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Krugman on Conservatives in Academia: In today's New York Times, Paul Krugman considers why there are so few conservatives in academia. [but see update below] Krugman's hypothesis, in a nutshell: conservatives don't fit in the academic world because they are anti-scholarship creationists who get their truth from "revelation, not research." (A special note for our readers in the Upper West Side of Manhattan and Cambridge, Massachusetts: if you ever happen to meet a conservative, you will quickly realize that Krugman's perspective is what they call a "caricature.")

  UPDATE: Mark Kleiman has a rather odd and over-the-top response to this post, but it's odd and over-the-top enough to make me realize that I mischaracterized Krugman's argument. Upon rereading Krugman's piece, I now recognize that the second half of it shifts from the question of why conservatives don't end up in academia — which seems to be the focus of the first half — to why existing academics don't tend to vote for Republican candidates. The two questions have a connection, of course, but are different in many ways. The first looks at who enters a group over time, and the second looks at why people in a fixed group do particular things. In any event, Kleiman appears to see the argument in the second half of Krugman's piece as "the" argument, and I gather he thinks I am engaging in foul play because I failed to note that argument (which Kleiman agrees is a weak argument). I just missed the switch, however, and therefore missed the distinction between the two arguments. For the record, Krugman seems to be making both arguments, or perhaps a mushy mix of the two, but definitely is making the latter. My apologies for the Orwellian "abusive misrepresentation," er, whatever you call the mischaracterization I offered the first time.

  ANOTHER UPDATE: Kleiman has added an update and appears to remain quite upset, but at this point I'm not sure what he is upset about. As best I can tell, he is reading in to my post all sorts of things he has read elsewhere and wants me to be claiming so he can accuse me of all sorts of things he finds incorrect. I don't think I am making any of the claims that he thinks I am making, however, so I think I'll scratch my head and pass this one on to Juan.

  YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Continued off-line discussion with Mark Kleiman has helped me understand the source of his overreaction. Upon re-reading Kurgman's piece a few more times, I can see that my initial characterization was wrong: Krugman's piece does not claim conservatives are "conservatives don't fit in the academic world because they are anti-scholarship creationists who get their truth from 'revelation, not research.'" It's not a very clear column, but on balance I think it is right that Krugman's piece is best read as making a point about the Republican party leadership, not about conservatives in general. My apologies for the misreading.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. What are the Rules on Evolution?
  2. Kerr Contra Krugman:
  3. Krugman on Conservatives in Academia:
Kerr Contra Krugman: I don't beleive Orin was unfair to Krugman in his post below. Contrary to Kleiman's claim, Krugman does attack "conservatives" generally. In the last three paragraphs he specifically accuses "conservatives" of Lysenkoism and of seeking to "chill" scholarly inquiry. Those seem like pretty stiff charges to me.

Krugman draws a parallel between the lack of conservatives in the humanities with the lack of Republicans in the sciences, and blames the disparities, at least in part, on "conservatives" "themselves." Why is it partly their fault? Because of conservatives' aforementioned Lysenkoism and Republicans' alleged preference for "revelation, not research." Yes, Krugman says Republicans do things to alienate academics. But he also attacks the academic orientation of "conservatives" as such. Indeed, he has to do both to make his point, as many of the studies of ideological bias in academia find that liberals outnumber conservatives in academia, and not simply that Democrats outnumber Republicans.

Meanwhile, while Krugman thinks those on the Right are anti-intellectual, his colleague David Brooks finds the head of a liberal think tank cannot name a favorite philosopher.
What are the Rules on Evolution?

Paul Krugman explains that the reason that there aren't more conservative scientists is because they are skeptical of evolution (a caricature, as Orin notes, of course, but accept it for a moment), whereas the left believes in evolution. "Thirty years ago, attacks on science came mostly from the left; these days, they come overwhelmingly form the right, and have the backing of leading Republicans."

Yet when Lawrence Summers invokes evolutionary theory as a hypothesis to explain sex differences with respect to the performance of female scientists, he was pilloried--by the left.

I'm getting a bit of a headache here trying to keep track of the rules on when it is or is not appropriate to invoke evolutionary theories in the modern academy. Is there a flowchart or scorecard or something to which I can refer when in doubt?

Incidentally, my impression is that contra Krugman, most of those who are consistent evolutionary analysts tend to be libertarians and conservatives (often Hayek-influenced).

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. What are the Rules on Evolution?
  2. Kerr Contra Krugman:
  3. Krugman on Conservatives in Academia: