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October 4 2017

Science Under Attack--but Not From Conservatives

by Charlotte Hays

Quote of the Day:

Who would have guessed that when America cleaved, the left would get the National Football League and the right would get uncontested custody of science?

--Heather Heying, former biology professor at Evergreen State College

 

One of the rallying cries of the progressives is that conservatives are ill-educated troglodytes who hate science. But Heather Heying, a former biology professor at Evergreen State College (why she is former is recounted here) says, no, it is progressives who have a problem with science.

Heying says in a column in the Wall Street Journal that when students shout down speakers with whom they do not agree, they are hardly manifesting a scientific attitude of inquiry. She writes:  

What may not be obvious from outside academia is that this revolution is an attack on Enlightenment values: reason, inquiry and dissent. Extremists on the left are going after science. Why? Because science seeks truth, and truth isn’t always convenient.

The left has long pointed to deniers of climate change and evolution to demonstrate that over here, science is a core value. But increasingly, that’s patently not true.

Campuses, far from engaging in a scientific attitude of openess tothe truth, have become closed-minded and intolerant, Heying writes:

The battle on our campuses—and ever more, in K-12 schools, in cubicles and in meetings, and on the streets—is being framed as a battle for equity, but that’s a false front. True, there are real grievances. Gaps between populations exist, for historical and modern reasons that are neither honorable nor acceptable, and they must be addressed. But what is going on at institutions across the country is—yes—a culture war between science and postmodernism. The extreme left has embraced a facile fiction.

Postmodernism, and specifically its offspring, critical race theory, have abandoned rigor and replaced it with “lived experience” as the primary source of knowledge. Little credence is given to the idea of objective reality. Science has long understood that observation can never be perfectly objective, but it also provides the ultimate tool kit with which to distinguish signal from noise—and from bias. Scientists generate complete lists of alternative hypotheses, with testable predictions, and we try to falsify our own cherished ideas.

Science is imperfect: It is slow and methodical, and it makes errors. But it does work. We have microchips, airplanes and streetlights to show for it.

But it may be that the campus is on the verge of admitting that students today don't care so much about science, after all:

In a meeting with administrators at Evergreen last May, protesters called, on camera, for college president George Bridges to target STEM faculty in particular for “antibias” training, on the theory that scientists are particularly prone to racism. That’s obvious to them because scientists persist in using terms like “genetic” and “phenotype” when discussing humans. Mr. Bridges offers: “[What] we are working towards is, bring ’em in, train ’em, and if they don’t get it, sanction them.”  

Read the entire piece.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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