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The (Politically) Divided Academy.--

David Bernstein notes a response by Daniel Stein and Charlotta Stern to a recent article in Public Opinion Quarterly: "Is the Academy a Liberal Hegemony? The Political Orientations and Educational Values of Professors," by John F. Zipp and Rudy Fenwick. I have not yet looked at the Stein/Stern response, but I have looked at the Zipp/Fenwick article and I found its rhetoric somewhat odd.

Zipp and Fenwick's first critique of existing studies showing wide disparities in party affiliation among faculty is that one should look at self-reported ideology rather than party, an argument for which they present no persuasive argument.

Zipp and Fenwick's second critique of the existing studies is in part:

Second, these contentions have ignored much better data and research. The most comprehensive study of the political leanings of professors is Ladd and Lipset's (1975) The Divided Academy, which uses data from the 1969 Carnegie survey as well as a smaller follow-up survey done in 1972. . . . Ladd and Lipset note that liberalism varied appreciably by discipline--the social sciences were the most liberal, while engineering and business were dominated by conservatives . . . .

I just consulted Ladd and Lipset's 1975 Divided Academy. Ladd and Lipset do not show that conservatives dominate engineering and business (p. 369).

In 1969:
Electrical engineering is 40% left/liberal, 31% middle, and 31% conservative.
Mechanical engineering is 25% left/liberal, 25% middle, and 50% conservative.
Civil engineering is 22% left/liberal, 40% middle, and 38% conservative.
Business is 31% left/liberal, 29% middle, and 40% conservative.

Having about 60% self-described liberals and middle of the road, and about 40% conservatives in engineering and business in 1969 is not what I would call "conservative dominance," especially given the relatively liberal views on particular issues that the 1969 study found that faculty have. One must also remember that these totals include junior colleges, which (at least in later studies) differ considerably from the 4-year colleges and universities that have been the focus of the debate.

Further, it is odd that Zipp and Fenwick would point to Ladd & Lipset's 1970s writing as evidence against the thesis that "a disproportionate percentage of the faculty is liberal." When Michael Faia (foreshadowing Zipp and Fenwick) wrote an article on the "Myth of the Liberal Professor," Ladd and Lipset sliced and diced Faia in "The Myth of the "Conservative" Professor: A Reply to Michael Faia," Sociology of Education, Vol. 47, No. 2. (Spring, 1974), pp. 203-213. Ladd and lipset point out that the 1969 and 1972 Carnegie data show that professors are much more liberal than the general public, even more on their views on public issues than on their self-described politics.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. The (Politically) Divided Academy.--
  2. Ideology and the Academy--An Empirical Dispute:
Enoch:
Another obvious question there is what does "middle" mean? In my experience, extremists of Left and Right persuasion tend to describe themselves as "centrists" or "moderates"...
11.27.2006 6:32am
oldejoe (mail) (www):
You need a study for this? Two universities, two degrees, same statist crap.
11.27.2006 7:50am
rbj:
To critique a study on current university political affiliations, they use a 30+ year old study? Z &F's use of that data is highly suspect.
11.27.2006 8:16am
McGehee (never been able to log in) (mail) (www):
So...

Zipp and Fenwick contend that a study using data from 37 years ago is valid for describing the situation today?

I knew tenure was a significant factor but I didn't know it could fossilize political patterns across multiple generations.
11.27.2006 8:18am
GM Roper (www):
As a "part time" member of the academy over the last 20 years, the "self identification" rather than party lable makes much more sense. And in that light, the academy is far more "leftist/liberal/left-of-center" than it has ever been portreyed, but there are still quite a number of rignt-of-center folk around, they just aren't in leadership positions very often.
11.27.2006 8:54am
The Monster (mail):
The problem with 'self identification' is that most people consider themselves to occupy the reasonable, centrist position, whereas other people are the extremists. I call this the Theory of Political Relativity. I'm right, and those of you who don't agree with me are 'out there'.
11.27.2006 9:12am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I agree with the above comments about the age of the study, esp. given that one of the suggestions often made about the tilt of academia is that it is populated a lot by the 1960s era radicals, that some at least never wanted to grow up and go out into the real world. And many there would have still been finishing up their degrees at that time. In other words, that these figures were precisely right before the big shift to the left.

