How science journalism “adjusts” findings to fit political agenda

2012/11/04 § Leave a comment

Open letter to Ms. Bojs:

I appreciate your article mentioned above since this has been my field of research and expertise. I continue to follow the current development in genetics very closely. Thank you for a well written article.

However, I respectfully like to raise one major point of objection. You claim that “there are no human races”. I understand Sweden and swedish politics well enough to know that this is a common view amongst social scientists and it is the predominant political view in Sweden. However, there are aspects of the general concept that are useful and I would maintain, are needed in life science. And this is also emphasized in the study by McVean.

On the other hand, nowehere can I find any mention of the impact on the concept of race the way you describe it in your article in McVean’s report? It appears implied in the article on DN but I think not rightfully so. To the contrary. As you mention in your article “Sådana sällsynta variationer är i hög grad knutna till särskilda platser på jorden,  visar den nya studien.” (Translation: Such rare [genetic] variations are connected to certain places in the world to a high degree).

It is exactly this variation that we mean, when we talk about the definition of race. Genetic variation that is clustered in distinct patterns around the globe.

It is, as the authors of the 1000 genomes project point out, of medical relevance too. This would not be relevant as a consequence or a finding of the 1000 genomes project if the concept of race was flawed. Genes do cluster in distinct geographic patterns due to evolutionary laws. The outcome is what we call race in biology. We could use another term, but I think we should not only do so because of a political agenda. I reject the idea to let political ideology dictate the language of science.

The definition of race is an expansion on the concept of the (family) group that becomes geographically separated and takes well established natural laws into account, such as the hardy-weinberg principle of genetic drift. It hence is a valid concept and an important one too.

I understand the political sensitivity connected to the issue of race. However, I personally doubt that it is a good idea to make statements about scientific topics driven by a political agenda.

Certainly the term race is- or rather has been- poorly defined for quite some time. However such findings as the ones described in your article help improve the definition. However, in medical treatment of, for instance, diabetes type II patience it is of crucial importance to take race in to account. Recent research has revealed many areas of major differences of individuals with different phenotypes that go far beyond the skin deep differences. Especially the newest revelation, e.g. that the so called junk DNA contains the blueprint for the regulation of complex expression patterns, calls for caution. Apparently minute differences carry major medical relevance- which is in the same vein as the finding of McVean et al.

The dogma, that has long been held, that the differences in the human sequences between different populations are too small to make a real difference in terms of phenotype have long been revised by researchers that dissect the complex regulation of genetic expression. It has become evident that minute differences between sequence patterns can have major implications for the overall expression patter.

This is before even going into the details about modifications of the DNA due to epigenetic regulation, that vary heavily within geographically separated (race) groups.

My point simply is that the concept of race- although it may need some minor revision and an adjusted modern definition- is not merely useful as a category when studying human genetics. Medically speaking it is a crucial aspect to be taken into account if one wants to develop the optimal treatment for various racial groups of people.

Why do I care? I am a proponent of freedom, also freedom from oppression of the sciences due to political agendas. We all know too well from examples such as the Nazi regime what happens when we let political agenda dictate what the findings of science should look like.

Especially natural science must be free from ideology. Natural sciences must explain how the world functions in its inner workings, it must not explain it in a watered down narrative for people with certain ideological sensitivities to being able to accept it. The consequences of the findings are not to be anticipated by science and manipulated in an attempt to prevent potentially negative consequences.

The consequences of each finding are a challenge to society, but one that society has to tackle, not science or individual scientist.

I strongly believe, neither should journalists try to shelter the public from findings or twist “words” in order to make the current science be pleasant to the current political ideology. This is what I found disappointing about your article because to me it looks like that is what you- maybe not intentionally- were doing.

This is not to say that in social sciences you are free to deal with this term “race” or the concept or its implications as you please. As a matter of fact, I believe it should be a challenge accepted by social sciences to deal, explain and come to terms with the findings of natural sciences, that challenge conventional wisdom of social sciences. Unfortunately I do not see social sciences accept that challenge on a grant scale. Rather they reject findings or try to narrate them in a different way to “make them fit” their preconceived point of view.

Certainly racism must have no basis in modern society in any form or shape under any circumstances ever. Of course people must not in any conceivable way be discriminated against on the basis of their biological make-up.

This is a challenge still to most societies, I admit. However, this is not to be solved by denying the existence of terms that are useful to biology. I fear that by merely denying differences we do not cause less discrimination but more in the end. In my opinion, we must learn to live and embrace differences, even celebrate them! not deny them.

