Educational psychologist calls for turning chemistry into politics—in a chemistry journal

July 21, 2023 • 9:30 am

By now we’ve all read a gazillion papers like the one below: an indictment of a field of science for structural racism and a call for equity.  This one, though, is slightly different in two ways. First, it’s by an educational psychologist. Terrell Morton is described as an Assistant Professor of Identity and Justice in STEM Education and a specialist in educational Psychology at the College of Education at the University of Illinois in Chicago. (He did get his “B.S. in Chemistry from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, a M.S. in Neuroscience from the University of Miami, and a Ph.D. in Education concentration Learning Sciences and Psychological Studies from UNC Chapel-Hill.”)

So he does have some slight expertise in chemistry, but it’s not on view in this short article (below) published in Nature Chemistry. Although the aim seems to be to improve chemistry, this bring us to its second novel aspect: there’s nothing in the article about improving chemistry itself. Rather, it’s all about the unashamed infusion of Critical Race Theory, in its full incarnation, into chemistry as a way to achieve equity. To some extent (see below), that will involve changes in chemistry education to effect that kind of equity. But why was the paper published in a chemistry journal? The only explanation is that the journal’s editors wanted to show off their virtue: “We’re antiracist, too!” But in fact a paper like this could be written for virtually every area of human endeavor in which there is not equity by race and gender—not just science, but academia as a whole. Indeed, not just academia as a whole, but nearly all fields of business and commerce.  The article could serve as a boilerplate for any academic field: all you do is substitute another area of endeavor for “chemistry”.

I should add that, like most papers of this ilk, Morton equates inequity in chemistry (a deficit of minority students or professors compared to the proportions of minorities in the population) with ongoing structural racism in the field. Of course there are racists in chemistry, as in every field, but I deny that they’re ubiquitous, nor do I accept that chemistry is full of rules and practices designed to keep minorities out of the field.

Otherwise, I’ve read similar papers many times in chemistry, physics, math, and especially biology. Every paper makes the “inequity = structural racism” mistake (these are scientists!) and also assert the undemonstrated claim that science would be much improved with ethnic equity. None of them examine whether equal opportunity for all groups would lead to equity in representation, and in fact we know that that’s not true for women in STEM: the more equality women have, the fewer choose STEM careers. (That’s presumably because of a difference in priorities.)

Click to read (and weep); the pdf is here. Both are free.

It begins, as usual, with the ritualistic invocation of George Floyd, and immediately says that the way to achieve social justice is to infuse Critical Race Theory (CRT) into chemistry:

 In this Comment, I provide a brief overview of CRT and discuss how it can be used as a lens to critically examine the culture and practices of postsecondary chemistry education (learning, research and engagement) in the USA and beyond, as well as identify tangible strategies for redressing and mitigating structural racism in chemistry.

Studies on the experiences of Black students outline the stereotypes and biases they face within science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) spaces. Chemistry students describe their postsecondary environments as spaces where they must alter their presentation of themselves to be seen as someone capable of succeeding — including abandoning aspects of their home and cultural identities, having to go above and beyond to demonstrate their intellectual capabilities.

Black students disclose feeling both invisible and hypervisible within science classrooms: they are often overlooked by their instructors or peers when it comes to classroom engagement — unless the conversations feature race or ethnicity, in which they become hypervisible. They also reported feeling hypervisible when it comes to performance indicators, as if they have to represent their entire race or ethnic group, proving that their people are capable of success. Students who maintain multiple targeted identities experience unique challenges — Black women report experiences that are different from those of Black men or white women.

(Note the intersectionality described in the last statement, an essential part of CRT.)

Morton then uses as evidence for that structural racism the observed deficiency of proportional representation of black individuals in chemistry in the U.S. and other Western countries (“inequities”), combined with self-reports of racism from various studies. As I said, it would be foolish to say that no racism exists among chemists, but neither can we take inequities and complaints about racist behavior as evidence of structural racism in the field. And where are the reports of the strides that chemistry departments (along with many other science departments) have made in trying to recruit minority students and professors? They aren’t mentioned. If there were pervasive structural racism, departments wouldn’t be falling over each other to secure talented minority students and faculty.

