09 December 2007

Academic Lobotomies Performed Daily

North American academia has fallen on intellectually hard times. A blatant lack of ideological diversity on campus--intentional or not--is leaving students unable to deal with the real world as it exists outside the pixie dust atmosphere on campus. What has happened to turn universities into indoctrination camps--and what can be done to make a more universal university?
At a Harvard symposium in October, former Harvard president and Clinton Treasury secretary Larry Summers argued that among liberal arts and social science professors at elite graduate universities, Republicans are "the third group," far behind Democrats and even Ralph Nader supporters. Summers mused that in Washington he was "the right half of the left," while at Harvard he found himself "on the right half of the right."

I know how he feels. I spent four years in the 1990s working at the centrist Brookings Institution and for the Clinton administration and felt right at home ideologically. Yet during much of my two decades in academia, I've been on the "far right" as one who thinks that welfare reform helped the poor, that the United States was right to fight and win the Cold War, and that environmental regulations should be balanced against property rights.

...I think my political views hurt my career some years back when I was interviewing for a job at a prestigious research university. Everything seemed to be going well until I mentioned, in a casual conversation with department members over dinner, that I planned to vote Republican in the upcoming presidential election. Conversation came to a halt, and someone quickly changed the subject. The next day, I thought my final interview went fairly well. But the department ended up hiring someone who had published far less, but apparently "fit" better than I did. At least that's what I was told when I called a month later to learn the outcome of the job search, having never received any further communication from the school. (A friend at the same university later told me he didn't believe that particular department would ever hire a Republican.)

...Daniel Klein of George Mason University and Charlotta Stern of Stockholm University looked at all the reliable published studies of professors' political and ideological attachments. They found that conservatives and libertarians are outnumbered by liberals and Marxists by roughly two to one in economics, more than five to one in political science, and by 20 to one or more in anthropology and sociology....All this is bad for society because academics' ideological blinders make it more difficult to solve domestic problems and to understand foreign challenges. Moreover, a leftist ideological monoculture is bad for universities, rendering them intellectually dull places imbued with careerism rather than the energy of contending ideas, a point made by academic critics across the ideological spectrum from Russell Jacoby on the left to Josiah Bunting III on the right.

We find discriminatory hiring far more commonly practised by leftists on-campus than in the private sector. Hiring on the basis of ideology w/gender, ideology w/sexual orientation, ideology w/race. The common bias here is ideology. The daily practise of academic lobotomies (presentation of a single point of view) on campuses across North America is the result.

It is easy to blame this disatrous state of academia on political correctness run amok, or multiculturalism gone mad. In truth, falling into academic brain death for many university departments was incremental, evolutionary, and quite easy. Ideological nepotism breeds more of itself until the bias becomes instinctive and inbred.

More on how to dig out of this ideological stagnancy in a later post.

via Instapundit

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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