Update 12/6: Here's a vastly more exhaustive response to Watson and Clint than mine. Great stuff.
For your viewing pleasure, I give you a controversial talk by feminist skeptic Rebecca Watson:
A lot of people seem to be impressed with this excoriation of Watson, by one Ed Clint, but I'm not so impressed. In fact, I'm amazed. If Watson's talk amounts to "science denialism" then there are piles of books and articles that belong in the trash with the classic instances of denialism--holocaust denialism, climate change denialism, and evolution denialism. If Watson is a denialist, so is Cordelia Fine, author of Delusions of Gender -- Fine also subjects a huge pile of science to a withering critique. If Watson is a denier, so is Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, author of The Woman that Never Evolved--she also critiques existing science for being biased by prevailing gender norms.
A denialist cheerleader is going to be Jerry Coyne, who writes "I am a fan of 'feminist science criticism': the idea that
women can sometimes point out male biases in research strategies and in
the interpretation of scientific results" in a post supporting Slate writers Emily Yoffe and Amanda Schaffer, who had trashed a science article on rape. And let's not forget people who have critiqued science for its racist biases--if feminist critics of science are denialist, we'd better call Stephen Jay Gould a denialist too. That's a lot of denialists!
Right. None of them are denialists. Rebecca Watson is not a science denialist. She's simply engaging in feminist science criticism, with a focus on how media and business interests stoke the fires of sexism. It's a separate question whether she's doing what she's doing well, but the kind of thing she's doing is perfectly legitimate, and in fact valuable.
The other objection we get early in Ed Clint's post is that she has the wrong credentials. "Watson is known for her blog website, as co-host of a popular skeptic
podcast, and for speaking at secular and skeptic conferences. But Watson
holds no scientific training or experience." (Holds? Whatever!) Again, you have to be consistent. If it's a problem that Watson has insufficient science credentials, it's got to be a problem that Emily Yoffe and Amanda Shaffer aren't scientists, and neither are my favorite science journalists, like Robert Wright, Matt Ridley, and Natalie Angier. Many people make excellent pundits and popularizers, without first getting degrees in the relevant subject. No--come on!--Watson's lack of science training isn't really an appropriate basis for complaint.
I'm afraid I lost interest in the post soon after the bits about denialism and Watson's credentials, so can't tell you what I think about the 50 billion errors Clint claims to have found in the talk. Listen for yourself. It's fun and interesting, and you simply have to love the way Watson's hair and top match the lectern.