Republican anti-intellectualism

by Henry on December 11, 2004

“Stephen Bainbridge”:http://www.professorbainbridge.com/2004/12/jonathan_chair_.html, in the course of attacking Jonathan Chait’s recent “article”:http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-chait10dec10,1,5960569.column?coll=la-news-comment-opinions on the dearth of conservative academics, makes an interesting leap of logic.

bq. “Second, professors don’t particularly want to be Republicans. In recent years, and especially under George W. Bush, Republicans have cultivated anti-intellectualism.” In other words, conservatives are stupid. *Wrong again*. As I also pointed out in my TCS column, Data from the widely used General Social Survey (GSS) consistently show that Republicans are better educated than Democrats (on average, they have more than half a year more education and hold a higher final degree). In addition, Republicans score better than Democrats on two tests included in the GSS. As for Chait’s argument that conservatives are anti-intellectual, how about all those fine public intellectuals who write for opinion journals like Policy Review, Commentary, or First Things, to name a few? Or how about all those policy wonks working at places like AEI or Heritage?

How exactly does the observation that “Republicans cultivate anti-intellectualism” imply that the observer believes that Republicans are stupid? This is a complete non-sequitur, and a misleading one at that – Bainbridge is trying, not very successfully, to change the subject to one that he feels stronger on (I’m sure that there’s a technical term for this sort of rhetorical manoeuvre, but I don’t know what it is). Nor does the fact that Republican intellectuals exist contradict the fact that there is a strong strain of anti-intellectualism to Republican Party rhetoric, and Republican attempts to appeal to voters (as, for example, the pillorying of Al Gore for using big numbers and complicated ideas). While this anti-intellectualism doesn’t completely explain the dearth of Republican academics by any stretch of the imagination, it surely helps contribute to the hostility of many in the academy, as does the open hostility of many Republicans to evolutionary biology and the very real scientific consensus on global warming.

Update: Stephen Bainbridge responds in an update to his original post:

bq. One would have thought my point was obvious, but let me spell it out. Point one: There are a lot smart conservatives out there interested in intellectual matters and the life of the mind. They’re qualified to be academics and likely would pursue an academic career if they had a fair shot at landing one. Point two: Even if Chait and Farrell are right that there is a streak of anti-intellectualism in the Republican party, so fricking what? Why does that justify the academic left’s discrimination against conservatives? (You’ll note Farrell just sort of glides past that point.) Would Farrell say that environmentalists should be excluded from the academy because some eco-nuts commit the grossly anti-intellectual act of vandalizing laboratories doing animal research? Of course not. So spare me your stereotypes and generalizations. And stop using Karl Rove’s (highly successful) campaign tactics as your spurious justification for discriminating against conservative academics. Just because your Democrat party can’t beat Bush doesn’t justify taking our your anger on right-of-center job applicants.

He’s either having serious comprehension problems with a perfectly straightforward argument (namely that there is a major non-sequitur in his original claims), or he’s being intellectually dishonest. I don’t at any stage offer any “spurious justification for discriminating against conservative academics” (or indeed any non-spurious justifications either). I simply point to a major flaw in Bainbridge’s argument; he egregiously misinterprets Chait for his own rhetorical purposes. This has no bearing on the underlying question of whether there is, or is not, discrimination against conservative academics. In Bainbridge’s response, he doesn’t even bother to try and justify his misinterpretation; instead he tries to change the subject again by claiming (without any evidence whatsoever) that I’m trying to justify anti-conservative discrimination. Weak, silly bluster – I’d have expected better from him.

{ 71 comments }

1

Scaramouche 12.11.04 at 6:01 pm

If there was more money to be made in academia, all those greedy worshippers of the ‘Invisible Hand’ would vie for those positions.

This could change that balance and the conservatives might actually have a larger number of qualified academics for a change.

2

abb1 12.11.04 at 6:40 pm

How exactly does the observation that “Republicans cultivate anti-intellectualism” imply that the observer believes that Republicans are stupid? This is a complete non-sequitur, …

They sure are nuts but they may very well be stupid too.

Did I mention that they are nuts?

3

Henry 12.11.04 at 6:52 pm

Abb1 – yes, you have mentioned that they’re nuts. Repeatedly. It may be fun for you to keep on repeating this, but it’s trolling – doesn’t add anything to the conversation. Please stop doing it in my comments.

4

Dawna 12.11.04 at 7:03 pm

Gee all those Republican scholars and they still can’t figure what bush is all about. Yeah, that’s real intelect for ya.

5

Kieran Healy 12.11.04 at 7:06 pm

Bainbridge is trying, not very successfully, to change the subject to one that he feels stronger on (I’m sure that there’s a technical term for this sort of rhetorical manoeuvre).

“Moving the goalposts.”

6

John Quiggin 12.11.04 at 7:07 pm

It might be worth extending your response to look at some of the “policy wonks working for AEI and Heritage”, of whom John Lott is an archetypal, though of course extreme, example. I think it’s clear that, in addition to standard populist anti-intellectualism, there’s also a betrayal of intellectual values by Republicans employed in intellectual work.

7

Jon Gallagher 12.11.04 at 7:11 pm

My position is almost entirely based on anecdotes and personal interaction so it therefore contains as little rigor as I will accuse republicans of.

That being said, my experience has been that the answers republicans invariably find to problems rarely involve profound challenges to the true status quo. Hardly shocking for a group that reveres conservatism, I realize, but think about it: If you think that society is going to hell in a handbasket in states where church attendance runs up to 60% and the rate of teen pregnancy is in the high double digits, is the answer truly “More of the same, please.”?

Look at Texas, where the Texas education “miracle” has fizzled out amidst revelations that kids who stopped attending high school were assumed to have *graduated*! Then of course there is the clear unblinking and vociferous belief that the Bush administration has the most solid grip on maintaining our safety while stumbling about in Iraq.

Swallowing these camels of illogic while straining at gnats of demonstrated climate change is not just anti-intelletualism, it’s full on magical realism.

8

abb1 12.11.04 at 7:12 pm

Sorry, Henry, I didn’t mean to annoy anyone, I’m just surprised that you’re missing this fundamental fact in all these recent discussions. This must be one of those cases where smarter more educated people see nuances that I can’t. Please delete my comments.

Cheers.

9

Henry 12.11.04 at 7:27 pm

abb1 – one of the things I like about our comments section is that people engage in actual arguments – just saying that the other side is ‘nuts’ is, in the kindest interpretation, a bit of a conversation stopper. It’s also wrong.

John – I thought of adding on something about Lott, but then thought that it was really the subject of a separate post. The fact that John Lott is still employed by the AEI is hard evidence supporting the hypothesis that the AEI is less interested in actual intellectual debate than in pseudo-intellectual window-dressing by mendacious hacks who are prepared to cook the books to reach predetermined conclusions. Again, there are some serious and interesting people employed by AEI, Heritage etc – but the ethos of these think tanks is not in any real sense of the word an intellectual one.

10

foo 12.11.04 at 7:37 pm

If the Republicans cultivate anti-intellectualism… then who do they cultivate it in?

Just wondering…

I mean, here we have this wonderful agricultural metaphor, with a fresh spring crop of anti-intellectual attitude as its object… but where is the field?

11

No Preference 12.11.04 at 7:39 pm

Juan Cole discussed the alleged imbalance between liberals and conservatives in academia last month. His conclusions were that the way in which professors are hired makes it very difficult to systematically skew selections by politics; and that bright conservatives have many other options than teaching:

. . .Liberal academics aren’t viciously excluding conservative intellectuals who apply to teach hundreds of students a week for $45,000 a year (nowaday’s entry-level salary at a good liberal arts college), after they paid $100,000 for a Ph.D. in English literature from a top-rate university and spent 8 or 9 years beyond the BA toiling away as graduate students on tiny stipends. Conservative intellectuals don’t have to put up with that kind of thing (that is how they think of the privilege of teaching). They have other opportunities.

According to Cole the other opportunities are in business and law on the one hand, and at conservative foundations on the other.

12

Giles 12.11.04 at 7:50 pm

“intellectual values” ah the v word as an explanation for another phenomena!

I’ve raised this point before (and since no one responded so I presume I’m nuts) but I don’t see why anti intellectualism is thought to be so dangerous to academia. There’s a passage in Martin Johnson’s bio where he says something along the lines that the greatest obstacles to winning the world cup was the Springboks – since they were England’s only challengers for the title of most hated team in the world. The point may be slightly trite, but there is a lot of truth in the adage that adversity develops ability and in the case, hostile away teams were good for the team development.

So I don’t see academics are so scared of a government whose first reaction to their opinions is “oh yeah”. Surely that sort of opinion spurs you to sharpen your argument.

The only other line I see is that perhaps anti intellectualism is code for will impose smaller research grants. But again if that’s accepted wisdom, in effect you are saying that everyone in academia must subscribes to certain endogenous growth model, which seems wierd if your talking about philosophers. But empirically the link between education, growth and third tier research is patchy at best so that seems a strange consensus to hold.

13

Jim Harrison 12.11.04 at 7:51 pm

About intelligence and party affiliation: it’s probably true that the average intelligence and educational attainment of Republicans is higher than those of Democrats, but people with high levels of intelligence and the advanced academic degrees tend to be Democrats—pundits have a persistant problem in understanding the meaning of the arithmetical mean.

For the record, one can find the relevant statistics in many places, most conveniently and certainly most tellingly, in the appendices to the Bell Curve. Incidentally, the authors of the Bell Curve imply that intelligence is only a virtue if you don’t overdo it. In this resepct they’re like other Republicans who enjoy making condenscending remarks about the smarts of working class and minority people while bitterly resenting their own intellectual betters. It’s only elitism if it’s aimed at you.

14

son volt 12.11.04 at 7:56 pm

Bainbridge isn’t trying to be slick, to move the goalposts, to mislead. Rather, he is flailing away madly, a sure sign that Chait struck a nerve. If Bainbridge were trying to pull a fast one, he would have done a better job of it. But his post is so bad, it’s self-refuting.

As I also pointed out in my TCS column

lol

15

abb1 12.11.04 at 7:58 pm

Well, to me it’s not about ‘the other side’, it’s just that in order to be able to criticise a POV, one has to be able to see at least some merits there, some logic, something. I don’t feel the AEI folks and all the rest of them meet the threshold.

But, of course, this only means that I shouldn’t get involved in this discussion and disrupt it – you’re quite right.

Hey, I don’t know if this is related, but look:

Bush Said to Be ‘Fit for Duty’ After Exam

…The nearly 6-foot (3-meter) Bush was found to be extremely fit in his last physical in August 2003.

The US President is 3-meter tall!

16

bob mcmanus 12.11.04 at 8:10 pm

Maybe I should go look up the expression, because in this context I am uncortable with it. I remember being castigated in comments for claiming the Luther and Calvin were anti-intellectual, in discussing some differences in method between Sunni and Shia jurisprudence.

I am fans of both Nietzsche and Kierkeggaard, who may be called non-rationalists but not anti-intellectual.

And it seems to me that the difference with Republicans and conservatives is not a contempt for intelligence or reason or analysis, but a belief that the scientific method has its limits, the reason has an instrumental justification in service of other irreducible values and stuff like that. Not “anti-intellectual.”

17

Rob 12.11.04 at 8:36 pm

Not to get too far off-track, but is there really anyone serious working at Heritage? AEI, there are a few (is it me or does it seem it was only the last few years that AEI went from doing serious work to being one half step above Heritage? They were always conservative but not always willing to lie).

18

John Quiggin 12.11.04 at 9:05 pm

Rob, Brad DeLong had a post a couple of years back noting the decline of AEI.

I think this was before Lott’s arrival there. Although Lott is the most egregious example, Karl Zinsmeister has probably been a more important instance of the process.

19

Iron Lungfish 12.11.04 at 9:09 pm

Weak, silly bluster – I’d have expected better from him.

I wouldn’t have. Bainbridge is an unashamed hack, who has thrown around plenty of weak, silly bluster on a daily basis.

