The Volokh Conspiracy

Intellectual Diversity in the Academy Revisited:

Herbert London has a column in today's Washington Times, "The Intellectual Diversity Hoax" that discusses this new report by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA). The press release and summary of recommendations is available here. As opposed to external efforts such as David Horowitz's Academic Bill of Rights, the purpose of this report is to offer constructive suggestions to colleges and universities within the context of academic self-governance to study the impact of intellectual orthodoxy on the student learning experience and to respond where appropriate. I don't endorse everything in the report, but there are certainly some very good ideas here and the recommendations merit sober evaluation and consideration.

In my opinion, efforts to encourage the academy to take its self-governance responsibilities are quite preferable to external regulations such as the Academic Bill of Rights. At the same time, I recognize that efforts such as Horowitz's are born of the frustration of the academy's failure to live upt to its self-governance responsibilities seriously. I think the ACTA report is useful in that it goes beyond merely kvetching or calling for external command-and-control regulation, and instead offers proactive self-governance steps that colleges and universities can take to evaluate and act on these concerns.

Meanwhile Dan Klein and Charlotta Stern have posted a new paper, Narrow-Tent Democrats and Fringe Others: The Policy Views of Social Science Professors (forthcoming in Critical Review) measuring the degree of ideological homogeneity in the academy. Here's the Abstract:


This paper provides copious results from a 2003 survey of academics. We analyze the responses of 1208 academics from six scholarly associations (in anthropology, economics, history, legal and political philosophy, political science, and sociology) with regard to their views on 18 policy issues. The issues include economic regulations, personal-choice restrictions, and military action abroad. We find that the academics overwhelmingly vote Democratic and that the Democratic dominance has increased significantly since 1970. A multivariate analysis shows strongly that Republican scholars are more likely to land outside of academia. On the 18 policy questions, the Democratic-voter responses have much less variation than do the Republicans. The left has a narrow tent. The Democratic and Republican policy views of academics are somewhat in line with the ideal types, except that across the board both groups are simply more statist than the ideal types might suggest. Regarding disciplinary consensus, we find that the discipline with least consensus is economics. We do a cluster analysis, and the mathematical technique sorts the respondents into groups that nicely correspond to familiar ideological categories: establishment left, progressive, conservative, and libertarian. The conservative group and the libertarian group are equal in size (35 individuals, each), suggesting that academics who depart from the leftist ranks are as likely to be libertarian as conservative. We also find that conservatives are closer to the establishment left than they are to the libertarians.

Klein & Stern find that 79% of those surveyed self-report as Democratic and 9% self-report as Republican. Moreover, Klein & Stern find that party self-identification turns out to be correlated with views on a range of political issues, such as attitudes toward gun control, free trade, government production of primary schooling, and redistribution policies. Moreover, as the abstract notes (and the study finds) self-reported Democrats show a much less variation in response on these ideological issues than do Republicans (in the authors' words, the Democratic tent is "more narrow" than the Republican). Klein & Stern also explore more general "worldview" and ideological views, such as general attitudes toward the government's proper role in regulation of personal choice and economic regulation. Overall, they find a very high degree of ideological homogeneity in the composition of the modern academy.

Another interesting point is that Klein and Stern find that Republican scholars are more likely to be employed outside academia relative to Democratic scholars. The effect tends be most pronounced with respect to those in History and Anthropology-Sociology. One possible implication of this finding is that it may shed some light on the question of bias versus self-selection in the academy, and in particular, the question of whether non-left individuals are "greedier" by nature and as a result differentially self-select for less-lucrative non-academic positions. Klein and Stern's research casts some doubt about this particular self-selection hypothesis. First, the respondents to the survey are those who have already attended graduate school, thus the initial self-selection bias is absent because these individuals have already demonstrated a self-identified preference for an academic career path. Nonetheless, the differences remain. Second, Klein and Stern find the greatest difference to be in History and Anthropology-Sociology, two of the disciplines studied that probably have the lowest opportunity cost to being in academia versus outside. By contrast, Democratic and Republican Economists and Political Scientists are just as likely to be found inside and outside the academy. Leaving aside Political Science for the moment, economists seem to have the highest opportunity cost of being in the academy, suggesting that they would be most likely to self-select out of the academy into consulting and other private sector jobs. And indeed, they find that economists have the highest propensity to land in nonacademic positions.