Kind regards.

For more background please check:

1000 Genomes project

1000 genomes the study on SPON in German

DN article on the subject

Swedes pay 25% less tax than Germans!

2011/02/20 § Leave a comment

Time an again you can hear the Swedes talk about their high taxes. And if you are aware of the issue you will find this myth repeated even in foreign media.

In Germany for instance, where they repeatedly talk of the large Swedish tax burden. This notion is so utterly and bizarrely wrong that one wonders what happened with simply checking the facts. But journalists today can obviously only copy and paste from Wikipedia, and even that only within tight limits.

The truths is that in Sweden the overall tax burden on wages and income is so low that it leaves an average earning person with approximately 25% more income after tax as compared to Germany!

Example:

The average income in Germany is 42535 Euro (data 2010), or per month 3544.58 EUR. Today this equals 31039.20 SEK.

After tax this gives the German employee 2141.50 EUR (18752.70 SEK).

The Swedish employee would after paying taxes keep a staggering 23282 SEK or 2658.73 EUR! A mind-boggling difference of 24.2% !!!

Please, keep that in mind next time someone mindlessly repeats what has so wrongfully been said too many times. If you compare income you cannot compare the actual income tax being paid, but you must also consider what is covered by the tax.

In Sweden, contrary to for example Germany, the tax includes health-care, social security, and pension. All this has to be paid extra in Germany. Hence you can look forward to a nice pension and yet have the money to save some extra for the retirement time.

This is a great advantage when you are younger which often means that wages are not that high yet. But even putting middle aged or older individuals in a better situation than in Germany. Yes, you got it good in Sweden…

Peak-oil: The End of Society as we know it

2011/02/06 § 1 Comment

Startling how the media works. I do not believe (contrary to some) that the topic of peak oil is suppressed actively by the media outlets that surround us, I think our journalists and reporters merely suck. They are writers, not thinkers or experts, and usually they have not learned anything but writing. Hence who would expect them to inform us about anything of real relevance to our life’s when all that counts are readers, listeners and viewers ratings.

Ultimately the fault therefore of course lies on the part of the audience. It does feel as if most americans are more interested in the superbowl than the pressing economical and ecological issues that surround them. Also many europeans apparently rather indulge in song-contests and sport events than the most pressing issues we will have to encounter during our life time’s.

It frustrates me to see that it is apparently more important to many if a player named Torres changes from one football club to another , or what fancy new sporting events are going on than if society as we know it will have a chance to continue. I do not mean to be alarmist, however, peak-oil is arguably the single most important incident for our generation, and it will change the life’s of generations to come. We could prevent the worst if we were willing to see. But the issue seems to be too complex and intangible for most.

Well, there is hope. Bizarrely it stems simply from the fact that people care about their economy more than anything else. Luckily, peak-oil is going to affect people’s economy rather dramatically by increasing prices on all goods, especially food. Let’s just hope that a change of attitude does not come to late. This rant ultimately is an appeal, that change for once should stem from reason rather than egoism. But maybe that is too much to expect from human kind? We will have to wait and see, I am afraid.

For more info on this feel free to read the articles I have written on the topic over the yeas:


UPDATE:

Pretty much as predicted by the peak-oil models, a world after peak-oil will experience a bumpy ride between economic crisis and recovery.

The actual reason for prices to react so erratic is the fact that in a recovering economic situation after peak-oil we produce already close at maximal capacity. Every small decrease in production hits through in full on the price since there is no reserve production capacity. This is really 101 of demand and supply curves…


PREVIOUS POPULAR POSTS ON THE TOPIC OF ENERGY:

Article on peak-oil in German and many links in English
Article on peak oil and interesting videos (English)
Natural gas resource about to end
Arctic oil is no rescue
Oil industry manager admits correctness of peak-oil idea
Problems for aviation due to peak-oil
How ignorance repeatedly causes problems

Global warming broken down into simple concepts

2011/01/15 § 2 Comments

Recently I wrote about the fact that 97% of expert climatologists (i.e. actively publishing climate scientist) participating in a survey by Doran and Zimmerman agree with the notion that global warming is happening and that humans play an important role in it. However, a large number of people in the general public remain strongly skeptical about it (42% do not think that global warming is a man made phenomenon). Not few reject the concept completely. The reasons for this vary, but I want to attempt to break the seemingly complicated issue down into some basic concepts that are easy to grasp (Eos, Vol. 90, No. 3, 20. Januar 2009).

