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heterodox academy
Saving the Academy from Itself
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  • gabrielsyme

    Ultimately, it is incompatible with academic freedom for political change to be imposed on the social sciences from some outside entity, governmental or otherwise.

    This simply isn’t so – academic freedom means that neither the institution itself nor the government can dictate to tenured professors the subject, scope or conclusions of their research. It doesn’t authorize such institutions to discriminate in their hiring or admissions. Government can certainly tell institutions that it funds that they cannot discriminate in certain ways. While discrimination against conservatives is not as invidious as racial or gender discrimination, it is no less unjust for the individual discriminated against to lose a job, a grant or a fellowship on account of his or her political views as for gender or race. Private State governments should ensure that state colleges do not discriminate, and take active measures to redress the existing inequities.

    • Andrew Allison

      I largely agree, however, I would suggest that discrimination against (not necessarily conservative) freedom of discourse is much more invidious than racial or gender discrimination, neither of which are prevalent in the academy today.

    • George Pepper

      It is nearly impossible for anyone who is openly conservative – or libertarian – to become a professor in some departments, and if you add religious belief to the mix, it becomes absolutely impossible. Take a look under the hood of what passes for art and music departments these days. There is almost no art or music that isn’t tainted by leftist political activism. What libertarian-conservative would even want to be in such an environment?

      • gabrielsyme

        Sure, and if private universities want to be leftist bastions of groupthink, that’s more or less their right (though they needn’t be eligible for government grants, nor their students eligible for government loans or scholarships). But publicly funded and publicly run institutions have no such right – indeed for the state to tolerate such partisan and religious discrimination within its institutions erodes the body politic.

        You ask who would even want to be in such an environment? There are those willing to work in tough environments – but even more you raise the issue of a hostile work environment that self-perpetuates a biased and discriminatory group. Government-appointed administrators need to use the (overly-robust) anti-discrimination tools to break the backs of those who insist that they don’t need to be fair or just to those with whom they disagree.

        • Ivan

          if a private institution wants to apply openly racist policies or discriminate on base of gender, that organization will be in deep trouble, nevertheless it’s privately own.

  • Brett Champion

    I seriously doubt that they will be able to get many, if any at all, self-identifying conservatives to go into many of the fields in the social sciences because, generally speaking, conservatives are highly skeptical that they are nothing more than left-wing grievance machines.

    • FriendlyGoat

      Which is a reason why conservatives may not go into the fields, as you say, —–but worse, would only be pains in the butt if they ever did. It took medicine and psychology a long time, for instance, to figure out the truth about how and why some people are left-handed. This effort did not need the faux “wisdom” from religion or tradition to come in and slap the left hands of such children with rulers until they “discipline” themselves to use their right hands.

      So much of “conservatism” is either cloaked religion or a mistaken belief in high-end tax cuts. There isn’t much else to it.

      • Jacksonian_Libertarian

        I’m stunned by your level of ignorance of the Conservative position. While as a Libertarian I object to the social conservatives attempts to legislate against sin, as I believe that like “courage can’t exist in the absence of fear” so to “virtue can’t exist in the absence of temptation”. Also as a Libertarian I think your statement of “A mistaken belief in high-end tax cuts” is just a strawman. The fact is, high-end tax cuts do lead to more capital investment, and more jobs, and a rising national income. But even better than that would be a flat tax, “uniform” as required by the Constitution, and a small cheap limited Government Monopoly restrained from taking authorities and powers which were never given to it in the Constitution. This is what the Economic Conservatives of the TEA Party are looking to do. Not some minor tweaking of the outrageously unfair and not “uniform” American tax code. But rather, the cutting off of entire departments, agencies, and authorities, that have been Unjustly and UnConstitutionally taken from the States and the People.
        I recommend that everyone read Article 1 Section 8 and the 9th and 10th Amendments of the US Constitution and see for yourself just how bloated with power the Federal Government has become. It truly is the Tyranny the founding fathers feared the most.

        • FriendlyGoat

          I don’t mind that you believe in low taxes on high incomes, including those derived from trading income or investment income. I don’t, okay? I don’t mind that you believe that such low taxes lead to more jobs, but I don’t, okay? I don’t mind that you believe in a “small cheap limited Government Monopoly” that would be “restrained” by no resources appropriated for anything important. But, I don’t, okay?

          I am not “ignorant” of the conservative/libertarian/constitutionalist position. I KNOW what it is—–BECAUSE I read it every day here and elsewhere from both professional authors and fellow comment writers. Being so familiar with the goals and claims of conservatism is THE REASON why I can boil them down to basically two branches of thought which are the advancement of certain religious beliefs and the advocacy of more high-end tax cuts —-low and flat, or whatever. (In fairness, I suppose I should at least acknowledge those for whom guns and the Second Amendment are the biggest concerns in their lives, which could “maybe” be a third segment.)

          In a discussion forum, there are different views. You and I have known for years that we differ. Nothing new.

