May 18 2011

Science dude states obvious, gets news and blog media coverage

Stephen Hawking has announced that “the afterlife,” that mythical spirit-world so beloved of godbags, is a “fairy story for people who are afraid of the dark.” At last, a certified smart dude validates my lunatic determination to base my afterlife views on the overwhelming non-evidence for the existence of an omnipotent cosmic concierge with a fetish for human blastocysts! It’s about time he cleared up that nonsense in A Brief History of Time about “knowing” the “mind of God.” What a boner that was.

The above-quoted Guardian interview approaches Hawking like he’s some kinda seer, or oracle, or holy guy. “Why are we here? What should we do with our lives?” is the cry. Apparently, now that No. 1 Science Information has made the contingency of Jesus loving you forever appear ever more remote, people are demanding that science (and Hawking = Science) step into the void to confirm our special purpose in the universe. But Hawking, it turns out, isn’t God2K. He remarks that human existence is a totally random happenstance. “Do your best,” he says (I paraphrase), something your Mom might say.

It had to be a dude physicist saying this fucking obvious stuff, by the way, not because there aren’t any women physicists, because there aren’t any women physicists who are famous and revered enough to give interviews to the Guardian wherein they would be permitted to get away with stating that God is a buttload of bullshit. There aren’t any such women physicists because academia is seriously fucked-up-sexist, the media are seriously fucked-up-sexist, and the entire world order is seriously fucked-up-sexist.

via Pharyngula


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  1. Sarah

    Human existence may be a totally random happenstance, but fucked-up-sexist academia, media, and world order sure as shit isn’t. It’s carefully orchestrated to keep the ol’ dudely world order and its Sciencey types in power.

    Nevertheless, we should all be grateful to the sciencey white guy, because NOW we can finally stop worrying our pretty little heads off about all of that brow-furrowing existential stuff, and get back to wondering which shade of lipstick to choose.

  2. Triste

    That Hawking, what a card!

  3. MJ

    How lovely that the rabbi quoted in the article is named “Lord Sacks.” I’d write the joke, but really the joke writes itself.

    At some points in the article Hawking is quoted as talking about the “beauty” of science. This strikes the ol’ ear as a little odd- would whatever “eminent” female scientists there be lose some serious cred (in patriarchy eyes) after referring to their “hard science” as “beautiful?” But when the man does it, he’s somehow bestowing wise mystical power on the whole thing.

    Hawking found that “tiny quantum fluctuations in the very early universe became the seeds from which galaxies, stars, and ultimately human life emerged.” It sucks for half of us that somehow this quantum fluctuation caused the creation and oppression of the female. Oh wait, it didn’t. That was totally humans.

    Also, I would give my left ear to have a comparative study of the times the word “eminent” has been used to describe men, as opposed to women. Nevermind, the answer is obvious.

  4. Athena Andreadis

    Don’t you know that quantum states don’t collapse into a final outcome until/unless a white male Anglosaxon makes it so? The content of the message is largely beside the point.

  5. Valerie M

    Yeah. Before I got into radical feminism I thought atheist forums might be a comfortable place for someone like me to hang out, until I spent about four seconds at Richard Dawkins’.

    They might not like god(s) but they sure like the values that the concept serves.

  6. Lovepug

    Not to worry, Kirk Cameron (aka Mike from the 80s sitcom Growing Pains) is on top of this situation!


    Godbag versus academic snob in an epic battle!

  7. derrp

    We can at least derive some small comfort from the fact that Hawking has a severe disability and isn’t “pretty” and yet people listen to him. I saw a PBS program, I think it was, where Hawking narrated the show in his computer assisted voice, and I thought that was fucking cool, instead of using a surrogate “normal” voice.

  8. tinfoil hattie

    Just an example of mansplaining, on a grand scale.

    Question: Would “Stephanie” Hawking, similarly disabled, be taken seriously? Would she host a PBS show? Hell, would she even have a voice thingie for her computer?

    Answer: No, my dears, she would not.

    (I know, I cheated. That was an easy one.)

  9. derrp

    Hey, it happened in “Stargate Universe. Except she was hawt. And it was teevee land. Oh, nevermind.

