A former Georgia Tech math professor claims his article was deleted due to pressure from political activists suggesting it was not politically correct.
The article, written by Theodore Hill, which was published in Mathematical Intelligencer, an academic journal, discussed the achievement gap between men and woman at very high levels of human intelligence. The journal’s board members said the article was politically insensitive.
Hill’s research is predicated on the pre-existing, and well-known hypothesis, called the Greater Male Variability Hypothesis, which was first studied by naturalist Charles Darwin. The hypothesis suggests that there are more men than women at both the bottom and the very top of the distribution of intelligence scores.
Hill, and co-author Sergei Tabachnikov, wrote the following about the Greater Male Variability Hypothesis:
Evidence for this hypothesis is fairly robust and has been reported in species ranging from adders and sockeye salmon to wasps and orangutans, as well as humans. Multiple studies have found that boys and men are over-represented at both the high and low ends of the distributions in categories ranging from birth weight and brain structures and 60-meter dash times to reading and mathematics test scores. There are significantly more men than women, for example, among Nobel laureates, music composers, and chess champions—and also among homeless people, suicide victims, and federal prison inmates.
Hill, and his co-author Sergei Tabachnikov, submitted the paper to the journal and they published their work. After publishing, the paper received opposition at Penn State and the journal rescinded the article.
Hill wrote the following statement about their deleted work:
At a faculty meeting the week before, the Department Head had explained that sometimes values such as academic freedom and free speech come into conflict with other values to which Penn State was committed. A female colleague had then instructed Sergei that he needed to admit and fight bias, adding that the belief that “women have a lesser chance to succeed in mathematics at the very top end is bias.” Sergei said he had spent “endless hours” talking to people who explained that the paper was “bad and harmful” and tried to convince him to “withdraw my name to restore peace at the department and to avoid losing whatever political capital I may still have.”…
The National Science Foundation eventually wrote to Tabachnikov asking him remove from the paper any acknowledgment that the NSF had helped to fund the research. This was done, according to Hill, after two Penn State academics—the chair of the climate and diversity committee, and the associate head for diversity and equity—had warned the NSF that the paper promotes ideas “detrimental to the advancement of women in science, and at odds with the values of the NSF.”
Hill wrote in a piece for Quillete, stating that a math professor at the University of Chicago, Amie Wilkinson, lobbied against Hill’s work and asked the journal to not publish the article.
After being deleted at Mathematical Intelligencer, Hill’s work was later published in another journal, New York Journal of Mathematics, but was also later deleted to only be found out that Amie Wilkinson’s husband was on the journal’s editorial board.
Other professors criticized the removal of Hill’s work from both journals after they published the paper. Instead, others said that if fear of sparking controversy was the reason to delete Hill’s paper, then both journals should not have published it at all.
Hill wrote in a statement in Quillete saying that ” [e]ducators must practice what we preach and lead by example,” Hill wrote. “In this way, we can help to foster intellectual curiosity and the discovery of fresh reasoning so compelling that it causes even the most skeptical to change their minds. But this necessarily requires us to reject censorship and open ourselves to the civil discussion of sensitive topics such as gender differences, and the variability hypothesis in particular.”