Berkeley to change biology courses into social-justice courses

January 17, 2023 • 9:15 am

Well, here we go again. Unsurprisingly, the University of California at Berkeley has revamped its biology curriculum, turning courses in three departments into propaganda mills as well as vehicles for learning biology. This initiative was announced by Berkeley itself at the website below (click to read).

Here’s some of the announcement, showing that the revamping was at the request of the graduate diversity council of the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management. Note that the courses are in three departments, and have large enrollments.

Ten large-enrollment courses in the Departments of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management (ESPM), Integrative Biology, and Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology were substantially revamped over the summer to better incorporate inclusive and anti-racist approaches to course design and teaching practices.

Using the recently developed toolkit “Advancing Inclusion and Anti-Racism in the College Classroom: A rubric and resource guide for instructors,” graduate assistants with course background or pedagogy expertise were paired with instructors to develop specific and actionable plans for course improvement in future semesters. Revised courses include:

  • NUSCTX 166: Nutrition in the Community
  • NUSCTX 104AC: Food, Culture, and the Environment
  • ESPM 50AC: Introduction to Culture and Natural Resource Management
  • ENERES 160/ESPM 176: Climate Justice
  • ESPM C115C: Fish Ecology
  • ESPM C115A/IB C171: Freshwater Ecology
  • ESPM C114: Wildlife Ecology
  • BIO 1B: Introduction to Biology: Evolution/Ecology/Plant Diversity
  • ESPM C46: Climate Change and the Future of California
  • IB 35AC: Human Biological Variation

. . .”Our teaching practices, especially in large introductory classes that can act as gatekeepers, have a multiplicative impact on our students’ lives—for good, or for bad,” wrote the team that authored the toolkit. “As instructors, we have a unique opportunity and responsibility to move toward anti-racist teaching practices.”

Do these people really know how to improve the students’ lives? Shouldn’t that be by teaching them biology, not by brainwashing them? And who gave them the right to decide to “improve student lives” this way? It goes on:

The tool was developed in June 2020 after the ESPM Graduate Diversity Council called on department leadership to take anti-racist actions to address ways in which systemic anti-Black racism has permeated academia. In response, ESPM faculty and students collaborated with the UC Berkeley Center for Teaching and Learning to develop the resource as a way to foster inclusivity for Black students and other students of color in ESPM.

. . .Specific course modifications implemented include language and tone changes in syllabus, especially around basic needs and accessibility; greater inclusion of decolonial, justice-centered, and Indigenous perspectives in course materials; deeper community engagement in assignments; and adoption of community guidelines. The changes are currently being implemented, according to Blonder, and are already having an impact on student learning.

The efforts were supported by approximately $50,000 in funding from Rausser College of Natural Resources, ESPM, the Berkeley Food Institute, the Berkeley Life Sciences Faculty Diversity Initiative, and a Berkeley Discovery Initiative grant to the Department of Integrative Biology.

Read the full report for a list of instructor participants, graduate student bios, and a summary of the effort’s short-term outcomes.

If you look at the “full report”, you’ll see how the instructors—both faculty and grad-students—are tweaking the courses. Here are a few excerpts from the grad-student bios showing you the political direction of the courses:

a.) Rasmus Nielsen and I are developing a course, IB 35AC – Human Variation, which will discuss the role that genetics and societal norms play on human variation and identity. My main aim is to decolonize how we understand and teach human genetics by fostering inclusive and collaborative environments in the classroom and beyond. In addition, I hope to help expand biology to the global south by breaking down language barriers and ultimately reconstructing academia.

b.)  I hope to work in wetland and shoreline habitat restoration within social contexts, planning and designing for environmental justice and social equity issues.

c.) I love teaching (even more than research! shhh), particularly with methods rooted in contemplative and nonviolent pedagogy, disability justice, and alternative grading structures (e.g. specification grading or labor-based grading). [JAC: I’m not sure what “nonviolent pedagogy” is, as I’ve never since an instructor strike a student.]

d.) I aim to enhance the nutrition care process of vulnerable populations by using a decolonial lens which centers food as enclaves for healing, considers opportunities for communal food sovereignty, and constructs racially/culturally intersectional models within treatment interventions to erase Eurocentric barriers impeding behavioral success.

