Breakthrough technology according to MIT: “Abortion pills via telemedicine”

The smartest people in the world have put together their list of the 10 most important “breakthrough technologies” of 2023. This appears in the Jan/Feb 2023 issue of Technology Review, published by MIT:

There’s been no change to how life-saving abortion care is delivered into a pregnant person’s body, but being able to get abortion care pills after a text message conversation is a “breakthrough technology.”

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Want to come to MIT for Private Pilot ground school January 11-13?

After nearly three years of complete coronapanic, the MIT campus reopened to the public on December 1, 2022. Consequently, if Maskachusetts officials don’t impose a Science-based lockdown in the next two weeks we’re doing our three-day FAA ground school in person on campus, January 11-13 from 9-5 in Room 1-390. Full details and a registration link on the class home page. For non-MIT students the course is available at a significant discount to the $500,000 list price of an MIT degree…. $free.

If anyone is concerned about contracting a SARS-CoV-2 infection in a 70-person lecture hall, I will be happy to purchase a P100 respirator for you so long as you promise to wear it for the full 7-8 hours of daily class. See below for Mx. Cherry and Mx. Nerode modeling this type of mask in a recent NYT article.

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MIT EECS explains how to write a diversity statement

The MIT Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (where I was a grad student) demands that faculty job applicants include a “diversity statement” and they helpfully explain how to write a successful one:

In general, a well-structured diversity statement mimics the structure of a teaching statement, showing your knowledge of the topics you choose to discuss, demonstrating a track record of advancing DEI through past experiences, and presenting your future plans around DEI, as shown in the structure diagram below. However, diversity statements may also contain the same content organized topically rather than chronologically. Typically, diversity statements are no longer than 1-2 pages.

1-2 pages to grapple with one of the greatest issues of our age?!?!

It’s not about the quota:

A faculty application diversity statement is NOT a document explaining how you as a candidate are diverse.

Self-criticism is welcome:

It may be appropriate to acknowledge aspects of your own marginalized identity and/or your own privilege

Learn from books, not by talking to the people you’re supposedly attempting to serve:

If you have not spent much time engaging with issues and ideas related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, it’s never too late to start educating yourself. Look for resources that will introduce you to relevant literature and help you learn about people with experiences different than your own. However, remember that it is not the job of members of an underrepresented or marginalized group to educate you on topics related to their experience.

It’s not about the quota, but “I will strive for gender parity among my graduate students.” (doesn’t this hatefully imply that that there are only two genders?):

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MIT weighs in on the future of cryptocurrency

The May/June 2022 issue of MIT’s alumni magazine, Technology Review, asks “Is cash over?” and answers the question with an implicit “yes” via the issue title: The Dawn of New Money.

When the enormous brainpower of all of MIT is harnessed, what do we learn?

A new generation of cryptocurrencies is emerging that promises to fix many of Bitcoin’s flaws. Stablecoins, cryptocurrencies whose stable value comes from being backed by reserves of US dollars or other reputable fiat currencies, are proliferating. Stablecoins are billed as reliable, easily accessible digital payment systems that will make both domestic and international payments cheaper and quicker. However, unlike Bitcoin, which is fully decentralized, they require transactions to be validated by the issuing institution—which could be a bank, a corporation, or just an online entity. This means users must trust that institution to validate only legitimate transactions and hold adequate reserves, and regulators currently do not require independent verification of either of those actions. Thus, despite their laudable goal of meeting the demand for better payment systems, stablecoins have raised a raft of concerns.

What happened with crypto while the issue was going through editing, printing, and mailing?

“Stablecoin implosion shows it has ‘no role’ as a form of money, says Bank of International Settlements’ Asia chief” (SCMP):

The recent collapse in the value of stablecoins shows they are ill-suited as a form of money and that their attempt to piggyback on money issued by central banks does not give them the stability their name suggests, according to the Asia-Pacific head of the Bank of International Settlements (BIS).

The implosion of several stablecoins, including TerraUSD which saw its value reduced to almost nothing in May from being the third-largest with a US$18.7 billion market capitalisation at its peak, has revealed the pitfalls of cryptocurrencies, said Siddharth Tiwari, chief representative of the BIS Asian office.

