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Don't ask, don't tell?

  1. Aug 30, 2005 #1

    mathwonk

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    I was surprised and a little disappointed to see that the thread asking about the treatment of gays in the sciences was closed after 2 mild responses. To me it makes it appear that the physicsforums are a little "gay - unfriendly".

    It seems a legitimate career question to wonder at the obstacles, if any, one will encounter in the sciences by being gay. We have had discussion of the obstacles encountered by felons and females, and there are real ones.

    Would the same response have occurred if the questioner had asked whether women found it hard to find equal treatment in the sciences? :confused:
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 30, 2005 #2
    I agree with you here, as long as the thread stays "positive."
     
  4. Aug 30, 2005 #3

    arildno

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    I fully agree with you on this; it IS a legitimate question, but before booing down the moderator, we might let that person defend himself.
    It might for example be that the OP asked the the thread to be closed, or, because the last reply was a statement of relief from OP, the moderator might have thought that the issue had been debated enough.
     
  5. Aug 30, 2005 #4
    Or maybe the person who initiated the closure of the thread is predijuce against homosexuals. It is a legitimate question and so as to why it was closed is beyond me, discriminating at most. Afterall, there have been several of threads on this forum that were not closed with a last concluding reply.
     
  6. Aug 30, 2005 #5

    ZapperZ

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    I closed the thread regarding the question if "science" was gay friendly. And if anyone thinks I'm anti-gay, I dare you to go read the Disney thread.

    I closed it because it was sufficiently answered, and even the orginater responded with

    The LAST thing we want to do is perpetuate heresay and unverified comments such as this. I thought people on here would have higher standards than that? If you have a SPECIFIC ISSUE or incidence, then bring it up. But to leave it open to SPECULATION on if it is or if it is not WITHOUT any evidence is just WITCH HUNT.

    I have been in this field for more years than I care to remember, and I've never encounter any hostility towards gays and lesbians in the field. So what possible impetus is the discussion on POSSIBLE hostility towards gays? Let's go fishing and maybe we'll catch something?

    Zz.
     
  7. Aug 30, 2005 #6

    arildno

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    Witch hunt? Why?
    Is it any more witch hunt to ask if the reason why there are so comparatively few women in the mathematical sciences might be because the attitudes were somewhat women-unfriendly?


    I would have liked to have posted that during my time at the university, I never, ever experienced any sort of discrimination because I'm gay.
    Furthermore, I would have said there are quite a few gays within the sciences, particularly within informatics (I don't know why, but that was my personal impression, anyway).

    I would like to say for those it may concern that if there is any career option you're considering, and worry about whether they will treat you OK because you're gay, choosing an academic profession (in particular the humanities&sciences, law is somewhat more conservative) is one of the very best choices in that regard.
     
  8. Aug 30, 2005 #7
    From the standpoint of someone who just doesn't care about sexual orientation (except from a purely pragmatic dating standpoint), I've noticed that, in general, the academic fields (particularly engineering and the sciences) are much more interested in the outcome of your work than other things. It's an environment driven by results, regardless of who obtains them, and so it would be counterproductive to exclude a contributor to the field on the grounds of sexual orientation, race, religion, etc.

    The reason I was so dismissive is because I have been accused of being a homophobe in the past because I decided not to participate in a gay/lesbian/straight alliance thing, which is like saying that because you don't work for the Red Cross you are opposed to their objectives. It doesn't make sense, but perpetuating such a myth can be damning to someone for years to come. It's doubly silly since some of my best friends are gay/lesbian/bisexual and it's just an infuriating allegation.

    We have to be careful of what we say now, because everything gets taken out of context and blown out of proportion or misconstrued. Ever played that game "Telephone"? Same idea, only the internet makes the information spread much quicker and to a much broader audience.

    As to the women in science thing, who knows why? Maybe it's an evolutionary adaptation in the structure of the human brain. Maybe it's that science guys are creepy and girls don't want to be around them. I don't know, nor do I have any answers. But what I can say is that there isn't a push to keep women out of science that I am aware of.
     
