Politicization of Veritas?

Veritas. Latin word for truth. It is the motto of Harvard University. Harvard made the news due to its recent installment of a female President. This act was predictably heralded as yet another milestone in women’s rights and progress. Perhaps. But more importantly for Harvard, the gender-empowering nature of this installation enables Harvard to atone for an egregious sin.

It was a sin committed by the unenlightened male former president who dared to state a controversial theory when he thought it was supported by the evidence. In other words, the former male president told the truth, as he saw it. What a foolish thing to do. The former male president made the cardinal error of naïve academics, he actually acted as if he had freedom of inquiry and had freedom to theorize where he thought the the evidence led. The former male president’s crime? I will quote the Washington Post’s characterization of the his comments,
“Some faculty members were further infuriated last year, after Summers suggested in a speech that “intrinsic aptitude” could explain why fewer women have excelled in science and math.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/21/AR2006022101842.html
In other words, he questioned the sacredly held belief that male-female intellects are equal in all areas when evaluated across sizable populations. Ironically, one of Harvard’s own professors made a career talking about multiple intelligences which undercut the importance of IQ tests for testing intelligence. The only difference between that professor and the former Harvard president, is the professor didn’t make it gender based.

Of course, the unstated question is, “Was the former president right?” But Harvard doesn’t seem to care about the truth that could be obtained from finding out. They are more concerned about “diversity.” With the selection of a female president, they can hold their heads up high, because they now hold the moral high ground. They are helping to expand diversity on their campus. They have helped women move one step forward in their long struggle to achieve true equality. But how does Harvard’s behavior accord with their motto of veritas? Could it be that they seek the truth only when it doesn’t offend? On any occasion the high school emergency hits, pursue an advantage more about the dramatist out of single of the following scripting blogs.

It is certainly possible and likely that the former president was pressured to leave for reasons other than his comment on women’s abilities. But the fact that such a firestorm was created over such a comment should make people wonder how committed Harvard is to the truth.

© Stephen Vantassel 2007

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