Now it’s paleontology that gets accused of being rotten with structural racism, colonialism, and white supremacy

January 4, 2022 • 11:30 am

One by one, every area of science is falling prey to the “we need to purge ourself of racism” syndrome. It’s in genetics, animal behavior, ecology, chemistry, physics and now, at least for the first time I’ve seen, in paleontology. It wouldn’t be so bad if I really thought that all the fields of science are permeated with hatred and bigotry at present, but I just don’t see that. There are accusations, but rarely do we get evidence. (See the Sci Am article on E. O. Wilson the other day.)

Of course in the bad old days, when racism and misogyny were acceptable behaviors, yes, many scientists evinced racist and sexist attitudes. And yes, there are still some bigots in science, as there are in every field of endeavor, and we should call out those behaviors and ensure that they’re not common. But the kind of overall accusations of the kind leveled in this article are pure hyperbole, and, to my mind, do more to signal the authors’ virtue than to actually create equal opportunities (not equal outcomes, which are “problematic”) for oppressed people.

To really see the lack of force of accusations of rampant bigotry in STEM, look for surveys, or even examples, of bigotry in papers such as this. They’re notably lacking. The paper below, which just appeared in Paleobiology, has a lot of citations, but a big lacuna when it comes to examples. Perhaps they’re buried in the citations, but no reader is going to trawl through a gazillion citations to find instances of bigotry. And so we’re subject to a long list of accusations, which are virtually identical from field to field. In fact, in many cases you could substitute “chemistry” or “mathematics” for “paleontology” in these papers and then publish it in the discipline -appropriate journal.

The accusations here (yes, some of them are justified, especially the ones about removing fossils without permission or authority) comprise the usual mix—some are justified but exaggerated, and in the end the paper becomes so extreme that it damns the whole field of paleobiology for racism, sexism, colonialism, white supremacy—you name it.

Click on the screenshot to read, and you can find the pdf here(reference at bottom).  One of our readers, I believe, said that this is the first time a political/ideological paper had appeared in the journal Paleobiology. I don’t know if that’s true.

The abstract:

There is what is said to be a list of “examples” of “racism and colonialism” in the field, presented in Table 1, but that’s not what Table 1 shows. It’s not a list of examples of biased behavior, but a “glossary of anti-racism terms.” (click to enlarge table).

I have neither the time nor will to look up all the citations to see if they really do show examples of bigotry in paleobiology. But I decided to pick one example and follow it back. That is the one under “erasure”: a reference to a 2016 article in the New York Times Magazine. Paragraph 3, which is the “example” cited, simply says this:

‘‘Erasure’’ refers to the practice of collective indifference that renders certain people and groups invisible. The word migrated out of the academy, where it alluded to the tendency of ideologies to dismiss inconvenient facts, and is increasingly used to describe how inconvenient people are dismissed, their history, pain and achievements blotted out. Compared with words like ‘‘diversity’’ and ‘‘representation,’’ with their glib corporate gloss, ‘‘erasure’’ is a blunt word for a blunt process. It goes beyond simplistic discussions of quotas to ask: Whose stories are taught and told? Whose suffering is recognized? Whose dead are mourned?

It’s a definition, and not, as promised, an example of “the history of racism and colonialism in paleontology since the 1800s. .  “.  Readers can look up the other references, but my initial foray was not propitious.

Now I’m not going to say that examples are totally absent from this piece. Here, for example are three (the authors count the use of geological methods to extract minerals as oppression in paleobiology):

  1. the forced removal of Navajo and Hopi people from their lands in the Black Mesa in Arizona for access to coal deposits under the guise of a “land dispute” between the Navajo and Hopi (Redhouse Reference Redhouse1985; Cheyfitz Reference Cheyfitz2002; McBride Reference McBride2017);

  2. encroachment upon and threats to the well-being and safety of the Meskwaki, Standing Rock Sioux, and the Cheyenne River Sioux tribes posed by the Dakota Access Pipeline (Noicecat and Spice Reference Noicecat and Spice2016), although a new environmental review is being undertaken as of this writing (Frazin Reference Frazin2020); and

  3. the decision by the federal government to allow the state of Oklahoma to control the environmental regulations over the recently restored autonomous tribal lands of the Five Tribes of Oklahoma (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek [Muscogee], and Seminole) to the benefit of the oil and agricultural industries (Chang Reference Chang2020; Environmental Protection Agency 2020).