  10. Skye

    In other rapists and their laywers are asshole news: Elizabeth Smart, the girl who was kidnapped and sexually assualted repeatedly by Brian David Mitchell, now has to deal with his lawyers saying that since she survived and recovered from her ordeal, he should have a lighter sentence.

    This guy raped a child and held her captive in order to make her one of his FLDS ‘wives’, but the fact that he didn’t completely mentally destroy her is going to be used in his favor.

    I admire Elizabeth’s strength, she demanded to be able to look at him during the trial and she made sure that he would have to listen her testimony. This is going to be used against her?

    Elizabeth has had strong support from her community and family, which no doubt has helped in her surviving and being able to face him down in court. I wish our society would give the same kind of support to all women and girls who have been sexually abused. Elizabeth is lucky to be involved in a cult that, even though misogynistic, doesn’t throw their daughters to the wolves if they are abused by a nutty FLDS dude who makes the normal Mormons look bad.

    If he was her non-fundamentalist Mormon husband or neighbor or coworker, that would be another story.

  11. Kea

    The reality is even worse than you think. I am a 44 yr old impoverished, unemployed, hopeless, homeless and traumatised qualified theoretical physicist, who has been banished from campuses in my country and am no longer permitted to even apply for grants (that NEVER happens to men). That’s the punishment eked out to women who are actually good at theoretical physics. And just in case you think I’m exaggerating … my inactive physics blog is currently being read by lurking academics at Princeton, Harvard, Stanford, Oxford etc etc, who will no doubt persist in ignoring me and letting me rot in hell, EVEN THOUGH THEY KNOW that I was five years ahead of them on an important breakthrough in the subject ….

  12. Skye

    Sorry, wrong thread!

  13. Owly

    I’m (sadly) one calculus class away from a BS in microbiology, and I delight in destroying dudes who know less about science than I do. The rude ones, that is, usually evo psych types. Mansplaining back to a mansplainer is so satisfying, it’s pretty much the only thing that gets through to them. You know, assuming anything does.

  14. Mary Tracy9

    How would he know anything about the “Afterlife”? Has he been there and come back?

    The Afterlife is that one place where pretty much anyone can come up with anything they want because nobody knows anything about it. So I believe that the Afterlife is a fantasy type world populated by witches and ruled by magic, and I like it that way. Who knows, I could be right.

    So in other words, male scientist speaks of something that is well beyond his field of expertise, but he’s taken seriously anyway.

    Scientists are the new priests.

  15. Jill

    Spinster aunts are inclined to take the opposite view, Mary Tracy9, by averring that heaven is indeed a fiction, despite the fact that certain famous dude scientists also support this theory. I would further assert that Hawking knows exactly as much as there is to know about “the afterlife,” and is eminently qualified to pronounce on the subject.

  16. Mary Tracy9

    But surely heaven is not the same as afterlife? Heaven is a kind of afterlife, supported by religion.

    I just think that we have this amazing opportunity to be creative and come up with anything we want and for all we know, everyone could have the afterlife they wanted.

  17. nails

    Why would anyone assume that the world gives a damn about them personally or that there is some kind of system that rewards or punishes or does anything at all? Astronomers put earth in the middle of the solar system, and then the universe, until they were proved wrong. Its the same kind of self serving short sightedness to think that there is anything special out there to help you when you die. All evidence points towards a universe that is indifferent.

  18. nails

    From what I understand, Hawkings isn’t really that relevant as a physicist. He hasn’t been for a long time. The last time I remember Hawkings in the news was when he came out to respond to a bunch of scummy websites claiming that socialized medicine would have killed him as an infant, and thank god for the US health care system, and all that. I think some folks use the computer voice to impersonate him regularly to prove their points.
    In this case Hawking’s profession is more of a gimmick than anything else. No one gives a shit about scientists anymore (if you measure it by acceptance of scientific ideas like global warming, evolution, vaccines, etc). If anything, he is trotted out to make science less popular by associating it with atheism. Unlikable atheists have been a trope since Madalyn Murray O’Hair got tons of press for getting mandatory prayer banned from schools. Its a shame someone killed her.

