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Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Interesting update in the wake of the Shadow Docket post.

AAAS Editorial: Don't let the Court disrupt science.
It is widely expected that by this summer, the United States Supreme Court will overturn long-standing precedents allowing the consideration of race as one factor among many in university admissions. The current legal regime goes back to the Court’s decision (Regents of University of California v. Bakke) in 1978 that banned racial quotas while allowing consideration of race for the purpose of creating a diverse educational environment. Although the law has evolved since then, almost all universities have relied on the Bakke framework to support their strategies to educate a diverse citizenry. If the Court upends those practices, the implications for the scientific enterprise will be far-reaching. It is essential that the process of science continue to become more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. Studies show that the best science is done when teams are diverse. Moreover, the very questions scientists address can change substantially when those scientists come from a variety of racial, ethnic, and other backgrounds.

The upcoming decisions are likely to be disruptive in ways that go far beyond admission practices. Many observers expect the Court to issue a broad ruling that affects student benefits more generally. For example, the Court could prohibit the consideration of race in conferral of scholarships or participation in mentoring, enrichment, or bridge programs—all approaches known to be successful in broadening participation in science. And even if the ruling is a narrow one, the prospect of subsequent lawsuits and confusion about new restrictions likely will have a chilling effect on existing efforts to advance diversity in science. Race-neutral considerations such as socioeconomic status, although important, are insufficient to redress racial inequities. The impact of racism goes well beyond economics.

In response to this new legal environment, it will be critical to continue, within the law, to uphold commitments to diversity in science. The Diversity and the Law project of AAAS (the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the publisher of Science) has developed useful legal guidance, which will be updated in the wake of the rulings. But the scientific community must acknowledge that the programs under pressure from the Court are precisely those designed to help individual students access higher education and succeed in an unwelcoming, sometimes hostile, scientific culture...
The upcoming ruling should be a clarion call to improve the scientific environment itself. The need for systemic cultural change was emphasized earlier this year by the US National Academies report, “Advancing Antiracism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in STEMM Organizations: Beyond Broadening Participation.” Its message is that unless the practice of science becomes more equitable and inclusive, efforts to bring more underrepresented scientists into the field are doomed to founder...
Reforming the culture of science to be more equitable and inclusive is a key priority of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and many of our peers. We are making deep investments in graduate education and the professoriate, seeking institutional partners who are already committed to this transformation. The overwhelming response we have seen shows that many scientists are eager for an environment that is more diverse, equitable, and inclusive...

—Adam Falk & Lorelle Espinosa

Lordy. Far-right Florida governor and GOP 2024 POTUS candidate Ron Desantis, recall, recently signed legislation outlawing DEI ("Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion") initiatives in state universities and colleges. Per The NY Times:
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation on Monday that largely banned Florida’s public universities and colleges from spending money on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and imposed other measures that could reshape higher education at state schools...
Breaking Reports also have it that the Governor is issuing an Executive Order banning ACTUAL meteorological rainbows from his Sunshine State.


No, DEI efforts are not "Treasonous Soros-Funded Woke Marxist Plots to Turn All of Our Children Into Gender Dysphoric LGBTQ+ Radicals," irrespective of what the delusional likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene claim.


Diversity, equity and inclusion have become critical components of business success. While these concepts are often viewed through the lens of social justice and morality, there is also a compelling business case for promoting diversity and creating a culture of inclusion in the workplace. From attracting top talent to fostering a more collaborative and creative workplace, the benefits of DEI are clear…
Wealthy entrepreneur GOP Primary ankle-biter candidate Vivek Ramaswamy didn't get the Memo. I will not dignify him with a link. Suffice it to observe that everything he doesn't like is a "Cult"—inclusive of DEI. Mr. Meritocracy Uber Alles.
Scientific research is a social process that occurs over time with many minds contributing. But the public has been taught that scientific insight occurs when old white guys with facial hair get hit on the head with an apple or go running out of bathtubs shouting “Eureka!” That’s not how it works, and it never has been. Rather, scientists work in teams, and those teams share findings with other scientists who often disagree, and then make more refinements. Then those findings are placed in the scientific record for even more scientists to examine and produce further adjustments. Eventually, theories become knowledge. All along the way, these scientists are conspicuously and magnificently human—with all the assets and flaws that humans possess. And that means that who those individuals are, and the backgrounds they bring to their work, have a profound influence on the quality of the end result.

 It has somehow become a controversial idea to acknowledge that scientists are actual people. For some, the notion that scientists are subject to human error and frailty weakens science in the public eye. But scientists shouldn’t be afraid to acknowledge their humanity. Individual scientists are always going to make a mistake eventually, and the objective truth that they claim to be espousing is always going to be revised. When this happens, the public understandably loses trust. The solution to this problem is doing the hard work of explaining how scientific consensus is reached—and that this process corrects for the human errors in the long run.

A raging debate has set in over whether the backgrounds and identities of scientists change the outcomes of research. One view is that objective truth is absolute and therefore not subject to human influences. “The science speaks for itself” is usually the mantra in this camp. But the history and philosophy of science argue strongly to the contrary…
Sorry, DEI Deniers. The Defense Rests, Your Honor.
Rest in Peace.

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