This decolonizing and Eurocentric emphases come from the guidance offered by the anti-racist toolkit, “Advancing inclusion and anti-racism in the college classroom,” a 39-page booklet telling students to infuse a woke perspective into all their courses.  It comes from the Zenodo site, and the guide was put together by twelve Berkeley faculty and graduate students. Its stated aim is this (my emphasis):

This tool aims to support instructors in developing anti-racist approaches to course design and teaching practices in the undergraduate and graduate setting. It offers an accessible, and user-friendly entry-point for instructors interested in considering how their instructional choices impact student outcomes. The resource guide provides instructors a range of ideas and options to help instructors through a process of modifying their courses. The guide is meant for self-assessment, rather than for others to score courses or instructors, and is designed to facilitate progressive refinement toward anti-racist teaching over time.

Now one could question the wisdom of infusing ideology into biology (as I do)—even anti-racist ideology. While of course I oppose racism, I am not on board with every bit of antiracist philosophy (I diverge from Kendi’s claim, for example, that if you or your program is not explicitly infused with antiracist activism, it is itself racist). More important, the brand of anti-racism suggested for these courses (have a look at the “Advancing Inclusion” booklet) is extreme authoritarian Leftist, and brooks no dissent.

But the biology class is not the place to propagandize students. It is a place to learn biology.  As Stanley Fish wrote in his eponymous and very relevant book, “Save the World on Your Own Time.

As one example, here’s some guidance about how to “decolonize” the curriculum taken from chapter VIII of the “Advancing Inclusion” book:

Here they suggest not only that you suggest “alternative epistemologies” (i.e., alternative “ways of knowing”), but present them respectfully. I suspect this means that you cannot say that some “other ways of knowing” are either wrong or not “ways of knowing” at all.

The emphasis on storytelling, legend, and poetry is characteristic of “ways of knowing” that are really “ways of feeling,” including New Zealand’s Mātauranga Māori , which I’ve written about here many times. before.

“Dominant approaches,” of course, are “Eurocentric ones,” sometimes known as “science.”

While one of the courses listed above—Climate Justice—is built around an ideological view (and I’m not sure that’s wise), the rest of the courses, offered in three biology departments, really have nothing to do with politics. The reason politics is being injected into these courses is simply because the people who promoted this initiative are from the progressive Left, and they want to jam their views down the throats of their students.

Of course I object strongly to this. The biology classroom is the place to learn biology, not to be propagandized to adhere to the politics of your instructors. Every minute devoted to “other ways of knowing” and similar ideological diversions is a minute less of biology you can learn. “Anti-racist fish ecology”—really? And I cringe when I think of what will be taught in “Human Biological Variation.”

Of course my carping on this post will have exactly zero influence on these initiatives, for the professors are adhering to a form of ideological religion, and, like Eric Hedin at Ball State, cannot resist sneaking that religion into science class. These classes will produce students who know less biology than students who took earlier versions of the class, but they’ll sure be more vociferous and political!

h/t: Bruce

59 thoughts on “Berkeley to change biology courses into social-justice courses

  1. As long as there is no significant opposition to this “woke” madness from a large percentage of the faculty at schools large and small across the country, and as long as the bloated and costly collegiate DEI bureaucracy continues its relentless expansion, there exists little (if any) reason to expect that this movement of anti-rational ideology will soon be diminishing in intensity or in influence.

    1. I’m afraid faculty opposition will do little to stem the tide given the billions now invested in the post modern religion of left wokeism via University endowments. Harvard for example now boasts as many administrators as undergraduate students. All being paid to churn these ideas out. I am not a pessimist but honestly fear our ruin as a society is written.

  2. So which academic discipline(s) still sits on dry ground and is relatively unthreatened by this encroaching madness?

  3. The New York Times has an interesting op-ed piece today about the DEI industry and its failure to document effectiveness ( Relevant to this discussion is a quote from Robert Livingston, a Harvard lecturer and bias researcher: “Focus on actions and behaviors rather than hearts and minds.” In other words, identify specific problems and work on specific solutions. Case in point: eugenics is often raised as a cardinal sin in genetics and evolution, and historically it arguably was. In that context, I was happy during my teaching career to team work with historians including the late Will Provine) about the subject, starting with the actual history of eugenics (especially 1910-1945) rather than backwards from supposed vestiges of the science that exist in modern research. Students found it to be informative without being threatening. This is quite different from some broad effort to create an “anti-racist” curriculum that proceeds from the premises of Di Angelo et al., which will be perceived, perhaps correctly, as an attack on the existing values of both scientists and student.

