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Study finds bias on American campuses

WASHINGTON—A new study has found pervasive bias in American colleges and universities, researchers at the American Enterprise Institute announced today.

“Based on our analysis of professors’ financial contributions to political campaigns,” said AEI Senior Fellow for Bias Karl Zinsmeister, “we conclude that American campuses are basically one-party nations—except that such nations usually have the merit, such as it is, of candor about their ideological monopolies.”

The Zinsmeister study, conducted over ten months at nearly forty universities across the nation, found that in a hypothetical race for the Presidency of the Whole World, professors in the humanities and social sciences would give over six times as much money to Jean-François Lyotard as to Jürgen Habermas.  In some fields, such as English and Comparative Literature, the ratio was over eleven to one.

“These are the definitive findings we’ve been looking for,” said Stanley Rothman, a neutral observer who just happened to be stopping by.  “In the past, liberal professors have complained that our studies of party registration and political affiliation were flawed because they didn’t capture something they called ‘nuance.’ For example, we’d find that eighty percent of the professors in a sociology department were Democrats, and we’d take that to the press, knowing that Howard Kurtz and George Will would jump all over it.  But then it would turn out that among those Democrats, some were ‘symbolic interactionists’ and some were ‘functionalists’ and they’d go on about Durkheim or William Julius Wilson and a whole bunch of things we didn’t know or care about.  The same thing would happen in anthropology and literature and history and philosophy—time after time, we’d find that these sneaky liberals had all kinds of different intellectual commitments and research specialties, and everything got messy and complicated.  But now we’ve got the bastards at last.  These Lyotard-loving liberals can run, but they can’t hide.”

Robert Lichter, a fair and balanced observer of the media, agreed.  “This study is simply devastating,” he said from his office at the Center for the Fair and Balanced Observation of the Media.  “What we see is that professors prefer Lyotardian ‘paralogy’ to Habermasian ‘communicative action’ by a factor of six to one.  This constitutes a nearly universal and yet deeply paradoxical consensus for the Lyotardian claim that consensus is ‘terror.’ And this means, in turn, that American professors support terror, as researchers at the Coulter Institute have shown as well.”

Critics of the AEI study were initially unsure how to respond to the findings.  “The Zinsmeister study is basically a sophisticated form of cherry-picking,” said one irrelevant, nit-picking liberal.  “They’ve focused almost entirely on Lyotard-friendly territory like the University of California at Irvine, and they’ve completely ignored the work of feminist Habermasians like Seyla Benhabib.  This study says more about the biases of the study itself than about American college professors.”

When asked to respond to such criticism, Zinsmeister replied, “I have no idea what this irrelevant, nit-picking liberal is talking about.  All I know is that we’ve found irrefutable evidence of bias.  Again.”

Posted by on 02/23 at 01:06 PM
  1. What, no support for Deleuze and Guattari? I demand a recount!

    Posted by Fragano Ledgister  on  02/23  at  02:31 PM
  2. Now i suppose the surveys were conducted at only at those universities who were previously asked to provide data that would indicate which departments and scholars were best to poll the results they desired.  But they would have been much better served had they more carefully chosen science, math, and engineering professors who were known sympathizers and card carrying party members.

    captcha word: lost, as in where is the data??

    Suisse just tied up Sweden in the 10th end.

    Posted by  on  02/23  at  03:25 PM
  3. I happened to run into two professors from Baylor University, so I asked them which political party they were down with. They’re republicans. When I pressed them about their allegiance to Habermas vs Lyotard, the tall one said, “I don’t have time for this. Please leave.”

    I’m in the process of writing it up, but I think you can safely say this study has been debunked.

    Posted by  on  02/23  at  03:52 PM
  4. But Michael what chance does Lyotard have against a neigh unstoppable Habermas-Derrida ticket?

    Posted by  on  02/23  at  04:21 PM
  5. nigh unstoppable

    Posted by  on  02/23  at  04:22 PM
  6. What has the AEI really uncovered here? Is it a clear preference on the part of American academics for French thinking over German? Postmodernism over Enlightenment thought? Radicalism versus Liberalism (or are we still pretending Habermas has roots in Marxism)? Probably not. It’s just more evidence that a plain looking guy like Habermas doesn’t stand a chance against a pretty boy like Lyotard. Nice hair will win out over theoretical rigor any day.

    Posted by  on  02/23  at  04:52 PM
  7. A denotative utterance such as “The university is a one-party nation,” made in the context of a conversation or an interview, positions its sender (the person who utters the statement), its addressee (the person who receives it), and its referent (what the statement deals with) in a specific way: the utterance places (and exposes) the sender in the position of “knower” (he knows what the situation is with the university), the addressee is put in the position of having to give or refuse his assent, and the referent itself is handled in a way unique to denotatives, as something that demands to be correctly identified and expressed by the statement that refers to it.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  02/23  at  04:59 PM
  8. just stopped by to say i just voted for you in oh-the-horror!witz’s “worst professor IN THE WHOLE WORLD” contest. you’re kicking some serious ass over there, it’s not even close.  do you get a certificate or something (gasp, a trophy?) if you win?  i must say, something like that would sure look smart hanging on a bathroom wall.

    Posted by cereal breath  on  02/23  at  06:53 PM
  9. Suisse just tied up Sweden in the 10th end.

    But Sweden prevailed in the 11th end.

    All in all, it was a very satisfying bonspiel.