What about the #1 cryptocurrency? Bitcoin was at $38,000 on May 1. It finished out June (this is the May/June issue) at around $19,000 (i.e., half the value was lost during the on-the-newsstand time for the issue celebrating crypto).

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MIT weighs in regarding the war in Ukraine

Portion of yesterday’s email from Rafael Reif, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Note the implication that Russians are suffering just as much as Ukrainians (in bold):

To the members of the MIT community,

Though 4,500 miles separate Kyiv and Cambridge, several factors make the shock of the Russian invasion and its terrible consequences feel very close to home.

I write to let you know how MIT is responding to this catastrophe and to offer some personal reflections.

Caring for members of our community [bold in original]

First in our minds are our students, staff and faculty who are from the region or have family there; we have reached out directly to everyone we are aware of from Ukraine. We have in addition been in touch with our students from Russia, who are also a long way from home in a difficult time. (As always, support is available to all students at

A fellow MIT alum pointed out “Catastrophe makes it sound like an earthquake or a tornado.”

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MIT spirit in Washington, D.C.

“‘I am deeply sorry for my conduct’: Biden’s top science adviser apologizes to staff” (Politico):

[MIT prof] Eric Lander, the president’s top science adviser and a member of his Cabinet, sent a Friday night email to his roughly 150-person staff apologizing for speaking to colleagues in a “disrespectful and demeaning way.”

“It’s my responsibility to set a respectful tone for our community. It’s clear that I have not lived up to this responsibility,” Lander wrote in an email provided to POLITICO. “This is not only wrong, but also inconsistent with our Safe and Respectful Workplace Policy. It is never acceptable for me to speak that way. I am deeply sorry for my conduct. I especially want to apologize to those of you who I treated poorly or were present at the time.”

Lander heads the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy and is leading President Joe Biden’s “Cancer Moonshot,” an initiative aimed at reducing cancer deaths that had its splashy launch event earlier this week.

The email appears to reference an investigation POLITICO has been conducting into Lander’s treatment of staff, which Lander acknowledges in his email. “I understand that some of you have been asked about this, and I thought it was important to write directly to you,” he wrote. “I also realize that my conduct reflects poorly on this Administration, and interferes with our work. I deeply regret that.”

Biden himself declared a zero-tolerance policy for improper conduct on the first day of his administration. He pledged that “if you are ever working with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I promise you I will fire you on the spot. On the spot. No ifs, ands or buts.”

Lander pledges in his email that “[w]e will take concrete steps to promote a better workplace. We will schedule regular forums to check in with staff on how we are doing in creating and upholding a safe and respectful workplace. We will also ensure that every employee knows how to report conduct that concerns them.”

Lander is probably one of the nicer people at MIT (like being a dwarf among midgets, admittedly), so perhaps this shows that Science is something to follow every day while scientists are best restricted to their labs.


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Adult life at MIT

Excerpts from today’s email from MIT Hillel (Jewish organization on campus):

One trend we have seen is students are still craving IRL (in-real-life) interactions and events, even if MIT rules say no food at events, at least for the first two weeks of the semester. As this new term begins, coffee meet-and-greets have involved in-person conversations and to-go gift cards. Students in some of our on-going weekly classes have voted to still meet at lunchtime, despite the fact they won’t be fed or eat together. We are exploring “wellness break rooms” for puppy petting, or even coloring books and doodling, that students can pop into.

Within the same email, but from a student….

… as COVID seized the globe in early 2020, it became increasingly apparent that I would spend (at least) my first semester of college at the same desk I used for my kindergarten English homework.

Let’s hope that the above-mentioned puppies don’t grab and run with the cloth masks that the #FollowersOfScience typically wear! Here’s Mindy the Crippler (September 2020; see What to do when a family member is an anti-masker?) sharing her opinion of the effectiveness of non-N95 masks….


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MIT: Groundbreaking research on politics and racial justice

The December issue of MIT’s alumni magazine, Technology Review, arrived. this includes a special sub-magazine that is only about things that happen on the MIT campus or that are done by MIT alumni. The cover story: “MIT’s new chancellor laid a foundation for leadership through her groundbreaking research on politics and racial justice.”

