It happened again, the unmanly submission to feminist manipulation. Again they’re compromised, the almost invariably progressive professors. “Stand up!” urge the Deplorables, though so poor, ignorant and, God forgive them, republican. “But we have no spines,” cry the professoriate, returning to their coloring books, Playdough and safe spaces.
If you’ve been paying attention to the academy in recent years, dear reader, you’ve probably heard lots of stories like this before. It began in August of last year, though it didn’t come to public attention until last September. And it is worth considering now, for having long been told “the future is female,” we find that the future is here: masculinity has officially been pathologized by the American Psychological Association; the intellectual women are out marching once again: and the ongoing male submission to progressive bluestockings is as inexorable, perhaps, as the advance of progressivism itself.
Our story concerns Theodore Hill, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at Georgia Tech, and Sergei Tabachnikov, Professor of Mathematics at Pennsylvania State University, two men who wrote a paper on the greater male variability (GMV) in intelligence. First put forward by Charles Darwin, the concept of GMV is supported by abundant evidence, much of it uncontroversial. After all, why should anyone be offended if, for instance, it’s found that there is greater variability among male baboons than female ones? (In their appearances, of course, feminists and baboons are not easily distinguished. Nevertheless, the necessity of “gender equality” does not apply to our primate cousins, for now anyway.)
But when it comes to differences among men and women, oh, that is a very different matter, especially in the area of intelligence. “There are more idiots and more geniuses among men than among women,” the scholars argued. Why all the fuss in response? This sex difference is not news. IQ tests, indeed, have borne it out for decades. So by now the truth of GMV in intelligence—which has been made more and more robust by work like Hill’s and Tabachnikov’s—should be uncontroversial. The problem is that feminist academics tend to read their own anxieties and insecurities into value-neutral subjects. And the hilarious irony of this is evidently lost on them. Their reactions and judgments imply that truth is determined by their feelings: If something upsets them, then it cannot be true, or publishable. Feminists thus live up to the worst prejudices about women: that they are too emotional, irrational, illogical, and so on.
So it was in our story. Hill relates:
No sooner had Sergei posted a preprint of our accepted article on his website than we began to encounter problems. On August 16, a representative of the Women In Mathematics (WIM) chapter in his department at Penn State contacted him to warn that the paper might be damaging to the aspirations of impressionable young women. “As a matter of principle,” she wrote, “I support people discussing controversial matters openly … At the same time, I think it’s good to be aware of the effects.”
Many women say they want equality, but in practice expect special treatment. So it is here. “Impressionable young women” are to be protected from intellectual inquiry—the very thing they’d signed up for!—lest their “aspirations” be “damaged.” Is this equality? No, it’s chivalry under equality’s name. Furthermore, however well-intentioned, treating women this way is rather patronizing, for the implication is that they are so fragile (so “impressionable”) that they will be hurt by disinterested efforts to get at the truth. Nor does this advance science. How can people do their best scientific work if they are constrained by how women might feel about it? Is truth determined by feeling? No. Therefore, intellectual inquiry shouldn’t be suppressed for feeling’s sake either.
Things quickly got worse for the mathematicians. Hill continues:
On September 4, Sergei sent me a weary email. “The scandal at our department,” he wrote, “shows no signs of receding.” At a faculty meeting the week before, the Department Head had explained that sometimes values such as academic freedom and free speech come into conflict with other values to which Penn State was committed. A female colleague had then instructed Sergei that he needed to admit and fight bias, adding that the belief that “women have a lesser chance to succeed in mathematics at the very top end is bias.”
A professor of mathematics is “instructed…that he needed to admit and fight bias,” and yet his colleagues didn’t even substantively engage the paper. Sergie’s colleagues may not have liked the corollary of GMV in intelligence—that “women have a lesser chance to succeed in mathematics at the very top end”—but they didn’t show that it’s incorrect, nor that it’s “bias.” The belief that Sergie is obliged to “fight bias” is particularly egregious, because in relation to the subject this moral imperative is an utter non sequitur, no more relevant or justified than asserting that Sergie has to recycle or be a vegetarian. Needless to say, an academic, in his professional capacities, should not be biased, but Sergie’s “female colleague” had no right to tell him that “he needed to…fight bias.” In the same way, that I should not harm my neighbor (a negative) does not entail a positive obligation to him. The Pennsylvania State Math Department should be ashamed of itself, the Department Head most of all.
Hill once more:
The National Science Foundation wrote to Sergei requesting that acknowledgment of NSF funding be removed from our paper with immediate effect. I was astonished. I had never before heard of the NSF requesting removal of acknowledgement of funding for any reason. On the contrary, they are usually delighted to have public recognition of their support for science.
