Talk:William Shockley

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Shockley was not a nice person. I'll paraphrase what I am reading in The Disappear Spoon by Sam Kean: Shockley tried to make a silicon amplifier (transistor) for 2 years, but failed. He dumped the project onto his underlings Bardeen and Brattain. Those two built the first transistor using Germanium in December 1947, while Shockley was in Paris for Christmas. Shockley set out to steal credit from Bardeen and Brattain. And guess what? it worked. Bardeen was so disgusted he quit Bell Labs.

Regarding the picture you feature in the article: "[Shockley] hurried back from Paris and wedged himself back into the transistor picture, often literally. In Bell Labs publicity photos showing the 3 men supposedly at work, he's always standing between Bardeen and Brattain ... forcing the other two to peer over his shoulders like mere assistants."

Not satisfied with being a total dirt bag as a manager (that's my writing) "[Shockley] advocated that poor people and minorities be paid to get sterilized and stop diluting humankind's collective IQ."

Just because someone gets a Nobel doesn't mean they deserved it.

James Foit — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:19, 18 March 2017 (UTC)

Sources about the life and work of William Shockley[edit]

William Shockley led an exceptionally well documented life. He was still a rather young man when he was one of three co-winners of the Nobel Prize in physics for their work on developing the transistor, and thereafter his activities were reported regularly in the public press. Shockley followed his mother May, who lived a long and active life of her own, in the habit of keeping most of his personal papers and correspondence for his entire lifetime. Shockley granted many press interviews and frequently spoke at public events with reporters present. He is also well known to have tape-recorded the majority of his telephone calls later in life. All of Shockley's vast supply of collected papers was donated to the Stanford University libraries after his death. Shockley's authorized biographer, Joel Shurkin, paged through box after box after box of the materials in the Shockley archives while preparing his biography of Shockley, and Shockley's widow even arranged to have the doors of personal safes that Shockley owned blown open so that Shurkin could see the papers inside those.

This article deserves much better sourcing than it has received over the years. The editing pattern of this article for as long as I have been a Wikipedian (since 2010) has included numerous I.P. edits that delete reliably sourced, inline-cited content. An article about a winner of the Nobel Prize who had a well documented life really ought to be a featured article here on Wikipedia, but this article has never even reached "good article" status. It's time for all of us to be conscientious about looking up reliable, published sources about Shockley and referring to those as further edits proceed. This article has not improved significantly for a long time, and is still subject to I.P. deletions of sourced content. In this talk page section, I'll note some sources that are convenient for all Wikipedians to look up. First I will list sources about Shockley's life or work that can readily be found online with a Google search on Shockley's name. Most of these are available as free full-text articles to all Wikipedians. The Time magazine article by Shockley's colleague Gordon Moore cited here, which is paywalled, is widely available in public and academic libraries and I have the full text of the Time article. In a later posting to this talk page section, I will list other useful sources.

  • Nobel Foundation (1964) [1956]. "William B. Shockley - Biographical". Nobel Lectures, Physics 1942-1962. Elsevier. Retrieved 3 May 2015.  This biographical article about Shockley's life was written the year he won the Nobel Prize (1956), and later published in book form (1964) and is now posted on the World Wide Web by the Nobel Foundation. It is of course current only to the year when it was written.
  • ScienCentral and The American Institute of Physics (1999). "Bill Shockley, Part 1". Transistorized!. PBS. Retrieved 3 May 2015.  This article focuses on the development of the transistor but covers the whole course of William Shockley's life. It is posted on the World Wide Web by the Public Broadcasting Service of the United States.
  • Levy, Dawn (22 October 2002). "William Shockley: Still controversial, after all these years" (Press release). Stanford News Service. Retrieved 3 May 2015.  This article by the news service of Stanford University, the base of Shockley's activities at the end of his life, reports on a gathering of Shockley friends and colleagues, including Shockley's widow, who looked back on Shockley's career, focusing on his role in the semiconductor industry. It is posted to the World Wide Web by the Stanford News Service.
  • Saxon, Wolfgang (14 August 1989). "William B. Shockley, 79, Creator of Transistor and Theory on Race". New York Times. Retrieved 21 July 2007. He drew further scorn when he proposed financial rewards for the genetically disadvantaged if they volunteered for sterilization.  The obituary for William Shockley published in the New York Times covers the whole course of Shockley's life. It is posted on the World Wide Web by the New York Times.
  • "William Shockley". Southern Poverty Law Center. 2015. Retrieved 3 May 2015.  This article by staff writers of the Southern Poverty Law Center focuses on Shockley's public statements on eugenics and race, a topic the center specializes in tracking. It is posted on the World Wide Web by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

