Jonathan Zimmerman: Don’t Repeat Biases of the Past

Jonathan Zimmerman teaches history at New York University and lives in Narberth.

Let’s suppose I wrote a column claiming that human intelligence was fixed and immutable, so we should accept individual cognitive differences instead of trying to change them. I’d be flayed alive, especially by my fellow liberals.

Now let’s imagine another column, where I made the same statement about sexual orientation: It’s set at birth, and nothing can alter it. Most of my liberal friends would nod approvingly.

Why do we regard one trait as changeable, while the other one is supposedly cast in stone? The question came back to the news this month, when prominent psychiatrist Robert Spitzer renounced his famous 2001 study claiming that some gays could become straight via so-called "reparative therapy."...

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