As If To Prove My Point…

Just in case you are still wondering why college professors tend to be politically liberal, the last few days have provided three examples that make my point perfectly.

First up, we have this piece from Bret Stephens, writing at The Wall Street Journal. Stephens’s piece is behind a pay-wall, but this essay at HuffPo quotes the most relevant part. Stephens is keen to argue that any notion that income inequality is a serious problem in America is just the product of envious left-wingers. Stephens writes:

Here is a factual error, marred by an analytical error, compounded by a moral error. It’s the top 20% that take in just over half of aggregate income, according to the Census Bureau, not the top 10%. That figure is essentially unchanged since the mid-1990s, when Bill Clinton was president. And it isn’t dramatically different from 1979, when the top fifth took in 44% of aggregate income.

Besides which, so what? In 1979 the mean household income of the bottom 20% was $4,006. By 2012, it was $11,490. That’s an increase of 186%. For the middle class, the increase was 211%. For the top fifth it’s 320%. The richer have outpaced the poorer in growing their incomes, just as runners will outpace joggers who will, in turn, outpace walkers. But, as James Taylor might say, the walking man walks.

Sadly, not a word of this is true. Paul Krugman supplies the ugly details. You should go read his post, but let me just quote from his conclusion:

We could have a debate about whether rising inequality is a problem, and whether measures intended to curb it would do more harm than good. But we can’t have that kind of debate if the anti-populist side won’t acknowledge basic facts – and it won’t. In his piece Stephens trashes Obama, accusing him of making a factual error when he did no such thing; then proceeds to commit just about every statistical sin you can imagine in an attempt to minimize the rise in inequality. In the process he leaves his readers more ignorant than they were before. When this is what passes for argument, how can we have any kind of rational discussion?

Indeed. In this follow-up post, Krugman makes a remark that will ring true for anyone familiar with creationists:

The bit about the WSJ’s continuing denialism on rising inequality brings to mind a point I think I’ve made before, but which seems especially appropriate for recent debates. It is this: Today’s right wing never gives up on a politically convenient argument, no matter how thoroughly it may have been refuted by analysis and evidence. It may downplay that argument for a while — though often even that doesn’t happen — but it always comes back.

Indeed, again. This is reminiscent of Stephen Jay Gould’s observation that creationists are “singularly devoid of shame” in parroting any anti-evolution argument that anyone has ever made, regardless of how often the claim has been refuted.

That brings us to our second item. Pew has released a new poll on the rate of evolution acceptance in America. Their results contain this charming factoid:

There also are sizable differences by party affiliation in beliefs about evolution, and the gap between Republicans and Democrats has grown. In 2009, 54% of Republicans and 64% of Democrats said humans have evolved over time, a difference of 10 percentage points. Today, 43% of Republicans and 67% of Democrats say humans have evolved, a 24-point gap.

An eleven point drop among Republicans since 2009. Perhaps it is just a coincidence that 2009 was the year that Barack Obama took office. The more likely explanation is that tribalsm has become the paramount virtue for the American right-wing.

Finally, have a look at this piece, in Commentary by Yale computer scientist David Gelernter. It’s a long and angry rant about materialist approaches to consciousness and philosophy of mind. The part that really jumped at me is this, which I’ll quote at length:

The modern “mind fields” encompass artificial intelligence, cognitive psychology, and philosophy of mind. Researchers in these fields are profoundly split, and the chaos was on display in the ugliness occasioned by the publication of Thomas Nagel’s Mind & Cosmos in 2012. Nagel is an eminent philosopher and professor at NYU. In Mind & Cosmos, he shows with terse, meticulous thoroughness why mainstream thought on the workings of the mind is intellectually bankrupt. He explains why Darwinian evolution is insufficient to explain the emergence of consciousness—the capacity to feel or experience the world. He then offers his own ideas on consciousness, which are speculative, incomplete, tentative, and provocative—in the tradition of science and philosophy.

Nagel was immediately set on and (symbolically) beaten to death by all the leading punks, bullies, and hangers-on of the philosophical underworld. Attacking Darwin is the sin against the Holy Ghost that pious scientists are taught never to forgive. Even worse, Nagel is an atheist unwilling to express sufficient hatred of religion to satisfy other atheists. There is nothing religious about Nagel’s speculations; he believes that science has not come far enough to explain consciousness and that it must press on. He believes that Darwin is not sufficient.

The intelligentsia was so furious that it formed a lynch mob. In May 2013, the Chronicle of Higher Education ran a piece called “Where Thomas Nagel Went Wrong.” One paragraph was notable:

Whatever the validity of [Nagel's] stance, its timing was certainly bad. The war between New Atheists and believers has become savage, with Richard Dawkins writing sentences like, “I have described atonement, the central doctrine of Christianity, as vicious, sadomasochistic, and repellent. We should also dismiss it as barking mad….” In that climate, saying anything nice at all about religion is a tactical error.

It’s the cowardice of the Chronicle’s statement that is alarming–as if the only conceivable response to a mass attack by killer hyenas were to run away. Nagel was assailed; almost everyone else ran.

From reading that description, you could be forgiven for not realizing that the actual sequence of events surrounding Nagel’s book was this:

  1. Nagel published his book.
  2. Various knowledgeable people wrote critical reviews of the book, in which they pointed out the many flaws in Nagel’s arguments.
  3. Whiny right-wingers likened this to a lynch mob that beat Nagel to death (if only symbolically).

Actual lynch mobs were in the habit of torturing and murdering people. Nagel’s critics merely wrote essays suggesting that he wrote a bad book. Those behaviors do not seem comparable to me.

Why do so few academics want anything to do with modern conservatism? Because being a conservative nowadays requires denying reality, and having a sense of victimization so profound that seeing your book criticized is the same as being lynched. That’s why.

Comments

  1. #1 Steven Reilly
    January 2, 2014

    “The more likely explanation is that tribalsm has become the paramount virtue for the American right-wing.” Left-wing too, if your argument is correct. Your claim is that professors are liberal because there are stupid conservatives who make stupid arguments for conservatism. But that doesn’t show that liberalism is a correct philosophy, or even that conservatism is wrong. It just shows that there are stupid conservatives.

    It’s weird that you’d make these 2 posts without realizing that if your arguments are correct, they show that professors pick their political philosophy for very shallow reasons.

  2. #2 sean samis
    January 2, 2014

    Comment #1 is yet another example of the principle. Contemporary Conservatism is fact-adverse. I know conservatives who are not so, but that is because they are old-fashioned conservatives.

    sean s.

  3. #3 Steven Reilly
    January 2, 2014

    I don’t know what you mean, sean. I’m not a conservative, and anyway I don’t see where my post is wrong. Could you elaborate?

  4. #4 sean samis
    January 2, 2014

    Steven,

    If academics refuse conservatism because they refuse to deny reality, that in no way means they become liberals because of “tribalism”.

    It means that they chose liberalism at least in part because it does not deny reality.