  9. Aug 30, 2005 #8

    ZapperZ

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    It is a witch hunt because there are no incident, no impetus, no nothing, to indicate the contrary. And it IS different than the issue of women in sciences, because there ARE specific evidence. It isn't a shot in the dark hoping to HIT something before knowing that something is there.

    The issue here isn't about "gays in the science" or "women in the sciences". The issue here is to BE specific with such important and delicate topic. You'd notice that I was equally "hard" on another point brought up in this sub-forum when someone said that he had some unverified rumor that people were not putting their "Dr" title to they can get jobs because companies do not want to hire Ph.D's. I don't think people should tolerate that kind of "let-throw-this-out-in-the-open-and-let's-see-what-happens" type of posting without any valid, even anecdotal evidence. It has nothing to do with the topic in question. It has everything to do with how the question was asked.

    Like I said, if anyone has any specific cases to discuss, then yes, it is a legitimate issue to consider. Did you read about a physics professor making derogatory remarks? But don't just open things up hoping to catch something.

    Zz.
     
  10. Aug 30, 2005 #9
    I think that common sense would say that there are people in engineering and science who are tolerant and those who are not. I personally don't have any problems with gays, and I think, that since most scientists and engineers are well educated, most of them neither. Some probably do but I think that that shouldn't stop a gay to do the job he/she likes.
     
  11. Aug 30, 2005 #10

    arildno

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    Well, you may have read the OP's (in the other thread, that is) somewhat differently than I did.
    To me, it sounded like what a young gay man might be worried about at the beginning of his career choice, and that he was basically unsure if he would fit in the job environment. I fully recognize that my reading is partial; I might well be wrong, though; the "political correctness" issues seem to be driven to a fever-pitch in the (academic parts of) States, relative to how I am used to this in Norway.
    Thus, it might well be that the original post would be interpreted differently by Americans justifiably tired of the insinuation games PC-awareness so easily degenerates into.
    Perhaps that was the original intention; I don't know, though..
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2005
  12. Aug 31, 2005 #11

    mathwonk

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    To me ZapperZ's heated comments are unfortunate, and display a great deal of hostility toward something.

    But the point is that this conversation is not about ZapperZ, merely about answering the original questioner's question, and questions are not legitimately answered by commenting that one "hates" to hear them brought up, and closing the forum.

    On the original topic, I would like to comment that in over 35 years spent in several mathematics
    departments, I think I have never participated in, nor overheard, a single conversation that concerned anyone's sexual orientation.

    Mathematicians may be particularly single minded, but in general they care only about one's mathematics and nothing else.

    I may be naive however, and the lack of such conversations may be due to the practice, common in the past, of gays not making their status known.

    I say this because in the distant past I did hear a few conversations about the role of women in mathematics, which were not entirely fair to women.

    But this is changing and I till have not heard any such conversations, and hence I think that such bias is not a huge factor in general.

    I do think the issue of openness of this forum is important, and the thread we are discussing is the only one I have ever seen closed after 3 harmless posts.

    Indeed people without a shred of legitimacy are allowed to post idiotic arguments right and left here for world class problems whose statements they do not even understand.
     
  13. Aug 31, 2005 #12

    ZapperZ

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    I've already told you what I was "hostile" at - the reckless introduction of baseless rumors.

    Look, if someone here said "I saw a physics research manager making crude remarks about gays", then BY ALL MEANS, it is THEN a legitimate question to ask if gays and lesbians (or women or minorities or disable or martians) are facing hostility in their work place or in this field of study. When someone make irresponsible comment that he/she, through unverified rumors, heard that people are dropping their "Dr." title because people do not want to hire Ph.D's, I am equally hostile towards it.

