Debate tomorrow: “Resolved, that STEM is systematically racist”

November 1, 2023 • 10:30 am

My partner in crime, evolutionist Luana Maroja of Williams College, is going to be debating a touchy question tomorrow evening: the proposition given in the title (she’s on the Negative side).  Her debate partner, Erec Smith, is a research fellow at The Cato Institute and teaches rhetoric and composition at York College. The Affirmative team includes Chad Womack (Senior Director of National STEM Programs and Initiatives) and Jaret Riddick (Senior Fellow at Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology); while the moderator, Nadine Strossen, is a lawyer and activist who used to be the national president of the ACLU.

The debate is TOMORROW, Thursday November 2, at 8 p.m. Eastern time, and will be broadcast live on YouTube (site given at bottom). Mark your calendars.

Here’s the announcement:

Join MIT Free Speech Alliance (host) and Heterodox Academy (co-sponsor) at MIT on November 2 at 8:00 pm ET for an Oxford-Union style debate about whether STEM is systemically racist.

The event will be conducted as a modified Oxford-Union style debate between two teams. There will be an audience Q&A period at the end. Every listener will be their own judge, no “winner” will be declared.

Debate proposition: “Resolved, that STEM is systemically racist.”

Time and place: Thursday, November 2, 2023, at MIT’s Wong Auditorium (E51-115). Lobby opens at 7pm for light refreshments and interaction with sponsors. Auditorium doors open at 7:45pm. Debate and streaming video begins at 8:00pm. The debate will run for approximately one hour followed by audience Q&A.

Attendance is free. Registration is not required; however only registered attendees will be guaranteed a seat in the auditorium. Speakers will be set up in the lobby for any overflow. In-person attendees can register at this link. Those without an MIT Sloan Login can sign up for a free account by pressing “Sign Up” under the First Time User button.

No pre-registration will be required to watch the livestream video, which will be broadcast nationally via YouTube.

And here’s the YouTube site; just click on it tomorrow at 8 p.m. Eastern time.

18 thoughts on “Debate tomorrow: “Resolved, that STEM is systematically racist”

  1. Truth Will Out – (It’s a saying of some sort).

    should be great to hear the difference between parsimony and conspiracy.

  2. Non-white people of Asian descent dominate STEM in the US.

    Repeat, people who are not white are over-represented in STEM, particularly the E and M, in the US. So on that fact alone, how is STEM systematically racist?

    If STEM is racist, it is racist in a way that favors Asians. But not all Asians…there are subgroups (such as the Vietnamese) that don’t do particularly well. So maybe STEM systematically and absurdly favors the Japanese, Indians, and Koreans, but not the Vietnamese?

    I don’t know how those who say that STEM is racist towards people of color deal with these easily obtained facts. I hope this is raised in the debate.

    1. Easy. You just define successful non-white groups as white-adjacent. The unsuccessful ones that are left must be victims of racism by the white-adjacent. “People of colour” has never meant anything other than “coloured people” and that descriptor never (in North America) applied to anyone other than black people. People of other races/ethnic groups had their own names, both official and derogatory, but Chinese labourers, though once despised as the Yellow Peril, were never called coloured people even as their acceptance and status started to improve.

    2. Yep, as Leslie says, successful Asian-Americans are “white”.

      To the woke, race literally is a “social construct” that has nothing to do genes or ancestry, it’s about being successful.

      Groups that are overall successful are “white”. (This include Israelis, Asian-Americans, etc)

      Groups that are overall unsuccessful are “of color”.

      The only acceptable explanation for this lack of success is, of course, “oppression” by the white groups, this “oppression” being refered to as “systemic racism”.

      1. Well said. This is of course the reason, why in Basketball Black player are white adjacent while White players are of color.

        1. Sports and entertainment are two fields (oops, I said “field”) where Blacks are allowed to be successful without being accused of being Oreos, sell-outs, wanna-bes. Uncle Toms. etc. Politics is another. as long as they support all the correct positions.

