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Slyde
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2004 11:40 pm    Post subject: Academia and Political Orientation Reply with quote

I have come to wonder to myself, why is the entire (and by entire, I mean large majority) of academia liberal? At my university (Michigan State), it is no different. Luckily, being a dirty capitalist pig in the Business program, I also am fortunate to have fellow capitalists as profs and peers. What recently made me think about this was the following situation:

I am currently in the dorms for the summer (can't beat living for free), and when I get some down time during the evening, I enjoy watching cable news. We have almost every major cable new channel, (MSNBC, CNN, CSPAN (2), etc), but no Fox. I already know Fox is the token rightwing news channel to many of you, and I agree, it is about as conservative as others are liberal. However, I find it strange that FoxNews is selectivly left out from the UNIVERSITY Provided cable television. Strange coincidence...

Back to my question, what is the reason for a liberal majority in academica? To play devils advocate on both sides, is it that they have 'never had to venture into real life and are stuck in a looping cycle of corrigable minds"? Or is it that they "are just smarter"?

Comments are welcomed. And in advance, NO Flames or personal insults. Let's try to have nice sane discussion.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2004 11:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Slyde what's with your new avatar?
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2004 11:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Boohbah wrote:
Slyde what's with your new avatar?

Alex Grey http://alexgrey.com/
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2004 1:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's in the communist manifesto. By controlling academia they can influence the political orientation of the youth, and thereby gain political control of the nation.

It is insidious, disgusting, and typical of the underhanded techniques that the left must use as their ideas FAIL to win support in the free market place of ideas.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2004 1:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the faculty is just around the students too much.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2004 1:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I searched around a little and discovered that MSU dorms have cable tv provided by Comcast. The channels provided are about the same as Comcasts basic 1 service which is what residential customers would get. Foxnews is also not provided to these residential cutomers. So it is not MSU choosing to not include Fox News but Comcast.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2004 1:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The reason is simple, really - being insulated from the realities of the world combined with a job wherein you mostly think about social and economic institutions causes these professors to identify flaws with society, and then they propose their idealistic (leftist) solutions.

The problem is that they identify the flaw, but they don't identify the cause of the flaw - which is, in most cases, human nature. Their idealistic worldview doesn't allow them to accept that humans are naturally evil (and while we're at it, stupid too). If they had a less comfy job (in the real world) maybe they'd learn that lesson.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2004 1:57 am    Post subject: Re: Academia and Political Orientation Reply with quote

Hey Slyde,

Slyde wrote:
I have come to wonder to myself, why is the entire (and by entire, I mean large majority) of academia liberal? At my university (Michigan State), it is no different. Luckily, being a dirty capitalist pig in the Business program, I also am fortunate to have fellow capitalists as profs and peers. What recently made me think about this was the following situation:


I think much of it is residue from the 60s, especially people who went to school to avoid the draft and wound up getting graduate degrees. Also, liberals are drawn to the academic environment for whatever reason, probably just one of those things where there's enough critical mass to make it a warm embracing kind of place.

slyde wrote:
I am currently in the dorms for the summer (can't beat living for free), and when I get some down time during the evening, I enjoy watching cable news. We have almost every major cable new channel, (MSNBC, CNN, CSPAN (2), etc), but no Fox. I already know Fox is the token rightwing news channel to many of you, and I agree, it is about as conservative as others are liberal. However, I find it strange that FoxNews is selectivly left out from the UNIVERSITY Provided cable television. Strange coincidence...


That IS weird... Fox wasn't such a big factor when I went to school, but it does not surprise me. Have you asked what the deal is with that, i.e., whether it's being blocked or there's no demand, etc?

slyde wrote:
Back to my question, what is the reason for a liberal majority in academica? To play devils advocate on both sides, is it that they have 'never had to venture into real life and are stuck in a looping cycle of corrigable minds"? Or is it that they "are just smarter"?


I think it's partially an accident of history and also that liberals tend to be academically inclined (not that conservatives aren't smart).