    The original question was asked AND answered. In prolonging this "conversation", there is STILL no legitimate impetus to indicate anything contrary to that original answer. If there ARE problems that is being faced by so-and-so group of people in science and engineering, BRING IT UP! But don't just throw out your net blindly and hope to catch something that you don't even know is there. The cheapens the cause when there truly is a legitimate issue to fight against. Gays and lesbians already face HUGE obstacles and hostilities in many parts of society and in many parts of the world. There is no need to fish for one when there isn't any reason to.

    And oh, you have NO idea what "hostility" is until you come face to face with some "religious fanatic" shouting for your demise right into your face. Only when you encouter something like that will you realize where the battle lines clearly are.

    I would also like to know if you STILL stand by the fact that since I was the one who locked one of the post in question, that you STILL consider me and my actions as being "a little "gay - unfriendly", INSPITE of what has transpire here, and my reference to the "fun" in the Disney thread.

    Zz.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2005
  14. Aug 31, 2005 #13

    matt grime

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    Nope, sorry, ZapperZ, that doesn't explain why you locked it and not the other threads that have been answered. It does appear that a special case was made of this as if this was a taboo subject that we can't discuss for fear of what someone might say.

    And the original post did refer to having heard rumours. If you wanted them to be properly explained rather than have them as unattributed then when didn't you say so? How do we know they were baseless? Ask for more details then. Locking it has only raised more questions, hasn't it?

    If you wished to ask about perceived homophobia because of something you'd heard would you wish to mention the sources and name them? Wouldn't that be more irresponsible than not naming names and offering examples if these names were easily tracable? We know that Turing, albeit in the 40s and earlier struggled with his sexuality, and that rubbish that was peddled in a Beautiful Mind glossed over many things too, so why isn't this fit for debate?
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2005
  15. Aug 31, 2005 #14

    ZapperZ

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    Fine, then debate about THAT! Those are legitimate issues! But don't dilute the cause by doing a witch hunt on a "perceived" issue when there's none! Those of us who are in the trenches doing the fight almost every day do not need that kind of help!

    And I never asked for "names". I asked for specific encounter, even anecdotal incident that you saw, heard, read, etc. None was offered. Instead, unless I missed it, we seem to have an overwhelming consensus that there have been NO problems, perceived or otherwise, regarding gays and lesbians in the sciences. In fact, laboratories such as Argonne and Brookhaven have gays and lesbians organizations that are acknowledged during the designated Pride month.

    BTW, I only locked the "Gays in Science" thread. I didn't touch the "engineering" thread, which was locked FIRST. You can deal and psychoanalyze that one separately from me.

    This thread is no longer about "carrier and academic issues", but has now morphed into PF policy. I'm moving this to the Feedback section, even if such an action can be another "hostility" on my part.

    Zz.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2005
  16. Aug 31, 2005 #15

    mathwonk

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    why are you so angry, ZapperZ? Your attitude is antithetical to an open collegial forum in my opinion. And it seems obvious it is only set off by discussion of one topic. Hence yes, I do feel that your behavior indicates gay unfriendliness and also free speech unfriendliness.
     
  17. Aug 31, 2005 #16

    SpaceTiger

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    Let's be fair to the guy. If I were being accused of homophobia, I'd be pretty pissed off too. I'm with you in thinking that the thread shouldn't have been locked, but I also can't blame ZZ for getting upset when the issue is approached in this manner. Moderation is a tough job and, rather than attack the moderators personally on their decisions, I think we should just address this as an issue of PF policy only. His decision to move the thread here seems wholly appropriate.
     
  18. Aug 31, 2005 #17
    I think ZapperZ is just frustrated that a small action he took is generating such controversy. As ZapperZ said previously, he locked the thread because he felt the discussion was over and the question answered. Any further discussion would be redundant and wasteful. Whether he locks similiar threads is not important because it might be due to efficiency rather than consistency. If you have a personal matter to discuss with ZapperZ then I'd encourage you to email and PM him. This public judgment is over.
     
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