I distrust self-identification if for no other reason than that I don't know many who self-identify accurately. Rather, their self-identification is invariably in relation to the people that they most often deal with.

For example, I consider myself fairly middle-of-the-road. My views on abortion and gay marriage are almost identical to those of the general population of this country found through polling. I probably accept civil unions a bit more, but affirmative action a bit less. Pro-war and anti-big government and higher taxes. Much of my family and many of my friends consider me a rightist extremist. And, of course, I consider them leftist wackos. Most of that disparity in view comes from the circles we run in. So, here you find a situation where one side considers themselves moderates and the other side wackos to the left, and the other side believes themselves the moderates, with the others to be wackos to the right. Both self-identify as moderates, but one side has voted Republican for president for the last 30 years, and the other, Democratic, while all still self-identifying as moderate.
11.27.2006 9:36am
MnZ (mail):
Hmmm...the old reference-old-research-and-hope-no-one-checks routine?
11.27.2006 9:48am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Roper makes a point about leadership positions.

While it doesn't seem to be part of the study, the impact of leadership actions is generally more often felt and seen than that of individual profs. That's one of the aspects of leadership/being in charge.

So one could look at a university and ask how its general policies stack up in the right-left debate. Do they cave to Muslim student groups or do they treat all the same? How are they on free speech/hate speech? Are accusations of rape or sexual harassment given special speed-through processing, or do they merit due process? Who gets a pass, an outspoken liberal prof or an outspoken conservative prof? Both? How are visiting speakers chosen and how are they treated? Does that question show differences by ideology?

This is not entirely a matter of professors' lineup, but it does affect the student life. It may be more difficult to research this, but that doesn't mean it is not an important issue.
11.27.2006 10:05am
JorgXMcKie (mail):
Well, based on my experience over the past 15+ years teaching at 4 state universities, 2 private colleges, and one community college, I'd say the range of ideologies is about: 15% totally wacko, out-of-touch-with reality Leftists (about half of whom can be found in administration at any given time); 15% unreformed Marxists (who believe they're actually moderates or centrists); 20% 'Progressive' far-Left Democrats; 20% Left Democrats (they only want to impeach Bush, not execute him as do most of the previous groups); 5% actual centrists/moderates; 15% just-right-of-national-center Democrats/Republicans; and 5% conservatives; and 5% assorted lunatics. (I'm in the latter group.)

So, I suppose Z and F are right, if you consider only the Academic community -- the Marxists and Far-Left Democrats *are* in the center.
11.27.2006 10:10am
MnZ (mail):
Ladd and Lipset note that liberalism varied appreciably by discipline--the social sciences were the most liberal, while engineering and business were dominated by conservatives.


Even if we take this statement as true, it would be troubling. Business professors are unsurprisingly "conservative" (by academic standards) - reflecting business schools undeniable and functionally necessary bias to support capitalism and market economies. Engineering professors' political views are largely irrelevant to their research and teaching.

In contrast, social scientists do not have the built in biases of business schools. Moreover, their political views are much more relevant to their research and teaching than in engineering.
11.27.2006 10:21am
Technogypsy (mail) (www):
Well, I got to agree with JorgX above. I've worked at a few universities in Chemistry or Materials Sci. Eng. as part time faculty and in my day job I visited 100s. The mean is well to the left of the general population and this is in the hard sciences/engineering and these people are consider the conservatives on campus. The few people that the general population would call conservatives tend to be older too.
11.27.2006 10:30am
Cornellian (mail):
How do the political views of professors compare to the view of Ph.D holders in general, i.e. including Ph.D holders who are not professors? Maybe Ph.D. holders trend left, regardless of whether they are employed in academia or not.
11.27.2006 10:34am
JosephSlater (mail):
And as always, the real question is, "how do they teach?" not "how do they vote?"

Is Horowitz still making up stories to try to bolster his "poor conservatives as victims" line?
11.27.2006 10:40am
Hoosier:
Re: The previous post on this issue by Prof. Bernstein--Why are conservatives underrepresented at prestige-institutions.

Faculty will always say that they hire without asking a potential colleague what his or her political leanings are. But this is--to use a much-misused word--disingenuous. We all know how to identify scholars likely leanings by their work. If I am on a hiring committee for a modern German historian, and am anxious to hire a like-minded leftist, I can look at the dissertation/publication record and get some big hints. The topics chosen and questions asked are very often a give-away.

