Taking the NAS to the AAAS

J. Scott Turner

Science, or more precisely the degraded state of modern science, has been an ongoing concern for the National Association of Scholars for many years. We were among the first to note science’s “irreproducibility crisis”, the fatuity of peer review, the politicization of science (of particular concern when science is being used to inform, more likely to disinform, public policy), the thorough-going capture of our elite institutions of science by the destructive quasi-Marxist ideology of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), the academic publishing racket, and many, many other issues.

From March 3-5, 2023, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) will be holding its annual conference at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC. The AAAS is the premiere national organization for American science. Nearly every working scientist is a member of AAAS (including me). It publishes Science magazine, along with a host of subsidiary publications, which are mandatory weekly reading for scientists. Based in DC, the AAAS is also a powerful political lobby, not surprising since Science™ is the beneficiary of one of Washington’s largest corporate welfare programs (more than $80 billion directed annually to university research alone). It sits at the core of what we at the NAS call the Big Science cartel.

The AAAS has lately become the wokest of the woke. Under the leadership of Science’s editor-in-chief, Holden Thorpe, and the AAAS’s CEO, Sudip Parikh, the AAAS is pushing the DEI agenda – hard. It is in the third year of its “action plan to address systemic racism in the sciences”, and has just released its 2022 Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Report. Filled with charts and other impressive geegaws, the basic message is that we must correct our thinking to “affect change” through a “systemic and equity-focused lens.” The lens is blatantly sexist / racist / transphilic / homophilic, but necessary anyway so that the benighted can finally see the magical barriers that are holding back oppressed classes of scientists – the women, the “under-represented,” the sexually heterodox. It’s all code, of course, for a cynical system of identity preferences that would de-prioritize scientific talent, particularly when the scientific talent sits in white / male / cis Bodies.

The report makes for some amusing reading. To demonstrate the “most visually stunning cases for how critical DEI is for scientific excellence”, the AAAS funded #IfThenSheCan, a truly hideous exhibit of public art, hideous even by public art’s generally hideous standards. The exhibit features 120 3D printed life-size statues of women scientists, which, we are assured, offers a “powerful counter-narrative to the prevailing perceptions of the scientific enterprise as white and male.” The counter-narrative is underscored, perhaps unintentionally, by all the statues being a lurid orange. Perhaps the AAAS should stay out of the art business.

So, this year, the NAS will take its message into the belly of the beast, so to speak. We will have a booth at the AAAS Annual Meeting, to put on an exhibit of our own before the more than 3,000 attendees. Each day will be devoted to a theme. Day 1 will explore the health (or more properly, the disease) of modern science. Day 2 will look at the destructive ideology of DEI in the sciences and national security. Day 3 will outline some of our radical ideas for bringing the enterprise of science back to sanity. Helping staff the booth will be Peter Wood (NAS President), David Randall (Director of Research), Teresa Manning (Director of Policy), Mason Goad (Research Associate), and yours truly (Director of the Intrusion of Diversity in the Sciences project).

If you, gentle reader, will be attending the 2023 AAAS Annual Meeting, please stop by Booth 702, give us a friendly hello, and perhaps help us spread the word. We’d love to see you!

J Scott Turner is Director of the Intrusion of Diversity in the Sciences project at the National Association of Scholars. You can email him at [email protected].


Photo: AAAS9 by Jefferson Lab // Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

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