This does show the continuing disregard of Native Americans, but it reflects more on the perfidy of capitalists and governments than on the racism of paleobiologists themselves.

I’ll finish just by giving some quotations that struck me. Make of them what you will:

 Throughout modern history, Western science has directly benefited from the extraction of biological specimens born out of colonialist expansion (Sheets-Pyenson Reference Sheets-Pyenson1986; Roy Reference Roy2018; Chakrabarti Reference Chakrabarti2019; Christison et al. Reference Christison, Tanke and Mallon2020; see also Fagan Reference Fagan2007). These specimens formed the foundations of new theories and subdisciplines of scientific thought (Stix Reference Stix2009), including scientific racism (Curtin Reference Curtin1960).

I presume that the authors know that what happened in the bad old days is being repaired, both by journals requiring documentation of legitimate acquisition of specimens, and countries themselves taking control over their own land and what lies beneath it.

Here we come close to the authors suggestion that we present “other ways of knowing” alongside “Western” wys of knowing in museums. It’s not clear whether they will be presented as having scientific validity:

 The incorporation of Indigenous perspectives into museums, which may include views that are antithetical to the narratives previously professed by these institutions, would be a substantial step forward in addressing the colonial history of natural history museums (Vawda Reference Vawda2019). Furthermore, museums can and should be held accountable for cataloging their histories of colonialism and extraction to spur reflection on that history and grow beyond it (Das and Lowe Reference Das and Lowe2018). As part of this effort, the flaws of founders, scientists, and other historic figures involved in the narratives of museums must be publicly recognized for museums to maintain their credibility (Roy Reference Roy2018).

. . . A reflection upon how the history of paleontology is presented in the classroom provides an introduction to the concept of power imbalances in modern academia. In many Western paleontology courses, syllabi ignore how the establishment of paleontology (and geology) in the Americas relied on the removal and erasure of BIPOC groups. In addition to the material presented in the previous sections, examples include Native American beliefs surrounding the biological origins of fossils (Dussias Reference Dussias1996); the first fossils known to Western science in the Americas were identified by enslaved Africans (Mayor Reference Mayor2005); evolutionary theory was grounded in societal and political views regarding race and culture, wherein evolution and extinction were viewed as mechanisms of removing “unfit” species, and was used to justify Western colonialism (Sepkoski Reference Sepkoski2020). Discussing these facts in a science classroom at all ages and education levels may seem inconvenient and unsettling. Students are often taught that science is apolitical, unbiased, and egalitarian, when in reality it is not. Because of this, reality is often supplanted by a racist, colonialist, and inherently misleading narrative (Sabbagh Reference Sabbagh2017).

We see that, in all these interpretations, the field and the way it’s taught is asked to change dramatically, from an instructional presentation of scientific truth to a form of social engineering designed to indict practitioners in the field in the past, and to validate “indigenous” views of science that are invalid.  Science class, as in all of these manifestos, will change from people learning the truths uncovered by paleobiology into a discussion of the bigotry, racism, and sexism of paleobiologists themselves. Doesn’t this belong in a “studies” course or a “history of science” course?

I’m starting to think that the purpose of these attacks is not just to indict everyone for bigotry and white supremacy, but to fundamentally change the nature of science. It is no longer an objective search for truth (yes, of course some scientists are biased), but just one more tool to achieve not just equality but equity. If anything is being “erased,” it’s the distinction between the sciences and the humanities. “Science” is to become “science studies.”


