Out of 1,000 Social Psychologists, How Many Admit to Being Conservative?

Three. That's the result of an informal poll taken by University of Virginia social psychologist Jonathan Haidt at the beginning his presentation at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. As New York Times' reporter John Tierney reports:

Discrimination is always high on the agenda at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology’s conference, where psychologists discuss their research on racial prejudice, homophobia, sexism, stereotype threat and unconscious bias against minorities. But the most talked-about speech at this year’s meeting, which ended Jan. 30, involved a new “outgroup.”

It was identified by Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist at the University of Virginia who studies the intuitive foundations of morality and ideology. He polled his audience at the San Antonio Convention Center, starting by asking how many considered themselves politically liberal. A sea of hands appeared, and Dr. Haidt estimated that liberals made up 80 percent of the 1,000 psychologists in the ballroom. When he asked for centrists and libertarians, he spotted fewer than three dozen hands. And then, when he asked for conservatives, he counted a grand total of three.

“This is a statistically impossible lack of diversity,” Dr. Haidt concluded, noting polls showing that 40 percent of Americans are conservative and 20 percent are liberal. In his speech and in an interview, Dr. Haidt argued that social psychologists are a “tribal-moral community” united by “sacred values” that hinder research and damage their credibility — and blind them to the hostile climate they’ve created for non-liberals.      

“Anywhere in the world that social psychologists see women or minorities underrepresented by a factor of two or three, our minds jump to discrimination as the explanation,” said Dr. Haidt, who called himself a longtime liberal turned centrist. “But when we find out that conservatives are underrepresented among us by a factor of more than 100, suddenly everyone finds it quite easy to generate alternate explanations.”

Dr. Haidt (pronounced height) told the audience that he had been corresponding with a couple of non-liberal graduate students in social psychology whose experiences reminded him of closeted gay students in the 1980s. He quoted — anonymously — from their e-mails describing how they hid their feelings when colleagues made political small talk and jokes predicated on the assumption that everyone was a liberal.

“I consider myself very middle-of-the-road politically: a social liberal but fiscal conservative. Nonetheless, I avoid the topic of politics around work,” one student wrote. “Given what I’ve read of the literature, I am certain any research I conducted in political psychology would provide contrary findings and, therefore, go unpublished. Although I think I could make a substantial contribution to the knowledge base, and would be excited to do so, I will not.”        

Haidt has given me a look at a good bit of the manuscript of his new book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion (January, 2012), and I couldn't be more enthusiastic about it. 

I earlier wrote about some of the recent research that Haidt and his colleagues have done on The Science of Libertarian Morality. If interested, see how liberal social science bias works when it comes to demonizing conservatives in my 2004 column, Pathologizing Conservatism

One more story, I was invited to speak at a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship seminar at MIT a few years ago. After I gave my spiel, we got to talking about for whom the 12 or so journalists were planning to vote in the upcoming 2000 election. As I remember it, the vote split 9 for Gore and 3 for Nader. I joked that perhaps the Knight program should invite me to join it for reasons of diversity. The puzzled head of program blurted out, "But you're a white male!" I gently explained that I meant ideological diversity. He (also a white male) had the grace to look chagrined. 

The whole excellent Tierney article is well worth reading. 

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  • Suki||

    Social Psychology: The choice of Cosmotarians?

  • ||

    I wonder what psychologists say about men who pretend to be women on the internet...

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: heller,

    I wonder what psychologists say about men who pretend to be women on the internet...


    What do you mean "what would they say"? They're THEM!!!!

  • Q||

    before, or after they analyze your 'rather' obsession?

  • Q||

    before, or after they analyze your 'rather' obsession?

  • A||

    "heller" is a troublemaker and an instigator and should be shunned for the betterment of the tribe.

  • T||

    Dude, troublemaker and instigator describes every regular here. If we start shunning those, we won't have an echo chamber, we'll have a fucking vacuum.

  • ||

    I have here in my hand a list of 205 . . . a list of names that were made known to the Publisher of Reason as being members of the Instigators and Troublemakers and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy and commenting in the Reason message boards . . .

  • ||

    Who's "rather?"

  • Spoonman.||

    At least in the geology department everyone acknowledges the need for oil drilling.

  • hmm||

    You know what's more surprising? That Dr. Haidt seems surprised by the outcome or didn't expect the outcome.

    Because we all know the only place a Social Psychologist can get well paid work is a university, and we all know how the majority of universities are liberal.

  • cynical||

    Not only that, but Social Psychology lends itself to people who A) think collectively, and B) see human beings not as equal moral agents, but as problems to solve. Both seem to be progressive traits, from "the white man's burden" to the present.

  • Cata||

    i don' think he was surprised. i was at this conference 2 years ago and he did the same thing and got the same results. i put a hand up as a conservative, out of spite.

  • Old Mexican||

    "Dr. Haidt (pronounced height) told the audience that he had been corresponding with a couple of non-liberal graduate students in social psychology whose experiences reminded him of closeted gay students in the 1980s. He quoted — anonymously — from their e-mails describing how they hid their feelings when colleagues made political small talk and jokes predicated on the assumption that everyone was a liberal.


    Actually, it sounds quite a LOT like being inside a Communist regime, where one does not know who is the informant and who to trust...

    What an environment...

