|Median Absolute Deviation||Research Power||Research Intensiveness||Predicted Rank||Guardian||Complete||Times|
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Sunday, June 21, 2015
'Unbelievably stupid', 'unacceptable, indefensible', 'inappropriate and stupid'. Just some of the criticism levelled at Tim Hunt after his "problem with girls" remarks earlier this month. Yet these remarks were all from those claiming the world – and social media in particular – had overreacted: Athene Donald, various Nobel laureates contacted by The Times, and Hunt's wife.
How much worse then must the social media reaction have been to bring forth comparisons to a 'witch hunt', a 'lynch mob' and 'ISIS in another guise'? Athene Donald, in her blog on the subject, tells us repeatedly to 'look at the evidence', so what does the evidence show?
The Daily Telegraph gives examples such as 'Maybe if less male scientists were such chauvanist [sic] pigs there would be more women in science and technology Tim Hunt?', 'Tim Hunt's comments are so ridiculously horrid they almost qualify as satire. Sadly they are only reflection of sexist reality in #science', 'Well done sexist Tim Hunt for overcoming crying, lovestruck women to win a Nobel. Sadly my career was blighted at an earlier stage.', 'Tim Hunt antiquated comments regarding women. People like him who hold back the process of making workplaces more equal', and 'What an idiot and how damaging for women in science. Glad he had the sense to issue an apology at least.'. The Telegraph also noted that 'Nobel prize winning scientist has resigned after saying women scientists 'cry' and 'fall in love' in laboratories. Now, they're sharing photos on social media, mocking his comments', in the article #DistractinglySexy: Female scientists mock Sir Tim Hunt on Twitter.
So the evidence from the Telegraph for what they term an 'online backlash' is comments that are certainly not significantly worse than those from his supporters, along with women having the temerity to mock the words of a knight of the realm.
It's worth looking at the first responses to these tweets to see how people who spoke out were received: 'Whiner. You're a perfect example as to why women shouldn't be doing anything important.', 'Well, women are the smarter sex so they should have their own working spaces. You go girls!', 'just another man whose professional achievements do not match his humanity', 'I say let the women have their own working spaces so they can show the world they are smarter!'. The last tweet quoted can no longer be found on Twitter, but three of the other four were met with an immediate sexist response. Glancing down the threads it is also clear that more sexist replies came in later, and by searching it is easy to find that the deleted tweet also garnered numerous sexist responses.
What about the Guardian? It says 'He was described on Twitter as “a clueless, sexist jerk”; “a misogynist dude scientist”; while one tweet demanded that the Royal Society “kick him out”.' Again, the responses are instructive: only one had an immediate sexist response, but it was the only one from a woman: 'just keep your head up your ass and exit the building. Thanks.'
There has been plenty of abuse online around #TimHunt – aimed at women who spoke out. But nowhere in the press coverage do we see this reflected. The stories are about how Tim Hunt was hounded out of office by 'Feminist Bullies' (Daily Mail, who I refuse to link to), and how hard done by he is. Despite UCL's clear statement that 'Media and online commentary played no part in UCL's decision to accept his resignation.', we still have the Times claiming his fall was caused by a Twitter 'lynch mob' and Richard Dawkins blaming a 'witch hunt' by 'academic thought police'.
There is a witch hunt out there, but it's not against Tim Hunt. It's against those women brave enough to speak out publicly against sexism.
Friday, June 12, 2015
*Note: this second paragraph was the final paragraph of the press release when I wrote this blog. Others have since been added.
Thursday, April 30, 2015
Chair: So we've heard the Third Oldest University in England debate between the four contenders. I'm joined now by Jessica and John to analyse what we have heard and maybe even draw some conclusions. Firstly I'd like to ask you both what you thought of the debate?
Universitatis:Of these two universities, one founded in 1826 but not incorporated until 1836, the other both founded and incorporated in 1829, the question is – which is the older? Which is the third oldest in England, and which the fourth? The answer can be found on the King's College website: "King's is … the fourth oldest university in England".Regis:Not everything on websites is accurate, for example UCL's claim that "In 1878, it became the first university in England to admit women students on equal terms with men." This despite continuing to bar women from courses in engineering and medicine! Sad to say, webpage writers don't always check their facts very well.Universitatis:This must be the first example in history, then, of under-claiming rather than over-claiming! Can anyone really believe that they wouldn't put "third oldest university" on their website instead of 'fourth" if they thought they had even the faintest claim?But it's not just the website. In the 2016 prospectus, Professor Edward Byrne, President and Principal of King's, says "Since it was established in 1829, England's fourth oldest university has established a world-class reputation." This cannot be read as anything other than an endorsement of the claim of the only university established before 1829: UCL.