20

Patterico 12.11.04 at 9:29 pm

I don’t think Bainbridge misinterpreted Chait’s column at all. Read it again. Chait says:

After all, these studies show that some of the best-educated, most-informed people in the country overwhelmingly reject the GOP. Why is this seen as an indictment of academia, rather than as an indictment of the Republican Party?

How is this anything but a suggestion that Democrats are better educated and better informed than Republicans?

The article ends:

In fact, the GOP is just being rejected by those who not only prefer their leaders to think complexly but are complex thinkers themselves. There’s a problem with this picture, all right, but it doesn’t lie with academia.

Chait just said that complex thinkers reject the GOP. Again, it’s an attack on the sophistication and brainpower of GOP voters.

You pretend that Chait’s only attack on Republicans is his statement that “Republicans cultivate anti-intellectualism.” I’m sure that there’s a technical term for this sort of rhetorical manoeuvre, but I don’t know what it is.

21

Kieran Healy 12.11.04 at 9:43 pm

…The nearly 6-foot (3-meter) Bush was found to be extremely fit in his last physical in August 2003

The second number is of course Bush’s height in his aspect of a “giant alien lizard”:http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Shadowlands/6583/et042.html. A slip by the reporter, but a significant one…

22

Michael Blowhard 12.11.04 at 9:55 pm

The Economist on the political situation on campus …

23

Walt Pohl 12.11.04 at 10:39 pm

I don’t think anything printed as Lexington should count as actually published in the Economist. The column is clearly an extended audition for a job at Fox News.

24

Kevin Donoghue 12.11.04 at 10:41 pm

Patterico quotes: “some of the best-educated, most-informed people in the country overwhelmingly reject the GOP” and asks: “How is this anything but a suggestion that Democrats are better educated and better informed than Republicans?”

As you yourself say: “read it again.” Now, having done so (carefully please) consider the following case: a majority of academics rejects the GOP. However, in the population at large, many moderately well-educated people vote GOP while many poorly-educated people vote Democrat.

Patterico, can you now see that the first statement does not imply the second?

25

Matt Weiner 12.11.04 at 10:43 pm

Giles–I didn’t understand everything in your post (wasn’t Bruce Springbok stumping for Kerry?) but I think academics would be quite rational to worry about anti-intellectuals in government cutting funding to universities. My previous employer was a public university that constantly had to worry about attacks from the state legislature, with the result that for instance they had trouble getting money to earthquake-proof the campus library. (I just saw that the lame-duck governor has budgeted for the library, but who knows whether that will survive the incoming legislature.) And even if you’re in a private university, economic pressure on the public universities will likely affect you through basic supply and demand mechanisms.

So yeah, I think we have reason to be afraid that anti-intellectuals will cut our budgets, even for philosophers. That’s the short answer.

26

donna 12.11.04 at 11:08 pm

Oh, good grief this is ridiculous. After all Republicans have done to discriminate against others and as opposed as they are to anti-discriminatory regulation, I don’t see why the hell they are whining about this. If they want jobs in academia, they can certainly apply for them and be accepted, or not, based on their QUALIFICATIONS. To whine that they are discriminated against is ludicrous. They simply don’t want to be in a relatively low-paying job.

27

Walt Pohl 12.11.04 at 11:24 pm

I think Donna has a point. Bainbridge, in his post about conservative history, trumpets the examples of Kirk and Buckley, who who both argued against anti-discrimination legislation.

28

Patterico 12.11.04 at 11:27 pm

Kevin,

You didn’t address the other quote, about “complex thinkers.”

You seem not to take issue with Bainbridge’s data that Republicans are, on average, better educated than Democrats. Correct?

If I read you correctly, your argument appears to be that the smartest and best-educated folks tend to be Dems, but because so many poorly educated people also vote Dem, it lowers the average.

Is that your argument?

If so, do you have data to support it? Or is your assumption that the representation of Dems in the academic fields is a proxy for the representation of Dems among the best-educated? Because part of the point of Bainbridge’s post is to challenge that very assumption.

I know some very bright right-of-center folks who are forswearing a career academia because they figure they wouldn’t get tenure. To suggest this is hypocritical because they should go on QUALIFICATIONS assumes that QUALIFICATIONS are the most important variable in deciding who gets tenure. If only that were true . . .

29

John Quiggin 12.11.04 at 11:38 pm

Following up more directly on Juan Cole, I think the academic left is taking the wrong line on all of this.

We should be supporting Bainbridge, Horowitz et al and demanding a government-imposed exchange program, in which Democrat professors are required to swap jobs with Republican CEOs and so on, until all high-education jobs display the appropriate partisan balance.

30

Patterico 12.12.04 at 12:07 am

Funny, but not really, since no Republican actually supports anything like that.

31

Rob 12.12.04 at 12:13 am

First off there are plenty of jobs in academia for conservatives. If they are willing to don the collar, Jesiuit Univeristies are dying for them to come on board. Second, am I the only one who tended to be more likely to be force fed conserative professor’s belief’s than liberal ones? Given the conseratvie professors often are cult–er Objectivists but still. (And how can conseratives not be welcomed on campus when there are actul Objectivist meetings with professors! on all campuses?)

32

Michelle Dulak Thomson 12.12.04 at 12:22 am

Coming in late here. Henry, I see the non sequitur in the Bainbridge post, but I see a couple of other problems here. First, your own original post conflates “conservatives” (“conservative academics”) with “Republicans.” If the idea is that conservatives in academia choose not to register as Republicans (the recent studies involved party registration info, not self-description as “liberal,” “conservative,” whatever) on the grounds that the Republican party (the party, mind you, not “conservatism”) is “anti-intellectual,” then obviously the data are useless and we have to start over with surveys that capture something more to the point than party affiliation.

And following up on that, the idea that “conservatism” as such is opposed to the life of the mind as such is not only strange but flat-out unbelievable given the facts on the ground. Who is always trying to get tougher school standards? Who is bitching all the time about kids that graduate high school but can’t actually read the local paper or add up the items on a grocery-store receipt, let alone place the American Civil War in the correct half-century? If someone argues for a small seminar program of close study of selected historical literary texts for college undergraduates, do you assume at once that those liberals are at it again? When a teacher argues for preserving one of the dwindling Latin programs in the American public (or for that matter, private) high schools, do you immediately think, “Now, there’s someone who really cares about the life of the mind; obviously a liberal”?

