George Leef’s latest Martin Center column examines the growth of “microaggression” as a tool of political complaint.

The microaggression concept has been used by progressive student groups to demand changes they want, such as including items on student end-of-term evaluations of professors relating to their use of microaggressions—and that faculty members who use them be punished.

But what is the basis for this beehive of activity? The proponents claim that there is evidence to show that microaggression is a real concept and that members of minority groups suffer mental health problems as a result of them. Now, some scholars are taking a critical look at all of this and concluding that there is little or no basis for the microaggression furor.

One scholar who thinks that the microaggression concept is much ado about nothing is Althea Nagai, a research fellow at the Center for Equal Opportunity. She specializes in statistical analysis and has written a sharply critical article for the journal Academic Questions entitled “The Pseudo-Science of Microaggressions.”

Nagai writes that a “tsunami” of microaggressions has swamped American higher education and now even targets liberal and progressive faculty and administrators. The problem is that the scholarly foundation of research into microaggression is feeble. Scholars working in this field openly declare that they reject what they call “Eurocentric epistemologies” and objectivity. What that means, Nagai observes, “is that they reject the methodology and standards of modern science.” (Italics in original.)

The scientific method calls for sufficient sample sizes, unbiased questions, replicability of results, and modern statistical analysis. The research done to prove the validity of the microaggression concept and its policy implications, on the other hand, is rooted in subjective storytelling that “enables the implementation of a highly politicized agenda and places a social change agenda above objective research.”