Oh the humanity

of achieving the pinnacle of professional success, yet still yearning for more status. We’re referring to this tweet by @FedericoArdila (of the harmful and dangerous “everyone can do math” meme):

Later in that thread: “So in fact putting my math lectures on YouTube contributed to gender inequality in mathematics. Uncomfortable? Yes.” So: a lot more men voluntarily choose to view his videos than women. Oh, the humanity! (There is also the obligatory side-swipe at AMR.)

Now Ardila is an accomplished mathematician, so we have trouble believing that he drinks his own Kool-Aid. (Is he perhaps one of these “based” woke twitter LARPers that @razibkhan wrote about?) Naturally, there’s no talk of any concrete, status- and wealth-sacrificing steps he might take to reduce inequality — such as leaving the academia to “get out the way” for more Pipers.

To experience cognitive dissonance on a hallucinatory level, read Ardilla’s survey on matroids, based on his invited ICM’22 talk. Definitely based, not buying any of that woke crap.

Calling out @SciAm to do right by a woman of color

We’re done dunking on Scientific American; the fish in that barrel have all gone belly up long ago. However, when they stumbled into the AMS/AMR controversy (with all the grace and nuance of a mastodon in a quantum optics lab), they managed to crash into a couple of PTT pet themes. In particular, our favorite woke math twitterata was interviewed. We’re just going to pass along this comment seen on social media:

— giving it our full PTT endorsement. (For reference: penis pedestal; normal distribution.)

We expect our allies and foes alike to join forces in calling out @SciAm to stop exploiting this woman’s unpaid labor. Time to finally do right by (restorative? retributive? distributive?) justice.

All right, some context

on the previous post. Apparently, AMS somehow got word that PTT is displeased with its blogs and immediately decided to shut them down. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth on WMT (woke math twitter), you know the usual suspects. This tweet stood out:

(in case it gets deleted, the text reads: “Wow the AMR’s demands are already being met and they’ve only been a thing for like two months”). Can someone please point us to AMR’s full list of demands? They didn’t send us one and we’re having trouble locating it on the web.

Oh, and some free PTT advice for the Woke Math Twitter folx: why not channel all that anger into something more productive — such as, y’know, starting your own math organization, where you can woke out to your hearts’ content?

David Cole has the annoying

tendency of being dead right:

To condense the Charlottesville civil case, the plaintiffs argued that the Unite the Right organizers had conspired to create a violent, racially targeting environment. And before the plaintiffs won the case and took every penny the organizers ever made or ever will make, the defendants had already been bankrupted merely by the cost of having to defend themselves.

[…]

Now, get this: On June 3, 2020, in the aftermath of the BLM looting and riots that ravaged Beverly Hills and the Jewish Fairfax District, the L.A. Times ran a piece in which the head of BLM-L.A. bragged that the group had “deliberately descended” on L.A.’s white and Jewish areas in order to put “pain” in the “faces” of the residents. The BLM leader unapologetically admitted that the violent “unrest” was planned “by design” with a racial target.

That one article contains more evidence to prevail civilly under the Charlottesville standard than anything presented by the Charlottesville plaintiffs. And imagine what additional material could be garnered during discovery and via depositions if a civil suit were initiated. And remember—these lawsuits often bankrupt defendants whether they’re successful or not. It’s all about forcing your foes into mounting a costly defense.

But too many of you would rather share Breitbart pieces about BLM leaders’ multimillion-dollar homes than try to actually penalize those monsters and take their homes for the harm they’ve caused.

(He can also be genuinely annoying. Also, he’s a master of zingers: “Not so fun when your cosplay becomes reality, huh? Like furries cornered by an actual grizzly bear.”)

Cole is making two important, substantive points, which must be mainstreamed and amplified on the Right:

  1. Rightists who think they can wall themselves off from the Left in a “conservative cocoon” are perilously mistaken. Cole provides compelling evidence for the complete failure of this strategy. We don’t know if his indictment of the conservative failure to recall Gascon is factually correct, but it’s certainly tactically correct. We might add that given the Left’s inherentely totalitarian nature, they will take to any oasis of Rightism with particular zeal, should one arise. Sorry, @roddreher: your Benedict Option is aesthetically pleasing in theory but doomed in practice.
  2. Cole’s suggestion to sue BLM organizers for damages is brilliant — especially given the precedent and confessions documented in his piece. Any outcome of such a lawsuit would be a win for the Right: a victory would bankrupt the thugs, while a loss (in stark contrast with the Charlottesville civil suit outcome) would serve to mobilize the base.

