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Trust the Science!: Woke edition


Apparently, a quite competent panel was Canceled recently at North Carolina State because the participants were just Wrong, sexually, ethnically, and so forth:

The science community clearly recognizes the value of public outreach, yet some prominent figures and institutions within it seem to have a higher priority—virtue signaling their social justice bona fides. Just last week, NC State’s Genetic Engineering and Society (GES) Center abruptly canceled a panel discussion designed to teach graduate students how to engage the public. The decision was fueled by a wave of complaints on Twitter alleging that the event featured an “all-white-male panel.”

The controversy and subsequent cancellation would have been perfectly justified if GES had selected panelists in a discriminatory fashion. After reviewing the tweets, the University’s rationale for halting the discussion, and speaking with one panelist willing to comment on the specifics of the situation, it’s clear to me that no such scandal occurred.

This entire affair was just another example of a broader, disturbing trend: academic institutions comprising their educational mission to appease abusive political activists.

Cameron English, “Silencing Science: NC State Cancels Panel Discussion To Appease Woke Activists” at American Council on Science and Health (April 5, 2022)

It is hitting medicine too:

Fat-acceptance advocates say medical terms like “obesity” and “overweight” stigmatize fat people and should be eliminated from our vocabulary. They’re putting public health at risk to promote a misguided ideology…

This thinking originated in a field known as “fat studies,” which maintains that the mainstream definition of “obesity” was socially constructed to oppress overweight people. Besides the fact that someone named Aubrey Gordon says so, Buzzfeed didn’t explain why we have to accept this conclusion. Appeals to authority don’t work in science, unless that authority has evidence to justify their views.

But even if we assume Gordon is correct for the sake of argument, it cannot be denied that the risk for serious disease increases with BMI. There isn’t an ideal weight we should all strive to achieve, but weight clearly influences our long-term health outcomes.

Cameron English, “Woke Science Denial: Social Justice Comes For ‘Obesity,’ And Other Harmful Language” at American Council on Science and Health (March 30, 2022)

How is a family doctor supposed to both tell and not tell a patient that being fifty pounds overweight (mmmph! mmmph! mmmph!) is a serious health danger? Why isn’t the patient entitled to that information? Of course it makes the patient feel bad. But is feeling bad worse than losing out on a chance to avoid being prematurely chronically ill or dead?

The Woke don’t care about that, of course. Family medicine is just another science-based discipline they get to throttle.

Another Woke enterprise in medicine:

Health Affairs, dubbed by a Washington Post columnist as “the bible of health policy,” represents something much more ambitious than woke virtue signaling. Its February issue reflects the effort of newly empowered “anti-racist” scholars to transform concepts that are still considered speculative and controversial – and some say unprovable – into scientific fact. This growing effort to document, measure, and quantify racism is being advanced by other high-profile publications, including The New England Journal of Medicine, The Journal of the American Medical Association, and Scientific American, which last year ran articles entitled “Modern Mathematics Confronts Its White, Patriarchal Past” and “Denial of Evolution Is a Form of White Supremacy.”

But this scientific aspiration faces major challenges. Science demands verification, testability, and replicability, whereas race is a social construct that can be difficult to separate from factors like class or culture, and explaining the data often remains dependent on academic theories about systemic racism. The articles in Health Affairs indicate that elevating the concept of systemic racism from moral certitude to scientific fact will require developing new tools and methods – and even more theories – in the face of skepticism and resistance from dissenters who view this direction in research as unscientific and ideological.

For example, five co-authors of the Health Affairs article “Improving the Measurement of Structural Racism to Achieve Antiracist Policy” observe that “there is a disconnect between the conceptualization and measurement of structural racism in the public health literature” – that is to say that acceptance of the idea outpaces the evidence for it.

John Murawski, “Medicine’s Got a Tricky Operation Coming Up: Grafting ‘Systemic Racism’ Onto Hard Science” at RealClearInvestigations (April 5, 2022)

When “acceptance of the idea outpaces the evidence for it,” expect to see many papers providing “evidence” that, analyzed, amounts merely to talking points decked out in statistics. But none dare analyze the methodology closely. Indeed, in some cases, it might be impossible to make sense of it.

In Murawski’s piece, professional (and usually) unidirectional skeptic Michael Shermer gets a look-in: He got dumped from Scientific American after 18 years for questioning all this:

“They’re saying we already know the answer – the answer is racism,” Shermer said in a phone interview with RealClearInvestigations. “We’re going to ignore all the other variables. They’re just reducing complex problems to one variable.”

John Murawski, “Medicine’s Got a Tricky Operation Coming Up: Grafting ‘Systemic Racism’ Onto Hard Science” at RealClearInvestigations (April 5, 2022)

One thing Wokeness does is this: In an age when a huge gulf yawns between the billionaires who fund the Woke and the rest of us — it stifles discussion of “class,” the truly relevant factor in many different life outcomes, in favor of “race,” with which the Woke can do whatever they want.

The billionaires who fund the Woke wouldn’t be billionaires if they weren’t smart enough to see the advantages of dividing their underlings in order to rule.

Summary: The people who carried on in the past about “science denial!” either 1) never really cared about science denial and were merely using it as a term of convenience or 2) they will rise to the occasion and do something about this stuff now. Any takers on a bet as to how that will go? If science is rescued at all, it will probably be rescued by its supposed enemies.

I propose a solution to this whole woke mess: President Biden should just declare that EVERYONE is now a victim, except for one person - you guessed it, Donald Trump - who would become the scapegoat for everyone else. Like the "fat acceptance" people mentioned in this piece, we can all claim some "intersectional" challenges, find micro-triggers and wide-ranging systemic unfairness, and point beyond ourselves for the causes of all our problems. Once we are all certified as victims, we can ask for reparations from the government, which likes to print and give away money anyway. With this solution, no one will blame anyone else any more (except for you know who) and we will all get along swell together in our new happy Utopia. What a "Great Reset" that will be! [Tongue now removed from cheek.] Fasteddious
For the last 50 years “medicine” has been pro-alcohol and violently anti-tobacco
Lost a father and much older brother both young to smoking. Agree that alcohol is a killer and a destroyer of families. Learned to drink beer young. After two I’m bloated and never really liked it except with Mexican food. So I have become the designated driver. Aside: highly recommend Sebastian Rushworth for sources on medical and food information. He’s a young Swedish doctor who interviews doctors from different fields. https://sebastianrushworth.com/ jerry
If this leads to realizing (again) that tobacco has healing properties, it might be worth the trouble. For the last 50 years "medicine" has been pro-alcohol and violently anti-tobacco. In reality both drugs have good and bad effects, but alcohol is a MUCH faster killer and has MUCH less benefit. polistra
"Any takers on a bet as to how that will go?" Poorly. Andrew asauber

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