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Showing posts from March, 2017

An annual note to all the (NSF) haters

It's that time of year again: students have recently been notified about whether they received the prestigious NSF Graduate Student Research Fellowship. Known in the STEM community as "The NSF," the fellowship provides a student with three years of graduate school tuition and stipend, with the latter typically 5-10% above the standard institutional support for first- and second-year students. It's a sweet deal, and a real accellerant for young students to get their research career humming along smoothly because they don't need to restrict themselves to only advisors who have funding: the students fund themselves!
This is also the time of year that many a white dude executes what I call the "academic soccer flop." It looks kinda like this:


It typically sounds like this: "Congrats! Of course it's easier for you to win the NSF because you're, you know, the right demographic." Or worse: "She only won because she's Hispanic."…

This week in the freedom to discriminate

Race has no biological basis. Race is assigned based on biological features (hair, skin, etc), but biological features do not uniquely map to a race. Academics know this. Or at least they should. However, if you are an academic who believes in race, and would like to use this belief to promote the notion that white people are superior, you can make a living off of it. 
Enter Charles Murray, the author of the racist and scientifically debunked text, Bell Curve. He was recently invited to speak at Middlebury College, and despite espousing nonsense, his place on the stage at an institution of higher learning was justified under "the freedom of speech." If Murray were there to tell his story of UFO sightings, describe his theory of a flat Earth, or to discuss his attempts to interbreed various types of unicorns, this defense would not be available to him. But because he has staked his career on dabbling in America's age-old dark art of racecraft, and because his ideas add a…