Friday, February 18, 2005

Being Politically Ill

Larry Summers, the president of Harvard University on January 14, had the gall to spur academic debate.

In a nutshell, he claimed that women seem to be avoiding significant involvement in the scientific disciplines, among others. Relying on scientific data and pulling together several differing opinions, he essentially attempted to spark a debate to create understanding as to why women are not well represented in the sciences (presuming that representation of any kind is necessary in a laboratory, of course). While acknowledging its existence, Summers downplayed the involvement of sex discrimination and seemed to place the disparity more on women's desires to have families and scientific employers' desire to have employees who will be more dedicated to career than distracted by day to day and moment to moment family needs. And he even questioned whether men and women have different aptitudes in different areas. And that made some perpetually unhappy people positively livid.

The issue is very well digested here (courtesy of Powerline).

Many professors walked out, one claiming that it made her physically ill to be present at the event where her excruciatingly bitter orthodox beliefs might be challenged. But I think she was made more "politically" ill.

Summers has since needlessly apologized for what was essentially the primary duty of the head of a major university in the free world. He invited discussion, research, and debate. Read his remarks carefully. He makes very clear that he is not certain whether he is right or wrong.

The reaction of the professors though reveals what many conservatives have long believed, namely that such professors are so hopelessly steeped in leftist political orthodoxy, that they are unwilling or unable to seek facts to understand truths.

So, far from being institutions of higher learning and discovery, universities have become fortresses for the left. Rather than teaching wisdom and constantly pursuing fact and truth, they close their minds to anything but the sexual, pacifist and socialist revolution of the 1960s. So to some degree, students are being graded on how well they talk the talk.

And this is the arrogance of the left. They presume that they are especially enlightened and that they need not explore the veracity of their beliefs any further. Because these people cannot tolerate truth when it conflicts with their dogma. Are these really the minds we want teaching our children? Because they are really politically ill.


Excellent reader comment, and while my reader may come from the left, I don't know him well enough to know if he is arrogant or not. And arrogance comes from both sides. It doesn't take a liberal...

The gender debate often misses that thing called science, which may to some degree explain why some of these professors took more than the usual umbridge at this challenge to their inculcated beliefs. I have heard of similar research as the reader quotes which leads me to the biggest fallacy of the gender movement.

Equality does not mean sameness. It does not mean that there should be an equal distribution of men and women in every field. And in fact, it may mean specialties in various physical and mental disciplines where one gender has a markedly greater proficiency than the other. We're made differently, not better or worse. We're meant to accept and enjoy the differences, not resent them.


Blogger jwb said...

You can read the text of his actual speech at

There is plenty of blame to go around. Summers actually asserts that "there are issues of intrinsic aptitude" that keep women from excelling (more so than socialization or discriminatory factors). In doing so, he was making an unfounded/unsupported statement. Instead of stating it as fact, he should have posited as a question?

On the other hand, I do think that many of his critics are so sensitive on the issue that they can't even discuss the differences between men and women. And that is unproductive.

I saw a recent report (of course I can't find it now) that sited studies showing that because of differences in brain development, girls' aptitude for math develops four years after boys. That creates a problem, because most math instruction is taught for the boys' math development time frame. Thus, when girls are ready to learn, they are turned off to the subject-matter, because our educational systems have passed them by.

In addition, there is mounds of evidence that when girls learn math and science in girls only classes, they do just as well as boys. Of course, how many girls only classes are there.

Thus, they don't lack the "intrinsic apptitude", they just learn differently from boys. Which is neither good nor bad, it just is.

Summers should have addressed those issues more.

P.S. - I'm part of the left, very left in fact. Do you think that I am arrogant?

2:26 PM  

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