CO2: The climate factor

Already in the 19th century the Swedish chemist Arrhenius developed the theory that CO2 is an important aspect for explaining the earth’s climate and for the green-house effect, as he called it. Since then the theory has been confirmed repeatedly and it is being recognized that CO2 is one of the most important factors in explaining past climate.

From geological records we know today that in the past climate changes may have repeatedly been caused by changes in the sun’s activity and intensity, or volcanic activity. CO2 apparently always acted as a feedback factor. A warming period was followed by an increase of the atmospheric CO2, which enhanced the warming further.

While the CO2 can act as a positive feedback factor (i.e. a warming factor) of global temperature when being released by natural factors, it has been recognized as having the same effect if released by human activity. And why shouldn’t it?

The climate does not care where the CO2 comes from, it simply reacts to it because the CO2 stops some of the heat coming to the earth’s surface from the sun, from escaping back into the cold space of the universe. Hence the name greenhouse, because it acts similar to the glas of a greenhouse. Hence CO2 can not only act as a positive feedback to natural temperature variations, it can also warm the planet as a reaction to humans releasing it.

How a little bit of CO2 can make all the difference

Some have a hard time understanding that the seemingly tiny amounts of CO2 in our atmosphere can have such pronounced effects. However, in chemistry we know of many examples where little amounts of a chemical have highly noticeable effects. Think of this: if you were to swallow 40 nanogram of botulinum toxin, one of the most poisonous natural substance on the planet, you most likely die. In comparison, a single small sand grain weighs in average 4000 times more. This is a lot of bang for a little bit of almost nothing!

Also think of this counter-intuitive example: the catalyst in your car manages to convert 90% of noxious gases from the combustion into less harmful gases in milliseconds! It does so with only 2 grams of platinum on the surface of the catalyst. The platinum is not destroyed in the process, hence it can do its job constantly during its lifetime for millions of cubic meters of gas.

In chemistry the absolute amount of substances alone is not sufficient to predict the outcome of a reaction. Therefore, our subjective feeling if something will have an effect or not, or how much, most certainly is a bad advisor in predicting chemical reaction outcomes. That is why the science of chemistry exists. If we could judge by our feeling there was no need for it. In the case of CO2 we can claim with confidence that its role is well established and understood as a potent regulator of the earth’s climate.

Past climate as predictor for today

Using different techniques (sediments, trees, ice cores and so on) scientists from different fields have arrived at similar conclusions, i.e. that past climates have been much warmer or much colder at times than todays climate. In some warm times the seas back then must have been teeming with live. BTW, do not equate “teeming with life” as being good conditions for humans!

Interestingly, our oil came into existence because much of the teeming life ended up dead on the sea floor. They had absorbed CO2 and let it sediment when they died. The sedimentations of huge amounts of plant and animal life cleared the atmosphere of large amounts of CO2. Because the dead organisms took the CO2 with them to their grave, the planet could cool down. The simplified equation is: much CO2 equals warm times, little CO2 produces cold times.

If we can accept that science has understood the effect of CO2 correctly for past periods (and everything points in that direction), we must also accept that this effect will act on today’s climate. Therefore: If we put back the CO2 from oil that was produced because of a warm time- as we do today- we therefore recreate the situation that existed back then, i.e. we warm the planet back up. Basically we recreate the situation that existed back then.

As most scientists think, earth back then was an unpleasant place for humans to be.

How we know it really is the CO2‘s fault

As I mentioned above, other factors such as volcanoes, sun activity and others do influence climate. However, it will interest you to learn that climatologist, geologist, astronomers and many other scientists have collaborated to investigate these possibilities. One after another has been ruled out.

Sun activity is actually at a low point right now. In fact, 2005 saw the lowest solar activity in the sun’s 11 year activity cycles, however, 2005 was the warmest year on the 130 year old record (2010 now tied with 2005 as the warmest year). Scientists agree that the sun has played a role in the warming of the past century, however, they also agree that the data shows that CO2 is the main factor since the 1980s.

Aerosols and volcanic activity are actually thought to have a net cooling effect on the global atmosphere. The amount of CO2 from volcanic activity is thought to not be large enough to cause warming because it is counteracted by soot (ash) and sulfate aerosols. In fact, scientists have found that global warming is currently masked by what they termed global dimming! That means, global warming would be even stronger, were it not for pollutants volcanoes and also human activity put in the air, that actually cool the climate (check the video linked above).

