(LifeSiteNews) — We are often told to “follow the science,” but that slogan disguises an important detail: We are actually being told to follow the scientists. That, as I noted in a column earlier this month, is an important distinction, because the sciences have been systematically subjected to institutional capture by progressives, most notably on issues like transgenderism and abortion, but on other issues as well. Thus, it should be concerning when we see the scientists who shape the “consensus” using increasingly propagandistic language.
A recent example is a hard-to-believe story by Mike Cummings in Yale News titled “Metaphors for human fertilization are evolving, study shows.” By “evolving,” of course, the author of the study means that progressives have decided that our language must be changed to better reflect their own ideology. “In a common metaphor used to describe fertilization, sperm cells are competitors racing to penetrate a passive egg,” Cummings reports. “But as critics have noted, the description is also a ‘fairy tale’ rooted in cultural beliefs about masculinity and femininity.”
This paragraph, in particular, is a real work of propagandistic beauty:
A new study by Yale sociologist Rene Almeling provides evidence that this metaphor remains widely used despite the profound shift in recent decades in social and scientific views about gender, sex, and sexuality. But her findings, based on interviews with a diverse sample of 47 individuals, also reveal that a more gender-egalitarian metaphor is circulating that describes sperm and egg as two halves of a whole.
Notice here that this really isn’t about science as we traditionally understand it – it is about ensuring that the language we use supports and leads to certain ideological conclusions. This “metaphor” – actually just a description of what the process looks like, not some weird rhetorical flex of the patriarchy – is used “despite the profound shift in recent decades in social and scientific views about gender, sex, and sexuality.” That is, scientists – not the science – now use phrases like “gender assigned at birth” and “transgender child” as if they are scientific terms.
If you control the language, you control the debate. If you control the debate, you will eventually control public policy. That is precisely what has happened and is happening.
Indeed, Rene Almeling – a professor of sociology in Yale’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences – is up front about this. “The metaphors we use in discussing biological processes like fertilization are powerful: They both reflect and produce collective understandings of our bodies, ourselves, and our society,” she said. “By studying biological metaphors, we can learn how they undergird our beliefs and actions.” Thus, changing the language will contribute to a change in our beliefs and actions, which is the real purpose of Almeling’s paper. According to Almeling, “scholars and advocates have increasingly challenged the presumption of heterosexuality and the categorization of bodies as either male or female” – at least, those are the “scholars and advocates” Almeling is choosing to highlight.
The reference to “advocates” should not escape our attention here. The role that activists have played in lobbying the scientific community to use different language and to change their opinions on various issues has been enormous, facilitating the “profound shift in recent decades” Almeling refers to. This was not an organic change – the scientists, in other words, were not “following the science.” They were – and are – following the advocates, and society was following them. They are proceeding with conclusions and “backfilling” research to produce the results they want. As Cummings put it in his Yale News story:
“Identifying the patterns in how people use these metaphors provides insight into how social beliefs shape our perceptions of biological processes,” said Almeling, whose 2020 book, “GUYnecology: The Missing Science of Men’s Reproductive Health,” examined the lack of knowledge-making about male reproductive health and its consequences. “Whether it is scientists conducting research, clinicians talking with their patients, journalists writing about reproductive technologies, legislators creating policy, or everyday people leading their lives, the biological metaphors we use shape our thinking and profoundly affect society.”
She’s right – and that is why we must watch these developments closely, and reject the language that we are told we must use by the elite scientists, politicians, and journalists who are seeking to frame the debate and thus fix the outcome.