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There are two articles by Megan McArdle over at the Atlantic about Liberal Bias in Academia. She argues that it definitely exists, and is a horrible thing. Moreover, she argues that it hurts liberals. As usual she's factually, demonstrably wrong.

Now for a while, I've thought that the lack of conservatives in the academy was a serious problem. Going to school in Virginia, I loved arguing with my conservative professors. There were relatively few of them, and my ideas are on stronger footing because of those debates. The conservative ideas my professors hold are both well defended and narrowly held. None of them were "Young Earth Creationists" or believed in anything scientifically ridiculous.

These articles provide an excellent example illustrating why there are so few conservatives in the academy. Many people, McArdle included, have difficulty basing beliefs on evidence as opposed to what they want, desperately, to be true. There are plenty of naive people on the left who also fall into that category, but conservatives have turned the willful ignorance of reality into an art form.

By questioning scientific fact and theory since the Scopes Monkey Trial, conservatives have set conservatism up in opposition to the scientific method. The academy is based on the scientific method. Knowing this, we shouldn't be surprised or upset by any disparity in numbers.

She quotes an article by John Tierney on Jonathan Haidt.

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

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

"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."

Meanwhile, liberals, who are usually quick to assume that underrepresentation represents some form of discrimination--structural or personal--suddenly become, as Haidt notes, fierce critics of the notion that numerical representation means anything.  Moreover, they start generating explanations for the disparity that sound suspiciously like some old reactionary explaining that blacks don't really want to go into management because they're much happier without all the responsibility.  Conservatives are too stupid to become academics; they aren't open new ideas; they're too aggressive and hierarchical; they don't care about ideas, just money.  In other words, it's not our fault that they're not worthy.

As Paul Krugman pointed out in response to Tierney, discrimination for ideology is not the same as discrimination for race. People, by and large, have control over what they think and believe. There are people with certain beliefs that should be excluded. I think all Americans would agree that White Nationalists who want a revolution against the American Government shouldn't teach impressionable undergraduates. Most of us would be happy, left or right, if we saw a White Nationalist who advocated terrorist attacks sacked for his beliefs. That's an extreme example, but it illustrates the point.

If your beliefs are wrong, if they are widely believed to be wrong, if you are joining the ranks of conspiracy theorists and lunatics, then you're probably not well suited for the Academy.

Paul Krugman is attacked by McArdle.

Every once in a while you get stories like this one, about the underrepresentation of conservatives in academics, that treat ideological divides as being somehow equivalent to racial differences. This is a really, really bad analogy.
And it's not just the fact that you can choose your ideology, but not your race. Ideologies have a real effect on overall life outlook, which has a direct impact on job choices. Military officers are much more conservative than the population at large; so? (And funny how you don't see opinion pieces screaming "bias" and demanding an effort to redress the imbalance.)
I have no idea what distinction one is supposed to make between beliefs and something you "can't change".  Could Paul Krugman become a devout Baptist and a supply sider tomorrow, if the financial incentives were right?  I devoutly hope not.  I presume that Paul Krugman holds the beliefs he does because they are his best guess at what is true, and that he could no more change his beliefs than he could change his native language.

And there we have it. That last sentence shows clearly why McArdle, as a conservative, doesn't understand Academia and is herself not the kind of person the Academy would want in its ranks.

You might not take offense to "I presume that Paul Krugman holds the beliefs he does because they are his best guess at what is true," but if I were Paul Krugman, I would. I don't guess. I don't look at facts and figures and say "Well gollie gee, I guess that the world is flat!" I use facts to form my opinion. I would presume that Krugman does as well.

But the real clincher is this gem: "that he could no more change his beliefs than he could change his native language." Yes he could. If he was shown that what he believed was factually incorrect. That is what separates not the liberal from the conservative, but the academic from the imbecile: the ability to change your beliefs when you are proven wrong.

That is what Academics, conservative and liberal, hold as one of the highest values. You'll excuse me if I argue that young earth creationists probably don't have that capability. But hey, prove me wrong! If you've got facts, I'll believe you.

Think of the creationist museum--or Larry Summers getting attacked by a swarm of angry critics for suggesting that it was possible that inborn differences in the distribution of intelligence might explain why men--who have a higher observed variance in math ability--are more likely to be found in the sciences.

Now, Summers could be wrong---as I say, I am inherently suspicious of narratives that offer neat explanations for why the dominant position of one group can't be changed.  But the critics did not rush to explain why this was unlikely to be right.  They furiously rushed to punish him for having said it.  They were angry about sexism, not science.

Yet one more reason why I am suspicious that liberals' unshakeable commitment to scientific rigor is what forces them to exclude conservatives tainted by association with creationism.

I don't say this to denigrate liberals--obviously, conservatives have their taboos too.  But it's healthier if different groups, with different taboos, all have a place in the quest for truth.  Monoculture is as unhealthy for ideas as it is for agriculture.  

Okay, lets deal with the obviously stupid first. "Yet one more reason why I am suspicious that liberals' unshakeable commitment to scientific rigor is what forces them to exclude conservatives tainted by association with creationism" might as well read "I am suspicious that liberals are committed to the scientific method because they exclude those that argue against the scientific method."

There's nothing unscientific about excluding the unscientific.

You should not hire professors that don't believe in the scientific method in the same way that you shouldn't hire a preacher who doesn't believe in Jesus. It's a job requirement. It's pretty much the main thing you look for when considering a candidate.

In the case of Lawrence Summers, his comments were clearly nothing but ridiculous post-feminist misogyny. They were sexist statements which flew in the face of accepted science. If you make ridiculous claims, you're going to be ridiculed. It happens to liberal academics all the time.

I don't understand why McArdle thinks liberals are a monoculture. If you find three liberals, you might well find as many as seven ideas.  I've seen it happen in the comments here at DKos. We aren't some monolithic group which marches in lockstep.  We have plenty to disagree on, and we do, passionately. The same is true of the Academy. There are heated disagreements between various groups and individuals. The idea that the Academy is a monoculture because it excludes unscientific garbage is laughable.

The rest of her second article is a response to the comments made on her first. I'd go through them but I tend to doubt that "some guy commenting on my blog" is an authority that someone writing for the Atlantic should be quoting. Still, there's one final statement that needs to be addressed.

And with apologies to all the brilliant, open-minded, scientifically grounded liberal academics who suggested this one, [the bias exists] not because academia simply weeds out illogical people who can't handle the scientific method.  Professors are overwhelmingly pro-choice, pro-gay-marriage, anti-military, and in favor of redistribution and regulation programs.  These aren't a matter of logic and scientific evidence; they're value judgements.

Yeah. Let that one sink in. There's no logical or scientific evidence that sexes are equal. It's a value judgement whether homosexuality is genetic or a matter of choice. The positive or negative effects of military action can't be measured. Sure predator drones kill Pakistani children, but hey, I value that.

When I began reading her article, I was of the opinion that conservatives were in fact underrepresented in Academia. Since reading what she had to say about the issue, I'm actually fairly content with that fact. If this is how most conservative thinking works, then I'm not sure there's much value to it.

I'm willing to bet that since reading how genetic studies are really just value judgments you've face-palmed at least once. Want another? McArdle was paid for these articles.

Originally posted to Writing by Will McLeod: A Better World is Possible on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 03:56 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Conservative Academics are Awesome. (54+ / 0-)

    They're fun to debate with. They're not a dying breed. As soon as the ideas that McArdle defines as conservative die, there will be more conservatives in the Academy. But as long as they feel the need to defend things that are factually untrue, the Academy won't be a friendly place for many conservatives. And that's a good thing.

    •  Diary Published Twice nt (0+ / 0-)

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 03:59:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  to the Contrary: Harvey Mansfield (20+ / 0-)

      Back when I was an undergraduate at Harvard College I signed up for Mansfield's morality and reason course.  It was quite the learning experience.  In the shallow sense I was exposed important authors, some of whom have had a tremendous influence on my intellectual life.  In the deeper sense I learned that Harvey and his graduate student goons were less interested in the life of the mind than in promoting a peculiar ideological stance.

      This conceptual warning shot across my bow has stood me in good stead for the next four decades of political struggle.

      To give the man his due, he does wear cool hats.

      As to McArdle, she's a clown.  The first thing I teach my graduate students is that one must grant provisional acceptance to the explanation that is most consistent with the evidence; the principle intellectual error is to believe in something because it would be really, really good if it were true.  Meagan never met a specious argument she couldn't embrace.

      The White Race can not survive without dairy products - Herbert Hoover (-8.75,-8.36)

      by alain2112 on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 05:54:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is a good point, and I might quote you. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        alain2112, neroden, irishwitch, i like bbq

        I didn't say, or intend to say, that all academics do this right. I'd agree that bad liberals have much better cover in the academy than bad conservatives, and there are plenty of the former.

      •  Did you just define progressives for all of us? (0+ / 0-)
        to believe in something because it would be really, really good if it were true

        That would seem to fit the overall reaction around here to the Egyptian uprising.

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 05:47:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  There were plenty of Caveats in the diaries (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          neroden, happymisanthropy

          themselves. And there is plenty of evidence to suggest democracy.

          Not that this isn't fraught with danger, as I pointed out in a diary here.

          •  Yes, but come on -- When you're a (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            OllieGarkey

            conservative in  a place like DK -- and I don't hide the fact, btw -- you gotta take any snark opportunity that gets handed to you!!!!!

            LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

            by dinotrac on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 08:27:24 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  You're not a political conservative. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dinotrac

              You may be conservative, but I've read your comments.  You aren't denying global warming or natural selection, so you aren't a True Conservative(TM) in the minds of the True Conservatives out there.

              Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

              by neroden on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 09:08:54 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I am a true conservative, really. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                OllieGarkey

                Natural selection is more of a faith issue than conservative/liberal, although creationist's overall beliefs probably line up more comfortably with conservative ideology.

                As to global warming -- yeah, I go crazy with people who want to close their eyes and shout "No No No!". There's plenty of room for skepticism and debate over lots of points, but...Yumpin Yiminy man!!! At least try to get the facts right.

                Not that liberals are lots better. They get points for accepting the existence, but I'm convinced no small portion do it in a "Scientists as high priests" way, with little understanding of the issues or what the biggest drivers of the problem are now -- and in the future.

                The real ideological difference is likely to be in prescription rather than acceptance.  Liberals want a bigger government role, and to regulate the problem out of existence -- which ain't gonna happen, thanks to its global scale.  Can't speak for other conservatives, but I would much rather see the government use its prodigious purchasing power and bully pulpits to help drive down the cost of alternative energy (as opposed, say, to driving up the cost of fossil fuels).

                Where I am most likely to lose all of my conservative credentials is health care.  I would like to see free-markets in health care, but there is nothing remotely close to that today.  It might not even be truly possible, given

                1. Tremendous knowledge differentials between service providers and patients -- I'm a smart guy, but I struggle to keep up with that stuff, and some critical info just can't be had anywhere.

                2. The "duress" factor.  Contracts can be voided if they are made under duress because duress goes directly to free will.  Imagine the duress of discovering you have brain cancer, or a heart blockage and YOU MIGHT DIE IF...
                and that's not even counting the "good samaritan" cases where doctors can treat you without first getting your consent.

                I grew up on socialized medicine as the survivor of a fighter pilot killed in service.  We never worried about receiving care. We got what we needed and pretty much didn't get what we didn't need. To my way of thinking, that's the definition of good medicine.  I'd like to find an ideologically more pure approach, but what we got ain't working.

                 

                LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                by dinotrac on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 09:34:10 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  Hey, you don't want me to make it easy for you! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dinotrac

              Why else would you be here, Dino?

        •  Snortles Abound (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dinotrac

          Having preached this point to students on three continents, I can attest to the fact that intellectual rigour is difficult to implement in one's own life.  The temptation to engage in wishful thinking transcends all boundaries of class, creed, and ideology.  With this I made my peace long ago, and have tried to do my small part in educating those who I can influence.

          Perhaps you can tell that I treat education with the utmost gravity.  For me it has two coequal aspects: imparting the positive skills needed for mastery of the subject at hand, and cautioning against the traps and systematic errors to which the human mind is prone.

          If this were a simple matter, there would be no need for the expensive and wide-ranging education system that we support as a pillar of our advanced industrial society.  Were it easy, everyone would be doing it.

          Having read the further posts in this thread, I would give you a friendly caution against indulging in tribalism: selection bias is an enourmous hazard when evaluating one's political opponents and one's allies.  That said:

          BRING IT ON!

          I love having a foeman worthy of my steel, and I look forward to engaging you elsewhere.

          TTFN

          The White Race can not survive without dairy products - Herbert Hoover (-8.75,-8.36)

          by alain2112 on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 01:54:50 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Why would a conservative need to defned something (0+ / 0-)

      that is factually untrue?

      What makes you think that liberals are any less prone to do that than conservatives?

      People in academia defend things all of the time that are not true. That is also part of the scientific method.  Science does find the truth, but it can take some kicking and screaming along the way.

      LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

      by dinotrac on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 05:46:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  you contradict yourself (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        neroden, fizziks, khereva
        People in academia defend things all of the time that are not true. That is also part of the scientific method.  Science does find the truth, but it can take some kicking and screaming along the way.

        Science is all about the quest for truth, so you can't defend something that's untrue until science discovers the truth.

        Of course, there are scientists that try to defend views that are known to be false (creationism, eugenics) but that is different than defending an idea and working to find the truth behind it. The Big Bang was one such idea that wasn't widely accepted until we discovered Cosmic Background Radiation.
        That doesn't make it untrue before then...

        Does this signature make me look smart?

        by legendmn on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 06:10:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I did, sort of... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          neroden

          You made a statement as if it were related to being conservative.  But, of course, you are correct -- people, conservatives included -- defend things all of the time that are not true.

          I suppose it would be more correct to say that, in academia, liberals defend things that are untrue more often than conservatives because there are more liberals than conservatives in academia.

          LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

          by dinotrac on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 06:27:54 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Maybe (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            neroden, dinotrac

            but only because there are more liberals than conservatives in academia...not because they are liberals.

            Does this signature make me look smart?

            by legendmn on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 06:58:11 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Absolutely. n/t (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              neroden

              LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

              by dinotrac on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 08:23:52 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  There's a reason. (0+ / 0-)

              Learning is inherently a liberal idea.

              Taking in new information, weighing it against old information, and discarding the weaker is liberal, not conservative.

