Social Science

Is Social Science Politically Biased?, Asks Michael Shermer in Scientific American

Surely as scientists, liberals are able to maintain their dispassionate objectivity



As the folks over at the Heterodox Academy point out, university faculty tilts left nowadays. Does this ideological conformity skew research, especially research in the social sciences? In the new issue of Scientific American, Michael Shermer, founder of The Skeptic magazine and author of The Moral Arc, takes up this question in his monthly column.

Shermer begins by citing 2014 survey data of undergraduate faculty that found that nearly 60 percent identified as far left or liberal whereas only about 14 percent confessed to leaning far right or conservative. As Heterodox Academy points out, most of the conservative faculty tends to cluster in the engineering and professional schools and estimate the percent conservative for the major humanities and social science departments is closer to 5 percent. But surely as scientists, liberals are able to maintain their dispassionate objectivity when investigating social, political, and economic phenomena, right?

Not so much. Shermer cogently argues that this political assymetry in the academy is corrupting social science. Shermer provides a nice contrast of how political perspectives might change how data is characterized:

It begins with what subjects are studied and the descriptive language employed. Consider a 2003 paper by social psychologist John Jost, now at New York University, and his colleagues, entitled "Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition." Conservatives are described as having "uncertainty avoidance," "needs for order, structure, and closure," as well as "dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity," as if these constitute a mental disease that leads to "resistance to change" and "endorsement of inequality." Yet one could just as easily characterize liberals as suffering from a host of equally malfunctioning cognitive states: a lack of moral compass that leads to an inability to make clear ethical choices, a pathological fear of clarity that leads to indecisiveness, a naive belief that all people are equally talented, and a blind adherence in the teeth of contradictory evidence from behavior genetics that culture and environment exclusively determine one's lot in life.

He also cites a 2015 study, "Political Diversity Will Improve Social Psychological Science," by University of Arizona psychologist (and Heterodox Academy contributor) Jose Duarte and his colleagues that examined, among many others, a study purporting to investigate the phenomenon of "right-wing authoritarianism." As Shermer reports Duarte's study …

…discusses a paper in which subjects scoring high in "right-wing authoritarianism" were found to be "more likely to go along with the unethical decisions of leaders." Example: "not formally taking a female colleague's side in her sexual harassment complaint against her subordinate (given little information about the case)." Maybe what this finding really means is that conservatives believe in examining evidence first, instead of prejudging by gender. Call it "left-wing authoritarianism."

The whole Shermer column is well worth your attention.

Would universities benefit from more faculty with a libertarian bent? As I have noted elsewhere, psychological researchers have …

…found that libertarians are as open to new experiences as liberals and outscore both liberals and conservatives when it comes to a need for cognition. The researchers explain that people who score high on need for cognition are more likely to form their attitudes by paying close attention to relevant arguments, whereas people with low need for cognition are more likely to rely on peripheral cues, such as how attractive or credible a speaker is. Libertarians certainly have biases and values, but they attend more closely to evidence and logical argument when issues arise. I translate this to mean that libertarians are just a bit more amenable than either liberals or conservatives to having their minds changed by new evidence.

You can take the right-wing authoritarian scale test here. FWIW, my score was: 0. Progressive heads explode.

NEXT: Trump Goes Off on Loser Pope Who Called Him Un-Christian

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  1. You know Ron, there’s really a much better Professor Cat image. And it’s always topical.

    1. Wow, that’s awesome. Credit to you?

      1. And just as with the neutrinos, your mom doesn’t feel a thing.

        1. *Golf clap*

    2. That is awesome

  2. …found that libertarians are as open to new experiences as liberals and outscore both liberals and conservatives when it comes to a need for cognition.

    But the “open to new experiences” metric is itself biased. Per Duarte, the definition of this term (and presumably others) is

    obviously grounded in ? and biased in favor of ? academia. This core personality trait of “openness” is measuring intellectualism and urban sophistication. …

    How are people in rural communities going to show up on this scale? How about people in developing countries? How would they express their openness to experience? Where do we give them a voice? They don’t have opera houses, symphonies, and gallery openings with which to express their “sophistication” in art, music, and literature. They’re structurally excluded and marginalized here. The items are not situated at the level of analysis necessary for a valid underlying human personality construct that is commensurable across cultures and backgrounds. We’re not even speaking their language. I guarantee that many people in rural communities would be embarrassed to say that they are “ingenious” or “sophisticated”. It would be unseemly to them, narcissistic and snobby.

    1. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely favor structurally excluding people who don’t like opera. Obviously.

      1. I absolutely favor structurally excluding people who don’t like opera.

        Meh, some fat chick stabs a guy, and instead of bleeding, he sings.

        1. …instead of bleeding, he sings.

          At that point my ears usually start bleeding, so it’s a wash, really.

      2. Just for that statement, I’m gonna have have to order you to listen to 12 hours of Wagner. Or 12 hours of drunk Germans yelling at each other. Same thing.

        1. You know who else was German and yelling?

          1. Colonel Klink?

          2. The Bitch of Buchenwald?

          3. Attendees of the Bier Hall Putsch?

        2. I don’t know if I’d want to do 12 hours of Wagner in one sitting. But I could enjoy the Ring Cycle over a week or so.

        3. Wagner – pronounced [ Wag ner ]

          1. Vak-ner?

            How do you phonetically spell german words in English?

      3. You like Opera? I would have never guessed. Good for you.

        1. Oh hell yes.

          1. My wife and I go every year. Some of it I have really grown to like. Some I hate, but that is true of every form of art.

            1. I wasn’t a big fan of Der Rosenkavaliar the other night myself. It happens, unfortunately.

              1. Saw Rusalka last week. I’m might embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know one of my favorite composers (Dvorak) basically wrote an adult operatic version of The Little Mermaid.

                It was awesome btw.

    2. Just how open to mudding and cow-tipping are the opera set?If someone invited them along to tong oysters or hunt squirrels, would they be open to those ezperiwnces?

    3. It seems that all these moronic studies tend to show is the massive projection engaged in by their “researchers”. Every time I see the way any of these studies describe the other TEAM, it always reads as a picture-perfect description of the people making the study.

      The more of a partisan fuckwad someone is, it seems the more projection they engage in as they try and cast all their own intensely negative personality traits on the hated other. Pathetic ego defense for the win!

      Also, opera is for losers. Passacaglia is where it’s at.

      1. You can’t fool me. I know you listen to Nabucco every night while you masturbate. It’s why we get along so well.

        1. Verdi makes me tumescent! There’s nothing wrong with that! You really are the worst!

          (slams bedroom door, cranks up Scritti Politti)

          1. I understand that you’re sexually obligated to follow in Garibaldi’s footsteps.

            1. That I become a sexual Italian nationalist? But then I could only bang Italian chicks! Like your mom!

      2. JsN: FWIW I didn’t used to be an opera-loving, balletomane cosmotarian sophisticate. 😉

      3. Also, opera is for losers.

        This a million times over.

        1. Sort of OT, but i just had to share: I just got tix for my 14 yo son and I for Amon Amarth in May. Along with the VIP pkg. so we will meet the band.

          1. You are like the best dad, ever.

          1. I always favored the Wagnerian.

            “Oh Bwoomhilda, youw so wuvwy.”
            “Yes I know it, I can’t help it.”

            Better opera, sorry for the Spanish dubbing.

            1. I thought it was “kill the wab-bit…”

    4. It’s not that hard. You give opera goers in developed countries a couple of buckets of paint, and people in developing countries an opera and a couple of buckets of paint. If the developed opera goers don’t shower each other with paint, they’re not open to new experiences. If the undeveloped people do stuff with the paint or opera, they’re open to new experience.

  3. There has been a cult of science emerge over the last decade or so between the fawning over Neil Degrasse Tyson and sites like “I Fucking Love Science” that have taken on a leftist bent much the way that social cons slowly absorbed the Tea Party message.

    The science cult started out as a group of people who truly did (still do?) believe that science is non-political but eventually was absorbed by those who wanted to make fun of religion, in the same way that the Tea Party started out as a “don’t tread on me”/small government movement to an evangelical revival.

    People suck, is what I’m saying, and they suck worse in groups.

      1. Why the “1x”?

    1. Scientific American has gone full-on political. And Shermer is often so- this is a surprise, coming from him.

      1. If you want to weep for the intellectual state of your country’s magazine readership compare an issue of Scientific American from 1965 to one from this yesr.

    2. as maddox said, you don’t “fucking love science”, what you love is pictures


      1. +1.

        I almost posted that link.

    3. I call this new religion Progressive Scientism where they worship anything that supports their preconcieved left wing ideals and gives them the vaguest appearance of scientific rigor

      1. It’s not new. This is a retread of where we were 100 years ago. We are repeating a lot of the Progressive Era debates, this time as a farce.

  4. The left is pushing their political agenda under the guise of “science?”

    I’m shocked! Shocked I tell you! Shocked!

    1. Your winnings sir.

  5. Pretty much. There’s tons of social science thats absolute BS, or is used for BS purposes.

    I often get the “science says libertarians don’t have empathy.”

    And then they cite some study by Jonathan Haidt or someone.

    And then when you read how we’re going about measuring empathy, we get:

    Based on an intuitionist view of moral judgment…

    What’s an intuiontist view of moral judgement?