    Jason’s argument does not even approximately “show that professors pick their political philosophy for very shallow reasons.”. Not Even Close.

    sean s.

  5. #5 Steven Reilly
    January 2, 2014

    “It means that they chose liberalism at least in part because it does not deny reality.” No, that was never shown, which is my point. There aren’t arguments here pointing out that, say, liberal solutions to social problems will work. There are merely examples of conservative stupidity.

    Your argument hinges on the idea that political opinions must be binary, and so if conservatives can be shown to be wrong, then liberals must be right. I wish the world were like that.

  6. #6 G
    somewhere over the rainbow...
    January 2, 2014

    Even simpler. It’s all about the brain wiring:

    People have conservative or liberal inclinations due to differences in their neurophysiology, that are or should be measurable. And I’ll predict that those differences will largely implicate emotional traits that are in turn driven by differences in the quantities of specific neurochemicals in the respective brains of conservatives and liberals.

    These traits are reinforced by cultural support from like-minded others, and given a framework of “reasons” to pass the brain’s consistency-checking mechanisms that have been or will be found to be largely neuroanatomical (structural) and residing in specific regions of the brain.

    What I find truly amusing is a group of hardcore materialist monists attempting to argue that political inclinations are purely a matter of choosing between competing sets of cultural memes, as if such choices are made wholly rationally and without the slightest involvement of the neurochemistry of emotion.

  7. #7 Steven Reilly
    January 2, 2014

    So the mind is the brain, and people are prone to thinking like their neighbors? I’m not sure who here disagreed with that.

  8. #8 G
    ...blue birds fly...
    January 2, 2014

    So onward to theory of mind:

    Clearly it makes sense that natural selection favors animals with consciousness over those without, all other factors equal. Consciousness provides numerous benefits such as elaboration of self-preservation drives and feedbacks on behaviors.

    But it’s also the case that free will provides natural selection advantages, per speculations by Maye, Brembs, et.al. in their paper “Order in Spontaneous Behavior”. An animal with classically or even chaotically deterministic behavior will be more predictable to predators, thus more susceptible to predation than otherwise. An animal with random behaviors will at best win 50% of the time. Free will provides a mechanism for beating the 50% mark, to outwit predators, gain mates, and gain advantaged access to food sources. Once free will develops in a species, its predators and prey will face competition pressure to develop free will in order to even-up the odds, and the proverbial race is on.

    Yet the rationalist community particularly the New Atheists, have fallen for the theistic assumption that free will is something supernatural that’s conferred by a deity: swallowed scripture whole, and reacted against it in a most deterministic manner! This is frankly absurd. One needn’t postulate a deity to get free will; one need only postulate that neural computation is far more complex (e.g. Penrose & Hameroff) than, for example, the advocates of AI (e.g. Kurzweil) would like to have us believe.

    But the allure of oversimplified models of neural computation is strong, as it leads to all manner of pseudoscientific quackery such as The Singularity (God in a box) and Upload (Eternal Life in a box). Faced with the prospect of immortality, who wouldn’t want to embrace such nonsense, especially since it’s wrapped in a high-tech veneer that makes it appear all sciency? We can do better than that, fellow rationalists!

  9. #9 sean samis
    January 2, 2014

    Steven;

    Regarding, “that was never shown”. Logic shows it. If academics reject conservatism because of X, then they must be choosing liberalism AT LEAST IN PART because they think it is not-X.

    Regarding, “There aren’t arguments here pointing out that … liberal solutions to social problems will work.” True, but neither Jason or myself said liberal solutions work; so the absence of those arguments is irrelevant. All that was claimed is that conservative solutions deny reality and academics prefer liberalism. Whether liberal solutions work or not is an entirely different matter.

    That political opinions are not binary is also irrelevant; the topic is the impact of reality-denial by conservatives. As a political independent myself, I know that rejecting conservatism means people generally regard me as liberal. I don’t care, what matters is that I reject reality-denial, conservatives embrace it as fundamental.

    sean s.

  10. #10 James Downard
    Spokane, WA
    January 2, 2014

    Jason’s deja vu moment with creationism here is no surprise, since we are dealing with Tortucans in both cases. All people who believe things that are not true do so using the same cognitive toolkit, cutting across party lines, intelligence, or culture. Demographically the Moon Landing Hoaxers and 9/11 conspiracy groupies cleave very differently from the Kulturkampf conservatism of creationists but their brains are doing pretty much the same thing inside.

    Gelernter’s computer science background is interesting, since people in that field may be more than normally attracted to a design sensibility (as well as their opponents seeing minds as merely hardware independent software). Creationists Scott Huse and David Plaisted are computer tech guys, along with wacky Bible apologist Glenn Miller, and geocentrist creationists Gerardus Bouw and James Hansen. But not all computer geek critics of Darwinism fall on the right wing, as primatologist Alison Jolly noted some years ago when attending a lecture by anticapitalist Brian Goodwin: “I glowered in the background, while his audience of computer programmers cheered.”

  11. #11 Steven Reilly
    January 2, 2014

    “Regarding, “There aren’t arguments here pointing out that … liberal solutions to social problems will work.” True, but neither Jason or myself said liberal solutions work; so the absence of those arguments is irrelevant. All that was claimed is that conservative solutions deny reality and academics prefer liberalism. Whether liberal solutions work or not is an entirely different matter.”

    This is incorrect. The initial sentence discusses “why college professors tend to be politically liberal.” Yes, neither you nor Jason showed that liberal solutions work. But he should have, if he wants to show that professors have good reasons for being politically liberal.

  12. #12 G
    ...birds fly over the rainbow...
    January 2, 2014

    Re. Steven at 7: Oh my, that was fast;-)

    The mind isn’t “is” the brain, any more than the aesthetic experience of viewing a painting “is” the paint on the canvas.

    Brain produces mind via interactions of neurophysiology in conjunction with information such as sensory and linguistic inputs from the environment. Subtly but significantly different to “brain _is_ mind.”

    But my central point is that the research shows that there appear to be stable traits that are largely emotional (thus neurochemical), that are highly implicated in political and religious viewpoints. One such is that people who identify as liberals apparently rate higher on measures of compassion than people who identify as conservatives. Admittedly this was done via survey methods and without physical measurements, but it easily leads to numerous falsifiable hypotheses involving physical measurements of brain activity.

    If we’re going to make any progress convincing the public that scientific methods, logical methods, and rational thinking have more merit than sloppy reasoning and arguements from scriptural authority and so on, we are going to have to become more literate about issues of emotion in cognition. To take one popular example: the phrase “cold hard facts” is a total fail and a turn-off. As a mammal, would you rather have a nest that’s “cold and hard” (suggests a prison bunk, doesn’t it?) or one that’s “warm and soft” or at least “warm and firm” (suggests a comfy bed)…?

    There is no need to use two emotionally aversive words as adjectives there (I often make this point rhetorically by saying “the warm fuzzy facts…”). Better to use language such as “the clear tangible facts…” where the adjectives are either emotionally neutral or slightly attractive.