The ostensible reason for this request was that our paper was unrelated to Sergei’s funded proposal. However, a Freedom of Information request subsequently revealed that Penn State WIM administrator Diane Henderson (“Professor and Chair of the Climate and Diversity Committee”) and Nate Brown (“Professor and Associate Head for Diversity and Equity”) had secretly co-signed a letter to the NSF that same morning. “Our concern,” they explained, “is that [this] paper appears to promote pseudoscientific ideas that are detrimental to the advancement of women in science, and at odds with the values of the NSF.”
According to Henderson and Brown, a paper on GMV in intelligence is “detrimental to the advancement of women in science.” Such language, so false, trite, and predictable, merits Dr Johnson’s dictum: “Clear the mind of cant.” Hill’s and Tabachnikov’s argument is either true or false. If it is true—if, that is to say, “there are more idiots and more geniuses among men than among women”—then that fact, in itself, does not and cannot harm women’s scientific endeavors, because, as a logical proposition, GMV in intelligence is equally independent of women’s and men’s status in science. Although discrimination against women (and men) does exist in science, as in other areas, the truth or falsity of GMV in intelligence is not determined by such discrimination, nor does GMV in intelligence entail it.
The silliest claim of all is that the paper is “pseudoscientific,” because the criterion for “pseudoscientific” is simply what Henderson and Brown don’t like, what hurts their precious feelings. Like virtually all academics on diversity committees, Henderson and Brown don’t think well. If they did, they’d be absolutely devoted to serious scholarship and research. Life is short, and good work long in the making; only mediocrities waste their precious time on ideological committees: “Women In Mathematics,” “the Climate and Diversity Committee,” and the like, every one of which is committed to an anti-intellectual agenda. Henderson and Brown are, as it were, pseudo-moral hangers-on. Well said G.K Chesterton: “I’ve searched all the parks in all the cities and found no statues of committees.”
Of course, as with the fact that men are disproportionately represented in low-paying blue-collar jobs, nobody cares if there are more male idiots than female ones. This would never lead to cries of discrimination. It is only the disproportionate number of men who are geniuses that vexes touchy dullards like Henderson and Brown. For this difference arouses their status envy. With their bizarre fallacious assertions, Henderson and Brown betray that, far from being committed to advancing “gender equality,” they are actually quite biased: ideologues not in the service of justice, but a leveling political agenda.
“That same day,” Hill writes,
the Mathematical Intelligencer’s editor-in-chief Marjorie Senechal [the editor to whom they’d sent the paper] notified us that, with “deep regret,” she was rescinding her previous acceptance of our paper. “Several colleagues,” she wrote, had warned her that publication would provoke “extremely strong reactions” and there existed a “very real possibility that the right-wing media may pick this up and hype it internationally.”…
Unbeknownst to us, Amie Wilkinson, a senior professor of mathematics at the University of Chicago, had become aware of our paper and written to the journal to complain. A back-and-forth had ensued. Wilkinson then enlisted the support of her father—a psychometrician and statistician—who wrote to the Intelligencer at his daughter’s request to express his own misgivings, including his belief that “[t]his article oversimplifies the issues to the point of embarrassment.” Invited by Professor Senechal to participate in the proposed Round Table discussion, he declined, admitting to Senechal that “others are more expert on this than he is.” We discovered all this after he gave Senechal permission to forward his letter, inadvertently revealing Wilkinson’s involvement in the process (an indiscretion his daughter would later—incorrectly—blame on the Intelligencer).
Behold, little girl Amie Wilkinson and her big powerful daddy, two more scholarly dunces! In itself, perhaps, Wilkinson’s father’s claim about oversimplification is not unreasonable. But given his refusal to debate the subject, and concession that he hardly knew what he was talking about in the first place, it’s obvious that he was acting on his daughter’s biased behalf. One would think that if the colleagues Senechal refers to didn’t want to promote “right wing media” hype, then they wouldn’t have acted in such a childish fashion. As it is, charlatans like Amie Wilkinson and her father, Diane Henderson and Nate Brown deserve all the public scorn they get.
In October of 2017, Hill was contacted by Igor Rivin, “an editor at the widely respected online research journal, the New York Journal of Mathematics.” To Hill’s and Tabachnikov’s delight, Rivin soon published the paper. But alas, this time Amie Wilkinson put her husband Benson Farb to work, the man being, as it happened, a member of the journal’s editorial board. Farb wrote an angry email to Steinberger demanding that the paper be deleted at once. Steinberger then found himself in a rather unenviable position. In Hill’s words:
Half his board, he explained unhappily, had told him that unless he pulled the article, they would all resign and “harass the journal” he had founded 25 years earlier “until it died.” Faced with the loss of his own scientific legacy, he had capitulated. “A publication in a dead journal,” he offered, “wouldn’t help you.”
