Debate Now Do the liberal bent of academe ensure discrimination against candidates seen as conservative?

Discussion in 'Debate Now - Structured Discussion Forum' started by usmbguest5318, Jul 29, 2017.

  1. usmbguest5318
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    usmbguest5318 Gold Member

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    Prefatory Note:
    "Candidates" as used in the title, refers to degree seekers and applicants for faculty positions and admissions in colleges and universities.​

    Thread Rules:
    1. Constrain your remarks to the literal and contextual scope of the thread rubric.
    2. When sharing your inferences and conclusions, explicitly reference (quote) specific passages of the thread-rubric documents, my prose, or other other topically germane scholarly studies. The purpose of this rule is so that readers can following an assess/construe the ideas you share in the context of whatever passages and information inspired them.
    3. Strictly adhere to rules one and two, along with USMB stipulated SDF subforum guidelines.
    Thread Rubric:
    Academe is lopsidedly liberal. Nobody argues that is not so.

    • [​IMG]
      Registered voter ratios, Democrat to Republican, among social scientists at 40 top U.S. universities

      The 2016 study "Faculty Voter Registration in Economics, History, Journalism, Law, and Psychology"considered voter registration of faculty members in selected social science disciplines (and history) at 40 leading American universities. The study found a ratio of 11.5 Democrats for every Republican in these departments, but with wide variation. In economics, the ratio was 4.5 to one, while in history the ratio was 33.5 to one.

      "Data were only readily available to the researchers for 30 states due to voter privacy policies and the database used, Aristotle; thus the study included information on professors at 40 of the 60 top U.S. universities, as determined by U.S. News & World Report.
    • A 2016 Pew study found that among those with graduate education of some form, 31 percent hold consistently liberal positions based on an analysis of their opinions about the role and performance of government, social issues, the environment and other topics. Another 23 percent hold mostly liberal positions. Only 10 percent hold consistently conservative positions, and 17 percent hold mostly conservative positions. Since 1994, the share of those with graduate education holding consistently liberal positions has increased substantially, the study found.

      [​IMG]

    • In researching for their paper "Why Are Professors Liberal?", Neil Gross and Ethan Fosse. Posing as undergraduates getting ready to apply to doctoral programs, they sent email messages to graduate program directors in top sociology, political science, economics, history and English departments. The inquiries were similar in describing their academic preparation, their undergraduate institutions and their interest in applying. Some of the emails made no mention of politics, but some mentioned having previously worked on either the Obama or McCain presidential campaigns.

      The paper finds that 43 percent of the political gap can be explained because professors are more likely than others:
      • Education -- Having ave high levels of educational attainment, in other words, merely by dint of being highly educated. This was the highest predictive correlate.
      • Intellectualism -- Have a high tolerance for controversial ideas.
      • Religious Affiliation -- Being either Jewish, non-religious, or a member of a faith that is not theologically conservative Protestant.
      • To experience a disparity between their levels of educational attainment and income.

      The analysis is based on data from the General Social Survey from 1974-2008. Beyond the items above, a smaller but significant impact also was found because professors are more likely than others to have lived in an urban area growing up and to have fewer children.
    Does the decidedly liberal bent demonstrate that application review committees -- for prospective graduate students and/or for faculty -- and professors (instructors) necessarily must be construed as or indeed guilty of associatively discriminating against students and/or candidates they perceive as conservative?

    In the ongoing debates over professors’ politics, right-wing critics make much of the fact that many surveys have found professors -- especially in the humanities -- to be well to the left of the American public. This political incongruence is frequently used as a jumping off point to suggest that professors are indoctrinating students with leftist ideas.