  • Johnny Longtorso||

    Actually, it sounds quite a LOT like being inside a Communist regime

    You make them sound comparable, instead of identical.

  • Jeffersonian||

    So far the university profs aren't able to send heterodox academics to the killing fields. So far.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Jeffersonian,

    So far the university profs aren't able to send heterodox academics to the killing fields. So far.


    Oh, please, don't give them any ideas!

  • Brett L||

    Only because of that meddlesome Constitution thing they've been collaborating to undermine.

  • Barry O.||

    Actually, it sounds quite a LOT like being inside a Communist regime

    Workin' on it.

  • Zeb||

    Well, American universities don't generally have the power to ship you off to the Gulag.

  • guy in the back row||

    They can cut off your funding.

  • ||

    Actually it sounds like the San Francisco Bay Area. I learned within the first week I was here to keep my mouth shut when it came to politics. You do NOT express an opinion contrary to the received liberal wisdom. Either they looked at me askance and slowly edged away, or they started patronizing me. In one case someone started speaking in monosyllables.

    Being a libertarian did not help. I was not a proper progressive and thus ineligible to be treated as fully human.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Brandybuck,

    I learned within the first week [in the San Francisco Bay Area] I was here to keep my mouth shut when it came to politics.


    The Monterey Bay Area is pretty much the same... Be careful with the kind of bumperstickers you put on your car, or you're liable to have shit flinged at it.

  • cynical||

    Doesn't that create the opportunity for crazy hijinks? You, a face-obscuring hoodie, and an armful of old W stickers in a parking lot. Heh heh heh.

  • Robert||

    What's wrong with being patronized? Maybe they'll give you discounts on stuff. Plus, smelly hippies will stay away.

  • Joe R.||

    Hang out with the tourists. They're far more fun.

  • Joe R.||

    For instance, I bumped into a group of Kiwis in a bar there once. Some NFL game was on TV. The New Zealand guy pointed out that if rugby had that much time between plays, everyone would be too drunk to play. Had a good time chatting with those guys.

  • Abdul||

    The puzzled head of program blurted out, "But you're a white male!"

    How dare that troglodyte homophobe just assume that you were heterosexual!

    Or were you travelling with your usual entourage of showgirls?

  • ||

    The puzzled head of program blurted out, "But you're a white male!"

    "Diversity" defined in five words.

  • hmm||

    Or were you travelling with your usual entourage of showgirls?

    You cold make a good argument for that being a fair indicator of homosexuality. Just sayin'

  • Liberals||

    Straight white males are the cause of every problem known to humans.

  • Feminists||

    Hey! That's OUR excuse!

  • black people (tm)||

    Ahem...

  • Straight White Male Professor||

    I wrote the paper.

  • ||

    "Or were you travelling with your usual entourage of showgirls?"

    You cold make a good argument for that being a fair indicator of homosexuality. Just sayin'

    So does that just mean "travelling"? Or does "travelling" mean boinking the hell out of them?
    Cause if someone was deeply closeted, they would boink the showgirls - to hide being homosexual. Of course, if they were a deeply closeted heterosexual, trying to look gay at a university sociology meeting, they would also boink the showgirls to make you think they were homosexual and justing boinking the showgirls to prove that they are heterosexual.
    OK - simplify. give me all your showgirls, I will boink them as much as possible, and you are free to think what you want...

  • Zeb||

    I didn't know that "white male" meant heterosexual.

  • MJ||

    "But when we find out that conservatives are underrepresented among us by a factor of more than 100, suddenly everyone finds it quite easy to generate alternate explanations.”

    Except an alternative explanation is not that hard. For the most part by temperment few conservatives would be interested in the field in the first place, as they would not buy the assumptions inherent in doing "...research on racial prejudice, homophobia, sexism, stereotype threat and unconscious bias against minorities." The natural domination by liberals just gets a feedback loop that ostracizes anyone who does not hold to the field's conventional wisdom, particularly as liberals always seem to assume no one they associate with can fundamentally disagree with them in the first place.

    It's not conscious discrimination, but that the field is politically skewed from the start.

  • Johnny Longtorso||

    For the most part by temperment few conservatives would be interested in the field in the first place,

    Women just aren't interested in math and science.....

  • MJ||

    It has nothing to do with whether this area of study is difficult or not, but that it is inherently left wing ideological.

  • sarcasmic||

    Math and science require rational thought. A math problem or physics problem as a correct answer. You can't emote yourself through it and get by by pleasing the instructor.

    Social psychology on the other hand...

  • String Theory||

    Math and science require rational thought.

    lulz!

  • Brett L||

    String theory is valid, just not necessarily true.

  • Zeb||

    Indeed. It is great math, just not testable physics.

  • DK||

    What's not testable about string theory? It makes predictions about observable things. If those predictions happen to be in agreement with experiment, it's a piece of evidence for string theory. I've only seen one comparison of string theory prediction with experiment (the magnitude of the cosmological constant) and it was way off - something like 100 orders of magnitude. I happen to believe string theory is bullshit, but it certainly can be tested.

    I always hear that string theory is not falsifiable because it's impossible to ever observe a string. So what? Plenty of accepted physics requires us to conceive of things that can never be observed. For instance, you'll never directly observe the curvature of space-time required by general relativity. But you can observe consequences of that structure. Similarly, you'll never observe virtual particles which are required by every quantum field theory, but you can observe consequences of them. Same thing with the strings required by string theory.