What else was in the issue? “Discrimination by the numbers”:

When Phyllis Ann Wallace reached Yale University, in the mid-1940s, she was used to facing obstacles and proceeding anyway. Women weren’t expected to go into economics, especially at the graduate level, and for Black women like herself, breaking into the field decades before schools, buses, or workplaces were legally integrated was practically unheard-of.

Her book MBAs on the Fast Track chronicled how the experiences of men and women with equal education differ, and why women work longer hours for the same compensation.

She arrived [at MIT] as a visiting scholar at the Sloan School and quickly moved up to become the school’s first female professor, in 1975. In her office overlooking the Charles River, she wrote books and papers on women in the labor force, particularly Black women, often inviting students to coauthor or co-edit. She worked to ensure that male MIT students were aware of equity issues, believing that “if you can really educate them now, hopefully they will go out and bring about the revolution wherever they are.”

(Note: Americans upset by “why women work longer hours for the same compensation” and who want to work for just one hour and earn a lot more than the average MBA can refer to “Child Support Litigation without a Marriage” and/or the $2.5 million tax-free example of Hunter Biden’s plaintiff (she didn’t waste time getting an MBA!))

Anything about Science (the new capitalized-like-God version)? A brief interior article noted that David Julius, Class of ’77, “shared the 2021 Nobel in Physiology or Medicine for discoveries about how the body senses touch and temperature.” In other Nobel-ish news, a current MIT professor won the Nobel in economics.

Speaking of elite university experts on comparative victimology, “‘Rhodes Scholar’ claimed she grew up poor and abused — then her story started to unravel” (New York Post):

In November 2020, when University of Pennsylvania graduate student Mackenzie Fierceton won the prestigious and highly competitive Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford — one of just 32 scholars selected from a pool of 2,300 applicants — she was praised by the Ivy League school’s president in a newsletter.

“Mackenzie is so deserving of this prestigious opportunity,” declared president Amy Gutmann of the 23-year-old from suburban St. Louis. “As a first-generation [to go to college] low-income student and a former foster youth, Mackenzie is passionate about championing young people [and] dedicating herself to a life of public service.”

Multiple college consultants told The Post that the college application process now features more questions about overcoming obstacles. The 2021-2022 essay prompts from Common App, the organization that oversees undergrad applications for more than 900 schools, include “Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure.”

Categorizing herself as a first-generation, low-income student with a history of horrific abuse — who also earned nearly straight A’s and was student body president in high school — Fierceton certainly fit the bill. She was admitted to Penn in 2015 to study political science, then began studying for a clinical master’s degree in social work in 2018.

When Fierceton’s Rhodes Scholarship was announced, the Philadelphia Inquirer profiled the academic star in November 2020, noting that she “grew up poor, cycling through the rocky child welfare system [and] bounced from one foster home to the next.”

As Fierceton said in that story: “I would trade [the Rhodes honor] to have been adopted and have a family.”

But after that Nov. 22, 2020, profile ran, an anonymous accuser sent an email to Penn and the Rhodes Trust, claiming Fierceton’s story was “blatantly dishonest.” The email reportedly alleged that Fierceton grew up in St. Louis, Mo., with her mother, an educated radiologist; that her family was upper-middle class; and that she had attended a fancy private high school and enjoyed such high-end hobbies as horseback riding.

According to Winkelstein’s subsequent report, Fierceton was raised in an upper-middle-class household; it also notes her mother is a radiologist and that her grandfather had graduated from college.

The Penn victimological bureaucrats criticize the young student for purportedly lying, but take no responsibility for their own incompetence. These are paid full-time victimologists and they can’t distinguish between true victims and the child of a radiologist? How are ordinary Americans supposed to accept the Ivy League say-gooders as experts on social and racial justice?

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MIT’s president weighs in on the shunned heretic

MIT’s President weighs in on the situation previously covered here in Corpus Juris Canonici for academic cancellations (MIT). A follower of the Climate Change Alarmism religion held a heretical belief that universities should not admit or hire people based on skin color. He was, appropriately in my view, shunned. (Why “appropriately”? If you’re going to run a religion, you should do it right!)

Apparently it is extremely rare for a group at MIT to develop something new and useful because the only subjects on which the president of MIT sends out emails are social justice-related (Donald Trump bad, low-skill immigrants good, our former best friend and major donor Jeffrey Epstein bad, coronapanic good, etc.). Continuing in that tradition, an email from yesterday….