When they came for Charles Murray

I piled on, because virtue signaling is more thrilling than wading through data. But when they came for math itself…

Despite our past (and present) disagreements with Boaz Barak, we are heartened to see him among the drafters of the Open Letter on K-12 Math. This is not to let him and some of the signatories off the hook: you had a hand in creating this monster.

Already Woke Math Twitter is decrying this letter as “racist drivel”. You can get an idea of the actors there from our Suvorov posts, but we’ll refrain from naming names since some of these people suffer from mental illness, and make no secret of it. To adapt a Tevye-ism, there is no shame in having mental illness, but no great honor, either.

To anyone surprised by the ferocity of the pushback at this anodyne letter: this isn’t complicated. Unqualified people are lured in with the cruel false promise that everyone can do math at an equal level of ability. When their lying eyes inevitably reveal otherwise, resentment sets in. They’ll turn on those who “discover absolute truths” (the 2+2=5ers are safe), but also on mathematics itself.

In any event, we commend the efforts of the letter drafters and signers, and wish them the best of luck in winning this. No idea how this particular battle will play out, but it’ll take a lot more to win the war.

Humanizing math

We didn’t bother to dig deep enough to figure out how the “Park City Mathematics Institute” (PCMI) is connected to the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS), but the IAS website hosts PCMI and advertises PCMI’s workshops. Among the offerings is “Rehumanizing Mathematics“, led by the notorious Rochelle GutiĂ©rrez, of the “Algebra, geometry perpetuate white privilege” fame.

We are going to steal a post on Richard Feynman from the futilitycloset blog. From the post:

In 1966 a Swedish encyclopedia publisher requested a photograph of Richard Feynman “beating a drum” to give “a human approach to a presentation of the difficult matter that theoretical physics represents.”

And Feynman’s response:

Dear Sir,

The fact that I beat a drum has nothing to do with the fact that I do theoretical physics. Theoretical physics is a human endeavor, one of the higher developments of human beings, and the perpetual desire to prove that people who do it are human by showing that they do other things that a few other human beings do (like playing bongo drums) is insulting to me.

I am human enough to tell you to go to hell.

Yours,

RPF

We should all be taking cue from this brilliant man and telling the “humanizers” to go to hell. But Feynman lived in happier times.

Civilizational gallows humor

Here is an example of vintage gallows humor. It happens to be Jewish humor, because, well, history. Anyway, two Jews are being dragged away by the thug regime du jour, with the obvious endgame in sight. One is resisting and demanding his rights. The other one whispers to him, “Shh Chaim — you’ll get us in trouble”.

It would behoove those who avoid speaking out for fear of “getting in trouble” to consider that they might already be in a world of trouble. (No, nobody is getting literally dragged away. Yet.)

And here is some recent gallows humor, on a societal scale: “Instead Of Traditional Warfare, Chinese Military Will Now Be Trained To Shout Wrong Pronouns At American Troops”. On a recent comment thread, commenter “Bourbaki is alive” found our concerns about societal collapse “so overblown that it’s almost cute”. Well, when on the very day China successfully tests a hypersonic missile, the State Department finds nothing more urgent to tweet about than “pronoun day” — yeah, I’d say the humor cuts pretty damn close to home. The Bee had anticipated the event by about half a year, btw, once again illustrating reality’s uncanny tendency to outpace satire. Oh, and physical bridges are literally collapsing. Still overblown for you?

There are stories, some surely apocryphal, some perhaps not, about particularly witty jokesters being spared execution due the exceptional quality of their gallows humor. I wouldn’t count on ChiComs to have mercy, or a sense of humor. How about putting some dudes to work on a missile?

Judea Pearl discovers PTT’s A/B Jews

Judea Pearl is a very famous computer scientist, also known for a horrific family tragedy. In a recent piece in moment magazine, he channels an old insight of PTT:

Sadly, half of American Jewry seems to have given up on [Israel] and is starting to see Israel as a liability as opposed to an inspiration.

I predict American Jewry will soon undergo a profound, painful and irreparable split. I cannot think of another period in Jewish history where the schism was so deep, and growing deeper so rapidly. I see the split in every aspect of life and on many levels. Zionist families who have lost a member to Jewish Voices for Peace cease to function as a family. The split is even deeper in academia. The animosity between Jewish professors who support BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) and those who fight for the good name of Israel has reached frightful intensity. On the surface, most of our faculty and students are still sitting on the fence, true, but the polarization is growing; the Zionist group is becoming more assertive and is closing ranks rapidly, while the Zionophobic group is becoming louder, more organized and more aggressive.

Pearl deservedly commands a much wider audience than yours truly, and we very much hope his message gets heard.