November 19, 2018

When there’s a difference of opinion between science and politics on a matter pertaining to scientific study, which should prevail?

Why, politics, of course.  And scientists, pressured to toe the line, increasingly give in.  This happens not just in the United States but around the world, notably in Canada, where Dr. Jordan B. Peterson has taken a lot of heat for challenging PC dogma in the area of gender.  It’s happening in Sweden as well, where another renowned professor, Germund Hesslow, has been under pressure for months to apologize to an offended student and modify his teachings and terminology concerning biological sex differences.

Prof. Hesslow refused to apologize.

A report filed in September by Academic Rights Watch (and just posted, appropriately, by Dr. Peterson), outlines the case of Dr. Hesslow, Professor of Neurophysiology and Associate Professor of Philosophy at Lund University.  His lecture on “Heritage and Environment” was challenged by an offended student because it was “in possible violation of the university’s discrimination and equal treatment policies.”  After an internal investigation, Hesslow was acquitted of any wrongdoing, but it was determined that there was still “risk for discrimination” (I supposed that means, when we get down to it, that the administration is afraid of lawsuits).  The faculty was advised to do whatever actions it deemed necessary to minimize that risk.

So Erik Renstrom, the faculty dean, wrote a letter to Hesslow, advising him of a number of new “gender strategies” introduced by the faculty.  “In regard to the criticized lecture,” the letter said, “the program management has already informed you of the correct terminology regarding gender identity and sexual orientation.”  Apparently, what the faculty had a problem with was Hesslow’s answer to a student’s question; he told the student that “homosexual women have a male sexual orientation.”  Also, with regard to transsexuality, he said that “whether it’s a sexual orientation is a matter of definition.”  Oops, not supposed to say that, at least if it bothers a student.

It’s not that what he said was scientifically wrong, but that it did not respect “the terminology as defined by Swedish law.”  According to the Swedish Discrimination Act, transsexuality is not a sexual orientation, and this is not even dependent on the definition of such terms.  The LEGAL definition, not any scientific definition, is what counts, and the professor is expected to use that.  In other words, the will of the majority of the Swedish people as expressed by legislation in the Swedish parliament determines the terminology to be used by a scientist in his lectures when it comes to the biology of sex differences.

That’s not how science is supposed to work.  (Incidentally, you’ll find distinct parallels here with “climate science,” but I digress.)  Science can’t just bow to public opinion.  It must be allowed to go against beliefs that are commonly held but that turn out to be WRONG.  To quote Academic Rights Watch, “Objecting to Hesslow’s scientific conclusions on the grounds that they fail to comply with current legal terminology is a symptom of an unusually deep intellectual failure.”

When Hesslow replied to the offended student, he explained his rationale for saying that female homosexuals have a “male sexual orientation.”  He said there was research linking homosexuality in women to exposure to the male hormone testosterone in the womb.  He summarized these and similar findings as “male sexual orientation” because they report an effect of the male sexual hormone.  He had also qualified this by saying that it was “a matter of a definition.”  But it can’t be a matter of definition according to the Swedish Discrimination Act, which appears to be giving every term an absolute meaning --- as defined not by scientists but by bureaucrats.

What Hesslow had told the student in his class was backed by research.  (In fact, a twin study with the same findings has been reported by the BBC.)  But in saying it, he was going against law and university policy, so he was told to apologize...and that was just the beginning.

Not only is Hesslow now expected to use the "correct" terminology, he’s also supposed to “broaden the perspective” of his lecture, by supplementing it by “a lecture on perspectives on sex and gender in medical science.”   The school will also feature more “gender directives”:  a mentor program for senior researchers that will “focus on gender,” plus a new seminar series “with focus on the grounds of discrimination which are introduced by the theme of trans-persons’ encounter with health care.”  Sounds more like sociology than biology to me.

Hesslow is simply attempting to have an evidence-based discussion in his classroom, and political correctness has made that impossible.  The Swedish constitution and various international agreements supposedly protect freedom of expression and also research.  But if one person’s hurt feelings take precedence, then such protection is gone.

But that’s what is happening at Lund University in Sweden, where the medical school has been politicized, and where school policies are being used as “ideological instruments” to stop researchers from informing students of findings that are difficult to reconcile with the political agenda.

Of course, on American campuses, a professor or guest lecturer who dares to color outside the lines of political correctness can even spark violent protest.  Students run to their “safe spaces” and demand firings.  And good luck to any politically incorrect researcher in the fierce competition for grant money.

Increasingly, we’re all expected to deny reality.  The ultimate example of that is the idea of changing a birth certificate to reflect “gender identity” rather than “gender biology.”  I wonder what Prof. Hesslow would say about that.

