CARTWRIGHT: Ideology Is Driving Science, And Our Children Will Pay For It


Jerald Allen Cartwright J. Allen Cartwright writes about the interplay of politics with cultural and scientific institutions. His work has appeared in Human Events, The Federalist, Areo Magazine and others. He can be followed on Parler at @jallencartwright.
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“Trust the science” is a seemingly innocuous, non-partisan slogan that, on the surface, simply argues that government policy should be based upon facts and hard data. In reality, of course, it has become a rallying cry for the radical left to use ‘science’ as a cudgel to cram down increasingly authoritarian policies under the guise of fighting COVID-19 and climate change. Increased politicization of science has, inevitably, produced the opposite result: public trust in science continues to decline, particularly among Republicans.

Rather than bridging this political divide and repairing their tarnished images, America’s scientific institutions are instead embracing naked partisanship. Any illusion of impartiality was, of course, shattered long ago, when leading publications such as Scientific American, The Lancet, and Nature broke precedent by all endorsing Joe Biden for president in 2020, after a history of avoiding endorsements. Now, Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), a major weekly magazine published by the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society, is publishing articles opposing bans on gender transitions for children. 

The articleAmid increasing anti-trans legislation, where should scientific societies hold their conferences?” appeared last month in C&EN. Author Krystal Vasquez ultimately advocates for the ACS and other science organizations to pull their conferences out of any states that pass “anti-trans legislation” including those directed specifically at minors because such policies go against their “values” – despite acknowledging that such actions would cost the ACS “millions of dollars in liabilities.” Indeed, the first paragraph specifically calls out S. 480, an Indiana state bill that, in the words of Vasquez, “would ban gender-affirming health care for transgender youth.Concerns about other policies in Texas, Florida, and Indiana were specifically mentioned, and once again C&EN acknowledges that “[m]ost of the proposed legislation was aimed at minors.” The article ends with a call for “cis allies to speak out and to raise awareness” to prevent ‘anti-trans legislation’ from passing. 

C&EN wading into this issue would seem to fall outside of its scope of “keeping [the readership] up to date with the chemistry news that matters most … [C&EN’s] reporters and editors track important research advances, business and policy trends, chemical safety practices, career guidance, and more.” More alarmingly, however, is that the article specifically is critical of legislation geared towards protecting vulnerable minors from making harmful, life-changing decisions including taking puberty blockers and hormone therapy, and/or even physical surgeries, in some cases even without parental consent.

Indeed, the stance advocated in C&EN is far more progressive than even those adopted by European nations: the UK, France, Sweden, and Norway have all recently imposed restrictions on so-called “gender affirming care” for minors, citing a lack of evidence that such treatments lead to positive long-term outcomes. Not only is a so-called ‘scientific publication’ going outside of its scope to defend the absurdly unscientific notion that a man may become a woman or vice versa, but it is also actively endorsing extraordinarily harmful medical practices towards children. This is a crystal clear example of a once-renowned scientific institution compromising its integrity to conform to the prevailing cultural and political will; policy is driving science, not the other way around. Scientific advancements have long served to help vulnerable populations, but now publications such as C&EN are actively hosting content that calls for harming kids in the name of ‘science.’ 

Although C&EN is published by the ACS, it is important to emphasize that it is editorially independent. Nonetheless, the ACS’ actions on this issue, although not amounting to an endorsement, are equally alarming: the C&EN article notes that the ACS itself has previously had success in weaponizing the transgender issue to influence statewide policy decisions, lobbying to kill a 2017 Texas bill that would have mandated that people use bathrooms based upon sex as opposed to ‘gender identity’ by threatening to pull two conferences from the state. Interestingly, the C&EN editorial justifies the ACS’ activism based upon the “safety” of so-called transgender and nonbinary members, yet the ACS hasn’t batted an eye about holding major conferences in crime-filled liberal cities such as San Fransisco, New Orleans, and Chicago which would seemingly put the safety of all attendees at risk. In opposing ‘bathroom bills’ such as the proposed Texas legislation, the ACS also made it clear that they have little concern about the safety of its female attendees who are forced to share bathrooms with ‘transgender women’ (aka men) despite a multitude of violent bathroom assaults that have occurred around the country. Nor have mixed bathrooms been particularly safe for ‘transgender’ individuals who have also reported being the victim in bathroom assaults

More broadly, the suggestion that scientific organizations should leverage the locations of their conferences to blackmail individual states and cities sets a dangerous precedent; one could envision a similar approach being used on hot-button issues such as abortion or energy policy. And, perhaps this is exactly the approach conservatives should take: for example, threaten a boycott of any events in blue states like California and New York based upon their policies that support the murder of countless pre-born babies. Bringing politics into every industry, event, and institution is terrible for the country, but the reality is that the political left has been willing to do this for decades whereas the political right has not. The end result? So-called scientific publications like C&EN and institutions such as the ACS casually throwing around decidedly anti-scientific terms like “transgender,” “cisgender” and “gender non-binary” without a second thought, obliterating the credibility of our scientific institutions.

J. Allen Cartwright writes about the interplay of politics with cultural and scientific institutions. His work has appeared in Human Events, The Federalist, Areo Magazine and others. He can be followed on Parler at @jallencartwright.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.