I regret to inform you that Jordan Peterson is writing again

I guess he’s recovering. Good for him. Unfortunately, he’s now inflicting more bad takes on us, in this case, the story of Tomas Hudlicky, who wrote such a bad paper in Angewandte Chemie that many of the board members of the journal quit in protest. To the minds of Peterson and other conservatives, this means Hudlicky was burnt at the stake.

I’m not kidding.

So I felt like pointing out that the charred corpse of Dr Hudlicky is still ambulatin’ around, and it’s the board members who have suffered the consequences. Also that Hudlicky sounds like a nightmare of a PI.


  1. unclefrogy says

    the irrationality bigotry is really hard to follow if i try to make sense of it.
    is it not similar to ” 2 + 2= 4 and it should always be. I decry 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 to get 4 as wrong!”
    bigots makes no sense. it is the appearance of thought meant to win the argument and sound smart and moral
    uncle frogy

  2. says

    The Venn diagram of people crying out that Hudlicky was cancelled! and people who complain that scientist-Twitter should stop talking about racism and “stick to the science!” is a circle.
    The idea that a mentor should be a master isn’t just old-fashioned, it’s toxic and scientifically counterproductive in ways that good mentors have known for generations. Science is supposed to be about evidence, not authority, right? Part of making progress is marshaling the evidence to prove that an idea we used to accept is wrong. A good mentor fosters this skill, rather than stunting it by demanding obedience. Respect, yes; unquestioning devotion, no.

  3. anthrosciguy says

    The perpetrator is the real victim; the perceived victims are the oppressors.

    It’s simple. It’s the KISAS strategy, the A stands for “and”.

  4. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    Hey. Guys. We can’t blame Peterson for this. If educators weren’t allowed to run their mouths on topics that they are misinformed about and opine stupidly, he doesn’t have a job!

  5. raven says

    He is back but just barely.
    Guy seems to be either a pale shadow of his old self or an actual real Zombie.

    There is nothing about how girls are icky and stupid, no gay bashing, no leftist bashing, no attacks on educated people, no attacks on atheists, no attacks on nonxians, no attacks on normal people.

    Without his usual mountains of hate, Peterson has nothing interesting to say.

  6. John Morales says

    I take it the mask-wearing is intended as a topical social signal, apparently worth the fuzzy sound quality, because it would be very weird for someone to habitually wear a mask at home.

  7. jrkrideau says

    You know you have a problem when your Board starts resigning!

    National Post must be more desperate than usual.

  8. bcwebb says

    I’m sorry but doesn’t the Catholic church have both the trademark and patent on scientist/stake burning? This is as bad a the Trump campaign playing Tom Petty’s “I won’t back down” at his covid-conventions.

  9. says

    Is there a recap somewhere? Peterson’s article is so long-winded and pretentious I gave up before he came to any thing resembling a point. And the mask did make your video harder to follow, PZ. Probably not a problem for the natives, but it’s a bit harder for us foreigners.

  10. lumipuna says

    I take it the mask-wearing is intended as a topical social signal, apparently worth the fuzzy sound quality, because it would be very weird for someone to habitually wear a mask at home.

    Don’t kink shame.

  11. says

    Ah, got it. The age-old “reverse discrimination” argument. Which is basically when white males are treated as shit as everyone else.

  12. chrislawson says

    Erlend Meyer–

    Not that I disagree with your argument in other contexts, but in this case it’s not white males being treated as shit as everyone else. It’s bullshitter being expected to perform to basic academic standards to be published in an academic journal.

  13. consciousness razor says

    They changed the title to this: “Jordan Peterson: The activists are now stalking the hard scientists”

    The article itself doesn’t use the “burning at the stake” metaphor, although there is a lot of frothing. I mean, seriously, is he really “one of those for whom the death knell sounds”? Did they publish this for him posthumously?

    [Hudlicky] has faced severe retaliation on no less than six separate fronts for his hypothetically unforgivable thoughts — the two we have already discussed, and four more, including, third, the cancellation of an entire issue of the journal Synthesis (published by Thieme), which was to be dedicated to his 70th birthday and for which invitations had already been sent to more than forty prominent scientists; fourth, the elimination of any mention of his work in yet another journal, Highlights in Chemistry; fifth, a statement by a European chemical society (not as yet made public) hypothetically critiquing his ongoing collaborations with researchers from that continent; and sixth, his transformation into whipping boy by his own faithless professional colleagues at the administrative level at Brock University.