I would feel comfortable presuming that the candidate who writes on "representations of gender 'queerness' in Weimar drama" is one of my own. The guy who writes on "Bismarck's foreign trade policy" may well be, but it's not as obvious. The trendy fields are overwhelmingly left-dominated fields. It is very easy to identify the "right" candidates, and them claim that the hire was made on the basis of the "interesting" (read: "trendy") work that the hire has done.
11.27.2006 11:30am
Hoosier:
JosephSlater is kidding himself if he thinks that teaching quality has anything to do with tenure and promotion at research universities. This isn't an issue of politics or ideology--For all I know, the percentage of lousy underegrad lecturers is the same among conservatives, liberals, and centrists. How does Harvey Mansfield teach? Is he a better Political Theory 101 professor than the rest of his colleagues? I don't know.

But I can guarantee that no one /who counts/ at Harvard gives a damn.

I am frustrated with the ideological monoculture at universities. But the fetishizing of narrow publications is a much more significant problem. And I'm not sure that people outside of the biz understand how idiotic it has become.
11.27.2006 11:34am
Bill_C:
I agree with Monster's Theory of Political Relativity. Since we academics are at the center of the university (if not the universe, as if anything outside our comfy cozy ivy walls matters), we are all, by definition, Moderate.

Thus, the true academic divide is mostly between the reasonable members of any party-political persuasion and the idiotarians of any party line.

I, however, prefer to be just plain frickin' ornery. It's more fun, and keeps the other two main groups off step.
11.27.2006 11:38am
Hans Gruber:
"And as always, the real question is, "how do they teach?" not "how do they vote?"

For science, engineering, and math political affiliation would be almost entirely irrelevant to how they teach their subject. That just isn't the case for the humanities, even if one makes a concerted effort to present both sides (or three of four) of an issue.

Horowitz is in a unique position to judge the issue of bias because he has been on both extremes of American politics. He understands how this bias works, how one's politics inform (or more accurately distort) one's view of history and human nature.

That's why a conservative teaching history should do his best to understand and then convey historical interpretations contrary to his own. A course on Marxism should review at least one book critical of Marxism. Survey courses in particular should be sensitive to balancing their reading lists and instruction.
11.27.2006 11:47am
Archon (mail):
There are a few absolute truths in life:

1. You are going to die
2. You are going to pay taxes
3. The Academe is packed full of liberals

Trying to find a conservative at some colleges in like a snipe hunt.
11.27.2006 12:01pm
David Driscoll (mail):
I suspect that the real divide is not so much between social sciences vs engineering and business, but between those who make a living off of public money and those in private industry.

Government 'employees', be they tenured PhD's or AFDC recipients, know where their money comes from and - like almost everyone else - appear to me to be in favor of policies that favor themselves.

A much more interesting study would be one that looked at political differences among tenured faculty factoring in how much of their income they derive from non-profit institutions vs for-profit companies.

Of course, if one is interested in the variation in political ideology between those who live off of the tax code and those who create wealth, it seems a bit parochial to limit it to professors. . .
11.27.2006 12:18pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
"JosephSlater is kidding himself if he thinks that teaching quality has anything to do with tenure and promotion at research universities. "

Undergrad lore at MIT has it that at tenure time, they take an old-fashioned two-pan lab scale, reprints of all the candidate's publications, and a brick. The brick goes on the left pan, the reprints on the right. If the right pan goes down, tenure is granted.

If, however, the candidate has won a teaching award, they add another brick.
11.27.2006 12:48pm
Lonely Capitalist (mail):
A much more interesting study would be one that looked at political differences among tenured faculty factoring in how much of their income they derive from non-profit institutions vs for-profit companies.

I'm not sure that would show much. I've heard that Noam Chomsky, the most anti-American of Leftists got a lot of funding doing work for the Pentagon.
11.27.2006 1:11pm
Byomtov (mail):
JosephSlater is kidding himself if he thinks that teaching quality has anything to do with tenure and promotion at research universities.

