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?

1 comment:

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