    1. It’s not just that they fail to document effectiveness, it’s that CRT simply asserts it as axiomatic that everywhere there is racism, and only its methods can combat it. No evidence is supplied, and the claim is unfalsfiable. Anywhere that racism is denied it’s proof of racism. It is everlasting. Racialising everything and declaring all white people evil on the basis of their skin (including babies) is anti rascist. Being colorblind is now rascist. It’s profoundly irrational, but then according to these rules rationality itself is white male supremacist.

      1. Not at all, Johan. It’s perfectly rational. It is goal-directed behaviour that has a credible probability of being successful. The fact that we can prove the goals would be harmful is immaterial. The goal is harm itself, to us and to everyone but themselves, with which they will gain power.

  4. As someone who will be sending kids to college in a few years, I wonder what parents can do to help get higher education back on track. I do think that if enough of us expressed our discontent, backed by threats to not continue to finance this madness, that we might see some change.

    Unfortunately, I don’t see that level of organization and cooperation happening…

    1. I’m a grandparent who will be helping to finance my grandson’s college education. You can be damn sure my hard earned money won’t finance his going to a school with policies like these!

  5. Ok, here’s a new thought (to me):

    All these “antiracist” efforts need to start producing the racists they are designed to identify and counteract.

    Ohhh, the _policies_ and other inanimate things are racist.

  6. Wow this is really disappointing. The individuals involved at Berkeley are not Laura Helmuth-like wannabe scientists, and they aren’t the kind of early-career strivers who need to turn to JEDI as a source of bumph for their CVs. Rasmus Nielsen is a world-class evolutionary geneticist (he wrote the textbook). When I see people like him embrace efforts like this I wonder whether I’m on the wrong side of these questions.

    1. > they aren’t the kind of early-career strivers who need to turn to JEDI as a source of bumph for their CVs.

      I’m not so sure about that. The graduate students are finishing their MSc/PhD degrees and they’ll probably benefit from credentials like this in the near future. It would also be interesting to know how the graduate students were “paired” with the faculty, for example if there was an actual active role of the latter in this pairing.

      1. Oh yes for sure the grad students *must* do this kind of “work” if they hope to get academic jobs. That part of my comment applied to guys like Nielsen.

  7. I suppose each one of these “infusions of social justice” into biology courses could be charitably interpreted and applied in common sense ways. Look for practical applications; incorporate more perspectives; work more sensitively with students. It wouldn’t necessarily have to jump the rails.

    We’re just suspicious that it will.

  8. There are ‘Multiple means of knowledge’?
    In science there is only one means to knowledge and that’s through hypotheses that are critically tested and either changed or discarded when proven to be incorrect. And if a hypothesis is formulated in a way that can’t be tested as to its validity, it’s not science.

    1. It’s in my opinion rather racist to envision that the empirical method hasn’t always been equally available to all humans. The main thing that’s different in modern science is conventions around demonstrating evidence (publication, etc). But the basic idea of understanding and describing reality based on empirical evidence. Further more it’s probable that MUCH of science today is and almost certainly the majority of it in the future will be done by NON WHITE PEOPLE. Because the world is 2/3 Asian people. Not that it matters (or should matter) but there’s your decolonization right there right?

    2. “There are ‘Multiple means of knowledge’?” Yes, in several senses, the most obvious of which is that every culture has distinctive ways of classifying the empirical world and of understanding the relationships among those empirical things. But it would be ridiculous for a zoology course to substitute, say, Shuar Indian classification of fish for the classification of fish in Western science. The less obvious issue might be, as Bruno Latour and many others have explored, that the process in which hypotheses are “critically tested and either changed or discarded when proven to be incorrect” is often fraught, and can even be saturated with political/ideological junk. As Latour noted in his early work on Pasteur, his own experiments frequently failed, yet his hypotheses prevailed because of his reputation — a political judgment, not a scientific one. Happily, better technology for testing established the validity of most of Pasteur’s hunches, but that has not always been the case. I have often assigned “The Golem: What You Should Know About Science” by Collins and Pinch to my class on the culture of science, and I recommend their work for interesting examples of the difficulties of testing/measuring/evaluating/replicating experiments — the really interesting ones are those in which ‘failures’ are discarded and confirming outcomes are taken to be the valid ones.