There are a lot of well documented, published, reliable sources to read about Shockley. Let's read those and do a good job together updating and improving this article. -- WeijiBaikeBianji (talk, how I edit) 13:55, 28 July 2015 (UTC) (Above suggestions of sources updated with comments on each source at time of new signature stamp here.) -- WeijiBaikeBianji (talk, how I edit) 16:29, 31 July 2015 (UTC)

Your comment that the article "is still subject to I.P. deletions of sourced content" seems a rather backhanded accusation that my removals are unjustified. You've presented an odd mix of sources here - some such as the Nobel Prize Foundation are highly important and prominent, yet you've also mixed in other such as the Southern Poverty Law Center that are far less so. The Nobel Prize Foundation does not mention Shockley's view's on race, and neither does the Mayo Clinic article, or the American Physical Society article. In general, the most prominent and high-quality sources about Shockley's life either don't discuss his views on race, or discuss them only in passing. He's known primarily as a physicist and inventor.
This proportion should be reflected in the article. The pre-established version of the article was fine in this respect, but adding multiple lengthy quotes about his views on race is an example of giving excessive weight to low-prominence sources. If the article is to include lengthy quotes from Shockley, the majority of them should relate to his contributions to physics. (talk) 14:18, 28 July 2015 (UTC)
Hi,, thanks for your comments. I've added some comments about the sources noted above (with a new signature timestamp after the previous signature timestamp) and I'll add some more sources, with comments, below.
  • Riordan, Michael; Hoddeson, Lillian (1997). Crystal Fire: The Invention of the Transistor and the Birth of the Information Age. Sloan Technology Series. New York: Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-04124-8. Lay summaryTechnology and Culture review by Arthur P. Molella (10 December 2014).  This book is a history of the development of the transistor and of the semiconductor industry. It is based on extensive interviews with contemporaries of Shockley and press reports published during his lifetime. It is widely available in libraries.
  • Tucker, William H. (2007) [first published 2002]. The funding of scientific racism: Wickliffe Draper and the Pioneer Fund. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-07463-9. Lay summary (10 December 2014).  This book is an academic book mostly about the history of the Pioneer Fund, which for a while was the major source of funding for Shockley's public advocacy of eugenic policies. Author Professor William Tucker took care to consult the William Bradford Shockley papers in the Stanford University archives and made a number of path-finding discoveries by carefully examining Shockley's correspondence. Many of the Pioneer Fund grantees and staff have not made their papers available to historians after their deaths, and the fund operated rather secretively during Shockley's lifetime. But Shockley's habit of saving his correspondence, both copies of his outgoing correspondence and all the correspondence he received, allowed Tucker to document and verify many relationships among persons funded by the Pioneer Fund and their exact words at datable moments in history that had been suspected but not proven by historians for years before. Shockley's habits have considerably advanced the historical study of the topic of Tucker's book, and Shockley is described in detail in the book based on his words from both public statements and personal correspondence and also from contemporary press accounts. This book is a major source for updates to this Wikipedia article and is available in most academic libraries.
  • Shurkin, Joel (2006). Broken Genius: The Rise and Fall of William Shockley, Creator of the Electronic Age. Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-4039-8815-7. Lay summary (10 December 2014).  Joel Shurkin's book is the authorized biography of William Shockley, and is based on extensive interviews with contemporaries of Shockley and deep dives into the William Bradford Shockley papers in the Stanford University archives. Shurkin, like Shockley, was long based at Stanford University and knows many of Shockley's colleagues. His earlier book Shurkin, Joel (1992). Terman's Kids: The Groundbreaking Study of How the Gifted Grow Up. Boston (MA): Little, Brown. ISBN 978-0-316-78890-8. Lay summary (2 June 2013).  also relied on digging into the Stanford University archives and included reporting on the development of the semiconductor industry. Shurkin makes clear what a wealth of source material he had to rely on for his research into Shockley's life because of Shockley's habit of saving his personal papers:

Uncovering such a complex saga seemed daunting at first. Fortunately, Shockley's family shared one strange quirk. They never threw anything out. Several rooms and the garage at the Shockley home on the Stanford campus were stuffed with documents, letters, folders, computer, video and audiotapes, notebooks, diaries, memos, and files. We had to crack open two safes to get at all the material. And that didn't include the dozens of boxes already donated to the Stanford University archives, more than 60 linear feet of stuff, unimaginable stuff. The Shockley family was in some ways both a biographer's delight and worst nightmare.

