Thursday, October 29, 2009


Mark Bauerlein on "The Research on Ideological Bias" in the college classroom:
As we know, one of the primary positions in discussions of discrimination today is "disparate outcomes." The argument says that if a body such as a police force, an entering freshman class, country club members, etc. has a disproportionately low representation of any identity group, then discrimination is at work. It may not operate on the surface, and it may not happen through the actions of any particular individual, but the fact that, say, only 3 percent of the group is African American reveals bias.

What about the disparate-outcomes argument in ideological cases, then? If a college faculty has only an eight-percent conservatives make-up, doesn't that call for an investigation, a committee, a task force? It certainly happens when other identity groups are under-represented.

Another defense says, "Well, sure, most profs lean to the left, but that doesn't mean they bring their politics into the classroom."

But this claim runs against thinking in the humanities that has dominated for 50 years. It says that political and ideological commitments run deep, that they are often unconscious, that the assumption that we are able to suspend them is an Enlightenment myth, that "the political" is everywhere, that buried ideological premises shape so many things we take for granted that we don't realize their workings...
Many of the responses to Bauerlein in the comments illustrate the problem. Needless [I hope] to say, the solution isn't affirmative action for conservatives, but a self-conscious refusal by professors to insist on conformity to their views, and the fair presentation of intellectually respectable alternatives [which requires the acknowledgment that such exist].

Brainstorm - The Research on Ideological Bias - The Chronicle of Higher Education

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