Fourth Floor Studio

October 25, 2007

The great and the gaffe

Filed under: news, scientists — chris @ 12:58 pm

James D. Watson, cantankerous Nobel prize winner, proves that no cow is too sacred. Even Lord Jim couldn’t withstand the furore over his latest round of bigoted comments in the Sunday Times magazine on Oct 14th:

He says that he is “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa” because “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really”, and I know that this “hot potato” is going to be difficult to address. His hope is that everyone is equal, but he counters that “people who have to deal with black employees find this not true”. He says that you should not discriminate on the basis of colour, because “there are many people of colour who are very talented, but don’t promote them when they haven’t succeeded at the lower level”. He writes that “there is no firm reason to anticipate that the intellectual capacities of peoples geographically separated in their evolution should prove to have evolved identically. Our wanting to reserve equal powers of reason as some universal heritage of humanity will not be enough to make it so”.

I had been waiting to see whether he would have been able to weather this storm, although his suspension from active duty at CSHL on Oct 18th didn’t bode well. There is a fine line between having the courage to drag out sensitive topics so we can look at them, and being a bigot. Apparently, this time Jim was caught on the wrong side of that line once too often.

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May 24, 2007

Math(s) for biologists

Filed under: biologists, geekery, science, scientists — chris @ 9:54 am

I’ll break radio silence briefly to catch a meme wave from Neil (via RPM, Deepak and Keith). I’ve disguised my rant as answers to Sandra‘s questions (evil chuckle). Usual grain of salt provisos apply… (more…)

September 19, 2006

Doocing

Filed under: scientists, web — chris @ 11:58 pm

Old news, I know, but I’ve just found out: a graduate student at UW had their thesis offer rescinded after the PI found their blog. Oh, and yes, doocing is a word.

For non-US readers, graduate students here generally start of taking one or two years of advanced, research-level classes and rotating through a couple of short projects a year in research labs, prior to choosing a thesis topic and lab. So, unlike the british system where you basically need to choose a supervisor before being accepted into the program, here you can percolate for a few years until a project comes up that you like in a lab that will take you.

via evolgen

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