15.2.04

SEEKING THAT VIEWPOINT DIVERSITY. Andrew Sullivan invites readers to submit illustrations of intimidating or exclusionary professorial bias in today's academy. (Does that include an art historian suggesting that it would be desirable to see President Bush in some contemporary art gallery looking at something modern and pulling his chin?) InstaPundit continues to follow the story, with some of the Instalanche that went to Discriminations spilling over into Cold Spring Shops. Welcome, look around, don't move anything that has a blue tag on it. Cogno Centric has already given the recently recognized seven-spot, Professor Brandon, the Fisking his statement richly deserved, and Critical Mass continues to report from the belly of the beast, with specifics on the many factors that lead to the winnowing out of dissenting points of view long before a Ph.D. goes on the job market.

Sometimes, the viewpoint bias can seep in unconsciously. Consider, for example, the treatment of the Welfare Economics Paradigm in economics. It is easy enough to introduce market "failures" that "warrant" government corrective action. It is easy enough to design the optimal corrective action on a whiteboard. A student might easily leave a basic economics course with an understanding of economic policy that looks exactly like the Democratic Party talking points. The bias arises in the introduction of the "failure" and in the incomplete specification of "warrant." But to treat these topics properly takes time, more time than many basic courses permit, which often means these topics go only to upper-division economics students. A substantial proportion of the student body gets a vulgar and incomplete presentation of the Welfare Economics Paradigm.

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