The Strumion. And on.

As many of you will know (pay attention at the back) some theory guy said some exciting stuff at CERN and they have, as usual, suppressed his amazing discovery just like they did with those faster-than-light neutrinos and the fact that the LHC destroyed the world in 2008 and we have all since then been living in a simulation¹ running on Rolf Heuer’s mobile phone (or “handy” as he likes to call it).

Alessandro Strumia’s slides have been deleted and the video suppressed, but luckily for you all I have managed to reconstruct the gist from recordings, first-hand accounts and the skip behind Building 40.

It is very serious and credible because, as he says on Slide 6, it uses “Some statistics, like for Higgs discovery.”

The most important discovery is on slide 15, which reveals that some woman got a job that poor Prof Strumia seems to have wanted. Whether he failed because he has a nob or because he is one is a matter for conjecture. However, since on this slide he named other people in an inappropriate context, this violated CERN’s code of conduct and I suspect gave EVIL MANAGEMENT™ the reason they needed to suppress his ground-breaking work.

Very unfair because as everyone knows, all good scientists use personal case studies in their work, as it is the best way to remain dispassionate and unbiased.

Among his other amazing discoveries are the fact that despite its presence in closely related fields, there is no gender bias in citation practices in particle physics. This is obvious, since we are too clever and scientific to be biased in any way².

Therefore Strumia can use citations as an exact proxy for physics ability. By the way, he “inspired” me to check my citation count on the Inspire database and it is a LOT bigger than his. And I mean several times bigger. So clearly I am not being paid enough and should have all the jobs. Or maybe it’s just that I’m on some big collaborations, like ATLAS. Or CMS, which has a Higgs discovery paper with more than 8000 citations. Which, funnily enough, is one of only two CMS papers I can find of which Strumia is an author, despite being a theorist. So that’s more than a quarter of his citation count there even though he only popped into the collaboration for a couple of papers. He must have done something super useful for CMS.

Moving on.

Apparently, his argument goes, there is a wider distribution of IQ values in the male population than female. So there are more high-IQ male individuals (as well as low ones, of course). Lesser mortals might wonder what to do with such information, but not the man who gained hundreds of his precious citations by explaining a 750 GeV bump which turned out not to be there after all.

In a brilliant intellectual leap, he takes IQ as a proxy for physics ability, ignores the documented evidence of structural and other bias against women in science and society, assumes the distribution of IQ amongst the population of physicists (highly selected under those biases as it is) is the same as that amongst the general population, and proves – PROVES I TELL YOU – that men are better than women at physics and if wasn’t for inherent bias against us we would be getting most of the jobs. Especially that one on Slide 15, I guess.

The Strumion. A very small particle which interacts by misleading conference organisers and insulting its audience based on shabby analysis of cherry-picked data? Or the most important thing to happen to gender studies since that time behind the bike shed? Only time will tell. Although you have probably made your mind up already.

¹ which seems to have been developing some bugs lately

² actually I think it is because he defines the asymmetry strangely, using a matrix determinant in which a drop in female-to-female cites cancels against a drop in male-to-female cites. It’s proportional to (M2M * F2F) – (M2F * F2M) where M2F means male-to-female cites and so on. Odd, that. Looks like nonsense to me, since studies show that the bias against females is present in both genders.

See also Tommaso Dorigo’s blog here.

And a “community statement” on the matter (5/10/18). Cheesy URL, good content.


About Jon Butterworth

UCL Physics prof, works on LHC, writes (books, Guardian Science and elsewhere). Citizen of England, UK, Europe & Nowhere, apparently.
This entry was posted in Particle Physics, Politics, Silly and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to The Strumion. And on.

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  3. Frederik says:

    Generally an on point and entertaining article on a rather sad incidence, well done!

    Just a word of caution on the “gender variability in STEM fields”, this is a much researched topic, making his jump there not so outlandish. See for example this article that was quoted by another speaker of the event, Dr. Jessica Wade:

  4. cbk says:

    “…ignores the documented evidence of structural and other bias against women in science and society…”
    Do you mean historical or current bias against women? If it is the latter, please, turn this into a valuable lesson and provide some data/references.

    What I understood from his slides is that he is not claiming there wasn’t bias against women back in history, he just suggests that now it is about personal choices (slide 6 and on) and not about oppression.

    We are rightfully trying to compensate for historical wrongdoing and injustice with positive discrimination in favor of the group that was once oppressed. But isn’t that by definition a discrimination towards the rest of the people that currently are not oppressors?

  5. wil says:

    I read a gamer’s profile that went something like: 91% of gamers are too stupid, 4% just want to wreck the game, 4% bully in groups, and 1% are worth playing with.

    The reaction to Strumia is group bullying.

  6. Paula Collins says:

    Excellent article here Jon but contrary to being small isn’t the Strumion particle in fact somewhat huge? About 750 GeV I’d estimate?

  7. telescoper says:

    This guy seems to have a basic lack of understanding of the scientific use of evidence-based reasoning. I wonder if, by any chance, he might be a string theorist?

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