That's not what he said.
11.27.2006 1:19pm
Michael B (mail):
A great deal of the problem is in the curricula and the teaching methods employed. Mark Bauerlein reviewing Michael Bérubé, excerpt, emphases added:

... the final sentence [of the instruction for an essay assignment]:
Analyze the U.S. constitution (original document), and show how its formulation excluded [the] majority of the people living in America at that time, and how it was dominated by America’s elite interest.
And here is Bérubé’s comment:
If students of American political science are not introduced to the contradictions underlying the foundation of a revolutionary democratic nation that practiced slavery and restricted the vote to landowning men, they are being miseducated.
What Bérubé considers good history registers with conservatives quite differently. They note the emphasis on exploitation and hypocrisy, along with no chance to argue otherwise. The Founding’s positive side is glossed over as if it were false ornament. And as for miseducation, the historical significance of the Constitution isn’t primarily that it legalized “exclusion” and “class domination,” but rather that a group of men acculturated to exclusion and domination should have conceived a system of government and a set of rights from which free and oppressed people have drawn inspiration for two centuries. The assignment, then, asks undergraduates to take a partial and politically loaded viewpoint on the Founding. If we want full historical context, by all means bring in the inequalities and injustices of the time, but let’s not obscure the extraordinary moral and political breakthrough represented by the document.

That Bérubé accepts such assignments as straightforward history goes a long way toward explaining why conservative criticisms appear unbalanced or cynical. The liberal outlook, especially regarding race and gender, has seeped into and saturated the curriculum so much that questioning it looks not like a new venture into the marketplace of ideas but like a violation of civility. This makes it almost impossible for conservative reformers in higher education to question, much less alter, the curriculum. It’s a frustrating impasse. Liberal approaches to the curriculum are so embedded that conservative attacks look suspect on procedural grounds. ... The substance of your criticism is waylaid by its impropriety.

When the ideological/political bias is a meta-bias, is so deeply embedded within the structures of the curricula and pedagogy that voicing a dissenting view is deemed impolitic and beyond the bounds of propriety, then such reflects a deeply embedded bias indeed, one systemically rooted, not a mere aspect of or peripheral attribute of an otherwise benign and unbiased root.
11.27.2006 1:47pm
Hoosier:
Byomtov--

It's not clear. If he meant "Do they teach a balanced syllabus," then the question may not be quality. Although I'd say that this question goes to quality.

But HOW one teaches is not, in any sense, a determining factor in success in research universities--except in the "perverse incentive" manner that Mr. Phelam mentions about: Don't get the reputation for caring too much about teaching.

But either way, teaching doesn't go to the heart of the question that I raised, which is why there is this dearth of conservative faculty at elite universities.
11.27.2006 1:50pm
Michael B (mail):
In one vein the preceding comment can be viewed as a response to Joseph Slater's comment that "And as always, the real question is, 'how do they teach?' not 'how do they vote?'"

Precisely, the pedagogy and the curricula are central to the systemic aspects of the overall problem.
11.27.2006 1:52pm
MnZ (mail):
When the ideological/political bias is a meta-bias, is so deeply embedded within the structures of the curricula and pedagogy that voicing a dissenting view is deemed impolitic and beyond the bounds of propriety, then such reflects a deeply embedded bias indeed, one systemically rooted, not a mere aspect of or peripheral attribute of an otherwise benign and unbiased root.


Ahh...it reminds me of a history PhD candidate that I met. She commented that writing a dissertation in history took longer than other fields. I asked her why.

She sardonically responded (I paraphrase), "Because history PhD candidates have to spend a year re-editing their dissertation to make it consistent with a theory of class struggle."
11.27.2006 2:13pm
JosephSlater (mail):
I'm sorry if my brief comment was open to misinterpretation. I meant that the issue that should be examined is whether teachers give a fair airing to diverse points of view in the classroom: teaching materials and presenting plausible arguments with which they disagree in a respectful manner, not as strawmen; and not punishing or rewarding students for agreeing or disagreeing with their own politics. In my experience, both as a student (in college, law school, and a PhD program) and as a law prof., liberal and conservative professors can and do routinely teach multiple sides of an issue effectively. And thus, how they vote isn't the question, it's how they teach.

For those who mistook my meaning, for what it's worth, I agree that quality of teaching is undervalued in the academy today. That, IMHO, is a real problem, unlike the generally unsupported whining about leftist hegemony.