Consequences for the planet

What is important to understand is, that obviously life goes on, if it is warm or cold- not necessarily human life though. Because, we know from studying the past that strong changes in the climate have influence what type of life walks the planet. Strong changes often lead to species disappearing and other developing filling niches that occurred when other animals died off.

More extrem weather phenomenas may be a result of global warming, and a quick change between extremely warm years and relatively cooler years. Scientists found strong evidence that climate has what they call tipping points, i.e. points at which negative or positive feedback mechanisms stop the climate from changing very fast. When these tipping points are passed, the feedback breaks down and extremely rapid changes occur, that many creatures and critters would not be able to adapt to that quickly.

This is the case because many plants are adapted to well defined conditions, if they die so do the animals depending on them and so do the animals depending on the animals depending… and so on. You get the picture. In the seas the picture was apparently most dramatic, because warming can lead to large parts of the oceans being rendered unable to support larger organisms because they cary less oxygen when warm.

The problem with warming

The reason why so many people think we should not cause climate changes seem to be mostly two:

1) We do know that our planet does support our life now, but we could run risk that it does not so in the future. For instance could food production suffer severe consequences. Much of the water for farming comes from rivers that are fed by glaciers. If glaciers melt rivers could run low on water or even dry, making efficient farming close to impossible in many regions of the world- if not all.

2) The social consequences are probably even more devastating, when people have to move away from rising water, starvation or desertification for instance.

On a personal note, I am convinced that the effects of global warming and climate change will be extreme and possible dramatic for mankind. However, I don’t mind what you stance is on the consequences. I do not even mind if you personally think that we ought to do nothing about it. I don’t care much for half hearted political acts either.

I just care about the science behind it. The science behind it is solid and clear: global warming is happening and it is human made. This is why 97% of climatologists and the majority of other scientists agree with this statement.

Additional Info: This report from the national academies may interest you

UPDATES:

Whether versus climate
A recent article in DN.se emphasizes again, that observing local weather is not representative for the global climate. Last year was one of the coldest in decades in Sweden but the warmest globally for as long as we note temperatures!

Climate danger for civilisation?
A recent article suggests that climate may be a major factor in the rise and demise of civilisations. For instance the romans. Additionally, extreme weather phenomena may become more frequent.

Deniers: In a rather fruitless discussion in the forum below I encountered a typical denier, i.e. a person who does not understand the first thing about the science behind global warming but is eager to disregard any scientific argument. Apparently without ever following one of the provided literature. Contrary to people who I know who are approaching this subject scientifically and who read even the craziest pseudo-scientific attempts to attack the solid science of global warming, these individuals make no effort to ever read anything thoroughly that could contradict their paranoia ridden conspiracy constructs. (–> How to talk to a denier

Interestingly this denier mentioned a so-called Dr. Klaus-Martin Schulte (who is not a real doctor, i.e. a scientist, but just a clinician) who claimed that there is no consensus about climate change and global warming. This text was so preposterous that I can really not have it posted here. It is intellectual turd: Teeming with nonlogical arguments, quite likely purposely false claims and lies, or at the least scientific incorrectness based in ignorance and incompetence. However, you are free to google it for yourself of course. It is being rebuked and rebutted perfectly here:

Dr. Klaus-Martin Schulte rebutted and rebuked
Extensive argument against Morano, Monckton, Schulte, Fergusson et al

What the ozone-layer and global warming have in common

2011/01/08 § 5 Comments

Remember the 80s? Let me refresh your memory: towards the end of the 70s scientists found evidence that there was a huge problem with a component of our atmosphere, namely the Ozone layer. Ozone is a chemical substance that consists of three oxygen atoms and acts as a UV filter, protecting plants and animal life, but also bacteria and other microorganisms from too much damaging, because highly energetic, UV rays.

Initially people doubted the findings, because scientist said that humans were to blame. Certain chemicals that at the time were used in many different products were to blame, in accordance to the scientists. Mostly known to the public was their usage in sprays, such as deodorants, hairspray and the like. Many could not imagine that a few people using sprays could cause our atmosphere damage. Nevertheless, within 10 years politicians the world over managed to pass laws that dammed these chemicals.

In fact, I remember very well that on my travels in Australia in the 90s people strongly rejected the notion that the hole-in-the-ozone-layer, as it became to be called, had anything to do with human activity. People did believe that it was there, alright, but this was probably going on due to natural mechanisms we poorly understood. They thought that it was an entirely natural process. Sounds familiar? To me it does. The same arguments are applied today when it comes to global warming and climate change.