  • ||

    What's not testable about string theory?

    The incredibly small dimensions of a string that currently (and may eternally) prohibit our direct observation.

  • DK||

    Read my whole comment. Prohibition of direct observation of certain mathematical objects required by a physical theory is not just a trait of string theory. It's also a trait of the well-accepted theories of general relativity and quantum field theories.

    In fact, in quantum field theory, the fact that we can never directly observe a virtual particle (due to restrictions imposed by uncertainty principles) is one of the most interesting parts of the theory, as it has a very interesting tie-in with epistemology, in that it places absolute limits on what can be known. Perhaps we should view string theory in the same manner.

  • DK||

    Also, the idea that strings may be too small to observe is extremely physically and philosophically interesting. Particle physics basically moves forward by shooting shit at other shit with more and more energy to probe smaller and smaller dimensions. If strings happen to place an upper limit on the dimensions that can be probed, what's so bad about that? Physically, it's a very satisfying end to the quantum view that experimentalists are limited by the very laws that they seek to investigate.

  • ||

    heh, what, me read a whole post before replying? never.

    I like how you knew to exclude that from your argument though. Almost is if you're just trying to argue something when you already know the answer.

    Anyway, yeah, there are plenty of instances of indirect observation of phenomena. However, we didn't discover quarks by observing galaxies. Quarks were inferred by observing particles much closer in scale to the quarks themselves.

    As for the virtual particles example...i think you got the picture backwards. They're "required" by the theory for it to agree with measurement. That doesn't mean it's the way the universe IS, just that it's a convenient way of explaining the observations. The theory neither proves nor disproves the virtual particles.

    (yeah, it occurs to me that I'm fighting the fire of amateur science with fire, but w/e, I like playing armchair physicist. plus, all the real physicists on here are too busy with real work to respond in a timely fashion.)

  • DK||

    Yes, virtual particles are required in quantum field theories in order to make the physics work. But I've always seen them interpreted as particles which actually come into existence and can't be observed due to the fact that the uncertainty principle makes them disappear quickly. Moreover, it's well known that there are interactions which can't be described by an exchange of real particles, such as near-field EM interactions. The standard interpretation is that virtual photons are being exchanged. I really think these issues of interpretation are what really make quantum mechanics (both non-relativistic and quantum field theory) and extensions thereof so darn interesting!

    I should note that I have zero experience with string theory. I'm almost done with a PhD in condensed matter physics and I took a couple quantum field theory classes and some general relativity awhile ago, but have probably forgotten most of it. I just like thinking about the philosophical implications of physical theories.

  • Joe R.||

    "The theory neither proves nor disproves the virtual particles."

    Theories never "prove" anything.

  • Neu Mejican||

    What's not testable about string theory? It makes predictions about observable things.

    Two book length discussions of this topic that are worth the read.

    "Not even wrong" and "The Trouble with Physics."

    One of the main issues is that there isn't ONE string theory, but an infinite set of possible theories...and this is "in theory" and at it's core makes for un-testability.

  • DK||

    One of the main issues is that there isn't ONE string theory, but an infinite set of possible theories...and this is "in theory" and at it's core makes for un-testability.

    I'm not so certain this is a huge problem. When people talk about there being many formulations of string theory, I've always understood it to mean that there are many solutions to whatever field equations happen to describe string theory. If this is the case, it doesn't seem all that different in principle than the mathematical formulation of general relativity, where the field equations can have many different solutions and are only fully specified by choosing a metric. Am I missing something here?

  • DK||

    I'll have to look into these books. Thanks for the reference.

  • DK||

    I should also note that I'm by no means a proponent of string theory. I like the idea of a consistent mathematical framework for describing the universe, but I have serious epistemic concerns about such programs.

  • Brett L||

    See the first comment in the indent. Consistency tells you nothing about truth, even a good model is not real.

  • DK||

    I understand that consistency and truth are not the same thing. But modern physical theories are by their nature abstract and mathematical and require interpretation when we start asking things like what actually exists. I'm simply saying that I don't see string theory as unique in its heavy reliance on mathematics or interpretation of what it means physically.

  • Some Guy||

    Don't astro-physicists use the lensing effect of the sun (and other large bodies) to observe the curvature of the light of stars as they move behind and out from behind the sun, thereby observing the curvature of space/time?

  • Brett L||

    SG:

    Yes. It's one of the primary proofs of Einstein's graviational theories. If it didn't happen, General Relativity would be suspect. Similarly, the phenomenon of Cosmic background radiation is an expected outcome of the Big Bang. String theory provides us with no unique testable consequences as yet. Or rather, none of the string theories. Although the paper asserting gravity as an entropic force rocked, and I hope to hell that it can be developed to a testable theory.

  • Joe R.||

    "It's one of the primary proofs of Einstein's graviational theories."

    Again, theories do not "prove" anything in science. We cannot prove that the Earth orbits the Sun. Only mathematics and logic have proofs.

  • ||

    Johnny wrote nothing about difficulty, just interest.

    Expanding "interest" to encompass proclivities, you'll see it's the application of your ideological principle to a different field.

