In “This Just In: Social Psychologists Lean Hard Left” (Powerline, August 8, 2012), Steven Hayward notes,
Inside Higher Ed reports today on a new study that finds—big surprise—academic social psychologists overwhelming lean to the Left. But just as mainstream media journalists always assure us that their political leanings don’t affect their coverage of the news, liberal academics say their opinions don’t lead to discrimination in the classroom or, more crucially, in hiring and publishing decisions. The new study, however, calls into question these ritual claims of objectivity or fairness:
Just over 37 percent of those surveyed said that, given equally qualified candidates for a job, they would support the hiring of a liberal candidate over a conservative candidate. Smaller percentages agreed that a “conservative perspective” would negatively influence their odds of supporting a paper for inclusion in a journal or a proposal for a grant. . . The more liberal the survey respondents identified as being, the more likely they were to say that they would discriminate. . .
“The questions were pretty blatant. We didn’t expect people would give those answers,” said Yoel Inbar, a co-author, who is a visiting assistant professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and an assistant professor of social psychology at Tilburg University, in the Netherlands.
It isn’t good character that causes these people to be honest about their discrimination. They simply don’t think anyone can do anything about it.*
The critical problem isn’t just the ideology. It is the huge amount of outright fraud that has plagued the discipline in recent years – in part as a direct result. In a cozy environment of like-minded people, it is doubtless understood that we don’t directly address results that don’t make sense.
So if Marc Hauser claims that the monkeys chattering in the shrubbery have human-like intellects or Diedrik Stapel claims that powerful women are more likely to sleep around**, no one asks themselves obvious questions – because it isn’t in their interests to.
Basically, social psychology can have a smelly little social club or they can have a discipline. And they had better decide which because by now everyone can pretty much smell the stink.
*About that, see the interview with Bill Dembski here.:
Cases like those of Martin Gaskell and the ongoing case of David Coppedge, even if they completely vindicated ID proponents in the courts, would simply throw them some money, perhaps supplemented with insincere public apologies. The subtext from these institutions, however, would remain unchanged, which is “get the hell out of here.” (Gaskell never did get his promotion as director of the MacAdam Observatory at UK [University of Kentucky] – Timothy Knauer, a “reliable” scientist, got the job instead.)
The institutions in which we’re trying to gain standing for ID are only too happy to lose some cash if they can keep us at bay. And why not, since the cash they spend is our taxpayer dollars – UK settled with Martin Gaskell for $125,000; those were our tax dollars! Sure, let’s keep trying to make inroads where we can and get our stuff published in mainstream peer-reviewed journals. But I don’t see this as ultimately an institutional war. It’s a war of ideas, and that war will be won by developing ID into a fruitful scientific research program, even though we’ve got one hand tied behind our back.
** Aren’t the power women just more likely to be noticed if they do? If a female head of state was sleeping around, people might tend to notice it more than if the waitress at the Hillbilly Hash was.
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