Now it is true that in STEM, many minorities recruited to elite universities tend to leave their STEM majors for ones that aren’t as rigorous, but that says nothing about structural racism. Rather, it speaks to the amply documented poorer qualifications and preparation (on average) of minorities recruited to STEM through forms of affirmative action. But from all this Morton concludes that chemistry is more or less a version of white-robed Klan members holding test tubes:

Research demonstrates, as seen from resources listed in the Supplementary Information, that chemistry (and science in general) has maintained a culture that typically favours white, cisgender, middle-to-high socioeconomic status, heterosexual, non-disabled men.

No it doesn’t. There may well be inequities in the direction indicated, but to say that the field is deliberately maintaining a culture that keeps out minorities, LGBTQ people, poor people, gay people, women, and disabled people is neither correct nor demonstrated. Again, the author is c0nflating inequities and structural bigotry/racism.

The author then defines CRT and goes into its aspects that he wants inserted in chemistry. As this is a short (four-page) paper, I’ll just give his definition, and the bits of CRT that he demands be put into chemistry.

CRT is a framework that identifies and challenges the presence and impact of structural racism and intersectional oppression embedded within policies, procedures, practices and sociocultural norms across various institutions, organizations, fields of study and communities. CRT has primarily been applied to Western societies such as the USA and UK. It positions racism and intersectional oppression (which arises for people who identify with more than one minoritized group; for example, gendered racism) as structural over interpersonal. This means that racism occurs through the subjective interpretations of presumably ‘neutral’ policies and procedures from well-intentioned people, and not just through acts of violence and hate committed by presumably lone and ‘irrational’ individuals.

This, of course, is debatable, especially the assertion of structural racism presumably enacted by well-meaning people with “unconscious bias” who make rules that are racist. The centrality of this theory in creating inequities is also under debate. We could stop right here, but the author continues to dissimulate:

. . . . however, CRT is not divisive, it is not designed to shame, demonize or encourage hate, and it does not inherently produce feelings of guilt or blame. Rather, CRT calls for a critical examination of the existing systems and structures and how they perpetuate a social stratification of people and their cultural values. It is also worth noting that CRT is not currently being taught in primary and secondary schools in the USA, and it is also rarely taught at the undergraduate (postsecondary) level.

It is certainly divisive, and it’s contestable whether the guilt and “original sin” instilled in white people is in there by design or accident.

Here are the aspects of CRT that, says Morton, should be acknowledged and adopted by chemistry departments (quotes are indented):

Racial realism.  This tenet purports that racism is endemic, permanent, systemic and integral to all social institutions3.

Racial realism applied to chemistry acknowledges that the field, and science generally, exists as a microcosm of the broader society and thereby perpetuates structural racism or gendered racism. . . .

Whiteness as property. Whiteness is sociopolitical capital maintained by white people that can be used to regulate access to and full engagement with resources, spaces and ideas3. This capital is a product of the social, cultural and legal establishment of the USA coinciding with the enslavement and dehumanization of people of African descent and the attempted extermination of Indigenous peopl3 — presenting ‘whiteness’ as the default standard.

Critique of liberalism (myth of meritocracy). The belief in individualism and the bootstrap mentality communicated through US laws and social norms is a false reality given racism and its de facto outcomes. [JAC: the author says this is a “myth” because minorities lack access to the resources to demonstrate their merit, including well known academics for writing letters of recommendation.]

Interest convergence. This tenet conveys that efforts towards racial progress only occur at the juncture where those in power benefit from investing in the interests of those racially minoritized.

Here’s how this power struggle is supposed to work in chemistry:

Applied to postsecondary chemistry, this tenet would imply that investments to make chemistry inclusive (such as inclusive teaching or diversity scholarships, fellowships and programmes) occur in ways that ensure institutions gain notoriety and maintain power.

Intersectionality. Structural oppression operates on those of multiple marginalized identities uniquely.

Counter-story.  The dominant narrative is recognized and challenged by elevating, embracing and empowering the stories and voices of marginalized people.

This is a bit complicated, but maintains that remedial practices or ways to bring underprepared minorities into the field are actually racist activities.

Existing equity and inclusion practices implemented within postsecondary chemistry often focus on the absence of Black people and on ways to include them. Practices adopted typically involve rehabilitation (such as tutoring, additional training, summer programmes), the development of coping mechanisms (for example, mentoring, teaching navigational skills), or training for faculty on inclusive teaching — these endeavours all stem from the perspective of the dominant group.

