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Not Winning Friends, Not Influencing People

Many chemists will by now be aware of the brief, but very loud, incident with Angewandte Chemie and a paper by Tomas Hudlicky that appeared there. Well, it didn’t appear for long – within hours, the link had disappeared. The article appears to have been an update of parts of his book “The Way of Synthesis”, and it didn’t take long for people to notice phrases in the piece expressing irritation about “preferential status” in chemistry for women and minorities, going on to statements about how this would necessarily diminish the prospects for, well, non-women and non-minorities, which pretty much leaves white guys.

That went over exactly as well as you can imagine. There was an immediate furor, which is continuing as I write. The GDCh, the organization behind Ang. Chem. announced today, for example, that two of their editors had been suspended for passing the article and that the “international reviewers” that went over it would no longer be used by the journal. As for the decision to publish, they say that “This was a clear mistake and we deeply apologize. At best, it was poor judgment and at worst, it highlights the bias displayed in our field and many others.

That it does. I found it interesting, given this, that Hudlicky’s earlier book had a somewhat different tone, as noted in this Twitter post (whose author has made the relevant parts of the book accessible here). Back in the early 2000s, the worry was that “. . .the influx of bright chemists from abroad has slowed down considerably. . .in the past, the U.S. benefitted immensely from short- or long-term interactions with foreign scientists. The diversity of the work force and the possibility of exchange of opinions have declined as a result. . .Diversity of work force (and opinions) cannot be well served by restricting or even eliminating access to the U.S. on the basis of their religion, ethnicity, or country of origin” Different editors? The passage of years?

I know Prof. Hudlicky a bit, and I’ve blogged about his concerns about honesty in the synthetic organic literature (inflated yields, etc.) He’s a rigorous scientist, but his instincts led him down the wrong path in this case. There are people who could probably claim to believe both his older statement and his newer one at the same time, with talk of origin-blind gender-blind meritocracy. But that’s a philosophical position, not one for the real world. Out here in that world, minorities of many kinds and women in general have had a raw deal – not only in chemistry or in the other physical sciences, although most definitely there – and it’s impossible to act as if this can suddenly vanish with no one hereafter paying attention to such categories. I actually think meritocracy is an excellent thing, but if you just declare “meritocracy in place” as of this moment, you preserve an existing order that has treated a lot of people like second-class citizens and second-class scientists. Worse, it’s an order that has, over the many years, forced many of them unwillingly into those second ranks because the first ranks were closed off to them.

Which is wrong on the face of it, and counterproductive as well. The example is often brought up – as it should be – of what German science did to itself during the Nazi era, deliberately driving away an extraordinary array of intellectual talent. That’s an extreme example, but you can do the same thing more slowly and quietly by only allowing the “right” sorts of people access to what they need to develop their talents. There’s all sorts of room to argue about the most effective ways to address this situation – which has been going on for a long, long time and will not be fixed quickly – but starting off by decrying the current efforts to deal with the problems is not going to help anyone.

There’s another topic that’s come up from this paper that has to do with graduate training in the sciences, which I’m going to defer to another blog post. But I wanted to mention something else that’s come up in the comments to it (I refer to Twitter posts like this one). Organic synthesis in particular has had a well-earned “macho” reputation for many decades, with plenty of hard-driving, hard-living types like R. B. Woodward in its pantheon. That has toned down some over the years – I did my PhD in the 1980s, and I can tell you from personal experience that it has. But it has most definitely not gone away, either. There are still plenty of work-80-hours-a-week-or-you’re-worthless types in chemistry departments (and others) all around the country. Too often, you will find such people when they use their status to lord it over their students, finding that all the more easier to do by targeting female or minority members of their groups. We should be glad that there’s less of this than there used to be, but we shouldn’t pretend that it doesn’t exist, either.

 

166 comments on “Not Winning Friends, Not Influencing People”

  1. MoBio says:

    I knew Tom Hudlicky many, many. years ago and, sadly, was not particularly surprised by the tone and tenor of his opinion piece…..

    1. Anonymous says:

      Can confirm.

  2. Wavefunction says:

    Back in graduate school I read Barry Werth’s “The Billion Dollar Molecule” and it impressed me with its descriptions of its own hard-living, hard-driving types. It took me a while to realize that while the book described some very fine scientists and decent human beings (some of who I know and who continue to be that way), it did not necessarily describe a culture that would be welcoming of diversity of all sorts (including viewpoint diversity which I consider paramount). There is a balancing act for sure, but we are better off when we strive for it.

  3. Eddie says:

    The most offensive part of that piece was when Hudlicky referred to the advisor/student relationship as a “master and apprentice” relationship. And in case you’re wondering if he really meant “slavemaster” in a later section he bemoaned universities for protecting students from hard work. So he doesn’t like minorities and wants his indentured servants err advisees to work harder. How that section made it passed editing I have no idea and it speaks to failures on multiple levels.

    1. anon says:

      How the article got past the reviewers and editors is the most bizarre thing in all this. I don’t know Hudlicky, but I do know a few professors with similar opinions. But they usually have enough sense not to write it out in an article and even if they did, one would think that at least one of the several people who must have read the paper before it was published would have complained.

      1. anon says:

        It really shows how broken the peer review system is.

    2. Cara says:

      I was a student at UF when T.Hud worked there. I can attest to this sentiment of master and apprentice and the servant expectation. His students worked tirelessly, were not given time off, and did not get third names first on the papers. Look up his pubs. HE is first author even after becoming established in the field. He actively prevented the advancement of his ‘apprentices’. I think its time for retirement for this old privileged white man. The world needs less of him.

    3. Peter Shenkin says:

      I actually think that apprenticeship is an appropriate term for the relation of the grad student to the advisor in Chemistry, or at least it was in my day, and I loved it and benefitted from it. Not all my fellow grad students felt that way. Obviously, it depended on the advisor, probably more than on the student.

      I understand why the term master is offensive, though the concept of “master craftsman” (the people who had apprentices in the old days) is ancient and honorable and has nothing to do with slavery. I don’t mind replacing it. But apprentice (as opposed to “slave”) seems to me totally appropriate.

      1. Thomas says:

        I think there’s an additional issue, which is that the master/apprentice system is intended to pass on certain skills and produce a consistent human product rather than result in innovation and change. The student is supposed to carry on the work of the master, not revolutionise it.

        So one important question becomes: is that what the field of chemistry needs?

        1. cheMISt says:

          This does not make any sense… Any good master of any craft can only be delighted when a student surpases them. And aprentices evidently do as otherwise there could never be any progress… anywhere in any field. But of course you first need to master the craft yourself; for you can not inovate without understanding the subject in detail yourself.

    4. Micha Elyi says:

      No, Eddie, the good professor did not mean “slavemaster”. That’s all on you. You made it up. Shame on you for your calumny.

    5. DAH says:

      I disagree with Derek. I find the response of Angewandte entirely repugnant and, alas, wholly in line with the “cancel” culture and censorship that has been gripping public spaces, academia and multinational companies for the past few years. I am a senior professional and have sat on more recruitment panels than I care to remember and I can testify to the preferential treatment of women and supposed minorities in the name of “fairness” since about 2010. It is an insult to hiring managers and recruits alike. It distorts the selection, reduces the applicant pool and cheapens the success of the recruits. It’s an insane, self-defeating and deeply racist modality – ever since the diversity racket really took off (2010+), I am first a minority and second a top performer. Before then I was just a top performer. Now all that people see is the minority. These policies are deeply divisive and utterly corrupting. And would do the Nazis proud.

      1. DireStraits says:

        Whatever your views on diversity quotas, it’s clear that the article itself was poorly written. Did you see the diagram implying that journal integrity has a negative influence on organic synthesis? What does he even mean by that? Besides that, why is he considered qualified to publish a peer reviewed article on the influence of any hiring and training practices? It’s not like he’s actually done any controlled studies on hiring practices vs. outcomes.

    6. Ari Koskinen says:

      It’s sad how this escalated so violently. Hudlicky’s new paper had the picture from the 13 year old book, and some of the ‘negative influence’ arrows were interpreted opposite to what they are elaborated in the book. This was taken as an indication that Hudlicky had changed his position. No, he just used an old picture, and people didn’t realize that. Also, his research group has consisted of moire than 300 members from all countries, ethnicities, gender, etc… I am ashamed of being a member of a ‘learned society’ that has adopted to Trump’s ways of policymaking by social media and tweets alone, and forgetting those wise words by Wolfgang Pauli: “Ich habe nichts dagegen, wenn Sie langsam denken, Herr Doktor, aber Ich habe etwas dagegen, wenn Sie rascher publiziere, als Sie denken.” Applies to both ‘sides’.

      1. It's not smart to put your actual name on a public forum says:

        The fact that you do not see the issues with this essay shows how out of touch you are with the wider community, particularly young and BAME people. Moreveover, what I find ironic about your defence of Hudlický is the Wolfgang Pauli quote: “I don’t mind your thinking slowly; I mind your publishing faster than you think.“ Which describes perfectly this situation where a thoughtless and biased essay using self-plagraised diagrams can make it through two reveiwers and a team of editors. Indeed, “publishing faster than you think”.

        It worries me that professors like you sit on public comitties and have a say over people’s careers in science.

    7. Apprentice says:

      Please watch Star Wars – this would give you some initial simple understanding of what master-apprentice relationship mean. Later I would recommend historical books about craftsmanship and so on…

  4. Matt Gruner says:

    Clearly how we evaluate scientists for leadership positions (ie R01 funding) badly need revision if not class action lawsuits. One obvious step is to not promote over represented groups (straight white men who proselytize (sWiMPs)) to leadership positions like grant review or department/group chairmanships. Another improvement would be changing tenure so you could be fired if you’re advocating the supremacy of specific groups of scientists.

    1. Anonymous says:

      Matt,
      We should chat!
      Looking to implement some cultural reforms in my organization.
      Give me a call.
      Best,
      Mao (Tse-tung)

  5. rhodium says:

    I think it is interesting to compare chemical biology and organic synthesis. In the former, so many productive and innovative groups are led by women. This is less true in synthesis and really less true 30 years ago. Someone interested in the sociology of science could find that a worthwhile topic to study.

  6. All reagents matter says:

    Cancel hudlicker!

  7. dearieme says:

    The agonising is all very well but what is to be done?

    Suppose my mother was given a hard time in the chemists’ trade. Why is that a good reason to give me a hard time? Doesn’t my family lose twice in a row?

    Answering injustice with a different injustice is a mug’s game. You should be wondering how to visit punishment on the unjust.

