Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Reluctant Crusader. Why Alice Dreger’s writing on sex and science makes liberals so angry.

Reluctant Crusader 5

Alice Dreger is feverish. On a wet, chilly Wednesday evening, in a high-ceilinged, beige ballroom at the Marriott in downtown Philadelphia, she is taking to task — eviscerating, really — the American Anthropological Association for its ham-fisted handling of allegations made in Darkness at El Dorado: How Scientists and Journalists Devastated the Amazon, a much-heralded but ultimately discredited book by Patrick Tierney, a journalist whose tales tended toward the fanciful. That controversy needn’t be chewed over again here, and besides, Dreger isn’t talking about just one misguided book or one feckless group of scholars. She is casting a wider net, diagnosing a disorder that she fears pervades too much of what passes for reasonable intellectual discourse. "Forms of scholarship that deny evidence, that deny truth, that deny the importance of facts, even when performed in the name of good, are dangerous, not only to science and to ethics but to democracy," she tells the Philadelphia crowd.
You’re not just hurting yourselves, people. You’re hurting America.
That was in December 2009. I happened to be in the room that night, scribbling in a steno pad, pleased to have something interesting to cover.The rebuttal to her rousing remarks seemed sniffy and weirdly muted, embarrassed almost. Perhaps Dreger had violated the bylaws by saying precisely what she meant.
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