Look, Mortimer Adler (who, even on the most casual reading, was no conservative) got pegged as one merely for arguing strenuously that every child could and should get a thorough grounding in literature, arts, history, and science before adulthood. God only knows why this isn’t thought of as a liberal position, but the fact is that at present it is not, and hasn’t been for a long time.

33

Javier 12.12.04 at 12:46 am

The idea that Democrats tend to be more highly educated and more often aspire to an academic career than Republicans has a modest truth to it. But it is modest and does not fully explain the ratios between Democrats and Republicans in academia. Many social science and humanities departments are skewed leftward by 10 to 1 margins. I find it very hard to believe that this truly reflects the distribution of either education or intellectualism in the population. Also, what to make of the anomaly of economics? The ratio between Democrats and Republicans in economics departments is roughly 3 to 1. Are we to conclude that economists are stupider or less intellectual than anthropologists and English professors? I also agree with the point that Republicans and conservatives are not identical, especially since “conservative” has many different meanings.

34

tom 12.12.04 at 12:49 am

Seems to me we may not have defined our terms very well here. Intellectual and intelligence are related but not the same. I take it that a true intellectual pursues the truth through a rigorous exercise that requires intelligence, a great deal of fortitude, and honesty.

Arguments about IQ levels seems besides the point.

35

Michael Blowhard 12.12.04 at 12:51 am

So, speaking only impressionistically here (but it’s a strong impression), y’all (or many of y’all) seem to be happy with the following:

* Dems are smarter than Repubs.
* Proof: professors in the softer subjects are largely Dems.
* But no, that’s not really the case. Why? Because the Repubs are complaining that much of academia is too much of a Dem monoculture — and they’re always wrong!
* So, basically, there’s a prevalence of Dems in soft academia when it suits you to point the fact out, but not when it suits the Republicans to point it out?
* But you’re all valiant and balanced in the quest for truth and free inquiry anyway. And only Republicans ever play politics and contort facts.

By the way, where’d you get the impression that people in academia are smarter than anyone else? Where’d you get the impression that (as Michelle points out) “conservative” and “Republican” mean exactly the same thing? And why are you under the impression that having a good laugh about the foolishness of academics (particurlay those existing in monocultures) is anti-intellectual? Oh, Ok, maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. Although as I type these words I recall that I have professor friends who enjoy a good laugh occasionally at the foolishness of their kind. But in any case, you can’t see anything … I dunno, wise in a certain wariness towards intellectuals? You know, there is a long tradition of wariness towards those who are too clever-clever. It’s sometimes thought of as one of the strengths of the Anglo-American tradition. I think I read about that in a few books … written by pretty smart people … who seemed to admire it …

36

tom 12.12.04 at 12:56 am

I think perhaps we have not defined our terms very well here. Being an intellectual and intelligent are usually related but not the same.

Above all, one must rigorously and scientifically pursue the truth, come what may.

Discussions about relative IQ levels seem beside the point.

At the national political leval, at least, intellectual, scientific inquiry does not seem welcome. Fanciful notions about AIDS, abortion, and birth control, and how to ease the pain of menstruation seem the order of the day. This does not speak well for the notion that conservatives would make ideal academicians.

37

Patterico 12.12.04 at 1:00 am

The idea that Democrats tend to be more highly educated and more often aspire to an academic career than Republicans has a modest truth to it.

Actually, Bainbridge’s data show that there is truth to the idea that Republicans tend to be more educated. Did you miss that?

38

Javier 12.12.04 at 1:06 am

Actually, Bainbridge’s data show that there is truth to the idea that Republicans tend to be more educated. Did you miss that?

No, I got that. I should be more clear. On average, Republicans are more educated than Democrats. However, the highly educated tend to be Democrats. Some evidence: 55% of people with advanced degrees voted for Kerry.

39

Patterico 12.12.04 at 1:09 am

I’m not suggesting that you’re wrong; I assume you’re not. But do you have a link for that?

40

Javier 12.12.04 at 1:10 am

Also, look at the undergraduate student body of any Ivy League and you will probably find that Democrats outnumber Republicans by at least two to one. The student body of Princeton, which has a conservative reputation, tilts Democrat by a two to one margin.

41

Giles 12.12.04 at 1:17 am

Funny I’m not sure that anyone wants quotas I think its more the question of self awareness.

If I ever found myself in a work situation where 95% of people shared the same political views as me I’d think that I must be in an asylum. What’s amusing is that until the reports came out no one in these departments seemed to think that there was anything weird about their political composition (and this is where they differ from JQ’ executives – I think most of them would be aware that they were a biased sample).

Rather the question goes to one of efficiency and influence. As someone remarked some are simply inevitably likely to heavily sample folk from one side of the spectrum and it can only be efficient if most Marxist economics professors are at least a little to the left of centre. The problem then is that, as the left2right, is that if most of your socializing takes place with work colleagues, you end up in a situation where you have no experience (and judging from the posts) no idea how to talk in a meaningful way to people from the other side of the street. So you’re efficient at generating research but inefficient at presenting that research in a way that is likely to have any effect in the outside world.

Matt
I think academics would be quite rational to worry about anti-intellectuals in government cutting funding to universities
Not necessarily – there’s a difference between being anti intellectual and anti education – and Bush seems to me to be highly pro education. So in this anti intellectual climate you might see the level of funding for research drop while the funding for teaching rises. Does that hamstring research? Well directly yes, but indirectly it may help some fields – if there’s less funding for research, less bad research gets done which increases the signal to noise ratio which then assists the production of useful research. And if funding is mainly concentrated in teaching not research surely that liberates more the research from government “control”.

So anti intellectual doesn’t equal anti education and this attitude may represent an opportunity.

42

Giles 12.12.04 at 1:20 am

Funny I’m not sure that anyone wants quotas I think its more the question of self awareness.

If I ever found myself in a work situation where 95% of people shared the same political views as me I’d think that I must be in an asylum. What’s amusing is that until the reports came out no one in these departments seemed to think that there was anything weird about their political composition (and this is where they differ from JQ’ executives – I think most of them would be aware that they were a biased sample).