              If there are few conservative academics, and fewer still good ones, that would be because conservativism is an inherently anti-intellectual/irrational stance.

              sig deleted before the great DK4 deluge. you all know what it says anyway.

              by khereva on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 09:26:56 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Bah, humbug. (0+ / 0-)

                In this context, I'm talking politically conservative, which is not quite the same thing.

                As to being anti-intellectual/irrational, I view that as typical liberal back-patting.  Lacking any solid intellectual foundation for your beliefs, you take comfort in "we're really cool while they're a bunch of poopy heads", albeit dressed up in somewhat nicer language.

                LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                by dinotrac on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 06:59:17 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  No humbug at all. (0+ / 0-)

                  The core tenet of conservatism is retention of what one has, not the acquisition of new information or values.

                  The consequence of that value is the anti-learning, anti-education, and anti-academic attitude for which conservatives are rightly infamous.

                  Whether you like those facts is utterly irrelevant.

                  sig deleted before the great DK4 deluge. you all know what it says anyway.

                  by khereva on Thu Mar 03, 2011 at 05:19:52 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Utterly irrelevant. (0+ / 0-)

                    Typical liberal logic.

                    We know the truth, and your disagreement just proves how much smarter we are than you.

                    Can you say circular?

                    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                    by dinotrac on Thu Mar 03, 2011 at 06:02:31 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Thank you for proving my point. (0+ / 0-)

                      Truth value is independent of whether or not you personally approve of the facts.

                      You are engaged in the very thing of which you have falsely accused me.

                      Thanks for your solid demonstration that conservatives bring nothing to academia, politics, nor any other area of life.

                      sig deleted before the great DK4 deluge. you all know what it says anyway.

                      by khereva on Thu Mar 03, 2011 at 08:45:39 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Facts are independent of approval, not sure (0+ / 0-)

                        truth is. Truth is a deeper and moral subtle concept than fact.

                        As to proving your point, that's a given, at least within your world concept. You cannot conceive of anything else.

                        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                        by dinotrac on Thu Mar 03, 2011 at 09:10:58 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

      •  It's the very nature of Conservatism. (5+ / 0-)

        The fundamental core belief system of Conservatism contends that there are profound "moral" reasons why the 'natural order of things' is the way it is. Why it's completely 'natural' for billionaires to be rich and the poor to be poor. And that 'social engineering' (meant as a strong pejorative) to redress such 'natural' outcomes is somehow evil or misguided.

        Of course, to hold this belief is to willfully close one's eyes to the colossal benefits of being born into wealth and controlling the political-economic system that so 'naturally' bestows rewards and punishments.

        So, of course. When Conservatives defend the abolition of estate taxes and the employment of the full power of the State for the maintenance of grotesque economic disparity, they are defending the factually untrue and the morally squalid. And because this is indefensible according to any evidence-based system, they are compelled to resort to nebulous, reality-proof and untestable "moral" arguments.

      •  You need to distinguish which type... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        neroden, dinotrac

        of conservative you are referring to. Is it the Becksian brand so common among the uneducated talk radio class, or is it the William F. Buckley model that so articulately expressed the tenets of conservatism and injected reason over emotion (see his dismay over the Iraq War and his support of marijuana legalization)?

        We're at WAR politically, fellow Democrats. Consider this soldier back from hiatus - effective immediately.

        by APA Guy on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 08:05:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes. I daresay liberals are at least a (0+ / 0-)

          somewhat diverse group -- and conservatives are the same.

          When you consider that the original comment came in reference to academic conservatives, it seems safe to assume we are talking about some kind of reasonable thought process.

          Re Beck brand conservatives, I have encountered more than a few liberals who were equally intellectual.

          LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

          by dinotrac on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 08:35:30 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  There are nuts on both sides...no question about.. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dinotrac

            it. You can be a hard-line believer - conservative and liberal alike - and still harbor reason as your guide. That's the beauty of social sciences...it's not about who's "right", but rather which interests your beliefs represent.

            We're at WAR politically, fellow Democrats. Consider this soldier back from hiatus - effective immediately.

            by APA Guy on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 08:40:49 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Tribal conservatism demands reality-denial. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        happy camper, khereva

        "Why would a conservative need to defned something that is factually untrue?"

        Their paymasters want them to (in the case of so-called "conservatives" denying the reality of anthropogenic global warming); or they have been brainwashed into following a cult leader (in the case of a bunch of the kookier religious stuff).

        Those who pay attention to evidence are kicked out of the conservative "tribe".

        This will destroy them in the end, of course; denial of reality is a good recipe for self-destruction.  But they can make a damned huge mess in the meantime.

        Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

        by neroden on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 09:07:17 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  So who is my paymaster and what does he or she (0+ / 0-)

          demand of me?

          I don't deny global warming, and I don't deny the role of humans in jacking up CO2 levels.

          By the same token, many a liberal is in denial about the difficulty of reducing atmospheric CO2 levels, especially in a world where China is number 1 with a bullet.

          LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

          by dinotrac on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 07:01:15 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I have worked at three colleges and... (8+ / 0-)

      universities here in the Midwest. I have NEVER bore witness to ANY negative student consequences due to "liberal bias". In fact, instructors go out of their way to assure students with conservative compasses to contribute in a substantive manner because they want diverse opinions to accompany the diverse student population.

      Now, what is NOT tolerated is Becksian and Hannityesque blathering and conspiracy theory nonsense. Classes are not allowed to turn into talk radio paradise where Clinton/Obama/Democrat leader at the time is bashed endlessly through nothing more than opinion. Students (liberal, conservative, and everything outside or in-between) are challenged to substantiate their assertions to turn them into useful arguments. This often leaves young Republicans frustrated, as they have acquired their "knowledge" from the most disreputable, vitriolic sources imaginable (i.e. talk radio). THIS is what constitutes "liberal bias" where conservatives are concerned.

      We're at WAR politically, fellow Democrats. Consider this soldier back from hiatus - effective immediately.

      by APA Guy on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 07:58:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  "Conservative" has come to mean "Reality-denying" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      happy camper, i like bbq

      And there is no place for that in academia.

      Old-school conservatives in academia -- the sort who listen to evidence and seek truth -- would be called "liberals" by the Glenn Becks and Rush Limbaughs and Rupert Murdochs and Koch Brotherses who define political "conservatism" these days.

      Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

      by neroden on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 09:04:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think you made McArdle's point for her (0+ / 0-)
      There's no logical or scientific evidence that sexes are equal.

      Define "equal".

      My wife is currently nursing our baby.  I can't do that.  Even more fundamentally, I couldn't have gotten pregnant and delivered our baby.  Ipso facto, the sexes are not equal.

      Even in intellectual areas, the sexes are clearly not equal.  For example, both autism and dyslexia are more common among males than females.

      Whether or not men and women should be equal in the eyes of the law, on the other hand, is clearly a value judgment - science has little or nothing to say in this matter.  I'm surprise you would claim otherwise.

      It's a value judgement whether homosexuality is genetic or a matter of choice.

      I presume from your presentation that you think it is genetic.  In actual fact, homosexuality is clearly produced by a very complex combination of hereditary and environmental factors.

      There is also no question that under at least some circumstances otherwise heterosexual men choose to enter homosexual relationships.
      1. When society condones such relationships (ie. ancient Greece with pederasty considered normal and appropriate)
      2. When women are not available for example in prisons.

      It is probably most accurate to state that inclination to homosexuality or heterosexuality is inherited but that many people who are not on the extreme end of the scale on either direction can choose to engage in heterosexual, homosexual, or both types of relationships.

      •  Define equal? (0+ / 0-)

        How about equally valuable? Equally intelligent? Of course we've got health differences when the plumbing and harmones are different, but that doesn't mean that women are less or more intelligent.

        Different and equal.

        That work?

        "I presume from your presentation that you think it is genetic. "

        You misunderstand. I think that the question isn't based on a Value Judgment.

        •  You think science can determine if (0+ / 0-)

          men and women are equally valuable?

          That's clearly a value judgement not amenable to scientific investigation, which was exactly McArdle's point.

          "I presume from your presentation that you think it is genetic. "

          You misunderstand. I think that the question isn't based on a Value Judgment.

          However, the position taken by many social conservatives - that homosexuality is a choice - is clearly defensible and at least partially correct.  

          The contrary position taken by many supporters of gay rights - that homosexuals are born that way and have absolutely no choice in the matter - is not.

          The two examples you picked are NOT great examples for why liberals make better academics.

          •  I see. (0+ / 0-)

            By scientific method, you thought I meant science.

            No, I meant that all of these positions are, at least in part, empirically quantifiable.

            I have heard no argument that proves that homosexuality is a choice.

            Even if it were, the assumption that it is wrong is based on what evidence?

            What ethical violations are there?

            Remember, the practice of ethics also uses the scientific method. Things are wrong for a reason.

            An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail.

            by OllieGarkey on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 05:24:06 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  You don't know what the scientific method is (0+ / 0-)
              No, I meant that all of these positions are, at least in part, empirically quantifiable.

              I can quantify my corporate accounts, but that doesn't make them amenable to the scientific method.

              The scientific method is to make a hypothesis and then test it with an experiment, formulate a new hypothesis, and repeat.

              I have heard no argument that proves that homosexuality is a choice.

              Otherwise heterosexual people choose homosexuality in at least some cases (ie. prisons).  

              What evidence do you have that it is not a choice?  (Twin studies do not prove homesexuality, or at least homosexual behavior, is not a choice any more than twin studies that show that criminal behavior is genetically linked prove that criminals do not choose to commit crimes.)

              Even if it were, the assumption that it is wrong is based on what evidence?

              The assumption that it is not wrong is based on what evidence?  "Right" and "Wrong" are moral judgements not susceptible to scientific investigation.

              What ethical violations are there?

              Remember, the practice of ethics also uses the scientific method. Things are wrong for a reason.

              Laugh... you have no idea what the scientific method is.

              How can you make an experiment to decide if homosexuality is right or wrong?

  •  perhaps if more conservatives followed academia (7+ / 0-)

    there would be less of a liberal bias in universities.

    but conservatives do tend to follow a business-centered trajectory and liberals move towards academia.  

    it's not as if there's any discrimation going on though.

    hope springs eternal and DAMN is she getting tired!

    by alguien on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 04:15:51 PM PST

    •  Liberals are interested in ideas. (10+ / 0-)

      Conservatives are itnerested in money and power.

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 08:42:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Conservatives are interested in ideas. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        neroden

        Conservatives are interested in the kinds of idea-viruses that can create dittoheads.  They are interested in ideas that confirm prejudices (Hey look!  Chicken soup really is good for a headcold!  Gay people tend to have psychological difficulties!  Married people are more financially successful!  Therefore...).

        I think liberals are very interested in money and power, but recognize that money and power have the ability to corrupt and distort.  Conservatives tend to believe that ideas can also corrupt and distort, and that truth is the will to power.

        Conservatives (rightly, I think) understand that putting power behind certain ideas (e.g., Drill, baby, drill ... life begins at conception ... You want me on that wall.  You need me on that wall....) helps their cause.  Liberals are somewhat bipolar about truth-power, in part because they realize that conservatives possess the wealth they might need in order to help their ideas come to fruition.

        Stop clapping. Stop screaming. Open your mind. Listen.

        by Benintn on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 08:16:41 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Lets see...who conducts the tenure review (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MGross, Wham Bam

      process?

      Oh yeah, all those liberal professors.

      So, let's see --

      There is a liberal bias in academia because...?

      Smart conservatives prefer a career path to ridicule and a dead end road?

      LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

      by dinotrac on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 05:49:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Or perhaps they realize that factually (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        eru, happymisanthropy

        based arguments don't tend to follow their belief based world view. I'm in academia. If you can't evaluate your suppositions with evidence, you're are not an academic, you're an ideologue.
        And evidence has a well known liberal bias. It comes down to this, conservatives cling to beliefs that in many cases are long since pretty proven to be bunk.

        WTF!?!?!?! When did I move to the Republic of Gilead?!

        by IARXPHD on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 06:16:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nope. That wouldn't be it. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Wham Bam

          Your comment, however, makes clear why conservatives would shun academia.

          Evidence has no political bias. Facts are facts, for better or for worse.  

          LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

          by dinotrac on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 06:18:44 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sheesh, you don't get it. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            happymisanthropy

            The evidence having a liberal bias is a well know SNARK.

            So you are terrified of having your magical beliefs evaluated based on EVIDENCE?

            WTF!?!?!?! When did I move to the Republic of Gilead?!

            by IARXPHD on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 06:30:41 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  You're right. I hadn't heard that phrase (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              IARXPHD

              before so I presumed (reasonably, I might add) that you meant it.

              Your logic (not to mention reading comprehension) appear to be ...ummm... mysterious:

              So you are terrified of having your magical beliefs evaluated based on EVIDENCE?

              Which seems like an odd response to:

              Evidence has no political bias. Facts are facts, for better or for worse.  

              If somebody here has magical beliefs, the unbiased evidence would indicate it's you.

              LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

              by dinotrac on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 06:36:21 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Oops...that's what I get (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                dinotrac

                for reading in a hurry when getting ready for work. I think we may be on the same page here. Sorry for the smart-ass comment about magical beliefs.

                WTF!?!?!?! When did I move to the Republic of Gilead?!

                by IARXPHD on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 06:48:25 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Utterly all right. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  IARXPHD

                  I've stopped counting the smart-assed comments I've made that I wished I could take back.

                  The internet.
                  As the the TV detective Adrian Monk would say, "It's a blessing.  And a curse."

                  LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                  by dinotrac on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 08:25:58 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

  •  Conservatism Has to Be Anti-Reason (12+ / 0-)

    When there's any significant economic resistance to everybody doing well without assistance and protection, the stronger the conservative governance, the more undemocratic the economy and society become, the better the strong and rich do and the worse almost everybody else does.

    There's also the fact that our Constitutional system is so barebones and libertarian that without a massive amount of progressive regulation on the economy, which we never had before the 1930's, it's simply unsafe at home and for the global economy. We had panics and depressions every few years since the framers were still alive because the system wasn't designed for the trade and industrial economy we were already becoming, till the New Deal regulatory regime. Once we became a global economic power we started crashing the world economy.

    Merely weakening that regime since the 80's put us back onto the panic and depression roller coaster, and once again in living memory conservative deregulation economy led us to crash the world economy.

