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Bias in the Schools.

WilliamJB

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I was inspired to start this thread based on some of the comments I got in a Glenn Beck thread, but didn't want to get too far off topic.

The question is, why are those employed in academia disproportionately liberal, compared to those in other fields (see link below)?

http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2010/01/18/arts/18liberal-2.html

Of course, being a liberal, I like to think it has something to do with the smartest people in the country tending to be liberal :) but I suspect some might have alternative explanations.

Thoughts?
 
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RightinNYC

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Professors are overwhelmingly liberal because they self-select into an atmosphere where they are surrounded by people who are overwhelmingly liberal and are hired by people who are overwhelmingly liberal based on academic standards developed by people who are overwhelmingly liberal.

The argument that it reflects some greater intellect among the liberal is contradicted by your own graph. Among the professions that tend to have more intelligent members, such as education and medicine, some fields are more liberal while others are more conservative. Among the professions that tend to have less intelligent members, such as bartending or "graders and sorters" (I wonder why that was listed as a category... :roll:), some are more liberal while others are more conservative.

edit: If you're genuinely interested in the debate behind this, there are a multitude of sources out there. Here's a nice roundup of responses to the article that provided your graph:

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2010/01/why-are.html
 
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WilliamJB

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Professors are overwhelmingly liberal because they self-select into an atmosphere where they are surrounded by people who are overwhelmingly liberal and are hired by people who are overwhelmingly liberal based on academic standards developed by people who are overwhelmingly liberal.

The argument that it reflects some greater intellect among the liberal is contradicted by your own graph. Among the professions that tend to have more intelligent members, such as education and medicine, some fields are more liberal while others are more conservative. Among the professions that tend to have less intelligent members, such as bartending or "graders and sorters" (I wonder why that was listed as a category... :roll:), some are more liberal while others are more conservative.

edit: If you're genuinely interested in the debate behind this, there are a multitude of sources out there. Here's a nice roundup of responses to the article that provided your graph:

TaxProf Blog: Why Are Professors So Liberal?

Yeah, I'm not sure what "Graders and Sorters" are either...

Your argument seems a little circular, though. Professors are liberal because other professors are liberal, so they hire liberals? Sort of a chicken and egg problem there. How did they get that way in the first place? Speaking only anecdotally, it is certainly possible to be hired at a major university as a conservative. I work with a few on a regular basis. As long as you've published, you don't have exceptionally terrible student evals, and your dissertation is methodologically sound, you're not going to have trouble finding an academic position regardless of your political orientation.

As for the other traditionally "smart" occupations, I would argue that they don't spend much of their educational time considering political questions. Med school is basically a fancy trade school where questions related to society as a whole are rarely considered.

I also find it interesting that schools with overt conservative bents (i.e. Liberty U, Bob Jones, etc.) tend to require faculty to sign statements professing adherence to conservative dogma before being hired. Trust me, our institutions would never dream of doing something similar.
 

RightinNYC

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Yeah, I'm not sure what "Graders and Sorters" are either...

Your argument seems a little circular, though. Professors are liberal because other professors are liberal, so they hire liberals? Sort of a chicken and egg problem there. How did they get that way in the first place? Speaking only anecdotally, it is certainly possible to be hired at a major university as a conservative. I work with a few on a regular basis. As long as you've published, you don't have exceptionally terrible student evals, and your dissertation is methodologically sound, you're not going to have trouble finding an academic position regardless of your political orientation.

If you're genuinely interested in this, there is a wealth of information out there about how the insular nature of most faculties impacts the type of people that seek out and obtain employment in academia. What gives me the lol's is that so many of the professors who deny observing anything like that have no problem arguing that an absence of diversity in other areas serves to discourage members of minority grounds from participating in those groups.

As for the other traditionally "smart" occupations, I would argue that they don't spend much of their educational time considering political questions. Med school is basically a fancy trade school where questions related to society as a whole are rarely considered.

What the hell does "considering political questions" have to do with intelligence? People tend to overvalue their own fields at the expense of others. I'm sure doctors laugh at philosophy students who spend their time congratulating each other on their mundane "insights" instead of actually learning something. And just FYI, med school is as much about research as any other field.

I also find it interesting that schools with overt conservative bents (i.e. Liberty U, Bob Jones, etc.) tend to require faculty to sign statements professing adherence to conservative dogma before being hired. Trust me, our institutions would never dream of doing something similar.

The handful of schools that you mention aren't considered in the mainstream by anyone I know, so I'm not sure what that proves.
 

