Monday, August 31, 2015

Higher Education Not Leftist Enough? Seriously?

By Professor Doom

     My own eyes have shown me a distinct leftist prejudice on campus. I feel that people can believe whatever they want, but I’ve experienced some of the bigotry for not adhering to the Left view, and documented just how hard it is for a conservative to show discrimination against him; you can’t find it in the other direction because liberals easily outnumber any other group on campus. It’s bad enough now that there are political litmus tests for hiring and promotion.

“The extent of the tilt to the left has been growing and has now reached a magnitude not remotely matched in the past. In some areas it is so extreme that it amounts to virtual exclusion of any but left-of-center faculty members…This pattern is strongly suggestive of a conscious intent in the hiring process.“

     A recent study showed that the leftist bias among college faculty has gone from “strong majority” to “nearly no other viewpoints possible.” I don’t think it’s quite that bad in my field, but the study says it’s much worse in more politically-inclined disciplines (eg, political science and sociology).

      The study also suggests that the overwhelming majority of liberals on campus are corrupting higher education, especially In California. Again, yeah, no kidding. Micro-aggression theory, for example is ripping apart UCLA.

      How did hiring that could draw on only tiny numbers in the general population produce so large a Marxist campus presence without a substantial amount of discrimination in favor not just of the left, but of the extreme left? This suggests an illegal political test in hiring. 

     While I agree with the study’s conjecture, above, and have experienced a similar discrimination in promotion as well, it does rather beg the question: how do these people get their degrees without at least a little respect for empirical evidence? I mean, the 100% failure rate of Marxism in the 20th century—colossal, bloody failures at that, resulting in the deaths of tens of millions of human beings—should make it hard to subscribe to Marxism. I do wonder if Marxists are quite as common in the hard sciences, where empirical data is highly valued, as in the social sciences (anecdotally, I’m going with “no,” as every avowed Marxist I’ve met has been in social sciences and history).

     Anyway, the Leftist bias in academia has been well known for some time, even if the current up-spike is not so well known.

     How then, can someone write a book, Why Higher Education Should Have a Leftist Bias? The book argues that the incredible (and hypocritical) bias is actually a good thing for higher education. We’re already at the point where there’s real concern that leftist students aren’t being served in higher education because they can go their whole college career without being exposed to any other point of view. A college degree takes 40 or so classes…the bias is very strong if picking 40 Leftist professors in a row is now considered quite possible.

     Considering the huge downward slide of higher education these last few decades, there’s no existing trend in higher education I’d support. Granted, I’m not convinced the rise of bigoted Leftism is the primary cause of higher education’s ills (the student loan scam is the biggest source, with mercenary administrators not too distant a second), I see no way how making Leftism the only point of view on campus is going to help.

     Even though the book’s premise is false on the face of it, it still has a list price of—holy cow!--$84. Adding insult to injury is a major publisher (Macmillan) actually published this. Perhaps there’s a Leftist bent to the publishers, too?

    The book has a glowing professional review attached to it, but, no reader reviews (no shock, with the price so high…why would publishers publish a book that nobody would buy?). Mercifully, a Forbes article gives something far less one-sided. The blatantly false premise makes criticizing the book a little easy, but a few quotes stand out:

“From [the author’s] perspective, the dark and greedy forces of corporate America and its right-wing attack machine have prevented President Obama from moving full-throttle to transform the U.S. into the wonderful country we could enjoy. He maintains that the country is so dominated by “conservative” thinking that college professors must try to even things up.
It’s impossible to take that seriously.
Twice the U.S. elected the very leftist Obama, and has many media outlets that push relentlessly for more statist policies and demonize anyone who opposes them. …”

     Both Left and Right have their hands covered in blood regarding what’s happened in this country. It is, indeed, impossible to take seriously any claim that only one side is responsible.

There are many educators who make the principled case that big government conservatism and big government liberalism are equally blameworthy for our ills.  but Lazere dismisses them because he thinks they’re bound up with loathsome “conservatism.”

     To clarify the Forbes article, the issue probably has more to do with “big government” than with any Left or Right points of view.

     Not that Lazere doesn’t raise some good arguments, but they do nothing to advance his idea that college faculties should teach with a leftist bias.

      Back to the supposed thesis of the book, apparently there’s not much to justify why we need a Leftist bias in our education, preaching to the students the glories of their faith, regardless of whatever the course subject will be.

      The author of the book, of course, loves socialism, and says we should still espouse it despite the millions of corpses in its wake. Forbes reasonably disagrees:

There is nothing wrong in studying socialism in courses where it’s pertinent. In an advanced economics course, for instance, students might read Ludwig von Mises’ 1922 book Socialism, which would go a long way toward disabusing them of the idea that socialism can bring about the delightful world Lazere imagines. But it’s not  appropriate for professors to smuggle their naïve beliefs about socialism (or other topics) into English classes where they’re neither pertinent to the subject nor within the professor’s field of knowledge.

     I have to disagree with that last line, especially when there’s only one point of view allowed in certain fields of knowledge. I smuggle a belief or two in my classes. No, you don’t have to have “Ph.D.” after your name to be able to say something relevant.

      Hey, I admit, it’s hard not to mention politics, and I feel entitled to do so even if that’s not my so-called field of knowledge. Here’s an example of something political in my math classes:

Me: “ ’Infinity’ isn’t a number, it’s a concept referring to ‘that which is larger than any number.’
           ‘Negative Infinity’ doesn’t refer to ‘smaller than any number,’ but instead to ‘that which is more negative than any number.’
      “While it’s not possible to get to infinity, or negative infinity, the US government is currently engaged in a project to achieve negative infinity. This project is called ‘The National Debt’.”

     The class laughs at the above, and I consider it a political joke as well as commentary. As an aside, anyone else notice how economics on any level doesn’t seem to be a factor in today’s political discussion? I can’t tell you how many questions about Iran/Iraq/ISIS were in the debates, but darned if I can recall even a single question about our government’s ridiculous spending policies, zero interest rate loans to cronies, or student loans. 

     Folks, Iran didn’t get you laid off, ISIS didn’t destroy the returns on your retirement investments, and Iraq isn’t the reason our college graduates can only get minimum wage jobs….but I digress.

     Back to Forbes:

I applaud professors who succeed in improving students’ ability to employ logic, but Lazere’s approach was badly flawed in that respect. Worse, I fear that many other professors will seize upon his title and proclaim that their dogmatic, leftist pedagogy is justified.

    I fear Forbes is right on this, it’s about the only explanation for this book being published. Almost nobody will read it, but the title alone might be influential. I’ve known quite a few so-called scholars that obviously don’t read the books they claim (apparently they’re not aware the library keeps records on what books have been checked out…), but I’m sure they at least glanced at the titles.

     My own book on what should be done in higher education, how to fix it and keep it from turning into an ever more massive scam to indebt our youth, sells for about a 1/10th of the price of this pro-Leftist waste of paper…and has actual positive reader reviews. Of course, I had to self-publish. Perhaps I should have changed the title to something more Left sounding?


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