    In moral psychology, social intuitionism is a model that proposes that moral positions and judgments are: (1) primarily intuitive (“intuitions come first”), (2) rationalized, justified, or otherwise explained after the fact, (3) taken mainly to influence other people, and are (4) often influenced and sometimes changed by discussing such positions with others.

    What is empathy?

    the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

    So, libertarians are psychopaths lacking empathy because they do too much rational thinking about their moral judgements. They should be like good liberals, who make decisions primarily off of emotions, and then use rationality to justify their emotional decision ex post facto. And if you don’t see that, you just don’t get how people feel. You monster.

    1. Yes. I can be empathetic to the homeless guy and think the solution isn’t foe the State to hand him money.

      1. Yes. I can be empathetic to the homeless guy and think the solution isn’t foe the State to hand him stolen money.

    2. I often notice liberals don’t understand what empathy is, too. They basically think empathy is unquestioning SYMPATHY. In other words, empathy means believing a certain group can do no wrong and that anything bad which happens to them is not their fault.

      What empathy actually means is understanding another person’s position. I can be empathetic by understanding where you’re coming from, and still think you’re an unsympathetic asshole.

      Plus, a lot of the time someone will have feelings that are moronic and my lack of understanding of those moronic feelings is proof I’m not an idiot, not proof that I’m unfeeling.

    3. There’s more to it than that. Liberals understand that force must be initiated in order to cure things like inequality. This propensity for state-sanctioned violence is the height of empathy and altruism. Libertarians are horrible monsters because they oppose government agents forcefully redistributing wealth, and killing anyone who gets in their way. If you don’t want to kill those who disagrees with you, then you have no empathy. You’re a monster.

    4. That doesn’t follow at all. Haidt’s framework assumes that libertarians do in fact start with intuitions, then rationalize them after the fact; his work assumes that framework for everyone. The question of how they define empathy is entirely separate.

      1. Do you mean rationally evaluate, or – negative connotation – bend things to make their preference appear rational?

        1. It seems to me that’s in the eye of the beholder. I’m clearly not as sour on this as Brian.

    5. There are two decision processing centers in the brain.

      One is designed for quick reactions with limited analysis. Its purpose is for survival. You can’t analyze every possibility when in immediate danger. This center is the source of instincts and emotions.

      A second processing center provides deep analysis capabilities. It allows complex problem solving.

      I recall studies showing standard behavior is to use the long processing center to justify the response of the short processing center.

      Both centers can be trained to provide better results. That requires recognition of the deficiencies and discipline to correct them.

  6. Most people are authoritarians when it comes to authorities they approve of. Most people don’t listen to evidence that contradicts their current beliefs.

    Any time someone tries to tell you one side of the political aisle is worse than the other in this regard, they’re probably lying.

    1. They aren’t lying if they sincerely believe that to be true.

      1. You shouldn’t listen to anything Irish tells you , because… you know… the racist.

        1. Oh, I know. He probably hates me because I’m from black Irish stock.

          1. “I’m from black Irish stock”

            Is that any good for making Potato soup?

  7. that test was fucking stupid.

    1. Yes it was. Talk about loaded questions.

      1. I too scored a zero because I read the first couple of questions and closed out the tab. I would argue I’m probably less of an authoritarian than Ron because I didn’t feel the need to conform enough to take the test.

        1. IH: Not conformity; just dogged stick-to-itiveness.

          1. That doesn’t sound like you at all.

          2. That test was BS and you know it. “Society” =/= “government”

            1. And the grammar/spelling errors made me think a 4th grader made that quiz (along with, y’know, the idiotic loaded questions).

  8. Other than economics, does anyone really care about social sciences?

    1. Yes. Social science guides social planners in government as they shape society into a better place. Through the implementation of policies rooted in science, they can mold human beings like clay. If you disagree then you are anti-science, and as we all know, anyone who is against science needs to be taken out back and shot.

      1. Mold Mould

        Unless you mean like, “to make humans hairy and pungent” like clay. But maybe the slip was intentional. Activates tinfoil. My god. Liberalism is a sentient life form that is invisible to the naked eye!

        Admittedly English v. English-English distinction, but you drift my catch.

        1. You’re kind of a dick.

          1. Girls love that. Well some girls.

  9. Is social science politically biased?

    Does the Pope shit on freedom?

    1. I thought he shat upon bears?

      1. Only on the Sabbath. Which of course is on Saturday.

  10. You don’t arrive at a consensus by listening to a bunch of obnoxious quibbling.

  11. tilts left nowadays

    Nowadays. Define “nowadays”.

    1. Agreed.

      Scientism traces back to Hayek and before and the mathematical tools used to create the social sciences (Statistics) were created and developed by people of obviously biased motivations to ‘observe’ and ‘define’ systems that were beyond conventional observation. A big part of the problem with (e.g.) the FDA and medicine lies in the fact that statistics are very poor tools at reconciling data that is outlying in both degree and kind.

