Cancel Culture in the Sciences: A Case Study

John E. Staddon

Editor’s Note: The following is a reproduction of an email exchange between John Staddon, James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University and National Association of Scholars member, and Jonathon D. Crystal, Provost Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University. It has been lightly edited to aid in readability and is published with Professor Staddon’s approval.

This article is part of a broader NAS effort to counter cancel culture in higher education. We publish it to provide a succinct example of how a cancellation occurs in real time.

We do not urge readers who are unacquainted with the cases to rush forward with emails, letters, or posts. Rather, we ask readers to weigh the facts and check our accounts against other sources. If you then agree that a college or university has acted in bad faith or counter to the core principles of liberal inquiry, then we do indeed urge you to speak up.

For those interested, we are also tracking attempted professor cancellations here.

Jonathon D. Crystal

Dear John,

I am writing on behalf of the presidential trio of the Society for Behavioral Neuroscience and Comparative Psychology (Division 6). In 2019, SBNCP/Div6 adopted a Code of Conduct. The code is publicly available on the Division website:

The code can be directly accessed at this link:

The division leadership has received complaints about some of the posts that you have sent to the division listserv. I do not want to get into the particulars of the range of complaints over the years, but I will note that a number of members of the executive committee and others have voiced concerns publicly on the listserv in an attempt to make you aware of how readers of the list might view some of the posts.

The executive committee views the use of the division listserv as a privilege and has voted to remove you from the listserv. I am writing to inform you that your email address has been removed from the listserv.

I will add that I appreciate that there are a wide range of views about many issues, and I trust that you have other outlets to share your views.


Jonathon Crystal, Mark Krause, Tony Puente

Presidential Trio, SBNCP/Div6

John Staddon

Dear Jonathon,

I wondered how long this would take! I have never insulted anyone; no ad hominem criticism (unlike those to whom you are responding—rather cravenly, I must add). I may have been a bit flippant on occasion.

It is sad that an audience of supposed scientists is unable to take any dissenting view, such as the suggestion that there really are only two sexes. Incredible! I don't mind having one less distraction, but I think you should really be concerned at Div 6's unwillingness to tolerate divergent views.

The APA has been going downhill for some time. I thought that Div 6 might a holdout. Alas, it was not to be!



The post that tipped the scale?

Hmm... Binary view of sex false? What is the evidence? Is there a Z chromosome?


John Staddon is James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University.

Image: Anna Shvets, Public Domain

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