26 November 2006

Sorry David, There Just Seems to be No Evidence for a Vast Radical Conspiracy to Indoctrinate College Youth

As I have said here before, I believe the whole point of college is to challenge students, not simply re-confirm the views and commitments they bring with them when they arrive on campus. Of course, that aim can be abused. So, when the conservative students at Rochester complain that they are penalized by faculty for expressing their right-wing views I often ask them to provide some evidence, not "proof" mind you, but something more than entitled whining. To date, our college righties have not identified so much as a single not-so-compelling case, let alone a plausible instance to support their worries about the Rochester faculty.

The same challenge goes for the so-called "Student's Bill of Rights" being peddled by former far-left-nut-job, now converted into far-right-nut-job, David Horowitz. Can Mr. Horowitz show us that there is actually a problem that requires the supposed remedy he is peddling? (The image here shows Horowitz testifying before a legislative inquiry held at Temple University earlier this year; it seems from the photo that he thinks there is a big, obvious, easily detectable problem.) Unfortunately, the early returns are not looking good for everyone's favorite ideologue (well, almost everyone's - there are just so many nuts out there). See this report on the results of an inquiry mandated by the state legislature in Pennsylvania after Horowitz took his road show to the state last year. The legislative committee that conducted the inquiry was controlled by Republicans. And Pennsylvania is hardly a hot bed of liberalism. It would seem that Mr. Horowitz couldn't design a more auspicious laboratory for establishing his complaint.

So where are all the oppressed conservative students whose GPAs are being held hosatge by wild-eyed radical faculty? They seem to be an artifact of Mr. Horowitz's rich fantasy life, and he has managed to abuse a bunch of students by persuading them to waste time feeding their own fantasies and anxieties rather than going to school and learning something. In the process he is doing more of a disserive to those students than the radicals he imagines are out to indoctrinate them. My advice to David Horowitz? Seek clinical help.

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2 Comments:

Blogger John Bates said...

Better be careful what you say, Jim, or you'll wind up as the 102nd most dangerous professor in America.

26 November, 2006 19:22  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jimbo. Have you heard about this Dan Klein-dude at George Mason. I think he´s kind of driving in the Horowitz-kind of direction, but taking the back door, somehow. He´s trying to ground his thesis empirically, by pointing out that most of you professors are pinkos, and that this actually affects students in some way. Look at this paper, for one:

http://swopec.hhs.se/ratioi/abs/ratioi0054.htm

Anyhow, his friends in Sweden have conducted a similar study. If I get it right: A bit disappointing for them, Swedish academics do not turn out to have such an leftish bias as they were expected to have (and believe me, in economics, there is a centre-right bias, as everywhere else).

27 November, 2006 10:28  

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