The new scientific meeting: Big Brotherism, allyship pledges to change the world, pervasive ideology, and roaming spies

April 21, 2023 • 10:15 am

There seems to be no limit to the willingness of scientific societies to alter their mission from purveying science to promoting the Critical Theory version of Social Justice, and I’m getting tired of reporting it.  Stories of science meetings replete with behavioral guidelines, appointed roaming Pecksniffs and snitches, and admonitions to further equity and recognize one’s “privilege” are now the “dog bites man” stories of online reporting. They’re almost too common to mention.  Regular meetings not infused with social justice have become the “man bites dog” story!

Sadly—and it does pain me—the MBD stories are mostly reported on right-wing sites, for the Left’s narrative prefers to keep the infection of science by ideology under wraps.  But why? Isn’t publicity what the “progressive” Left wants? The reason for the silence (which is deafening in the MSM liberal media), is that most Americans don’t want Critical Social Justice to be the dominant strains of all our institutions, so while the more vocal of the “progressive” left wreak their damage, they’d prefer that their efforts be kept quiet until their hands are firmly on the reins of power. They know that the Right can use such ideological intrusion as a weapon against the Left.

But I digress. This reports is about a small scientific organization doing what every other science group is doing: laying out a panoply of behaviors at meetings that are not only seen as inappropriate, but urging attendees to snitch on offenders. If these behaviors were pervasive and not stopped, that would be one thing, but science meetings are the very picture of respectful behavior, civility, and equal opportunity.  Rules, then, should be minimal, and limited to common sense. And the focus of the meeting should be, again, to promote science, not change society in ways that appeal to its organizers. The long list of strictures that come with every meeting announcement these days is a form of virtue-flaunting for scientists.

The article below appeared in another conservative site dealing with academia: Minding the Campus. But ignore the source and focus on the details, which can be verified. Click on the screenshot below to read:

Quotes from the piece are indented, and you can of course check for yourself by going to the hyperlinks.

“Allies … will have ‘ALLY’ presented on their name badges at the conference.”

What kind of conference is this, one wonders? Athletic? Religious? Political?

None of the above. This is the 2023 conference of the Comparative Cognition Society (CCS), a small scientific organization devoted to understanding the intelligence and learning capacities of animals. The “Ally” information is from a new group created by the organization’s president.

Does “ally” refer to ethical matters involving the well-being of animals—a PETA initiative, perhaps? Or maybe it represents an effort by CCS to resist attacks on animal research?

None of the above. The committee gently explains:

Warm greetings from your new Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) committee. We are here to help promote EDI initiatives in the society, and are excited to share some of the new features you might notice at the CO3 [comparative cognition] conference this year … The CCS EDI Committee has advanced the following five initiatives with the goal of creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all …

That first sentence would put a chill up my spine (who believes that those greetings are really “warm”?), and the greetings include a three-page code of conduct outlining behaviors that are now only frowned upon, but reportable.  This is not really an effort to promote diversity, but civility, which is ubiquitous at meetings. Yes, people can get out of line, but in all my years of going to science meetings I haven’t seen a single case (of course it could happen behind close doors). And at least for legal violations, like sexual misconduct or harassment, the police should be called in.

Anyway, with respect to that code of conduct, the article notes this:

Next, readers are referred to a thousand-word Code of Conduct, much of which states etiquette that should not have to be reiterated. But it also rates as “unacceptable” “Verbal comments related to gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, age, body size, race, religion, national origin. [italics added]” Any verbal comments? Would the claim that “Marie Curie was female” lead to disciplinary action? Possibly. But saying that Roscoe Arbuckle was “fat” is surely over the line.

This is followed by an invitation to snitch:

If you are the subject of unacceptable behavior, have witnessed any such behavior, or are acting as an ally to someone who was the subject of unacceptable behavior, please notify a CCS EDI member on-site or e-mail your concern to [emphasis mine].

There’s the obligatory section on pronouns, which links to a somewhat patronizing guide to the topic.  This obsession with pronouns always puzzles me: at meetings you refer to people by their names, not by their pronouns; in fact, I can’t even see a third-person use of pronouns: if you introduce a speaker, for instance, you can say something like “I’m pleased to introduce Joan Smith, who will discuss how bees can identify a genuine threat to their colony.”

