John Tierney’s article about social psychologists

Three people (and thank you to them!) have sent me a link to John Tierney’s article in the New York Times, about the almost complete absence of conservatives from the psychology field:

It [this imbalance] was identified by Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist at the University of Virginia who studies the intuitive foundations of morality and ideology. He polled his audience at the San Antonio Convention Center, starting by asking how many considered themselves politically liberal. A sea of hands appeared, and Dr. Haidt estimated that liberals made up 80 percent of the 1,000 psychologists in the ballroom. When he asked for centrists and libertarians, he spotted fewer than three dozen hands. And then, when he asked for conservatives, he counted a grand total of three.

“This is a statistically impossible lack of diversity,” Dr. Haidt concluded, noting polls showing that 40 percent of Americans are conservative and 20 percent are liberal. In his speech and in an interview, Dr. Haidt argued that social psychologists are a “tribal-moral community” united by “sacred values” that hinder research and damage their credibility — and blind them to the hostile climate they’ve created for non-liberals.

The article is right on the money, and reflects a broad problem with academia generally:  Outside of the hard sciences, liberals own our universities, which means that they own the next generation of the best and the brightest.

What one hopes is that the university bubble is about to burst.  Maybe, just maybe, with the government running out of money, and with parents running out of money too, the insanity that is higher education — $200,000 to teach young women herstory or young blacks about their perpetual servitude or young men about drinking — will finally run itself out.  Then, in the rubble, some real education might happen.

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  • lookingforlissa

    We share some of the blame in this, I think.  I’ve seen many conservatives deride Psychology as “junk science” and “liberal babble.”  Was it always this way? I completely believe that the liberal predominance would make it an uncomfortable or hostile work environment, but I think that conservatives scoffing at the field has something to do with it as well.  Vicious cycle . . .

  • Bookworm

    That’s a very good point, Lissa, when it comes to psychology.  I can think of two reasons why conservatives view the field with suspicion.  First, it encourages abnegation of responsibility and morality.  Nobody is irresponsible or evil; they’re sick.  That’s just not going to attract people who believe that we still have an ability to rise above (or try to rise above) our own limitations.

    Second, those of us who came of age in the 1960s and 1970s, remember the whole touchy-feely pop psychology that dominated entertainment and middle class culture.  Either you liked it or you didn’t.  I didn’t.  I don’t think many conservatives did.


    The linked article is an good companion piece to the topic.

    “For centuries the theocratic State exercised authority and used force in the name of God. The Founders sought to protect the American people from the religious tyranny of the State. They did not anticipate, and could not have anticipated, that one day medicine would become a religion and that the alliance between medicine and the State would then threaten personal liberty and responsibility exactly as they had been threatened by the alliance between church and State”.

    Read more at the Washington Examiner:

  • MacG

    I think it was branded as junk science because it generally was an attack on all things religious.  It ruled out a whole subset of data to come to their conclusions (sound like anything going on today?).  It is the opiate of the people, it is a crutch, we are so far advanced now to see that religion was an outgrowth of ignorant, perhaps even noble (savage) ancestors (even though these same intellectuals are still baffled by how the fool Egyptians painted the hieroglyphs in the dark passageways of the pyramids without leaving soot from torches all over the walls).  From the Mother Jones : ““THERE IS NO DOGMA MORE PREVALENT within American high culture than that smart people outgrow God,” said Douglas Henry, an assistant professor of philosophy and director of Baylor’s Institute for Faith and Learning. “The more educated, the more erudite, the more discerning and wise one is, the less one is inclined to be a deeply pious Christian, the thinking goes. In higher education, this dogma gets expressed in the axiom that academic excellence and Christian faithfulness are incompatible.””
    They threw the baby out with the bath water is there any wonder about it’s early rejection?  Why would I go to see a guy that prejudges me to be a societal coelacanth? He in all his (nearly messianic?) higher education will show me how foolish it is to believe in God which by the way he says is really holding me back, when in reality it is what is keeping me from killing him :) .  Since these guys rule out God in general they form their world view that has it’s theories based solely on man’s capacity to understand man and for man to govern man – there is no need for God.  I believe in God, he does not.  How could he possibly understand my worldview?  He sees my ‘religion’ as a symptom that tells of an underlying somthin somthin that is the real root of my problem.
    I think it can be borne out that most conservatives believe in God (creator, creative force) not just because there is too much that is unknown and disbelief is at this point premature but because of what we observe on a daily basis.  A can of paint shows up in my living room. I know it did not make itself much less make itself to be in my living room – it came from somewhere.  Even if it had the intelligence to know what it was made for it has no locomotive force to get on the walls or ceiling – much less in an orderly fashion.  It takes intelligence, force, material and time to make something constructive happen in the world.  Without God there is only a cosmic can of paint and the intelligencia insists that it got on the walls but missed the windows and carpet by chance and many do so in an unfriendly way.  Why would I listen to them much less befriend them?
    So I would agree there is a vicious cycle, we have on our side as well those who are not rational and knee jerk right back – thank you soooooooooooo much West Bourough Baptists :/.

  • suek

    The funny thing is that the psychologists have become the priests, assuring us that confession is necessary for the healing of the soul, and granting us forgiveness for our faults and misdeeds…

  • MacG

    SueK.  So true they are even marvelling at the wonders of not their absolution imparted but the “patient” forgiving those that have wronged them…

  • Wolf Howling

    You do realize what this means, don’t you.  The newest left-wing victim class is conservatives. Heh. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to play my victim card to cut short the next leftie diatribe. “Hey, Jesse Jackson, shut up you hate spewing conservativphobe!!!”

    Three things I found interesting in the article  One, the fact that numeric imbalances do no mean that there is an -ism at work, as was subsequently proven about the Larry Summers remarks.  While this may be patently obvious to most of us, it is nice to see the left has arrived at the same conclusion.  Two, the fact that, in the pages of the NYT, Moynihan’s ’65 study is being rehabilited was surprising indeed.  And three, the professors prescription for solving the ills of this imbalance and the wildly skewed percptions of liberal group think – read Thomas Sowell and the NRO, then have an affirmative action plan for conservatives.  Lollll.  The first two are fine.  As to affirmative action, can’t these people stop counting beans?  Actually, if the left stops crucifying anyone who speaks against their dogma, than the problem of group think and the insane liberal bent of the profession would right itself.    

  • Jose

    We probably all read it, but Robin of Berkeley put out this article along the same lines last month: