 100% in favor of highly targeted proxies for admissions. Point to any measure or combinations of measures arguably caused by or related to racial prejudice (family status, poverty, urban living, school district, etc.) Feel free to choose ones that have disproportionate %ages of POC. Admit based on that measure. You end up admitting a disproportionately high # of POC; directly focusing on those who have been most affected; and you don’t use race. You also admit some non-POC members of those classes (which is to say that you end up taking poor whites over rich whites) but that’s OK.

            Colleges could do that if they wanted to; they just don’t want to.

            You could also choose to openly lower certain qualifications for a short while, which would be OK, too…. that is, so long as folks weren’t getting targeted as racist if they talked about the reality of what was going on, and how the balance should be struck.

            1. EH

              You talk about complex issues, you should expect complex responses.

              You’re way too smart to think this is a simple issue, and you did say “Maybe others can add to this, or offer a different perspective.” It’s poor form to insult me for taking you up on it.

            2. SHG Post author

              I didn’t insult (oy, you’re so fragile) for taking me up on it, but for being so prolix in doing so. There is no rule of life that a complex thought requires the murder of as many words as possible.

  2. Vin

    Diversity in terms of minorities would only be relevant in so much as it could be proven that minorities in some situations have a greater capacity to question the current paradigm or create one all their own.

    Einsteins greatest attribute was that he was willing to question the establishment, the likes of Isaac Newton, and go beyond what people at the time believed to be true. Were he more obedient, or politically correct, his gifts would not have amounted to as much.

    From that, if we believe that minorities bring different paradigms to the table, or a willingness to question the status quo, which I would assume are both true, science cannot help but gain, physics or otherwise.

      1. Vin

        Well, I could have phrased it better, but my point is that being a minority on its own isn’t sufficient enough to answer the question. I think the question should be asked a different way, for example, “What attributes do minorities bring to the table that would demonstrate an ability to make a contribution to the advancement of science?”

        If by virtue of being a minority we are allowed to conclude that the individual has the capacity to see the world in a unique way, which is an important attribute in science, then the answer is yes, diversity matters.

    1. The Real Peterman

      “Einsteins greatest attribute was that he was willing to question the establishment”

      Oh. Well, black Americans are much more wedded to the establishmen than white Americans, aren’t they?

  3. Jay

    Agreed. Though it’s always odd when the most irritable guy on the interwebs speaks out in favor of viewpoint diversity. Does your eye twitch while you post this kind of thing?

  4. John

    Diversity definitely matters. With diversity comes stability and we can take a lesson from nature on this. Even when the tiniest species goes extinct, this can have significant ramifications that are not always foreseen or predictable. For example: [Ed. Note: Link deleted per rules.]

    – JC

  5. KP

    Diversity doesn’t matter until it is an excuse for favouritism. If there is no special provisions given to minorities, no quota imposed, then we hope the best people are in the class.

    However to push out better majority students to get some number of minorities in there just weakens the whole subject. One only has to have lived in South Africa since the ANC imposed quotas on businesses and acedemia to see it leads to inefficiency and lower standards, just as apartheid did before it.

    “Affirmative action” is just apartheid, it is the same system.

    1. SHG Post author

      If you mean with the same level of obviousness as humanities, no. But then, science isn’t humanities, and it’s hard to imagine that anyone seriously thinks such a clear and palatable answer would exist.

  6. HFN

    Its a pretty weak claim to say that physics needs blacks. Sure it needs diversity of perspective, but it also needs intelligence, which blacks under represent. Besides, inter-racial diversity that could contribute to physics has got to be pretty negligible to intra-racial diversity that could contribute to physics. (Is this what anyone really cares about anyway? No one got hyped up about affirmative action because they were worried about physics.)

    Whats a better claim is that blacks need physics. College isnt a place where people learn life skills, so much as its a place where the leaders of the next generation are socialized. Its not important to learning or teaching physics that blacks are involved, but its important to society that some of the blacks take part in physics. Physics is a small part of the intellectual culture future leaders will share and if some blacks are going to be leaders then some blacks should probably learn physics.

    I mean, I dont buy either claim, but the second one is still better.

    1. SHG Post author

      … but it also needs intelligence, which blacks under represent.

