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Ideology before Science
Wait, I thought that was a Republican Thing?

I found this rather ironic, considering all the criticism of Bush for letting religion interfere with scientific advancement.

More people are whining about comments Harvard President Summers made at a conference. During the conference, "Summers advocated study of whether there are biological explanations for the lower numbers of women achieving top scores on math and science tests," (source). Three university presidents wrote the following in an essay motivated by these comments:

"Speculation that 'innate differences' may be a significant cause of underrepresentation by women in science and engineering may rejuvenate old myths and reinforce negative stereotypes and biases," they wrote.

This isn't a question of whether there are or are not 'innate differences' between men and women that might affect ability in science and engineering. Anyone who claims that that question has been conclusively answered is probably lying. Men have an XY chromosome pair, women have an XX - and on those chromosomes are genes that affect all sorts of things. That may or may not include differences in learning ability, thinking styles, and strengths and weaknesses at various kinds of tasks. I don't know. Summers doesn't know, and I don't think anyone else knows - genetics is a fairly new field, and there's a lot of work to do.

Does anyone else see the problem here? The people reacting to Summers' comments in this way as basically saying "Hey, you can't consider that possibility. It's off limits. It conflicts with our ideology, with what we want to be true, so you'd better not even mention it. And for goodness sakes, you'd better not do any scientific research that might give support to it!"

I for one don't see how promoting scientific research is going to "rejuvenate old myths and reinforce negative stereotypes and biases". If this 'innate differences' speculation is wrong, research would only serve to show that these old myths are unfounded. That's a good thing, right?


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