Imagine, if you can, that slightly more than half of the public voted Democratic in the last presidential election, yet some 80 percent of higher education's social scientists voted Republican. In that universe, you would expect the left to demand changes in university hiring practices so that academia would nurture greater diversity so as to better represent the American community.
Then step back into the real world, where academia has become a solid bastion of the Left, as demonstrated by two articles in the latest issue of the scholarly journal Current Review. One article presents a survey of academic social scientists that reports that 79.6 percent of 1,208 respondents said they voted mostly Democratic over the last 10 years, with 9.3 percent voting Republican.
Call that a near monopoly marketplace of ideas.
A second article studied the voter registration of California college professors and found that the ratio of registered Democrats to Republicans (among professors located in voting registers) is 5 to 1. Let it be noted that the researchers made an effort to include schools reputed to be right-leaning. Some disciplines demonstrated more orthodoxy than others -- with sociology departments showing a ratio of 44 Democrats to 1 Republican, but economics departments employing 2.8 Democrats for each member of the GOP.
Is it bias or self-selection?
The two libertarian-leaning economics professors who conducted the California survey, San Jose State University's Christopher R. Cardiff and George Mason University's Daniel B. Klein, don't believe there is one quick, easy answer to that question, although they definitely see what Cardiff described as "subconscious bias."
"I think, partly, it is self-selection," said Klein over the phone Wednesday. He sees "something about intellectuals and hubris and conceit" in academia -- with political scientists pumping themselves up as savvy saviors of a public sorely in need of their enlightened views. While liberal professors often think that they are open-minded, Klein believes that they also often think that "we're smarter" than those outside of academia, which gives them a right to "discriminate against people who get it wrong."
As a result, Klein asserts, an economics major might present a paper that argues that the New Deal deepened and prolonged the Great Depression, with supporting data, but "no matter how solid the research was, there's no way that would impress them." In their group-think, many social scientists marginalize heterodox thinkers.