We are a politically diverse group of social scientists, natural scientists, humanists, and other scholars who want to improve our academic disciplines and universities.

We share a concern about a growing problem: the loss or lack of “viewpoint diversity.” When nearly everyone in a field shares the same political orientation, certain ideas become orthodoxy, dissent is discouraged, and errors can go unchallenged.

To reverse this process, we have come together to advocate for a more intellectually diverse and heterodox academy.

Weekly Roundup of Heterodoxy—August 26, 2016 Edition

Law professor Geoffrey R. Stone covers the history of threats to free speech, and opines on how recent campus controversies should have been handled.

Science writer Maria Konnikova contests the purported findings that personality traits cause political attitudes.

In a letter to new students, the University of Chicago dean John (Jay) Ellison declared that the university does not support trigger warnings or condone safe spaces. Jesse Singal explains the national context behind this letter. You can find other praise and criticism here.

At Heterodox Academy, we published a post on susceptibility to ideology and an invitation to become America’s first Heterodox University (see related coverage at The WaPo and the Chronicle).

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Is One Group of Students More Susceptible to Their Professors’ Ideology?

This is a guest post by Josh Sabey (@BrothersSabey).

In 1988 Frank Smith made an interesting observation. He realized that what children learned was not the result of formal instruction. A teacher, even a very good teacher, seemed to have limited influence on what was or was not picked-up by students: Two students could be in all the same classes and one might develop correct grammar while another might not.

So what caused one student to learn more or less than the other if they both had the same teachers? According to Smith, the students didn’t really learn through instruction or even conscious emulation. Instead, they acquired the characteristics of people they considered themselves to be like. It was this sense of “joining the club” that seemed to account for the students’ learning. So what really made the difference between whether Jayden or Olivia learned grammar was... Read more →

Which will be America’s first Heterodox University?

Calling all college students: Do you love the intellectual climate on your campus? Or do you sometimes wish that a broader range of viewpoints was represented in the classroom, and by invited speakers? Heterodox Academy is launching an initiative to assist students who want greater viewpoint diversity on campus. Working with students at several universities, we have drafted three short resolutions that you can use or modify as you please. If you would like to reduce political orthodoxy at your school, then please consider introducing a resolution to your student government to declare your school a “Heterodox University.” The first school to do so will earn a great deal of positive media attention, attract a much larger number of applicants, and gain a national reputation for independent thinking. It will also have a much more open and exciting intellectual climate. Read more →

Weekly Roundup of Heterodoxy—August 19, 2016 Edition

In The Atlantic, Emily Deruy describes about selective segregation on campus in light the now retracted course at Moraine Valley Community College that was exclusively for black students.

Exemplifying how not to improve viewpoint diversity, Milo Yiannopoulos collected money for a promised college scholarship for white males but deposited all the money in his personal account.

I was interviewed about heterodoxy and viewpoint diversity by The Best Schools, a guide to higher education.

The British site Spiked Online published a satirical fresher’s guide to free speech on campus.

Ravi Iyer, the executive director of civilpolitics.org, wrote about which attitudes change and which attitudes remain the same after debates about the tension between free speech and sensitivity to minorities.

In the past week, we published a blog post about a possible connection between a rise in campus protests and the drop in alumni donations.


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Protests Rise and Donations Drop: Alumni reactions to campus trends

Heterodox Academy was founded at a time during which issues of free speech and censorship were playing out on college campuses nationwide. While we appreciated the issues being brought to the table, many of us also marveled at the hostile and exclusionary methods used to bring them into focus. As it turns out, so did many alumni who have since decreased their support to many universities where these protests and requests for censorship were taking place.

In a recent New York Times article “College Students Protest, Alumni’s Fondness Fades and Checks Shrink,” Anemona Hartocollis writes about the backlash from alumni as “an unexpected aftershock of the campus disruptions of the last academic year.” More than just a reaction, this is a repudiation of the tactics used by students and of the capitulation by administrators.