WilliamJB

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If you're genuinely interested in this, there is a wealth of information out there about how the insular nature of most faculties impacts the type of people that seek out and obtain employment in academia. What gives me the lol's is that so many of the professors who deny observing anything like that have no problem arguing that an absence of diversity in other areas serves to discourage members of minority grounds from participating in those groups.



What the hell does "considering political questions" have to do with intelligence? People tend to overvalue their own fields at the expense of others. I'm sure doctors laugh at philosophy students who spend their time congratulating each other on their mundane "insights" instead of actually learning something. And just FYI, med school is as much about research as any other field.



The handful of schools that you mention aren't considered in the mainstream by anyone I know, so I'm not sure what that proves.

Interesting article. I certainly agree that we need more conservative voices in the academy. Unlike the faculty described in the piece you link to, I try as much as possible to encourage my conservative students to pursue Masters or PhDs. If nothing else, it would make professional conferences more fun.

That being said, it still doesn't answer my point regarding where this bias comes from. If you're proposing that a cabal of social scientists in the mid-20th century decided to capture the academy for our side and only admit our ideological brethren, why did this only happen in some fields, and only one profession? Lawyers hire other lawyers, doctors hire other doctors, and both of these fields contain roughly equal numbers of liberals and conservatives. As well, faculty in economics departments tend to be (economic) conservatives and liberals are usually the minority there. Either we're inordinately incompetent at "taking over" any field or profession outside of politics, sociology, and anthropology (but increadibly adept at it in those limited fields), or there's something about the facts one uncovers when devoting the majority of one's research to these questions.

Again, just a thought.
 

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Different kinds of people are attracted to different kinds of jobs. I don't think you'd find too many liberals in the CIA and you won't find too many conservatives in Hollywood. Apparently, college professor is a job that liberals like, no big mystery.
 

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All that shows is that there's more liberal or conservatives in certain fields, but it say absolutely nothing regarding intelligence.
 

RightinNYC

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That being said, it still doesn't answer my point regarding where this bias comes from. If you're proposing that a cabal of social scientists in the mid-20th century decided to capture the academy for our side and only admit our ideological brethren, why did this only happen in some fields, and only one profession?

That's not what I'm proposing. I'm saying that when you have a field that is already likely to attract a certain type of person, the fact that he will then be surrounded by that same type of person and have discretion to hire that same type of person leads to an overall skewing of the system. There is a mountain of literature out there on this phenomenon - If you're presented with two arguments, one of which contradicts your own position and another which supports it, you're likely to believe that the one that supports you is the better theory.

Moreover, the imbalance also comes about from the opposite direction. If a field has a set of general tenets, why would we expect that both political parties would be equally likely to agree with the tenets of that field? For whatever reason, one party might reject certain principles of a field that academics in that field choose to believe. That would result in more members of that field choosing to align themselves against that party.

Lawyers hire other lawyers, doctors hire other doctors, and both of these fields contain roughly equal numbers of liberals and conservatives.

First, lawyers and doctors aren't really analogous to professors. All people who enter the legal or medical professions are lawyers and doctors, while only a very small subset of people who enter college choose to become professors. If you actually wanted to look at legal academia, you'd see that it is overwhelmingly liberal as well. Also, I don't think it's correct that those fields contain roughly equal numbers of liberals and conservatives. As your own link indicates, doctors are almost twice as likely to be conservative as liberal. Additionally, lawyers are overwhelmingly liberal.


As well, faculty in economics departments tend to be (economic) conservatives and liberals are usually the minority there.

Again, why would this be a surprise? If one political party has positions that are more in line with the general tenets of a field, why wouldn't there be an imbalance? It's entirely plausible that conservatives are more likely to agree with the tenets of economics while liberals are more likely to agree with the tenets of philosophy. If that's the case, you would expect to see academics in each field self-identifying accordingly.

Either we're inordinately incompetent at "taking over" any field or profession outside of politics, sociology, and anthropology (but increadibly adept at it in those limited fields), or there's something about the facts one uncovers when devoting the majority of one's research to these questions.

Or maybe the type of person who chooses to devote their life to teaching critical gender theory is just more likely to be liberal than conservative.
 
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Aunt Spiker

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All that shows is that there's more liberal or conservatives in certain fields, but it say absolutely nothing regarding intelligence.

Yeah - it's interesting, statistically speaking, but it doesn't really mean anything hardcore.

Perhaps the question should be: Why do less in the conservative' want to teach?

On that note - my government professor last year was very 'conservative' - and very damn annoying about it.
 