    Research on Hiring and Admittance Practices:
    Passing on the Right: Conservative Professors in the Progressive University
    Passing on the Right: Conservative Professors in the Progressive University is a book-length study of right-leaning humanities and social science professors by Jon A. Shields, associate professor of government at Claremont McKenna College, and Joshua M. Dunn Sr., an associate professor of political science and director of the Center for the Study of Government and the Individual at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.. Shields and Dunn found that there are plenty of conservative scholars who -- while periodically annoyed at their colleagues -- are successful and happy in academia. Furthermore, the authors report that attacks on liberal universities and colleges from Republican politicians perpetuates the problem of political homogeneity. Perhaps most significantly, the book discusses the pros and cons of a kind of affirmative action for conservative professors; however, while most subjects -- conservative and liberal -- vaguely like the idea, they don’t support it as policy.

    One can find some anecdotes of discrimination. In researching for her book Inside Graduate Admissions: Merit, Diversity and Faculty Gatekeeping, Julie R. Posselt, assistant professor of education at the University of Southern California, observed elite graduate program deliberations on admissions. In one case she describes in the book, an applicant to a top linguistics Ph.D. program was a student at a small religious college unknown to some committee members; however, the parochial institution's values were questioned by other members of the applicant review committee.

    “Right-wing religious fundamentalists,” one committee member said of the college, while another said, to much laughter, that the college was “supported by the Koch brothers.” The committee then spent more time discussing details of the applicant's GRE scores and background -- high GRE scores, homeschooled -- than it did with some other candidates. The chair of the committee said, “I would like to beat that college out of her,” and, to laughter from committee members, asked, “You don't think she's a nutcase?”

    At the end of the discussion, the committee moved the applicant ahead to the next round. Additionally, Posselt's work does not indicate that this was typical of the reviews she saw.

    Posselt et al note that some professors complained of discrimination based on politics, but not of careers being ended. One productive sociologist was voted down for tenure by his colleagues and dean, only to have the vote reversed by a provost -- due in part to some liberal colleagues who cried foul at the process. Conservative scholars also complained that some journals seemed to reject views that were inconsistent with liberal thinking.

    The book's bottom line is that conservative professors are succeeding and happy in academe -- and that there is not a wall of liberal academics blocking their way.​


    Does Political Imbalance Make Life Difficult for Conservative Students?

    Research on liberalism's impact in the classroom:
    AMERICAN ACADEME AND THE KNOWLEDGE-POLITICS PROBLEM
    "American Academe and the Knowledge-Politics Problem," is a study Dr. Neil Gross undertook to shift the discussion of professorial politics away from the banal (the mere fact that many professors are liberal) to “a more systematic” study of how “academicians in various fields and at various points in time understand the relationship between their political views, values, and engagements and their activities of knowledge creation and dissemination, and to how such understandings inform and shape academic work and political practice.” It’s not enough to simply document professors’ politics, Gross writes. What is needed is more attention to how professors handle the “knowledge-politics problem” in their work.

    Gross found that conservative critics are correct about humanities’ professors leanings, but incorrect about their views of what classroom responsibility entails. Moreover, the study, which was based on detailed interviews of professors’ in various disciplines, found that faculty members take seriously the idea that they should not try to force their views upon students, or to in any way reward or punish students based on their opinions. This view is shared by professors who see their politics playing a legitimate role in their research agendas, not just those who view their research agendas as neutral.

    The 57 professors interviewed by Gross and his research team for the study come from five disciplines: biology, economics, engineering, literature and sociology. All of the professors were part of a much larger survey Gross conducted (along with Solon Simmons) for a 2007 report on the politics of faculty members. That report was notable for including a broader cross-section of faculty members than many other such studies (Gross and Simmons included community college professors, a group widely ignored by other studies for example), and for finding professors to be more moderate -- albeit still liberal leaning -- than many other studies did.

    With regard to research agendas, the Gross interviews found that literature professors were quite dubious of the idea of objectivity and quite open about the link between their politics and their research. In biology, economics and engineering, objectivity in research is taken for granted. And in sociology, the results are somewhere in the middle.