    On that “two we have already discussed” bit…. (No, JP, you discussed, not us.) I had to go back a few paragraphs to sort it out, but I’m guessing it refers to these instances of “severe retaliation”:

    Hudlicky was therefore criticized and pilloried by individuals on Twitter who appeared to know nothing of Polanyi’s work (and for whom such ignorance was arguably justifiable) but also by the editor of Angewandte, for whom such ignorance was most certainly not.

    Whatever you want to say about it, that isn’t board members quitting a journal in protest.

  14. says

    I was making a point with the mask. Don’t worry, I won’t be wearing it in my next video — but I will be wearing it whenever I’m near people, even if most of them in my area don’t respect me or other fellow humans enough to wear them themselves.

    And yeah, I’ll definitely be wearing one all semester long, starting in August. We’re teaching most of our classes online, where it won’t be a worry, but we’re still teaching labs in person, with enrollment in each lab cut in half (and students spread into more sections) to maintain social distancing. I’m hoping it won’t come to this, but if campus infections spike, we’ll be cutting out the labs altogether. Backup plan is for us instructors to do demos over zoom.

  15. leerudolph says

    bcweb@8: “I’m sorry but doesn’t the Catholic church have both the trademark and patent on scientist/stake burning?”
    No, they’re just franchisees, though for some time now they’ve had substantial market penetration.

  16. says

    Mask advice:
    Get a large one (or if you can make them yourself, make them larger than the pattern indicates. Because the more space you get in front of your nose, the more comfortable they get. Pest doctor masks are the best, but socially frowned upon.
    And make sure the elastic runs behind your head and not your ears. First of all, it’s less straining on your ears. Second, you can wear the mask more snuggly to your face, I guess that’s what was the issue with PZ’s mask. And last but not least, if you take them off for a moment you don’t need to put them anywhere, you just let them dangle around your neck. By now it#s kind of second nature: leave the house, grab a mask.

  17. johnthedrunkard says

    Broad and Woods’ old book about historical scientific frauds ‘Betrayers of the Truth,’ made a BIG point about the way dictatorial Master/Acolyte arrangements were a huge incentive for fraudulent, or just bad, research. ‘Masters’ churning out low-quality papers with their names at the head—laboratory/plantation workers massaging data to please the Master—etc. etc.
    The idea that there was some ‘good old dayes’ of benign authoritarianism is nuts on the surface.

  18. Pierce R. Butler says

    consciousness razor @ # 14: The article itself doesn’t use the “burning at the stake” metaphor…

    Hudlicky personally invoked that comparison:

    However, he earlier told New York-based Retraction Watch that he was subject to a frightening witch-hunt.

    “We are sliding back to Calvinism and burning at stakes. This is absurd,” he said.

  19. garnetstar says

    Angewandte Chemie is, in fact, a very prestigious journal, but I would like to point out to JP how one gets good reviews on chemistry papers and published in even very good journals.

    You send it to a journal where you have friends on the editorial board, and/or suggest reviewers who are your friend and who will scratch your back as you have scratched theirs. There’s been a lot of dreadful, erroneous papers that passed review and were published that way.

    Also, JP and Hudlicky seem to not have been around chem grad students at all: the idea that the university sees grad students only as sources of income? ALL chem grad schools are free: the university pays all tuition and fees and also pays all grad students a salary. Each student costs the university money, not the opposite.

    And, that “skills can only be handed down by a “Master”? Look, The Master’s own skills are very out-of-date, and it’s your job as a grad student to educate you and your Master on the new ways of doing things. The actual rule in chem research labs is that you NEVER let your advisor touch either the instruments you work with or your experimental set-up, because He (it’s always a he) WILL break them.

    Chem grad students still work 80 hours a week or more, depending on what their Master demands, and the Master is still not there by their side all that time, he never is in the lab 80 hours/week himself. In a research group that I know, all the grad students have two winter coats: one to wear, and one to drape over the back of their desk chair so that when their Master prowls around to see who’s still at work, he thinks from their coat that they’re there.

