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Liberals Admit to Discriminating Against Conservative Academicians

When social psychologist Jonathan Haidt famously polled his fellow academics for their political leanings at the 2011 convention of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, only 3 hands out of a thousand were raised in response to his query about conservative leanings. Just three. As the New York Times reported:

“This is a statistically impossible lack of diversity," Dr. Haidt concluded.... "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.”

Harvard University psychologist Daniel Gilbert very open-mindedly generated one such alternate explanation for the paucity of conservative social psychologists:

[L]iberals may be more interested in new ideas, more willing to work for peanuts, or just more intelligent, all of which may push them to pursue the academic life while deterring their conservative peers.

Well, yes that is one possibility. However, a new study, "Political Diversity in Social and Personality Psychology," by Dutch psychologists finds that overt discrimination against conservatives [PDF] likely plays a role. The researchers surveyed several hundred social psychologists, most of them American, and found that 6 percent identified as "overall conservative" - certainly better than 3 in a 1,000 but nowhere near being representative of the larger population. The researchers then ask:

Why, then, did Haidt have such difficulty finding more than a handful of conservative colleagues? The current results suggest one answer: Members of the conservative minority are reluctant to express their political beliefs publicly. Survey 2 shows why: Hostility toward and willingness to discriminate against conservatives is widespread. One in six respondents said that she or he would be somewhat (or more) inclined to discriminate against conservatives in inviting them for symposia or reviewing their work. One in four would discriminate in reviewing their grant applications. More than one in three would discriminate against them when making hiring decisions. Thus, willingness to discriminate is not limited to small decisions. In fact, it is strongest when it comes to the most important decisions, such as grant applications and hiring.

This hostile climate offers a simple explanation of why conservatives hide their political opinions from colleagues. Given that all academics depend on the opinions of their colleagues—who judge their papers, grants, and job applications—and given that such judgments are typically made by multiple reviewers (most of whom are liberal), this means that outspoken conservatives face a very serious problem. Hence, the more conservative respondents are, the more they hide their political opinions.

Conservatives stay quiet (or stay out of academic psychology altogether) because they don't want the thundering herd of independent minds to stampede their careers into the dust.

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  • Tulpa Doom||

    Keep in mind this is one very small field of academia -- the very one that continually produces studies highlighting non-leftist beliefs as a personality/mental defect.

    Personally I limit my political discussions with colleagues just because it's inevitably going to turn into a pissing match where I'm way outnumbered. I'm not worried about getting a grant denied or not getting hired (unless I say something personal to someone, then all bets are off...but that's true of sports or toilet paper orientation discussions too)

  • Raven Nation||

    What discipline are you in?

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    He hangs it so that the paper strand is brushing up against the wall.

  • yonemoto||

    I do the same. I just applied to faculty positions and I'm afraid that one of my letter writers (who is aware of my Ron Paul sticker) will inform my prospective employers that I do not intend to apply for NIH grants (I have started a nonprofit instead).

  • yonemoto||

    *bumper sticker

  • papabryant||

    It may be more widespread than you think.

    I graduated last year with an MA in Religious Studies and have applied to damn near every RS instructor position listed on websites like HigherEdJobs and the AAR - everywhere from the Univ. of Alaska-Anchorage to Prince Mohammad ibn Fadj University in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis are the only ones who have called.

    Some of my classmates have jobs teaching at community colleges and universities. I have recommendations from the same instructors (including one who is a BIG name Biblical Archeologist) and have a higher GPA than all but one.

    But I'm an outspoken conservative. I wrote a column for my hometown newspaper's website, and active online in forums like this.

    I was out of work so long that my family of 6 spent 9 months HOMELESS, living in a borrowed popup camper on a public campground. I now have a job - putting velcro onto machine pegs in a factory that is closing in March to move to Costa Rica. That let me move the family into a one room apartment.

    And STILL no job inquiries from any CC, College or Seminary. The law of averages alone say that isn't possible. Wanna bet this problem crosses into the RS discipline?

  • John||

    [L]iberals may be more interested in new ideas,

    Of all the lies liberals tell themselves that has to be the most pathetic one. New ideas? What new ideas? Liberals haven't come up with a single new idea in nearly a hundred years. And if there is any environment more stifling and dated than liberal arts academia, I would like to know what it is. Yeah, lets do something new like a race and class analysis of American history or world literature.

  • robc||

    Which has more new ideas, the liberal arts academy or the engineering academy?

    And guess what, the engineering department is much more balanced politically.

  • Doctor Whom||

    But ... but ... academia means the liberal arts. Those nasty STEM subjects don't count.

  • DJK||

    Even in STEM, there's a pretty substantial liberal leaning.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Insecurity is tough.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Liberals haven't come up with a single new idea in nearly a hundred years.

    WTF dude.

    Liberals are all over cutting edge ideas like trains, and newspapers, and pensions and government worship.

