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November 14, 2006

Comments

Vacula

agh, end italics. Sorry, all! Only meant to italicize "you"

Xrlq

Rebellion, schmebellion. When I was that age I rebelled against my liberal Democrat parents the old-fashioned way, by lurching even further to their left than they were from society's. There's a reason why your best students, not the most rebellious ones, that tend toward conservative views: conservative positions are, by and large, coherent and well thought out. Liberal positions are, for the most part, a series of unfulfillable promises and catchy slogans that sound great to those who don't think about them too much, but sound ridiculous to those who take the time to put two and two together. If it were really about rebellion, you'd find more conservatism among your worst students, and more still among college aged kids who "rebel" even more about avoiding college altogether.

The fact of the matter is, most 18-year-olds, myself included when I was that age, simply don't have the knowledge or depth necessary to understand the difference between coherent thought and feel-good slogans - nor even to understand that the guy who objects to feel-good slogans is arguing in good faith, and not just from the position of a big meanie who doesn't want all these wonderful fantasies to come true. As the ladies might say in my part of the country, "bless their hearts."

carlaviii

Trying to land somewhere near the topic...

I grew up in a conservative, choices-and-bootstraps, WASPy environment that also included a comfortable amount of money. Unlike most teenagers, I tended to be more like my parents than rebelling against them... up until I graduated from college.

Because of various situations, I'm earning considerably less than my parents and have come to a very visceral realization that "there, but by the grace of God, go I" when it comes to poverty. I know quite well that choices and bootstraps can be trumped by bad luck and forces outside your control.

And so yes, I'm more liberal than my parents although I believe that bad luck and greater forces do not invalidate choices and bootstraps. There's an implied helplessness to the "traditional liberal" approach to poverty that hits a nerve of mine. Maybe conservatives seem too egotistical to some, but liberals have always seemed too patronizing to me.

Antigone

So, Xrlq, according to you rebellion is an intellectual devoid position. In order for that assertion to be true, you have to agree with the premise that the status quo is just hunky-dory, and that's the best way for things to be.

Interesting how the "soft" sciences are the ones that clearly state why you are racist and sexist.

The Happy Feminist

I used to be one of those rebelliously conservative college students. Who'da thunk it?

jeffliveshere

There is a lot of information out there that seems to be ignored by academia.--Rick

Ignoring information isn't the purview of academia, though it is true there as well. It happens all the time in various arenas.

The arrogance is sometimes out of proportion with the ability/skill/real knowledge.--Rick

Again, those of us who work 'real world' (in quotes because it really is a false dichotomy, if'n you don't give more details on what it means to you) know that this isn't limited to academia, either.

Mr. Bad

Antigone said Xrlq: "Interesting how the "soft" sciences are the ones that clearly state why you are racist and sexist."

And it's telling just how completely wrong the "soft"sciences are in many, many cases; this case is an excellent example. I see nowhere in Xrlq's post where he even mentions race or sex. If simply making 'facts' and 'data' up out of thin air - like was done by Antigone above - is what "soft" sciences are all about, then there should no question whatsoever why the vast majority of people outside of academia consider "soft" sciences at best a joke. I don't go that far, but as I said, IMO even the good ones are not nearly as rigorous as the "hard" sciences, math and engineering, and some (e.g., women's studies) are nothing short of academic fraud, simply based on opinion, feelings and anecdote.

Antigone

You're right, I skipped a step.

If you think that the status quo is hunky dory, you are racist and sexist because that means you think it's okay for women and minorities to be less financially well-off and/or you think it is their own fault for being so. Let's add "classist" to the list as well.

That better?

Mr. Bad

Except that despite the limitations of your definition (i.e., limiting it to financial well-being vs. other more germane measures such as 'quality of life' - which finances are only a small part of), there's still no good evidence to back up your claims re. women. As far as minorities are concerned, which minorities are you talking about? It seems to me to focus on only a select few (e.g., African Americans) while ignoring having compassion for others is in and of itself racist. Further, there are many people who attribute a lot of factors to lack of thriving and don't attribute it solely or mostly to racism and sexism, which is in and of itself practicing racism and sexism. Life is complicated, yet people like you want to reduce it to simplistic, convenient but many times incorrect racial and gender factors. "Discrimination" against minorities, and especially women, is mostly a non-issue any more on our society.