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Personally I believe it is because most teachers and professor's actually give a damn about their fellow human beings, and hence are seen as being liberal/socialist/left leaning. Even those that are conservative at heart, have "left leaning" ideas that "pollute" their view on human beings... :)

And it of course dont help that the new grade of conservative punditry and politician have been attempting to paint people with the highest education as elitist undesirable, unwanted and untrustworthy. We saw it during the whole Texas school book scandal, where the argument "I did not know about it, so it cant be that important" was used more than once to ditch important historical learning material in favour of more "conservative" persons. Or deal Sarah Palin and her inventing new words and attacking intellectuals just because they expose her stupidity..
 

WilliamJB

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That's not what I'm proposing. I'm saying that when you have a field that is already likely to attract a certain type of person, the fact that he will then be surrounded by that same type of person and have discretion to hire that same type of person leads to an overall skewing of the system. There is a mountain of literature out there on this phenomenon - If you're presented with two arguments, one of which contradicts your own position and another which supports it, you're likely to believe that the one that supports you is the better theory.

Moreover, the imbalance also comes about from the opposite direction. If a field has a set of general tenets, why would we expect that both political parties would be equally likely to agree with the tenets of that field? For whatever reason, one party might reject certain principles of a field that academics in that field choose to believe. That would result in more members of that field choosing to align themselves against that party.

Ok, so why would liberals be attracted to political science? It's not as if politics is inherently liberal, is it? Sure, if you're going to devote your life to the study of Marxism or Maoism, then yeah, you're probably going to be on the left. But politics as a whole has no reason to inherently attract liberals and not conservatives.
 

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I think it's mostly self selecting. I don't think academia is nessesarily HOSTILE to conservative viewpoints, but rather conservatives value ideas not conducive to entering academia.

A large part, espesially in the sciences, is lack of faith. Studies have shown that the higher education one achieves, the less likely they are to depend on religion. Among those with graduate degrees, <10% believe the Bible is the unfallible word of God. Academia is made up ENTIRELY of this group. It would stand to follow that those who are more skeptical about religious teachings would be less swayed by religiously driven arguements.

Also, Academia is made up of people that often choose to forgo more lucerative careers for intellectual achievement. Granted professors with tenure are among the most securely employed individuals on the planet, but most could probably make much more working in the private sector. Therefore you also have a group for which values things like knowledge, personal achievement, and educating others more than their own economic advancement.

One thing to remember here is that political ideaology is not static. So while a Biology professor may be "conservative" there's not a chance in hell he's going to believe in a literal interpetation of Creationism.
 

RightinNYC

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Ok, so why would liberals be attracted to political science? It's not as if politics is inherently liberal, is it? Sure, if you're going to devote your life to the study of Marxism or Maoism, then yeah, you're probably going to be on the left. But politics as a whole has no reason to inherently attract liberals and not conservatives.

Political science =/= politics. Political science in the academic setting is basically an opportunity for 1400 SAT dbag TAs to jerk off about their thoughts about politics. It's a joke and embarrassing to anyone who actually considers themself to be an intellectual.

I think it's mostly self selecting. I don't think academia is nessesarily HOSTILE to conservative viewpoints, but rather conservatives value ideas not conducive to entering academia.

A large part, espesially in the sciences, is lack of faith. Studies have shown that the higher education one achieves, the less likely they are to depend on religion. Among those with graduate degrees, <10% believe the Bible is the unfallible word of God. .

That sounds incorrect to me. If you have evidence, I'd be glad to see it.
 

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That's a strange graph.

Where's the Engineers? They're both among the most intelligent people in the country and among the least liberal. That's because they apply the same discipline to their ideology as they do to their machines and structures. If it doesn't work, they reject it. Many young engineers try to be liberal. We fix them, because they're obviously broken.
 

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So while a Biology professor may be "conservative" there's not a chance in hell he's going to believe in a literal interpetation of Creationism.

That's because Creationism is a religious belief, not a political belief, for one thing.

What I find frightening is the rare engineer who truly believes the Bible is the inerrant word of God. I make damn sure I read his reports really carefully to make sure he's as inerrant as his bible. Errancy in engineering can be fatal to someone.
 

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I definitely think that a lack of conservatives in the field of academia reflects the different value systems. Conservatives are usually the ones more concerned with making money and you rarely meet a right winger who would be willing to take a pay cut to help society. Liberals are the opposite, and some professors are almost flawed in how eager they are to pass down their knowledge. It's as if the world doesn't want to hear them so they're going to go into a field where people are required to listen to them and respect their lessons.

