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January 05, 2004

ACADEMIC LEFTYISM....Via Pandagon, here's an interesting statistic from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics: political donations from the education industry in the current election cycle have favored the Democrats by a margin of 65% to 34%. Since this segment doesn't include teachers' unions and is "dominated by contributions from college and university professors," it's probably a fairly decent proxy for the political leanings of university professors and administrators.

This suggests that about one-third of university academics lean Republican, which hardly gibes with the conservative notion that universities are hotbeds of lefty radicalism, a conclusion they usually come to by examining the affiliations of women's studies and social ecology departments at a few selected universities and mysteriously ignoring the law schools and engineering departments.

So, yes, universities lean liberal, and some of them lean very liberal. But many of them don't, and overall they are far from monolithic. For that, you need to look at the oil and gas industry, which so far has given 83% of its money to Republicans. I wonder why?

Posted by Kevin Drum at January 5, 2004 03:48 PM | TrackBack


Comments

False metric, Kevin.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/politicselections/2003-08-20-hard-money-usat_x.htm

That task is proving easier for the Republicans because they have a much larger base of small donors, built up over the decades they were out of power in Washington. Democrats, on the other hand, had become more reliant on the now-banned big donations, which they reaped from labor unions and Hollywood liberals.

So despite the fact that republicans have a much larger base of individual donors overall, they're still outnumbered 2-1 on college campuses.

The real number, after factoring that in, would seem to be more like 1/5 or 1/6. Perhaps less.

Perhaps a more direct measurement should be taken? Couldn't a scientific poll of who they voted for in 2000 be conducted?

Posted by: Rov at January 5, 2004 04:02 PM | PERMALINK

Comments: Center for Responsive Politics is "nonpartisan"? Yeah, right. But, OK, let's look at the study.

1. Donations from "the education industry" is "dominated by contributions from college and university professors"? Sorry, but I'm going to need at least SOME evidence for this. I find it difficult to believe that persons employed by primary and secondary schools aren't important sources of contributions. Moreover, even if we look at persons "employed by" colleges and universities, it is hardly obvious that professors would outweigh EVERYBODY ELSE EMPLOYED by those colleges and universities. So, yeah, if you say that the 60+% is representative of ONLY professors, I'd be surprised. But since it seems likely that we're talking about a group that includes professors AND kindagarden teachers and janitors and bus drivers and football coaches and secretaries and alumni representatives and lunch ladies, well, it's hardly surprising that it's not 90+% pro-Democrat.

2. Even if we could separate out professors from the rest of the "education industry"... what's the point of comparing it to, say, oil & gas? Now, maybe I'm wrong about the oil & gas industry, but I don't usually think of its job as indoctrinating our youth. And the complaint is that an overwhelmingly left-wing group is indoctrinating our youth with an overwhelmingly left-wing education. A comparison to the oil and gas industry does NOTHING to dispel that complaint.

Posted by: Al at January 5, 2004 04:06 PM | PERMALINK

Rov, how does that make sense? Republicans have more individual donors overall, and individual donors break 2-1 Democratic, which actually means that it's 4-1 or 5-1...because?

I'd think that "who you give money to" is a pretty direct metric of "who you support".

Posted by: jesse at January 5, 2004 04:06 PM | PERMALINK

"Hollywood liberals"

Man I'm sick of that phrase. Does that include Arnie? Bruce Willis? Moses, er, Charleton Heston? What about Ben Stein? Rupert Murdoch anyone?

And you can see how these people are being punished for their beliefs by the liberal majority. Why, they hardly get any work at all (except Moses, who is retired).

Not like that man of the people, Rush Limberger.

Posted by: craigie at January 5, 2004 04:07 PM | PERMALINK

Al, if you read the studies in question, it's only measuring professors, lecturers and other academics, not maintenance staff, etc. So the 65-35 split does just measure educators.

Posted by: jesse at January 5, 2004 04:11 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin I'm not quite sure I understand that last sentence. Are Oil and Gas companies bad? Are you implying some sort of corruption involving these companies and republicans? I guess what I'm asking is could you please explain your "wonder why" question.

Posted by: opstock at January 5, 2004 04:16 PM | PERMALINK

Here's what I don't understand:
Why do we all seem to insist on ignoring the fact that the under-representation of conservatives in academia says more about conservatives than it does about academia.
Instead we have this bizzare scenario where a liberal like Kevin tries to deny the fact that one of the most brilliant and respectable institutions in this country is overwhelmingly liberal. Why?

Posted by: WillieStyle at January 5, 2004 04:16 PM | PERMALINK

These statistics don't appear to control for districts in which one party has a monopoly on electoral politics -- and there are a lot of those districts.

For instance, the Democratic party has a veritable monopoly on most urban school districts. There aren't too many Republicans in Washington, D.C., or Detroit, Michigan. So if a teacher's union wants to make a contribution to an elected official, they're going to contribute to a Democrat. A union which contributed to a Republican would be throwing money away.

The reverse is true in many rural districts. There aren't too many Republicans in rural Texas; any teacher's union who wants to contribute to an elected official is going to have to contribute to a Republican -- even if they don't support really favor Republican policies.

Also, the oil and gas statistic is pretty misleading. This Administration is especially friendly to those interests -- both the President and Vice Presdeint are former oil executives, for goodness' sake! A fairer example would probably be a generic big business, like automobiles, aviation, or telecommunications. These businesses might tilt Republican, but they certainly contribute many millions of dollars to Democrats. If a Democrat were in the White House, they'd be contributing even more to Democrats.

Lastly, and this cannot be emphasized enough, contributors are buying influence, and only care about their parochial issues. Ideology is secondary. The NRA has probably contribtued money to Howard Dean becuase it likes his record on the Second Amendment, even though few NRA members are likely to vote for him. Second, the contributors are not terribly ideological -- if Al Sharpton were elected to office, the police unions would gladly contribute to him, even though his record with the police is not exactly exemplary. The donors know that contributions mean access and influence, and that is what they are interested in. If they can curry favor with an official who shares their beliefs, that's great, but they'll choose one who does not agree but does their bidding every time.

For these reason, I do not believe that it is possible to infer the ideological bias of educators from these statistics. It is pretty blindingly obvious that the educators, at least at the college and university level, are much farther to the left on the axis of politics than average voters.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at January 5, 2004 04:21 PM | PERMALINK

Jesse - I think you're wrong about that. Just look up, e.g., Harvard on Opensecrets.org. You'll see lots of professors, but you'll also see physician, medical associate, staff assistant, student, dean of administration, chief technology person, scientist, administrator, investor, software engineer, etc. ... as well as people that don't list an occupation. Did the the study separate out only people who list occupation as "professor"? I doubt it. If you have any evidence to contradict me, I'm happy to look at it.

Posted by: Al at January 5, 2004 04:23 PM | PERMALINK

aargh, Kevin, this is boneheaded.

The political bias is in HUMANITIES departments.

The metric which you quote also covers engineering, science, etc. Disciplines in which the academic's political biases are not exposed to the students.

Of _course_ the metric levels out when you include other disciplines.

Sheesh.

Posted by: me at January 5, 2004 04:37 PM | PERMALINK

None of the bellyaching addresses the fact that most surveys of political leanings on college campuses underrate departments like engineering and economics, which run quite conservative on economic issues.

Let's face it, most people who get an advanced degree don't believe in creationism, don't think homosexuality can be 'cured,' don't see women's role as primarily being mothers and wives, follow the AMA in seeing pregnancy as beginning with implantation and therefore having no problem with stem cell research...

Posted by: PG at January 5, 2004 04:39 PM | PERMALINK

WillieStyle --

Your comment indicates one of the major problems conservatives (and middle Americans in general)have with liberals: if you think you are better than everyone else, at least be less obvious about it.

Posted by: Ben at January 5, 2004 04:40 PM | PERMALINK

yes yes, conservatives are poorly represented everywhere: media, government, industry, military, education, etc.. what a crock. thing is, the myth of underrepresentation and persecution plays well with the base.

Posted by: ChrisL at January 5, 2004 04:40 PM | PERMALINK

What really bothers me about these kind of arguments is the insinuation that it makes a difference whether or not professors lean towards one party or another. The way this argument is usually made is to trot out some statistic that shows an overwhelming identification with the Democratic Party in academia and then use that to prove left-wing bias in classrooms.

The connection between party tendency and bias is a very weak one. It assumes that these professionals routinely create their courses and lectures based on their political affiliations, neglecting their duties to the subject materials.

I have rarely seen professors teach in a biased manner or try to teach the platform planks of the Democratic Party - this includes four years at Berkeley. Most professors, even the most leftist of them, try to steer away from such things. You simply cannot connect party identification to classroom content. It is irrelevant what parties professors give money to, unless you're working for a political campaign and are looking for ways to raise cash.

Posted by: eugene at January 5, 2004 04:40 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, the science and engineering departments can be as right-wing as they want so long as they don't start indoctrinating students.

Also, it seems as if the administrative ranks of most universities are comprised of humanaties professors. I have never heard of math professor becoming a university president or dean, but a whole lot of english professors seem to end up in administrative positions. Is anyone out there an academic who can confirm or disprove this?

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at January 5, 2004 04:41 PM | PERMALINK

me - You don't think there is a political bias in business schools? When's the last time business schools taught anything but free-market ideas? What about law schools?

Posted by: eugene at January 5, 2004 04:42 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure on actual numbers, Joe Schmoe, but that's not strictly the case. I can think of a number of administrators who came out of the sciences at my current institution of higher ed - since that's where most of the money comes in, they've got much more experience at admin.

Posted by: eugene at January 5, 2004 04:43 PM | PERMALINK

Rov, how does that make sense? Republicans have more individual donors overall, and individual donors break 2-1 Democratic, which actually means that it's 4-1 or 5-1...because?

I'd think that "who you give money to" is a pretty direct metric of "who you support".

You're right, I left out a step.

The nation is roughly divided 50/50; 2000 showed that. Since Republicans have more donors, that must mean individual republicans are more likely to donate.

Since individual republicans are more likely to donate, the percentage of republicans is overrepresented by raw contribution figures, simply because they're more likely to contribute. How much the distortion is depends on how great the disparity is between the probability of a Democrat contributing and that of a Republican voting.

Clearly, there has to be a better way than these guessing games to figure out the real state of academia, no?

Posted by: Rov at January 5, 2004 04:44 PM | PERMALINK
Your comment indicates one of the major problems conservatives (and middle Americans in general)have with liberals: if you think you are better than everyone else, at least be less obvious about it.

What does "thinking you are better than everyone else" have to do with it?
Conservatives claim that academics are overwhelmingly liberal. Liberals for some bizzare reason deny this (rather than saying thank you).
It'd be like liberals claiming the millitary was overwhelmingly conservative, and having conservatives deny it.

My point is, if your opponent claims an admirable group of people are overwhelmingly on your side, why deny it?

Posted by: WillieStyle at January 5, 2004 04:44 PM | PERMALINK

Check out the table here. For instance, #5 is William & Mary College with contributions of $81,750 from individuals. All of it went to Dims. Harvard, the UC, Stanford, etc. etc. are almost as bad percentage-wise and worse in dollar terms.

Posted by: Lonewacko: Yes, I did blog across America twice. at January 5, 2004 04:46 PM | PERMALINK

"What about law schools?"

Sheez. Talk about ignorance!

Posted by: Al at January 5, 2004 04:46 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with willie style and his point. His point is: if its true that most highly educated people and educators are liberal--well, what would that tell you? That the more educated you get, the more liberal your politics? You can bet your boots if more college professors from serious accredited schools gave money to Bush the bush people would be trumpeting it as much as they trumpet anything that makes them look good. They brag about condi rice and her connection to stanford all the time.

And by the way, ben, there is no such thing as "middle americans" who are identical with "conservatives" and who "dont like liberals." Its a fiction. There are plenty of educated liberal people living all over this country, and plenty of educated conservatives, and plenty of uneducated people on both sides. I've lived in the "middle of america" and I am a "middle class" person and I'm both highly educated and liberal. The chip on your shoulder that you display in your response to williestyle is really embarrasing, do self styled conservatives really have nothing better to do with themselves than wonder if the rest of the country is dissing them by thinking that they are better than conservatives? Man, it really looks like you can have a one party state, dominate the political scene, rape and pillage the environment, rob the treasury blind for the wealthy and *still* have poor self esteem!

aimai

Posted by: aimai at January 5, 2004 04:49 PM | PERMALINK

WillieStyle --

Your comment sounds a lot like "of course, since professors are intelligent people, they must be liberals." If that's not what you meant, I'm sorry for taking issue with what you said. If it is what you meant, my comment stands. In any event, it sure sounded that way.