    American conservatism has always demanded far less regulation than has ever proven safe for our economy.

    So of course conservatism has to oppose rationality, the scientific method and any other related kind of scholarship. And it has to oppose factuality. On a planet that can't safely accept a single new net molecule of greenhouse gas, conservatism that's much to the right of John Edwards is an overt threat to humanity. That boundary lies well inside the Democratic Party.

    One of the original Air America comics used to sum up conservative thought: "It feels like thinking to them."

    But don't worry. Conservatism has been building its own academia both within traditional schools and in new colleges and universities it creates. It could come to dominate American thought without ever getting a single fact right.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 04:25:04 PM PST

    •  I could construct a logical argument (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Justanothernyer

      with opposite premises. Everyone doesn't accept axiomatically that "everyone doing well" is a good thing.

      Sure, your argument is logical if I accept your premises. Bill Buckley could construct his logical arguments with opposite premises. Every conservative isn't Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck.

      •  Buckley (15+ / 0-)

        Was just as bad as Limbaugh or Beck.  When Gore Vidal was wiping the logical floor with him, he called him a queer and threatened him physically.  He also wrote op-eds defending segregation.

        Yes, some conservatives put a thicker veneer on their unavoidable anti-enlighenment attitudes, but they're just better sophists.

        I'm also sure some do think it's a bad thing for everyone to do well.   They may be able to proceed logically from such premises, but it's still a reprehensible starting point that leads to horror.

      •  construct a cogent argument (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        happy camper

        If you are so sure that "everyone doing well" is false, then construct a logical argument to show how misery promotes economic growth. The contradictory premise would be that it is not economically beneficial to have everyone doing well. Make sure your premises are true as well as the conclusion and get to it.

        Reaganomics raped the American worker & this depression is the result. When will we wake up & vote with our own financial interests?

        by phree on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 06:59:34 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I didn't say that (0+ / 0-)

          I actually think everyone should do reasonably well, but everyone doesn't agree with that. Many people think they should do well and don't care about anyone else. On that premise they come to different conclusions than you or I would.

          AAMOF, "everyone doing well" is false empirically. Everyone is not doing well. Whether that is good or not has nothing to do with logic but with values.

          Economic growth being good is a premise that many would also disagree with. Marx made it the basis of a definition of progress, but mere growth as such could not only harm the planet, as it is doing, but also increase inequality, as it has in many instances.

          This whole discussion smacks too much of the "People who disagree with me are either crazy or stupid and certainly not logical" argument I would like to associate with the right. It's not something I like to see here on D-Kos.

          •  You now seem to be arguing from both sides? (0+ / 0-)

            In the original post that I responded to you were defending Bill Buckley, a misguided conservative.  Using rationally connected premises is a precondition for defending Buckley's clear intellectual superiority over contemporary conservatives.  However, your comment above that it is possible to construct a cogent argument with opposite premises, e.g. that it might be more beneficial if everyone did not do well, is materially false.

            While I agree that "everyone doing well" has many connotations, the opposite premise is contradictory for any notion of progress.  If one believes that "everyone doing well" is a basic condition for any sort of progress, even if that means stabilizing the economy, then the contradictory premise, it is better when some are not doing well, has to be excluded.  If economic progress means creating a sustainable economy without mass consumption, then it would still not be good to sanction economic suffering.  The statement that we can progress when "no one is doing well" is equally false.

            I'm for progress and redirecting mass consumption towards sustainable economies and energy sources. That's radically different from the status quo. Logical cogency is a matter of consistency.  Buckley made contradictory arguments and was not, in the end, evoking a vision of prosperity that included everyone.

            Reaganomics raped the American worker & this depression is the result. When will we wake up & vote with our own financial interests?

            by phree on Thu Mar 03, 2011 at 07:15:24 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Buckley (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Danjuma, i like bbq

        was an intelligent man. He used lots of big words and constructed a nice argument.

        But he was still wrong most of the time.

        "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

        by happy camper on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 09:16:11 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I think this is her point (4+ / 0-)

      Although you didn't mean to make it.

      "So of course conservatism has to oppose rationality, the scientific method and any other related kind of scholarship. And it has to oppose factuality. On a planet that can't safely accept a single new net molecule of greenhouse gas, conservatism that's much to the right of John Edwards is an overt threat to humanity. That boundary lies well inside the Democratic Party."'

      I think this response to McCardle has gotten to the point of her argument. There is a group think anywhere where like minded people hang out- like here. And in that bubble we all like to agree because well, we agree.

      But in academia, where I have been for nearly 20 years, I can tell you it really is a liberal enclave. Now as some have pointed out that can be defined as a choice by more liberals to enter the profession rather conservatives and I would agree. Similarly, in corporate settings you will find more conservatives- it is a choice.

      However, as a moderate i DO wish we had more conservatives amongst our ranks. And I certainly can say that the few there are under a bit of pressure to conform to the prevailing orthodoxy. And it is less intellectually stimulating and ultimately beneficial for students to be exposed to one political construct without an opposing view.

      I've learned a lot form my conservative colleagues and I think that they have learned from me. Of course we are all dedicated to truth in our respective disciplines, but we debate politics as passionate laymen. Most are surprised that I do not shun them when I learn they are conservative, and most will hide that fact as well. I never feel pressure to disguise my political beliefs and It is sad that they do.

      •  I... (0+ / 0-)

        ...wish for more diversity - whether conservative or experiential, experimental, progressive, international, or ideological - more diversity in every aspect.

      •  And if that's what conservative academia is, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        happy camper

        then we need more of it.

        You're making a rational argument about freedom of expression within the academy, she's making a political attack on the academy.

        The language that scientists use is problematic. Because of the way they think and the way they communicate with each other, they use terms like "Pretty Sure" and "Best Guess" to express things that for any other person would be a "Slam Dunk."

        They have to think this way. If they didn't question everything, they wouldn't be good scientists. They have a much harsher standard for truth than any other category of person.

        Conservative and liberal also have different meanings in an academic context. About Scottish History, I take either a radically liberal or paleoconservative perspective, depending on what you accept about the history of the British isles.

        I'm a big fan of Allan I MacInnes in that sense, and his historeography in the book there is superb.

        But back to your original point: she isn't making a friendly point about the academy. This is a political assault on the institution which argues that the scientific method equates to a value judgement.

        •  no necessarily (0+ / 0-)

          Some disciplines (social sciences) are not as easily quantifiable. Nor is there always a consensus. Value judgement can and often do come into play for many (if not most). If the "Most" are of one ideological stripe then students may get a distorted  view of the issue.

      •  Most faculty I know cover both "sides" (0+ / 0-)
        And it is less intellectually stimulating and ultimately beneficial for students to be exposed to one political construct without an opposing view.

        My goal in teaching is for my students not to know my personal political beliefs. Outside of the classroom I'm happy to talk politics, and I intentionally push students (and my colleagues) to consider what I accept as my far-left views. But in the classroom I am a professional: when there are multiple sides to an issue I teach them all and expect students to exhibit critical thinking in defending or attacking any of them. So I teach Reagan from fact, but provide multiple perspectives on the economic, social, and geopolitical impacts of his policy decisions. You get the point.

        What I will not do is waste time on crap. No intentional misinformation, no claims based on "belief" or "faith" that are to be equated with facts, no dissembling, and no pretending that intellectual lightweights like TV personalities are somehow equal to accomplished theorists or practitioners. Unfortunately, that seems to be what many of those who complain about "liberal bias in academe" are calling for.

        The conservative academics I know all take the same approach. The economics teach what the department has agreed the core curriculum will consist of, they cover disagreements and multiple perspectives in a balanced way, and save their libertarian or radical free market theories for their scholarship or personal lives. That's as it should be.

        "Take it easy-- but take it!" --Woody Guthrie

        by Mr Green Jeans on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 09:30:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  same here (0+ / 0-)

          most of my students are actually surprised if they discover my political beliefs.

          However I do know several profs who preach rather than teach. I also think that pushing my politics on students, even out of the classroom, can create an expectation or unfair pressure they can perceive as what I want, so I am careful to demarcate the two and try to present a moderate tone.

  •  All those Republicans lined up to teach English (12+ / 0-)

    literature can finally get a job.

    So I see only tatters of clearness through a pervading obscurity - Annie Dillard -6.88, -5.33

    by illinifan17 on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 04:31:59 PM PST

  •  There are some conservatives, but they leave... (11+ / 0-)

    I teach at both a state university and a for-profit school (non-union exploitation).  At the non-union school grounded in the arts, conservatives and liberals exist in almost equal numbers on the faculty.  However, the young conservatives don't last long when they find out how academia, even the anemic academic culture at the for-profits, works.  

    Conservative faculty members love money and control of their time, neither of which is available at our non-union, heavy teaching load institution.  They also don't like the kids, especially the conservative students who whine excessively when they are held to deadlines and find out the grading policies in the syllabus also apply to them.  

    Conservative and liberal faculty bemoan the lack of student accountability, entitlement attitudes and conservative students tend to manifest these characteristics in droves.  I don't think conservative faculty like acknowledging these realities.  The right-wing students tend to be the worst critical thinkers in the classroom.  They are unwilling to question their beliefs, think they are always correct without providing factual support for their claims and advocate falsehoods as foundational beliefs. After a year or two, conservative faculty members often leave for greener pastures because teaching requires extreme compassion and they don't like to "cater to students."

    As a liberal who also bemoans the lack of student accountability at both schools, I understand their frustration.  The academy is a dead place for new ideas.  There is a two-tiered faculty, one tenure track that received great positions while opportunities were available, and the rest, adjuncts who are exploited mercilessly and paid 1/15th of the full time faculty salary per course.  Even though most are liberals, they have no problem exploiting their colleagues and treating adjuncts like things.  Thus, the situation is bizarre to say the least.  One can't work for social justice ideologically while ignoring and perpetuating injustices on campus.  No wonder conservatives don't enter academia.  It's a dying profession and young liberals are starting to leave too.  Who can blame them?

    Reaganomics raped the American worker & this depression is the result. When will we wake up & vote with our own financial interests?

    by phree on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 04:38:47 PM PST

    •  I've been a faculty member 31 years..... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Danjuma, fizziks, MGross

      ...and counting the days (1067 to be exact) until I leave it without ever looking back

    •  I was with you-- (8+ / 0-)

      --until you started slamming full time tenured faculty.  What makes you think we aren't questioning and trying to do something about injustice?  I know I am.  I know the rest of us in my department are.  But we are so thoroughly kicked that there is not much we can do.  We're hemorrhaging people, four or five at a time, and they are not being replaced. How is this different from people who scream that those horrible public sector workers have health care benefits and THEREFORE they should be taken away?  

      My union (CFA) has worked its ass off getting health care and other benefits for adjunct faculty.  I just said today, to some of my graduate students, that frankly adjuncts are exploited.  And at my institution (one of the California State Universities)  the money and security that is stolen from adjuncts is used to prop up top administration, which wants still more "discretionary power."  I've seen our President state that since contingent faculty is, um, contingent, not continuing to employ them isn't a real layoff and does not count.  I do not know any member of my department who did not call him on this.  

      "they have no problem exploiting their colleagues and treating adjuncts like things. "

      Yes, I am offended, and I wish you would qualify your statement.

      •  My school used to exploit adjuncts (0+ / 0-)

        until the budget crisis hit. Then they exploited them more by firing all of them. We have no more adjuncts in our department. none. The only people who teach are full-time faculty and grad students. It must be great, eh? But really all we did was enlarged classes tremendously, took over survey and early intro courses ourselves, and shelved requirements (as need be).

        Our need to handle the cuts has resulted in an attack on the curriculum.

        There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

        by upstate NY on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 01:28:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Man (5+ / 0-)

      You hit the nail on the head.  Even as a lowly undergrad, I was astonished by how much whining there was.  College has become the new high school.  

    •  Academic class divisions (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fizziks, mconvente
      There is a two-tiered faculty, one tenure track that received great positions while opportunities were available, and the rest, adjuncts who are exploited mercilessly and paid 1/15th of the full time faculty salary per course.  Even though most are liberals, they have no problem exploiting their colleagues and treating adjuncts like things.

      This clearly happens and is clearly a problem. But it's far from universal as you suggest.  Many institutions, including my own, only use adjuncts for short-term needs and deliver the vast majority of their courses via tenure-track faculty.  Some-- again like mine --go beyond that by paying adjuncts the same per-course wage as tenure track faculty, providing equal access to facilities and services, and involving them in faculty governance.  Further, the practice of making "term" hires for 2-3 years and then converting to tenure-track as funding becomes available is quite common at some schools.

      As a former adjunct I never felt anything but respected by my colleagues at schools ranging from 2,000 to 40,000 students. I wasn't exploited any more than my tenure-track colleagues, and though I would have preferred to have a permanent position the reality was that the need and funding weren't there.

      Of the adjuncts my department has hired in recent years 75% were people who did not want a tenure-track job for various reasons. The others were hired full time on one or two year appointments (sabbatical replacements and the like) at the same salary a tenure track hire would receive; those were all relatively young and expecting to pursue permanent positions elsewhere once their term positions expired.

      "Take it easy-- but take it!" --Woody Guthrie

      by Mr Green Jeans on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 05:56:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  We don't like being called to account, eh (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AZphilosopher, sethtriggs

      Look, for those who think I'm slamming TT faculty, just look at the realities around you.  FT-TT faculty are not being replaced and those lucky enough to hang on to their jobs cite the stats above to prove that they are doing "all they can."  My point: we are not doing all we can.  Conservatives are ahead of the curve in abandoning the field based on their anti-scientific values and lack of respect for fact-based inquiry.  Liberals are in a morially compromised position advocating for social justice in the community, but rarely on campus.  Oh, there may be ideal campuses like those described above, but here in PA, only the state-related universities are fair to adjuncts in a two-tiered manner.

      It is a farce that most adjuncts do not want to teach FT on the TT.  Only adjuncts who work outside academia and are well-paid in the private sector choose that path.  Not so in the liberal arts and humanities.  Tell yourself that if you want to believe that the system is just, but the reality is that most do want to teach FT and 90% of all adjunct positions remain contingent.  It is the rarest of things to see adjunct positions converted to FT.  It is also rare for adjuncts to be paid fairly.  That's a reality.

