Bias in Academia

As I navigate through the maze of Academia, anecdotally I find mysefl in some very curious situations. Last week for example, I taught a course on Catholicism and Climate Change and felt mysefl against the wall as students (young and old) were demanding that the Pope be clearer if he wanted Catholics to support climate change or abortion, and how to negotiate the American political divide. I had to tell them the Pope would not tell people which candidates to choose, nor would he dedicate word addresses to specific issues and problems of one country or another. Certainly the Pope was clear on the inviolable sanctity of life but he was also greatly promoting the care and protection of the environment and climate. If the American political system placed citizens in a difficult position, that was not his fault, but rather the moralism that underlies politics and religion. I am not sure if I was understood.

But the piece Anecdotes aside, there are recent studies that show an incredible political bias in academia, especially the humanities.  A thorough study, with hard data, shows the phenomenon here. The sociology ratio for example, for Democrat: Republican is 44:1 .  But the piece that has been getting more attention is Dr. Haidt’s talk. Here is an article in the NYT, showing bias in social psychology specifically. Roger Pielke Jr. has also jumped on the debate here.


2 thoughts on “Bias in Academia

  1. The academic bias issue lends support for the old adage “there is nothing new under the sun” and we should not be surprised by recent expressions of “forgone conclusions and everybody knows” within many fields from psychology to ecology. The so called liberal bent seen today in the social sciences and humanities is just the next generation of such bias expressed in the 1960s and 1970s. The only difference I see is in the all- pervasiveness of it.
    In my opinion it is not so much a liberal bias as it is a relativism and secularism bias. Having experienced the radicalism of the 60s and 70s while studying psychology I learned firsthand that this type of bias attempts to 1) foster unbridled freedom of expression (actions and thoughts), but at the same time 2) only accepts data or opinions that agrees with their assumptions and agenda. I do not like couching this discussion with a “we versus them” framework but that is the reality we are in. There is an elitism of attitude that degrades any sense of allegiance to a creed or absolute principles, especially if representative of religion and God and, in turn, must attack any view that does not line up with the prevailing mindset. The bias within the social sciences is probably the most visible example that represses and discourages any other investigation or debate beyond their frame of reference. However, it permeates other fields such as environmental science and unfortunately, undermines our ability to face ecological issues honestly.

    1. Agreed, I also don’t support the we vs them approach, because politically speaking I have no “we” to call “we” . I am catholic and no party aligns with my views, unfortunately. On the same lines I think it is interesting to evidence how confining academia is. I have just been reading my homework for my sociological theory class next week, on feminism, and wonder what will happen when I share my thoughts on some issues.

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