From the piece:

Alumni from a range of generations say they are baffled by... Read more →

Why the centre cannot hold in America, Europe, and psychology

As political events in Europe and America got stranger and more violent over the last year, I found myself thinking of the phrase “things fall apart; the center cannot hold.”... As Yeats said, much of the problem is that "the worst are full of passionate intensity." I used this phrase as the leitmotif of a talk I gave last week at the American Psychological Association’s annual convention, in Denver where I offered my most complete statement yet on the causes and consequences of political polarization. I focused on the causes of America’s political dysfunction and then extended the analysis to Europe as well. Something is going wrong in Western liberal democracies; there is something we’re not understanding. But as long as I had the opportunity to address the largest gathering of psychologists in the world, I wanted to extend the analysis to psychology too. I showed how we, as a field, have gotten politically polarized, as with so many other academic disciplines and so many other professions and institutions. We have become part of the problem, and it is damaging our science and our ability to help our clients, patients, and students. I proposed that we must fix ourselves before we can become part of the solution. [Full video: 54 minutes] Read more →

Weekly Roundup of Heterodoxy—August 5, 2016 edition

The Chicago Tribune has an editorial about free-speech battles at DePaul University, where the former president, the Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, staked out a free-speech position while also apologizing for the consequences of certain speeches.

Today’s New York Times has a report on how alumni donations have been waning in the wake of college protests. Although their analysis only draws from 35 small, selective liberal-arts colleges, they find a general decline in the number of donors from 2015 to 2016.

The New York Times also reviewed the history of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), from its founding in 1999 through the current decade.

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Heterodox Academy is Now Open to All Tenured Professors

Heterodox Academy began in September 2015 as a collaboration of 25 professors who were actively studying and writing about viewpoint diversity in the social sciences. In our first 9 months we produced 112 blog posts that attracted 350,000 readers to the site.

Along the way we got many requests from other professors who wanted to join, even though they were not studying viewpoint diversity directly. At the same time, the climate for free speech on many campuses seems to have worsened. And not just in America, but in the UK and Australia as well. In response, we decided to open up membership to any tenured professor in any field who is willing to endorse this statement:

“I believe that university life requires that people with diverse viewpoints and perspectives encounter each other in an environment where they feel free to speak up and challenge each other. I am... Read more →

Weekly Roundup of Heterodoxy—July 29, 2016 edition

FIRE intern and student activist Erin Dunne advocated for drug reform and marijuana legalization at the University of Michigan. As a result she was fired from Residence Staff. Dunne writes about how this experience helped her gain appreciation for freedom of speech.

California State University, Los Angeles, changed its speech code to avoid a lawsuit in which CSULA was accused of limiting free speech by adding a security fee for controversial speakers. In another victory for free speech, Danny LeDonne (and ACLU) won a suit against his former employer Adams State University, who characterized his criticism of the university as “harassment” and “terrorism.

Finally, there’s little transparency in the work of bias response teams, but here’s a transcript of a bias response team conversation with a censored professor at the University of Northern Colorado. The professor, who wishes to remain anonymous, said “We had a cordial visit, but Parks [the administrator] definitely used... Read more →

The False Promise of a “Conversation” About Race

HXA member John McWhorter published a thought provoking (and provocative) piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education this week. It is behind a paywall, but we wanted to convey some of the key ideas to our audience. The article posits that the ongoing call for a conversation about race is more about the need for conversion of thought, rather than a true exchange of ideas.

The current mantra, McWhorter explains, is that “until we have that conversation, tragic disparities in income, education, employment, and health care will persist between blacks and other Americans.” He continues by pointing out that there is an idea in this country “that on race there is always a shoe that hasn’t dropped, that a certain vaguely articulated Great Day has yet to come in which whites realize their culpability [in the aforementioned disparities] and in some way act upon it…”

McWhorter contextualizes... Read more →

Common Core or 1984?

Political orthodoxy and lack of viewpoint diversity in the academy is now a well known problem, thanks in large part to Heterodox Academy and the many scholars who contribute to the site. Yet even Jonathan Haidt–one of the more productive combatants of this growing trend–will admit that intolerance to opposing ideas and the spread of victimhood culture “has its roots in high school” (see Haidt’s The Yale Problem Begins in High School). While Haidt discusses experiences he had with faculty and students at elite schools, as an English teacher at a public high school, I can personally attest that the problem has also been exacerbated by public education policy and the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

First, a bit of background. In 2009, Race to the Top, a $4.35 billion competitive grant funded by the Education Recovery Act, incentivized states to adopt the CCSS. Opting-in would... Read more →

What Explains Demographic Gaps? Simpson’s Paradox

This post was originally published at Psychology Today.

A few months ago, I posted a blog post that raised the question, “What explains racial, gender, and other group-based gaps?”  After acknowledging the existence of all sorts of gaps across all sorts of groups, I ended that blog post posing this question:


If a university admitted 70% of the men who applied, and only 30% of the women who applied, and the men and women were exactly equally qualified, would that be conclusive evidence that that university was engaging in sex discrimination?

The answer is “no.”  Before I explain why, let’s have some fun first by giving a concrete example of why answering this type of question is so important.