The best teachers I had were teachers because they were passionate about the field, and that transcends partisanship. I believe that the disparity is attributed to a small group of liberal teachers who think too highly of themselves and a large group of Conservatives who are too selfish to spend the better part of a decade training for a job that won't buy them a lakeside mansion.
 

Scarecrow Akhbar

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I definitely think that a lack of conservatives in the field of academia reflects the different value systems. Conservatives are usually the ones more concerned with making money and you rarely meet a right winger who would be willing to take a pay cut to help society. Liberals are the opposite, and some professors are almost flawed in how eager they are to pass down their knowledge. It's as if the world doesn't want to hear them so they're going to go into a field where people are required to listen to them and respect their lessons.

The best teachers I had were teachers because they were passionate about the field, and that transcends partisanship. I believe that the disparity is attributed to a small group of liberal teachers who think too highly of themselves and a large group of Conservatives who are too selfish to spend the better part of a decade training for a job that won't buy them a lakeside mansion.

Stereotype much?

charitable_donations.jpg


Yep, it's source with a bias...referencing Gallup, a source with a leftward bias....

then there's Al Gore's Amazingly Small ...... um...donations. In 1998, Mr. Liberal Icon donated a whopping $353 dollars of his, admittedly paltry, $197,719 salary to charity.

Ole Plagirizing Joe Biden has been Exceptionally generous by that standard, giving, on average, $369 dollars a year over a decade.

To just name a couple to bust your stereotype. I think my parrot gave a larger fraction of his income to charity.
 

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Keep in mind that people choose to become a teacher - then they apply - sometimes they start in public school and then transfer into private or college.

Perhaps being a teacher is just more akin to the mind-frame of "what makes someone liberal" - perhaps teaching others, giving lessons, grading, guiding, instructing is just more associated with those 'liberal tendencies" . . in a positive way.

Also - do such statistics cover Christian, religious and other forms of higher learning? It makes sense that there are few liberals who teach at Religious schools, you know.
 

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Yeah, I'm not sure what "Graders and Sorters" are either...

Your argument seems a little circular, though. Professors are liberal because other professors are liberal, so they hire liberals? Sort of a chicken and egg problem there. How did they get that way in the first place? Speaking only anecdotally, it is certainly possible to be hired at a major university as a conservative. I work with a few on a regular basis. As long as you've published, you don't have exceptionally terrible student evals, and your dissertation is methodologically sound, you're not going to have trouble finding an academic position regardless of your political orientation.

As for the other traditionally "smart" occupations, I would argue that they don't spend much of their educational time considering political questions. Med school is basically a fancy trade school where questions related to society as a whole are rarely considered.

I also find it interesting that schools with overt conservative bents (i.e. Liberty U, Bob Jones, etc.) tend to require faculty to sign statements professing adherence to conservative dogma before being hired. Trust me, our institutions would never dream of doing something similar.
Here let me explain the evolution of this intellect.

Evolution & ID.jpg
 

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Yeah, I'm not sure what "Graders and Sorters" are either...

Your argument seems a little circular, though. Professors are liberal because other professors are liberal, so they hire liberals? Sort of a chicken and egg problem there. How did they get that way in the first place? Speaking only anecdotally, it is certainly possible to be hired at a major university as a conservative. I work with a few on a regular basis. As long as you've published, you don't have exceptionally terrible student evals, and your dissertation is methodologically sound, you're not going to have trouble finding an academic position regardless of your political orientation.

As for the other traditionally "smart" occupations, I would argue that they don't spend much of their educational time considering political questions. Med school is basically a fancy trade school where questions related to society as a whole are rarely considered.

I also find it interesting that schools with overt conservative bents (i.e. Liberty U, Bob Jones, etc.) tend to require faculty to sign statements professing adherence to conservative dogma before being hired. Trust me, our institutions would never dream of doing something similar.



Professors are largely liberal because liberals are more apt to go into the helping professions, such as medicine, academia, and social work.
Conservatives are more apt to go into business and industry.
Liberals in general are apt to choose professions which are personally rewarding and fulfilling and in which they feel they're "making a positive difference", even if they could be making more money doing something else.
For conservatives in general, the reverse is true: they choose professions in which they can make the most possible money, even if these professions are not personally fulfilling.
Making money is the whole point of having a job, in their view.

These are very broad overgeneralizations, but I believe they're accurate; at least, it's my theory that they are. And when people complain about liberals dominating academia, it is my belief that this is the reason for the phenomenon they're referring to.
 

