Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Gray Lady states the obvious

The New York Times, that sanctimoniously self-promoting arbiter of "All the news that's fit to print", has seen fit to acknowledge what we already know to be true.  For what it's worth, the newspaper has highlighted a study demonstrating the lack of political diversity in academia.  Here's an excerpt.

The researchers found evidence of discrimination and hostility within academia toward conservative researchers and their viewpoints. In one survey cited, 82 percent of social psychologists admitted they would be less likely to support hiring a conservative colleague than a liberal scholar with equivalent qualifications.

This has consequences well beyond fairness. It damages accuracy and quality. As the authors write, “Increased political diversity would improve social psychological science by reducing the impact of bias mechanisms such as confirmation bias, and by empowering dissenting minorities to improve the quality of the majority’s thinking.”

One of the study’s authors, Philip E. Tetlock of the University of Pennsylvania, put it to me more bluntly. Expecting trustworthy results on politically charged topics from an “ideologically incestuous community,” he explained, is “downright delusional.”

There's more at the link.

This is my shocked face.  The New York Times, acknowledging that a core segment of its own left-wing constituency lacks diversity?  Wonders will never cease!  (Whether or not the Gray Lady will actually see fit to do anything about it - such as, for example, campaign for a more politically diverse academia - is, of course, entirely another matter . . . )

Seriously, though, this has a direct and immediate impact on the weight we should attach to academic studies of any political, social or cultural issue that touches on any ideologically sensitive topic.  Gun control?  Racial tensions?  Illegal aliens?  Academic perspectives on all those subjects are more than likely to be more than a little tinged with political bias.  We should judge them accordingly.


5 comments: said...

This is not news....there is a very, very good reason I left academia.
What is news is that such an article even managed to get printed by the NYT. That they would even consider running it shocks me. That they managed to run it in an honest fashion without 'editing for clarity' is even more astonishing.

Judy said...

A piece of advice we gave our children when they entered public school/college was to keep our/their conservative opinions to themselves if they want to pass the course.

I am surprised it got printed.

Rolf said...

Bear in mind, according to the NYT you are conservative if you like drip coffee rather than a 35-syllable SBUX order. They no more understand "conservative" than they do libertarian, and equate them with "stupid, ignorant, and hateful" and "libertine" in that order.

It won't change anything, for the same reason all liberal causes either fail to deliver the goods or destroy what is good: they think talking about a problem, just admitting it exits, is the same as doing something productive about it.

Borepatch said...

Climate Change?


Anonymous said...

Oh the delicious irony of the NYT pointing to the ideological non-diversity mote in academia's eye.