In any event, none of this is the main issue. I don't care what political leanings people have, until they allow those leanings to dictate the way they pursue their professions. When they do that, I criticize them. Conservatives primary gripes against liberal professors is that some of them don't make any effort to separate their political leanings from their professional obligations.

Posted by: Ben at January 5, 2004 04:54 PM | PERMALINK

Aimai --

It's amazing how much you can infer from what little I said. I was simply making an observation that was more tactical than anything else. As a matter of fact, there are many highly educated conservatives -- I live with many of them and work with many of them every day.

Furthermore, I don't see where you could possibly arrive at the conclusion that "it really looks like you can have a one party state, dominate the political scene, rape and pillage the environment, rob the treasury blind for the wealthy and *still* have poor self esteem!" except by a close examination of your own biases. I certainly don't desire those things, and I don't personally know a single conservative who does, either. BTW, this is why I usually don't like to argue with liberals -- it's pointless AND annoying. Go ahead and think whatever you want to think, and I'll do the same.

Posted by: Ben at January 5, 2004 05:01 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, do you ever regret your efforts to have a dialogue with the trolls and morons? It's like giving money to panhandlers -- pretty soon you become known as an easy mark.

Posted by: Zizka at January 5, 2004 05:03 PM | PERMALINK
I have never heard of math professor becoming a university president or dean, but a whole lot of english professors seem to end up in administrative positions. Is anyone out there an academic who can confirm or disprove this?

Well, David Biltmore, President of Caltech, doesn't seem to be an English prof. Nor is Larry Vanderhoef, Chancellor of UC Davis. First two universities I checked, for reasons of personal history.

Posted by: cmdicely at January 5, 2004 05:05 PM | PERMALINK
Your comment sounds a lot like "of course, since professors are intelligent people, they must be liberals." If that's not what you meant, I'm sorry for taking issue with what you said. If it is what you meant, my comment stands. In any event, it sure sounded that way.

That isn't quite what I meant so I should rephrase it to be more clear:

If your political opponents claim that professors (who I think we can all agree are pretty smart) are overwhelmingly on your side, then - whether it's true or not - why deny it?
Sometimes I swear liberals are just afraid of their own shadows. I bet if Republicans claimed that 4-Star Generals were overwhelmingly liberal, liberals would be screaming on the roof-tops about how that was absolutely not true.

Posted by: WillieStyle at January 5, 2004 05:05 PM | PERMALINK

Re: "Hollywood Liberals" from post above-- Amen, brother--- is it not obvious that if Arnold was a Democrat, he would have been excoriated as a "leftist, gay-supporting, amoral liberal"?

Posted by: marty at January 5, 2004 05:10 PM | PERMALINK

Lots of blather here from people who are doing double backflips to try and deny some fairly straightforward evidence. Click the links, folks.

These numbers don't include teachers' unions and they consist primarily of university professors. That's what the CRP itself says, and they're the ones who collected the data. If you think they're just lying for some reason, go ahead, but that's hardly a persuasive argument.

The 2004 figures are virtually all from individual donors. Of course the data isn't perfect, but it's probably a pretty decent proxy. It's certainly a lot better than the usual Weekly Standard hit piece that looks only at humanities departments and only at certain selected liberal arts universities.

WillieStyle: you misunderstand. I'm perfectly happy that academics are strongly liberal. However, they aren't overwhelmingly liberal, a charge that conservatives use to try to promote their usual "poor pitiful us" agenda. It's not true, so don't let them get away with it.

Joe: not sure where you got the idea that administrators are mostly from the humanities. I don't have figures, but my personal experience suggests this is not true at all.

Roy: there's exit poll data broken down by education level. People with postgraduate degrees voted for Gore 52%-44%, which is not wildly different from the overall result. Professors probably trend even more liberal than your average PhD holder, which would be consistent with 65%-34%. That's about the best we can get in the way of direct evidence (as far as I know).

This data taken as a whole is actually pretty good and pretty broad. What Joe considers "blindingly obvious" just isn't. If you look at all departments, not just the humanities, and all universities, including those below the Mason Dixon line, about one-third support Republicans. Sure, Harvard is heavily liberal, but the University of Alabama is heavily conservative. When you average it out, you get a picture that might not fit your preconceived notions, but is probably pretty accurate.

As for "indoctrination," don't make me laugh. Everyone here has been to college, right? Were you indoctrinated? I sure wasn't.

Posted by: Kevin Drum at January 5, 2004 05:11 PM | PERMALINK

Zizka: depends on how energetic I'm feeling.

Posted by: Kevin Drum at January 5, 2004 05:12 PM | PERMALINK

Eugene-

You are absolutely right, but I still think that the leftist bias of academia is important.

Not too many professors consciously indoctrinate their students. One of the professors at my college wore a "Vietnam Veterans Against the War" fatigue jacket while teaching class (it turned out that he'd spent the war as a Navy mailroom clerk on an aircraft carrier, but that is neither here nor there...) and a few others were flaming Marxists. The lone conservative was very forthright about it; becuase he taught political philosophy, he felt compelled to admit his baises on the first day of class, and I don't recall contemporary politics ever entering the discussions of Plato and Rousseau.

But the ideologues were the exceptions. Most of the professors tried to keep their political opinions to themselves and steered clear from politics.

Nonetheless, I thought that the campus had a pronounced liberal bias. But if it didn't come from the professors, where did it come from?

I blame the administrators and the students. They seemed to cultivate an atmosphere in which leftist political opinion was given free reign.

Every ethnic group had its own organization and student centers which received financial support from the university. The African-American students had a seperate graduation ceremony. Many students found that deeply offensive (myself among them.) Administrators were always meeting with one leftist interest group and appearing at one "minority achievement scholarship dinner" after another. They also sponsored innumerable "conferences" and "panels" on leftist issues, like diversity. I was on a couple of them myself.

If you looked at a list of upcoming symposia on a a departmental billboard, you'd see nothing but leftist speakers. For instance, in the history department, you'd see subjects like "the role of women in 14th Century France as portrayed in sculpture and tapestries," "New Insights into the Brazillian-Haitian Slave Trade, 1656-1745," and "The IWW's influence on the Progressive and Socialist Parties." At least 2/3 of the speeches seemed to have some kind of ideological bent, and it was inevitably leftist. This is highly significant because the departmental faculty chose to bring these speakers to campus.

As for the students, hardly a day went by when some liberal student group wasn't out protesting one thing or another. If it wasn't violence against women it was the lack of a student center for African-Americans, the university's native American atheltic team mascot (Chief Illiniwek), homophobia, blah, blah, blah. To here these students talk about it, our tolerant and easygoing university campus was a hotbed of society's evils.

The administrators funded these students and encouraged them. Every activist student group was allowed to use university property to air its complaints. Most of them were supported financially by the university's recreation fund. There was always a faculty advisor behind the student group who provided a lot of the intellectual steam to the student group. . All of the political student groups seemed to have some extremist facutly member whom they revered and had drinks with regularly. The non-political groups had little or no interaction with their faculty advisors; I know my athletic club's advisor simply initialed a form each year never attended any of our meetings.

You almost never saw conservative student groups, except for the College Republicans who were a little dorky. They kept pretty quiet, compared to the leftist groups. Leftist students were always marching, giving speeches with loudspeakers, or "occupying the administration building" over some petty slight. They received financial and organizational support for this from the University.

The sad thing is that if the University were going to become active in student politics, it went about it in exactly the wrong way.

When I first arrived in the dorms, I was shocked -- shocked! -- to see that the dining tables were segregated. This wasn't an official policy, obviously; it's just that the black students sat with the blacks and the white students with the whites. One day when my friend Matt and I went to sit with our friend James, who was black, people literally turned and stared. No one could remember white students ever sitting with black students before. No one disapproved of it or anything, and we weren't making a statement; we lifted weights with James almost every day and when we ran into him at dinner, we decided to sit together. People stared becuase it was so unusual to see black and white students sitting together.

What was the University's response to problems like these? To increase segregation even more! They had black-only student centers, black-only graduation ceremonies, black-only mentoring programs...the University did everything in its power to ensure that black and white students would not actually have to rub elbows with one another. Sadly, the University's actions were movtivated by a desire to help, but I think they made the problem far worse. The only time I ever came into contact with black students was at work and in extracirricular activities. There seemed to be a whole seperate university for black students. FYI, I was a history major, so it's not like I am describing the College of Engineering where everyone is a white or Asian male.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at January 5, 2004 05:19 PM | PERMALINK

"As for "indoctrination," don't make me laugh. Everyone here has been to college, right? Were you indoctrinated? I sure wasn't."

I know we all go to parties and such, but... you DID go to class at least a little bit, didn't you?

"Main Entry: in·doc·tri·nate
Pronunciation: in-'däk-tr&-"nAt
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): -nat·ed; -nat·ing
Etymology: probably from Middle English endoctrinen, from Middle French endoctriner, from Old French, from en- + doctrine doctrine
Date: 1626
1 : to instruct especially in fundamentals or rudiments : TEACH"

www.m-w.com

(perhaps you are thinking of the SECOND definition: "2 : to imbue with a usually partisan or sectarian opinion, point of view, or principle"?)

Posted by: Al at January 5, 2004 05:20 PM | PERMALINK

"a conclusion they usually come to by examining the affiliations of women's studies and social ecology departments at a few selected universities and mysteriously igoring the law schools and engineering departments."

Really? Do you have even one study that did that? Irresponsible. Surely you knew you were lying about that.

Posted by: Huh at January 5, 2004 05:24 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, Cmdicely - That is interesting. I did not know that.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at January 5, 2004 05:24 PM | PERMALINK

"These numbers don't include teachers' unions and they consist primarily of university professors. That's what the CRP itself says, and they're the ones who collected the data. "

And, as I posted above, on first glance, the data does NOT seem to fit the CRP's conclusion. You can spin the CRP as "nonpartisan" all you want, Kevin. But your and the CRP's spin doesn't respond to the objection that the the CRP's broad "education industry" grouping is NOT a decent proxy for the group you want to look at: "university professors".

Posted by: Al at January 5, 2004 05:26 PM | PERMALINK
(perhaps you are thinking of the SECOND definition: "2 : to imbue with a usually partisan or sectarian opinion, point of view, or principle"?)

Yes he was. One assumes you were too when you complained about liberal professors "indoctrinating" students. Silly Kevin was foolish enough to assume that you weren't anit-teaching.

Posted by: WillieStyle at January 5, 2004 05:28 PM | PERMALINK

Rov--
Poor people, who probably can't afford political donations at all, trend Democratic. University professors are rarely as poor as that. So the fact that Republicans overall are more likely than Democrats overall to donate doesn't mean that you can infer that Republican professors overall are more likely than Democratic professors to donate.

And what Kevin said about indoctrination. In Joe's stories it sounds like the students are driving the leftist bias. And is it indoctrination to give a scholarly talk about the role of women?

Posted by: Matt Weiner at January 5, 2004 05:33 PM | PERMALINK
WillieStyle: you misunderstand. I'm perfectly happy that academics are strongly liberal. However, they aren't overwhelmingly liberal, a charge that conservatives use to try to promote their usual "poor pitiful us" agenda. It's not true, so don't let them get away with it.

Kevin,
what I don't get is your strategy for dealing with the conservative "poor pitiful us" agenda. Yours seems to be to distinguish between academia being "strongly" liberal versus being "overwhelmingly" liberal. Why bother?
Why not go, "Sure Professors of all stripes from Phycisists to Historians are all overwhelmingly liberal. What's your point? That brilliant folks from all disciplines gravitate towards liberals?".

I mean, if your opponent is going to make your argument for you, why stop him.

Posted by: WillieStyle at January 5, 2004 05:34 PM | PERMALINK

Williestyle - I was going to repeat the aphorism about assuming, but I guess the assumption was fair enough in the context in which I used the word.

Posted by: Al at January 5, 2004 05:39 PM | PERMALINK
FYI, I was a history major, so it's not like I am describing the College of Engineering where everyone is a white or Asian male.

Actualy, these days there are quite a few Asian females as well.
Mmmmmm, Asian females *drool*
Um... sorry.

