Race in Chemistry and Academia

Hearing the opinions of the fellow bloggers talk about race, affirmative action, and job discrimination is always a bit  Roll Eyes.1, 2 So, being the “token” minority chemistry blogger I’ll chime in. Although, these issues directly affect me, I really can not be arsed to take these issues to task. They exist well below my realm of interest. My brain shares as much attention to these problems as it does with welfare, health care, immigration, and environmental issues(pro-nuclear/anti-petrol).3

Affirmative action and quotas are social constructs created to address social problems. As a scientist, I know all scientist are very ill-prepared to tackle social issues. There never exists a simple solution, there never even exists a scientific method that will lead to a solution for the social ill. How can you truly be a scientist if you try to chase balance and consensus; those are the tasks of the bureaucrat not the scientist. Hearing fellow scientists opinions on race and gender is like hearing a conservative Kansas school board member talk-up the merit of intelligent design in science classrooms. Hearing the views of someone not trained in any subject matter is always grating.

Affirmative action is not a scientific subject. Those who attempt to solve the problem, or have solutions will make great bureaucrats one day, but I’m not training myself for that field; I have actual scientific questions I need to take to task first.

1: http://www.thechemblog.com/?p=403
2: http://blog.chembark.com/2007/02/06/how-not-to-get-tenure/
3: Education is the only social issue I like to think and ponder and work-on daily. Just look at Chemical Forums to see my interest in education.


P.S. Unrelated but still as interesting. I finished reading Richard P. Feynman’s book “What Do You Care What Other People Think?” in one day yesterday and found it a fantastic read. The book was written equally to his first book “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!“, but in a much different style and chronology. There is a fantastic poem/tale/view in it and just can’t help myself and need to share it.
There are the rushing waves
mountains of molecules
each stupidly minding its own business
trillions apart
yet forming white surf in unison.

Ages on ages
before any eyes could see
year after year
thunderously pounding the shores as now.
For whom, for what?
On a dead planet
with no life to entertain.

Never at rest
tortured by energy
wasted prodigiously by the sun
poured into space.
A mite makes the sea roar.

Deep in the sea
all molecules repeat
the patterns of one another
till complex new ones are formed.
They make others like themselves
and a new dance starts.

Growing in size and complexity
living things
masses of atoms
DNA, protein
dancing a pattern ever more intricate.

Out of the cradle
onto dry land
here it is
atoms with consciousness
matter with curiosity.

Stands at the sea,
wonders at wondering: I
a universe of atoms
an atom in the universe.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *