As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t know what most of my departmental colleagues’ politics are. There are definitely a lot of Snooze Hour devotees who quote David Brooks to me, so I’m guessing that they’re primarily standard issue Vichy liberals with a few DFHs (me, the few women in the department, and one guy who meditates, for example) and maybe one or two neocons (at least two are straight-up AIPACers when it comes to the the Middle East) thrown in. But I don’t know for sure. I don’t see how it’s all that relevant. I do know that the mathematician whose papers I’ve learned the most from is a Berlusconi supporter, and that doesn’t make his papers any less brilliant.
That’s why I find the conservative obsession with LIBERAL ACADEMIA a bit puzzling. Metavirus at Library Grape points me to the latest, a conservative study on why conservatives don’t go to graduate school:
The key moment, Gross maintains, is the decision whether or not to go to graduate school. Young conservatives may not know all that much about academia at the faculty level, but popular stereotypes and a few off-putting experiences in class can sufficiently discourage them from pursuing academia as a site for success. A freshman orientation session that divides white males from everyone else, incessant talk about diversity, multiculturalist reading assignments, and so on may not bother them that much (and they can always find safe spaces such as College Republicans), but such things do convince young conservatives that staying on campus as a career move is foolish. An English major who reveres Great Books needs only one occasion of a teaching assistant ridiculing him for a dead-white-male fixation to decide, “I don’t need this.”
I don’t buy this, because in the hard sciences, nearly everyone is a white male (or an Asian male), there’s nothing multicultural going on, and not that much talk about diversity…yet there are still very few conservatives. (Overall, about 6% of scientists are Republicans and I suspect it’s about the same in the life sciences as in the hard sciences.) My guess is that the big reason that there are few conservative scientists is that science is a reality-based endeavor that doesn’t pay very well.
There’s also this sort of thing:
What message did Sarah Palin send to her CPAC ’13 audience Saturday, and thence to the world, by sipping from a Big Gulp soda during her speech and, in conclusion, brandishing it as if it were a trophy? Oh, I know what message she intended to send: Don’t tell us real Americans how to live our lives. We’ll decide what’s best for ourselves and our children. Stop treading on our liberty.
But that’s not the message Palin sent. Amazingly for someone who still must harbor some kind of desire for a second act in American politics, the message Sarah Palin sent was this: Republicans will start winning elections again by telling Americans they should be proud of acting stupid.
When I was in school, there was a lot of talk about population groups (classified by gender, ethnicity, class, income, etc.) not performing as well as they could academically because society — in some cases, other members of the population group — sent them the message that they must be stupid because they were poor or women or black. I think there’s something to that, people are affected a lot by what society tells them to think of themselves. And I think it probably is happening to conservatives today, to some extent.
Math is hard, let’s go drink big gulps.