Posted by: WillieStyle at January 5, 2004 05:50 PM | PERMALINK

Why do you all think everybody who gives money to Democrats is a liberal? There are plenty of conservative Democrats (and I don't mean Zell Miller, who's a "Tom Delay Democrat") -- they just aren't wingnuts like Delay. Besides did you ever think that perhaps lots of people give money to Democrats because they don't want to give money to loons?

Posted by: Basharov at January 5, 2004 05:54 PM | PERMALINK

i don't agree that that is the most accurate measure of the phenomena. the donations of individuals at a particular school, whichever direction they lean in, don't neccesarily indicate how their policies would be written an administered. for example i went to a prestegious northeastern us school, often thought of as a 'good ol' boys' school. most of my friends were very conservative, as were a significant number of professors. However, the important individuals who controlled the administration, and the majority of their fellow administrators with power were far left, as was clearly indicated by their policies, especially of late. if you broke down the situation like you have, i wouldn't be suprised if it turned out to be fifty fifty left right, or just slightly in favor of the left. But that had no bearing on their policy and agenda, which was clearly and openly very leftist.

Posted by: jason at January 5, 2004 06:24 PM | PERMALINK

Well, if we can reminisce about our college days, I offer this for the consideration of K.D., Joe Schmoe and whatever other shut-ins are reading.

I went to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA in the mid-nineties. We were famously apolitical. The biggest "political" event was when the administration tried to block pornographic websites from the campus Internet. There was some protesting and I think the administration backed off. A reporter from Newsweek had come out to cover the protests, and the protests were so tame (a speaker for the administrations was politely applauded, and everybody went home in time for dinner) that the gist of the Newsweek story was that student protesters weren't what they used to be.

Regarding professors, I had only one who vented any personal opinions in lecture, but it was often about religion (!) or music, and I think he wanted to get a rise apathetic student more than anything else. Some of the mathematics professors were extremely conservative, to the point of being Freepers. I remember having a discussion with one (outside of class) and he would go on about "Arkansacide" and a theory that goons working for Hillary Clinton had literally castrated a political foe in Arkansas. In fairness, he kept his opinions out of the classroom and he was a cool guy otherwise.

Regarding student groups, there were almost none except for CMU Out (the gay social/politcal club) and the Campus Republicans. Perhaps because there were no other "liberal" groups to fight with, the Campus Republicans locked horns with CMU Out a lot. It wasn't pretty and I don't think it impressed many people. They also had a newspaper, and that celebratd the death of Kurt Cobain. I was no fan of Cobain's but I found that extremely tacky. Largely because of their antics, I left college with a markedly lower opinion of the GOP than the one I had when I had entered.


I went on to get a PhD in computer science and work in academia. My post-college experiences have been pretty much in accordance with what Kevin describes: academia tilts liberal but the "p.c. mania" conservatives describe seems to confined to an occasional rogue humanities clique (condescending seminars by the administration on sexual harassment are not P.C. indoctrination, but rather legal ass covering and a warning that they will not stand by you if you are accused). Science and engineering departments are pretty much like any slice of the population in an area that leans slightly Democratic. I think that on the right, libertarians outnumber social conservatives.

I think that a lot of extremist reputation comes from a few campuses and memories of the Vietnam era. I remember going to a McCain town-hall meeting and telling a Navy guy where I worked. From the look I got, I may as well have told him I was a communist spy.

Another thing: there is a large contingent of Israelis at my present appointment, and they have views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that would make Glenn Reynolds and Andrew Sullivan shudder. Pulling back to the green line and leaving the settlers to rot and all that. Maybe Israeli scientists are more radical than their American counterparts, but it was an eye-opener for me to hear what real Israelis had to say about the matter.

Posted by: Nate at January 5, 2004 06:24 PM | PERMALINK

sorry for the long post

I was getting nostalgic

Posted by: Nate at January 5, 2004 06:28 PM | PERMALINK

The Israelis are only saying that because they hate Israel. Hell, they're probably anti-semites.
Anti-Zionism is anti-semitism, after all.

Posted by: sym at January 5, 2004 06:31 PM | PERMALINK

"This Administration is especially friendly to those interests -- both the President and Vice Presdeint are former oil executives, for goodness' sake!"

I dream of the day when both the President and Vice President are former teachers.

Posted by: Ananna at January 5, 2004 06:35 PM | PERMALINK

William & Mary College with contributions of $81,750 from individuals. All of it went to Dems.

I feel the need to add that William & Mary is a famous academic "golden child" of conservatives at places like the National Review because it's supposed to be the sort of place that inculates its students with traditional academic values.

Posted by: Constantine at January 5, 2004 06:37 PM | PERMALINK

Well, on the off chance that somebody from work might see that post and starts asking who said that, nobody actually used the words "let the settlers rot". Numerous times the settlers were criticized or described as problematic. But nobody ever gave me the impression that they want their countrymen (even the ones living in unwise locations) thrown to terrorist maniacs.

Posted by: Nate at January 5, 2004 06:40 PM | PERMALINK

"Your comment indicates one of the major problems conservatives (and middle Americans in general)have with liberals: if you think you are better than everyone else, at least be less obvious about it."

Yeah. You should be humble, like Ann Coulter, or Bill O'Reilly, or Rush Limbaugh, or Sean Hannity, or...

Posted by: scarshapedstar at January 5, 2004 06:43 PM | PERMALINK

Ben, quick question: If "middle Americans" hate endless puffing and superiority complexes, why do they watch all those assholes? By the way, if the media is so biased, how do said assholes hog the spotlight so much? Coulter is on CNN every week, complaining about how she never gets on TV. Likewise, Hannity was on the Daily Show not too long ago.

Posted by: scarshapedstar at January 5, 2004 06:46 PM | PERMALINK

Hell, I go to an Environmental Science school and most of my profs are devoutly conservative. I've had one defend the medicare prescription drug benefit in class. Anyway, I think that Joe's ancedotal evidence smacks of too many screenings of PCU. The same Joe who went to school fulltime and worked 70 hour weeks.

There's a lot of excessive faux outrage on campuses, but most of that is just a couple of thousand teens discovering that someone else shares their nascent political leanings. I don't think there's any VLWC to brainwash kids into little communists. If anything there's a pronounced trend to teach people to assert themselves and their beliefs as long as they're willing to defend them. And in my experience the kids who can't or don't know how to defend their views feel like they're being persecuted.

Posted by: ChrisS at January 5, 2004 06:48 PM | PERMALINK

And while everyone's feeling nostalgic for the good old days of life in academia and striking down the claims that university presidents are all English majors, Larry Bacow, an administrator at my alma mater of MIT ended up becoming president of Tufts has a background in economics. The president of Harvard is another famous economist (and MIT alum), Larry Summers. The president of MIT had a background as an engineer (no surprise there), but was hired from the provost's position at University of Michigan. The almost-but-not-quite president of BU, Dan Goldin, was the former director of NASA.

And while some engineers and some scientists (who, I don't know-- economists are another matter-- I would claim in a statistical breakdown that scientists would be more liberal than you'd think) might be conservative, the vocal campus conservative youth almost always has a less-than-rigorous academic pedigree. I mean, seriously, everyone pokes fun of the politically active liberal [fill in field you think is flaky] majors on campus, but the bottom line is you're not publicly politically active unless you have time on your hands, and that's true even if you're Dinesh D'Souza.

Posted by: Constantine at January 5, 2004 06:52 PM | PERMALINK

Constantine probably has a point about scientists.

While most scientists I've encountered are not very political (and maybe people in math and CS aren't real scientists like physicists or biologists), there is a pronounced trend towards atheism or at least rational humanism. In America today, this is strongly correlated with liberal political views (though there are the occasional libertarians).

Posted by: Nate at January 5, 2004 06:57 PM | PERMALINK

Here at Princeton, our president is a biologist and the dean of the faculty is a computer scientist. One of our math professors is a former dean of the faculty. At Harvard, the current president is an economist, and a math professor has just been named dean of the college, responsible for the direction of undergraduate education.

Ah, Dinesh D'Souza--I remember him! I read his book in college. I was extremely impressed with D'Souza and worried about the leftist madness of college campuses until I got to the chapter about Harvard and realized that D'Souza was writing about a place that hardly resembled the Harvard I was actually attending. Crazy, crazy place, though.

By the way, the real classic of the genre is not by D'Souza or Roger Kimball--it is John LeBoutillier's truly weird _Harvard Hates America_.

Posted by: J. Ellenberg at January 5, 2004 08:03 PM | PERMALINK

in·doc·tri·nate
1 : to instruct especially in fundamentals or rudiments : TEACH
2 : to imbue with a usually partisan or sectarian opinion, point of view, or principle

Awesome, another word that Means What I Say It Means. Gonna use that one every time I debate anything from now on.


Posted by: Skinny at January 5, 2004 08:04 PM | PERMALINK

While we're discussing "indoctrination" — we were, weren't we? — and undergrad memories:

I'm an honor grad of Texas A&M — all-male until 1968, former employer of Prof. Phil Gramm, repository of the G.H.W. Bush library. I was a marketing major. I'm liberal as hell. Go figure.

When I got my graduate degree (in English, at the University of Houston, also not an institution known for flamboyant liberalism, or much of anything else) I taught rhetoric — how to read and make arguments. That's all I wanted to "indoctrinate" — the ability to construct an argument and (more important) take one apart. I flunked plenty of sincere, good-hearted, PC-licious people. One of my best students wrote essays that induced tics in my right eye; he got an A, because his offensive, retrograde, incredibly troglogdytic screeds actually were well-constructed. (Joe Schmoe, you could learn from this guy.)

The point here is — "indoctrination"? Give me a fucking break. Good teachers are apolitical in the classroom. Bad teachers — we've all had 'em, in every field. That doesn't mean we're zombified or reprogrammed or lobotomized by them.

Al et al. — You don't trust college students — legal adults — to actually think for themselves, at all, ever? You assume they show up for orientation as ambulatory infants? That, or you're assuming whatever one is exposed to for four (more or less) years overrides all previous and subsequent experience.

Are you nuts?

Posted by: nina at January 5, 2004 08:17 PM | PERMALINK
Why do we all seem to insist on ignoring the fact that the under-representation of conservatives in academia says more about conservatives than it does about academia. Instead we have this bizzare scenario where a liberal like Kevin tries to deny the fact that one of the most brilliant and respectable institutions in this country is overwhelmingly liberal. Why?

I don't know - why are most ex-cons and criminals left wingers? I think the reason is that neither group has ever had a *real job*...(ba-dum-bum!)

Posted by: godlesscapitalist at January 5, 2004 08:22 PM | PERMALINK

"William & Mary College with contributions of $81,750 from individuals. All of it went to Dems."

Actually, I wrote "All of it went to Dims." Not content to rewriting history, now my quotes must be rewritten as well.

And, if Kevin wasn't indoctrinated, perhaps that's because he was already a "liberal." Most Arizonans who come to L.A. probably don't notice that it's occasionally hot here.

Posted by: Lonewacko at January 5, 2004 08:37 PM | PERMALINK

I'll second Nina's point big time. If you know a professor's political beliefs from their lectures, they're second rate professors. Professors that preached to you were easy to manipulate, you fed them back what they told you and they thought you were brilliant and gave you an A. They were idiots. The best ones I had (in history and the humanities, in the hard sciences it barely matters) you had no idea what they believed, so you had to, like, think, and construct real arguments.
Man, that was hard. I did learn something, though.

Also, call me silly, but I think that 65% of political donations from college and university professors is a pretty good sign of liberal bias in academia. I mean, how would you feel if 65% of them donated to the GOP?

Posted by: rhinoman at January 5, 2004 09:09 PM | PERMALINK

Nina's much more right about the vast majority college teachers.

My political views are probably exactly the sort that right wingers are apparently losing sleep over when it comes to college educators. Well to the left of our host. And I teach political science--political theory even! The horror! I must be creating an army of Marxists.

But no. In fact, nothing makes me happier than getting a student to take seriously a political theory very different from their own. That may mean getting a GOP-type to see Marx was on to something pretty important, but more often it means getting an egalitarian liberal to appreciate the brilliance that is Edmund Burke. Each is equally satisfying.

For the most part, us academic types are more committed to the process of inquiry than to political positions. The indocrination stereotype view of academia implies that students sheep-like drones and their professors are incredibly petty and immature. Looks like projections to me.

Posted by: Jimbo Jones at January 5, 2004 09:10 PM | PERMALINK

Lonewacko, posts will be edited for clarity. Stop playing the victim.

