According to the ever-vigilant hbd*chick, the Danish kangaroo court for scientists that goes by the moniker of the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty is once again enforcing the Law of the Suspects in that unhappy land. Readers may recall its earlier adventures in suppressing the heretical writings of Bjorn Lomborg, who dared to offend the righteous by exposing real dishonesty in the environmental sciences. This time we find it hurling its pious anathemas at the head of Helmuth Nyborg, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Aarhus University. It seems that Prof. Nyborg has been courageous or foolhardy enough to publish papers on eugenics, a field which has long been under the interdict of the pathologically pious. Once a favorite playground of what Nyborg refers to as the Academic Left, those worthies abandoned it long ago after discovering its value as a prop for their favorite sport of striking self-righteous poses.
It’s remarkable that there never seems to be a lack of candidates shameless enough to serve as inquisitors on this Danish version of the Court of Star Chamber. New ones keep turning up all the time. Apparently they live in such a hermetically sealed echo chamber that they’re unaware of the rather harsh judgment of history on their antecedents in the Halls of Justice. Such names as Torquemada, Roland Freisler, and Andrey Vishinsky come to mind. Apropos Vishinsky, according to hbd*chick, Jens Mammen, one of the three defenders of scientific righteousness responsible for bringing the Nyborg case to the baleful attention of the Danish inquisitors, was actually a Communist himself for 14 years until 1988, when all the Marxist rats began scurrying off the sinking ship. The other two include Morten Kjeldgaard, who has set up a creepy website devoted to hounding Nyborg, and Jens Kvorning, a “teaching lecturer” in Aalborg University’s Department of Communication and Psychology, an area of expertise which would seem to leave him singularly unqualified to challenge scientific results in the field of eugenics.
As far as the merits of this particular case are concerned, I can but echo hbd*chick’s quote from Steven Pinker’s letter to the Danish Thought Police:
I am writing to protest the shocking and disgraceful treatment of Dr. Helmuth Nyborg following publication of his report on possible gender differences in average IQ scores. Dr. Nyborg may be mistaken, but the issue he is addressing is a factual one, and can only be evaluated by an open examination of the evidence. To ‘investigate’ him, shut down his research, or otherwise harass him because his findings are politically incorrect is unworthy of an institution dedicated to the understanding of reality. It is reminiscent of the persecution of Galileo, the crippling of Soviet science and agriculture under Lysenko, and the attempt of the American religious right wing to inhibit the teaching of evolution in the schools.
No one has the right to legislate the truth. It can only be discovered by free inquiry, and that includes investigations that may make people uncomfortable. This is the foundation of liberal society, and it is threatened by attempts to interfere with Dr. Nyborg and his research. If he is incorrect, that will be established by a community of scholars who examine his evidence and arguments and criticize them in open forums of debate, not by the exercise of force to prevent him from pursuing his research. These are the tactics of a police state, and bring shame on any institution that uses them.
I don’t always agree with Pinker, but you have to hand it to the man. At least he has the right enemies. As for eugenics, the name may have fallen into disfavor, but the science has always carried on under different names. The main difference between Nyborg and the other practitioners is that he is courageous enough to call his specialty by its proper name. The main premise of the field is that there are significant genetic differences among both individual humans and human groups that influence the level of mental and physical performance that individuals can achieve in like circumstances. That premise would seem to be true, as demonstrated by the fact that evolution happened. The alternative view favored by the Danish inquisitors of the world, that no such human biodiversity exists, requires that all human groups, no matter how great the spatial separation, arrived at precisely equal capabilities, particularly as concerns intelligence, around 50,000 years ago, at which point our evolution came to a screeching halt, with the possible exception of certain traits such as lactose tolerance, that have been scrutinized by the Thought Police and found to be innocent of conflicts with the approved dogmas of political correctness. All this seems rather implausible, unless it is recalled that here we are speaking more of the narrative of a secular religion than anything recognizable as “science.”
Be that as it may, I must add that I am in sympathy with those who would prefer that modern states refrain from further attempts to use the science to “improve” their inmates. Such attempts in the past have been less that successful at enhancing “human flourishing.” As for individuals, we have been practicing eugenics, along with the birds, the bees, and the rest of the mammals, through our choice of mates since time immemorial. If we learn new truths and acquire new technologies that enable individuals to make similar choices in the future with more predictable results, so much the better for us. It’s only to be expected that the Danish inquisitors among us will always seek to deprive us of the right to make such choices. However, I doubt that they’ll ever be able to control “science” in every country as effectively as they do in Denmark. Just as they always have in the past, people will vote with their feet.