However, meaningful redress of these issues is effectively prevented by the same power dynamics that facilitated the growth of the geosciences described here. Indeed, the structure of Western academia, including the geosciences, is built upon imbalances of power (Clauset et al. Reference Clauset, Arbesman and Larremore2015; Moss Reference Moss2018; Marín-Spiotta et al. Reference Marín-Spiotta, Barnes, Berhe, Hastings, Mattheis, Schneider and Williams2020). These kinds of power imbalances are ubiquitous, yet seldom addressed, in professional or academic settings (Marín-Spiotta et al. Reference Marín-Spiotta, Barnes, Berhe, Hastings, Mattheis, Schneider and Williams2020). Here, we illustrate how perception of the history of paleontology reflects these imbalances of power, before discussing how these dynamics reinforce racist structures and norms within academia.

Note that any meritocracy will involve some imbalance of power, and that’s why people like this are also trying to water down merit-based advancement in science.  My emphases in the below.

Students are often taught that science is apolitical, unbiased, and egalitarian, when in reality it is not. Because of this, reality is often supplanted by a racist, colonialist, and inherently misleading narrative (Sabbagh Reference Sabbagh2017). Most Western paleontology and geoscience courses are taught by white faculty who control course curricula (Dutt Reference Dutt2020; Marín-Spiotta et al. Reference Marín-Spiotta, Barnes, Berhe, Hastings, Mattheis, Schneider and Williams2020). Without uncomfortable examination of current teaching methods and textbooks, most paleontology courses will continue to emphasize the contributions of white (often male) Western scientists to paleontology, while simultaneously failing to address the racist beliefs of Western scientists, the knowledge of BIPOC scholars, and the historical and modern exploitation of BIPOC communities to benefit Western institutions. This amounts to white supremacy (Truss Reference Truss2019; Table 1). Failure to recognize and address unequal power dynamics and their effects on academia only serves to entrench these behaviors.

Imagine a minority student (or any student) signing up for a paleobiology course only to learn not the facts and theories of paleobiology, but a litany of how the field has been used to suppress the marginalized—and is still being used that way! What minority student would want to enter such a field? And wouldn’t students who want to learn paleobiology be a bit peeved that they are repeatedly indicted for white supremacy?

I love biology and I have studied a bit of paleobiology, too (I pride myself in having read nearly everything that Steve Gould wrote, including his final behemoth tome, which you don’t need to read). But I’m not sure I would have loved evolutionary biology so much if, at the outset of my studies, I was told that I was entering a field riddled, like a house with termites, with bigotry, racism, and white supremacy. Darwin, Fisher, Galton, Wallace, and even poor Mendel—racists all.  Let’s leave science classes for science (with perhaps a rare mention of perfidy), and move this kind of stuff to the area of “studies” and history of science.

In the end, articles like the one above will serve to chill the speech of dissenters, for who dares criticize this article? The fear is that you’ll be called a racist, sexist, or other species of bigot. Some of us, though, aren’t put off by those epithets, nor do we have anything to lose professionally.


Monarrez, P., Zimmt, J., Clement, A., Gearty, W., Jacisin, J., Jenkins, K., . . . Thompson, C. (2021). Our past creates our present: A brief overview of racism and colonialism in Western paleontologyPaleobiology, 1-13. doi:10.1017/pab.2021.28

37 thoughts on “Now it’s paleontology that gets accused of being rotten with structural racism, colonialism, and white supremacy

  1. LOL. I’m so glad I didn’t go into paleontology because I didn’t want to take the stats course as an undergrad. Clearly I would have been oppressed somehow though I would have been able to use my white privilege.

    1. I went to the online CUP article and clicked on each of the authors’ names. Only one – Judith Sclafani – has multiple paper citations ( 4 ), a few others have two citations, but a plurality of authors have no other authored papers listed in the online link. So are these folks undergrad students, PhD students, recent postdocs hoping to make a splash? Seems unusual to have such a multi-authored paper without two or three highly experienced contributors.

      The paper itself is about anthropology, rather than palaeontology, and there is a case for a palaeontology university degree to contain perhaps one or two course offerings on ‘the anthropology and history of palaeontology’. ( The way that the history and philosophy of science is now a recognised major subfield in university philosophy departments.) The term ‘hermeneutics’, which used to be in vogue a couple of decades ago in the fields of literary theory, could well be deployed in respect to these issues. Hermeneutics deals in the fields of interpretations, though the word arose in relation to theories of Biblical literary interpretations.

