The Heterodox Academy (HA) is a loosely-affiliated group of academics whose purpose is stated on its website:
Heterodox Academy is a nonpartisan collaborative of 5,000+ professors, educators, administrators, staff, and students who are committed to enhancing the quality of research and education by promoting open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement in institutions of higher learning.
What this means, I gather, is that the Academy is a place where virtually no speech is taboo; and we all know that academia is ridden with societies and journals, as well as departments and professors, that consider some subjects as “undiscussable.” At the Heterodox Academy you can voice your opinions relatively free from worries that you’ll be cancelled.
I haven’t been following the HA’s doings as a whole, but I see that they have a number of “communities”: subgroups where people can discuss issues in their particular academic field or geographic area (e.g., sociology, humanities, philosophy, classics psychology, California, Canada, Australia, and so on). Readers may be interested in participating in their field or geographic region, and the field that most interests me is Heterodox STEM (“Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math”). It’s at the link in the first line of this paragraph, one of the whole list of subgroups. Here’s a summary of what it’s about:
They have a Substack site here, which is a place to share writings, and if you subscribe by giving your email (I think), you can read the first article at the link below. You may have to join the group first, but try clicking on the site and subscribing.
The article written anonymously, and given the disapprobation falling upon those who criticizes DEI initiatives (you’ll know the story of Dorian Abbot), you’ll see why. I don’t know who wrote it, and it isn’t me. But if you want to see how those swimming against the tide of wokeness in STEM are thinking, do have a read (it’s short).
Over the past several years, there has been an increasing push within the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) for what has been dubbed diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). After the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, which was filmed for all to watch in horror, DEI became the main focus of nearly all aspects of STEM communication. You would be hard pressed to find a single university STEM department, professional organization, or publication that did not loudly signal their commitment to DEI, with their action plans to “do better.” While the goals of this movement certainly sound admirable, the actions taken to achieve them are doomed to fail and have harmful consequences. Whether this is due to the shortsightedness of well-intentioned people or a cynical and intentional attempt to destroy academia is less apparent.
There are many examples one can choose from to illustrate this fact, however in the interest of space, I will stick to several of the most prominent in recent news. Dalhousie University in Canada recently advertised a tenure-track position in biological chemistry that is “restricted to candidates who self-identify in one or more of the following groups: Indigenous persons, persons with a disability, racially visible persons, women, and persons of a minority sexual orientation and/or gender identity.” This ostensibly is an effort to increase the diversity of the faculty at Dalhousie University, which is an admirable goal, but the unintended consequences should be obvious. To begin, a common complaint from non-white and female students or faculty is that at some point they have heard something along the lines of, “you were only accepted/hired here because you’re (identity group).” This minimizes or flat out ignores the hard work and effort that people put in to reach their positions. It should be clear as day that the discriminatory hiring at Dalhousie will further reinforce this sentiment among the hired professor’s peers. It is also insulting. The underlying assumption made by this policy is that if straight white men (the only group not mentioned in the allowable group) are allowed to apply, it will unfairly hurt the chances of those mentioned because they cannot compete. I find it odd for a vocally “progressive” institution to echo the sentiments of right-wing twitter trolls, but here we are.
. . and it continues with other examples, ending with a list of ways we can fight the encroachment of wokeness in science.
I endorse a lot of what’s in this article, but not everything. My post is here is simply to call the program and its site to your attention in case you want to participate. I don’t how if it’s a “safe space” for dissent, and of course if you use your real name, you’re leaving yourself open for “cancellation.” I have joined, and post under my own name, but I find that my own website serves me better for expressing my own views than posting on the newsgroup. But I do make occasional contributions (sometimes just calling attention to posts here), and am really interested in hearing what other people have had to say.
Again, if you want to join, email one of the three directors (I haven’t listed them here because I’m loath to put email addresses on my site, but you can find them at the link above.)
I give these caveats for the same reason that the Heterodox Academy exists: you can get in big trouble these days for merely saying what you think, even in a rational discussion. And it’s simply not on to bring up certain ideas, even if they’re true. That’s of course terribly inimical to free expression, but the HA is a place where such expression is encouraged.