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The problem with America's colleges -
September 9, 2002 8:17 PM   Subscribe

The problem with America's colleges - Are schools of higher education too liberal minded?
posted by Macboy (76 comments total)

 
Um. Excuse me. Isn't instilling liberal habits of mind the whole point of higher education?

Anyway, this line of trash has been peddled since Dinesh D'Souza did it (better), what, fifteen years ago now? What is wrong with these reactionaries that they won't settle for owning the economy? They always seem to want the impotent academy, as well.

Yawn and double yawn.
posted by adamgreenfield at 8:21 PM on September 9, 2002


Oh boy. David Horowitz. He spoke on my campus (Carolina, which some conservatives have called "the Berkeley of the East") last year. The Black Student Movement, Young Democrats and a raft of other left-leaning organizations staged a coordinated walkout 10 minutes into his speech. The College Republicans, who sponsored the event, were checking bookbags and purses for firecrackers, etc. as the audience filed in. Quite humorous.

Yes, academia leans left. But there isn't an impoversished hoarde of conservatives with PhDs out there who can't get professorships. Academia tends to turn people liberal, either for intellectual or self-perpetuating reasons. The reason faculty tend to be liberal is that those graduating with advanced degrees tend to be liberal.
posted by gsteff at 8:32 PM on September 9, 2002


Aren't liberals the only ones willing to work like dogs for crappy faculty wages? heh. Administration (Presidents, VPs and the like) is usually pretty conservative.

And our ultra-conservative student groups usually have no trouble finding a faculty sponsor, so it would seem we've got plenty of conservative faculty.
posted by whatnot at 8:37 PM on September 9, 2002


"... universities are effectively ruled by internal bureaucracies, which operate under a cloak of secrecy and are protected from oversight by privileges and traditions that date back to feudal times. "

And this is different from private enterprise how exactly? And for the love of pete please don't say stockholders. The stockholders really had a handle on that whole Enron thing eh?

gsteff: Academia tends to turn people liberal, either for intellectual or self-perpetuating reasons. The reason faculty tend to be liberal is that those graduating with advanced degrees tend to be liberal.

Perfectly put. Kind of the same correlation you find with prejudice, discriminatory beliefs, superstitions, and belief in primitive religion. These all tend to change markedly with education. If you ask me, the universities are doing their job.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:38 PM on September 9, 2002


That article is so, so true. Admittedly, I am currently attending university in a part of my country notorious for being very Left, but I find that the students' society and other university publications "encourage diverse viewpoints" only as long as they're Marxist-feminist. Lower-case-c conservatism and anything smacking of -gasp- capitalism are extremely frowned upon.

Uh, my comments were so much more eloquent in my mind than on the screen, but you get the picture.

On preview, gsteff is right. Because people who aren't liberal are out there entering the professions and getting nicely paying jobs so we can buy the stuff we feel compelled to buy by our ultra-consumeristic-post-modern society.
posted by kate_fairfax at 8:38 PM on September 9, 2002


OK. Let's cut to the chase here.

Do smart people lean to the left?

And if so, why?

I have thoughts about this, do you?
posted by kozad at 8:42 PM on September 9, 2002


The liberalist of the liberals has got to be right here in Northern California at UC Berkeley. I'm hardly conservative, but I was amazed by the 9/11 controversy.
posted by entrustNoOne at 8:46 PM on September 9, 2002


kozod: Nobody said anything about smart people, per se. We were talking about academics.

Not the same thing a'tall.

Of course, I wanna be an academic...
posted by stet at 8:47 PM on September 9, 2002


I love the way he blames the faculty for students not being conservative enough. Is it the schools' fault that young people skew liberal and old people skew conservative? I'd think Mr. Horowitz would be happy that the low-voter-turnout yunguns are libs while the supervoter geezers are cons.

And wait a minute. I go to Oberlin College, considered one of the most Liberal colleges in the country. I walk around with shirts extoling the virtues of various weapons systems and get nary a stare. While usually quite the leftist liberal, I have a few out-there right-wing beliefs, and I certainly have no tolerance for the [scare quotes]party line[/scare quotes]. But I've certainly never been singled out for being different, and in fact I've been told by one student that people like me are "...why [he] came to Oberlin." (I blame MeFi)

So perhaps the situation isn't quite as dire David H. seems to think.
posted by Ptrin at 8:50 PM on September 9, 2002


Who says wages are necessarily crappy for profs? We're not talking public elementary and secondary school teachers here (most of whom are, I'd bet, more conserative than the average collegiate prof - even engineering profs, just not econ profs). Also, if college and univesity professors are so anti-business and powerful, why do they put up with the large, well-funded business schools? They're virtually always the nicest on campus. The same question applies to why faculty put up with corporate sponsorship of programs in almost every discipline.
posted by raysmj at 8:51 PM on September 9, 2002


"Do smart people lean to the left?

And if so, why?"


Their right legs are longer?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:53 PM on September 9, 2002


MeFite #1: My school is more liberal than yours is!

MeFite #2: Is not!

MeFite #1: Is too! Our Chancellor is a feminist!

MeFite #2: Yeah, well our whole faculty is gay!
posted by gsteff at 8:54 PM on September 9, 2002


kozad: Do smart people lean to the left? And if so, why?

Yes. The easy answer is because they are correct. :-)

But, more importantly, the true measure of intelligence and wisdom is knowing that you do not know it all.

American conservatism, on the other hand, tells you that they have the answer to everything if you'd just quit thinking and do as they say. It's all in this one little book and this one little piece of very early legislation. That's all you need to know.

Rush Limbaugh and "that woman" (I don't want another thread about her) can be summed up very easily as "know-it-alls".

Liberals realize there are tough problems in the world with difficult and sometimes mysterious solutions. Liberals realize the world is a myriad of greys, with very few black and white areas. Conservatism relies on the supernatural (i.e. religion) moreso than they do critical thought.

Conservatives are a primitive, superstitious lot. I don't know why people were surprised that Ronald Reagan, the poster child of modern American conservatism, used an astrologer. I would have been surprised if he didn't.

And it's precisely why the current administration puts more stock in the 3 letters CEO than PhD

It's not all in that one little book or else we would have figured it out already, sparky. I'm not saying it's not a good book, but damn, sometimes you have to look past the rhetoric and realize very very little of the world you live in fits your source material.

It's the same reason that I mentioned above about how the more education one has, the less likely to believe in such things as superstition. Education broadens your mind (if successful). After a master's degree (MBAs do not count) most people realize that the preacher in their little church back home didn't have a monopoly on what is "right".
posted by Ynoxas at 9:02 PM on September 9, 2002


The reason faculty tend to be liberal is that those who can't do, teach.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 9:05 PM on September 9, 2002


As a dyed in the wool liberal, one of the things I've learned to do is notice and avoid stereotyping. Even ones about conservatives, ynoxas. The Republican party platform is consistant and intelligent. The differences are ones of values, not basic competence. As a liberal, I value social safety nets more than maximum economic efficiency. I detest curbs on freedom of speech more than I detest hate-speech and blatant immorality. But conservatives are not "a primitive, superstitious lot."
posted by gsteff at 9:08 PM on September 9, 2002


The thing Horowitz et al keep forgetting to mention is that colleges are self-selecting communities. Liberal students and liberal academics congregate at schools with liberal reputation; same for conservatives. And he obviously doesn't live in the South, where there are plenty of large, thriving, majority-conservative colleges (the faculty may still be left-of-center, but the students go in conservative and come out...still conservative).

What looks like ideological homogenity from the outside doesn't necessarily translate into uniformity of opinion within the community. My school is nicknamed the "Diversity University" and was supposedly the model for "PCU." It's true that the right is greatly underrepresented, but the debates between members of different leftist groups are far more informed, challenging, and passionate than the ones I saw between mainline Democrats and Republicans back home. We have plenty of ideological diversity--just on different issues than Horowitz expects.
posted by hippugeek at 9:15 PM on September 9, 2002


I would rather sit through twice in some of the more boring lectures i have heard in college in the past two years. Then hear one more leftwing/rightwing rant session that has seemed to take over some of my classes now and then. For Jesus H. Christ what do's political ideology have to do with a Programming class anyway?
posted by Dreamghost at 9:15 PM on September 9, 2002


gsteff: my reference to their primitive and superstitious ways is because in American conservatism you cannot separate the religious doctrine from the politics.

You can dress the pig up any way you want but it's still a pig.

I live in the buckle of the bible belt. You can't step 2 feet through conservative country with out them wanting to put a "10 commandments" plaque on any flat surface large enough to hold it, making sure the kids pray before school, and any other myriad of faith-based initiatives.

Most conservatives are not ashamed of this, they hold it as their banner. They are proud of their faith-based initiatives. Bush has vowed to bring his faith-based initiatives back to the forefront despite this little war on terrorism aside.

School vouchers? Most private schools are backed by a faith organization. Removing limitations on faith based organizations to lobby and donate to political causes.

These are successes to the conservatives. These are the types of actions they are proud of. I'm not doing them any disservice by assigning them this way. I'm beating their own drum!

And as far as stereotyping you must at some point assign attributes to the groups you are discussing or you cannot discuss them in the aggregate.

My religion is science, reason, and logic. Thank god I had professors who taught me this.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:21 PM on September 9, 2002


Ynoxas, conservative is NOT the same as religious right. It's possible to be conservative and agnostic at the same time.
posted by kate_fairfax at 9:22 PM on September 9, 2002


Dreamghost, nothing I can think of with a Programming Class, but anything like History, Political Science, or any English (literature or research) it does matter. I have had many a professor and TA try to shove some dogma down my throat.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 9:23 PM on September 9, 2002


ynoxas: Sorry, the stereotyping comment was a cheap shot. Attributes must be assigned, duh. My bad.

I guess I'm saying that the evil-witch-demons running the Republican party and deciding what the conservative agenda is are not stupid or superstitious. There are of course, lots of closed-minded, intellectually blind followers in the Republican party. There are also lots of close-minded, fanatical democrats. I suppose I would agree the elephants have more though (although I'm preaching to the converted).

I'm saying that the ideals and policy of conservatives, as set by the party elders, are not models of incompetence, primitiveness, or superstitiousness.
posted by gsteff at 9:32 PM on September 9, 2002


kate: as a canadian, you may not be best suited for determining what makes up what I keep referring to (purposefully) as American conservatism.

In some parts of the world, such as Britain, liberal and conservative are primarily economic terms.

In other parts, such as Iran and America, they have a decidedly different meaning.

I refuse to debate which party is more religiously biased. It is self evident to anyone who has even a modicum of objectivity.

gstef: understood :)

I guess maybe the better way to say this is... since most universities teach science over religion, they are necessarily more "liberal" by the commonly accepted American definition (see above).

Unless the school is a theological seminary, you are much more likely to hear about evolution than creation. This is of course anathema to conservatives.

Again, I am doing them no disservice. Most American conservatives will tell you they would prefer creation being taught over evolution. They are non-apologetic about this so I won't pretend to do it for them.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:38 PM on September 9, 2002


i>Conservatives are a primitive, superstitious lot. I don't know why people were surprised that Ronald Reagan, the poster child of modern American conservatism, used an astrologer. I would have been surprised if he didn't.

Ynoxas

That is a troll, and if Metafilter had an ignore list, you would be the first name I put on mine. You also conveniently ignore the fact that Hillary Clinton had some sort of quasi seance where she had a pretend conversation with Eleanor Roosevelt, or that President Jimmy Carter had a UFO sighting.
posted by Beholder at 9:38 PM on September 9, 2002


I have heard conservatives bemoan the high representation of liberals among academics (and actors) for as long as I can remember. By definition, academics have to be inquisitive; that is recognize that there are things that they do not understand and that there would be value in reaching that understanding. In other words, they tend to put value on ideas and things outside themselves. People who think they already have all the answers rarely seek academic careers.

It is no wonder then, that people with the inclination and inquisitiveness to become academics are drawn to being liberals (first in the philosophical sense and then in the political.) After all, a key part of the definition of liberal is "open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded."

I believe similar arguments could be made for why actors are so predominantly liberal. People who are drawn to a field in which it is important "understand" any character, no matter what the background or mind-set are probably going to be drawn to political philosophies in which multiple perspectives are valued.

To me, this article overlooks this important congruence between liberalism and academia. It is as silly as an article bemoaning the lack of liberals in the armed forces.
posted by Tallguy at 9:42 PM on September 9, 2002


academics are usually more sheltered from the rest of life, are more loathe to risk all the years they have slaved away at their education for death, and are more apt to hold in their minds the specter of negative consequences of violence and other serious confrontations.

This is not necessarily good or bad, just that, it's true. Since when have you met a warmongering "liberal". Whether or not the reasons are good, would any of you really trust in a war establishment run by academics? They would be loathe to send their students, young and promising, to die, and rightly so, but perhaps be too totally spineless, dismantling or despising the military (this they already do), relying on their highminded loftyness as an example to the world.. a world which would quickly take whatever material worth having from the academics.

No matter, they are probably anti-materialist too ;)

Granted, I am generalizing on the personality and outlook of academics, but only to see the innate tendencies of such a path of life.

There are examples from history as well. Just as bad is the possible disdain the liberal arts people have for the practical disciplines.. This has been shown to topple countries, induce worldwide paradigm shifts and fundamentally alter the power structure and cultural climate of the world, friends.

btw in the article Horowitz refers to the original meaning of liberal when mentioning liberal education. Or some such, but just know that he changes, or rather reverts, the definition.

I am still a foolish college student, and have recently been influenced by 19th century liberal ideals, but even so, the above hold valid with regards to military capability and similar situations as well as the danger of disdain for science and practicality.
posted by firestorm at 9:45 PM on September 9, 2002


actors are empathic and pleasure seeking.

Sometimes they are wussy. Sometimes they lack much education. Sometimes they are extremely full of themselves.
Sometimes there *are* really cool people among them.

But you cannot expect them to conquer and rule the world. Except in a fit of megalomania.
posted by firestorm at 9:50 PM on September 9, 2002


Beholder: glad you're so open minded. Feel free to ignore my posts as you see fit.

Metafilter tried-and-true tactic #1: Anything you disagree with label as a troll. I get so sick of reading this. You find it on most any thread of sufficient length. It deserves its own Godwin-like law.

And it's not a troll by even a very loose definition because I don't WANT a response. It's a statement of fact, reinforced by Reagan biographers and Nancy's own admission. There is nothing to be said.

The only response I want is "yeah, he's right". Save your accusations for some of the obvious offenders instead of those that at least make an effort.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:50 PM on September 9, 2002


Would I get things thrown at me if I posited that perhaps educated right-wingers eventually turn into libertarians?
posted by tirade at 9:52 PM on September 9, 2002


Conservativism: The Ignore List for the Real World
posted by crasspastor at 9:52 PM on September 9, 2002


Well said, Tallguy. Your post harks back to the first post by adamgreenfield - the idea of higher education is to liberate the mind, to make it open to new ideas, hence, of COURSE it's going to be liberal. You don't attend university to be taught creationism, or to be taught about your own country's limited belief and political systems. You attend university to learn about the broad topic of biology, based on evolution, or you attend to learn about politics in general, including socialist/other persuasions. Conservatives have been complaining about "liberal bias" in higher education since adam was a boy, but it only appears as liberal bias because the range of knowledge, being so broad, takes into account more liberal views than expressed by mainstream society.
posted by Jimbob at 9:55 PM on September 9, 2002


The troll part is in making a clearly unjustified blanket condemnation. Ynoxas, I am an American - hell, a Texan - agnostic, and I lean to the conservative side of the fence as a matter of fiscal and social policy. Religion has nothing to do with my political opinions, and I know a number of conservatives who are actively uncomfortable with being automatically lumped together with the religious right.

Is there a problem on college campuses? Maybe it is just me, but it strikes me as particularly disturbing when the liberal left shows itself every bit as willing to stifle speech they do not like as any arch conservative. Shouldn't a liberal be front and center in defending free speech? Whatever happened to the principle of "I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it?" (And to be fair, this desire to squelch unwelcome messages is prevalent on both sides of the political fence... it just seems more understandable somehow from a hard right viewpoint.)
posted by John Smallberries at 9:57 PM on September 9, 2002


Conservatives are a primitive, superstitious lot.
Ynoxas


I simply can't believe, that you don't think that comment is a troll, so we'll have to agree to disagree.

Conservativism: The Ignore List for the Real World.
crasspastor


Another snarky and unnecessary comment that accomplishes absolutely nothing, except to make the poster feel better about themselves.

I wonder if people deliberately sabotage message threads they don't agree with, in order to scare away discussion. Probably not, but sometimes I wonder.
posted by Beholder at 10:32 PM on September 9, 2002


this desire to squelch unwelcome messages is prevalent on both sides of the political fence... it just seems more understandable somehow from a hard right viewpoint.

That may be in itself the most damning statement of the conservative movement in the entire thread. Ouch.

Nobody seems to be mentioning the fact that Horowitz is very much a lapsed liberal - but maybe that's not meaningful.
posted by Nicolae Carpathia at 10:38 PM on September 9, 2002


(apologies- long, feel free to skip.)

" ... outside the hard sciences and practical professions, there is no bottom-line in the university for bad ideas or discredited doctrines."


The bottom line for "bad ideas" and "discredited doctrines" has nothing to do with money, and everything to do with your values system. The point of study, questioning, intellectual analysis and debate is to clarify what those values and assumptions are, to clarify what facts are applicable or valid, and to clarify the line of reasoning that leads you to your conclusions. The struggle against all ideas that are bad and evil is not an intellectual pursuit; it's a theological or moral question. To my mind, the question of "which ideas are bad" is far too important to be left to the intellectuals alone. The best we can hope for from the academy is a clear picture of what we're looking at and why we think that way.

As for the math teacher going off topic and digressing into a political diatribe ... humans are emotional animals, and even science majors need some exposure to this fact once in a while. Not too long ago, a retired political science professor did something similar to me, re-living the cold war so vividly that it appeared Khruschchev was still banging his shoe on the table while we liberals stubbornly refused to denounce Stalin ... As always, my replies that I didn't like Stalin either, and that Soviet Union has been gone over ten years, made no impact whatsoever; it was liberals like me supporting Stalinism that would make the Soviet system take over the world. Yup. (Wonder whether modern Russians, who are up to their ears in alligators, ever get to chuckle that they're about to take over.)

The proposal for promoting "diverse and under-represented mainstream perspectives" is rather interesting. Might I point out that Yale, by virtue of its deep pockets and proximity to NYC and DC, appears to have little difficulty attracting those underrepresented Establishment types. The current "representation" issue in academia is largely a result of self-selection by the few people who are willing to pay off grad student loans on part-time adjunct professorships / give public lectures without a speaker's honorarium or plane tickets. What would be an "appropriate political representation quota" anyway-- as determined by CNN phone calls to 1,073 households over a period of three days with two to three percent accuracy? Should the political representation quota be based on the politics of the students' families, by the community in which the university is located, by the politics of the students' future projected employers, by the politics of the students' future projected communities of residence, by a political survey of the county, region, or nation as a whole? Should small private colleges be subject to political quotas too? This "political representation" business in universities worked great for Chairman Mao and the comrades from poor peasant families, so perhaps it bears some further consideration as a means of prioritizing those with desirable Communist, I mean, Corporate employment prospects in higher education.

The practicality of prohibiting political indoctrination also seems dubious to me. Other than saintly individuals like Thich Nhat Hanh or the Dalai Lama, how many people can be reasonably expected to present their point of view without somehow attempting to persuade or pressure you into agreeing with them?
posted by sheauga at 10:43 PM on September 9, 2002


This thread has been most illuminating. Always knew some of these ideas were held privately - just didn't think people would actually blurt them out. The thread actually quite nicely confirms the poiint of the article. It is positively stunning how utterly close-minded the liberal mindset produced by the academy really is. Most academics are liberals because they are right? Because intelligent people naturally become liberal? Because liberals are naturally more open-minded?!!! There's a series of posts in this thread that are about as close minded as it is possible to get about anything remotely resembling conservative thought.

What is clear is that if some of the ideas mentioned here are the product of US colleges - then they are most clearly not only teaching an extremely one-sided view of America, but presnting a view of conservatives that is simply flat out wrong (in "objective" terms).

