Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Men and Women (and Ghosts)

Are they born different? Another academic row has erupted when Science refused to publish an article on the issue; the author claims this is another example of political correctness and ignores the "facts of life."

Discussions - 2 Comments

I found the article fairly non controversial. I think it’s broadly accepted that statistically, men and women are predisposed to different traits.

However, when scientists run to the press and claim their work is being suppressed ... well that typically turns out to be because their work is flawed or substandard. Thats the whole purpose of peer review.

Those unfamiliar with the complex and speciality specific details that now make up scientific discourse certainly cannot be better equipped to make a judgement. Thus, while I’m very sympathetic to the broad views expressed, I take the complaint with a pinch of salt.

Brian, I have to disagree with you. What Science did here is almost unheard of (at least, it would be among profession journals in America). Formally accepting the piece and sending out proofs is contractual (at least, I feel that way, and I think 99% of my colleagues would feel that way). This was done for political reasons...few will doubt it.

What’s more common is disciplinary censorship. Iconoclastic works seldom survive the peer-review process, not because they are unsound, but because they offend or threaten the reviewers. Indeed, during my own career I’ve noticed a sharp slide in reviewer quality. In the past at least technical excuses for rejection were common. In recent years, however, I’ve encountered everything from "I just don’t believe you" to "this is in line with the Bush’s administration’s view of terrorism." Even worse, in the past editors would throw out an obviously biased or poorly-constructed review, but this practice seems to be dying out(again, in my experience).

I really think that the social, behavioral and biological sciences are threatened by rank partisanship and the substitution of ideology for professional standards. This incident with Science confirms many of my fears.

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