The PC Mafia's Hit on Science Education

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Unbeknownst to David Seidemann, a geology professor at Brooklyn College and scientific advisor to ACSH, he was placed on a hit list by the academic PC mafia. In an article for Minding the Campus, Prof. Seidemann recalls a chilling tale in which he was investigated by the administration for alleged misconduct. And as if taken directly from the pages of a dystopian screenplay, the nature of his misconduct and the identity of his accusers -- even the existence of the investigation itself -- were withheld from him.

The drama took yet another Kafkaesque turn. When Prof Seidemann was finally notified that he had been the subject of an inquiry, he demanded to see records. His chief inquisitor said there were no written records and denied that an investigation ever took place.

So, what was the geology professor's crime? Was he teaching that the Earth is 6,000 years old? The sun goes around the Earth? The moon is made of cheese? None of these things.

In Prof Seidemann's estimation, he ran afoul of the PC mafia because his syllabus was marked with warning triangles, adjacent to which was the text: "This classroom is an 'unsafe space' for those uncomfortable with viewpoints with which they may disagree: all constitutionally protected speech is welcome." This apparently grievous offense, combined with another section of his syllabus that rewarded some students for effort, was interpreted by the administration as possible sexual harassment.

Alas, Prof Seidemann's experience is not unique. Extrajudicial interrogations on college campuses, particularly involving cases of sexual violence in which the accused is simply presumed guilty, are becoming more common. What explains this bizarre turn toward authoritarianism in places once thought of as being open-minded? A toxic combination of political correctness and relativism. And there is an army of snowflake students and spineless bureaucrats willing and eager to destroy the careers of heretical nonconformists. Welcome to higher education in 21st Century America.

Academic scientists, given their propensity for blunt truth-telling and general dismissiveness of the liberal arts, are especially a target. Prof Seidemann is but one example. An entire subdiscipline of geology is under assault by feminists who believe that glaciology (i.e., the study of glaciers) must be reanalyzed within a "feminist glaciology framework" in hopes that it will lead to "more just and equitable science and human-ice interactions." Feminists are also attacking neuroscientists, some of whom are afraid to discuss their research on the biological differences between men and women.

Perhaps the most egregious assault is against biotech researchers, who are being cyberbullied by other academics. Biomedical scientists who perform animal research are also frequent targets of abuse. 

Physicists aren't off the hook, either. Feminist philosopher Sandra Harding referred to the laws of motion as "Newton's rape manual." Postmodernists are busy undermining the scientific method as a whole. Without a doubt, such relativism and political correctness are holding back science.

The most perverse thing about all of this is that the burden is now upon scientists to prove that they aren't patriarchal, sexist, racist, chemical-pushing, Monsanto-pleasing, animal killers. It is simply assumed that they are unless they can provide evidence that they are not.

Greek playwright Aeschylus is credited with saying, "In war, truth is the first casualty." So too, it appears, in the war against scientists being waged by the PC mafia within academia. One wonders how long American universities can remain the best in the world when the dissemination of knowledge itself has become a capital crime.