    What we can and should be doing is studying the cog sci findings and putting them to good use conveying our message in a manner that offers the public something positive. Otherwise we’ll only fall behind as the conventional religionists and the computer-God cultists carve up the culture between them.

  13. #13 J. Quinton
    January 2, 2014

    “This is incorrect. The initial sentence discusses “why college professors tend to be politically liberal.” Yes, neither you nor Jason showed that liberal solutions work. But he should have, if he wants to show that professors have good reasons for being politically liberal.”

    No one mentioned anything about “solutions” except for you. Before we even get to solutions, we have to get our facts straight. Conservatives deny facts (e.g. evolution). That’s what makes professors lean liberal; they don’t like denying facts.

  14. #14 Jason Rosenhouse
    January 2, 2014

    For the purposes of these posts, my definition of “liberal” is “not conservative.”

  15. #15 Steven Reilly
    January 2, 2014

    “Conservatives deny facts (e.g. evolution). That’s what makes professors lean liberal; they don’t like denying facts.”

    But this is what I’m getting at. If you show that conservatives deny facts, you’ve shown a good reason for not being conservative. You haven’t shown a good reason for being liberal. You’re right that no one but me mentioned solutions. Which is weird, because the only good reason I could see to be liberal is to think that liberal solutions work, not that some right-winger once said something stupid about evolution.

    This whole argument is bizarre. If I said, “I believe the free market works. My evidence? Marxists have said stupid things”, I don’t think anyone would take me seriously. But “Professors are liberal because conservatives say stupid things” does get taken seriously.

  16. #16 Steven Reilly
    January 2, 2014

    My last post was posted before I read Jason Rosenhouse’s definition of liberal.

    But “For the purposes of these posts, my definition of “liberal” is “not conservative.”? C’mon…..

  17. #17 MNb
    January 2, 2014

    SR, you’re nitpicking. While I agree that Republicans = conservatism plus Democrats = liberalism is an oversimplification it’s crystal clear why academics turn away from the GOP: it has become antiscience. In the USA they haven’t much choice left then.
    From my European point of view neither the Republicans nor the Democrats are liberals, but that is as irrelevant for JR’s point as your nitpicking.

  18. #18 Steven Reilly
    January 2, 2014

    No, I’m not nitpicking. The initial post was about the fact that “large majorities of college professors hold politically liberal views and generally vote for Democrats.” I can see voting for Democrats simply because Republicans are stupid. But I can’t see holding liberal positions simply because conservatives are stupid. If the discussion is simply about why professors vote Democratic, that’s one thing. But talking about why they tend to hold liberal views is another. It’s not nitpicking to point out the difference.

  19. #19 G
    January 2, 2014

    Surveys taken in the early 1960s showed that physical scientists were approximately evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. Today a very substantial majority of physical scientists are Democrats, suggesting (but not, by itself, empirically demonstrating) that Republican anti-science attitudes are causal.

    Rather than speculating, we can measure:

    It would be trivially easy to survey professors using two questions, “what is your present political party association if any? (D), (R), (I), (etc. libertarian, socialist, etc.)” and then “what were the factors that led to that choice as opposed to some other possible choice? (write a sentence or two).” Parse the replies into categories “science / religion / economics / foreign policy / rights & liberties / etc.” The going hypothesis would be that “D” correlates with a significantly higher number of answers mentioning “science” than “R” or other party associations.

    Anyone here who works in a college or university could have ways of accomplishing such a survey in their institution. If the questions and analysis are standardized, then a large quantity of these results could be assembled across a number of institutions.

  20. #20 Blaine
    January 2, 2014

    Hasn’t anyone read the _Republican Brain_ ?

    Also worth reading: The authoritarians at : http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey. You can download the pdf.

    Also, on why reality is radically contingent which makes atheism a trivial QED.
    _After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency_ by Quentin Meillassoux

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quentin_Meillassoux

  21. #21 Steven Reilly
    January 2, 2014

    I’ve read “The Authoritarians”, but it also suffers from the problem of weird definitions. Apparently Stalin is right-wing because “someone who lived in a country long ruled by Communists and who ardently supported the Communist Party would also be one of my psychological right-wing authoritarians even though we would also say he was a political left-winger. So a right-wing authoritarian follower doesn’t necessarily have conservative political views.” Yeah, I know he backs up his usage with etymology, but again, c’mon….

    Never read The Republic Brain though. What’s the takeaway there?

  22. #22 Blaine
    January 2, 2014

    @21
    The gist of the _Republican Brain_ is that ‘Republicans’ tend to compartmentalize. Non-Republicans tend to be more curious and less apt to compartmentalize thus globally integrating their beliefs and are more curious and open to revising their beliefs when presented with new evidence. This characteristics makes one more prone to be an academic.
    The upside of those with the ‘Republican Brain’ is that they tend to be more loyal and adhere to principle more….of course these are tendencies and counter examples can be found in abundance. But studies, which the author discusses, seem to back up these tendencies.

  23. #23 Blaine
    January 2, 2014

    Sorry if I am repeating myself. Just go back from the local pub.

    For the _Republican Brain_ see:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Republican_Brain

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Republican-Brain-Science-Science/dp/1118094514

  24. #24 John
    January 3, 2014

    jrosenhouse
    You show why they are not ultra-conservative.
    Why are they not in-between – neither conservative-conservative nor ultraliberal – like the majority of Americans?

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  26. #26 eric
    January 3, 2014

    Steven @1:

    Left-wing too, if your argument is correct. Your claim is that professors are liberal because there are stupid conservatives who make stupid arguments for conservatism.

    There are definitely left-wing tribalists too. I just finished reading through Unlearning Liberty and whoo boy, it shows one of the ugly sides of the academic left (as well as right).

    Having said that, I think Sean’s basic point is sound. By rejecting some fairly (what should be uncontroversial)mainstream observations such as “species evolved,” “anthropic global warming occurs,” and “income inequality carries with it a host of problems,” what the GOP does is force fairly middle-of-the-road people out of the ‘conservative’ label. There may be a number conservative notions that many professors support (social change should be slow and considered; our budget should be balanced, etc…), but there is enough intellectual dirty bathwater in with the intellectual baby that the vast majority of academics don’t want to self-identify as conservative.

  27. #27 eric
    January 3, 2014

    You show why they are not ultra-conservative.
    Why are they not in-between – neither conservative-conservative nor ultraliberal – like the majority of Americans?

    The Overton Window shift, for one. A person who was a moderate in the ’70s and hasn’t changed their political views at all, would likely be considered a screaming liberal now. Remember that in the 70s, both parties supported a 70% income tax bracket, were generally pro-choice, and the Republicans created the EPA in order to reduce corporate pollution of the environment.

    Now, imagine you were a conservative who supported those views in 1979. Imagine you still hold them now. What would you be considered?