Rather the question goes to one of efficiency and influence. As someone remarked some are simply inevitably likely to heavily sample folk from one side of the spectrum and it can only be efficient if most Marxist economics professors are at least a little to the left of centre. The problem then is that, as the left2right, is that if most of your socializing takes place with work colleagues, you end up in a situation where you have no experience (and judging from the posts) no idea how to talk in a meaningful way to people from the other side of the street. So you’re efficient at generating research but inefficient at presenting that research in a way that is likely to have any effect in the outside world.

Matt
I think academics would be quite rational to worry about anti-intellectuals in government cutting funding to universities
Not necessarily – there’s a difference between being anti intellectual and anti education – and Bush seems to me to be highly pro education. So in this anti intellectual climate you might see the level of funding for research drop while the funding for teaching rises. Does that hamstring research? Well directly yes, but indirectly it may help some fields – if there’s less funding for research, less bad research gets done which increases the signal to noise ratio which then assists the production of useful research. And if funding is mainly concentrated in teaching not research surely that liberates more the research from government “control”.

So anti intellectual doesn’t equal anti education and this attitude may represent an opportunity.

43

Giles 12.12.04 at 1:22 am

Funny I’m not sure that anyone wants quotas I think its more the question of self awareness.

If I ever found myself in a work situation where 95% of people shared the same political views as me I’d think that I must be in an asylum. What’s amusing is that until the reports came out no one in these departments seemed to think that there was anything weird about their political composition (and this is where they differ from JQ’ executives – I think most of them would be aware that they were a biased sample).

Rather the question goes to one of efficiency and influence. As someone remarked some are simply inevitably likely to heavily sample folk from one side of the spectrum and it can only be efficient if most Marxist economics professors are at least a little to the left of centre. The problem then is that, as the left2right, is that if most of your socializing takes place with work colleagues, you end up in a situation where you have no experience (and judging from the posts) no idea how to talk in a meaningful way to people from the other side of the street. So you’re efficient at generating research but inefficient at presenting that research in a way that is likely to have any effect in the outside world.

Matt
I think academics would be quite rational to worry about anti-intellectuals in government cutting funding to universities
Not necessarily – there’s a difference between being anti intellectual and anti education – and Bush seems to me to be highly pro education. So in this anti intellectual climate you might see the level of funding for research drop while the funding for teaching rises. Does that hamstring research? Well directly yes, but indirectly it may help some fields – if there’s less funding for research, less bad research gets done which increases the signal to noise ratio which then assists the production of useful research. And if funding is mainly concentrated in teaching not research surely that liberates more the research from government “control”.

So anti intellectual doesn’t equal anti education and this attitude may represent an opportunity.

44

Patterico 12.12.04 at 1:23 am

Lord.

You’re not controlling for age, *or* for the effect of the prevalence of liberals in academia.

I don’t see what any of this proves anyway. Playing off Chait’s comment, I could just as accurately say:

Some of the poorest-educated, worst-informed people in the country overwhelmingly vote Democratic. Is this not an indictment of the Democratic Party?

And if you want to respond that they’re voting based on economics, then the same argument could apply to academics, who don’t make as much as their CEO counterparts.

You guys need to get over yourselves. The Democratic party is not the exclusive home of smart or educated people.

45

Giles 12.12.04 at 1:25 am

ops

46

roger 12.12.04 at 1:32 am

Scaramouche, it seems to me that you have cut through the Gordian knot: “If there was more money to be made in academia, all those greedy worshippers of the ‘Invisible Hand’ would vie for those positions.”

More concretely, this is a sociological problem with two parts: more Republicans have degrees, and less republicans teach in colleges.

Now, call this obvious, but perhaps the reason more Republicans have degrees is because the group with degrees overlaps with the group that has a higher income.

That isn’t true with the group with the highest degree — PH.Ds.

So here is a hypothesis: Republicans don’t teach as much because the incentive to teach, which requires a considerable and uncertain sacrifice of one’s earning years, is not compensated to the degree that doing other things with those years — like becoming a stockbroker – is. In fact, this is the conservative self image, no? Conservatives are out there working, not lounging around libraries reading Chomsky. Are they out there working for charity? No, they are out there working to make money.

Nothing wrong with that, but those people who are willing to trade a higher income for … well, lounging around a library, and eventually around a faculty lounge, are probably not going to be conservatives. The term, as any Burkean can tell you, refers to a temperament more than an ideology.

Solution to the problem, then, is easy: make the sacrifice worthwhile. Conservatives should be on the horn to their state legislators, demanding that professorial salaries match, say, what you can make in investment banking. I’m thinking, your first year at your average Alabama U. school, teaching history, you should be making 100, 110.

My solution is perfect. Conservatives will flood in.

I’m eager to see the spearcarriers of the right pitch in. Limbaugh, for instance, can suggest 200, 210 in the California system.

It is only right. We need more diversity in our universities.

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Walt Pohl 12.12.04 at 1:33 am

Doctors skew Republican. From this, and using the logic so many have used on this thead, I think we can safely conclude that there is a serious need for an affirmative action program to fight the deliberate exclusion of Democrats from medicine.

Here are the facts:

– The more leftish you are, the more professional careers you find immoral.
– Grad school is a horrible experience. It’s like hazing but it leaves you with less dignity. Most people who have serious alternatives bail out when they can.
– Once you get a Ph.D., getting a permanent tenured job is slightly harder than climbing Mount Everest without oxygen. The Ph.D. is just a license to shuffle around to different schools in places you’d never ordinarly want to live, just hoping you can sign on permanently.

So of course the humanities skew left. If you get an advanced degree in the natural sciences, engineering, or economics, this opens other career opportunities. If you get a Ph.D. in the humanities, that qualifies you to teach humanities, or fold clothes at the mall. An ordinary person would be out of their minds to get a Ph.D. in English. The only people it makes sense for are people who think any other professional career is selling out. If you believe that all commercial enterprises are a form of organized crime, what are you going to do, become an investment banker?

Now that we’ve settled this, we can move on to arguing about something else.