      I should add that the ‘BIPOC’ term in North America seems to have been used with a stress on Black and First Nations peoples, even though those of various Asian ethnicities are overrepresented in most science fields, particularly STEM. The point here is that the way to defuse an excessive slant on the First Nations & Black claims to perspectives is to balance it out with a full incorporation of all other global ethnic groups with respect to the science under anthropological scrutiny. After all, the lagerstätte of Chinese beds for Jurassic/Cretaceous avians/therapods, as well as the Cambrian radiation, are of prime paleontological value. ( Not that I can discern any worthwhile BIPOC slant on these Chinese examples.)

      1. Thanks for doing this footwork on the authors’ academic footprints. I had a look at the author list and didn’t see any names that I know, but went no further – this is a useful expansion.
        Generally, Paleobiology sets a fairly high bar for publication.

      2. I should add that the ‘BIPOC’ term in North America seems to have been used with a stress on Black and First Nations peoples, even though those of various Asian ethnicities are overrepresented in most science fields, particularly STEM. The point here is that the way to defuse an excessive slant on the First Nations & Black claims to perspectives is to balance it out with a full incorporation of all other global ethnic groups with respect to the science under anthropological scrutiny.

        The most economically successful ethnic group in the USA are Indian Americans (immigrants and US-born). By any measure, Indian Americans are “people of color”. (Unless, of course, it’s just a meaningless political term.)

        However, they (Indian Americans) are typically lumped in with white people in economic analyses, especially those purporting to show disparate outcomes for BIPOC versus white people.

        1. It’s the “no true Indiansman” fallacy. If you are a BIPOC or otherwise not white, and yet you achieve success in any way that could be perceived as “white status quo”, which is an extremely racist idea, then you are “acting white” or maybe “white adjacent”. That’s the story being told.

          1. “People/Person/Writer/Artist/Actor/Student of color”, “community/communities of color” & all the other terms like them are the updated terms of the old racist term “Colored”. Using those terms perpetuate racism instead of lessening it.

      3. I don’t think those counts of articles are correct. Kelsey Stilson is a postdoc at Brown (17 articles in Google Scholar; some are conference abstracts etc., but lots of real journal articles); Ashley Poust is a postdoc at the San Diego Natural History Museum (20); William Gearty is a postdoc at University of Nebraska – Lincoln (21). I didn’t look up the others.

        So they are reasonably experienced I guess. Arguably this makes their ridiculous arguments about racism in palaeontology even less respectable because those three relatively experienced authors should know better.

        Unfortunately this kind of shameless posturing on race is no surprise for three extremely white postdocs trying to get academic jobs at universities. Remember that to get past the EDI screening step for a faculty job, these postdocs now have to show a record of active antiracism. If you are not yourself “diverse”, then this is how you do it.

        1. Yes, this is an excellent point. Everybody applying for a job these days (actually, even for grad school) has to show some official record of active diversity action. More important than a record of academic publication and teaching, it seems. Sad.

    2. Just as well you didn’t take the stats course, Diana. Stats too (Galton, Pearson, etc.) is “intertwined” with bad old white supremacy and colonialism. And, of course, the predominance of white men in the history of science (or “white empiricism”) makes it rotten with patriarchy.

      I think our host has penetrated to what is going on: the tone of these screeds is straight out of the old “cultural studies” mentality of post-modernist days. Sometimes the authors are academics who seem to be affiliated with one or another STEM field, but my bet is that they got into their departments without enthusiasm, and are basically in search of “science studies” as a life pursuit. If I had the time, which I do not, I would look into the CVs of authors of pieces like the one under discussion.

      1. Besides, if you were to have taken a Stats course you would have had to confront the “so called normal distribution”! And you might not have matched up to the norm!