  • John||

    Nothing says cutting edge like the policies of Bismark.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    One thing you do have to be super careful of is to avoid talking to people at a university about guns. DHS sent out a notice to us last year listing signs that someone is a potential school-shooter... number one was "makes unsolicited remarks about firearms". So inviting someone to go skeet shooting has to be done the same way you'd pick up a whore.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Ask Bill Clinton or Elliot Spitzer to recommend a skeet-shooting partner for you?

  • fried wylie||

    Skeet-skeet-skeet, Oh-kaaay!

  • Tulpa Doom||

    One thing you do have to be super careful of is to avoid talking to people at a university about guns. DHS sent out a notice to us last year listing signs that someone is a potential school-shooter... number one was "makes unsolicited remarks about firearms". So inviting someone to go skeet shooting has to be done the same way you'd pick up a whore.

  • Restoras||

    I thought whoring was ok if you're a self-identified lefty?

  • Raven Nation||

    No way. If you're picking up whores, you're exploiting women; if you are a whore, you've been exploited by men in the past, destroying your self-esteem and thus forcing you into this life. Same goes for porn.

  • Restoras||

    So, lefties hate Bill Maher and Eliot Spitzer? And Bill Clinton for using his position of power to exploit a younger woman? And Ted FatDrunkFuck Kennedy? Right?

  • sarcasmic||

    Who a person is is more important than what they do.

    Principals matter. Principles? Not so much.

  • Doctor Whom||

    Rules are for the little people. Nothing is more P.C. than imposing a moral code on hoi polloi while giving the right people a pass.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Droit de Seignuer

  • The Late P Brooks||

    [L]iberals may be more interested in new ideas, more willing to work for peanuts, or just more intelligent, all of which may push them to pursue the academic life while deterring their conservative peers.

    These are some of the Truths we hold to be self-evident, right?

  • Restoras||

    The arrogance is unbelievable.

  • R C Dean||

    Since when is working in academia working for peanuts?

    Academia is stuffed with six-figure do-nothing administrative jobs, and a full professor can expect to make six figures.

  • Raven Nation||

    Depends where. Six figure professorships are not that common. At the moment, teaching at a state campus, if I get to full professor and stay here for another 15 years, I might be looking at low 80s.

    Mind you, I'm not complaining, I love what I do and I went in with my eyes open. But the idea that MOST academics make six figures is not really true. Some disciplines do better than others (engineering, medical sciences, business) but liberal arts (including psychology are at the lower end of the scale.

  • R C Dean||

    Six figure professorships are not that common.

    I'm sure there's quite a spread, but wiki says the average pay for a full professor is $99K.

  • Raven Nation||

    Probably true. But the differences in disciplines, private vs. public schools, state budgets, etc., make an average figure almost meaningless.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Since when is working in academia working for peanuts?

    Academia is stuffed with six-figure do-nothing administrative jobs, and a full professor can expect to make six figures.

    True, but a lot of the classes are also taught by TAs and newly minted-PhDs or ABDs who really don't make that much. Until you get published your salary isn't anything to write home about.

    It's not so much that liberal arts academics are willing to work for peanuts, it's that they want to work in an environment where their colleagues nearly all agree with them.

  • T o n y||

    Six whole figures?

  • DJK||

    Well, according to the IRS, that would put an individual in the top 5% of earners in the country. So shouldn't academics be paying more taxes according to your usual thesis?

  • John||

    My wife has made a very nice living in higher ed administration. It is only "working for peanuts" if you don't have a tenured track position.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    And Daniel Gilbert may just be a self-absorbed dick, but I'm just supposing here.

  • ||

    Diversity in Academia = A bunch of dark people who think just like us.

  • Doctor Whom||

    The law school that I attended was diverse on paper, but in classroom discussions, I sometimes was the viewpoint diversity.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    "Whites may be more interested in new ideas, more willing to work for peanuts, or just more intelligent, all of which may push them to pursue the academic life while deterring their black peers."

    I'm sure that would go over well as an explantation.

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    That's the thought that I had. You can substitute "Men" and "female" for good effect as well.

  • ||

    Maybe there's a human social need to have someone to "other". If it's not going to be people from other countries, people from other religions, or people who look different, it's going to be people with different political views.

    We've replaces interracial bigotry with political bigotry.

  • ||

    replaced [sic]

  • Restoras||

    I don't think Stalin discriminated against anyone based on race, ethnicity, or religion. If you disagreed with him, you got shot, if you were lucky. The unlucky ones spent decades in the gulag. Is it really any wonder why the left continues to at best deny his crimes and those of his emulators?

  • sarcasmic||

    It is my opinion that they secretly wish they could do the same thing to the subhumans who disagree with them.

  • Restoras||

    Depending on where you are at any given time, I don't think they are very secret about this wish. I have encountered it a few times in Westchester County, NY.

  • ||

    Pshaw, you can find leftists openly fantasizing about rounding up the Tea Party people and offing them just about anywhere in the country.

    The entire movie 'God Bless America' is one giant liberal snuff fantasy.

  • BakedPenguin||

    You're mainly right - he needed no excuses to kill a rainbow of people - but he was a bigot, too.

  • Ted S.||

    Actually, he engaged in ethnic cleansing, moving the Volga Germans to Kazakhstan and the Crimean Tatars to someplace in Central Asia or Siberia too.

