[...] as if that means anything. I know what they are trying to say,[...]
If you know what they mean, than it means something. Why are you complaining about language not living up to your arbitrary standards when it performs its purpose, to confer meaning?
The assumption behind sexist things is that women are somehow lesser. This means that a man with attributes (e.g. what you said) which are seen as "traditionally female" is assumed to be a "lesser man" because he's more like a woman. And people don't like helping a lesser man because why bother, right?
You don't need a hierarchy to explain the difference, stereotypes will do. Men are not expected to need help, so we don't help them.
If it was a hierarchy, we would expect either "manly" women (better women) or "womanly" men (lesser men) to be preferred, which is not what we observe: Both genders are expected to conform to the stereotype, and are punished for not doing so.
Of course, that still makes the summary wrong, but differently wrong.
nice straw-man you built there
It's not a straw man, as I did not indicate that you meant that gold was not a metal. It is an analogy, and possibly a bad analogy, like your platypus-duck one.
they should have said something like "optical fiber effect replicated in thin air"
If only there was some way to indicate that a phrase wasn't used literally, they could have used that in the title, and then people wouldn't be think they had made air solid and made a fiber out of it.
That is why the assumption that a method outside of science is not helpful in acquiring knowledge is reasonable.
Once can only assume that other cultures smart enough to make radio transmitters would also have similarly short periods during which inefficient methods would be used.
For information transmission, yes. For other uses of EM radiation, not so much.
This does more or less what an optical fiber does: It keeps light on the right path by using differences in refractive index (though I imagine the exact process is different: Optical fibers use total internal reflection, this probably just uses refraction). An optical fiber has the additional advantage of being able to go around corners, but that is not what makes it an optical fiber; the refractive index profile is.
[...] the ideal virus to use as a biological weapon is a virus with long, mostly asymptomatic infectious phase and a high mortality rate.
No, the ideal biological weapon does not spread from person to person. Any disease that does is guaranteed to infect your own population as well; it is basically a gun you can't aim, or a doomsday device (though not literally, it doesn't kill everybody).
As an educated guess, the study into smallpox has been to figure out out why it is so contagious so that we can build our own great contagion.
Or to figure out why it is so contagious, so we can better treat future diseases that uses the same methods. Without more information, it is hard to tell which end goal is more likely.