  • Number 2||

    Actually, MJ has a point here. It is like decrying the lack of political diversity in a Marx Studies program.

  • Zeb||

    Why shouldn't people who think he is wrong study Marx? I spent years studying Plato despite the fact that he was wrong about just about everything.

  • MJ||

    Studying Marx is one thing, making a career out of that study is another.

  • Emmy Noether||

    I love stereotypes.

  • Malibu Stacy||

    Don't ask me... I'm just a girl!

  • robc||

    Maybe social psychologists are spending too much time doing "...research on racial prejudice, homophobia, sexism, stereotype threat and unconscious bias against minorities."

    There seem to be plenty of other areas of social psych not covered by that.

  • Gob||

    Liar, lawyer, mirror show me what's the difference

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    You're weeping shades of chosen indigo, got lemon juice up in your eye.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    See, they still come up with discrimination as the explanation. It just isn't them discriminating, it's everyone else being too racist to join their field.

  • ||

    A 100:1 ratio takes this way off the skew chart into the realm of actual discrimination against conservatives. We're not talking Womyns Studies here, we're talking about an actual legitimate field that can actually get paid work outside of the university setting.

  • Old Mexican||

    "I joked that perhaps the Knight program should invite me to join it for reasons of diversity. The puzzled head of program blurted out, 'But you're a white male!' I gently explained that I meant ideological diversity. He (also a white male) had the grace to look chagrined."


    Makes me wonder what could he blurt out if you, Bailey, happened NOT to be a white male...

  • Brett L||

    Hey, at least the Irish are finally white.

  • hmm||

    Well, white up until the work whistle blows. Then they turn a dingy shade of brown as they roll drunk in the gutter brawling over the last match.

  • ||

    "I won't hire the Irish, and I advise all of my clients to follow the same policy."

  • Robin Williams on the Irish||

    Oh, the night ye said me wife was fat
    I kicked yer ass an' shit in yer hat

  • sarcasmic||

    Social psychology lends itself to the religion of socialism and the belief that humanity can be "cured" of basic human nature.

    So it is no surprise that statist liberals gravitate to a field of study that justifies the use of force to "cure" people of their politically incorrect beliefs and behaviors.

  • ||

    I must confess that I find asking "Out of 1,000 Social Psychologists, How Many Admit to Being Conservative?" is rather akin to asking "Out of 1,000 Christian ministers, How Many Admit to Being Atheist?"

  • sarcasmic||

    nice

  • Abdul||

    50% of Jesuits and 75% of Episcopalians.

  • Jersey Patriot||

    The joke is "No one makes it out of seminary a believer."

  • ||

    That occurred to me just as I was clicking "submit".

    Nevertheless, the key word is still "admit".

  • buttfucker||

    Back in my college years (early 90's) I had a psychology professor that polled the class about personal political leanings. Out of a class of about 50 people, four or five identified themselves as conservatives. For the rest of the semester, he conspicuously avoided them when their hands were raised to answer a question or give an opinion. The rest of that semester was a love fest of gobbledygook between himself and the non-conservatives. Three of the conservatives dropped the class before it was finished.

  • ||

    Perhaps this clutch of conformity in the social sciences explains their conclusions in recent "research" that catalogs conservative thought as a pathology?

  • Neu Mejican||

    Perhaps this clutch of conformity in the social sciences explains their conclusions in recent "research" that catalogs conservative thought as a pathology?

    I would hardly give social psychology the mantle of THE social sciences. Economics is also a social science and you would get a very different result in such a straw pole.

  • ||

    I am not sure you would. I was an economics major back in the day and the economics department, while not raving communist lefty like say the English department was, was almost to a man mainline Democrat and very liberal on virtually any issue beyond admitting that supply and demand were actually real. It might not be quite as skewed but I would be shocked if it wasn't still skewed beyond statistical explination.

  • ||

    I am not sure you would. I was an economics major back in the day and the economics department, while not raving communist lefty like say the English department was, was almost to a man mainline Democrat and very liberal on virtually any issue beyond admitting that supply and demand were actually real. It might not be quite as skewed but I would be shocked if it wasn't still skewed beyond statistical explination.

  • #||

    my experience with economists is that university ones tend to be quite left (though not as left as faculty as a whole) and private industry economists are more right.

  • sarcasmic||

    For the most part economics has been taken over by the Keynesian school of thought (I use the word "thought" very loosely), which is little more than a scholarly excuse for government intervention in the economy.

  • ||

    I am not talking about straw poles, I am talking about conclusions that conservative thought, and philosophy, is an illness. I don't have a link to the research I am referring to but it was blogged here at H&R in the last few years.

  • ||

    Do "straw poles" come from Warsaw?

    Or are they a rather useless piece of track-and-field equipment?

  • ||

    I believe that fixing straw poles to your wagon is required when attempting to tow the lion

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Neu Mejican,

    I would hardly give social psychology the mantle of THE social sciences. Economics is also a social science and you would get a very different result in such a straw pole.


    Ugh... Depends on whom you ask the question. Most economy grads are like SM - either Neoclassicals or Keynesians, all socialists.

  • ||

    But what do psychologists think about Nash Equilibrium?

  • Old Mexican||

    Heathens!

