Peter Wood is president of something called the National Association of Scholars, which since 1987 has been battling my own club — the Grand Council of the Great and Serious Men of Science — for supremacy in the expansive realm of scientific and cultural self-righteousness.
At the risk of upsetting my own colleagues, I would like to point out Wood’s recent piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education, in which he correctly blames the growing deficit of American-born scientists on those hairy-armpitted liberal moonbats who argue incessantly for things like equality over the objections of their betters:
The intellectual lassitude we breed in students, their unearned and inflated self-confidence, undercuts both the self-discipline and the intellectual modesty that is needed for the apprentice years in the sciences. Modesty? Yes, for while talented scientists are often proud of their talent and accomplishments, they universally subscribe to the humbling need to prove themselves against the most-unyielding standards of inquiry. That willingness to play by nature’s rules runs in contrast to the make-it-up-as-you-go-along insouciance that characterizes so many variants of postmodernism and that flatters itself as being a higher form of pragmatism.
Not to mention the dadaism that so cavalierly cloaks itself in the garments of constructionism and then wraps itself in a tortilla of neocolonialism topped with the guacamole of antinomianism and red sauce.
The aversion to long-term and deeply committed study of science among American students also stems from other cultural imperatives. We rank the manufacture of “self-esteem” above hard-won achievement, but we also have immersed a generation in wall-to-wall promotion of diversity and multiculturalism as being the worthiest form of educational endeavor; we have foregrounded the redistributional dreams of “social justice” over heroic aspirations to discover, invent, and thereby create new wealth; and we have endlessly extolled the virtue of “sustainability” against the ravages of “progress.”
Ugh. Is there nothing these liberals hate more than progress? Is it even possible to instill in our children the motivation to lord their successes over their fellows with expensive cars and gold-plated polo mallets?
The antiscience agenda is visible as early as kindergarten, with its infantile versions of the diversity agenda and its early budding of self-esteem lessons.
Don’t they know that their 5-year-olds will only achieve when they are made to feel inferior to their racial and gender superiors?
Bravely treading into terrifying waters, Wood takes up the mantle of a former Ivy League president, who — despite his own lack of scientific training — posited that gender differences may be to blame for the fact that women totally suck at science.
A society that worries itself about which chromosomes scientists have isn’t a society that takes science education seriously. In 1900 the mathematician David Hilbert famously drew up a list of 23 unsolved problems in mathematics; 18 have now been solved. Hilbert has also bequeathed us a way of thinking about mathematics and the sciences as a to-do list of intellectual challenges. Notably, Hilbert didn’t write down problem No. 24: “Make sure half the preceding 23 problems are solved by female mathematicians.”
After guffawing at this dagger-sharp bon mot, I took it back to my learned gentlemen friends at the Grand Council of the Great and Serious Men of Science. Two days later I was informed that half of 23 is 11 1/2 — meaning at least one of those female mathematicians would have to have been a hermaphrodite at the least! Again I guffawed!
Before some liberal gasbag brings it up in the comments, let me address the lack of real, scientific supporting evidence in Wood’s essay by accusing you of being a smelly hippie who is probably a lesbian anyway.
How Our Culture Keeps Students Out of Science [Chronicle of Higher Education]