Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Bias in Academics

Recently there has been acknowledgement that our universities have failed to live up to their proud traditions as centers of academic debate, discourse and enlightenment. A number of rather agregious cases in the United States that where the students so persecuted to have been african american or gay as opposed to conservative of jewish the media would have began to wave the bloody shirt and demanded that heads roll. However, due to the amazing organizational skills of our Republican friends to the south there are now interest groups with a battery of lawyers fighting the universities tooth and nail, as well as raising the media profile so that righteous indignation indeed flowed into the media.

Of course, Canada being Canada, a while later there became some consideration as to whether a simmilair condition existed in Canadian universities. Curt at NorthWestern Winds and Jay Jardine recount some of their experiences of bias within academic circles. Jay rather mockingly recounts his Professor lapping up an absolutely ludicrous anti-technology essay.

My own experiences within university is simply to agree that their is a preponderance of lefties within academic circles. Some people have snidely attributed this to the left's Peter Pan like desire to "never grow up and get a real job", others on systemic descrimination in hiring practices since the sixties. I'm not particularly qualified to comment upon that given that sociology and psychology were never really my fields.

My own undergraduate experiences were primarily in the faculties of Economics, Political Studies and Philosophy. The economics faculty tends to be the bastion of the free market within "the arts", there are leftists within it invariably however, at worst they tend to be Keynesian in nature of the "the market works most of the time but not always school of thought". Of course you also have Monetarists who are fairly prominent and generally more right wing. However, the subject matter of economics itself lends itself to a belief that markets not government is far more efficient in satisfying people's wants. Were I ever to become premier of a province or be granted a boon by one, my first order of business would be to institute a mandatory economics course for all Grade 12 students, it would be the first step in a long road of deprograming the lies that have been desseminated to them.

In Political Studies I never experienced the horror stories that some relate. My main complaint was that any political theory class tended to be approximately 50% socialism/communism and 50% everything else ranging from welfare state liberalism, classical liberalism, libertarianism, conservatism, neo-conservatism and fascism. This always struck me as largely being a waste of 50% of my time. Communism and socialism are nothing more than discredited intellectual relics, hence studying they in great detail as opposed to idiologies and dogmas with more prevailing influence was was a lost opportunity. However, there was always at at least one non-leftwing topic for your papers. I've been graded by former card carrying communists, a prof whom had read every single volume of Lenin's collected writings (I believe that's about 20 volumes or so) and big L liberals and recieved A grades or better for unappologetically right wing papers. Given I was quite aware that I was running contrary to their beliefs I have to salute their intellectual integrety for being able to even handedly appraise the other side of the coin.

One prof that stood out too me in that respect described himself as an Orwellian socialist, who seemed to surprise alot of students in the class by reacting to the war in Iraq supportively stating simply that "Hussein is an evil man and the world will be a better place without him in power." He observed that he tried to incorporate a number of different idologies into his political theory class and sought to do them all justice as "each enduring ideology touches upon some truth which should be appreciated." I can only wish that more academics would take such a stance as not all have shared my for the most part positive experience.


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