Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking; you’ve seen it all before–crazy accusations thrown out by “woke” professors claiming that math and other subjects are racist or sexist as certain groups underperform academically. It must, therefore, be a product of racism or the way the exams are worded which would yield disparate results, in order to salvage the extreme egalitarian ideals of the “woke professors”. And although most of these claims are quickly ridiculed, some still sneak back into the news cycle from time to time.
Last week, Reason Magazine published a story where a mathematician’s findings were suppressed by activists as their worldview took a hit. Reason writes that “at the behest of a feminist professor, an academic journal’s board reportedly threatened to “harass the journal until it died”–for an article failing to be politically correct enough. The editor of the magazine which dropped the mathematician’s article stated that it would draw hype from the right-wing media–the horror!–but instead, shooting themselves in the foot in the process, they have attracted the attention of a wider range of publications.
In October last year, a professor from the University of Illinois drew some unwanted attention when she suggested that the origins of maths maybe too Greek or Eurocentric. According to Campus Reform, she was also concerned “that evaluations of math skills can perpetuate discrimination against minorities, especially if they do worse than their white counterparts.” As a way to circumvent these issues, a suggestion to have aspiring math professors politicize their teaching was made.
The Atlantic ran an article in May 2017 about a paper which expressed concerns about ‘whiteness’ being a driving force in disproportionate outcomes in performance when it comes to testing. The author of this paper states “what are the theorems that we have known here in America before colonization? What indigenous mathematicians have we had? We’re not a written society, so we don’t have these books that say, ‘Here’s this Ojibwe person’s knowledge.’” The author of the paper thought “that school systems ought to support math educators in deconstructing and discarding the white frame of mathematics education.” Neato.
CNN Money posted an article titled: “Math is racist: How data is driving inequality”, covering a book written by a Mathematician delving into issues partly caused by mathematics in promoting inequality. Also, apparently, citing uncomfortable data is ‘white privilege’ according to The Daily Caller, so there may a few issues in bringing the point across.
And finally, my personal favourite: “The GDP is Sexist”. While I’m not a fan of GDP to measure growth–mostly due to wildly irresponsible government spending being lumped in as productivity, and the fact that GDPism has become a quasi-religion–Quartz magazine took issue at economic yardstick for… sexism! While the article bemoans the fact women’s contributions such as care work and motherhood go largely unnoticed in these metrics; I would argue that it would be impossible to put a value on something as priceless as motherhood.
Most of the uproar stemming from these articles can be distilled into individuals wishing to protect their cherished worldviews by denying reality. Sadly, this does little more than to discredit academia and raise questions about the legitimacy of certain subjects going forward.
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