I posted earlier today about a study by Cornell Professors Wendy Williams and Stephen Ceci finding that career and other choices, not discrimination, are the best explanations for the currently low levels of female participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Profs. Williams and Ceci have taken on one of the core beliefs of the discrimination industry, namely that unequal results are the result of unequal opportunities or treatment.
Is it possible that there are people at Cornell even less politically correct than I am?
Yes, it is possible. Even I will not touch the subject of race and IQ, because it is as toxic a subject as there is.
But Profs. Williams and Ceci took on the subject a couple of years ago, calling not for a specific conclusion, but defending the scientific pursuit of the truth, Should scientists study race and IQ? YES: The scientific truth must be pursued (emphasis mine):
The Soviet Union lost a generation of genetics research to the politicization of science when Trofim Lysenko, director of biology under Joseph Stalin, parlayed his rejection of Mendelian genetics into a powerful political scientific movement. By the late 1920s, Lysenko had denounced academics embracing Mendelian genetics, which some said undermined tenets of Soviet society. His efforts to extinguish ‘harmful’ scientific ideas ruined opponents’ careers and delayed scientific progress.
It is difficult to imagine this situation repeating today, when rival views feed the scientific process, and inquiry and debate trump orthodoxy. Yet the spectre of Lysenkoism lurks in current scientific discourse on gender, race and intelligence. Claims that sex- or race-based IQ gaps are partly genetic can offend entire groups, who feel that such work feeds hatred and discrimination. Pressure from professional organizations and university administrators can result in boycotting such research, and even in ending scientific careers.
But hatred and discrimination do not result from allowing scientists to publish their findings, nor does censuring it stamp out hatred. Pernicious folk-theories of racial and gender inferiority predated scientific studies claiming genetic bases of racial differences in intelligence. Even if one does not support such work in the interests of free speech, it should be seen as supporting the scientific process of debate. Important scientific progress on these topics would never have been made without the incentive of disproving one’s critics….
In today’s world, subjective perceptions of scientists’ intent seem to determine a study’s acceptability — work is celebrated if perceived as elevating under-represented groups (as with focuses on women and minorities in the search for personalized medicine), but reviled if perceived as documenting sex and race differences in intelligence without a focus on interventions to eliminate them. Yet many future uses of knowledge cannot be anticipated; Flynn’s research has since been used to overturn death-row sentences for mentally-retarded, disproportionately black defendants, for example.
When scientists are silenced by colleagues, administrators, editors and funders who think that simply asking certain questions is inappropriate, the process begins to resemble religion rather than science. Under such a regime, we risk losing a generation of desperately needed research.
Science becoming religion because of political correctness? Is such a thing really possible?
Can you say “climate change”? “Man-made global warming”? “Al Gore”? “Climategate”?
Related thought — as I’m finishing this post the sun just came out in Ithaca, a rare occurrence in February. A sign?