brain sizes: Einstein's and women's

Tom Breton tehom at REMOVEpanNOSPAMix.com
Sun Aug 18 13:31:55 EST 2002


[Followups remove alt.religion.wicca,alt.religion as severely off-topic]

> Joseph A Nagy Jr <pagan_prince at charter.net> writes:
> 
> > Tom Breton wrote:
> > 

> >  > You know, I agree her accomplishments have been Feministly exaggerated
> >  > out of all proportion, but I certainly don't agree she set back France
> >  > or nuclear research.  AFAICT, she was a very capable assistant to
> >  > Pierre.  It's not a negative thing.
> 
> >  Assistant my ass. You obviously didn't read the site, either.

I already addressed his, but let me expand on it:

You referred to http://www.aip.org/history/curie/ No, I'm being too
polite: you copped an attitude.  You said anyone who didn't agree with
you "must not have read it".


The fawning tone of the article seems to have convinced you that Marie
Curie was no assistant.  It's too bad that a lot of spin and glittering
but vague praise have that effect on you.  You really should try to see
past the words that tell you what to feel and read for facts.

Even if you insist on getting your Curie information from this fawning
site, the little bit of factual content that it includes obliquely
admits the opposite.

The facts are that "their" career of discovery was essentially all his
career.  Presupposing for a moment, for the sake of argument, that she
was an equal contributor when they were together, her part began when
she met him, and essentially ended when he died.  (Pretty well known,
actually).  IOW, her big accomplishment was assisting him.

Now you will scream, of course, because
http://www.aip.org/history/curie/trag2.htm goes to great lengths to
disguise that reality.  If one paid attention only to the vague but
glittering praise, one would get the impression that she did a great
deal after his death.  But if one reads with just a little bit of
skepticism, one sees that the only thing that can be construed as a
scientific achievement was helping to isolate radium.

This was work which was begun while Pierre lived, though you'd never
know it from this biased article.  For instance, it says:

	During that summer, Marie's research program-- to identify and
	isolate	radioactive elements--intensified.

Which translates as, 

			"We know very well that Pierre began the
	work of isolating radioactive elements.  For her to continue
	it after his death is too much like following instructions
	for us to Feministly be comfortable with.  So we'll call it
	"Marie's research program" - that can kind of be justified,
	since he was dead, but it leads readers to assume more than
	that.  And we'll say it "intensified" because if we just say
	"continued", readers will figure it out."

The site also downplays André Debierne's work.

So behind the glittering praise, the most one can say is, she was part
of a team including André Debierne that successfully continued Pierre's
project of isolating radium, which Pierre had discovered.  And this was
the high point of her post-mortem scientific discovery.  Not negligible,
of course, but nothing like what spin-doctors make it out to be.

Let's look at another piece of spin.  It actually caught my eye because
it seemed to support you, until one looks closely.

	... the president of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
	explained why Curie's 1898 discovery of two new elements
	deserved this additional recognition.

Now, I trust that most readers can see the loaded, question-begging
terms used.  The term "explained" presupposes that the thing "explained"
is true, and so forth.  Question-begging terms.

But those who fail to take note of dates may miss the fact that 1989 was
well before Pierre's death.  Once again, the credit she's getting is
essentially for her husband's work.

So this is the collection of shameless half-truths you are telling us
should be taken as authority.  No, thanks.

In a final remark, let me emphasize that I don't denigrate Marie Curie's
work.  I *certainly* don't think she set back France or nuclear
research.  I just don't like see it spun and made out to be more than it
was.  I can see past the spin, and I wish you could too.


-- 
Tom Breton at panix.com, username tehom.  http://www.panix.com/~tehom



More information about the Neur-sci mailing list