Just a few years ago, a sociologist I know got really depressed – even more so than the average sociologist. His depression stemmed from the fact that the most famous sociologist in the world had just passed away and hardly anyone noticed. Indeed, one of America’s foremost liberal publications had dedicated no more than a few sentences to the man’s life, despite his many accomplishments in the field of sociology.
Naturally, the depressed sociologist was disheartened by the lack of attention paid to his idol’s passing. It even prompted him to ask me a serious question: “What do sociologists have to do to get a little respect in this world?” Today, I’m finally getting around to answering his question.
If one wants to identify steps that can be taken to increase the standing of sociologists -relative to academics that are taken more seriously – one first has to identify what they are doing wrong. A comment by a recently retired sociologist at UNC-Wilmington is illustrative of what ails the pseudoscience of sociology. The comment came in response to an attack on the work of my friend David Horowitz.
As many readers know, Horowitz has been spending a lot of time speaking on the issue of academic freedom and indoctrination in higher education. In many of his speeches, David quotes studies from major universities showing that at some schools Democrats outnumber Republicans by ratios as high as nine-to-one (sometimes even higher) in various “social science” and humanities departments.
But, recently, a respected political science journal published a study asserting that there really is no liberal hegemony in American higher education. The study says there is also a recent trend towards greater political moderation among professors at American universities. Why does the study contradict what Horowitz has been saying? The answer is simple: It relies on a survey of the professors’ subjective evaluations of their political leanings relative to others, rather than objective data regarding their partisan political affiliations. (“I’m not really an extremist. In fact, I feel that I’m middle of the road. Just ask me and I’ll tell you!”).
When the study of the subjective feelings of American professors was published a Democrat in the Political Science Department forwarded it to a Democrat in the Sociology Department. The Democrat/Sociologist then forwarded it to another Democrat/Sociologist. (But he wasn’t engaging in political discrimination because there are no Republicans in the Department of Sociology to whom he could forward it in order to ensure a more balanced critique of the study).