  • Amakudari||

    Yeah, but if you polled them for ideological leanings you would certainly see who's in the in-group (Neo-Keynesians, monetarists) and who's in the out-group (Austrians, Marxists, etc.). My experience in the financial industry is that in practice Austrian arguments get far more weight than they do in academia, including among smart people who have their own money on the line and a credible track record.

    Heck, I don't agree with all the conclusion, but Krugman did a great job identifying some of the characteristics of economics as a profession that led to some of its recent failures.

  • Neu Mejican||

    I don't know...this guy's numbers make a case for there being a much different distribution of political leaning across "social science" disciplines.

    http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/klein/survey.htm

    Of course, iirc, when you look at academia in general, you get a leftward bias. So, as expected, even in economics you will get more TEAM BLUE than TEAM RED.

  • Colin||

    I bet if it were a secret ballot, there would've been more than 3 conservatives.

  • Abdul||

    I bet by "conservative" they thought they were because they haven't vandalized a military recruitment center recently.

  • ||

    Maybe they thought they were conservatives because they didn't like brie.

  • ||

    Sorry, I should have read to the bottom first.

  • Amakudari||

    Probably. But even if that's a good number, those closet conservatives' unwillingness to identify themselves says a lot.

    It doesn't shock me that most social psychologists are liberal, and even in a truly inclusive group liberals would be well-represented. But 0.3% is pretty low.

  • ||

    Colin: Five?

  • ||

    There may have been more than three conservatives in the room. But some of them were smart enough to not raise their hands.

  • ||

    Fuck 'em...

    Who fucking cares what a "social psychologist" has to say, except for other social psychologist.

    Conservatives: do you really feel that you are missing out by not being invited to the useless degree party?

  • MJ||

    I think that it exactly why conservatives are not represented in that field. Most conservatives don't think that they are missing out.

  • matt||

    It isn't what conservatives are missing, it's what social psychologists are missing.

  • Applederry||

    "Oh those poor widdle conservatives! They're so discriminated against by the big bad powerful minorities! There just aren't enough voices for the white, male demographic in society!"

    I guarantee you that's the conversation those liberal sociologists had with each other after the conference. These are, after all, the people who defined racism in such a way that only white people can be racist. They completely refuse to examine their own bias and prejudices while throwing stones from their glass towers.

  • sarcasmic||

    Liberals are very inclusive.
    They include everyone who agrees with them and exclude everyone else.

    They are extremely tolerant.
    They tolerate everyone who agrees with them and are intolerant of everyone else.

    They support diversity as well.
    Diverse opinions are welcome as long as they conform to liberal ideology.

    See? No bias or prejudice.

  • Tony||

    Academics and scientists tend to be smart people. Smart people tend to be liberals. Don't know how many different ways this can be illustrated.

    Conservatives expect everyone else to get ahead in life with only the help of bootstraps. If they want to be more represented in academia and science, maybe they should work harder.

  • ||

    You are so fucking tiresome. Please die in a fire already. You are the most boring sockpuppet ever, congratulations.

  • Brian E||

    Don't be its porn. Seriously, just stop responding.

  • Warty||

    My life has improved greatly since incifing all these retards. Just saying.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    I'll bet Tony has a deep-seated hatred and mistrust of people who make it on their own, without being plugged into/hooked on welfare.

  • ||

    On a more serious note, I do find it rather interesting how conservatives are more attracted to hard sciences while liberals are more attracted to soft/social sciences. Even within the atmospheric sciences (my background), meteorologists tended to be more conservative while "environmental scientists" are almost without a doubt liberal.

  • sarcasmic||

    There is a very simple explanation.

    Hard sciences require rational thought.

    Liberals are not good at rational thought, or they wouldn't be liberals.

  • Tony||

    Conservatives more attracted to hard sciences? I don't know about that. I don't have numbers handy but I'm pretty sure hard scientists are overwhelmingly liberal too.

  • Zeb||

    More attracted to hard sciences than they are to social sciences, Tony. I think that is fairly obvious. That doesn't mean that most university scientists are conservative.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,

    Academics and scientists tend to be smart people. Smart people tend to be liberals. Don't know how many different ways this can be illustrated.


    Seems that liberals tend not to be good logicians.

    Conservatives expect everyone else to get ahead in life with only the help of bootstraps.


    Hey! I expect people to be able to get head with the help of butt-straps!

    If they want to be more represented in academia and science, maybe they should work harder.


    Ha ha ha! This made my day!

  • Tony||

    OM you grasp logic the way a double amputee grasps a fork.

  • ||

    With his teeth?

  • ||

    My bad. The correct answer would be toes.

  • Ragin Cajun||

    See, I thought the answer was with his robotic arm.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,

    OM you grasp logic the way a double amputee grasps a fork.


    Yeah, right... However, I was not the one that made the "A is P and P is Q therefore A is Q" [i.e. Undistributed Middle] fallacy. YOU did.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,
    Also, you seem to lack sense of humor, as you did not notice my witty joke:

    "Hey! I expect people to be able to get head with the help of butt-straps!"

    By the way, just because Conservatives say they expect people to lift themselves by their bootstraps does not make them unintelligent, in the same way that a person that justifies spineless thievery (i.e. what some call with a sick sense of humor "taxation") to help others does not mean the person is necessarily intelligent.

  • Tony||

    I didn't say they are unintelligent because of that, I said they are hypocrites.