  12. It was my understanding that science was definitely politically biased – science is based on the idea that there are knowable objective truths with a one-to-one correspondence to reality, one right answer to a problem, just like all the other right-wing authoritarian extremist institutions of the patriarchy which deny there are a multitude of subjective truths and realities any one of which are just as valid as any other. Who are you to oppress me with your “scientific method” that insists that there’s only one way to know the truth of science and that that way is the “scientific method”? Rather convenient that your insistence on the truthfullness of your truth supports the status quo which supports the white male cisgendered culture, eh? Well, I reject your so-called science and accept the truthfullness of what I feel to be true!

    1. Welp, I’m going to use that for my grievance studies masters thesis.


  13. It was my understanding that science was definitely politically biased – science is based on the idea that there are knowable objective truths with a one-to-one correspondence to reality


    one right answer to a problem


  14. You can take the right-wing authoritarian scale test here.

    Some of the questions make it hard to take the test seriously.

    1. the bias with which it was written is staggering. here are the two ways almost every question read:
      1. are you an asshole, or do you disagree with this
      2 do you agree with this, or are you an asshole

      number 13 especially caught my attention…. abortion, animal rights, and abolishing prayer are seen as part of a single question. not even possible someone could be for animal rights, and against abortion. (because who doesn’t want to kill babies while trying to eat more vegan… because cow lives matter too) not even possible someone could oppose abortion, and still think prayer in school is not right. and question is if you must “admire” those who fought for those things…. not possible you could think school prayer is bad (esp. in a state run school), but those who fought it were jerks fighting for a relatively minor cause.

    2. Only some?

  15. Did anyone else notice that the Michael Shermer article was written in the future? We are reading future articles now!

    I guess time really is “…more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly… time-y wimey… stuff.”

    1. Started well, that sentence.

  16. The thing that aggravates me about this is that it’s 100% a consequence of capitalism and free market principles. The *only* way to “correct” it would be if universities started instituting ideological quotas.

    Fact is, conservatives and libertarians just aren’t tall that *interested* in academic research or teaching. Until conservatives and libertarians do something about that they’ll just have to accept that most non-religious universities are gonna have a liberal bent to them.

    And hey, if you really need to get your conservative on (sorry libertarians, you’re probably out of luck), there’s always Brigham Young and Liberty.

    1. Oh yeah, when I think of the educational complex, the first thing I think of is how it is 100% the product of the free market. No government intervention there at all.

    2. libertarians just aren’t tall that *interested* in academic research or teaching.

      What? Look at the fellows of any libertarian think-tank, 90 percent of them are affiliated with some academic institution, if not tenure-tracked professors.

      1. I will freely concede that I’m not all that interested in working at an academic department, but that’s largely because I’ve seen how they operate behind closed doors.

      2. I would submit that there aren’t a lot of libertarian think-tanks compared to progressive ones.

          1. Only one page? Pikers. I think just the progressive ones that sponsor NPR would probably require a whole searchable website. And that list contains foreign libertarian think tanks. I am have a suspishun.

              1. Are you suggesting that 90% of the commentariat here are members of a libertarian think tank?

                1. Wouldn’t that necessarily mean that Tulpa is a member of a libertarian think tank, since it is known that most of us are Tulpa?

                2. You mean HyR isn’t a think tank?!

                  *wanders off, sadly shaking head*

                  1. Well it’s a tank alright, not sure how much thinkin’ is goin’ on.

                  2. Actually I’d probably call Hit&Run; more of a ‘vat’.

      3. So you’re saying there just aren’t that many libertarians to start with. Yeah, really making the case that libertarian academics are the victim of bias in the workforce.

    3. Not 100% correct. Review this:…..tisan.html

      Amusingly, you have the people who despise unequal outcomes elsewhere (women, minorities) resort to “it’s self-selection” and “they’re simply stupid” — under massively greater under-representation, and in the field that is supposed to establish truth (note the implications for power).

      1. Take a look at Larry Summers’s speech – – and a take on the controversy:

      2. “unequal outcomes” are a warning flag, but they aren’t a conviction. They should be taken as a sign to investigate a situation to see if there is something to it, or if it’s an ethical outcome.

        So women and minorities? We can point to all sorts of places in the pipeline where they leak out, leading to the unequal outcomes we observe. But no one can point to comparable points in the pipeline that conservatives or libertarians would leak out. All they point to is the outcome, but can’t find any underlying ethical lapses that would make a warning flag into a problem.

        That said, I did just remember one time I’ve heard someone say that conservatives shouldn’t go to college. It was Rick Santorum in the 2012 campaign season.

    4. Get rid of student loans, Pell grants, Title VI, Title IX, and the Department of Education, and then let’s see how the ideological makeup shakes out in 10 or 20 years.

