New study questions academic bias

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It is not news that there is a significant liberal bias in academia. Jordan Peterson has been telling us for some time now that, “…students are being “indoctrinated” at liberal colleges, with ideas that are “academically suspect and ideologically possessed.” 

A new study completed by Matthew C. Woessner, et al. questions the extent to which this indoctrination occurs. 

An article written by Susan Snyder relays from the study that although “a ‘tiny amount’ of the slippage in grades that conservative students experience in college could be linked to their political beliefs,” not even this tiny amount could be “definitively blamed on professor bias or discrimination.” 

To account for the slippage, Woessner refers to the “problems and challenges of being a political minority.” This minority status can be attributed to academia’s “more left-leaning teaching force,” or more succinctly, “liberal academia.” Where is this academia? What are left and right for that matter?

Any line of argumentation which pursues the left-bias in academia will refer generally to studies regarding the prevalence of liberal ideas among the teaching force within higher education. For example, surveys of professors at institutions of higher education in the United States in the early 2000s found that professors identifying with the Democratic Party outnumber those identifying with the Republican Party across academic disciplines.

So what should we make of some of the great academics? Where should we place Georg Hegel, a thinker known for both his radicalism and his conservatism, who was certainly neither a Democrat nor a Republican? 

Would there be a place for Hegel in American higher education in 2019? The answer is uncertain, but few, if any, projects like Hegel’s “The Phenomenology of Spirit” have been funded by an American institution of higher education. We should pose precisely the same question about Slavoj Zizek – a thinker marginalized in liberal academia for some of his left-communist critiques of liberalism – posed to Peterson in their debate – or public spectacle. The question is “Where are the Marxists?” in more general terms, where is the leftist presence in academia? 

It is not only conservatives left by the wayside in academia. According to Zizek, anything which questions the predominant liberal consensus is already excluded.

Nonetheless, liberal academics will often reject this line, claiming that even if they occupy the dominant position in academia, they still aspire to teach objectively and not indoctrinate students. Woessner’s study may actually corroborate this. It found that little if any influence on student perceptions could be identified as having been caused by the bias of professors.

Still, Woessner and others maintain concern over liberal bias in academia precisely because of those “problems and challenges of being a political minority” mentioned above. Despite this, there is no evidence that the bias in academia will start to diminish in coming years.

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