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Tuesday, April 12, 2005


liberal education

cathy young at reason prattles on about the evil (or some such notion) of a left-leaning intelligentsia.

Some conservatives want a political solution: legislation that would not only protect the rights of dissenting students but penalize professors who use the classroom to push a political agenda. Many professors are appalled, understandably, by the idea of legislative intervention in the classroom. The best way to avoid such intervention is for the academy to make a good-faith effort to recognize and correct its intellectual diversity problem.
only if one considers that a problem, i submit.

i would be the first to say that intelligence is not by pre-requisite politically leftist. the composition of academia now, as cited by ms young, should be evidence enough of that.

what i find appalling is that ms young seems to believe that the selection of academics by universities -- and thereby the political indoctrination of youth, presumably -- according to her conservative faith in proportion to the public at large should be the function of university faculty.

it's quite stupid enough to draw lines in the sand on which one categorizes the innate complexity of political views as "right" or "left". such bipolarity cannot begin to capture the detail of any person's political views. how one might start selecting candidates for teaching positions based on such arbitrary lines is, to say the least, problematic. ms young seems something of a naive ideologue for even suggesting it a possibility.

more than that, however, ms young also presumes that the political persuasion, however defined, of the intelligentsia should reflect that of the broader population. i must cite the wonderful wry irony of one aaron swartz:

I have found that only 1% of Stanford professors believe in telepathy (defined as "communication between minds without using the traditional five senses"), compared with 36% of the general population. And less than half a percent believe "people on this earth are sometimes possessed by the devil", compared with 49% of those outside the ivory tower. And while 25% of Americans believe in astrology ("the position of the stars and planets can affect people's lives"), I could only find one Stanford professor who would agree. (All numbers are from mainstream polls, as reported by Sokal.)

This dreadful lack of intellectual diversity is a serious threat to our nation's youth, who are quietly being propagandized by anti-astrology radicals instead of educated with different points of view. Were I to discover that there were no blacks on the Stanford faculty, the Politically Correct community would be all up in arms. But they have no problem squeezing out prospective faculty members whose views they disagree with.
this brilliantly highlights the fact that ms young is driven by the same disturbingly simpleminded ideological motives as leftists who tout enforced multicultural individualism as the solution to all social evils. selecting populations on criteria which are irrelevant to the job at hand -- research and education -- is completely counterproductive; worse still is selecting populations to reflect other irrelevantly (or perhaps negatively) correlated populations for specious reasons.

people, in the main, are stupid and mystical. selecting the population of the institutional intelligentsia to reflect them in some way if you want it to reflect enlightenment principles of discovery makes less than no sense. and i've yet to attack the idea that college students slavishly reflect or even know about the politics of their professors -- as opposed to, say, their parents, who bore, raised and cohabitated with them for their two most-impressionable decades.

ms young has a modicum of readership, and that's too bad -- but it's unsurprising. most people are, after all, stupid, and love to read stupidities which they agree with.

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