Alessandro Strumia was in the news earlier this fall — he’s the physicist who gave a workshop at CERN to declare that the humanities suck and that women were inherently less capable of doing physics than men. It was so bad that CERN struck the recording of his talk from their archives. We still have a copy of his slides.
By the way, there is a difference between a lecture and a workshop, and he seems to have failed to comprehend that, too.
Well, now CERN has also decided to cut Strumia altogether. His appointment as a guest professor has not been extended. Cue men wailing that he has been oppressed and discriminated against.
His excuses are terrible.
“Some people hated hearing about higher male variance: this idea comes from Darwin, like other offensive ideas that got observational support,” he told BBC News.
“Science is not about being offended when facts challenge ideas held as sacred”.
Darwin isn’t sacred, either. He published sexist claims that he did not support with evidence — they were reflections of the cultural biases of Victorian England. Darwin didn’t create Holy Writ, you can’t simply pretend that Darwin said it, therefore it’s true. Does Strumia also think pangenesis was correct, and that whales evolved from swimming bears?
He added that he believed that he had not been fairly treated.
“For months, Cern kept ‘investigating’ if my 30-minute talk might have violated Cern rules [requiring an] ‘obligation to exercise reserve and tact in expressing personal opinions and communication to the public’,” Prof Strumia said.
“In such a case, they would have opened some procedure, where I would have been able [to defend] myself. This never happened.”
Last September, Professor Strumia stated that “physics was invented and built by men, it’s not by invitation” at a presentation at the Cern the workshop.
If I were attending a workshop at CERN, I’d be expecting practical, interactive discussions about matters of utility in physics. He made a tactless, opinionated rant grounded in factual falsehoods while simultaneously dismissing the relevance of academic disciplines in the subject he was discussing. Not much investigation was necessary — he was so blatantly wrong that recordings were removed in embarrassment.
I’m going to take a wild guess here that administrators took notice of the harm he was doing to CERN, and also noticed that he was on a temporary contract that was going to expire in March, and decided that it was more sensible to wait on taking any action until his renewal was evaluated. In addition, there was a thorough rebuttal of his claims by his peers. He can whine all he wants that he wasn’t given an opportunity to defend himself, but his arguments were indefensible, and he demonstrated repeatedly that his “defense” was to bluster angrily and double down on his misogyny. Good riddance.
Strumia still has his professorial appointment at the University of Pisa…although the ethical committee at that university is investigating him, too.