  19. Ayla

    I’m not sure what a “normal Mormon” is, but none of the mormons I ever met needed any help looking bad.

  20. Citizen Jane

    I have a hard time being too bitter about the recognition Hawking receives for his work, since it shows considerable progress for disability rights.

  21. Ashley

    I’d argue that the patriarchy loves it when “religion” and “fundamentalist patriarchal theism” are conflated. The argument between the “two sides” of fundamentalist patriarchal theism and fundamentalist scientific materialism is an argument feminists can never win.

  22. tinfoil hattie

    none of the mormons I ever met needed any help looking bad.

    Some of us know some very nice, kind LDS women who are desperately trying to come to terms with their unhappiness vis a vis the iron grip their church holds over them. I’d amend that to say “none of the mormon MEN I ever met,” thus neatly laying the blame where it belongs.

  23. nails

    I don’t think mormons are really all that nice at all (in general). Its all an act to try and get you to join up. When it becomes clear that you won’t, some will be downright cruel to you. I’ve had it happen to me! A trainer at my work found out I was living in sin with a nigel and she started to criticize me extensively (in private) all of the sudden. The other mormon trainers (see: all of them) stopped talking to me. I had zero self esteem back then so it really screwed with me. Mormon women oppress the shit out of gays/people who aren’t white n’ delightsome as well. Like most things in patriachy, its a big clusterfuck of dominance with a bunch of different layers. The people within the church have been totally emotionally abused by every authority figure, and are oppressed in a different way, while the fuck over everyone not in their dysfunctional club. Of course dudes are at the top of the whole thing and make the rules so they are the most to blame, but living as an atheist in Utah has also given me some perspective on the problems of privileged women in a patriarchy vs the problems of people without privilege. People in the church have their own internal welfare system so the state barely provides anything. The people in the church think that’s how it should be. The state could pull in more money if they built more liquor stores, but instead they are shutting them down despite record profits. I have found a lot of mormons being “nice” to me were really just reinforcing their own sense of superiority.

    I have very mixed feelings. I cannot wait to move away from this shit.

  24. pheenobarbidoll

    Mormons don’t come to my door anymore.

    *slow smile*

  25. Jill

    If only the godly rapture was true! It would suck up all the irritating Mormons, and all those other sexist fucking pig godbags, in the big Vacuum Tube, leaving the world pleasantly Christian-free. If nothing else it would alleviate the traffic problem at the Y in Oak Hill — no more godbags rushing back home to the exurbs with homeschooling supplies.

  26. Ayla

    While I’m sure there are some perfectly nice mormon women somewhere, I never met one. So for me, my original statement holds true. The town where I grew up was home to a somewhat notorious group/church of mormons, and my experiences with mormons, like that with baptists, started off terribly and only got worse. Of course I do BTP.

  27. nails

    Well jeez pheeno, if you would quit being so damn uppity and just accept that god cursed your ancestors with dark skin like the book of mormon says, you could totally be saved! These missionaries are like 19, I’m sure there is a lot you could learn from their wealth of life experience if you would just listen.

    Joking aside, they probably aren’t messing with you because you have boundaries. Cults don’t know how to mess with people who have them.

  28. speedbudget

    I used to get Jehovah’s Witnesses here all the time. What an annoying bunch of jerks. I work at home, even on the weekends, and I had one trying to tell me, after I let him know that I really don’t appreciate having people needlessly knock on the door and interrupt my work when I’m on a roll (I have the door open so the dog can watch the neighborhood through the screen door, so it’s hard to fake like I’m not home) that if I just SPENT MORE TIME at their church and praying all the fucking time I would HAVE MORE TIME. I just looked at him incredulously and let him know I was not amused, and I haven’t had them back since.

  29. tinfoil hattie

    My best friend is a mormon, and she’s nice.

    Struggling against the patriarchal binds that have turned her life into a vat of misery.

    It’s some serious brainwashing.