    In fact, the people most constantly whining about bias against them, the ones who most liberally use the rhetoric of victimhood, the ones who are the loudest about their grievances at the hand of oppressors, and the loudest advocates for affirmative action, are conservatives. I just find it interesting.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,

    In fact, the people most constantly whining about bias against them, the ones who most liberally use the rhetoric of victimhood, the ones who are the loudest about their grievances at the hand of oppressors, and the loudest advocates for affirmative action, are conservatives. I just find it interesting.


    I find it interesting that what you find interesting is not even true. The loudest of the victimhood crowd are always rent-seekers and always organized in some sort of pressure group, be it blacks, be it gays, be it womyn, be it Muslims, be it Unitarians, be it Pharmaceutical companies, be it hairdressers, whatever you can think. Conservatives/Liberals is too broad a brush to pain those guys.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,

    I didn't say they are unintelligent because of that, I said they are hypocrites.


    You did IMPLY it, Tony:

    "Smart people tend to be liberals" and "Conservatives expect everyone else to get ahead in life with only the help of bootstraps."

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Evidently, you fail to grasp what the word "logic" actually means. As so many people do. Most people think "logic" means that something "makes sense."

  • MJ||

    "Academics and (soft) scientists tend to be (useless) people. (Useless) people tend to be liberals."

  • ||

    Or, it could be that conservatives get tired of living off the government teat, and leave academia for private enterprise.

  • cynical||

    "Smart people tend to be liberals."

    No, liberals tend to call other liberals smart. Conservatives don't care as much about the social evaluation of their intelligence in general, and they care even less about the opinion of liberals.

    In my totally unscientific and unsupported opinion, conservatives tend to be anti-intellectual while liberals tend to be intellectually dishonest. But perhaps the former is at least partially a reaction to the latter.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Academics and scientists tend to be smart people.

    Cite, please.

    I have known a lot of academics and scientists. The most highly educated people I have known can barely tie their own shoes or drive a car down the street to get where they're going.

    I have a cousin with a dual B.S. (two majors, mathematics and physics), a Ph.D. from Notre Dame, a J.D. from Yale and an L.L.M. and S.J.D. from Harvard. It's hard to get more academicky or educated than that. He's a smart guy. He must have been born wearing a tweed jacket with elbow patches. But you ask him what time it is and he'll tell you the history of the watch and how to build one. And he's remarkably naive about many things - mostly because he's spent so much of his life in academia.

    I have no idea what his politics are.

    But I reject outright your proposition that just because someone is an academic or scientist, that somehow makes them automatically smarter than others who are not. I also completely reject your proposition that "smart people tend to be liberals."

    There are plenty of incredibly smart people who have only a bachelor's degree, or who might not even have ever gone to college, yet have managed to become phenomenally successful in business, and are conservative.

    In fact, I submit you've got to be pretty gullible, or just plain stupid, to conflate having degrees with being a highly smart person.

    And your last sentence is just peurile bullshit. Conservatives should work harder? Again, I have yet to see an academic who works as long and hard as most self-made, conservative, entrepeneurs I've known. What the academic works for is status, position, a longer lunch break and tenure. The entrepeneur works because his very survival might depend on it, and because he is motivated by the potential to succeed on his own merits.

  • ||

    Good post. Those who don't have the smarts and or guile to make it the real world, keep going back to school so they can feel like the accomplished something.

  • ||

    Shorter Shocked (and general maxim):

    Those who can't do, teach.

    And a shout-out to one of my favorite movies, School of Rock:
    "those who can't teach, teach P.E."

  • WTF||

    Tony|2.8.11 @ 11:32AM|#
    Smart people tend to be liberals.

    HAHAHAHAHA - From the evidence of Tony's posts, it's obvious that idiots tend to be liberal.

  • sarcasmic||

    Liberals define 'smart' as agreeing with liberals.

  • Love it!||

    Tierney managed to say FUCK YOU to Krugman in the NYT.

  • T||

    Academics and scientists tend to be smart people.

    Thus proving that Tony has never spent much time around either group. Academics tend to be very well educated, but not necessarily smart. Scientists can be exceedingly smart, but are usually amazingly ill-informed outside of their particular discipline. Both groups are capable of making some of the most ignorant ass statements I've ever heard in my life.

    I've worked with enough of both to realize that as a group, they shouldn't be making decisions for the rest of the polity. Intelligence is not wisdom, nor is it common sense.

  • Tony||

    In all my time spend in academia, around very smart people, there is one constant: those who couldn't hack it telling themselves their street wisdom or "common sense" somehow made up for their deficiencies.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Don't break your arm patting yourself on the back for how smart and educated your and your fellow academics are, Tony.

    Fuck, you really are tiresome. You've got yourself comfortably and smugly convinced that because you've spent a lot of time in academia, around very smart people, who share your warped liberal world view, that only liberals are smart people and all academics are smart people and therefore all liberal, and....

    I have spent a fair amount of time in academia myself, and have spent a lot of time surrounded by extremely smart people (every try to understand the federal income tax implications of establishing a real estate mortgage investment conduit, and prepare disclosure documents fully compliant with U.S. SEC and other countries' disclosure requirements?), and I can assure you with great confidence that there are plenty of brilliant conservatives and libertarians out there.