      2. It is completely beyond me how statistical calculations can be racist etc. I can see that things like survey questions can be biased, whether consciously or unconsciously, but the actual calculations surely aren’t? Still, my skin is white, and I live in a Western country, so that could be my own unconscious bias!

  2. More attacks on the Academy. For the Ministry of Truth to succeed, it’s necessary that existing knowledge be discredited.

    1. Not just discredited but folded, spindled, and mutilated. The Woke ideology having no scientific or philosophical foundation must pull down those it sees as competitors. Memes in action, as it were.

  3. Even today, great volumes of paleontological and archeological treasures from distant lands still sit in European and American museums. What is right or wrong about this should considerably depend on the opinions of those who live in those distant lands. If they want them back, then I think that is a good argument to negotiate returning them on a case by case basis. But right away it does get pretty complicated. How stable are the institutions over there? Who would “own” the item (the citizenry or some connected official)? Isn’t there benefit in giving international exposure to ones’ cultural heritage in a major museum?

    1. I agree: In general principle, repatriation is the right thing to do.

      However, it must be considered on a case-by-case basis, for the reasons you note.

  4. You said you’ve read pretty much everything Gould wrote. I haven’t read, nor do I own, any of his books. Do you happen to have a “must read” or just a favorite to recommend by him? I guess this is a question to WEIT readers as well.

    I think your point is well made that this kind of critique would dissuade students (especially minority students) from entering into these important and fascinating fields.

    1. I‘ve also read all his books (but not his technical papers, which are mostly on snails). He is a very good writer. Yes, his own view of evolution (punctuated equilibrium) might be touted a bit too highly. He is admittedly left-wing, but it doesn‘t seem to colour his science to any significant degree (with one exception which has been discussed here). But those are minor quibbles. He is one of the best popular-science writers of all time (that coming from someone who grew up reading Asimov). His essay collections from Natural History are all good. For a “regular” book, check out Time’s Arrow, Time’s Cycle.

    2. I probably have pretty much every one of his essay collections laying around somewhere. It is hard to say which to choose since they will all have interesting essays, out-dated essays, and maybe an essay or two where he is wrong. You could start with The Mis-measure of Man, and Ever Since Darwin, which I think are early collections, and just sort of plug ahead from there.
      He was generally wrong about his biggest ideas, but damn, he could write!

      1. Just to note that Mismeasure of Man is not one of the essay collections, and generally amounts to accusing lots of historical scientists of being biased, while actually being more biased itself.

    3. His popular writings are good. I like his books of essays, and, for single-topic books, Wonderful Life and The Mismeasure of Man. These demonstrate how well Gould could write popular science, though both need revision–sadly, the author is gone. As for Gould’s straight scientific work, I consider it slight, and that includes “puncuated equilibrium,” which was a theory of process that was wrong wedded to a pattern that may be right. I didn’t say that I loved everything I read, but just start with his books of essays, and if you like those, move on to the book-length popular tomes, which though needing revision show great examples of scientific writing. In my view, I would tell people to avoid Gould’s straight scientific work, and especially that last giant tome, where he finally admits, after about a thousand pages, that he doesn’t have a good example of group selection—a linchpin of his process of punctuated equilibrium.

      1. OT but I didn’t know where to put this and you really must see it.

        Go read the two most recent posts (as of 1900 ChiTime) at Pharyngula, where PCC has been referred to in the past as an idiot, asshole, ignoramus, fascist, white supremacist (?!?!?!) (mostly in the comments, true, but implicitly endorsed by the owner/operator of the site) and tell me you aren’t at least a wee bit gobsmacked, in a good way.

      2. OK, many thanks for your input. It seems the consensus here is to start with Gould’s essays, and I happen to enjoy essay collections. Thanks again for the recommendations and insight.

      3. Well Jerry, I have Gould’s ‘the Structure of Evolutionary Theory’ lodged about 2m away from my head as I type, high up on one bookshelf in my sitting room. The white obelisk is filed between ‘the Cambridge Guide to Narrative’ [ since SJG’s book lacks clear narrative above all ] and the Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Individual Differences. I have filed within the book about a dozen reviews of it, all of which I have read, and almost all of them advise ‘don’t read the book’. So I haven’t. His work on the Burgess shale was great, even though anomalocaris and hallucigenia have since been revised.

