Antisocial Science: Some Liberal Academics Don’t Want Conservatives in Their Herds

We all know those ivory towers lean so far to the left that it’s amazing they haven’t fallen over. A new study aims to show how liberal academics within the social sciences would deal with fellow conservatives.  Would they able to maintain their objectivity (such as it is when you’re dealing with social sciences)? The academics themselves admit, maybe not. Inside Higher Ed explains:

Just over 37 percent of those surveyed said that, given equally qualified candidates for a job, they would support the hiring of a liberal candidate over a conservative candidate. Smaller percentages agreed that a "conservative perspective" would negatively influence their odds of supporting a paper for inclusion in a journal or a proposal for a grant.

In an outcome that must be amusing to social scientists, the percentage of respondents who believed their colleagues would show bias against conservatives was around 10 to 15 percent higher than the number of respondents who said they themselves would show biases. The problem is always other people, isn't it?

The study was inspired by a quick audience poll by Jonathan Haidt at a gathering of social scientists:

At the 2011 meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Jonathan Haidt of the University of Virginia polled the audience of some 1,000 in a convention center ballroom to ask how many were liberals (the vast majority of hands went up), how many were centrists or libertarians (he counted a couple dozen or so), and how many were conservatives (three hands went up). In his talk, he said that the conference reflected "a statistically impossible lack of diversity,” in a country where 40 percent of Americans are conservative and only 20 percent are liberal. He said he worried about the discipline becoming a "tribal-moral community" in ways that hurt the field's credibility.

Haidt looked deeply into issues of the psychological underpinnings of political polarization in his book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided By Politics and Religion, and in Reason’s May cover story, which you can read here.

Back in June, a social science study purporting to show that children of gay parents were not as happy as children of straight parents caused a stir over its problematic methodology (I wrote about it here. Short summary: Biological children of married straight parents were compared to children who had gay parents, regardless of family makeup, which skews the comparison). The study was kind of crap, but as Robert VerBruggen and Douglas W Allen have noted over at the National Review, selection samples have been a problem period when it comes to trying to analyze gay parenting outcomes.

Nevertheless, Mark Regnerus has been subject to an inquiry and audit over his work to a degree I haven’t seen of studies that have come to the opposite conclusion.  Perhaps noticing the flaws in a social study with an alleged “conservative” outcome might prompt liberal scientists to start acknowledging the same problems with their own studies, but don’t hold your breath.

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  • SugarFree||

    Good thing "liberal" and "conservative" are concrete concepts cast in starkest black and white and there is no other stance anyone could ever possibly take.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Mani was a political scientist in addition to being a religious prophet.

  • ||

    Is there a difference?

  • BakedPenguin||

    The shoes. Prophets almost never wear wingtips.

  • Jennifer||

    What type of "conservative" are we talking about, though? There's a wide variety these days: conservatives who believe in "less government regulation and more personal liberty", conservatives who believe "let's shrink the government so it's small enough to fit inside a gay person's bedroom or woman's reproductive system, the better to regulate what goes on in there," conservatives who believe "science is a left-wing plot and the greatest evil in the 6,000-year history of planet Earth" ... I consider myself a conservative in the first sense of the word, but want nothing to do with the latter two groups.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    We're talking about whatever the liberal being surveyed considers to be conservative.

    I.e. anyone that disagrees with them about ANYTHING regardless of their actual stance on any issue.

  • Almanian 1||

    Come, come, Jennifer - the "not liberal" kind. That's all that matters when we're speaking of Tribal Matters®.

    Have you seen our research into how othering and bullying lead directly to the creation of new diseases we include in the DSM....?

  • Invisible Finger||

    I think the study basically allowed for the answerer to hang himself with his own ideology. Therefore, what you consider yourself isn't as important to the results as what the answerer of the question considers you to be.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: jennifer,

    I consider myself a conservative in the first sense of the word


    Social Scientist Liberal Nazi: "Then, no soup for you!!"

  • ||

    I consider myself a conservative in the first sense of the word, but want nothing to do with the latter two groups.

    Actually i would put you firmly in the "let's shrink the government so it's small enough to fit inside a gay person's bedroom or woman's reproductive system, the better to regulate what goes on in there," camp more then in the later camp.

    Your firmly support getting the government small enough to tell parents and students what they should be taught in public schools.

    Great you support keeping government away from gays...not so good that you want it children's heads.

  • Almanian 1||

    Oh, snap!!!

    *pulls up chair, sits down with bowl of popcorn*

  • Jennifer||

    Your [sic] firmly support getting the government small enough to tell parents and students what they should be taught in public schools.

    Yep. I also support government's right to interfere with the sanctity of the family through laws which make things like "beating your spouse" or "raping your child" an illegal, arrestable offense. So?

  • Randian||

    Because education and rape are definitely on the same level.

  • $park¥||

    They are both on the same "if you want to go there then we'll go there" level. JC seems to have a problem with the fact that Jennifer supports something the government does, not what that thing is.

  • Jennifer||

    JC seems to have a problem with the fact that Jennifer supports something the government does, not what that thing is.

    Exactly.

  • Randian||

    JC seems to have a problem with the fact that Jennifer supports something the government does, not what that thing is.

    No, I do not think so. Here, the thing that the government is involved in is inextricably linked to the fact that it is involved.

  • robc||

    Separation of school and state.

  • BC||

    There is absolutely no serious moral equivalence between homeschooling your kids and beating or raping them. Period.

    Pull your head out.

  • Jennifer||

    There is absolutely no serious moral equivalence between homeschooling your kids and beating or raping them

    Nor did I say there was.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    I hereby denounce the beating and raping of kids.

  • Zeb||

    Well, as long as public schools are owned and operated by the government, I'm not sure who else is going to tell parents and students what will be taught in public schools. It is OK to have an opinion on how institutions that you think should not exist should be operated. Saying that government should not dictate what is taught in public schools doesn't really even make sense. That's what public schools are.

  • robc||

    as long as public schools are owned and operated by the government

    Fundamental problem identified.

  • robc||

    I consider myself a conservative

    Really? We libertarians have pissed you off that much?

  • Jennifer||

    We libertarians have pissed you off that much?

    Libertarian in what sense of the word? It's become as near-meaningless as conservative or liberal. I've already mentioned three types of conservatives; "liberal," in practice, can mean anything from "supporter of civil liberties and individual rights" to "opposing individual rights in the name of some perceived greater good," I've seen "libertarian" used to mean anything from "yay, personal liberty" to "Equal rights for gays must be opposed" to "whaddaya mean, I don't have the legal right to beat my own wife?"

  • Citizen Nothing||

    And I can say that "up" means "down," but that doesn't mean that it does. As used around here, "libertarian" certainly doesn't mean those last two things, J.

  • Randian||

    "libertarian" used to mean anything from "yay, personal liberty" to "Equal rights for gays must be opposed" to "whaddaya mean, I don't have the legal right to beat my own wife?"

    Oh well, if somebody uses a term completely contrary to meaning, that must mean that term is meaningless.

  • $park¥||

    The problem, Randian, is that words actually do take on the meaning, even if it's wrong, that the majority of people use it to mean. And when enough people use a word the wrong way its meaning gets changed, or at least updated, by the people who publish the big word books.

  • Jennifer||

    I've quit calling myself a libertarian for the same reason I quit calling myself a feminist: because both words have been contaminated so that their mainstream use is entirely different from the original meaning. I say "I'm a feminist" to mean "men and women are legal and social equals," but quit applying the F-word to myself once I started catching shit from other self-described F-words who apparently believe "feminism" means "attractive women betray The Sisterhood" or "Ditto women who work in the sex industry" or even "Dworkin's right and men are scum." And -- although I intend to vote for Gary Johnson -- I no longer apply the libertarian label to myself either, because I'm sick of including caveats: No,NOT the sort of libertarian who supports the Ron Paul newsletters, NOT the sort of believes "hating the Democratic party" means you must hate the people the Dems claim they wish to help, not the sort who thinks Rush had a good point when he called Sandra Fluke a "prostitute" for thinking medical insurance should cover ovarian cysts ... and, increasingly, NOT like the quasi-Freeper libertarians who love to comment on Hit and Run.

  • Mickey Rat||

    "...not the sort who thinks Rush had a good point when he called Sandra Fluke a "prostitute" for thinking medical insurance should cover ovarian cysts..."

    Fluke's position is bit more than what insurance should cover, it is about she thinks it must cover, by force of law and is bit more expansive than physical maladies.

    Fluke wishes to use the government to impose her moral standards on people she does business with.

  • ||

    Even if the categories are completely disconnected from any literal definitions of the words "conservative" or "liberal", the survey is interesting as a study of self-identified group formation.

    Somehow "liberals" and "conservaitves" have settled on these labels to describe themselves and "other" the other. I find that a fascinating process in its own right.

  • Almanian 1||

    As a former studier of Teh Psychologeez, this made me lulz a little. Also, "the HELL you say??!"

    *shocked face*

  • ||

    You mean there is a connection between getting a degree in the social sciences, smugness, and being liberal? Say it aint's so.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    There aren't enough quotes in the world to put around the science in social science.

  • $park¥||

    Let's not forget, economics is a social science.

  • Brandybuck||

    Which proves the point...

  • The Hammer||

    At least there aren't enough quotes allowed by the squirrels...

  • ||

    So basically what you're saying is that "social scientists" are a bunch of biased quacks whose work is almost assuredly garbage, just based on the fact that they are so monolithic in their political views.

    We already knew that. And I don't give a shit whether they are TEAM BLUE or TEAM RED biased; their echo chamber, if they are that monolithic, will make all their work complete crap.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    But now we have scientific proof of it.

  • Almanian 1||

    What WG said - the science IS settled.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Where the hell does there money come from? Is it ALL from government?

  • Loki||

    Well who the hell else would waste money on that shit?

  • JW||

    social sciences

    Social whatises?

  • BakedPenguin||

    They misspelled "social seances". You know, where a group of profoundly misinformed people perform ritual acts in a vain attempt to glean knowledge from an invisible, unknowable source.

  • Old Mexican||

    He [Haidt] said he worried about the discipline becoming [???] a "tribal-moral community" in ways that hurt the field's credibility.


    "Becoming," mon cher?

  • John Thacker||

    The thing about the parenting study is that:

    1) I don't think it should have policy implications, because liberty trumps. (But people disagree).

    2) If you think that there's a lot of prejudice against gay people, and that prejudice hurts happiness, why wouldn't you expect this result? "Kids with gay parents are less happy" doesn't mean necessarily that gay parents are worse parents. It can mean that kids are assholes, and taunt people for having gay parents.

  • Almanian 1||

    Could also mean that gay couples tend to have/adopt kids that are more prone to being "unhappy".

    Who knows - big continuum of possibility.

  • Old Mexican||

    Back in June, a social science study purporting to show that children of gay parents were not as happy as children of straight parents caused a stir over its problematic methodology [...] Biological children of married straight parents were compared [???] to children who had gay parents, regardless of family makeup, which skews the comparison[...]


    Well, I am sure that the "objections" from other researchers are always flotsam surrounding a sea of irrelevancy, as it always happens with the "social" sciences; what I mean is they were totally oblivious to the absurdness of objectively measuring "happiness."

  • Almanian 1||

    Almost noted this in my response to J Thacker above.

    "What is happiness?" Depending how one defnes that, we might well get different results.

    Additionally, and, more to the point in my estimation, this is the kind of research topic that does go straight in the "does someone really give a fuck about this?" pile. Someone obviously does, but....come on.

  • Lord Humungus||

    You could give me billions of dollars, my own personal escort of beautiful women who pleasure me every night, and a small tropical country to run, but somehow I would still find a way to be unhappy.

  • Brett L||

    How hard is it to put one drop of water in this scotch? You keep drowning it. Give this to the monkeys and bring me a new one.

  • Doctor Whom||

    In an outcome that must be amusing to social scientists, the percentage of respondents who believed their colleagues would show bias against conservatives was around 10 to 15 percent higher than the number of respondents who said they themselves would show biases.

    Marketing researchers for car companies learned about that one in the fifties. You don't ask people what kind of car they would buy; you ask them what kind of car they think their neighbors would buy.

  • ||

    I'm not at all surprised. There are some liberals who have the attitude that conservatives can't be reasoned with. they actually use disease metaphors to describe them. As in, conservatives aren't just wrong, they are diseased people who are to be shunned and fought.

    Problem is that disease metaphors are just pure evil. That's the kind of shit the Nazis did to Jews and the Hutu's did to the Tutsi. Once you start thinking of and describing other people as sick, then you tap into primitive disgust mechanisms. It's the fastest, cheapest, easiest way to set up a group of people to be discriminated against.

