brain sizes: Einstein's and women's

Tom Breton tehom at
Thu Aug 22 22:50:58 EST 2002

Bob LeChevalier <lojbab at> writes:

> Tom Breton <tehom at> wrote:

First, let me get this out of the way:

> >Thus when a prize is shared between man and woman, there's a
> >legitimate suspicion that the man provided disproportionately more of
> >the gravitas and credibility, since the woman also provided the
> >rewarded quality of being female.
> Only for bigots like you who thing that one must be a man to have
> gravitas and credibility.

Bob, please.  I have only respect for you.  Can you at least try to
respond to my points without personally attacking me?

As for me, I do *not* consider you a bigot for believing in the Marie
Curie exaggerations.  It seems to me that you are an honorable man who
simply doesn't have enough skepticism towards Feminist claims.  It's a
common failing, and nothing I would condemn you for, let alone call
you names for.  Heck, sometimes I make that mistake myself, even
though I conscientiously guard against it.

You've put words in my mouth.  I know that you are an honorable man,
and I'm sure you don't make a habit of twisting people's words to make
your case.  I never said "one must be a man to have gravitas and
credibility.".  I gave you a perfectly cogent argument about an issue
you raised.  You've said nothing to rebut the premiss, nor the logic.
You've only, and I'm *sure* accidentally, given the consequent a false

> >But there is also a legitimate question of favoritism towards a
> >birth-group, women.  Consider just the facts we saw in the Curie case,
> >well before Feminism reached its current power:
> In an era when women had virtually no respect in the sciences in
> France, Marie Curie rose to the highest levels.

One can read the phrase "women had virtually no respect in the
sciences" in two ways.  One, the habitual Feminist reading, is that
"equal" women were somehow kept down.  That's the outcome-oriented
reading, where one assumes that all inputs are equal, and all
differences are due to bias.

The other reading, the opportunity-oriented reading, is that women got
as much (or as arguments here have suggested, more) respect in
proportion to their accomplishments, but had few accomplishments.

Your argument appears to switch between readings, or else starts from
an extremely disputed assumption.
> >A confessed advocate for women scientists sitting on the nominating committee
> "confessed" - you make it sound like a sin.

And don't you consider it wrong?  I'm sure you're not *for* bias.  In
light your previous post, and your apparent assumption that the Nobel
process is not biased, you may want to think about whether it's wrong.

> >and taking direct action to secure a woman's nomination,
> She WASN'T nominated, 

OK, quibble, to secure her into whatever nebulous nomination-like
status it has after they add her to the nomination.

> yet she was already well know for the work.  He
> simply asked why.

Raising the issue to the committee and then to Pierre, seems to admit
"took direct action".  "simply asked why" also seems to confer more
innocence on that action than a sense of Realpolitik would dictate.

> >the admitted fact that Pierre secured Marie her part of the prize by his letter,
> It is not "admitted".  Pierre's letter may or may not have had
> anything to do with her getting the prize.  It was a letter to that
> "advocate" who obviously already thought she was worthy of
> consideration, not to the Nobel committee.

It seems odd that a letter mentioned so frequently mentioned in the
various histories is considered irrelevant.  If you say there are
credible historians who believe it was irrelevant, I won't argue, but
color me skeptical.

> >Marie's
> >second prize for which the cited work was at best joint work with
> >Pierre,
> Actually, Pierre had NO part in that work
> >Turning to minerals, her attention was drawn to pitchblende, a mineral
> > whose activity, superior to that of pure uranium, could only be
> > explained by the presence in the ore of small quantities of an
> > unknown substance of very high activity. Pierre Curie then joined her
> > in the work that she had undertaken to resolve this problem and that
> > led to the discovery of the new elements, polonium and radium. While
> > Pierre Curie devoted himself chiefly to the physical study of the new
> > radiations, Maria Curie struggled to obtain pure radium in the
> > metallic state--achieved with the help of the chemist A. Debierne,
> > one of Pierre Curie's pupils. 
> Pierre was working on physics of radiation, while Marie was working on
> the chemistry.

You may want to reexamine that argument.  She got her second Nobel for
(as credited to her) discovering two radioactive elements in 1898, not
for later chemically isolating radium.

I also note that what it actually says is that Pierre "chiefly"
studied radiation, not that he sat on his butt and hummed whenever
chemistry was involved.

Now, I know that history is often slanted, and Feminist revisionist
history is as common as dirt.  I also notice that this material, as
well as a previous URL you gave and the AIP site, all shy away
attributing the crucial events.  Eg phrases with muddled agents like
"that led to the discovery of the new elements, polonium and radium".

Common sense says that the part of the story we're not getting is
favorable to Pierre.  You can call me what you like, but there's more
credibility in my observation than in any Feminist history.

> >a prize which the committee admitted (not noted on either site
> >AFAICT) was aimed at giving her unshared recognition.
> If she deserved unshared recognition, then why is this an "admission"?

Your question is oddly formed, since we do not agree on its antecedent
"she deserved unshared recognition".

In any event, it is an admission.  The aim of giving a previous winner
a prize of her own is simply not a good reason to award a Nobel.  The
winner's identity shouldn't be a factor, much less the most important
one.  Do you disagree?

> To the rest of us, the fact that she overcame the anti-female
> bigotry in an era when there was no "affirmative action", 

Bob, can you please at least try not to use question-begging terms?  I
don't consider "the anti-female bigotry" a fact and you know it.  I
consider it Feminist revisionist history.

Secondly, take a second look at what you wrote.  Is the absence of the
institutionalized favoritism known as "affirmative action" really
evidence of "anti-female bigotry"?  If you believe it is, then ISTM
you have set the bar for "anti-female bigotry" so low as to make the
term meaningless.

> to become one of the
> most highly recognized scientists in French history (even though she
> was Polish by nationality), 

Consider what we're arguing, that's a bit circular, don't you think?

> the fact that she overcame silly scandals
> about her love life 

I'm glad she overcame the scandal.

> and went on to direct a major research institute

I can't see that as a sign of unquestionable greatness.  And of course
having been given a Nobel was not unrelated, nor was the backing of
others.  And occupying the position is not neccessarily a positive
thing - for all you know, more qualified people were pushed aside.

So I can't give you that as a positive.

> and to singlehandedly raise her daughter to be a Nobel-caliber
> scientist, 

While that does bring a different Nobel into the picture, it's still
basically circular, don't you think?

Unless you meant that raising a daughter at all is a sign of
unquestionable greatness.

And you say she "overcame the anti-female bigotry" to raise a
daughter?  You can retract that if you like, I won't blast you.

> shows that her performance was unquestionably great.

As we saw above, the legitimate items on your list consist of
overcoming a scandal and raising a daughter.  Don't you think that
sets the bar for unquestionable greatness rather low?
> >Of course, favoritism to women is not the only factor, it's probably
> >not even the dominant factor, but one shouldn't overlook it.
> If anything, the "favoritism" was AGAINST women.  

You haven't made any argument for this, and your rebuttals to my
arguments to the contrary haven't stood very well.  Some consisted of
questioning my phrasing.

And obviously we're never going to agree on this.  Feminist
revisionist history has no credibility with me at all.  I've seen
enough of it not to believe any of it.

> When that happens,
> it takes a truly superior talent to overcome the favoritism, 

That resembles the sort of posters that hang on the walls of
Feminist's cubicles, "... twice the work to get half the recognition
... fortunately this is not hard".  It has no recognizable relation to
reality, and I doubt it ever did.

> and
> sometimes it may even take an "advocate" asking a pointed question.
> lojbab

Tom Breton at, username tehom.

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