Posted by: Constantine at January 5, 2004 09:17 PM | PERMALINK

ok...to all you guys trying to claim that academia is not overwhelmingly left-wing...do you guys really want lonewacko and al to start going and quoting the poll of campus professor voter registration?

Of the 32 elite institutions surveyed, there are 1397 registered Democrat professors, compared to 134 registered Republicans.

That's a 10:1 ratio, for the less mathematically inclined. Do you really want al and lonewacko to go and cite course descriptions from harvard? To read the list of student groups at brown? To print out the water buffalo directive issued at penn? Or to point out that the distribution requirements at stanford are in feminist studies and multiculturalism...rather than, say, economics and military history?

Have you guys read a sociology textbook recently?

Why Are People Poor? Two explanations for poverty compete for our attention. The first, which sociologists prefer, focuses on social structure. Sociologists stress that features of society deny some people access to education or learning job skills. They emphasize racial, ethnic, age, and gender discrimination, as well as changes in the job market—the closing of plants, drying up of unskilled jobs, and an increase in marginal jobs that pay poverty wages.

A competing explanation focuses on the characteristics of individuals that are assumed to contribute to poverty. Individualistic explanations that sociologists reject outright as worthless stereotypes are laziness and lack of intelligence. Individualistic explanations that sociologists reluctantly acknowledge include dropping out of school, bearing children in the teen years, and averaging more children than women in the other social classes. Most sociologists are reluctant to speak of such factors in this context, for they appear to blame the victim, something that sociologists bend over backward not to do.

I mean, come on. What is that but indoctrination? It is an out-and-out rejection of the idea of personal responsibility. You can't get a good grade in class if you don't "bend over backward not to blame the victim", remember? Another point - have you seen any sociology course that doesn't dismiss biology?

THE POTENTIAL RELEVANCES OF BIOLOGY TO SOCIAL INQUIRY

Jeremy Freese, Jui-Chung Allen Li, and Lisa D. Wade

Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53706; email: jfreese@ssc.wisc.edu jli@ssc.wisc.edu lwade@ssc.wisc.edu

Abstract: Sociologists often react with hostility to explanations that evoke biology, and some critics of the discipline contend that this "biophobia" undermines the credibility of sociology and makes it seem increasingly irrelevant in larger public debates. The negative reactions are many times diffuse and undiscerning of the different endeavors lumped together whenever one speaks broadly of biological (or "biosocial") explanations. We seek to introduce greater awareness of these distinctions with a review organized in terms of some of the distinct ways that the biological can be asserted to be relevant to the conduct of social inquiry. The review has three sections. First, we discuss assertions of the relevance of the human evolutionary past for understanding the character of human nature , for which evolutionary psychology currently receives the most attention. Second, we consider the work of behavioral genetics and the assertion of the relevance of genetic differences between persons for understanding differences in behaviors and outcomes. Third, we consider assertions of the relevance of particular proximate bioindicators for understanding how the biological and social interact, focusing particularly on studies of testosterone and the prospects of developments in neuroscientific measurement. We do not believe that developments in these fields will force sociologists to acquire considerable biological expertise to pursue questions central to the discipline, but we do advocate further efforts from biologically minded sociologists to articulate understandings of the relationship between sociology and biology that will continue to push us past the commonplace view that biological and sociological explanations are inevitably opposed.

In other words, the marxist idea that humans are just clay vessels and blank slates cannot be challenged in academe.

I could go on. Fem studies takes as a central assumption the idea that women=men and that men are the oppressor. It's both comical and absurd. I mean, come on - "Take Back the Night?" Are there really many potential rapists on the Harvard campus, and are said potential rapists *really* going to be shamed into inaction by this display of feminine solidarity? Or is it a retarded, pointless, self-important gesture?

you decide. but don't spend too much time on the question of whether academia leans overwhelmingly to the left. Academia is 90% left, and the military is overwhelmingly right. As WillieStyle says, it's pointless to argue over these truths, especially when the factual evidence for them is overwhelming.

(btw, just to be clear - i don't think it's good that the military is out of step with america. 90% republican is, in its own way, as out of touch with america as berkeley. Both the military and the universities are critical institutions... our freedom and our future...though it's hard to specify explicitly that they ideologically "look like america" without compromising somewhere)

Posted by: godlesscapitalist at January 5, 2004 09:45 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps this just means democrats are too poor to be noticed by your numbers...

Posted by: Eric Lindstrom at January 5, 2004 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

godlesscapitalist,

let us assume for the sake of argument that American universities are overwhelmingly liberal.
Why do you think that is? What do you think it says about liberals, conservatives and academics? Is it unjust? If unjust, what should be done to remedy said state of afairs?

I ask this because the typical conservative adendum to this rant is that sometime in the god-awful 60s, universities where unjustly "taken over" by leftists who hold sway over the minds of our young people to this very day. The weakness and incompetence on the part of conservatives that such a theory assumes has always caused me to wander why conservatives are such enthusiastic proponents of it.

Posted by: WillieStyle at January 5, 2004 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

"In the sixties and seventies centrist liberals controlled academic faculties. Because they were committed to pluralistic values, they opened the door to Marxists and other political ideologues. But as soon as the ideologues reached a critical mass on these faculties, they closed the doors behind them. The feudal hierarchies of the university made it relatively easy to create the closed system that is evident today."

I think that is exactly what happened.

I think that is exactly what happened.

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw at January 5, 2004 10:59 PM | PERMALINK

I assume that both the poll Kevin originally referred to and the one in the post by godlesscapitalist directly above are fairly accurate. They are, it should be noted, quite consistent: the large pool of professors at all higher education institutions are only 2-1 Democratic. Yet the pool of professors at the most elite institutions is more like 10-1 Democratic. This suggests that the more distinguished one is as a scholar, the more likely one is to be Democratic.

Now one conclusion a consistent conservative might draw from this is that those who have the greatest innate intelligence are most likely to be Democratic. I say this, because, of course, the standard conservative argument for why certain minorities never distinguish themselves in school, and others do is based almost entirely on innate intelligence -- see "The Bell Curve" for details.

Somehow, though, I don't think they'll be so happy to draw this conclusion in this instance.

Posted by: frankly0 at January 5, 2004 11:58 PM | PERMALINK

What a total crock of shit.

If you had ever gone to college you would know that the influence of marxists and other ideologs is minimal and totally ineffective at shutting out other ideas.

What really makes Conservatives uncomfortable on College campuses is the fact that pluralistic values are still there, and conservatives really hate to have to deal with non-groupthink environments. They find them threatening.

Posted by: Bones at January 6, 2004 12:09 AM | PERMALINK

franklyO:


the standard conservative argument for why certain minorities never distinguish themselves in school, and others do is based almost entirely on innate intelligence

The trend is international. Not just in the US. Personally, I think there's not much in common culturally between Chinese nationals and Chinese Americans...yet they both set the curve on these international science & math exams. So "culture" isn't really the best explanation here.

Now one conclusion a consistent conservative might draw from this is that those who have the greatest innate intelligence are most likely to be Democratic.

Before you start riding down that path, it's worth remembering that

a) hard science departments are far less overwhelmingly liberal (as documented in the study above), Wall Street is conservative, and Silicon Valley/high-tech is libertarian

b) felons and convicts vote overwhelmingly for the Democrats. Data:

Our work suggests that if [Florida's] 613,000 former felons had been permitted to vote — and even if you factor in a far-lower-than-expected turnout rate than the general population — Al Gore would have defeated George W. Bush by about 60,000 votes and would have been elected president. What's more, if all U.S. felons — in and out of prison — had been allowed to vote, Gore might have carried the nation by more than 1 million votes.


Williestyle:



Why do you think that is? What do you think it says about liberals, conservatives and academics? Is it unjust? If unjust, what should be done to remedy said state of afairs?

Good question. The wrong response, of course, is to replace one unthinking bias with another. I do think that ideological imbalance is a problem, both in academe and the military. I think that sort of diversity is much more important than cosmetic diversity. But i'm very leery about using quotas (or masked quotas like jeb's top 10%) to achieve this.

I think what I'd do is end the institution of tenure. I really do think that Marxism takes hold when people don't have to work for a living.
Part of this is what Sebastian was talking about, but more fundamentally it's this: if a paycheck arrives no matter *what* you do, you're going to start thinking that money grows on trees.

Ironically, I am a young academic myself (though I've worked in industry), and while it might seem counterintuitive to push for ending tenure, I think it's necessary. Tenure is like rent control - it promotes artificial scarcity of new openings and means that the deadwood aren't cleared until decades after they've been appointed. Bad for your research dollar, and bad for keeping professors sharp.

If Lawrence Summers or (ugh) Stanley Fish want to clean house, they should be able to do so.

Posted by: godlesscapitalist at January 6, 2004 12:24 AM | PERMALINK
Wall Street is conservative, and Silicon Valley/high-tech is libertarian

Actualy, both Wall Street and Silicon Valley vote overwhelmingly Democratic. The irony is that there are actualy very few Republicans on Wall Street. Granted I suspect this is mostly because Wall Street happens to be in New York and Sillicon Valley near San Fransisco but still...

Posted by: WillieStyle at January 6, 2004 12:34 AM | PERMALINK

P.S. which study is it that details the political leanings of hard scientists?

Posted by: WillieStyle at January 6, 2004 12:36 AM | PERMALINK

williestyle:

i seem to remember a poll that broke out the results by subfield. hard scientists/engineers were still democrats, but not overwhelmingly so (i.e. not 90/10 or 100/0 like sociology or fem studies). As one inexact piece of evidence in support:

First amongst these is a class of highly skillled professionals, including architects, engineers, scientists, computer analysts, lawyers, physicians, registered nurses, teachers, social workers, therapists, designers, interior decorators, graphic artists and actors. This group makes up approximately 21 of the voting electorate and their average vote in recent presidential elections has been 52% for Democrats and 40% for Republicans. In areas dubbed by the authors as ideopolises - large cities with postindustrial economies and workforces, the leftist vote was 58% compared to only 41 percent for Republicans.

Do you have links for the Silicon Valley and Wall Street stuff? I'm interested.

(btw, i'm a registered democrat. but i guess i'm a dino.)

Posted by: godlesscapitalist at January 6, 2004 12:53 AM | PERMALINK

Man this is a fun debate.
Anyway, here's an excerpt from a Washington post article titled "Voters' Values Determine Political Affiliation":

The changes have not produced a full-scale reversal of the two parties' traditional constituencies. In the bottom half of the income levels, the Democratic Party remains strong among African Americans, Hispanics and white union members, while GOP support has swelled among nonunion whites. In the top half, there has been a realignment of white, well-educated professionals (lawyers, doctors, scientists, academics), now one of the most reliably Democratic constituencies. But Republican loyalties have strengthened among small-business men, managers and corporate executives.

It seems it isn't just Academics who now swing Donkey. How does that gell with the "Marxist Cabal" explanation of liberal dominance in academia? More food for thought.

Posted by: WillieStyle at January 6, 2004 12:55 AM | PERMALINK
Do you have links for the Silicon Valley and Wall Street stuff? I'm interested.
Not on hand sorry. I'll look tommorrow. My claims were based on an amalgam of articles I had read in the past. One anecdotal Data point. On the Chris Matthews show, Jim Kramer (hardly a flaming lefty these days) made mention that the reason the Bush administration didn't pick a Wall Street guy for Secetarty of the Treasury like Clinton did was because there are very few Republicans on Wallstreet. Also, from my short time on Wallstreet, Goldman Sachs was widely considered one of the premeir seats of limosine liberalism. Finally, I recall that the New Republic had an article detailing how Sillicon Valley contributions were just as crucial to Democrats these days as Trial Lawyers'. Hence Democrats were loathe to champion stock-option expensing.

Like I said, I'll search for concrete evidence tommorrow... maybe.

Posted by: WillieStyle at January 6, 2004 01:02 AM | PERMALINK

I guess I'm a little confused as to why there is a problem here. Yes university professors are generally liberal, more so in some areas of universities and more so in some areas of the country. And yes corporations are more conservative.

Does this surprise anyone?

I would think that university professors in social sciences are probably more heavily liberal than the average person, professor or not. But so are most of their students.

At the worst, each successive generation of social scientists would become more liberal (this scenario assumes indoctrination and crushing of conservative dissent). But by the time you factor in the realization that most professors do not indoctrinate and crush dissent, and when you look at the percentage of people who choose degrees where this is even likely, you get a truly small problem (if there even is a problem).

I can honestly say that I have never lost any sleep over liberal college professors.