  9. So, I suppose in the interest of DEI, they should respectfully present the alternative epistemologies of, say, Answers in Genesis? I mean, it was formulated by Indigenous, not-really-white Middle Easterners, and the traditional teaching has carried on for millennia. And it’s not he “dominant” approach to knowledge production in Academia.

      1. a colonial oppressed brown people with authentic thoughts, for sure. after all, post modernism casts all systems of thought in perspective of historic arrangements of power. thus all modern activity that does not tear down the status quo arose from institutional racist, ageist, transphobic, anti LGBTQ oppressive power systems. hence we have no objective truth and instead we have racist math, racist chemistry, you name it. speak your truth as it were.

  10. This is all part of the post-affirmative action plan, you see. They structure the syllabus in a way that completely alienates students of Asian backgrounds (I’m stereotyping here, but in my experience most Asians want to learn the science in a science class), lessening the competition for admissions. Now they can boost under-represented student populations without resorting to giving Asian applicants low “personality” scores.

  11. There are students that will see this and avoid Berkeley, if they are interested in Biology. Unfortunately, there are probably more than enough, who won’t understand that they are going to be paying tens of thousands of dollars to learn nothing, to keep these courses full.

  12. Years ago an article in The Onion discussed the ‘Dumb Consumer Protection Act”.
    The joke is now reality. Woke universities are churning out ideological pap which is being bought and ingested by many Americans, who are the Dumb Consumers. Why arent the writers here on WEIT more alarmed by this? This isnt just some manipulative advertising from Madison Ave. suites. We are talking here of indoctrination sugar=coated with words about equality. Equality of stupidity is what it is. No wonder this country’s IQ continues to descend into the Idiot category. Why are so many people distrustful of scientists, doctors and government regulators but willingly allow themselves to be injected with political ideology using a vector of white guilt? Someone or some group needs to issue a newsletter exposing those universities and institutions that have bowed in appeasement before the neo-Stalinists running this circus? Where are the professors and academic establishment we need to speak out and stop this
    intimidation and coercion? There is no one…except the right wingers who cleverly take advantage of all of this in order to denigrate and discredit liberals and the left. But the anti racist mobs and trembling white liberals just continue to give them ammunition.
    And the white liberals have no clue about how their woke junk is actually undermining them.

    1. “Why arent the writers here on WEIT more alarmed by this?”

      I think we’re all alarmed. I understand your criticism is of academics who don’t actively oppose this trend. I blame in part the tradition of collective collegial governance at universities. We hire our own colleagues, and we select for faculty members who are attuned to and value the opinions of others (at least more so than in other kinds of organizations). And so we are much more sensitive on average to charges of racism etc. and can be more easily cowed by the occasional narcissist or sociopath who wields racism as a cudgel.

    2. At least for some, speaking out can cost you your job, especially if you are an adjunct professor without tenure protection.

  13. I don’t have enough knowledge about the sociology of these university departments to get a handle on what is happening here.

    Is it simply white administrators being stampeded into DEI from vaguely understood but definitely feared external forces catapulting Twitter bombs over the wall that surrounds the ivory tower?

    Or has a cabal of (in the U.S.) Black activists actually taken over the institution from within and seized the levers of power? A senior academic like Rasmus Nielsen may not know enough or be confident enough that his instincts are on the right side of questions like this outside his own field. In the face of cynically organized operatives who devote their lives to this stuff, he may have decided to go along to get along with something that sounds good. If they are working behind the scenes and not sitting in the Dept. Chair he will see that if even the Chair is acquiescing in this, then the cabal is truly all powerful: they’ve got everyone who counts.

