First, it was the New Zealand airlines a href=”http://drhelen.blogspot.com/2005/11/airline-demonizes-men.html”demonizing men /a as potential pedophiles and having them change seats if they were sitting next to a minor child–a href=”http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2006/11/09/do0901.xml”now it’s British Airways/a (Hat tip: Mercurior):br /br /blockquoteI mean, come off it, folks. How many paedophiles can there be? Are we really saying that any time an adult male finds himself sitting next to someone under 16, he must expect to be hustled from his seat before the suspicious eyes of the entire cabin?br /br /What about adult females? Every week there is some new tale of what a saucy French mistress is deemed to have done with her adolescent charges behind the bicycle sheds; and, disgraceful though these episodes may be, I don’t hear anyone saying that children should be shielded from adult women. Do you? Or maybe I’m wrong — maybe all adults will have to carry personal cardboard partitions with them on every plane or train, just in case they find themselves sitting next to under-16s.br /br /Even as I write, I can imagine the lip-pursing of some of my lovely high-minded readers. How would you like it, they will say, if some weird chap was plonked next to your kids? And they are right that I would worry about some strange adult sitting next to my children, chiefly because I wouldn’t want the poor fellow to come to any harm.br /br /To all those who worry about the paedophile plague, I would say that they not only have a very imperfect understanding of probability; but also that they fail to understand the terrible damage that is done by this system of presuming guilt in the entire male population just because of the tendencies of a tiny minority./blockquotebr /br /The author of this opinion piece is right that the damage done to society because of the mistrust of men is high and far reaching–he points out that many men no longer teach kids, particularly in the area of physics, math and chemistry and it is hurting our science base. Just when a href=”http://physicsweb.org/articles/world/12/10/1″we need more physics teachers /ateaching young people, we may see fewer men who are willing to take the job because the stakes of being called a perp are too high. Will the demonization of men hurt the science profession? I sure hope not.