    I believe it was also Stalin's idea to move ethnic Russians into the Baltics to make life difficult for the original populations there if they tried to assert their identity.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Survey 2 shows why: Hostility toward and willingness to discriminate against conservatives is widespread.

    How can you have a free and open exchange of ideas with a bunch of racist haters derailing the consensus?

  • sarcasmic||

    Tolerance means not tolerating intolerance.

    Since conservatives are by definition intolerant, in the name of tolerance and inclusiveness they must be shut out.

    It's all about equality. Liberals are equal to each other, and any who disagree are inferior.

  • Restoras||

    Intolerance of intolerance it the only acceptable form of intolerance.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Needs more repetition.

    Intolerance of intolerance it the only acceptable tolerable form of intolerance.

  • Restoras||

    Much better.

  • T o n y||

    What is conservatism? Is it the thing that constantly attacks academia and dismisses any scientific fact it finds inconvenient? Or is there some other form of conservatism in this country that is not the small-minded far-right political faction on the leash of religious charlatans and business interests? Maybe conservatives deserve to be discriminated against in academia, given that modern conservatism is overtly hostile to the values of academia. A political worldview is not a social vulnerability like race, sex, or class.

    Of course diversity of worldviews is important in academia, but maybe the spectrum of all the useful, empirically tuned, intellectually curious political worldviews are all on what would be called the liberal side today. Or maybe there's something wrong with academia--but there is certainly something wrong with conservatism.

  • tarran||

    Of course diversity of worldviews is important in academia, but maybe the spectrum of all the useful, empirically tuned, intellectually curious political worldviews are all on what would be called the liberal side today.

    Thanks Tony! People are wondering why I am giggling uncontrollably in my cube!

    You may be utterly ignorant about history or science or economics, but you are always good for a laugh.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    A political worldview is not a social vulnerability like race, sex, or class.

    If it keeps you from getting a job, it sure the hell is.

  • T o n y||

    You aren't born believing in bullshit, and you aren't required to continue doing so.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    And yet you do.

  • Tepid||

    Actually, there is good scientific evidence that says believing in bullshit is genetic. Just like homosexuality.

  • WTF||

    HAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAH
    Awesome - the 'Tony' sock puppet is really bringing the derp today!

  • Ice Nine||

    Of course diversity of worldviews is important in academia, but maybe the spectrum of all the useful, empirically tuned, intellectually curious political worldviews are all on what would be called the liberal side today.

    Let's find out. Academia's sacred duty is to maximally expand that spectrum not to confine it. So, yeah, there is by definition something wrong with academia.

  • Restoras||

    Please don't feed this one. It is beyond hopeless and adds nothing to the discourse here. It is a beltway troglodyte that lives to expand the power of the state and remove all trace of individual liberty and personal responsibility. It is not worthy of our time.

  • sarcasmic||

    You want to see some bewilderment?

    Go to a health food store and ask where you can find the inorganic vegetables.

  • fried wylie||

    Go to a health food store and ask where you can find the inorganic vegetables.

    followed up by a trip to the liquor store for similac.

  • fried wylie||

    Like how "organic" now means grown with no pesticides

    I love to shit on "organic" farming as much as the next-guy-who-likes-cheap-produce, but....

    If you fertilize with organic matter instead of inorganic minerals....you see where I'm goin with this. So the terminology might have nothing to do with pesticides. (The wikipedia article for organic farming doesn't have an etymology section, and in fact seems to consider EVERYTHING prior to industrialized, intensive agriculture as "organic farming".)

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

  • JWS||

    "Maybe conservatives deserve to be discriminated against in academia, given that modern conservatism is overtly hostile to the values of academia."

    I'm curious about these "values" you speak of. I'd ask you to be more specific but I have no doubt that won't happen.
    The wall of denial and closed-mindedness is staggering. The redefining of terms to suit a worldview must be acknowledged by Psychology.

  • T o n y||

    Willingness to accept evidence even if it challenges your preconceptions. The pursuit of knowing things that were unknown before. Things conservatives don't like because they have it all figured out already. This entire discussion is based on the premise that people's worldviews are somehow innate, rather than things that we should be perfectly willing to change.

    I'm not saying there haven't been good conservative academics or that there hasn't been a good conservatism. I just don't see it in this day and age. I mean, what are we talking about? Michelle Bachmann conservatism or a stodgy Oakeshottian conservatism? Because only one of those exists today.

  • sarcasmic||

    Willingness to accept evidence even if it challenges your preconceptions.

    Haaaaaaaaaa ha ha ha ha ha haaaaaa!

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    One word - Keynes

  • Jordan||

    Willingness to accept evidence even if it challenges your preconceptions.

    That is something that somebody who is willing to discriminate against people who disagree with them politically is not likely to have.

    Michelle Bachmann conservatism or a stodgy Oakeshottian conservatism? Because only one of those exists today.

    False dilemma.

  • T o n y||

    Maybe it's false, but it's a dilemma for me. What is the conservatism we're talking about?