      Even so, it’s absurd to say that e.g. the sociology department’s ideological biases are a reflection of the free market, when that major is basically just a funnel into government or government-sponsored “nonprofit” social work jobs.

      1. Per your own views, why would you *expect* conservatives and libertarians to go into the social sciences in comparable numbers to liberals?

    5. “Fact is, blacks and Hispanics just aren’t all that *interested* in academic research or teaching. These are simple people…”- Academic Wisdom, Circa 1935

      We have no IDEA how many conservatives or libertarians interested in academic research. I seriously thought about going History PhD but didn’t, because I didn’t feel like dealing with the politics of a faculty lounge (the loss of tenured positions made this decision look smart). And I’m sure I’m not the only one who would love to pursue the knowledge… but don’t feel like having to work twice as hard or more to get even a tenth of the acceptance I would if I were just like, “Obama is so perfect and awesome and Republicans are so mean and one side is clearly better than the other!”

      1. I’m not sure that history professors are largely liberal. History tends to teach reality. Most of my history professors did not seem to have a noticeable bias, as opposed to say, poli-sci professors.

      2. Even in 1935 anyone interested in doing so could point as the social and structural barriers keeping minorities away from academia. Other then “people like me wouldn’t like it there”, do you have any actual barriers to point to?

    6. Except, we could stop the government funded gravy train that feeds them, both by ending funding for social sciences research and by ending federal aid for college students (or at least only providing it to majors that will make the student employable when they graduate)

  17. Ok, yeah, the deeper I go into this quiz, I just can’t take it seriously.

  18. Another reason that test is moronic is just as a result of the wording used. For example:

    “Our country desperately needs a mighty leader who will do what has to be done to destroy the radical new ways and sinfulness that are ruining us.”

    This terminology is right-wing terminology. A left-winger might agree with the IDEAS behind this, but they’d never agree to the terminology used, particularly the negative usage of ‘radical’ and ‘sinfulness.’

    I bet I could get a liberal to agree with the ideas behind this if I phrased it in a way more palatable to leftists.

    1. Holy God, this is stupid.

      “It is always better to trust the judgement of the proper authorities in government and religion than to listen to the noisy rable-rousers in our society who are trying to create doubt in people’s minds.”

      So many problems.

      1. It is always better to trust the judgement of the proper authorities in government and religion science than to listen to the noisy rable-rousers in our society who are trying to create doubt in people’s minds.

      2. Did the really misspell “rabble”?

        1. Yes, it’s a quiz for a fucking dating site.


          1. It’s not a quiz for a dating site, it’s a quiz that was reposted on OK cupid. They copied the real personality test over and somehow managed to misspell a shitload of words in the transfer.

            1. Why did it keep asking me if I was single and what my sexual orientation was when I clicked Finish? (I’m not going back to investigate for myself)

            2. NVM, I realized what you just said. Why didn’t Ron link to the original bad quiz, instead of the new bad one?

              1. He’s cruising for dates?

        2. “Did the really misspell “rabble”?”

          They misspelled “noisy” as “noisty” too, but I corrected that one because it was annoying me.

    2. Of course. The whole thing was completely focused on the idea that authoritarian seemingly only has to do with issues like abortion and women’s rights.

    3. I got through about 8 questions before I gave up on it. I can’t answer questions that are phrased by someone that stupid.

    4. “Our country desperately needs a gifted organizer who will do what is needed to overcome the regressive and privileged powers that are ruining us.”

      That should do it.

    5. Our country desperately needs a mighty leader who will do what has to be done to destroy the radical new ways and sinfulness that are ruining us.

      Rephrase to:

      Our country desperately needs a mighty leader who will do what has to be done to destroy the reactionary old ways and selfishness that are ruining us.

      And leftist heads will explode.

    6. I bet I could get a liberal to agree with the ideas behind this if I phrased it in a way more palatable to leftists.

      I bet I could get a liberal to agree with fascism if I simply left out the words “fascism” and “corporatism”.

  19. Hacks like Shermer are a big part of the problem. He and his pals helped corrupt scientific inquiry, now he’s going to complain about it?

  20. Michael Shermer? No one cares what that rapist says!

  21. Ironically: Lee Jussim, Stereotype Accuracy is One of the Largest and Most Replicable Effects in All of Social Psychology, 2016 –

    1. And as for personality types, rationality and belief: “Brazen sexism is pushing women out of america’s atheism movement. ” – – Note the parallels between classical liberalism and atheism (incl. person v. thing orientation/agreeableness/empathy, tender-mindedness, neuroticism, charges of sexism, etc.); also consider sex differences in religiosity –

      1. Sevens,

        I have to admit that I found that quartz article you linked to quite impressive…. The entire thing consisted of question begging. I have a feeling that the author’s teachers must have really let her down because I got the sense she thought she was writing a powerfully persuasive article rather than something that screamed “I don’t know how to construct a rational argument”. I had a couple of English teachers who via scathing critiques and harshly low grades taught me that I needed to up my game. I suspect her teachers failed her and told her she was doing a good job when she turned in shit that sucked.

        1. That’s only because you’re a sexist male who doesn’t understand strong female writing.

    2. I can only imagine the exploding heads over that claim.

      1. The problem with stereotypes is of course that they are not always true. Somehow that truism got turned into them having to be always untrue or never based in reality.

  22. That test was almost as bad as the Hartman Value Profile, pseudo-science now used by HR departments everywhere.

  23. There is NO SCIENCE in social science.

    1. I thought there was a general rule somewhere that if your field of study had the word ‘science’ in it, it probably wasn’t.

      There are exceptions, of course.

      1. Computer science is more of an art than science. And a black art at that.

        1. At the higher end it has a scientific element. Especially when the line gets blurred between “coding” and actually designing computers and hardware, which in these days encompasses Material Science.

        2. Hey, I only use void pointers when I’m either (A) not given appropriate time or (B) not given enough permission to refactor code.


    3. Does Economics count?

      Not Keynesian, but Austrian, where we use logic rather than blind faith in government…

  24. The recent study on pull request at GitHub (“Gender Bias in Open Source”) is a perfect example of this. The study found that code by females is accepted MORE often overall than male code, and yet the final paragraph states, “While our big data study does not definitely prove that differences between gendered interactions are caused by bias among individuals, the trends observed in this paper are troubling.” What?!

    The only case where womens code was accepted less often was when the women was an “outsider”, and then it was only accepted about 1% less frequently (62.6% vs. 63.5%). This should be hailed as proof that not all coders are misogynist trolls. And yet EVERY SINGLE news agency that reported on this implied this study proves rampant gender discrimination. Unbelievable.

    View the paper here:

    1. Everyone knows guys are more likely to accept code by a female so they won’t appear code gay.

      1. We’re desperately trying to get women into our midst.

        1. Not entirely agreeing with “into”.

    2. How do they claim that proves discrimination? Women do better than men, right?

      1. I read the study? women did better than men on nearly every metric (male contributions for TXT, XML, MD, and PODSPEC file types out of 20 file types were accepted more than female contributions) until they got to outsiders.

        Here’s how the study’s authors describe it:

        For outsiders, we see evidence for gender bias: women’s acceptance rates are 71.8% when they use gender neutral profiles, but drop to 62.5% when their gender is identifiable. There is a similar drop for men, but the effect is not as strong. Women have a higher acceptance rate of pull requests overall (as we reported earlier), but when they’re outsiders and their gender is identifiable, they have a lower acceptance rate than men.

        They don’t give the rates for men, but based on the charts, I’m guessing male gender-neutral profiles have a 67.6% acceptance rate (the top of the 5% confidence interval is on the 70% line) and male gender-identifiable profiles have a 65% acceptance rate (the male gender-identifiable acceptance rate appears to line up with with the top of the female gender-identifiable confidence interval).

        So, it’s because when female outsiders use a gender-neutral profile, their code is more likely to be accepted while female outsiders who use a female gender-identifiable profile are less likely to be accepted.

        I should also note that users with a gender-neutral profile are more likely to have their code accepted than those that use a gender-identifiable profile.

        1. Here’s how they identified gender-neutral vs gender-identifiable profiles:

          We define a gender-neutral profile as one where a gender cannot be readily inferred from their profile. Figure 1 gives an example of a gender-neutral GitHub user, “akofink”, who uses an identical, an automatically generated graphic, and does not have a gendered name that is apparent from the login name. Likewise, we define a gendered profile as one where the gender can be readily inferred from the photo or the name. Figure 1 also gives an example of a gendered profile; the profile of “JustinAMiddleton” is gendered because it uses a login name (Justin) commonly associated with men, and because the picture depicts a person with masculine features (e.g., pronounced brow ridge (19)). Clicking on a user’s name in pull requests reveals their profile, which may contain more information such as a user-selected display name (like “Justin Middleton”).

    3. And yet EVERY SINGLE news agency that reported on this implied this study proves rampant gender discrimination.

      That is the same conclusion the paper came to:

      In closing, as anecdotes about gender bias persist, it’s imperative that we use big data to better understand the interaction between genders. While our big data study does not definitely prove that differences between gendered interactions are caused by bias among individuals, the trends observed in this paper are troubling. The frequent refrain that open source is a pure meritocracy must be reexamined.

      1. I already critiqued that nonsensical study in the AM links, but I want to add a new criticism:

        3 million pull requests is not “big data”.

      2. I love the wording. “While the data doesn’t show it”. Then back to the narrative…:

    4. I’m not reading the full 25 pages, but from the abstract:

      “Surprisingly, our results show that women’s contributions tend to be accepted more often than men’s. However, when a woman’s gender is identifiable, they are rejected more often.”

      Is that a dishonest summary?

      1. Somewhat.

        It’s false for insiders and true for outsiders.

  25. And it’s these racists who will have you believe diversity means skin color. Real diversity would have people from different beliefs, religious, political, cultural. But that would be challenging, nah, let’s just look at superficial differences.

    1. Hey they’re progressives what the fuck do you expect?

  26. Aren’t journalists overwhelmingly liberal as well? Are sites like politifact reliable?

    1. Does the pope shit in the woods?

      1. I thought it was “Does a Bear shit on the Pope?”

    2. Are sites like politifact reliable?

      Funny thing? I was reading earlier this week about politifact fact checking Team Blue and Team Red statements? even though both the D’s and R’s used OMB’s data and analysis, the Team Blue write up would say, “Although this is the OMB’s worse case scenario, because Democrat used “up to”, we’re rating this as true.” while the Team Red write up would say, “Although the Republican used “up to”, since this is the OMB’s worse case scenario and not the likely case, we’re rating it as a false.”.

  27. Aren’t journalists overwhelmingly liberal as well? Are sites like politifact reliable?

    1. Yes, but we’ve been assured repeatedly that this:

      1. Has no effect on anything.
      2. Since a journalist’s job is to get to the truth, that by definition is agitating evil conservatives, because conservatives hate the truth, so of course journalism will seem ‘liberal’.

  28. Duarte et al. find similar distortive language across the social sciences, where, for instance, certain words are used to suggest pernicious motives when confronting contradictory evidence?”deny,” “legitimize,” “rationalize,” “justify,” “defend,” “trivialize”?with conservatives as examples, as if liberals are always objective and rational.

    And I hope you aren’t surprised by the realization, Mr. Shermer, that left-wing academics (mostly Marxian) are Manichean in their worldview. Just sayin’.

    The authors’ solution to the political bias problem is right out of the liberal playbook: diversity. Not just ethnic, race and gender but viewpoint diversity.

    Just as long as the diverse crowd has the right flavor of viewpoint, then we welcome diversity. / Left-wing academics.

  29. Academic bias is as much social signalling as it is intellectual incest. Based upon current nomenclature, there’s no way academics are going to identify themselves as conservatives and risk the backlash of their peers. “Conservative” equates with ALL things bad associated the right: Homophobic, anti-intellectual, insular and racist. And when your peer group all holds the same views, this will generally swing your views. Especially if your personality type seeks consensus, which most do.

    1. as it is intellectual incest.

      Go on…

    2. The greatest trick the left pulled was to disguise their own racism and project it onto other people. For every racist redneck, there’s an “intellectual, tolerant, open-minded” liberal who thinks “urban residents” shouldn’t be trusted with guns.

  30. Shermer begins by citing 2014 survey data of undergraduate faculty that found that nearly 60 percent identified as far left or liberal whereas only about 14 percent confessed to leaning far right or conservative.

    I’m having a hard time finding this survey. Can anyone point me to the results? I don’t trust shit unless I see a Cohen’s d, at least.

    1. Do you want the 2014 survey data, or will you accept other studies?

      1. I’m interested in the methodology and analysis, so yes, the horse’s mouth, please.

        1. methodology and analysis

          I’d imagine there was a quizlet on OKCupid.

        2. so yes, the horse’s mouth, please

          Wanna rephrase that? I saw the horse video you posted in the A.M. Links…

  31. Does this ideological conformity skew research, especially research in the social sciences?

    If you have to ask the question despite the fact that the term science implies a systematic and organized approach to learning or discovering truth, then you know the question answers itself.

    By the way, social science is science. The field of study of all social sciences is acting man – humans. The problem begins when people forget that science implies a systematic and organized approach to learn or discover truth rather than a process of confirmation of their own opinions.

    The bigger problem to how the social scientists approach the science is in their assumption that empiricism is the only possible approach to arrive at truth, but empirical evidence ends up becoming simply historical facts because humans – the field of study – are creatures of will. Empiricism provides evidence to infer patterns when the things you observe behave the same way always. Humans DON’T. There is the reason why social sciences is so infused with the biases of the researchers – because of the fact that their empirical data cannot be replicated and rather than concluding that there’s something wrong with their methodology, they simply blame the subjects for not behaving like they want them to (!) Thus the constant attacks against those pesky conservatives.

    1. You see the same pattern occurring in economics when Neo-classic economists see their carefully-crafted models become irrelevant. Rather than concluding that their methodology is wrong for the subject they chose to study, they conclude the Market fails(!).

