Skepticism

Skepchick Quickies, 5.28

Jen

Jen is a writer and web designer/developer in Columbus, Ohio. She spends too much time on Twitter at @antiheroine.

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11 Comments

  1. I might keep a bit of skepticism handy, JRice, just in case. That there interview you linked to is from the Dartmouth Review, the training ground for the likes of Dinesh D’Souza. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.

  2. While I did notice the source of the article, and I of course don’t know the whole story of what truly happened, I’ll admit I sided with the “psycho” opinion – basically because of the ideas about science she put forth. I’ve run into these ideas before, when I was a philosophy minor and heard quite a bit about science as a social construct. I didn’t agree with it then, and I still don’t. Sometimes society does play a role in determining what is scientifically accepted by the community at large, and I do think the contributions of women to science have not been as appreciated or encouraged as they should have been. But to say that, as a result, science is irrelevant, or that the scientific method itself is useless, simply doesn’t make any sense. I said as much when I was a student being told that in class, and I see absolutely no problem in this professor’s students doing the same.

  3. I’ve run into these ideas before, when I was a philosophy minor and heard quite a bit about science as a social construct. I didn’t agree with it then, and I still don’t.

    And apparently Dr. Venkatesan may agree with you.

    I’ll admit she seems kinda kooky by the very fact that she was suing her students for discrimination. But I’d be surprised if she’s half as nuts as the Review and the WSJ want you to think.

  4. Thanks for the extra info, Aaron – I agree that it’s a murky situation. By default, my sympathy is with the students. If Dr. Venkatesan has a better argument than the ones being attributed to her now, let’s hope a trusted source reports it.

  5. Wow! The postmodernist “professor” story sounds like a real-life version of Wendy Wasserstein’s last play, “Third.” It’s an absolutely fabulous play, by the way, if you ever have a chance to go see it. The world lost a great talent when Wasserstein died. From what little I know about her, I think she would have been well described as a “Skepchick.”

    Oh, and did the start of the female DNA sequence match that found in a man’s rib-bone? ‘Cause it should, you know! ;)

  6. Dunno who Nicole Smith is, but the platypus genome is pretty weird (most fitting with its evolutionary history and background–The platypus got sequenced earlier because women aren’t genetic and evolutionary freaks), and, well, male humans are similar enough to female humans to answer the sorts of questions posed by our evolution (we don’t, for example, possess wildly disparate dimorphisms like some animals I could name).

    But once started, it’s pretty much inevitable that more and more individuals will be sequenced, if for no other reason than this (genomic sequencing) has proved more illuminating than, I think, anyone expected.

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