What does this all mean, then? Well first, if the propensity of economists to be found in nonacademic positions is the result of self-selection (higher opportunity cost), this suggests that Democratic and Republican economists are approximately as likely to self-select out of the academy. This piece of evidence is inconsistent with the proffered self-selection hypothesis that conservatives are more "greedy" and hence more likely to self-select for a nonacademic career. In fact, liberal and conservative economists seem to choose income over the academy at roughly the same rate. Second, the differences in academic placements appears to be greatest in those fields that appear to have the sparsest nonacademic alternatives, History and Anthropology-Sociology (and to a lesser extent in the study, Philosophy). This suggests that the differential placement in the academy for these fields is not the result of self-selection, but rather some involuntary obstacle (such as, but not necessarily, ideological bias). Combined, the various observations offer little support for the hypothesis that the differential location of conservatives and libertarians inside versus outside the academy results from differential propensities to self-select for higher-paying nonacademic positions.

All of these contributions leave open plenty of room for additional debate and evaluation. I think that both the ACTA report and the Klein-Stern study merit serious analysis and that further research in these directions would be very helpful in understanding this complex issue.

Hattio (mail):
There's one big problem with the interpretation of this study as regards self-selection. The implication is that since the fields with few non-academic positions (History and Sociology-Anthropology) tend to be most heavily dominated by Democrats, this shows some sort of selection bias rather than "greed" by the conservatives. The question is did this study include those who studied History or Anthropology-Sociology (at a graduate level) and then left the field for some sort of high-paying job outside the field? If those people are overwhelmingly conservative, that would support, rather than defeat the "greed" hypothesis. Not saying this is the case, but the study seems inconclusive to me unless it includes folks no longer in the field.
12.21.2005 11:34am
Goober (mail):
The "conservatives are 'greedy'" meme was, to my knowledge, never advanced by the academy's defenders and was only a resentful conservative's paraphrase. Certainly I'm unaware of any liberal ever saying "conservatives are greedy." (I'm aware of quite a few conservatives bravely taking a stand against that strawman, however.)

The actual thesis put forward to explain the disparity was along the lines of a worldview difference, where we'd expect very smart people who think the marketplace is especially virtuous to pursue business ventures and people who think that the academy is especially virtuous to pursue graduate degrees. And like it or not, contemporary American political culture does tend to sort Republicans into the first camp and Democrats (or liberals, at least) into the latter.

One other note: If you assume that all political opinions are intrinsically of equal worth, then disparity should trouble you. But if you doubt that, you shouldn't be surprised if biology departments vote against the party of intelligent design.
12.21.2005 11:45am
Justin (mail):
Hattio, that error is minor compared with the substance of what it is analyzing itself.

First of all, the "18 policy issues" are horribly skewed. By asking questions of political orthadoxy that only someone who is on the extreme right would disagree with, the "analyers" were playing to the obvious conclusion that "the left" has a big tent.

Note: "support minimum wage laws" "support pharm. regulation" "support worker safety" "support tariffs" "support environmental regulation" "support workplace nondiscrimination laws" "support drug legalization (which had strong variation amongst Democrats wrongly characterized as "the left", as one would expect)" "support legalized prostitution (which had basically equally low support from Democrats), gambling, gun laws (Dems, 80% for, GOP, 20% for, btw), government owning of industry (GOPers uniformly against, Dem suport varied bell curvish), redistribution as a government goal (shocker!), government funding for education (another shocker!), monetary policy as an economic tool (equal support from dems and gop), immigration laws (high variance for both parties, as you'd expect).

In other words, in this part of the study, all they found is that Dems and the GOP, once sorted, fit into exactly the patterns you'd expect the above-average educated samples of each would - any further conclusion is simply evidence of the author's obvious bias.

Second of all, the correlation of Democrat = leftist not only assumes the conclusion, but is complete hogwash. The Democrats are, in the academic sense, on the POLITICAL RIGHT of the median applicant. What is missing, and indeed not even investigated, is the significant ABSENCE of the real political left - Modern "communists" and CLS advocates and their non-legal equivalent.

Other problems exist, of course. There is ABSOLUTELY no control group. They failed, probably out of fear of losing their conclusion, to examine their results against scientific, technical, or even nonpolitical philosophical fields.

Furthermore, they failed to poll against prestige. One would assume that if their conclusions were correct, the bias would be made up for in part (like in other studies), in "second-best choice" markets. Only at the border (those who are either in the academy or out, rather than where in the academy they are placed), would have signs of bias, and given the prevalince of "second best" conservatives, bias would be limited.

FINALLY, the table fails to control at all for credentials. THE ENTIRETY OF THE BIAS, being self selected, can be explained as such. If there was a self selection issue at all, wouldn't the self selection issue be shown PRIOR to the decision to go for a Ph.D.? If so, you would expect that those people who went for the Ph. D. would be of lower quality, as a whole, than their centrist and leftist friends, given that the brightest conservatives go on to legal and business careers.

In other words, this study is so flawed as to be useless, other than to create another study designed to cry bias, facts be damned.
12.21.2005 11:52am
Anonymous Jim (mail):
I know you put it in quotes but the notion that someone insists on being paid more for their intelligence, hardwork and investment is more than a bit offensive. If academics do not insist on being paid what they are worth that is their problem.

With regard to self-selection, one problem I have with the data is the focus on those with advanced degrees. Certainly there are undergraduates who are smart enough and hard working enough to make it in academia but chose other career paths.
12.21.2005 11:53am
Anon1ms (mail):
Enough holes to drive the proverbial truck through.

I think the concluding sentence gives the game away: "If freedom is a core political value, then there is something very wrong with a formulation that omits the ideology [libertarianism]most aligned with that value."

I would contend that libertarianism, if it is an ideology, is more aligned with selfish-ism rather than freedom.

Even so, the real test is not what candidates does a professor vote for, or what his or her attitude might be on OSHA regulations, but how those factors translate (if they do at all) into their interaction with students.
12.21.2005 11:55am
Justin (mail):
Goober makes a very good, but too contraversial point for me to address (that being conservative is at odds, itself, with being intelligent in an academic sense, which limits the number of intelligent academics - oddly, an issue of a different "self-selection", the "self-selection" of political ideology.

I should also point out that I know many conservative academics who voted Democratic for Kerry and/ or associate themselves with Democrats generally because they have been completely put off by the current GOP's anti-intellectual stance - this could explain Goober's "self-selection" even without making the argument that good academia by itself will trend leftwards due to the nature of liberalism and conservativism.

As I do not believe this topic can be handled maturely on this board, and because it is unneccesesary to rip the study to shreads, I will assume arguendo, without ceding, that there is no negative correlation between high quality academic work and being a Republican/conservative.
12.21.2005 11:58am
did this study include those who studied History or Anthropology-Sociology (at a graduate level) and then left the field for some sort of high-paying job outside the field? If those people are overwhelmingly conservative, that would support, rather than defeat the "greed" hypothesis.

If a conservative with a PhD in History is not in academia, that says little about greed, because most jobs outside academia (at least the kind that someone with a graduate degree will have) pay better than academia. Do you expect him to work at McDonald's just to demonstrate he's not "greedy"? I think a lot of conservatives with history PhDs would like to have an academic job, despite the lower pay, but they realize the odds are so highly stacked against conservatives in academia that they self-select out and move on with their lives. High pay is not the reason they're not in academia - it is just an incidental consequence of the choice they were forced to make.
12.21.2005 12:07pm

Stop over thinking the problem Conservatives belive in less govt, and staying the hell out of our lives
12.21.2005 12:27pm
Nobody Special:
"If academics do not insist on being paid what they are worth that is their problem."

Most academics aren't worth what they're paid, especially in the humanities and social sciences.
12.21.2005 12:28pm
Buck Turgidson (mail):
ACTA is not a trustworthy source. Their reporting is often selective and manioulative. The leadership of the organization has a strong ideological bias that has nothing to do with their academic pursuits. This report appears similar to their past screeds. Don't trust it--they drew up the conclusions long before they went snooping for data. Then they culled the data to fit the conclusions.
12.21.2005 12:29pm
Buck Turgidson (mail):
Corngrower, if you believe that the Republican Party (yes, I know, this is not an equivalent to conservatives, but I wonder if you know that) believes in a smaller government that wants to stay out of our lives, you have not been following the news lately. There are two kinds of conservatives, and the brownshirts appear to be in charge (blaming the other half as "too liberal").
12.21.2005 12:40pm
Bruce Wilder (www):
I read thru the study, and Justin's point, regarding the allegedly "narrow tent" of the left, is correct. This narrow tent is not a product of the "data" -- it is entirely a reflection of the libertarian ideology of the researchers, whose concepts of "ideal" Democrats and Republicans are ludicrous and whose choice of issue questions stacked the deck. It really is a fairly crappy study, done by some lazy people.
12.21.2005 12:40pm
Goober (mail):
Sorry Justin. I think perhaps I could have phrased in terms of the anti-intellectualism of the Republican political establishment, rather than any political bent of the nation's smartest people. I don't think there's anything inherently liberal or conservative about creationism, if you take liberal and conservative to refer to Locke and Burke, even though the political parties have made associations with the debate.
12.21.2005 12:41pm
While I have some doubts about the accuracy of this study, after reading through the comments, I don't think there should be any doubt that history and anthropology are the worst-affected disciplines.

Merely from personal and anecdotal experience (hardly empirical, I know, but still useful on some level), it's long seemed to me in the academic settings in which I've studied that those two departments were easily the farthest left. I would not be surprised if a previous comment's suggestion was true that those departments have a median position to the left of nearly any Democrat.

Though I haven't thought seriously about how to test the correlative or causative value of this hypothesis, let me suggest that the reason for this lurch to the left may be the victim-oriented slant that both disciplines have taken in recent decades. My intuition is that this history-as-a-study-of-victims emphasis drives nearly all conservatives/Republicans, who on the whole tend to believe in personal responsibility for success and failure. Even for middle of the road Democrats, the amount of shame and blame meted out in this process is probably too much to want to make a life out of it. Perhaps the focus of both disciplines is such that they cannot easily attract graduates of other views, especially for academic posts.
12.21.2005 12:57pm
Thales (mail) (www):
Yet another ideologically driven, conclusionary "study" "reported" by the Reverend Moon-financed rag, the Washington Times. Does any serious, intellectual conservative truly believe that the proper corrective to real (or more likely, perceived) leftist bias in the media or academy is sources like this study or this paper, or Fox News? The opposite of reportorial or scholarly bias is objectivity, not bias that tilts (comicly) the other way.

And aren't the professed conservatives here forgetting the lesson of Allan Bloom--the university *should* be a haven for those intellectuals who differ from the prevailing public orthodoxy, which today is right-wing?
12.21.2005 1:13pm
alkali (mail) (www):
The issue poll in the Klein/Stern study doesn't seem to be particularly informative. I'm looking at the charts on pp. 13-15 of the study (pp. 15-17 of the pdf) and on most of the 18 issues, the self-identified Dems and Reps are very close.

Specifically, the poll asked respondents to rate themselves on a 5 point scale (from "strongly support" to "strongly oppose") with respect to 18 particular policies. On 8 of the 18 issues, the average Dem is less than 1 point away from the average Rep. On no issue are the average Dem and Rep more than 2 points apart.

If anything, the results would seem to suggest that self-reported political affiliation -- and how many professors self-report either way -- doesn't really matter all that much to what they actually think.
12.21.2005 1:13pm
Justin (mail):
"While I have some doubts about the accuracy of this study, after reading through the comments, I don't think there should be any doubt that history and anthropology are the worst-affected disciplines."

Way to assume the conclusion!

To alkali's comments: Indeed, this is evidence of (but hardly conclusive evidence of) my theory about the "bias" (and I use that term loosely, because I do not want to imply causation) in academia (particularly legal academia), which is a dominance of centrism and orthadoxy, to the exclusion of the LEFT AND the RIGHT.
12.21.2005 1:47pm
AppSocRes (mail):
I don't need to understand the theory of differential forms to know that gravity exists and I don't need a study to tell me that faculty hiring policies are strongly biased against anyone that is not somewhere in the leftmost 5% of the population. I experience both gravity and the bias on an essentially continuous basis.
12.21.2005 2:44pm
frankcross (mail):
There are some real deficiencies in the study. I don't understand why people do unnecessary overreaching that undermines their credibility. Because the bottom line is hard to argue. I'm around academics all the time and as a group they are distinctly more leftist than most people.

I wish liberals would stop fighting this point, because it obscures the real questions. 1) what are the reasons for this? It's obviously not just bias in hiring because it extends to areas where such bias is implausible. 2) what should be done? I think a little affirmative action for conservatives is appropriate in some fields, including law. But that's not going to balance it and given the great diversity within conservatism may not make the faculty more representative. Ideally, you wouldn't care about representativeness, if faculty was fair-minded in their classes. But how do you control that?
12.21.2005 2:51pm
Justin (mail):
I don't know, AppSoc, I never really felt that I was being pulled down so much as pushed. ::end snark::

The reasons that many have put forth explaining WHGY the faculty skews to the left of the American general population fails to answer how the faculty would be distributed given no bias at all. Surely, nobody is expecting that republicans equal democrats in academia as a primary rule. Thus, your res ipsa loquitor argument is specious.
12.21.2005 2:54pm
Justin (mail):
Frank wrote:

I wish liberals would stop fighting this point, because it obscures the real questions. 1) what are the reasons for this? It's obviously not just bias in hiring because it extends to areas where such bias is implausible.

Well, that's WHAT liberals are fighting. Liberals are pretty much all in agreement that in the American academic world, the chances of a Democrat rather than a Republican becoming president would increase heavily if the voting franchise was so restricted. Liberals contest conservatives on two major issues. One is "why" this happens, and the other is "what" the proper distribution should be. Liberals like myself are concerned, for instance, about statism in general in the academic world, without enough voices from the left or right.

You can't answer WHAT until you get why. If there's affirmative action for Republicans, why not affirmative action for Communists and Anarchists, who make up a significant portion of PhD applicants in their own right?
12.21.2005 2:58pm
Hey Buck!

Want to keyboard a coherent post? And...Brownshirts? Who is making backhanded referencences to, GEE, I don't know...Nazis? Think? Way cool way to prove you are a bigoted bumb.
12.21.2005 2:58pm
AppSocRes (mail):

If African-Americans were as under-represented in any prestigious occupation (less than one-tenth their proportion in the general population) as conservatives are on university faculties and high-level administrative staff it would be front-page news on the NYT for whoever uncovered the scandal. To this extent the situation does speak for itself.

Three "explanations" have been put forward by liberals. Stripped to their essentials these are: (1) Conservatives are generally too stupid and biased to obtain tenure. (2) Conservatives self-select out of academia because they want to make a lot of money or are too biased to operate in an environment of dis-interested scholarly research. (3) Left-leaning scholars select as tenured colleagues those with whom they are most comfortable.

The first "explanation" is baseless. I've met many left-wing academics whose biases and stupidity are profound and many right-wing scholars who would have been a credit to any university faculty. The second "explanation" is too. I've met a hell of a lot of greedy and biased left-wing academics. I've also met many conservatives who desire public service and have scholarly capability and a talent and desire for teaching. Choosing to be forthright about their political views, they were forced to forego academic careers. The third "explanation" should embarass those who provide it. It is contemptible, but probably has some truth.
12.21.2005 3:54pm
Gabriel Rossman (www):
justin is right that the questions are horribly worded and reflect an extreme libertarian bias (for better or worse, things like legalizing heroin and eliminating progressive income tax simply aren't on the table politically). the proper thing to do would have been to adopt questions from the GSS, both because these questions are well tested and also because this gives a solid baseline of the general population. because of the wording problems it's hard to take their evidence seriously that academic Democrats are less ideologically diverse than academic Republicans. if they had asked about, say, gay marriage they might have found more uniformity among Republicans.

nonetheless, despite these methodological flaws, the study provides convincing evidence that academia is pretty far to the left. to a lesser extent, the pattern of working inside vs outside thing being negatively related to opportunity cost suggests that there is some discrimination against right-wing academics, though it may be indirect.