      That’s just flagrantly racist. Any undergrad at MIT not only has the chops to survive the most rigorous course of study in physics there is, but would blow your sorry ass out of the water regardless of race.

      If you want to make a racist assertion, at least have the guts to put your name to it.

      1. HFN

        There are some very intelligent black people. Definitely some who are more intelligent than I am. The very intelligent should get every opportunity to go to higher education. When a demographic is below average, and that demographic is X% of the population, their chunk of the above average is less than X%. Patrick causes this conflation, but thats actually just how statistics work (look up ‘Tail effects’).

        I really do need your help understanding how my comment is racist. That blacks under represent intelligence is the problem that affirmative action seeks to solve. To me, It seems contradictory to claim both that social forces have denied blacks intelligence, and that an intelligence gap doesnt exist.

        1. SHG Post author

          Nope. You made your bed, though without giving your name which remains a bit too cowardly for such an assertion. Now lie in it.

          1. SHG Post author

            So it was you who caused blacks to have below average intelligence? Well, stop it. Right now.

            Actually, I have no clue what HFN’s point is, but since he’s begging his question by relying on his own assumption that blacks possess below average intelligence, it wasn’t worth my time to go beyond that.

            1. Patrick Maupin

              Makes only slightly more sense. What I call conflation is only “how statistics work” to the extent that someone underexposed to a group may significantly misunderstand the variability within the group. The fix for this misunderstanding is obviously either a better understanding of statistics or more exposure to the group.

    2. Patrick Maupin

      The fact that some people conflate measured average group IQ with the IQ of individuals who happen to be members of a particular group is, in and of itself, probably enough reason to support the sort of affirmative action that increases diversity within an already-qualified pool.

      In other words, the best argument for diversity may be that some people who think like you do are educable. If they could only see proof of competence in members of other groups with their own eyes, perhaps they could adjust their confirmation biases accordingly.

      https://xkcd.com/385/

      1. SHG Post author

        I considered whether to bring up the IQ disparity, and decided against it, as it would then require further explanation about the impact of cultural and societal influences on the validity of IQ tests. It wasn’t worth the effort. The irony with HFN’s comment is that it disparages the intelligence of blacks while itself being idiotic. For those capable of seeing, it’s a very ironically amusing/pathetic comment.

  7. mb

    My experience is more typical of high school dropouts than graduates. By the time I got to law school, I was a freak. Academic standards were good enough for me. Although, I must admit to having failed on numerous occasions to give my classmates the benefit of my differing perspective, because I was afraid of being ostracized. Maybe that fear was unfounded; I’m a white guy, so everybody cares what I think, right? It’s not like I’m banned from the entire internet, right?

    1. SHG Post author

      Thinking back now, do you see that you may have missed an important opportunity? If all the kids in law school came from Ivies, all their answers have an Ivy taint, including how to fix “those people” from the other side of the tracks. If only someone from the other side of the tracks was there to explain to the Ivy boys that they didn’t have a clue.

      1. mb

        To some extent, yes. But I wouldn’t have told anybody that people from poor backgrounds need a different academic standard than everyone else in order to succeed. That sounds more like one of their ideas.

        I know that there are people who don’t treat everyone fairly, and that most of the ones who have any ability to seriously help or hinder anyone are the same skin color as me. I’m also fully aware that the investigative and punitive authority necessary for any government to fully eradicate the effects of that would be inconsistent with a free society. However, I don’t think that affirmative action is good policy, irrespective of constitutionality. I think it’s too narrow in one instance, too broad in the next, makes people feel cheated, and misses the real problems.

        The place where I work that isn’t really Dairy Queen has a need for a diverse workforce, and we get it without different standards for different groups of people. I think our schools could learn a lot from our businesses.

        1. SHG Post author

          The sense of unfairness produced by Affirmative Action is certainly a problem. It’s a shame that a truly colorblind method fails to produce the theoretically proper results, but that still doesn’t happen. As Roberts noted during argument, the assumption was in 25 years the problem would be fixed and there would be no further need for monkeying with the machinery. It’s not looking good at the moment.