  28. #28 Verbose Stoic
    January 3, 2014

    I want to follow on with Steven Reilly’s comment, because I think the heart of it — and he can correct me if I’m wrong — is that what Jason has done is find some cases where conservatives make some arguments/hold some beliefs that don’t fit in with the facts, and then went from there directly to the idea that professors — and people in general — are more liberal if or because they prefer to live in reality … without asking if liberal, in general, really DO prefer to live in reality or rely on the facts more than conservatives do. It’s easy to pick out a few issues where conservatives have an ideological bias, but that doesn’t mean that on other issues or even on the same issue that liberals have their own bias.

    Take the first essay. Now, other than it being a little misleading, in general Stephens isn’t doing anything wrong: he’s comparing apples to apples and his numbers reflect that, yes, there is an increasing income gap. Where he is and can be attacked is that when you list a 186% income increase, it looks like things are good, when if you map that against inflation you see that things aren’t going that well; the poorest ended up losing ground against inflation. But it would be reasonable to ask: what does that have to do with the income gap? The problem seems to be with inflation and its relation to wages, and not necessarily to the 1% having a greater proportion of the overall wealth. I’m sure we can all see that if we started from a base of 1,000,000 where the top 1% had 400,000 of it, we would rather be in a society where our base rose to 10,000,000 with the top 1% having 5,000,000 than in a society where the base was 1,100,000 and the top 1% still had 400,000. Except, of course, for the influence of inflation … which might be impacted by raising wages (the more people make, the more they can spend on products, and the higher wages are, the more companies have to charge to make the same profit).

    The same thing applies to the next comment: While some conservatives may well do that, some liberals will do the same. I still remember that one year here we have one very warm winter month, and reading people commenting that this proved global warming. When the very next month was a lot COLDER than normal … the comments were that you couldn’t use weather to say anything about global warming.

    One of the problems in both cases is that a lot of the arguments that are given that seem contradictory come from different , and to tie back to Stephen’s point some of them come from people who aren’t very bright. Once an argument gets out there, it keeps getting used by people who have heard the argument and find it convincing, but haven’t heard the counters. Additionally, even this assessment can be biased, as I’ve run into a number of cases personally where people insist that I and others are just bringing up long defeated arguments where the “defeat” was them simply asserting that it was wrong with an argument or a fact that was argued against. That’s not any kind of intellectually credible defeat … and does seem to spawn the political divide.

    Actual lynch mobs were in the habit of torturing and murdering people. Nagel’s critics merely wrote essays suggesting that he wrote a bad book. Those behaviors do not seem comparable to me.

    For this point to hold, it’d have to be plausible that liberals would not use that sort of extreme rhetoric in similar circumstances. But it isn’t plausible because they, well, do. Holding any ideology tends towards the sort of thinking that will get you using that sort of rhetoric when anyone dares to criticize you.

  29. #29 eric
    January 3, 2014

    Take the first essay. Now, other than it being a little misleading, in general Stephens isn’t doing anything wrong: he’s comparing apples to apples and his numbers reflect that, yes, there is an increasing income gap.

    Did you read Krugman’s response? He cites your inflation issue as one of three specific problems that make the Stephens article highly misrepresentative. Firstly, when adjusted for inflation the differences do in fact show an
    increasing gap, not any sort of equivalent change like you try and explain in your example. Second, Stephens also uses an income database known to have problems at the high income end when other databases are known to be better. It is hard to jive such a poor choice of data source with the idea of an intellectually honest and well-informed expert; he could be one or the other (honest or well-informed), but it is hard to see how he could be both. Lastly, Krugman cites a second source (the CBO) as showing that Stephens is wrong about the 1970s claim too. Going to one source (the census) when multiple other better sources disagree is cherry-picking, and is IMO exactly the sort of activity that many academics would recognize and reject. So while I don’t necessarily accept Krugman’s conclusion that Stephens is dishonest, I can definitely see how the majority of economists in academia might look at the sort of analysis Stephens does, and decide they don’t want to self-identify with the political group supporting it.

    For this point to hold, it’d have to be plausible that liberals would not use that sort of extreme rhetoric in similar circumstances. But it isn’t plausible because they, well, do.

    Okay, I’ll bite. Show me a liberal social policy or science author complaining that bad reviews by conservatives constitute an unfair or inappropriate lynching. Does Krugman say that? Dawkins?

    Oh, wait, Krugman has, on other occasions, actuallly complained about that particular comparison. So it seems that he, well, doesn’t.

  30. #30 Mu
    January 3, 2014

    You have to be able to afford being a liberal, and college professors are the prime candidates for it. Guaranteed for life jobs with all benefits and 6 months a year scheduled work give you plenty of opportunity looking for the “ideal” political solution. And while the number of fact deniers in the GOP is bad, one third of the Ds are just as ignorant. And the definition of liberal = not conservative is just plain bad, as it excludes the whole libertarian spectrum which is defined by being liberal without mandating it, which is the opposite of the enforced liberalism on most college campuses. What makes me think that while college professors tend to sprout liberal ideas they also wouldn’t like them to be applied to them, thank you very much. They’re the elite, and not subject to criticism by the unwashed masses. Which makes them sound a lot like the conservatives they so despise, just that their superiority is based on their own intellect, not some 2000 year old book. Same principle so – the position declared right is not to be questioned. Which ties in right back with the whole Nagel debate, you questioned Darwin, ergo you’re an intellectual imbecile.

  31. #31 David
    January 3, 2014

    Academics were liberal, back in the day when being liberal meant denying reality. In the 1930’s and 40’s, academia was the main breeding ground of american marxism, even when the bankruptcy of communism was evident. Koestler was shunned by left-leaning professors.

  32. #32 sean samis
    January 3, 2014

    Steven,

    In #11 you wrote “Yes, neither you nor Jason showed that liberal solutions work. But he should have, if he wants to show that professors have good reasons for being politically liberal”.

    First, thanks for finally acknowledging the facts.

    Second, I don’t think it was Jason’s intent to provide a comprehensive explanation for why academics tend to be liberal; only one example. If you read his prior post, you know that he realizes it’s not a simple topic.

    Related to that Second point is something J. Quinton wrote in #13: “That’s what makes professors lean liberal; they don’t like denying facts.” [emphasis added.] “Leaning liberal” is a better way of phrasing this; fact-denial is why academics lean liberal; away from conservatism. Jason’s clarification in #14 is consistent with this.

    In #15 you replied directly to J. Quinton’s comment but missed that important nuance; “If you show that conservatives deny facts, you’ve shown a good reason for not being conservative. You haven’t shown a good reason for being liberal.” Becoming liberal may require some additional justification, but leaning that way is more a comment about conservatism’s defects than about liberalism’s virtues.

    I think it is important to not read too much into Jason’s comments; they were not intended (I think) to be a comprehensive explanation for the liberal tendencies of academia. Without doubt liberalism has its embarrassments (a knee-jerk rejection of GM foods?) but in general, liberalism is more realistic than conservatism. Liberalism’s defects should give one pause, conservatism’s defects should send one screaming from the room.

    sean s.

  33. #33 sean samis
    January 3, 2014

    David,

    Your comment (#31) makes the tired old error of equating liberalism with Marxism and communism. That equivalence is simply false.

    sean s.