I’m guessing he, as a biologist, might say that no matter how much someone “feels” like the opposite sex, desires to be the opposite sex, dresses like the opposite sex, lives like the opposite sex, uses the pronouns of the opposite sex, takes hormones to appear and sound more like the opposite sex, or has surgery to resemble the opposite sex –- no matter how skillfully this was done –- he or she is still the biological sex that was evidenced at birth, in every cell of his or her body in the form of DNA.  We can revisit this fact if and when it’s possible to change that aspect of a person’s DNA, but for now, at least, someone who’s born male will remain biologically male throughout life.

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He’s more likely to be hemophiliac.  He’s more likely to experience a hernia.  He’s more likely to wear a size 12 shoe.  And he’s much, MUCH more likely to father a child, though perhaps with frozen sperm.  These are absolute genetic differences; ignoring them is a denial of reality.

On the other hand, the case of a person “identifying” as another gender, for whatever reason (we don’t know why this happens) is very real.  One way of staying in contact with reality would be to leave birth certificates alone (unless there was some kind of bureaucratic mistake at the hospital) but to modify some official forms to include two separate lines about gender, as in:  1) Biological gender (circle one)  M   F     2) Gender identity ____________________.  A person born male but who lives as a woman would circle “M,” for “male,” and on the “gender identity” line would write “female.”  In other words, this person is a biological male living as a female.  That is accurate.

I’ll bet a biologist like Prof. Hesslow would like this idea.  But if he does, he’d better not say so in class.


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Comments 1-22 of 22

  • Marie J. Poston

    11/26/2018 07:04 PM

    It is my sincere prayer that more people step forward in support of the TRUTH, There are far more people who KNOW AND BELIEVE the truth than there are who believe they can change God's plans. Since when did majority bow to the whims of such wrong minded minority?

    I AM NOT A ROBOT just a furious woman who people have been allowed to alter God"s people. GOD MAKES NO MISTAKES!!!

  • Marie J. Poston

    11/26/2018 07:04 PM

    It is my sincere prayer that more people step forward in support of the TRUTH, There are far more people who KNOW AND BELIEVE the truth than there are who believe they can change God's plans. Since when did majority bow to the whims of such wrong minded minority?

    I AM NOT A ROBOT just a furious woman who people have been allowed to alter God"s people. GOD MAKES NO MISTAKES!!!

  • Anita Dix

    11/23/2018 04:18 PM

    This is so ridiculous that it beggars description. Maybe it depends on your definition of is...

  • Carol Rebandt

    11/22/2018 12:53 PM

    You are spot on as usual. Thank you for being the light in a very dark and mixed up world. Someone has to tow the line of reality, and you do it well and with sincere compassion. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  • Judy Houser

    11/20/2018 04:46 PM

    Galileo's theory was that the earth revolves around the sun not the sun around the earth among other non-accepted facts on science and he spent the last years of his life under house arrest for heresy. This isn't a new situation, but one would think today's leaders would be more sophisticated.

  • Philip Stel

    11/19/2018 07:31 PM

    In the 1980's, J. Philippe Rushton, professor at University of Western Ontario in London, ON, Canada, presented findings that Asians are smartest, Blacks are dumbest, whites are in the middle. I believe it was based on brain sizes. Of course, this raised a row. Rushton was called a racist. So somebody organized a public debate! They hired David Suzuki to challenge Rushton. The debate was not about assessing Rushton's science; it ended up with the conclusion that it was politically incorrect to make these kinds of statements, no matter what science determined! Politics trumped science.
    Not much difference when it comes to the debate about abortion. Babies are not human until they are outside the womb. In the 19th century, Negroes were not human, even though a lot of mulattos seemed to show up. Hitler said Jews were subhuman. And anyone who was defective in his opinion.

  • John Clark

    11/19/2018 07:02 PM

    Aside from what the Bible says, a person's sex has always been determined at birth by their private parts. That is the way it has always been. I am not a historian, but as far as I know this is the first time in history that people are denying what has always been scientifically evident and come up with their own "definition" of male and female.

  • Francisco RAMON Miranda

    11/19/2018 07:02 PM

    I believe (I may be wrong, of course) that what is written in the Book of Life is our human DNA. Let´s assume that a man has a sex change and becomes a woman. Two things could happen: one, he does not get saved, in which case it does not matter because he will end in the lake of fire; two, he gets saved, then he will be called to the kingdom of God as a male person, in accordance with his DNA

  • Dianna Littlepage

    11/19/2018 12:22 PM

    Thank you for being a voice of reason, a man of God, and a humorist. I was already a fan when I saw you speak at Gateway Church a few years ago. I love our Saturday not dates! Thank you for doing the television show! ??
    Dianna Littlepage in Texas.