A recent press release about a study on the ozone layer- that is constantly being observed- reveals that the ozone layer is recovering. One may take that as the strongest evidence to date that scientist were right to transfer the results of their computer models to reality and caution all of us to change our behavior.

Fast forward, today I am struggling in discussions with the same argument: it has all been here all along and will not harm us. First off: I am not an eco-nutter who prays “ecologism”. I do not adhere to the new religion of ecological correctness and I could not care less if you fly a lot, drive a hummer or buy your produce from the remotest regions of the world. All I care about is to defend science where necessary. And in this matter I find it necessary.

The science behind the claim that the undisputed fact of climate change and an overall warming of the planet has a strong foundation in human behavior is solid. Solid enough for more than 97% of climatologists who recently participated in a scientific questionnaire to agree with the notion that humans are to a large part to blame for the changes we see. How come that so many “average Joes” struggle to believe the science facts?

As one scientist put it: “the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely nonexistent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes.

This is of course frustrating for me as a scientist. It is, however, far from being the only of first time that the public has a totally skewed view on something that is of no debate amongst the individuals who understand the topic best. Most of us do not argue with our physician about the right treatment for our sore throat, or with our car technician about how to put on the tyre of our car.

Interestingly, when it comes to things that are much more complex and complicated than that we think that, because we do not entirely grasp the issue, no one can. This is the crux, because some indeed can. Some spend all their work days on a topic that eludes most of us, and they get a good grasp on what is going on. Why are some of us so extremely resilient to trust the experts in this case?

Certainly, an important factor is a recent tendency to see conspiracies everywhere. I am startled and stunned by the fact that so many can imagine a gigantic global conspiracy more easily than a global ecological problem. Sad to see that this trait of our society or people today damages so much of good science and inhibits so many useful or even crucial developments.

The purest form of alternative, holistic and natural medicine

2011/01/07 § 5 Comments

A recent article about Vaccination and its proclaimed risks has again caused much debate. There are some things I never understand about people who are against vaccination. I think they have misunderstood:

Vaccination follows the homeopathic “law of similar”, i.e. to heal something with a remedy that is similar to the ill itself and therefore can cause similar (if milder) symptoms. Of course, in reality homeopathy does no such thing, however, vaccination sure does. It takes something from nature, parts of a virus or bacterium for instance, and applies it to a person in order to help that person help itself. What a wonderful and natural way of preventing disease!

Vaccination strengthens the body to fight off disease itself, so no drugs will ever have to be administered. What a wonderful and natural way of treating people. The best part is, that it makes “healing” unnecessary, since disease does not even occur anymore. This is a truly alternative way of dealing with disease!

Child_with_Smallpox_Bangladesh (Source: Wikipedia, smallpox)

Child_with_Smallpox_Bangladesh (Source: Wikipedia, smallpox)

Additionally, vaccination follows the idea of holistic treatment which is so popular amongst the proponents of alternative treatments. It helps the WHOLE body to fight of a bug, instead of treating a symptom, which is such a taboo amongst “alternative health practitioners”. Vaccination is a truly holistic method to fight disease!

Contrary to common believe, vaccination is one of the true success stories of medicine. Using vaccination the smallpox, a terrible disease, hardly anyone today has experienced, has been eradicated! And in 2010 another disease, the Rinderpest has also been eradicated! What a great success!

If it were not for people being ill-informed about this wonderful treatment other diseases would have joined the list of eradicated diseases. Think about it, no other alternative medicine than vaccination has ever managed to get rid of a disease once and for all! And the best part is, that the side-effects are truly minor. Modern vaccinations only cause mild discomforts that are in fact a positive sign, indicating that the body takes care of learning to defend itself. Because this is what vaccination is: a training program for the body that teaches it to help itself! Simply marvelous!

Too bad some out there have not joined in, in this alternative way of healing but instead trust in spoil-sports who hate the success of such a fantastic treatment.

If you think about it, would not the pharmaceutical industry have an interest to forbid vaccination, ’cause it takes their chance away to sell you drugs a life long- which actually is the real money maker, instead of healing, as vaccination does it? (In fact, the revenue from vaccines was appr. 2% of total revenue in 2006. Check global revenue here and vaccine revenue here)

And would you not expect the “alternative medicine proponents” to be the most glowing advocates of vaccination, due to its very nature? The reasoning of anti-vaccination campaigners never made sense to me, in that they think vaccination is the great gain for the industry. Even if it were, it is still a save and wonderful way of getting rid of ills that plague human kind!