  34. #34 eric
    January 3, 2014

    You have to be able to afford being a liberal, and college professors are the prime candidates for it. Guaranteed for life jobs with all benefits and 6 months a year scheduled work give you plenty of opportunity looking for the “ideal” political solution.

    So, this might be a good example of what Krugman is referring to when he says “Today’s right wing never gives up on a politically convenient argument, no matter how thoroughly it may have been refuted by analysis and evidence.” The great wealth and prosperity of educators and the cushiness of their jobs is one of those points that is constantly repeated by the right, and just seems crazy to most moderates and liberals. Here are some professorial averages from 2011. There’s some decent numbers on that chart…for the business and law professors. For everyone else, those are frankly very low salaries compared to what someone with a Ph.D and an equivalent number of years of experience could expect to get in the US corporate world.

  35. #35 Verbose Stoic
    January 3, 2014

    eric,

    Did you read Krugman’s response? He cites your inflation issue as one of three specific problems that make the Stephens article highly misrepresentative.

    I did. That’s the one I agree with. I meant to make it clearer that the only time he gets to making a strong argument is when he points out that what’s bad is that after inflation there’s not much of that increase left … which is why I pointed out that the argument and discussion should be, reasonably, more about inflation and less about the income gap.

    Second, Stephens also uses an income database known to have problems at the high income end when other databases are known to be better.

    Fair enough, as I noted, but that only applies to the 10% versus 20% comparison, and note that even by his numbers the top numbers increased at a strikingly higher rate, enough to still claim that there’s an increasing income gap. Again, it might be misleading to suggest that the increases are so much for all, but it wouldn’t be an honest argument to suggest that he isn’t accepting that there is an increase at all.

    Onto this point:

    Firstly, when adjusted for inflation the differences do in fact show an increasing gap, not any sort of equivalent change like you try and explain in your example.

    I don’t get this. If you’re referring to my “1,000,000” example, I was careful to point out that there IS an increasing gap in the percentage of the wealth taken by the top 1%, as it increases from 40% to 50% in the 10,000,000 example. I could have taken it to 60% or maybe even 70% while still leaving more than enough economic growth for the remaining 99% to be content. I don’t say that this is what’s happening, but the argument should do what it was designed to do, prove that the “income gap” isn’t a problem, but that the money that the 99% actually gets is the problem, no matter how much more the 1% get than them.

    Okay, I’ll bite. Show me a liberal social policy or science author complaining that bad reviews by conservatives constitute an unfair or inappropriate lynching. Does Krugman say that? Dawkins?

    I’m not going to get suckered into having to find the exact same quote, but surely you’ve seen comments that are similarly rhetorically heated. Like calling this issue “class warfare” I point out an example on my blog where someone reverses the meaning of the word “class warfare” to claim that busting unions is class warfare while targeting a specific economic class for special detrimental — to them — treatment isn’t: http://verbosestoic.wordpress.com/2012/09/10/what-means-war/

    As for Krugman protesting when the term of “lynching” is used against ideas he supports … well, of COURSE he’ll do that. Conservatives will as well, when it’s leveled against them. That doesn’t mean that they won’t do it and won’t justify it as reasonable when they think it is, and if you read bad reviews of books you can see liberals being just as quick to dismiss it as strong, ideological attack instead of as simple criticism.

    And on this point:

    The great wealth and prosperity of educators and the cushiness of their jobs is one of those points that is constantly repeated by the right, and just seems crazy to most moderates and liberals. Here are some professorial averages from 2011. There’s some decent numbers on that chart…for the business and law professors. For everyone else, those are frankly very low salaries compared to what someone with a Ph.D and an equivalent number of years of experience could expect to get in the US corporate world.

    If they had business or law or computer science degrees, maybe, and maybe sciences — although I doubt that — but do you think that your education or theology or performing arts PhDs will make anywhere near that? Plus, you have to consider the benefits they get, and the guarantee of their jobs. To most regular folk, that looks pretty damn good compared to what they get. The lowest is STILL almost $80,000 a year, and again they get exceptionally good benefits.

  36. #36 eric
    January 3, 2014

    do you think that your education or theology or performing arts PhDs will make anywhere near that?

    With equivalent years at a white collar job? Yes. I’ll explain a bit more below.

    The lowest is STILL almost $80,000 a year, and again they get exceptionally good benefits.

    You’re looking at the full professor column, a position most academics take a decade or more of teaching and research to achieve, if they ever achieve it at all. So the proper comparison for them is with someone who gets a Ph.D., then goes to the corporate world and works successfully in their field for 10 years; maybe someone in their late 30’s or early 40’s. And yes, I’d say that the majority of people who do that, in the US, will be earning more than $80k/year. At least in major cities; there may be rural areas where that isn’t true.
    Now if you want to compare that $80k/year full professor to some entry level job taken by a liberal arts Ph.D, of course, the full professorship comes out looking very good. But nobody just magically steps into a full professorship out of grad school (any more), so that’s really a false comparison.

  37. #37 John
    January 3, 2014

    This blog has examined the conservative(far right) response to some issues. I’d like to examine my experience with liberals.

    I see we’re back to talking about income inequality. I once tried to discuss this topic with a bunch of liberals – some of whom are published authors for the liberal press such as the occupy movement, a newspaper columnist, and a rabbi. I accept the idea that income inequality is increasing. The difference is that the liberal audience wants to blame the rich and want increased government intervention, tax the rich more, and more government subsidies to “cure” the issue.

    I made a presentation to the liberal audience about Milton Friedman. They were convinced Friedman was bad (yes- the moralistic word). I presented the graph from wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_inequality_metrics from the “Ratio of percentiles” section. I can read graphs. This log-linear graph shows that from 1949 the upper 1% (a number chosen because of the occupy choice) have had a constant rate of growth. The use of income numbers triggers misinterpretation because of inflation, tax changes, etc. Now look at the rate of growth for 20%ile people. The 20% rate of growth from 1949 to about 1970 was the same as the rich. Then an abrupt change occurred. The rate of growth of the 20% declined while the rate of growth for the 1% stayed the same. This is the tracking of the growing income inequality. Further, the rate of growth for the 20% remained constant after 1970 through both political party administrations. What happened around and just before 1970 that caused the decline in the lower percentiles? The mildest response from the educated liberal group was this data couldn’t be right (note misinterpretation was not a response). Note the references quoted in the article. The occupy group thought only an idiot would consider this data, only wing nuts considers this, etc. – insults, definitely not collegial, personnel attacks, and definitely not about the data. 1970 is just after Johnson and the coming to power of the 1960’s liberal.

    The main thrust of the presentation was to note Friedman made predictions that came true. Keynesians predictions failed. Friedman wants a smaller government with less government regulation. Liberals and the politicians like Keynesian arguments for larger government and more regulation. A Friedman prediction is greater income inequality will bring an aristocracy class increasingly separate from the lower percentiles like in Britain. That is, the liberals want more of the thing that is causing the income inequality and they don’t like Friedman.

