Political balance in universities

Discussion in 'Politics, Etc. (Archived)' started by Elliot George, Jan 9, 2017.

  1. Elliot George

    Elliot George Well-Known Member

    Hey guys, there's been a lot of people making noise recently about the balance of political opinion in universities (mainly in the US). Universities are becoming more and more left wing dominated. Why is this? Does this show that left wing values are more correct because intelligent and educated people are more likely to adopt them? Or is there a more complex explanation?

    Another Link
  2. Lemon

    Lemon Well-Known Member

    Heterodox Academy is an advocacy group for viewpoint diversity in universities. They talk the causes and dangers on this page (edit: just realised you linked this in the OP)

    Universities have always leaned left, but they have shifted dramatically to the left since the 90's - especially in the social sciences. This has happened for a variety of reasons including generational change, political activism and in some cases overt bias against conservatives.
  3. Bucky

    Bucky Well-Known Member

    Several types of university departments, such as gender studies, seem to be liberal-only in several senses. They tend to adopt liberal worldview elements as axioms, you probably aren't interested in them as a non-liberal student and you will need to be able to write papers with a liberal viewpoint to succeed in those majors. These departments are a relatively recent development.

    Other fields such as history and psychology, are mostly populated by liberals now, but aren't inherently liberal. Being able to write papers with a liberal viewpoint is still a valuable skill in those fields, but not strictly mandatory.

    Some fields such as chemistry are inherently neutral in that experimental data can easily trump politics and opinion. These 'hard' fields do not have an ideological slant.

    Finally, economics stands out as a field that is ideologically slanted conservative.
  4. serebei251

    serebei251 Well-Known Member

  5. Bucky

    Bucky Well-Known Member

    The Mother Jones article's causal inference appears to be undermined by Lemon's last link, which reports real discrimination.
  6. SwiftSpear

    SwiftSpear Active Member

    I don't think a left lean in university populations is bad, but I do think the prejudice against people defending right viewpoints which it's more recently embodied (in some cases sickeningly unapologetically) is pretty close to the worst sin university can possibly commit.
  7. serebei251

    serebei251 Well-Known Member

    The article is merely reporting on Neil Gross's work which did not find such discrimination:
  8. Lemon

    Lemon Well-Known Member

    My link shows that some portion of academics openly state they will discriminate against conservatives.
  9. richy

    richy Well-Known Member

    It's always seemed to me jobs in education are favoured by people less comfortable with the practicalities of the wider commercial world. The constant compromise, fudging, negotiation. Above all the constant competition and stress. Quite right too, schools need to be largely insulated from all that. Learning happens best in a calm environment, with educators allowed to do the job in creative, non-prescriptive ways if necessary.

    The fact that teaching is, rightly, a pretty secure job with often quite wooly performance criteria is naturally going to attract a certain kind of person. And it's also going to lend itself to the adoption of views (economic, political, general) that lean towards theory and away from practice. (Which is of course a wild generalization, so apologies to teachers!) Conversely it's natural that people with a more get-your-hands-dirty practical view of life are going to be happier doing deals, undercutting rivals and doing whatever it takes to "win" at their chosen pursuits.

    That explains for me some quantity of the left/right political balance indicated in the OP. As for why it's accelerated so such an amazing extent in the last few years, I couldn't say.
    Lemon likes this.
  10. Lemon

    Lemon Well-Known Member

    I think the rapid acceleration since the 90's is what makes this an issue.
  11. serebei251

    serebei251 Well-Known Member

  12. Lemon

    Lemon Well-Known Member

    Here's another source which found that 30 percent of academics said that they would be less likely to support a job seeker if they knew that the person was a Republican.

    It's important to note that we're talking about open claims of discrimination. These academics are telling us they would discriminate. Are they all lying? This is far more damning than the typical means of measuring discrimination, like IAT's.
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  13. richy

    richy Well-Known Member

    Presumably their thinking is that they have the students' best interests at heart, and are nobly protecting them from exposure to wrong thinking. Like the OP suggested:
    It would follow that it's simply correct to favour applicants with more correct values, since the job will involve passing on those values, and who'd want to spread any ideas that aren't correct. I'm sure those respondents didn't see it as "discrimination" at all, just selecting on aptitude.
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  14. serebei251

    serebei251 Well-Known Member

    Baylor university, really?
    I can't find anything about your source, where did you get your 30℅ figure?
    I don't know. Your first link did not measure discrimination against other open political leanings. It could be that open political positions are frown upon. The fact we can't seem to measure this discrimination at least begs questions IMO.
  15. Lemon

    Lemon Well-Known Member

    > where did you get your 30℅ figure?

    My original source was this New York Times article. "Yancey, the black sociologist, who now teaches at the University of North Texas, conducted a survey in which up to 30 percent of academics said that they would be less likely to support a job seeker if they knew that the person was a Republican."

    > Your first link did not measure discrimination against other open political leanings.

    I highly doubt the 95% of non-conservatives would discriminate against progressives. If the stats were reversed and universities were 95% right wing or moderate this would probably be an issue, but I think you're grasping at straws.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2017
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  16. Captain

    Captain Well-Known Member

    Economics is libertarian leaning not Conservative leaning.

    THe majority of economists vote Blue. A large propotion of economists are libertarians (WAY beyond the base rate.) Unless you call libertarians right wing (which seems odd?) then economists aren't right wing.

    Sadly the sources of this data are in textbooks and other secondhand sources and I can't find the original source, so sometime soon I'll be able to find it.

    This is relevant mostly due to base rates. Maybe 10% of people would descriminate against moderates and 5% against progressives. Base rates would provide a useful metric of comparision.

    Here are some other possible base rates I would like to look at


    Religion (atheism, and Young earth creationism in particular)

    Complaining about baylor is functionally equivilent to complaining about UC berkeley! If you're going to apply a rediculous standard to your opponent at LEAST apply the same standard to yourself!!

    In the wikipedia article YOU LINKED above you can finde all of the following links that contradict this claim! Clearly you just refused to actually Look for the counter evidence because of personal bias. Read your own Sources DAMNIT



    @Lemon @serebei251 Both of you need to carefully think about this article (which you probably read) because this is wha't shappening on this thread


    and this one

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  17. Erenan

    Erenan Well-Known Member

    I thought there were left libertarians and right libertarians. I think there's a bit of a spectrum.

    In any case, I am extremely interested in the data you're referring to, so if you can find the source, please do share.
  18. Bucky

    Bucky Well-Known Member

    Yeah, that too. But note that I do draw a distinction between 'conservative' (as a set of principles) and 'right wing' (as a social group)
  19. serebei251

    serebei251 Well-Known Member

    I only commented on it because it was blocked on my work's computer under "traditional religion", which I'll admit made me laugh a little.

    I disagree.
    You just linked both Lemon's links, two about discrimination against religion and the Springer one which I couldn't find much about.
    We can discuss atheist bias if you want but let's not conflate it with liberal bias.
  20. ALavaVatChild

    ALavaVatChild Well-Known Member

    This is bollocks, academia is extremely stressful and competitive and has only become more so in recent decades.

    As the American right has become increasingly, overtly insane fewer educated people identify as such. Shocking.

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