Blood on the tracks behind him

This is very cool. A panel discussion in 2009, with Dawkins, Tyson, Druyan, and Stenger, moderated by Grothe. At the Q and A there’s a question about genetic differences between women and men and their representation in science. Tyson takes it, and makes the point that we keep keep keep making. Druyan, on his left, is enthusiastic. Dawkins, on his right…maybe not so much.

That part starts at one hour one minute fourteen seconds.


  1. Matt G says

    Dawkins should engage in a little soul searching. Perhaps take the internet survey on Privilege that’s been making the rounds.

  2. Al Dente says

    Tyson makes an excellent analogy between his experience as a black wanting to do science and women wanting to do science. Dawkins, a white male scientist, seems discomforted by Tyson’s remarks.

  3. jenBPhillips says

    Very well put by NT. I had a similar (and definitely less eloquent) message for the students who enrolled in the workshop I offered at the Women in Science and Engineering Symposium for area high schools a few days ago. I asked them to think about how many female science and math teachers they’d had to this point in their middle school/high school careers, and then contrasted that with my own experience, adding that the lack of role models was only one challenge of many in pursuing my chosen career. My passion for science was clear from a very early age, but was met with sustained resistance from family, educators and society in general. I loved the idea of it so much that I persevered even in the absence of support, but it’s easy to imagine that a lot of women might choose to do something else instead of having to justify and defend their career choice at every turn.

    The good news is that today’s high school students have a much higher number of female teachers of science and math courses than there were in my day, and more support for their pursuit of STEM careers in general (‘exhibit A’ would be the very symposium at which I was presenting). When I expressed my hope that one day soon the mainstream HS science curriculum would include contributions from male and female scientists in roughly equal numbers, they all smiled and nodded emphatically.

    It was a good day 🙂

  4. jenBPhillips says

    There are definitely similar efforts being made towards minority students of both genders as well. I mentor students in a summer research program that’s targeted toward underrepresented minorities and women in the sciences as well as first generation college attendees–obviously there’s some overlap between those groups.

    They Keynote at the Symposium I mentioned above was given by a young black woman from the Bronx (she attended the same specialized science HS as Neil deGrasse Tyson, in fact) who is completing her Master’s degree in semiconductors & photovoltaic systems.

    It’s impossible to say how long it will take to reach true equal opportunity. I reckon it would take a long time even if the general reception of these efforts was neutral across the board. But we know that it isn’t–we know there are lab managers and PIs like ‘f00t and this fucking guy who will make it difficult for them. Getting women to go *into* science fields is step one; getting them to stick with it, making it easier or even feasible for them to do so while female is just as important.

  5. jenBPhillips says

    whoops, I’m sorry. THIS fucking guy:

    The PI who, upon learning that his female postdoc’s experiments were being deliberately tampered with by a male postdoc in his lab, treated *her* like complete shit for making waves and costing the lab a postdoc (the saboteur left the lab after his deeds were caught on film).

  6. permanentwiltingpoint says

    Ok, now this is a bit off the mark. From your description I thought Dawkins would voice some too-lukewarm agreement or engage in downplaying. But I see him earnestly listening, laughing with the others, and nodding and clapping at the end. The grave face he makes in between must not necessarily imply lack of enthusiasm – I’ve seen it in many videos like this as an expression of sympathy, or just concentration.

    We know he can be thick as a brick, there really are plenty of instances. But here I see simply no evidence for it, and I find it problematic trying to infer his stand on the matter on this basis, however tentatively. It’s not like we’ve seen a “Dear Afroamerican” afterwards, or he was voicing disagreement, or even sitting with his arms crossed and looking obdurate. And not like he doesn’t provide an abundance of real blunders.

  7. says

    Well, all right. It’s possible that I’m reading backwards – reading his current contempt for feminism into his demeanor then. Or maybe comparing his reaction to Druyan’s.

  8. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    I dunno Dawkins at one point natters a bit about there being a trend in the social sciences to act like everything is just a matter of your personal perspective and evidence is just a white male supremacist conspiracy or some such nonsense. But then when NDT says “sure we can talk about genetic differences just as soon as we stop actively denying opportunity to anyone who isn’t a white male” Dawkins nods along and applauds.

    There’s also the general use of the term “post modernism” as a sort of pejorative throughout the panel that I’m side eye-ing. That’s usually shorthand for “don’t make me attempt to understand or validate any perspective but my own.”

  9. chigau (違う) says

    Seven of Mine #13
    My first awareness of the term “post-modern” was about architecture.
    (OK, so I wasn’t really paying attention.)
    After that I saw it applied to everything from philosophy to ‘ethnic’ cuisine.
    I think the term has lost all meaning in general speech.
    Except for use as an insult, as you described.

  10. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    chigau @14, yep it’s become a sort of catch-all for “concepts I don’t want to engage with so I’m going to sneeringly call them post-modern by way of dismissing them.”

  11. rq says

    I love NdGT’s passion on this and so many other subjects. Just love it.
    And I hated the way that question was phrased: “What’s up with chicks and science? *laugh*” Really???

  12. InYourFaceNewYorker says

    This is unbelievable. Now Richard Dawkins doesn’t even have to say anything before people start microanalyzing what he’s thinking. And for what it’s worth, he looked like he was emphatically agreeing with Tyson.

    Don’t misunderstand, I’m not one of those people that thinks Dawkins can do no wrong (and he has done wrong, like any other human being). But I also think it’s sad how many people have jumped on the bandwagon of analyzing everything he says and does or– in this case– doesn’t do.

  13. says

    @ 17 – that was the question?! It was mumbled enough that I couldn’t hear it, and I didn’t bother replaying it to try again, so I didn’t catch that. Ugh.

    @ 18 – everything?? Oh good heavens no – not even close.

    But as for “bandwagon”…one, there’s also a bandwagon of hero-worshiping him, in case you hadn’t noticed. That often goes with a bandwagon of harassing any women who disagree with some of his public confrontations of women he’s taken a dislike to. He’s aware of that bandwagon and has never done anything to encourage people to jump off it; in fact he’s done a fair bit to encourage people to jump on.

    In short he’s made things a lot worse for mouthy feminist atheists, especially women.

  14. InYourFaceNewYorker says

    I agree that the hero worship is a problem as well. Famous people are people, not idols.


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