Salvo 07.27.2022 4 minutes

The Triumph of Scientism


When STEM goes woke, the university system is through.

The modern university has succumbed, in the name of the triple-headed god of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), to the hegemonic ideology of woke intersectionality. All decisions about staffing, curriculum, and student life must be minutely inspected for their adherence to dismantling white supremacy and patriarchy. Despite an ever-growing list of instances of campus hysteria, cancellation of conservative voices, and violent harassment of heterodox university speakers, the unquestioned cultural narrative persists: One must go to college in order to flourish as a full person in society.

Unfortunately, tuition-payers are under the false impression that woke intersectional politics has only infected the humanities and social sciences. The legendarily rigorous STEM fields—Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics—must be immune from this ideological virus, because they rely on facts, not bogus moralistic formulations, right?

Unfortunately, even traditionally rigorous courses of study have been blighted. Woke university professors have declared mathematics “a field dominated by whiteness and racism.” At the University of Toronto, one can now take a “Liberating Mathematics” course which seeks to “re-imagine” mathematics, offering the mathematically incompetent a handy excuse in the form of a “daring critique” of math, allegedly delegitimizing it as having drawn predominantly from “the experiences and narratives of men.” In formal logic, scholars have declared “there is much more to be done–especially on decolonizing our curriculum.” In biomedical science, virtually no professors dare to challenge the absurdity that men can give birth. In Matt Walsh’s recent film What is a Woman, Dr. Michelle Forcier, a Brown University professor of pediatrics, explained in earnestness that egg-laying hens are “assumed” to be female.

This woke takeover of the hard sciences is reinforced by an entrenched set of professorial and administrative hiring quotas, overbearing and overbroad institutional incentives and disincentives, and an oppressive campus culture submerged in the now-unquestionable presuppositions of woke orthodoxy. All this has engendered a reinvigorated cult of scientism.

That is, we’ve seen politicized science before, most notoriously in the eugenics and death camps of the great tyrannies of the twentieth century, which Winston Churchill referred to as “the perverted science.” The Soviet Union wielded perverted science like no other, suppressing three inconvenient ideas that discredited atheist-materialism (much as the LGBTQ+ mob attempts to discredit biology).

Between the two world wars, the Big Bang Theory was authored by a theoretical physicist and Roman Catholic priest, Georges Lemaitre, and immediately thereafter heralded by Pope Pius XI as a sweeping vindication of the bimillennial Christian teaching on the ex nihilo beginning in time of the created universe. Stalin and the Soviet regime balked at this major scientific advance, ideologically committed, as they were, to the countervailing atheistic “steady state” model of the universe which held it out as beginningless and uncreated.

While acceptance of the Big Bang theory does not require belief in a creator of the universe, and most atheists today hold with the theory, for Stalin a discrete beginning in space-time meant that the entire, godless basis for Soviet science and philosophy was wrong. Accordingly, Stalin’s chief propagandist and Party General Secretary Andrei Zhdanov violently suppressed Big Bang science: “[these] falsifiers of science wanted to revive the fairy tale of the origin of the world from nothing.” Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution shortly thereafter adopted Soviet suppression of the Big Bang Theory as “reactionary,” too.

During the same years, exciting Western discoveries in particle-physics and quantum mechanics vindicated the traditional Christian-Aristotelian metaphysics of “Act and Potency.” Again, the Soviets suppressed the new scientific development, denouncing all quantum scientists as monotheism-supporting “metaphysicists of the worst sort,” and putting its practitioners to death. The most famous of these was Boris Mikhailovich Hessen, who was killed by firing squad on December 20, 1936.

Later, Stalin suppressed the scientific discoveries of Gregor Johann Mendel, another Roman Catholic priest, whose experimental crossbreeding of pea plants led to the theory of heritable genetic traits and the concept of dominant and recessive genes. The U.S.S.R. cancelled Mendelian genetics because it had been (correctly) postulated by a Catholic priest and because it scientifically proved the primacy of the family bond, which diminished the efficacy of forcible Soviet state-worship. Its rejection caused Stalin to rely catastrophically instead on Trofim Lysenko’s crackpot Lamarckian belief that he could “vernalize” winter wheat and grow bumper crops without the use of fertilizer. Lysenkoism caused the “crippling of Soviet biology for decades” and led to widespread agricultural blight in Russia.

As sham wisdom overwhelms science inside the university walls, history is repeating itself. To combat this rising tide, we need to encourage STEM-inclined Zoomers to circumvent the college-industrial complex altogether, to marry young and learn a trade, and to get on with their lives in a world hopefully soon delivered from woke-mathematics and nature-hating scientism.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

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