08 February 2011

Social Sciences in US a Hotbed of Politically Correct Bias?

“If a group circles around sacred values, they will evolve into a tribal-moral community,” he said. “They’ll embrace science whenever it supports their sacred values, but they’ll ditch it or distort it as soon as it threatens a sacred value.” _NYT

Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt spoke at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology’s conference last month. Professor Haidt mad a lot of waves when he came right out and called the US social sciences bigoted and quasi-religious in its biases and dogmatisms. Will Haidt become the next target of hate for having spoken his mind honestly? More about Haidt's talk:
He polled his audience at the San Antonio Convention Center, starting by asking how many considered themselves politically liberal. A sea of hands appeared, and Dr. Haidt estimated that liberals made up 80 percent of the 1,000 psychologists in the ballroom. When he asked for centrists and libertarians, he spotted fewer than three dozen hands. And then, when he asked for conservatives, he counted a grand total of three.

“This is a statistically impossible lack of diversity,” Dr. Haidt concluded, noting polls showing that 40 percent of Americans are conservative and 20 percent are liberal. In his speech and in an interview, Dr. Haidt argued that social psychologists are a “tribal-moral community” united by “sacred values” that hinder research and damage their credibility — and blind them to the hostile climate they’ve created for non-liberals.

“Anywhere in the world that social psychologists see women or minorities underrepresented by a factor of two or three, our minds jump to discrimination as the explanation,” said Dr. Haidt, who called himself a longtime liberal turned centrist. “But when we find out that conservatives are underrepresented among us by a factor of more than 100, suddenly everyone finds it quite easy to generate alternate explanations.”

Dr. Haidt (pronounced height) told the audience that he had been corresponding with a couple of non-liberal graduate students in social psychology whose experiences reminded him of closeted gay students in the 1980s. He quoted — anonymously — from their e-mails describing how they hid their feelings when colleagues made political small talk and jokes predicated on the assumption that everyone was a liberal.

“I consider myself very middle-of-the-road politically: a social liberal but fiscal conservative. Nonetheless, I avoid the topic of politics around work,” one student wrote. “Given what I’ve read of the literature, I am certain any research I conducted in political psychology would provide contrary findings and, therefore, go unpublished. Although I think I could make a substantial contribution to the knowledge base, and would be excited to do so, I will not.”

The politics of the professoriate has been studied by the economists Christopher Cardiff and Daniel Klein and the sociologists Neil Gross and Solon Simmons. They’ve independently found that Democrats typically outnumber Republicans at elite universities by at least six to one among the general faculty, and by higher ratios in the humanities and social sciences. In a 2007 study of both elite and non-elite universities, Dr. Gross and Dr. Simmons reported that nearly 80 percent of psychology professors are Democrats, outnumbering Republicans by nearly 12 to 1.

The fields of psychology, sociology and anthropology have long attracted liberals, but they became more exclusive after the 1960s, according to Dr. Haidt. “The fight for civil rights and against racism became the sacred cause unifying the left throughout American society, and within the academy,” he said, arguing that this shared morality both “binds and blinds.” _NYT
Unfortunately this is a widespread phenomenon in the humanities and social sciences faculties, and in administrative staffing at universities. To the victor go the spoils. In this case what is being spoiled are the futures of students and entire societies.

Higher education in the US is overpriced and of decreasing quality. As faulty assumptions get incorporated into mainstream academic thought -- and into the thinking of research funding institutions -- the outcome of multi-billions of dollars worth of scholarship and research comes into question.

Affirmative action for libertarians, conservatives, and white males is not the answer. The answer is a complete housecleaning in higher education staffing and research funding to get rid of the ideologues and riff-raff who have managed to clog the system. Such a housecleaning of personnel is necessary at all levels, from K-12 to the highest levels of education. The stink of bigotry, indoctrination, and dogma throughout the educational system is too great to ignore any longer.

Jonathan Haidt's TED Talks page

More: The same phenomenon has been observed among economics professors as well
H/T Powerline

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Blogger kurt9 said...

Social Sciences in US a Hotbed of Politically Correct Bias?

Why are you stating rhetorical question?

Tuesday, 08 February, 2011  
Blogger al fin said...

Rhetorical questions can make quite good titles, actually.

BTW, check out the comments from leftist professors at the NYT articles linked above.

Such a waste of educational institutions, and what were once perfectly good minds.

Tuesday, 08 February, 2011  
Blogger Bruce Hall said...

Now really, Al. It is obvious that the reason liberals are so liberally represented in elite institutions is that they are obviously smarter and more capable than their conservative brethren. The dumber, less-capable simply cannot compete. Darwinism.

Tuesday, 08 February, 2011  
Blogger Bruce Hall said...

Was my sarcasm too subtle?

Wednesday, 09 February, 2011  

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

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