However, here's a bit of advice for you from somebody who considers himself a Goldwater republican who's been to three different universities. There are liberal professors and then there are total raving moonbats which come in both flavors :). Any hint of moonbattery is a good reason to drop a class. Mind you, this doesn't mean they're just weird (nothing wrong with that, one of my best professors was VERY strange), but that they're the sort of professors who use the lectern as their personal soapbox (I had one experience like that and that was all I could stand).

I can totally deal with liberal professors if they are otherwise good professors, i.e., give interesting lectures, make you think and learn, etc. I actually had a harder time dealing with ultra-liberal students. Simply, it's not so black and white.

My first advisor (in psychology) was a New Yorker (Jewish) and very liberal on most issues. He was involved in all the organizations, i.e., the ACLU (who I don't mind so much), SPLC, etc. However, he was a totally decent guy and absolutely fascinating. He was also consistent in his beliefs as he was strongly opposed to affirmative action ("it violates the 14th amendment"). You could talk to him for HOURS and not get bored (I did!).

My second advisor was also liberal, but again, he was thoughtful and not a knee jerk kind of guy. He was mainly interested in the science, as was I, so it never came between us.

The advisors that formed by dissertation committee were a mixed bunch, though the chair was pretty liberal. We still collaborate, chat daily, etc. and agree on many more things (affirmative action, falling academic standards, etc.) than we disagree on. If you're studying the discipline they're teaching or at least interested, you can typically find common interests.

In short, professors are, like most of us, more than their political leanings. If they aren't more than their political leanings, i.e., fanatics avoid their classes as much as you can. Also, it may be fun to argue with them, but it's tiring at the same time. Most of the students, even liberals, will typically be annoyed by teachers like this. To me it's about learning, though a bit of soapboxing, provided it's on topic, is ok as well.

Best of luck,

Alex

P.S. There's a website out there that lets students anonymously rate professors in terms of how biased they are and describe the lectures. That might be a useful tool for you. I wish I had it when I went to school! I forgot the url, but you can probably find it via google.
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Slyde
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2004 2:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

curtis119 wrote:
I searched around a little and discovered that MSU dorms have cable tv provided by Comcast. The channels provided are about the same as Comcasts basic 1 service which is what residential customers would get. Foxnews is also not provided to these residential cutomers. So it is not MSU choosing to not include Fox News but Comcast.

Even tho cable is provided by Comcast, it is different than off campus scheduling. I lived in an off campus house last summer, and we had Fox News (came with the basic cable package). The channels are all different with on campus channels.

I am still planning on looking into this. However trying to get an answer from any place of authority in the university is worse than pulling teeth. And they wonder why students protest...
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2004 2:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Slyde wrote:
curtis119 wrote:
I searched around a little and discovered that MSU dorms have cable tv provided by Comcast. The channels provided are about the same as Comcasts basic 1 service which is what residential customers would get. Foxnews is also not provided to these residential cutomers. So it is not MSU choosing to not include Fox News but Comcast.

Even tho cable is provided by Comcast, it is different than off campus scheduling. I lived in an off campus house last summer, and we had Fox News (came with the basic cable package). The channels are all different with on campus channels.

I am still planning on looking into this. However trying to get an answer from any place of authority in the university is worse than pulling teeth. And they wonder why students protest...


OK, I found that info on the comcast homepage. If you look there you will see that the basic1 service is the same as the universities channel line-up. You probably had the basic service in your off-campus house. The basic service has more channels(including foxnews) than the basic1 service. I could be totally wrong though since I don't have comcast cable or go to MSU.

On the rest of the topic I would like to agree with what evoweiss said. I think he is right on the money.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2004 2:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I was in school, most of my professors were liberal....but most of them kept politics out of the classroom (except for the political science teachers :wink: )

The ones who were prone to soap boxing were well known on campus and only the ultra-liberal students signed up for those classes. Luckily for me, the University where I attended was aware of the situation...and created a second course for students who didn't want to be preached at....although they did keep the preachy professors because those classes were fairly popular (circa. 1987-91).