  5. If, in order to come up with some examples of the “harm” caused by the “colonial” nature of paleontology, they have to resort to pointing to the oil industry, then it is safe to say that paleontology has not caused any harm to anyone.

  6. The reasoning in all of these pieces seems to be

    IF the people who blazed the trail for this subject were mostly white men

    THEN the subject must be racist

    For balance, we need to compare a random sample of subjects where the trailblazers were mostly white men to a random sample of subjects where the trailblazers were mostly not white men, to see if own-group bias is greater or lower in the former case.

  7. Perhaps the main feature of this genre is the construction of a manichean war between evil “western” white men on one side, versus the good minorities (incl. women) on the other side. It’s seldom acknowledged how incredibly common this motif is, and how it is evoked. It appears to come from “post-colonialism” with an academic history embedded in what’s commonly called “academic postmodernism”.

    Postmodernists famously deny they are postmodern and reject such classification, even though their work is always nearly identical, and on that alone screams for a category name, for which “postmodern” is as good as any other. Critics will say that Real Postmodernism® rejects meta-narratives, detect meta-narratives in some way, and then say this isn‘t it. It’s a tiresome game that goes on for decades.

    I think this cluster of closely related ideas are obvious to everyone who is exposed to a few examples, because they self-referentially build on each other in a specific round-robin manner, with always the exact same postulations.

    The authors generally never deem it necessary how they construct groups based on proposed identities, which are not at all natural, self-evident or universal. They know this, too, and will argue vehemently against “essentialism” whenever convenient, but then always fall back to even more fantastical essentialist notions, like the idea that people in certain groups have their own “ways of knowing”.

    The construction of group identities seems based on (post-) structural philosophy, on similarities and differences, on such things as “othering”, where the white man is the default standard, versus the others. They need not much more than that to proclaim that science, as practiced by white guys, is just “their culture” and that therefore something else must exist beside it, which was always elbowed away. Sometimes an attempt is made to explain the source of the secret knowledge: it’s because the oppressed creature must navigate both their oppression and the world built by their masters, thus must know more to survive. One expression of such is called “Standpoint Theory”. Another way to justify these views is through relativism, perhaps based on (strong) linguistic relativity (obsolete, and not generally accepted in cognitive science).

    This leads to the fashionable nonsense of the 1990s in particular, called “multiculturalism”. I find it important to recognise that it is, foremost, a “culturalism” and thus in the same family of ideologies as christian conservatism, and paleolibertarianism, which postulate that individuals ought to be governed by cultural practices of “their” culture. The difference is merely that the right winger wants to impose their christian culture over everyone, wheras the multiculturalist wants each ethnicity imprisoned by their specific culture, kept segregated. Together with other tenets of postmodernism, it becomes the idea that “western” people should not interfere when muslim girls are forced into genital mutilation, wearing oppressive garments and so on, because it’s “their culture” that rules over the individual and “they” know best.

    There are very clear elements of this in more recent Critical Race Theory, as introduced by Delgado & Stefancic (2006), “It also considers cultural nationalism and the opposite notion that minorities should attempt to assimilate and blend into mainstream society. […] CRT also shared with [conventional civil rights thought] a sympathetic understanding of notions of nationalism and group empowerment.

  8. I published quite a number of articles in Paleobiology in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. I never saw anything like this. All the articles published during that period were about fossils, about how animal and plant function could be understood by the study of their hard parts (the parts that fossilize), about how rates and patterns of evolution have changed over time, about how fossils help us understand the motions of continents, about what fossils tell us regarding the evolution of the atmosphere and oceans, about how computers can help interpret the history of life, etc, etc. You know. Stuff like that. Science stuff. This piece, which I cannot read in its entirety since I’m no longer a subscriber, is unique. My prediction, since most paleontologists who read and publish in Paleobiology are really just interested in science, is that this article will be quickly forgotten, and the journal will get back to what it has done well for a very long time—publish actual science.