48

Giles 12.12.04 at 1:44 am

THREE murder suspects who flew abroad after the brutal killing of a Scottish schoolboy will be brought back to Britain “within weeks”, sources close to the investigation revealed last night.
Abducted, stabbed and set on fire for being white

DAANISH Zahid, an Asian shopkeeper who helped in the abduction and murder of schoolboy Kriss Donald, was found guilty yesterday of Scotland’s first race murder where the victim was white.
http://news.scotsman.com/topics.cfm?tid=137&id=1331862004&20041212014206

Aye theres been a bit of race war up in Scotland too.

49

Javier 12.12.04 at 2:21 am

Patterico, here is a link for the Princeton poll and here is one for the exit poll that shows that the data I refered to.

50

MnZ 12.12.04 at 3:48 am

I have to agree with Walt Pohl here…to find the humanities dominated by leftists is not unexpected. However, I disagree with his lack of concern.

Humanities and certain social sciences are not like the hard sciences. In the hard sciences, you have the scientific method and the ethos of naturalism enforcing some objectivity to the fields. (Try to find a biologist that buys into Lamarckian evolution.)

In contrast, the humanities (and certain social sciences) have no similar source of objectivity. Many of the same issues have been rehashed again and again for centuries. Here, the real risk comes when everyone is on the same side of the issue. Too many inside and outside of academia will assume that the question has been settled.

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PaulTEXAS 12.12.04 at 5:36 am

Why aren’t there more Republicans in academia? Hell, there’s just not enough money in it for most of them compared to the big bucks they can make in the private sector. Unless, of course, we are talking about university or college presidents. In other words, it is extremely hard to be a public servant in service to the public when a person can’t get past the profit-motive that drives the ideology of most Republicans. You’ve heard the story before. A Republican gets elected and scouts around for assistants. Will the elected Republican be able to find some willing Republicans to trade their higher paying private-sector job for a lower paying government position? Why do you think the RNC depended on a bunch of kids who applied through the Heritage Foundation job-placement site to run the Coalition Provisional Authority over in Iraq? Most of these kids had no business being there and no prior experience handling the sensitive nature of rebuilding Iraq after the Bush invasion. But beggars can’t be choosy. Where were all the highly-trained, highly-qualified Republicans to fill these positions and thus increase the chances of success? Oh, they were busy making the big bucks in the private sector, and couldn’t be bothered.

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Zong Ren 12.12.04 at 8:16 am

The old saying goes, “those who can go out and do, the rest become teachers”. Most professors I have met are completely full of themselves and also full of shit.

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nick paul 12.12.04 at 11:23 am

in my opinion, Republican policies are anti-intellectual.

the intelligent folks in the party seem to be sitting in silence and appear to have no say in formulating policies.

perhaps they are too smart and don’t wish to risk losing the evangelical’s vote?

54

Reg 12.12.04 at 4:22 pm

Wow, Republicans are bad intellectuals because they don’t buck the status quo, but also antiintellectual because they don’t agree with established liberal orthodoxies like the goods of anti-discrimination laws.

All those who say its the money that keeps Republicans out of academia, thats only a small part of it. Its a combination. Many conservatives and libertarians’ favorite job would be in academia even with the little money it pays. But because there is a perception that the liberal orthodoxy among academia would make getting a job, advancement, and ability tho choose what to study much more difficult, the balance tips the other way. Law and business becomes more attractive for bright conservatives. More $, less hassle, and more like-minded folks. If academia was not perceived to be hostile to those with conservative or libertarian viewpoints, many more conservatives would go through the time-intensive efforts and take the pay cut to try to make it into academia.

Also, I think there is the factor that conservatives emphasize family and children more. The extra 5-7 years working with little income as a grad student, and the very little control over where to work plays a large make it more difficult to support a family. Lawyers and businessmen can get a professional degree in 2-3 years and choose what area of the country to live and whether it will be urban or rural.

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Barry 12.12.04 at 4:24 pm

“I have to agree with Walt Pohl here…to find the humanities dominated by leftists is not unexpected. However, I disagree with his lack of concern.

Humanities and certain social sciences are not like the hard sciences. In the hard sciences, you have the scientific method and the ethos of naturalism enforcing some objectivity to the fields. (Try to find a biologist that buys into Lamarckian evolution.)”
Posted by MnZ · December 12, 2004 03:48 AM

Or try finding a creationist biologist.

Do Republicans dominate in the ‘hard’ and natural sciences? I’ve never seen anything to say so.

This is probably due to two reasons – first, the sciences have a hard grind as well. Get your BS, put in 5-7 years in grad school, and then a few years in post-docs. After that, you *might* get a $40K/year position at some college somewhere.
Or leave, go into private industry, and pull down $60-80K right off the bat. Or just don’t go for the Ph.D. in the first place.

The second reason might be that GOP positions tend to be anti-scientific. Creationism, global warming, ecology/natural resources, SDI, etc – in all of those cases, the scientific community is strongly against GOP positions.

56

Jack 12.12.04 at 5:36 pm

Why doesn’t Prof. Bainbridge believe that market forces will fix the situation? There are conservative universities and the superior results they no doubt produce will no doubt drive increased success.

Or, is the large endowment and higher social status of the liberal academic establishment an insurmountable obstacle that needs to be fixed by state intervention and a redistribution of jobs?

57

WillieStyle 12.12.04 at 5:53 pm

Humanities and certain social sciences are not like the hard sciences. In the hard sciences, you have the scientific method and the ethos of naturalism enforcing some objectivity to the fields. (Try to find a biologist that buys into Lamarckian evolution.)

Why do folks keep making this distinction? Doesn’t the original Chait article state that Repubs are under-represented in the “hard sciences” as well?

58

Patrick 12.12.04 at 6:27 pm

I’ve read most of the comments on this thread and I haven’t seen this one anywhere…so my apologies if I am replicating an earlier remark.

Another more fundamental problem in this argument is that numbers of years of education = better educated = intellectual. Wrong.

There’s a massive difference in the “education” one receives with a Bachelor’s in Business or an M.B.A. versus a Bachelor’s and Master’s in a Humanities field or a social science field.