Probably should just mention a couple of points ...

1. "Conservatives go into the private sector because that's where the money is".

Sorry - the liberal college professor that preaches to his class about the oppression of the masses is probably making 60K or 70K a year, for 9 months of work. And commonly is doing consulting on the side as well. Further, with tenure, he's pretty much locked in for life. Many "conservatives" would consider that quite a lucrative career.

2. "Rush Limbaugh, and close-minded religious freaks are representative of what "conservative" means".

Right, and Michael Moore, and radical eco-terrorists are representative of what "liberal" means.

3. Kate.

You rock.
posted by MidasMulligan at 10:48 PM on September 9, 2002


this desire to squelch unwelcome messages is prevalent on both sides of the political fence... it just seems more understandable somehow from a hard right viewpoint.

That may be in itself the most damning statement of the conservative movement in the entire thread. Ouch.


Well, I think what John was saying was that conservatives are more often labeled pro-censorship by liberals, and that it is odd to see liberals - who pride themselves on their openmindedness - will often participate in one of the very things for which they condemn conservatives, and against which they claim to be fighting.
posted by tirade at 10:51 PM on September 9, 2002


After further thought on it, I would like to replace the word "understandable" - it isn't - with "expected". Perhaps this is just an image in my mind, and off base, but I have always associated the silencing of dissent with fascism, which leads me to expect that sort of behavior from those politically to the right of, say, the Sheriff of Nottingham. So when I see the same exact sort of behavior from those who purport to be liberal, it strikes me as even more obnoxious than it does coming from right.

Horowitz is indeed a lapsed liberal... but truly I don't see the significance in that, except that he can say he has seen both sides of the fence.
posted by John Smallberries at 10:51 PM on September 9, 2002


In a History Class i might think it's important to talk about Politics relating to the Subject or Civilization your discussing. But I think political & religious Dogmas have no place in a Math or Science Related Class or Art for that matter.

There are plenty of places this day in age to make your opinion known. I'm not on Daddy's stipend I have to pay for my classes, books, supplies upfront. So I think I should get what I actually paid for. I'm in school to learn A trade to better myself not to hear about how Bush is a idiot or Clinton disgraced our nation.

Don't take me wrong I like talking politics and having debates among friends & family. I also like to hear what everybody has to say before I pass judgement on a issue. But a College Programming class is not either the proper place or time to talk about Dubya or Monica.

Furthermore on reading the comments about this article I belive more has been focused on left vs right then the authors underlining point. Why the author surely has a conservative bias he do's bring up a good point. Why should a school only teach or praise one ideology. If they really belive there ideology is best then they should have no problem presenting both sides equally. Why dig there grave when they can do it for you?
posted by Dreamghost at 10:58 PM on September 9, 2002


They generally DO present both sides; people are just so used to only hearing about ONE side that they think hearing all sides equates to liberal bias (sound familiar, right-wingers?). I took one politics subject at uni, Environmental Politics, sort of an introduction to politics for students taking environmental science / studies / management courses. The lecturer spent the first 4 weeks giving us a run down on various philosophies, from Marxism to neo-Liberalism, from Anarchism to religious-right philosophies as they relate to environmental issues (which kind of come out as "Don't worry about the environment, Jesus will be back soon!" in my opinion). In any case, I thought he presented an even, informative, un-biased point of view. It was analytic, he invited audience discussion. Some fellow Environmental Science students didn't feel the same way; they very mention of the word Socialist sent them running scared.

After 5 weeks, I was the only Science student who hadn't quit the subject; my fellow Science students, being a fairly conservative lot, couldn't handle hearing BOTH sides of the story, and soidentified the lecturer as being biased.
posted by Jimbob at 11:32 PM on September 9, 2002


Well, I think what John was saying was that conservatives are more often labeled pro-censorship by liberals, and that it is odd to see liberals - who pride themselves on their openmindedness - will often participate in one of the very things for which they condemn conservatives, and against which they claim to be fighting.

Yes. This is the essence. Whenever conservatives, and their relative lock on big business are brought up, it is alledged to be unfair, because it is a "good ol boys club" that protects its own, and tightly controls membership. Yet when the virtually complete lock liberals have on the academy (and the lifetime tenure that goes with jobs there) is brought up - the reasons mentioned are everything but the single most obvious one: That they completely control who gets PhD's, and who doesn't. Completely control which dissertation subject matter is "correct", and which isn't. In short, that they behave in precisely the ways they condemn conservatives for behaving.

There is one big difference between the two cases though. You can hate GE - and not buy their products or their stock. You can think Enron is corrupt and unethical - and when they're caught, they go out of business. If, however, you run into a college professor, that gets paid in part by your own tax dollars, and s/he teaches your own children that the political orientation you've arrived at (through the sort of "open-minded inquiry" that is supposedly priviledged) is deeply wrong, corrupt, or even goes so far as to imply it is evil ... well, there is absolutely nothing you can do. Your taxes will still pay his/her salary. It's more than just a "good ol boys and girls club". Its a good ol boys and girls club funded by your taxes.
posted by MidasMulligan at 11:33 PM on September 9, 2002


Horowitz is not a 'lapsed liberal', he's gone well beyond any right to call himself that. He likes to say that he is because it spins well, it makes him look as though he has gone through some kind of realization process, ridding himself of error. What he is is a conservative troll who belongs in the company of O'Reilly, Limbaugh, and Coulter. He stopped questioning 'his side' years ago, if he ever did question. And he's long since stopped listening to the 'other side's' answers to his questions. That's the most annoying thing about these trolls - they keep asking the same bullshit questions over and over and over, no matter what answers they get or what attempts are made to engage them in dialogue.

Academia does suffer from political correctness, and it is worse off for it. But what dumbasses like Horowitz consistently fail to realise is that political correctness is relative. Sure, as a faculty member you're probably too timid to say what you 'really think' if it is contrary to the 'left-wing agenda'. But a similar kind of timidity pervades the business boardroom; the average board member of, say, an insurance company would be too timid to advocate for socialized medicine, or against a discriminatory policy (gays, single mothers, blacks, whatever).

The conflation of 'political correctness' with the 'left-wing' is an error, and it's a stupid, dangerous, arrogant error because it allows conservatives to bask in the illusion that their thought processes are somehow free of influence from each other and from ideology.

What I suggest is that the minute you start thinking of yourself as a liberal, a conservative, a pro-this or anti-that, you seriously re-evaluate your position to make sure that your beliefs are consistent with each other and with observed fact. Ideology is an excuse to stop thinking. It ought to be an excuse to stop talking, but unfortunately, it's not.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 11:37 PM on September 9, 2002


...and s/he teaches your own children that the political orientation you've arrived at (through the sort of "open-minded inquiry" that is supposedly priviledged) is deeply wrong, corrupt, or even goes so far as to imply it is evil ... well, there is absolutely nothing you can do.