Posted by: Ron at January 6, 2004 06:03 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I'm going to go with Al on this one -- unless there's a study that you forgot to link, all the numbers you actually provided amalgamated everyone who works for an educational institution, not just the college professors. I assume there must be such a study, as you and Jesse have repeated this assertion several times. Could you link it?

It's actually a myth that business schools are overwhelmingly conservative. Chicago, the epicenter of free-market ideology, splits about 50/50 Dem/GOP on the faculty -- although I've heard it argued that the Dems tend to be concentrated in softer areas like HR, the GOP in FInance and Econ.

Wall Street does, in my experience, lean Democrat. Though this astonishes Dems -- how many times did I hear someone say, triumphantly, "Even John Corzine supports this SEC regulation/tax provision, so it must be a good idea!"? -- the explanation is actually consistent with a good, old fashioned rent seeking model. Wall Street keeps its cartel, which allows it to charge fees that would make a loan shark blush, through mostly Dem-sponsored regulation. And it makes the bulk of its money by employing smart young things to help its clients get around regulations and taxes. More regulations/taxes=more money for Wall Street. And given what they do for a living, they rarely have trouble minimizing the impact of any new tax laws that get enacted (particularly if they've got a friendly Dem to help write the legislation) -- the tax generally ends up falling mostly on some poor schmuck who makes $150,000 selling insurance and can't afford to "structure" his income to minimize his tax burden. This is why Senator Corzine probably has a lower effective tax burden than I do, working as a journalist.

Posted by: Jane Galt at January 6, 2004 06:05 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin - If you think law schools are chock-a-block with right-wing faculty, you really don't know much about the legal profession. At Harvard, our big worry when Charles Fried got a judicial appointment was that the Republicans and Federalists might not be able to find a faculty sponsor . . . our worries were overstated, but not by much. On the HLS faculty, Dershowitz and Tribe are centrists. And Harvard is hardly unique, and legal academics are particularly influential -- unlike the humanities, law is the study of government power, and legal academics can influence judges, can become judges, and can themselves be busy litigants. Here in NY where I practice, the legal profession as a whole leans strongly Democratic, and votes that way with its wallet.

I suspect that there are, of course, pockets of the academy where conservatives are more populous: business schools, non-Ivy-League economics departments, state universities in the South, etc. But it's also the academic Left that is most vocal and active on and off campus.

Posted by: Crank at January 6, 2004 06:15 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with Jane that Wall Streeters tend to vote Dem but I don't think it's for the reasons she offers.

I doubt the immense majority of Wall Streeters think in terms of cartels or rent-seeking. Maybe the head honchos who lobby for such things do but not the vast working masses. And although the NYSE may be protected most investment banks and bankers certainly are not. They operate in a cutthroat environment.

And there is no reason to believe that Wall Street can't get the regulations they want from the GOP. The GOP in general, and Bush in particular, have proven they are quite willing to pass legislation to benefit businesses if it helps them politically.

My view of working there is that it's social issues that drive most Wall Streeters to the Dems. They simply can't relate to the Southern GOP leadership. Over and over I have heard people in Wall Street talk disparagingly of Delay.

I think Wall Street used to be GOP leaning back when you had Rockefeller republicans.

Posted by: GT at January 6, 2004 06:19 AM | PERMALINK

In the end I think WillieStyle is correct. Unless conservatives can show that vast numbers of right-wing candidates have been denied tenure (and I have never seen anything supportingthis view) the fact remains that one of the most intelligent subsets of our population trends liberal.

Posted by: GT at January 6, 2004 06:24 AM | PERMALINK

And I may have misunderstood Jane and Al on this but how would the results change even if it turns out that the data includes all education-related personnel and not just professors?

After all most non-professor jobs are union or (relatively) low wage, right? Hardly a conservative breeding ground.

Posted by: GT at January 6, 2004 06:40 AM | PERMALINK

godlesscapitalist: hard science departments are far less overwhelmingly liberal (as documented in the study above)

Look, if, at elite institutions, the Democratic/Republican ratio is 10-1, then there's no way the hard sciences departments are going to fail to be overwhelmingly Democratic themselves, since hard science departments generally constitute a substantial portion of the overall faculty.

So the question remains: Why do the vast majority of the really really smart and really really knowledgeable people vote Democratic? Again, since you and other conservatives hold that it is innate intelligence which is by far the dominant factor in determining school performance and success in life, doesn't that imply something pretty negative about what kind of people incline toward your own views?

Doesn't it worry you that, by your own theories, you and your ilk would seem to have inherently inferior minds?

Posted by: frankly0 at January 6, 2004 07:06 AM | PERMALINK

"(btw, i'm a registered democrat. but i guess i'm a dino.)"

Posted by: godlesscapitalist at January 6, 2004 12:53 AM

Do you really expect us to believe that?

Why do right-wingers feel the need to claim such ridiculous things?

Posted by: Barry at January 6, 2004 07:07 AM | PERMALINK

Re: Earlier comments on whether or not liberals think they're better than GOPpers --

I'm a lifelong (40-something) West Texas rural liberal. And yes, except for my sainted parents, I AM a better person than almost any conservative I've ever met! :) Actually, it's my liberal friends who are better - I have too many conservative tendencies.

BTW, my conservative parents won't be voting for the boy - they can't stand his budget deficits and have seen too many kids from their hometown heading to Iraq.

Posted by: Smirking Chupacabra at January 6, 2004 07:14 AM | PERMALINK

Joe Schmoe complains about the scheduling of lectures on "the role of women in 14th Century France as portrayed in sculpture and tapestries," "New Insights into the Brazillian-Haitian Slave Trade, 1656-1745," and "The IWW's influence on the Progressive and Socialist Parties."

Sound academic subjects all. I can see why your average Joe Schmoe may not be interested. I expect that the regular corriculum regarding 14th century France had a lot to do with Phillip's disputes with Edward and the hundred years war. Maybe the papacy in Avignon. The students may have been required to do some reading of probably male authors. We probably don't have to look at sculpture and tapestry to discover men's role but I'm sure you'ld come across depictions of boar hunts and crusades and the like. So where is one going to be able to hear an expert on the role of women in 14th century France? Not Fox News.

What lecture subjects would you have prefered, Joe, and explain how you need to know any more than what Rush dishes out three hours every day?

Posted by: LowLife at January 6, 2004 07:18 AM | PERMALINK

godlesscapitalist,

I'm sort of confused by your complaints about sociology and feminine studies.

First, you seem to think it's due to some sort of bias that sociology texts are critical of the idea that poor people are poor because they're lazy. Have you attempted to explore the decades of scholarship in the field that have led to this criticism? Isn't it possible that there's something to the idea that poverty is affected by social structure?

In a way, your argument resembles the religious fundamentalist's rejection of evolution. Part of your worldview is the belief that social status, wealth, happiness, &c. are all determined by an individual's essential worth. Now it so happens that it appears next to impossible for someone who has achieved expertise in sociology to agree with that worldview. Likewise, the fundamentalist believes as part of her worldview that all life was created by an omnipotent God within the last few thousand years. She is going to run into trouble trying to find anyone who has achieved expertise in the study of biology who will validate that worldview. In both cases, there is an unresolvable contradiction between the current best understanding in the field in question and the basic axioms of your (or the fundamentalist's) worldview.

In the face of such a contradiction, there are limited options available. The fundamentalist may either modify her worldview to accomodate a Bible that is not literally true, or she may claim that the field of biology is part of a global conspiracy, under the control of Satan, against those who know the truth. Similarly, in the face of modern sociological scholarship, you may either alter your belief framework to accomodate the sociologists' conclusions, or you can attribute their opinions to a global Marxist conspiracy. In either case, pointing out the contradiction is not, in itself, evidence of such a conspiracy.

Also, I cannot ignore the irony of arguing that "the marxist idea that humans are just clay vessels and blank slates cannot be challenged in academe" through citation of an academic paper published in a sociological journal.

Second, your comments on "fem studies" are simplistic at best. You write that "fem studies takes as a central assumption the idea that women=men and that men are the oppressor." I suspect that you are deliberately oversimplifying actual feminist theory to make it appear ridiculous.

It is certainly a central assumption of feminism that the biological differences between men and women are almost entirely limited to the reproductive organs. Another central assumption is that Western society is patriarchal. Stated this way (which is how they are stated by the people who hold them), these positions seem much less "comical and absurd"; indeed, they are supported by current scientific knowledge and blatantly obvious, respectively.

Of course, it is completely accurate that an overwhelming proportion of academics in women's studies are socially liberal. It is also not very meaningful. Conservatives see no reason for women's studies to even exist; according to conservative thinking, women are underrepresented in traditional history and the arts because they have not been as important in those areas. Whether or not you think women's (or queer or African-American) studies has a place in academia comes down to the extent to which you believe that traditional humanities constitute "white male studies." This is a deeper question, one that cannot be resolved by citing the percentage of registered Republicans in women's studies departments.

You also completely misunderstand or mischaracterize the intent of Take Back the Night, but I've gone on long enough.

Posted by: tps12 at January 6, 2004 07:18 AM | PERMALINK

GT says
...one of the most intelligent subsets of our population trends liberal.

Say rather that "...one of the most educated subsets...".

Posted by: Ron at January 6, 2004 07:30 AM | PERMALINK

"After all most non-professor jobs are union or (relatively) low wage, right? Hardly a conservative breeding ground."

GT - I don't know that. Moreover, we're not looking at all non-professor jobs; we're looking at non-professor personnel who donate to political campaigns in sufficient amounts (over $200, I think) to show up in the FEC data that the CRP looks at. Above, I took a brief look at the types of people that showed up if you search "Harvard" on opensecrets.org, and it turns out there were lots of different people who donate - from physicians and medical assistants to chief technology officers and investment personnel. I don't think that they support your contention that donors other than professors are union/low-wage, and thus likely to be Democrats.

Accordingly, to me, the inclusion of donations by such persons in the data means that CRP's "education industry donations" is simply not a good proxy for "donations by professors and academics," which is how Kevin is using it.

(Also, I'll agree with Jane that Wall Street is NOT a GOP stronghold. My evidence for that is that I've worked for the last 8 years practicing securities and M&A law at large New York law firms, and I know plenty of bankers and other folks who work on Wall Street.)

Posted by: Al at January 6, 2004 07:34 AM | PERMALINK

Al,

Clarly we neeed more data but nothing I have read or heard indicates to me that non-professor university employees are significantly more conservative than the professors themselves. I suspect the opposite is true but don't really have the data.

Ron,

Both really.

Posted by: GT at January 6, 2004 07:39 AM | PERMALINK

I looked at the study that shows the 10-1 Democratic ratio at elite colleges, and realized that it did NOT include the hard sciences, although it DID include Economics departments. So I guess it remains to be seen how many in the hard sciences at elite institutions incline Democratic. I'd be very surprised if it weren't also overwhelmingly Democratic, though less so, but I'll have to wait for further info here.

Posted by: frankly0 at January 6, 2004 07:48 AM | PERMALINK

"Al et al. — You don't trust college students — legal adults — to actually think for themselves, at all, ever? You assume they show up for orientation as ambulatory infants? That, or you're assuming whatever one is exposed to for four (more or less) years overrides all previous and subsequent experience."

Nina - It's not that I don't trust college student to think for themselves. But professors aren't merely babysitters. What the professors say and how their classes are taught is bound to have some effect on what their students learn.

For example, if you took a class on US history taught by Noam Chomsky (I know he's a "linguist", but just go with me), I think it is quite likely that you'll come out with different ideas than if you took a class taught by, oh, say, Henry Kissinger. That's not because you don't "think for yourself," but simply due to the effect that the teacher has on the class. It is this type of effect - in greater or lesser degrees - that conservatives worry about.

Posted by: Al at January 6, 2004 07:48 AM | PERMALINK

GT - All I'm saying is that the data does not support Kevin's conclusion. Kevin may, in fact, be right; I don't know. But he hasn't given us anything that is particularly convincing.

Posted by: Al at January 6, 2004 07:51 AM | PERMALINK

Al,

Any reason you put "linguist" in quotation marks when referring to Chomsky?

