The ‘thousand profound scholars’ may have failed, first, because they were scholars, secondly, because they were profound, and thirdly, because they were a thousand. – Edgar Allan Poe.
Multiple studies released by statisticians and psychologists have revealed evidence for potential professional and personal harm to academics and students expressing conservative political leanings in universities across America.
As the largely conservative “Greatest Generation” faded into retirement in the 1990s, “Baby boomers” holding increasingly liberal worldviews came to dominate university faculty. Studies released by the heterodox academy, tasking themselves with studying the evolving hegemony of “progressives” in academia, have revealed a significant lack of diversity in political thought encompassing various universities and academic departments.
So dominant is leftist ideology that across university departments in nearly all states, an average ratio of 10:1 exists among faculty who identify themselves as liberal vs conservative. When exploring the makeup of Ivy League institutions and universities in New England, results, such as the case with Brown University, were as high as 60:1 in favor of registered Democrats among professors.
Economic departments found best balance with a 4.5:1 ratio in favor of registered Democrats, but history departments skewed 33:5:1 for Democrats. A significant number of departments had no registered Republicans at all.
Other well-respected universities include:
Boston University 40:1.
John Hopkins University 35:1.
Boston College with a moderate 22:1 ratio in favor of registered Democrats.
Since assistant professors are more likely to be registered Democrats, as the generational transition moves forward many more top positions in academia are filled by progressives who self-identify with their peers within a set of “sacred values”. As the quest for tenure is allocated via “departmental majoritarianism”, “excessive concurrence-seeking” produces a psychological “other” into which they box their conservative peers.
In any rational quest for diversity, such numbers would not be acceptable. The problem, however, isn’t only the lack of diversity when it comes to ideologies fueling the minds of those teaching our children, but the outright hostility presented to their conservative peers, and the environment on campus to which conservative students are exposed.
In a study published in Perspectives on Psychological Science, Yoel Inbar and Joris Lammers found significant evidence for open hostility in academia directed towards conservatives, generating an environment where both conservative academics and students “fear negative consequences of revealing their political beliefs to their colleagues”. They additionally found evidence that progressive academics tilt paper reviews against colleagues known to harbor conservative ideologies, hamper their hiring, and “discriminate against openly conservative colleagues” with a correlation suggesting that “the more liberal respondents were, the more they said they would discriminate”. In support of this data, the study found that the more conservative respondents were, the more they reported experiencing a hostile academic environment.
One would expect this discrimination to be hidden, masked in the corners of their ivory towers but it appears this is not the case. Rather, discrimination takes place openly, with peer approval, in an environment not dissimilar to the gossipy hallways of your local high-school.
Writing on the problem of leftist ideological hegemony in academia, Robert Maranto offers baseball as an analogy: “In baseball, fans of different teams can agree on general issues concerning rules, umpiring, and performance evaluation because such matters are separable from support for a specific team. In academia, however, we find that rules and standards for performance are not separable from support for specific beliefs. Ideological sensibilities and commitments in academia tend to be bound up with notions of the whole academic enterprise. That is, one’s positions on how performance should be umpired or evaluated and one’s support for a certain “team” are not separable.”
The oft-heard retort to the progressive flavor of academia is that “reality has a well-known liberal bias”, at least according to Stephen Colbert. Inbar and Lammers suggest this mantra of the left may be the result of conservatives not being invited to the discussion, and ostracized when they dare to make their voice known. This is disheartening, they say, because political and moral beliefs cannot be judged against empirical evidence in the hard sciences, and scientific reality is not dictated by political leaning. The speed of light remains constant when measured by both conservatives and liberals.
One would expect critical thinking, true objectivity, balanced reason, and clarity of expression free from groupthink and dogma to be found in the storied halls of our great institutions of learning. While this may once have been true, this growing collection of studies demonstrate that not only are universities becoming more dominated by the ideology of the left, but that openly displaying any sort of conservative leaning is often met with outright hostility and the potential stunting of your academic career.
This climate of hostility is not limited to academic professors, it’s now a near unanimous experience of conservative students on campus, and conservative youths residing in typically liberal neighborhoods now fear to publically expose their identities: