Academic psychology: from Left-leaning to Left-monoculture

From Haidt et al’s review paper on the lack of political diversity in social psychology:


What the hell happened in 2000?

11 Responses

  1. All the professors who earned their Ph.D. before 1960 had retired. My own field had plenty of old-style liberals–even some tory conservatives–up to the 1990s. All of the rising stars were Marxists of one sort or another, but they hadn’t yet supplanted the older generation. When I attended my first academic conference in the mid-1980s, the registration package included a list of convenient churches for those who might want to attend services. Haven’t noticed one of those in a while.

  2. After the crash of 1929, the ratio became > 1.

  3. I doubt that anything happened in 2000. The data is thin there.

    Probably the true curve is quite smooth.

    Assuming the true curve is smooth, reaches infinity between now and 2020.

    Since Napoleon Chagnon lost tenure for microoffenses, infinity by 2020 seems about right.

  4. Maybe I should have phrased it as “What happened in 1970 that conservatives stopped being hired as assistant professors?”

    Was GWB really more hated in academia than Nixon and Reagan had been?

  5. Yes. Nixon and Reagan were conspicuously intelligent and not socially conservative. (Smart lefties understood that the rhetoric to the contrary was just red meat for the droolers) There were lots of smart, competent, knowledgeable Republicans in the 1970s. There were respectable, coherent arguments leading to the conclusion “therefore, the GOP’s policy stance is the wiser one.” AEI was a prestigious place. You were happy if your student got a job there. None of this is true today, and W is the poster-child for the complete intellectual collapse of the GOP.

    You could argue that W was more a gauge of this collapse than the collapse itself and that he was not, himself, the ultimate causal factor. But, I don’t think there is really much point in making this distinction. “I stopped for gas because the needle was pointing to E” is really not that distinct from “I stopped for gas because I believed my gas tank was nearly empty, and my basis for that belief was that the needle was pointing to E.”

    Though I agree with JMSmith that there were a lot more Republicans in the academy in the past, I don’t agree with your extension of that to a lot more conservatives. The GOP was not noticeably socially conservative prior to the 1980s. If anything, R was the more socially liberal party from WWII to sometime in the late 1970s. Catholics were Ds. Evangelicals and Southrons were Ds. The Ds on the Roe court split 1:1 while the Rs went 7:1 for Roe. Observe that guys like Eugene Volokh are still tolerated in academia. You can be “economically conservative” and outspoken, especially if you do it in a wooly-headed, dopey, utopian way. But, being an enemy of Christendom and servant of Satan is more-or-less mandatory, now as then.

    If you want a window into the thinking of “old hand” GOP policy wonks who feel betrayed by this change in the GOP, you could read Bruce Bartlett. Paul Craig Roberts has similar concerns about the modern GOP. There are others, the foreign-policy realist types, for example. I know from personal experience that this point of view is common among both GOP beltway intelligensia types and GOP leaning academics. The ones who want to continue having a potential career in government just don’t say much in public.

    The GOP’s insane reaction to Obamacare was a recent prominent example of the problem, but, really, everything that party does is a recent example.

    I suppose I should mention that I am not particularly sympathetic to guys like Barlett. “Why oh why can we not go back to serving Satan intelligently?” is not exactly an attractive rallying cry.

  6. 6:1. I can’t add.

  7. So you’re saying that psychologists didn’t really change; it’s just that the definition of “conservative” shifted. I’ll bet that’s true at least for the early 20th century, most of whose data points are based on party preference, and the Republicans weren’t clearly the Right-er party until perhaps the 1980s.

    I’m not yet convinced of the GWB effect, although it happens at exactly the right time so the theory definitely has that going for it. Reagan was widely derided as an idiot too, wasn’t he? True, he was hated primarily for his foreign policy rather than being an unconvincing social conservative, but exactly the same thing could be said about Bush. Also, I think for a while there was a respectable soft social conservatism, concerned about marriage breakdown and loss of social capital from “mediating institutions”.

  8. Yes, that’s basically my theory.

    Yes, Reagan was derided as an idiot. The thing is, he wasn’t an idiot, and anyone paying reasonably close attention knew this. Furthermore, he was surrounded by highly intelligent and competent people. Compare to W.

  9. The Rockefellers were famously progressive Republicans. The Rockefeller foundation drove a lot of research funding by writing grants as well as influencing other foundations and the federal government. Some of the people receiving the grants may have called themselves Republicans.

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