Thursday, March 22, 2012
The other night I finished Charles Murray's book Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010. The acknowledgments are at the end, and in the midst of great generosity Murray includes this curious paragraph (bold emphasis added):
I asked a variety of scholars to review portions of Coming Apart that either referenced them or dealt with matters on which they were expert. I will not name most of them. Being included in my acknowledgments can cause trouble for people in academia. This has led a few of them to make a public show of denouncing their acknowledgment lest their colleagues think they agree with anything I have written. But I nonetheless want to thank, even if anonymously, those who responded to my queries.My father, who once stood up for Richard Herrnstein (who, incidentally, co-authored The Bell Curve with Murray years ago), would have understood what Murray was talking about.
In any case, why is it that leftist professors never have to worry that their more conservative colleagues will ostracize them? Or is it that the conservatives, like Murray (and, for instance, Niall Ferguson, who wrote a review at the link first above), simply expect to be ostracized by their colleagues and therefore do not worry about consorting with the other side?
In any case, why is it that leftist professors never have to worry that their more conservative colleagues will ostracize them?
For the most part, it's a numbers game: 90% leftist versus 10% rightist on social science faculties. A hippo isn't worried about what a crab will to do it, but an crab will worry about what a hippo can do to it. (Given the political connotations of elephants, I didn't use them.)
Liberalism is a social, not an intellectual phenomenon, and depends on social enforcement.
Plenty of them are smart enough, but the beliefs themselves are personally gratifying to hold, and thus must be protected.
These things don't happen in physical sciences departments. On the other hand, see here and also here.
Re the physics prof who got nabbed in Buenos Aires for allegedly trying to smuggle out cocaine: anyone who would consent to carry a bag for someone on an international flight, without thoroughly inspecting it beforehand, is not thinking.
Some years ago parents of a childhood friend took a vacation trip to Colombia. The husband got caught at the airport trying to take some weed out of the country. He knew what he was doing- he didn't know he would get caught.
The wife, who didn't know Spanish, was able to get her husband out of jail, after two weeks of effort.
It was commonly viewed that the husband was the much more dynamic and accomplished of the two. Given that the wife had the fortitude to get her husband out of jail in a foreign country, one has to conclude the two were much more evenly matched than commonly believed.
Maybe this is a partial explanation: http://ricochet.com/main-feed/Conservatives-Understand-Liberals.-Liberals-Don-t-Understand-Conservatives
2000 participants were asked to guess what others would think about particular issues. Those who identified themselves as liberal were less successful at guessing how conservatives would respond. The point is, liberal thinkers apparently tend to be less capable of understanding other views.
"By darovas, at Thu Mar 22, 11:57:00 PM: These things don't happen in physical sciences departments. On the other hand, see here and also here."
Herbert Myer*in a 1992 book "Hard Thinking,the fusion of politics and science" wrote "More precisely, I believe that the business of our public affairs can be put back on track — not only here in the United States, but throughout the world — by adopting key aspects of the scientific culture. Indeed, I believe that adoption of the scientific culture is vital if we are to cope with the global public problems and issues that confront us right now, and with the ones that will confront us in the years and decades that lie ahead."
It is a pity that "Hard Thinking,the fusion of politics and science" was achieved, only in reverse.
*Herbert Myer, served during the Reagan Administration as Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council.