Without the usual nuttery. As Ross Pomeroy tells it, Feynman was a jerk where women are concerned, except when he regarded them as colleagues.
Ashutosh Jogalekar, who penned the article at Scientific American, described having a similar reaction to Feynman’s “casual sexism,” which also manifested in more than just social arenas. But, he noted, though some of his actions are “disturbing and even offensive” when viewed from the socially-evolved lens of today, “they were probably no different than the attitudes of a male-dominated American society in the giddy postwar years.” Thus, Jogalekar reasoned, we should not condemn Feynman wholly as a sexist.
Actually, in a lot of places, a guy who behaved that way was viewed as a jerk in those days too. And if he offended the sisters of veterans, he could end up in the ER. Some did.
But it all sounds, to some of us at least, like a reasonable discussion we can have. Who knows about/remembers life in North America in the early to mid twentieth century? How acceptable do we think Feynman’s described behaviour would have been? Where? When? Why? To what extent?
At least back then, people were rarely nuts, as some must be at Scientific American today:
Ashutosh Jogalekar’s Feynman article appeared last Friday. The next day, it was taken down, and Jogalekar was abruptly excused from Scientific American‘s blog network. (The article has since been reposted “in the interest of openness and transparency.”)
Scientific American editor Curtis Brainard offered an explanation for the dismissal earlier this week. He said that some of Jogalekar’s posts lacked clarity, which made them insensitive to “valid concerns that many readers have about past and existing biases and prejudices in our society.”
Yada yada yuck.
“A scientific topic cannot be declared off limits or whitewashed because its findings can be socially or politically controversial,” Jogalekar sagely wrote in one of his pieces.
Apparently, Scientific American disagrees. And in their politically correct world where feelings come before facts, that means you lose your job.
Grab a numbered ticket from the machine, Jog. Big world out there. You’ll be okay.
We suggest people remember this when they hear Scientific American’s bold advocacy of the multiverse and Darwinian evolution.
See also: Forrest Mims, previous PC dump-ee, comments.
Follow UD News at Twitter!