          1. mb

            Depends on what you mean by colorblind, what results you expect, and how you measure your progress. What businesses are learning is that they are more successful when they form working groups of people with complimentary skill sets and draw upon the communities they serve. In a modern economy, it’s unproductive to lower standards for the sake of checking off diversity boxes to prove you’re not racist or sexist or whatever. You can only retain the people you get if they are suited to the job, so you get your most diverse, effective team by judging on broader standards. That’s the bigger problem in education. They aren’t teaching the things I need in employees. They don’t need more women and black people. They need a paradigm that teaches kids to achieve results together. For that to work, though, we’ll have to accept that there will be a few areas that are not as demographically diverse as others, but the other side is that we can invite whatever skills and perspectives contribute best to overall performance.

            That sense of unfairness is an essential feature of any policy based on a simplistic notion of group privileges and handicaps. Because they are unfair, at least some of the time.

  8. John Gjolmesli

    Maybe the students working together ARE the tribe… “Race” only makes it easy to visually differentiate one’s appearance, however intellect must be demonstrated and the collective experience of the tribe working together creates a common and cohesive culture.

    Just a thought.

    1. SHG Post author

      I think you’re right, that the tribe was formed around mutual interests and intelligence rather than race. Kinda higher order tribes. But then, that can’t happen (“intellect must be demonstrated”) unless they’re admitted in the first place so that everyone comes to the realization that they have a different tribal commonality.

  9. se

    The description of math in this article is awesome. Math is something that requires imagination and does not have easy clear answer to everything. Science and engineering are something where routine stuff can get you through 101 but not much further. Apologies for comment that goes a bit on tangent, I know the primary point was diversity. But, this is first time I see someone with humanities background acknowledging this and not treating engineers some some kind of human computer.

    Through, I would also point out one thing the discussion about diversity tend to ignore: pursuing science (e.g. phd, postdoc 1, postdoc 2, etc) is not such a great career considering alternatives those people have. It is pyramid with relatively low salary (not starving but can get more elsewhere) and you have high possibility of not making next step even if you are great. I have yet to meet physics phd or postdoc dropout who seeks to go back to in academia, most compliment new salary and working conditions.

    It is not suitable for risk averse people, people who value or need either stability or money and people who wants to see their children once in a while once they have them. If there are cultural or practical reasons for why black or women are more likely to be in any of the three of the above categories, then no amount of affirmative action will override that – unless you are about to force them.

    By that I specifically mean that it is surprising how noone never even contemplate whether highly intelligent women or blacks who decided to nope out of phd maybe made the smart long term decision for their lives. Yeah doing science sounds cool and people have dreams about that. Not choosing it anyway may often be the responsible decision.

    1. SHG Post author

      My roomie in college was a math major. He forced me to listen to his insane rants about higher math. It made a dent.

  10. paul

    Race is an ineffective proxy for mathematical problem solving techniques and imagination. Science is science. That people solve problems in different ways is because people are different. Claiming race makes their brain work in different ways here is the other side of the already explored ugly eugenics coin.

  11. paul

    Yet if it were about criminal law instead of the laws of physics lived experiences would somehow stop mattering again. Law is the law. Science is science. Math doesnt care about lived experiences.

    1. SHG Post author

      Should I assume you meant that as a reply to this, but couldn’t find that pesky reply button?

      As any competent lawyer will tell you, it depends. “Law is law” is meaningless. If that were the case, we wouldn’t need lawyers, judges or courtrooms. We would plug it in and it would spit out an answer. Yet, it doesn’t happen that way.

      “Science is science” may be true when memorizing the periodical tables, but not when discovering a new element, or a Higgs Boson, or trying to figure out a way to recreate a black hole without destroying the universe, or inventing a time machine, or Mr. Fusion, or the millions of things not yet discovered, created, invented, understood.

      1. paul

        Yes. Apologies about the misformatting. The captcha timed out and i guess when i hit back like it said it didnt categorize the reply i hit. Im usually decent about hitting the right button.

        Science doesnt come.out of nowhere. It is an iterative process. The higgs boson was found not based off some.minority’s lived experience we hadnt considered before but as a result from iterating the state of the art under the current laws of phyics and using the scientiric method.

        1. SHG Post author

          “We” hadn’t? My son was on the team, and he doesn’t remember you being there. That said, you still aren’t getting it. Perhaps this is too hard to communicate, or I’ve done so poorly. Or perhaps some people can’t see what distinguishes the scientific mind that creates ways to find new things that never before existed and the scientific mind that follows behind it.