And best of all, it should appeal to all the hippies and homeopaths out there, because it heals holistically, alternatively and in the most natural fashion! Maybe they just did not know that about vaccination??

Update: More about the topic in a DN article about the “vaccine bluff”

Funny how anti-vaccination lobbyists repeatedly speak of studies being rigged by big pharma. However, what actually has been rigged really is one of the very few studies that called certain vaccines into question due to a claim that they cause autism by Andrew Wakefield. Now all studies by Andrew Wakefield will be checked thoroughly.

The difference between Swedish feminism and equality

2010/12/29 § 2 Comments

I agree that we were not there with Assange and I do not claim that there was no abuse, even in the strict sense of the word as most of us understand it. However, based on what is known the recent discussion on “talkaboutit” has begun. My intention was to reflect about some of the stories there, which, as I feel, do not reflect anything that resembles abuse in the way that most of us would define it. I do feel however, that in Sweden some feminist groups are very good in silencing unwanted public opinion. To attempt a nuanced opinion is not wanted. It appears to me that some (not few) in the feminist movement are not striving for equality at all, but rather just for a turn-around of the situation of the last century, with men on the bottom instead of women.

I am all for equality, but I am not for ideology. I have had continuously bad experiences with ideology and believe that people are better off without the rigid frame an ideology such as feminism sets. I my mind, and in the mind of many others I talk with, feminism does no longer stand for equality and needs replacement. Maybe it is simply time for humanism. Many men in Sweden do not feel welcome in the feminist movements and feel alienated, however, they also seem scared to speak up. The feminists I have talked to defend their position quite vehemently and are seldom open minded.

For me this was exemplified in a discussion with a female friend. When I pointed out many areas where men today are discriminated in Sweden she first denied it. After some convincing using real-life examples she yelled “so what? Women have been suppressed thousands of years, now it is our turn!”.

This describes exactly what I do not like in the debate in Sweden at times, i.e. a collective blame of men as a group and arguments based on history (in addition, doubtful history, the story of the so-called “patriarchy” is very much a mythology and arbitrary re-definition of past circumstances rather than a historic fact). Is this not exactely what feminism in the 70s wanted to get away from? Using gender and sex categories? How come more than ever people are divided into boys and girls in Sweden today? Why is it, that today equality is defined as “50/50” quota? Where has the will to look at the individual and help and support the individual gotten lost?

I am startled about Swedish feminism because in my eyes (and in the eyes of many of my female friends too) it is not about equality any longer. It apparently goes for cheap political tricks to get women a presumed advantage, or rather at least disadvantages men when the political climate permits. In my mind, only if men start to speak up for themselves more will this situation change. But in fact, I have many Swedish men heard saying that they are afraid to do so in discussions with women, because they get under personal attack and are “outlawed”.

This type of (also public, i.e. media) opinion control is what I am very interested in- besides real equality, which for me means “all the choices to the individual”, and no selective discrimination of groups. The current policy of supporting women on the expense of men as a group will in my mind rather further the divide between the sexes and will not lead to a harmonious and equal society. I do not think that you have to put one group down or “positively discriminate” (as if that would exist) in order to help another group.

In fact, when we stop thinking in groups will we make real progress- just as was the plan in the 70s. What has happened then? Why do radical feminist rule now? Where are all the humanists. I feel (and quite a few female friends have confirmed that) even women have been “silenced” by peer pressure. The will to conform is strong in Sweden, at times maybe too strong for peoples’ good in general…

This is a response to a comment on another weblog regarding my blog entry on a DN article.


UPDATES:

Once more an article on DN reveals that in Sweden equality in numbers is looked upon as gender equality. I am startled by this equally preposterous as wrong notion.

Again there has been a discussion about how many female professors are at university versus male professors. The argument is: there are more female students than male, but more male professors than female- a sign for discrimination. Really? In talking to FEMALE professors about this issue, many agreed that it is much harder to motivate female post-docs to go abroad than male doctors. However, having been in a foreign country is a crucial reuirement for many professor positions. We are not necessarily looking at discrimination of women but rather differences in the individuals’ behavior.

It is a shame that feminists in Sweden are so fixated on gender and sex instead of dealing with individuals. What happened with the ideology to put the “individual” instead of a “gender” in the center of attention? Apparently, that is not of interest, as long as it does not serve women then?

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