       If you are FT-TT you can tell yourself that you are opposed to hiring more adjuncts, but the reality is that I've never seen anyone in a fragile TT position strike for adjunct fairness. It never happens and never will because the TT feel like they are under assault (and they are).  FT-TT faculty carry out the policies of their institutions and blame administrators as if they are not morally culpable. I am surprised no one trotted out the myth that adjuncts who teach twice the load of FT faculty (at multiple institutions simultaneously) do not care about research. Before it surfaces, it is - again - a farce. The situation is akin to supporting indentured servitude for those you think are "not worthy."

      I do not want to end FT-TT, I would like a system that doesn't rely on the two tiered injustices currently in place.  I am not against tenure, but rather for more of it and wish academics would stand up for their own.  There's a difference between voicing concern and really standing up for justice. I'm also a a hard core liberal, but feel that we are hypocrites too.  We deserve our extinction given current realities.  

      Reaganomics raped the American worker & this depression is the result. When will we wake up & vote with our own financial interests?

      by phree on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 06:49:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You're asking for a tenure-track faculty (0+ / 0-)

        member to take a stand against the people who are in charge of giving him/her tenure? Given your description of the place you teach (I'm assuming a state campus like PSU-Altoona or UPitt-Bradford) the entering salary for a TT professor is likely still in the $40k range, and though that's great compared to adjuncts, you're asking them to put their job on the line.

        There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

        by upstate NY on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 01:32:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Your point is well made (0+ / 0-)

           That's why FT TT turn their heads and allow the situation to remain as is.  We are divided and conquered and there's a certain hypocrisy in that.  Let's just acknowledge that social justice has no place on campus.

          Reaganomics raped the American worker & this depression is the result. When will we wake up & vote with our own financial interests?

          by phree on Thu Mar 03, 2011 at 07:18:47 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  "The right-wing students tend to be the worst (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eru

      critical thinkers in the classroom." I'm an undergraduate student, and I can say that this statement completely fits with my personal experience. I'm taking a course called The Nature of Power this semester, in which the professor is a card carrying NRA member, and most of the students are conservatives. Everyone in the class is competent at prepared, measured analysis, but when those opinions are questioned dynamically (e.g. discussion), the conservatives tend to have more trouble addressing criticism and defending their argument in a manner that is independent of ideals they take for granted. I may be incorrect, but this is something I have established (rather ironically) through my personal experience.

      •  I recommend a book for you (0+ / 0-)

        called "Womens Ways of Knowing" that discusses some of this.

        Conservatives tend to get stuck in "gut-level" knowledge - a knowing that can't be expressed or defended in an open discussion, but which drives much of their doing and thinking.  Pascal said, "The heart has reasons that reason cannot understand."  

        Women's Ways of Knowing talks about the "Almighty Gut" and the certainty rooted not in dialectical debate or careful evaluation or scientific method, but rather in "sensus communis" or a common-sense philosophy that equates (falsely) truth with truthiness.

        Stop clapping. Stop screaming. Open your mind. Listen.

        by Benintn on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 08:19:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Just looked that book up. (0+ / 0-)

          From the Amazon blurb and the positive reviews, it sounds really gender-essentialist. In actuality, both men and women make decisions based on hunches, intuitions, "gut feeling," whatever you call it, as well as (sometimes) facts.

  •  Good analysis. (14+ / 0-)

    I tend to buy the common explanation that personality differences and professional priorities explain most of the liberal domination (at least in some fields).  Academics has certain well-understood virtues (time flexibility, relative autonomy, creativity) and drawbacks (low pay given the training).  Those pros and cons simply mesh better with some folks rather than others, in a way correlated with political ideology.

    Cardinal’s Law: As the terms “red” and “blue” increase in a given diary, the probability of logical fallacies and factual errors approaches 1.

    by cardinal on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 04:47:58 PM PST

  •  That's because people choose careers... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    psnyder, LanceBoyle, mconvente, Anak, DRo

    ...with some rationality and some attention to their core temperament.  Most business owners are conservative, most academics are liberal.  You go into business because you value material reward over everything, you go into academia because you value knowledge over everything.  They're equally fine-with-me career paths but it's not like people are randomly assigned to one or the other, or to the military or education or nursing or whatnot.  One or a thousand or a million (not bloody likely!) counterexamples don't shake the obvious basis for academics as liberal and businesspeople as conservative.  I'd feel a tad idiotic complaining about the dearth of progressive businesspeople, so I don't really understand why conservatives get hung up on the liberal (very wimpy liberal) sort-of-hegemony in academia.

    Todo tiempo pasado fue mejor. I don't believe that, but I hear this sig is permanent.

    by Rich in PA on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 05:12:12 PM PST

    •  That's a charitable way of putting it. (0+ / 0-)

      You go into business because you value material reward over everything, you go into academia because you value knowledge over everything.

      One could just as easily argue you go into business to change the world, and academia so you never have to be held accountable for your arguments.

      •  Why are academics never held (0+ / 0-)

        accountable?

        Where did you come up with that?

        There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

        by upstate NY on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 01:35:17 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Tenure? (0+ / 0-)

          It look a superhuman effort to fire Ward Churchill, of all people, and really that only happened because he badmouthed 9/11 victims... had he not done that, I doubt blatantly fabrication of evidence of genocide would have been quietly overlooked.

          •  Tenure means faculty aren't accountable? (0+ / 0-)

            What?

            You're reaching here.

            Getting tenure is a difficult process that the vast majority of private workers never submit to.

            Let me say that as someone who worked in corporate America for a decade, there is 100x more accountability in academia than you have at the highest reaches of corporate America (I worked at a Fortune 500 firm in NYC). Average time to postgrad PhD in academia (10 years). % of graduates who land tenure-track jobs: 25%. Hiring process length, stages, requirements: 9 months, 4 stages, each taking 2 or 3 days, book length publication or articles required. Tenure process and prospects: 6 years, only 2/3rds make it.

            I don't know of many other professions where you have to go through a rigorous 20 year process to achieve a long term position. For most academics who don't make tenure, that's it. They are out of university teaching. In the early 40s, they are done. Having spent 10-14 years as students, 7 years as teachers, they are out of work.

            There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

            by upstate NY on Thu Mar 03, 2011 at 08:08:01 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Ehhhhh.... (0+ / 0-)

      You're painting with a really broad brush. There are progressive entrepreneurs. There are also entrepreneurs who go into business for themselves because they don't like the confines of the corporate world, or they've invented something they really want to share with the whole world.

      As for academia, I doubt the politics would be quite as cut-throat if everyone there "valued knowledge over everything." Friends of mine who are in it tell me that they've met plenty of dunces there, too, who got there thanks to privilege.

      •  Really? (0+ / 0-)

        Privilege?

        How so?

        I can't think of how the review process could be skewed by privilege.

        Let me say that the process of landing a job in academia is so long and grueling and constrained that I seriously doubt you could do it through privilege--unless you teach at Bob Jones U. or something like that.

        There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

        by upstate NY on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 01:37:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  politically liberal, socially conservative (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    i like bbq, andromeda

    is the best description of academics.

    they are un-sexist when a bombshell comes begging for a better grade, but extremely sexist with the less attractive women who are smart enough to not have to put out for grades.

    age the latter a couple years, give them a jealous husband and a couple of kids on top of the top honors and PhD, and she will be regarded as poison...particularly if she expects to be taken as seriously as her grades and publications would warrant -- if she were a man.  

    Look, we've all seen these narcissistic a-holes in operation.  Professors.  phooey.  

    A socialist is a free market capitalist who's been mugged by the market. -- TimeZoned

    by bekosiluvu on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 05:18:07 PM PST

    •  Excuse me. (10+ / 0-)

      I would prefer it if you would not tar every professor with the same brush.  I'm female.  I worked my butt off to get a job and to get tenure.  I'm willing to acknowledge that I was awfully damned lucky, plus I ditched the assholic husband.

      Academia is brutal on female professors.  Please to acknowledge that we do, in fact, exist.  It would also be nice if you could tone down the attitude towards attractive young women.  Some of them are very bright and hard working.  It is not fair to assume that they are stupid or trying to use their attractiveness to get a good grade.  

      •  meanwhile, back in engineering and physics... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        phree, i like bbq

        * never had a female professor teach a class or to supervise research ONCE throughout 4 years of undergraduate, 6 years of graduate and 5 years of postdoc.  There simply WERE NO female faculty.  The physical sciences today have barely reached tokenism.   I fail to see how a statistically insignificant 3% difference in performance on a math test in middle school (which disappears with equal training) should lead to 99% attrition in these fields.   This was in the 90's, y'all, not the 50's.  

        * female students were so rare that we were in fact treated as "just there looking for a husband" or some kind of crazy joke if we weren't.  And yes, hit on all the time.  Nothing you can do about it.  If you complain, they suggest you move into a field you are "better suited for" even though you're weathering it out with A's, B's and C's -- and they certainly never tell the male students who are frigging failing classes year after year to switch out of the engineering school -- they just shuffle them into OR or CE and on a "management" track.  This is where your future bosses and CEOs come from.  

        * when in grad school, a fellow student tried to rape me against a lab bench -- this was at around 8PM.  I fought him off, locked myself in a neighboring lab, and called 911.  When the police arrived, the guy was banging on the door of the lab I'd locked myself into still screaming sexual epithets.  The police took a report, arrested him, and escorted me home (not to a hospital btw).  The next day the dean of physical sciences called me in to EXPEL ME from graduate school -- for the crime of "embarrassing the University."  I told him that in that case, I would have nothing to lose by pressing criminal charges against the student, and naming him -- the dean -- as an accessory after the fact.  In a criminal charge, that would certainly make the newspapers.  He went white (he was already pretty white).  Realizing this would "embarrass the University" a whole lot more, decided not to expel me.  

        * in the physical sciences, a postdoc is just a chance for the faculty to see if you'll put out.  If you do, maybe they'll keep you, maybe not.  If you make it clear you most definitely do not and will not ever -- they'll just shut you out completely.  You'll be lucky to get access to a computer terminal.  You'll be accused of "planning to have children soon" (crime of the century and a terminable offense even after the FMLA, which does not cover people on limited term appointments), you'll be accused of "being religious" (evidence of irrationality in a scientist) and you'll be accused of -- worst of all -- "being a feminist."  

        At least this is how it was in the 90's.  Unfortunately, if you've been expecting to see senior women faculty in engineering and the physical sciences in leadership positions, in critical-mass numbers that will encourage and provide role models for women in the physical sciences and engineering -- it's the discrimination in the 90's that knocked so many of us just out into other fields, caused us to quit -- that matters.  We're not there, and never will be.  What you'll mostly find is women who married their way into the fold -- your social status still being entirely dependent on the man you attach yourself to amongst these troglodytes -- and their bitter old childless discards.  

        A socialist is a free market capitalist who's been mugged by the market. -- TimeZoned

        by bekosiluvu on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 08:21:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Ooooh. (3+ / 0-)

      Not at any school I've been associated with since around 1979 or so. In most schools I've been to, it's been a scandal if a prof went out with a former student, even several years after graduation.
      I have seen a lot of toxic intradepartmental politics, but they were personality based rather than gender based.

    •  Not in my experience... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      psnyder, Dragon5616, AZphilosopher

      I've been in academe for 25 years and have seen far more libertarians than conservatives; social conservatives have been quite scarce even in the religious institutions I've worked for.

      Your accusations about sexism and grading sound like something from a 1950s novel. They certainly don't reflect reality at any place I've taught. Indeed, many of the departments I work with (including the hard sciences) are majority female faculty.  I've worked under female chairs, female deans, and female presidents. I've also participated in the hires of female faculty (by about a 3 to 1 ratio offhand) in multiple departments.

      Academe ain't perfect and certainly women have been discriminated against in the past. But things are much better than you seem to think, at least at every place I've worked and most of the places I have even second-hand knowledge of as well.

      "Take it easy-- but take it!" --Woody Guthrie

      by Mr Green Jeans on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 05:45:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You're a guy, going by your handle. (0+ / 0-)

        You're not on the receiving end of the worst of it, so there's no reason for you to have seen it. Just like most catcalling happens when women are alone in public rather than with (male) significant others.

        Please don't tell us that we don't really know what we experience.

  •  Who cares what people who know nothing... (7+ / 0-)

    about academic topics at a professional level think?

    When I start hearing about suitably able and professionally dedicated conservative physicists, mathematicians, etc. who can't get a job simply because of their political beliefs, THEN I'll start caring.

    And not a second before.

    I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

    by punditician on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 05:18:13 PM PST

  •  I've seen faculty vote Republican (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    irishwitch, fizziks, p gorden lippy

    When Governor Brown in California held up a scheduled pay increase they all voted for his opponent in the general election. If Republicans want to see more faculty vote for them they can start funding education at least as well as the Democrats do. If they want biologists to vote for them they can start defending Darwinian evolution. But would they lose more votes among anti-intellectuals and Fundamentalists than they gain among professors? Would they even still be considered conservative?

  •  McMegan's further stupidity (4+ / 0-)

    She still doesn't understand why liberals usually conclude that statistical underrepresentation of women, racial minorities or gays in some choice occupation is because of discrimination.  It's not merely the lack of a particular group, it is the inescapable social context that has seen these groups actively discriminated against for a very long time.  Conservatives are mostly white, male, straight, wealthy and Christian, they are in the majority in nearly every demographic in American life and have never been discriminated against in any significant way.

    So when you find a reasonably good occupation that has less conservatives than you would expect if society wide demographics held, you do have a higher barrier to cross in trying to explain this as the product of discrimination.  

    It's hard to discriminate against the powerful, even if you want to, they're fucking powerful and the law will take their side.  If there are liberal academics who purposely discriminate against qualified and competent conservative academics, they're just begging for all kinds of lawsuit pain and better be damn subtle about what they're doing.

    •  Some discrimination is inherent though (0+ / 0-)
      If there are liberal academics who purposely discriminate against qualified and competent conservative academics, they're just begging for all kinds of lawsuit pain and better be damn subtle about what they're doing.

      I've never seen a conscious act of discrimination against anyone in the many, many faculty searches I've been involved in since the late 1980s. But based on my own experiences and what I know from friends at universities around the country I think there is some inherent discrimination at work that could indeed be a factor in hiring conservatives.

