This week, Scientific American, once a rigorous scientific publication, published an opinion column by several young scientists known for their campaign to call a “scientific strike” against racism following the death of George Floyd. The authors advocate changing the name of the James Webb Space Telescope because Webb, a former NASA administrator, was administrator when the federal government did not adequately respect LGBTQ rights. Webb is not incriminated as a racist or bigot, but as a servant of bigots. So who do the authors suggest that the telescope be named for? If encouraging diversity is the issue, perhaps it should be named the Vera Rubin Space Telescope, after the deceased astronomer who in the 1960s and ’70s provided some of the first compelling evidence of dark matter in our galaxy. Or perhaps the Jocelyn Bell Burnell Space Telescope, after the astrophysicist who, as a graduate student, help discover the first pulsars in 1967 and who some claim was overlooked when the Nobel Prize was awarded to her supervisor. Instead, the proposal is to rename the telescope the Harriet Tubman Space Telescope. Why? Not because Tubman might have made any contributions to astronomy, but because she was a conductor on the Underground Railroad that helped free black slaves in the South, during which she “likely used the North Star” to navigate to freedom.Lawrence M. Krauss, “Science Goes Rogue” at Quillette
It’s hard to see how all that Virtue will help young members of minority groups today make their way in science, as opposed to creating window dressing jobs for Wokesters. But maybe the window dressing jobs are the point of this sort of exercise.
See also: Larry Krauss returns as a free speech warrior.