Political beliefs of academics
|Hail to the Chief?|
|Persons of interest|
There is much talk in the U.S. these days about the political beliefs of academics. Some people hold the view that professors and other academic figures form a liberal or left-wing cabal that practices evil professor values and subverts the minds of the young.
 Are professors actually liberal?
In reality, professors are generally more liberal or left-wing than the general population; three causes for this phenomenon have been cited:
- The more educated a person becomes, the more they have to think, the more tolerant they become of people who think differently from them. As a result, there is a correlation between liberalism and education, with liberals and left-wingers being the most educated ideological demographic in the U.S.
- Right-leaning people are attracted in greater numbers by the larger salaries to be found in private employment, so fewer of them enter graduate school and still fewer become professors.
- The few professors who are not tolerant of other viewpoints and/or populations (Mary Daly, for example) are usually of the left-wing persuasion, as noted below, and in the long term a campus can sustain only one intolerant point-of-view.
 Effect on students
The political beliefs of professors, however, do not affect the outlook of students. According to an Washington Post op-ed by right-winger Howard Kurtz:
“”When asked about the findings, Jonathan Knight, director of academic freedom and tenure for the American Association of University Professors, said, "The question is how this translates into what happens within the academic community on such issues as curriculum, admission of students, evaluation of students, evaluation of faculty for salary and promotion." Knight said he isn't aware of "any good evidence" that personal views are having an impact on campus policies.
Or, to put it in left-wing jargon, despite the personal beliefs of professors, academia lacks a "systemic bias" in favor of left-wingers.
Many radical professors are, of course, very open about the fact that they are in academia to grind a political or ideological axe and train their ideological successors; but this does not translate to a giant secret conspiracy involving all liberal and left-wing professors. If there were actually any sort of secret conspiracy among all the liberals and left-wingers in academia to mint students into good little foot-soldiers for their own cause, it would be the most miserably failed conspiracy since the invention of right-wing paranoia.
One of the popular claims is that these professors are cogs in a Democratic political machine. However, half of college students identify as Democrats, and only 52% of college-educated professionals (including professors) vote Democratic, which isn't quite the oft-painted image of a liberal hivemind.
 By discipline
Not all academic departments have discernable political leanings. Among professors, less than 20% of whom identify as conservative, liberals are most prominent in the social sciences and humanities. Professors in engineering and business departments are largely split.
Hence, the departments where faculty members purport to be studying toward a more profound understanding of society lean towards the left, while those departments for which there are independent and objective criteria for judging their scholarship (e.g., the machines engineers design actually have to work) do not lean at all.
Civil libertarians Alan Charles Kors and Harvey Silverglate have suggested that academic administrations, facing financial pressures on one side and radical pressures on the other, have delivered the humanities departments over to radicals to deter them from causing any damage to the more lucrative departments of science, engineering, and medicine.
 University of Toronto survey
This survey asked 1,634 full-time employed faculty members at four year institutions across the U.S. However, the sample was largely limited to full-time social-science and humanities professors, which skewed it.
|All professors||Ivy League professors|
 UCLA survey
According to Christopher Shea of the Boston Globe, a 2001 survey carried out by the UCLA Higher Education Research Institute "identified a distinct leftward tilt in academia, but a smaller one than you might expect." It further indicated that extremists on either side of the spectrum make up less than 6% of all professors, although the vast majority of these were left-wingers.
 Carnegie University survey
This 1989 survey is somewhat dated, but has results similar to the ones above. Libertarian Peter G. Klein used this article for his rant on socialist economists, which placed liberals and communists in the same camp. It indicated that over 70% of tenure-tracked professors were liberal, while less than 20% were conservative.
The study also indicated that:
- 71% believe income inequality is too high
- 81% want the government to do something about it
- Democrats outnumber Republicans 2.8:1
 See also
- Professors' Liberalism Contagious? Maybe Not, New York Times
- Reality Bites, Chris Mooney
- The Social and Political Views of American Professors, Neil Gross and Solon Simmons
- ↑ Pew Research Center. (2005). Beyond Red vs. Blue. 7 September, taken from http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?PageID=945.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 Kurtz, H. (29 March 2005). College Faculties a Most Liberal Lot Study Finds. Washington Post. 7 September, 2007, taken from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A8427-2005Mar28.html.
- ↑ If there were such a "systemic bias," the left-wingers would no doubt be the first to point it out and be on the front lines of eliminating it, going by how they have tackled "systemic bias" in the past.
- ↑ Judis, J. B. (19 June, 2007). Back to the Future: The re-emergence of the emerging Democratic majority. The American Prospect. 7 September, 2007 from http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=back_to_the_future061807.
- ↑ Shea, C. (12 October, 2003). What liberal academia? Boston Globe. 7 September, 2007, taken from http://www.boston.com/news/globe/ideas/articles/2003/10/12/what_liberal_academia/.
- ↑ Klein, P. G. (15 Novemenber 2006). Why Intellectuals Still Support Socialism. Mises Institute. 7 September, 2007 from http://www.mises.org/story/2318.