Liberal Elites Guard Their Kingpins

24 10 2007

Filed under: University, Humanism, Liberalism, Conservatism, Harvard, George Mason, Gross, Simmons

UPDATE – 10/25: Another perfect example. Scroll for updates…

Sociology professors Solon Simmons, from George Mason University, and Neil Gross, from Harvard University, recently conducted a study of the ideological beliefs of more than 1,400 full-time instructors at 927 colleges. Not surprisingly it found that most college professors were liberals.

Not surprising, is the student-written Harvard Crimson who rushes to the defense of their beloved masters in an amazing display of journalism and analysis. First, take a quick look at the graph below:


Good. Now read the opening line of the article by aspiring smear-artist, Jesse Cohen:

A recent study of the political leanings of college professors reports that moderates outnumber liberals by a small margin among college faculties. The study also showed that conservatives are in the minority of professors.

He later betrays his arithmetic by comparing conservatives’ 9.2 percent to 46.1 percent and 44.1 percent for moderates and liberals, respectively. He gives “moderates” the 2 point edge by combining the three categories, Slightly Conservative, Middle of the Road, and Slightly Liberal.

But check out this paragraph, seemingly ignored when he did his math, buried in the middle of the article (emphasis mine):

The new study’s conclusion was unexpected, according to Gross, who pointed to the common perception that professors are “not only liberal, but many are quite radical in their beliefs.” However, he clarified that the moderates in academia are still relatively left leaning when compared to moderates in the rest of America.

So, as a prudent member of the media, is it accurate to add Slightly Liberal in with Moderates? Certainly not, according the study’s own author. By default, Slightly Conservative is also automatically disqualified.

An accurate calculation then would show the following score:

– Liberals: 62.3 percent (in reality, 80.3 percent but we’ll use 62.3 for simplicity sake)
– Moderates: 18.0
– Conservatives: 19.7

Here is the full 72-page study (pdf).

If you need proof that the moderates in academia are more left leaning, take a look at how the professors responded to these issues:

  • Strong support for abortion rights: 74.7 percent believe it should be possible for a pregnant woman to obtain an abortion for any reason.
  • Strong support for gay rights: Only 17.2 percent believe that it is always wrong for two adults of the same sex to have sexual relations, while 68.7 percent believe it is not wrong at all.
  • Doubts about Iraq: Strong majorities believe that the number of troops in Iraq should be cut and that President Bush misled the nation in the build-up to the war.
  • Tenure’s value: Strong majorities see tenure as a good thing but also see it as sometimes protecting incompetent faculty members.

Hardly a representation of the alleged, 44.1 – 46.1 percent hair line fracture. Let’s be clear. America’s universities are training camps for tolerance, liberalism, humanism … anything but conservative ideals. Larry Summers, Harvard’s former president and a former Clinton Cabinet member, commented on the study, “It made me think that there is even less ideological diversity in the American university than I had imagined. There is an overwhelming tilt toward the progressive side. Compared to the underrepresentation of other groups whose underrepresentation is often stressed, the underrepresentation of conservatives appears to be rather substantially more, perhaps.”

Summers, if you recall, knows a thing or two about the intolerance of university “progressives.” He lost his job for daring to suggest that men and women are different which resulted in him being denied a speaking engagement at the University of California-Davis. A man who denies the Holocaust can speak at Columbia, but a former Harvard president and cabinet secretary who believes there are real differences between men and women cannot speak at UC-Davis.

UPDATE – 10/25: Another perfect example of one liberal professor shielding his peers:

Ultimately, this is one of those studies that will probably be used by both sides to support their own arguments in the ongoing debate over whether the overrepresentation of liberals among college faculty constitutes a problem. Those who answer yes will point to the continuing disparities over faculty political orientation and say there needs to be more balance.

On the other hand, those who do not think this is a problem would say that faculty are becoming more moderate and that in many ways, their liberal orientations do not necessarily translate into extremist viewpoints or inappropriate indoctrination of students.

There is no argument for sufficient balance between liberals and conservatives. But the goal is not to have 100% moderates either. Though these great institutions were founded on 100% conservatism, realistically, a good beginning goal would be 33% each.

Professor Le should know that education is more than simply teaching methods and concepts. It is a transfer of worldviews. It is not possible to be a professor and not “indoctrinate” students in a significant way. The way that we have arrived at “extremist viewpoints” and “inappropriate indoctrination of students” is the overwhelming imbalance of opinions among professors. With the disproportionate percentages we have, it is perfectly reasonable to assume that a student could graduate after four years of college and never have been shown a conservative worldview. How is that not extremist?




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