    2. Thank you for bringing the Hayek.

  32. OT: Surprise, surprise, The Economist wants MOAR SPINDING!!!$#!#

    This was the only paragraph that didn’t make me gag, though of course The Economist lists it near the bottom:

    Deregulation is another priority?and no less potent for being familiar. The Council of Economic Advisors says that the share of America’s workforce covered by state-licensing laws has risen to 25%, from 5% in the 1950s. Much of this red tape is unnecessary. Zoning laws are a barrier to new infrastructure. Tax codes remain Byzantine and stuffed with carve-outs that shelter the income of the better-off, who tend to save more.

    1. Tax codes remain Byzantine and stuffed with carve-outs that shelter the income of the better-off, who tend to save more

      You didn’t gag on this sentence? Also, I’m pretty sure the tax codes are not actually inherited from the Byzantines (byzantine, as in overly complicated, is not capitalized).

      Somehow, the taxes have been carved out to favor “the income of the better-off” but yet the highest income earners still pay the lion’s share of taxes and government revenue from income taxes still trends upward.

      1. Oh yes, that last sentence is crap.

        -1 skim reading skills

      2. It seems so out of place compared to the rest of the paragraph, doesn’t it? However, it certainly captures the anti-saving theme of whole article.

        1. True. It basically says “much of this red tape is unnecessarily holding the economy back; for example, the tax codes let people keep too much of their own money”.

          If the byzantine nature of the tax code is the problem, then it’s not illustrated by pointing out how some people can navigate it more effectively than others.

      3. As a Byzantine Christian, I am offended.

        1. We are not “excessively complicated” nor are we “characterized by deviousness or underhanded procedures”.

    2. Zoning laws are a barrier to new infrastructure.

      I’ve just sued a developer planning to build a disproportionally tall building in my backyard.

      Tax codes remain Byzantine and stuffed with carve-outs that shelter the income of the better-off

      Keep your hands off my carve-outs and deductions, you can get rid of those I don’t need.

  33. “needs for order, structure, and closure,” It thought that was a personality prerequisite for being a scientist of any type .

  34. Is Social Science Politically Biased?

    The better question is “Is social science really science?”

    The answer: No.

    1. It resembles science in some of its methods but, you’re right, it’s pseudo-science. That’s not to say none of it has merit but it has to be taken with a huge grain of salt.

    2. That was my firat thought as well

  35. As a proud double major in psychology and sociology (I know, I know) I quickly learned to keep my mouth fucking shut. The only people they hate more than conservatives are libertarians.

    It’s anecdotal but, yes, I have seen research tainted and ideas for research shot down due to political bias. People quickly learn what’s out of bounds and don’t even bother to pursue it.

    1. That’s because liberals see libertarians as evil liberals ? people who hold liberal beliefs but choose to pursue evil ends.

  36. My roomate’s sister makes $56 an hour on the internet . She has been without work for 4 months but last month her pay was $16168 just working on the internet for a few hours. linked here……ed……..

    Clik this link in Your Browser……..

  37. Any group of people that would utter the phrase “the science is settled” clearly know nothing about science.

  38. Conservatives are described as having “uncertainty avoidance,” “needs for order, structure, and closure,” as well as “dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity,” as if these constitute a mental disease that leads to “resistance to change” and “endorsement of inequality.”

    Even more than the following paragraph about how Liberals can be characterized as having their own parallel set of cognitive issues, it strikes me that pretty much all of that can be ascribe to the Left as well.

    I mean, when was the last time a preening Progressive was uncertain about policy? And everywhere I see them calling for order and structure and top-down organization.

    Dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity? Yup.

    Resistance to change starts the second they get the state of affairs they wanted; praising it lasts only as long as they’re not in charge.

    Endorsement of inequality? The weakest one, but … they sure seem to love inequality when it favors them.

    (This is, of course, nothing unique to the Progressive/Liberal/Left side.

    Nor is it by any means a universal any more than those traits are universal on the Conservative/Right side – or for that matter among libertarians*.

    But that’s the point – these are pretty universal things you’ll find a lot of in any large group of people – and you’ll find counter-examples.

    * I mean, try telling a Rothbardian that Hayek was right about welfare states. Or vice-versa.)

    1. And everywhere I see them calling for order and structure and top-down organization.

      That’s really funny because I recently re-read the Rogers Commission Report and one of Richard’s Feynman’s complaints about NASA’s culture was the “top down” design culture.

  39. The test lost me when I was instructed to get a pencil and paper. WTF year is this?

  40. Social science is the study of half truths and the fun falsehoods you can create with them. Unfortunately they tend to think those falsehoods are truths. Also, calling their postulates “half” true is a huge overestimate.

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    All we need is a mobile or PC with a very good internet connection. There are many applications by which we can enjoy videos, our missed programs, live streaming etc.

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