Does this mean you feel your own children should have no right to their OWN voyage of discovery? That they should just blindly follow whatever political pursuasion you have come up with, and damn anyone who tries to teach them different? That if your child decides gets involved with progressive politics, it's the fault of the professor? Sounds like the religious conservatives, desperate to protect their children from dangerous ideas (like evolution) that might lead them to questioning their faith.
posted by Jimbob at 11:43 PM on September 9, 2002


1. "Conservatives go into the private sector because that's where the money is".

Sorry - the liberal college professor that preaches to his class about the oppression of the masses is probably making 60K or 70K a year, for 9 months of work.


Associates and fulls might make that, except at very good schools in very expensive areas (and the inevitable odd exception).

Your bog-standard assistant prof is likely to be pulling down $35K-55K, and there are an awful lot of small schools (with an awful lot of profs) at the $35K end.

At your standard Big State U, call it $50K.

And it's normally more like 8 months work; you're forgetting Christmas.

And commonly is doing consulting on the side as well. Further, with tenure, he's pretty much locked in for life. Many "conservatives" would consider that quite a lucrative career.

The absolute value of the salary isn't what's relevant, really. What would make it lucrative or not would be how much money being a prof gets you, compared to what you could get elsewhere.

And are there teeming hordes of profs who are taking a pay cut to be there? Yup. Even in fields like poli-sci, your boring standard professor is going to be a highly numerate analyst, mostly. People like, well, me are ripe (and not infrequent) fodder for headhunting into MBA-boot-camp. I've even known people (not necessarily poli-sci) who were dismissed from their university and immediately took better-paying jobs doing essentially vastly-less-demanding versions of the research half of their jobs.

Don't get me wrong, it's a great life and I haven't traded it for anything, yet, but academia *does* have a large number of people who've quite knowingly chosen Other Things over money.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:49 PM on September 9, 2002


Conservative candidates campaign on a platform of anti-intellectualism, for Christ's sake. "While the left is locked away in its ivory tower growing obese, out of touch and amoral, the right is busy rolling up its sleeves and goddamnit-going-to-work right alongside Joe and Jane Lunchbucket! Look over here! See? President Bush is holding a hammer!"

Of course liberals are by and large more intelligent than conservatives. It's hardly even a matter of debate at this point in the game, don't you think? Clearly, there are deviations, but if anyone had the nuts to study it (a quick Google reveals nothing), I'm sure it's demonstratable statistically. Certainly, it has been my experience that disproportionately many of the most intelligent, thoughtful people I've known have been liberal. I know a good many brilliant conservatives as well, but one gets the feeling that it was a lamentable side-effect of their upbringing rather than something they arrived at honestly.

And "open-mindedness?" Forget it. Not on this issue. If I'm immoral and unpatriotic, like the Republican party says I am, then there's no reason to stand on ceremony and pretend for their sake that the right wing is anything but ass-backwards and hopelessly behind the curve.
posted by Hildago at 11:49 PM on September 9, 2002


Midas:
That they completely control who gets PhD's, and who doesn't. Completely control which dissertation subject matter is "correct", and which isn't. In short, that they behave in precisely the ways they condemn conservatives for behaving.

I don't know what timeline you're posting from, but in mine, I've yet to hear of a dissertation being canned because it wasn't sufficiently lefty.

I've heard of dissertations being canned because they were proving a formal result that turned out to be already proven; oops.

I've not heard of but can imagine a dissertation being canned because the author screwed up the methods sufficiently badly that he wasn't showing what he thought he was. But only a negligent committee would let things go that far before getting the author to do it right.

I've heard of dissertations that were canned because they'd be impossible to complete in any sane timeframe.

I've certainly known many a dissertation that self-obliterated because the author got bored and took a job doing something else.

But I've never even *heard* of a committee canning a dissertation because the topic was too non-leftist, at least not in poli-sci.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:05 AM on September 10, 2002


"Sorry - the liberal college professor that preaches to his class about the oppression of the masses is probably making 60K or 70K a year, for 9 months of work."

I've gotta call bullshit on that, MidasMulligan, on a few different counts: First, your caricature is as blatant a straw man as there ever was.

Name a *specific* professor *documented* to make that or anything close to it, *on the record* speaking to the "oppression of the masses," and I'll take you a little more seriously.

More importantly, though, that's not how the academy works. For many, many courses, the instructor is likely to be a grad-student adjunct or "TA," worked like a dog for *maybe* a high-twenties salary. And it's not like they summer on Ibiza either. It's a full-time, year-round commitment.
posted by adamgreenfield at 12:30 AM on September 10, 2002


Speaking as a liberal, there is one important reason that I believe Horowitz is correct here. The left has allowed itself to become insulated and stultified, often unable to make arguments that boil down to much more than "but this way, we all get to feel nice". By systematically mining out of the faculty and, by extension, the student body, anyone who offers strong counter-arguments, they fall to arguing amongst themselves and rote demonizations. The spectre of PC, no matter how casually it may be invoked by the other side, is a real one that shuts out many avenues of debate. In the end, the left is weakened by only having to persuade the persuaded.

A left that opens up academia will be a stronger left. It's a new century, with new political paradigms. The Cold War is history, dustier by the day. The left needs to rethink a hell of a lot -- and I don't mean esoteric reworkings of century-old critiques of capitalism, a la Empire. In fact, I suspect that book is a checklist of everything that's wrong with the left today.
posted by dhartung at 12:35 AM on September 10, 2002


That whole ivory-tower, hothouse-flower thing cuts both ways, too. Looking back at the Nobel Prizes in economics for the last twenty years, for instance, I see that the vast majority of the recipients are not economists at all, but econometricians. Talk about a group that has very little contact with the on-the-ground reality of what they are studying. ( I cribbed that idea from Lester Thurow, by the way.) As a Keynesian with anarcho-syndicalist sympathies, I think they're all a bunch of Chicago-school free-market monetarist ideologues, enforcing a uniformity of thought on the right, not the left.

(On preview - the spell checker isn't into anarcho-syndicalism; it thinks I'm either a neocolonialist or a kangaroo.)
posted by Nicolae Carpathia at 12:45 AM on September 10, 2002


Go brother, resist the capitalist spell-checking oppressor!
posted by Grangousier at 1:56 AM on September 10, 2002


After the relatively cautious environment of high school curricula, I found it refreshing to be taking college courses from professors whose lessons were blatantly informed by their own biases. I had an economics professor who taught that minimum wage laws are stupid, and a latin american history professor who taught that most of latin america's problems are the fault of the United States. I didn't agree with either, but the last thing I wanted was for some government regulatory committee to compel those professors to teach more moderate ideas. Just like supreme court justices, college professors are entitled to lifetime positions in order to prevent exactly the kind of intereference that Horowitz is talking about. They don't care what the current political winds outside the campus are saying about their discipline, and they don't have to.
posted by bingo at 3:10 AM on September 10, 2002


Horowitz is a troll himself. Since the political conservatives lost the USSR as bad guys, they (some of them, at least) have been shifting to an attack on academics.

