Hunt’s comments are as silly as they are outdated; his Nobel Prize clearly wasn’t awarded for political correctness. But this is precisely the point. Hunt is a scientist; his talents lie in biochemistry, particularly in cells and proteins, and not diplomacy. Due to the public humiliation of this 72-year-old man, British academia has now lost a talented scientist. The members of Hunt’s lab will no longer have access to his experience and knowledge. The work he had been pursuing will presumably now be abandoned….  

Hunt’s resignation reminds us that, in today’s universities, expressing the supposedly correct view on a matter is far more important than any contribution to knowledge an idiosyncratic individual might make. Academics and students alike are kept in line with speech codes, anti-harassment policies and safe-space initiatives. The pressure to conform to an approved way of behaving and speaking impacts on everyone, from students to world-renowned scientists. Everyone – male and female – is intellectually poorer as a result.

Joanna Williams

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