        • Fred

          a social conservative, I’d like to clear up a misconception. We in no way want
          to “legislate against sin.” We oppose abortion because it is the deliberate
          taking of innocent life. We believe innocent life is sacred because of our
          religious convictions, but religion is unnecessary to see that normalizing
          taking innocent life is both wrong and destructive of society. And the fact
          that life begins at conception has been established scientifically, not just
          religiously. We oppose legalizing drugs not because doing drugs is sinful but
          because many drugs are dangerous, destructive, and inimical to the common good.
          Legal drugs would be cheaper and more readily available, and legalization would
          create a climate of approval likely to increase drug abuse and addiction and
          their destructive effects. We oppose same sex “marriage” not because
          homosexuality is sinful but because SSM redefines marriage out of all meaning
          and will thereby further weaken an already damaged institution, one that is
          vital to the maintenance and good order of society (and time will prove us
          right about SSM, just as it proved us right about no-fault divorce). We oppose
          unrestricted access to pornography not because we believe sex is intrinsically
          sinful, we don’t, but because porn has harmful effects on individuals and the
          community at large (I’d enumerate them, but this is already getting too long).
          Finally, something you Libertarians, Jacksonian or otherwise, should think
          about: You claim to want smaller, less intrusive government, but such government
          depends on citizens able to police themselves. Only those who have internalized
          self-discipline, public spiritedness, patriotism, and bourgeois values like
          hard work, honesty, and thrift can live under such government without devolving
          into anarchy. The state is an extremely poor instrument for inculcating those
          values. So where do they come from? They come from institutions intermediate
          between the individual and the state, what Edmund Burke called society’s
          “little platoons,” e.g. family, church, neighborhoods, and voluntary
          associations like clubs. When those little platoons break down, as they have to
          a large degree under the assault of drugs, no-fault divorce, abortion,
          unrestricted access to pornography, banishment of religion from the public
          square, and social liberalism in general, the values necessary for public order
          go uninculcated. When that happens, the state has no choice but to become more
          restrictive and intrusive to maintain order and clean up the mess left by the
          destruction of intermediate institutions. Do you think it coincidence that
          “progressive” statists nearly always favor socially libertarian policies?

          • FriendlyGoat

            I’m glad you oppose unrestricted access to pornography and I fully agree with you on the long list of reasons you didn’t enumerate but we both would understand as harmful.

            As a liberal, I’ve come to realize that porn is not at all the “freedom of speech” issue that some of its proponents have claimed. Freedom of speech is for individuals, not necessarily for corporations, and THAT is the problem with porn. Whether printed, filmed, or electronically transmitted, there is exactly zero pornography being produced or distributed that is not under the liability-protection umbrella of incorporated entities. This is even true of the electronic transmission of “sexting” photos between youthful individuals—-let alone video production, exhibition and transmission.

            I hope conservatives will know that some of us liberals would gladly join you on this issue—-once it’s properly defined. We need the firm hand of society on exactly what we allow corporations to do—and exactly what we don’t. Today’s porn really has nothing to do with individuals’ rights to “free speech” in the first amendment—-because individuals are not who are actually conducting the business and corporations are not who should have constitutional “rights.”

          • Fred

            I think you’re absolutely right about the “freedom of speech” issue. The first amendment was meant to cover political speech. The Founders would, to a man, be horrified by what the first amendment has been used to defend. One thing I think liberals have over Libertarians is that at least you recognize that there is such a thing as a community and a common good (even if you are tragically mistaken about what that common good is and most of your policies are destructive of that community). Libertarians tend to see people as isolated Leibnizian windowless monads whose choices affect no one but themselves.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Sooo—- we agree on being against all this porn in our culture war, and we agree on “such a thing as a community and a common good.” We even agree that “libertarian” is an under-defined word which MAY mean something like “let those who can succeed do so and to heck with trying to do any group thinking or action” (or something like that.)

            For us, Fred, this is progress. Maybe we can build on it.

          • Fred

            Well, I’m sure we still disagree about enough to keep our exchanges from getting boring 🙂

          • FriendlyGoat

            Oh, probably. But finding points of agreement is sort of exciting when we can.

      • JR

        High-end tax cuts is your own pet strawman. The fact that you reduce the entire “limited government interference” position to that is a sign of your comfort in talking about something you know as opposed to a real debate.

        • FriendlyGoat

          Most government “interference” has been enacted or constructed for good reasons. Yes, I know government is sometimes cumbersome and over the top in implementation or details. There is ALWAYS room for improvement of regulation or government activities. But conservatism seeks to pretend that all the REASONS for various forms of “interference” are invalid or unnecessary and should be blocked or disregarded.

          The “limited government interference”—–or “small government”——position is always undefined in the details. The political right just throws these around as buzzwords and nobody is ever told EXACTLY what the consequences will be against actual citizens if we elect a slate of your candidates to enact your dream. That’s why I believe the whole thing is a crock of baloney. But, hey, you knew my inclinations already. I write them to you here nearly every day—–BECAUSE—–“conservatism” is not the only viewpoint in the world.

      • Boritz

        cloaked religion

        I will support global warming claims and join trendy vaccination protests now that I know they’re conservatism.