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Professors are largely liberal because liberals are more apt to go into the helping professions, such as medicine, academia, and social work.
Conservatives are more apt to go into business and industry.
Liberals in general are apt to choose professions which are personally rewarding and fulfilling and in which they feel they're "making a positive difference", even if they could be making more money doing something else.
For conservatives in general, the reverse is true: they choose professions in which they can make the most possible money, even if these professions are not personally fulfilling.
Making money is the whole point of having a job, in their view.

These are very broad overgeneralizations, but I believe they're accurate; at least, it's my theory that they are. And when people complain about liberals dominating academia, it is my belief that this is the reason for the phenomenon they're referring to.

Actually it has more to do with the old adage that those who can't do, teach.

The assumption that engineering a nuclear device to make HUUUGE craters in the ground where a city of the enemy once stood isn't personally fulfilling and rewarding belies the fact that practically every little boy loves a firecracker. Your attitude demonstrates a truly narrow perception of the human experience on your part.

A well defined airplane is a thing a beauty. The stark flatly utilitarian catenaries and trusswork of the Golden Gate Bridge are a beauty of their own that millions of tourists go to San Francisco to see. Humanly rewarding experience isn't limited to college perfessors arguing that ever more money should be stolen from people who are following their own visions of rewarding experiences that the perfessors can't understand and thus don't admit exist.
 
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Actually it has more to do with the old adage that those who can't do, teach.

The assumption that engineering a nuclear device to make HUUUGE craters in the ground where a city of the enemy once stood isn't personally fulfilling and rewarding belies the fact that practically every little boy loves a firecracker. Your attitude demonstrates a truly narrow perception of the human experience on your part.

A well defined airplane is a thing a beauty. The stark flatly utilitarian catenaries and trusswork of the Golden Gate Bridge are a beauty of their own that millions of tourists go to San Francisco to see. Humanly rewarding experience isn't limited to college perfessors arguing that ever more money should be stolen from people who are following their own visions of rewarding experiences that the perfessors can't understand and thus don't admit exist.

Well, let me amend my theory to include your perspective, then.
Perhaps it's not so much that conservative-minded individuals aren't personally fulfilled by their occupations while left-leaning individuals are.
Perhaps it's that libs tend to find individual human interactions more fulfilling, while conservatives find fulfillment in- as you stated- endeavors such as construction and demolition, business, architecture and engineering, industry, manufacturing, technology, etc.
 

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The difference between liberals and conservatives boils down, in a large but not exclusive part, to this:

Conservatives can measure their success by what works.

Their bridges don't fall down.
Their buildings don't collapse.
Their airplanes perform as designed.
Their efforts put footprints on the moon.
Their lights come on at night.

Liberals measure their successes by their feelings.

They're pop music singers.

They're Nobel Peace Prize winners who are awarded the prize for doing absolutely nothing to earn it.

They're former college law review journal editors who can say a white cop acted s stupidly when he arrests their old bigoted friend.

They're terrorists who attempt to bomb the Pentagon before they become close personal advisors to former college law review journal editors. They don't stop being terrorists, though.

They can pump a fifty billion of someone else's dollars into a failed company, and proclaim success when the company uses part of that money to pay back four billion of the fifty.

Other liberals measure their success by refusing to see what the first batch of liberals are doing and saying.

The good liberal has his eyes wide shut, just like Big Brother demands.
 

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The difference between liberals and conservatives boils down, in a large but not exclusive part, to this:

Conservatives can measure their success by what works.

Their bridges don't fall down.
Their buildings don't collapse.
Their airplanes perform as designed.
Their efforts put footprints on the moon.
Their lights come on at night.

Liberals measure their successes by their feelings.

They're pop music singers.

They're Nobel Peace Prize winners who are awarded the prize for doing absolutely nothing to earn it.

They're former college law review journal editors who can say a white cop acted s stupidly when he arrests their old bigoted friend.

They're terrorists who attempt to bomb the Pentagon before they become close personal advisors to former college law review journal editors. They don't stop being terrorists, though.

They can pump a fifty billion of someone else's dollars into a failed company, and proclaim success when the company uses part of that money to pay back four billion of the fifty.

Other liberals measure their success by refusing to see what the first batch of liberals are doing and saying.

The good liberal has his eyes wide shut, just like Big Brother demands.


Well, I was with you for a minute there, but I can't figure out any way to reconcile this latest outpouring of yours with my theory.

Suffice it to say we agree that conservatives are more apt to measure success in tangibles (money, monuments, things) while liberals are more apt to define success in ways that are less concrete and less tangible: a class of students taught; a suffering old person comforted; a permanent home found for a parentless child. Stuff like that.
 
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