Stay at home for decency

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

Einstein was a racist we're now told.  So, as well as being less than progressive in his attitudes to family, it seems that Mr E has been caught expressing less than equitable views about people of ethnicities other than his own.  I'm relying on News Zimbabwe (essential reading, I find) for this insight.

Albert Einstein’s racist attitudes towards Chinese people have been revealed following the publication of travel diaries he kept during a visit to Asia in the 1920s.  The previously unseen journals have been published by Princeton University Press, documenting the scientist’s five-and-a-half month travels between 1922 and 1923 to China, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan, as well as Palestine and Spain.  The publisher describes the diaries as detailing Einstein’s “quirky, succinct, and at times irreverent” musings on science, philosophy, art and politics, adding the handwritten journals also reveal his “stereotyping of members of various nations and raise questions about his attitudes on race.”

This will bring some belated comfort to the University of Bern which, in 1907, turned his down his application for a doctorate / associate professor post.  The university's Dean of Sciences, Wilhelm Heinrich, wrote:

"We find that your conclusions about the nature of light and the fundamental connection between space and time are somewhat radical.  Overall, we find your assumptions to be more artistic than actual physics."

The BBC's take on the Chinese slur offers some balance in that it contrasts the young person and the more mature man who worked against racism in the USA.

But does any of this discredit his views on gravity or spacetime?  Does it mean we should think less of his abilities to think about the physical world?  I hope not as it would be a very stupid thing to do.  However, if you're feeling upset by any of this, and want to make a personal protest (like those of us who refused to buy South African fruit in the 1970s and 80s), why not refuse to use GPS any more.  That'll show racists everywhere you're not to be pushed around ...

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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