Friday, February 25, 2005

Summers and science

Captain Ed points to a study that might tend to vindicate Larry Summers' speculations about possible differences between men's and women's brains. It's certainly not the first evidence of its type, and it won't be the last--unless, of course, the academic PC police ends up banning this type of research.

Most of the people jawing off against Summers probably haven't read the full text of his remarks. I can't say I blame them--the text is lengthy, and tough to slog through. But if one does study his remarks, it should be clear that he's talking about differences in the numbers of males vs. females among the very small percentage of people who are close to being geniuses in the sciences, people many many standard deviations from the mean. He never says women can't do science, or shouldn't be hired to do science--au contraire.

Another drawback is that, in order to understand Summers' remarks, it's necessary to know a certain amount of science and statistics. I don't mean to be elitist here, but it's a fact. And that's dry and boring stuff. So, it's much easier for people to fly off the handle at what they think Summers said than what he actually said.

But there's simply no excuse whatsoever for scientists themselves to misunderstand how careful and measured Summers' remarks were, and what he actually was saying. The conference at which he spoke was full of such people. That's why this entire affair is extremely chilling. There seems to be a trend in academia to try to drag us into a new Dark Ages--this time one in which political correctness, rather than religion, triumphs over science. And some of its proponents are academics and scientists themselves.

(For a previous post of mine on the subject see this.)


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