And so the paper vanished. Afterward, Wilkinson continued her petty threatening campaign. Like a character from the movie Mean Girls, the woman even told Facebook friends that she’d “unfriend” them unless they stopped being friends with Rivin on social media. It is unlikely that Rivin, poor capitulating fellow, will be invited to Wilkinson’s upcoming sweet sixteen birthday party.
Feminist women and their tamed men make threats, and everybody yields. This is a norm in academe, whose effects on the culture are immense, indeed impossible to overestimate. Back in 2005, when he was president of Harvard, Larry Summers tried to get his fellow academics to take a more nuanced approach to understanding the lack of “gender parity” that is so distressing for many of them, although, tellingly, only as regards certain well-paying “professional” fields. (Sheer hypocrisy, this constant demand for “gender parity,” in people who purport to value “diversity.”) GMV in intelligence, said the economist, might be a contributing factor to the dearth of women in math and science. What is more, referencing research in behavioral genetics, Summers noted that from the very beginning—that is, before socialization—boys and girls demonstrate different interests. Since then, a lot more research has emerged to support the eminently reasonable view that boys are more interested in abstract things, and girls in people. Accordingly, year after year the data show that much fewer women choose to go into math and science than men. Summers also observed that, women having greater childcare responsibilities than men, they work less than men do, in aggregate, another significant factor with respect to why women, on the whole, don’t get as far in science (as in so many other fields) as men doThis is also a big reason that women make less than men, in aggregate. Alas, this sex difference is constantly assumed to be evidence of discrimination against women, the false premise being that unequal outcomes are unjust ipso facto.. Contra feminists, it won’t do, therefore, to insist that the disproportionate number of men in math and science is ipso facto evidence of discrimination against women. Nor does such discrimination explain why the subjects, at the highest level, are dominated by men.
As with last year’s James Damore controversy at Google, Summers’ good sense was met with outrage. Feminists, as ever, lived up to stereotypes. They went wild with indignation, reading their own anxieties about inferiority into a value-neutral argument that entailed nothing of the kind. Summers was widely condemned, and promptly resigned. Again and again, we see, anything that is counter to what women want to be the case is considered “sexist,” as if that strange reaction sufficed to disprove an argument.
In their psychological character, these phenomena are all the same. Motivated by status envy, women evidently feel that if there are not as many women in science as men, or as many female geniuses as male geniuses, and so on, then women are inferior to men in some ultimate sense. Of course that is not true. Yet it is deeply revealing that women think so. There is a kind of idolatry here, worldly distinction—vain, empty thing—being taken for life’s summum bonum. Meanwhile, women are not any happier than they were before they thought it necessary to keep up with men in the professional domain. As Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers put it in their 2009 essay, “The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness,”
measures of subjective well-being indicate that women’s happiness has declined both absolutely and relative to men. The paradox of women’s declining relative well-being is found across various datasets, measures of subjective well-being, and is pervasive across demographic groups and industrialized countries. Relative declines in female happiness have eroded a gender gap in happiness in which women in the 1970s typically reported higher subjective well-being than did men.
Per feminism’s logic of envy, everyone from the female homemaker to the relatively undistinguished professional woman matters less than the most eminent men. I think, however, that G.K. Chesterton got it right: the family is far, far more important than the workplace, the latter being but a means to it, in the main. Said America’s Good Gray Poet: “I say it is as great to be a woman as to be a man, / And I say there is nothing greater than the mother of men.” It is quite ironic, this logic of envy; quite unfortunate, too, that women let themselves be so constrained by status, a perpetually overvalued good that might have been brought down to size by female critique. If women are to be as free as men, why must they define their sense of self-worth by being equally successful as men? There is no wisdom in feminism’s desperately anxious reasoning. A heterogeneous group, just like men, women should strive to be what they want to be, and not care so much about what other people think of them.
Christopher DeGroot is a columnist at Taki’s Magazine and the editor of The Agonist. His writing has appeared in The American Spectator, The Daily Caller, American Thinker, Frontpage Magazine, New English Review, Jacobite Magazine, The Unz Review, VoegelinView, and Ygdrasil, A Journal of the Poetic Arts. Follow him at @CEGrotius.
 This is also a big reason that women make less than men, in aggregate. Alas, this sex difference is constantly assumed to be evidence of discrimination against women, the false premise being that unequal outcomes are unjust ipso facto.