In contrast, rather than engaging in practices that ‘help minority students’, counter-stories position students as bold, capable individuals, and point to the flawed environment (the lake) as the space that needs change.

But how do you help the students given that the “flawed environment” will take decades to repair? I would favor tutoring and additional training, and if you don’t use them, you’re putting underprepared students at a disadvantage.

Now I’m certainly not maintaining that there are academics in chemistry who hold onto these practices because they’re bigots. I’m denying that these are pervasive and endemic racist practices in chemistry; indeed, in any STEM field. Yes, at one time there were. But times have changed.

And I deny that “counter stories” are racist. How can tutoring or additional training, which should be applied not just to minority students, but to all underprepared students, be a way to hinder minority students?

At any rate, after enumerating the aspects of CRT that need to be absorbed and enacted by chemistry faculties, Morton tells us how to do it—or rather, demands that we do it. One way, he says, is to hire a bunch of black scholars at the same to form a “critical mass.” Unfortunately, this race-based hiring is illegal:

Strategies to foster structural change include generating a critical mass of people who share similar ideologies regarding the liberation of Black people. [JAC: Note that there’s either an assumption here that all black people have the same “ideology”, or that you hire looking not just for uniform ethnicity but uniform ideology. Is that “diversity”?] This critical mass should reflect a diversity of Black social identities but also include non-Black scholars. This diversity must be established in chemistry departments and professional structures across all ranks (from junior faculty to senior faculty to administrators) — not just among those with the least power to effect structural change (junior faculty or professional staff).

This can be achieved through intentional recruitment and retention practices that build communities (mixed-rank cluster hires in which several scholars across ranks are hired at the same time in a department) and transform policies and practices around power (such as revising tenure and promotion) to account for structural racism and gendered racism. Hiring and promotion criteria should be adjusted to specifically value and reward scholarship, teaching and service activities (such as informal mentoring of Black students) that intentionally advance the needs of Black communities. Institutions should also put in place accountability structures to ensure that scholars do not in any way perpetuate discrimination or bias against Black people.

This may improve racial justice, but is that the purpose of chemistry? And will this practice improve chemistry? No, it’s not designed to. The implicit assumption is that the discipline itself will be improved with equity, but that’s not been demonstrated. Ergo, Morton’s goal is not to improve the field, but to create equity, which may or may not improve the field.

And although CRT is said by Morton not to create guilt, he recommends that non-minority chemists reflect on their complicity in this white supremacy. We are urged to pay special attention to the work of Black scholars.  To the extent that they’re ignored because of bigotry, I agree. But to the extent that they’re not, and differential attention may result from differences in achievement or representation, I find this paternalistic:

Mitigating racism and gendered racism. Inequities in the field of chemistry can also be mitigated as the field collectively validates the systemic presence and continuous influence of racism and gendered racism on scientific inquiry and education. Each person should evaluate their position and actions towards social justice — with respect to their identity, privilege, exposure, awareness and commitment. High-quality research and literature that outline the lived experiences of Black people across the globe exists; I have shared some of those resources in the Supplementary Information. Access that scholarship and read. Attend meetings, professional lectures, and conference presentations by Black scholars. Watch documentaries and other forms of media that discuss Black experiences from their vantage points. Each person can leverage their power and privilege to fight for racial and gendered racial justice through the various constructs and spaces that they can control or influence, directly and indirectly (pictured).

We are also supposed to infuse chemistry classes and syllabi with CRT principles. I would argue again that this is paternalistic; a form of intellectual affirmative action:

Collins and Olesik outline how chemistry department chairs can act, through: disaggregating data to paint a more accurate picture of the current racial inequalities; listening to Black students; systematically assessing course syllabi; reviewing teaching practices; and engaging with chemistry education researchers, in particular Scholars of Colour. These recommendations can be extended to universities and/or other organizations.

Similarly, faculty members are responsible for ensuring that inclusion and social justice principles are integrated into their courses or lab spaces. This means featuring work from Black scientists and discussing problems and solutions that specifically attend to Black experiences.

With all this, how much time would be left to teach chemistry as opposed to Social Justice? Shouldn’t CRT, if it is to be taught at all, be taught in classes about race relations or sociology?

