Carol Platt Liebau

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Here is a report that a transcript of Harvard President Lawrence Summers' "provocative" remarks has been released. Not surprisingly, it turns out that he said the following:

"In the special case of science and engineering, there are issues of intrinsic aptitude, and particularly of the variability of aptitude, and that those considerations are reinforced by what are in fact lesser factors involving socialization and continuing discrimination."

So he said what every thinking person should realize: Science and engineering is not some unique bastion of phallocentric, hegemonic male domination, where women have been excluded for nothing more than reasons of cultural conditioning . . . in fact, there may be differences in aptitude between men and women on the whole. Just as there are differences in aptitude with regard to speech and writing that favor women -- again, on the whole. And women with small children may not be willing to work 80 hours a week. What a news flash. This passes for "provocative" commentary? Only in the halls of "academia."

And even if he's wrong, isn't he entitled to state a hypothesis without the entire left-wing world succumbing to a nervous breakdown? Sounds to me like a lot of tenured professors have too much time on their hands.

Amazingly, the story quotes Summers adversary Cornell West -- who decamped to Princeton from Harvard when Summers suggested to him that he might want to concentrate a little more on serious scholarship, and a little less on creating rap music records.

And, incidentally, the weight that the "academic community" accords to Cornell West's statements does little to spark my respect. He was my college roommate's thesis advisor (during his first stint at Princeton) -- and was, to put it kindly, somewhat less than engaged . . .

Gotta love "academe"; they vilify provocative ideas with which they disagree, but are perfectly willing to lionize "scholars" who do little more than pander to their preconceived biases.


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