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John McWhorter Joins Heterodox Academy, Critiques Religion of Anti-Racism

We are thrilled to announce that linguist and heterodox thinker John McWhorter of Columbia University has joined Heterodox Academy. McWhorter has long confounded people who tried to label him politically (though he’s on the left on most social issues), and he has continued to be confounding and original in his writings and commentary on the current campus turmoil. Here are some excerpts from his blockbuster Wall Street Journal essay “Closed Minds on Campus”, from Nov. 27:…
“When intelligent people openly declare that logic applies only to the extent that it corresponds to doctrine and shoot down serious questions with buzzwords and disdain, we are dealing with a faith. As modern as these protests seem, in their way, they return the American university to its original state as a divinity school—where exegesis of sacred texts was sincerely thought of as intellection, with skepticism treated as heresy.”

A Letter to Future Conservative Professors

As conservative professors, we are deeply troubled by the Left’s intellectual dominance in higher education. Higher education should generate and promote knowledge, considering political, social and economic questions from every perspective, rather than promoting narrow ideological worldviews. Yet with relatively few right-leaning voices in the professoriate, particularly in the humanities and the social sciences where ideas matter most, many college students receive less than the intellectually rigorous education than they deserve.

While there are many reasons for the Left’s dominance in higher education, we believe that as conservatives we bear some of the blame. Recognizing the considerable challenges created by the Left’s dominance in the academy, prominent conservatives such as David Horowitz have promoted a narrative of victimization that exaggerates the plight of the Right in higher education…

the dress

What Color is the Dress?

Perhaps you recall the worldwide debate about the color of a wedding dress? If not, here is the short version. A picture of a wedding dress was posted online along with a question: What color is this dress? It seemed that when some looked at the dress, they saw the dress to be blue and black in color while others saw the dress to be gold and white.

The ensuing debate appeared to be something out of a social psychology experiment. The blue and black camp circled the wagons, supported each other’s observations, and then disparaged the gold and white camp. Of course the same dynamics were at play in the gold and white camp. Each side was incredulous. How, they asked, could the other side be so wrong and not see it?

Those in the debate eventually called on scientists for answers. Using the science behind light wavelengths, retina sensitivity, optic nerve signaling, and the brain’s processing of visual cues, scientists eventually told us that both groups were correct in their perceptions.

Centerville Students Debate Coddle U

Last week I wrote a post titled The Yale Problem Begins in High School. I talked about an odd experience I had giving a talk at a private high school which I called “Centerville High.” The school was very progressive, very concerned with issues of diversity and inclusion. Yet I found in discussions that conservatives and boys felt silenced, and that most students felt that they were “walking on eggshells” and afraid to speak up on some issues. The post has received 272 comments so far, including thirteen from students who self-identify as being Centerville students who attended my talk. Their comments are fascinating, thoughtful, respectful, and helpful. This post presents their comments to give readers deeper insight into what is going on at Centerville, and perhaps at many other high schools. As you’ll see, the students split on exactly the issue that was the subject of my talk, and of my essay with Greg Lukianoff: Should class discussions be safe spaces in which students are shielded from ideas and statements that some of them find upsetting?

The Yale Problem Begins in High School

The Yale problem refers to an unfortunate feedback loop: Once you allow victimhood culture to spread on your campus, you can expect ever more anger from students representing victim groups, coupled with demands for a deeper institutional commitment to victimhood culture, which leads inexorably to more anger, more demands, and more commitment. But the Yale problem didn’t start at Yale. It started in high school. As long as many of our elite prep schools are turning out students who have only known eggshells and anger, whose social cognition is limited to a single dimension of victims and victimizers, and who demand safe spaces and trigger warnings, it’s hard to imagine how any university can open their minds and prepare them to converse respectfully with people who don’t share their values. Especially when there are no adults around who don’t share their values.

Affirmative Action for Conservatives?

Student activists across the nation are demanding the hiring of more minority faculty. At Claremont McKenna College, where I teach, students have pushed for faculty training to sensitize us to the ways implicit racial biases supposedly shape our hiring decisions. At neighboring Pomona College, activists insist that half of all new faculty positions must be offered to racial minorities by 2025. Whatever one makes of the merits of such demands for greater diversity, many of the arguments that inform them are far more powerful when extended to academia’s most underappreciated minority: conservative professors.

How Making Colleges ‘Safe Spaces’ Makes Us All Less Safe

In a 2013 article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Walter M. Kinbrough, President of Dillard University, recalls, “Several years ago David Hodge, president of Miami University, described the campus as a place where intellectual collisions can occur. That’s our purpose! Colleges are places where students learn and grow through intellectual collisions in and out of class, with professors, staff, and peers…

True Diversity Requires Generosity of Spirit

Diversity is inherently divisive. In a classic social psychology experiment, Henri Tajfel created artificial groups by randomly telling some people that they had over-estimated the number of dots on a page, while others were told that they were under-estimators. Without even talking to each other, people later favored the members of their group. So how..

Why are there so few non-liberals in social psychology? A closer look

Recently a paper was published by Duarte et al. (2015) discussing how political diversity will improve psychological science. The paper pointed out that while democratic/liberal views have historically dominated the field, where these views among academic psychologists outnumbered Republican/conservative views 4 to 1 about 20 years ago, today that ratio has skyrocketed to over 12..

Is social science self-correcting? Not yet. (Updated)

In our recent BBS paper, we argue that the lack of political diversity in scientific psychology sometimes leads to biased research. When ideology is embedded in research questions and measures, it can undermine the validity of that research.

In response to our concerns, some scholars have argued that science is self-correcting, and that political bias is already handled by these corrective processes.

Alice Eagly, a famed attitudes researcher, argued that social psychology is self-correcting:

“Liberal, like conservative, psychological scientists are constrained by the shared rules of postpositivist science whereby research methods and findings are public, available for all to scrutinize and critique. When bias is present in research that attracts an audience, the bias is (sooner or later) exposed and then corrected.”