    The liberals have their Darwin stories. The conservatives have the global warming, occupy movement, failure of Keynesian doctrine, failure of predictions, and other stories.

    Speaking of global warming. How do you interpret the phrase? “Global Warming = the temperature of the earth is increasing like it has many times in the past” or “Global Warming = an effect caused by mankind in the recent past”. The temperature of the earth is increasing and few dispute that. However, the liberals use a propagandist trick of making a slight change to the latter definition and suggest the government should spend lots of tax dollars to fix the problem. And of course, anyone who doesn’t believe man causes global warming doesn’t believe that global warming is happening and is an idiot, etc.

    What problem? Natural global warming in the past has resulted in greater food production, advance in civilization and consequent benefits for mankind. We have seen this over the last century. Certainly, global warming is better for mankind than global cooling. Global cooling has brought famine and large–scale human suffering. Do you really want a cooler Earth?

    I’m centralist. Science and data help us.

    Lord, forgive the liberal for they know not what they do.

    The increasing debt and regulation is bringing a US crash just like Rand has predicted. The crash is the only solution Rand has. How can we avoid it?

  38. #38 eric
    January 3, 2014

    The liberals have their Darwin stories….

    …And of course, anyone who doesn’t believe man causes global warming doesn’t believe that global warming is happening and is an idiot, etc…

    I’m centralist. Science and data help us.

    Comments like John’s are IMO a good example as to why most academics now self-identify as liberals. John has just told us that, to him, creationism and skepticism of AGW are what he considers centrist (or ‘centralist’).
    When people start calling those positions centrist, then is it any surprise that academics who accept evolution and support the notion that AGW is happening are going to naturally start identifying themselves as leftist?

  39. #39 Michael Fugate
    January 3, 2014

    Clueless as usual John, we wouldn’t need regulation if people worked for the common good, but they don’t. Why not take away charters of businesses that break the rules – just like we put individuals in prison? Why should we trust businesses to act in the public interest and not government? Why not make business internalize externals?

    What are “Darwin stories”? And your comments on climate change – straight out of the denialist camp – and you expect anyone to believe anything you say. You live in a rightist fantasy-world that is barely connected to reality.

  40. #40 Verbose Stoic
    January 3, 2014

    eric,

    Well, the problem with comparing PhDs to PhDs is that once you hit that level, you’ve already hit a level of wealth and cushiness that most people will say allows someone to look for ideal solutions, or to not care about them. Add in that as part of the cushiness factor full professors, for example, are paid to pretty much do nothing but think about things and to listen to people talk about the theory of things over and over. Compared to the average person, their salaries are high, their benefits are amazing, and their jobs lend themselves to thinking about things in the abstract or theoretical rather than in the practical nitty-gritty. So the accusation would indeed be valid; professors don’t have to think about the things that the average person has to think about, which might make them more prone to thinking of ideas that sound good on paper but don’t really work out in the real world. You yourself, I believe, have criticized ivory-tower thinking, and it’s not necessarily just an unfounded stereotype.

    To summarize, getting a PhD puts you — generally — into the stratum where the criticism you argue against might apply, so comparing PhDs to PhDs isn’t all that strong a counter. A stronger counter would be to demonstrate that if they do have the same income, PhDs in the corporate world are more likely to be conservative than those in the academic world, but even then we’d really want to ask why that is instead of denying the base argument.

  41. #41 John
    January 3, 2014

    Eric
    Like a good liberal you have misinterpreted what I said
    I din not say “creationism and skepticism of AGW are what he considers centrist” creationism is not centrist – it is far right. I am not far right.

    I did not call those positions centrist – you did. Why did project your mistaken beliefs onto me?

  42. #42 John
    January 3, 2014

    All
    See how Michael Fugate twists the statements. This is the kind of thing liberal do.

  43. #43 Michael Fugate
    January 3, 2014

    Compared to your infantile libertarian viewpoint?

  44. #44 Michael Fugate
    January 3, 2014

    And by the way who is it that has to bail out the business community when they screw up? Can the oil companies ever repay the damage they did in Alaska or the Gulf? Would less regulation have prevented those disasters?

    And really burning gigatons of carbon in the previous 150 years, carbon that was buried and not participating in the carbon cycle – has no effect on global temperature? Science not your strong suit is it?

  45. #45 sean samis
    January 3, 2014

    John says that he “can read graphs” but clearly he can’t. The Wikipedia site he references shows that all income percentiles had a downturn or leveling starting in 1970; the upper 1% did NOT have “a constant rate of growth” as John wrote.

    John also omits the fact that starting with Reagan, the 1% recovered and grew rapidly while the middle and lower groups remain flat-lined. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:IncomeInequality9b.svg which is on the wiki link John provided.

    For whatever reason, John focuses on the 1970’s event and ignores the rest of the chart. Right beside that chart is another John omits comment of; entitled “Share of pre-tax household income received by the top 1%, top 0.1% and top 0.01% in the US, between 1917 and 2005.” It shows a fairly steady decline in their share of income from 1950 through about 1980 (a time of general prosperity) and a significant increase since. All the charts on this site (which John claims he can read!) document the steady diversion of wealth from the working classes to the Accumulating classes; from the Makers to the Takers.

    John claims that he believes that “Science and data help us”. Apparently that does not include the science and data that tells us that Global Warming will have catastrophic consequences.

    John, as many libertarian/Randians do, says we are over-regulated. Perhaps he could tell us precisely which regulations he’d want to get rid of.

    sean s.

  46. #46 John
    January 3, 2014

    all
    Michael Fugate continues to demonstrate my point.

  47. #47 John
    January 3, 2014

    Michael Fugate
    “Science not your strong suit is it?”
    I am a published author in science (cosmology and astrophysics).

  48. #48 sean samis
    January 3, 2014

    John, tarring all liberals with a broad brush makes you just as bad as anyone. If you think Michael Fulgate misbehaves, blame him. Liberals who don’t know him are not blameworthy because of his (supposed) misconduct.

    sean s.

  49. #49 Michael Fugate
    January 3, 2014

    What point is that John? That you have no clue?

  50. #50 John
    January 3, 2014

    sean s.
    The same sin as blaming all conservatives for those that believe in creationism.
    But, you have a point – blaming all because of one is not productive. When this blog says “conservative” and means the extreme right, maybe they should also identify the extreme left as being a fringe element of liberal. Perhaps this blog should say extreme right rather than conservative.

  51. #51 John
    January 3, 2014

    all
    You see the personal, vacuous attack of Michael.
    He continues to prove my point about extreme left behavior.

  52. #52 sean samis
    January 3, 2014

    John,

    Like you said in #50; your conduct is sinful. Michael may be criticizing you, but it is a “personal” attack. Your words. But it’s you who generalize; that’s the sin you identified.

    Finally: “ Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects. … There is nothing so stupid as the educated man if you get him off the thing he was educated in.” – Will Rogers

    I love Will Rogers!

    sean s.