    It really is just a silly, stupid and childish argument to try to claim, let alone prove, that liberals on the whole are "smarter" than conservatives or libertarians - and particularly silly, stupid and childish to try to prove it by saying that most academics are liberal.

  • Tony||

    You're probably right. Were we being mature and serious here?

    I just really get tired of the reverse elitism people trot out, as if there aren't at least as many crazy or stupid or common-sense-lacking people among the less educated.

  • JBA||

    *Spent.

    Genius.

  • ||

    Also, there are plenty of conservative scientists... I think they're just less likely to stay in academia because they're more likely to be in fields where there are private-sector job opportunities (see, e.g., engineers).

  • Mr. FIFY||

    The typical liberal elitism is dripping like cum after a bukkake session.

    IOW, nothing new.

  • sarcasmic||

    Those who can't do, teach.

    That is why liberals dominate academia: they can't hack it in the real world.

  • Zeb||

    "Those who can't do, teach."

    Where does this come from anyway? I'm no fan of the current educational system, but that statement is utter bullshit. There are plenty of very smart, effective teachers out there. And there are plenty of totally useless people in other professions. There is lots to complain about in education, and teachers unions are horrible, but why all the hate for teachers generally? Education is, in fact, important, even if it is done wrong now.

  • ||

    I agree. I think we need to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water here. I think there is plenty of merit to social sciences, and I think most academics are very intelligent and worthy of respect. I simply reject the notion that liberals' tendency to pursue careers in academia is evidence that liberalism is superior to conservatism.

  • sarcasmic||

    "Where does this come from anyway?"

    http://tinyurl.com/4cngxyg

    "...but why all the hate for teachers generally? "

    Where did you get hate from?

    I have observed that many in academia couldn't last a day in the real world. Conversely many successful people in the real world wouldn't last a week in academia.

    I didn't say one is better than the other.

    observation != judgment

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    In my experience the engineering field has a pretty significant rightward skew.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    I've worked with enough of both to realize that as a group, they shouldn't be making decisions for the rest of the polity. Intelligence is not wisdom, nor is it common sense.


    So true.

  • ||

    Are you arguing something, Tony?

    Because all that I hear is boosterism...eh, if that's what it takes to make you feel better.

  • Tony||

    Only really a couple points to be made. American conservatives are stupid (they reject modern science if it doesn't suit them--why would they be expected to go into it?), and they're hypocrites (whining about the awful bias against them, all but advocating affirmative action for themselves, but being adamantly against it for anyone else).

  • Zeb||

    There are people in the world besides American conservatives and liberal academics.

  • ||

    Yeah, I would say libertarians view liberals the way liberals view conservatives.

  • ||

    Liberals reject modern science on genetic engineering, radiation, and other technology-causing-cancer related bullshit.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,

    Only really a couple points to be made. American conservatives are stupid (they reject modern science if it doesn't suit them--why would they be expected to go into it?)


    "Rejecting hard science" as in being skeptical of Anthropogenic Global Warming? Begs the question if so, as Global Warming does not equal Hard ScienceS.

    and they're hypocrites (whining about the awful bias against them, all but advocating affirmative action for themselves, but being adamantly against it for anyone else).


    If they stop short of advocating for affirmative action, why would that make them hypocrites?

    See? I told you: Bad logicians.

  • Rock Action ||

    Painting American academics as the paragons of accepting scientific studies might be the most laughable thing I've ever heard.

    My God, bring up the possibility of inherent gender differences in a faculty lounge and see if you're not fired in 1.2 seconds. Religion what?

  • ||

    So my mom is one of 3? Joke's on her, what were the odds that she'd end up with a gay son like me.

  • GILMORE||

    "But you're a white male!!

    Ouch!

    Wikipedia is awesome. They have an entry on "White People"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_male

    Strangely, I couldn't find the part about how, "...are at fault for everything bad in history, most notably, racism, sexism, exploiting the poor, and golf.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Strangely, I couldn't find the part about how, "...are at fault for everything bad in history, most notably, racism, sexism, exploiting the poor, and golf.


    Did not Jews historically get the blame for such things?

    Anti-Judaism is history's oldest hatred.

  • TYRANOSAURUS LIEBOWITZ||

    Oy! You're telling me!

  • ||

    As someone with an extensive background in social psychology (my undergrad work consisted of double-majoring in psychology and political science; my masters work in social science was interdisciplinary, but socially focused), I'm not surprised for a couple of reasons.

    1.) Nearly everyone who's ever done extensive reading/research in the field would have trouble being a conservative. I actually walked into the class as a conservative, and left as a libertarian (I understand economics, so 'liberalism' was never an option for me).
    2.) How and/or why people in this informal poll might consider themselves 'liberal' is very important. Most of the people I know who aren't conservatives have based their opposition to the ideology around its socially conservative tenets and/or its foreign policy. Fiscal conservatism is actually pretty popular (in theory, at least), even among so-called 'liberals.'
    3.) Any social psychologist can speak at length about the mere presence of others. An informal, public poll such as this is unlikely to be accurate. Were this done by secret ballot, you'd probably see far fewer 'liberal' hands raised.
    4.) Given my outspokenness, it was widely known how libertarian I am within the social science departments I've studied/worked/researched in, and I've met little ridicule.