Posted by: tps12 at January 6, 2004 07:59 AM | PERMALINK

Al,

You are right--if the student never reads any but the assigned texts, and the professor is dishonest enough never to assign anything that offers historical facts and opinions contrary to his/her own. But, of course, good students read widely, and take lots of courses on the same subject taught by lots of people. So although I took courses at harvard that were taught by conservatives (and read the books assigned) I also bought the books from courses taught by "liberal" professors and read those. That enabled me to have a very well rounded perspective and to come to my own conclusions.
Good professors, and there are good professors on all sides of the political divide, are in an ongoing *argument* (albeit a polite one) with other professors so they usually *have* to assign multiple and conflicting readings to even begin to distinguish their contribution from what "The herd" thinks.
Try to give both students and professors a little more credit. The very model of the university (as opposed to the religious doctrination of the right wing) is that the individual is responsible for educating him or herself by reading and inquiring widely and freely.
aimai

Posted by: aimai at January 6, 2004 08:08 AM | PERMALINK

"What the professors say and how their classes are taught is bound to have some effect on what their students learn. [...] For example, if you took a class on US history taught by Noam Chomsky [..] I think it is quite likely that you'll come out with different ideas than if you took a class taught by, oh, say, Henry Kissinger. "

Isn't that the whole point of the fucking' college market? The "no-cookie-cutter" principle? Don't tell me hocking my future income until 2038 to pay for Yale was a fuckin' waste when Doodoo Community College in Buttfuck Montana should have provided the exact same service for the price of a double Starbucks choco-latte?

Posted by: BP at January 6, 2004 08:37 AM | PERMALINK

tps12 - I put linguist in quotation marks because, although that is how Chomsky is described, I really don't know what it means. Maybe I should have taken linguistics 101 in college...

aimai - if college always works as you described it, I certainly wouldn't have any problem with the politics of the professorship. Unfortuantely, I don't think that the reality of college approaches that ideal. You may have been a very good student, but I'd wager that more student were like me: I read some (but not nearly all) of the assigned reading and very little outside reading, and some of my professors did not assign politically balanced (IMO) selections of readings. So I'm willing to give credit where it is due; I am just worried about the occasions in which it is not due.

Posted by: Al at January 6, 2004 08:43 AM | PERMALINK

GT
I don't like equating education with intelligence. There are highly intelligent people (able to learn new things rapidly) with little education, and highly educated people that don't know squat outside their discipline.

And I don't think you want to play up the fact that highly educated people vote Democratic. The least educated vote Dem in higher percentages than do the highly educated.

Posted by: Ron at January 6, 2004 08:49 AM | PERMALINK

I did not say that the correlation is perfect. But they are clearly related, particularly at PhD level which is where professors come from.

Posted by: GT at January 6, 2004 09:10 AM | PERMALINK

Al says: "For example, if you took a class on US history taught by Noam Chomsky (I know he's a 'linguist', but just go with me), I think it is quite likely that you'll come out with different ideas than if you took a class taught by, oh, say, Henry Kissinger. That's not because you don't 'think for yourself,' but simply due to the effect that the teacher has on the class. It is this type of effect - in greater or lesser degrees - that conservatives worry about."

... and are (yet again) intellectually dishonest about. Conservatives pretend that it's the "bias" that bothers them, but it's really the fact that the bias isn't their bias. In other words, if "the effect that the teacher has on the class" was a conservative effect, you wouldn't worry about it at all.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at January 6, 2004 09:50 AM | PERMALINK

tps12:

First, you seem to think it's due to some sort of bias that sociology texts are critical of the idea that poor people are poor because they're lazy. Have you attempted to explore the decades of scholarship in the field that have led to this criticism? Isn't it possible that there's something to the idea that poverty is affected by social structure?

Equating a belief in personal responsibility with religious fundamentalism is hardly an apposite comparison. Sociologists - almost to a man - believe that an individual's poverty or criminality is the fault of society rather than the individual. They believe that there is no relationship between how much money you make and how hard you work. I could go on, but these beliefs are *far* to the left, and out of touch with reality. I fear that we probably won't be able to get very far if you strongly believe that government/society is ultimately culpable for every decision that an individual makes.

However, we might be able to have a discussion if you agree that communism/Marxism was a murderous failure, and that capitalism has been a ringing success. All you'd have to do is compare North Korea to South Korea, or Taiwan to China, or East Germany to West Germany...three historical situations in which the hypothesis in the primacy of government over the individual as resource allocator was tested.

As for the paper, it makes the point that sociology has generally been inhospitable to biological explanations of *anything*. But humans were shaped by evolution, and with the haplotype map we're now studying human variation as well as human differences on a massive scale. The truth of behavioral genetics is coming out, and sociology will have to adapt.

bottom line: sociology-as-practiced-now is to social science as astrology is to astronomy. One cannot think about human behavior in societies while entirely neglecting evolution. Read a bit about kin selection or game theory.

It is certainly a central assumption of feminism that the biological differences between men and women are almost entirely limited to the reproductive organs. Another central assumption is that Western society is patriarchal. Stated this way (which is how they are stated by the people who hold them), these positions seem much less "comical and absurd"; indeed, they are supported by current scientific knowledge and blatantly obvious, respectively.

Biological differences between men and women are *not* limited to the reproductive organs. Consider just one reference, on the relationship between testosterone levels and aggression. Note that men and women have essentially disjoint distributions with respect to this variable - only women with something like Kleinfelter's will have testosterone levels anywhere close to that of men:

Testosterone appears to play a part in aggressive behaviour. Castration of an alpha male leads to the loss of its dominant position in a social hierarchy, the position is re-established after testosterone injections (Albert et al, 1986). There are slightly elevated levels of testosterone in groups of male violent offenders.

Albert et al (1992) suggest that maternal aggression is the female equivalent of male social aggression. The topography of the behaviour is similar with both involving lateral attack and piloerection, both are hormone-dependent (testosterone in males, estradiol in females), and the eliciting stimuli are the same for both (intruders, competition for food). The two behaviours are now sometimes both referred to as hormone-dependent aggression.

Here's another

Filled with surprising and illuminating case studies, many from Baron-Cohen's own clinical practice, The Essential Difference moves beyond the stereotypes to elucidate over twenty years of groundbreaking research. From gossip to aggression, Baron-Cohen dissects each brain type and even presents a new theory that autism (as well as its close relative, Asperger's syndrome) can be understood as an extreme form of the male brain. Smart and engaging, this is the thinking person's guide to gender difference, a book that promises to change the conversation about-and between-men and women.

and another

Doreen Kimura is Professor of Psychology at Simon Fraser University. She is the author of Neuromotor Mechanisms in Human Communication and has written on sex and cognition for publications such as Scientific American.

In this fact-driven book, Doreen Kimura provides an intelligible overview of what is known about the neural and hormonal bases of sex differences in behavior, particularly differences in cognitive ability. Kimura argues that women and men differ not only in physical attributes and reproductive function, but also in how they solve common problems. She offers evidence that the effects of sex hormones on brain organization occur so early in life that, from the start, the environment is acting on differently wired brains in girls and boys. She presents various behavioral, neurological, and endocrinological studies that shed light on the processes giving rise to these sex differences in the brain.

Aside from the dozens of popular science books, there are literally thousands of papers on the biochemistry and neurology of gender differences in both humans and closely related animals. Everything from muscles mass to patterns of sex-chromosome linked inheritance to basal concentrations of steroid hormones varies dramatically and genetically between men and women. I mean, if you really don't believe that sex hormones affect behavior, how can you explain the documented and dramatic changes in personality and aggressiveness when someone shoots themselves up with 500 cc's of testosterone derivatives?

Anyway, when feminist studies departments require a class in the basic biological differences between men and women, I'll believe they're actually interested in truth and empiricism rather than rhetoric.

Till then, I know which side is really the group of fundamentalists uninterested in evidence :)

Lastly:

Concerning Take Back The Night, I'm honestly interested in why you think it's anything more than a pointless gesture directed at the wrong people. I could understand doing it on a late night in Central Park, but in Harvard Yard? If feminists really want to Take Back the Night, they should start packing heat. That'll do a heck of a lot more practical good than entrusting your safety to a policeman who might be 20 minutes late.

Posted by: godlesscapitalist at January 6, 2004 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

A few quick hits....

Al, for the record, Chomsky is generally viewed as the most influential scholar in the field of linguistics in the last 40 years (although I understand he's starting to fall out of favor a bit). This has almost nothing, perhaps nothing at all to do with his politics and political writing. He's effectively got two careers. So you can go ahead and despise his politics without questioning his credentials as a linguist. I imagine that's what most linguists do.

godlesscapitalist's post above about Sociology reminds me why we need tenure--cherrypicked, out of context politicized attacks on unpopular scholarship don't make for climate in which serious academic work will be done. I do agree that tenure causes serious deadwood problems, and probably needs to be reformed in some way, but yikes.

If I were writing a sociology textbook, which is unlikely since I hate textbooks and I'm not a sociologist, I would not have written what he wrote. I certainly agree that "poor people are poor because they are lazy" is blaming the victim, but I suspect that is not the primary reason individual explanations have largely been abandoned by sociologists. They've been abandoned because they don't generate findings. They fail to explain large-scale trends. THat doesn't imply, as many conservatives think it does when confronted with this nugget, that they are useless or always wrong on an individual level. But sociologists are trying to explain large-scale trends. In general, social inequities tend to reproduce themselves over time and generations, but not without exception. Individualist explanations have been tried in the field--they've failed.

I think conservative students are drawn to my political theory classes, or maybe they just talk to me more. I do know, however, that many non-movement conservatives find college republicans very annoying and embarrassing becuase they focus all their intellectual energy on this notion of a vast liberal conspiracy, rather than responding to actual positions with actual coherent conservative responses. If you're conservative, in college, and not that bright, braying about bias is a nice easy feel-good way to deal with it. But it's really embarrassing for the smart conservatives. In fact, it makes it harder for them to be taken seriously by their fellow students.

Posted by: Jimbo Jones at January 6, 2004 10:35 AM | PERMALINK
"(btw, i'm a registered democrat. but i guess i'm a dino.)"

Posted by: godlesscapitalist at January 6, 2004 12:53 AM

Do you really expect us to believe that?

Why do right-wingers feel the need to claim such ridiculous things?

Barry: I liked Clinton. I voted for him. I voted and campaigned for Gore. Clinton was pretty libertarian - pro free-market and pro social freedoms. The Clinton-Gore years were good for America.

Bush is an awful president domestically. Anti free-market, pro bureaucracy, and anti-abortion. I'm not a fan. Foreign policy wise, though, I'm a strong supporter of Afghanistan and a lukewarm supporter of Iraq.

I would probably have voted for Wesley Clark or even John Edwards over Bush, though neither will get the nomination. I want a pro free-market, pro-defense Democrat, or a pro-social freedoms Republican.

But I have very little in common with the anti-American campus left that I have to deal with on a regular basis.

Posted by: godlesscapitalist at January 6, 2004 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

One thing that I think got missed is the "education industry" covers not just college but K-12. Elementary and high school teachers aren't as liberal as college professors and vastly outnumber them. K-12 teachers are largely centrist, but the NEA and liberal college profs will create the two-thirds Democratic result

Posted by: Mark Byron at January 6, 2004 10:43 AM | PERMALINK
They've been abandoned because they don't generate findings. They fail to explain large-scale trends. THat doesn't imply, as many conservatives think it does when confronted with this nugget, that they are useless or always wrong on an individual level. But sociologists are trying to explain large-scale trends. In general, social inequities tend to reproduce themselves over time and generations, but not without exception. Individualist explanations have been tried in the field--they've failed.

Sociologists need to take a few courses in population genetics, biochemistry, and molecular evolution.

Maybe then they can talk about how "individualist explanations have been tried, and how they've failed". Personally, I'd take the discoveries produced by modern medicine and biochemistry - with their retrograde, individualist explanations of phenomena - over sociology any day of the week.

Posted by: godlesscapitalist at January 6, 2004 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

godlesscapitalist,

It would seem you have a fundamental methodological, perhaps even epistemological objection to the vast majority of work in the field of sociology, and sociological inquiry more generally. I happen to disagree with you on that front, but I don't really have the time, energy and interest to engage in that debate right now.

I will, however, say this: I have no reason to assume you're views on this matter have anything to do you with your politics (let alone is front for your politics), so I won't. Doesn't it make sense to extend the same courtesy to an entire discipline? Wouldn't the alternative be rather paranoid?

On an unrelated note, I really appreciated your post about Clinton--not because I particularly share your politics or your enthusiasm about Clinton, but because libertarian-leaning moderates or right-of-center people so rarely appreciate how much Clinton was often on their side.

Posted by: Jimbo Jones at January 6, 2004 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

Jimbo:

Agreed on Clinton. Domestically, I really have no complaints about the Clinton years. Balanced budget, NAFTA, welfare reform, WTO, reinventing government...good stuff, even if it was "triangulation". Monica was total bullshit. Heck, I even donated to MoveOn when it was still DLC friendly, and before it started running Bush = Hitler ads. And I could do without Ashcroft's goons spending valuable terrorist-fighting time on raiding medical marijuana facilities or prosecuting porno makers.

Foreign policy wise, well, Clinton did give the North Koreans a nuclear reactor. And he admitted that he let Osama out of his hands, and inspections of Saddam stopped under his watch (regardless of whether Saddam had WMD, we should have kept an eye on him). So he wasn't perfect. But in his defense, Americans weren't really ready for grand wars on terror pre-9/11.

But I digress. You're correct that I have big problems with the methodology of the academic left. You can't talk about human behavior without talking about human biology. Yes, we are programmable to an extent - but not infinitely so. But the blank slate orthodoxy reigns over most of the non-hard sciences - which means their methodology is foundationally flawed.

Part of this is because of an irrational fear of the boogieman of "genetic determinism". As illustrated by the unusually frank quotation above, many sociologists believe that even if they're wrong, at least they're on the side of the angels for "not blaming the victim". After all, isn't that what *Hitler* did? (rolls eyes). Sadly, one of the tragedies of the modern era is that people don't know that the blank slate ideology was as central to mass murdering Communist regimes as genetic determinism was to Nazism. Everyone knows Mengele, but how many know Lysenko? And so it goes.

It really boils down to the fundamental left/right divide. The left thinks that the rich are stupid and lazy, while the right thinks that the poor are stupid and lazy. Sometimes one side or another is correct. But in 2004, America is as meritocratic a society as has ever existed on the face of the earth. Income mobility is super high in the US. One is judged by one's SAT scores - not one's pedigree (though there are enduring exceptions, like Ted Kennedy and GWB).

What people don't get is that this idea - the idea of the Jeffersonian natural aristocracy, of meritocracy - was originally a left wing idea. When the rich *were* stupid and lazy bluebloods, the SAT was revolutionary. Read about Conant sometime.

Nowadays, though, the rich aren't bluebloods. Most millionaires don't have inherited wealth. Who works harder - an Asian software programmer in Silicon Valley pulling 100 hour weeks, or a guy pulling 40 hours at McDonald's because he was too shiftless to get his GED?

You might disagree, but it's good for people (like tps above) to see *why* people believe in personal responsibility. It's insulting to people who came to this country with five dollars in their pocket to say that their success was because they were part of a "favored group" rather than their own hard work. Might not be "blaming the victim", but it sure is playa-hatin'....

Posted by: godlesscapitalist at January 6, 2004 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Hey! I said I didn't want to do this! :)

Seriously, I simply don't have the time to debate the larger issue here. If you want to take that as a cop-out, well, I can't really stop you. I'll just say this: I don't think the bulk of sociological inquiry, and the methodologies that underlie them, necessarily rely on a blank slate assumption. The strategy of almost everyone who says anything about any version of a the nature/nurture debate is to say they're open to mixed answer but the other side isn't. I don't buy it (from either side).

And I'm less than convinced by your claim that the era of bluebloods is over. But that's an empirical question, I'll leave it to others to hash it out. For some reason, I can't get your links to work, but I think that's my fault, not yours. My computer is mysterious and evil.

But forget that. I'm not getting pulled in. Let's grant everything you say. Let's say sociology is a fundamentally flawed discipline that's useless in its current form. Does that necessarily imply that their wrongness is politically motivated? Couldn't they just be wrong? Large groups of smart people have been shown to be wrong before for entirely apolitical reasons.

Posted by: Jimbo Jones at January 6, 2004 01:08 PM | PERMALINK

Does that necessarily imply that their wrongness is politically motivated? Couldn't they just be wrong? Large groups of smart people have been shown to be wrong before for entirely apolitical reasons.

Short answer: no, because sociology textbooks read like Green Party press releases.

Long answer: no, and a contrast with economics is useful. In econ, the Marxist/protectionist point of view is debated ad nauseum. Everyone learns about the other side. But in sociology, people who think that biology might have something to do with human behavior are excommunicated right away. So are the people who think personal responsibility enters into the equation.

Also, re: nature/nurture...honestly, I don't think that most radical nurturists accept that genetics has any influence on human behavior. Look at tps above - with all due respect, it's 2004, but s/he's making flat earth comments about how the only difference between men and women is in the shape of their reproductive organs.

that's not someone open to the idea that nature is important *at all*.

Posted by: godlesscapitalist at January 6, 2004 01:18 PM | PERMALINK

but jimbo - i understand if you don't want to debate right now. no prob. come by www.gnxp.com. You'll find *plenty* to disagree with, I guarantee :)

Posted by: godlesscapitalist at January 6, 2004 01:19 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum: "... the conservative notion that universities are hotbeds of lefty radicalism, a conclusion they usually come to by ... [inter alia] mysteriously ignoring the law schools ..."

According to Northwestern law professor John O. McGinnis, law professors at the "top 22 law schools" lean Democratic:

We have conducted a study that provides evidence of the ideological imbalance at elite law schools -- of which we have heard no plans to rectify. We reviewed all federal campaign contributions over $200 by professors at the top 22 law schools from 1994 to 2000. During that time, close to a quarter of these law professors contributed to campaigns -- a proportion far greater than the average citizen. The proof is stark: as the Anglican church was once described as the Tory Party at prayer, the legal academy today is best seen as the Democratic Party at the lectern. America splits evenly between the GOP and Democrats, but 74% of the professors contribute primarily to Democrats. Only 16% do so to Republicans.

These overall percentages substantially understate the effect of the partisan imbalance at most schools. Republican-contributing law professors are very disproportionately concentrated at two schools -- the University of Virginia and Northwestern. In contrast, many other elite schools have few or no politically active Republicans. At Yale, where almost 50% of the faculty donate, almost 95% give predominantly to Democrats. At Michigan itself the ratio is eight to one. Sometimes the amounts donated can be instructive: in the last six years Georgetown law professors have donated approximately $180,000 to the Democratic Party, $2,000 to the GOP and $1,500 to the Green party. Conclusion? Mainstream conservative ideas are no better represented than those on the leftist fringe.

Tear McGinnis to shreds, CalPundit readers.


Posted by: Michael at January 6, 2004 02:10 PM | PERMALINK

godlesscapitalist,

Thanks for the response. I think you're overstating the sociologists' position in the passage you quoted. Either way, merely pointing out that current sociological scholarship is in contradiction with current conservative thought is different from providing evidence of institutional bias.

Along similar lines, whether capitalism has triumphed over communism is hardly pertinent to one's assessment of the field of sociology. One can certainly support even pure laissez-faire capitalism while attributing poverty largely to social structures.

I recognize that consideration of evolution may contribute to our knowledge of society, but I think its importance is probably pretty minimal. The timescale at which social changes take place are so tiny compared to the process of evolution. How have we evolved since the invention of agriculture? The wheel? Since Jesus or Confucius? When you consider that the notion of rational thought was only hit upon yesterday in evolutionary terms, can you really hope to say anything meaningful about evolution's impact on today's society with any kind of confidence?

I grant that there are hormonal differences between men and women. I seriously question the impact of those differences relative to social pressures. Testosterone may contribute to aggressive feelings, sure, but it's only one chemical in the extremely complex human brain that we are only beginning to understand. Testosterone does not help people fix cars or light the barbecue, and estrogen does not cause them to want to scrub floors and bake pies. Feminine studies programs do not require a course in the biological differences between men and women because those differences appear to have next to nothing to do with the development of our patriarchal society and its subjugation of women, just as the biological differences between blacks and whites had nothing to do with slavery (though many at the time thought otherwise).

As for Take Back the Night, the reason you see it as a "pointless gesture directed at the wrong people" is that you appear to be ignorant of either its point or its target. TBTN is intended to raise awareness about violence against women, to foster community support for victims, and to combat some of the social stigma associated with victimhood. Its name, and the fact that it takes place at night, have nothing to do with scaring away psychos hiding in the bushes; rather, they are symbolic references to the fact that the bulk of violence against women, whether it's assault in a subway station, date rape, or beatings delivered by a drunken spouse, occurs at night. Except for that symbolism, it's really like pretty much any other rally or march in the name of a cause.

Posted by: tps12 at January 6, 2004 02:39 PM | PERMALINK

Uh oh, looks like I'm so radical that I've become "tps above." Just to clarify, I think that genetics must play some role in human behavior, but "human behavior" itself is so varied, across cultures and over history, that it seems like biological or evolutionary arguments about society must be so general that they are nearly useless. Biology explains why we enjoy sex and eating, but when you talk about issues like poverty and gender roles, these are things the nature of which was completely different mere decades, centuries, or millenia ago, things that vary from culture to culture even in the present. It's just very tough to swallow that biology has any significant impact on these issues, especially when the impact proposed favors the existing power structure that is being threatened.

Posted by: tps12 at January 6, 2004 03:02 PM | PERMALINK

tps12:

Uh oh, looks like I'm so radical that I've become "tps above."

Sorry, that was a bit snarky. My apologies :) (Though you did compare me to creationists ;).

I understand your points about the rapidity of social (and technological) change, and the fact that human organizational structures have clearly changed in less than a generation's time.

But there are certain constants, and establishing what is constant and what is not should be the first task at hand. Finding that kind of order leads to understanding - Newton's laws hold everywhere, even if ocean waves and springs seem to be entirely unrelated. The problem is that sociologists proceed from the assumption that all is mutable, and man is just a blank slate to be remade. This isn't true.

There has never been a matriarchal society, for one thing. In primates and other animals, it has been demonstrated repeatedly that dominance pecking orders correlate very strongly with basal testosterone levels (as they do with various other androgens). Shots of testosterone can propel a zero chimp into leader of the pack, and castration can reverse the process.

Yes, it is only one chemical. But it is a global regulator that controls the expression of thousands of genes.

In humans, aggressive/muscular/competitive males have higher levels than their beta counterparts...though the highest of all belong to those who've landed up in prison, who couldn't channel their aggression. Human males get bursts of testosterone when females walk in the room, as that's what competition is fundamentally about - reproductive competition. Cite

A team from the University of Chicago paid students to come into their lab under the pretence of testing their saliva chemistry.

While there, the students got to chat to a young female research assistant. Saliva tests showed the brief interaction was enough to raise testosterone levels by as much as 30%.

The more a man's hormone level shot up, the more attractive he later admitted to finding the research assistant. And perhaps more tellingly, the research assistant herself was able to identify those men who found her attractive.

The men who she judged to be doing the most to try to impress her proved to be those who registered the biggest jump in testosterone levels.

However, little or no change was detected in the saliva of students who chatted with other men.

Bottom line: females, on average, are innately less competitive than males. That's true for humans and for species closely related to humans.

A second point: males tend to have more extreme distributions on any given trait. There are more males among the very tall and the very short, more males among the mentally retarded and criminals - and among the Nobel Prize winners. That, too, is true in animals - males have larger standard deviations on almost every variable imaginable. Here's some data on reproductive success variance in seals, for example. I can provide hundreds more refs if you're so inclined.

Put those two facts together:

1. Males are more competitive
2. There are more males at the extremes on any given trait, both at the extreme bottom and top

The result is that the top of any field is predominantly - not entirely, but predominantly - male.

Note: I'm not against equal opportunity for women. I've had women professors as research advisors. My mother was a professional. I don't want to make women barefoot and pregnant. I think women are taking over medicine and law, and that it's a good thing. And I welcome the presence of women in hard science.

But Nobel Prizes and high political positions are going to continue to go disproportionately to men, so long as the resources are scarce and humans are doing battle over them.

Sociologists who complain about patriarchy would do well to ask themselves *how* it became so universally established, and why there are no counterexamples.

Posted by: godlesscapitalist at January 6, 2004 03:43 PM | PERMALINK

Along similar lines, whether capitalism has triumphed over communism is hardly pertinent to one's assessment of the field of sociology.

Actually, it's very relevant. Marx was one of the founders of sociology. Here's another revealing sociology textbook. Note that this comes from their own summary, so it can hardly be called out-of-context:

American Sociology. In the United States, sociology and the modern university system arose together. The first department of sociology was established at the University of Chicago in 1893, and Chicago served as a "social laboratory" at the beginning of the century. Midcentury sociologists crafted survey techniques and refined models of society. "New breed" sociologists in the 1960s and 1970s refined Marxism and established new research approaches and perspectives.