    If this was happening at Harvard, I would know exactly where it was coming from.
    Likewise similar Indigenous distortions of the medical curriculum at U of Toronto.

    The unsigned letter about censoring “field” from the USC School of Social Work was quite obviously (to me) authored by Black Power activists with a single-minded racial focus, not by silly white people. That the larger university disowned it speaks to a power struggle not yet won.

    Because America now sees everything in terms of race and anti-racism, you are blind to the class struggle that drives politics everywhere else. DEI and fighting climate change are about smashing the system.

  14. I don’t know their course numbering system, but assuming its pretty standard …
    These are 100-level courses and below, so these could be general education electives or first-year courses. Courses that are below 100-level generally don’t count toward fulfilling any degree requirements. One finds ‘remedial’ courses that are below 100-level.

    1. Had a peek into this, Mark. Bio 1B is one of the two general biology courses that must be taken by all majors in biology, Bio 1A and accompanying labs being the other one. Bio 1B and IB 35AC are both taught by the Dept. of Integrative Biology. (Bio 1A is taught in Molecular and Cellular Biology and requires a college Chemistry course as a prerequisite, Bio 1B does not.) Nothing in the course calendar suggests that IB 35AC is a remedial, elective, survey, or general interest course pitched at non-biology majors or that it can’t be used toward satisfying a major declaration in biology. So that’s two major-credit bio courses nobbled by the Integrative Biology folks.

      The Dept. of Integrative Biology is newly co-chaired by a white woman and a Black man who uses lower-case letters to spell his name (a common affectation up here, as well.) The Departmental statement at reads,

      We are all just emerging from more than a year of pandemic-induced isolation during which we have had to confront significant challenges associated with racism, police violence, political unrest, and deep inequities in our health and educational systems. Now, as we return to campus, the University is facing an unprecedented financial deficit that will affect all of us. Rather than be discouraged, we note that real change often arises from challenge.

      . . . We are confident that, as a community, we can realize our potential as leaders in promoting diverse, inclusive academic excellence.

        1. Everybody had a good investment year in 2021. I don’t know (being a foreigner) how the performance of the system’s endowment fund affects the operating surplus or deficit of any of its constituent units.

          Berkeley does seem to be struggling with a structural deficit that was $159 million a year in 2016, reduced to zero with special one-time funding for 2019, just in time for the pandemic. The most recent financial statements (as at June 30, 2021) showed an operating deficit of $1 billion, offset by a non-operating surplus of $2 billion, much of which was due to state appropriations on top of regular state funding per student and a nice appreciation in value of investment assets, yielding a surplus of $1 billion.

          If their investment portfolio did as badly in 2022 as mine did, their numbers for this and last fiscal years will look terrible. The university could well be demanding that its departments will have to make a crack at reducing that operating deficit of $1 billion because the non-operating revenue over expenses includes the change in value of investments, which is not cash income and of course is not always greater than zero.

          So the concerns raised by the Co-Chairs this year are not necessarily at odds with the U Cal system’s investment performance from two years ago.

    2. My reply went to moderation, Mark, perhaps because it had a link to the Berkeley Dept. of Integrative Biology, sponsor of two of the courses. The course numbering system is opaque and doesn’t hew to the 100, 200, 300 scheme where higher numbers in the ones and tens indicate more rigorous courses.

      Briefly, BIO 1B is one of the core courses that all Bio majors at Berkeley must take, not just majors in Integrative Biology, in sequence with Bio 1A taught in the Dept. of Cellular and Molecular Biology.

      IB 35AC is a standard “line” course. Nothing in the course catalogue suggests it is remedial or a general education survey course intended for non-science majors or otherwise not eligible for fulfilling degree requirements, in Bio or anywhere else.

      The Department of Integrative Biology (Co-) Chair statement is worth a read. It would upset Kalven mightily and should annoy all of us.

  15. “greater inclusion of decolonial, justice-centered, and Indigenous perspectives in course materials”

    There’s some sense in that if you’re teaching history or social science. But basic biology? It’s idiotic.

    Are receptor tyrosine kinases “justice-centered”? Is chromatin remodeling “decolonial”? If not, should we stop teaching students about receptor tyrosine kinases and chromatin remodeling?

    Where does it stop?