As to Horwitz, no, the fact that he was once part of the loony far-left and is now part of the loony far-right doesn't make him particularly credible about anything. In fact, it shows he's generally prone to hold beliefs that are driven by extremist ideology more than they are by data or reality.
11.27.2006 3:11pm
Vovan:
So Michael B, do you think that if a conservative student writes an answer to the question that Berube poses, that along with answering the question, mentions all the criticisms outlined in the critique that you have cited - that student is essentially hurting his grade?

If I understand your position correctly, and please feel free to dissuade me, that I think, presumes that Berube, his ideological views nonwithstanding, will not be able to appreciate a well-reasoned response, and I think is an unfair, veiled personal attack at Berube.
11.27.2006 3:17pm
Ron Mexico:
"Horowitz is in a unique position to judge the issue of bias because he has been on both extremes of American politics. He understands how this bias works, how one's politics inform (or more accurately distort) one's view of history and human nature."

People actually take this guy seriously? He is in a unique position because of his extreme beliefs? This merely tells me that he eschews logic and reason in favor of rabid extremism. He went from being a moronically extreme liberal to a moronoically extreme conservative. This is laughable at best. He represents the most disgusting, ill-conceived, and poorly reasoned arguments for all sides of the spectrum. Nothing but an opportunistic hack...
11.27.2006 3:17pm
MnZ (mail):
So Michael B, do you think that if a conservative student writes an answer to the question that Berube poses, that along with answering the question, mentions all the criticisms outlined in the critique that you have cited - that student is essentially hurting his grade?


The essay question makes it clear what "correct" way of thinking is. Now, I suppose that a sharp, brave conservative student could argue against it. However, what about a less brave, less sharp, and/or less conservative student?
11.27.2006 3:35pm
Hans Gruber:
"People actually take this guy seriously? He is in a unique position because of his extreme beliefs? This merely tells me that he eschews logic and reason in favor of rabid extremism. He went from being a moronically extreme liberal to a moronoically extreme conservative. This is laughable at best. He represents the most disgusting, ill-conceived, and poorly reasoned arguments for all sides of the spectrum. Nothing but an opportunistic hack..."

There is nothing necesssarily contradictory between holding positions on the extremes of the contemporary political continuum and rational thought. The idea of gay marriage was probably pretty "extreme" in 1950, so why is holding that position then, in 1950, any less "rational" than holding it today? Anyway, I don't think Horowitz is all that "extreme" today, but I think he is properly classified as very conservative (not socially, however), which is to say he's in a good position, as a former 60's radical, to evaluate the effects of bias. And if you've followed him on this issue, I think you'd understand the principles apply equally to conservatives and liberals. Disagree with him on the merits (I do on a couple of points), but dismissing him as a "hack" and a "moron" says more about your credibility than it does about his.
11.27.2006 4:50pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Sure, some folks bravely held positions that were "radical" at the time but were later justified by more facts or enlightened thoughts. But that ain't Horowitz. He has always been a crude hack, driven by ideology and a disregard for actual data. He's already been caught manufacturing or at minimum not checking on the supposed horror stories of modern higher education. His intellectual style has always been Stalinist, he's just gone from loony left to loony right.
11.27.2006 4:56pm
Michael B (mail):
Vovan, a "veiled" attack on Bérubé? Personally? Good grief, a perfectly valid and substantive criticism was forwarded and you twist it into a mere ad hominem slight (already a well established tactic in this thread). The cited Bérubé case is but a single example, perfectly valid as such, but it serves to represent a broader, endemic condition as well.

Hence your question, as already noted above, misses the point. (To answer your question nonetheless, it depends upon the specific situation but occasionally, yes, students can successfully swim against the tide. The point being such a rip tide of bias and meta-bias should not so systemically form the basis of curricula and the pedagogy in the first place.)
11.27.2006 5:21pm
DaveN (mail):
I remember by Con. Law professor fondly but I KNEW his biases-his particular interest was "War Powers" and his key thesis was that the President was subordinate to Congress and that any military incursion without express Congressional approval was illegal.

