‘This incident just illustrates the current inability of some scientific communities to tolerate dissent’
A scholar has been removed from an American Psychological Association email discussion group after he posed questions on the listserv that upset others, most recently about the nature of biological sex.
John Staddon, an emeritus professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, was taken off the Society for Behavioral Neuroscience and Comparative Psychology Division 6 listserv overseen by the APA.
“This incident just illustrates the current inability of some scientific communities to tolerate dissent about issues related to sex and race,” Staddon told The College Fix via email. “Psychology and sociology seem to be especially flawed in this respect.”
The topic that appears to have gotten him removed was the suggestion that there are only two sexes.
According to Staddon, what likely got him taken off was this post: “Hmm… Binary view of sex false? What is the evidence? Is there a Z chromosome?”
Staddon was informed of his removal by the presidential trio of the APA division in an email republished by the National Association of Scholars under the headline: “Cancel Culture in the Sciences: A Case Study.”
Staddon was deleted from the listserv for allegedly violating the division’s code of conduct.
“The division leadership has received complaints about some of the posts that you have sent to the division listserv,” wrote Jonathon Crystal, an Indiana University Bloomington provost and professor of psychological and brain sciences, on behalf of the division’s executive committee.
“I do not want to get into the particulars of the range of complaints over the years, but I will note that a number of members of the executive committee and others have voiced concerns publicly on the listserv in an attempt to make you aware of how readers of the list might view some of the posts,” Crystal wrote.
“The executive committee views the use of the division listserv as a privilege and has voted to remove you from the listserv. I am writing to inform you that your email address has been removed from the listserv,” Crystal wrote, adding Staddon can use “other outlets to share your views.”
In the email exchange, Crystal refers Staddon to the division’s code of conduct policy, adopted in 2019, which states:
“Treat everyone with respect and consideration. It is acceptable in a scientific organization and at scientific meetings for members to have strong differences of opinion or different theoretical perspectives on aspects of psychological science. However, those differences and disagreements can be conveyed in ways that do not make other people feel threatened, demeaned, discriminated against, or harassed.”
The policy also states that members must “Recognize that attendees will be at different points in their respective careers, and that it is important to support student and early career attendees, even in cases where you may have differences of opinion.”
The College Fix reached out to Crystal regarding the decision to remove Staddon, but he has not replied to requests for comment.
Staddon told The College Fix the listserv is “a forum for discussion for people interested in comparative psychology and neuroscience. It is supposed to be scientific not political.”
In his reply to Crystal, Staddon notes a handful of his comments may have been “flippant” in nature.
But, he added, “I have never insulted anyone; no ad hominem criticism (unlike those to whom you are responding—rather cravenly, I must add). I may have been a bit flippant on occasion.”
“It is sad that an audience of supposed scientists is unable to take any dissenting view, such as the suggestion that there really are only two sexes. Incredible! I don’t mind having one less distraction, but I think you should really be concerned at Div 6’s unwillingness to tolerate divergent views,” he added.
“The APA has been going downhill for some time. I thought that Div 6 might a holdout. Alas, it was not to be!”
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