as for the people who say that their selection of parties was too narrow, they did include Greens as a response category, and astoundingly this party was almost as popular as the GOP among academics despite the Greens' role in reality only as an occasional spoiler party.

on a related note, nobody has noted that libertarians are also as common as Republicans in this data. this suggests that, despite klein's attempt to reduce everything to "statism," the affinity (regardless of mechanism) between academia and ideology is really for social liberalism rather than for economic liberalism. this is similar to the general trend among professonals, who are usually social liberals and economic centrists.
12.21.2005 4:00pm
Zywicki (mail):
As I interpret the study, it was a survey of only active members of the relevant professional organizations. So I wouldn't think it would include those who left the academy for whatever reason, unless for some reason they retained membership in their professional associations. I'm sure, for instance, that many nonacademic economists remain members of the AEA. It seems less obvious to me that left the field of history and became an investment banker or whatever would retain membership in the AHA.

Also, I take the criticism that "greedy" may not be the correct word or description for the alternative hypothesis (which is why I put it in quotes). I'm open to other terminology that might better capture the idea.
12.21.2005 4:29pm
Sebastianguy99 (mail):

" If African-Americans were as under-represented in any prestigious occupation (less than one-tenth their proportion in the general population) as conservatives are on university faculties and high-level administrative staff it would be front-page news on the NYT for whoever uncovered the scandal. To this extent the situation does speak for itself. "

Not only is this a loaded assertion, it really is not relevant to the study. While I will not try to ascribe a particular motive that is suggested in the tone of the comment, I will point out that the premise of the assertion is false.

A recent study directly refutes that idea that "...under-represented...on university faculties and high-level administrative staff it would be front-page news...". Here is the link.

It is not from the NYT, nor will you find it on the front page, if in the paper at all. I also didn't hear about the results of this study on CNN or any major news program.

Not only is such underepresentation on college faculities not "front page news", neither is it much of a priority in the legal profession according to The National Law Journal.

I would suggest that the discussion of this study can do without the gratuitous and false assertions about minorities in order to make a proper analysis. Assuming of course that that was the intent of the commentor.
12.21.2005 4:47pm
Justin (mail):
Sebastian, I agree the assertion is loaded and irrelevant. I did not make it.

App...the difference is clearly that being African-American is a product of being born. Being conservative is a byproduct of one's worldview, whose relationship is bound by intelligence.

Indeed, African Americans *are* highly underrepresented amongst the academic community (your ignorance notwithstanding). This is, in part, because African-Americans have been held back from college and graduate schools so long that there is too much social pressure to accept a job that makes money. Eric Alterman discusses the same phenomena in journalism in his book "What Liberal Media?"

But don't equate the two. And the idea that in a world without bias half your professors would be conservative is absolutely astounding in its idiocy.
12.21.2005 5:02pm
Justin (mail):
"nonetheless, despite these methodological flaws, the study provides convincing evidence that academia is pretty far to the left."

::smacks head into wall::
12.21.2005 5:03pm
Justin (mail):
Also, App, your completely useless anecdotal evidence, notwithstanding, do you feel comfortable with the next President being voted for by a random selection comprising the following students:

25% of the samle from Yale law school
25% of the sample from Harvard law school
25% of the sample from Stanford, Columbia, NYU, and Chicago law schools
25% of the sample from other first tier law schools

If not, then where on God's great earth do you think law professors come from? Or is the LSAT biased against conservatives?
12.21.2005 5:06pm
Sebastianguy99 (mail):
My apologies Justin.
12.21.2005 5:53pm
AppSocREs (mail):

Please correct your link. I do want to see a study demonstrating that less than 1.5% of all university faculty (1/10 of 15%) are African-American. This does not comport with data that I've seen.

Sebastianguy99 and Justin:

I do not think it is loaded assertion to point out that an institution which purports to be committed to intellectual freedom appears to be more hostile to intellectual diversity than it is to racial. If this is a loaded assertion please explain why.
12.21.2005 6:39pm
Ex-HistoryPhD (mail):
Years ago, I started down the path of a Master's and hopefully a PhD in American history. I began the 1st year at what I thought was a moderate, possibly even conservative, middle tier program with high hopes.

