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« Wind payback period "several millennia" | Main | Record spinning »
Thursday
Aug092012

Political bias in the academy

It has long been known that universities are overwhelmingly staffed by people of a left-wing persuasion, this having been shown by many surveys. According to a report in Inside Higher Ed, a significant proportion of these collectivist professors are happy to use their positions to keep down people of dissenting views.

Just over 37 percent of those surveyed said that, given equally qualified candidates for a job, they would support the hiring of a liberal candidate over a conservative candidate. Smaller percentages agreed that a "conservative perspective" would negatively influence their odds of supporting a paper for inclusion in a journal or a proposal for a grant. (The final version of the paper is not yet available, but an early version may be found on the website of the Social Science Research Network.)

To some on the right, such findings are hardly surprising. But to the authors, who expected to find lopsided political leanings, but not bias, the results were not what they expected.

"The questions were pretty blatant. We didn't expect people would give those answers," said Yoel Inbar, a co-author, who is a visiting assistant professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and an assistant professor of social psychology at Tilburg University, in the Netherlands.

He said that the findings should concern academics. Of the bias he and a co-author found, he said, "I don't think it's O.K."

Politicians need to remember this, next time their chief scientific advisers tell them what they should be doing.

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Reader Comments (78)

Jack Savage

One of the many appeals of the Bishop Hill Experience is an unusually refreshing absence of political dogma.
True of His Grace, who announces his political colours in the Bill of Rights and the Political Blog links, then lets us get on with it. Less true of the comments thread, where the frequent accusations of psychological failings, Dunning Kruger syndrome, mass murder, etc. are irritating, and a distraction from the real issue.

Of course the politics is relevant. Faced with a political and intellectual failure on the scale of CAGW, it’s necessary to look at the motivations of everyone, including the supposedly intellectually irreproachable scientists, if possible holding back on the moral condemnation until the facts are known. It’s as important to know that Sir Paul Nurse and Sir Martin Rhees are Old Labour as it is to know that Mrs Thatcher had political reasons to destroy the coal industry, and that our future monarch is a Malthusian with a taste for steam locomotion. Being a lefty does not make me responsible for the policy of the Royal Society, or for the Stalinist pogroms. A bit of respect is all I ask. Or possibly Respect.

By the way, Delingpole is thinking of standing for UKIP in a by-election. Surely that’s worth a thread?

Aug 10, 2012 at 11:21 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

"If the UK Conservative party had prominent such figures as Sarah Palin, a large part of the UK population would sympathise with the professors surveyed.
CommenterBitBucke"

I moved from the UK to the USA 8 years ago.
One of the big differences between the UK and USA is Margret Thatcher; the UK media found that their misogynistic characterization of women politicians failed and they were forced to change. The mainstream US media has never had to deal with a woman in a powerful political role and is still bathed in sexism. I am not in anyway a fan of Hillary Clinton, but after watching the talking heads and reading the newspapers during the Democratic Clinton/Obama primary, I became very sympathetic towards her.
Were Palin a UK politician, she would be treated as a politician, and not as a crazy, ill-equipped, shallow, emotional, sub-male. What happened to both Clinton and Palin was a character assassination, fueled by an incredible level of sexism, by the media.

Aug 10, 2012 at 12:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterDocmartyn

Arguments between left and right, arguments about what exactly defines left and right; these are really interesting arguments. However this blog has many from both left and right who all combine to condemn what we all believe to be bogus science.
It would be a great shame to throw all that away and start bickering about the left/right divide ^.^

Aug 10, 2012 at 2:30 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Doc

In 1996 Hillary Clinton described her arrival in Bosnia as follows:

"I remember arriving under sniper fire, there was no greeting ceremony, we basically got told to run to our cars. Now that is what happened."...."There was supposed to be some kind of greeting ceremony at the airport but instead we just ran with our heads down to the vehicles to get to our base"......

The CBS news crew that was with her showed videos of what really happened; there was a greeting ceremony and there was no sniper fire. You have sympathy for this woman?

This is not an attack on Clinton's politics it is an attack on her integrity.

Aug 10, 2012 at 2:51 PM | Registered CommenterDung

"Being a lefty does not make me responsible for the policy of the Royal Society, or for the Stalinist pogroms."

Yes, I'm afraid it does, possibly not the Royal Society. The evil is the same. You may refuse to take responsibility but it does not stop you from being responsible. You may deny you are evil, but I'm afraid you are.

100m dead and he's asking for respect.

Aug 10, 2012 at 5:29 PM | Unregistered Commenterandy

Andy, blaming a lefty for Stalin or Mao is like blaming someone on the right for Hitler, Franco, Pinochet or any of the nasty dictators in South America. It achieves nothing and just marks you as a bigot.

Aug 10, 2012 at 6:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Dung, I think Hillary Clinton was as honest as any politician. She was however treated worse than Obama.

