Professors are becoming more liberal

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Kizmet, Jan 12, 2016.

  1. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

  2. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    This is based on self-identification? No one sees a problem with this? What was considered conservative 50 years ago is now considered middle of the road. In some cases, the past's conservative politicians would be considered slightly liberal today.
  3. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator Staff Member

    I didn't think that was even possible.
  4. jhp

    jhp Member

    Interestingly, I think just the opposite. What was considered liberal 50 years ago is now considered middle of the road. n some cases, the past's liberal politicians would be considered slightly conservative today.
  5. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    I don't agree at all. Fifty years ago, openly sexist, segregationist, and homophobic candidates were electable. Today the minute some conservative candidate accidentally says things, they're abandoned by their party and sink in the polls. Ask Todd Akin.

    Now, I'll agree that Donald Trump shows that openly Islamophobic and anti-immigrant candidates are still viable, and that's shameful. But even so this isn't even close to 1966.
  6. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    I think you're confusing conservatism with bigotry. If you look at the past presidents who were considered fiscally conservative for their times, they would be considered economically and socially progressive today. As far as social conservatism, today's social conservatives aren't all that different when it comes to issues such as abortion. They are even more conservative now when it comes to gun rights. But, if you want to bring homophobia into it, not much has changed there either.

    Scientists have pretty much stayed the same. What is considered conservative these days has caused them to look for a new identity. Scientists have always been less religious, in general. When it is expected that you deny global warming (most scientists believe in it), reject the theory of evolution, be highly religious, and fiscally and socially conservative in order to be considered a real conservative, then you automatically cut out most scientists.
  7. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    Another key issue here is that we would really love it if the world evenly divided itself along an easily distinguishable line ranging from "Communist" on the left to "Fascist" on the right.

    And heck, to many, that's exactly how the world functions.

    But the reality is that the lines crisscross at weird places and there are times when a supposedly right wing libertarian and a left wing democratic socialist actually find themselves in agreement (obviously, not about everything).

    I can be a fiscal conservative who believes in gun rights, states' rights, free market capitalism and who wholly supports same sex marriage. I can also be in favor of universal healthcare, the abolition of the second amendment and intense government regulation and oversight while believing that abortion should be illegal. While it's fun for late night television to rant about how "liberals say/do this..." and "conservatives say/do this..." there is really a lot more to it than that.

    My father is a conservative. Always has been. He's also a die-hard atheist who thinks that having a degree in the bible, theology, religious studies etc should automatically disqualify you from serving in public office. He thinks Obama was born in Kenya as part of a socialist plot to overthrow our government while simultaneously believing that hedge fund managers should be tried for treason.

    My mother, on the other hand, is a casual NY Democrat who is anti-abortion. Not for moral reasons, mind you, but because she just feels, as a matter of policy, it's a bad idea.

    So, how would either self-identify? And would those self-identifications actually reflect reality?
  8. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    I'm not, or else there would be no Ben Carson. What I'm doing is more nuanced, in that I'm using collectivist bigotry as an example of a subset of extreme conservatism.
  9. Maniac Craniac

    Maniac Craniac Moderator Staff Member

    I live in the North East USA, and around my parts, the running definition of "conservative" is "everything that makes other people not as good as I am".

    Now, I understand the use of ideological categories as shorthand, but we run into the sticky little issue of these words having different meanings to different people, and while that extends to more than just the insulting context highlighted above, such usage is particularly pervasive.

    Not that I've taken a tally, but in my observation they seem to be most often used for deciding who the in and out groups are. In other words, a contemporary form of tribalism.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 12, 2016
  10. jhp

    jhp Member

    Well put MCraniac.

    I never considered fascists to be "conservative" as Neuhaus suggests. They are, after all statists. As a conservative (of my definition), I abhor statism. I think conservatism is closer to libertarianism.

    There is also a constant confusion and interchanging of Democrat, Republican with liberal and conservative. Just creates confusion and misunderstanding.

    All this points out what MCraniac wrote. This board brings together many facets of many cultures, and upbringings where liberal and conservative are defined quite differently.

    So, what does "liberal" means in the original article? What is "liberal" to Christopher Ingraham?

    In general, I have a problem with the two-pole political spectrum anyway. No one is that simple.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 13, 2016
  11. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    In some ways yes and in some ways no, I would imagine. I'm sure that the ideal situation would have conservatism close to libertarianism but that simply isn't the case in this country.

