Category: leftward drift

Left Behind: More on Bias in Social "Science"

I’m no fan of Shermer, but he’s right here.

Article as follows, emphasis added:
In the past couple of years imbroglios erupted on college campuses across the U.S. over trigger warnings (for example, alerting students to scenes of abuse and violence in The Great Gatsbybefore assigning it), microaggressions (saying “I believe the most qualified person should get the job”), cultural appropriation (a white woman wearing her hair in cornrows), speaker disinvitations (Brandeis University canceling plans to award Ayaan Hirsi Ali an honorary degree because of her criticism of Islam’s treatment of women), safe spaces (such as rooms where students can go after a talk that has upset them), and social justice advocates competing to signal their moral outrage over such issues as Halloween costumes (last year at Yale University). Why such unrest in the most liberal institutions in the country?
Although there are many proximate causes, there is but one ultimate cause—lack of political diversity to provide checks on protests going too far. A 2014 study conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles, Higher Education Research Institute found that 59.8 percent of all undergraduate faculty nationwide identify as far left or liberal, compared with only 12.8 percent as far right or conservative. The asymmetry is much worse in the social sciences. A 2015 study by psychologist José Duarte, then at Arizona State University, and his colleagues in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, entitled “Political Diversity Will Improve Social Psychological Science,” found that 58 to 66 percent of social scientists are liberal and only 5 to 8 percent conservative and that there are eight Democrats for every Republican. The problem is most relevant to the study of areas “related to the political concerns of the Left—areas such as race, gender, stereotyping, environmentalism, power, and inequality.” The very things these students are protesting.
How does this political asymmetry corrupt social science? It begins with what subjects are studied and the descriptive language employed. Consider a 2003 paper by social psychologist John Jost, now at New York University, and his colleagues, entitled “Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition.” Conservatives are described as having “uncertainty avoidance,” “needs for order, structure, and closure,” as well as “dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity,” as if these constitute a mental disease that leads to “resistance to change” and “endorsement of inequality.”Yet one could just as easily characterize liberals as suffering from a host of equally malfunctioning cognitive states: a lack of moral compass that leads to an inability to make clear ethical choices, a pathological fear of clarity that leads to indecisiveness, a naive belief that all people are equally talented, and a blind adherence in the teeth of contradictory evidence from behavior genetics that culture and environment exclusively determine one’s lot in life.

Duarte et al. find similar distortive language across the social sciences, where, for instance, certain words are used to suggest pernicious motives when confronting contradictory evidence—“deny,” “legitimize,” “rationalize,” “justify,” “defend,” “trivialize”—with conservatives as examples, as if liberals are always objective and rational. In one test item, for example, the “endorsement of the efficacy of hard work” was interpreted as an example of “rationalization of inequality.” Imagine a study in which conservative values were assumed to be scientific facts and disagreement with them was treated as irrational, the authors conjecture counterfactually. “In this field, scholars might regularly publish studies on … ‘the denial of the benefits of a strong military’ or ‘the denial of the benefits of church attendance.’” The authors present evidence that “embedding any type of ideological values into measures is dangerous to science” and is “much more likely to happen—and to go unchallenged by dissenters—in a politically homogeneous field.”
Political bias also twists how data are interpreted. For instance, Duarte’s study discusses a paper in which subjects scoring high in “right-wing authoritarianism” were found to be “more likely to go along with the unethical decisions of leaders.” Example: “not formally taking a female colleague’s side in her sexual harassment complaint against her subordinate (given little information about the case).” Maybe what this finding really means is that conservatives believe in examining evidence first, instead of prejudging by gender. Call it “left-wing authoritarianism.”
The authors’ solution to the political bias problem is right out of the liberal playbook: diversity. Not just ethnic, race and gender but viewpoint diversity. All of us are biased, and few of us can see it in ourselves, so we depend on others to challenge us. As John Stuart Mill noted in that greatest defense of free speech, On Liberty, “He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that.”
This article was originally published with the title “Left Behind”

Left vs. Right, 11/21/14

A contrast in attitude.
In light of executive amnesty, some observations can be made. Note that two weeks after a crushing electoral defeat (*), the Left wins a great moral victory, they are the ones celebrating, and the victors of election day are pouting and fuming, and impotently scheming on how to salvage some dignity after having defeat snatched from the jaws of victory. This tells us much about the difference in spirit between the (broadly defined) Left and Right.
Left: always fighting, always on the offensive, never gives up, is never satisfied, is always demanding. When they win, the ask for more. When they lose, they simply dust themselves off and get right back into the fray. They always think big, always pushing. If they are crushed electorally, they will still push their agenda as if nothing happened, and they will never disavow their base of support. They view the other side as the enemy and aim for that enemy’s total defeat.
Right: always surrendering, always on the defensive, easily gives up, is easily satisfied, tentatively asks (never demands) and shrivels in fear if denied. When they win, they declare victory, go home, and do nothing. When they lose, they wallow in despair and aim to change their entire belief system. They always think small, always looking for the easy way out.  If they are crushed electorally, they disavow their base of support (who they not-so-secretly despise) and want to re-invent themselves in imitation of the victors. They view the other side as potential friends and believe that mild debate and the outcome of an election or two can transform implacable foes into bosom buddies.
The Left: eternal winners; the Right: eternal losers. And that will continue until the Right imitates the Left in the ONE thing they should be imitating – the Leftist spirit of fervor, moral crusade, and refusal to ever surrender. For that, we need the radical, revolutionary far-Right, not timid mainstream conservatives.
*Yes, I know: the GOP is a sham opposition, and these mainstream elections are sound and fury signifying nothing (in a practical sense). But here I am talking about attitude, about spirit, about morale. Let’s step back from our Olympian “movement” (or in my case, ex-“movement” and/or Neo-Movement) perspective and look at it the same way as ordinary mainstream White Americans. What do they see?