You can certainly find narrow humanities folks and narrow social scientists, but in my experience, on the average, you have a much greater probability of finding that narrow person holding a B.A. in Business.

It’s my contention that you can have people with tons of years of education in a non-intellectual vocational discipline (business, education, music) and people with tons of years of education in an intellectual vocational discipline (thesis and dissertation track folks in social sciences and hard sciences who seek the job market in academia and a life of research and teaching) all lumped into one category. Those two groups are two fundamentally different types of education, however. They cannot be compared for intellectual content.

Without accounting for the content of a degree program it’s misleading to simply run with the argument that more years of education = better educated = intellectual, even though it does make lots of people who have no reason to feel better about themselves and their degrees.

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Patrick 12.12.04 at 6:30 pm

I’ve read most of the comments on this thread and I haven’t seen this one anywhere…so my apologies if I am replicating an earlier remark.

Another more fundamental problem in this argument is that numbers of years of education = better educated = intellectual. Wrong.

There’s a massive difference in the “education” one receives with a Bachelor’s in Business or an M.B.A. versus a Bachelor’s and Master’s in a Humanities field or a social science field.

You can certainly find narrow humanities folks and narrow social scientists, but in my experience, on the average, you have a much greater probability of finding that narrow person holding a B.A. in Business.

It’s my contention that you can have people with tons of years of education in a non-intellectual vocational discipline (business, education, music) and people with tons of years of education in an intellectual vocational discipline (thesis and dissertation track folks in social sciences and hard sciences who seek the job market in academia and a life of research and teaching) all lumped into one category. Those two groups are two fundamentally different types of education, however. They cannot be compared for intellectual content.

Without accounting for the content of a degree program it’s misleading to simply run with the argument that more years of education = better educated = intellectual, even though it does make lots of people who have no reason to feel better about themselves and their degrees.

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mnz 12.12.04 at 6:49 pm

Barry and Williestyle,

Since you both read into my post what you wanted to read into it, let me clarify. My basic point was that the humanities (and certain social sciences) being dominated by one political ideology is more of a concern than the hard sciences. (Now, try reading my post.)

Barry, I also take exception to you using extremist caricatures to represent your opponents. (Is Michael Moore a Left-wing intellectual?) Moreover, my post was about the dominance of LEFTISTS in the humanities…not Democrats. There are departments in the country were a moderate Democrat ideologies are chastised.

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Barry 12.12.04 at 7:02 pm

MNZ, the point is that, even in the non-humanities, there seems to be a high proportion of Democrats/liberals, and a low proportion of conservatives. This is hard to explain with the Theory of Evul Humanities Liberals. The things I’ve mentioned are far more dominant in the GOP than Michael Moore is, and far worse.

62

Lee Scoresby 12.12.04 at 10:30 pm

How many of us in the humanities or social sciences have good empirical data that suggests people are discriminated against for their political views? I have zero. I have never seen or experienced anything close to such discrimination — with one exception, that of conservative Christian colleges and universities such as Liberty.

Frankly, I just don’t know what a commitment to ideological balance would even mean. That we should hire people because of the results they get? I can see the arguments in sociology: “oh, no, we’ve got someone whose data shows that virginity pledges usually wind-up having delayed premarital sex! Quick, let’s get someone who disagrees!” Or in international relations, “we’ve got two advocates of the principle that democracies don’t fight one another! We need someone who takes the opposite stance!”

Look, there is a problem here. The fact that you can walk into a room with your colleagues and assume that everyone voted for Kerry and thinks Bush is an idiot does impact the atmosphere at departments, But, in the social sciences at least, research that is driven by ideology is usually bad research, and demonstrably so. It is very hard to listen to a lot of these complaints and not assume that *some* conservatives don’t like having *some* of their claims subjected to rigorous scrutiny.

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Matt 12.13.04 at 1:54 am

I just don’t see what the crisis is- if having Democratic professors meant so much, shouldn’t a vast majority of university graduates be Democrats? Good professors teach reason- not preach values.

This outrage reminds me a little of the liberal media outrage- do conservatives believe that if Democrats possessed less control over academia and the media Republicans would win elections by even greater margins?

The appropriate reaction to this “crisis” is to ignore it. When WalMart stops censoring CDs and magazines, I’ll start considering more balance in universities, too

64

Joe O 12.13.04 at 5:28 pm

I think Walt is right above. Academia is just more of a desirable occupation for those on the left rather than those on the right. I am sure there is no political litmis test in the hard sciences.

The competition for teaching positions in the humanities ironically would make it relatively easy to institute balancing political quotas if anybody wanted to. If you get 100 qualified applicants for each position, it wouldn’t be that hard to find a qualified conservative.

65

pedro 12.13.04 at 5:39 pm

Chait complains that the tendency of the Academy to vote Democrat is being seen by some conservatives as an indictment of the Academy. The response: to complain that Chait is being unfair to Republicans, whose brain power is being derided by his complaint.

Ah, but of course, some of the commenters here complain that it is only the ‘soft’ disciplines that lean Democrat (and of course, they don’t see this assertion as arrogant derision of the Humanities and Social Sciences.) Here’s news for you: Republicans don’t fare much better in the ‘hard’ sciences.

Whether this may be regarded as an indictment on the Republicans or not, it certainly is related to its association with the Falwells and Dobsons of America, to its dismissiveness towards the scientific consensus on global warming, and to its streak of anti-intellectualism.

66

Michelle Dulak Thomson 12.13.04 at 7:56 pm

Patrick,

I don’t know whether you or anyone will read this on a more or less moribund thread, but —

It’s my contention that you can have people with tons of years of education in a non-intellectual vocational discipline (business, education, music) and people with tons of years of education in an intellectual vocational discipline (thesis and dissertation track folks in social sciences and hard sciences who seek the job market in academia and a life of research and teaching) all lumped into one category. Those two groups are two fundamentally different types of education, however. They cannot be compared for intellectual content.

Of course they can be “compared for intellectual content”; what you mean is that the comparison won’t end in their being judged equal. But never mind that. What puzzles me is your leaving the humanities entirely out of court. If the university consisted entirely of science students (soft or hard) and “non-intellectual vocational” students, I imagine even the scientists and the “NIVs” would feel that it was, um, missing something.