We must also use class time to educate students about racists of the past:

Additionally, learning that many scientists supported racist, sexist and other oppressive ideologies about people and their capabilities— eugenicists Francis Galton and Ronald Fisher being two of the most notorious examples — would encourage students to critically assess the relationship between a person, their scientific contributions and their ethics. This would foster critical thinking skills as well as opportunities for learners to envision scientific innovation that speaks directly to their cultural and community needs.

Unfortunately, neither Galton nor Fisher were chemists. They were biologists. (And many argue that they weren’t racists.) At any rate, you don’t drag them into a chemistry course to make a CRT point.

Further, the curriculum must change to cater to black students, for we must assume that they have a different “learning style” and thus have to learn chemistry in new ways. Do we have evidence for this?

A variety of different communication styles and teaching strategies also exist that should be incorporated into science education to allow students to bridge their cultural worlds and scientific knowledge. Examples are the use of project-based learning — a practice where teaching occurs through solving real-world problems that are based in different cultural communities — or creative types of assessments, such as asking students to write an Afrofuturistic children’s science book over taking a standard cumulative multiple-choice exam.

Afrofuturistic children’s science books? Is writing one of those going to teach chemistry?

And here’s the kicker, one that reminds me of the “other ways of knowing” gambit as practiced in New Zealand. Get a load of this:

This should be part of a wider change to revisit what counts as knowledge and how it can be displayed, obtained or gained. This can be achieved by departing from a Eurocentric model to one that embraces all perspectives as valid and appropriate. Engaging in this process would also require making amends for the generations of systemic and epistemic oppression against Black people.

What on earth is the “Eurocentric model?” Is Morton talking about “modern science in general”? And no, all perspectives are not “valid and appropriate”. It is here where the teaching of chemistry is actually degraded by the author’s suggestions.

Oh, and let’s not forget the author’s suggestion that we treat marginalized people who have been traumatized the same way we treat people exposed to dangers in the chemistry lab (acids, explosions, and so on):

The same suggestions for mitigating racism and gendered racism in the classroom apply to the research and teaching lab environments. Kimble-Hill describes an interesting approach: risks associated with marginalized social identities — for example, isolation, anxiety, discrimination, harassment and even assault — represent safety threats that can be assessed and addressed in a similar way to other hazards present in a chemical lab. As with chemical risks, proactive approaches in research and teaching labs would therefore work to eliminate risks related to identity threats, establish learning norms that build on students’ cultural identities, communicate trust and confidence in their ability to take intellectual risk and to make discoveries, and provide them with the right support to explore their ideas and feel validated within their research.

I’ve already spent too much time on this paper, but it’s an extreme example of how Social Justice ideology is worming its way into science classes, to the extent of suggesting that we adopt “other ways of knowing” and abandoning the “Eurocentric model”. The paper is designed not to improve the teaching of chemistry but to improve equity, and doesn’t belong in a chemistry journal. But of course how could Nature Chemistry refuse it? As one colleague wrote, “I wonder what would happen if chemists started writing papers about the need to use the scientific method in education, and published them in top educational journals.”

I will quote two other colleagues’ reactions to this paper. The first one is terse:

“They are relentless. They just won’t stop till there is nothing left. And when we speak up about the invasion of ideology into science, some people say that we are exaggerating.”
The second is more analytical:

“To me, the core of the issue is this statement:

‘[Black students] also reported feeling hypervisible when it comes to performance indicators, as if they have to represent their entire race or ethnic group, proving that their people are capable of success.’

The solution to this problem is simple: judge everyone by the same standard. The reason that some minorities feel as if they have to prove their ability is that, in many cases, members of the minority group are often given a “boost” in qualifications. Justice Thomas made this point in the recent case, and Thomas Sowell stated that his qualifications were questioned more after Bakke than before it. In fact, many people are now asking whether Justice Thomas received a boost from affirmative action in his admission to Yale Law, despite his finishing in the top 2% of his undergraduate class at Holy Cross.

The problem can’t be solved by piling on more affirmative action, but rather by judging everyone on their own merits, as many have argued persuasively. We can (and should) help the problem by broadening recruiting and improving the preparation level of underrepresented groups, but everyone has to be judged by the same standards, or those who benefit will feel the need to prove that they didn’t need the judgement boost.

