Are NZ Universities too left wing?

writes at Stuff:

Six decades of research from the United States clearly demonstrate that and academics are frequently heavily biased and skew overwhelmingly to the political left. …

Researchers at George Mason University examined six fields: anthropology, economics, history, philosophy, political science and sociology. Within these fields professors supported left-wing candidates to right wing candidates by an average of 15 to 1. In anthropology and sociology this skew to the left increased to almost 30 to 1.

Interestingly in the more empirical field of economics this skew dropped to “merely” 3 to 1 to the left. A federal study of political donations by academics found that of those who donated to politicians, 99 per cent (literally) donated to Democrat (left) candidates.

Academia in the US is even more skewed than the media.

What is particularly concerning is the extremist nature of left wing academic bias. In 2012 UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute found that while barely 0.4 per cent of academics held “far right” views, over 30 times that number (12.4 per cent) held “far left” views.

There’s far more Marxist professors than Republican ones!

Regrettably there is virtually no research on this issue in New Zealand. This is not surprising – in a small country there is little incentive for a biased and unobjective academia to turn a spot light on itself. Further, there is nowhere to run for any professor foolish enough to do so – not a single one of New Zealand’s seven major universities has any reputation for embracing right leaning thinking.

One could do a poll of university staff on political beliefs. That would be interesting.

The evidence (note: empirical data over six decades) clearly demonstrates that universities are anything but intellectually diverse or rigorous or encouraging of critical enquiry. They are overwhelmingly dominated by faculty who share a depressingly homogenous and unremittingly left-wing view of the world. This massive skew to the political left inevitably means academic employment culture becomes reinforcing, encouraging hiring of individuals that fit the mould, resulting in yet further bias; something the data from the US bears out – universities have been getting more, not less, left wing.

The Don Brash ban is a good example, and it goes well beyond the inivitation from the politics club.

Let’s say you’re a political studies lecturer at Massey and your class is going to study the Maori seats. After what the Massey VC has done, would that lecturer possibly feel safe in inviting Don Brash to a class to give his view on why they are no longer needed? Of course not. The climate of hostility would be so great that it would never happen.

You would be fine to invite Hone Harawira along to speak on why they should stay, but to dare to allow someone to argue the other side would be career limiting. I mean the VC herself has said that arguing against Maori seats verges on hate speech.

Deep down universities know they are biased – when 90 per cent of your colleagues lean left it is impossible not to know. They also know they can’t possibly admit it because a university’s single most important asset is the appearance of objectivity and open-mindedness. We know this because of a very simple thought experiment: imagine after ever media statement issued, every research paper produced, every shiny under-graduate prospectus the university had to state: “Based on six decades of data and multiple studies we have found that 9 out of 10 of our professors lean politically left or far left.”

They won’t of course. That would be telling the truth.

Perhaps until universities make a real commitment to diversity of thought the government, media and students should be a lot more careful about believing what faculty tell us.

I do think the skew here would not be as bad as in the US, but it would still be very significant.

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