    Farm subsidies and corporate bailouts are conservative causes in this country and I cannot think of two concepts further from the principles of libertarianism than the government actively manipulating free markets.

    As for personal autonomy, the conservative camp tends to favor personal freedom as it relates to gun ownership and property rights but becomes oddly invasive when it comes to women's health and marriage.

    Then, of course, you have the obvious conflicts over the promotion of states rights (to define, say, marriage) on one hand while simultaneously rebuking states who chose to decriminalize marijuana.

    Of course, I also subscribe to the Ron Swanson theory of business and economics[video][/video].

    Here we definitely agree.
  12. Maniac Craniac

    Maniac Craniac Moderator Staff Member

    Eh, correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm interpreting the phrase "women's health" as a euphemism for two major debates which have been firing up in recent years 1) abortion and 2) provision of contraception by medical insurance providers?

    If so, then the conservative position would shape up more-or-less as:

    1) Abortion violates the personal freedom of the most innocent and helpless of all: those conceived but yet to be born. It also greatly diminishes the necessary compliment of personal freedom, which would be that of personal responsibility.

    2) To mandate that insurance companies provide contraception, or that employers offer health insurance with specific stipulations, violates the personal freedom of business owners to determine and direct the use of their own real, capital and intellectual properties.

    Now, now, now, now, just wait a minute. I'm not about to argue any of these points, nor am I even taking a side here. I'm simply furthering the point I previously made. You characterize "conservative" arguments in a way that necessarily makes them come out as contradictory, or even malicious. It's another shade of the psycholinguistic tribalism I commented on in my first post.

    The primary functions of having labels of any type are classification and reference- both important ones. I'm especially wary of how easily one's biases direct the processes of classification and reference towards mischaracterization and stereotype.

    ***Please understand that I really don't mean to pick on you here, Newhaus. When I say "especially wary of... one's biases," the biases I am, by far, the most concerned about are my own. I know I have them. I know I'm not less prone to them than anyone else. I just want to be the best I can at catching myself in the act and hopefully correcting myself.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 13, 2016
  13. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    The most accurate depiction of the political spectrum I've seen is the Nolan chart.


    This is where the most known political parties fall on the Nolan chart.

  14. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    I don't feel picked on. But I do feel that you are confusing an underlying philosophy with the execution of said philosophy.

    For example, I went to a Catholic high school. Their mission was to provide a Catholic education. That was the same mission of the Catholic high school affiliated with the traditionalist order of priests about an hour away. Both schools were built upon the same philosophy; Catholic education is something we value and we choose to offer to the public. The execution, however, was drastically different. My school believed in academic freedom (as long as you didn't disrespect the church openly). The other school believed in meting out physical punishment for infractions such as yawning during mandatory daily rosary. Same underlying philosophy, two very different expressions thereof.

    Let's step aside to a less controversial topic. I believe the government should have a search warrant before entering, searching and seizing private property. I also believe that child pornography is bad and those who possess it should be punished (but not as severely as those who produce it).

    There is nothing about those two philosophies that comes into conflict. I can absolutely believe that the police need a search warrant while simultaneously holding that people who possess child pornography should go to jail. The philosophies themselves do not conflict with one another.

    However, if I, as the governor of the fictional state of Neuhausia, issue an executive order that gives the police authority to search the private property of any person, without a warrant, in the search of child pornography, the execution of my latter philosophy now greatly conflicts with the former philosophy.

    It's fine to believe that life begins at conception and that abortion is morally wrong. However, the initiatives being passed by many politicians who hold that view don't actually do anything to reduce abortions. Mandatory trans-vaginal ultrasounds, sending ultrasound images to the state for review and three day waiting periods have not shown to have any appreciable impact on the number of abortions being carried out. In fact, the only time any reduction can be demonstrated is when abortion providers are shut down. Even then, you're not accounting for at-home abortions, people who traveled out of state etc.

    So, if your underlying philosophies involve shrinking government, personal autonomy, fiscally conservative policies and eliminating abortion, that's all well and good. But if your execution of your abortion philosophy causes you to grow government, expand governmental overreach into personal lives, spend state and federal money with reckless abandon all to further an abortion policy that doesn't actually do anything to reduce the number of abortions, that's not a particularly good thing.

