Friday, February 18, 2011

McArdle Holds Up The Looking Glass

A recent piece in The Atlantic by Megan McArdle addressing the views of the liberals of academia brought a great deal of reaction from... you guessed it... liberals.

The liberals in question expressed their collective indignation that it could be suggested that our institutions of higher learning would be biased in a prejudicial way.  Any discrepancies in the numbers had to be a result of qualifications, where the institutions in question will of course preferentially select the best applicants. This defense seems odd, coming from a group of people who frequently point to statistical under-representation as de facto evidence of discrimination. Typically they would note that though the discrimination they allude to might not be overt, it was there none the less.

Thus, Ms. McArdle was treated to a deluge of e-mail responces, offering the following familiar refrains:

* Smart people are almost always liberal.

* Curiousity and interest in ideas is a liberal trait.

* Conservatives are too rigid and authoritarian to maintain the open mind required of a professor.

* Education erases false conservative ideas and turns people into liberals.

* Conservatives don't want to be professors because they're more interested in something else (money, the military).

* Conservatives don't want to be professors because they're anti-intellectual.

* Conservatives hold false beliefs that make them ineligible to be professors.

Hmmm. I love that one "Education erases false conservative ideas and turns people into liberals." So sublimely complacent.

Her follow-up article What Does Bias Look Like was equally good. Both articles were well written and well argued, well worth the read.

With a major tip of the hat to Stacy McCain.


  1. I loved both of the McArdle articles. I particularly liked the second. Our mutual friend Coco (from the now defunct WWCS) has certainly been through a bunch of crap in academia, especially lately, that resembles much of what she talks about.

    Even as I am finishing my Master's thesis and am planning on my career in teaching, I refrain from publicly talking much about my conservative leanings except under a pen name for the sheer reason that I don't like the idea of being drummed out of academia with liberal pitchforks.

    So if you're a conservative I think you closet it until or unless you "come out" to your friends and those who will support you.

  2. Ahff, I've seen a bit of that as well, though not so much that it would dent my world. But as to discussing the days we live in, it is amazing how much one's world view colors the interpretation of events.

    Yeah, I miss Coco. I felt bad taking down The Wild West Coconut Show link. He's a great guy. I wish all the best for him.

  3. I agree wholeheartedly about Coco.

    I miss the blog and blogging with him. For sure. It was a total kick.

  4. Well they don't call it the lyin' Left for nothing.

    The only reason I've seen why Conservatives stay away from teaching is that they want to DO something with their lives. And money is only a part of that--and as we have seen recently-- money, benefits without worker contributions, and pensions with full pay after twenty or thirty years, one could argue that money certainly became the incentive for public workers. Doing something with our lives entails Making something--if we're lucky making something that never existed before. It is a part of BUILDING something, hopefully something that will last after we are gone. It is a part of turning potential into reality. The Conservatives that I have known that got into teaching did so after they had DONE it. They were set for life and looking for a new challenge and most importantly they wanyed to give something back. They felt that their experience and knowledge would be iseful for the next generation.

    Yes, we kind of took the old "joke" to heart--Those that can DO. Those that can't do TEACH. Those that can't teach TEACH GYM.

  5. Yes, there are personal principles and philosophies commonly held among conservatives that tend to guide conservatives away from government positions and teaching jobs - conservatives in general are not keen on "changing the world", "making things right" or "care taking the nation's people." Such notions are at odds with notions of individual liberty and its necessary precondition, limited government. We tend to have faith that people will do best when allowed the freedom to do so, and view government suspiciously, as the founding fathers did. But what McArdle was speaking of was a hostile climate that exists in teaching that discriminates against conservatives and tends to eliminate and surpress them in that field. I would suggest that the same could be said of journalism and probably the Federal and State bureacracies.

    What I thought was interesting was the reaction on the part of the liberal educational establishment to fail to see an argument for discrimination, an argument that they readily accept in every other enterprise. It speaks to the difficulty people like the professor and kpo have to perceiving things as I might, and underscores how important one's world view is to perception. It also hints that a similar blindness potentially exists for me, and I must be careful to be aware of that possibility.