Aug 10, 2012 at 6:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterDocMartyn

"Being a lefty does not make me responsible for the policy of the Royal Society, or for the Stalinist pogroms. A bit of respect is all I ask. Or possibly Respect."

"geoffchambers"

Ummm yes it does your whole ideology and belief system ALWAYS according to science will result in these events... just with different faces and names.

"Arguments between left and right, arguments about what exactly defines left and right; these are really interesting arguments."

Aug 10, 2012 at 2:30 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Science defined what "Left"/"Right" aka collectivism vs individualism a long time ago.

Their only 3 arguments.

The true based in science which rightwingers and many centrists state.

The propaganda line created by leftwingers to cover up the truth.

The ignorant and propaganda driven people who are either to stupid to understand basic science or simply refuse to even look at the science.


"Andy, blaming a lefty for Stalin or Mao is like blaming someone on the right for Hitler, Franco, Pinochet or any of the nasty dictators in South America. It achieves nothing and just marks you as a bigot."
Aug 10, 2012 at 6:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Why would anyone on the Right be blamed for hitler, franco, pinochet or any other well known leftwing dictator? Your argument makes no sense unless your saying the "right" should have invaded these countries to stop these leftwing dictators? Which by that argument I assume you support invading pretty much ever country on the planet that currently has a leftwing leader....correct?

Aug 10, 2012 at 7:27 PM | Unregistered Commenterrobotech master

If I believed what they believed I would be to blame. The left is like a dog returning to it's sick, the same ideas again and again, but never an acceptance of their all too obvious effects and the cry this time will be different. Usually followed by a refusal to accept the left is Hitler, Stalin, Mao, PolPot etc.

Oh and my apologies to Geoff for throwing around personal insults about ' evil' it was written in haste and badly worded, I shall ask Bish for forgiveness.

Aug 10, 2012 at 7:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndy

Andy/Robotech Master, you forgot to take your pills again...

Aug 10, 2012 at 8:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

"Andy/Robotech Master, you forgot to take your pills again..."
Aug 10, 2012 at 8:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket


Hey look typical stalinist response... no science, facts, logic, reasoning... claim the person is mentally ill and put them in a hospital because they don't had "the faith".

Everyone knows the truth deep down... its just being collectivists you refuse to deal in any reality that doesn't conform to the collect you subscribe too. If the real world doesn't fit your collectivist views... well the real world must be wrong...

Aug 10, 2012 at 8:23 PM | Unregistered Commenterrobotech master

It's that false consciousness again.

Read Sowell.

Aug 10, 2012 at 9:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndy

Egads,

Sure am glad that you brits can't vote in US elections.

The fundamental divide in US politics is collectivist/big government/central control, etc. for liberals and capitalism/individualism/limited government, etc. for conservatives.

It should be noted that the US constitution as written is rather conservative which is why conseratives prefer that it be interpreted according to original intent while liberals prefer the living document approach.

It's also necessary to differentiate between non-religious conservatives and the religious right. The religious right is generally only concerned with issues such as abortion, creationist, and so forth. Except for such issues, they may otherwise be quite liberal.

Aug 10, 2012 at 9:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterGilbert

"The fundamental divide in US politics is collectivist/big government/central control, etc. for liberals and capitalism/individualism/limited government, etc. for conservatives."

Conservatives are generally centrist... they're not huge on the capitalism/individualism/anarchy... The tea party/libertarian is the capitalism/individualism/limited government.

"It's also necessary to differentiate between non-religious conservatives and the religious right. The religious right is generally only concerned with issues such as abortion, creationist, and so forth. Except for such issues, they may otherwise be quite liberal."

Theirs not such thing as the "religious right". Religion is a collectivist ideology so the more hardcore religious you are the more hardcore leftist you are. Important note being many people confuse being "spiritual" with being religious. Atheists, people who believe in global warming these people are religious but not "spiritual".

Aug 10, 2012 at 9:32 PM | Unregistered Commenterrobotech master

Gilbert

We are not representative of British voters, I mean we are climate deniers so what do you expect?
This thread has gone way off topic.

Aug 11, 2012 at 12:48 AM | Registered CommenterDung

Social academia? Isn't that heavily based on ideology like socialism? More policy based story telling than objective science? Ofcourse they want to protect their policy based turf?

Aug 11, 2012 at 4:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterJon

Aug 10, 2012 at 9:32 PM | Unregistered Commenterrobotech master

If you don't understand the US political system, then it might be best if you don' respond, thus leaving no one in doubt.

Aug 11, 2012 at 12:48 AM | Registered CommenterDung
This thread has gone way off topic.
On the contrary. Failure to understand the US political system is critical. It's a vital key to understanding the debate on many issues including both academic bias and climate issues.

Aug 12, 2012 at 10:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterGilbert

"If you don't understand the US political system, then it might be best if you don' respond, thus leaving no one in doubt."

Aug 12, 2012 at 10:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterGilbert

I understand the US political system perfectly... I normally spend much of my time trying to get ppl who know nothing about science, sociology or politics to understand it. People like you who are completely ignorant of these things need constant correcting.

