[September 4, 2018] If you are a leader, then you are an ambassador to all organizations to which you belong. If you are dishonorable in your behavior, it reflects negatively on all those who are there. Senior academics in the last few days have pointed to the moral cowardice of Bess Marcus, Ph.D., Dean at Brown University School of Public Health.
Ultimately, academicians are hesitant to call someone a coward for what they do. Yet recently, a scandal has been brewing at Brown University; one that leaders might want to monitor. Here’s the short story (go here for a more detailed explanation). Another academic, Lisa Littman, M.D., MPH, at Brown Univ. published a peer-reviewed, professional article addressing gender dysphoria. Dr. Marcus removed the article from news distribution and failed to defend Littman’s research topic.
You may be surprised to discover that scientists are sometimes influenced by politics. That is clearly the case when Dr. Marcus chose to act based on social media concerns and rejected the freedom of academics to chose and study issues of their choice. The scientific method appears to not matter to Dr. Marcus.
“… conclusions of the study could be used to discredit the efforts to support transgender youth and invalidate perspectives of members of the transgender community” – Dr. Marcus in her letter explaining the removal of Littman’s’ article
Don’t be fooled by what the “blogosphere” is reporting about Dr. Marcus; that she is somehow just another academic snowflake, loose cannon, or that she is the finest, most honest person on the planet. Yes, she is smart, articulate, experienced, and holds a prominent position at Brown. Her actions were planned and thoughtful.
The question we must ask is why the concerns of unidentified persons should be accorded any weight in the evaluation of Littman’s academic work. Dr. Marcus leaves this crucial question unanswered and unexplained. That is unfortunate because it leaves her open to charges of dishonesty and spinelessness.
However, contrary to everything scientists have sworn to defend, Dr. Marcus appears to have rejected the universally accepted scientific method. Also, where is the university’s support for Dr. Littman? This is why Marcus is being accused of moral cowardice.
This scandal goes to the point that I’ve made before; being smart doesn’t make you immune to cowardice, stupidity, or being disloyal.