- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Science or not

“Einstein was a scientist and Freud considered himself one. … It is possible to regard Freud’s thought as magnificent without taking it to be scientific, or even true. …

“The fundamental difference between Einstein’s celebrity and Freud’s is that the former’s was established by scientific observation. Einstein became a star when the papers splashed the news that observations of bending in starlight matched what his theory had predicted.

“Nothing in Freud could ever be tested that way, and so there was little to restrain a mind that had started out studying neuroanatomy from ending up in portentous rumination about a ‘death instinct.’

“Freud’s legacy is not a scientific discipline, but a body of lore, imagery and insight sufficient to equip a small civilization. He began as a biologist of the mind and became, in the phrase of the science historian Frank Sulloway, its greatest myth-maker.”

Marek Kohn, writing on “The Invisible Century,” in the March 28 issue of the New Statesman

Feminist rules

“[Harvard University President Lawrence H.] Summers unwittingly stepped on the third rail of university politics when he speculated that innate differences between the sexes might be one reason there are fewer women than men at the highest echelons of math and science. …

“To an outsider, the controversy must look very strange. Nothing Summers said was a threat to the advancement of a single competent woman in any of the sciences. The statistical fact that more men tend to score in the top 5 percent of math-aptitude tests makes no predictions whatsoever about the abilities of any particular man or woman.

“Far from being outrageous or sexist, Summers’s comments were completely respectable and altogether mainstream. But not in the academy. As one outraged Harvard feminist professor of ethics, Mahzarin Banaji, told the Harvard Crimson, ‘In this day and age to believe that men and women differ in their basic competence for math and science is as insidious as believing that some people are better suited to be slaves than masters.’ …

“Mother Nature does not play by the rules of political correctness. And not even Harvard can flourish when intellectual freedom is forced to play by twisted feminist rules.”

Christina Hoff Sommers, writing on “Who Stole Harvard?” March 22 in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Maximize happiness

“The louder we proclaim our sexual freedom, our casting off of repressive attitudes, our anything-goes morality, the less persuasive the claim becomes. We protest too much.

“For, alongside the claimed sexual empowerment, fears are growing about sexually transmitted infections … the birthrate is falling; sexual maturation among adolescents is being compressed and distorted; and the structure of adult lives is such that we have less sex than is good for us — or at least for our happiness. The story of modern sex is too much noise in public, and not enough in private. …

“Research suggests the median American has sex two to three times a month … and that those who have sex more often report significantly higher levels of happiness. But it also shows how many sexual partners you should have in 12 months if you want to maximize your happiness. The answer? No, not 365. One.”

Richard Reeves, writing on “Does sex make us happy?” in the March 28 issue of the New Statesman

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