My economics teacher......ultra conservative from jolly 'ol England...
My Chemistry teacher......ultra conservative from India
All of my language and literature teachers were pretty dang liberal
My Math teachers were a mixed bag.
My Biology teacher was pretty liberal
My Physics teacher was definitely leaning right

I can't really remember too much about the rest....Had one PolySci class that I had to drop because the teacher was so friggin liberal that any opinion I had that was opposed to his narrow view on the world was immediately pooh poohed. Not to mention he graded on a curve with conservatives at the bottom. :roll:

Al
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2004 2:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

comcast... com...comm....commu...communist..... see what im getting at?
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2004 2:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

cokehabit wrote:
comcast... com...comm....commu...communist..... see what im getting at?

Concubines?
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Slyde
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2004 3:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

curtis119 wrote:
OK, I found that info on the comcast homepage. If you look there you will see that the basic1 service is the same as the universities channel line-up. You probably had the basic service in your off-campus house. The basic service has more channels(including foxnews) than the basic1 service. I could be totally wrong though since I don't have comcast cable or go to MSU.

On the rest of the topic I would like to agree with what evoweiss said. I think he is right on the money.

Do you have a link? I want to compare to my channel listing to see what we have. BTW, why aren't you on IRC tonight? :wink:
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2004 3:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Slyde wrote:
curtis119 wrote:
OK, I found that info on the comcast homepage. If you look there you will see that the basic1 service is the same as the universities channel line-up. You probably had the basic service in your off-campus house. The basic service has more channels(including foxnews) than the basic1 service. I could be totally wrong though since I don't have comcast cable or go to MSU.

On the rest of the topic I would like to agree with what evoweiss said. I think he is right on the money.

Do you have a link? I want to compare to my channel listing to see what we have. BTW, why aren't you on IRC tonight? :wink:


http://www.comcast.com/Support/

click on My channel line-up and put in your zip code. There is a seperate listing for MSU and East Lansing. I'll be on irc in a little bit. I'm answering tech questions from the other parts of the forums. I've been bad lately and ignoring the unanswered posts button. OTW is SOOOOOOOO addictive. :twisted:
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2004 3:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

curtis119 wrote:
I'm answering tech questions from the other parts of the forums. I've been bad lately and ignoring the unanswered posts button. OTW is SOOOOOOOO addictive. :twisted:


I've been trying to do that too, per your advice.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2004 3:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BaronVonOwn wrote:
The reason is simple, really - being insulated from the realities of the world combined with a job wherein you mostly think about social and economic institutions causes these professors to identify flaws with society, and then they propose their idealistic (leftist) solutions.

That's very well-put -- it's just so damn easy.

At least, I have found academics to be shocked and intrigued (rather than merely dismissive) when I display my support for alternatives ...
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2004 4:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

porodzila wrote:
curtis119 wrote:
I'm answering tech questions from the other parts of the forums. I've been bad lately and ignoring the unanswered posts button. OTW is SOOOOOOOO addictive. :twisted:


I've been trying to do that too, per your advice.


I noticed that. Keep it up. One tip I might give you (and please don't take this the wrong way - any help you give is always a good thing) would be to list steps to correct the problem or give links to relevant documentation or other threads that answer the question at hand. Making them read more documentation will get them in the Linux habit of searching for information and figuring it out for themselves. I'm cheering for you poro, I know you will get that dream job at apple someday. They could use an intelligent guy like you over there!!
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2004 7:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BaronVonOwn wrote:
The reason is simple, really - being insulated from the realities of the world combined with a job wherein you mostly think about social and economic institutions causes these professors to identify flaws with society, and then they propose their idealistic (leftist) solutions.

The problem is that they identify the flaw, but they don't identify the cause of the flaw - which is, in most cases, human nature. Their idealistic worldview doesn't allow them to accept that humans are naturally evil (and while we're at it, stupid too). If they had a less comfy job (in the real world) maybe they'd learn that lesson.


Man I'm sick of this view that liberalism is for professors and other elites. It certainly appeals to them, but it's not exclusive. Academics proprose theories, politicians apply them, obviously the theory is going to be an idealized version, just like the fact that our (well the US citizens) constitution and bill of rights are ideals, which were then qualified in an huge number of ways in law.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2004 8:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am in Physics, and a good many scientists are liberals for one big reason -- administrations like the current one are not very supportive of the sciences.