    Gross frames his contrasts with two quotes -- one from a literature professor and one from an electrical engineer. The literature professor finds it hard to believe that any field is truly objective. “In everything from journalism to the sciences … claims and appeals to objectivity tend to do more to mask interest and situatedness than they do to actually assist in knowledge in any way,” says the literature professor.

    But the engineer -- in a joke that Gross writes he heard repeatedly in doing this research -- offers a very different take:
    One of the beauties of engineering ... is there is no such thing ... as a Jewish volt, there is no such thing as a Republican ampere. ... There’s no such thing as a conservative kilogram. Or an atheist heater. You know, the atheist looks at the voltmeter and it reads 1.26 volts, the ardent Christian conservative reads 1.26 volts, the Muslim reads 1.26 volts. ​

    On the question of teaching, Gross finds only a few professors who have the goal of changing students’ views. He quotes one professor proud of exposing his students to progressive ideas that they would not otherwise encounter, and who has the explicit goal of changing opinions (although he also says that he encourages students to challenge his views and does not punish those who disagree).

    But the actual divide, Gross writes, isn’t between professors who try to change students’ views and those who do not, but between those who are open about their politics and those who are not. Those who don’t talk politics in the classroom, a group Gross calls the “political neutrality camp,” adopt their position for one of two reasons, he writes. Either they think the subject matter of their course makes their politics irrelevant (a subgroup Gross calls “accidental political neutrality”), or they believe that it is best for classroom dynamics if they keep their views to themselves. This latter group he terms advocates of “cultivated political neutrality.”

    Professors in this group believe that they may exert too much influence over classroom discussions and students’ views if they are active participants in discussions in which they reveal their views. Those professors who believe that they need to reveal their views -- a group Gross says favor “political transparency” -- tend to consider their approach sound pedagogy, not merely a chance to opine.

    Gross quotes a sociologist at a community college:
    I’m a sociologist. I’m going to talk about race and racism. I’m going to talk about sex and sexism. I’m going to talk about social inequality and class in the United States. ​
    However, she adds that she is conscious of the potential for her views to skew discussion, so she takes specific steps to encourage contrasting opinions to be offered. She says:
    I really try to be inclusive. I don’t try to push a particular agenda or a candidate or anything like that. If I find that I have said [something of that nature], I will quickly say, "You know, this is just my personal opinion and I respect anybody else’s opinion and you don’t have to agree with me in order to understand the material that I’m trying to convey to you."​

    While Gross found sociologists and literature professors to be more politically transparent than others, this was not universal; moreover, there was plenty of political transparency in other disciplines.

    By institutional type, Gross found more “cultivated neutrality” at research universities than at community colleges. He speculates on two possible reasons: “This may reflect the greater authority that professors at elite institutions understand themselves to have -- an authority that may lead them to be especially wary of indoctrination – or the lesser intimacy that typically obtains in such institutions between students and instructors.”
    Thoughts:
    Gross implies that the criticism of academia comes almost entirely from conservatives. Much concern does indeed come from conservatives, but not exclusively nor nearly so. Indeed, from reading the study, it's clear that "classic liberals" in the sense of Kant and Mill are no less concerned about members of professoriate allowing their individual politics to govern their lectures and research priorities.

    In thinking about the etiology of liberal abundance among the professoriate, I suspect one can trace it to the 1960s multiculturalism movement that transformed liberalism's main foci from union issues and other white working-class issues to those of racial and ethnic minorities and women. As someone who studied economics and business, I can't say the the change disserved America for the pre-1960s ethos that maintained the universal primacy of white men above the remaining 60%+ of society necessarily meant that the innovativeness that may have come from the great majority of society was forever and irrevocably lost. That is, quite simply, supremely inefficient, or in lay parlance, egregiously wasteful. To my mind, the sagacity of the transformation wasn't and isn't a zero-sum matter but rather one of "also," as in, it was high-time for non-white males to also suffer no irrational impediments to realizing their fullest potential.
     