One of the habits of mind which Horowitz and others of all political stripes make use of when conducting polemics is to take isolated, non-representative examples and allow them to be understood tacitly as representative. There are dogmatic profs on the left, there are fools and knaves, etc. And Ann C. did say she wished that McVeigh had bombed a building in Times Square instead of OKC. But they aren't necessarily typical, and treating them as such plays into this propaganda game.

Responsible academics (who by the way make a comfortable living, generally well below what doctors and lawyers and corporate managers make, but above most jobs done with physical labor) try to acquaint students with fuller contexts than they may have from the general culture, and then leave matters open to them. There are irresponsible academics, just as there are incompetent doctors, lawyers who sleep through trials, and so on. But it's not a plot.
posted by palancik at 4:19 AM on September 10, 2002


Didn't anyone notice that Horowitz's example of real-life "indoctrination" on campus occurred in 1986, involved not himself but a friend, and the friend resisted the "indoctrination?"

When I was a journalism student at the University of North Texas in the early 80s, I often interviewed the rising star of the economics department, a conservative economist with a sparkling sense of humor who enjoyed explaining the Laffer Curve. His name was Dick Armey.

I've had only one teacher who tried to indoctrinate his students -- a seventh-grade social studies teacher who was a John Bircher, and who spent all our classroom time extolling the virtues of market capitalism and explaining why any government regulation was a form of communism. The highlight of that trimester was the week when he read aloud a Readers Digest-published book (not a condensed book, but a novel that was nothing but a conservative tract published by Readers Digest) about a poor guy who just wanted to build his own house but was stymied at every turn by zoning boards, inspectors, liberal neighbors, and so on.

He liked to tell us that Adolf Hitler was for gun control.

Anyway, that's the extent of my educational indoctrination, and it wasn't by a liberal. In fact, it was by an ultraconservative who was lecturing to middle schoolers, not university students. And my university welcomed a diversity of opinion among faculty and students. How about yours?
posted by Holden at 5:42 AM on September 10, 2002


When I was in High School my Econ teacher (who was also the school coach) spent 9 weeks drilling us on William Simon's A Time For Truth. He instructed us to read each chapter ourselves, then he read it aloud to us in class, then we were expected to summarize what we read and turn it in to him. I don't recall ever taking a similar little red book approach with any liberal or lefty text in either HS or college.

Then I attended a liberal arts college where the President of the college once remarked that he'd have to hire "nothing but marxists for the next 20 years just to tilt the campus toward the center." (a comment greeted with much self-satisfied smugness among most of the moderately-to-extremely conservative faculty and student body.) The current chairman of the Econ Dept there is an ex-CIA man who recently added one of his buds from this place to the department. Said bud is also a member of CAPO and links directly from his departmental page to this site. Creation Studies! What will those wacky liberals do next?

Meanwhile Horowitz continues to recycle the same tired, resentful agitprop he was writing 15 years ago. "The liberals are takin' over! The liberals are takin' over!" For a man who espouses a political philosophy that professes to despise victimhood, Horowitz certainly has made a career of being a victim.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:09 AM on September 10, 2002


So how did I get to be a liberal wing-nut?

As a positional statement, I grew up Southern Baptist, in the bible belt, and was an economics undergraduate student at a state university and an economics graduate student at a well-known private university.

The state school could not have been more moderate. This reflects many state schools because they do not wish to risk funding cuts initiated by either side. The private school had a definite leaning to the right, and enough endowment to do basically whatever they wanted. The fact it was created by a robber-baron of the guilded age might have something to do with that.

I was a raving liberal and I stood out like a sore thumb, both in the student body and the faculty. Conservatives in the south are pretty much standard fare now.

And Nicolae, I believe Econometricians will be the downfall of economics as a discipline. We are turning economics over to the mathematicians when economics is clearly a social science. Recommended reading: "The Decline of Economics" by John Cassidy, The New Yorker, December 1996

I feel strongly about the world of academia because I want to join it. If I do, it will be about a $15k a year loss for me. The intellectual freedom it affords, on both sides of the political spectrum, is what draws me to it. I am not out to make a buck. I am out to make a difference.

And I most certainly believe in the "I disagree with you but will fight to my death to defend your right to say it", but I certainly will try to illuminate someone on why they are wrong and point out the monkey on their shoulder when there are glaring differences between what they are saying and what the facts are.

I don't really have a point to this post except to show where I come from and that I believe the way I do "despite" my situation, not because of it. I was certainly not indoctrinated by the left. I've got to investigate some of these "left" schools where they apparently preach Marx in the econ department...

I was shown tools to critically evaluate situations, to make measured judgements about them, and consider all sources, indeed go out-of-your-way to find opposing viewpoints.

THAT is what is valuable about higher education, if you will just stop and learn it.

And on preview: what octobersurprise said.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:41 AM on September 10, 2002


Once again, MeFi forces me to play devil's advocate against my own political leanings.

First of all, it isn't inherently 'Conservative' to be pro-censorship. Lieberman , Tipper, GLAD...etc. prove this every day. People in general don't grasp free speech. This isn't at all indigenous to Republicans.

It's inherently HUMAN to swing your pendulum all the way to one side, and it's inherently GOVERNMENT to exert power and squelch opposition. Anyone placing all of their trust in the 'Liberal' or 'Conservative' agenda is fooling themselves. People suck. Take 'Conservative' and run it as far right as you possibly can and you get facism. Take 'Liberal' and run it as far left as you possibly can and you get oppressive communist dictatorship. Either way it's people controlling people and foisting bullshit on them to keep them down.

Most 17 year olds going into college think that 'Liberal' means open mindedness, happy flowers, punk rock zines, environmentalism and feeding the homeless. It doesn't. It's the same rich white men in different suits, using a different vernacular.
posted by glenwood at 7:57 AM on September 10, 2002


I am very unconcerned about the political bias of the "core" liberal arts and social sciences faculties, especially at elite universities. While their registration is mostly Democrat, the scholarly standard of your typical English, Political Science, or History faculty at an elite school is so high that very little bad or flawed-through-bias research can get through. And a conservative student who does his reading and comes to class otherwise prepared is going to be embraced, not scorned. All the arch conservatives I knew in college had no trouble swinging their As.

Now, I'd say that if your politics inclines you to oppose what has become a status quo point of scholarship then the bar does get raised higher. Someone who wanted to write a paper, "The United States was right to fight in Viet Nam and wrong to withdraw in the early 1970s," is really going to have to have his ducks in a row, but that has ALWAYS been the case of students who want to challenge the accepted wisdom. Certainly, he'd face no higher bar in making out that thesis than would someone trying to make out the theis, the "US should not have entered World War Two in late 1941; Pearl Harbor was a provocation we should have ignored."

