Saturday, February 12, 2011

On the article "Social Scientist Sees Bias Within" by JOHN TIERNEY

On the article "Social Scientist Sees Bias Within" by JOHN TIERNEY.

I don't find any problem with the article per se, though I suspect some people are reading too much into it. The gist of the article is the vast majority of social scientists are to say the least, liberal.  The social scientist of the title says:
“Anywhere in the world that social psychologists see women or minorities underrepresented by a factor of two or three, our minds jump to discrimination as the explanation,” said Dr. Haidt, who called himself a longtime liberal turned centrist. “But when we find out that conservatives are underrepresented among us by a factor of more than 100, suddenly everyone finds it quite easy to generate alternate explanations.”
 IMHO, sometimes an organization does exercise bias towards a group of people, and sometimes there are alternative explanations.

The article points out that
Larry Summers, then president of Harvard, was ostracized in 2005 for wondering publicly whether the preponderance of male professors in some top math and science departments might be due partly to the larger variance in I.Q. scores among men (meaning there are more men at the very high and very low ends). The outrage ultimately led to his resignation.
Possibly a huge overreaction (there could be important facts in the case I don't know), Anyway, I suppose the Obama administration is to be commended for taking him on as director of the National Economic Council?  Summers is about to return to his Harvard professorship (no longer as president) because if he stayed away any longer he would lose his tenure.

Why would social scientists be liberal? What is the point of being a social scientist unless it has some potential application.  What would such applications look like?  Maybe tending in the direction of "social engineering"?  Anyway, the discipline seems to be largely about understanding, and dare I say, the diversity of human culture.  It is not about a "good vs evil" world view, which I think might put off many varieties of conservative.

[to be continued?]

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