And what about being an “ally”? Here ideology has overcome science completely. If you want to become an ally at the meeting, you have to pledge to actively work to change society. (Not necessarily for the better if you’re not aboard the Critical Social Justice juggernaut). A quote from the meeting protocol:

CCS EDI committee members are all Allies during the conference and will have “ALLY” presented on their name badges at the conference. To quote from Dr. Maysa Akbar in the APA EDI Inclusive Language Guideline:

“Allies are people who recognize the unearned privilege they receive from society’s patterns of injustice and take responsibility for changing these patterns. Being an ally is more than being sympathetic and feeling bad for those who experience discrimination. An ally is willing to act with, and for, others in pursuit of ending oppression and creating equality. Real allies are willing to step out of their comfort zones. Those who decide to undertake the ally role must recognize and understand the power and privileges that one receives, accepts, and experiences and they use that position to act for justice.”

This is fine, and I have no objections to people working on their own time to better society (though of course it depends on what you mean by the verb “better”). But do that on your own time, not as a part of a team working at a scientific meeting. Allies, snitches, and patronizing codes of conducts, treating scientists as if they were juveniles who need a stiff lecture on behavior—all of this somehow rubs me the wrong way. In fact, the concept of enforcing social conformity through allies and snitching is one of the themes of Nineteen Eighty-Four. More important, being a “ally” at a scientific meeting accomplishes nothing for society. It’s purely performative.

This is all par for the course. The Society for the Study of Evolution, once my go-to society, has also chosen this route. In this case there’s a specially trained group of snitches, “Evo Allies”, who walk around looking for misbehavior with the goal of interceding to stop it. Snitching is also encouraged. Lest you think I am making this up, check here:

Evo Allies:

Started in 2019, Evo Allies are members of our community who have been vetted by a safety officer and trained to help support individuals who have experienced or witnessed potentially inappropriate behavior during the conference, including informing them of their options. They commit to creating safe spaces at the meeting by serving as active bystanders. The inspiration for this program came from the program.

Anyone, whether an Evo Ally or not, can make a report directly to the meeting safety officer for investigation; Evo Allies are not involved in investigation nor sanctioning, but instead serve as peer supports and help to make the meeting a more welcoming place.

Evo Allies are chosen through a nomination and vetting process; we anticipate that the next call will be for the 2023 meeting. Any vetting process is imperfect; if you have concerns about any Evo Ally, please reach out to the meeting safety officer.

New: Due to the unique nature of the 2022 conference and its covid policies, Evo Allies and meeting staff are empowered to remind participants of the mask mandate and, for participants who endanger others by refusing to wear a mask properly, to call for them to surrender their badges for the rest of the day. These individuals may be readmitted to the conference the next day by picking up their badge again at registration, if there have not been further sanctions placed upon them (which would involve an investigation by the safety officer and ruling by the sanctioning committee). \

At least the roaming Pecksniffs don’t pledge to work towards Critical Social Justice.

I always thought that science would be the last bastion of academia to be infected by ideology and, and that this kind of enforced conformity would be resisted on the grounds that it’s not needed, is a power grab, and, most of all, is not supported by data showing that science is structurally rife with bigotry or bad behavior.

I was wrong: we were among the first to jump aboard the juggernaut, probably because scientists don’t want to be bothered fighting ideology since we’re too busy doing our work. (And of course the humanities have jumped on this with vigor.)

Unfortunately, the article ends with a bump, invoking Godwin’s Law. The first paragraph below is fine; the second, which I’ve put in bold, is objectionable. The meeting, after all, is not a Nuremberg Rally. But there is a certain element of Big Brotherism in it:

After succumbing to “allyship,” and, perhaps, being warned a couple of times about their potential microaggressions, most of the now-cowed cognitive scientists will have forgotten that the purpose of the CO3 meeting is science; that the virtues to be promoted should be honesty, rigor, and creativity; and that the demographic makeup of the group is utterly irrelevant.

Good job, EDI’ers! You’ve shown how effective a short slogan like ally can be! (Another one that worked pretty well is heil).


25 thoughts on “The new scientific meeting: Big Brotherism, allyship pledges to change the world, pervasive ideology, and roaming spies

  1. If I could note one thing to remember :

    True/false/empiricism is ineffective with this. Instead, remember it is coercion to choose either oppressor or oppressed.

    IMHO everything becomes clear if that is understood. Perhaps the folly of this childish and formulaic ideology can be at least made clear, and maybe embarrassing, using that approach.

    I got that (and much more) from reading James Lindsay’s pieces on New Discourses. Lindsay writes :

    “It is impossible to overstate the central relevance of problematizing to the Theory and praxis of Critical Social Justice.”

    Good luck everyone.

    1. ^^^I hope that doesn’t sound like I’m lecturing – in contrast, I simply found Lindsay’s analysis enlightening, but only recently after knowing about it for years. Perhaps because the ideology is superficial when observed in the “wild”, but definitely is built from basic rules.

    1. Please, “dissociative identity disorder” is so marginalizing! You will be reported to the Psych Allies for this microaggression. The approved term is “neurodiverse”.

