Academic bias

A new study demonstrates what might seem perfectly obvious but which still needs to be demonstrated:  That there is a distinct and measurable bias in academia against political conservatives and (especially) conservative Christians.  See Preferred Colleagues – Innovations – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

HT:  Jackie

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Dennis Peskey

    “frequently characterized as stupid, anti-intellectual, doctrinaire, ill-disposed towards the values of liberal learning, and deserving of their ostracism.”
    Well, all I can say is thank God I’m not like those sinners. Oh wait, I’ve heard that line somewhere before. Was it in the Civil War thread – possibly. Then again, I think it might have been the teaching of some rabbi, but that was several years ago.

    Fortunately, Patrick Henry College seems to pursue a different path, a better way. That term “way” seems familiar as well – the man that used it said something about neighbors and judging. I’ll find it soon. Blessed Holy Week to our gracious host and to all who enter herein.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    “frequently characterized as stupid, anti-intellectual, doctrinaire, ill-disposed towards the values of liberal learning, and deserving of their ostracism.”
    Well, all I can say is thank God I’m not like those sinners. Oh wait, I’ve heard that line somewhere before. Was it in the Civil War thread – possibly. Then again, I think it might have been the teaching of some rabbi, but that was several years ago.

    Fortunately, Patrick Henry College seems to pursue a different path, a better way. That term “way” seems familiar as well – the man that used it said something about neighbors and judging. I’ll find it soon. Blessed Holy Week to our gracious host and to all who enter herein.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Cincinnatus

    There are a number of counter-arguments against the claim of ideological bias in higher education, but allow me just to say from personal experience: it’s absolutely true that there is an active bias against both Christians and conservatives in the academy. I speak as a member of both categories. Oh the stories I could tell…

  • Cincinnatus

    There are a number of counter-arguments against the claim of ideological bias in higher education, but allow me just to say from personal experience: it’s absolutely true that there is an active bias against both Christians and conservatives in the academy. I speak as a member of both categories. Oh the stories I could tell…

  • http://www.angelfire.com/ok5/historynerdherd HistoryProfBrad

    I concur, Cincinnatus. As one who has been in academe both as a grad student and professor for almost twenty years now, I continue to be amazed (and strangely amused) at the snits one can cause just by making a positive statement about Christianity in the “wrong” setting. I tend to classify the problem as one of “dogmatic open-mindedness,” and “intolerant tolerance”…terms that sound oxymoronic, but that I think sum up the situation quite well. Not only is this a field where Original Sin and hatred of God is on full display, it is also littered with a lot of very insecure people. How does one compensate? Wear the badge of “intellectual”, agree with what all the “cool, popular kids” are saying (secular and politically left), and berate those who disagree as ignorant and backward…or worse, dangerous. It is not a good spirit to have on my part, but I enjoy constantly being a drunken uncle in the room. Fortunately, I am a department chair at a small college where I can get away with it!

  • http://www.angelfire.com/ok5/historynerdherd HistoryProfBrad

    I concur, Cincinnatus. As one who has been in academe both as a grad student and professor for almost twenty years now, I continue to be amazed (and strangely amused) at the snits one can cause just by making a positive statement about Christianity in the “wrong” setting. I tend to classify the problem as one of “dogmatic open-mindedness,” and “intolerant tolerance”…terms that sound oxymoronic, but that I think sum up the situation quite well. Not only is this a field where Original Sin and hatred of God is on full display, it is also littered with a lot of very insecure people. How does one compensate? Wear the badge of “intellectual”, agree with what all the “cool, popular kids” are saying (secular and politically left), and berate those who disagree as ignorant and backward…or worse, dangerous. It is not a good spirit to have on my part, but I enjoy constantly being a drunken uncle in the room. Fortunately, I am a department chair at a small college where I can get away with it!

  • http://www.matthewcochran.net/blog Matt Cochran

    There is certainly an ideological bias in academia, and conservative ideas should certainly have better representation. Nevertheless, we should remember that not all bias is blameworthy–particularly at the classroom level.