    It would be useful to know if we're going to be arguing for political worldview–based affirmative action.

  • sarcasmic||

    Conservatives, who as a general rule are not fond of affirmative action, are asking for affirmative action?

    Do you ever think before coming up with these ridiculous straw man arguments?

    Seriously. That's just plain weapons-grade stupid.

  • T o n y||

    Yes that is what they are asking for, and yes it makes them hypocrites.

    If conservatives want better representation in a particular field, maybe they should just try harder.

  • Jordan||

    And now Tony is making the same argument that conservatives make against affirmative action.

  • Whahappan?||

    "And now Tony is making the same argument that conservatives make against affirmative action."

    Except he's making the argument not against affirmative action for conservatives, but simply treating conservative more equally. He is arguing in favor of discriminating against conservatives, and conflating that with opposition to affirmative action in favor of minorities.

  • WTF||

    If conservatives women and minorities want better representation in a particular field, maybe they should just try harder.

    The lack of self-awareness is breathtaking. DERP!

  • T o n y||

    I'd have to agree.

  • Whahappan?||

    Actually, that's not what they're asking for, you're lying as usual. They're asking to not be discriminated against, completely different from affirmative action.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    And the irony is that people from the self-styled "intellectual" class of clever sillies end up wondering why these conservatives view academia with such hostility--never realizing that the overtly hostile attitude of left-wing intellectuals towards conservatives for 100 years, in which their worldviews have become the status quo in academia, have played just as much of a role in the conservative backlash against the academic class as anything else.

    Left-wing academics tend to beg the question that any criticism of them as a class is inherently illegitimate--hence, why you see them sneer at "provincial" conservatives while crying like bitches when their contempt is returned in kind.

  • Jordan||

    Right on cue. You really are a living, breathing Ayn Rand villain.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Of course diversity of worldviews is important in academia, but maybe the spectrum of all the useful, empirically tuned, intellectually curious political worldviews are all on what would be called the liberal side today.

    Oh, bullshit. Academia is arguably the most intellectually incestuous professional class in the country. Just look at the history field--there hasn't been anything coming out of there in the last 35 years that wasn't tied to the Holy Trinity of Class, Gender, and Ethnicity.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Case in point--a couple of years ago, I attended the conference of the Western History Association in Denver. The theme of the conference was "Wired West" and the impact of various networks in the evolution of the American West. Given that the development of the region has been heavily influenced by the presence of military bases for over 150 years, I had high hopes that this would have merited at least a paper, if not an entire panel for discussion--especially in Denver, which at one point had three bases open at once in the metro area, along with the Rocky Mountain Arsenal and Rocky Flats.

    Nope--instead, it was the same old Holy Trinity stuff, and superficial presentations like western clothing styles in the movies, that allowed audience members to bitch about the lack of accuracy of Hollywood films as opposed to anything substantive.

    The field has stagnated intellectually, and it's due in no small part to the 60s radicals who never grew past the cultural marxism of their youth.

  • T o n y||

    There's a lot to criticize about academia, and your criticism is certainly valid. But what would affirmative action for conservatives accomplish? Notice this study doesn't say conservatives are discriminated against. Just that liberal academics to a degree would discriminate if political worldviews were known. But no one is asked his politics when being interviewed for a job at a university, and it's usually not relevant to the subject.

    There are definitely cobwebs in some disciplines in some places, but I don't think this conservative grievance bullshit is relevant to solving that problem. How to solve it is a whole other, much, much bigger conversation.

  • Jordan||

    But no one is asked his politics when being interviewed for a job at a university, and it's usually not relevant to the subject.

    This sort of under representation is incredibly unlikely without active discrimination. And in many of these fields, it's not difficult to guess an author's politics from their works. Hell, many of these fields are inherently political. And hiring is not the only instance in which they confessed to a willingness to discriminate.

    Women are heavily under-represented in computer science. Would you think it just dandy if a study came out where a significant number of computer science profs confessed to a willingness to discriminate against women?

  • T o n y||

    There have been studies that show actual, not just professed, discrimination against women in the sciences. As a good liberal I acknowledge that as a problem--and accept the value of gender (and racial, etc.) diversity in any discipline.

    But nobody's answered my question about what we're talking about when we say "conservatism." The conservative party in this country has been almost totally overtaken by crazy stupid people who have no business anywhere near academia. So who is it?

    Until someone answers that question I will maintain my suspicion that what's being bitched about here is a lack of proper representation of stupid people in academia. Stupid people should be discriminated against in that sector.

  • Fluffy||

    Tony, since you've argued many times that nothing can be proven in the area of political philosophy, that strongly (one might say inescapably) implies that nothing can be proven in any soft discipline of any kind.

    But on that basis it's impossible for anybody's work to be any better or worse than anybody else's.

    So you really, if you're going to be intellectually honest and not a douche, should consider yourself estopped from arguing that there's any way to determine who is and who is not stupid in academia.

    Sorry, baby, but you don't get to argue aporeia one day and then assert quality standards of this kind the next day. It just doesn't work.