  2. Such “codes of conduct” follow the woke playbook of trying to pretend that things are vastly worse than they actually are. Having attended multiple scientific conferences, I’ve never witnessed a single instance of anything that would actually require a code of conduct. (I’d be interested if others have.)

    The woke try to claim that black Americans are as badly off as in the Jim Crow era and that anyone non-cis/het is as badly off as back when gay acts were illegal, and that science and its conferences are awash with all the *-isms and -phobias going.

    1. In all the years I’ve gone to scientific conferences the only objectionable things I’ve seen were ugly sweaters and mismatched socks. I agree; it is a largely phantom problem.

  3. I could easily envision the use of third-person pronouns. It’s typical, I think, when introducing speakers to give a brief bio, if for no other reason than to establish their bona fides.

    “I’m pleased to welcome Dr. Joan Smith to speak about her latest research on evolution of wasp parasites. Dr. Smith holds the Goodman Chair in evolutionary biology at UNM, where she has built one of the foremost research teams in the field. Under her guidance, the team has made a number of groundbreaking discoveries in the co-evolution of parasites and hosts.”

    1. So I was thinking too. Now recast the bio with “them” and try to avoid getting Dr.Smith mixed up with her parasites.

  4. “Anyone, whether an Evo Ally or not, can make a report directly to the meeting safety officer for investigation”. Creepy indeed! And who is it who achieves the exalted office
    of “meeting safety officer”? “The inspiration for this program came from the program.” Who are the blessed individuals who join “Evo Allies” or “entoallies”? We need a bit of sociology about this sub-population. My guess is that it is a corps of barely qualified grad students/recent graduates who are not much interested in their nominal subject, but who relish some association with the discipline and use wokely gestures and safetyism as a gimmick in their pursuit of status. My guess can be tested by comparing membership in EDI committees with publications in the nominal subject.

    1. My experience is that the allies are variable, some fit your description, but others are very accomplished early-career superstars. Yes they skew young, also skew white. In the two societies where I’ve seen this in action (SSE, SICB), allies are active at the conference and also active in policing social media for microaggressions, prohibited speech, and any failures to embrace antiracism.

      1. I see. On its website, the SICB proclaims: “The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology is committed to improving and incorporating Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ) into its practices as an organizing and guiding principle.” In connection with “Shut Down STEM”, SICB trumpets: “At this point in time, it is not enough to be passively non-racist. The abolition of racism will come only through action; we need to be actively anti-racist.” The heralds of the DEI creed have been more active than I realized in these precincts.

  5. “…the virtues to be promoted should be honesty, rigor, and creativity…”

    Of course, those “virtues” are flaming open sores from the horrible legacy of Whiteness.

    I feel to slightly alter the old saying: “Those who can, do; those who cannot do, teach; those who cannot teach, administrate; and those who cannot administrate, try to overhaul the field in the name of ‘social justice’.”

  6. “[The behavior guide] is not really an effort to promote diversity, but civility…”

    I must disagree with this. Time after time, we’ve seen that these guides aren’t a way to promote “civility,” but to consolidate power among the DEI group by rules-lawyering away anyone who expresses (or has expressed in the past!) a view that is in any way not in lockstep with the New Gospel, or has the temerity to ever disagree with these newly appointed authorities who have been given the power of academic life and death.

    These rules explicitly reject civility toward anyone who is not prepared to tow the new party line. The only people who will be met with civility are the people who are cowed into being good little lapdogs, which will be the vast majority, as 99% of people are (not unjustly) more concerned with keeping their jobs and reputations than speaking up.

    1. “[The behavior guide] is not really an effort to promote diversity, but civility…”

      Like how the religious – usually Christian-flavored – want to end suffering – a goal no one can object to.

  7. This is sick. Scientists at meetings I attended were always respectful of others. There were epic battles over the science, but they never descended into attacks based on sexual orientation, race, of any of today’s “isms.” It just wasn’t done. Today’s obsessions are a form of social pathology that helps no one. And being accountable to creeps who walk the halls to enforce good behavior is the icing on the cake. I’m so glad to have retired from all this.

    1. Yes, Norman, many of us are devoutly grateful that we came down with emeritis before
      all this swept into our former professions. But are we now called upon to warn the next
      generations to keep out of academia? Where can they go instead?

  8. I dunno can’t we just say stick that BS in your neither parts?
    It does not appear to be that difficult. I like Bill’s little lint on his tuxedo too.
    The problem is that these ridiculous “Ctrl left” idiots are grist to the “Alt right” mill
    The broad “centre space” suffers. I would include moderate right and moderate left part of the ‘centre space’.

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