Deeds, Not Words


Today is as good a day as any to remember William Shockley.

If you are reading this, thank William Shockley.  He invented the silicon transistor.  He and two colleagues won the Nobel Prize for their work in 1956.  He is known as the man who brought silicon to Silicon Valley.

He was also a prick.  Shockley’s management style was characterized as "domineering and increasingly paranoid."  His children couldn’t stand him and found out he was dead from reading the newspaper.  He ran off several of his genius employees at Shockley Semiconductor Laboratories.  These employees went on to start companies like Intel.  The computer you are using, the internets you are browsing and the blogs you reading are all direct offshoots of the work of William Shockley.

He later got into teaching at Stanford.  Though his specialty was to be electric engineering, he got in neck deep over his views on race and the origins of human intelligence. In 1963 he gave a speech at Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota suggesting that the people least competent to survive in the world were the ones reproducing the fastest, while the best of the human population was using birth control and having fewer children.  He may not have been wrong.

He noted that intelligence research showed a genetic factor in intelligence and that tests for IQ indicate that African Americans have an average IQ 15 points lower than the population average.  The question should have been what do the IQ tests really measure and does it really matter?

Shockley believed that the higher rate of reproduction among African Americans was having a "dysgenic" effect, and expressed an interest in eugenics. He thought this work was important to the genetic future of the population, and came to describe it as the most important work of his career, even though it ruined his reputation.  Shockley also proposed that individuals with IQs below 100 be paid to undergo voluntary sterilization.  Try to keep in mind, eugenics attained a scientific consensus comprable to global warming at one point in our history.

Shockley soon found out that Godwin’s Law came into being long before his grandchild, the Internet.  Any mention of eugenics, and then within the next sentence somebody would mention the Nazis, and that ended any intelligent conversation.

So, in memory of a guy whose genius was outstripped by his madness,  I’ll pour a wee dram and put Braveheart on the machine that plays movies, thanks to William Shockey.   After maybe two or three drams, I’ll start to wonder if people will boycott Shockey’s work, too.




12 Responses to “Deeds, Not Words”

  1. Kleinheider Says:

    Excellent post.

  2. Aunt B. Says:

    Your post is so ridiculous I am rendered unable to even begin to know where to start to refute you.

  3. Sarcastro Says:

    Please. We all wait in bemused anticipation for your devastating barrage of withering refutation.When you are done, let me know.

  4. Aunt B. Says:

    Oh, no. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt the gathering of the White Guys Defense League.I really only have two very minor refutations.1. If we judge Shockley and Gibson only by their deeds, they’re still fuckers. You need to advocate judging them not on their words or deeds, but on their work, I think.2. You know our long and ongoing fight we have about how you are constantly selling yourself short and how much that pisses me off? Just go ahead and enter this post into evidence. These guys are fuckers. They’re not misunderstood geniuses with a penchant for putting their feet in their mouths. They’re jackasses. Why defend them? They’re not like you.

  5. Sarcastro Says:

    1. "Work, Not Words" isn’t as catchy a title.2. When one wins the Nobel Prize for physics, it usually involves being a genius. The same could be said for making a subtitled historical epic snuff film aimed at a niche audience and breaking box office records.If you read this post and think it constitutes a defense of the opinions of either of these men, then you have missed the point.

  6. Aunt B. Says:

    Nice sleight of hand, there, Mr. Smartypants. I know I didn’t see this post as a "defense of the opinions of either of these men" and you know I didn’t see this post as such, but it’s deft way to maneuver the conversation to put me on the defensive.Well played.Also, thanks for not noticing that I might have inadvertently suggested that you were a misunderstood genius with a penchant for putting his foot in his mouth. It was early. I was without caffine.But my point stands.

  7. Sarcastro Says:

    The part where you said, "Why defend them?" must have confused me.My lack of caffeine caused me to fail to notice your lack of caffeine.

  8. Exador Says:

    A stream of conciousness led me over to Nicola Tesla, a [sort of] contemporary, fellow Nobel Prize winner, and genius.He was also a believer in eugenics.[…] man’s new sense of pity began to interfere with the ruthless workings of nature. The only method compatible with our notions of civilization and the race is to prevent the breeding of the unfit by sterilization and the deliberate guidance of the mating instinct […]. The trend of opinion among eugenists is that we must make marriage more difficult. Certainly no one who is not a desirable parent should be permitted to produce progeny. A century from now it will no more occur to a normal person to mate with a person eugenically unfit than to marry a habitual criminal.Mmmmm…..

  9. Aunt B. Says:

    Yes, funny how the folks who believe in eugenics are the ones most likely to suddenly become the most desireable to have sex with once women are cut off from the fun guys.

  10. Exador Says:

    So Aunt B equates "The Stupid Guys" with "The Fun Guys".Ya like ’em big and dumb, B?

  11. Aunt B. Says:

    I think we both know the answer to that.

  12. Exador Says:

    "Oh, no. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt the gathering of the White Guys Defense League."We prefer to refer to our organization as the EvilGenius’Organization

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