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THE BLOG

The Wisdom of Polarized Crowds

Sean Stevens is Heterodox Academy’s Research Director. He has a PhD in social psychology from Rutgers University. The founding of Heterodox Academy had roots in a collaboration between five social psychologists and one sociologist that produced a featured paper, and 33 responses to it, in Behavioral and Brain Sciences.  A number of specific recommendations to..

The Campus Expression Survey: Summary of New Data

Sean Stevens is Heterodox Academy’s Research Director. He has a PhD in social psychology from Rutgers University. Back in July, I presented some preliminary data from our Campus Expression Survey (CES).  The CES was developed by members1 of Heterodox Academy in response to students and professors who say they feel like they are “walking on..

The Greater Male Variability Hypothesis – An Addendum to our post on the Google Memo

In this addendum we focus on the Greater Male Variability Hypothesis – the idea that men are more variable than women on a variety of abilities, interests, and personality traits – and the possibility that males are overrepresented in the upper and lower tails of such distributions.  This hypothesis was first proposed by Ellis over 100 years ago, in 1894.  It is also the hypothesis that Lawrence Summers was referring to in 2005 when, at the National Bureau of Economic Research Conference, he weighed in on the gender gap in STEM professions.

The Google Memo: What Does the Research Say About Gender Differences?

The recent Google Memo on diversity, and the immediate firing of its author, James Damore, have raised a number of questions relevant to the mission of Heterodox Academy. Large corporations deal with many of the same issues that we wrestle with at universities, such as how to seek truth and achieve the kinds of diversity we want, being cognizant that we are tribal creatures often engaged in motivated reasoning, operating within organizations that are at risk of ideological polarization.

In this post, we address the central empirical claim of Damore’s memo, which is contained in its second sentence.

The Fearless Speech Index: Who is afraid to speak, and why?

Norms about speech seem to be changing rapidly on many college campuses. Universities are offering or requiring training in recognizing “microaggressions,” and they are creating “bias response teams” to make it easy for students to report professors and fellow students who commit microaggressions. In response, many students and professors say they now feel like they are “walking on eggshells”, not just in the classroom but in informal interactions as well.

But how do we know that these changes are real? Might the stories just be a collection of anecdotes from a few disgruntled people who are over-reacting to being censured for a rude remark? Where is the data showing that students are afraid to speak their minds?

We know of no good survey to measure this phenomenon, so a group* of social scientists at Heterodox Academy created one – the Fearless Speech Index. This post explains the first draft of the survey and reports preliminary results obtained from an internet sample.

Dogmatic Intolerance on the Left and Right

Sean Stevens is Heterodox Academy’s Research Director. He has a PhD in social psychology from Rutgers University. Since the publication of The Authoritarian Personality, political psychologists have debated how ideology and cognitive style are associated and how this association influences political tolerance and open-mindedness.  One approach – the rigidity of the right – contends that..

Liberals, Conservatives, and Intolerance

Sean Stevens is Heterodox Academy’s Research Director. He has a PhD in social psychology from Rutgers University. Matthew Hutson at Politico briefly reviews some recent psychological research that suggests liberals are not more tolerant than conservatives of people who are not like them, findings that run counter to the long-standing view that conservatives are more..

The Legal Academy’s Ideological Uniformity

Recent research by Adam Bonica, Adam Chilton, Kyle Rozema, and Maya Sen has further explored the ideological makeup of the legal academy and compares it to the legal profession outside academia. Consistent with Rosenkranz and Langbert et al., Bonica and colleagues report that the legal academy possesses an ideological uniformity and that law professors are typically more liberal than other legal professionals.

Campus Speaker Disinvitations: Recent Trends (Part 2 of 2)

We are a little over a month into 2017 and already last year’s disinvitation outlier, Milo Yiannopoulos, has spurred a number of disinvitation attempts and event disruptions (see here, here, here, and here). Worse still is that violence has erupted at some of these events, including a shooting in Seattle and riots on the University of California’s Berkeley campus.

Given the current confrontational campus climate, part 2 of this blog looks at the actual effectiveness of politically motivated speaker disinvitation attempts. These analyses revealed that speaker disinvitation attempts from 2000 to 2016 came primarily from the left of the speaker and occurred most often for controversies over racial issues, views on sexual orientation, and views on Islam.

Campus Speaker Disinvitations: Recent trends (Part 1 of 2)

It happened frequently in 2016- a college club or the school administration invites a speaker but due to pressures from student groups or day-of protests, the event is cancelled and the speaker forced to find alternative venues or issue an apology to disappointed audience members.

FIRE recently reported that 2016 featured a record number of disinvitations to speakers from colleges and universities, 46 in total. The previous record of 34 was set in 2013. Such a figure bolsters the case that free speech is being increasingly restricted on college campuses. Yet, a closer inspection reveals that 14 of the 46 disinvitation attempts in 2016 focused on a single target, Milo Yiannopoulos. This suggests that 2016’s record number of disinvitation attempts may not be indicative of an increased level of assault on free speech on college campuses, because the record-setting number may have been driven by one outlier.

Fortunately, FIRE maintains a database documenting speaker disinvitation attempts on college campuses starting in the year 2000, allowing for a deeper investigation into campus disinvitation attempts.

This is the first of a two-part series on FIRE’s disinvitation data. This post focuses on basic exploratory analyses. Part two focuses on the political motivations behind the disinvitation attempts.