    It's not terribly dissimilar to those jurisdictions which have implemented drug testing for all welfare recipients based upon the assumption that it will root out the majority of welfare recipients. However, what happens instead, is the jurisdiction spends gobs of money ferreting out a single digit percentage of welfare recipients who happen to pop positive on a drug test. Spending many millions to save few millions is not fiscally conservative. And considering welfare drug testing is touted as a means to save welfare dollars from unworthy drug users, it's another prime example of the execution of a philosophy betraying the philosophy itself.

    Now, now, before you accuse me of simply siding with my tribal liberal brothers (I don't actually identify as a liberal. I am an independent who thinks that both political parties are corrupt and I advocate some policies which are regarded as "conservative" and others which tend to identify as "liberal" but I also believe this is largely social construct unique to the U.S.) it's really not dissimilar from how Sweden alleges to have eliminated all prostitution in their lands by imposing severe punishments upon the seekers of that service. Again, the underlying philosophy is that prostitution is bad. The execution then is to destroy the lives of any person (man or woman) who seeks the services of a prostitute through severe jail sentences, intense social stigma and lifetime registration as a sex offender. Which, if it truly eliminated prostitution, might be argued as a "good" thing. Though if it just drove the business further underground and caused it to mutate to a point where police are likely utterly powerless to detect it now, I think we can agree that no one's interests were served in the end.

    I'm not trying to define what it means to be a "conservative" in this country. No one here has that authority. No one in this country really does. Anyone can self-identify as whatever they want even if their actual beliefs conflict with the majority of others who similarly self-identify. The only way, I feel, we can even discuss it is to look at what the politicians who self-identify thusly are doing. If Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal and Mike Huckabee are not representative of "conservative ideals" in this country then perhaps the true conservatives of this country should elect individuals who are more representative of their views. Until then, we can only judge a party by its candidates (and yes, that cuts both ways).
  15. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    Are there any nice beaches in Neuhausia?
  16. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    No, Neuahusia is cold and bitter throughout the year. Instead of beaches we have a large parking lot where you can sit and contemplate while surrounded by never-ending fields of grey.
  17. jhp

    jhp Member

    Hey! I have been there! Bitter cold, dark and dank parking lot waiting for orders. No beach.

    I have seen similar charts to Sanantone's reference, but the aspects or axes were very different, some three dimensional.

    But, for the sake of argument let's use the second chart as it provides referential material too.

    I contend that professors are moving toward more south and west than any other direction. I think that is what the article suggests. If that is the case, I agree.

    What I find fascinating is that most professors I have conversations with are hypocrites. They want talk about moving north & west, but their actions and day-to-day demands are south. They talk economic and personal liberty, but demand and act economic/personal/group security.

    When I say moving in a direction, I do not necessary mean they actually cross the center.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 14, 2016
  18. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    Sounds like C.S. Lewis' description of Narnia in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: "Always winter and never Christmas."
  19. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    Part of the problem to is, professors are doing something. Professors of what? Professors where?

    I would say that all of my psych and counseling professors at Scranton were "liberal" to the point where they felt comfortable bringing up a topic in class where political leaning was evident. I have absolutely no idea where my philosophy professor fell on the spectrum. He simply didn't offer an opinion either way (i.e. he kept politics out of classes that did not involve politics). My bioethics professor, on the other hand, was vehemently pro-life (which is good, since he was a priest) yet seemed to take more "liberal" views on topics like euthanasia and right-to-die matters. But where did the economics professor stand on political matters? Really hard to tell. His position was based on his being an economist, not blind ideology.

    And I would imagine that if we polled the professors of theology at bible colleges across the country we might find that they identify broadly as "conservative."

    So I guess I question the value in trying to assess what "professors" do or think as if they are a homogeneous group spread across similar institutions where the local culture is more or less the same. They aren't. And a professor who is considered "liberal" at School A might be considered a centrist at School B. And a person living in rural Alabama might regard him or herself as a "liberal" when compared to the local population but if we placed that person in Manhattan they would find themselves taking on decidedly conservative stances.

    I think this survey suffers from two very common human instincts; the need to label one another and place ourselves in various "buckets" and the ability to see patterns where absolutely none exist.
  20. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Well said. Sounds an awful lot like Douglastan.

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