The political left has historically chastised the right for its relentless war on scientific inquiry and scientific consensus. That criticism has been absolutely warranted. Any scientific findings that could be construed as problematic for unregulated free enterprise have been attacked, denied or met with unwavering skepticism from Republicans. From tobacco health risks to dangers of processed foods to climate change to the validity of evolution to vaccinations, the right has screwed the pooch when it comes to upholding scientific discovery. Sensible regulation has led to the greatest public health victory (tobacco consumption decrease) of the twentieth century. There’s no doubt that other reasonable policies could have helped prevent avoidable suffering and harm. That’s why there is a need for the left: to check the excesses of unmitigated capitalism and individual indulgence.
Unfortunately, in the past several decades the left has taken a cue from the disingenuous republican playbook. This move has been driven by the most progressive Democratic politicians and leftist activists. Blinded by a neo-Marxist vision of postmodern social justice that’s buttressed by a desire for synthetically-engineered equality of outcomes, they have abandoned the objectivity of science. The void left by the aversion for empirical understanding has been filled with the arrogant certitude of ideological fundamentalism.
The left is so sure that their ideal, an artificially-manufactured, socially-just society, justifies the suppression of facts and truths when necessary. Make no mistake, it is the same arrogant certitude that propelled the right to abandon science in favor of an unregulated market, despite the risk of harmful externalities. That philosophical hubris now propels the left toward an Orwellian dystopia, where everyone is considered identical and indistinguishable. In this framework, the individual is a harmful, chaotic agent that threatens the harmonious order of the collective. The homogeneous collective is the only relevant consideration and individual differences must be pruned to perpetuate uniformity.
The left seems to remember history selectively. They saw the detestable Charlottesville rally for what it was: a frightening demonstration of radical right-wing identity politics and fascism, reminiscent of Nazi Germany. The historical lessons of leftist totalitarianism are evidently less accessible to leftist activists. From the Russian Revolution to the fall of the Soviet Union, over 110 million people were murdered by communist officials, which doesn’t factor in the millions murdered in Maoist China.
The most sensational estimate of the Nazi death count is 20 million. While the communists ultimately killed more people than the Nazis, one cannot easily determine which group was more evil. It is not possible, nor particularly valuable, to ascertain which philosophy is more intrinsically immoral in nature. The truth is that the radical left is not better or worse than the radical right; they are both profoundly horrific. With that being said, why is the sight of a swastika vastly more provocative than that of a hammer and a sickle? Why does Mein Kampf (rightly) raise eyebrows but the Communist Manifesto reader is generally seen as intellectual and edgy? We must be consistent in our totalitarian sensitivities and recognize tyrannical belief systems during their incubation period, before ideological flirtation turns into societal oppression.
The selective memory and ideological prism that the left views the world through has created an environment where ‘problematic’ science (i.e., empirical findings that conflict with the assumptions that are foundational to equity & equality of outcome theories) is attacked as racist, misogynistic, pseudo-scientific, bigoted, homophobic, transphobic and many other derogatory adjectives that target the character and motivations of scientific researchers. The disciplines under attack range from biology to psychology to medicine to primatology. Let’s examine a few examples of the left’s war on science.
Justin Trudeau’s style of leadership is a good example of the left’s tyrannical weaponization of inclusion and diversity. Inclusion and diversity are admirable characteristics that should be respected and celebrated by everyone in their private lives. Everyone should have access to the same opportunities and enjoy the same rights and freedoms. Equality of opportunity is a critical characteristic of a productive, free society. This isn’t enough for leftists like Trudeau. They desire equality of outcomes, which means that individuals’ demographic characteristics, such as race, gender and sexual orientation, are more important in determining job merit and utility than competency and experience. Trudeau had a goal: fifty percent women in his cabinet.
