I really don't like the new New York Times Select Policy -- all their columnists are hidden behind a pay-for-view barrier now. Say -- I wonder if anyone has done a #of times mentioned vs time graph? That shouldn't be hard to do.
At any rate, one of the conservative columnists in the NYTimes -- Tierney -- wrote about the liberal bias in academia several days ago. He was specifically talking about journalism and law school. Today he has a follow up column. What I love is how he starts off the column -- a list of reasons that readers sent him:
1. Conservatives do not value knowledge for its own sake.
2. Conservatives do not care about the social good.
3. Conservatives are too greedy to work for professors' wages.
4. Conservatives are too dumb to get tenure.
This is intelligent discourse? Please, if you are writing a column in the NYTimes you're going to get all sorts of responses from the totally wacky to the insightful. I would hope that you were hired at the NYTimes because you will filter out the wacky ones and address the insightful ones. In his defense, he does spend the second half of the column discussing things in a little more depth (he mentions group think, etc.). I don't really know the law and the journalism fields. But I do know a bit about physics.
I would like to think that physics doesn't have the bias described, but if I look around the department almost all of us are liberal. There are some unifying factors: we live in Seattle (a very very blue-state city), we are in science and even if you like Bush's conservative policies it is hard to like what is happening to science & research budgets -- which has direct impact on how we do our research.
How about the students -- the next generation of "us"? What is their bias? I have no idea. I've had conversations with so few of them about politics that I really don't know what the average is.
I can't help but wonder if some of it isn't "you do what your friends do". And by-and-in-large the people we choose to be friends with are people that are similar to us. This paves a path of least resistance and we follow that for the most part. Hence, once the liberal tilt has been established...
Or, perhaps you've not made up your mind yet -- you don't really care. But day after day you are working with people that are liberals. Even if you don't talk about it directly, you hear the viewpoint and the things that are taken for granted. I'm sure, for example, that my undergraduate class knows my political leanings even though we've never had a lecture involving them directly.
Is it a problem? I would think that a conservative and a liberal would teach physics the same way. Perhaps they would use different jokes. ;-) I would call it a problem if there were smart people who wanted to do physics but didn't feel welcome because they were conservitive. We've had this problem with women, for example. They were not welcome in this field and have had to fight their way in. This isn't fixed yet, but it is getting better. And physics definately lost a lot out because we ignored half the smart people out there.
I wonder if the research choice would be different between liberals and non-liberals? I'm going to stereotype here: perhaps research and thus funding more from the Department of Defense than the National Science Foundation or the Department of Energy. Hmmm. At UW we have a second physics department -- Applied Physics -- and they tend to have more of this kind of research funding. I wonder if the politics over there is any different?