Attacks on freedom of speech these days are coming from all directions. “Progressives” keep coming up with new excuses for silencing people who say or write things they don’t want to be heard. In today’s Martin Center article, Professor Russell Warne writes about one of their tactics; namely, to use journal editorial power to keep out research that might be “too controversial.”
Warne refers specifically to a recent rejection two scholars received for a paper that examined data from Britain on cognitive test scores among various ethnic groups. The authors were given a desk rejection that said their work could arouse controversy. Responding to that, Warne writes, “Regardless of what one thinks of this research topic, to summarily reject the manuscript because it might cause controversy is censorious, subjective, and an obstruction to the pursuit of knowledge.”
It may well be that the journal editor himself doesn’t object to this research, but simply wants to keep a tranquil life. No doubt he’s aware that academic leftists take delight in going after people at academic journals who dare to publish anything they find offensive. Nevertheless, as Warne says, “The censorious nature of this policy and decision is obvious: By prioritizing political tranquility over scientific truth, the editors robbed the scientific community of the opportunity to evaluate the data for themselves and arrive at their own conclusions.”
This attack on the freedom to inquire and follow data to their conclusions is inimical to the search for scientific knowledge. It’s a spreading plague in academic life.
Warne concludes, “While the desire to avoid controversy is understandable, it is a goal that can hinder discovery and withhold or delay the benefits of scientific knowledge from those very societies that editors believe they are trying to help.”