19 February 2013

Yes Virginia, There Is Bias In Academia

Given the recent dust up here on my blog, this video is most certainly providential. I happen to currently be reading Professor George Yancey's Compromising Scholarship: Religious and Political Bias In American Higher Education. It is quite interesting, though at times tedious. A future review is on my growing list of planned posts. (Yes, Professor Simpson, I'll eventually get to the other ones as well. Alert your imaginary friends to keep you abreast of new developments.)

The first thing Professor Yancey addresses in his video is the use of "anecdotal evidence" to illustrate and prove leftist academic bias. That's a criticism that's been leveled at me here in the past. While I agree that, fundamentally, anecdotal evidence should always be viewed with a skeptical eye, there does come a point when the anecdotal crosses a threshold and becomes empirical. That threshold may be, to a point, subjective but my view is that that threshold was crossed a very long time ago.

In the video below, Professor Yancey goes into some detail explaining the methodology behind the information he's written in his book, and the conclusion at which he arrived after this systematic, objective study: Academia is biased against conservatives and Christians. Of course, some of us already knew that - Professor Yancey's research just proves what the anecdotal evidence illustrates. But what this study further illustrates is that not only is there bias present in academia, but very possibly, actual discrimination in hiring. And this from those who most often condemn others for that very same thing and from those who are the self-proclaimed guardians of diversity, tolerance, and open-mindedness.

Pay close attention to the chart in the video which appears at about 7:10 and notice the numbers (the higher the number, the more bias against) regarding the discipline of history. Yancey's explanation of the chart and the comparisons is quite interesting, particularly when he contrasts the numbers involving the "hard sciences"; which proves my oft' repeated, "reality always trumps Utopia." In other words, it's more difficult to politicize and skew chemistry than it is history, i.e.: Leftists and right-wingers all agree, water is wet.

I realize the fall back position is, "Well, yes, this is all true, but that doesn't mean it influences what goes on in the classroom." When I've heard or read that, I don't know if that person is really naive enough to think that those who understand this issue believe it or, if they themselves are relying on their own anecdotal evidence and personal experiences.

At some point in the near future, I am going to attempt to go back through some of my old posts and comments and pull statements by various professional historians and academics who stated that the notion that there is an overwhelming leftist bias in academia is largely a myth. A few of my old posts have been deleted, but I think I may still have enough to make it worthwhile. We'll see.


ropelight said...

Well, how timely. The University of California is trying to duck a looming crisis closely associated with this topic.

Last April the CSA (CA Association of Scholars) sent their report: A Crisis of Competence - The Corrupting Effect of Political Activism in the University of California to UC's Regents and asked the report be put on the agenda for the May meeting.

UC's new President, Mark G Yudof quickly dismissed CAS's conclusions and denied UC had failed to maintain high quality or that student achievement was in decline. He also ignored CAS's request to bring the issue before the Board of Regents.

Consequently, CAS wrote to UC's Board of Regents President Sherry Lansing detailing concerns that organized partisan politics threatened liberty of thought and open freedom of discussion in UC classrooms, that one-sided presentation of Leftist views and the silencing of conservative opinion demonstrated a lack of intellectual diversity and a disdain for the principles of free speech.

The issue has remained largely in-house for almost a year, but it surfaced today on Instapundit.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Yes, it is amazingly timely. That's quite interesting. Yancey's book goes into much more detail. I'll be posting about it in the weeks to come.