  53. #53 Michael Fugate
    January 3, 2014

    Simple questions John – how will less regulation make the world a better place? Will it make us safer? more secure? make us more generous? How will putting more power in the hands of employers make the world a better place? Will it give us more freedom? more wealth? more leisure time to spend with our families? Your problem seems to be that you don’t like your opinions challenged – you keep claiming we fail to understand or we twist, but you can’t quite say how? A bit authoritarian are we? Resorting to credentials rather than address the argument made. Please play along.

  54. #54 dean
    January 3, 2014

    Michael Fugate continues to demonstrate my point.

    Showing why you are blatantly wrong is not an attack. Given your lack of grasp on reality, I have to ask: When you say you are published, do you really mean self-published?

  55. #55 John
    January 3, 2014

    dean
    Published – peer reviewed New Astronomy
    the arXiv
    requested chapter in a Nova Science Book
    and yes self puplished alos.

  56. #56 John
    January 3, 2014

    Michael, Sean s, dean
    Instead of attacking my argument, you are attacking me. Just as I said liberals do when they have a vacuous position.
    You asked for my credentials.
    What are your credentials?

  57. #57 Lenoxus
    January 4, 2014

    John’s statements on global warming don’t quite contradict, but they almost do. Apparently, global waming is a good thing, a very good thing, and also, humankind totally didn’t cause it. Gee, it’s so humble of humankind to refuse to take the credit for improving the world…

    Anyway, in case anyone’s wondering what’s wrong with “but warming is good!”, here’s the short of it: present-day warming is nothing like the gradual change of the past, and many more millions of people stand to be affected thanks to things like how resources are distrubuted, coastal cities, etc. It’s apples and oranges.

  58. #58 Michael Fugate
    January 4, 2014

    John, I never attacked you – I attacked your argument. You on the other hand have repeatedly claimed that you were misunderstood or your argument was twisted. Most people would try to restate their argument, but you in you extreme arrogance, believe it is everyone’s else fault that you cannot make an argument we understand. What part of your argument did I misunderstand?

  59. #59 John
    January 4, 2014

    Lenoxus
    Very good.
    The good is wine can be grown farther north such as in Canada (new future) and around Ohio (now). More land is exposed in the north such as in northern Finland where the land is literally rising from the sea.
    The bad is the desert will encroach farther north also. Ports will be affected and seaside homes may have to move. There are and will be disruption.

    For me, the choice of having starvation (human population has already responded to the warmer climate) or some disruption, I chose the disruption.

    When the warm cycle ends, we may have to use our technology to increase the global temperature. The end of global warming in history has meant the fall of civilizations such as the Roman civilization, which means the loss of knowledge. The Roman city inhabitants lived for a thousand years in ruins they could not build.

  60. #60 John
    January 4, 2014

    “Compared to your infantile libertarian viewpoint?”
    “Science not your strong suit is it?”
    “Clueless as usual John.”
    “You live in a rightist fantasy-world that is barely connected to reality.”
    “And your comments on climate change – straight out of the denialist camp – and you expect anyone to believe anything you say”
    “…but you in you extreme arrogance…”

  61. #61 sean samis
    January 4, 2014

    John,

    We have been hard on you, that is true. But you have been cavalier with the facts; and seem to operate fully in a fact-denial mode; so there seems little purpose in responding to your arguments.

    I’ll offer to not make personal comments if you actually engage the facts. You could start by defending your arguments in #37 which have identified factual errors (see my #45). Perhaps you could tell us precisely which regulations he’d want to get rid of (as already asked for in #45).

    If you want us to focus on your arguments and not on personal comment, you must respond to critiques and questions, not dismiss or ignore them.

    sean s.

  62. #62 John
    January 4, 2014

    Sean
    The supporters of Mankind caused global warming are in fact denial mode. The APS examined this issue. Their original statement supported the socially correct position. However, their examination of the data caused them to modify their statement to remove support for the mankind caused part.

    Are there others you question? You may note, in my opinion, suggested “facts” are facts only if the observations show it. Propositions that are socially motivated are far from facts. Further, (I am beginning to understand this part may be difficult) “facts” derived from model interpretation and not from observations are not real facts. Let me offer one example from my field. The frequency of light from most galaxies is redshifted – the observation. The size of spiral galaxies is related to the redshift (presented graphically with lots of possible exceptions). Size of spiral galaxies are assumed to be approxiamately the same ( a model). Thus, size related to distance that related to redshift crudely. The big bang model and some other models suggest this is due to the Doppler effect. This last is not an observation. It is a model interpretation of a model interpretation. Other cosmology models consider the redshift as tired light, effects of plasma, gravity effects, and others. If the redshift is not a Doppler effect, the universe may not be expanding as the Big Bang suggests, the universe may be much older than 14 billion years (which helps the interpretation of some other observations), etc. I think (not believe) that the tired light scenario is a better model (note I didn’t say “correct” or “right”).

    I think I have not been “cavalier with the facts”. Perhaps some of your interpretations or social pressures are being treated as God given “facts”, which is false.

    #37, #45. “but clearly he can’t” in your comment is wrong. I note the data you refer to is not rate of growth. That is, the date you refer to is subject to taxes, political decisions, inflation, interest rates, etc. I was noting long-term trends (the use of graphs in science) and not yearly fluctuations. I specifically mentioned the 1% and not the others. I thought it was clear enough of my interpretation. One must read precisely and not introduce other statements into what you think I say and then count it as factual error. Please be more careful in what you attribute to me.

    I suggest the federal government spending is too high. You can choose your own reductions so long as the federal spending is less than the federal income (pay off debt). Personally, I think the constitution of states rights should be followed. That is, any spending or program that could be carried out by the state should be. The Federal government role (my opinion) is military defense, international relations, and adjudication of state (not individual) disputes. I’d even take customs and immigration policy out of federal control. Further, the Bill of Rights belongs in the states as it was at the end of the last constitutional convention. How else may we avoid war? The federal level should be tolerant of religion and state government form (including totalitarian and socialist). The only intolerance should be violent conflict among states. This was the promise of the UN that as failed. Without tolerance a nation the size of the US will not long endure (my opinion).

    OK I’ve responded. But, you did not question my statement. You questioned your reading of my statement which attributed quite a bit that I did not say. I’ve noted this tendency is some other posts. Frankly, I’m got tired of saying “I did not say that”. So, I don’t respond to those who are reading comprehension challenged.

  63. #63 sean samis
    January 4, 2014

    John,

    It hardly matters whether global warming (GW) is caused by humans or not, the facts that 1: GW is happening and that 2: we can make a difference are the most important consideration. Even if GW is natural, that does not mean there’s nothing we can do; nor does it make it good for us. Forest fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, plagues, droughts, floods, etc. can all be natural, but they still kill and destroy; and there are things we can do.

    The scientific consensus is that GW will be an ecological catastrophe; our survival—much less our flourishing—in that event is far from certain. It’s better to try to prevent it than to be indifferent. Yes, responding to GW will be expensive, but that’s how wealth is created: by spending money.