  • Killazontherun||

    It's Tony. He gets to do any damn thing he wants and has demonstrated that as an indisputable fact for four years. When you stop empowering him as you do by treating him as the good faith debater he clearly is not, then your words above may hold some sway.

  • Jordan||

    But nobody's answered my question about what we're talking about when we say "conservatism."

    You will have to ask the professors who were polled for this study then. It's likely that they, like you hold a strawman version of conservatism in their head in which everyone who disagrees with you is by definition evil and/or stupid.

    And once again, you are defending the premise that conservatives should be discriminated against, even if their political views are irrelevant to their work. It's no surprise that progressives value ideological conformity above all else.

  • Raven Nation||

    I think self-selection takes place to a certain extent, but not in the way liberal academics think it does. A lot of conservatives and/or libertarians simply dismiss the whole idea of going into academia because of the bias that's already there. And many who get into the grad programs drop out for the same reason.

    The really big problem with liberal bias (at least in the liberal arts) is not that they think alternate political views are incorrect as that most liberal academics believe that there are no real alternate political views. It's kind of a Rousseau vision of the world: anyone who is not liberal is either stupid or suffering from a lack of education. If they were smart and/or well educated, they would hold leftist views (and, in circular reasoning, not holding leftist views means you're not smart).

    I've basically given up discussing politics with most other academics, not because of bias but because there is simply there is no rhetorical ground on which to engage them.

  • T o n y||

    I am forced to agree with that sentiment to a degree, but note my earlier statement about a diversity among what you call "leftist" political beliefs. What is the conservatism we're talking about? Because politicians and academics who call themselves conservatives have a lot to answer for over the past decade (at least). I've known plenty of neocon academics who've either recanted or turned into Tea Party morons. Maybe conservatism is an intellectual dead-end in this day and age.

  • ||

    I've known plenty of neocon academics who've either recanted or turned into Tea Party morons.

    Why should they have to recant? They've been vindicated by the fact that Obama adopted all their policies.

  • JWS||

    I see this as the solution to their cognitive dissonance: they believe that they are open-minded and tolerant of others but they can't accept the possibility of the conservative viewpoints they disagree with being elevated. To resolve this, they overgeneralize conservatism as idiotic, evil, mean-spirited, etc.

    Problem solved. Therefore, weeding out conservatives from the herd is not only acceptable, it's good.

  • ||

    I don't think affirmative action for conservatives is necessary. Just not being discriminated against would be a start. Perhaps the promotion of a more open minded intellectual atmosphere.

  • sarcasmic||

    What do you mean? Liberals are totally open minded!

    They're open to any and all ideas that they already agree with!

  • aelhues||

    Affirmative action? Yeah, that's exactly what we're calling for....I try to give you the benefit of a doubt, but sometimes you live up to what most here portray you as.

    All he was saying, is that a group who has clearly chased off conservatives, is not producing anything of value. So claiming that conservatives have no "useful, empirically tuned, intellectually curious political worldviews", is extremely lame. Expected, coming from you though.

  • ||

    Of course diversity of worldviews is important in academia, but maybe the spectrum of all the useful, empirically tuned, intellectually curious political worldviews are all on what would be called the liberal side today.

    So you would exclude (say) a Muslim scholar who believes in sharia? Or would you our of sheer intellectual curiosity and the desire for deversity recruit a Muslim sharia-law advocate?

    I suspect that the latter would happen way before they would let in an atheist libertarian or an objectivist.

  • T o n y||

    If I were in a position to include or exclude someone for a professorship, I would like to think I'd judge their scholarship and merits. Who they vote for is irrelevant and not an appropriate question to ask. It's not like scholars are out there publishing the same books over and over. If anything the challenge is to say something new. I'm just not sure what types of thinkers we're talking about. Religious conservatism and intellectual pursuit are pretty much opposites. I consider Objectivism to be a cult and certainly not worthy of special favors from university deans, but if there were an English or poli-sci professor who happened to be a libertarian or even Objectivist (or Scientologist) who was nonetheless a good scholar, then I don't see why those personal beliefs should even enter the discussion.

  • T||

    Religious conservatism and intellectual pursuit are pretty much opposites.

    All righty, then. And in one fell swoop we've decided theology is not an intellectual pursuit.

  • T o n y||

    Not any more than unicornology.

  • ||

    Or moral philosophy.

  • ||

    here you are separating world view or "personal" beliefs from scholarship.

    Surely you realize that a libertarian or an Objectivist might have a completely different interpretation of the last couple of hundred years of history from a Marxist?

    Is that alternate interpretation of history somehow "unscholarly" because it's influenced by one's poltical philosophy, and if so, how is that not the case for Marxists, who clearly do base their interpretations of recent history on Marx's doctrine of historial dialecticism?

    You are setting this up to be a question-begging exercise, where someones becomes, practically by definition, a "bad scholar", merely because they reject the most prominent theories in their field.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Is it the thing that constantly attacks academia and dismisses any scientific fact it finds inconvenient?

    You mean like the science in GMO crops?

  • Restoras||

    Is it Thursday yet?

  • Randian||

    Every day should be Thursday.