32 thoughts on “Educational psychologist calls for turning chemistry into politics—in a chemistry journal

  1. In the real world, not the world of logic and math, the loudest voice wins. Not the voice with the best argument or the facts. If nobody (chemists) writes to the journal expressing disdain, and there is no reduction in submissions, and the status of the journal maintains itself, then nothing will change and we’ll just be reading blog posts like this ad infinitum.

  2. I hit the paywall when I click either link. Disappointing because I was looking forward to reading Morton’s positionally statement 🙁

    1. Thanks! I can get it via my library so no need in my case.

      My comment was more a criticism of the author: articles like this should be published open-access so that readers in low-income countries in Africa (for example) can read Morton’s efforts on their behalf to make chemistry less racist.

      But evidently Morton doesn’t really care about that: he’s happy if white chemists in American and Europe (his true peers) can read his article via their expensive university subscriptions to Nature journals. He seems to have calculated that he doesn’t need to spend several thousand dollars on the open-access fee in order to flaunt his virtue in front of them.

      Ha positionally = positionality (eventually my browser will catch up with the current lingo).

  3. It is possible, too, that the editors of the journal are not merely virtue signaling, but that they actually agree with Morton.

  4. The reductive argument underlying all these types of articles seems to be that only fair-skinned folks can ‘confer’ legitimacy upon darker-skinned individuals. Well, where is the agency, much less the self-respect, if you’re on the receiving end of that?

  5. Oh for god’s sake, Nature?

    If anyone reads the literature on Critical Social Justice – and who would want to, it’s essentially impenetrable, self-absorbed puffery analogous to theology – it becomes clear that faith is a strong motivating factor, hand-in-hand with deliberate ignorance of empiricism. Furthermore, mysticism drives Queer Theory, and Utopia is another focus.

    [ weeps ]

    How many people did Marx’s writing help? That is a question where empiricism can get behind it – to get an idea of what Critical Social Justice can do to us.

  6. Strategies to foster structural change include generating a critical mass of people who share similar ideologies regarding the liberation of Black people. This critical mass should reflect a diversity of Black social identities but also include non-Black scholars. This diversity must be established in chemistry departments and professional structures across all ranks ..

    Oh look. The DEI Advocate says that it’s very, very important to hire DEI Advocates and put them everywhere and give them power and nice salaries, and then let them do whatever they want.

    Surprisingly, this isn’t just him. I mean, DEI Advocates seem to be in agreement on this.

    1. We ought to thank Professor Morton for making this aim so crystal clear. I nominate him for the Lysenko Award, issued regularly by the National Association of Scholars.

    2. I’ve come to think that this whole movement is simply revenge by post modernist (and related) scholars against the sciences, really all worthwhile fields but mostly the sciences, for stealing the limelight and making them feel inadequate for so many years.

      1. “In his 1972 book, Counterrevolution and Revolt, Marcuse wrote:[8]

        To extend the base of the student movement, Rudi Dutschke has proposed the strategy of the long march through the institutions: working against the established institutions while working within them, but not simply by ‘boring from within’, rather by ‘doing the job’, learning (how to program and read computers, how to teach at all levels of education, how to use the mass media, how to organize production, how to recognize and eschew planned obsolescence, how to design, et cetera), and at the same time preserving one’s own consciousness in working with others.”

        Source of all that ^^^ :

        1. BTW I’m pretty sure “consciousness” there means “critical consciousness”, as in recognizing that you were born unwittingly into a society where oppressors oppress you and everyone else with dehumanizing structures.

          For example, I guess, with vaccines, fertilizer, libraries…

    3. “critical mass”

      Sowell discusses the widely proposed and attractive “critical mass” hypothesis – and how observations of black student performance in university education fail to support that hypothesis – in his book :

      Affirmative Action Around the World
      – An Empirical Study
      Thomas Sowell
      Yale University Press New Haven & London

  7. I suspect that far too many people view science as a government spoils system, and their main interest is to make sure their snout is fully in the trough.

    I expect, to them, the knowledge produced by science is an epiphenomenon.

    1. I agree. Can recommend this comment from many years ago by a reader called Plucky on this post at Andrew Gelman’s blog.

      The whole post and comment thread is worth reading. The salient point by Plucky is that many scientists also view science as a guild or reward system, and its highest priority is to protect guild members from criticism by outsiders (in that case, criticism of lousy methods and faulty inference in social psychology research) and ensure members have access to the trough.

  8. “This can be achieved by departing from a Eurocentric model to one that embraces all perspectives as valid and appropriate.”