    1. Hap says:

      It doesn’t seem like punishment, though, to judge people as best you can on their merits and not on what they look like or where they came from. I don’t think Hudlicky is being slagged, for example, for being white, but for the assertion that the current ordering of researcher status is solely due to merit and not due to any other characteristics (color, gender, or national origin, for example), which seems unjustified and ignorant of history, if not blatantly untrue.

      The article fragments that I saw seem to make claims that I don’t think have sufficient evidence to support them. How do you know that you have chosen the best researchers now (and thus that any perturbation to the system of choice will make research less effective)? How do you know that “submission” (with all its icky implications) is the best way to teach graduate students and to make good researchers in the future? These seem to be claims around any sort of attempt to deal with past racism and sexism, and seem to be good questions to ask in any case, because you want to make a system that allows people to do the best science and judges them effectively, and to know how perturbations in judgments and personnel choices lead to perturbations in outcomes (teaching, research output and accuracy). Do we have any idea how we choose people and teach them (or allow them to learn, for graduate school) well? How do we assess our choices? None of these things seem clear to me, and if that is general, then the assertions of weakening of research would seem to be justifications of the current ordering (with its known historical flaws) without evidence that it can’t be improved or altered without worsening.

      If you don’t have this kind of evidence, then all you have is a longing for a less complicated and more white research world, which seems…problematic.

    2. Eddie says:

      What injustice? By that argument you’re further entrenching that there’s nothing to be done to redress the effects of racism. Can’t change the system and gear it toward equality because someone in the dominant group could be disadvantaged? What?! That’s what privilege is. Equality only looks like discrimination to those that lose their privilege. That’s what you just argued.

      1. Chairman Mao says:

        In other words, if you’re not down with the current cultural revolution, shut up and ideally die. No deviation from the party line will be allowed. Anyone who even mildly deviates will be subject to a struggle session with comrades Drew Brees and James Bennet.

        1. Hap says:

          I mean that’s fine…if I take all your money and get caught, I can promise not to do that again and it’s even-steven, right?

          When you do (harm to someone, part of the expectation of justice is 1) “Don’t do that again” and 2) “How do you fix what you have done wrong?” Lots of times, it can’t be fixed, but you can try, sometimes. Your presumption, on the other hand, seems to do neither 1) or 2), but “pretend it doesn’t exist”, which has been Republican policy since the Southern Strategy, and which hasn’t really fixed anything (unless “fix” = “let me keep everything I got and leave the problem for my kids or their kids to fix”, which does significant violence to the language, when it’s not doing violence to other things).

          1. Nunya Bidness says:

            No, Hap.

            What you’re saying is that if I take all your money, you’re going to punish someone else who happens to have the same skin color as me.

            That’s not justice. And you should be embarrassed that you think it is.

          2. Hap says:

            The benefits were accrued on the basis of skin color in part (or rather, you pay less to play the game and get larger benefits for doing so – “lowest difficulty setting”). You didn’t get a choice in that, but I don’t think most people refused those benefits, either. Claiming that making the game less biased is punishing you for the color of your skin sort of implies that the winnings of the biased game are your due, which seems to make your claim of unfairness…kind of interesting.

          3. HapIsanIdiot says:

            @ Hap- “Benefits were accrued on the basis of skin color”– Explain with evidence.

      2. Nick K says:

        Do you have any concrete examples of women and ethnic minorities suffering discrimination in Chemistry recently? I certainly can’t. FWIW, the women I know who have had (often highly successful) careers in Chemistry have never complained about being patronized or held back by male colleagues.

        1. Anon says:

          Nick, I hope this is sarcasm.

          1. Nick K says:

            No, not at all. Give me an actual recent example of sexist or racial discrimination in Chemistry. I’m perfectly willing to change my mind.

        2. Magrinho says:

          I have a hard time believing that this is a serious question.

          I could give you at least three names from my graduate class alone – but I won’t for obvious reasons: women who left for other careers because they didn’t feel comfortable once the class work was over and they were in the lab full time.

        3. Rock says:

          Just read the C&E News articles from last year on this topic.

        4. mymagoogle says:

          Me! me here. Mid-90’s big time research university PhD in synthesis. Selective bullying by the advisor was definitely present then, way above the level that the white guys got. Those of us like myself who were more outspoken and confident women either muscled our way through or left. The survivors usually moved to a subfield that was less macho, which usually meant closer to biology for those still in research, or a pharma field where outspokenness is a virtue (eg quality), or a pharma field that requires an advanced degree but is not in the lab (eg regulatory).

          But you don’t have to believe only one personal testimony in a blog comment because there are copious surveys every few years by the ACS on this topic – I just did a quick google search and there is one from 2018, 2016, 2008, and perhaps other years too.

          BTW Having a full UN of grad students and post-docs of every color and walk of life however isn’t necessarily proof enough, because each got characterized and stereotyped by their origin, regardless of the individual’s ability. This country would be awesome, that country would be the inoffensive worker bees, this country of this gender was pushy but that gender was better, those would be the do anything and everything types, those would be the slackers but still awesome, those would the ones who could say anything contrary and the professor would not mind in the least. Unless you were the chosen one, the heir destined to become a professor, you marked time to get out with a piece of paper with a shiny sticker, and hopefully also your sanity intact.

        5. Anonymous says:

          Here’s an example: I’m in the chemistry department of a major pharma, and I was recently called “bossy” by a white male senior leader in my department. The details of the incident are less important than the name calling – when is the last time you’ve heard any man called “bossy” at work? I am an adult woman with a PhD, not a toddler.

        6. Anon says:

          Hudlicky was a guest lecturer at my university. Over lunch with a small group of students (including females) he said that a (very successful) female prof was stupid but he would still have sex with her. Then went on to present his very uninspiring work.

      3. Charles H. says:

        Sorry, but reverse discrimination is still discrimination. Some better answer is needed.

        That said, there are clear examples of “traditional” discrimination available to any one who looks. To me any answer that doesn’t deal with those isn’t a real answer.

        A genuine meritocracy would be a real answer, but it would take decades to achieve the desired goal, and how could it be held in place that long? Meritocracies tend to collapse into aristocracies (though the time period is considerably longer than decades).

        Perhaps the best answer I’ve heard of was an orchestra conductor who insisted on not knowing the names of applicants, and had them audition behind a curtain where he couldn’t see them, so he wouldn’t be moved by unexamined prejudice. It’s not clear, however, how this approach could be generalized.

        1. Hap says:

          It’s tough to do that in chemistry, but I think blind auditions are SOP for lots of orchestras.

          I think the problem is that the different outcomes in race are also subsumed in other measures – kind of like oil companies diversifying into electric cars and fueling stations, etc., where they can cash their current advantages into future advantages. If that happens, then the racial discrimination will basically not go away (or take much longer to do so).

          I also suspect had legitimate attempts been made much earlier (1980’s?) to try to make processes more open and less amenable to racism (or at to make sure that instances of racism could be investigated and dealt with) then not doing anything else might have been acceptable. For the most part, though, it seems like the policy on racism has been “Ignore it and hope it (or more likely the complaints) go away.”

          In addition, the costs and benefits of racial discrimination are specific to race. This makes it difficult to deal with blind to race – if someone steals money from all the people with white houses and gives the stolen cash to people with red houses, something that takes from everyone to repay the people with white houses isn’t entirely fair.

        2. albegadeep says:

          “Sorry, but reverse discrimination is still discrimination.”

          Hear hear, Charles. And it really does happen. I personally, being a white male (though not in chemistry) have been told by a hiring manager that I “could not be considered for the position until the diversity candidates had been considered”. And subsequently didn’t get an interview, much less the job.

          Yes, I understand that removing discrimination is hard. Really it is. And having race and gender diversity in the workplace is a very good thing. But applying quotas, or giving favorable treatment, that benefits one group does cause harm to other groups. It’s still racism or sexism, just in a different form.

          Let us consider folks based on merit and experience, and not include race or sex at all!

  8. B says:

    In some ways, is this not so different from the calls for Police Reform as we all watch the ongoing brutalization of peaceful protestors and long history of prejudice/violence towards minorities and women? All too often we hear “one bad apple”, but stop short of espousing the full phrase of how it spoils all of them. What about Chemistry professors (and other academics) that are known for how many of their students have killed themselves? The sexual harassment violations? Academics perpetuate power dynamics – they favorably review their friends papers and grants, and push their troublesome faculty members off of some committees while allowing them to take more students and further continue the tradition of benefitting from nearly servitude (just look at the ‘Master’ comments above). Where is the reckoning from professors loudly proclaiming #BLM yet refuse to look into their own departments and #ReformAcademia?

    1. JasonP says:

      EXACTLY!

      I note that the Minneapolis city council intends to disband the Police Department. Camden NJ, was a crime hotspot and corrupt politically and their PD was disbanded. The County took over policing the city [only way to get rid of the ‘bad cops’] and now several years later, the Camden is seeing a renaissance. So perhaps tearing it all down and starting over makes sense?

      But rather than commenting on the bad views, how about some concrete, measurable proposals to “fix” things? Or is that another part of the disease of this culture, fiercely staked positions and the inability to agree on anything?

  9. brian says:

    I would argue Hudlicky is one of a few bad apples, and it’s not even worth your time to look up his essay. If you have interacted with him in the past at a conference, you would not be surprised by his piece in Angewandte. Yes, we should condemn his behavior, but we should also focus on greater problems. We’ve all met a few big name profs who hold views like Hudlicky’s, and unlike Hudlicky, are in position of power. Most of them are smart enough not to voice their opinion publicly like this, but would say such things in passing after a few drinks at a conference.

    1. B says:

      “one bad apple spoils the bunch”

      How does this do anything but highlight how pervasive these articles in academia? If one person is willing to publish it forevermore, how many are thinking and acting on it? How is academia that much different than police departments perpetuating injustices against POC, women, peaceful protestors?

      https://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2020/06/08/not-winning-friends-not-influencing-people#comment-321431

    2. NP says:

      It’s incredible how many people completely misunderstand the phrase you allude to.

      “One bad Apple spoils the barrel” – so if one apple goes bad the whole barrel need to be thrown out.

      Or in more specific terms to this piece. By allowing someone with this viewpoint to maintain a modicum of influence or power that viewpoint gains more credibility and the ability to spread to others coming up in the field. This is not a zero-sum game, there is no limit to the number of scientists who should be disallowed from positions of influence for their regressive stances. In order to progress to a more equal, fair, and productive community ALL forms of bigotry, and discrimination must be unacceptable.

      1. Chris Phoenix says:

        “most meritorious” assumes that merit is one-dimensional. This is false. Also, merit can’t be properly assessed outside of context.

        As a software engineer, I want to work with the strongest team, not the best programmers.