  • Mo||

    While I'm certain the lack of political diversity among social psychologists is a major issue with earth shattering ramifications, why is academica the only area where an imbalance of political leanings matter? There are loads of industries where there's a massive imbalance of political leaning.

  • robc||

    Really? At that level of imbalance?

    Name another.

  • sarcasmic||

    Hollywood.

  • robc||

    Nope. Not even close, I dont think.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Journalism.

  • robc||

    Also nope.

    Both are imbalanced, but not at that level.

    If you get 1000 actors or 1000 journalists in a room, more than 3 will raise their hand and claim to be conservative.

  • The Craig||

    Ok, but if you get 100 that is still pretty imbalanced

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Once you get to over 90% does it really matter?

  • Mo||

    Military officers

  • Mo||

    On other factors, the survey found that 53 percent of active-duty personnel described themselves as either "very conservative" or "conservative," compared to 40 percent of the general population. By contrast, seven percent said they were "liberal or very liberal," compared to 20 percent of the general population.

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/ips/lobe43.html

  • Jordan||

    Since when is the military supposed to value diversity of opinion? And do you have a study of military officers admitting that they routinely discriminate against people who's political leanings they disagree with?

  • T o n y||

    Since when is academia supposed to value diversity of political opinion?

    Academia has always been dominated by people who are progressive relative to the general population (just as, presumably, militaries have always been dominated by relatively conservative types). Being intellectually curious and being liberal go together. There is not a conspiracy, there is simply self-selection going on.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Now that is some grade A bullshit.

  • Jordan||

    "Self-selction". Riiight... except for that whole being willing to discriminate against people who don't share your opinions. You might have missed that part.

    Since when is academia supposed to value diversity of political opinion?

    That pretty much says all we need to know right there.

  • Fluffy||

    Academia has always been dominated by people who are progressive relative to the general population

    Wow, that is an incredibly provincial attitude, both in terms of geography and in terms of historical time.

  • Doctor Whom||

    Since when is academia supposed to value diversity of political opinion?

    Your admission that the sacred dogma of diversity doesn't extend to viewpoint diversity is duly noted.

  • aelhues||

    I've only met a few people that, by my standards, I would call intellectually curious, and open to considering any idea. Some conservative, and few liberal'ish.

    I'm certain that you would consider most of them to be backwards and stupid, because like most in academia, you automatically associate conservative, with stupid, bigoted, and closed-minded.

  • Mo||

    Right. I don't know what 90% of the people in my office's politics is because we don't talk politics at work. This has been the case in all of my jobs. Occasionally, there are a few loud-mouths that go on and on about politics, but even the people that agree with them roll their eyes.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Right. I don't know what 90% of the people in my office's politics is because we don't talk politics at work. This has been the case in all of my jobs. Occasionally, there are a few loud-mouths that go on and on about politics, but even the people that agree with them roll their eyes.

    Part of it is because, in academia, left-wing views are considered a given and thus political discussions are limited to coffee-pot head-bobbing. Some are more strident than others, yes, but you can be pretty sure that in social "sciences" and the liberal arts, conservative arguments are viewed as coming from Mars. You simply don't make the long march from undergrad to PhD, for the most part, if you hold conservative political views.

    The people who approve admission to these programs aren't necessarily looking for new research, they're looking for new research which confirms their firmly-held political beliefs. These people hold a great deal of influence as gatekeepers, and an academic advisor can kill your professional career in an instant if they think you're going to undermine the established academic narrative worldview they've set up.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    To put it another way, think of the Bobbi Harlow character from Bloom County--the liberal schoolteacher who came to BC with the openly stated intent of turning the town on its ear with her politics and fomenting social division. Unsurprisingly, she was treated like a pariah because her views were so diametrically opposed to the other members of the BC community. Academics basically view conservatives the same way--as potential fifth columnists determined to tear down the institutions that they developed, and so they both consciously and subconsciously create a professional environement designed to weed out those with opposing views.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Politics pretty much has to intrude in sociology because there's so much supposition going on. There is no 2 + 2 = 4 in sociology, while in the hard sciences or engineering, either your theory or product works or it doesn't.

  • robc||

    people drawn to hard sciences are conservative

    But they arent. Sure, its slightly imbalanced in that way, but I know plenty of leftist scientists.

  • robc||

    Actually, as the Dutch study showed, it was an inaccurate indication, as the real number is probably closer to 6% than 0.3%.

    While I dont have any studies to point to, I would be surprised if engineering professors are greater than 60% conservative.

  • robc||

    Found a study: 61.9% of Computer science or engineering professors voted for Kerry in 2004.

    Not up to date, but its what I found in a quick google search.

  • ||

    Ahh, well, it could be that the liberal arts have so many inherent political implications that it's virtually impossible NOT to discuss politics. Thus everyone's political views are out on the table, all the time, and it makes it that much easier for people to engage in group bonding and tribal identification.

    In the hard sciences, very little of what you deal with has any direct political implication, so you can avoid talking about politics, and probably shouldn't.