I disagreed with his positions but I was also smart enough that when I took my Con Law final, and was presented with a "War Powers" question, I knew EXACTLY how to answer it--and I received an "A" in the course.
11.27.2006 5:37pm
Michael B (mail):
Btw, in forwarding a specific example of bias and meta-bias, in using the cited Bérubé example as one (and only one) empirically based instance of what is being addressed, the attempt is to ground aspects of the discussion in some empiricism and attendant rational review. It's both ironic and telling that ad hominem put-downs, along with arguments from authority, are being used by those who profess a high regard for the status quo, for the current state of academe.

Another example from another angle still, a blatantly unembarrassed case within MESA (Middle East Studies Association). Excerpt, emphasis added:

"Most of the audience's questions were sympathetic to the panelists' point of view, but not all. One MESA member asked why there was no Israeli perspective on the panel, and if this disparity was appropriate at an academic conference. He was told that they did not see the need to have an 'Israeli apologist' sitting beside them.

"I asked why the speakers labeled Israel's attacks on Lebanese cities 'aggression,' but called Hezbollah's attacks on Israeli cities 'resistance.' Doesn't that suggest that some civilian deaths are valued less than others? Although I didn't get a direct answer, one panelist made the morally problematic assertion that the quantity of deaths made Israel's actions 'worse' than those of Hezbollah.

"The five panelists flatly rejected the notion that they should seek 'balance' on this issue. They said that, as scholars, what mattered was that they "speak the truth," rather than give equal time to all sides."

Hence, again, an example of meta-bias serving to form the very root and branch, the very basis, of the discussion, a discussion carrying the imprimatur of academe. The difference in this case, as compared to the Bérubé case commented on above, is that this latter case is so unembarrassed and despisingly in-your-face. Yet self-regarding members of MESA, reflective of other academics as well, have no problem chastising any who presume to ask the wrong questions, questions deemed impolitic and lacking "propriety."

The contemporary academic cum cleric, functioning almost as sacral and epistemic gatekeeper, is rightly regarded with varying levels of skepticism and even suspicion, certainly dependent upon the specific situation. The cited Bérube case reflects a more subtle example, the MESA case a more blatant example, they are both but single examples of a broader and more systemic condition.
11.27.2006 6:12pm
Vovan:

To answer your question nonetheless, it depends upon the specific situation but occasionally, yes, students can successfully swim against the tide. The point being such a rip tide of bias and meta-bias should not so systemically form the basis of curricula and the pedagogy in the first place.


Again, this is a pretty sweeping statement, but besides anecdotal accounts which you have kindly provided above, are there any empirical studies that demonstrate that conservative students are having a harder time adequately performing in academic institutions of higher learning, due to the alleged bias that they face from liberal professors unwilling to aknowledge their point of view?

And even if we accept arguendo that liberal bias in education exists and is, as you have pointed out a symptom of "broader and more systemic condition", how come the percentage of identified "liberals" in the general population has remained stable, even though the enrollment in post-high school education increased dramatically?
11.27.2006 6:40pm
Michael B (mail):
Vovan,

First demand of yourself what you presume to demand of others.

Sweeping? Yes, I've now provided two concrete and particularly salient examples (directly upthread here and here), have additionally forwarded perfectly rational reviews of those two instances - and have also made more general statements, in part based upon those two examples and in part based upon other, similar discussions beyond this thread. Of course it's a general or "sweeping" statement, I'm commenting as an advocate for a certain, general position. And I'm not pretending otherwise.

By contrast your rhetoric serves to place you in some type of presumptively unbiased position. I can use the same type of language, affecting an unbiased position, against your own rhetoric. E.g., can you provide an "empirical study" which reveals the academy to be unbiased? Your own tactic represents a certain "sweeping" dismissiveness as well. As for your general statement concerning post-high-school enrollments corresponding to identified political positions, that's something which would require some more identifiable data, via a study, in addition to an interpretation of the results obtained from the study.

I.e., first demand of yourself what you presume to demand of others. In general your rhetorical tack presumes to place my view within a biased, unsubstantiated perspective - while presuming to place yourself above the fray, as the unbiased authority or grand inquisitor. (By contrast, you have literally nothing to say about the ad hominem attacks and arguments from authority in this thread, virtually all of which are reactionary arguments in alignment with your own position.)