        If the team has a bunch of people who are 98% in data structures and 50% in communication, then its next hire should be someone who’s 98% in communication even if they’re only 80% in data structures. And all the white male data structure jocks say “You’re not hiring the best!” because they focus on the argument that supports their point rather than the argument that makes the company strongest.

        Arguments of this structure are basically just motivated reasoning.

        1. johnnyboy says:

          Yes, exactly. In these faulty arguments about merits and hiring, it is always assumed that ‘merit’ is an easily measured, one-dimension variable, and that minority candidates with a lower score on that scale would be hired over majority candidates with a higher score. This is not reality, and reducing the hiring process to this for the sake of argument is the mark of a simplistic or disingenous discourse. I don’t know what kind of paper Hudlicky was writing, but what struck me reading the salient excerpts was this it was 100% opinion, like some bloviating Wall Street Journal op-ed, rather than a paper in a scientific journal, where every statement needs to be supported by data – there was no data there.

        2. DoubleSpeak says:

          @ChrisPhoenix- Yes, if you’d be hiring based on a candidate’s strengths and qualifications– 98% communication, as you pointed out– no one would be opposed to it. People would only be averse to it if you hire based on someone’s race, color, or any other identifier. Actually, in trying to disprove the OP, but by using the example that you’ve given, you have only agreed with him– that diversity should really be in skills/qualifications/and strengths, not anything else.

    3. Ray Conrow says:

      Not worth your time to look up his essay? So just hang the guy based on hearsay? J’Accuse!

  10. brian says:

    I find it odd that Angewandte had to point out “two “international” referees” yet their editors are just editors. Maybe a Freudian slip.

    1. Anonymous says:

      I’ve seen this argument before and I’m not really convinced. Angewandte Chemie has their “domestic” editors (it is from the German Chemical Society) that they just call editors, then international editors. I think they have separate tracks for German and non-German submissions. In any case, I don’t think Angewandte is saying “don’t worry, it wasn’t a German”, but instead more of giving an extra detail and acknowledgement of the “international” submission and editorial process.

      1. George Orwell says:

        Non-German and German? Equal and more equal?

        1. Anonymous says:

          If the standards are somewhat lower for German publications than international, I don’t have a problem with that, but I can see why others might. Again, Angewandte Chemie is under the purview of the German Chemical Society. If it is part of their goal to promote German contributions to chemistry in the journal, that seems in line with the role of the chemical society for that country.

  11. Witek says:

    Isn`t this censorship? To withdraw an article because of its not so politically correct content?

    1. Scripps PI says:

      Witek, it is fine to withdraw an article that contains many wholly unsubstantiated & baseless claims. Even opinion pieces should be supported by checkable references. The only thing we can substantiate is that lots of people who have interacted with the author can verify that his words here reflect his freely-expressed day-to-day thoughts.

      1. Witek says:

        I remember the times of communism in Poland. There was censorship and they used the same arguments: that anti-system texts were unsubstantiated & baseless claims. This censorship vaccinated our society against political correctness. Now, I think, we have really free speech in our country. You can say anything from political left to right. I agree with ‘Scary to Read’: not withdraw but counter argument. Let the reader decide which is right.

        1. Scripps PI says:

          I suggest for the counterargument you look on twitter for a reply signed by Donna Blackmond and Phil Baran. I contains several references to studies validating clear positive impacts of increased diversity upon scientific excellence. So, an opinion supported by references. It is what we expect in a scientific paper, but did not get from Hudlicky

        2. paperclip says:

          The journal is not a government, though. They are free to decide what content aligns with the values they adhere to. As for letting the reader decide, journals serve as gatekeepers all the time. You don’t bring crap to a taste test.

        3. Derek Lowe says:

          Wiley, the GDCh, and the editors of Ang. Chem. are free to publish (or not publish) what they want. Readers can vote with their eyes and downloads if they like the decisions or not. Hudlicky, for his part, can put his paper up on the web any way he wishes, and no one will be punished for reading it. This was not the act of a government. Unlike, say, this:

          https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/22/arts/music/poland-chart-song-removed.html

          1. George Orwell says:

            “Hudlicky, for his part, can put his paper up on the web any way he wishes“.
            Really? Not on Facebook, or Google, or Apple servers, or Amazon servers, or Microsoft servers. ATT, Verizon, Comcast not far behind in censorship. He would need to host his own server and not use any of those pipes. 1st amendment exists to protect speech we don’t agree with, not speech we agree with.

          2. Wikipedia says:

            It is a common misconception that the First Amendment prohibits anyone from limiting free speech, including private, non-governmental entities.[1] It is applicable only to state actors.[2]

          3. George Orwell says:

            And if a bakery refuses to serve a customer because the owner of the bakery does not agree with the values of the customer, is that OK? The customer can just go to the bakery across the street? Or bake at home instead?

          4. Carl says:

            Pardon me for replying to your post Mr Lowe, the gentleman below you’s posts appear to not have a reply button for some reason so yours is the next up i the chain i can use to reply to him.

            @George Orwell: The 1st amendment doesn’t apply here, this is a german operated journal and germany to my knowledge, (like the majority of the rest of the world), does not have a law as broad as the 1st Amendment, (whilst i’m sure there are exceptions, my experiance when discussing things relating to US law online with American’s as a european is that US laws tend to be far less restrictive. Weather thats a good or bad thing depends on your PoV and the situation is question.)

            My thoughts here as someone who has not read the article is that this very much depends on exactly what was said and how it was said. I assume most people have seen cases where in an attempt to avoid the discrimination applied in the past to some group or other things have been taken too far the other way resulting in everyone but the affected group being discriminated against. it happens.

            But it is important to discriminate between overdoing it and merely redressing an imbalance that does require redress. Like most things in the real world it’s complicated, messy, and bound to generate friction and thus heat.

          5. George O. says:

            Thank you for the clarification. To be clear, I agree with the decision to retract because, as others have mentioned, it lacked the scientific rigor expected in a scientific journal and had unvalidated and specious conclusions. As a private company, it is Wiley’s prerogative to correct the error and I do not dispute this. My comment was referring instead to the comment that the piece could be put anywhere else on the internets. There is a debate emerging in the US concerning the consolidation of the power to control ideas and opinions by monopolies/ oligopolies that are in the private sector. Should they be treated as publishers, like Wiley, with all the inherent editorial leeway and discretion? Or are they more like utilities where strong government oversight serves as a counterweight to the power of a monopoly? The government has certainly stepped in to control price fixing in many instances. What about oligopolies colluding in “thought fixing”? I cannot decide which is more terrifying, monopolies with editorial discretion or government oversight. But I do believe that only with open and honest discussion can a solution be found that brings the most benefits to all.

            And thank you for the Wikipedia reference. I will forward that to my progressive friends the next time they claim a private, nongovernmental entity is trampling their rights.

  12. Scary to Read says:

    I for one would have preferred the opportunity to read his opinion and weigh the merits or not, along with any counter points written in response. It does not sound like there were any grounds for withdrawal, other than it not fitting the prevailing view.

    1. Scripps PI says:

      Scary to read. go to #chemtwitter and you can easily find the full article posted widely for download. Angew. Chemie took it down fast, but not fast enough to have it saved for posterity

    2. Charles H. says:

      OTOH, scientific journals are normally supposed to publish articles that have verifiable facts supporting them. The decline in that (due to privately owned data sets, in part) has lead to a decline in the science that they publish.

      This was an article that reportedly sets out assertions without validation being possible, i.e., one can’t see the evidence that it is based on to judge the arguments impartially. Therefore it’s not valid science. This isn’t proof that the arguments are wrong, but it’s reasonable proof that it doesn’t justify being part of the fact articles in a scientific journal. Such journals *do* publish opinion pieces, but the claims don’t seem to indicate that this was one of them.

      FWIW, I’m quite skeptical of reverse discrimination being a valid approach. I consider it much more important to remove the still existing places where direct discrimination occur. There are lots of valid arguments as to why reverse discrimination is a bad policy. He doesn’t seem to have made any of them, though I haven’t read his paper. (And when balancing costs, a valid argument that one position has costs is not proof that it isn’t the correct approach.)

  13. BG says:

    If you want to have a true meritocracy, the fundamental question is how do you measure merit in an objective way? The only objective measures we seem to have are number of publications, impact factor of the journals, and number of citations, and I think we all agree those are far from perfect measures of anyone’s ability as a scientist. If one candidate has more publications, but another has more citations, which is more meritorious? Are three JACS papers equivalent to one Science or Nature paper? Outside of a few clear superstars, deciding whose work is more meritorious is a subjective judgement call.

  14. Useless molecule says:

    We have no lesson to take from someone who’s “claim to fame” is a synthetic approach to pancratistatin.

    1. WhoseCares says:

      *whose, not who’s

  15. anon says:

    I think what he wants a meritocracy, and warns against reverse discrimination. I think this is misguided because in the end, you don’t get a job in academia based on merit per se. You get it because the hiring committees think you worked for and know the right people such that you will bring in grant money. So his point is moot, IMO

  16. Christophe L Verlinde says:

    The problem with academics like Tomas Hudlicky is that they view scientific progress as a pure Darwinian endeavor regardless of the “body count”. This view was practiced at the level of societal progress for millennia without questioning. Luckily thanks to struggles by more enlightened people serfdom was abolished, voting rights were widened, labor protection was enacted, and the emancipation of minorities is still a work in progress. Every day we have to work hard towards the conviction that all are created equal, that they are endowed with certain unalienable rights, and that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. The adoption of a pure Darwinian view of society is the anti-thesis of the embracing of the humanity of every member of society.

    1. anonymous says:

      Sure, a lot of faculty will say this, but if you are a grad student or post-doc, the average advisor expects you to work 60-80 hours a week for little money. That is not being treated respectfully or humanely, and is hypocrisy if the faculty makes utterances like this. IMO, most would.

    2. HFM says:

      The problem is, people like this believe they are the winners of a pure Darwinian struggle. The meritocracy has spoken. It chose them. Nobody walked right up to them and said “I’m hiring you because you’re a white man”, therefore they did not personally benefit in any way from racism or sexism.

      I don’t believe it. Look around any science department…who are the amazing techs who keep the place running? They used to be Boomer-aged white ladies, but those are largely retired. Now they’re GenX and younger, and they’re people of color. They had more than enough talent to get a PhD. They had enough education to apply. But somehow, they leaked out of the pipeline. Of course, this couldn’t possibly be a systemic problem…these individual people made the individual decision to end up as techs. The higher-than-expected average melanin content of those individuals is purely a coincidence. *eyeroll*

      If you want Darwinian, put ’em all in the gene pool.

      1. ChairmouseOfTheBored says:

        Or they’re smart enough to realize that the PhD takes away numerous prime years and pays back only when they’re too old get real benefit from the unimpressive $$ provided.

        PhD payoff? You can rake in a lot more by running a nightclub, way more running certain kinds of clubs. I know one guy in that biz, he’s buying a new Ferrari. No wife, many, ahh, consorts, none kept around for much more than 18 hours, although some may re-appear in the rotation. Collects lotsa cash, pays not much tax. This may not be a lifestyle people posting here want, but it’s the envy of many. It certainly beats regulah jobs.

        Or you could work (mostly sleep) at a big-city Fire Department, while running a business the other 4 days per week. That comes with full retirement after 20 or 23 years. Your university doesn’t offer that.

        It’s a fine thing to expand humanity’s knowledge of Nature, one painful grain at a time. It’s hardly a privilege.

    3. drsnowboard says:

      I don’t excuse Hudlicky’s comments but bear in mind, his chemistry career is/was Darwinian. Circumvented lack of a high school diploma, emigrated to the US, survived working with Oppolzer (who’s reputation was Napoleonic at best), made Prof.
      Maybe the head checks on the hockey rink caught up with him before he could edit…

  17. Scripps PI says:

    I don’t know how many members of the International Advisory Board for Angew Chemie there are, but 16 of them resigned today:

    Frances Arnold
    Cathleen Crudden
    Joseph DeSimone
    Craig Hawker
    Kenichiro Itami
    Eric Jacobsen
    Robert Langer
    Dave MacMillan
    W. E. Moerner
    Pete Schultz
    Tim Swager
    Jack Szostak
    Ralph Weissleder
    Younan Xia
    Richard Zare

    1. George Orwell says:

      That resignation list is the epitome of hypocrisy. 88% white! All the white males should also resign their professorship to make way for a more diverse candidate. After all, they only got those positions because of institutionalized white privilege. We are all equal yet some are more equal than others? What is diversity in Japan? Ask Naomi Osaka. What is diversity in China? Tibetan? Or Uyghurs?

      1. Anonymous says:

        All the comments under your name are hilariously trite and misappropriate Orwell’s critiques of the *state* control over speech to non-state entities. A voluntary redaction is censorship? The chemistry community throwing stones at the elite publisher is oppression? Some of the pigs in the farmhouse realizing they don’t want to be a part of the club anymore so they leave by their own accord is bad? It’s cute you choose to invoke Orwell, but it’s not fooling anyone

        1. Daily prophet says:

          Dumbledore – is he daft or is he dangerous.

          Anonymous, did you actually read George Orwell? Private publisher from a different country is a “state”?

          1. Some idiot says:

            Erm, I think he definitely did, because he said fairly clearly (or at least my interpretation of it, at any rate….! 🙂 ) that (rephrasing a bit) George Orwell’s critique was of the State, whereas in this case we are talking about a private company…

            My interpretation, at any rate! And I (think I…) understand what he is saying…!

            (-:

          2. Anonymous says:

            The user “some idiot” who commented is correct- I see the ambiguity as I reread my sentence! I do mean that ACIE is not a state.

        2. George O. says:

          The “State” is not what you think it is. The State no longer has borders. The State is a set of ideas, beliefs and thoughts. Anyone who does not agree with the State will be smashed. Thoughts that do not align with the State must be extinguished. Writings against the State must be destroyed. Long live the State.

    2. Investigator says:

      So 16 people of the editorial board of Angew. Chem. resigned – great! All of them are defending diversity and a supportive training environment – awesome! All of them white/asian, most of the men – coincident. Number of black people in their labs: 0 (combined, feel free to check their homepages). Ratio m/f across their labs – as expected… But their teams or so international and diverse!?! Yes, with all these perfectly trained free-of-charge international postdocs coming with their scholarships – certainly this is only due to the high interests of the PIs to support international scientists, nothing to do with free workforce. Working hours in most of these labs? At least 6 days a week, 12+ hours a day (maybe also group meeting on the weekend). But hey, they resigned from Angew., great, this will help! Give me a break!!

  18. Scripps PI says:

    oops.. that’s 15, the one that I misses is John Hartwig

    that is a tremendous brain drain and if they are to continue to exist as a viable journal, they have major mending to do

  19. woman in science says:

    Let me ask those who oppose this Hudlicky piece. A contrario reasoning would be that women and people of color are less smart than white or men and would not pass merit based bar against white or men? The problem is of course is that meritoriousness is not objective but based on perception and stereotypes. I think this is not Hudlicky problem, but the problem with scientific community and those who on top of it. Professors, including those who collectively condemn Hudlicky and Angew. Chemie are the ones who in charge and can change things. So far I’ve checked, I didn’t see much diversity in their groups, except for asian men who probably got there only based on how smart they are. How many women and people of color as faculty in those universities in science departments? I think these professors lined up so quickly to thrash this journal for damage control. I am a woman and a minority. We are not stupid.

    1. 50-something USA male PI says:

      My research group right now has 5 men and 4 women. Member #10 will make it 5:5, after visas again start to be issued from China. Nationalities include China, India, Brazil, one of the Baltic states, and the USA. I value diversity and it is no show.

      1. An says:

        Kudos to you, 50-something USA male PI. Did anyone actually checked Hudlický page? He has 7 women, 5 of them are people of color, out of 13. https://brocku.ca/tomas-hudlicky/group-members/
        Really racist person who hates women.
        US society is completely broken even among scientific community…what a shame.

        1. Hap says:

          I wonder how the editorial went over in his group, though. That doesn’t seem like the article I’d want to read from my advisor. Between the “submission” and the “diversity” stuff, it seems like a whole pile of ick just got thrown into the group meeting room.

          Actions are non-negligible, and having a diverse group should speak louder than his words – on the other hand, why the words? If the words seem so at odds with what he’s done, then maybe the article needed to be edited a little more or set on simmer for a while until it could be expressed in a manner consistent with his actions (and maybe throw in some evidence if what he wrote is in fact what he thought). Opinion pieces in big-name journals are going to be hard to disappear and so it’s really good to make sure what you say is what you mean and that your words won’t have any unintended consequences. That probably didn’t happen here.

  20. luysii says:

    Excellent female chemists are nothing new. Friend Kathy Schueller (later Richardson) was the equal of any of us back in 1960 when we started grad school. She and another entering grad student (Tom Lowry) later wrote the magisterial “Mechanism and Theory in Organic Chemistry”

    1. Land Grant Chem Prof says:

      Lowry and Richardson is one of my favorite textbooks ever. The discussions of acidity and of isotope effects are particularly masterful. It was joyfully assigned by my physical-organic professor in graduate school, who was a very strong supporter of the women in his research group, but who also made some incredibly tone-deaf statement in his day, similar to what we heard from Hudlicky (but not as strident).

  21. Name says:

    I just checked the Arnold group. N=1, but she just won a Nobel so i wanted to see what her group was like. Her group has a 10:1 male:female ratio. I did not include the PI and their lab admin. What would be the problem there?

  22. Uncle Al says:

    https://sci-hub.tw/downloads-ii/2020-06-05/1b/10.1002@anie.202006717.pdf
    … Page 4, “Diversity of work force.” “The rise and emphasis on hiring practices that suggest or even mandate equality in terms of absolute numbers of people in specific subgroups is counter-productive if it results in discrimination against the most meritorious candidates”

    What part of that isn’t empirically right on the mark? I’ve seen two-legged crap exiting “computer organic labs,” poseurs who cannot read a graduated scale, celebrations who pour from a gallon jug into a semi-micro test tube (and then some).

    The young recruit is silly — ‘e thinks o’ suicide.
    ‘E’s lost ‘is gutter-devil; ‘e ‘asn’t got ‘is pride;
    But day by day they kicks ‘im, which ‘elps ‘im on a bit,
    Till ‘e finds ‘isself one mornin’ with a full an’ proper kit.

    PI-supervision is hate language, and post-doc, and grad student. You could vent phosgene into a water aspirator…but chemical sinks don’t have elbows. Is somebody mowing the grass?

    1. AR says:

      A lot of your comments remind me of this https://youtu.be/_j9qAhXfNAU

    2. Fng says:

      Man Uncle Al, part of the reason I read the comments is if you will appear. Thank you.

  23. Azetidine says:

    The retraction is frankly, horrifying. The remedy for speech you don’t like is more speech, not less speech.

    1. Hap says:

      I think they wanted the problem to go away. The article can be found, so it doesn’t prevent people from reading it, and apparently there’s reference above to a rebuttal with actual evidence (instead of the lack of evidence in the original opinion piece), so people who disagree with the article are willing to deal with it. Getting rid of the editorial looks bad, but the bad faith falls on others (who “caused” the retraction by social pressure) rather than on ACIEE.

      I think ACIEE just wanted the problem off their lawn and out of Twitter, which I don’t think it did. The “review” of the article sort of suggests questions with their review process (as for the “synthesis” of hexacyclinol) which likely won’t be quick or easy to fix (if they want to). The question is if they want to (I would have thought so after hexacyclinol, which had a laundry list of problems but got through without much problem, and took seven years to die).

    2. Low-pass says:

      “The remedy for speech you don’t like is more speech, not less speech.”

      As a generalization, this is categorically false. The remedy for noise is filtering, not more noise. Speech that contributes nothing is, in fact, a jamming attack against existing channels of communication

      1. Trebitch says:

        Who, Whom.
        Vladymir Ilich Lenin.

      2. George Orwell says:

        Yes, filter indeed . Stalin “filtered” more than 20 million people. Chairman Mao filtered more than 30 million. Pol Pot filtered 2 million or more in only four years. All those who died were just noise to the revolution!

        1. BoredAgain says:

          They had unclean thoughts, and so were justly filtered. Those must have been examples of true social justice; who alive can object?

      3. FilterCoffee says:

        @Low-Pass- Indeed. The noise you’re creating needs to be filtered, too.

  24. ghost of q.mensch says:

    My Dear Derek:
    An alternate suggested title for this post might begin thusly: “Rumor has it he’s Not Woke Enough, so Its OK to trash his character…”

    It took a bit of searching just to find exactly what horrible things caused the Hudlicky opinion piece to be censored; I finally found the key offending passages quoted here in an unfamiliar blog with a Denmark domain country code : https://emilkirkegaard.dk/en/?p=8759

    “Diversity of work force. In the last two decades many groups and/or individuals have been designated with “preferential status”. This in spite of the fact that the percentage of women and minorities in academia and pharmaceutical industry has greatly increased. It follows that, in a social equilibrium, preferrential treatment of one group leads to disadvantages for another. New ideologies have appeared and influenced hiring practices, promotion, funding, and recognition of certain groups. Each candidate should have an equal opportunity to secure a position, regardless of personal identification/categorization. The rise and emphasis on hiring practices that suggest or even mandate equality in terms of absolute numbers of people in specific subgroups is counter-productive if it results in discrimination against the most meritorious candidates. Such practice affects the format of interviews and has led to the emergence of mandatory “training workshops” on gender equity, inclusion, diversity, and discrimination [Note 2]…”

    So, Hudlicky appears to basically be complaining about increasingly stringent “Equity, Diversity and Inclusion” hiring/recruiting quota rules by Canada, and likely US research funding agencies, that in his opinion, adversely impact the research function (applied organic-medicinal chemistry) of his area of work.

    His opinion essay in Angew. Chemie Intl Ed. expressed opposition to rigid, numerically explicit hiring (being de facto exclusionary, in his view) mandates and formulae. Very un-PC of him…but so what? Hardly a new topic or out of bounds of legitimate debate.

    Who knows why he picked that venue and time to air this opinion—perhaps it was during a simmering fit of pique after the umpteenth departmental or grant administrator’s annoying reminder regarding deadlines to meet unfulfilled inflexible requirements to fill at least four more FTEs by end of the month (during a COVID lockdown to boot?) with some rare designated minority individuals, or the funds will go away—unless Hudlicky jump through a lot more time-eating bureaucratic justification hoops. So, maybe the was a little hot under the collar when he fired off the op-ed—but that is what the journal editors’ job is to catch—beforehand.

    But in fairness to Hudlicky, why not we check the data on the history of his lab group makeup from the 1980’s-2000’s before we start dirtying him up as some kind of implied closet-nazi?
    Did he stack his lab with only white Aryan male post-docs and lab associates during the “free-wheeling” Pre-Woke Era?

    https://brocku.ca/tomas-hudlicky/group-members/#1538594379939-7318adae-0895

    Nope. The roster going back before 1980 reads like the UN membership; lots of Japanese names, Indians, Hispanics/Brazilians, Arabic sounding names, Chinese, Vietnamese, Russians, French(-Canadians?), Italians and Czechs.

    And probably 20-25% group members were female during that period.
    His current lab group picture shows ~50% female members.

    I never met Hudlicky but I have found his chemistry work interesting and useful. If I were him, I would feel righteously offended by the shoddy “cancel-culture” treatment he is receiving from Angew. Chemie, and others.

    1. albegadeep says:

      I’m really having trouble finding anything offensive in the passage quoted. He expressly “Each candidate should have an equal opportunity to secure a position, regardless of personal identification/categorization.” That’s Equal Opportunity in a nutshell. He was NOT saying that [insert category here] makes better scientists/researchers/postdocs, but in fact that candidates need to be considered on their qualifications without looking at race, gender, country of origin, etc. That’s not “preserving an existing order” of discrimination, but actually trying to treat everyone equally by hiring on merit alone.

      While it’s true that various minorities have historically had a “raw deal”, as Derek quite correctly put it, the solution isn’t to give “majorities” a raw deal now to compensate. And choice of employees is very much a zero-sum game – one position gets filled by one candidate, so if a minority (of any kind) is given preference, that hurts all other candidates.

  25. JM says:

    Thought experiment. Imagine marrying someone not out of love or admiration but because you felt a bit sorry for them and out of the kindness of your heart (or maybe a desire to be anti-racist or anti-whatever) decided you would do them a favor by marrying them. However well-intentioned you might believe this is, it can plant a seed of resentment.

    Why? Because you feel like you’ve done them a favor and expect them to feel just a little bit grateful.
    But on their end, they believe they were hired on *merit*. After all, who could ever accept the belief that they were a diversity hire?

    As with marriages, the truth comes out eventually when the hire detects a lack of admiration, which could very easily be interpreted as racism/sexism; even if the intent was to be anti-racist in the first place! Congratulations, now you have two unhappy faculty members and possibly an unhappy department as a reward for your good intentions.

    Is this consistent with: “The rise and emphasis on hiring practices that suggest or even mandate equality in terms of absolute numbers of people in specific subgroups is counter-productive if it results in discrimination against the most meritorious candidates”

    I would say so.

    Again, just a thought experiment.

  26. István Ujváry says:

    I enjoyed reading Derek’s ‘essay’ which is more balanced and thoughtful than the twitter comments I’ve read (except those from a few people who had actually worked in and graduated from TH’s lab).
    Regarding the sentence on the master and ‘apprentice’ (DO NOT distort to ‘slave’! Please consult your dictionary) relationship and meritocracy (what is wrong with that?):
    ‘The training and mentoring of new generations of professionals must be attended to by proper relationships of “masters and apprentices” without dilution of standards.’
    The terminology is from Michael Polanyi’s 1958-book (duly cited). The reader of Hudlicky’s essay is supposed to be either familiar with the relevant chapter or look it up for the details: “To learn by example is to submit to authority. You follow your master because you trust his manner of doing things even when you cannot analyse and account in detail for its effectiveness. By watching the master and emulating his efforts in the presence of his example, the apprentice unconsciously picks up the rules of the art, including those which are not explicitly known to the master himself. These hidden rules can be assimilated only by a person who surrenders himself to that extent uncritically to the imitation of another. A society which wants to preserve a fund of personal knowledge must submit to tradition.”
    Science is build on tradition and trust (importance of peer review!!) providing the foundation of any bold escape from the ‘tradition’ if and when it eventually becomes to a doctrine and enslaves not onl the investigator but society as well,

    1. Lambchops says:

      “By watching the master and emulating his efforts in the presence of his example, the apprentice unconsciously picks up the rules of the art, including those which are not explicitly known to the master himself.”

      If this is true most organic chemists miss out on key parts of their apprenticeship! We can soak in their approach to strategy, tactics, retrosynthesis and so on but as far as practical learning we’re left in the hands of other mere apprentices.

      Any PIs out there in favour of 1 day a week mandatory lab time to truly share the full extent of their mastery of the art?

      1. Land Grant Chem Prof says:

        I do more than that. And people who have hired my graduates LOVE them and want to hire more of them. Sadly, I also don’t have any grants to show for that effort.

  27. kriggy says:

    “expressing irritation about “preferential status” in chemistry for women and minorities, going on to statements about how this would necessarily diminish the prospects for, well, non-women and non-minorities, which pretty much leaves white guys.”

    This is where you are wrong in my opinion. As far as I know, he never mentions who the “preferential groups” are. It can just as easily be interpreted as it being “white males”

  28. KOH says:

    Interestingly, this retraction is being spun very differently by the Chinese Chemical Society. In their public condemnation of the paper they state “As an academic organization in chemical sciences in China, Chinese Chemical Society is completely opposed to such discrimination, especially the author’s opinionated judgements and slanders to the whole chemistry community in China.” There is a section of T.Hud’s short-lived opinion piece where he notes that Chinese-national chemists are now the main contributors to various chemistry journals (with data supporting this from Synlett and Synthesis). He also cites two articles from Science (2013, 342, 1035-1039 & 2013, 342, 1019; both of which were highlighted on this blog, I believe) that showcase how the current academic system in China is putting strong demands on quantity of publication at the expense of quality. The retraction of the paper, the public apology from Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., and the departure of so many editors is being spun as a direct response to this perceived afront “to the whole chemistry community in China”. Not so surprisingly, this particular nationalist interpretation has not shown up in the comments of this blog.

  29. Louis says:

    It’s a relatively simple flow chart (Although obviously I can’t draw one here, I can at least pick a point or two):

    There is overwhelming evidence from the study of history and the social sciences that there has been historical discrimination against women and people of colour (to pick just two). There is overwhelming evidence that this persists. Yes, it’s complex, and yes there are many interacting axes of oppression (e.g. class) that make analysis difficult. So that leaves us with a few options:

    1) If you deny or fail to engage with this body of work and yet pronounce on the topic, per Hudlicky, your ideas are so counterfactual they might as well be Flat Eartherism, or you are so lazy and incurious as to earn a decent modicum of contempt. Don’t have an opinion on something you know nothing about.

    You can, generally, be ignored. You’re not a scientist, whatever it says on your lab coat. You’re an ideologue with a flashy job title. Personally speaking, just put yourself directly in the bin and save everyone else the trouble.

    2) If you don’t deny the evidence, but disagree about precisely *how* to combat it, fine, that may or may not be something that can be discussed. A lot of the tools we have available to us are blunt instruments and, yes, are at least on the surface “unfair” to individuals. However, this is a population level intervention, not an individual level one. How things are done are at least interesting, and of course should be informed by the evidence available. Watch out for the contents of “Letter From A Birmingham Jail” though, MLK might just have been talking about you.

    3) If you don’t deny the evidence, but think that nothing should be done about it, join your colleague from 1) in the bin. You are either saying that the oppression is good or it is just. If good, it’s because you benefit and seek to deprive others of such benefit (per Hudlicky’s equilibrium), if just, it’s because (per Frank above) you’re simply a bigot. And a counterfactual bigot at that. The available evidence entirely disproves people like Frank’s ludicrous bigotry. Please don’t just get in the bin, set yourself on fire first.

    4) If you don’t deny the evidence, and think something should be done, then welcome! I don’t have the answers, no one does, but you (and I) can go a long way just listening to the people who’ve been on the wrong end of this oppression. It’s a starting point.

    ———-

    Like many topics certain groups of people find “controversial”, this one largely isn’t. The level at which we are told controversy exists is so shallow, so near to the lowest common denominator intellectually as to be a joke. Hudlicky’s article wasn’t just bad for ethical reasons (although it was that too), it was awful scholarship. Cranky tropes, no matter how well-intentioned, are not a substitute for well argued, well referenced study.

    ———-

    One final point: censorship.

    Hudlicky has not been censored. The appropriate response is to remove the article and censure those who published it. Why? Because, no matter what you *believe*, it was drivel. The science and scholarship in the relevant fields completely points in the opposite direction. Not because of ideology (although, of course, that exists everywhere) but because, over many decades the evidence has added up. Despite opposition, over-promotion, ideological tugs of war and all manner of messiness. I would expect the same if Angewandte started publishing climate change denial, or Flat Eartherism, or {cough} “interesting takes” on “the Jewish Question”. Denialism is denialism. It’s engaging with a topic in bad faith and regardless of who does it, regardless of the topic upon which it is done, it deserves no respect.

    Lastly, other people’s (and peoples’) humanity is not a “difference of opinion”.

    1. GM says:

      How could anyone with a modicum of scholarly integrity think that the right course of action is to outright “disappear” a published article???

      This is a scientific journal. There is a procedure to retract a published item — you add a retraction note attached to it while keeping the original text up — but there is no such thing as simply removing a published item from the record. This is totally against all the standards of scholarly publishing established over centuries.

      The biggest scandal here is that the article was removed, and if there was a serious reason for the whole editorial board to resign, it is that they allowed this to happen, not that they allowed the publication in the first place.

      Yet it is also the least commented on.

      Where does this end if it is going to become an established practice (this is the second time it has happened in the last couple years)?

      1. Louis says:

        1) It was an opinion piece, not a scientific article. Withdrawing is not correcting the scientific record in the same way a retraction of a piece of scientific work does. It’s not controversial. It’s not new science. It’s not something that should have been published in a prestigious scientific journal. It’s not a rare opinion that cannot be found elsewhere. I can heave a brick out of a window and hit a dozen bigots from here. They all say the same thing. Nothing is being lost.

        2) Your outrage that a piece of unreferenced, factually erroneous opinion, that argues for both the continuation of existing xenophobic discrimination and the subjugation of adult humans as effective indentured servants, was removed being greater than your outrage at the fact that such a thing was published clearly demonstrates your priorities. This is not a compliment.

        1. GM says:

          No distinction between “research” and “other stuff” is or has ever been made in the literature. If something is published, no matter what it is — a research article, a review, an opinion piece, an editorial, matters arising, corrigendum/erratum etc., it is a permanent part of the record and cannot be erased from it.

          I reiterate what I said — the biggest scandal here is that we are now normalizing this sort of Orwellian censorship and violation of the most basic norms of scholarly communication, and that very few people seem to even be aware of the problem.

          And yes, if “diversity” is what has brought us to this sorry state of affairs, then “diversity” is harmful and we are better off without it. Proper scholarship and the advancement of scientific knowledge are more important than “diversity”.

          But again, for people to be able to understand that they need to be actual scientists and scholars rather than ignorant partisan hacks who just happen to be employed in research…

  30. Stanislav Radl says:

    I know Tomas Hudlicky and I am sure he is a good human being with good reasoning. His family emigrated from communist Czechoslovakia and probably for this reason, he is so sensitive for hypocrisy.

    1. Nick K says:

      In general, people who have experienced Socialism first-hand, like Hudlicky, loathe it with a passion. Identity Politics is its latest manifestation.

  31. István Ujváry says:

    The comment I wrote this morning is lost. I tried to resend it but received a duplicate entry message.

    1. GM says:

      It probably wasn’t “lost”, it is simply censored. I wrote a lengthy one myself, it is still “awaiting moderation” even though other comments with a later time stamp have appeared.

      1. Derek Lowe says:

        Lengthy replies tend to include a lot of links, which means that the spam filter grabs them. There’s a “Pending” category that backs up with some of them, and an outright Spam category that I sometimes don’t even bother looking at, because it’s mostly full of robotic testimonials to herbal witch doctors. I rarely actually delete comments here, as a look at what makes it through will show. I’m going through the Pending and Spam folders now – too much actual work yesterday to do it – and yours will doubtless appear in a few minutes.

        1. GM says:

          Thanks for the clarification. I actually suspected it was someone else doing the moderating, not you.

          1. Derek Lowe says:

            Nope, there’s no one else back here behind the curtain but me.

  32. GM says:

    What happened is absolutely horrifying and what I see in the comments is doubly so.

    You cannot just disappear a published item. This is a gross violation of scholarly standards established over centuries. And please, do not come at me with the “”Wiley is a private company, they have the right to do whatever they want” crap. If you truly believe that this is true with respect to matters of scientific record, you should immediately resign from whatever scientific position you are currently holding and move to doing something else that has absolutely nothing to do with scholarly publication, for you are totally unfit to work in such a field.

    If you want to retract a paper, you retract it the way it is supposed to be done — with a retraction note explaining why you are doing that while keeping the text up. You never ever just erase it from the record.

    But the worst part is that I see some idiots in the comments arguing for abolishing tenure so that people who say politically incorrect things can be fired for doing so. Do you understand what you are doing here? Obviously not, but that makes it no less horrifying to see it openly called for.

    Or perhaps it is the second worst, the worst might in fact be the fact that all of the hypocrites calling for more “diversity” by preferentially hiring women and “minorities” at the direct expense of better qualified male candidates, are, by doing so, making sure that the disparities that exist will never be addressed.

    Because the more we obsess over skin color and the presence of ovaries, the less we talk about economics.

    The underrepresentation of “minorities” is not set up when they are applying for faculty positions. By that point there are indeed very few qualified such candidates, the best men for the job are indeed white men, and that is the objective truth. Why is that? Because candidates for faculty positions do not just appear by magic out of nothing, they develop over time, from the moment they were born. And school funding in the US is done at the local level while schools are strictly geographically segregated, which ensures that the rich (mostly white) suburbs have schools with orders of magnitude more resources than those in poor non-white regions (and, of course, those of the poor white regions too, but this we are never allowed to talk about). If you are truly serious about fixing this problem, you would abolish that system and invest equally in all schools so that educational outcomes converge. But we never talk about that. Which perhaps, possibly, may be, could have something to do with the fact that the most fierce advocates for “diversity” themselves live in those privileged rich suburbs, enjoy the benefits of having the educational opportunities denied to everyone else, and certainly do not want that to change…

    Why is it that women are falling out of the career climbing ladder without serious discrimination in favor of men? Because the academic system is a Ponzi scheme, in which competition is ever escalating, while also being an up-and-out system, in which you either make it a tenured professor or you are forced out. This naturally selects for those who have the most time to dedicate to the struggle for survival, and, as the process has considerably lengthened over time, that means those who don’t have to think about things like childbearing. And they are objectively the better candidates, because developing one’s expertise and qualifications is a cumulative process, in which time invested into it is the key variable. You want to change that? Fix the academic system by eliminating the up-and-out aspect of it and fix the overall exploitative nature of the US labor system where people have no sick pay, no maternity leave, etc. Are we talking about those things? No, we are talking about skin color, who has ovaries and how evil white men are…

    One more thing — Hudlicky is from a former communist country, and while the fact that he emigrated from Czechoslovakia, for which communism was a clear net negative (unlike the less developed prior to it places, for which it was a clear net positive), would suggest that he has little positive to say about it, it is worth noting that in the Eastern Bloc a gender parity of the scientific workforce was in fact achieved. Without anyone ever having to decry how evil white men are. And that is something that happens to be obvious in the statistics. Less obvious is that educational disparities determined by poverty and wealth were eliminated too. Look at the biographies of major scientists from that region, and you will notice that an unthinkable in the US proportion of them grew up in the countryside away from the main urban center and also in families without an academic background. The latter was achieved by giving equal educational opportunities to everyone from the very beginning, while gender parity was achieved by having a strong social safety that allowed people to pursue whatever they wanted without constant fear about the future, and by not constantly telling women that they need positive discrimination if they are to ever make it (thus implicitly drilling in their heads that they are inferior).

    But what are we talking about in the US again? Skin color and who has ovaries, all the while being in full support of predatory neoliberalism that is continuously exacerbating economic inequalities in the US and around the world.

    Disgusting hypocrisy at its finest…

    1. Charles H. says:

      Unfortunately, investing equally in the schools is not an answer. It merely ensures that ALL schools will be underfunded, and the wealthy will go to private schools. Additionally, a lot of the actual learning is determined by the home environment. When my wife was teaching (private music and art) she said she could easily tell which students had a mother staying at home and which had a working mother by the quality of the student. This isn’t conclusive, because she also knew by close personal contact, but it’s indicative. FWIW, when I was growing up I am certain that much of the reason I studied was because the family, especially my mother, required it of me.

      So do you want equality at the cost of eliminating the differences between families? That would be required. (And, of course, it still wouldn’t suffice.)

      Equality is an excellent goal, and all formal and social barriers to it being achieved should be removed. But to enforce it would be worse. It’s much more important to concentrate on removing the external barriers. This is, itself, so difficult that I don’t see how we could justly do it, but it’s important to try.

      Note that even trying leads directly into a quagmire of conflicting interests. To pick one popular example, “Is it proper to require a baker to bake a wedding cake for a couple he disapproves of?”. I don’t think a just answer is really possible. Well, if he’s the only baker in town perhaps the answer should be “if he wants to stay in business”, but if there are multiple bakers it’s a lot less clear.

      OTOH, one clear answer is that anyone enjoying a government monopoly or subsidy should be required to avoid all (legally recognized) discrimination. But not the parenthetical waffle.

    2. anon says:

      “…fix the overall exploitative nature of the US labor system where people have no sick pay, no maternity leave, etc. Are we talking about those things? No,”

      —-
      Yes, in the USA we are talking about those things on a daily basis, the only exception being those folks in the Fox (Faux) News bubble. You apparently didn’t listen to any of the Dem POTUS candidates. Granted, Biden was maybe the least focused on such things, but giving the American worker a fair deal was front and center every time that Sanders and Warren ever uttered a word.

    3. Lambchops says:

      What do you mean we are never allowed to talk about “poor white areas” or inequalities based on access to the best schools and so on.

      There are entire documentaries on the subject – here’s one off the top of me head, focus is on politics rather than science, but it’s hardly a subject that is ignored: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tF7OJhG7J84

      Thinking about certain examples of inequality (or having certain aspects protected by legislation and others not, for example in the UK Equality act, where gender would be protected and class not) doesn’t suddenly shut down thinking about the other examples.

  33. Tourettes of Chemistry says:

    Just reminded of this interview:

    The interesting thing is watching how horrible chemists are to each other. Chemists are the meanest of the scientists – they’re so tough on each other, like they are on themselves. That’s a sign of being a great scientist, being overly critical. But if you are overly critical to everyone else it doesn’t really do the discipline any good … Chemistry is a powerful central science and it shouldn’t have an image problem, but we’re all self-conscious now.

    Polly Arnold, UCB-LBL

  34. Eugene says:

    What is diversity? That seems to have become the a hard question to answer. I see comments addressing gender, race and ethnicity each in turn or in combination. It seems to have multiple dimensions. In order to obtain a meritocracy and diversity will institutions have to check all the right boxes to get that perfect combination? Finding a candidate with drive and talent in a field of Science who has the politically correct combination of gender, race and ethnicity may become problematic. Maybe some tools should be applied, much like randomized, double blind clinical trials to the selection criteria.

  35. Aniket Naik says:

    Dr. Lowe, you write wonderfully and i have been following your blog since a long time, and i have appreciate your to the point and easy to understand writing, this is very useful for many people like me thanks for all the effort and hard work put into the blog.
    What i do not understand from above post is paper is being withdrawn because of said scientists political or non scientific positions. I find that absolutely ridiculous. Why should his non scientific views matter to a scientific journal is what i do not understand.

    Anyways i think science and politics would never mix together.

    Thanks for the post.

    1. Scripps PI says:

      “What i do not understand from above post is paper is being withdrawn because of said scientists political or non scientific positions. I find that absolutely ridiculous. Why should his non scientific views matter to a scientific journal is what i do not understand.”


      Simply put, it was not a research paper at all. No data, all opinion, and it was opinion that often focused specifically on political or non scientific positions, in an indelicate, ham-handed way,. It was without support from (or even mentioning) a multitude of studies that gauged the value of diversity, the benefits of work/life balance, and that would clarify some of the weird assertions about Asian scientists.

      It was as if Tucker Carlson gave a chemistry op-ed. Biased, but also very sloppy and unsupported.

      1. chemist says:

        Tucker Carlson would rip you up in a debate. Most ivory tower academics like you are catastrophically misinformed on political issues.

        1. Scripps PI says:

          I would imagine that Tucker would indeed be challenging, since he is a TV personality that debates issues every single day, usually from a truly fact-deprived position. As to your ivory tower comment, I certainly detect more of an elitist attitude from you than I would ever hold dear. I have worked 3rd shift in a factory, have milked cows by hand, have stacked hay in the barn after baling it, have paid for my own education, and I will always offer the woman emptying my recycling bin in my office at 5:45 every day the same respect that I give to a visiting CEO.

          1. sMaCkEd DoWn!! says:

            User (((chemist))) has left the chat

  36. Andrew Molitor says:

    Oh no! White people might have to work extra hard to get ahead! When I was a lad, we wouldn’t have worried a jot about any of this. We all thought we were the emperors of all creation, and that no matter the barriers, our excellence and dedication would triumph.

    I gotta say, some of the commenters above don’t seem to share that attitude. It is as if they are unsure of their own abilities, and imagine that they might not after all rise above if they need to be a little better than their female, or brown, peers.

    Stop being such weenies. Go do the work. Excel. The devil take the hindmost.

  37. Frank says:

    Derek removed my post. I guess the truth hurts

    1. Science Matters says:

      Wow, if that’s true, you must have said some pretty disgusting things, given some of the other trash that remains visible. Congratulations, you win at some combination of bigotry and ignorance!

  38. An Old Chemist says:

    From Chemical & Engineering News (06-09-2020):

    Essay criticizing efforts to increase diversity in organic synthesis deleted after backlash from chemists

    https://cen.acs.org/research-integrity/ethics/Essay-criticizing-efforts-increase-diversity-in-organic-synthesis-deleted-after-backlash-from-chemists/98/web/2020/06

    1. Scripps PI says:

      Professor Collum has always been more than a little “out there” in his non-chemistry perspectives

      1. anon says:

        His racist comments at his talks were definitely “out there.”

    2. George Orwell says:

      Another professor speaking out against the State. Does he not know the damage he does to Our Cause? These thought crimes must not go unpunished. We must immediately contact our Comrades in the Ministry of Truth and have is publications rectified. Expunging his record is Our duty now. Long live the Revolution.

  39. Frank says:

    Define “out there”? I know Professor Collum personally, and once again a majority of you are afraid to speak the truth. At least, he has the guts to say what we all are thinking.

    1. Derek Freyberg says:

      ” At least, he has the guts to say what we all are thinking”.
      Speak for yourself – I for one was not thinking that the man pushed to the ground by the Buffalo police “was feeble”, “needed to give the cops some space”, “his cracked skull … was self-inflicted”, to quote Professor Collum.

  40. White plight says:

    You minorities don’t know how hard it is to be white. How could you? Imagine living in a world where all your accomplishments are discredited just because you are white! You have to work harder than everyone else just to still get less. Try to put yourselves in our shoes some day

  41. ovariesANDbrains says:

    I think the real story here is that the author is criticizing the policies of his country and is being taken down for it. EDI activity is part of research excellence in Canada today. Being an active supporter of EDI in Canada translates into funding for research. If he is silenced, he is silenced by the Government through individuals who are trying to get points for EDI activity. This is ideological cleansing in disguise. Protecting his right to say what he wants is essential. Ridicule it, distance yourself from it, ignore it, but don’t silence it, don’t say this opinion has no place – ‘Wherever they burn books, they will end up burning people’.

  42. Neutral says:

    “The rise and emphasis on hiring practices that suggest or even mandate equality in terms of absolute numbers of people in specific subgroups is counter-productive if it results in discrimination against the most meritorious candidates”

    What part of this is not logically correct? You are all debasing yourselves by subordinating your critical thinking to woke pieties.

    1. Anonymous says:

      “If it results in discrimination against the most meritorious candidates” is the issue. This isn’t a logical argument since it’s nothing more than a hypothetical scenario that does not get further investigated. Are “more meritorious” candidates really passed over for roles? That’s a yes or no question. What does merit even mean for hiring, grant approval, manuscript acceptance, etc? It’s not a quantifiable factor.

      “Increased funding for the arts is bad if it leads to more people getting into graffiti and defacing public spaces” is a likewise absurd argument for cutting funding the arts I just made up that hinges upon a hypothetical scenario. Regardless of what you think of the arts, what I wrote is an inane thought to have. Just like assuming diverse candidates are stealing places of more qualified candidates.

  43. Cynical1 says:

    I completely disagree. I was a white male working as a non-PhD. I know how hard it was working against a bias based on degree level but in my case I was white and a male. I was never ignorant of the fact that, as a non-PhD, that I had two cards in my pack that a similar woman or minority did not hold.

  44. Marko says:

    Richard Horton of The Lancet railing against “corruption, collusion, and criminality “. Rich. Good satire , too :

    https://twitter.com/richardhorton1/status/1270473958094225408

    1. WhoCares says:

      You mean after the recent LancetGate incident he still has the balls to be satirical? Seriously?

  45. RA says:

    Not a chemist, but from an outsider’s perspective, Hudlicky’s paper (and many of the comments here) seem like the epic rant of a grumpy old man…mad at women and minorities, mad at having to attend diversity and inclusion workshops, mad at China, mad at the younger generation, mad at journals. Nostalgia for the good old days. The only thing missing from the paper were clarion calls to “Get off my lawn” and “Make Synthesis Great Again!”

    I think it is interesting how the section immediately after the one bemoaning diversity is the one portraying Chinese chemistry as generally fraudulent. I don’t know the chemistry world particulars, but in college admissions, there is often the dynamic where certain people will simultaneously use meritocratic arguments against consideration of diversity for underrepresented minority groups, but then abandon those arguments when justifying the practice of holding overrepresented minorities (i.e. Asian Americans now, in the past Jewish-Americans) to a higher standard for admission than the majority group. In the end, it’s self-serving tribalism, not a consistent nor coherent meritocratic argument.

    I think it is highly ironic that the paper bemoans a lack of rigor in science and publishing, but contains a ton of assertions without any evidence, especially with regard to the diversity issue.

    I also find it highly ironic that some commenters are comparing the backlash to the paper to communism/suppression of free speech. Was there a governmental entity that made the paper disappear? It was private entities acting in what they saw to be their self-interest that removed the paper…if you have a problem with the paper being removed, blame it on capitalism, not communism. And by the way, Chairman Mao had Tenure!

    1. ghost of q.mensch says:

      I would appreciate it if you could be able to furnish an active link to the full Hudlicky opinion piece . All i have been able to locate through the google so far are partial excerpts or the opinions of others about the piece.

      I would like to read the full length original (How many words in length was the piece?) for myself. Many Thanks!

      1. Frank says:

        Email psychoticdreamz80@yahoo.com and I’ll send you a copy

  46. Anonymous Mathematician says:

    I wonder how many talented people interested in science will choose a different career *because* of all this social justice developments that now in many cases clearly override the former status quo, which is something that to a significant degree made the competition worthwhile in the first place. If you are a honest person who wants to participate in and contribute to science, but the current examples show you that you basically will not be able to do that unless you also navigate around lots of BS and mostly keep your opinions and concerns to yourself, then it may well seem to be not worth it altogether. It seems that none of the numerous people whose careers suddenly ended in such a controversy themselves acted in bad faith or could have expected it to happen. They just did what they thought they were supposed to do, and yet unintended controversy may well be all they will be remembered for. Who would knowingly invest themselves into anything so difficult and unpredictable if it is also unappreciated as well to such an extent?

    1. Frustrated says:

      I completely agree with you. This cancel culture is incredibly destructive with the current trend to twist words around to have a meaning far worse than they actually are. Suppose on the off chance, they do mean what they state, then write a paper to oppose it, don’t lynch a person who is an expert in their field and have them fired. This is not the dark ages people!! I’m terrified my children will receive an inadequate education in light of what’s presently unfolding.

    2. Louis says:

      How many people have chosen a different career because of the LACK of “social justice developments” in the past and present?

      I see these people didn’t factor into your consideration. I wonder why.

  47. A Concerned Chemistry says:

    Sigh, eventually we will have to come to a reckoning in our conversations about diversity. The problem I see is that diversity is while no one (reasonable) doubts the benefits of diversity, no one really wants to talk about the pitfalls either. The fact that diversity is often (literally) only skin-deep. The fact that there is no universal standard for what it even means to “take diversity into account”. The fact that often times, organizations with very diverse hiring/admissions processes do not have diverse workforces, because they haven’t fixed the bigger problem of having a toxic, non-inclusive culture. The fact that mandatory diversity workshops for adults are just insulting and useless. These are hard-questions about diversity that are not talked about, because anyone who does anything other than nod their head when someone brings up how WONDERFUL diversity is, is immediately shot-down.

    Poorly stated, poorly timed, poorly conceived opinions like Hudlicky’s ultimately do damage to his own side of the argument. His piece was much more offensive and poorly conceived than even James Damore’s Google memo if you ask me. I am stuck between trying to defend Hudlicky for being willing to have this unpopular discussion, and attacking Hudlicky for having done so in such an idiotic way he’s ultimately done nothing but hurt his own ideas.

    Regardless, eventually we will need to have this discussion, and perhaps an even deeper discussion about the deep flaws with meritocracy in our society.

  48. PB says:

    The offensive language: “Each candidate should have an equal opportunity to secure a position, regardless of personal identification/categorization.”

    It sounds good but it is terribly insensitive. I’m glad we can comment on such racism and denounce others who need to be reeducated.

    Thanks for calling him out on Twitter. This is how we make a better world.
    .

  49. NMH says:

    I’m pretty tired of getting all these e-mails from deans in my university saying that they are against racism. I don’t doubt it, and being against racism is a good thing, but I imagine most of them thought this before the recent incidents in the news. I guess that have to wave the politically correct flag or else they will be accused of be racist and lose the their high-paying administrative job.

