Sunday, November 01, 2015
A Bumper Crop of Lupins
No, it doesn’t. It’s a giant pile of lupins. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some actual work to do...
Too bad, because it was funny when it wasn't sadly ill-informed. Seeing a social scientist generalize from one study of social psychologists to the math or engineering or business departments at every college in the country was very entertaining. Almost as entertaining as trying to imagine why that finding about academic social psychologists shocked him, or why he would expect "trustworthy findings" from any social science (I have in mind Harry Truman's search for a one-armed economist) or conclude that there is political bias in research conducted by engineering professors.
I don’t think that there should be any sort of ideological or political test applied to academe. I don’t really care whether my physics or math prof is a Democrat or a Republican. But a teacher should not use their class to rant about their political or religious views, unless they are actually relevant to the course material.
But there are some rather disturbing proposals to crack down on academe for perceived bias. Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson has proposed that the Education Department identify “extreme bias” in the classroom, and cut off federal funds to colleges and universities found to engage in such bias. This could lead to a witch-hunt in academe, with the administration riding herd on classroom instruction, attempting to avoid any perception of “extreme bias” in the classroom, which could potentially put their federal funding at risk. Professors would be forced to censor themselves in the classroom, lest what they say about a controversial issue cause them to be called on the carpet. This would completely destroy academic freedom.
Especially as the American spectrum is so limited compared to the rest of the world.
Canada's neocon party is a bit to the left of your Democrats, and the rest of our parties are to the left of the CPC. So from north of the border, your three positions look more like hard right, extremely hard right, and stark-raving-loony right…
However, as to Arthur Brooks' thesis, here's a data point. My four now-adult children attended three different higher-ed institutions. They uniformly reported that their professors/instructors were mostly liberals, with a smattering of "not sures." Conservative viewpoints were rarely represented, and the pressure to toe the liberal, politically correct line was intense. Three very different colleges, same perception. My own alma mater has lurched far to the left as well.
I tend to think that this is more than a lupin. Higher ed will be losing bipartisan support the more it is seen as the bastion of liberal elites. One might make the case that the current financial distress in higher ed is a signal that half the population is unhappy with the direction higher ed has been taking. As to DD's scoffing that there is no political test in hiring, that dodges the issue--the question is whether the faculty lacks the voices of conservatives, not how it got that way. If it lacks those voices, why is not affirmative action the remedy?