— Joel Shurkin, Broken Genius: The Rise and Fall of William Shockley, Creator of the Electronic Age (2006) page viii

Finally, this book would have been impossible without the kindness and encouragement of Emmy Shockley, Bill's widow. She desperately wanted his story told. Whether this book is what she had in mind, I don't know. I'll find out. She asked for no control over the content and was given none, but she was extraordinarily helpful, to the point of letting me virtually move into the house and set up shop in Bill's office. She had two safes blown open so I could get at the contents. She spent countless hours with me, and even in her 80s had a memory that was almost scary. She was never wrong in her remembrances and her recall of details was awesome. Now beginning her 90s, she has been waiting for this book even longer than I have. No man had a more loyal lover or supporter than Bill had in Emmy. No biographer had a better ally.

— Joel Shurkin, Broken Genius: The Rise and Fall of William Shockley, Creator of the Electronic Age (2006) page 285

I must also thank the wondrous staff of Stanford's library system. I am never happier than when I'm in a library doing research (we all have our pecularities) and Stanford's library is a joy – beautiful, serene, and full. Bill left his papers and memorabilia to the library and his archives are beyond complete. I spent mystifying months pouring [sic] through the dozens of boxes. I once told a friend the records contained everything except a laundry list and – I'm not making this up – the next day I found a laundry list. I have no idea why he saved it. I have no idea why he saved many of the things he saved, including things – as you will have seen – that he should not have saved.

— Joel Shurkin, Broken Genius: The Rise and Fall of William Shockley, Creator of the Electronic Age (2006) pages 285–286
  • Goodell, Rae (1977). The visible scientists. Little Brown. ISBN 0-316-32000-5.  This book is a study of scientists who have highly visible public careers, based on a doctoral dissertation by the author, and featuring extensive interviews with Shockley and other scientists profiled in the book. Shurkin relies on this book as a source, but it is good to look at the book directly for contemporary context on Shockley's public activities. This book is a bit hard to find in libraries but I readily obtained a copy from my local library, which has a very large collection and an excellent computerized catalog.
There are of course plenty of other good sources about Shockley's life, especially because he was fond of seeking press coverage (as is more than adequately documented in the sources already mentioned). The Associated Press obituary for Shockley was published in many newspapers, and there are other short articles about Shockley in many sources, including reference books about scientists, that summarize his life and career and can guide us Wikipedians in what the overall course of his life and career looked like to people looking back on it., there is an interesting template for biography articles on Wikipedia maintained by the WikiProject Biography (I have no role in editing or maintaining the template) that suggests an approach to the publicly expressed political or social views of a biography article subject: "Wikipedia is not a soapbox for individuals to espouse their views. However, views held by politicians, writers, and others may be summarized in their biography only to the extent those views are covered by reliable sources that are independent of the control of the politician, writer, etc." In view of that advice, and in view of your thoughtful comment that "He's known primarily as a physicist and inventor", I will try an article edit in a while linking to the template and explaining that there may not yet be good sourcing (at all) in the article for Shockley's political views, as too few of the sources have been independent of Shockley in that section of the article. I'm sure reasonable minds can differ after my edit, which is intended to fix a problem and initiate discussion here on the article talk page. Let's read the sources carefully--they are extremely interesting, as Shockley led a very colorful life--and let's improve the article collaboratively to properly reflect the best reliable sources on his life. -- WeijiBaikeBianji (talk, how I edit) 16:29, 31 July 2015 (UTC)

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Shockley's racist views on the genetics of black people[edit]

I am surprised that this article does not cover Dr Shockley's widely publicized and controversial theories on eugenics which basically argued that black people were genetically de-evolving. It destroyed his reputation and career. Please see here and here.4meter4 (talk) 04:51, 4 July 2016 (UTC)

SPLC is a political activist group, not a reliable source. As I recall, the event you are referring to is Shockley's TV debate where he was arguing that dysgenics for intelligence for stronger for Blacks than for Whites. Over time, this would lead to (possibly wider) genetic divergence in intelligence for those two populations. Is there a particular reason you want attention to this aspect of his writings and interviews on that topic? --Deleet (talk) 20:11, 2 October 2016 (UTC)

Please read the SPLC links with quotes directly from Shockley himself. He was a great scientist and a terrible person. Paradox. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:03, 7 July 2017 (UTC)