Is the study (as opposed to practice) of literature, art, music more like the “NIV” education you describe, or more like the sciences? I’m asking in all seriousness, because I know a lot of highly-skilled scientists (beginning with my parents, accomplished and successful biochemists) who aren’t particularly aware of or indeed interested in most of the arts, and who know or care little of history before their own lifetimes. I also know a lot of practicing musicians (to take one of your “non-intellectual vocational” categories) who do know a lot, not only about music but about the other arts and about history, partly because these are things that classical musicians need to know, partly because the mind interested in classical music is likely to be curious also about these other things.

Which, I wonder, has the richer intellectual education? (I think I can ask fairly, having been on both sides — first as a mechanical engineering student, then as a violinist and violist, among other things. I know what my answer would be.)

67

Robert Light 12.15.04 at 2:31 am

A surprising theme running through this entire discussion — a theme thus far completely unacknowledged — is the ridiculous assumption that “truth” is just a matter of counting heads. (“Truth,” in this instance: what is right morally-politically).

But why can’t it just as easily be the other way around? Surely it could just as easily be the case that the paltry number of conservatives ensconsed in elite academia is reflective of “conservatism’s” possible superiority, no? Truth, after all, might really be a province of the few; and in this case of the even fewer! (Rough metaphor: Harvey Mansfield is a far more profound, original scholar than, say, Brian Leiter).

Besides, if liberals are going to argue (which Chait’s column meretirciously does) that academia is the arbiter of right (justice) — i.e. academica constitutes the exclusive summit atop a descending heirarchy — then liberals should at least go the whole-hog and be consistent. They might stop to consider this: There are six conservatives on the entire Harvard faculty — this, out of a faculty of approximately 500. Should thus a person be considered insane or stupid to think these six conservatives as possibly the wisest (both in practical and theoretical wisdom*) of the whole lot?

—–

* A distinction I find often totally lost on most liberals (i.e. “progressives” and socialists) — which actually may bespeak their stupidity than anything “liberals” might adduce for/about conservatives.

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Robert Light 12.15.04 at 2:32 am

A surprising theme running through this entire discussion — a theme thus far completely unacknowledged — is the ridiculous assumption that “truth” is just a matter of counting heads. (“Truth,” in this instance: what is right morally-politically).

But why can’t it just as easily be the other way around? Surely it could just as easily be the case that the paltry number of conservatives ensconsed in elite academia is reflective of “conservatism’s” possible superiority, no? Truth, after all, might really be a province of the few; and in this case of the even fewer! (Rough metaphor: Harvey Mansfield is a far more profound, original scholar than, say, Brian Leiter).

Besides, if liberals are going to argue (which Chait’s column meretirciously does) that academia is the arbiter of right (justice) — i.e. academica constitutes the exclusive summit atop a descending heirarchy — then liberals should at least go the whole-hog and be consistent. They might stop to consider this: There are six conservatives on the entire Harvard faculty — this, out of a faculty of approximately 500. Should thus a person be considered insane or stupid to think these six conservatives as possibly the wisest (both in practical and theoretical wisdom*) of the whole lot?

—–

* A distinction I find often totally lost on most liberals (i.e. “progressives” and socialists) — which actually may bespeak their stupidity more than anything “liberals” might adduce for/about conservatives.

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John Ray 12.15.04 at 3:03 am

A comment from http://dissectleft.blogspot.com

The famously Bush-hating Jonathan Chait has an article in which he defends the overwhelming Leftist bias in academe. He rejects the notion that underrepresentation implies bias, though he realizes that Leftists like himself normally make the opposite argument where blacks are concerned. That does rather highlight the difficulties that the dishonesty of Leftists gets them into. Chait in fact is forced to admit that conservatives are right and that lack of proportionality does not imply bias! A major backdown for a Leftist, it seems to me. He also has a point in saying that academe is not a natural career choice for a conservative, though I disagree with his reasons. Academe is a stuffy bureaucracy and conservatives prefer the more free-wheeling and wide-open business world. I was in academe for many years and I am in no doubt that most of my colleagues would not last 5 minutes in business. My own combination of actual success in both academe and business is certainly extremely rare. There are however many conservatives with academic ambitions and Chait ignores what almost every one of those people could tell him — that you virtually cease to exist in academe once your conservative views are known. Like most conservatives who do make it into academe, I got an academic job before my political views were known but once they were known, the roadblocks put up to my further progress in academe were almost amusing in their compulsiveness and violation of academic principles. Chait is just not acknowledging the facts, which is what I expect from Leftists. I have more on the Leftist nature of academe here

70

John Ray 12.15.04 at 3:03 am

A comment from http://dissectleft.blogspot.com

The famously Bush-hating Jonathan Chait has an article in which he defends the overwhelming Leftist bias in academe. He rejects the notion that underrepresentation implies bias, though he realizes that Leftists like himself normally make the opposite argument where blacks are concerned. That does rather highlight the difficulties that the dishonesty of Leftists gets them into. Chait in fact is forced to admit that conservatives are right and that lack of proportionality does not imply bias! A major backdown for a Leftist, it seems to me. He also has a point in saying that academe is not a natural career choice for a conservative, though I disagree with his reasons. Academe is a stuffy bureaucracy and conservatives prefer the more free-wheeling and wide-open business world. I was in academe for many years and I am in no doubt that most of my colleagues would not last 5 minutes in business. My own combination of actual success in both academe and business is certainly extremely rare. There are however many conservatives with academic ambitions and Chait ignores what almost every one of those people could tell him — that you virtually cease to exist in academe once your conservative views are known. Like most conservatives who do make it into academe, I got an academic job before my political views were known but once they were known, the roadblocks put up to my further progress in academe were almost amusing in their compulsiveness and violation of academic principles. Chait is just not acknowledging the facts, which is what I expect from Leftists. I have more on the Leftist nature of academe here

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james 12.15.04 at 4:02 pm

How much is the over representation of Democrats in academia related to intelligence vs. the well documented fact of the over representation of Democrats among state and federal employees? How is the academia voting pattern any different from other state or federal employment institutions?

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