  2. Natural Citizen
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    Natural Citizen Gold Member

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    The term liberal is too often misused. It is the most misused term in American politics today. And most 'conservatives' in America today are equally as statist as those whom they incorrectly give the label 'liberal.' Therefore the rules/framing of the thread are also moot. The only real conservatives left in America today are classical liberals. And it's a gosh darned travesty that we are left with having to attach the term classical to real liberalism just to conform to modern society's shortcomings with definitions and understanding of the isms.

    There is a problem in definitions and understanding. Until that is resolved the premise which is offered here is moot. And perhaps insincere if the author himself understands the shortcoming yet chooses to offer these terms of controversy for discussion anyway. Respectfully speaking.

    I generally contend that people are good. It's just that the problem with definitions and understanding is a trained phenomenon through intellectual dishonesty on the part of those who really should (and likely do) know better.
     
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  3. Natural Citizen
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    Natural Citizen Gold Member

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    And another thing while I'm thinking of it. There are no such things as trolls. Though it is certainly convenient to make such a claim if one is not comfortable with any terms of controversy that are inserted into a given discussion. Speaking only for myself, I have just as many friends on the left as I do the right and in-between. I've learned things from those on the left just as much as I've learned from those on the right. We see the same problems. Though, I do often disagree on their solutions. But we agree on the actual problems which we're faced with resolving.

    Win the debate. Or attempt a middle ground. Preferably the latter. Any serious discussion should always serve to benefit the casual passer-by. That's how winning is done. Not framing a given discussion for the purpose of padding one's personal ego. And not for the purpose of dividing and conquering. Though, that does seem to be the reasoning in most cases. I've always contended that real socialists are the smartest people I ever see on boards like these. Or the most clever, to be clear. The reason I contend that is because they do know how to manipulate the ignorance of their peers. And they do it well if nobody is around to recognize it for what it is and interject.
     
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  4. Dogmaphobe
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    Considering the authoritarian nature of the politically correct subjects of this thread, I would say that they not only fail to uphold the tenets of classical liberalism, but modern as well.

    I really don't think what John Rawls had in mind in regards to his theories of social justice was the jack-booted enforcement of the expression of pure and impure thoughts.

    I always use the term "leftist" to describe the politically correct because theirs is really just a form of political fundamentalism where ideas are never challenged and systems of psychological rewards/punishments are in place to keep the flock in line.
     
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  5. Natural Citizen
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    A lot of social theorists on the Democrat side reference Rawles. And many Rawlsian professors occupy the institutions today. He's significant. And it's good for people to know the names of these people.

    Egalitarianism, while likely a term few have heard, is a topic that all would benefit by it being discussed. Particularly Rawles' pov.

    It's funny thinking about him again, if you read his book 'A Theory Of Justice' from 1971, it contains no definition of justice. Haha. I've always thought that philosophers were keen on providing definitions of what the words they use actually mean. Though, he did at least acknowledge that he never defined justice on page 579. lol. He didn't want to define it. By his own words he wanted to define a theory of it. Of course, that's what he's best known for. His thought experiment. And he did admit that he devised his thought experiment to have the outcome that he wanted.

    Anyway. He's a guy that is topic worthy. But I sure as heck won't participate in it on a thread that is premised upon Xylor's personal terms where he gets to define the terms of controversy with his purposeful Rawlsian rules. Phhht. Sounds very similar to Rawles' thought experiment, doesn't it? That discussion should be had under intellectually honest terms. Not here in Xylor's thread and under Xylor's personal rules.
     
  6. Dogmaphobe
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    I couldn't agree more.

    The authoritarianism and pedantry for pedantry's sake get to be a bit much..

    I do believe a discussion on the inherently CONSERVATIVE nature of Multiculturalism might be in order as well, though. I find it odd how self-described "liberals" would be hoodwinked by this rigid belief system predicated upon double standards that acts to PREVENT the liberalization of illiberal people by conserving their ancient cultural mores.

    ....but that is for another discussion as well.[/QUOTE]
     

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