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THE BLOG

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.”

Police killings of blacks is not (mostly) prejudice

The go-to explanation, reasonably described as a knee-jerk reaction, to almost any instance of demographic “gaps” or disadvantage, at least by most of my colleagues in social psychology, and, I suspect, in many other academic fields, is ongoing discrimination by prejudiced individuals (prejudice is now often presumed to be unconscious, typically without evidence demonstrating such..

A Social Science Without Sacred Values: Part I of an article summary

Guest post by Bo Winegard, doctoral student at Florida State University, and Ben Winegard, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Carroll College. Jonathan Haidt and others have argued that ideological uniformity has been increasing in social psychology and the social sciences more broadly. According to a recent Behavioral and Brain Sciences article, this ideological uniformity might..

A Response to John K. Wilson

I would like to thank John K. Wilson for sending me his comments about my HeterodoxAcademy blog and inviting me to respond. There are a lot of points to cover.

First, John K. Wilson disputes my finding that young people today are less tolerant than their parents. He claims “young people only seem modestly intolerant by comparison because older Americans have grown more tolerant to a degree unimaginable in human history.”

In our private email exchange, Wilson defended this argument by pointing to increased tolerance toward homosexuals. Indeed, people are more accepting of alternative lifestyles, minorities, women’s rights, etc. than at any time in the past. But political tolerance is a measure of how we handle disagreement. Tolerant people allow those they consider dangerous to society to speak and participate in the democratic process. Allowing one’s friends and political allies to speak is not a sign of tolerance. Young people may like more people, but they are especially intolerant of disagreement.

Centrism and Sociology

Conservativism doesn’t seem to be a unipolar thing, according to much of the social psychological research on political attitudes. Rather, research by John Duckitt shows you can be conservative by being high in either social dominance orientation (SD) or right-wing authoritarianism (RWA). Of course, the two dimensions are moderately correlated but they’re not the same thing. High-SDO people dislike socially subordinate groups, and high RWA dislike socially deviant (or unconventional) groups. As a centrist, however, I’ve found that there’s a lack of research on the opposite poles of these scales…

What Liberty University can teach Elite Colleges and Universities

A few weeks ago my facebook feed was somewhat abuzz with the fact that Senator Bernie Sanders was speaking at Liberty University. Yes, that Bernie Sanders, self-described socialist, speaking at that Liberty University, the education institution founded by the man who started the Moral Majority. It was not a news event I ever anticipated occurring. Even though I am a Christian, like many people I had stereotypes about the narrowmindedness of Christian colleges and did not consider that one as conservative as Liberty University would require its students to listen to a socialist.

I will spend the bulk of this blog discussing the implications of Liberty University’s decision. However, I first want to compliment the senator. It is not easy to speak in front of an audience who deeply disagrees with you. He probably did not gain one extra vote from a Liberty student by his talk. But he is committed to his vision of a better society and willing to go places where he does not have an admiring crowd. I give sincere kudos to Senator Sanders and if more of us would be willing to try to communicate with those we disagree with, then we would have a better society.