      For example, many (most?) hiring decisions come down to what academics often call "fit." Will this person fit into the culture of the department? Can I imagine myself working with-- and possibly under --her/him for the next 25 years? Is s/he someone I can collaborate with, or at least enjoy talking with around the departmental coffee pot?

      There are all sorts of subtle cues that people read in social setting like job interviews. One would never ask "so who did you vote for in 2008?" of a job candidate. But people do make assumptions about political, cultural, and social issues based on candidates' choices of research topics, publications, undergraduate/graduate schools, place of origin, manner of dress, speech, etc. These may not be overt and are certainly not official, but when a hiring committee weeds through 150 applications to make a short list do you think the degree from Oral Roberts University or the dissertation on Ayn Rand will naturally come to the top?  Will the candidate who uses business school language in a cover letter do well in an English search? Or will the specialist in libertarian economic thought be considered a serious candidate for a position that requires teaching macroeconomics?

      People like to spend time with people who share their values. One of the values academics profess is diversity; we've done a fair job in recent years of increasing the gender, age, and racial/ethnic diversity of faculty in general. But as others have pointed out in the comments, academics also value fact, logic, the life of the mind, and at least pretend that money doesn't matter. Many conservatives do not share those values, and so may well indeed find themselves discriminated against in hiring decisions as faculty seek-- perhaps subconsciously --to replicate themselves even while seeking diversity as they see it.

      "Take it easy-- but take it!" --Woody Guthrie

      by Mr Green Jeans on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 06:20:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

        "Will this person fit into the culture of the department?"...People like to spend time with people who share their values.

        Conservatives are not the only ones who will rule people out based on "misfit" into the workplace culture. White liberals can do the same to black prospects. Male liberals can do the same to female prospects. A lot of this operates at an unconscious, or at best semi-conscious, level. This is how institutional oppression works.

      •  I can't see it (0+ / 0-)

        It seems to me that the examples you raise are so beyond the pale (such as a dissertation on Ayn Rand) that in the real world, it would never come up at all. I want to know what kind of book a conservative with interests in literature would write. Begin there. Because without a sense of what kind of subject matter would interest a politically conservative person, I struggle to even imagine a scenario where someone is discounted subconsciously about their politics.

        Ayn Rand is discounted simply because all research into single authors (if they're not Shakespeare or Joyce) is discounted. So, I'd need to be given an example of conservative subject matter in literature before I could reply as to whether it would be accepted.

        I can construct such an argument myself--but I seriously doubt conservatives have invested themselves enough in the discourse of literature departments enough to do so. For instance, I could do a study of Foucault's work on prisons and punishment, in order to come to a politically conservative conclusion regarding the justice system, but I would have to account for the radical counterarguments as well. I can imagine such a project being accepted into any number of departments, butt he perception of them would be radically conservative/radically liberal.

        There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

        by upstate NY on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 01:44:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I read the original article (7+ / 0-)

    It is skewed for liberal arts and social sciences.  It does not include hard sciences, let alone business and professional schools, including engineering.  Trust me, I saw the "W" signs in the faculty offices in the business and engineering colleges.

    And I really object to the slamming of academics in this thread.  Way to eat your own, people.  Who the heck do you think gives money and votes Democrat religiously?  You think English professors don't?  Who is stereotyping now?  Yeesh.

  •  different meanings for "conservative" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    northsylvania

    There are different meanings for the word, "conservative".  My own motto is that I am too liberal to be a Democrat, and too conservative to be a Republican.  Thus, being a conservative is to me an aspect of being rather than a set of principles.  In fact, I associate it with personality more than ideology.  After all, Truth is Truth, and has no ideology.  Power appropriates Truth for its own ends, which offends my conservative aspect more than my liberal aspect.  That Republicans today glom onto a single Truth merely for the sake of power is an abomination to me, and that they spend most of their public time hiding behind the respectability of being a "Conservative" (and in the process duping true conservative-type personalities) is so fucked-up even a naive fool such as myself is permanently grossed-out by it.  The Republican party is nothing more to me than the people from Bizarro-land, and is not redeemable.

    In today's highly politicized environment, the word "conservative" means Republican, or Blue Dog Democrat.  When a poll of political views was taken in AZ (no link, sorry) about 10 years ago and it was learned that somewhere around 90% of K-12 teachers were Democrats, it was the end of education as we knew it.  I believe it was then that a concerted effort was put into place to destroy public education, and teacher unions, at all costs.

    What we see today are the fruits of that resolve by Republicans, those monsters of humanity whose real faces are hidden behind the term "conservative".

    Platform politics: Republicans are selling their souls to the devil, who is selling them back to the Democrats- for taxpayer dollars.

    by jcrit on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 04:21:07 AM PST

  •  How does the saying go ? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IARXPHD, OllieGarkey

    The reason academics are liberal is because they use facts and not fantasy or something along those lines ?
    I'll have to start reading my old Al Franken books to find it.

    Thanks, I was wondering what book I wanted to read, and now I have the answer

    you can't remain neutral on a moving train

    by rmfcjr on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 04:36:25 AM PST

  •  The.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jcrit, mconvente

    Military officer meme is a joke.  There is no reasoning in attacking a fotification of flying a fighter jet.  You just do what your told in the most effiecient way possible.  The reason there are so many Conservative military officers is because the military, by nature, lends itself to authoritarianism.  If, during a firefight, a young Lieutenant stopped to weigh the moral questions about war, he would get his head blown off.  There is no reasoning in martial arts, you just execute the best plan possible in order to complete the mission.

    Oh, and I spent 7 years in the Air Force.  So it's not like I am speaking with no frame of reference.  

    •  Conservative military officers (6+ / 0-)

      Not all officers are conservatives, and I've met some who were critically-thinking intellectuals. The prevalence of conservatives in the officer corps is an historical circumstance, reflection of the fact that southern whites have long gravitated to the military because they perceived it to be one of the few places welcoming them and offering them upward social mobility (as liberals gravitate to academia, seeing it as the single safe haven for those of their kind).

      Dismissing soldiers out of hand as unthinking authoritarian brutes is a good way to reinforce the perception that liberals are hostile to those pursuing military careers.

      •  And who teaches the ROTC students? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        OllieGarkey

        My overwhelmingly liberal colleagues and I teach 90% of the credits our ROTC students take and help produce what I think are fine young officers who are skilled in critical thinking, aware of the world, and able to make balanced moral decisions. Perhaps that is all drummed out of them later, but I doubt it...and honestly assume that we are doing a good thing by supporting ROTC. I want well educated people leading our military and see no reason why they cannot-- just as there's no real reason a conservative intellectual can't be an academic.  They just often choose not to, just as pacifists often choose not to join ROTC.

        "Take it easy-- but take it!" --Woody Guthrie

        by Mr Green Jeans on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 06:54:01 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Conservative professors suck (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mconvente

    I hat one long ago for for a Gov. course.  It was nothing but an hour of him pontificating about how this liberal president screwed the nation and how this republican legislator saved the world, blah blah blah.

    I only showed up for the tests.

    Zombie Reagan gives the most peachy speeches.

    by The Dead Man on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 04:40:04 AM PST

  •  The truth has a well known (4+ / 0-)

    liberal bias.  :)

  •  money quote (4+ / 0-)
    That is what separates not the liberal from the conservative, but the academic from the imbecile: the ability to change your beliefs when you are proven wrong.

    Maybe that's why there are so few "Conservatives," i.e. rigid thinkers, in academia as the chances of being proved wrong for one reason and another on any given day are fairly large. I would think that for psychologists, that would be particularly true.
  •  I have a problem with this diary (5+ / 0-)

    And let me begin by saying I am a left-liberal academic.

    My problem with this diary is that as I interpret it, you are defending viewpoint discrimination in the academy. This is contrary to the principles of academic freedom as defined by the AAUP as well as other organizations (reference the NEA statement on academic freedom as well).

    Viewpoint discrimination does not belong in the academy and we cannot be in the business of declaring that people with viewpoints a, b or c do no belong in the academy. That is the same logic that was used to support loyalty oaths and to ban "communists" from academia and to attack Ward Churchill, and now to attack Frances Fox Piven. It is in our interest to defend academic freedom, even of people who hold views we might find objectionable.

    And I should add, that there are whole swathes of academia that do not adhere to rigorous scientific analysis but instead, attack the very foundations of Enlightenment and Science. And it is usually these very same people who are the most intolerant of those with dissenting views.

    Having said all that, I do not thing (on the whole) that the reason for the "liberal bias" (it's a bias, but I don't know if I'd call it "liberal" per se-Universities are amazingly pro-corporate when you get right down to it) is discrimination-though I do think there are instances of discrimination against conservatives.

    I do want to add however that people like Krugman engage in and systematically reinforce discrimination against dissenting views in economics that one might characterize as being on the left.

    Why does this "liberal bias" exist. I can think of three reasons:

    1. As should be very clear given the events in Wisconsin and Ohio, we do in fact have a vested interest in public funding (and I don't apologize for that). But that does immediately tend to push my views on the role of government to the "left";

    2. Those professions that tend to attract conservatives who get advanced degrees are not well represented in academia-and I don't think that's a bad thing. Business departments tend to be on the conservative side-same for economics departments.

    3. There is a crisis in "conservative thought": no-its not an oxymoron. There is a long conservative tradition of people like Burke and Hayek who are important thinkers and have important points to make and should be considered.

    However, for the most part that is not what modern conservatism has become. It is now a public, anti-intellectual tradition. I can see no reason why academics should seriously discuss the rantings of people like Beck, Limbaugh or Coulter.

    How academia deals with people on the fringes (whether on the extreme Pomo "left" or the extreme right such as YEC'ers or advocates of ID or holocaust deniers) should depend on the specifics of the discipline, their disciplinary competence and their ability to teach and publish in their fields.

    In a very few instances people may hold views which render them ineffective in their field: if you can't or won't teach evolution in biology classes, or if you can't present it accurately to students, then you are not teaching the curriculum. If you can't publish because of that view, then you won't get tenure. On the other hand, a philosophy professor who defends ID is an altogether different matter. But again, the deciding factor should not be beliefs or viewpoints. It is disciplinary competence.

    In closing, I want to say that I think your argument in favor of viewpoint discrimination has done left wing academics like me damage. You make it much harder for me to defend academic freedom to administrators and to the public at large.

    •  I think you're too hard on him (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      i like bbq

      By its very nature, a lot of inquiry will tend toward liberating thinking. That tendency is at work in academia, and of course it's biased against those who are conservatively inclined.

      Take gender theory. The people who study it and work through it, in anthropology, sociology, ethnographically, in literature, psychology, etc., have a radically different view on it than society as a whole (I would venture to say that their views are far far off the margins of DailyKos). So when it comes to hiring in that field, the faculty already studying gender will have a bias toward one end of a spectrum. In short, the discipline itself demands it.

      Otherwise, if you're talking about politics at the ideological level, I almost never ever see the subject broached in any hiring.

      There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

      by upstate NY on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 07:10:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  As a rule (0+ / 0-)

        Conservatives won't gravitate to fields like gender studies. But even in such a field, I often find that center-left academics like me wouldn't bother either.

        But anyway-as I said-I don't have a problem with the self selecting bias (until people demand quotas in other fields that are self selecting as well).

        I do have a problem with people saying "viewpoint discrimination is OK".

        It is not and I am rather disappointed that Kos is now featuring this point of view.

        Well perhaps I'll have time to post later on this-but there are other, more pressing problems like now like the Ohio and Wisconsin bills.

        •  I think the relationship of political (0+ / 0-)

          ideology (i.e. conservative or center-left) to a specific discipline such as gender studies is only incidental. I don't think you can say that center-left academics generally wouldn't bother since again, the relationship is only incidental. In gender studies, the discussion of political ideology along the spectrum discussed in culture is almost irrelevant, which means the ideological distinctions cited by critics of academia make little sense.

          In the culture at large, political ideology is mainly (I'll say 85%) an economic question. The first thing people do is cite their preferences on taxation, and from there derive economic models. But in academia, the economics department is a small part of a university (and it's usually a very conservative entity) so that ANY survey of political attitudes conflates the economic/cultural with the academic. That's where the problem is.

          And with respect to gender theory, that's why I say a person who is conservative culturally would be as welcomed there as anywhere. Consider Foucault and the way he has been appropriated by conservatives everywhere when it comes to his reflections of criminality and punishment. And yet his writing on gender was totally radical.

          There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

          by upstate NY on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 11:31:48 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  You make good points, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angry marmot

      and I need to respond.

      I may have phrased my argument in a way that lends itself to viewpoint discrimination, but that wasn't my intent. If that's what it looks like, then it's my failing and I didn't express myself clearly.

      What I think is the key offending quote from me:

      "If your beliefs are wrong, if they are widely believed to be wrong, if you are joining the ranks of conspiracy theorists and lunatics, then you're probably not well suited for the Academy."

      I tried to make my point with subtlety here, but many people will see this as an attack on academic freedom rather than as a subtle point. This is especially true since it might well be the only subtle point in the entire diary. I wrote "probably not well suited" for a reason. It's not up to me or any individual decide what viewpoints do or don't belong in the Academy, on that point we are in heated agreement.

      But I'm not making an Academic argument here, and neither is McArdle. She's making a political attack on the foundation of Academia, the Scientific Method, and pretending that this is a well reasoned argument. She's not talking about the conservative views of Burke, Augustine, or De Toqueville. When she talks about conservative ideas, she's discussing "the rantings of people like Beck, Limbaugh or Coulter."

      That's what she wants in the Academy. That's what she defines as "conservative."

      Quoting you, "[o]n the other hand, a philosophy professor who defends ID is an altogether different matter. But again, the deciding factor should not be beliefs or viewpoints. It is disciplinary competence."

      And that's exactly what I'm arguing for.

      What I'm saying isn't "Conservative Ideas Don't Belong in the Academy." What I'm saying is "What McArdle thinks conservative ideas are don't belong in the Academy," because McArdle thinks Beck, Pat Robertson, Coulter, and Limbaugh have valid viewpoints that are well reasoned and should be considered by the Academy.

      That's why I say "If this is how most conservative thinking works, then I'm not sure there's much value to it."

      Now you're right. This isn't fair to conservative academics. This isn't how conservative reasoning works. But I'm not an Academic, and I'm not making an Academic argument. I'm making a political argument here, and so is McArdle. Politics isn't fair or kind.