    Interestingly, one of the deans I got an email from had a paper retracted for fraud recently. The sense I got from the report on this fraud was that it occurred because he was not minding the store in his lab (paying no attention to the charges in the lab generating the data, just nodding his head in lab meetings, as long as it was positive results). To me, fraud occurring in academic labs is a far more serious thing to pay attention to than trying to prove you are not a racist to avois the Twitter mob. So this seems like misdirected academic BS to me, while serious problems (reproducibility of academic science) will not get fixed. My conclusion is that reproducibility of the literature is far less important than proving you are not a racist in academia deans.

  50. Nucri says:

    Derek,

    you are writing “The example is often brought up – as it should be – of what German science did to itself during the Nazi era, deliberately driving away an extraordinary array of intellectual talent.
    That’s an extreme example, but you can do the same thing more slowly and quietly by only allowing the “right” sorts of people access to what they need to develop their talents.
    There’s all sorts of room to argue about the most effective ways to address this situation – which has been going on for a long, long time and will not be fixed quickly –
    but starting off by decrying the current efforts to deal with th”
    I agree with this statement.

    Hudlicky’s article writes in the criticized article (link on this page, look for sci-hub)
    “It follows that, in a
    social equilibrium, preferrential treatment of one group leads to disadvantages for another. New
    ideologies have appeared and influenced hiring practices, promotion, funding, and recognition of
    certain groups. Each candidate should have an equal opportunity to secure a position, regardless
    of personal identification/categorization.”

    Honestly, I feel that your criticism is highly bigoted.

    You, personally, in this very blog article, are helping to suppress a call for equal opportunity.

    You are just as guilty of “only allowing the “right” sorts of people access to what they need to develop their talents”.
    Not every Nazi was gassing people himself.

    Don’t forget that the Nazis started their persecution against Jewish doctors by a call for fairness and equal participation – for German Doctors!
    Yes, Germany started the first campaigns against Jewish doctors under the guise of diversity, because at that Jewish physicians were statistically overrepresented.
    [Wikipedia: Nobel Prizes have been awarded to over 900 individuals, of whom at least 20% were Jews although the Jewish population comprises less than 0.2% of the world’s population].
    I don’t think you would argue that this is because they “forced many of them unwillingly into those second ranks because the first ranks were closed off”.

    I am sure you would not call the high number of Jewish physcians a conspiracy against ethnic Germans, and I am sure you would not have supported the call for Diversity by the Nazis,
    but yet your argument against equal opportunity is sadly reminiscent of the ways the Nazis proceeded.

    Already many young and aspiring scientists have their careers terminated early because of their wrong sex or skin color.
    I left Academia myself (despite having a tenured position), because it has become a hostile environment against against white males, especially with a working class background.
    I have sat in too many committees where a reduction of the number of white males was openly called for to continue supporting this system.

    Many working class men and boys, who would have turned to science in the past, have silently started to drop out, because they feel not welcome. Articles like yours are part of this problem

    I have been at many science fairs where the ratio of girls to boys was approaching a factor of ten in favor of the girls.

    By defending this practice, you, Derek, are guilty of “deliberately driving away an extraordinary array of intellectual talent”.

  51. GM says:

    “Many working class men and boys, who would have turned to science in the past, have silently started to drop out, because they feel not welcome”

    Excellent point.

    I am from a dirt poor working class background myself, so it seems that either I am better capable of seeing through the hypocrisy or I lack the years of social conditioning that train you to keep your mouth shut.

    The reality that I see is that the true purpose behind the whole “diversity” charade is to preserve the economic privileges of the upper middle class. Part of that is creating jobs for those members of it that graduated from the various “studies” programs and who therefore have no meaningful employment prospects (because they have no useful skills whatsoever) other than policing other people’s speech (which necessitates the creation of positions that do that policing, which in turn necessitates finding a moral justification for such policing). Another part is to filter the undesirables out, and creating a complex behavioral code that you yourself have been trained to follow, unlike the undesirables (i.e. those from working and lower middle class backgrounds), is a very good way to achieve that.

    This also goes hand in hand with the broader trend in society, which has been one of wealth being for many decades now continuously transferred from the 90% to the 1%, with some of it being handed out to the 9% for managing and facilitating the process.

    Which is why poor kids, of all colors, have no chance of making it to the top ranks of academia — they are sentenced to going to crappy underfunded schools that exclude them from that trajectory long before the point in one’s career path that hiring decisions are made by university departments. But to address that problem and provide equal educational opportunities would require reversing the wealth transfer processes that are making economic inequality worse and worse.

    And that is not in the interest of the members neither of the 1% nor the 9%, who are the most vocal supporters of “diversity”.

    Extreme, revolting disgusting, hypocrisy….

    1. Nucri says:

      Very well said!

      We live in a new feudal system. The 1% are the new nobility. Academics have become the new clergy. They gets sinecures in return for supporting the system.

      ‘Diversity’ is nothing but the ennui of the privileged class + their fight against the unwashed masses.

      Antifa goons are the knights and vassals that support the system when violence is needed.

    2. ghost of q.mensch says:

      @ GM 11:47am:

      RE:” I am from a dirt poor working class background myself, so it seems that either I am better capable of seeing through the hypocrisy or I lack the years of social conditioning that train you to keep your mouth shut.”

      If you see “Hudlicky’s bio” (google and try to find a copy before the Internet Ministry of Truth scrubs them all) you would realize he had a similarly underprivileged background, immigrating from Czech. at the age of 9yr., and struggling his way up, from schlepping solvents in a process lab, thru multiple institutions and academic positions to top reseaarh chair, accomplishing 272 scientific publications and scores of patents/continuations (check his Brock U publications page before Winston Smith wipes that too)

      “Tomas Hudlicky was born in 1949 in Prague, Czechoslovakia, where he received his
      elementary and middle school education. After several years of working as a process
      chemist apprentice and in other odd jobs in pharmaceutical chemistry, it became apparent
      that higher education opportunities were closed to him. In 1968, he emigrated to the U.S.
      with his parents and sister. Hudlicky’s educational experience continued at Blacksburg
      High School, from which he dropped out in the spring of 1969. Accepted as a probational
      student at Virginia Tech the following autumn, he received his B.S. in chemistry in 1973,
      and went on to pursue graduate studies at Rice University under the direction of Professor
      Ernest Wenkert in the field of indole alkaloid total synthesis, earning his Ph.D. in 1977.
      He then spent a year at the University of Geneva working under the late Professor
      Wolfgang Oppolzer on the synthesis of isocomene. In 1978, he joined the faculty at the
      Illinois Institute of Technology as an Assistant Professor, and began the first phase of his
      research career in the field of general methods of synthesis for triquinane terpenes and
      other natural products containing five-membered rings by [4+1] cyclopentene, pyrroline,
      and dihydrofuran annulation methodologies. He returned to his alma mater, Virginia
      Tech, in 1982, and rose to the rank of Professor in 1988. One year later, at the 20-year
      class reunion of the Blacksburg High School class of 1969, he received his High School
      Diploma. The next phase of his research involved the investigation of ciscyclohexadienediols in enantioselective synthesis. In 1995, he moved to University of
      Florida in Gainesville. In 2003, Dr. Hudlicky accepted an offer from Brock University
      where he currently holds a position as Canada Research Chair.”

      http://komppasymposium.aalto.fi/Speakers/Hudlicky/Tomas%20Hudlicky%20CV.pdf

      1. ghost of q.mensch says:

        Edit: …immigrating from Czech. at the age of 19 yr….

  52. Call me by your name says:

    This is so funny to see comments of those who support the paper and Angew. chemie condemnation, for so called “social justice”. How do you think commie got in power in Russia? Those who in favor of killings and labor camps say yay or nay. It is very interesting to see so many analogies between US today and Russia 100 years ago. A weak president/tsar (Trump/Nikolay II), a rapid economic growth because of technological advancements (Russia GDP grew very rapidly around 1910s) and not because of political reforms that led to exacerbated inequality between different social/ethnic groups (proletariat vs bourgeoisie in Russia, black vs. white in US). It was all followed by a World war I/ Covid-19. There were roughly two groups that supported social equality, radicals and moderates. The difference between them was not much in the final goal, but in the methods they used to get there. Moderates wanted a political reform, radicals wanted a revolution and to destroy the current state (‘defund police’, ‘abolish police’). Radicals not only used terror, but also smear attacks, physical and public harassment, condemnation in pamphlets and papers (twitter, facebook). One of the first people they attacked were moderates. It is so funny, the terminology and graphical images of smear attacks are the same as 100 years ago. History doesn’t teach us anything, we step on the same rakes over and over.

    1. GM says:

      “How do you think commie got in power in Russia? ”

      This has nothing to do with the communists, please do not make faulty analogies.

      “Social justice” is a purely bourgeois phenomenon, and its the most disgusting and hypocritical kind of bourgeois too.

      The communists did in fact achieve true equality without ever obsessing over it too much. All they had to do was to eliminate rent extraction and thus extreme wealth inequality, to invest heavily in schools everywhere around the USSR, and to avoid feminism of the western kind as the plague.

      The end result was a society in which women (there wasn’t really such a thing as “minorities” in the western sense of the term) were about equally represented in all the occupations that modern feminists obsess over in the West, even though nobody even knew what “feminism” was or gave it much thought.

    2. Nucri says:

      Ho Chi Minh said something along the lines of ‘the only reason to enter a coalition is to break it’.

      Social justice is using the same tactics, they are not arguing in good faith and will turn against their supporters at the first opportunity. They pretend to be in favor of vague policies that no one would disagree with (like fairness), only to bring out an iron fist once they are in power.

      The moderate people who fall for this don’t realize is that they are just tools.
      They are not prepared and organized enough to defend themselves against the radicals. The moderates will be the first to end up in the GULag.

      A sad historical fact: When the Soviet Union took control of Eastern Europe after WW2, the first people to be shot were the independent heads of the local resistance movements.
      These people were dangerous, they had a lot of credibility with the population and had demonstrated moral integrity during Nazi times.
      They were all replaced by personnel trained at Comintern schools in the Soviet Union.

      Many real Nazis and profiteers on the other hand were allowed to stay and rise through the ranks of the new communist society. No one makes for a better party soldier than a compromised opportunist.

  53. PB says:

    The current social justice approach is definitely related to a Marxist analysis of society. Some BLM leaders can be directly traced to that school of thinking and are self declared marxists. In their world, everything is about the obtaining of power and wielding it for the benefit of your group. Economic or racial.

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