Thursday, September 20, 2007

Summers Rejected Again

Lawrence Summers, the former president of Harvard, was hounded from office for suggesting that one of the reasons that women don't make up half of those at the top of science and engineering is that women don't make up half of those at the top of the math ability spectrum. Summers was invited to speak to the University of California regents recently. The faculty got up in arms, and got 150 signatures in a couple of days. Maureen Stanton, organizer of the petition drive, said "I was appalled that someone articulating that point of view would be invited by the regents," Stanton said.

This is why people despise political correctness. I think Summers is right. Even if you don't agree, the issue is an important empirical question, which can be addressed empirically. That is what universities are for. Perhaps the University of California regents could look into that. But no, they had no more spine than the Harvard trustees. They rescinded the invitation.

5 comments:

SPorcupine said...

Summers only said that biological differences MIGHT be a reason. He only offered it as hypothesis, not as conclusion. At least in the famous answer, he didn't even say it was his position. He merely said it was a possibility among several others.

That just makes the effort to silence him even sillier and even more wrong.

Anonymous said...

It goes to show that the extreme left can be as intolorant as the extreme right.

Michael Bush said...

I remembered this post this morning, listening to the post-mortem on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's invited visit to Columbia University.

Columbia's willingness to permit expression of ideas far more offensive to most Americans, even to most American academics, than those for which Summers has become notorious, might well be an example to the University of California.

Gruntled said...

A colleague mentioned to me that in California, the critics of the decision to exclude Summers complained that he was being put in the same category as Holocaust deniers. As the Ahmadinejab episode at Columbia University shows, even Holocaust deniers get better treatment than Summers.

michael bush said...

Your colleague has a good point.

Today I read with a sense of foreboding the article on nytimes.com about clergy meeting with Ahmadinejad, knowing that before it was over there would inevitably be a quote from someone representing the PC(USA), who would say what a nice man and virtual Presbyterian the president of Iran is.

What a relief to get to the end of it and find that the word Presbyterian wasn’t used once.

Wonders won't never cease, they say.