10.2.04

VIEWPOINT DIVERSITY AND SELF-SELECTION. Pandagon reacts to a story about an advertisement in the Duke University student newspaper detailing a preponderance of registered Democrats on the Duke faculty.
Well, the conservative philosophy tends to be very materialistic. That's not a criticism, it's a simple observation. Conservative economic systems attempt to make it easier to acquire and retain wealth. Liberal systems, by contrast, treat money as an engine for social progress. It's nice if people get rich, but it's even nicer if everyone has health care. That ideological split is instructive. Those who can get into academia are, in most cases, highly educated and intelligent. Usually, they could be making significantly more in the private sector. So those who enter in the public sector tend to rank material acquisition as a lower priority, a value hierarchy consistent with liberal ideals. The flip side of this would be conservatives entering the private sector, as material wealth is more highly regarded within their value system and the public sector is a terrible route through which to acquire it.

If this analysis is correct, the fault lies not with the highly charged, politically active liberals. It lies with the conservatives who are unwilling to go into academia and teach the next generation. If true, then it is not up to the Left to fix the problem by shutting up, it is up to the Right to fix the problem by encouraging their best and brightest to train the young and ensure their values are given a fair hearing.
That's my understanding of the purpose of the Institute for Humane Studies and the Mercatus Center, and there are other such organizations. It would help, however, if academicians whose area of expertise is in writing or in a physical science would understand that there are rules of construction and laws of conservation in the use of money: you can't achieve social progress simply by throwing money in preferred directions.

Kieran at Crooked Timber extends the remarks on self-selection among academics in useful ways.

Returning to the Duke Chronicle article, political science chairman Michael Munger suggests "In at least one case, a department chair [c.q.] has said they thought the function of Duke was to rid conservative students of their hypocrisies." Professor Healy suggests that philosophy chairman Robert Brandon is being tongue-in-cheek when he says, "We try to hire the best, smartest people available. If, as John Stuart Mill said, stupid people are generally conservative, then there are lots of conservatives we will never hire." Tongue in cheek it might be, but I think there's a seven of hearts with his name on it. And Duke lobbyist John Burness, by asserting, "If you look at the humanities in general, there's a great deal of creativity that goes on. In a sense it's innovation, and a perfectly logical criticism of the current society, in one form or another, that plays itself out in some of these disciplines. It doesn't surprise me that you might find people in humanities are more liberal than conservative." This is the kind of sophistry that gives b.s. a bad name. Herrn. Schneider und Schwarz, the eight of hearts, nicht wahr? Tightly Wound has a concurring opinion.

SECOND SECTION: Jesse at Pandagon has more on the parallel network of policy shops for conservative intellectuals, which may or may not be the beginnings of a good industry study.

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