    I recently went back to school to take a couple philosophy classes. One prof was a logical positivist; the other was a Marxist. These backgrounds colored their teachings. They did pass judgment on contrary views and the presentation of material was commensurate with how that material is viewed according to their ideologies.

    Neither professor was neutral, but this should not be held against them. It is impossible to be neutral with respect to ideology, and they should not have to pretend that they have no beliefs. Both professors, however, tried to be fair. They played devils advocate from time to time, and they were always open to students objecting to their ideas, judgments,& analyses and offering alternatives. One even encouraged it; he shook my hand in the middle of class when I objected to pragmatic epistemology and defended traditional epistemology. They were both radically liberal–that fact was clear in their teaching–but they were nevertheless good professors.

    Much of the very real danger that comes with conservative Christians sending their children into the care of such professors stems from the fact that we have not prepared them to handle such a situation. At 29 w/ an MA in theology and a background in apologetics, the situation was instructive, but not particularly challenging to my faith or beliefs. At 18 w/ a confirmation class 4 years behind me and a public high school education, it would have been far too challenging for my faith and beliefs.

    Ideally, such professors should be balanced in a program by those possessing conservative ideologies. Nevertheless, I think the low-hanging fruit with this regard is to be more deliberate in preparing our future college students to both defend their beliefs against and to actually learn from liberal professors. I think this would also be the best way to ultimately get more conservative professors out there. After all, both professors eventually offered to write me letters of recommendation for grad school.

  • http://www.matthewcochran.net/blog Matt Cochran

    There is certainly an ideological bias in academia, and conservative ideas should certainly have better representation. Nevertheless, we should remember that not all bias is blameworthy–particularly at the classroom level.

    I recently went back to school to take a couple philosophy classes. One prof was a logical positivist; the other was a Marxist. These backgrounds colored their teachings. They did pass judgment on contrary views and the presentation of material was commensurate with how that material is viewed according to their ideologies.

    Neither professor was neutral, but this should not be held against them. It is impossible to be neutral with respect to ideology, and they should not have to pretend that they have no beliefs. Both professors, however, tried to be fair. They played devils advocate from time to time, and they were always open to students objecting to their ideas, judgments,& analyses and offering alternatives. One even encouraged it; he shook my hand in the middle of class when I objected to pragmatic epistemology and defended traditional epistemology. They were both radically liberal–that fact was clear in their teaching–but they were nevertheless good professors.

    Much of the very real danger that comes with conservative Christians sending their children into the care of such professors stems from the fact that we have not prepared them to handle such a situation. At 29 w/ an MA in theology and a background in apologetics, the situation was instructive, but not particularly challenging to my faith or beliefs. At 18 w/ a confirmation class 4 years behind me and a public high school education, it would have been far too challenging for my faith and beliefs.

    Ideally, such professors should be balanced in a program by those possessing conservative ideologies. Nevertheless, I think the low-hanging fruit with this regard is to be more deliberate in preparing our future college students to both defend their beliefs against and to actually learn from liberal professors. I think this would also be the best way to ultimately get more conservative professors out there. After all, both professors eventually offered to write me letters of recommendation for grad school.

  • Bruce Gee

    I know of a professor–Lutheran fella–at the U of Colorado who yearly invites a group of conservative-leaning confederates from academic institutions around the country to spend two weeks in the lovely Summer season of Boulder Colorado, studying up on the founding documents of the country as well as commiserating and sharing survival tactics. It is the hope of this group that they can continue to grow to be a voice of balance in an unbalanced academic environment. Ya gotta try. If any of you become stinking rich, this would be one sort of place to commit some funds.

  • Bruce Gee

    I know of a professor–Lutheran fella–at the U of Colorado who yearly invites a group of conservative-leaning confederates from academic institutions around the country to spend two weeks in the lovely Summer season of Boulder Colorado, studying up on the founding documents of the country as well as commiserating and sharing survival tactics. It is the hope of this group that they can continue to grow to be a voice of balance in an unbalanced academic environment. Ya gotta try. If any of you become stinking rich, this would be one sort of place to commit some funds.


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