Confirmed: Lawrence Summers Bashed For Telling Truth

There have been many comparisons made between the remarks made by Harvard President Lawrence Summers and those of Professor Ward Churchill. To give a quick review of each, Professor Churchill said that the victims of 9/11 deserved to die and called them Nazis. Professor Summers on the other hand, had the temerity to suggest that girls just might not be good as boys at science and math. (gasp!)

Like everything in our culture today, this has turned into a political issue. The left is bashing Summers for his remarks but defending Churchill under the guise of “academic freedom,” which BTW has now metamorphosed into a euphemism meaning blanket amnesty for any misbehavior by an academic done in the name of liberalism.

Professor Churchill’s calling the 9/11 victims Nazis was self-evidently repugnant and wrong, but many of the left have risen to his defense. Summers’ remarks, on the other hand, were not released in transcript form until today so they could not be completely and fairly analyzed. The NY Times picks up the story of the release of the transcript.

Furor Lingers as Harvard Chief Gives Details of Talk on Women

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Feb. 17 – Bowing to intense pressure from his faculty, the president of Harvard University, Lawrence H. Summers, on Thursday released a month-old transcript of his contentious closed-door remarks about the shortage of women in the sciences and engineering.

He theorized that a “much higher fraction of married men” than married women were willing to work 80-hour weeks to attain “high powered” jobs. He said racial and sex discrimination needed to be “absolutely, vigorously” combated, yet he argued that bias could not entirely explain the lack of diversity in the sciences. At that point, the Harvard leader suggested he believed that the innate aptitude of women was a factor behind their low numbers in the sciences and engineering.

“My best guess, to provoke you, of what’s behind all of this is that the largest phenomenon – by far – is the general clash between people’s legitimate family desires and employers’ current desire for high power and high intensity; that in the special case of science and engineering, there are issues of intrinsic aptitude, and particularly of the variability of aptitude; and that those considerations are reinforced by what are in fact lesser factors involving socialization and continuing discrimination,” Dr. Summers said, according to the transcript.

“I would like nothing better than to be proved wrong, because I would like nothing better than for these problems to be addressable simply by everybody understanding what they are, and working very hard to address them,” he added.

Over and over in the transcript, he made clear that he might be wrong in his theories, and he challenged researchers to study his propositions.

So there you have it… Summers’ great sin is that he said that, in addition to other social issues, woman just might not do as well at science and math. — A continuation of the centuries old “Nature or Nurture” debate. Hardly anything that should come as a shock to anyone who has even a high-school education. He buttresses his ‘controversial’ suggestion by listing many things, such as autism, that were previously thought to be socialization that we now know are innate. He suggests that there may be an innate component as well as a social component to differing test score between the genders. The horrors!

Multiple recent studies have proven that women can “multi-task” better than men. So what? Does that make men “inferior?” No, it means they have a different skill set.

Does anyone truly believe that both genders are identical other than socialization? Why do men who have never fired a weapon usually do better on a firing range than women who also have no such experience? Answer: Duh! We’re different. Why do men do mazes faster than women? Is it some sort of maze discrimination from birth? No, we just think different.

But let’s return to the “academic freedom” angle the left loves to wrap itself in. From the Times:

Over and over in the transcript, he made clear that he might be wrong in his theories, and he challenged researchers to study his propositions.

So an academic says that we should do more study on why women don’t do science and math as well as men and for that he should lose his job? So much for academic freedom.

A later cut from the story shows how irrational his critics are:

Several Harvard professors said Thursday that they were more furious after reading the precise remarks, saying they felt he believed women were intellectually inferior.

Everett I. Mendelsohn, a professor of the history of science, said that once he read the transcript, he understood why Dr. Summers “might have wanted to keep it a secret.”

“Where he seems to be off the mark particularly is in his sweeping claims that women don’t have the ability to do well in high-powered jobs,” said Professor Mendelsohn, part of a faculty group that sharply criticized Dr. Summers’s leadership

STOP! REWIND THE TAPE: That’s not what he said! Apparently Professor Mendelsohn earned his position without the ability to even read!

From the Times AGAIN! “He theorized that a “much higher fraction of married men” than married women were willing to work 80-hour weeks to attain “high powered” jobs.” — He never mentioned ability! He was speaking of commitment! This just shows the disingenuousness of his critics. They are willing to lie about his remarks.

But let’s not just take the Times’ word for it, here are Summers’ exact words from the transcript:

[speaking about the commitment required in a high stress job…] And it is a fact about our society that that is a level of commitment that a much higher fraction of married men have been historically prepared to make than of married women. That’s not a judgment about how it should be, not a judgment about what they should expect. But it seems to me that it is very hard to look at the data and escape the conclusion that that expectation is meeting with the choices that people make and is contributing substantially to the outcomes that we observe. …

Another way to put the point is to say, what fraction of young women in their mid-twenties make a decision that they don’t want to have a job that they think about eighty hours a week. What fraction of young men make a decision that they’re unwilling to have a job that they think about eighty hours a week, and to observe what the difference is. And that has got to be a large part of what is observed.

There is more context than I quoted, but it only further reinforces that he was speaking of social issues in regard to high-stress jobs, not ability. Professor Mendelsohn, if quoted correctly, is either lying or just plain goofy.

Summers’ critics really have some explaining to do. There is nothing in this transcript that is damning in any way. Once again, the left proves they are loopy. They will defend the indefensible, but attack anything they see as the least bit politically incorrect. And once again, I’m very, very glad to be on the right.

That is where this post should end… but there’s more. There is a dirty little secret I found in the transcript. I know the REAL reason the left is attacking, and it has nothing to do with the innate ability of girls to do math. Click here to see the real reason for the attack.

The *Real* Reason the Left Attacked Lawrence Summers
CPAC Day One Roundup

10 Comments

  1. Josh February 18, 2005
  2. Paul February 18, 2005
  3. Robert February 18, 2005
  4. Henry February 18, 2005
  5. Prof. Emmanuel K. Twesigye February 18, 2005
  6. Henry February 18, 2005
  7. -S- February 19, 2005
  8. -S- February 19, 2005
  9. lefty February 21, 2005
  10. kaveh Afrasiabi March 1, 2005