Wednesday, February 02, 2005

No critical thinking, please.

Walter Williams has an excellent piece sparked by the reaction to Dr. Lawrence Summers' remarks concerning the inherent differences between men and women: "Anti-intellectualism among the academic elite."

He questions Professor Nancy Hopkins' remark that, had she not left Summers' lecture, "I would've either blacked out or thrown up."

I find it unbelievable that people can take someone seriously who claims to be a professional and an intellectual but cannot control her physical actions when presented with views different from her own.

I wonder if Professor Hopkins was able to sit through the beheading of Nick Berg without having to rush to the nearest restroom.

Williams proposes:

In today's campus anti-intellectualism, it's acceptable to suggest that genetics explains some outcomes, but it's unacceptable to use it as an explanation for other outcomes.

Specifically:

The only behavioral genetic explanation that campus anti-intellectuals unquestioningly accept is that homosexuality has genetic origins.

He presents an interesting example contrasting the domination of sports such as basketball, track, and football by people of African descent with their decided lack of success in other sports, like swimming and diving, and wonders whether such analysis is now considered to be racist.

He concludes:

It's not that important whether Dr. Summers is right or wrong. What's important is the attempt by some of the academic elite to stifle inquiry.

He is all over this topic, and I think Sean got it right in yesterday's comments when he said, "I think too many people confuse people with their opinions. People must be respected, their right to their opinions must also be respected. Neither of these requires you to respect the actual opinion." "People have lost the ability to disagree and still be agreeable."

Update: In an interesting caveat, the AP reports: "UC Faculty Backs Professor on Free Speech."

As pressure mounts on a University of Colorado professor who ignited a furor by comparing the World Trade Center victims to Nazis, colleagues have come to his defense -- on free speech grounds.

University of Colorado spokesman Peter Caughey said, ``The lifeblood of any strong university is its diversity of ideas which allows for the environment necessary to educate and train young learners and advance the boundaries of knowledge,'' ``Debate is a fundamental characteristic of a university.''

Interesting how these intellectuals choose their battles.

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