Mr. Cofnas begins the paper with the story of Socrates, who was executed for “corrupting the youth” of Greece. Forebodingly, he adds, “[T]he philosophy of his prosecutors — that morality-threatening scientific investigation should be prohibited — flourishes even today.”
To support his case, Mr. Cofnas focuses on the taboo subject of group differences in intelligence, which he says is suppressed by those who believe that even discussing the topic is “morally wrong or morally dangerous.”
Those who embrace such a viewpoint obviously do so with the honorable intention of preventing discrimination. However, the proverbial road to hell is paved with good intentions. Such misguided efforts to maintain perfect equality can hamper the advancement of knowledge. Mr. Cofnas states:
“[W]hen hypotheses are regarded as supporting certain moral values or desirable political goals, scientists often refuse to abandon them in the light of empirical evidence.”
Is he right? Absolutely, yes.
Not only do intellectuals refuse to abandon politically correct beliefs in the face of contradictory evidence, but simply questioning them can ruin a person’s career. Lawrence Summers’ tenure as president of Harvard was cut short because he suggested that there are intellectual differences between men and women. As a result of such punitive pushback, some researchers are afraid to investigate differences between male and female brains, which certainly exist. Without a doubt, this reticence is holding back the field of neuroscience.
A similar chilling effect can be seen in climatology. The only politically correct belief regarding the climate is that humans are 100% responsible for everything bad that happens and that the Four Horsemen are already marching toward Earth. Questioning that apocalyptic and unscientific belief has resulted in multiple researchers being labeled “climate deniers.” Climatology would greatly benefit from the more skeptical approach of so-called “lukewarmers,” but far too many are ostracized and demonized.
This is why I always laugh when I hear about “the Republican war on science.”
I’d add that, as I’ve long said, the results of studying statistical differences among groups should have zero effect on public policy. If you think it should, you are a collectivist, not an individualist. Or to put it another way, you are a leftist.
This is related: The analysis of Integrated Assessment Models create a trillion-dollar error. I’m glad that Nic Lewis does analyses like this (not sure how he’s funded), even if it has to be published at Judith Curry’s blog, instead of the journals.
Related: Winter is coming.
Again, this is a scientifically legitimate, but completely politically incorrect view.