I'm an advocate for a certain position; I do not pretend otherwise. I've now advanced two salient cases which serve as empirically/rationally based instances in support of my position. I've avoided ad hominem put-downs and mere arguments from authority. Your replies have presumed to require yet additional information, while offering literally no rigor in support of your own view. You're not the grand inquisitor - and to the extent you require rigor of others you need to first offer it in support of your own view.
11.27.2006 8:16pm
o' connuh j.:
LOL! Michael B - that was quality. One of the best put-downs I've read on this site yet. Sorry Vovan, insert token and try again.
11.27.2006 11:44pm
Vovan:
Hey Michael, number 1, I really don't appreciate being lectured to, either in person, or especially on an anynymous message blog. In fact, I have tried to remain civil in this discussion, when adressing you or your "arguments" which essentially include clippings from other people's thoughts.

Number 2, I only answer for myself and suggest that you try to do the same while "lecturing" to other people as "an advocate for a certain position." I don't pretend to know other people who have engaged in:

ad hominem attacks and arguments from authority in this thread, virtually all of which are reactionary arguments in alignment with your own position

nor answer for their views or their opinions especially to you - an anonymous poster.


I've now provided two concrete and particularly salient examples (directly upthread here and here), have additionally forwarded perfectly rational reviews of those two instances - and have also made more general statements, in part based upon those two examples and in part based upon other, similar discussions beyond this thread.


Number 3, I have tried to avoid presenting similar examples, simply for the fact that they add nothing to the discussion, since they are anecdotal at best, and falsified at worst

But here is a recent one:

One of the most closely watched — and criticized — faculty searches this academic year is ending with Juan Cole apparently being rejected for a post in Middle Eastern history at Yale University. Cole is a professor of history at the University of Michigan and president of the Middle East Studies Association. He also has one of the largest audiences of Middle Eastern studies experts through his blog, Informed Comment, on which he publishes numerous updates a day about events in the Middle East. Cole is a tough critic of U.S. foreign policy and of Israel’s government — and his blog comments have been used for months by opponents of his appointment to kill it...
Link

And here is Berube, expressing his views - and directly contradicting the "bias" attributed to him, by the author that you have cited to.
It’s the myth of politicization of lecturing and grading that Berube dismantles—he’s trying to teach his students literature, not liberation theology. “Any liberal professor will tell you the same thing; we’d much rather read a well-written, well-argued conservative essay than a careless, shoddy, liberal-minded screed.” Link

And finally here is a little light on the movement against "liberal bias" itself:
It turns out that many of the most important attacks are part of a campaign organized by conservative foundations, as a study by report by the National Committee on Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) found. In a section entitled, "Targeting the Academy" the report discusses right-wing attacks on academia, including "political correctness" campaigns, efforts to use alumni contributions to advance a conservative agenda, efforts to take over or de-fund the National Endowment for the Humanities and to de-fund the National Endowment for the Arts. These attacks follow the pattern outlined in the Powell memo -- attack the patriotism of liberals and attempt to convince trustees of colleges and universities to remove them, replacing them with ideological "conservatives." Link

I sincerely hope that I have contributed to this "discussion" to your satisfaction...
11.28.2006 12:03am
Michael B (mail):
Vovan, you confuse and obfuscate throughout, but I'll respond with a thorough reply nonetheless. Using your own numbers:

1) We disagree concerning your sense of propriety and civility and certainly so as regards your evenhandedness, which you seem to claim. Firstly, it wasn't a "lecture" in terms of a personal affront - if that's what you're attempting to imply you should re-read what was said. I was addressing the subject and was addressing the particular tactics you were employing, which is to say making demands for yet more information and rigor on my part while supplying no rigor on behalf of your own presentation. I don't appreciate your characterizations either, some of which follow, among other aspects of your "argument" (reproducing your own sneer quotes) as well. You don't command the high ground of propriety or civility and most certainly not of evenhandedness.

2) This is tedious. Concerning the parenthetical note addressing the ad hominem tactics and arguments from authority of others, you miss the point. I was simply taking note of a certain contrast between what you demand of me and what you fail to demand of others; I wasn't asking you to "answer for their views or their opinions," I simply and parenthetically took note of a certain contrast, thus priorities reflected in your approach.

