Tuesday, February 08, 2011

More news you will simply not believe 

I was shocked, SHOCKED, to read that liberals outnumber conservatives among social psychologists by a factor of more than 100. According to the New York Times (per the otherwise sober John Tierney), this was "unexpected."

Er, have any of you ever met a social psychologist? They are an intimidating bunch:

Dr. Haidt (pronounced height) told the audience that he had been corresponding with a couple of non-liberal graduate students in social psychology whose experiences reminded him of closeted gay students in the 1980s. He quoted — anonymously — from their e-mails describing how they hid their feelings when colleagues made political small talk and jokes predicated on the assumption that everyone was a liberal.

“I consider myself very middle-of-the-road politically: a social liberal but fiscal conservative. Nonetheless, I avoid the topic of politics around work,” one student wrote. “Given what I’ve read of the literature, I am certain any research I conducted in political psychology would provide contrary findings and, therefore, go unpublished. Although I think I could make a substantial contribution to the knowledge base, and would be excited to do so, I will not.

Reason #42 why the "academic freedom" justification for tenure is a crock, by the way.

Anyway, the relevant professional society debated and but ultimately rejected an affirmative action program for conservatives, for which I suppose we should all be grateful. The last thing conservatives need is to sully their ranks with social psychologists.


By Blogger Carolyn, at Tue Feb 08, 10:12:00 AM:

My Dad taught at a college with a more conservative faculty and staff than most colleges. He observed during the early 70s that the sociology professors were reliably the rudest people at any faculty function - talking loudly during speeches, leaving en masse during speeches or at other inappropriate times while projecting a sense of boredom and derision, etc.

Maybe social scientists are still stuck in the 60s and 70s with regard to their prejudices against conservatives. Daniel Henninger recently suggested that the irrational belief among the liberal elite that the Right is inherently violent can be traced back to an essay written in 1964. I think the backlash to the media's delusional focus on the Tea Party after the Arizona shootings was kind of a surprise to some of the people who deeply believe that the Right is dangerous.

Stevie Wonder:
When you believe in things that you don't understand, then you suffer.
Superstition ain't the way.
Hey, hey, hey.  

By Blogger "Mindles H. Dreck", at Tue Feb 08, 10:16:00 AM:

Jon Haidt is an old camp and college acquaintance of mine. Very nice guy. I took his moral foundations surveys last year and had a fun back-and-forth with him.

The refreshing thing about Jon is he assumes positive intent. Also, he helped me find the reason people on both sides of the aisle take violent offense to me - I lack the purity/sanctity dimension. Like I'm practically autistic in that area.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Feb 08, 11:25:00 AM:

the irrational belief among the liberal elite that the Right is inherently violent

That's pure projection. If there's a political rally with violence and vandalism, you can be certain they're all leftists.  

By Blogger Carolyn, at Tue Feb 08, 01:19:00 PM:

"That's pure projection.". Well, there's that, too.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Feb 08, 02:13:00 PM:

I love these people,like Dr, Haidt, who say they are 'social liberals' yet 'fiscal conservatives'. Can't have it both ways, son. If you are truly fiscally conservative, there won't be any money to flush down your 'socially liberal' toilets of horribly corrupt social giveaway programs, union goodies, and entitlement monstrosities like Obamacare.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Tue Feb 08, 02:27:00 PM:

I think when people say they are "social liberals" but "fiscal conservatives," they mean that they are libertarian conservatives. I am one of those people. I am in favor of lawful gay marriage, lawful abortion (although not to the limits of Roe v. Wade), decriminalizing pot, and so forth. I think in particular that phrase is code for conservatives who support gay marriage. So I think that the two can be consistent.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Feb 08, 05:48:00 PM:

I agree with the above Anon. The social liberal/fiscal conservative is the Skittle-shitting unicorn of the political animal world: it simply does not exist. TH, I think you overstate the case.

I don't consider myself a social conservative but social conservatives are precisely correct in their arguments that our budgetary woes are a direct result of social liberalism. The numbers don't lie.

Social psychology programs should be cut wholesale from most universities, along with the rest of the social "sciences" programs. They are a complete waste of money, churning out graduates with no real skills other than teaching in other social sciences departments, churning out still more useless flesh. Soylent Green.  

By Blogger JPMcT, at Tue Feb 08, 06:40:00 PM:

Liberals tend to be tribal types who flourish within protected environments like academic institutions and newsrooms. My brother-in-law grew up in a conservative household, but became quite a liberal as he worked his way up the faculty ladder to department chief.

He's a fun guy to visit, because all his friends just presume that I think that way and say some pretty outrageous stuff...all the while thinking that THEY are the mainstream.

If they ever had to compete for a job or survive outside the nest, it's difficult to predict what would happen first: become conservative or starve to death!  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Tue Feb 08, 08:29:00 PM:

"The social liberal/fiscal conservative is the Skittle-shitting unicorn of the political animal world: it simply does not exist."

Really? *pinches self* Huh. I seem real.

Declaring something to be mythical or unreasonable simply because it doesn't match your own preconceptions seems remarkably... progressive.

In fact, I've known an awful lot of people in my lifetime who fit into that category, including a fair ton of nominal Democrats who vote with the Dems because it makes them feel good to be on the side of 'tolerance' in social issues, but who deplore the reckless spending and whoring to special interests. The moral crusading of the old 'religious right' turns off a LOT of younger people who would otherwise lean Republican on matters of policy.

RINO witch-hunting and insistence on ideological purity doesn't help.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Feb 08, 08:32:00 PM:

I'm one of those people who misuses the term "social liberal" - I am actually a libertarian conservative. If it doesn't impact others, do what you want. I am against paying for it, however.  

By Blogger Carolyn, at Tue Feb 08, 08:35:00 PM:

The "social liberal/fiscal conservative" position with regard to gay marriage has its attractions. But there may be unintended fiscal risks. I'm with Heather MacDonald in opposing the expansion of the word "marriage" to include gay couples because of the risk of promoting "sperm donor" as a default family role among heterosexuals.

When young heterosexual kids see flashy stories about glamorous gay married couples having their own kids, it becomes obvious that there is a hidden biological parent somewhere in the background. The weakening of the idea that biological parents are responsible for their children has the potential to dramatically increase welfare costs, aside from other societal costs. It's bad enough now, when the "sperm donor" model is most prevalent in the underclass.

Changing the meaning of words is a risky thing. I know that this is not a "social liberal" position.  

By Anonymous Ignoramus, at Wed Feb 09, 01:42:00 PM:

Count me as another "social liberal / fiscal conservative." I call it "little l libertarian." A lot of what I believe is rooted in the Constitution and fits with the big drivers that have made our country great over the last few hundred years ... and dare I say it ... exceptional.

"Libertarian" hasn't worked well as a party, but that doesn't mean that it lacks political support. Most independents are little l libertarians. Many registered Republicans are too. Even some Democrats.

I've found it helpful to think about this not just as Left vs Right. but as an "x by y" matrix. (A) Do you believe in less government and more personal freedom, or (B) or do you want government to enforce social norms? I'm nearly as far away from Dick Cheney as I am from Obama. Mike Huckakbee is closer to Obama in many respects than to me or a Rand Paul.

The two parties have lost the middle. This will come to the fore because our status quo is failing ... big time.

My local town government is actually pretty good. New York State has issues, but we're starting to address them. My federal government could go out of business and I wouldn't care -- it does nothing for me. It has a natural monopoly on protecting our borders and the Dollar, and can't even manage that right.

The future isn't written, but I can see political power shifting to "little l libertarians." Unfolding events will drive this. It's not clear whether the Republican party will channel this.  

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