  • db||

    That whole "working for peanuts" idea is ridiculous when you consider the salaries and consultant fees that most university professors pull down. Even if the salaries are lower in some fields, with a little effort, a prof can make decent bank in consulting on the side.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    But, but, they're TEACHERS! We can't possibly pay them enough.

  • Geoff Nathan||

    I'll agree with Raven Nation here that those of us in liberal arts don't make anywhere near six figures, and I once got $300 for a consulting gig. Once.
    On the other hand, the bit about keeping your political opinions to yourself is absolutely right on. I'm in an English department, and I doubt any of my colleagues know my political opinions, but theirs are certainly on show in departmental discussions and listserv messages all the time.
    And even if it's true that some conservatives actually bear some similarity to John's caricature of them, the attitude towards libertarians like myself in academia is like the attitude towards conservatives in spades.

  • ||

    It's only a matter of time before they cotton on to the fact that the conservatives are the ones who don't talk politics. After that, regular public declarations of faith will be expected.

  • db||

    I suppose it greatly depends on the field. If you're doing what you love, that can make up for a salary differential for sure. I would find it very unsatisfying to work in an environment where political opinions were worn on sleeves, especially if the majority opinion were agains mine (which, as a libertarian is almost guaranteed).

  • mad libertarian guy||

    As a former English Departmenite myself, I agree. Leftism is on full display all of the time. Oftentimes necessarily so. We have entire tracts dedicated to leftism studies: gender studies, Marxist criticism, AA Studies, studies on class, etc etc etc. The entire discipline outside of what are now niche fields in early modern and medieval studies (language and textual studies) are completely dedicated to the leftist cause. It is impossible to be in most fields in the liberal arts without necessarily taking part in leftist thought.

  • ||

    Right, I mean, what exactly would a libertarian in women's studies look like?

    In order ot be one, you'd have to reinterpret so much of the field, that it would tantamount to a revolution in thought within it. Such revolutions do not happen overnight and are generally met with enormous resistance. But where are you going to get the time and money to engage in such a collosal project in the first place if you're being denied grant funding and employment because your ideas are different?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    constantly attacks academia and dismisses any scientific fact it finds inconvenient?

    I frequently find gravity to be inconvenient, yet I do not dismiss it.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    And also why he's still alive.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Do, or do not...there is no try.

    Gravity, pssht!

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Given that all academics depend on the opinions of their colleagues—who judge their papers, grants, and job applications—and given that such judgments are typically made by multiple reviewers (most of whom are liberal), this means that outspoken conservatives face a very serious problem.

    But don't you dare question the nebulous, inconsistent, and oft-abused system of peer review or you are an anti-science philistine.

  • Fluffy||

    I think one important thing to keep in mind is that the humanities ultimately do not admit of verification.

    That's been true since at least Socrates' time.

    As you can tell from hanging out here, we can go round and round indefinitely and offer every possible argument under the sun and ultimately nothing will ever be proven. We can try to persuade, but that's it.

    This means that it's very rare when a situation arises that forces a humanities-oriented organization to critically examine itself. This means that all humanities organizations have a built-in tendency to reinforce institutional biases by recruiting - because in the absence of any forceful external standard of what constitutes quality work, the only available standard is "your work kinda sounds like my work, so it must be good".

    It's like expecting to find a diversity of views in a monastery. You just aren't going to find one.

    Change in humanities organizations proceeds glacially because you need broad and deep society-wide changes in viewpoint to force people at universities to grudgingly change their views. Look at the lag between the respectability of Marxism in the "real world" and its academic respectability as an example.

  • John||

    You say that. But it changed a whole lot between 1950 and say 1990. The problem is that once leftists infest an institution they will immediately corrupt it and turn it into an instrument for leftist politics.

  • Fluffy||

    Right, but European history has examples of humanities bodies dominated by conservatives hanging on to clericalism and monarchism long after these became minority views.

    And until the late 19th century arts-related bodies tended to extreme conservatism.

    Because the humanities are, for lack of a better word, bullshit, once an organization reaches critical mass for one viewpoint the entrenched viewpoint becomes nearly invulnerable to challenge. Or successful challenges will take a very long time, on the time scale of decades.

    There is an expectation in the social sciences now that all work will grow out of previous work and take that work into account. There's really no way for such a system to not gradually force all work in a field to share ideological premises. The entire field has to change politically from the bottom up to get any movement.

  • John||

    Because the humanities are, for lack of a better word, bullshit, once an organization reaches critical mass for one viewpoint the entrenched viewpoint becomes nearly invulnerable to challenge. Or successful challenges will take a very long time,

    That is generally true. But there are exceptions. Communism and fascism both took root in European academia very quickly in the early 20th Century and Communism took root even quicker in America. So there seems to be something exceptionally virulent about 20th century leftism.

  • ||

    Because the humanities are, for lack of a better word, bullshit,

    Mutable is a better word. Since the humanities deal with, well, HUMANS, it's open to a lot more interpretation than hard, physical disciplines are. This means that not only are there a fuck-ton of different and competing political and religious philosophical theories, they'll change over time. There are probably some basics of human interaction, but those can probably, eventually be physically verified.