    Posted by  on  02/23  at  07:43 PM
  10. Ditto cereal breath. I just voted and can imagine no higher honor than being Top Dog on the Horrorwitz list. Maybe the wingnuts are just reeling back in fear of the stick and the sharp skates.

    Somehow David H just missed that day they taught the meaning of ‘irony’. Typical ex-Marxist, they rarely had a sense of humor to start with, those who transitioned to Hayek/Rand never quite get why we are laughing. “We are serious, dammit!”

    Posted by  on  02/23  at  07:49 PM
  11. Looking at the actual Zinsmeister “study”, I was amused by the mysterious appearance of the Brown University engineering dept and the failure of engineering departments elsewhere to appear.  Why, one might think that the people who did the study found the one such department dominated by Democrats, placed it at the top of the list of schools, and then carefully never profiled the engineering departments of other schools because it might detract from the desired slant of the results.

    These people are too sloppy to even make their propaganda look good.

    Posted by  on  02/23  at  08:02 PM
  12. Please Michael, do not invite the Governor of Illinois to visit you, your blog, your class, or other environs. 

    ST. LOUIS - Gov. Rod Blagojevich wasn’t in on the joke. Blagojevich says he didn’t realize “The Daily Show” was a comedy spoof of the news when he sat down for an interview that ended up poking fun at the sometimes-puzzled Democratic governor.

    “It was going to be an interview on contraceptives ... that’s all I knew about it,” Blagojevich laughingly told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in a story for Thursday’s editions. “I had no idea I was going to be asked if I was ‘the gay governor.’”

    The interview focused on his executive order requiring pharmacies to fill prescriptions for emergency birth control.

    Interviewer Jason Jones pretended to stumble over Blagojevich’s name before calling him “Governor Smith.” He urged Blagojevich to explain the contraception issue by playing the role of “a hot 17-year-old” and later asked if he was “the gay governor.”

    At one point in the interview, a startled Blagojevich looked to someone off camera and said, “Is he teasing me, or is that legit?”

    The segment, which aired two weeks ago, also featured Illinois Republican Rep. Ron Stephens, a pharmacist who opposes the governor’s rule. Stephens has said he knew the show was a comedy.

    “I thought the governor was hip enough that he would have known that, too,” Stephens said.

    No $#!^ Dick Tracy.  Captcha word is “life” as in this Gov needs to get one.

    Posted by  on  02/23  at  10:18 PM
  13. I think we need to take a cure from Lakoff here and just change the semantics, not the overall bias (Cause hey, I love the bias!) You know, try not to mention too many francophones, teach Kuhn instead of Lyotard, etc.

    Posted by  on  02/23  at  10:57 PM
  14. Actually I’m mre worried about that darn Hardt-Negri third party ticket.  You know that’ll throw a wrench into the Presidency of the Whole Wide World Electoral College....

    Rich beat me to the read on the Zinsmeister study.  Funny how those analyses forget to study engineering and business departments....

    Posted by Chuck  on  02/23  at  11:16 PM
  15. Zecks! All zeese Eegnorant Akademiks zink about is Zecks!

    Giff them a candidate namenz of Spandex, and zay will fote for it!

    Posted by JS Narins  on  02/23  at  11:22 PM
  16. Just found out that DePaul now has it’s own whiney conservative group on campus.  They did one of those affirmative action bake sales that are all the rage.  Interesting since we don’t really have affirmative action at DePaul and it is a private school so it can do whatever the hell it wants!  The group has funding from FIRE.

    Posted by  on  02/24  at  01:10 AM
  17. The other thing is that, unlike Ann Coulter, pesky liberal professors require footnotes to actually support the point one is making. Traitors.

    Great post.

    Posted by Brando  on  02/24  at  11:05 AM
  18. I wasted my vote on Berube over at D’Oh’s site too! I didn’t realize you were creaming the other candidates by so much! 

    Can someone do something about Ward Churchill beating Noam Chomsky?

    Posted by  on  02/24  at  02:35 PM
  19. "Can someone do something about Ward Churchill beating Noam Chomsky?”

    Not to fear.  Chomsky’s on his radio-broadcast speaking tour again, so I’m sure he’ll pull up in the polls soon. 

    You guys back whichever ticket you want.  We all know Marcuse will have the best bumper-stickers.

    Posted by Heo Cwaeth  on  02/25  at  12:11 AM
  20. Michael,
    Related to the ‘liberal professors’ story lines you’ve been posting about, I wonder if you have seen Louis Menand’s “The Marketplace of Ideas” (available online as the American Council of Learned Societies Occasional Paper No. 49).  Menand’s piece is an overview of the last half-century of changes in the university.  Among several interesting arguments, his discussion of the changes from disciplinarity to anti-disciplinarity to post-disciplinarity put me in mind of the controversies postmodernism has generated within academia over issues of canonicity, certainty of knowledge, and the rest of the usual suspects.  Shock waves from those changes seem to spill over into the ‘liberal professors’ attacks; I’m thinking of cases like Mark Bauerlein’s Chronicle of Higher Ed piece, “Liberal Groupthink Is Anti-Intellectual” (11/12/04).  I’m sure you’re more aware than I of traditionalist disciplinary strains in the MLA.

    I’d be curious about your take on Menand’s view of the university and how the academic turf battles fit with the political turf battles—if you every have time to look at it.  Just what you need, right?  Something else to read. 

    best,
    Paul Turpin

    Posted by Paul Turpin  on  02/25  at  07:50 PM

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