Besides, I see nowhere in Xrlq's post where he suggests that things are "hunky dory." You're jumping at the chance to call him a racist and/or sexist simply because you disagree with him, which is an invalid and lame argument.

Annamal

"As for history, IMO for the most part it's not even close to being on the same level as math, science and engineering. Math, science and engineering require the same skills as a historian, however"

No, they really really don't,evolutionary biology, geology and paleontology do require some of the same skills (and archeology is about as close to history as you can possibly get).

Maths and engineering presume a structured universe where things behave rationally (except for when you get down to the quantam level or up to black holes). If you find something that breaks your hypothesis then you need to change your hypothesis.

Human beings do not behave in entirely rational ways, they lie, they embellish,they have motives and they propagandize. Also what is considered rational changes periodically and cultrally, many things that Newton considered perfectly rational would be considered utterly insane today).

A historian is like an experimental scientist in that he or she must fit a theory around all of the available evidence (and any gaps left around that evidence must be filled or explained) and completely unlike an experimental scientist in that they must consider the motives and accuracy of every single piece of evidence they encounter.

Mathematicians and engineers tend to try and impose a structure on history (often whig style history where everything progresses forwards towards a glorious future), to make generalised rules. They often try to do this with biology (much to the annoyance of biologists) as well, which is why so many of the intelligent design theorists come from those two fields. Neither people nor biological structures work the way that engineers do.

Antigone

If rebellion is for not for the best students, who does that leave? And if you are against rebellion, that means you like the status quo. The only way Xqlr's statement makes sense is if you think that there is nothing worth rebellion against (ie the status quo).

And, to avoid a further thread drift, I won't go into the plethora of evidence of racism and sexism.

Livia

I would like to know why so many in academia are liberals? And furthermore, why they find it necessary to indoctrinate their young students into believing that all conservatives/republicans are evil, naive, and out to ruin their country. I have sat through countless hours of liberal dribble (usually coming from a history prof.) only to then after class confront my professors on this issue. Not a single one yet has been able to give me a definitive answer for why liberalism is so prevalent in the colleges and universities.

The main arguments are usually that academics are idealistic... and therefore liberal. Others have cited their "immigrant" heritage as a cause. Increasingly, I am getting the "republicans like to make money... and college professors are poor" argument.

It would be nice to run into a conservative professor before I graduate from grad school... just to know that the possiblity for a balanced political education exists in modern academia!

Sociopathic Revelation

"why they find it necessary to indoctrinate their young students into believing that all conservatives/republicans are evil, naive, and out to ruin their country." - Livia

I don't consider myself Liberal at heart, but I have truck with the Bush administration, which has proved to be corrupt, inept, and lacking in vision and foresight. I could write several points here why, but I'll just one a pivotal one for now.

The one thing I don't understand with (a few) men's rights advocates is that they are aware that something is wrong with this culture and political situation and how men are treated, yet seem to be fine with the Iraqi excursion---in which men are coming back with disabilities, and men are dying in a military exercise that is clearly not in men's best interest at all.

Rumsfield should have resigned much earlier, perhaps charges brought forth against him. I don't trust any of those bigwigs. They are doing what I call "using men by proxy" to reap the selfish rewards while under the guise of patriotism. Republicans, well, Necons, can be just as bad as Democrats, and wear the badge of Do-Gooder and Good Guy at any given moment.

I have never claimed to be a overtly aggressive MRA, but this is as good as a reason as any to evolve into one.

Mr. Bad

Antigone said: "And if you are against rebellion, that means you like the status quo. The only way Xqlr's statement makes sense is if you think that there is nothing worth rebellion against (ie the status quo)."

Nonsense. The "status quo" you speak of for them is coming home by 11pm, doing their homework on time, helping out with the cleaning, etc., and mostly has nothing to do with the lofty issues that you allude to. Kids rebel against their parents for all kinds of reasons, most of them trivial such as dress style, curfew times, etc., and college kids are no more sophisticated than the average late-teen in this regard. Most of them are just happy to go to a place where they can act-out on their rebellious tendencies and stay up late, smoke, drink, screw, etc. Most college kids are not rebelling against "injustice" and in "favor of world peace," "social justice," Kumbaya, blah blah blah; they're rebelling against their parents' authority over them.

As for academics being predominantly liberal, it's mostly due to the "diversity" goals (wink wink) of the hiring committees. You know, make sure the skin color of the female candidates is diverse but that they all the "right" political and social philosophies. Collegiality and all, you know. We all have to get along and be one big happy liberal family.

