Saturday, April 18, 2020

Identity Politics vs. Science

As you know, today’s Democratic Party consistently touts its love of science. It bows down to the goddess of scientific wisdom and denounces Republicans for being mired in unscientific religious dogma.

Of course, it’s all a rhetorical ploy. The so-called settled science about climate change is neither settled nor science. Based on computer projections, it is either a set of hypotheses or, more likely, prophecy. As for the projections about the effects of the coronavirus, they have largely been proved wrong. And yet, those who love science are horrified by the notion that the Trump administration is not doing precisely what the scientists tell them to do.

And, let’s not forget, the intellectual elites who believe wholeheartedly in science also hold, as an article of dogmatic faith, that a human being with trillions of XY chromosomes can become a female simply by believing that he is a female. Negating scientific fact in the name of belief does not show your love of science. It shows just the opposite.

Everyone now has a theory about how plagues change the world. Among them, we will note that the bubonic plague seems to have shown Western Europe that prayer alone would not do the job. This led, by a somewhat circuitous route, to the development of Western science. Between vaccines and antibiotics and antivirals agents, the best way to treat an epidemic must come to us from science. We can control the spread by social distancing, but we do best to use science to find treatments. And, let’s not forget, many epidemics, like cholera, have been tamped down by industrial sanitation, a product of the Industrial Revolution.

Anyway, the people who proclaim their devotion to science have been hard at work hollowing out the nation’s scientific education. In place of merit they have touted the virtue of diversity. They do not want the best people to pursue careers in science. They want the most diverse group possible. As noted in other posts, Stanford University now has a social justice physics major, for those who cannot do physics. How will you like it when a social justice physicist sets out to change science into something that he or she can understand? Do you understand why so few other nations are ready to emulate America?

Heather Mac Donald calls it a sign of cultural decadence.  It doesn’t matter whether students can or cannot do advanced science. What matters is the aesthetics, the color palette of their skin tones.

She writes:

Scientists at Oxford University and King’s College London are racing to develop an inexpensive ventilator that can be quickly built with off-the-shelf components. Should it matter that all the lead researchers on the project are men? If you believe university diversity bureaucrats and many academic deans, the initiative will be handicapped by the absence of women among the project heads. 

We all hope that her prediction is true, but I suspect that she is being overly optimistic. Too many people today have ridden the diversity bureaucracy to degrees and careers. You are not going to tell them that they did not earn what they have. It is not going to change overnight. And yet, we hope that Mac Donald is right:

If there is a silver lining to the Covid-19 pandemic, it may be to expose as dangerous nonsense the practice of hiring researchers by sex and race rather than scientific accomplishments.

After all, Mac Donald remarks, jobs in science are now being given out, not on the basis of research, but on the grounds of diversity. Seriously:

Mandatory diversity statements are now ubiquitous in hiring for science, technology, engineering and mathematics jobs. An Alzheimer’s researcher seeking a position in a neurology lab must document his contributions to “diversity, equity and inclusion.” At the University of California, Berkeley, the life sciences department rejected 76% of the applications it received last year because they lacked sufficiently effusive diversity, equity and inclusion statements. The hiring committee didn’t even look at the failed applicants’ research records.

It doesn’t even matter that the candidates are good at science.

Were the remaining contenders the best scientists in their field? Apparently it doesn’t matter. What matters is how good they are at discussing “distinctions and connections between diversity, equity, and inclusion” during their job talks, in the words of UC’s diversity guidance. The rejected applicants showed insufficient knowledge of the “dimensions of diversity that result from different identities, especially URMs”—underrepresented minorities. Perhaps some were so rash as to suggest that racial and sex quotas in STEM hiring are antithetical to the university’s research mission.

The results at Berkeley were predictable:

The diversity culling at UC Berkeley continued throughout the process, resulting in a 75% drop in white scientists from the original hiring pool to the final contenders, while the proportion of Hispanic and black applicants on the final short list rose 450% and 325%, respectively, from their initial shares of the hiring pool.

It’s called dumbing down the sciences. It’s called handing out degrees and jobs on the basis of diversity, not merit. How long will it be before America becomes an also-ran in science?

Antimeritocratic preferences are ubiquitous throughout the sciences—in student admissions, awarding of grants and scholarship money, and hiring and promotions. In February, Harvard’s dean of sciences announced that he would be hiring two junior STEM faculty based on their ability to “strengthen diversity, inclusion, and belonging” in the sciences division. Cornell University gets about 2.5 times as many male as female applicants to its undergraduate engineering program. Yet women enjoy a 300% admissions advantage, resulting in an admitted class that is equally split between the sexes. That rebalancing doesn’t reflect women’s superior math qualifications; in fact, women have lower average math scores than men.

And, also:

Science education is being watered down in the hope of graduating more women, blacks and Hispanics. Do we want the best molecular biologists and pharmacologists working on a cure for Covid-19? Or do we want the best female, black and Hispanic molecular biologists and pharmacologists working on it? Sometimes the same person will occupy both categories. But when that isn’t the case, it is reckless to treat sex and race as superior qualifications. Given existing disparities in math and science skills, proportionality in STEM can be widely achieved only by lowering standards.

So, identity politics is destroying science:

Diverting scientists’ attention, time and funding away from research and toward identity politics is a decadence that we can no longer afford. Reviving the economy will be as urgent a task as fighting the pandemic. Yet an early Democratic version of last month’s $2 trillion relief package required corporations to bulk up their diversity bureaucracies if they want aid. The only qualifications that should matter for both science and private enterprise are knowledge, insight and drive.


UbuMaccabee said...

China wins by default. China doesn't win because they have a better system, China wins because we destroyed ours from within.

I've been reading C. Caldwell's new "Age of Entitlement" and I think his case is sound. I think he is at ground zero of what looks like a cultural divide but is also a schism in governing priciples.

We did create two Americas and two contradictory and antagonistic blueprints of government, one on top of the other. This new "moral" government is run by activists, law firms, regulatory agencies, race hustlers, and all manner of state and federal bureaucrats and is suffocating the original Constitution. They are not mutually compatible. They are as antagonistic. The original Constitution produced one type of man and the civil rights constitution produces a very different type of man.

Government is created by men and reflects the character of those men. Our original charter reflected, in my estimation, the highest degree of character and wisdom ever assembled in recorded human history to form a government.

Once created, that government then creates types of men based on the character of the government. Even the absence of government creates a certain type of man. We created a lot of men who treasured liberty and autonomy. With the new "moral" charter added to government, we began creating a new type of man: homo ressentimentus. He values equality--and retribution.

I'll take the old homo economicus back with open arms.

We really cannot live with one another anymore. Best case is a divorce between the originalists and the moralists and we divide up the good and real estate into two entities. But we'll fight instead because that's how things get settled in the end, here on earth. The cthonic gods are hungry and men are stupid.

Sam L. said...

Democrats and "progressives" hate science. It appears they are communists, and hate intelligence. And America, too, of course.

David Foster said...

"Science" is the new fashion statement; one of them, at least.

There's a popular website called "I F****** Love Science." Proposition: If this name of this website had been simply "I Love Science", its readership would have been:

--A whole lot smaller
--Comprised of very different sorts of people
--Many more of them would have an actual, serious interest in science.

autothreads said...

One of the NIH's vaccine researchers is a racialist nutcase:

trigger warning said...

I can't see the content on IFLS because I'm not a facebookista. But the glimpse I can see is as puerile as I expected. But, according to Wiki, the IFLS page is very good at plagiarism and use of unlicensed intellectual property.