- The Washington Times - Monday, March 17, 2008

Blinded in science

“The power and glory of science and engineering is that they are, adamantly, evidence-based. But the evidence of gender bias in math and science is flimsy at best, and the evidence that women are relatively disinclined to pursue these fields at the highest levels is serious. When the bastions of science pay obsequious attention to the flimsy and turn a blind eye to the serious, it is hard to maintain the view that the science enterprise is somehow immune to the enthusiasms that have corrupted other, supposedly ‘softer’ academic fields.

“American scientific excellence is a precious national resource. … Norman Augustine, retired CEO of Lockheed Martin, and Burton Richter, Nobel laureate in physics, once pointed out that MIT alone — its faculty, alumni, and staff — started more than 5,000 companies in the past 50 years. Will an academic science that is quota-driven, gender-balanced, cooperative rather than competitive, and less time-consuming produce anything like these results?”

Christina Hoff Sommers, writing on “Why Can’t a Woman Be More Like a Man?” in the March/April issue of the American

Company you keep

“I learned more about staying on the narrow path and avoiding trouble from my grandmother in five minutes than Barack and Michelle Obama seem to have learned in their whole lives. This lesson in human nature and relationships is pretty darned simple. … ‘People will know you by the company you keep,’ my grandmother told me. …

“But the most valuable nugget of all: ‘If you remain friends with people up to no good, you are bound to become like them. If you think you’re above their influence, you are just fooling yourself. So, choose wisely.’

“Barack Obama chose Jeremiah Wright as his pastor, his spiritual mentor and friend. Obama has kept the relationship intact for more than 20 years now. I’ve watched videos of only five of Wright’s sermons, delivered in fiery oratory, and I’ve had to conclude that there is no way that Obama should not, or could not have known better than to keep going to that man’s church and listening to his hate mongering, racist rants.”

Kyle-Anne Shiver, writing on “Knowing Obama by the Company He Keeps,” on March 16 at American Thinker.com

Cleansing rite

“What could be more routine and apparently banal than taking up soap and water and washing yourself? Yet it echoes, and links us to, some of the most profound feelings and impulses we know. In almost every religion, water and cleansing are resonant symbols — of grace, of forgiveness, of regeneration. Worshippers around the world wash themselves before prayer, whether literally, as Muslims do, or more metaphorically, as when Catholics dip their fingers in holy-water fonts at the entrance to the church.

“The archetypal link between dirt and guilt, and cleanliness and innocence, is built into our language — perhaps into our psyches. We talk about dirty jokes and laundering money. When we step too close to something morally unsavory at a business meeting or a party, we say: ‘I wanted to take a shower.’ Pontius Pilate washed his hands after condemning Jesus to death, and Lady Macbeth claims, unconvincingly: ‘A little water clears us of this deed.’ ”

Katherine Ashenburg, writing in her book “Clean: An Unsanitized History of Washing,” as excerpted on March 6 in the Times of London

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