    Chemistry is the least diverse of all fields: the highest number of women faculty in research departments is about four out of 30 professors. I have never met, in all my career, an African-American chemistry grad student. Our undergrads just sent us a letter pointing out that we have not one black chemistry professor, and asking us to fix that. Naturally, since I’ve never met a black chem grad student, I’ve never met a black chemistry professor either. I’m sure that some exists, but they’re so few that I’ve literally never met one.

    So, Angewandte Chemie should retract this paper, or never have let his friends pass it in reivew, not only for the damming views on the Evils diversity poses to Science. Should also be retracted for getting all the facts wrong.

  20. blf says

    garnetstar@21, ALL chem grad schools are free: the university pays all tuition and fees and also pays all grad students a salary. Each student costs the university money, not the opposite.

    Citation needed! I just checked my University, and it certainly is not now free, nor is it likely to ever have been. However, my University is in the States, and I suspect the above deliberately-unqualified claim (ALL…) is about Universities in other country(s?).

  21. garnetstar says

    No, I’m speaking about the US. I have never seen nor heard of a university where chem grad students pay tuition, fees, or anything. On acceptance to a school, in the acceptance letter that the department sends, all tuition and fees are waived, and the entering students are offered a salary. We are offering $35,000/year for our fall entering class this coming semester.

    To earn that, you either are a teaching assistant for about 10 hours a week, or else your professor pays your salary out of his/her grant money, and you just work in the lab full time.

    This has been the case since…..let’s see, at least 1979, and long before that. The salary offered is proportional to the living expenses in your area (so, Columbia, in NYC, and Stanford, in Palo Alto, offer higher salaries so that the students can live in an area.)

    One thing that all grad admission committees decide every year is how many grad students we can afford to support. Because, they pay nothing, and we have to pay their salaries. The message goes out to all the professors “How many grad students can you support (on their research money) this year, and how many would you like to take who will be supported on TA’s?” The answers determine how many grad students we can take that year. One thing that candidates for professorial positions always ask is “How much does it take to support a grad student?”, because if it costs too much, they make prefer to accept another offer at a different university where it costs less.

    And so, as I say, I’ve never seen or heard in all my life of a chemistry grad school that wasn’t only free for the students, but also pays them. There may be some, but in the last forty years, I’ve never heard of one.

    One piece of advice I’ve always given to graduating chem majors in bad job markets (like 2008 and now) is that chem grad school is free, even if they don’t want a Ph.D. they can get into one and not accrue debts and have a salary while they continue their job hunts.

  22. garnetstar says

    P.S. perhaps your univeristy’s web page lists the cost of tuition and fees, but neglects to mention that, upon acceptance, all will be waived and the student will be offered a salary. I just checked out grad school application in chemistry’s web page, and they don’t mention a word about it.

    Of course, this certainly doesn’t apply to other departments! I’ve no idea about how much it costs to do a grad program in them.

  23. blf says

    garnetstar@24, Bingo! That’s it. I did a bit more searching and found that all but a very tiny percentage of graduate studies at my University (all disciplines, not just chemistry) are nowadays “free” for a mixture of reasons. Whilst that doesn’t disprove the original claim, it does effectively destroy my counterexample.

  24. blf says

    Correction to @25, doesn’t disprove → doesn’t prove (that “ALL” are “free”).

  25. garnetstar says

    Wow, I am really glad to hear that grad students in other departments, not just chemistry, can get an advanced degree without going into massive debt! I hope that that’s true at my university too.
    That does make grad school a better option, perhaps more students can choose to enter it instead of a professional school where they’ll be hundreds of thousands in debt when they get their degree.
    Thanks for letting me know that, I might check it out at my university too.

    Just an aside, after I watched PZ’s video: I actually cannot think of a single group of people more in need of, and who would benefit the most from, training in diversity, unconscious bias, and the like, than chemistry professors. A colleage of mine recently told me, in reference to his teaching General Chemistry, “Black girls always get C’s.” Yes, he said that, OUT LOUD, to a group of chem professors.

    I think that alone conclusively proves my point that chem professors could really use that training!

  26. garnetstar says

    P.S., no, it is all chem grad schools, I mean, they have that same financial arragement. Because, if any school did not, they’d have no grad students, who could go to almost any other chem grad school and not accrue any debt.

    Chem grad school is not very competitive. Not many want to do it because chemistry is both boring and difficult.

  27. mskitty says

    Hudlicky and I were students together at Rice University – he is the only man who has ever struck me, in my entire life. Hmmm …