Otherwise, I really couldn't tell you why, but I think it's probably something like what the others here have said. People stay in academia so that they don't have to go out and get a 'real job.' I'm going to stay in it because I love what I do, and most of the commercial applications of Physics are rather dangerous... Or, at least they can be. I also really want to teach. It's something I've always wanted to do, but I'm just afraid that it's just not practical for me to teach high school, as I had originally intended. So, it's going to be a life-long university career for me, as far as I can tell at this point. I'll do some cool experimental research and teach kids who want to learn the stuff. (Well, and some engineers, who just need to pass the damn class.)

Sorry if I rambled there a bit. But, I think quite a few people feel the same way. A lot of scientists are really kind of detached from the rest of the world because they think better that way. Academia suits these people well. There is some evidence that people who have a condition called Asperger's Syndrome, similar in many respects to full blown Autism, excel at science. Asperger's also causes some deep deficiencies in social development in those who have it. There was an interesting article in Wired about the Autism epidemic that was happening in Silicon Valley -- most of the kids were sons & daughters of software engineers. Just thought this might be an interesting connection.

I do not, however, have much experience with the Liberal Arts side of the campus here at the University of Texas at Austin. Neither do I know many in the business school.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2004 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I study engineering, technology certainly takes presidence over politcs on my school.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2004 9:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

docGonzo2000 wrote:
I am in Physics, and a good many scientists are liberals for one big reason -- administrations like the current one are not very supportive of the sciences.

Except that's not true. Funding physics has been a matter of political expedience on both sides of the aisle.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2004 9:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Simple answer, because that's how it works.

Not so simple answer, because you go to university/school/college/whatever to be educated, you receive in its place, indoctrination. In few cases are you actually taught to think, you are instead instructed on what to believe. If that sounds like a conspiracy theory nut job, it isn't, it's a quite simple premise whereby, take myself as an example:
If you tell me that Manchester City are a better football team and the correct team to support, it is irrelevant what your arguments are, i'm a Man Utd fan, I won't believe you, and vice versa, whatever arguments or points or positions which you come up with to validate your op[inion, I will simple consider them unfounded or misconstruing, inadequately researched, whatever. The educational system works in the same way as does the rest of the world, you either adopt the principles and beliefs of your peers or instructors or you make no progress within that sphere.

My first experience of that was studying sociology when I put certain points to my tutor which were right of centre. These points were rational and backed up with numerous examples and references and yet I scored dreadfully. The next time I didn't make the same mistake, I adopted a left sided position and gained marks despite providing less "evidence" to support my claims.

You are told you are not being judged on your views but on your reasoning and yet, that reasoning will always be flawed if it doesn't come up with the right answers in the eyes of the tutor. To use mathematics as an example, you will always be marked as wrong if you sat 2 + 2 = 5 no matter what your reasoning (unless of course you're Winston Smith ;) )

Over a period of time this indoctrination results in what you see, those subjects which cover the humanities can be seen to have a "left" bias, those which cover economics have a "right" bias due to the indoctrination of an inherently capitalist system in which liberalism, communism, etc are preceived as the enemy, and so it goes on.

It doesn't matter whether or not you are the next Chomsky, Einstein, Plato, or Da Vinci, at the point of education, your views are seen as secondary in value to these established people and so, even if you are yourself amongst the future elites, until you have accepted the reasoning of all those who have gone before you, you won't have the opportunity to be, except in very rare cases or outside the specific sphere of influence.



As for it being in the communist manifesto, only to the extent that it is within the capitalist manifesto or the manifesto of any system exerting influence, at the moment the system exerting most influence is inherently capitalistic, even within the voices of dissent which tend to be critical, not in a "revolutionary" way, but in a way which is accepted within professed doctrines..

http://www.zmag.org/zmag/articles/sept96marrchomsky.htm might be considered an enlightening read which explains things a little better (in terms of the propaganda model) than I.
(Half way through "Cat Among The Clichés" and then through to the end are the most relevant areas)
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2004 2:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Could it be that it is because they are smarter than your average right wing nut?
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2004 2:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

headache wrote:
Could it be that it is because they are smarter than your average right wing nut?


I thought it was because they got paid to sling bullshit instead of actually having to produce a useful product.
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