(The Bulletin, University of Toronto)

Case Resorts to Sophistries
Vassos Hadzilacos
Department of Computer Science
June 28, 2004
Professor John Furedy makes two points (Academic Merit Undervalued, May 31).
The first is that the low representation of women faculty in the so-called “hard” sciences is a consequence of cognitive deficiencies with a “significant biological basis.” This thesis is questionable and, more important, irrelevant – my myopia, whose biological basis is indisputable, is easily corrected.  The disingenuous elevation of characteristics  with  a  biological  or  genetic  basis  to ones that are unsurmountable has a long and pernicious history.  I cringe at the thought of the untapped talents of people written off because they have the “wrong’ colour or sex.
The second point in Professor Furedy’s letter is that equity policies have subverted the non-hard sciences’ commitment to merit.  As evidence he cites a study that found the language used in tenure-track job ads of hard science departments to be stronger than that used by their “softer” counterparts.  This is akin to me judging the skill of my optometrist based on the wording of his ad in the yellow Pages.  I suppose it bodes well for the success of equity policies that one of their most outspoken critics must resort to such outlandish sophistries to buttress his case.  

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