The woke capture of science and its subordination to fashionable political ideology continues apace. The latest victim is the journal Nature Human Behaviour, which in a recent editorial announced a new policy of rejecting and retracting research which may potentially harm (even inadvertently) individuals or groups most vulnerable to “racism, sexism, ableism, or homophobia”. Bo Winegard in Quillette is not impressed.
An editorial in Nature Human Behaviour provides the most recent indication of just how bad things are becoming. It begins, like so many essays of its kind, by announcing that, “Although academic freedom is fundamental, it is not unbounded.” When the invocation of a fundamental freedom in one clause is immediately undermined in the next, we should be sceptical of whatever follows. But in this case, the authors are taking issue with a view very few people actually hold. At minimum, most academics will readily accept that scientific curiosity should be constrained by ethical concerns about research participants.
Unfortunately, the authors then announce that they also wish to apply these “well-established ethics frameworks” to “humans who do not participate directly in the research”. They are especially concerned that “people can be harmed indirectly” by research that “inadvertently… stigmatises individuals or human groups”. Such research “may be discriminatory, racist, sexist, ableist, or homophobic” and “may provide justification for undermining the rights of specific groups, simply because of their social characteristics”. Because of these concerns, the Springer Nature community has worked up a new set of research guidelines intended to “address these potential harms”, explicitly applying ethics frameworks for research with human participations to “any academic publication”.
In plain language, this means that from now on, the journal will reject articles that might potentially harm (even “inadvertently”) those individuals or groups most vulnerable to “racism, sexism, ableism, or homophobia”.