Monday, February 7, 2011

Discrimination Against Conservatives
Mike Rappaport

Makes it to the New York Times (but only in John Tierney's column): 

“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.”

And, of course, it comes from the excellent John Haidt, who is alone in his field as much as Tierney is alone at the Times.

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Mike Rappaport


Two thoughts:

1) I can think of few ideas more appalling than that of ideological quotas. Which ideologies get special treatment? What about apolitical people? Fringe radicals? The whole concept misses the point, which is that scholarship should be independent of ideology--not apportioned on the basis of it.

2) The whole debate is, I would argue, largely a matter of reallocating the deck chairs on the Titanic. Far more egregious than the overrepresentation of political liberals among academics is the overrepresentation of academics among the population at large. If research were funded in a sensible way and on a sensible scale, rather than as a gigantic slush fund for post-secondary schoolteachers to allocate as their internal politics dictate, then there'd be a lot less of this tribalist corruption, whether based on ideology or any other kinship bond.

And I strongly suspect that this problem will resolve itself sooner, rather than later, as the college-bound/taxpaying public tires of the cost of overstaffed, overpaid, overrated university faculties and their makework "research".

Posted by: Dan Simon | Feb 7, 2011 10:29:05 PM

Objecting to a lack of conservative sociologists is like complaining that the Vatican doesn't appoint Mormon cardinals.

Posted by: Lou Gots | Feb 8, 2011 3:56:01 AM

If I may say so, Dan, whenever the topic of the over-expansion, and corruption, of the Universities comes up, I find that I cannot resist typing Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Posted by: dearieme | Feb 8, 2011 4:51:20 AM

John Hawks's blog linked to this, which I thought quite illuminating about an academic career. Note the attention given to the matter of teaching undergraduates.

Posted by: dearieme | Feb 8, 2011 9:13:22 AM

Dearime, that's because you had the advantage of being brought up in a country with an actual history.

Posted by: Dan Simon | Feb 8, 2011 11:22:32 AM

What I love especially are the excuses: there are no smart conservatives, they're not comfortable here, and don't they dominate other spheres anyway? If you think about it, these are pretty much exactly the excuses for not hiring women and minorities thirty/forty years ago. And just about as convincing, I'd say.

Posted by: mike livingston | Feb 8, 2011 12:00:12 PM