The public generally has a positive impression of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). When they are thought of at all, they are generally thought to be full of serious, brilliant, determined men and women, doggedly pursuing flawless science for the betterment of mankind. There they are, non-partisan, hunched over high-tech laboratory equipment, in moon suits, thinking nothing but altruistic thoughts, risking their lives to make Nobel Prize-worthy breakthroughs that others might live.
With the advent of the great opportunity to fundamentally transform the country presented by the Coronavirus, President Trump has been broadly accused of incompetence, and even of the murder of millions. The CDC and NIH, by comparison, are thought to be shining examples of selfless medical patriots whose pure science must be heeded, believed and acted upon without question.
Therefore, one might imagine those agencies are doing nothing but working feverishly—Ooooo, perhaps not the best adverb—to find a vaccine and/or cure for the contagion that destroys our economy, helps to further divide our nation, and provides such a wonderful opportunity for fundamental transformation. The invaluable Heather Mac Donald provides a glimpse of reality:
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are not taking the coronavirus epidemic seriously, to judge from their funding priorities. On April 20, those two agencies announced the availability of grants to increase the ‘diversity’ of biomedical research labs. Academic virologists working on respiratory failure, say, could receive hundreds of thousands more taxpayer dollars if they could find a ‘diverse’ student to add to the project. No scientific justification for the new diversity hire is needed; indeed, high school students are eligible, despite the virtual certainty that they will contribute nothing of value. To the contrary, such new hires will be a drag on any medical advance, since the scientists must pledge to mentor the students, taking time and attention away from their scientific research. Those mentees will be chosen not because of their science skills—they need present none—but because of their group’s underrepresentation in STEM.
Oh c’mon man, as Gropin’ Joe Biden would say. The NIH and CDC want to hire “diverse” high school kids with no abilities? At a time when Americans are dying? During a pandemic? That can’t be true. STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields are all about ability, and merit. You either have the science chops or you don’t, and your race, gender—however many there might be as this is written–and sexual orientation have nothing to do with it, right? It’s too dangerous to be otherwise, right? Not so much, as I explained in Math Is Hard—And Racist:
Much has been written about why women, and minorities, including women, demonstrate little interest in the STEM disciplines. Why don’t they enter into and excel in the hard sciences? In trying to answer this question we must, of course, utterly ignore the accomplishments of Asians, male and female, because they tend to not only demonstrate such interest, they excel, but that doesn’t fit into various social justice narratives, so must be ignored. And of course, the social justice narrative can run in only certain, easily predicted directions, as Campus Reform reports:
‘A math education professor at Brooklyn College contends in a recent academic article that ‘meritocracy’ in math classes is a ‘tool of whiteness.’
Translation: Math is racist because it demands non-white people be able to actually do math.
To put it simply, the focus of the “scientists” at elite universities—and obviously, research institutions–across the nation is not teaching future scientists and producing competent results, but diversity, inclusion, race, and identity politics. Mac Donald continues:
The premier federal funders of biomedical research, in other words, apparently believe that a pandemic is the perfect moment to focus further on identity politics. If diversity trumps scientific merit in biomedical research, including in immunology and virology, then those research efforts cannot be particularly important, despite the experts’ economy-crushing shutdown mandates.
The CDC, NIH, and the National Science Foundation (NSF) have been color- and sex-coding their research grants for years, on the grounds that ‘scientific innovation,’ in the words of the NIH, requires scientists from ‘diverse backgrounds and life experiences.’ But the newly announced ‘Research Supplements to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research’ exponentially boost those agencies’ social-justice agenda. Besides the usual preferences for women, blacks, and Hispanics, the following categories now also qualify for diversity funding: being or having been homeless; being or having been in foster care; having been eligible for free school lunches; having no parents with a bachelor’s degree; and having received WIC payments (a food program for low-income mothers) as a child or mother. The claim that being black or female increases one’s chances of achieving a scientific breakthrough was always fanciful, but the idea that having been homeless or having had a mother on welfare is in any way relevant to genome sequencing or cancer treatment is preposterous. The NIH and CDC assert that the scientific enterprise requires a wide range of ‘viewpoints.’ Different minds may in fact approach knotty problems differently. But having been in foster care is simply too remote from the challenge of developing a vaccine to block SARS-CoV-2 to be a valid substitute for scientific expertise.
Of course, the homeless likely have intimate experience with all manner of contagions, which is why they are uniquely qualified to be involved in virology. And now you know, gentle readers, the focus of medical researchers, doctors and related government-funded scientists is not saving lives, but virtue signaling. Think I’m exaggerating? Read on:
We are accustomed to such demagoguery from politicians. But one might expect a little more rationality from our scientific leaders. Evidence-based thinking is not how you get ahead in academia or government, however. NIH director Francis Collins announced last June that he would boycott any academic conference or panel in the biomedical field where white males predominated. These male-dominated abominations are known as ‘manels.’ A manel is evidence of the bias that prevents ‘women and other groups underrepresented in science from achieving their rightful place in scientific leadership,’ Collins said. The NIH director apparently is as innumerate as the most analytically challenged academic vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion. Given the disparities in math and science skills, a lack of race proportionality (and, to a lesser extent, gender proportionality) in STEM is inevitable, absent radically lowered standards.
Developing a vaccine or cure requires diversity in “viewpoints”? That’s obviously why I am not a noted scientist, gentle readers. I’m sufficiently non-diverse to imagine math, and science in general, is about evidence—falsifiable, replicable proof, rather than a variety of ”truths” held by people manifestly unqualified in science in general. But Joe Biden did say D/S/Cs believe in truth over facts, so… MacDonald concludes:
The coming economic depression may deliver a body blow to the fount of race and gender victimology: America’s bloated and politicized colleges. But identity politics has already worked its way into every American institution. The Trump administration has made no effort to eliminate the diversity obsession in federal science agencies. Now would be the time to do so. President Trump should order that scientific funding be granted on a purely meritocratic basis. Sex and race are irrelevant to scientific accomplishment. Not a single cent of taxpayer money should go toward promoting identity politics in STEM—or anywhere, for that matter.
By all means, take the link and read the rest of Mac Donald’s article. When D/S/Cs—which of course includes the media—try to blame President Trump for any and everything even remotely related to Covid-19—or not—keep in mind it may well be a miracle that any progress has been made by the NIH and CDC. Perhaps we might now have a bit more insight into why, at least in part, all of the models and projections have been so disastrously wrong?
When Mr. Trump, or any Republican governor is trying to revive the economy and actually save lives, remember what the real D/S/C agenda is. If Mr. Trump is not successful in draining this particular swamp and establishing scientific meritocracy as the only standard at the NIH and CDC and related agencies, the next pandemic, and there will be one, may get entirely away from us as those agencies flounder in self-congratulatory identity politics rather than science.