For me, the real problem is in the "new" disciplines, Peace Studies, Women's Studies, Ethnic Studies, etc. Very much unlike their traditional peers, these disciplines have poor scholarly standards, blatantly political objectives, openly discriminatory policies on grading, admission, and hiring, and many other flaws. In my view, every one of these departments shoudl be speedily abolished and their faculty and students left to sink or swim in real departments.
posted by MattD at 8:23 AM on September 10, 2002


I think Horowitz and good many others commenting in this thread seem to be focusing not on universities at large, but just on liberal arts departments, which aren't necessarily dominant in all schools. A lot of students and profs in computer science, engineering, physics, etc. are probably altogether apolitical and couldn't care less. When you're learning how to program computers, or designing a bridge, are the political leanings of you or your teacher going to matter anyhow? Probably not.

That said, there is a lot of that generic liberal gusto that goes around universities. I knew only two students who would call themselves conservatives when I went to school. There is a leftist slot that a lot of students fall into without questioning and it's more fashion than earnest commitment. It's a big clique, really, and as Midas and Dhartung mention above, it's not any more open-minded or progressive than the conservatives they poohpooh. It ends up taking the teeth out of debate and new ideas. In the end however, it's just a phase, and most college kids will go on to become average, politically apathetic adults.
posted by picea at 8:36 AM on September 10, 2002


Very much unlike their traditional peers, these disciplines have poor scholarly standards, blatantly political objectives, openly discriminatory policies on grading, admission, and hiring, and many other flaws.

I agree, although I'd vote to reform first. It's worth remembering that, in Britain, the entire concept of "modern history" (that is, Christian era) was regularly attacked through the end of the 19th c. as being both too easy and too political.

As I mentioned before, I became very skeptical of the "conservatives oppressed by liberals" line of argument as an undergraduate, when the leader of the campus Young Republicans whined that the leftist professors were grading him on his politics. He also mentioned that he never came to class if the instructor bored him. Several classes with--or is that without?--him later, I concluded that the actual problem was that he was just a lousy student. We had a similar case on my own campus; this time, a professor who actually shared several of this kid's political principles grumbled to me that, despite his loud screams of "oppression!," the real problem was that he couldn't manage English grammar. Contrariwise, I've known many unapologetically Christian (or otherwise religious), conservative, and libertarian students and academics who've done just fine with the most atheistic and left-wing faculty known to mankind. And unapologetically feminist or Marxist students who've done just fine with faculty who normally run screaming from such things.

Personally: I got my first A+ in a course from a genuine misogynist (he was notorious for destroying his female students). I wrote a doctoral dissertation that challenged a core point in feminist scholarship, under the direction of a noted feminist scholar--who loved it. I've published articles and delivered conference papers on the same topic--other feminists still love it. The one person who was sure that feminists would hate my work and call down the skies upon my head was a right-winger (who thought I was on the side of the angels). Meanwhile, when job-hunting I got interviewed by a search committee which, I was informed later, got hijacked by the resident conservatives; they offered the job to someone patently unqualified (wait, I thought only liberals did that?) and the dean canned the whole search. And the least ethical search in my experience was at a Christian college. I know one conservative professor who had to sue his liberal department to get promoted, and another liberal professor who had to deal with years of harassment and discriminatory behavior from her conservative colleagues (all of whom she was objectively outperforming).

In sum: both sides--in my personal experience, mind you--are perfectly happy to play these political games. Replacing the liberals with conservatives won't suddenly open up squashed realms of intellectual dissent--as anyone who inquires into the track records of Christian and conservative colleges surely realizes. (There's one Reformed college I know of where you can't get tenured unless you adhere to one professor's particular creationist beliefs. I fail to see how this improves on any possible leftist litmus test. And there are some conservatively-identified private institutions out there that scream "freedom," but have unbelievably awful records when it comes to the academic variety.) Genuine objectivity, as Thomas Haskell points out, isn't neutrality. I had a professor who fairly presented all sides of a particular argument and invited debate; we all knew where he stood, but he didn't measure the quality of our work by his own political rubric. By contrast, the professor who claimed that he wasn't imposing his politics on us...did. I much prefer the former approach, and do my best to emulate it.
posted by thomas j wise at 9:03 AM on September 10, 2002



For me, the real problem is in the "new" disciplines, Peace Studies, Women's Studies, Ethnic Studies, etc. Very much unlike their traditional peers, these disciplines have poor scholarly standards, blatantly political objectives, openly discriminatory policies on grading, admission, and hiring, and many other flaws.

So, assuming your flaws, if courses on these subjects satisfied high scholarly standards and were otherwise non-discriminatory, you'd agree that they are equally legitimate programs of study?

There is a leftist slot that a lot of students fall into without questioning and it's more fashion than earnest commitment. It's a big clique, really

I'm sure there are (though in my experience big lefty cliques are never as significant as the big righty/moderate cliques called fraternities and sororities, but YMMV).

thomas j wise: great anecdotes. How's Harry Buxton-Forman?
posted by octobersurprise at 9:17 AM on September 10, 2002


the liberally biased media, the liberal lockdown on campuses, liberal hollywood...methinks conservative pundits should kick the weed habit before their paranoia gets the best of them.
posted by mcsweetie at 10:23 AM on September 10, 2002


Did I miss this somewhere...

What's the old saying.... "Those who can't DO, teach"
posted by insulglass at 10:53 AM on September 10, 2002


Beholder: Another snarky and unnecessary comment that accomplishes absolutely nothing, except to make the poster feel better about themselves.

I notice you didn't call out Steve_at_Linwoods post above: The reason faculty tend to be liberal is that those who can't do, teach.

Could it be that only comments you disagree with are trolls, snarky, or unnecessary?

And on preview, you'd better call out insulglass for being snarky, unnecessary, and repetitive.
posted by pitchblende at 11:10 AM on September 10, 2002


thomas j wise: great anecdotes. How's Harry Buxton-Forman?

Ka-CHING!

I've been using this name in various on-line locales for approximately four years, and this was the first time somebody actually got the joke. I'm in shock. You wouldn't happen to be a Victorianist (or a bibliographer), would you?

(For those who haven't the slightest clue what we're talking about, see this exhibit at the University of Delaware.)
posted by thomas j wise at 11:24 AM on September 10, 2002


s/he teaches your own children that the political orientation you've arrived at...there is absolutely nothing you can do

Sure there is. Start your own university, teaching your ideals. If there's enough of a demand, the old, stifling ones will close down and no longer collect your taxes.
posted by zzero at 12:07 PM on September 10, 2002


octobersuprise: I don't think that new disciplines (Women's Studies, Peace Studies, Ethnic Studies, Ecology Studies, what have you) are inherently flawed.

