Wednesday, March 30, 2005

later that same day...

responding to a colleague's post about the study mentioned earlier:

I am not surprised at the lack of quality or rigor of the study, what got to me was the fact that it was framed as evidence of a "liberal bias" in higher education.

Let's face it, rarely does anyone, other than us, read the fine print about things like bias, sample distribution, etc. Yes, we know that those are crucial factors in interpreting findings, but the general public just hears that "...80% of academics are self described Liberals". This is in the context of a larger debate about how conservatives are not getting equal access, how morals and personal beliefs are not respected, etc. And what is obvious conclusion? Yikes, "they're" right, academia in the US is in the hands of Liberals and what must they be teaching our youth????!!!"

Again, I bet soon it will be like the flap about gays teaching in public schools..."Well, we can't have Liberals teaching in public schools!" Isn't this essentially the argument that the legislator in FL made to get the bill passed?

I just wish that academics would use their critical thinking skills a bit more when it comes to issues like these and in this particular case the use of self-reported "stigmatized" labels. One would hope that academics in particular would be savvy to the potential misuse of such a label.

Honestly, I don't care what political persuasion an academic is (and I really don't think it should matter). What I do care about is the ability to "suspend" one's political persuasions when teaching, conducting research, and discussing studies. I think that we owe that to the public we serve, whether that public consists of students in our classes, friends or the "general public."

One way to do this would be, when issuing a press release, to begin with the limitations of the study as opposed to the "dramatic" findings. Wouldn't that be nice to see for a change?
sounds like something we ought to try here

President Bush said this yesterday:

"In a democratic Iraq, these differences will be resolved through debate and persuasion, instead of force and intimidation."

Wow, I guess they do politics a lot differently over there then we do here; maybe we could learn something from them.
use your critical thinking skills!!!

I heard on one of our local (Dallas) AM radio stations yesterday about a study that was released indicating that about 80% of professors at universities self-report as Liberals and about 10% or less self-repot as Conservatives. The story was about how there was now evidence of a "liberal bias" in academia.

The one thing that struck me was how whomever responded to the questionnaire (specifically, the Liberal professors) didn't give much thought to what the implications of their response would be. I don't think I would ever tell anyone, especially on a survey, how I view myself politically using a label. People frequently ask me if I am a Liberal and I usually respond that I think of myself as "sane" and leave it at that.

The other thing that struck me is that this seems to imply that now, not only things like gender, sexual orientation, religion, are going to be scrutinized (some under the table, some overtly), so is one's political persuasions. I thought that our votes were supposed to be private? Isn't that why we go to great lengths to ensure privacy in voting booths?

I am surprised that anyone who considers him or herself a Liberal would not be aware of how, by answering the question, they were feeding the "gathering threat" of Liberalism in academia.

Seems like this is one great example of shooting oneself in the foot.

Monday, March 07, 2005's us

Some Eastern systems of thought (Buddhism, Hinduism, Vedanta, etc.) assert that our normal, day-to-day actions, thoughts, motives, etc., are born of and emerge from ignorance of our true selves. Our true selves are "pure consciosuness," "the Self," "the Atman," etc. Our innermost essence is expansive, unbroken awareness, the notorious, "oneness with the universe." Everything that we experience that is not that, is ignorance.

so...studies of things human, i.e., the human sciences, are really studies of human ignorance.

I want to remember that.