      Now if I pulled out my copy of Damer's Attacking Faulty Reasoning and made excruciatingly logical points about McArdle, I would be on firm academic footing, and I would have won the Academic argument. I would have been right. And with all due respect paid to Dennis Kucinich, I would have lost the political argument.

      The rules for debate and discussion within the context of political speech are different from the rules for debate and discussion within the Academy. That's very sad, but I don't know what to do about it until every American has a well founded critical thinking education.

      We, as liberals, are losing the political argument because we're not willing to play the same rhetorical game the Republicans are playing. We've let them turn "Liberal" into a four letter word. They're doing the same thing with the word "Progressive," and they're trying to conflate "Democrat" with "Communist." Until they see that the rhetorical knife cuts both ways, they're not going to stop. Their game plan is working, and I've watched it work since I was in middle school.

      Now we've got three options as I can see them.

      Option one: We can do what we're doing now, be technically correct and lose the political argument.

      Option two: we can institute critical thinking education and defend it for the 30 years it will take for this to have an affect.

      Option three: we can stop losing the rhetorical arms race with the republican party until option two can be implemented.

      If you can find some way to achieve option two without option three, I'll march in lockstep with you to achieve it.

  •  If I had expressed disagreement with... (0+ / 0-)

    a few of my liberal professors in class regarding some of their political beliefs (I was in school from 03-08), I would have had a serious problem passing their class.

    That is wrong.

    I am old enough to form my own opinions; young people are much more susceptible to influence from adults in positions of power whom they respect. They should be allowed to explore all alternatives, even ones we may not particularly like.

    What I objected to was straitjacketing of ideas I saw in some of my classes. And I am ONLY speaking to my personal experience.

    There should be serious discussion of all viewpoints, and derision of none, in a forum where freedom of thought is supposed to reign.

    We will always slip from such a high standard and can be forgiven when we do so; we're only human after all. But it should always be embraced. In some of my classes it was not.

    And that is a tragedy.

    •  Do you have proof (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fizziks, andromeda

      that the professors in question were systematically lowering the grades of people that disagreed with them? I had many liberal professors and never saw that happen. Not once.

      •  Nobody ever DID disagree with them... (0+ / 0-)

        despite opportunities to do so. I didn't either.

        But then I was more interested in getting my degree than in engaging in political debate, and my opinions, unlike young people, are mostly decided.

        We all know that getting a good grade involves kowtowing to the professor's views: if he thinks Shakespeare is way overrated, don't go calling him the greatest writer ever in a test essay or a paper.

        Likewise if he holds that Marxism is the way to go, don't go insulting it. I'm talking about a very influential person standing up at the front of the class and limiting discussion, and whether that is right or not - I don't think it is.

        I'm not saying every professor does it - in fact I would expect that the good ones take every step to make sure they do not do it and encourage rather than discourage differing opinions.

        I spent a good deal of time in many different classes, I'm no wide-eyed 18 year-old, wet-behind-the-ears freshman, and I know how to read people.

        So please don't insult my intelligence with nitwit responses.

        •  You're overgeneralizing. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          fizziks, Mr Green Jeans
          We all know that getting a good grade involves kowtowing to the professor's views: if he thinks Shakespeare is way overrated, don't go calling him the greatest writer ever in a test essay or a paper.

          That might have been true of one or more of your professors, but it's not true of me and it's not true of any of my colleagues that I know well.

          You make a good, evidence-based argument for a position that differs from mine, and I'll welcome it.  I want my students to think, not to regurgitate what I say.

          Speaking of, I gotta get to class...

        •  Did you ever take a single science class? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          i like bbq

          Like I've said, I've seen that kind of behavior in the humanities on occasion, but I have NEVER EVER seen it in the sciences.  There, evidence comes first.  If you want to disagree with the professor, you provide evidence, and if you do they listen: it's their job to do so.

          Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

          by neroden on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 09:16:05 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  The best professors are the ones who can (0+ / 0-)

          hold forth for a while about their own views and engage the students with their own views. They are the lecturers, the experts, the geniuses, who know their shit.

          There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

          by upstate NY on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 01:47:29 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Give examples (4+ / 0-)

      I've heard examples from conservatives on your issues, and when I heard them out, most of the time, they showed that they were incapable of adapting to the class's parameters. Not saying that's you, but you need to give examples.

      Unless your teacher isn't credentialed, know that they have spent a good chunk of their lives devoted to their subject matter. That's why they're there. They are experts. I open inquiry in my classrooms, ask questions, tease out thinking from students, and generally try to foster excellent communication. There are sometimes students who do not want to engage in the subject matter through the methods that we employ to "treat" it, and yes then I explain to them why systematic methods for inquiry are employed and/or favored. If the system can improve on it, then great. If they can't, where does that leave the professor? Nowhere.

      It's a two-way street.

      There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

      by upstate NY on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 07:05:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  What classes? What disagreements? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      neroden, i like bbq

      Hard to argue with your experience, but it's hard to accept it as valid on its face.

      Stop clapping. Stop screaming. Open your mind. Listen.

      by Benintn on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 08:20:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  That doesn't happen in the sciences. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      i like bbq

      "If I had expressed disagreement with a few of my liberal professors in class regarding some of their political beliefs (I was in school from 03-08), I would have had a serious problem passing their class."

      I've seen this happen in the humanities, particularly literature.

      I have never seen it happen in the sciences, where evidence comes first.  I have rarely even seen it happen in the social sciences.  I have rarely seen it happen in history, even though that's usually considered one of the "humanities".  I have never, ever seen it happen in the arts, either.

      If there is a small problem in English departments, there's a small problem in English departments.

      At this point, if someone accepts the scientific evidence (men and women are pretty much of equal abilities on average on all intellectual tasks, global warming is real and is caused by greenhouse gas emissions, evolution happened by means of natural selection and all life forms on earth share common descent, countercyclical government policies are an effective way for government to reduce cyclical unemployment after it has arrived -- to use four different fields of scientific research), one is not considered "conservative" any more.

      Therefore I should certainly hope there are no conservatives left in academia, even if there are many people who respect the philosophies of those referred to as "conservative" 50, 100, or more years ago.

      Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

      by neroden on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 09:14:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The only time that happened to me (0+ / 0-)

      was high school, with a conservative AP history teacher.  

  •  They'er fools (8+ / 0-)

    Anti-science culture is disgusting in this country. Im all into microbiology personally, so my devil has been those...insane anti-vacciners. They are so insane, as to be astounding. I have heard "Theres no way bad genes can be passed down." I have heard the most boisterous voices, who scream the loudest about "evil" vaccines, admit they have never heard of genetic heredity.

    I have seen the ones that call me a "jew" for supporting vaccines...Im not jewish, nor did I realise that was a common trait among them. Im assuming it to be an insult. The rest never even acknowledge that they have raging anti-semites making up a significant portion of their group.

    I have seen them show no ability to differentiate between ethyl mercury (thimerosol, which isnt in vaccines anymore, which is moot because ethyl mercury does not bioaccumulate.) and methyl mercury -- the kind that no one puts in anything because thats stupid.

    I have seen soem claim that mercury is STILL in vaccines. Dont ask them why its there in the first place, they have no idea how vaccines work at all.

    They scream that autism is caued by vaccines. They say the CDC, WHO, etc are liars, and then distort the words (or just completely ignore actual words) by those orginization to support their wrong ideology.

    I have tried linking them to the CDC page which systemically eviscerates all their arguments -- only to get yelled at because "its not jsut about mercury." Which of course shows me that they didnt read the page, as only about a 100th of it was adressing that fact. The rest basically explained what every component did and why they were stupid (not using those words) for making autism stuff up.

    I once pointed out that between 1900 and 1979, between 300 and 500 MILLION people died from smallpox. In 1979 we eradicated it with successful vaccinations. deaths since 1980 of smallpox: 0. Zero. Non. Nil.

    They claim that HIV researchers found that HIV doesnt cause aids, and that aids is..some kinda magic malady of some sort. Of course, those experts said no such things but to find that out, theyd actually have to move off youtube.

    Speaking of that, they claim to be the only ones defending against a massive global conspiracy. Asking them how if this cospiracy is so powerful it is unable to shut down the videos of a few nutbags gets you about the same response when asking Beck's fanatics the same thing. None, and insults.

    In their world, everyone who disagrees with them that autism is caused by vaccines no matter what is automatically part of the conspiracy .I pointed out that when 99% of academics in meaningful (biology related) fields call their myth a lie, thats not a conspiracy; Thats what being wrong looks like. Hard to have a conspiracy if everyoen in the world is in on it...But then, basic language comprehension isnt a well known quality of these "Morans".

    And then like all the other peopel (the ones who think GM crops are magic) who like to see people suffer and die, these idiots tell africans that we're poisoning them. So the africans suffer and die because humans all over the world are idiots.

    I have seen these fools on the right scream at Dr Hawking as if they had a ground to stand on. They do not have one bit of ability to understand what his theories are, and so they just attack him.

    Well, thats about all i can stand without making myself really upset. I am so sick and tired of this anti-science community. They are such...meh. "God created light in transit to appear to be 13 billion lightyears old. Also god is coming back in our lifetime." So he did al lthis, built a whole universe to work in a way tha twould obscure its functioning to the people of the last century of existence, since we only now have the tools needed...because jesus is love?

    So..God made everyone in his image and wit ha plan and yet its our fault for being gay and its an affront to god...what...?

    I dont know why so many humans see mto like being complete and utter morons. I just dont get it.

    "It was the best of times, it was the BLURST of times?!"

    by kamrom on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 05:34:20 AM PST

    •  If I could rec X 1,000,000 it wouldn't be (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      neroden, i like bbq

      enough.

      The right wing has bought into the value of differing opinions as being the same as scientifically evaluated data. This false equivalency is then spouted off as somehow not being "fair". Asinine.

      WTF!?!?!?! When did I move to the Republic of Gilead?!

      by IARXPHD on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 06:27:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Right-wingers espouse deconstructionisism (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        IARXPHD, i like bbq

        It is, perhaps, surprising, but that's what they do when it comes to the real world -- they start claiming "my opinion is just as good as anyone else's", even if their opinion is contradicted by all available evidence.

        Deconstructionists were only doing this for literature, where there's some validity to it (though not that much).  Right-wingers do it for the real world.  Of course they don't believe the real world is important, since they're wrapped up in fantasies of Gods, Devils, Angels, and afterlives.

        Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

        by neroden on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 09:19:26 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Interesting. That vaccine-phobes invoke (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      IARXPHD, neroden, i like bbq

      anti-Semitic memes suggests the old "Blood Libel" is still alive. I recall reading about Russian pogroms sparked by the charge that Jewish doctors offering inoculations were really
      "collecting children's blood" for ritual matzoh.

      Some people never evolve, apparently.

  •  There are pockets of conservatives in academe (8+ / 0-)

    I've known some brilliant conservative academics in a variety of fields. They were true intellectuals and generally quite able to defend their positions with fact and logic. The problem with critics of "liberal academia" today is that they don't want brilliant conservatives represented, they want some sort of affirmative action for dolts who practice some sort of faith-based reason that the rest of us as supposed to accept as being equally valid to reality.

    "Take it easy-- but take it!" --Woody Guthrie

    by Mr Green Jeans on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 05:40:28 AM PST

    •  Agreed, but I'd say those brilliant conservatives (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      i like bbq

      wouldn't even be CALLED conservative any more.  Political conservatism means denial of reality and adherence to the party line, now.

      Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

      by neroden on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 09:20:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Conservatives can't cut it (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IARXPHD, fizziks, i like bbq

    in academia, and their whining is a desperate attempt to get some sort of affirmative action for anti-intellectuals. Nothing more.

    Like the diary.

    I had a right win psych professor once that wasted an entire class telling us all how people who break up after they are married have less psychological damage than people who live together and then break up. So I asked him if he seriously thought that the pain of my parents breakup after 20 years of marriage was less serious than a young couple that had lived together for a couple of years. He actually stood there in front of a classroom full of people and said yes.

  •  Academia is the only remaining (7+ / 0-)

    space in the public sphere where liberals can voice their opinions without fear. That's why the Right-wing Noise Machine can't tolerate academia; it wants to dominate that space as it does all others. It is very close to achieving that-- through a two-pronged attack on the Liberal Arts as an "unaffordable frill," and on state university professors as "parasites" exacerbating the debt crisis  

    And there are quite a few conservatives in academia-- it's just that they tend to gravitate to particular disciplines (Business, Law).

  •  A few things (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    i like bbq, mconvente, OllieGarkey

    I believe Michael Berube has the best answer to McArdle in his book: What's Liberal About the Liberal Arts. Berube has been through it before with Horowitz.

    A blurb:

    Berube, a literature professor who admits to being a liberal progressive but maintains that he is politically noncommittal in the classroom, explores the charges by the Right that America's universities are biased toward liberalism. Drawing on 20 years of teaching and recent troubling developments in academe, Berube answers conservative critics and, more fascinating, explores the dilemma of liberal teachers in encouraging open debate but opposing racism, sexism, and homophobia. Debunking stories of professors failing students who don't toe the liberal party line, Berube maintains that the real threat to open debate is conservatives seeking to squelch liberal ideas in the name of "fairness" to more conservative perspectives. He cites academic bills of rights in some states that are aimed at discouraging challenges to conservative ideas on creationism and other topics. Threats of lawsuits by students claiming that their views have been ridiculed are having a chilling effect on classroom dialogue. Berube offers a passionate appeal for preserving the best notions of the liberal-arts education, a discipline that promotes critical thinking and independent inquiry.

    Second, the powerful forces at work right now inside the university system tend toward conservatism, false narratives about the money-sucking liberal arts (it's not true, LAs are profitable), efficiency standards and non-stop surveys from administrators with business degrees (beholden to the notion of competitiveness, as though people who spend 10 years of their lives on PhDs in the 20% hope of landing a tenure-track job are somehow uncompetitive), corporate money influencing the curriculum AND academic freedom, etc.

    Third, I know someone who filmed an anti-academic movie on the charge of liberal bias. I got an email promoting the movie, and attached to the email was information about funding for the movie. I saw the names in the email cc'd and they were the same as the funders. In short, the whole attack against academia is a concerted effort by certain well-known hard core rightwingers with cash. McArdle is just a stooge.

