A major theme here at the Daily Sceptic is the politicisation of the world’s ‘top’ scientific journals, Nature and Science. Over the last few years, both of these publications have handed over an increasing amount of editorial space to woke activism.
In the summer of 2022, Science ran a piece about how astrophysics helped the author embrace her “non-binary” gender identity. Meanwhile, Nature published an article claiming that fat people contribute to “diversity”.
Science has now run a piece on “systemic racism”, which has very much the same flavour. The author is Agustin Fuentes, who in 2021 wrote an article on Darwin’s The Descent of Man, which described Darwin as “an English man with injurious and unfounded prejudices”. Lest you doubted his credentials, Fuentes’s latest piece comes under the heading ‘Expert Voices’.
He begins by referring to “massive amounts of data” and “countless analyses” which “demonstrate unequivocally” that racism persists in the United States, including in higher education. Yet he laments that “six of the nine justices on the US Supreme Court recently chose to disregard these facts and argue for a “race neutral” approach in college admissions.”
Where to start with this one? Even if racism does persist in the United States, why would that imply colleges shouldn’t follow a race neutral approach to admissions?
After all, affirmative action is pretty much the definition of a racist policy. It says that two students with the same grades and test scores should be treated differently because of their races. For Fuentes, however, it’s being neutral with respect to race that is racist – or at least tantamount to ignoring racism.
He seems to think that because some black people face discrimination, Harvard is justified in discriminating against whites and Asians – none of whom had anything to do with the discrimination faced by black people. Which makes absolutely no sense. Has Fuentes never heard of the concept that two wrongs don’t make a right?
He goes on to say that “this same ideological approach” of “denying such massive evidence” is also present “among a not insignificant cluster of scientists”, before citing many studies which supposedly show there is “systemic racism” in science.
I’m sceptical, to say the least. This isn’t Fox News or NASCAR we’re talking about – academia leans overwhelmingly left. So what Fuentes is saying is that all these left-leaning scientists are going around engaging in “systemic racism”. I don’t buy it.
There’s also the small matter of Asian scientific success. According to Pew Research, Asians comprise 6% of all workers and 13% of STEM workers – so they’re overrepresented by 117%. By contrast, whites comprise 63% of all workers but 67% of STEM workers – so they’re overrepresented by only 6%. In short, Asians are far more overrepresented than whites.
It’s unclear how “systemic racism” can explain this pattern, unless it’s “systemic racism” against non-Asians. (Unsurprisingly, the word ‘Asian’ doesn’t appear in Fuentes’s article – presumably because it would undermine his narrative.)
Fuentes’s pièce de resistance comes in the final paragraph: “Some will decry this essay as “woke” and use it as an example of how the journal Science has fallen off the path of “true” science.” Err, yes I will do that. He continues:
If being “woke” means actively considering the available data and analyses and responding to them by considering the social contexts, histories, and processes that facilitated and created them, then being woke is just doing good 21st-century science
And if my grandmother had wheels she would have been a bike. That’s clearly not what “woke” means. It’s also incredibly vague: how do I “respond” to data by “considering the social contexts” that created them?
We all know what “woke” means: blaming group disparities on “systemic racism” and then refusing to explain why Asians come out on top. It’s the very opposite of doing good 21st-century science.