  • ||

    I actually walked into the class as a conservative...

    Define conservative

  • ||

    It's also noteworthy that NYT's John Tierney has mischaracterized social psychology in a way that has led to most of the comments on this board. While it is true that the field does research things such as "racial prejudice, homophobia, sexism, stereotype threat and unconscious bias against minorities," this is hardly all it researches, and most of what people here seem to be correlating social psychology with is actually sociology.

    Social psychological research is mostly an examination of human interaction with social groups - how that comes into play with demographic studies is mostly the work of sociologists. For example, a social psychologist might conduct research on in-group/out-group thinking, social influence, etc., but it is generally sociologists who then try (I stress *try*) to apply such things to demographical studies (i.e. the 'blame the white man' research many think sociology upholds). Sadly, sociologists generally tend to miss important principles such as the fundamental attribution error and/or the very basic scientific notion that correlation does not imply causation.

  • ||

    Yes, but if they are conservative leaning, they just call themselves game theorists and publish in economics journals instead.

  • ||

    If they are 'conservative leaning,' they must have completely ignored all the social psychological research on things such as torture and/or obedience & institutional authority. And that's not even touching on the many troubles of social conservatism.

    You know, things that basically show how dangerous/bullshit conservatism actually is.

    Since virtually nobody is going to try and argue that 'law & order' isn't a primary tenet of conservatism, it's worth noting that social psychologists have numerous objections to the abuse of 'law & order' applications in society (think: Zimbardo, Milgram, Skinner, etc.).

    Of course, I could talk about group polarization and confirmation bias in regard to most of the comments here, but *shrug.*

  • ||

    Since virtually nobody is going to try and argue that 'law & order' isn't a primary tenet of conservatism,

    I certainly won't. I would, however, also point out that your typical lefty/liberal is all about obedience to authoritay as well. Although they may wear fancy dress ("communitarian", etc.), they're still wearing jackboots.

  • ||

    I am sure that I'd be called a conservative, yet I have little but distain for the police.

  • Brett L||

    Wait, wait. You're talking about BF Skinner? The dude who fucked up a real child to prove that operant conditioning works on humans? Yeah. I'll bet he did have some concerns about someone treating him the same way.

  • LifeStrategies||

    And the dreams of Dewey are coming to fruitian with Common Core - now all kids to be taught exactly the same, dumb them all down.

    What happened to the 10th Amendment which gives the feds no right to get involved in States affairs...

  • cynical||

    Good point, all conservatives believe in torture and unthinking deference to authority. And leftists never exhibit such qualities. Communism? Stalin? Cult of personality? Never heard of it.

    "Since virtually nobody is going to try and argue that 'law & order' isn't a primary tenet of conservatism, it's worth noting that social psychologists have numerous objections to the abuse of 'law & order' applications in society"

    Apparently you can't distinguish between the existence of something and its abuse. Sometimes a thing is so prone to abuse that its existence is too risky, but unles you're an anarchist, I doubt you would apply that to "law and order". Of course, not everyone interprets it the same way, but just because some bageldicker thinks it means sucking the cock of anyone who can point a gun and pin a piece of metal to their shirt doesn't mean that everyone uses the term in that sense.

  • Tony||

    What do Stalin and Communism have to do with liberalism?

  • cynical||

    "Leftism" is what I said, and "liberalism" in this context is just a euphemism for leftism anyway.

  • Brett L||

    Don't you think the absence of opposing political views *mighT* lead to groupthink and unanalyzed assumptions?

  • cynical||

    You're assume that's a bug instead of a feature. Let's look at progressive academia as an institution:

    * It makes money by selling "enlightenment"; multiple "ranks" are offered, each allegedly conferring a deeper level of knowledge.

    * It espouses a set of beliefs and values that are at odds with mainstream culture, but materially beneficial to the institution and its upper-ranking members.

    * It is incredibly hostile to dissent or criticism, from within or without.

    * It misapplies the language of science to nonscientific studies and practices to give its beliefs the appearance of legitimacy.

    * Its target audience is young adults placed in a situation where their old social ties (friends, family) are often disrupted, leading to an increase in isolation and alienation.

    * It ensures that many of these potential believers live on-site near higher-ranking members and subjects them to atmosphere of intense, unrelenting social pressure to conform to its values.

    * It deliberately attempts to cultivate the support of those with key positions in media, business, and government; both for the obvious political benefits and to use their endorsement to attempt to appear more legitimate in the eyes of a public that do not share and are often hostile to its beliefs.

    Wait, was I talking about the academia or Scientology?

  • Joe||

    Same with libraries and librarians- only not quite as blatant.

  • Random Dude||

    FTA: "If interested, see how liberal social science bias works when it comes to demonizing conservatives in my 2004 column, Pathologizing Conservatism."

    From your article Why Liberals and Atheists are More Intelligent.

    "On a related topic, some may be interested in my 2004 analysis of eariler [sic] research showing that conservatism is pathological."

    I'm sorry, but I don't exactly think you can bitch about other people "demonizing conservatives" when you have essentially adopted both a Hofstadterian pseudo-scientific analysis of conservatives as somehow psychologically unhinged, as well as a type of discriminatory scientism that sees them as biologically inferior.

  • Me||

    There are no conservative social psychologists for the same reason there are no creationist paleontologists.

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