    If /all/ perspectives are valid and appropriate, then the perspective according to which /not all/ perspectives are valid and appropriate is valid and appropriate too.

  9. “Terrell Morton is described as an Assistant Professor of Identity and Justice in STEM Education” with “a Ph.D. in Education.”

    The title warns us to watch for “Bullshit Ahead!” The credential suggests that it will be mindless bullshit. The rank forecasts our possible future.

    The climate change crisis in academia continues.

  10. Black students disclose feeling both invisible and hypervisible within science classrooms: they are often overlooked by their instructors or peers when it comes to classroom engagement — unless the conversations feature race or ethnicity, in which they become hypervisible.

    If a black student feels uncomfortable when the conversation in the classroom features race or ethnicity, how is this problem going to be solved if race and ethnicity become THE main topic in every class? Every time a prominent pioneer in the field is mentioned, the professor needs to bring up anything dodgy about how they dealt with ethnic minorities. Every theory is suspect: does it somehow perpetuate inequality towards black students? Let’s discuss that. All subjects of study and measurements of achievement must be analyzed for conscious or unconscious racism.

    Students who aren’t black are likely to have one of two reactions: either support this obsession with race enthusiastically and verbally, looking regularly at the black student to signal how included they are — or sit there with tight smiles while studiously avoiding making direct eye contact with the black student, in case that’s triggering.

    Wouldn’t all this focus on race make that black student feel more “hypervisible?” I don’t understand the strategy here.

  11. I couldn’t get to the paper itself, but the excerpts Jerry provides are enough to get a good sense of what it’s all about. Thank you for applying your brainpower and time to dismantling this article. It should have been published (if at all) in a Chemistry education or Education journal, and not in a science journal. But where it appears is less important than what it says. And what it says is kinda’ sick if you asked me.

    The evidence for structural racism in Chemistry is that few Black students choose or continue with Chemistry. And few Black students choose chemistry because it is poisoned with structural racism. How is that argument anything but circular?

    And efforts to remedy the situation are themselves racist? Does the author really believe that Chemistry departments are so devious or self-deceptive that they create programs that only *appear* to be helpful but are in fact crafted to keep Black students or faculty out? Oy.

    As so many have pointed out, equity cannot be a reasonable goal. After all, people have different interests—even if they all have the same aptitudes. Achieving equity—equal representation—would force people into disciplines that they do not choose of their own accord. Equal *opportunity* is what we want to achieve—and should strive to achieve. With equal opportunity in place, representation among the disciplines will in time reach their proper proportions on its own.

  12. I am continually annoyed by the hijacking of “equity” to mean proportional quotas. Maybe because of a law background, where equity, as in courts of equity, essentially means fairness. A quota may or may not be fair, depending on the circumstances, but the whole DEI juggernaut, illustrated so well by the abysmal, opaque clichéd prose of Dr. Morton (chatgpt could write equivalent stuff), assumes that equity requires proportional participation of ______ (fill in blank with desired racial, gender, or intersectional category) in the target group being mau-mau’d.

    1. As a lawyer I had a totally different idea of equity also (which has as you say, a specific meaning at law).
      Previously when I heard it OUT of court I – like everybody, our president included, thought it was just a synonym for “equality”.
      That, now, is wrong.
      It is a big part of the woke bait and switch (see Lindsay on his cooler headed days, or Peter Bogossian any day. He’s excellent btw)
      D.A. J.D.

  13. The DEI manta—““departing from a Eurocentric model to one that embraces all perspectives as valid and appropriate.”—does not quite state its logical conclusion explicitly. That is the perfect postmodernist dictum that any perspective—astrology, dianetics, voodoo, cargo cults, Dinkoism, the worship of rocks, etc.—is just as “valid and appropriate” as the “Eurocentric model” underlying such trifles as modern medicine and electric power. Not quite, but we are getting there, even, astonishingly, in the pages of Nature Chemistry. I look forward to future opinion pieces in that journal setting forth ways for Chem education to Include astrology and Dinkoism.

