Friday, April 08, 2011

Social Scientist Sees Bias Within

A very interesting NYTimes article from a couple of months back reported on potential liberal bias in social science research. It seems that the organization - The Society for Personality and Social Psychology is made up of over 80% liberals. The article touches on the generalized 'fact' that academia in general is more liberal than the society as a whole. What makes this more interesting is that the SPSP focuses research on areas of gender, racial, ethnic and other forms of social prejudice but when it comes close to home, the article suggests, the professors are unable to see their own bias - liberalism.

The counter arguments ("80% of cops are conservative," "conservatives are X or liberals are Y") play out quite effectively in the comments section attached to the article. And while I do recommend both the article and the follow-up debate, I am more interested in what the article implies about the liberal mindset. 

You see Barack Obama has announced his intentions to seek a second term and my liberal friends are beginning to line up in one of two muttering masses of thought.  

Pro-Obama - "He remains the bright shining light of hope." "Have you listened to the Tea Party!" "Of the two choices..."

Not-So-Much-Anymore - "He hasn't kept any of the promises I heard in '08." "What about Gitmo?" "How can our guy bomb Libya and keep us in Iraq and Afghanistan.."

So yes, this is the opening salvo of my 2012 advocacy of third party candidates but with a twist. It has become more and more apparent to me that liberals including many of my liberal friends are engaged in really weak-willed self delusion. Conservatives don't listen to your old worn arguments, they reject them as 'heard it all before.' Conservatives know what they believe and they often know they are right in those beliefs. Liberals or Progressives, on the other hand, tend to hang out with the antiquated notion that every position deserves equal time and contemplation again and again and again. Stop! Stand up for what you belief. Be willing to say that others are wrong, entitled to their opinion yes, but wrong is still wrong.

There is a huge difference between being co-opted by local prejudice of your self-selected tribe and simply but vocally declaring that some truths are self-evident and not subject to interpretation or political spin. Some truths are etched in stone and conscious, do you know which of your beliefs rise to that level of truth? And perhaps even more importantly to a civil debate, which of your beliefs are not actually up to the label of truth and therefore are capable of compromise.


Special K said...

You can't tickle yourself any better that you can see your own bias. Liberals and conservatives both have to deal with this. I can, however, agree that conservative are more driven by the concept of how the world really works and not so much how we wished it works (liberals). Just find me a candidate that will put the country ahead of his (or her) party and self and I think we will have our hero.

The Shrink said...

"you can't tickle yourself any better..."

I like that line. I'm sure it will show up in a future blog post.