Regis:It is also worth looking further at Johnson's definition of a university as "a school, where all the arts and faculties are taught and studied". As Universitatis notes, this was taken as true by many others, including Newman. While we now recognise that this comes from a false etymology, at the time it was believed to be correct by educated people – and thus is deserving of attention.It is ironic that Universitatis raised this, for Newman spends the entirety of his second discourse in "The Idea of a University" explaining why UCL's lack of theology teaching disqualifies it from being a university. Indeed, the first institution to teach "all the arts and faculties" was King's, which included teaching in theology from the start. By this definition, which was believed correct by many educated people at the time, King's is the third oldest university.
Dunelmensis:It really isn't hard to tell which of these is the third oldest university. A more debatable question is which was the fourth – for the federal Victoria University, now the University of Manchester following mergers with Owen's College in 1903 and with UMIST in 2004, had teaching through the colleges of the federation twenty years before London became anything other than an examining board. It may sound foolish to claim Manchester predates London, but in truth Manchester has a better claim to be the fourth university in England than London has to be the third, for Manchester's claim to fourth would rest on meeting all of the qualities of a university while London's claim to third relies on meeting certain cherry-picked qualities while failing on others.
Dunelmensis:It follows logically that if degree awarding powers are essential to being a university then Durham gained them in 1832 when it was made a university, before London. The only way that Durham could have not been granted degree awarding powers in 1832 is if they were not essential to being a university – in which case Durham's foundation as a university in 1832 is still earlier than London's.
Londoniensis:[I]f I may make so bold as to quote one of UCL's own professors, Henry Malden, in his Origin of Universities and Academical Degrees, "In later times, the name university came to have a technical meaning when applied to a place of education. It was given to those bodies only which had the power of conferring degrees. This power was held to be an essential element of a university."…[H]ere are the words of William Tooke – Lawyer, MP, member of UCL's senate, and sometime chair of their executive committee – in his Statement of Facts on their charter. Tooke says that the charter has the effect of "reducing [UCL's] style to that of College, and thereby precluding it granting degrees", and later calls it "a barren collegiate Charter, not worth the parchment on which it should be engrossed" and "a Charter which could have been had as a matter of course, like that of King's College, at any time since 1826".…It is clear that, in the 19th century, UCL and its backers knew full well that it had failed in its bid to become a university; that it should now claim to be the third oldest is nothing short of a rewriting of history.
Londiniensis:And in the 1853 edition of the Standard Library Cyclopedia "The universities of Great Britain are Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, London, St. Andrew's, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Dublin." – no mention of either UCL or King's. Similarly other lists of universities from that time omit the two colleges.Dunelmensis:A little later we find that the Encyclopedia Britannica from 1842, referenced by Regis, lists four universities in England. The Penny Cyclopaedia from the following year lists the same four universities. These were Oxford and Cambridge, founded in antiquity; Durham, which was founded in 1831, a university from 1832, opened in 1833, and awarded its first degrees in 1837; and London, founded 1836 or 37
Dunelmensis:[L]et us look at Edinburgh. There, as with Durham, permission was given to an existing corporation – the town in Edinburgh's case, the cathedral in Durham's – to found a university. Again like Durham, Edinburgh was founded by royal permission – via a royal charter to the town for Edinburgh, by act of parliament for Durham. Still like Durham, Edinburgh received no powers explicitly in its charter. But Edinburgh went ahead, without any explicit grant of degree awarding powers. Just as Durham had its powers confirmed by royal charter, Edinburgh was confirmed by an act of the Scottish parliament: but in Edinburgh's case this didn't happen until 1621, over 30 years after it started conferring degrees – solid evidence that this confirmation was just that and not a ratification.…The University of Edinburgh was founded, just like Durham, by a corporation – the town in Edinburgh's case, the cathedral in Durham's. Again like Durham, Edinburgh was founded by royal permission – via a royal charter to the town for Edinburgh, by act of parliament for Durham. Still like Durham, Edinburgh received no powers explicitly in its charter. But Edinburgh went ahead, without any explicit grant of degree awarding powers.