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“Academy is Overrun by Liberals. So What”: Jacoby’s Response to the Critique

This is a guest post by Russell Jacoby from the Department of History at UCLA.

Professor Jussim has asked me to comment on the rejoinder to my piece “Academe is Overrun by Liberals. So What?” (Chronicle of Higher Education, April 1, 2016), which he authored with Professors Woessner and Crawford. In the spirit of collegiality, I will make a few points, beginning with the observation that the headline for the essay was, of course, not my own—and does not capture its drift. Yes, certain fields at certain schools are “overrun” by liberals, but I am not convinced this is generally true—or generally matters. I noted that almost all the studies I have seen on faculty political loyalties focus on the humanities and social sciences, and exclude medical, science, engineering, and business schools, which is where the real clout resides. Why this exclusion? Woessner, et al have nothing to say about... Read more →

Does Philosophy Have a Woman Problem?

Does philosophy have a woman problem? The pattern of degrees, and evidence from hiring, suggests that the answer is no. Video, transcript and evidence, from Christina Hoff Sommers. In 2014, women earned 28% of the PhDs in philosophy. By contrast, they earned close to 60% in English, anthropology, and sociology—and 75% in psychology. When it comes to gender, philosophy looks more like math and physics. What explains the numbers?... Read more →

Free Inquiry vs. Social Justice at Brown University

By John Tomasi, Romeo Elton Professor of Natural Philosophy, Professor of Political Science and Director, Political Theory Project at Brown University

I am a professor at Brown University. The WeTheInternet (WTI) video describes events at that will alarm anyone who cares about higher education and, especially, those of us who care deeply about Brown. The central conflict presented is roughly (and, I would say, purportedly) between the values of free inquiry and social justice.

At Brown, as elsewhere, each of those values has a long and complex history. The recent events at Brown did not come out of nowhere. Different people might tell the history that led to these events in sharply divergent ways.  I would like to share my perspective on recent events at Brown. By sharing my story, I hope to help readers of this blog deepen their understanding... Read more →

A Racism Hoax at Oberlin: Free chapter from Howard Schwartz’s upcoming book

HXA member Howard Schwartz, Emeritus Professor at Oakland University in Michigan, provides readers an advanced chapter from his upcoming book Political Correctness and the Destruction of Social Order: Chronicling the Rise of the Pristine Self by Palgrave Macmillan. The book develops a psychoanalytic theory of political correctness and the pristine self, which is a self touched by nothing but love. It explores the damage that they can do to social order. Applications include the breakdown of social capital, the financial crisis, the English riots of 2011, and Occupy Wall Street. The conclusion analyses the recent debacle at Yale.

A version of the chapter on the racial hoax at Oberlin was presented as the paper we link below during the 2015 meeting of the International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations.

Paper Abstract: It is often alleged that American society is racist, even though it is acknowledged that overt expressions... Read more →

Weekly Roundup of Heterodoxy—July 15, 2016 edition

A study on conservatism and “psychoticism” was retracted (UPDATE: corrected with an published erratum) earlier this year, when the researchers reported that they wrongly coded a variable. Their data actually showed a positive correlation between liberalism and “psychoticism.” Psychoticism here simply means less respect for rules and order, and hence the scare quotes. Jesse Singal investigated further, and has a new story on why it took four years for the retraction to occur.

The Aspen Ideas Festival and The Atlantic hosted a debate entitled “Academic Freedom, Safe Spaces, Dissent, and Dignity,” with representatives from Yale, Wesleyan, Mizzou, and the University of Chicago. Also present were Jonathan Greenblatt of the ADAL; Kirsten Powers, author of The Silencing: How the Left Is Killing Free Speech; and Greg Lukianoff, president and CEO of FIRE. Conor Friedersdorf reported on the highlights of the debate for The Atlantic.

Are the free-speech attitudes of college students also found in the population at large? Foundation... Read more →

A Cordial Conversation About Industrial Relations

Brooklyn College professor Mitchell Langbert published an investigation of the academic field of Industrial Relations (known as IR). Langert’s article appeared in Econ Journal Watch, which I edit. He used voter-registration data, political contributions data, and journal content analysis to show the left orientation of the field. IR scholars tend overwhelmingly to write good things about unions and about regulation, and overwhelmingly to be Democrats. Does the field suffer from left-oriented groupthink? Read more →

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To increase viewpoint diversity in the academy, with a special focus on the social sciences.

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AAUP (American Assoc. of University Professors)
DRL in Philosophy (Diversity Reading List in Philosophy)
FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education)
NCAC (National Coalition Against Censorship)
NAS (National Association of Scholars)