  • Christine Kerekffy

    11/19/2018 12:12 PM

    Good grief! This is sending us back to the dark ages when science was suspect and people got mad when told the earth was round instead of flat. I can't believe how fast society is changing to what Bible prophecy says will happen in the last days. God must be shaking His head in sorrow at our stupidity.

  • Cynthia Boulet

    11/19/2018 11:14 AM

    Excellent article!

  • Dot Whitley

    11/19/2018 11:09 AM

    I just want to praise the Lord for keeping enough of the human race normal enough to carry on in this world according to His perfect will. How can anybody live in a make believe world, and still be happy? For those who are so in denial that they need scientific proof as to whether they are male or female I hope the scientists will stand firm.
    This mess is so unbelievable, and awful .

  • David Colonna

    11/19/2018 11:00 AM

    May God bless the World with the truth and light and after us all praying for the truth and light to be turned on in the hearts of all mankind. If none of this works then I pray for a speedy return of our Messiah, Jesus Christ to return and truly set the earth on fire for the truth(s). We as Christians need to stop good becoming evil and evil perceived as being Good.

  • Darlene Lilienkamp

    11/19/2018 10:59 AM

    I thought (incorrectly) that the scientific world has gone beyond punishing those who, for instance, thought the sun was the center of the universe! What other science will be sacrificed on the altar of political correctness? It is this PC that has allowed us to deny that an unborn baby is only a mass of tissue and could and SHOULD be murdered at the whim of his/her mother. We are headed down a very dark path and I see no light at the end of that tunnel.

    Thank you for your newsletter! After reading all the depressing commentary, it is especially beneficial to read the Bible passages at the end, reminding me that God is still in control!

  • Joseph Trokey

    11/19/2018 10:56 AM

    It never ceases to amaze me how people change words, phrases, definitions, etc., to fit their desires. There will be many who say they don't believe in God but when you prove through science Godly things they say the science must be wrong. It's the same way with what you have said here. The science must be wrong since it says homosexuality cannot be proven with science. What it really boils down to is a total rejection of God. That's all there is to it. I am sure I'll catch it on that.

  • Joe Analco

    11/19/2018 10:52 AM

    Are we as a society, watching the evil desire of others use Political Correctness, Uncontrollable Sinful Desires, and Sexual Predator Motives part of their ingredients to create another Sodom and Gomorrah??

  • Darlene F. Donston

    11/19/2018 10:18 AM

    Very good, I have never believed in this Gender stuff! Once you are born a Male or Female, that is what you will be until your dying day. That is why GOD made ALL of us the way we are. I really do think it is the kind of life that you lead that turns you into thinking this way. I don't mind them IF they live their own way, but don't push them into some one else's face and keep it clean!

  • William Schlumpf

    11/19/2018 10:09 AM

    Politicization of "science" is nothing new and quite widespread. When the empirical contradicts the predetermined outcome it is suppressed. Remember all the "studies" purportedly showing foods such as eggs to cause elevated ldl cholesterol? How about Galileo and heliocentrism or Semmelweis and his efforts to institute hygiene protocols in hospitals which reduced mortality to 1% in hospital after hospital. He was ridiculed and his reforms abandoned as soon as he left resulting in resurgent mortality. There are areas of "science" so political that if one challenges the tenets the esteemed professors promoting them will not explain why the challenge is incorrect but will instead resort to an ad hominem attack against the inquisitor. Human nature never changes only the subject at hand.

  • Reba Thomas

    11/19/2018 10:06 AM

    Thank you Mike Huckabee for reporting facts, this professor is reporting what he knows to be the truth. The Bible tells us that God created male and female there is no other gender and no matter how people Try to change things, God’s word remains the same, and the sooner people realize that the better off we will be as a society. To God’s name be the glory.

  • Karla Jamison

    11/19/2018 10:01 AM

    I just hear a male comedian say. " I'm sick of political correctness" I was standing in a line for coffee. The guy in front said I need one coffee. Attendant said what kind. The man in front turns looks at the comedian. Then turns and said one coffee African-American, please..

  • Stephen Mitchell

    11/19/2018 09:45 AM

    The main problem that " liberals " have , is dealing with " reality " . Reality terrifies them . They just can't handle it .

  • John Zupanc

    11/19/2018 09:43 AM

    Here is another story about how "Gender correctness" ruins scientific research and teaching". The below link is for a YouTube Video made by Janice Fiamengo, who like Jordan Peterson is also from Canada. Both of them are most definitely worth following. I am an Electrical Engineer. Stories like that make my blood boil.