Contemporary Sociology. Contemporary movements in sociology include critical theory, feminism, and postmodern social theory.

Sociology is Marxism plus a healthy dose of post-modernism. Rough paraphrasal: facts may or may not exist, but when they do exist, they show that Cuba is a worker's paradise :) More seriously, the fact that most sociologists are still Marxists in 2004 - more than a decade after the fall of the USSR and utter discrediting of communism as an economic & political system - shows that they are not swayed by empiricism.

What you may or may not realize is that by holding society culpable for every individual's fate, you advocate making government responsible for every person's action. And that means totalitarianism.

Re: Take Back the Night

I guess I've never been much of a fan of rallies. They've struck me as pointless in general. (But then, so are conversations on the internet with pseudonymous others.) Exactly how is "raising awareness" supposed to stop wilding youths in Central Park? I suppose they could install those panic buttons...but I think firearm training would be much more efficacious in preventing rape. Don't you agree?

Secondly, one of the things I've always disliked about TBTN is the way they bundle real crimes like forcible rape and domestic violence with "crimes" like sex-that-she-felt-bad-about-afterwards. For example, consider the ridiculous 1-in-4 statistic:

The source of that figure is a 1985 study by Mary Koss for Ms. magazine. Ignore for a moment that Ms. magazine is not a scholarly journal to which one would normally turn for unbiased, scientific study. Ignore for a moment that Koss herself wrote in 1982 that "rape represents a behavior ... that is on a continuum with normal male behavior within the culture [of America]." Instead, let us focus on what Koss actually studied, what she actually discovered.

Koss based the article on a survey she conducted of more than 3,000 college women selected nationwide. Respondents were asked a series of questions about sexual assault, and on the basis of their answers, Koss determined whether they had been raped.

Using this methodology, Koss concluded that 15.4 percent, not 25 percent, of the respondents to her study had been raped. Another 12 percent were victims of attempted rape, and this morphed with her other finding to become the "one in four" figure of today.

No matter. Because even if the smaller figure seems more believable, Koss' study has so many problems that the numbers become irrelevant. In her survey of college women, she asked:

"Have you had sexual intercourse when you didn't want to because a man gave you alcohol or drugs?"

How many women can answer affirmatively to this question? My guess is quite a few. How many of those same women would identify themselves as victims of rape?

In fact, Koss herself made this discovery, although it isn't mentioned in CORE's educational pamphlet, nor announced at its "Take Back the Night" rally. In her study, she found that 72 percent of the "rape victims" did not believe they had been raped. More intriguingly, 42 percent of the alleged "rape victims" had sex with their supposed "rapist" on a later occasion. Koss ignored these numbers because, in her mind and in the minds of many, what the women actually believe is largely irrelevant - what Koss defined as rape became the figure which established the prevalence of rape

The mindless repetition of a shocking statistic attracts headlines and government money; it does not establish truth. And the truth is far from established. Let's do some math:

- The FBI Uniform Crime Report states that there were 97,464 reported rapes in 1995 (note: they only include women in their definition of rape victims).

- Let's grant that some rapes do go unreported and multiply the above number by five, so that the unofficial number of women raped in 1995, for our purposes, is 487,320.

- According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 134,441,000 women in the United States in the same year.

- Divide the above two numbers to determine the percentage of the U.S. female population that reported being raped: 0.4 percent.

"Four in one thousand" sounds a lot less scary than "one in four", doesn't it?

One other point - worth pointing out that men are much more frequently the victims of violence than women. More men are raped each year than women in the US (prison rape). More men die of violent crime, and combat troops are almost entirely male. Under these circumstance, the premise that violence against women is worthy of a whole "demonize men" campaign is both questionable and inherently oppositional.

The only way to support this premise is with the falsified stats like "one in four", the ones that put "drunk sex" under the category of "rape".

Posted by: godlesscapitalist at January 6, 2004 04:41 PM | PERMALINK

No offense taken, seriously. Sorry about the creationism thing, but you sort of begged for it with that handle. :)

No counterexamples to patriarchy? That doesn't sound right. A quick googling turns up the Mosuo ( http://en2.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosuo ) and Zapotec ( http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/fr/2001/11/30/stories/2001113000870300.htm ) societies.

Interesting study on testosterone and competition for mates, but you haven't demonstrated that competition for mates has anything to do with status in our society or capacity for, e.g., making sound political decisions. Do men make better investments with a hot woman in the room? Do world leaders have more testosterone than the rest of us?

And testosterone aside, it's clear that women compete for sexual mates as well. Why isn't that natural competitiveness cited as the reason that women should dominate positions of power?

To me, it looks like this is just the next version of a long line of similar arguments: once women were too sinful to wield responsibility, then they were too innocent and pure and needed protection; for a while they were naturally unintelligent, or lacked a soul; even God weighed in and let us know a woman's proper place. If you want people to buy the biology line, you'll need to do more than correlate a hormonal change with flirtation (which, by the way, may depend as much on social conditioning as on biology).

Finally, we're not talking about Nobel prizes and the world's ten richest people. We're talking about the huge wage gap, the enormous overrepresentation of men at all levels of corporate and political hierarchy, the inescapable objectification of women in the media, the villification of women's medical procedures, sexual harrassment. When a male employee has a kid, management knows he will work harder now that he has a family to provide for, but when a woman has a kid she's choosing family over a career.

Does it really make sense to attribute all of this to testosterone? If it's such a wonder hormone, why aren't we administering it to the poor? Or, for that matter, to women?

Posted by: tps12 at January 6, 2004 05:01 PM | PERMALINK

No sooner do I post then there's another to respond to...

I am going to stop short of trying to defend the last century of historiographical and critical progress. I am pretty certain that even the most hardened capitalist historian agrees that Marx was on to something w/r/t regarding history as more than a record of which king conquered which other king.

I don't agree that recognizing society's role in the lives of individuals leads to totalitarianism. But pretending that a white man born into wealth is no more likely to succeed than a black girl born to a single mother on welfare does not make it so.

I'm in partial agreement with your views on TBTN. At the very least, there is something sort of silly about any march or protest, but I think they can serve a purpose. I have been to political rallies, which are sort of the same deal. In the end, if the women involved find the events useful, then who am I to tell them it's a waste of time?

You have a point in re: arming women. A friend of mine proposed that only women should be permitted to bear arms. Of course, there are a bunch of other issues involved in that debate.

I've read the objections to the Ms. rape study. The supposed flaws are mostly disputible. For example, a rape victim may not consider her incident a rape because there was no gun involved, or because the attacker didn't climax, or because she is in denial. And why would a woman not be able to have sex with a man consensually on occaision and also be raped by him?

There are clearly difficulties inherent in studying the occurance of rape, but to my knowledge there has been no more rigorous study to replace that one. The phony derivation you quoted does not qualify. For starters, the "multiply by five" thing is completely arbitrary. It's intended to be generous, but without any basis, who knows? Furthermore, the conclusion is 0.4 percent of women per year, whereas the Ms. study claimed nearly one in four women alive now. Sure, the first is much "less scary," but it is also claiming to be a completely different thing.

Prison rape is a terrible violation of human rights, but that's a prisoners' rights issue and has nothing to do with this debate. If women and men were incarcerated in the same numbers and shared cells and showers with one another in prison, do you think male rape victims would still outnumber female?

The "drunk sex" thing is hairy. It gets into the whole issue of how individuals interact with one another when one enjoys de facto power over the other. Is consensual sex really possible between a master and a slave? An adult and a child? An employer and an employee? A husband and a wife, when women can't own property? A drunk man and a drunk woman, in a patriarchal society? Any man and any woman, in a patriarchal society? Very few people will come down on either extreme ("rape only involves physical force and power relationships are irrelevant" or "all heterosexual sex in a patrarchy is rape"), but it's hard for the rest of us to draw a clear line between what is and isn't rape. My own feeling is that both consensual and nonconsensual sex can be performed by drunk people, but this is so self-serving that I don't feel comfortable arguing it.

Posted by: tps12 at January 6, 2004 05:59 PM | PERMALINK

tps12: "Testosterone may contribute to aggressive feelings, sure, but it's only one chemical in the extremely complex human brain that we are only beginning to understand. Testosterone does not help people fix cars ..."

Testosterone and estrogen levels appear to affect spatial reasoning ability, which is self-evidently relevant to car-fixin'.

See Kimura, D. (1996). Sex, sexual orientation and sex hormones influence human cognitive function. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 6, 259-263.

Posted by: Michael at January 6, 2004 07:14 PM | PERMALINK

So biology tells us, "We'll probably have patriarchy."

Can it tell us the difference between different patriarchies? Can hormone levels begin to help us understand the difference between patriarchy in Saudi Arabia and patriarchy in Denmark?

If not, it would seem the contribution biology could make to sociology is actually quite limited. Maybe they'll do OK without it after all.

Posted by: MERV at January 6, 2004 07:56 PM | PERMALINK

Michael,

Interesting citation, but far from conclusive. Consider:

Most researchers currently working on sexual dimorphism in cognitive function have adopted as a useful organizing principle one that stresses the division of labour between the sexes during our hunter-gatherer history. Men were more likely to be involved in hunting game, and more likely to engage in long-distance travel, hence, they would be selected for spatial navigational and targetting ability. Women would be more engaged in foraging near the home base, in care of home and children, hence would have evolved greater sensitivity to small changes in the appearance of infants or the home environment, and would employ navigational strategies that emphasize familiar landmarks.

Note that "most researches currently working on sexual dimorphism" assume that our modern day sexual division of labor (man as breadwinner, woman as child rearer) applied to primitive hunter-gatherer humans, and then use this fact to explain the evolution (over a suspiciously short time period) of our modern day sexual division of labor. This illustrates perfectly the hazards of evolutionary reasoning.

Second, your link refers to a study that examines adults raised in our society. On the question of whether sexual differences are socially or biologically determined, it cannot hope (and doesn't claim) to offer insight.

Finally, the paper cited can only be described as inconclusive. The conclusion admits a "substantial overlap between men and women" and refers to the "unexpected finding" of women being better at some spatial tasks and worse at others.

If there is evidence that biological differences are behind women's inferior role in modern society, that link does not contain it.

MERV,

right on. Just around the time that humans started thinking about society and what it was, we sort of lost the ability to put our faith (such as it was) in nature.

Posted by: tps12 at January 6, 2004 08:27 PM | PERMALINK

The problem isn't how many professors believe a certain set of political views. No one cares that a lot of math and engineering profs are right-wing, because the vast majority of them are ethical enough to keep their personal beliefs out of the classroom and stick to the subject that they are paid to teach. And the culture in these departments supports this. If a math professor spent two classes teaching his students Ayn Rand instead of calculus, even those students who agree with his political views would be outraged. And the department would not back him up.

Unfortunately, far too many people in humanities departments in particular seem to feel that it is appropriate to ride their personal hobby horses through the classroom. This isn't a left-wing versus right-wing issue per se; it's a question of ethical versus unethical teaching. Students go to class to learn how to think, not what to think. Professors have a responsibility not to abuse their positions of power to push their own political and social views. If they want to write political polemics on their own time, that's their right. If they want to discuss these issues with students voluntarily outside of class, that's also their right as long as they don't use their position to retaliate against those who disagree. It's when they turn their classrooms into a venue for their politics that it becomes a problem.

Posted by: Firebug at January 6, 2004 09:03 PM | PERMALINK

"No one cares that a lot of math and engineering profs are right-wing,"

Evidence?

"Unfortunately, far too many people in humanities departments in particular seem to feel that it is appropriate to ride their personal hobby horses through the classroom."

Evidence?

Posted by: WillieStyle at January 6, 2004 09:27 PM | PERMALINK

There's a lot of stuff on this thread, but I just need to say to Mark Byron - via the story that I actually quoted, it only includes university staff - so K-12 teachers really didn't swing this, because they weren't included.

"The education industry - professors, lecturers and other university employees - gave more than $2.4 million to all presidential candidates in the first three quarters of the year, with professors making up the largest group, according to the Center for Responsive Politics."

Posted by: jesse at January 7, 2004 06:20 AM | PERMALINK

Lone Wacko - you misspelled Dems as Dims.

I want to believe that over the idea that you brought such a lame-ass attempt at derision into what is a non-lame-ass discussion.

Actually reading further before posting I see you actually went out of your way to correct somebody who obviously hoped for the same assumption as I.

There's the pity.


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