Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

February 24, 2005

Larry Summers round-up

Filed under: — Different River @ 4:59 pm

Reactions from all sides:

Matthew Yglesias, an self-described liberal, writes:

Now that the full text of the speech is out, I’m surprised so much of the discussion has focused on the genetics issue to the number one item on the Summers list — women’s alleged unwillingness to work long hours because they’re too busy having kids and taking care of them. This is, I think, undoubtedly a major factor.

Indeed it is. And Jane Galt, who if not from the right is at least normally to the right of Matthew Yglesias, writes:

Larry Summers made some suggestions about the causes of female underrepresentation in the “hard” sciences. They were based on research, more than adequately caveated, and eloquently put. The hysterical reaction to his remarks by women at the conference, followed by the indignant bluster of Mr Summers’ colleagues, make Harvard, and academia, look more than a little bit silly.

And as she points out, Robert Brown, commenting on Yglesias’ blog, finally hits the essential point:

[I]f the university maintains that tenure is intended to foster a climate of free debate of a wide range of unpopular hypothesis, then it seems hypocritical for the tenured faculty to demand multiply apologies from Summers and threaten his job because he offered a hypothesis that certainly should be open to scientific verification.

To the outside observer it makes Harvards faculty look like a bunch of immature people unwilling to entertain ideas that conflict with their narrow view of the world.

In fact, I think it would be a good idea in general for academia to take a look at things from the standpoint of the “outside observer.”

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