To the members of the MIT community,

You may have heard about a situation centered on our Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS) regarding an invited speaker, Professor Dorian Abbot.

In a recent letter to the faculty, Provost Marty Schmidt lays out the facts, some of which have not come through clearly in the media and on social media. I encourage you to read his letter. You will also find thorough coverage in The Tech.

The controversy around this situation has caused great distress for many members of our community, in many quarters. It has also uncovered significant differences within the Institute on several issues.

I would like to reflect on what happened and set us on a path forward. But let me address the human questions first.

To the members of the EAPS community: I am deeply disturbed that as a direct result of this situation, many of you – students, postdocs, faculty and young alumni – have suffered a tide of online targeting and hate mail from outside MIT. This conduct is reprehensible and utterly unacceptable. For members of the MIT community, where we value treating one another with decency and respect, this feels especially jarring.

I encourage anyone who is subjected to harassing or threatening behavior or language to reach out for support and guidance to the Institute Discrimination and Harassment Response (IDHR) office.

I also want to express my tremendous respect for Professor Rob van der Hilst, department head in EAPS, who faced a difficult situation. I know Rob as a person of the highest integrity and character. We are fortunate to have his leadership in EAPS. In this case, when Rob concluded, after consulting broadly, that EAPS could not host an effective public outreach event centered around Professor Abbot, he chose to extend instead an invitation for an on-campus lecture; Rob took this step deliberately to preserve the opportunity for free dialogue and open scientific exchange.

Professor Abbot is a distinguished scientist who remains welcome to speak on the MIT campus, and he has been working with EAPS to confirm the event details.

Nevertheless, there is no doubt that this matter has caused many people inside and outside our community to question the Institute’s commitment to free expression. Some report feeling that certain topics are now off limits at MIT. I have heard these concerns directly from faculty colleagues, alumni and others who care deeply about the Institute.

Let me say clearly what I have observed through more than 40 years at MIT:

Freedom of expression is a fundamental value of the Institute.

I believe that, as an institution of higher learning, we must ensure that different points of view – even views that some or all of us may reject – are allowed to be heard and debated at MIT. Open dialogue is how we make each other wiser and smarter.

This commitment to free expression can carry a human cost. The speech of those we strongly disagree with can anger us. It can disgust us. It can even make members of our own community feel unwelcome and illegitimate on our campus or in their field of study.

I am convinced that, as an institution, we must be prepared to endure such painful outcomes as the price of protecting free expression – the principle is that important.

I am equally certain, however, that when members of our community must bear the cost of other people’s free expression, they deserve our understanding and support. We need to ensure that they, too, have the opportunity to express their own views.

A path forward [emphasis in original]

The issues this situation has brought to the surface are complex. No unilateral declaration on behalf of MIT could either resolve them in the moment or prevent future controversies. So I believe it is vital now that we engage in serious, open discussion together.

As the provost’s letter described, we will begin with a faculty forum, being planned for the last week of October. Discussion in this working session might address questions like these: Given our shared commitment to open inquiry and free expression, are there further steps we should take to practice it consistently? Should we develop guidelines to help groups in their own decision making? Does the concept need more prominence in our curriculum? How should we respond when members of our community bear the disproportionate cost of other people’s speech?

It will be essential in this overall process to include the perspective and experience of graduate and undergraduate students; I have asked Chancellor Melissa Nobles to work with student leaders to decide the best way to do so.

I have also asked Provost Marty Schmidt, Chancellor Nobles and Chair of the Faculty Lily Tsai to begin immediately assembling a special ad hoc working group to consider the insights and lessons we should take away from this situation. I believe this extremely important topic deserves and will benefit from this kind of thoughtful, deliberative, nuanced approach, perhaps including experts from outside MIT. The themes that emerge from the initial faculty forum will help inform the working group’s charge.

From the comments that have come to me directly, I can attest that our community encompasses a wide spectrum of very strong views about what has transpired in these last weeks.

As we cope with the aftermath of this public controversy here at home, let us hold ourselves to the same standards in our interactions with each other as in our intellectual work: To learn more, assume less and ask more – and listen as closely as we can to each other’s ideas, perspectives and experiences.

