Science is under attack from many quarters and is being smothered or retreating across the board. Identity politics interest groups, of old or new stamp, are convinced that science stands in the way of their domination, and are determined to destroy and eliminate it. The weapons used to attack science are ideologies that provide answers that advance the interests of the attackers. Science, which offers questions and modes of empirical inquiry, and answers based on evidentiary findings, favors no vested interest or ideological claim but remains open to argument and evidence.
Science is the last bastion of the search for truth, which was once the goal of all academic fields, before it was canceled in favor of “social justice,” now the sole objective of Western universities. The foundation of “social justice,” identity politics, advances the specific claims and interests of particular identities: gender, racial, sexual, and ethnic. These claims, which encompass a theory of society based on class conflict, make up an ideology of answers that are not open to discussion, debate, or evidence.
Each identity group offers its own attack on science, advancing ideological false narratives to further its domination. Feminists claim that science is sexist, excluding females, and objectivist, not considering personal or “positional” perspectives and feelings. The feminist argument is that what one sees as truth is the result of one’s position in society. This position has led to an emphasis on “reflexivity” in which one admits that one’s views are due mainly to one’s social position, gender, race, etc., and that each individual has “their own truth.” Feminists thus call for “feminist science,” which would allegedly recognize these claims as legitimate.
Race activists denounce science for its focus on logic, rationality, objectivity, and the belief that there are correct answers, which are all deemed to be characteristics of evil “whiteness” and seen as racism keeping “people of color” down (but not Asians or West Africans or Caribbeans, all of whom, due to their academic and economic success, are classified as “white adjacent”). “Anti-racist” math would not claim that there are correct answers, but instead consider effort, imagination, and, above all, acceptance of any result.
LGBTQ++ activists, claiming that members of their constituency are discriminated against in STEM, call for “queer science.” Similarly, disability activists demand special consideration be given to them. Aboriginal indigenous activists, especially in Canada, demand both independent national status and recognition as equal and separate, as well as integration of their culture into the mainstream, such as the teaching in universities of “aboriginal science.” Canadian universities compete furiously for aboriginal professors and are committed to integrating “indigenous science” into the curriculum.
These activist claims—most unsubstantiated and self-serving, some verging on the lunatic (2+2=5)—would normally be ignored by scientists of all genders, races, and sexualities, who prefer to advance science by following academic procedures in recruiting according to achievement, merit, and creative potential. But identity politics and the demand for so-called “social justice” have been adopted by the highest political authorities—first Prime Minister Trudeau in Canada and more recently by President Joe Biden in the USA—and by all ancillary state organizations, such as research granting agencies, accreditation agencies, professional policing organizations, and subsequently by almost every college and university, not to mention departments of education, teachers’ unions, and school boards.
The operational definition of “social justice” is “diversity, equity, and inclusion” or DEI, which has become official policy for student admissions, funding, ceremonies, hiring, promotion, and academic awards. What these terms mean in practice is not the same as what their connotations may imply. “Diversity” means admitting and hiring and rewarding people according to their gender, race, sexuality, disability, and ethnicity, but never diversity of thought or opinion.
Females are favored when they are in the minority in STEM, but males are never favored when they are in the minority, even the vanishingly tiny minority, in the social sciences, humanities, education, social work, law, etc. Because, well, feminists claim that females are victims of society, and “social justice” requires that females, who are nicer and smarter than “toxic males,” be favored. LGBTQ++ are favored because gay and trans activists claim they are victims of society, so “cis-heterosexual” oppressors should be excluded. “People of color” (but not Asians) are alleged to suffer from “systemic racism and discrimination,” which allegedly explains why they are “underrepresented” (in relation to the percentage of the population) in universities. They thus, it is claimed, deserve preferment in admissions and recruitment. Muslims are preferred because they are not Christians or Jews. Members of the majority white and Christians, and some minorities such as Jews, deemed “hyper white,” are not sufficiently “diverse” to be included.
