well, he actually wasn’t anywhere near being watsoned since he committed his politically incorrect faux pas in the early 1980s, but he did get a good telling off. he definitely would’ve been booted out today, though.
he thought political correctness was stupid, and his swpl-lady-accuser — well, i dunno what he thought of her, but i think she’s stupid. what on earth would he have made of our situation today?
from “Narrow Roads of Gene Land, Vol. 2” [pgs. 303-04, 307-09]:
“By 1984 two aspects of life in the USA had made me feel differently [about moving back to the uk]. One was the level of violence — this was felt even in a seemingly rural university town like Ann Arbor….
“The other main incentive for the move was also a ‘rising level’ and this had changed in the 2 years [since the last offer of a job in the uk], and was about as depressing for me as the violence. I see it now as the beginning of what came to be called ‘political correctness’, but then it just seemed an increasing intolerance about how others lived and spoke, a rising pressure to conformity. Mountain men in remote valleys might escape the new social climate but one couldn’t in Ann Arbor….
“While the ‘anti-smoke’ pollution of human freedom was one factor pushing me to Britain in the early 1980s it still wasn’t the most significant event telling me I was getting seriously out of touch with America and was going to find it difficult just to be myself if I remained there. Rather it was the experience of being telephoned by a lady academic…”
… ugh. you just know it’s going to be bad …
“…to talk to me about a letter I had sent to her department recommending one of my graduate students for an advertised post. She told me that phrases I had used were very harmful both to the student’s chances and to my own reputation. Because I had taken great care in writing the letter and considered it to contain, in fact, the strongest support I had ever given to any student, I was immediately dismayed and puzzled. I was soon enlightened by her where the trouble lay. I had written to the effect that the student was ‘exceptionally strong on the theoretical and statistical side and with an ability especially remarkable in view of her sex and non-mathematical background’….”
… heh …
“…The offending words will be obvious to anyone today: my informant made it clear to me that I ought to have treated the student as if I had never noticed its gender.
“Hundreds of experiences have taught me that women are not as good on average at maths and spatial problems as men. This matter seemed really to need no statistical tests although plenty have been recorded. In a related field, day-to-day orientation, many women seem almost to boast about their tendency to get lost in towns and buildings: very few men do. The entire sweep of history as I knew it suggested to me the same things, and the difference continues even right up to the present in spite of all the recent equalizing forces that have been applied. Even in rats females have been shown to be less good at spatial and route-finding tasks than males although why this should be is still largely a mystery. As always, of course, the overlap of abilities is wide and there are innumerable women who are much better mathematicians and visualizers than innumerable men — I could name many who are better than me. For sure also, plenty of good women engineers, physicists, and the like are qualifying where there exists the will to enter these activities. Still, the average difference remains for me striking and is confirmed through a multitude of channels. Aptitude tests performed on small children are just the start of them. Nowadays some parents make a special point of trying to override any cultural bias that may have existed in erstwhile courses of infancy and childhood and I, too, have made my own small intrafamily attempts, out of interest, to see if the tendency could be overridden (diagrams of theorems of Euclid pinned inside the hood of one daughter’s perambulator formed a part of one experiment). But neither I nor others who have tried it, I think, can record much success (my daughter, however, did pass advanced-level school maths).
“Anyway, consequently I didn’t believe the theory that the difference comes wholly from cultural factors, and I assumed that, in spite of all the outcry of a few based so far as I could see on very flimsy evidence and excuses, most intelligent people of both sexes would interpret my letter the same way as I meant it. Holding this expectation, I had wanted to be sure my student would not be automatically devalued by a reader of my letter who might interpret it as a more vague complement: ‘Exceptional,’ he says, but he means no doubt ‘as women go’ — who wouldn’t leave this unsaid of his own student?’ I had added the phrase to forestall this, to make clear that I was aware of the average difference and nevertheless gave unqualified praise. I assumed any ‘search’ committee would understand this and that it would raise, not lower, my student’s chance. I still can hardly credit that what I wrote would be interpreted in any other way…. But in the gathering new climate — in which, by analogy, I suppose you are not supposed to mention in a letter that you happen to have noticed that a student has the handicap of being blind — they were not harmless: some acid remarks from the person on the phone made this plain when, amazed, I tried to explain what I had meant….
“The end result was that I decided, rather as I had done at Cambridge when I had been told there was no possible connection between genetics and social anthropology, that I should try to pursue my career as a misogynist somewhere else with the corollary to this decision that I needed to be careful about taking on more graduate students generally if my best efforts were going to harm them in ways I had become too socially blind to see.”
reading this account reminded me of something pat buchanan wrote just the other day — The Equality Racket:
“And here is the unvarying argument of the left since Karl Marx: If you give us power, we will take from the rich who have so much and give it to you who have so little. But before we can do that, you must give us power.
“This is the equality racket. As Alexis de Tocqueville wrote:
“‘The sole condition which is required in order to succeed in centralizing the supreme power in a democratic community, is to love equality, or to get men to believe you love it. Thus the science of despotism, which was once so complex, is simplified, and reduced … to a single principle.’
“When they come preaching equality, what they want is power.“
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