  30. Ticki Tumbo

    Recently I met a pregnant Mormon woman who already has five kids whose trying to leave her husband because she’s really a lesbian. She lives in some conservative Mormon town. I don’t know she is going to navigate that one because now he’s trying to take the kids away. It would be nice if he would get raptured and solve the problem.

  31. Sammy

    Yeah, those stupid scientists, using their “logic” and “ingenuity” to create modern civilisation and enhance our lives, what a bunch of misogynistic assholes! Who needs science anyway!? I mean, who really needs clean drinking water, insulin or penicillin? Whatever! Ugh! Trying to understand the universe and eradicating diseases is so damn chauvinistic!

    I mean, who does Stephen Hawking think he is? How dare he espouse his moderate and rational beliefs in a polite manner?! He obviously hates women!

  32. Jill

    Sammy has just discovered the exclamation point. Well done, Sammy. Perhaps, for his next trick, he could learn to comprehend what he reads.

    I do not offer a conjecture on, and could not care less, whether or not Hawking is a misogynist. I impugn academia for screwing women over whenever it gets a chance. Clean drinking water (for honkys who can afford it) doesn’t let Science off the hook.

  33. Kea

    Jill, if I might step in to clarify Sammy’s main point here: we all know that Science is important for civilization today, and since only dudely brains can do Science Proper, it follows that women who try to infilrate the Science Dudes Inner Sanctum must be excommunicated, lest the productivity of the SDIS suffer from their inferior input. (Um, so they were wrong about string theory, the Higgs, the multiverse, DE, etc, but even Dudes make mistakes, right?)

  34. Fede

    “Santa is NOT stupid! He is NOT!” wails the doting pup.

    Aw. Sammy touchingly demonstrates what George Carlin correctly identified as a common denominator of all male subcultures: the complete, childlike trust in male authority.

    This is why it does not strike Sammy as being in any way pathetic for someone to look to Hawking for answers regarding the meaning of life.

    And because Sammy has his filial fee-fees all caught in his twisted knickers, it escapes his attention that no one actually accused his hero of anything.

    Easy now, Sammy. No one said Santa didn’t invent clean drinking water. You can unclench your trembling little fist from his trouser leg now. There. Go out in the world and do your best, Sammy!

  35. Jezebella

    Perhaps we should just tell Sammy to search for the Science Week threads so’s he can see that that territory’s been well-trod here in the past. Plus, it’ll take him like a month to read all the threads, and maybe he’ll learn a thing or two about rhetoric and punctuation.

  36. Sammy

    I’m not going to bother arguing with anti-science nut-jobs, it’s like banging your head against a brick wall. It’s pointless and boring. I’ve wasted so much time trying to reason with creationists, and to call it a “waste of time” is a massive understatement. The fact that we’re all looking at computer screens right now (purely a product of science) is just ironic in itself.

  37. Kea

    Anti science nutjobs? Oh, so you have a PhD in Theoretical Physics, like I do? Moron.

  38. Sammy

    Kea, in your earlier comment you accused me of wanting science to be a male-dominated domain, where did I say that? Where did I imply that women shouldn’t be involved in the scientific community? I never said it and I never implied it, why would I? Why would I want to restrict erudite women from participating in science? Why would I imply something so irrational and counter-productive?

    Having a PhD obviously doesn’t prevent you from making straw-man arguments and putting words into my mouth.

    And having a PhD in theoretical physics doesn’t mean you can’t be anti-science; Michael Behe got his PhD in biochemistry, he serves as professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University and he’s a disgrace to his field. He’s as anti-science as any any slack-jawed layman. Anyway, that’s besides the point, I never accused YOU of being anti-science, so there’s no need to flip your lid.

  39. Mandy Shambles

    Oh yes, all us girlies have to worry about getting our heads round is the bit in the L’Oreal ads “here’s the science bit”. Tee hee, giggle. I’m a girl, I don’t do science, all I have to worry about is being a decoration with the help of L’Oreal (nice fucking profit for them too, but that’s not the science bit, that’s the math bit. Giggle again).

  40. Fictional Queen

    Wow,that Sammy guy is something,isn’t he?

  1. Jill exposes the sexism of the Hawking afterlife story « Queering the Singularity

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