Newsweek reports that John Staddon, a neuroscience professor at Duke University, was booted off the American Psychological Association’s email listserv for stating that there are only two sexes. The notification of his expulsion came in the form of an email from Indiana University Bloomington provost Jonathan Crystal, professor of psychological and brain sciences. Crystal wrote:
The division leadership has received complaints about some of the posts that you have sent to the division listserv. . . . I do not want to get into the particulars of the range of complaints over the years, but I will note that a number of members of the executive committee and others have voiced concerns publicly on the listserv in an attempt to make you aware of how readers of the list might view some of the posts.
This lack of specificity in communicating Staddon’s offense is a typical authoritarian technique. As Orwell argued, if it is possible to commit a thought crime without knowing what exactly the thought crime was, then the surest way to avoid trouble is to stop thinking altogether. This is how the assault on the biological reality of sex is gaining ground, despite being transparently absurd.
Staddon told Newsweek:
Science, real science, can and should be isolated from politics. Science has values, to be sure — curiosity, honesty, openness to debate, adherence to empirical facts, and so on — but they are not, and should not be political. Most of my comments have been devoted to that fact. I might add that a sense of humor would help.
Of course, having a sense of humor also requires an ability to think freely.