Academically poorly performing racial populations are favored on the grounds that they are “marginalized and underserved.” “Equity” means that all identity groups must receive equal academic evaluations. Evidence of academic potential or achievement disparities must be suppressed, which is why standardized tests have lost favor with university administrations and have been canceled at many of the most prestigious colleges and universities. Overperforming minorities, such as Asians and Jews, must be restricted to make room for the “underrepresented” (see also here and here).
Colleges and universities now advertise positions defined as restricted to certain genders, races, sexualities, ethnicities, and disabilities. This was more or less dictated by the Trudeau Liberal government of Canada when it asked all Canadian university presidents to sign a commitment to “diversity, equity, inclusion.” Grants for the lucrative and prestigious Canada Research Chairs program were made contingent on nominated candidates being the right sex, color, ethnicity, etc. Only females, people of color, indigenous natives, the disabled, and LGBTQ++ would receive grants. Here is McGill University’s policy for 2022:
McGill University is committed to equity and diversity within its community and values academic rigour and excellence. We welcome and encourage applications from racialized persons, women, Indigenous persons, persons with disabilities, ethnic minorities, and persons of minority sexual orientations and gender identities, as well as from all qualified candidates with the skills and knowledge to engage productively with diverse communities. For the purpose of a nomination for a Canada Research Chair in the April 2022 round, preference will be given to qualified applicants who self-identify as a person with a disability or as an Indigenous person.
So, yes, there is systemic racism and sexism in Canada, just not the racial and gender bigotry of the past. Today there is official systemic anti-white racism, anti-male sexism, anti-Euro-Canadian, anti-heterosexual, and anti-Christian bigotry. The large majority of Canadians are now regarded as toxic oppressors and unworthy of consideration. That is what is now called “social justice.”
A quick word about the third term of the “social justice” trinity: “inclusion.” We have already seen that this does not mean including unfavored members of the majority. But, as well, it means that nothing may be said that would make anyone, especially a minority member, “uncomfortable.” This means that diversity of opinion that someone might find offensive is forbidden and that counterarguments or demands for evidence are ruled out. In other words, the basic intellectual processes that make universities into universities are verboten.
What effect does all of this have on science? It means that students and professors must be selected according to sex, race, etc., and not on the basis of academic achievements, merit, and creative potential. So there is a requirement to forgo excellence in favor of “diversity.” Is this not a plan for mediocrity? Even the “woke” Massachusetts Institute of Technology has seen that canceling standardized entrance exams is not viable, for no one can succeed at MIT without strong mathematics.
But the effects go beyond recruitment, putting ideological shackles on current working scientists. All research funding agencies now require that the applicant show how their research into lasers, flotation, or grizzly bears would advance DEI. If the “social justice” reviewers are not happy with the applicants’ ideological commitment, the application is discarded without review of the scientific part of the application.
Science is the paradigmatic inquiry in the search for truth, which had previously been the goal of all modern academia. Today identity politics strives to negate science in aid of advancing what are believed to be sector interests. Feminists take the view that, because allegedly biological justifications were used in the past to impose restrictions on females, that, therefore, they must reject actual scientific biology in its entirety. For example, there has been a concerted campaign by feminists to deny that men have more testosterone than women and to claim that testosterone really does not have any real-life influence on people. This is documented by Carole Hooven, who refutes it with evidence. Trans activists claim that identity trumps biology, and a man can become a woman and a women can become a man by just saying so. For feminist and trans activists, feelings and “our truth” reject biological science and override objective reality.
Many others join in imposing their feelings and denying reality. I was recently surprised, although perhaps I should not have been, when two conservative publications rejected my article on the evolution of the sexes, because evolution is in some quarters deemed a subversive ideology. The Epoch Times, in an editorial series on communism in which I otherwise find much to agree, claims communism, quoting Fred Schwarz, has three basic tenets: “atheism, evolution, and economic determinism.” Evolution is seen by the Epoch Times as the enemy of religion which it favors and thinks is necessary for freedom. Similarly, a publication with Orthodox Jewish followers, although it welcomed my analysis of sex and gender, rejected the evolutionary part of the argument as likely to be offensive to its readers. No consideration was given to evolution as the conclusion of scientific analysis, or the massive evidence to support it.