It’s somewhat ironic that leftists claim to champion diversity because their idolization of identity politics and equality of outcomes assumes that all members of any demographic group are homogeneous: all blacks are the same, all gays are the same, all men are the same, etc. More disturbing, this mindset forbids, condemns and vilifies anyone that points out objective or empirical differences between groups, such as biological differences between men and women or objective differences in violence between the doctrines of Islam and the doctrines of Buddhism. Trudeau’s goal of equal gender representation had nothing to do with merit or experience. He wanted people with XX chromosomes so that he could project an image of diversity. Sadly, he wasn’t interested in diversity of thought, he was interested in diversity of genitalia. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with a 50/50 cabinet, it’s that gender has nothing to do with intelligence and competency.
When asked why he was so adamant in crafting a 50/50 cabinet, he said “because it’s 2015.” It seems like such a self-evident, admirable statement, made even more impactful by Trudeau’s handsome charm. It wasn’t easy for Trudeau. He had to plan it for years in advance. He convinced women to run for office and brought in political neophytes so that he’d have enough female bodies to appoint to cabinet positions. Trudeau has admitted that this was very difficult. The reason that this was difficult is that, statistically speaking, more men are interested in running for office than women. This is a key point: it is NOT that men have easier access to office (which would be deplorable), it is that more of them want to run for office. This statistic highlights the fact that men and women have different interests and career preferences. While there is overlap, there are key differences that are rooted in biology and not in societal constructs of a ‘tyrannical patriarchy.’
James Damore, an MIT educated Google software engineer, was fired for writing a memo, Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber, that criticized the company’s radical diversity hiring policies. The memo was a meta-analysis of mainstream biological and psychological scholarship that pointed out biological differences in men and women that become manifested in personalities and interests. Damore’s point was that under-representation of women in the tech industry isn’t a result of discrimination, it’s a result of the majority of women not wanting to enter the industry. He made the mistake of using the technical personality term “neuroticism,” which refers to the Big 5 personality trait and not the colloquial understanding of neuroticism, and claimed that women were more neurotic than men. That confusion was rooted in semantics and could have been avoided. Damore believed that diversity and inclusion were necessary through the organic means of equality of opportunity, but not through the bureaucratically-engineered means of equality of outcomes. Nevertheless, he was vilified as a misogynistic bigot.
The Scandinavian countries that progressives like Bernie Sanders love to talk about are by far the most leftist in their orientation towards gender equity. Norway, Finland, Sweden and others have enacted policies that require equal gender representation on board of directors panels and employ gender quotas, similar to Google’s progressive policy. Leftists have praised these countries for their ‘success’ at enacting gender equality. While these countries have engineered complex bureaucracies that value genitalia over skill and competence, their efforts have yielded what the academic community has called “the gender equality paradox.”
The gender equality paradox refers to the scientific findings that showed that countries with progressive gender quality policies have the lowest percentage of females in STEM (science, technology, engineering, medicine) careers. Non-progressive and poorer countries, like Albania and Algeria, have higher percentages of women in STEM than any of the Scandinavian countries. These findings were discovered by a collaboration of researchers from the University of Missouri and Leeds Beckett University. 475,000 teenagers were examined across 67 countries.
The study found that men and women had almost identical competencies for success in STEM careers. When it came to pure ability, the sexes were on equal footing. The researchers were curious why massive efforts to increase the percentage of women in STEM careers in Western countries failed. Their conclusion was that men and women have different interests and, when left to their own devices, men and women will sort themselves into different categories. When tyrannical bureaucracies attempt to equally sort the sexes into various categories, the sexes’ biological differences become even more pronounced. They also found that women in poorer countries were more likely to choose STEM careers due to the higher level of compensation, but when economic concerns were less of a factor, women steered away from STEM careers.
The empirical findings gleaned from this study and others were what supported Damore’s argument. Men and women are different biologically and have different interests, as a result. Everyone should be free to pursue whatever job or career they want, but setting arbitrary quotas for the sexes will never lead to optimal outcomes.
I’ll examine more examples of the left’s War on Science in part 2. Stay tuned.