The division of the liberal arts and social sciences into the present array of traditional departments was arbitrary and influenced by 19th century taxonomy of scholarship which should be no means be sacrosanct.

Many of those departments were formed out of a sense that the enlightenment disciplines left important things out of focus ... thus, the need for Political Science and Sociology, which certainly would not have struck John Harvard or Elihu Yale as particularly worthy of organizational parity with History or Mathematics.

There is no particular reason why that practice could not be repeated. It is not invalid to say, for example, that peace, as a subject matter and phenomenon, is left badly out of focus by history and political science and military science, which structurally treat peace as the prologue or the epilogue, not the thing itself, nor that economic history has always studied the advance of a white ownership class in the US without studying a non-white labor class with as much intensity.

My problem is bad motivations and bad conduct, which is so institutionally bred in the bone that there may be no saving the departments.

Peace Studies as presently constituted is not about understanding peace and peacemaking as a thing in itself, but about showing that the United States is an evil imperialist and that military force (unless exerted by the short and dark) is morally invalid.

Ethnic Studies department too often are not focused upon understanding ethnicities, particularly the phenomena of marginalized minorities in majority societies, but about creating the ideological superstructure for aggressively self-serving politics of certain favored minorities in the US and Europe, and advancing them locally by dispensing lots of A+ to people of the right skin color so that they can, together with affirmative action, plow their way into the top law schools and business schools.

Women's Studies is the weirdest one. Although your typical African American studies program has lots of decent scholarship and many interesting courses, flawed albeit by political agenda, at least the scholarship is trying, if not always succeeding, to address its subject matter sincerely and its politics are, one must say, broadly representative of what most African Americans would say their political interests are ... none of that is true of women's studies. I've never read a paper or an abstract tied to a WS department that didn't instantly strike me as rotten with bias ... and the politics are, rather than tied into actual women's desires and interests, are entirely the creature and servant of an infinitesimally tiny fraction of women, and largely inimical to the rest. There is absolutely no interest, or least sympathetic interest, with the desires and lifeways of the overwhelming majority of women, who are heterosexual, don't regard themselves as oppressed on account of gender, in or wishing to be in largely traditional marriages, and preferring of family above career where the two come into conflict. There is a positive seething hatred of the large minority of women who actively embrace religious or cultural models and beliefs that they see as "conservative."
posted by MattD at 12:11 PM on September 10, 2002


Since when have you met a warmongering "liberal"

Here's one.
posted by Summer at 1:26 PM on September 10, 2002


And on preview, you'd better call out insulglass for being snarky, unnecessary, and repetitive.

Well, I guess I DID miss it somewhere, Pitchblende. My bad. I hate getting called on the carpet for my first ever posting!

I'll try to do better.
posted by insulglass at 3:19 PM on September 10, 2002


My college experiences, which were roughly at the same time as Horowitz's, pretty much mirrored his experiences. What is interesting is that I thought I was a liberal when I went to college but they made a tried and true conservative out of me by the time I left - even though nearly every professor I had skewed hard left. The more they talked and the more I learned, the less sense they made - go figure.

I must add thought that the only professor I ever formally complained about was a VERY hard right winger. I just couldn't take half of my 3 hour computer programming course being taken up with his fundamentalist Biblical rantings...
posted by RevGreg at 4:58 PM on September 10, 2002


Peace Studies as presently constituted is not about understanding peace and peacemaking as a thing in itself, but about showing that the United States is an evil imperialist and that military force (unless exerted by the short and dark) is morally invalid.

Peace studies is far from my schtick, so I mostly see it in job-talks, but all of the talks I've seen from peace-studies types have been normal boring social science. Mostly things like event-history stuff on when wars stop and how long peaces last, correlates of successful peacekeeping ops, and the like.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:29 PM on September 10, 2002


What's the old saying.... "Those who can't DO, teach"

That statement reveals very little knowledge about what it takes to be a professor at a major university. What's the old saying... "publish or perish"?

Most of the research in hard science in this country gets done at the university level.

Geez.
posted by Hildago at 11:53 PM on September 10, 2002


Another snarky and unnecessary comment that accomplishes absolutely nothing, except to make the poster feel better about themselves.

You are right, I do feel better.

That statement reveals very little knowledge about what it takes to be a professor at a major university.

Compared to what it takes to make it in the real world? Yeah all those TAs, whew, that amount of work it takes to get there.

Most of the research in hard science in this country gets done at the university level.

False. Most is done at research labs paid for by corporate dollars, that goes towards products that the corporation can sell.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 12:39 AM on September 11, 2002


Compared to what it takes to make it in the real world? Yeah all those TAs, whew, that amount of work it takes to get there.

Most of us don't have TAs. If I've got 80 students, I grade them. Meanwhile, I'd like to live in the real world, but teaching, administrative and research responsibilities mean that I effectively have no life outside of my work.
posted by thomas j wise at 9:07 AM on September 11, 2002


Compared to what it takes to make it in the real world?

Yup, compared to what it takes to make it in the real world. I've known people who left academia for the private sector, and without fail "what it takes to make it in the real world" is a smaller and less rigorous skill set and a willingness to put up with (more) random bullshit from on high. Case in point, I know one guy who left academia to work in the analysis side of a large company who'd been running simple regressions of their earnings to, oddly enough, figure out how to make more money. He got to introduce them to the amazing, mysterious world of... interactive effects. That they hadn't heard of this before -- in a setting where they already had a stable of SAS or Stata coders -- is, well, chilling. His complaints have been that the work is too easy to be interesting and that even though there's no possible way to usefully spend a whole day there, they insist on his being there 8+ hours/day in coat and tie because, well, because.

Yeah all those TAs, whew, that amount of work it takes to get there.

TA's are nice when you have 125+ students, but they don't help you with research, which is most likely where your time and real skills are.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:11 AM on September 11, 2002


TJW--I'm flattered that you're shocked. Thanks for the link. That's a marvelous collection of Victoriana Delaware has, isn't it? Yes, I've done a bit of bibliography in the past and I'm a great fan of the period ca. 1870-1900, but I hope you won't hold that against me.

My problem is bad motivations and bad conduct, which is so institutionally bred in the bone that there may be no saving the departments.

MattD--You don't really mean that, do you? Oh, you do? Nevermind then, I feel the same way about most MBA programs.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:27 AM on September 12, 2002


Most is done at research labs paid for by corporate dollars, that goes towards products that the corporation can sell.

That's quantifiable bullshit, by the way. Of course, you can quibble that the only 'proper' research is stuff that brings products to market, as that appears to be your mindset; but that would just show that you have the same appreciation towards research that the captain of the Titanic had towards icebergs.
posted by riviera at 8:34 AM on September 12, 2002


same appreciation towards research that the captain of the Titanic had towards icebergs

Wow, if anything is unfounded, that is.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 10:57 AM on September 12, 2002


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