Monday, November 12, 2012

Diversity in academia

99 percent of donors from Princeton gave to Obama, reports the Daily Princetonian, 157 to 2.  Princeton's one-percenters are a visiting lecturer and a custodian.

As a colleague pointed out, it may be little wonder that Republican politicians distrust academic "studies," whether about the effects of taxes on growth or carbon on the climate.

The story talks about the reasons for current faculty's opinions. But that misses the issue, which is how faculty are hired. Certain Opinions need not apply.

The faculty opinions are interesting anyway.
Goldston, a former director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, ...said he believes the large divide between faculty who donate to Obama and to Romney can in part be attributed to Obama’s effectiveness in supporting higher education.
The ethanol farmers of Iowa cheer this patriotic attitude.
“A lot of my own work is on stereotyping and prejudice and diversity issues, and I think the Democrats are just hands-down better in that,” she [Psychology professor Susan Fiske] said.
You just can't make this stuff up. Diversity? Stereotyping? Prejudice?
“Now, this is a big generalization, so there are many educated conservatives, but on average, my understanding is that education tends to make people more progressive,” she added.
With an education like that, no wonder.

(BTW my rough guess is that the Booth school is about 2/3 Democrat, at least judging from lunchroom discussions.)  

Update: Commenter JB McMunn below pointed out the comments at the daily Princetonian website, which I had not seen. I thought I had an acid tongue! A critical spirit is alive and well among Princeton students, it seems.

Update 2: Many commenters, and many of the much more venemous comments that I've been deleting, are missing the point. It's perfectly ok to vote for democrats. I vote for democrats (and libertarians) often as well. I find the republican social conservatives' positions as noxious as much dirigiste democratic economic policy. Take your pick which is more dangerous to the country at a given moment.

The point is diversity. If you never hear from the other side, if nobody where you live and work has anything remotely like their views, you become insular, and your own opinions, never challenged, can harden on serious mistakes.

Academia especially profits when lots of widely different views contest, not when it becomes a claque of uniformity. The thing I enjoy most about being an academic is when I'm proven wrong, or at least challenged -- when Dick Thaler or Austan Goolsbee hammers me in the lunchroom, and I say, whoa, I need to think about that. Princeton, according to the Daily Princetonian, and most of the University of Chicago as well, never hears from religious conservatives, members of the armed forces, neoconservative hawks, or even middle of the road Bush I republicans, to say nothing of free market economists and libertarians. These people are not stupid, and an academic institution devoted to intellectual diversity needs to hear from them, and occasionally hire them.