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Biology, medicine… When the wokisation of knowledge contaminates the sciences

Political liberalism was born of a triple separation, between the State and the Church, between the rational individual and the community, and between science and belief. In liberal countries, the Church, communities and beliefs are tolerated and even invited to flourish, insofar as they leave primacy to their counterparts when it comes to settling temporal questions. Scientific research is an essential part of this building because it is the epistemic translation of an individual freedom that has become the pillar of this new order. What is called “critical spirit”, in fact, is as valid in the face of power as in the face of a scientific problem to be solved, and it is the great strength of liberalism to have known how to build stable regimes compatible with permanent instability. raised by these questions. In this context, one of the signs of recognition of illiberal States has until now been their contempt for science: whether they are religious States or dictatorships, they are or were unfailingly oriented towards a total Truth, whether it either dictatorship of the proletariat or Reich of a thousand years.

However, an unprecedented threat is emerging in our countries, the growing contestation of the scientific process and its results in the name of a new, supposedly progressive ideology. The phenomenon is particularly visible in the discipline essential to our understanding of the human being, biology. Insidious, because apparently inoffensive, respectable and draped in the tinsel of “social justice”, this ideology calls into question, in the name of progress, fundamental knowledge, on the evolution of the species, the natural foundations of behavior human or the differences between men and women. Lately, this diffuse “wokism” has even found an unexpected ally in a creationism revived by rigorous Islam.

This new obscurantism, it must be admitted, has taken up residence on the left much more than on the right. The one on the right has been known for a long time: first religious, he recycled himself in neo-creationism, especially in the United States, climatoscepticism or the refusal of vaccination. The case is denounced, known, dissected. The difficulty posed by leftist obscurantism is that it is difficult to recognize and name because it is obviously practiced in the name of good. On arrival, however, the damage is done.

A “proletarian science” which leads to a “great stupidity”

The great survey of L’Express on this major movement illustrates this abundantly. Each time, the method is the same: to deny the validity of biological facts in the name of a superior reason that has nothing to do with science, and to terrorize the institutions or researchers who disseminate these facts. Some refuse the existence of disciplines such as behavioral genetics or even neurosciences on the pretext that the human being is, psychologically speaking, only a “blank page” without any natural basis. Others deny the existence of natural differences between the sexes in the name of an equality which they confuse with similarity. Others call for the “decolonization” of science, starting with that of “medicine”, to absorb the suffering suffered by indigenous peoples. Others cannot conceive of being told a story of the human species devoid of purpose, in clear contrast to those told by religions – which have every right to do so, but as stories and not as truths. Others, finally, find no other stratagem to refute theses that they detest than the personal disqualification of their authors, starting with the greatest, like Charles Darwin. At the maneuver, students of course, activists, the media, and unfortunately many social science researchers, who believe that describing reality is more or less tantamount to endorsing it.

The current attacks on knowledge would be basically anecdotal if they were confined to the departments of letters or human sciences which, from Marxism to psychoanalysis, are not at their first fad. But danger lurks when the wokisation of knowledge contaminates the sciences. Emeritus professor at the Sorbonne, the philosopher Jean-François Braunstein, in a recent interview with the Express, confided to us as follows: “If it were only about the faculties of letters, I would not have written this book [La religion woke, Grasset]. The problem is that wokism is now contaminating the faculties of medicine or biology. If students are taught that a man can be pregnant and menstruate, I’m a little worried about their biological knowledge. According to thinkers like Anne Fausto-Sterling or Donna Haraway, biology is thus a false science, described as ‘patriarchal’, ‘virilist’ or even ‘colonialist’. The philosopher of science and gender activist Thierry Hoquet goes so far as to explain that ‘biology skews us’. It would only be a ‘political apparatus against which we must defend those whom the biology of sex has helped to oppress: women, homosexuals, transsexuals, intersex people'”. Yet this new ‘proletarian science’ prepares us for nothing less than to a “great stupidity”, which would already be a tragedy in itself, but which would also have practical consequences whose deleterious nature we do not sufficiently measure. of vaccines developed by “inclusive” teams or according to the methods of traditional medicine, and even if they are not the best?

The other difficulty posed by this new obscurantism is that the left, by putting an ostrich on questions related to biology, leaves the field free to the extreme right which recovers, interprets and distorts as best as possible the scientific results which arrange it. A vicious circle has even set in: when it is necessary to rationally attack the scientific arguments put forward by the extreme right, for example on the supposed existence of “races”, the left refuses to do so, some of its members being sincerely convinced that scientific disciplines such as behavioral genetics and population genetics, which would allow this refutation, are dangerous… because they are taken over by the far right. And so on. For a scientist, it takes a lot of courage to continue clearing this minefield.

The great revenge of (bad) literature on scientists

Much could be said about the possible causes of this widespread obfuscation. We will go from the most charitable to the most cynical. The West may be going through a moment of deep fatigue, where the epistemological ardor of the Enlightenment has given way to a form of numbness, fueled by the prosperity of our civilization. It is likely that cultures that are rich and protected from immediate dangers will indulge more and waste their wealth in fads that serve no purpose except to appease their consciences. It is not certain, for example, that Ukrainian biology faculties – or what remains of them – are amazed by the existence of 48 different sexes or seek to decolonize their “medicine”.

Second hypothesis, the bursting into the open of a generally shared lack of passion for science. Between the repetitive “I don’t like math” of teenagers and the lack of scientific culture of the majority of our leaders, it is indeed difficult to find in our nations a sincere impetus for scientific matters. Fortunately, this love exists, but it is confined to a few people who become… scientists. For the others, science is only used to get good grades in the baccalaureate.

Thirdly, we are perhaps dealing here with the great revenge of (bad) literature on scientists. And if postmodernism, which irrigates “woke” thought, was basically just that, the tactic employed by “intellectuals” to dethrone “scholars”? For, as the hoaxes of Alan Sokal and then of the Boghossian-Lindsay-Pluckrose trio have shown, as the essays by semi-clever people who sell like hotcakes show every day, there are whole sections of the social sciences where abstruse statements take the place of “truth” and can be published without any scruple. One cannot therefore interpret the unfortunate adventures of biology or medicine, today, solely from the angle of a candid opposition between knowledge and ideology; it is also a struggle for power and recognition. Yesterday decided by meritocracy, it is decided today by ideology and submission to the most heartbreaking diktats. It is now up to the scientists to take up the gauntlet.


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