Official government accounts of the COVID pandemic, and many of the “public health” measures that followed, were baseless from a scientific point of view. For example, masks were mandated for everyone everywhere (except politicians), although it was well known and increasingly documented that cloth and paper masks were not capable of preventing virus infection, and N95 masks, which would have been effective if worn properly at all times, were unavailable. Children were and even still are subject to the child abuse of forced masking. The most basic COVID facts—that it was dangerous for the elderly and those with comorbidities, but not dangerous for the young, and that natural immunity was a good protection and probably better than vaccines—were denied and are still ignored.
Lockdowns were imposed on the basis of wildly inaccurate computer models, with no consideration of the educational, psychological, and economic consequences. What followed was a pandemic of drug overdoses, suicides, domestic abuse, education loss, and economic bankruptcies. Many governments and teachers’ unions took the opportunity arbitrarily to expand their power and control, which led them to extend the measures as long as they possibly could.
Experimental vaccines were forced on people by mandates that segregated those without the vaccine, firing many from their jobs. These policies ignored the many people who had natural immunity and were better protected than those with the quickly fading vaccines. What were not quickly fading were serious deleterious side effects of vaccines that were denied and ignored by “public health” bureaucrats.
Finally, the many working doctors and distinguished researchers who expressed reservations about the official “facts” and policies, were not engaged in a scientific fashion of debate, but censored, canceled, and ignored. “Public health” policies for the pandemic were the opposite of scientific, and have undermined public faith in “public health” bureaucrats and government measures.
I have experienced the attack against and rejection of science in my own field of social and cultural anthropology. The founders of modern British social anthropology aimed to make the field scientific, as expressed in their book titles, such as Radcliffe-Brown’s A Natural Science of Society (1948) and Malinowski’s A Scientific Theory of Culture (1944). There was an emphasis on research methodology, particularly comparative analysis, as set out in Nadel’s The Foundations of Social Anthropology (1951). Radcliff-Brown characterized social anthropology as a subdivision of comparative sociology.
American cultural anthropology was founded by Franz Boas, who saw the field as a form of cultural history, rather than as a scientific quest. But it finally took leave of the scientific approach under the influence of one of my teachers, Clifford Geertz, who introduced “interpretive anthropology” or “symbolic anthropology” in his influential work, The Interpretation of Cultures (1973). He argued that “what we call our data are really our own constructions of other people’s constructions of what they and their compatriots are up to… What generality it contrives to achieve grows out of the delicacy of its distinctions, not the sweep of its abstractions.” One of Geertz’s last books is entitled After the Fact (1995), which is meant not only in an historical sense, but an epistemological one. In this work, he says, “It is necessary, then, to be satisfied with swirls, confluxions, and inconstant connections; clouds collecting, clouds dispersing.” It is all interpretation now, all the way down.
With the subsequent wave of Marxism, feminism, critical theory, and postmodernism, the scientific approach in anthropology was overtaken by ideology, victimology, subjectivity, and nihilism. Attempts at disciplining these waves, such as Harris’ Cultural Materialism: The Struggle for a Science of Culture, were dismissed even by other Marxists as “crude Marxism” and scientistic.
Cultural anthropology today has devolved into a congeries of political ideologies and “victim” advocacies, from indigenous activism to anti-male feminism, trans, fetish, and pedophile advocacy, race-baiting, Palestinianism, post-colonial anti-Western condemnation, and the socialist jihad against capitalism. It is as good an example of cultural decadence as could be imagined, although the anti-science movements described above provide stiff competition.
Even worse are the counterfactual (see also here and here) sociological claims, endorsed by many high government officials, that police are systemically racist, and that police murder unarmed African Americans at will and daily. The vast majority of murders of African Americans are perpetrated by other African Americans, although it is today regarded as poor taste to mention this, as is any fact that does not support the victim status or supremacy of an identity category.
I close with the words of Carole Hooven of the Department of Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University in her book, T: The Story of Testosterone: “When good causes are mixed up with bad science, or when propaganda and conspiracy theories have more sway than good data, something has gone badly wrong.”