Daily Archives: February 10, 2011

John Tierney reports on a talk by Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist, on discrimination against conservatives in academia. In most academic disciplines, the article notes, liberals vastly outnumber conservatives, and this has unfortunate consequences.

In his speech and in an interview, Dr. Haidt argued that social psychologists are a “tribal-moral community” united by “sacred values” that hinder research and damage their credibility — and blind them to the hostile climate they’ve created for non-liberals.

“Anywhere in the world that social psychologists see women or minorities underrepresented by a factor of two or three, our minds jump to discrimination as the explanation,” said Dr. Haidt, who called himself a longtime liberal turned centrist. “But when we find out that conservatives are underrepresented among us by a factor of more than 100, suddenly everyone finds it quite easy to generate alternate explanations.”

Paul Krugman wearily observes that stories about liberal bias in the academy surface on a regular basis. They do, but that does not make them untrue. He’s right, too, that ideological discrimination is not the same thing as racial discrimination. But that does not make it a good thing, does it? As to why academics lean liberal, he says ideology influences career choice. I expect it does. But I also find Robert Nozick’s explanation very plausible:

Intellectuals feel they are the most valuable people, the ones with the highest merit, and that society should reward people in accordance with their value and merit. But a capitalist society does not satisfy the principle of distribution “to each according to his merit or value.” Apart from the gifts, inheritances, and gambling winnings that occur in a free society, the market distributes to those who satisfy the perceived market-expressed demands of others, and how much it so distributes depends on how much is demanded and how great the alternative supply is. Unsuccessful businessmen and workers do not have the same animus against the capitalist system as do the wordsmith intellectuals. Only the sense of unrecognized superiority, of entitlement betrayed, produces that animus.

Haidt is an interesting fellow. His speech is well worth listening to: there’s a video here. I recommend his book, The Happiness Hypothesis. (I see he has put a brief response to Krugman’s post on his blog.)

Clive Crook’s blog

This blog is no longer updated but it remains open as an archive.

I have been the FT's Washington columnist since April 2007. I moved from Britain to the US in 2005 to write for the Atlantic Monthly and the National Journal after 20 years working at the Economist, most recently as deputy editor. I write mainly about the intersection of politics and economics.

Clive Crook’s blog: A guide

Comment: To comment, please register with FT.com. Register for free here. Please also read the FT's comments policy here.
Time: UK time is shown on Clive's posts.
Follow the blog: Links to the Twitter and RSS feeds are at the top of the blog.
Schedule: Clive's column appears in the FT on Mondays and you can read an excerpt of it on this blog.
FT blogs: See the full range of the FT's blogs here.

Archive

« Jan Mar »February 2011
M T W T F S S
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28