Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Cult of political correctness

Peter A. Lawrence wrote an essay on Men, Women, and Ghosts in Science, but it was ideologically unacceptable:
An academic row has erupted after one of the world's leading scientific journals refused to publish an article which claims that men and women think differently. ...

In his paper, Mr Lawrence questioned why, when 60 per cent of biology students are female, only 10 per go on to become professors. ...

But Mr Lawrence dismissed "the cult of political correctness" that insists men and women are "equivalent, identical even" and argued that "men and women are born different".

The journal considered the article for seven months and, after making a number of changes, gave Mr Lawrence a publication date, proofs and a chance to order reprints.

But at the last minute he received an e-mail from Donald Kennedy, the editor-in-chief, in which he said that the journal was not going to publish the article.

The piece "did not, at least for us, lead to a clear strategy about how to deal with the gender issue," said Kennedy. ...

Science is reeling from having published two papers that contained the most notorious fraud of recent years, Prof Hwang Woo-Suk's human embryonic stem cell research.

Over two years ago, the journal was also criticised for trying to influence a Congressional debate by publishing a widely reported paper linking the drug ecstasy to brain damage, which was subsequently retracted.
Actually, the article does give suggestions for how to deal with the "gender issue". He says:
Some have a dream that, one fine day, there will be equal numbers of men and women in all jobs, including those in scientific research. But I think this dream is Utopian; it assumes that if all doors were opened and all discrimination ended, the different sexes would be professionally indistinguishable. The dream is sustained by a cult of political correctness that ignores the facts of life -- and thrives only because the human mind likes to bury experience as it builds beliefs. Here I will argue, as others have many times before, that men and women are born different. ...

I have argued that reducing the premium we give to aggression would, in several different ways, lead to more women in science and also to better science. Even so, in this Utopia, I think that far less than 50% of top physicists would be women (and far less than 50% of top professors of literature would be men). But I don't think that would matter -- we would be making better use of the diverse qualities of people. Both women and men might accept that although there is much overlap in the two populations, we are constitutionally different -- a diversity we should be able to celebrate and discuss openly. Both women and men should be leading such discussions with pride.
What the editors don't like is his statement that the "dream is Utopian". Martin Luther King had a dream, and no one likes to be told that his utopian dream is impossible.

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