          To the left, race is a social construct, but only when it suits the narrative. When someone like Rachel Dolezal wants to identify as Black, then it’s an objective fact.

          1. To steel man the left position, for leftists race is socially constructed in the sense that one is black if other black people accept you as black. Some indigenous groups have formalized this kind of acceptance of an outsider into a First Nation, which is the sense in which Buffy Sainte-Marie is an indigenous Canadian (otherwise as the CBC recently showed Buffy is just another Italian pretendian from New Jersey). As soon as Rachel Dolezal was rejected by black people in Spokane she was no longer black, no matter how she self-IDs. Ofc I don’t agree with all that (for most people their self-ID with a socially constructed racial group maps almost perfectly onto geographically clustered genetic variation). But it’s a stronger position that some leftists try to defend.

          2. @Mike
            Could I dust a little rust on your steel man? Why, by what mechanism, do you think Rachel Dolezal was “rejected” as being black, or Buffy Sainte-Marie was busted to the satisfaction of the Piopot Nation as being white? Do you think the people at the NAACP knew (privately) that RD wasn’t really black but “accepted” her as such simply because it was useful at the time, given her history of activism? Under that scenario, once she became an embarrassment to them, they abruptly “discovered” she wasn’t really black and threw her under the bus. Or were they sincerely flabbergasted when the truth came out and were insulted to the core that a white person could ever be socially constructed as black?

            Same with Buffy Sainte-Marie. Sure, the Piopot Nation “adopted” her many years ago but she was already a successful public figure by then, whose success reflected favourably on them and they might have been happy to wink at the preposterous story, which stuck for what, 60 years? Or, alternatively, they really believed she had been born on the Reserve, apprehended by settler social workers, and farmed out to foster parents in America….and now feel cheated out of the awards she won that “should” have (but really wouldn’t have) gone to some lesser ones of their own.

            Does the validity of your generosity in steel-manning the Left’s flexible social construct argument depend on whether there was collusion or betrayal?

          3. Hi Leslie! Nah I can’t defend that, just pointing out that others try to do so. I agree with you the disaster of “social construct” is that the construction process happens under cover of darkness, and nobody says under what conditions they’d declare the “building” to be derelict and ready for demolition. I get the impression from their public statements that RD was a true believer in her social acceptance as black and had made no claims about being descended from black ancestors; but Buffy was a charlatan who straight-up lied about being born to indigenous parents and (worse) claimed a kind of stolen valour for being scooped up for adoption. IDK the back story in either case (why some folks in Spokane outed RD, or why some CBC producer decided to dig into Buffy’s story). Both were living in a social construction that others decided to demolish on grounds of being not up to code (maybe that’s too much metaphor!). Must have been a terrible experience. I have more sympathy for RD because she was an ~anonymous local “community organizer” but Buffy was a globally famous celebrity decked out in way too much turquoise. But you’re right maybe I shouldn’t have much sympathy for either of them.

    3. Is ‘over represented’ the right term? It sounds wrong to me, rather loaded. How about ‘people from X ethnic/regional/social group, are disproportionately represented in this work force, compared with the proportion of said group in the general population’?

    1. No you’re only supposed to get triggered if a fictional character that was previously depicted as white, gets cast as a person of colour in a big budget movie. Then you can flip the table.

      1. Of course I would get triggered by that since it’s a sure sign that lazy uninspired writing will plague the piece.

  3. The term “STEM” is so last week. The cool kids now talk about “STEAM”, meaning “Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics”, and here in NZ, as ever in the vanguard of advanced thinking, we now have “STEAMM” – all of the aforementioned plus matauranga Maori.

    1. I don’t know why the “A” got added. It undermined the concept of a set of the rigorous, academically tough disciplines. Now there’s STREAM (STREAMM in NZ?) and different ideas about what the “R” stands for. The whole thing is becoming meaningless.

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