  14. This is getting so bonkers, so extreme and it is NOT reversing.
    We can cherry pick small examples of push back but they are exceptions. In part because of the moral high ground from where this nonsense is launched but structurally, the HUGE amount of Money going into the DEI cult ensures it’ll only increase. (I’m optimistic about MOST trajectories of human existence/society/economics… but not THAT. And technology can’t save us from the monster).
    sittin’ pretty with “Aussie”

  15. There is no obligation to debate or negotiate with an opponent who holds a position that you are fundamentally opposed to, unless he has the capacity to destroy you in war. Against someone who proposes this intervention in Chemistry, the best response is simply, “No”. And walk away. You only debate this type of proposition if there is a clear process to determine who “won”, like an Oxford debate. And each side pledges to shut up once the votes are in. You can’t have your opponent chasing you down the corridor, “Oh! And another thing…!”

    Outside a structured debate, someone who writes a piece like this is hoping that the American Chemical Society will sit down with the CRT activists to work out the changes. But again, there is no reason why the ACS should do this. What are the activists offering in return? The Society would naturally be wary that this is the thin edge of the wedge because, as we all know, “Reparations are only a first instalment” which we know is also true of Reconciliation. If the ACS sees no way that negotiations about CRT would improve its own position over the status quo—to hell with that of the CRT activists—it should just decline to meet with them. Once you start talking, you’re probably going to give something up that you wouldn’t have given up if you had avoided them.. Especially If the CRT activists have nothing valuable to offer you. Which they don’t. All they’re doing is making a demand that they think the ACS should give in to.

    Just say “No”.

  16. “No one is paying attention to me. I feel invisible!”
    “Someone is paying attention to me. I feel hypervisible!”

    These people need therapy.

  17. Treating risks associated with social identity like lab hazards could work. Just slap one of those orange and black hazard labels on and be done. I would suggest the face of Munch’s The Scream as a symbol.

  18. Like with Hitch and wokeism, it’s a pity that Percy Lavon Julian is not longer around, to get his take on whether the any structural racism he may have encountered as a black chemist outweighed the overt racism he encountered from his Oak Park neighbors.

  19. The thing is, we really need a constant stream of actually competent and motivated people to keep the lights on and ensure that boxes of food and medicine keep getting distributed.
    It seems very destructive to listen seriously to those who advocate for the end of basic competence, and likely do not even understand how it makes modern life possible.
    If achieving diversity goals means constantly lowering standards, then it is not our strength, but rather our undoing.

    The expectation that everything should be welcoming sees counter to my experiences as well. Most of the qualifications and achievements that I am proud of were distinctly unwelcoming initially, as a main point was to drive away those with less motivation or ability, so that the finite time and resources could be spent on those more likely to complete the course of study. Also, when one is credentialed for a high stress occupation or one with little tolerance for error, it is better to have actually shown that they can work at the required level.
    There lots of positions in the world for people not suited to be test pilots, rescue swimmers, or thoracic surgeons.
    Probably there is lots of room for error in the field of “Identity and Justice in STEM Education”. If anything, their staying home and getting stoned instead of working would prove a benefit to STEM education in general.

  20. I just noticed this astonishingly duplicitous line :

    “It is also worth noting that CRT is not currently being taught in primary and secondary schools in the USA …”

    I attempt to restrain myself – but the U.S. public schools schools are already using a pedagogy perfectly formulated to match the doctrine of CRT – the author sounds like they mean teach CRT like math or art, but the schools already use a pedagogy based on oppressors v. oppressed – so they do not “teach” CRT, because they already use it.

    The pedagogy in the United States Public Education system is called Social Emotional Learning (SEL), or similar names. It is taught in the teachers’ schools. SEL is a re-re-renaming of Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed so it sounds good for parents in the U.S.. Freire’s pedagogy is literally thought reform towards Marxism, and goes unnoticed unless it is known what to look for.

    Since the publication of Paulo Freire’s The Politics of Education in 1985 in English, those schools – the schools for the teachers and other support – teach Freire’s thought reform for “political literacy”. Genuine literacy is an afterthought.

    See Pedagogy of the Oppressed and The Politics of Education, which show the Marxist roots of his pedagogy. In fact, Freire praises Che Guevara. These books are monumental – check the Google Scholar link below.

  21. James Lindsay insight to CRT and education:

    “[ Helen Pluckrose, Peter Boghossian, and I ] didn’t realize what that meant at the time, but it is convincing of the claim that — far from what pundits and experts say about it publicly in 2021 — not only is Critical Race Theory in education; much of it developed there.”

    James Lindsay, in
    Race Marxism

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