Tuesday, February 22, 2005
PC orthodoxy: Arnold Kling has an excellent piece up at Tech Central Station on the Larry Summers controversy.
At the University of Maryland, my oldest daughter, Rachel, took a class in which one test included a question in which she was asked to respond to the statement "Gender is socially determined." This was given, not as an essay question, but as a machine-graded true-false choice. Having read the textbook for the class, Rachel knew that the machine would treat "true" as the correct answer. She herself believes that the answer is something other than "true." Perhaps, if given an opportunity, she could have written a thoughtful, balanced essay on the topic. Evidently, however, her professor does not have a sufficiently open mind to be willing to face such an essay.
The question facing Lawrence Summers as he gave his talk was, "True or false: the explanation for the high ratio of males to females in physics, math, and engineering at universities like Harvard is cumulative sex discrimination." Evidently, the textbook answer is "true." Instead, Summers gave a thoughtful, balanced essay answer that was something other than "true." For that, many modern academics, including some smug critics at MIT and other prestigious institutions, believe he deserves a bad grade. Shame on the critics. Praise to his defenders.
Read the whole thing.