    Fourth, Americans might want to take a look at Wisconsin and what's going on there for a perfect symbol of the destructiveness of the GOP. By taking away hundreds of millions from UW-Madison, the state GOP is destroying one of the biggest job creators in the entire state. Midwest campuses like UWM are renowned for their support for education. One only needs to look at career day at one of these campuses to understand how businesses correlate with academic talent. Many companies are located near these huge universities precisely because they hire gobs of undergrads at these career days--I'm talking in the thousands. Year after year, companies located near Madison, Ann Arbor, Bloomington, Champlain-Urbana, etc. return with job offers. Once the cuts settle in, and the students become less educated than they are, will the companies return? I think not.

    There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

    by upstate NY on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 06:48:46 AM PST

  •  Agree 95% (4+ / 0-)

    This is a great analysis, but I'll just mention one point where I disagree.

    Let me start by saying that it is true - I totally agree - that conservatives - in the contemporary American sense - by-and-large do not practice evidence-based decision making, and are therefore not aligned with the traditional mission of academia, so it is neither a surprise or a problem that they are underrepresented.

    However, I do not agree that academic academic liberals can always be counted on to practice evidence-based decision making, and I certainly don't agree that the dominant reaction in the Larry Summers case was evidence, rather than aesthetics and opinion-based outrage.

    There was of course some actual evidence-based evaluation of Summers' comments in the aftermath, but the outrage I remember from within the science academy was swift and not evidence-based.  It was pure emotion, lashing out at something that was challenging the dominant narrative.  

    I can also point to the Sokal hoax, as a case that highlighted the tendency toward non evidenced based thinking in certain spheres of liberal academia.  Anecdotally, when I was an undergrad I had a history class where a professor was stating that with the discovery of quantum mechanics science had been shown to have lost its predictive power.  As this is simply incorrect, I tried to argue but she would not have it.  That false notion was too precious to her extreme deconstructionist, cultural relativist ideology.

    Anyway, I think I would state it this way:  There is, unfortunately, not a total lack of rigid, non scientific, non evidence-based, ideological thinking in academia, but the inclusion of more conservatives would only make this worse.  

    •  I was going to make this point, too. (0+ / 0-)

      At least in the sciences, academics can cling irrationally to their pet theories, and it takes a buttload of evidence to get them to budge -- if you can get them to budge at all.

      •  not just sciences (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        OllieGarkey

        It's a HUGE problem in Economics, and is a problem in the humanities.

        •  With the exception of string theorists (0+ / 0-)

          and Chomskyist linguists (no offense to Chomsky himself, but his followers became a cult), almost all of the powerful groups I can think of which have succumbed to anti-evidence behavior in the sciences are "conservative".

           Particularly the ones in economics, where there is some evidence that payoffs by big business have had a major effect over the last 50 years.

          So I guess I agree, more conservatives would make things worse.

          The string theorists are finally being pushed out after decades of failure; the Chomskyists are simply fading into oblivion because people who take linguistics are more interested in real linguistics.

          Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

          by neroden on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 09:28:10 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  String theorists are not being pushed out (0+ / 0-)

            and they are not non-evidenced based.  I can't turn this forum into a course on theoretical physics, but string theory is a worthwhile investigation within the overall framework of how theoretical physics progresses.  There have been no experimental results contradicting string theory thus far.

            I don't know where you are getting your info that string theory is being pushed out.  Look at the new hires in high energy theory at the major places.

    •  Reaction in the Larry Summers case WAS evidence. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      i like bbq, OllieGarkey

      Look, I know second-hand some of the academics who mailed him the research papers showing him that he was an idiot.

      He actually read them and admitted that he was wrong.

      The outrage was that someone in the position of University President would spout off at a public speech about something about which he knew nothing, and make dangerously bigoted comments while doing so.  It was un-academic behavior.  

      It was outrage at un-academic behavior, at Summers speaking his own bigoted speculations in a speech, rather than consulting the research work of dozens of social scientists, many at his own university.  (He wants to know why there are so few women in upper academia?  He could have called up the people who spent their life studying the problem, AT HARVARD, who provided him after-the-fact with the massive evidence of systemic discrimination.)

      Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

      by neroden on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 09:24:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  asdf (0+ / 0-)
      It was pure emotion, lashing out at something that was challenging the dominant narrative.
      Oh, those emotional wimminz. Getting so hysterical when a brave, truth-telling man implies that their careers are a joke and they should've just stayed in the kitchen.

      And you really, honestly think the "dominant narrative" in society is that women are intellectually equal to men? Check your privilege, kthx.

  •  Would the "liberal" professors here kindly reflect (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    i like bbq, OllieGarkey

    that your tenured liberalism is only possible through the mass exploitation of adjunct faculty? Kind of like how slave labor made Greek philosophy possible as a recreational activity for all those noble Athenians? And I'd love to hear what universities or colleges the "No adjuncts at my school" crowd work at: names and tenured-adjunct breakdown "or it didn't happen," as they say.

    None of this is to deny your worth, your hard work, your investment in your careers. Just a simple corrective to those of you who think your value, monetary and otherwise, isn't somehow inflated by the devaluation, monetary and otherwise, of many more. The rampant denialism and "O noes not me!" above speak volumes, Professors.

    •  No adjuncts in my department. (4+ / 0-)

      And the only adjuncts that we ever use in my College within the University are those to cover for sabbaticals or when we are recruiting for an open position.

      Drake University, College of Pharmacy

      WTF!?!?!?! When did I move to the Republic of Gilead?!

      by IARXPHD on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 06:57:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I've seen no adjuncts anywhere I've been thus far (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mr Green Jeans

      in my academic career, at least in my field.

      There have been people who are on lectureships - as in they do a heavy teaching load and no research - but these have been called "lectureships with potential security of employment" with a track similar to that of tenure.

    •  The Chronicle doesn't agree (0+ / 0-)

      Did you see this article based on a survey of adjuncts a while back?  While it claims adjuncts make up about 50% of faculty nation wide, it also found that half of the respondents wanted part time work and 68% were satisfied with their jobs.

      Another Chronicle article on faculty composition though based on a small sample, shows a range of adjunct faculty from 8.8% (at Stanford) to 73% (at Colorado).  

      My institution fits nicely into one end of each distribution: we are well under 10% adjunct faculty and most of those we do hire (in my division at least) are locals who do not want a full time position.  

      Your experience may vary, and I don't deny that public schools in particular have been treating term labor terribly for years, if not decades. But not all schools do it. And not all tenure track faculty condone it either.

      "Take it easy-- but take it!" --Woody Guthrie

      by Mr Green Jeans on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 11:09:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  We had adjuncts as of 2 years ago (0+ / 0-)

        They were all fired to save money. We enlarged classes, we eliminated classes, we offer certain required classes rarely, we took over intro classes. Why did the university fire them? T save money by giving their work to us.

        There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

        by upstate NY on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 01:51:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  It's not inflated by any devaluation (0+ / 0-)

      There's a context for the work we do, and it's place in society and the university as an institution as a whole. Some professors bring millions to their university in the form of grants and receive very little back. Universities are non-profit institutions that exploit labor, obviously. But in the scheme of things, those universities exist to fulfill a cultural role, and any inflation or devaluation is precisely related to how society values the institution and the people who work there. It's a measure of the health of the entire society.

      Look, professors were making MORE money back when adjuncts comprised about 15% of the total number of professors (which was only 15 years ago). Now that the number of full-timers is down to 35% (and the number of tenured professors much less) the plight of the adjunct is the same. Low pay. Nothing's changed.

      If you equation was correct, one would have assumed that the pay for faculty would have inflated rapidly as the numbers of adjuncts tripled nationwide and the number of full-timers diminished, but instead the opposite happened. The average pay for incoming faculty is still in the $40k range, while faculty as a whole it's $50k range.

      There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

      by upstate NY on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 01:56:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  the very nature of conservatism, whether (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marc in KS

    financial or religious or both, simply defies reason. The idea of using reason, science, and intellect to solve problems is a distinctly liberal quality, at least from my experience. I have yet to find a truly out of the box thinker who is completely conservative. On Krugman, the man won a Nobel Prize. I think if you claim that his opinions are based on anything other than fact, you're out of your mind. I've read some of his politically and economically oriented books and even his opinions and ideas are supported by strong, impartial facts.

    •  Contrast this with (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fizziks, happymisanthropy

      ideologically-based economics.  

      Take, e.g., "trickle down."  We have 30 years of evidence that it simply does not work, and yet conservatives cling to it.  The "Laffer curve" is bogus, and we have tons of evidence for it, but conservatives still cling to that idea.  Abstinence-only sex education actually correlates with increased pregnancy and STDs, but they cling to it.

      I could go on, but I gotta get to class now...

      •  Trickle down disproved in 1929 (0+ / 0-)
        Take, e.g., "trickle down."  We have 30 years of evidence that it simply does not work, and yet conservatives cling to it.

        Hell, it failed under Andrew Mellon in the 1920s. We have not only 90 years of negative evidence, but the freaking Great Depression to prove it doesn't work.

        "Take it easy-- but take it!" --Woody Guthrie

        by Mr Green Jeans on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 11:11:36 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Trying again ... (0+ / 0-)

    I wrote a long comment that went into the ether when I hit post.

    Now, I don't have much time at my disposal - but the gist of my comment was there are modes of critical thinking that don't use the scientific method, and those other modes of critical thought can advance liberalism as much as scientific inquiry does.

    Monocausality is the source of all our problems.

    by dirkster42 on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 07:33:10 AM PST

    •  hmm (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dirkster42

      But critical thought can never be at odds with scientific knowledge, or else it wouldn't be properly critical.

      There is a quote on the wall in the Library of Congress.  It says

      Books must follow sciences, and not sciences books.
      •  You learn how to ask and formulate (0+ / 0-)

        questions differently in the humanities than you do in the hard sciences.

        What experiment could you possibly run to prove a point about Tolstoy's War and Peace?  That's not how you make an argument about a novel.  There's ways of falsifying various claims in the humanities, but the methods aren't those of the scientific method.

        There's also a different kind of critical distance that you gain with the humanities.  A friend's dissertation deals with Regina Jonas, the first ordained rabbi, and Edith Stein, a Jew who converted to Catholicism, became a nun, yet continued to consider herself Jewish.  My friend says, as a Jew, she considers Stein an abomination, however, as a scholar, her job isn't to prove Stein wrong, but to explain why Stein thought the way she did.  This was a much, much, much more difficult challenge for my friend than showing why Stein was "wrong."  But, the way she overcame those difficulties was through a humanistic approach, not through the scientific method.  To state accurately what someone else thought, regardless of whether you agree or not, can require unlearning assumptions in a way that the approach of testing hypotheses with experiments doesn't train you for.

        History as a discipline has to take absent data into account in a way that's more of a fundamental problem than in the hard sciences.  When you know a document you need has been destroyed in a war - as was the case for a friend doing research on sixteenth-century Germany - that poses a very different problem for the way you limit your claims than it does in the physical sciences.  It's that kind of challenge that is part of the reason history as a discipline never came to the kind of consensus about what its method was in the way that the hard sciences did.

        The point is that the humanities ask different questions than the sciences do, and ask them in a different way.  I don't see how excluding various ways of thinking advances knowledge, generally.  One of my former teachers, Ann Taves, author of Religious Experience Reconsidered, actually spends a lot of time bridging humanistic and scientific approaches, and while I have yet to follow her example, that strikes me as a more promising way forward than trying to force the humanities in to the mold of the hard sciences, which apparently is enough of a trend in the academy that people in the humanities are starting to talk about it.

        Monocausality is the source of all our problems.

        by dirkster42 on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 10:00:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Wait. (0+ / 0-)

          That doesn't mean that it isn't based on the scientific method.

          Views have to be falsifiable, and therefor testable through logic.

          Just because they're metaphysical rather than empirical doesn't mean that they don't rely on the scientific method.

          •  My understanding is that (0+ / 0-)

            experiment is a non-negotiable factor of the scientific method.

            You can check philosophical and literary arguments for logical inconsistencies, but you can't run an experiment on them.

            Monocausality is the source of all our problems.

            by dirkster42 on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 10:36:30 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Logic is the test, (0+ / 0-)

              debate is the experiment. It's thought experiment. It's the most important method in Philosophy. That's how you test metaphysics. That's why falsifiability is important. Self refferential, self evidential, circular theories fail.

              Philosophy, too, is not an island, and it is very much a derivative disciplime. To do philosophy requires a broad knowledge of multiple disciplines.

              Just because humanities are not neccesarily empirical, doesn't mean that it's methodology isn't scientific.

              As far as the matter matter is concerned, from what physical substance to rights derive? Are rights particles? Waves? What is the atomic structure of a right?

              Despite the answers to those questions, I would say that rights exist and the empirical evidence for them is the testable, measurable effect they have on human interaction, this despite the fact that they cannot be empirically measured as a physical substance.

              The empirical basis for the humanities is almost identical to an empirical basis for our understanding of certain entities in astrophysics. The limits of our capabilities mean that there are spacial bodies, anomalies, etc which cannot be observed, but their effect can be empirically demonstrated.

              We're discovering planets around stars by measuring the gravitational effect those planets have on the star themselves. We know that the planets are there because there is an empirically measured effect. We know that rights exist because of an empirically measured effect on human behavior.

              What can be empirically measured are the documents, the primary sources, on which historical thought is based. These are empirical, real things that inform our opinion. History, especially of the quantifiable, looks at things like shipping manifests and deduces the nature of ancient economies based on the evidence we have.

              That the humanities aren't as testable as chemistry doesn't mean that the scientific method is absent.

              It's necessary. The humanities do not exist without the necessity of the scientific method.

  •  Affirmative action for incompetent thinking (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mr Green Jeans

    There are some great comments here, getting to the issue of proportionality in left-right attitudes, and as in the Krugman excerpt in the diary.  Along those lines:

    There’s an interesting general question of how any human community replicates itself?  I.e., identifies worthy new members, and ushers them into the fold?  With college teachers, grant that a certain paradigm for self-replication became dominant, and does tend to perpetuate itself.  When, according to the rightists, did that occur exactly, and how, exactly.  And what would you do now, or have done then, at that dreadful time when the Winter Palace was stormed?

    The rightists are saying that there is an ascertainable spectrum of political views, which ought to be proportionally represented in this community.  But, despite a due degree of cynicism, I tend to think that the process of self-replication and admission to the community includes a strong - - not exclusive - - role for "merit," or quality of the work of a candidate, putting aside for the moment what those mean.  The rightists never confront a very simple explanation for why they are under-represented:  Admission is by and large reflects "merit."  But right-wing thinking is bad thinking.  Incompetent thinking.

    So in effect they are making the same argument in form as that for affirmative action, which of course, as good racists, they are committed to despise.  In the race area, they would claim that oppressed races are under-represented in school admissions or hiring because they are defective in merit.  The pro-affirmative action case has it that "merit," as a congenital quality, is distributed equally among the "races" and so should benefits like admissions and jobs.  Well, sorry right-wingers, some things are true and other things are false.  In the universe of human beings, you are hard put to deny an equal distribution of "merit" without outlandish and utterly disgusting biological theories.  But in the universe of ideas there's no similar reason to assume an equal distribution of merit, i.e., that equally competent faculty candidates will come to hiring committees with proportionate left and right political stances.  To the contrary - - it may well be that, again, right-wing thinking is bad thinking.

    Because the sources of right-wing thinking are, I say, one or more of:  bad facts, bad values, and bad reasoning in applying values to facts.  The public right needs to hide the ball on the bad-values possibility, because if you squeeze out bad facts and bad reasoning, the underlying value positions would be exposed as so utterly hideous in their cruelty, love of violence, etc.  So they need to hide in bad facts, e.g., lazy or dishonest human history, or bad reasoning - - ably handled by a "pop" political culture consisting of shouting and soundbites.

    Back to faculty hiring.  Possibly there's a case to be made that only facts and reasoning are proper subjects of "merit."  You can't touch values.  But this conflicts with other imperatives of the more public right.  So, the champions of rightist infiltration can't defend candidates with bad, ugly values.  But the ones with bad facts and bad reasoning are more or less filtered out - - some do slip through - - by a community seeking to replicate itself based on merit.

    Right-wing thought: The fear and loathing of the human race.

    by From Occupied Oklahoma on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 07:40:57 AM PST

    •  Academe is a marketplace of ideas (0+ / 0-)
      There’s an interesting general question of how any human community replicates itself?  I.e., identifies worthy new members, and ushers them into the fold?

      Imagine academe is a free market. In that market conservative ideas have largely failed-- they have low value and so are limited to marginal niche markets like Bob Jones, Liberty, and Oral Roberts Universities. The products of those marginal markets are themselves valued quite low; hence the only place they can find work is in George W.'s White House or on Michele Bachmann's staff.

      This market is just as free as any of the other magical markets the right likes to defend.

      "Take it easy-- but take it!" --Woody Guthrie

      by Mr Green Jeans on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 11:15:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wait, how do you get that conclusion? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angry marmot

    Many people, McArdle included, have difficulty basing beliefs on evidence as opposed to what they want, desperately, to be true. There are plenty of naive people on the left who also fall into that category, but conservatives have turned the willful ignorance of reality into an art form.

    How do you explain all the conservative faculty in the schools of business and engineering?  If anything, they're the more evidence-based fields of study at the universities.

    Some empirical evidence on the topic (PDF)

    Note the ratios are pretty far towards the Democrats, which isn't unexpected given that this is a survey of California universities.

    •  Also worth considering... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MGross

      ...the data presented by Rothman, Lichter and Nevitte in "Politics and Professional Advancement Among College Faculty" published in The Forum, 2005, available here as a pdf. I don't agree with all of their conclusions but I find their data interesting because they polled for self-identification as both liberal / conservative and Democrat / Republican, broken out by discipline (Table 2).

      Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

      by angry marmot on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 08:56:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Schools of business... (0+ / 0-)

      ...literally have big businesses paying for "conservatives" to get jobs.  :-P

      Schools of engineering?  Well, I can't speak to their general views, but how often do engineering professors deny real scientific results when they are presented to them?  Rarely, as far as I can tell.  I don't see a big trend towards engineers denying global warming.  That makes them not-conservative by modern political standards

      Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

      by neroden on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 09:30:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Engineers and Global Warming (0+ / 0-)

        Actually, engineering is where  you'll find most of the opposition to global warming, although I'm going to have to just relay that anecdotally, rather than providing empirical evidence.

    •  I didn't say or mean conservative academics, (0+ / 0-)

      in fact I included the engineering and business folks in this quote:

      "But the real clincher is this gem: "that he could no more change his beliefs than he could change his native language." Yes he could. If he was shown that what he believed was factually incorrect. That is what separates not the liberal from the conservative, but the academic from the imbecile: the ability to change your beliefs when you are proven wrong."

      I'm not talking about conservative academics, and those folks we mentioned might very well be pro-life.

      I'm talking about the people McArdle is talking about. Beck, Limbaugh and the rest.

      I'm arguing that genetic studies on homosexuality aren't value judgments, which is the foundation for McArdle's argument.

  •  I always teach Nozick (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OllieGarkey

    in Philosophy class.  If for no other reason than he reminds us that Wilt Chamberlin used to play basketball. :)

    "Raise your hand if you think Social Security and Medicare are Socialism."-Lawerence O'Donnell

    by AZphilosopher on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 08:04:14 AM PST

  •  I think Megan's wrong about this piece: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    neroden, OllieGarkey
    Professors are overwhelmingly...

    Do we have any evidence for the claim that professors are pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, anti-military, etc?  McArdle doesn't seem to cite any evidence, though certainly there are anecdotal accounts that many outspoken critics of wars, critics of bigotry, etc., are in fact professors.

    Seems to me that one key aspect of this is the ability to tolerate ambiguity - something that reflects maturity and intellectual discipline.  As one prof told me regarding neuroscience, "The more we know, the more we know how much we don't know."

    Another prof mentioned that higher education (especially grad school for those coming directly from undergrad) is just a way to prolong adolescence and avoid entering the workforce.

    And of course, we have the economic and social inequalities that are highlighted by student debt, the "vow of poverty" made by research associates, etc.

    I believe there is something liberal-izing about the work of going to grad school.  It makes you realize the price you must pay, the discipline you must have, and the work you must do in order to achieve at the upper echelons of academia.  "Paying dues" is a big part of joining the academy - and that time of dues paying requires in many cases that the grad student must sacrifice personally for the sake of the vocational pursuits he or she is making.

    Delayed gratification, dogged pursuit of specialized knowledge, and a value system that puts learning ahead of financial reward ... all of these are aspects of character that are both created by and required for graduate-level education.  

    If liberals tend to value education ahead of financial success, so be it.  If liberals tend to be able to delay gratification and defer self-seeking, so be it.  Yes, those are all a reflection of core values.  Welcome to the academic jungle, Megan.

    Stop clapping. Stop screaming. Open your mind. Listen.

    by Benintn on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 08:12:49 AM PST

    •  I would have to say that... (0+ / 0-)

      "Do we have any evidence for the claim that professors are pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, anti-military, etc?"

      I've seen fairly little -- though given that there are sound scientific arguments for abortion (spontaneous abortion happens frequently, abortion is often necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman), and few sound arguments against gay marriage (given that children are not mandatory for marriages and sexual orientation is largely genetic), I wouldn't be surprised if there was some.

      Professors are frequently pro-military, but usually against STUPID wars.

      The issues which "conservatives" claim that professors are "biased" against them on are generally things where the evidence is against the "conservatives".  I kind of miss the days when there were conservatives who would listen to reason, but those people call themselves "independents" now.

      Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

      by neroden on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 09:35:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  He who can, does. He who cannot, is in Acadamia. (0+ / 0-)

    I'm sure if you polled groups of CEOs, the reverse would be true.  Is that a good thing, probably not for the same reasons given by McArdle.

    The real problem is that private economic power - primarily money - is not distributed equally among all citizens. Douglas J. Amy--Govt is Good

    by catchnrelease on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 08:33:59 AM PST

  •  Either the experiment (poll) was inadequate or (0+ / 0-)

    ...only a subset of the data was reported - the liberal vs. conservative vs. libertarian.

    The premise that bias exists and that it's costly socially is hardly worth questioning, but what are all of its dimensions beyond just political ideology and what is the cost? What was the audience make-up for age, income, background, race, sex, sexuality, nation of origin, economic theory, kind of learning, college, etc.? We're not told.  

    McArdle is seems to making a characteristically simple, partisan shot, not thoroughly thought through as you explain well.

    But the poll is relevant. But of what?  

  •  Larry Summers was deluged with RESEARCH PAPERS (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    i like bbq, rini6

    ...showing him the history of sexism in academia and how competent women were suppressed and prevented from getting jobs.  No "innate differences" involved.

    As an ACADEMIC, Summers later apologized for shooting his mouth off with stupid, thoughtless, bigoted remarks, without doing the research he should have.  Because HE was willing to change his views when he was shown the evidence.

    You might wanna put this in your article.  Summers was an academic and was forced to change his bigoted views by the deluge of scientific evidence sent to him by the professors at Harvard and elsewhere after his stupid, bigoted speech.

    This -- academia -- is exactly what McArdle doesn't understand, since she is an ideologue who ignores reality and sticks to her preconceived notions at all costs.

    Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

    by neroden on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 09:01:17 AM PST

    •  I wish I were surprised (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OllieGarkey

      that we have a self-styled "logical" and "rational" guy in the "hard sciences" in this thread defending Summers and calling his detractors "emotional," but, honestly, I'm not.

      People, mostly men IME, who witter on about how "logical" they are, are among the most blinkered folks I've ever met.

      Also, I really doubt Summers changed his POV. He probably just claimed to in public. He's the epitome of Privilege-Denying Dude.

  •  Liberal thought (0+ / 0-)

    not liberal "Bias"

    If there were not a logical pattern, it wouldn't make sense. It's not a coincidence that many in academia come to the same liberal conclusions.

    An eye for an eye and the whole world will be blind.

    by rini6 on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 09:16:19 AM PST

  •  Let's emphasize: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    angry marmot
    That is what separates not the liberal from the conservative, but the academic from the imbecile: the ability to change your beliefs when you are proven wrong.

    Again:

    That is what separates not the liberal from the conservative, but the academic from the imbecile: the ability to change your beliefs when you are proven wrong.

    Thanks!

  •  To me it's obvious (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mr Green Jeans

    Smart(ish) conservatives go into business management because they're greedy and want lots of money.  They also don't believe in education or science for the most part, and think that liberal arts is a waste of time.

    Smart liberals believe in education and helping people, and tend not to be as focused on making sure they get whatever they want no matter what it costs anyone else or the world.  They're generally not cutthroat enough, nor do they want to be, to screw over enough people to make it to the top of the private sector.

    I realize this is an overgeneralization, but I'd be willing to bet that just as conservatives are underrepresented in academia, liberals are just as underrepresented in the upper echelons of the business world.

    Of course many polls have shown that liberals on average are far smarter than conservatives, so it could just be that conservatives have a harder time earning Ph.D.'s.

    New favorite put-down: S/he's as dumb as a flock of Sarah Palins

    by sleipner on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 09:36:04 AM PST

  •  Liberals consistently vote to fund public (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OllieGarkey

    education. Conservatives consistently vote to de-fund public education. Liberals consistently go into teaching at much higher rates than conservatives. Conservatives tend to opt for going into business. Perhaps the real problem is that more liberals should run businesses. There are enough liberals to do that and still maintain academia's bias toward facts.

  •  Oh boy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    catchnrelease
    Professors are overwhelmingly pro-choice, pro-gay-marriage, anti-military, and in favor of redistribution and regulation programs.  These aren't a matter of logic and scientific evidence; they're value judgements.

    I don't know about Professors being overwhelmingly pro-choice, pro-gay-marriage, anti-military, and in favor of redistribution and regulation programs.  I will accept it true for real purpose of this post, and that is to address the assertion that

    These aren't a matter of logic and scientific evidence; they're value judgements.

    They are both.

    First, logic and scientific evidence are not value neutral.  They contain value judgements about the nature of existence and the methods to study it.  Scientists do not delve into ontological and epistemological (what is being, how do we know what we know) questions; but they do operate from skeptical and empirical world-world view. And they call that "objectivity" and then move onto study the the kind things well-suited to that form of inquiry; specifically the natural universe.    While many scientists I know correctly reject the notion that their methodology and approach is a value system, the more broadly interested among them recognize that from a philosophical perspective, their methodology does contain basic presumptions about the nature of existence, and that is another word for value judgements.

    Still, on the whole, most scientists are drudges, spending their time amassing enormous amounts of empirical data and refining theories to explain questions the data clomp was collected to answer.  On the whole, pretty down-to-earth application-oriented stuff.  

    And while I am confident that many of you are with me on my first point will not welcome my second point;  the reason why I titled this post "Oh boy.' -for I am about to go after a sacred cow.  Here we go:

    Second, being  pro-choice, pro-gay-marriage, anti-military, and in favor of redistribution and regulation programs are all indeed value judgements. They are value judgements in the ethical or moral sense of the word.  They are primarily rooted in particular notions of justice, fair-play and right and wrong that have minimal basis scientific truth and objective reality.  

    Taking two, I will illustrate this point:

    A) On pro-choice  The diarist response was 'There's no logical or scientific evidence that sexes are equal." Which is a non-sequitor.  The question is not if the sexes are equal, but whether (young) women having access to safe, affordable abortion is  better for society than not.  While I think it is, I am waaaaay down a series of value judgments, starting with the biggie, that liberal democracy is dandy and that a society based on the strong protection of individual liberty is good thing.  An assumption not shared by most civilizations throughout most time.  While I am aware that it is possible to conclude that access to safe and affordable abortion is a good thing based on utilitarian arguments (as in Japan), the framing of 'Pro-Choice" is obviously not that.  ;)

    As an aside the the diarists' claim that Tierney implied "There's no logical or scientific evidence that sexes are equal (in their capacity to do things)"  I will point out that men and women are physically different in nature.  No man can gestate a baby and very few women can play professional football.  It is a value judgement to assume that the physical differences between men and women, our hormones etc end there and not extend into our psychology. A scientific approach would be to neither assume nor dismiss that men and women differ in capacity on any given neutral endeavor and be willing to pose the question that Summers did.  But many of us reject Summers inquiry not because of objective logic, but because of our values.

    2. "It's a value judgement whether homosexuality is genetic or a matter of choice."  This is quite simply the accurate. There is little scientific  research on the innateness of homosexuality and that which is out there not well-received in amongst scientists.  You know, the people who we turn to for objective evidence on matters such as this.

    It is a value judgment to believe that homosexuality is innate.  

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