Andrew Sullivan's thoughts on Larry Summer's "controversial" remarks (with a bit of Steven Pinker).
Summers raised the possibility that this might have something to do with male preponderance at the very top of research science. And he immediately added: "I'd like to be proven wrong on this one."
This was too much for one of the attendees, one professor Nancy Hopkins. "When he started talking about innate differences in aptitude between men and women, I just couldn't breathe because this kind of bias makes me physically ill," Hopkins explained to a sympathetic New York Times. "Let's not forget that people used to say that women couldn't drive an automobile." Well, okay, let's not forget that. But, honestly, what does it say that a leading academic finds the mere positing of an empirical theory of a complex problem something that makes her "physically ill"? And to leap immediately from Summers' subtle question to the crudest accusations of sexism is a form of emotional blackmail. It's an attempt to klll off discussion before it's even begun. It's a sublime example of the left-liberal academy's preference for feeling over argument. MIT's brilliant scholar, Steven Pinker, put it better than I can: "Look, the truth cannot be offensive. Perhaps the hypothesis is wrong, but how would we ever find out whether it is wrong if it is 'offensive' even to consider it? People who storm out of a meeting at the mention of a hypothesis, or declare it taboo or offensive without providing arguments or evidence, don't get the concept of a university or free inquiry."
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