    1. “If not, should we stop teaching students about receptor tyrosine kinases and chromatin remodeling?”

      If people of color (other than Asians of course) are on average having more difficulty with this material than other groups, then yes they will stop teaching it.

      Remember the first commandment of Wokism: all racial disparities in outcome are due to systemic racism.

    2. Chromatin remodeling triggers me to think of the song about histone proteins (to the tune of The Flintstones:
      Meet the Histones!
      They’re a basic protein family.
      There are
      Just four subtypes.
      They’re conserved evolutionarily ..
      (it goes on).

  16. No surprise that a grad student involved in this curricular rot confides that “I love teaching (even more than research! shhh)”. At institutions following this path, we can expect a proliferation of such grad students and then, thanks to filtering by Diversity Statements, in their faculties. Before long, the life sciences at these temples of learning will be heavily slanted toward anti-racist fish ecology, ornithology justice, and decolonial mycology, with a dollop of “science studies” semiotics. Their contribution to actual knowledge in Biology is predictable.

    Incidentally, this episode at Berkeley demonstrates that reference to academic Biology in the early 1950s in a galaxy far a way is absolutely appropriate. As our DEIshchina moves right along, it is hard to decide whether to laugh (with the Babbling Beaver) or cry.

  17. As Lindsay explains, there is a “basic structure of Marxism [that] repeats itself through every evolution of Marxist Theory,” and is found in postmodern critical education (pedagogy) as well, which seeks to overturn literacy and (merit-involving) formal education as we know it, because it is seen as a pillar of the all-pervading “oppressor system”.

    “* For Marx, the special property was /capital/. Its ideology was /capitalism/, a caricature of market economies. Its winners are the /bourgeoisie/ and its losers the /working class/, who become a /proletariat/ when awakened to /class consciousness/. The structure of this society is enforced by structural /classism/ which is /materially deterministic/. The goal of Marx’s economic-material Marxism is the /abolition (or transcendence) of private property/.

    * In Critical Race Theory, as I argue in Race Marxism, the special property is /whiteness/. Its ideology is /white supremacy/. Its winners are /whites/ and /white-adjacents/. Its losers are /people of color/. Either of these can become /antiracists/ when awakened to /race consciousness/ (instead of colorblindness). The structure of this society is enforced by /systemic racism/, which is both /materially/ and /structurally deterministic/. Its goal is the /abolition (or transcendence) of whiteness/.

    * In Queer Theory, the special property is /normalcy/. Its ideology is /cisheteronormativity/, that it is regarded as normal to be straight and not trans. Its winners are /cisheterosexuals/ and /people who pass as such/. Its losers are /the abnormal/. These can become /allies/ or /queer/ when awakened with /queer consciousness/. The structure of this society is enforced by /homophobia/, /transphobia/, and other /bigotries of normativity/, which are both /materially/ and /structurally deterministic/. Its goal is /the abolition (or transcendence) of normalcy and, with it, normativity/, i.e., all norms and socially enforced categorical expectations.

    * For Freire, the special property is /formal education/ or /literacy/. Its ideology is one of “educated society,” which values being /educated/ and /literate/ in ways acceptable to the existing system. Its winners are the /formally educated/ and /literate/, regarded as /knowers/, and its losers the /illiterate/, who are actually knowers in their own right, though the system excludes them, their ways of knowing, and their knowledges. They are awakened through /political literacy/, and /conscientization/ is the process of their awakening. The /critically conscious/ or /conscientized/ are those who have been awakened. The structure of this society is enforced by expectations on /literacy/ and /formal education/, which are /materially/ and /structurally deterministic/, relegating the underclass to a “culture of silence,” as Freire has it. The goal is /the abolition (or transcendence) of formal education and objective knowledge/, and thus the immediate goal is the reappropriation of education into a process of conscientiation and “humanization.””

    (Lindsay, James. The Marxification of Education: Paulo Freire’s Critical Marxism and the Theft of Education. Orlando, FL: New Discourses, 2022. pp. 42-3)

    1. Excellent information. Thank you for sharing.

      One question that always occurs to me when I encounter “woke” tenets is “Can you name, as I can, the dozen different logical errors in the arguments you just propounded?”

