Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Would You Care if a White Man Cured Covid-19? Hiring researchers by sex and race rather than scientific prowess is dangerous nonsense

I’m generally not a fan of Randian cop-lover Heather MacDonald, but this is funny.

By Heather MacDonald

Rightfully Yours

“If we are in a war, as our leaders tell us, we should act like it. Diverting scientists’ attention, time and funding away from research and toward identity politics is a decadence that we can no longer afford. Reviving the economy will be as urgent a task as fighting the pandemic. Yet an early Democratic version of last month’s $2 trillion relief package required corporations to bulk up their diversity bureaucracies if they want aid. The only qualifications that should matter for both science and private enterprise are knowledge, insight and drive.”

Scientists at Oxford University and King’s College London are racing to develop an inexpensive ventilator that can be quickly built with off-the-shelf components. Should it matter that all the lead researchers on the project are men? If you believe university diversity bureaucrats and many academic deans, the initiative will be handicapped by the absence of women among the project heads. If there is a silver lining to the Covid-19 pandemic, it may be to expose as dangerous nonsense the practice of hiring researchers by sex and race rather than scientific accomplishments.

Mandatory diversity statements are now ubiquitous in hiring for science, technology, engineering and mathematics jobs. An Alzheimer’s researcher seeking a position in a neurology lab must document his contributions to “diversity, equity and inclusion.” At the University of California, Berkeley, the life sciences department rejected 76% of the applications it received last year because they lacked sufficiently effusive diversity, equity and inclusion statements. The hiring committee didn’t even look at the failed applicants’ research records.

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  1. “Scientists at Oxford University and King’s College London are racing to develop an inexpensive ventilator that can be quickly built with off-the-shelf components.”

    I have used a CPAP machine since early 2013, due to sleep apnea. A variant of a CPAP, called a BiPAP, has about 95% of the functionality of a ventilator, lacking the oxygen saturation detection function.

    By far the easiest way to make available a “ventilator” is to use a BiPAP, or to convert a CPAP into a BiPAP.
    (The difference between CPAP and BiPAP: As I understand it, a BiPAP can initiate breaths, a CPAP doesn’t do that. Changing a CPAP into a BiPAP should involve no more than changing some software.)

    While I, as an anarchist libertarian since 1995, and a minarchist libertarian since 1975, would not want to see “government” force anything, I can nevertheless say that if a non-libertarian government wanted to accomplish something good, it could require that makers of CPAPs add software to them to allow them to be used as ventilators. The cost would be zero.

    Check out Craigslist. https://portland.craigslist.org/clk/hab/d/vancouver-cpap-machine-philips/7118976042.html
    These used devices are commonly available on Craigslist for $100-150.

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