BUCK: What really matters in science? Clay and I are gonna tackle that question right now. Welcome back to the Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show. This story’s getting more and more national attention largely because of the arguments around it. It’s another instance of cancel culture, in effect. But it’s one thing when a person holds views that the left doesn’t like when it comes to literature, they’re gonna argue about history. But when it comes to science, physics, math, things like that, biochemistry — isn’t all that matters being correct? And don’t we want to elevate those days who have the most knowledge, have the greatest research, the best breakthroughs? Isn’t that what science should be all about?
Well, if you look at what the Marxists want in this country, who control now the academy across the country, they actually would say no. They think that it matters to have more equity and inclusion, instead of actually just getting us to a place where we have the best and the right answers — in science, now, we’re talking about.
This is the New York Times. “Dorian Abbott is a scientist who has opposed aspects of affirmative action. He is at the center of an argument now over free speech and acceptable discourse because he was invited to give a prestigious lecture….” Let me just tell you a little bit of the facts here and then Clay and I will break this down. “The Massachusetts Institute of Technology invited geophysicist Dorian Abbott to give a prestigious lecture this fall. He seemed a natural choice a scientific star who studies climate change…” So he’s probably a left-wing guy, by the way, in a lot of ways. “…And whether planets in distant solar systems might harbor atmospheres conducive to life, a swell of angry resistance arose. Some faculty members and graduate students argued objected that Dr. Abbott, a professor at the University of Chicago, had created harm by speaking out against aspects of affirmative action and diversity programs.”
This was his quote: “People as members all of group should not be judged rather than as individuals,” and he said that “his planned lecture at MIT made no mention of affirmative action views,” nevertheless, Clay, they canceled him from this and this is bringing up some interesting things.
Have you ever heard of this before? I’ll be honest, I have not heard of this until this came up. Citational justice. This is a new thing now. Citational justice argues that professors and graduate students must seek to cite more black, Latino, Asian, and Native American scholars and in some cases refuse to acknowledge the footnotes and research of those who hold distasteful views. So now we’re going to purge the scientific canon of people who are not LGBTQ or pro-affirmative action or whatever friendly enough. This is the destruction of science if taken to its ultimate end. This is crazy.
CLAY: And to me, Buck, what this boils down to, this battle over diversity and affirmative action boils down to equal opportunity versus equal outcome. The United States, I believe, does about as good of a job out there at providing equal opportunity. Now, we’re not all equal, right, in terms of our talents, and we’re not all equal in terms of our opportunity. People who are in wealthy households have access to better schools than people who are not, all those things. But what I think is so fascinating is, we never demand equal outcome in industries that are predominantly minority.
Let me give you an example. The NBA just started. Around 80%-ish of all NBA players are black. There’s no demand that NBA teams reflect the overall racial diversity of the United States, right? There’s no demand that 60% of all NBA players be white, 12% be black, 12% be Hispanic, whatever the current racial dynamics are, because we acknowledge and expect that the best will be employed because the goal is to get the best possible outcome for a team, the best players make the most money, all of those things. The meritocracy works in those respects. Why would the meritocracy not work in science when everyone’s yesterday ideas are being rigorously challenged every single day? This guy has already become an established scholar in his field. Maybe I’m a rarity. I don’t care what he thinks about anything else other than his field of spirit.
BUCK: This is back from October 5th when professor Dorian Abbott was speaking out about why MIT canceled him.
ABBOTT: Yes, I do. My wife was born in Ukrainian and she had been baptized in secret because if the government found out her mother would have lost her job. And when she heard about what was happening on campus when I first told her, she said, “It sounds like what my mother told me about Soviet times.”
BUCK: Like Soviet times. This is why I throw around the term “commies” and I mean it, because this is what we’re up against now, particularly in academia in this country. And I want to give you another example. A professor at Williams College, the arch-rival of my teeny, tiny school in Massachusetts, Amherst College. You don’t pronounce the H, folks, just so you know. That’s always the giveway. Amherst, not Amherst.
CLAY: I didn’t even know that.
BUCK: Yeah. It’s fancy. It’s fancy.
BUCK: Professor Phoebe Cohen is a geosciences professor at Williams College, like I said, the rival. And when she was asked by the New York Times about the situation with Abbott, ’cause she was one of the professors who spoke out against him speaking at MIT very publicly, she was asked — this is by the New York Times — I want to make sure everyone understands. These are quotes I’m reading now, okay, from the New York Times. She was asked of the effect on academic debate. Should the academy search as a bastion of unfettered speech? She replied, and I quote, “This idea of intellectual debate and rigor has the pinnacle of intellectualism comes from a world in which white men dominated,” end quote. Clay, that is one of the most racist things I have seen anyone say, and now she’s a minority female professor; so she won’t get in any trouble, but I read the quote, it’s in the New York Times. The idea of intellectual rigor and debate as the height of intellectual stuff comes from a white dominated framework? By the way, this is an idea that’s widespread now in the academy. They’ll say this and if you point out how crazy and racist it is, you’re the bad person.
CLAY: Oh, of course. And understand that this represents the antithesis of all scientific knowledge, because science is about rigorously questioning dogma until you arrive at the hard, cold kernel of truth and so this idea that you can have ideas that are not acceptable in the world of science — I think covid has broken science in this country. Covid has broken a lot.
BUCK: Look. Can I add a variation? I think covid lockdowns have shown us how the left broke science. The best example of it, but these currents have been building for a long time.
CLAY: It used to be that science was able, because, as you said, there is a factual methodology to science. You arrive at a final certain truth, unlike, say, English, where we can debate forever what’s the greatest Shakespeare play or, unlike history, even, where we can debate, hey, was that the right decision in a about that? Was that the wrong decision? The goal of science is to distill complex questions to a truth, right? And I use as an easy example, we all agree, at least I think, that water freezes at 32 degrees. We have figured that out through science. And where water boils, for instance, there is a known truth in science that does not exist in many other aspects of education. And we’ve changed that.
BUCK: There’s just one thing I wanted to add here. Maybe we can get to a couple calls before we close out, too, in a few minutes here — Clay and I are so fired up today. We always say we have six hours of show and three hours of time, which is true in our heads. We could go on for six hours. But I’ll say this, Clay. It used to be there were certain situations you could give people when it comes to getting the right answers, the science, in this case maybe we could see the — you know, the physics, the aerodynamics. Do you want the best people building the plane that you’re going to fly auto with your family or do you want a crew that is pushed the large by either diversity and inclusion or gender parity or whatever?
It used to be everyone would say look no one wants the plane to crash so there are some limits here to the left-wing ideology and how far it can go. Now increasingly you’ll come across leftists who say sometimes plains have gotta crash and everyone in it’s gonna have to die if it means that diversity and inclusion is better represented in our society. They want people to have to pay the price for destroying the meritocracy. They accept that they will pay that price, which is a huge change from even when I was in college and what we used to talking about.