10 hours, more than 100 cat-calls

Via HuffPo

Street harassment disproportionately impacts women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and young people. Although the degree to which Shoshana gets harassed is shocking — the reality is that the harassment that people of color and LGBTQ individuals face is oftentimes more severe and more likely to escalate into violence. These forms of harassment are not just sexist — but also racist and homophobic in nature.

At last a really big blow to creationism

From the Pope

The theories of evolution and the Big Bang are real and God is not “a magician with a magic wand”, Pope Francis has declared.

Speaking at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the Pope made comments which experts said put an end to the “pseudo theories” of creationism and intelligent design that some argue were encouraged by his predecessor, Benedict XVI.

Francis explained that both scientific theories were not incompatible with the existence of a creator – arguing instead that they “require it”.

“When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so,” Francis said.

He added: “He created human beings and let them develop according to the internal laws that he gave to each one so they would reach their fulfilment.

Thanks to Montchiloff and kukla on Facebook.

What would you have done?

Imagine the scene:

You are at a very formal dinner that a foundation has organized to present its medal of honor to a very distinguished scientist.  You are also sitting next to a quite distinguished scientist, X, on your left.  And on X’s left is a young woman who, as it turns out, is in Chemistry at a quite good university.  And you, mistakenly taking the situation for a reasonably friendly one, mention the NSF Advance program for advancing women in science.  The conversation then goes:

She:  my university has one.

Me:  o, do you interact with it much.

She:  no, I think the best thing to do is for women to ignore any discrimination.  I really don’t think we should be creating special clubs for women.  That’s what creates the problems.

Me:  but universities are full of special clubs for men.

Distinguished scientist:  well, that used to be so.  In the 1970’s.

She:  anecdotes about her social skills.

Me:  Look, this really isn’t about personal anecdotes.  One just has to look at the statistics.  The last time I looked the percentage of female full professors in physics was 4%

She:  Well, maybe they just didn’t want to become full professors.


This was not in fact the end of the encounter.  I felt flummoxed,  however.  Do tell me, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE?  We were not just having a tete a tete; I had to lean over X to speak to her.  And I basically gave up.

Somehow we fairly quickly turned to philosophy and the distinguished scientist had read about Colorado, so we moved on to easier topics.


Who has a right to self-defense?

From Mother Jones:

One Friday last May, the sun had not yet risen when a SWAT team ignited a flash-bang grenade outside Marvin Guy’s apartment in Killeen, Texas. Officers were trying to climb in through a window when Guy, who had a criminal record and was suspected of possessing cocaine, opened fire. Four officers were hit; one of them was killed.

Five months earlier, 100 miles away, a SWAT officer was shot during a predawn no-knock raid on another house. In that case, too, police threw a flash-bang grenade and tried to enter the residence. Henry “Hank” Magee, according to his attorney, grabbed his gun to protect himself and his pregnant girlfriend. “As soon as the door was kicked in, he shot at the people coming through the door,” says his attorney, Dick DeGuerin. With his legally owned semi-automatic .308 rifle, Magee killed one of the officers.

The cases are remarkably similar, except for one thing: Guy is black, Magee white. And while Magee was found to have acted in self-defense, prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Guy. He remains in jail while he awaits trial.

Claudia Rankine’s “Citizen” reviewed in the New Yorker: quote added

[My iPad refused to quote from the review, but the MAC air was happy to, so I’m sharing a bit.]

“Citizen: an American Lyric” has been short-listed for the National Book Award, and it is recently reviewed in the New Yorker. It is, the review says, especially important in this time, where injustices occur while the illusion of justice is perfected. One could hardly say the society she experiences is post-racial.

The poet Claudia Rankine’s new volume, her fifth, is “Citizen: An American Lyric” (Graywolf), a book-length poem about race and the imagination. Rankine has called it an attempt to “pull the lyric back into its realities.” Those realities include the acts of everyday racism—remarks, glances, implied judgments—that flourish in an environment where more explicit acts of discrimination have been outlawed. “Citizen,” which has been short-listed for the National Book Award, suggests that a contemporary “American lyric” is a weave of artfully juxtaposed intensities, a quarrel within form about form.

The review points out that its genre is hard to pin down. It reminded me startingly of the blog, What is it like to be a woman in philosophy.  One might, of course, worry about what is not explicit about killing an unarmed young black man, but we can get their meaning.

Another word for what Rankine is exposing is “microagressions.” Readers might find the following blog interesting:

PLUS IT COSTS $5 for the Kindle edition.

Discussion dynamics and gender

Fascinating article.

When women were outnumbered by men in groups deciding by majority rule, women received a high proportion of negative interruptions from men. Conversely, when women’s numbers grew, men’s behavior toward women changed – they became much more likely to interrupt with positive expressions of support – a cue that audience is actively engaged in what the speaker has to say.


Men and women who held the floor for a greater percentage of the group’s conversation were dramatically more likely to later be identified by their fellow group members as the “most influential” group participant. Similarly, those who received more positive interruptions from their fellow group members were also more likely to be seen as influential.

On ‘Women as Moral Beings’

I received multiple emails excitedly drawing my attention to the discussion on PEA Soup of Amy Baehr’s comment on Zona Vallance’s ahead-its-time essay, “Women as Moral Beings” (Int’l Journal of Ethics, 1902), and of the original article itself. I was a bit swamped and put off going to it before today, and I see it has not yet received any comments. The paper by Amy Baehr is free and only four pages, so let’s take this opportunity to read Ethics for free and to celebrate a discussion of women’s work in philosophy!  Go comment at PEA Soup.

Open thread: supporting victims of sexual harassment

Some high profile cases of sexual harassment in philosophy have been in the news again recently. But as unfortunate and upsetting as those cases are, part of grappling with philosophy’s sexual harassment problem is realizing that it isn’t isolated to one or two bad cases or one or two bad actors. There are a lot of bad cases. And there are a lot of victims. Some of these victims have asked for an open thread here where we can publicly express support for victims and where we can talk about ways – both public and private – to help people in our profession who have been sexually harassed. This is an open thread for that purpose.

Comments are going to be heavily moderated. This thread is for expressions of support, and for ideas about how we can help victims. That’s it. If you want to talk about due process or hypothetical situations involving false accusations, that’s fine – those conversations are important. But they’re not going to happen here.