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    An Alternative Explanation – People Who Fear Competition And Live Off Government Tend To Be Liberal

    An Alternative Explanation – People Who Fear Competition And Live Off Government Tend To Be Liberal

    This is a follow up to my earlier post about the findings by a social psychlogist that there is a “statistically impossible” skew in the percentages of social psychologists who self-identify as liberal and conservative, reflecting a pervasive bias against conservatives throughout the social sciences.

    Paul Krugman helps us out in understanding this phenomenon by pointing to academia.  Krugman explains that there is no discrimination as such, it’s simply that liberals are smarter and more open-minded, as proven by the predominance of liberals even in the hard sciences at universities:

    “It’s particularly troubling to apply some test of equal representation when you’re looking at academics who do research on the very subjects that define the political divide. Biologists, physicists, and chemists are all predominantly liberal; does this reflect discrimination, or the tendency of people who actually know science to reject a political tendency that denies climate change and is broadly hostile to the theory of evolution?”

    Interesting that Krugman does not consider an alternative explanation, namely, that academia is a place largely free from the pressures of free markets.  Indeed, the whole system of tenure is meant to give academics the functional equivalent of a civil service job; once you’re in it’s extremely difficult to kick you out even if your productivity drops dramatically once job security is achieved. 

    Is it really shocking to find that people who gravitate towards an employment cocoon tend to be liberal? Does this reflect innate intelligence or a lifestyle choice?

    Equally important, scientific research at universities is heavily dependent upon government grants, for example, from the National Sciences Foundation.  Being in favor of smaller government is not a path to success in the academic science world. 

    Yet again, is it really surprising that people who live off of big government support big government?  Is the ability to obtain government grants a valid measure of intellectual open-mindedness?

    Perhaps we need a comparative study. 

    Compare the political self-identification of the scientific entrepreneurs who have built companies and created new industries and national wealth through competition with the political self-identification of those who fear free market competition and live off government funding at universities or in government institutions.

    The academic cocoon serves a purpose, at least in the sciences.  I’m glad that there are professors who spend their careers doing basic research which may not pay for itself in the short-run, but may be valuable to the overall development of science. 

    But let’s not pretend that the predominance of self-identified liberals in academia reflects anything other than a career choice.

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    Comments


    I'm a faculty member and administrator in a College of Science at a state university. While I suspect even Science and Engineering faculty are majority liberal, it's certainly not true to the extent it is in the politicized fields like English, History, or the Social Sciences. I think that "career choice" can explain some of the imbalance, but not all. The near-total domination by liberals in some fields is, as the NYT article said, a "statistically impossible lack of diversity".

    But perhaps the best comeback to Krugman would be to ask him if he'd accept that same explanation for why there are more men in Math and Engineering, or why racial minorities are underrepresented in university faculties.

    I wonder how many people believe in evolution out of faith. I am not saying evolution is a false theory, but how may people can really say that they have read every scientific paper to date on the topic. Has Paul Krugman done his research or is he just having faith in evolution? Why do they assume people are dumb if they are taking the time and energy to examine and scrutize a topic rather than just blindly accept it? Any field of study that is not open to questioning and scrutiny is not really science it is a religion.

    @Mark "But perhaps the best comeback to Krugman would be to ask him if he'd accept that same explanation for why there are more men in Math and Engineering, or why racial minorities are underrepresented in university faculties."

    I love a good retort. And that is beautiful.

    On a similar note…over the Christmas holiday my wife and I were having dinner with some friends of hers and one far-left militant NOW member lamented the lack of women in math & engineering. She's a multi-degreed counselor/therapist type. Using a retort I read somewhere I simply asked why she wasn't in math or engineering?

    While she stammered out some excuse about technical fields not being her 'thing' my wife was kicking me under the table (I pretend she's playing footsie and it only encourages me). I finally forced a change in subject by suggesting that perhaps academically inclined women should be forced into fields where women were under-represented. That intelligent, hard-working women (present company specifically included) were obviously not making choices that they, themselves, felt benefited women in general.

    But, like all classic liberal/leftist ideals…it is better so long as someone else pays/studies/sacrifices/etc. etc.

    K said- "While she stammered out some excuse about technical fields not being her 'thing' my wife was kicking me under the table"

    Glad to know I'm not alone in getting kicked – but must admit its not as bad though as the evil eye.

    @Mark,

    I dunno about that fella. I was in a faculty meeting where we discussing computational initiatives in scientific research at our university, and a spontaneous rant started over Sarah Palin's Twitter tweets. They are pretty much ALL dyed-in-the-wool Prog-tards, and I think it permeates their every waking moment.

    Did a search for political donations by professors at the Uni where I work on a public records database, and found…NOT ONE SINGLE DONATION to a Republican candidate, conservative, or libertarian soft money group. That's a pretty big indictment if you ask me.


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