krugman on academia’s lean toward reason

Republicans, suggesting that academic institutions lean too heavily toward the left, are demanding that immediate changes be made in higher ed. As silly as it may sound, given their vehement opposition to quotas with regard to factors such as race, some are even suggesting that a system be put in place to guarantee that a certain percentage of university professors be conservative… In today’s New York Times, columnist and college professor, Paul Krugman offers his opinion. Here’s a clip:

In its April Fools’ Day issue, Scientific American published a spoof editorial in which it apologized for endorsing the theory of evolution just because it’s “the unifying concept for all of biology and one of the greatest scientific ideas of all time,” saying that “as editors, we had no business being persuaded by mountains of evidence.” And it conceded that it had succumbed “to the easy mistake of thinking that scientists understand their fields better than, say, U.S. senators or best-selling novelists do.”

The editorial was titled “O.K., We Give Up.” But it could just as well have been called “Why So Few Scientists Are Republicans These Days.” Thirty years ago, attacks on science came mostly from the left; these days, they come overwhelmingly from the right, and have the backing of leading Republicans.

Scientific American may think that evolution is supported by mountains of evidence, but President Bush declares that “the jury is still out.” Senator James Inhofe dismisses the vast body of research supporting the scientific consensus on climate change as a “gigantic hoax.” And conservative pundits like George Will write approvingly about Michael Crichton’s anti-environmentalist fantasies.

Think of the message this sends: today’s Republican Party – increasingly dominated by people who believe truth should be determined by revelation, not research – doesn’t respect science, or scholarship in general. It shouldn’t be surprising that scholars have returned the favor by losing respect for the Republican Party.

Conservatives should be worried by the alienation of the universities; they should at least wonder if some of the fault lies not in the professors, but in themselves. Instead, they’re seeking a Lysenkoist solution that would have politics determine courses’ content.

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2 Comments

  1. Teddy Glass
    Posted April 6, 2005 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    On the subject of freedom of speech on college campuses, you might want to read David Corn’s article today on having a university speaking engagement canceled without explanation in Arkansas.

  2. Anna
    Posted April 6, 2005 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for posting that. I missed it somehow, but it was right on target.

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