Tuesday, February 22, 2005

NO ACADEMIC FREEDOM AT HARVARD. Although college professors often whine about academic freedom and freedom of expression, they really only want freedom of expression that is politically correct. A perfect example is the reaction of Harvard University faculty members to the comments of their president, Lawrence H. Summers, about women in science and engineering. Summers spoke at the January 14 meeting of the National Bureau of Economic Research and commented on the differences of "intrinsic aptitude" for science between men and women.

Harvard touts itself as having a tradition of allowing wide-ranging freedom of expression. Now we see it has limits if it counters popular feminist dogma. The faculty are complaining bittely about Summers' comments.

Summers said that men more often excel on science and engineering tests, though median scores are comparable, because of their "innate aptitude" and the fact that women are more likely to honor family commitment over long work hours. Summers also said research shows societal factors, discrimination and discouragement, seem to play a lesser role, although he hoped to be proved wrong.

Summers cited the writings of University of Michigan sociologist Yu Xie and University of California-Davis colleague Kimberlee A. Shauman, whose analysis of achievement test results shows a higher degree of variance in scores among men than women. Men and women had average scores, but men were more likely to score at both the higher and lower ends.

People got upset. Some are calling for his resignation. One woman, obviously not caring if she nurtured the stereotype, said the speech made her physically ill and she had to leave before the speech was over. She said “it was just too upsetting” for her to stay. She then e-mailed a reporter and started the current media frenzy. I guess it was too emotionally draining to stay to the end and argue with him.

Summers has bowed to pressure and apologized on several occasions. I think he should have done the Clinton thing. I did not upset that woman!

Summers earned his doctorate in economics at Harvard in 1982. One year later he became one of the youngest tenured faculty members in Harvard's history. He is no dummy. He is also a former secretary of the treasury.

He is also in the faculty doghouse. There is no room at Harvard for disagreement. You must tow the liberal line. Whether Summers is right or wrong, he should be allowed his opinion, and opposition should be not just hysterical whining, but proving he is wrong by reference to solid research.
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