I found quickly that there were accepted premises that were not to be questioned at all; dogma at a time when "dogma" was a bad word. My midterm paper in Colonial Americas was not written under the standard "white male Europeans are all evil, native American populations were perfect" rubric and was immediately trounced. Of course while that paper was pending I made the mistake of telling someone my Thanskgiving plans (deer hunting) and was labeled (and called to my face) "the NRA guy" by a professor. Mind you I was not and am not an NRA member, but it did not matter.

From that point on, I was cooked. I ultimately dropped out of the program that spring. NOT because I was greedy, NOT because I was incapable (I got a Masters in Econ and am half way through the class work for the PhD) or whatever other excuse you want to cough up.

The two professional organizations at the time, AHA and OAH, were both little more than doctrine camps. OAH canceled its national conference because the hotel chain in question had been sued (just sued mind you at that point) for racial discrimination. All it takes is an allegation you are not PC and out you go. AHA wasn't much better: good luck trying to get a paper presented unless it was post-colonial, feminist, racial or queer history.

The PC revolution in history ebbed a little in the late 1990s, in large measure because other historians began writing critical pieces, but more importantly a third organization, The Historical Society formed for the express purpose of challenging the orthodoxy and imposed leftist indoctrination.

Of course the rise of the HS and the opening of AHA and OAH to other views was too late for me and from what I understand AHA and OAH have all but abandoned their mediocre efforts at expanding beyond leftist views of race/gender/sex/ethnicity. (One conference for OAH actually had set aside for military and other history slots, a policy which was abandoned the next year in lieu of more PC topics.)

I am saddened and regret losing this opportunity. And when I here people declare ex cathedra that conservatives are too dumb (I believe it was the chancellor od Duke who said that to be conservative was to be an idiot, and therefore much less likely to get a professorship, QED), too greedy or too unwilling to work with liberal academics to be "permitted" into the professorial ranks, I'm saddened all the more. I am happy to work with and study under my liberal professors, some outright neo-Marxist, who respect my views and don't require that I adhere to theirs.

Feel free to dismiss this as another "con who couldn't cut it" despite the fact that I could and did in another field. And remind me again, which is the more "tolerant" side suppose to be?
12.21.2005 7:17pm
Mr Diablo:
Chancellor at Duke?

Why don't you just try making up people who don't exist to prove your argument. Oh, it seems you already have.

Academic freedom is fine. Conservatives who think that liberal universities are oppressing them should set up their own schools.

Meanwhile, people like John Roberts, Nino Scalia and Sam Alito seem to have been right-wingers back in their school-days and managed to do just fine.
12.22.2005 4:44pm
Mucus Maximus:
He wasn't making someone up who doesn't exist, he just remembered the person's title incorrectly. It wasn't the chancellor, it was the Chair of the Philosophy Department at Duke, Robert Brandon, who said that conservatives are generally stupid.
12.22.2005 5:46pm

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Here's a tip: Reread your post, and think of what people would think if you said this over dinner. If you think people would view you as a crank, a blowhard, or as someone who vastly overdoes it on the hyperbole, rewrite your post before hitting enter.

And if you think this is the other people's fault -- you're one of the few who sees the world clearly, but fools wrongly view you as a crank, a blowhard, or as someone who overdoes it on the hyperbole -- then you should still rewrite your post before hitting enter. After all, if you're one of the few who sees the world clearly, then surely it's especially important that you frame your arguments in a way that is persuasive and as unalienating as possible, even to fools.

Our goal is to provide an interesting and pleasant environment that can help inform readers. To do that, we'll occasionally have to exercise our editorial discretion. Think of this as an in-person discussion group, where having different voices is critical to a great conversation -- but where sometimes the leader has to deal with cranks who sour the conversation more than they enliven it.

Naturally, there's always a risk that this discretion will be used erroneously, no matter how well-intentioned the editor. But discussion groups (especially on the Internet, but also off it) generally need an editor who'll occasionally make such judgments.

And, remember, it's a big Internet. If you think we were mistaken in removing your post (or, in extreme cases, in removing you) -- or if you prefer a more free-for-all approach -- there are surely plenty of ways you can still get your views out.