Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Bias in the academy: evidence of the problem

Here, via Inside Higher Ed is evidence of the problem, not in yet another survey but rather in what the author thinks is a sophisticated response to the survey. Here’s a not-unrepresentative snippet:

If you have a PhD not only are you learned, you are curious by nature. You are not cut from the common mold; you embrace your uniqueness and revel in your intellect. And as a scholar you naturally want to be an agent for change. Liberalism is simply a philosophy of embracing change in ways that advance the quality of life of mankind. It’s really a wonder that only 72 percent of college professors describe themselves as liberal.

Enough said.

Discussions - 9 Comments

Oh, bilge. Some of the most curious (and intelligent) people I’ve met have been center/right academics. This is just a "neutralization rhetoric" to justify the current imbalance in the ideological composition of the academy. It flatters the sectarian liberal while dismissing criticism of bias in hiring and firing.

I read an earlier post here at NLT that made me want to respond to the idea of more "liberals" on staff. Now this post makes me think...

Perhaps we look past what liberal means, Mr. Crenshaw. If you think about it, a liberal professor may be conservative in politics, but "liberal" in their academics:

Liberal, adj.:
1. Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.
2. Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.
3. Tending to give freely; generous: a liberal benefactor.
4. Of, relating to, or based on the traditional arts and sciences of a college or university curriculum: a liberal education.

I could argue each meaning for and against (but space limits it, and it would be boring anyway!), but I present it more as a question and thought, not as hard fact or as a way to explain away to problematic hiring and classroom grading system at many Universities and Colleges.

Food for thought.



Just as in oldtime Marxist states, I’m sure there are quite a few "nominal" line in public, but with private doubts. Surveys of academics generally make it quite clear that "liberal" and "conservative" refer to contemporary political meanings. I’m sure many will try to finesse these survey results in the way you suggest, but that’s not the truth of it. Today liberalism stands for the use of state power to refashion society along "enlightened" lines (i.e., leftist prejudices).

As someone with only an M.A. and high school history teacher, I should realize how stupid and close-minded I am. I’m not really that curious and cut from the same mold as everyone else.

I also like this:

Why? Because you don’t become a learned professor by being a simpleton. You have to look at things from many points of view. You quickly learn that things are not simple at all. Rather the world is a very complex place. That is the perspective you are almost certain to have if you survive the ordeal of completing a PhD. If you want to take your PhD and become a college professor then you are expected to continuously expand your knowledge and research your subject area. If you make it to the ranks of tenured professor without being able to win any debate on its merits something is seriously wrong.

I hate to break it to most conservatives but they are not exactly embracing of the world’s complexity. Rather they see simple solutions as a general panacea to complex problems. Conservatism is not about embracing change, it’s about keeping things simple and ideally identical to the way things were before.

This pompous ass ignores the amount of conformity there is in academic Ph.D. programs as people follow their advisor’s ideas, follow the "literature," and hang onto the lastest theory until it no longer becomes fashionable. Moreover, the process of tenure is usually strictly regulated and narrowly-defined. Someone writing something that someone might actually want to read and enjoy it is frowned upon. Is this really open-minded, free inquiry? Is there really any complexity of thought when the poll reveals that everyone is thinking the same way? Are we fooling ourselves that post-modernism is promoting complexity rather than a simple-minded relativism?

Finally, conservatives can obviously see complexities and welcome good change - we can be a Burke rather than a reactionary Metternich. I would think that having another viewpoint would add to the complexity. Historians have only recently admitted that conservatism is not paranoid, anti-intellectualism, but that it might just be a rational, alternative paradigm. Apparently, not every professor got the message.

But, that’s just from a dumb teacher who is not called "doctor." My revenge is that I teach my students great books and great ideas, arming them for the intellectual and spiritual warfare against the post-colonialism, post-modernism, and Marxism that dominates our universities. Conservatives will win based upon the patronizing, offensive drivel coming out of mouths like these.

Thank you, Tony for giving me the voice that a lowly man like me, working in a high school with a B.A., could not find.

You’re welcome - from one dummie to another!

I know that that little snippet was probably one of the most ignorantly stereotypical things I’ve ever read, but I couldn’t help but laugh.

Tony - I admire the efforts, but I sure hope you don’t work in a public school. Students (whose parents don’t decide to send them to a private institution) should not be taught to "arm" themselves against different schools of thought simply because you (and many others) do not find them to be "great ideas". I would encourage that kind of discussion outside of the classroom, but a teacher (in my opinion) should show students different points of view, not tell them which ones are "right" or "wrong" (unless, of course, you’re paid to by parents . . . ). But that was very well said. Kudos.

Well, if I’m following your relativism correctly, one idea is just as good as any other. So, my view is just as valid as your view. Thus, I will continue doing what I’m doing. Then again, I could present any views in your view. Maybe I’ll tell them the Nazis were great. Or, perhaps, slavery is morally correct. Those terrorists should have crashed planes into buildings. Well, that would be presenting a view, right? Maybe I’ll just throw my hands up and say, "Who’s to say?" The problem with relativism is that it collapses under its own pitiful weight (which is a wisp of air).

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