3) Your notion that the cited instances "add nothing" to the discussion and are "anecdotal at best" is precisely that, notional and your opinion - not "facts." You have an odd notion both of propriety and of what your assertions are ("facts"), while the specific cases I offer are blithely annihilated under the category of "nothing." At best that's interesting as it reveals both your sense of propriety and your sense of self: you say it, hence it's so (right out of Genesis, chapter 1). And if it is a falsified account you link to, that says nothing about the specific accounts I offered. I don't argue for the purity of any person's or organization's motives and I have no doubt both sides in the debate variously exaggerate their cases at times, misconstrue facts and situations, variously err, etc. However, that doesn't address the problem in general, neither does it counter the cited cases.

Concerning Juan Cole (President of MESA, ironically enough) and Yale, it's far more involved than what is presented in the link you provide, for example, see here at The Yale Herald, excerpts:

"... the possibility of such a controversial figure’s coming to Yale has reignited the ongoing campus debate about the role of politicized classes and opinionated professors in a college environment."

[...]

"But Naamah Paley, another sophomore who took his class, pointed out that a professor can profoundly influence and alter students’ perceptions of a controversial and complex topic. According to Paley, Cole’s lecture on the history of Zionism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was given on Rosh Hashanah, when no religious Jewish students were present in class to contest his views. Moreover, Paley said Cole’s midterm exam concentrated on the controversial massacres at the Arab village of Deir Yassin and Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon rather than on balanced coverage of Israeli history.

"For Paley, moreover, the close-minded opinions of a political firebrand like Cole can alienate and stifle students."

Fancy that. Or is that annihilated as "nothing" as well? (And that's merely one excerpt from the link, and merely one aspect of the general case mounted against Cole at Yale.)

See also And Cole Can't Blame the Neo-Cons, excerpt:

"Apparently under the radar was the fact that Cole was also being considered for a position at Duke -- an event for which there was no publicity, and no lobbying...he failed there, too ..."

Concerning Bérubé, the response you provide serves not in the least to counter the specific instance cited here, directly above. The link you provide does not cite, neither directly nor indirectly, Bauerlein's commentary, nor does it counter the specific excerpt cited. And providing a general statement about someone's purported goodwill serves nothing substantial, he may as well offer, as an argument, that he's a wonderful person. (It's also an exceedingly tendentious article in the first place.)

Concerning the final general statement and link, it is as well an incredibly tendentious piece wherein the author attempts to label and discredit various players as among the "far right" (including the Heritage Foundation in this category). It's hardly a well argued piece, the only thing it lacks is nefarious sounding mood music and some inferential camera work together with a Michael Moore-like script. He essentially notes some inter-relationships between various orgs and players and attempts to suggest, therefore, some type of dark, conspiratorial quality which unifies all these players. All this while failing to address specific studies or individual cases such as I've presented herein. His is not so much an argument being forwarded as it is a rhetorical pie-in-the-face, an attempt to demonize and categorize and label and therein broadly dismiss.

Please note, in the final link offered, the studies you had previously requested, though I suspect you'll dismiss them all, as "nothing." So now, in addition to the three cited cases (now including Juan Cole) and the linked studies, I may well be done here. Have a good day.
11.28.2006 6:13am
Vovan:

2. This is tedious. Concerning the parenthetical note addressing the ad hominem tactics and arguments from authority of others, you miss the point. I was simply taking note of a certain contrast between what you demand of me and what you fail to demand of others; I wasn't asking you to "answer for their views or their opinions," I simply and parenthetically took note of a certain contrast, thus priorities reflected in your approach.


Heh, the fact that I chose to respond to posts that I consider informative and substantive, and ignore those that engage outright in ad hominem attacks, is somehow indicative of the approach I take? Mayhap its just simple expectations of hoping to receive a substantive answer from a person that doesn't rightly label the other one an idiot.

As for the studies that you have finally provided after much consternation, that was exactly what I was looking for in the first place, yet you chose to explore my argumentative motives,explore my hidden agendas, etc. Instead of simply providing a link, which really puzzles me as to why go through all that trouble.

Fair enough, I am done here as well.
11.28.2006 11:16am
Michael B (mail):
11.29.2006 2:13am
Hoosier:
"Mayhap"?

Is Vovan blogging from ca. 1600? Perchance?
11.29.2006 9:37am