Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed (Sept. 14, 2020): Is Academe Awash in Liberal Bias?, by Naomi Oreskes (Harvard) & Charlie Tyson (Harvard):
Is academe dominated by liberals? Most people think so. And why wouldn’t they? It’s what we hear all the time on social media, in newspaper and magazine articles, and even in academe itself. Conservatives routinely call out higher education’s “liberal bias,” and sometimes insist that something should be done to ensure that conservative voices are heard within the ivory tower. ...
The most comprehensive study to date of American faculty politics found a much more centrist professoriate than is alleged in conservative discourse. In that 2006 study, the sociologists Neil Gross and Solon Simmons found that some 44 percent of professors described themselves as “extremely liberal” (9 percent) or “liberal” (35 percent); 46 percent described themselves in centrist terms (18 percent as “slightly liberal,” 17 percent as “middle of the road,” and 11 percent as “slightly conservative”); 8 percent described themselves as “conservative” and 1 percent as “extremely conservative.” In other words, liberals outnumber conservatives, but the largest cohort of faculty — 46 percent — are moderates, spanning the terrain between center-left and center-right.
As academics, it behooves us to be receptive to ideas, open to evidence, and willing to listen. But we should not succumb to stereotype threat and rush to “remedy” a problem of liberal bias that exists primarily in the anxieties of some conservative commentators. And it certainly does not behoove us, as William F. Buckley famously exhorted, to stand astride history — or, for that matter, science — yelling, “Stop!”
Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed (Sept. 24, 2020): Tenured Radicals Are Real,, by Phillip W. Magness (American Institute for Economic Research):
In their recent essay “Is Academe Awash in Liberal Bias?,” Naomi Oreskes and Charlie Tyson seek to dispute the increasingly common perception of the American university system as a hostile environment for viewpoints that stray from a left-leaning orthodoxy. Though their analysis acknowledges that the professoriate falls somewhat to the left of the general public, they nonetheless argue that academe is still firmly anchored at the middle of the political spectrum. Conservative talking points about “liberal bias” in the university system, it follows, are overblown and reveal their own unacknowledged biases under the guise of a corrective.
This political culture-wars debate is unlikely to be resolved by editorial analysis, yet one dimension of Oreskes and Tyson’s argument warrants scrutiny: its empirical claims. ... Liberal and far-left faculty numbers swelled from 44.8 percent in 1998 to a clear majority of 59.8 percent in 2016-17,
Digging deeper into the surveys, we find that one of the primary drivers of the leftward shift is the rapid growth of faculty members who identify on the far left.
October 19, 2020 in Legal Education | Permalink
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