Phi Beta Cons

Academia’s Blind Spot

I’m grateful to Henry Manne, emeritus dean of the George Mason Law School, for pointing to an instance of academia’s knee-jerk hostility toward market exchange. It also illustrates academia’s excessive focus on sex and race issues even where they don’t exist.

The story is a bit complicated, and the details are exhaustively reported on InsideHigherEd, but I’ll boil them down here.

Earlier this month, Biology Online, a blog associated with Scientific American magazine, conducted an email exchange. A Biology Online staffer, “Ofek,” invited Danielle N. Lee, a postdoctoral biologist at Oklahoma State University (who writes for Scientific American’s blog) to become a blogger for Biology Online. She responded by asking if there was any pay. “Ofek” said no, and she politely declined. He replied by saying, “Because we don’t pay for bloggers? Are you an urban scientist or an urban whore?”

Needless to say, this verbiage became hot news when Lee reported it on her blog — especially when Scientific American took the post down (presumably out of embarrassment). In fact, all hell broke loose. To numerous commentators (one even started a boycott of the Scientific American site), Lee had been attacked because of the widespread disrespect of women and minorities in academia.  “We’ve got a gender problem in academia,” wrote one blogger. “Despite the impressive gains women have made relative to men at every level of educational attainment we remain a minority in academic leadership roles.”

As Henry Manne stated in his email to friends, everyone missed the point (at least everyone quoted by InsideHigherEd). No one recognized that the staff member’s response had nothing to do with her sex or race. The staffer (who has been fired) was upset because Lee “wanted to be paid in coin of the realm, the venal sin of capitalism. There is no reason that I can see to assume that gender or race had anything to do with this calumny; rather it was sheer ideological bias against the market.”

And so it goes.

Jane S. ShawJane S. Shaw retired as president of the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy in 2015. Before joining the Pope Center in 2006, Shaw spent 22 years in ...

Most Popular

Elections

An Election Too Important to Be Left to Voters

The Democrats believe that the 2020 election is too important to be left to the voters. It’s obvious that President Donald Trump withheld defense aid to Ukraine to pressure its president to commit to the investigations that he wanted, an improper use of his power that should rightly be the focus of ... Read More
Elections

An Election Too Important to Be Left to Voters

The Democrats believe that the 2020 election is too important to be left to the voters. It’s obvious that President Donald Trump withheld defense aid to Ukraine to pressure its president to commit to the investigations that he wanted, an improper use of his power that should rightly be the focus of ... Read More
Film & TV

A Film for All Christians

‘The growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts,” wrote George Eliot in Middlemarch, “and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.” The passage provides the title ... Read More
Film & TV

A Film for All Christians

‘The growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts,” wrote George Eliot in Middlemarch, “and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.” The passage provides the title ... Read More
Film & TV

A Feeble Fox News Attack at the Movies

Don’t hold your breath waiting for Oscar-winning talents to rip the lid off the scandal at NBC News, whose bosses still have suffered no repercussions for their part in the Harvey Weinstein matter and other sleazy deeds — but at least Hollywood has finally let us know how they feel about Fox News ... Read More
Film & TV

A Feeble Fox News Attack at the Movies

Don’t hold your breath waiting for Oscar-winning talents to rip the lid off the scandal at NBC News, whose bosses still have suffered no repercussions for their part in the Harvey Weinstein matter and other sleazy deeds — but at least Hollywood has finally let us know how they feel about Fox News ... Read More