    Which isn't to say that social sciences don't turn up anything valuable. These results we're talking about (that I find quite valuable) are because of social science research, and this sort of phenomena certainly isn't limited to social science itself.

  • ||

    political and religious philosophical theories

    And social, of course, but I don't that's really separable from religion and politics.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    What makes you think that academia wasn't filled with marxists in 1950?

  • Fluffy||

    I'd say that the relevant time scale would be 1930-1990. The beginning of the time scale is the pivot where the critical mass in academia turned to the left; the subsequent decades are the gradual play-out of the genetic process where relating your work to previous work has gradually squeezed out all competing views.

    If anything, the sheer mass of academia now compounds the problem. In 1930 the academic pool of talent was much more shallow, so shifts in a small number of major thinkers' viewpoints could set the genetic process off in a new direction. Now the sheer mass of mediocre humanities academics whose work is part of the glacial mass makes it much harder to shift the whole works.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Failed political theories continue to exist in academia simply because it is not a results oriented environment. There is no mandate to evaluate and prove. It is simply enough to bloviate and make tangential connections between mostly unrelated subjects.

    While this is largely true of liberals, it is also true of conservatives in places like Liberty U and Bob Jones U.

    Meanwhile, engineering schools require that the math is correct and there is a product other than opinion being generated that can be evaluated.

  • sarcasmic||

    I turned down a possible job offer when I was told that the team was a bunch of twenty-something Mac users.

    For some odd reason I didn't think I would fit in that well.

  • John||

    Give them some time Nerfherder. They can't change the answers. But they can destroy any academic standards in favor of fairness and diversity and ruin anyone's career who deviates from political orthodoxy.

  • ||

    Apparently, this diversity stuff is a really big deal in the organization that I have been working for. I recently learned that one of our biggest problems is that we don't have enough trans-gendered employees, and that is a serious, serious matter.

    I remember my final interview with HR and they asked me the question, 'why do you think you are a good fit for this position?' and I was rambling on about all of my qualifications when I made the statement 'I have worked with very diverse groups of people'. Until I said that, the lady looked very bored and I don't think she was really listening to me at all. But that caught her attention and she immediately perked up and seemed very interested. I was actually talking about working with groups of people who had different personalities, goals, and that needed different solutions to their problems, not their race or sex, or anything like that.

    So I am hoping we find more of these indisposable trans-gendered folks soon before the lack of them dooms us to total collapse.

  • T||

    Meanwhile, engineering schools require that the math is correct and there is a product other than opinion being generated that can be evaluated.

    Yup. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what I feel or think about my design. It either works or it doesn't. If it works (or according to current parlance 'meets the design specifications') as validated by testing, I continue to have a job. If not, time to polish up the resume.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    It is pure academic analness that they classify professors, associate professors, and assistant professors, and it doesn't always even have anything to do with a Phd.

  • Geoff Nathan||

    Uh, no. In most universities (and all research universities) these labels count as promotion steps. For most fields, having a PhD is a prerequisite for being any kind of 'Professor'. Publications (or the equivalent in the arts) and decent teaching will move you from Assistant to Associate to Full, usually over the space of fifteen to twenty years. Unless you're a little slow, like me, where it took almost thirty years.
    The steps are usually well-defined, and implemented by a succession of committee votes, and endorsements (or lack thereof) by chairs, deans and finally the provost.
    Unlike in industry, these are the only promotions faculty ever get in their careers.

    Incidentally, becoming an administrator doesn't count as a promotion (for most faculty)--it counts as movement sideways, or even beyond the pale, and over to the Dark Side (disclaimer: my wife is an Associate Provost). You may get more money, but you're left the academy, as far as your colleagues are concerned.

  • The Derider||

    I think bailey does a disservice here by focusing on the label "overall conservative". To get that label in the study, you needed to identify as a conservative on social, economic, and foreign policy. Given the dirth of libertarian social conservatives, virtually nobody here would be considered an "overall conservative" by this study, even though that's how most of you probably self-identify.

    The split on individual issues was:
    Social. 4% con 6%mod 90% lib
    Economic. 18% con 19% mod 63%lib
    Foreign policy 10%con 21%mod 68% lib.

  • ||

    I think bailey does a disservice here by focusing on the label "overall conservative".

    Considering it summarizes the breakdown pretty well, and the lack of conservatism in general is the big concern, I don't think there's anything wrong with the focus on overall conservative. I do wish he had listed the breakdown, though. It seems quite valuable.

    Obviously, "economic conservatives" have the highest representation of the different "conservative" orientations (18%), while "social conservatives" are the least represented of the different "conservative" viewpoints (4%). Economic is lopsided, but relatively high on conservatives. I find that interesting. I wonder what would happen to the hiring part of the survey if the researchers broke IT down into social, economic, and foreign policy?

    even though that's how most of you probably self-identify.

    I don't think so. Certainly there are a good portion of commenters, I think, that would self-identify as conservative, but I doubt it would be a majority.

  • Lisa||

    I expected to read on the hover caption: "Sarah Lawrence College freshmen are primed and ready after the first day of student orientation "

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