  9. Let me write this from the perspective of someone whose been through the paleontological career road-trip:

    Ever since I walked into the Peabody Museum in New Haven as a kid, I’ve wanted to take the risk of following my passion to paleontology into the academic realm. I took four years of Biology at Southern Connecticut State University, where I was fortunate to have a paleontologist take me under his wing in an independent study course where I worked on Triassic fossil material he’d taken back from his fieldwork in Arizona.

    After I graduated from undergrad school, I finally got my first taste of graduate school when I enrolled into the Geosciences program at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. For two years, I worked on a non-thesis project related to museum studies, mainly on what motivates people to visit the Sternberg Museum. It wasn’t exactly my dream project or ground-breaking as a paleontology student, but it helped integrate me further in the museum’s activities such as volunteering to prep some mosasaur bones and setting up temporary travelling exhibits in the museum, along with its small staff. I’ve also taken several paleontology courses as well as a scientific writing course on-campus while reacquainting myself with the process including my comprehensive exams. While the program was mostly difficult and I consistently made B grades in most of my courses, I have to say it was one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life thus far, with some remarkable colleagues.

    It’s been at least three years since I’ve graduated and I’m still looking for full-time paleontology jobs country-wide while still getting involved in unpaid museum work in the area whenever I can. My last major preoccupation was at the Yale Peabody Museum in the Paleobotany Department where I was mostly cataloging and rehousing fossil plant specimens and other side-projects with the collections manager before the pandemic hit in March 2020.

    I was mostly disconnected from the encroaching Wokeness into academic paleontology and bought even into the progressive left talking points from my grad school period until 2020’s disastrous fallout of the BLM protests and the #ShutDownSTEM movement that made me look critically at the situation and my own political beliefs. These vague accusations of white privilege and the need to “decolonize science” harkened back to those days when I was constantly brainfed the concept of Original Sin in Catholic catechism classes and the self-loathing need to self-flagette myself for being an unclean and sinful human for the sick appeasement of some vague sky deity. To me, it’s the same bullshit all over again, but with more smug and academic-sounding vocabulary. “Science is Western and colonist, merit and the scientific method are white man’s tools etc.” Another vindictive cult. Those virtue-signaling assholes who use this language wouldn’t hesitate to paint me, a white mid-20s heterosexual male who put my passion into hard-working merit for over six years as a racist and a bigot for simply disagreeing with their politically motivated narrative and a scapegoat for everything “wrong” with paleontology if I spoke out against this drivel during my graduate period. I even heard from my old Geosciences department about adopting an “anti-racism” initiative by one of its faculty, making accusations of “racism thriving in geosciences.” That’s where I drew the line.

    Now with all that said, I am aware that paleontology has had some shady shit and unsavory individuals in the past, especially with fossils stolen from countries such as Brazil, the Burmese amber trade, and Henry Osborn’s promotion of racist pseudoscience in AMNH back in the 1900s. Of course, I am in favour of increasing diversity and being open to students from other backgrounds who put the passion and merit into making paleontology their career, and it has been gradually improving even if you hear Nature Magazine citing geosciences’s lack of diversity as evidence of “present systematic racism” constantly in the news. The fact that proponents of DEIs want to speed up the process of “closing of inequities” without any nuance I think is going to hurt those desired applicants rather than improve their admission into the field. For them, it’s just an exercise in self-indulgent virtue-signaling while making paleontology look bad as a “bastion of racism.”

    Part of me wants to go back to academia to do more paleontological work or even pursue a Ph. D., but this woke garbage that has permeated academia is making me feel less welcome. The proponents of these initiatives say they’re “increasing diversity” and make paleontology more “accessible,” but to me, they’re performing the opposite effect. To me, they’ll be pushing more people away from a career of paleontology, especially those whose viewpoints don’t coincide with their dogmatic proclamations, even classic liberals like me. In addition, these assholes who keep putting out this Woke garbage are going to push people into distrusting science even more and make our continuing fight against creationism being put into public education even harder.

    I don’t know what else to say.

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