Universitatis:Nobody thought Edinburgh was any less a university for its not being incorporated, demonstrating conclusively that incorporation is not necessary to be considered a university and that to establish priority we must look either the date of foundation, or the date on which an institution began operating as a university by teaching students. By either of these measures, UCL predates King's by three years and should thus be considered the third oldest university in England.Regis:While the University of Edinburgh was not itself incorporated, it was established by the auspices of the town corporation, which had received royal permission for its foundation. Clearly if the monarch – King James VI of Scotland, later James I of England, in this instance – gives a corporation the right to set up a university as a trust that is very different from a group of private citizens forming an unincorporated association and calling it a university!Universitatis:If UCL had been simply an ad hoc association of teachers, Regis might have a point. But that was not the case. UCL was founded with legally recognised deeds of association, in a manner authorised under acts of parliament. That it was unincorporated was a peculiarity of the semi-developed corporate law in that period of history; by 1844 the law had changed and UCL's form of association would have been legally incorporated. As it stands, UCL was at least as incorporated as Edinburgh or Durham.Regis:UCL's association lacked the royal approval that is necessary for the founding of a university. In the cases of both Durham and Edinburgh, royal.approval is explicit in the formation of the university. That is quite distinct from incorporation, and distinct again from a privately-established joint stock company.
Universitatis:University College London is the oldest institute here. That is not disputed. It was founded as a England's third university under the name of London University. That is an historical fact. We have to prove nothing – The burden of proof lies with our opponents to show that there is a flaw in our claim.You have heard a number of claims from Dunelmensis and Londiniensis saying that degree-granting powers are necessary to be a university. This was certainly what some people thought, but I submit that they have failed to prove that this was a universally accepted definition and that there is evidence that alternative views were held by some.There is also some evidence, from the Privy Council no less, that there was no actual legal limitation on degree awarding powers at the time, only a kind of moral control. Legal recognition of degrees came not through the power to grant them but through separate acts of parliament, such as the Attornies and Solicitors Act in 1837.If, then, there was no such thing as degree awarding powers, this can clearly not be part of what defines a university.You have also heard it claimed that a university must be incorporated, but the precedent of the University of Edinburgh proves that false. The only thing that truly defines a university is teaching, making UCL the third oldest university.
Dunelmensis:There are two key points I want to emphasise.Firstly: there were only four recognised universities in England in the mid 19th century – the two ancient universities, Durham and London. UCL and King's were simply not regarded as universities.Secondly, London's claim to be older is a logical impossibility. If being a university requires degree-awarding powers, then when King and Parliament establish a university these powers must obviously be included, otherwise they aren't actually establishing a university. In this scenario, Durham had its powers in 1832, before London, and is therefore the older.Alternatively, degree awarding powers are not necessary to be a university and it is possible, therefore, that Durham did not possess them at its foundation and London may have had them first. But then these powers don't matter in terms of defining a university, and Durham is still the older.It is not logically possible for degree awarding powers to be both necessary and not implicit in Durham's establishment. King and Parliament made Durham a university in 1832, the third one established in England. It was the third university to teach degree courses and the third to award degrees.The conclusion is inescapable: Durham is the third oldest university in England.
Regis:King's college mirrors UCL in many respects, yet is the younger institution both in terms of foundation and teaching. How, then, can we make a claim to be older as a university?You have heard that the example of Edinburgh demonstrates that incorporation is not required – this is true, but incomplete. Edinburgh dates its foundation as a university to its establishment – as a college – by royal permission.That is what UCL lacks – official recognition. King's had that from 1829, Durham from 1832, but UCL not until 1836. King's was established as a college by royal permission in 1829. With the example of the University of Edinburgh before us, we claim our establishment as a university from that date, making us the third oldest university in England.
Londoniensis:In the final analysis, there were only two universities founded in the first half of the 19th century in England: London and Durham. UCL and King's were simply not recognised as being universities, even by the UCL-linked Penny Cyclopaedia.The question then is which was founded first: Durham or London. This is complicated by Durham's foundation taking place over many years. In 1832, Parliament gave Durham Cathedral's chapter permission to found a university. This was not the founding, this was permission to carry out that founding. As I have shown, it was give more years before they completed their task by obtaining a royal charter to incorporate the university, grant them degree awarding powers along with the other rights and privileges of a university, and confirm what they had done.
By the time they had this royal charter, in June 1837, London had already been chartered as a university for over six months. That is the truth if the matter, and it leads to the conclusion that London is England's third oldest university.
Chair: Thank you Dunelmensis. Londiniensis?
Chair: Yes. Thank you for that. Regis?
Chair: Quite. Universitatis?
Chair: Thank you. Well, we've heard the opening statements, we're now going to move on to the debate proper. Each representative will give two speeches in turn, with other contenders allowed to interrupt with points and questions. For the first round of speeches we will start with Londiniensis.
Chair: Thank you. I think we had better move on. Regis?
Chair: Thank you. If we could move on to Universitatis's speech…
Chair: Thank you. Let's move on to Dunelmensis.
Chair: Thank you all for that. For the next round we start with Regis.
Chair: Thank you. Lets move on.
Chair: Thank you. We had better move on to our final speech.
Chair: Thank you all. To finish, we will hear summary statements from the contenders.
Chair: Thank you to all of our contenders.