I hope that, in this moment and always, we will all continue to value and respect each other as fellow members of one community, united in a single great mission.


L. Rafael Reif

Speech generates an externality (“cost” repeatedly mentioned above). Thus, the sensible way to deal with it, according to Econ 101, is to charge people every time that they speak and distribute the funds received (minus an administration fee) to the BIPOC and 2SLGBTQQIA+ members of the community who currently “bear the cost” of this externality. There is already a “Institute Discrimination and Harassment Response (IDHR) office,” according to the above. This office could be tasked with running the tax-and-spend system.

(Note that the above email is self-contradicctory. President Reif says that expression is costing for those who hear it. Yet he says “I believe it is vital now that we engage in serious, open discussion together.” If “open” means that people are going to say things along the lines of what the heretic Dorian Abbot said in Newsweek, i.e., that universities shouldn’t consider skin color in admissions and hiring, won’t that generate a huge cost to be borne by “members of our community”? Wouldn’t this actually be worse than the lecture Professor Abbot was going to give? (the canceled lecture was not on the subject of skin-color-based university policies))


  • “Male Workers Allowed Into Baldwin, Unsettling Residents” (Oberlin Review): Baldwin Cottage is the home of the Women and Trans Collective. The College website describes the dorm as “a close-knit community that provides women and transgendered persons with a safe space for discussion, communal living, and personal development.” Cisgender men are not allowed to live on the second and third floors, and many residents choose not to invite cisgender men to that space. I was angry, scared, and confused. Why didn’t the College complete the installation over the summer, when the building was empty? Why couldn’t they tell us precisely when the workers would be there? Why were they only notifying us the day before the installation was due to begin?
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Corpus Juris Canonici for academic cancellations (MIT)

From a Johns Hopkins professor, “Why the Latest Campus Cancellation Is Different” (Atlantic):

Following a Twitter outcry, a scientist was stopped from giving a lecture at MIT for reasons that had nothing to do with the lecture itself.

For although most outlets have covered [Dorian] Abbot’s disinvitation as but the latest example of an illiberal culture on campus, it is qualitatively different from other recent instances in which invitations have been rescinded—and suggests that the scope of censorship is continuing to morph and expand.

Is Abbot a climate-change denier? Or has he committed some terrible crime? No, he simply expressed his views about the way universities should admit students and hire faculty in the pages of a national magazine.

In other words, cancellation is often a good idea. Suppose, for example, Professor Dr. Dorian Abbot, Ph.D. (colleague of Professor Dr. Jill Biden, M.D., Ph.D.) had expressed skepticism about the latest 100-year simulations. Perhaps Dr. Professor Dorian Abbot, Ph.D., might have noted that his field is one in which the experts rejected plate tectonics and continental drift until the late 1960s. That would have been tantamount to climate-change denial and, therefore, it would make sense to nail Dr. Dorian, Ph.D. to a cross of #FollowTheScience.

On the other hand, the Corpus Juris Canonici does not provide for cancellation, at least according to this Hopkins professor, for the particular infraction of which Professor Dr. Abbot, Ph.D. was guilty (questioning the skin-color-based university admissions systems that have been implemented across the U.S.).

The subtleties are fascinating!


  • “The Diversity Problem on Campus” (Newsweek), the hate-filled article that generated the Tweetstorm leading up to MIT’s cancellation: The new regime is titled “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” or DEI, and is enforced by a large bureaucracy of administrators. Nearly every decision taken on campus, from admissions, to faculty hiring, to course content, to teaching methods, is made through the lens of DEI. This regime was imposed from the top and has never been adequately debated. In the current climate it cannot be openly debated: … [MIT proved Abbot right on that last point!] … DEI compromises the university’s mission. The core business of the university is the search for truth. [??? Harvard spent all of its time searching for truth and just incidentally acquired $42 billion?] We propose an alternative framework called Merit, Fairness, and Equality (MFE) whereby university applicants are treated as individuals and evaluated through a rigorous and unbiased process based on their merit and qualifications alone. Crucially, this would mean an end to legacy and athletic admission advantages, which significantly favor white applicants, … [an athlete does not have more “merit” than someone who watches TV all day?] Viewed objectively, American universities already are incredibly diverse. [because all possible human ages are represented in the range from 18 to 22?]
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