  18. A question about not imposing additional service burdens on non-white instructors. I am not sure what this comes to in the particular context. But in general it is a good thing to watch out for problems created when non-white people are under pressure (or feel under pressure) to take on extra work as mentors etc. —When women academics were more scarce, they were under pressure to be the representative of women on this committee and that. Any group in a minority in the academic context can be under this sort of pressure…They need a woman to be the woman on the committee, they need a person of color….and the extra work adds up.

  19. Well, all species have variations, some more than others, humans are quite modest compared to domestic animals.

  20. “Every minute devoted to “other ways of knowing” and similar ideological diversions is a minute less of biology you can learn.”

    I would suggest that being taught pseudo science does greater harm than just reducing the time one is exposed to science. Coming to understand the nature of science itself, regardless of the particular discipline, is an essential component of learning any science. And that learning should reduce rather than enhance a student’s vulnerability to being cozened by nonsense.

  21. I would bet President Alivisatos of Chicago will be extending offers to his former colleagues at Berkeley to join him.

  22. Science in the west will soon be run completely by the sociologists. Our enemies science is being run and will be run by scientists. Our enemies will enter what is left of the west without firing a shot. And our sociologists will be at the lowered gates to greet them as heroes.

  23. Puritans worked to make religion their way of life.

    It appears to me this would make sense in the present case – when an ideology is made into a way of life, how could it not produce such results?

    To compare, I have not heard about white supremacy of surgery, antibiotics, or fluoride dental cleaning. Because the doctors performing that work can distinguish their way of life from their work – or as far as I can tell.

  24. May be it is time to pull a plug of science on the West? Too much hassle to keep it going here and Chinese can do a great job as well after all.

    1. This silly stuff and, additionally, the abandonment of SAT tests and other entrance criteria for our universities, assures that other nations, including China, will have the superior scientists of the future.

      1. no, a police state in which the CCP dictates the outcomes of all movements of significance to governance is no recipe for long term success. the problem is our new religion of post modernism lends a Lysenko quality to our science. so the search for truth for which science, rather than religion, has in modern history been the arbiter grows weaker.

  25. And… what does this have to do with science or biology? I’m lost. Somebody, please explain to me how biology, or the study of living organisms, is “racist”… asking this as someone with mixed European and Malayali Indian, diverse ancestry. I’ve been in school. It sounds like these people are pulling buzzwords and terms out of their 4$$es to justify brainwashing the youth with more hatred and division. None of this makes sense. It’s going to be embarrassing for this country when these kids leave with degrees but know nothing except how to point fingers, play the victim and berate others for imaginary problems for a false ego boost and no real understanding of science or the natural world.

    1. Somebody, please explain to me how biology, or the study of living organisms, is “racist”

      A serious answer to your question would start with the point that any “Science” (capital ‘S’) such as Biology (capital ‘B’), Chemistry, or Physics, is not the same as the practice of that science (small ‘s’), which as a human activity is often saturated with politics, ideology, bias, etc. It can start early. When I was a grade school kid the 1950s we were taught that the bones in the human female arm are structured differently from those of males, so that females can hold babies properly, and thus human females cannot throw a ball efficiently, and instead use a kind of flopping arm motion. We were taught that the female pelvis is structured for pregnancy and birth, and thus human females cannot run in the smooth way that males do, and instead run with stiff knees, in a jerking style. This was, as we later learned, science in the service of culture — it wasn’t merely the 19th century in which such scientific beliefs about women were common (see Barker-Benfield’s classic “The Horrors of the Half-Known Life: Male Attitudes Toward Women in Nineteenth Century America” for example) — see the work of Emily Martin, including her famous book “The Woman in the Body” for recent examples. I focus here on the sexism of much of what has been done, but comparable points could be made about racism.

      So I think the issue is that a freshman course in Biology should stick to what the science is at the moment, and leave the ideology aside to the greatest extent possible. I don’t see any problem with the occasional reference in a class to outdated once- “scientific” beliefs that could highlight new knowledge and understanding that have replaced them. But it also sounds like these instructors have a only very large hammer and assume that everything is a nail. Or, to put it slightly differently, social justice issues such as DEI become a Procrustean bed.

Leave a Reply