The social justice mob is now censoring research

Hard to believe this is happening in the U.S., you’d expect this kind of stuff from totalitarian regimes like China or North Korea. The end result will be scientists censoring themselves, especially graduate students and junior faculty who do not have the luxury of tenure. That’s really the goal of the mob: intimidating faculty into silence.

Theodore Hill, a retired professor of mathematics at Georgia Tech, claims that activists successfully pressured the New York Journal of Mathematics to delete an article he had written for the academic journal because it considered a politically incorrect subject: the achievement gap between men and women at very high levels of human intelligence.


As might have been anticipated, the paper was poorly received by feminist scholars. Hill’s co-author, Sergei Tabachnikov, faced strident opposition at Penn State, where he is employed as a professor of mathematics. According to Hill:

At a faculty meeting the week before, the Department Head had explained that sometimes values such as academic freedom and free speech come into conflict with other values to which Penn State was committed. A female colleague had then instructed Sergei that he needed to admit and fight bias, adding that the belief that “women have a lesser chance to succeed in mathematics at the very top end is bias.” Sergei said he had spent “endless hours” talking to people who explained that the paper was “bad and harmful” and tried to convince him to “withdraw my name to restore peace at the department and to avoid losing whatever political capital I may still have.”…

The National Science Foundation eventually wrote to Tabachnikov asking him remove from the paper any acknowledgment that the NSF had helped to fund the research. This was done, according to Hill, after two Penn State academics—the chair of the climate and diversity committee, and the associate head for diversity and equity—had warned the NSF that the paper promotes ideas “detrimental to the advancement of women in science, and at odds with the values of the NSF.”

Mathematical Intelligencer rescinded its acceptance of the paper. According to its editor-in-chief, publishing Hill and Tabachnikov’s work would create a “very real possibility that the right-wing media may pick this up and hype it internationally.” In his Quillette piece, Hill claims that a University of Chicago mathematics professor, Amie Wilkinson, lobbied the journal to abandon its plans to publish the piece.

And this one:

Dr. Littman’s study about transgender-identifying teens was published in the open-source, multidisciplinary scientific journal PLOS ONE last month. Her interest had been piqued in 2016, when she noticed an uptick in parental reports that teens had suddenly insisted their gender identity didn’t match their sex, although they’d shown none of the common prepubescent signs of the condition, known as gender dysphoria. She spoke to a clinician who’d observed the same trend. “When the characteristics of a population seeking care for a condition substantially changes, the responsible thing to do is to start asking questions about what might be contributing to these changes,” Dr. Littman says.


The effort at suppression had an effect. PLOS ONE’s editor-in-chief, Joerg Heber, announced the journal would subject the study to “further expert assessment on the study’s methodology and analyses.” Spokesman David Knutson told me: “Any time there’s a lot of reader concern or a lot of people talking about it, it warrants a second look, and that’s what we’re doing right now,” adding that this is “basically how science works.” Mr. Knutson would not elaborate about what specific concerns prompted the review or what it would entail.

Brown University, where Dr. Littman is an untenured professor, has also backed away from her paper. It took down a news release and attendant social-media posts about the study and posted a statement from Bess Marcus, dean of the School of Public Health, acknowledging “concerns that the conclusions of the study could be used to discredit efforts to support transgender youth and invalidate the perspectives of members of the transgender community.” The university updated its statement Thursday, emphasizing that “this is not about academic freedom as some news outlets have made it out to be” and “this is about academic standards.”

By Stephen

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Professor and quant guy. Libertarian turned populist Republican. Trying to learn Japanese and play Spanish Baroque music on the ukulele.

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