Pinker on Summers


Via reader Matthew Knowles comes this interview with How The Mind Works and The Blank Slate author–and Harvard prof–Steven Pinker about Harvard prez Larry Summers' recent comments about men vs. women:

CRIMSON: Were President Summers' remarks within the pale of legitimate academic discourse?

PINKER: Good grief, shouldn't everything be within the pale of legitimate academic discourse, as long as it is presented with some degree of rigor? That's the difference between a university and a madrassa.

CRIMSON: Would it be normal to hear a similar set of hypotheses presented and considered at a conference of psychologists?

PINKER: Some psychologists are still offended by such hypotheses, but yes, they could certainly be considered at most major conferences in scientific psychology.

CRIMSON: Finally, did you personally find President Summers' remarks (or what you've heard/read of them) to be offensive?

PINKER: Look, the truth cannot be offensive. Perhaps the hypothesis is wrong, but how would we ever find out whether it is wrong if it is "offensive" even to consider it? People who storm out of a meeting at the mention of a hypothesis, or declare it taboo or offensive without providing arguments or evidence, don't get the concept of a university or free inquiry.

Whole thing here.

Reason interviewed Pinker here.

Summers apologized here.

Long, academic, heavily footnoted discussion of girls vs. boys theme on The Partridge Family, including the episode where Laurie and Shirley are better campers than Keith, Danny, and Ruben, here.

Mike explains to Carol that "there are certain places where women are just not permitted" in the "A Clubhouse Is Not a Home" episode of The Brady Bunch here.