        • FriendlyGoat

          Faith (for Christians) is Jesus. Religion (for many conservatives in the public sphere) is the Ten Commandments and the Book of Genesis, with not necessarily much mention of Jesus. Global warming is a matter of observation with attention to chemistry, physics, geology and maybe other sciences. Vaccination protest is a movement (to my understanding) which at times has been joined by both liberals and conservatives.

          • Fred

            Faith (for Christians) is Jesus. Religion (for many conservatives in the public sphere) is the Ten Commandments and the Book of Genesis, with not necessarily much mention of Jesus.

            So obedience to the ten commandments and faith in Jesus are mutually exclusive? Who knew? Certainly not twenty centuries worth of Christians.

          • FriendlyGoat

            “Mutually exclusive” are your words, not mine. I would ask you this, though. Have you ever heard of any Christians who insisted on putting the top two commandments per Jesus on a public-place monument? Maybe it has happened somewhere, but I’ve never heard of this being put on the lawns and walls:

            From Matthew 22:

            “37 Jesus answered:

            Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. 38 This is the first and most important commandment.39 The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, “Love others as much as you love yourself.” 40 All the Law of Moses and the Books of the Prophets[c] are based on these two commandments”

            Jesus apparently got the first one from what we now know as Deuteronomy 6:5 and the second from what we now know as Leviticus 19:18—–but neither of them are in “the ten”. Whenever I hear someone more energized about “the ten” than “the two”, I always wonder why.

            (The Matthew 22 quote above is in the Contemporary English Version, as copied from, one of the coolest sites on the web. 30 or more translations, fully searchable)

          • Tom

            There is an old saying among Jews that the most important verse in the Bible is Deuteronomy 6:5, and the rest is commentary.
            Many who cite this forget that, to Jews, commentary is a very big deal, because it explains how to apply what is being commentated on to everyday life. The ten explain how to follow the two, and are necessary, because left to our own devices we would define love as “goodfeels” and leave it at that.

          • Fred

            I got nothing to add to that. Kudos.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I’m not “against” the ten. I just do not believe they are the main course, and I’ve begun to notice later in life that there are a LOT of people who talk about “God”, and “creation”, and the Ten Commandments, and Sodom and Gomorrah, and end times events .

            In my experience there are not nearly as many self-identified Christian people who mention the name of Jesus in their real lives outside the walls of the churches. That, to me, is a profoundly curious matter.

            As for the Jews you reference above who believe that Deut. 6:5 is the most important verse and the rest is commentary, thank you for reminding me of another reason why Jesus is SO important to us Christians. “Love others as much as you love yourself” (CEV) is not just “some commentary” equivalent to any or all the 613 commandments which Jewish folks can find in scripture. What Jesus plucked out of Leviticus 19:18 and called the second most important thing actually falls (in our Bibles) right before Lev. 19:19 which says:

            ” 9 Breed your livestock animals only with animals of the same kind, and don’t plant two kinds of seed in the same field or wear clothes made of different kinds of material”

            An observant Jew in Jesus’s time would not have drawn the earth-shattering difference in importance between the 18th verse and the 19th—-hey, by their juxtaposed placement in scripture they’re both just “commentary”, or just “another commandment.”

            EXCEPT—-that they aren’t. And it took a to-be-crucified savior who told the story of The Good Samaritan precisely to illustrate the second-most-important commandment to pound his way through the “commentary” fog. It’s not insignificant that the Bible tells us this story was to define “who” is a neighbor. And, since you mentioned “goodfeels” as though they are insignificant, I’ll also mention that the man from Samaria “felt sorry for” (look it up) the beaten-up traveler and his sense of “goodfeel” was the reason he kindly helped—the Ten Commandments being completely irrelevant to the story.

          • Tom

            It’s really not that curious. It’s called civil religion and cultural Christianity. But whatever.

            And you really didn’t get that commentary is kind of important. But that’s okay.

            And no, “goodfeels” aren’t insignificant, but left to their own devices they’re not much good. But again, whatever.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I think it’s the difference between actually noticing and caring about what Jesus did to make “religion” come alive with relevance—–and not.

  • CapitalHawk

    O’Sullivan’s First Law applies here: Any organization that is not explicitly right wing will become left wing over time. Heterodox Academy will not be any different.

  • Blackbeard

    “The virtual absence of conservatives in some fields of social science is leading to poorer quality scholarship.”

    Somewhat understated to say the least. In fact, in politicized areas such as climate change or feminism, the bulk of social science is nothing but leftist propaganda.

    The left’s conquest of the academy, along with the media and the entertainment industry, in the post-Vietnam era, is one of the great successes in the history of political warfare and accounts for much of their electoral success. The idea that they would yield even one inch of this advantage without a bloody fight is hopelessly naive. Good luck to Haidt and his buddies but it will amount to nothing.

    • Ivan

      just want to add, that the success of this conquest was paved in 1920-50-s after seminal works of John Dewey.

      • Blackbeard

        That’s an interesting comment and I wasn’t aware of Dewey’s role. Could you explain or perhaps provide a link? Thanks.

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