Archive for French politics

Nature French tidbits

Posted in Books, pictures, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 4, 2021 by xi'an

As I was going over breakfast through a pile of Nature journals I hadn’t time to read, I came across this issue of 27 May with an editorial about the closure of the École Nationale d’Administration (ÉNA) by Emmanuel Macron (who graduated from ÉNA). While I have no opinion about the school or its closure (although it sounds more like a populist move than an in-depth reshuffle of the French high administration), the editorial did not seem particularly relevant or appropriate for a journal like Nature. While complaining about the lack of scientific training for the (higher) civil servants, it also pointed out at the lack of research agenda and  at the absence of a professorial body. Which would seem indeed surprising were it a regular academic body, which it is not as it trains civil servants who already hold one or several graduate degrees, incl. some from Polytechnique… Again, I have no opinion on the reformation of that school but a lack of social diversity and a fetishism of bureaucratic rules would sound like more immediate areas demanding improvement.

A second paper in this same issue was about the highly controversial figure of Didier Raoult, who was turned into a modern saint by social networks for defending hydroxychloroquine as the way to treat COVID-19, who objected in Le Monde to mathematical modelling, and who is now under investigation by the Medical Council. A microbiologist pointing out “many potential problems with the way the data and the peer review process were handled” in one then many of his papers is the recipient of a criminal complaint by Raoult and one of his coauthors, Chabrière, for “moral harassment”. Which sounds absurd, as with more than 3000 publications cosigned by Raoult, one would think that all are open to criticisms and some are statistically bound to contain errors or mistakes!

Rapatriement des enfants et de leurs mères détenus dans des camps en Syrie

Posted in Kids with tags , , , , , , on June 27, 2021 by xi'an

it’s complicated…

Posted in pictures, Statistics with tags , , , , , , on June 21, 2021 by xi'an


Yesterday saw a first round of the regional and departmental elections in France, with a terribly low participation (around 30% of the voters, except in Corsica where 56% of the voters voted)…. [The map here is about the departmental elections, with departments being delineated in white and the subdivisions corresponding to the cantons. Corse/Corsica is “missing” because it is now a single entity. Same thing about Paris.] The only nice surprise about this outcome is that abstention particularly impacted the lepenist votes, which almost uniformly went down compared with the previous regional elections. And hence that the ill chances that a region gets a nazional majority are lowered. Although it is difficult to analyse why: polls were predicting a brown sludge tsunami, the gilets jaune movement (or morass) is not yet over and mostly aligned with the populist themes of the RN, and (some) people  seem unhappy with about any decision taken by any level of authority during the Covid-19 crisis. It will be interesting to watch the second round final results, next week, but I doubt we will see a voting surge happening, esp. since the frontist danger is now downplayed.

la remise en cause des mathématiques comme outil exclusif de reproduction de la bourgeoisie

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2021 by xi'an


A tribune that was published by Le Monde a few days ago celebrates the end of the “dominance of mathematics [in high school programs] as the unique reproduction medium of the bourgeoisie”, in  connection with a recent reformation of French high school programs where students have to specialise in only three topics in their final years. This change has led to a major drop both in the number of students studying maths and in the contents of the maths curriculum. As a result, there will less students entering university with a basic maths background and an overall regression in their level. At a time when international scores show French pupils are on average the worst ones in Europe and when the French government has huge ambitions to develop national AI companies,  this drift should be most concerning… But not for the author of the tribune, a high school professor of history and geography, who is most happy in the rise of students specialising in his subject, with a caricaturesque opinion on the inegalitarian role of mathematics:

“[la réforme] devait dès lors permettre, par le jeu des nouvelles spécialités, l’expression d’aptitudes plus diverses et d’en finir avec la prééminence systématique des mathématiques comme instrument de sélection scolaire et sociale.” [the reformation should then allow through new specialties to account for a wider range of abilities and to end the systemic preeminence of mathematics as a tool for school and social selection]

“[les mathématiques] demeurent le choix privilégié des mâles CSP + soucieux de préserver leur rang social” [mathematics still are the favoured option of higher class males afraid to loose their social position]

“[la spécialité histoire-géographie-sciences politiques] doit contribuer à la promotion sociale des plus défavorisés et à la remise en cause des mathématiques comme outil exclusif de reproduction de la bourgeoisie.” [the history, geography and political science specialty must contribute to the social promotion of the least favoured and to the demotion of mathematics as the unique instrument of preservation of the bourgeoisie]

If it was not so sadly representative of a general perception of mathematics within the global population and among the high administration of the Education Ministry, the outdated ideological tone of the tribune would have been quite hilarious.

le joli mois de mai [10/05/1981]

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 10, 2021 by xi'an