Saturday, July 03, 2004

In February, Robert Brandon, the chair of the Duke Philosophy department, was asked why registered Republicans are under-represented at Duke.His response:

We try to hire the best, smartest people available," Brandon said of his philosophy hires. "If, as John Stuart Mill said, stupid people are generally conservative, then there are lots of conservatives we will never hire.

The conservative part of the blogsophere was up in arms about this comment; see Andrew Sullivan and Eugene Volokh. Erin O'Connor interestingly remarked that the real reason for the lack of Republicans in academia is a "systematic, unacknowledged contempt for conservative, or even moderate, views."

All right: lets say humanities departments do have a bias against conservative scholarship that accounts for the lack of registered Republicans on their faculty. If so, one would expect that the number of Republicans at technical institutions, where science & engineering professors make up a majority of the faculty, would be dramatically higher than the number of Republicans in such universities as Duke.

Not so! According to a study done by the conservative Center for the Study of Popular Culture, Democrats outnumber Republicans by an average of 10-to-1 in the Ivy League, with some variation: 4-to-1 at Northwestern and 30-to-1 at Brown. However,the study could not find a single registered Republican on the faculty at MIT.

I'm ready to accept that an established contempt for conservative views could be used to explain why humanities, and perhaps social science departments, lack registered Republicans; but how, apart from Brandon's logic, to explain the lack of Republicans on science/engineering faculties at universities like MIT?

For a bit more thoughtful exposition of Brandon's logic, see here.


At 8:03 PM, Blogger alex said...

It's not just MIT by the way. Caltech and Carnegie Melon - both technical schools - also show a highly disproportionate number of Democrats/Republicans (based on the Frontpage data) though, unlike MIT with its astronomically high ratio, the ratio at Caltech/CMU is a lower than ivy league average.

So one can't argue that MIT is some sort of outlier.


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