  • sarcasmic||

  • ||

    Yeah, both sides do it, but liberals fancy themselves to be better than that. They're not.

  • ||

    Another point to bring up is that if you read people like Lakoff, as I know Reason is aware of, liberals are firmly convinced that they can change peoples minds by controlling the terms of debate. Hence, allowing "conservative" ideas to have a platform would be potentially dangerous. The whole goal is to cleanse the unclean ideas from the system- reframe the issue so that the conservative position seems nonsensical. When you're engaged in that kind of exercise you have to be constantly vigilant against someone injecting incorrect thoughts into your intellectual environment.

  • sarcasmic||

    Liberals base their arguments on fallacies and emotion.

    Rational thought is not welcome.

  • R C Dean||

    Lakoff seems to be suffering from two delusions:

    (1) That reality will conform to the accepted discourse. That, in short, if you can get everyone to say "2 + 2 = 5", then mathematics itself will have changed.

    (2) That the only way to keep progs on the reservation is to protect them from exposure to non-prog ideas, apparently conceding that prog ideas can't compete in the marketplace.

    OK, make that one delusion.

  • Voros McCracken||

    "Nevertheless, Mark Regnerus has been subject to an inquiry and audit over his work to a degree I haven’t seen of studies that have come to the opposite conclusion."

    This is well known phenomenon in psychology circles. People rightly point out the flaws and possible alternative interpretations in work they don't agree with, but far less regularly do they treat information with which they do agree with the same scrutiny. It is not a uniquely liberal trait though.

    I'll take the time to recommend one of my favorite books of all time, How We Know What Isn't So, by Gilovich.

  • Voros McCracken||

    I am a little bothered when people start bagging on Social Sciences for their lack of scientific rigor. Not that those people are wrong, there's a bunch of nonsense in the social sciences. The problem is that there's a bunch of nonsense in the hard sciences too.

    That's the way science really works: a bunch of folks do a bunch of studies on a bunch of things and come to a bunch of conclusions and then it's all ripped apart. 'Knowledge' is whatever is left over after the brawl ends.

  • sarcasmic||

    Nowadays "science" means pleasing the politicians who control the grant money by giving them "results" that provide an excuse, no, a mandate, to create new legislation and regulation.

    It's not about finding answers, it's about confirming predetermined conclusions.

  • Brett L||

    Except that the social sciences have the additional problem that you can't really run identical experiments to confirm data sets. Its hard to do the math of hard sciences on disparate data sets. No one can technically expect to replicate your results to 95% or better.

  • Loki||

    Perhaps noticing the flaws in a social study with an alleged “conservative” outcome might prompt liberal scientists to start acknowledging the same problems with their own studies, but don’t hold your breath.

    BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! That's a good one! They'd have to first have an ounce of self awareness to recognize any flaws in their own methodology. Also, this can't be said enough: social "sciences" are not true science. They're complete hokum, and 99.999999% of the time the "experiments" are designed to confirm the "scientists" preconcieved biases so that they can pat themselves on the back for having "THE RIGHT VIEWS". 100% self congratulatory bullshit.

  • fried wylie||

    Affirmative Action: Break Glass Only In The Event Of Racist Emergencies.

    (Definitely NOT to be used against the liberals who invented it only to save poor blacks from the injustices of employment prejudice.)

  • ||

    "Kids with gay parents are less happy" doesn't mean necessarily that gay parents are worse parents. It can mean that kids are assholes, and taunt people for having gay parents.

    Could be due to how "happy" is being defined or measured by the researchers. It could be due to lumping children of gay male couples together with gay female couples. It could be due to excluding children of straight divorced couples or straight unmarried couples. It could be due to a lot more gay couples adopting kids instead of having biological kids ... and so on.

    Shorter: this kind of study is almost sure to be meaningless in determining what causes what is defined as happiness.

  • ||

    Or for that matter, to be comparable, the study would need to compare the happiness level of straight UNMARRIED couples to unmarried gay couples to get a representative cross sample from states that prohibit gay marriage.

    Comparing children of straight married couples to gay unmarried couples might be measuring the result of marriage upon childhood happiness, not the effect of gay parents upon childhood happiness.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    how many were centrists or libertarians (he counted a couple dozen or so)

    Kind of a strange grouping there. Sort of like asking people if they prefer vanilla ice cream, chocolate, or "butter pecan or strawberry".

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