Re. the Republicans, the war and MRAs, there is a lot of dissention among MRAs about that. One of our most famous members, Angry Harry, is extremely outspoken against the war, U.S. policy, Rummy, etc. You'll find we're not the Goosestepping neo-fascists that the feminists try to make us out to be.

Technocracygirl

I would like to know why so many in academia are liberals?

On average, do people who identify themselves as conservative consider a career as a teacher (K-12 and higher ed) to be a laudable career? Do they consider the side benefits (the joy of helping people learn, the ability to pursue basic reasearch that may be incredibly world-changing, but may also be completely pointless, etc.) worth the low pay and constant criticism? If the answer is no, well, there's your answer. If you don't think education is more worthwhile than other careers, you're not going to choose it.

Most of the K-12 teachers I know personally lean on the liberal side of the social spectrum, because they think that it is useful to have a well-educated society from top to bottom, regardless of the ability to pay to get into privately-funded schools. Whether or not they come to that mindset as a result of being a teacher or because they become a teacher because of that mindset is individual.

Public education is an idea from the liberal side of the fence, and a significant fraction of those who support it, if not a majority, (which will, yes, tend to include those who make a living from it, just like any field will defend itself) are going to be liberals.

trishka

when i read hugo's post, this really jumped out at me:

Seeing poverty and despair as the result of individual decisions rather than as the result of massive social forces allows the young conservative from a poor background to create an immensely flattering personal narrative: in his or her own mind, he or she becomes the "special one", clever and brave and ambitious enough to transcend the self-created, self-reinforced adversity that grips everyone else in the family and culture.

i think there's a lot of truth to this. also, i think there's an element of denial about the institutional biases against them because to acknowledge them would be scary & likely to shake their confidence. sort of a "don't look down" attitude of a rock climber or a high-wire acrobat. if they consciously realise that the deck is stacked against them, then it becomes that much more of a challenge for them to do it on their own, and that might shake their faith that they will be able to make it out. and more power to them, i guess.

as far as the "real world" vs. "academic" debate going on, i have on anecdote. i'm an electrical engineer who used to work in the electrical utility industry. i was at a conference one time where i sat in on a presentation of a paper that a guy had done as a post-doc research project. what the guy had done was really impressive -- he had set up sophisticated computer models of the electrical power grid in unstable situations, in order to analyze which sections of the grid the utility should shed (the phenomenon behind rolling brownouts) in order to maximize the performance of the grid & therefore have the greatest chance of preventing a complete blackout.

and it was great in theory. and the guy had spent an entire post-doc doing this research, and it was brilliant. and you know what? it had no relevance to the real world.

because it was all about the math of an electrical system and had no consideration of the human factors. which are really quite simple, for utilities in large cities, which is where this type of application would theoretically be used. i worked for a large urban utility at the time and so i knew the policies. the bottom line is this: you don't cut power on the rich neighborhoods, because rich people don't like it & they have friends in powerful places. you don't cut power on the poor ghettos, because the people will loot & riot & all kinds of violence & mayhem will break loose. you cut power on the middle-class neighborhoods. they're powerless & well-behaved. there's no math about it.

so, yeah. there's a there there about the isolation of the academy from "the real world".

Mr. Bad

Technocracygirl said: "On average, do people who identify themselves as conservative consider a career as a teacher (K-12 and higher ed) to be a laudable career? Do they consider the side benefits (the joy of helping people learn, the ability to pursue basic reasearch that may be incredibly world-changing, but may also be completely pointless, etc.) worth the low pay and constant criticism? If the answer is no, well, there's your answer. If you don't think education is more worthwhile than other careers, you're not going to choose it."

So, what you're saying is that conservatives choose not to go in to education voluntarily, and that discrimination plays not part in it, correct? Ok, then I say that the same thing applies to women in math, science and engineering, i.e., that women choose other career paths based on how their values influence their choices and that discrimination plays no part in the matter. Oh wait, let me guess: That's different, right?

Uh huh....

Maureen

I'm not going to go into the conservative/liberal gap in academia here, but:

Seeing poverty and despair as the result of individual decisions rather than as the result of massive social forces allows the young conservative from a poor background to create an immensely flattering personal narrative: in his or her own mind, he or she becomes the "special one", clever and brave and ambitious enough to transcend the self-created, self-reinforced adversity that grips everyone else in the family and culture.