          1. paul

            We as a scientific community. Through history science has progressed, breaking new ground, furthering discoveries, etc without a diverse, plural, minority viewpoint requirement. To suddenly say we need the lived exprriences as opposed to the brilliant minds (regardless of race gender etc) just is not supported by the data. Its a nice sentiment, but unsupported by data.

            I wont take anymore of your time, thank you for that which you have given. Also its really cool that your son helped with higgs. Not trying to kiss ass just sayin.

  12. Amateur Bono

    Ugh. Your PC is showing. If you want “tenacity, perseverance, imaginative means of circumventing untenable situations and attitudes, patience, outside-the-box solutions,” then why not advocate for prisoners to be added to the classroom? I can’t think of a group that more satisfies your criteria.

    Since you don’t advocate for that, I assume you’re just going for your pokemon points. Fair enough. But I come from a family of scientists, and your idea that you need minorities – just because they’re minorities – is ridiculous.

    And remember, before you go around calling me a racist, that any person of any color can be a minority in your construction depending on where they are. A white student will only add to a Ugandan physics class if the white student understands the principles under discussion; he will only add to the extent he has viable theories to contribute. But he might also be disruptive due to his “otherness” and his “tenacity” and his “circumventing” and his thinking “outside-the-box.” When people get into this PC mindset they tend to focus too deeply on their own perspective. A lot like what you say you think “diversity of race” in the classroom will prevent. Strange, eh?

    1. SHG Post author

      The problem with advocating for prisoners to be added to the classroom is that they’re in prison. As for the rest, please don’t smoke crack before commenting. Your family of scientists must be deeply disappointed to have lost you to a life of hard drugs.

          1. Amateur Bono

            Your internet insults really sting. And they show the people reading my comment that you’ve put me in my place. This must be very gratifying for you.

            Again, thanks for leaving my comments up – even if you can’t (won’t) engage them. That’s all I need. Of course I wasn’t going to convince the person with the simple-minded idea. That’s not why I comment when I see elementary mistakes like yours; I do it to lay it out for those reading, so I appreciate it.

            1. SHG Post author

              Don’t feel special. A lot of people leave stupid comments. It’s not nearly as big a deal to me as it is to you. And oftentimes, they feel the same need as you to keep commenting about their commenting, trying to get in the last smack to salvage their dignity. What they (you) fail to realize is that no one comes here to read what Amateur Bono has to say. Perhaps there is a reason for that.

          2. Patrick Maupin

            Well, to be scrupulously fair, the stupendously inane first paragraph is perfectly comprehensible, and the motives for writing it may be equally comprehensible if its author is secluded from the real world and watches too many Disney movies where each and every prisoner is a good, smart, tenacious, persevering, imaginative person who somehow wound up in prison through a unique set of circumstances that would never repeat if he were let out.

            As far as the comprehensibility of the rest of it, I can’t comment — I didn’t get that far.

            1. SHG Post author

              It is what it is. People will read your comment and reach their own conclusion. Neither you nor I will change that.

              Others here have disagreed with me, and offered cogent reasons why. They received responses addressing those reasons. I found your comment incomprehensible, and it received the response it did for that reason. No matter how brilliant you may think your words are, you get no vote in what others think of it. If you were half as smart as you think you are, you would realize this without my having to explain it to you.

        1. Dragoness Eclectic

          Garden variety troll gets called on stupidity, cries that he’s too brilliant for you to understand! News at 11!

  13. Amateur Bono

    Funny that you would say that I keep coming back to comment. Yet you keep replying.
    You’ve posted a stupid article. Neither of us are special.
    But if you think your insults are hurting my feelings it again shows your level of insight. The fact that you feel the need to insult me like that shows you to be hurt and lashing out. I really am sorry about that. You don’t deserve to have your feelings hurt.

          1. Dragoness Eclectic

            Seriously, I haven’t seen many actual trolls venture in here. Is it your patience with idiots and coddling of poor sensitive souls that keeps them away?

  14. Pingback: Diversity’s Mediocre Answers And Non-Answers | Simple Justice

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