Aug 12, 2012 at 8:03 PM | Unregistered Commenterrobotech master

Read and weep.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_right

Aug 15, 2012 at 7:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterGilbert

Read and weep.

"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_right"
Aug 15, 2012 at 7:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterGilbert


Wiki? Really? What next mein kampf?

O and did you even bother to read said wiki page....

"The terms Christian right and religious right are often used interchangeably,[by whom?] although the terms are not synonymous.[original research?][citation needed] Religious right includes Christians, Muslims and Orthodox Jews.[original research?][citation needed] "

note the complete lack of citation and any backing for the arguments. Only leftwing propaganda uses the terms in this manner. So please don't let the fail boat repeatedly docking in your back orifice stop you from your bigoted and ignorant beliefs based in propaganda and a complete lack of facts, science, reasoning, logic or reality.

The "religious right" is really the center left to far leftwing. They just hold a different set of collectivist beliefs from the "religious left". Thus they must be labeled as some other collective for collectivists to understand them. Religion is a collective and thus LEFTWING according to science...

Aug 15, 2012 at 8:32 PM | Unregistered Commenterrobotech master

I could continue to provoke this exchange indefinitely but I'm becoming very curious about where you're coming from.

I'll start. I'm a white male, born and reared in the USA for my entire 60+ years. My political orientation is best described as classic liberal.

Aug 15, 2012 at 11:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterGilbert

I could continue to provoke this exchange indefinitely but I'm becoming very curious about where you're coming from.

I'll start. I'm a white male, born and reared in the USA for my entire 60+ years. My political orientation is best described as classic liberal.
Aug 15, 2012 at 11:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterGilbert


Lol "provoke" I like that... its like a mouse "provoking" a cat to play with it. In this case though the cat happens to be more along the tiger size. As to your "classic liberal" I highly doubt you even have the slightest idea what that term means since you of course haven't the slightest idea about what the "political orientation" of the "religious right".

As to where I'm coming I have stated it pretty clearly....

"I normally spend much of my time trying to get ppl who know nothing about science, sociology or politics to understand it. People like you who are completely ignorant of these things need constant correcting."

I will translate this into propaganda/buzzword speak so that you who lack facts, science, reasoning, logic or reality can understand.

My goal is to prevent the "orwelling" of words... where your goal is to bring about the "orwelling" of words through propaganda and ignorance.

You have yet to make a single argument against what I have said... you have however posted some nice logical failures and wiki...

Aug 16, 2012 at 12:29 AM | Unregistered Commenterrobotech master

rotflmao!

Nice duck. I didn't think you knew what a classic liberal is.

Aug 16, 2012 at 1:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterGilbert

rotflmao!

Nice duck. I didn't think you knew what a classic liberal is.
Aug 16, 2012 at 1:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterGilbert

The only one ducking, dodging and desperately trying not to debate is you... I have presented a very clear, rational, logical and scientifically backed argument.

I repeat again... You have yet to make a single argument against what I have said... you have however posted some nice logical failures and wiki...

PS I find this "victory" amusing... " I didn't think you knew what a classic liberal is."

First because at no point do you ask me what the definition of a "classic liberal"... and second if you bothered to read the first page and my very first comment in this thread by me... you would see in fact that I off handily talk about "classic liberal".

Aug 16, 2012 at 3:02 AM | Unregistered Commenterrobotech master

robotech: ...if you bothered to read the first page and my very first comment in this thread by me... you would see in fact that I off handily talk about "classic liberal"

No you didn't, you gave your bizarre view of the UK conservatives and liberals, placing the latter to the right of the former. After that, most people here know you are just winding them up and ignore you.

Aug 16, 2012 at 1:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

"No you didn't, you gave your bizarre view of the UK conservatives and liberals, placing the latter to the right of the former. After that, most people here know you are just winding them up and ignore you."
Aug 16, 2012 at 1:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Lol no what I stated is well known science and history... true that its "pre-history" of your communist propaganda views of the world and thus doesn't exist... to you anyway but anyone whos read a history book that includes knowledge before 1920s.

And much as your ignorant friend Gilbert you have yet to counter with any type of science, facts, history, reality, logic or rational thought. Your counter is classic of the ignorant child to be summed up as "Its not that way because I say its not that way of my collective is right so blah blah blah".

Aug 16, 2012 at 6:55 PM | Unregistered Commenterrobotech master

Please would recent commenters keep to the topic of universities and dissenting views, the subject of the post.

Aug 16, 2012 at 7:38 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Please would recent commenters keep to the topic of universities and dissenting views, the subject of the post.
Aug 16, 2012 at 7:38 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill


We're doing that some people are just getting a schooling in what universities and such view the world and that is through a very propaganda based prism of left/right ideology. This is in the end the most basic fundamentals of what this topic is.

Aug 16, 2012 at 9:17 PM | Unregistered Commenterrobotech master

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