That actually reminds me of a story a sociology professor told me: She was teaching an intro-level sociology class to students of mostly working-class background, and she found that they were really resistant to accepting the idea that socioeconomic factors have significant influence on individuals' life-paths; after all, they were working hard and going to DePaul at night while their slacker cousins were working at Burger King. The correlation between hard work and success seemed iron-clad.

Then my professor asked them what would be different about their lives if their parents made twice as much money as they actually did, and one of the students blurted out, "I'd be at Northwestern!" as the revelation hit them.

I'm not sure if you're trying to get your more economically conservative students to embrace sociological ideas, but asking them how class affects them personally may be a more effective technique than pulling out the bar graphs.

jeffliveshere

So, what you're saying is that conservatives choose not to go in to education voluntarily, and that discrimination plays not part in it, correct?--Mr. Bad

I'm confused about what you're arguing about here, Mr. Bad. Are you suggesting that there are lots and lots of self-identified conservatives who would like to be teachers who are kept out of the system because they are descriminated against? If so, I'd like some evidence aside from the claim that there aren't many conservative profs (which, from an anecdotal evidence standpoint, I find not very likely). Why do *you* think there aren't that many conservative profs (since you seem to think that)? And if you think it's discrimination, what evidence do you have?

allison

---Not for one second will I concede the intellectual superiority of conservative ideas or values; I merely acknowledge that on campuses like my own, it's "more fun" to be a young Republican thanks to the cachet of counter-cultural rebelliousness that it carries.

only a liberal would assume that a young adult would choose their political preferences in orde to reflect rebelliousness, rather than choosing their political preferences because if what they value.

did you notice that what you said is an insult to conservative and liberal alike?

jeffliveshere

"only a liberal would assume that a young adult would choose their political preferences in orde to reflect rebelliousness, rather than choosing their political preferences because if what they value."--allison

Leaving aside for the moment the likelihood of statements that begin "only a liberal would" (or "only a conservative would) being oversimplifications, seems to me that you're creating a false dichotomy, allison: 'rebelliousness' is a value as much as 'hating gay people' or 'separation of church and state'. So it's not a matter of choosing political preferences based on rebelliousness or 'values'; it's a matter of choosing to value rebelliousness over other values.

Antigone

Mr. Bad and others:

What crack pipe are you smoking out of? I would be hard pressed to find a liberal at my university, short of the philosophy department. Heck, even my literature class had us read Ayn Rand.

There is no liberal bias. At my university, there seems to be a conservative one.

An Anonymous History 1A Student

I just happened to stumble upon this from a link a Bay Area liberal friend of mine posted to her livejournal. I must say my suspicions of your political leanings have been confirmed by your blog. I am one of those "young conservatives" you're talking about here, though I would describe myself as a "young, marginaly intelligent, slightly right-of-center, personal responsibility, small government, pro-gay rights, pro-choice, laissez-faire type." In no way do your political views detract from your classroom manner or your intelligent, witty, highly entertaining and extremely informative lectures. Your blog, also, is highly entertaining and I believe I will become a regular reader. Thanks for making History 1A a fun and challenging class. Though after I had finished my English research paper, I thought I was done with that stuff for the semester.
--An Anonymous History 1A Student.

Technocracygirl

Actually, Mr. Bad, I'd say you were closer to the truth than you think. Women are inculcated from a young age to think that they can't do science and math, and so it's harder for them to buck the trend and prove that they can. Conservatives are inculcated somewhere along the line of becoming a conservative that public education for all is a bad idea, so it's harder for them to buck the trend and prove that it is a worthwhile career.

Sociopathic Revelation

"the Republicans, the war and MRAs, there is a lot of dissention among MRAs about that. One of our most famous members, Angry Harry, is extremely outspoken against the war, U.S. policy, Rummy, etc. You'll find we're not the Goosestepping neo-fascists that the feminists try to make us out to be." - Mr. Bad

Nail. Hit. Head. Mr Bad is correct. MRAs are---gasp!---diverse as any other social movement, and encompass anything from fathers' rights advocates to those who are steeped in reviving Nordic pagan traditions. The fact that men are needing to address issues concerning men and masculinity is proof of how important those issues truly are. Perceived lost priviledge is a false premise; I argue that men have had to fight for their rights through many periods in time.

The current cultural adversity men experience is one of them.

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