    Concerning cosmology: let us say, for the sake of argument that red-shift due to Doppler is only a “model”, then “tired light, effects of plasma, gravity effects” are also only models. How would we decide which model is right? Well, we know that the Doppler Effect actually happens (verified by observation). Do we have observational proof that the others happen? Not to my knowledge. Sounds to me like the Doppler Effect is the preferable “model” right now. Science is used to jettisoning models as better ones arrive; let’s wait to see if the others can be supported by facts instead of supposition.

    Regarding your comments on the rate of growth of income of the 1%, you wrote that you “specifically mentioned the 1% and not the others.”. You refer (I believe) to your comment #37, where you directed us to a Wikipedia site. Data on that site regarding other income groups is relevant to our discussion even if you omit it. You suggested we look at that site, the things on that site you left out are validly discussed here.

    You asked (in #37) “What happened around and just before 1970 that caused the decline in the lower percentiles?”. Fair enough: an economic downturn caused by the oil embargo, and other transient economic events. The real question is what happened in the 1980s that caused the upper incomes to recover and accelerate but did nothing for the middle and lower income groups. You completely ignore that event; it is legitimate for me and others to question your decision to ignore that event.

    As to federal policy and the Constitution, you are entitled to your opinions. My opinion is that we don’t live in the 18th century anymore—oh wait! That’s a fact. Anyway, the world has changed and I am not aware of any factual evidence that our Framers intended us to be shackled to the past.

    BTW, you wrote that “the Bill of Rights belongs in the states as it was at the end of the last constitutional convention.” I am not sure what that even means, but I am aware that the “last constitutional convention” was in the winter of 1932-33 and proposed the 21st amendment. I suspect this is not the Constitutional Convention you meant, but it was the Last Constitutional Convention.

    John, I don’t know if you are a constitutional originalist, but those folks often forget that the Framers put an amendment process into the constitution, and that Amendments trump prior constitutional provisions. As I said, I do not know if you, John are a constitutional originalist or not, but your writing makes you sound like you are. If you are not one of these, you can disregard this paragraph.

    Regarding, “OK I’ve responded. But, you did not question my statement. You questioned your reading of my statement which attributed quite a bit that I did not say.” True enough, but when you leave out salient facts, your omissions are valid things to comment on.

    sean s.

  64. #64 Michael Fugate
    January 4, 2014

    The APS statement:
    http://www.aps.org/policy/reports/popa-reports/energy/climate.cfm
    and changes:
    http://www.aps.org/policy/statements/07_1.cfm
    Read it for yourself. Please don’t take John’s word on what it says.

  65. #65 sean samis
    January 4, 2014

    From the second document:

    Even with the uncertainties in the models, it is increasingly difficult to rule out that non-negligible increases in global temperature are a consequence of rising anthropogenic CO2. Thus given the significant risks associated with global climate change, prudent steps should be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions now while continuing to improve the observational data and the model predictions.

    sean s.

  66. […] As If To Prove My Point… [EvolutionBlog] (scienceblogs.com) […]

  67. #67 sean samis
    January 5, 2014

    Been a day since I answered John’s questions, he must be working on a really good response,or is unavailable. Either is fair. I eagerly anticipate his next comment now that we’re just discussing his argument and not getting personal.

    sean s.

  68. #68 eric
    January 6, 2014

    To summarize, getting a PhD puts you — generally — into the stratum where the criticism you argue against might apply, so comparing PhDs to PhDs isn’t all that strong a counter. A stronger counter would be to demonstrate that if they do have the same income, PhDs in the corporate world are more likely to be conservative than those in the academic world, but even then we’d really want to ask why that is instead of denying the base argument.

    You’re claiming that professors most often self-identify as liberals because their jobs are cushy. I agree that good evidence against that would be to look at non-academic cushy-job-holders and see if they are also overwhelmingly liberal or not. If “not.” then your claim is undermined.
    Now it is difficult to come up with some good measure of ‘cushyness,’ but if we use income as a proxy, it looks like you are indeed wrong. As income goes up, the independents get more numerous. Conservativism is highest in the middle class (but still higher in percent of top earners than bottom earners). For the latest year tracked (2005), there was basically no difference in the number of democrats amongst low, middle, and high earners. So no, it does not appear that giving people more time and resources to think of ideal solutions is a valid factor, because the people with the most time and resources are not increasingly liberal. Its a nice idea, but the data doesn’t support it.

    But that is not the specific point I was addressing in @34. That post was focused on John’s claim that educators are overpaid and don’t work hard. I disagree with that and see it as a classic example of a right-wing trope which is not based on data. Compare educators to similarly-situated non-educators (same degree, years of experience, etc…) and they are in fact underpaid, even factoring in the shorter work year.

  69. #69 sean samis
    January 6, 2014

    So, going on two days now; John’s response should be a doozy.

    sean s.

  70. #70 Verbose Stoic
    January 6, 2014

    You’re claiming that professors most often self-identify as liberals because their jobs are cushy.

    No, I’m challenging your dismissal of that claim on the basis that they don’t have that great of an income, which led to my saying that they do, you pointing out that I was looking only at professors and that they weren’t high wrt other people with a PhD, and my reply that comparing them with other people with a PhD put them in the same level. I’m not making that claim, but simply challenging your dismissal of it as something that liberals and moderates see as crazy based on the facts.

    I agree that good evidence against that would be to look at non-academic cushy-job-holders and see if they are also overwhelmingly liberal or not. If “not.” then your claim is undermined.

    No, my point was that we needed to look at those with PhDs that were in academic or in corporate fields and see if there was a difference in conservativism. If those in corporate fields were more conservative, that would indicate that it isn’t simply income/education that is the reason why professors are more liberal, but we could still look and should still look for why that is.

    Now it is difficult to come up with some good measure of ‘cushyness,’ but if we use income as a proxy, it looks like you are indeed wrong.

    1) Why would we use income as a measure of the “cushyness” of your job? Especially in the business world, a lot of the highest paid people work the most hours, in general.

    2) MY actual point is that the ACADEMIC world is better suited for that sort of abstract thinking, not a higher income, and that’s compatible with John’s direct comment on cushiness as well. Are you going to deny that people in an academic setting have more opportunity to think in more abstract terms, considering that in most cases that’s kinda their job? If you look at, say, Computer Science, even PhDs in corporate research labs have to come up with ideas that can be made practical because if they never do the labs will close, while in an academic setting it just has to be interesting, even if it isn’t practical.

    That post was focused on John’s claim that educators are overpaid and don’t work hard. I disagree with that and see it as a classic example of a right-wing trope which is not based on data. Compare educators to similarly-situated non-educators (same degree, years of experience, etc…) and they are in fact underpaid, even factoring in the shorter work year.

    But, again, it’s invalid to make that argument by comparing them to people with PhDs, but to other people. Considering the benefits and the salaries they get, they are in the upper range of incomes if they make it to professors … a level that other professions can never hope to make it to. Re-reading Mu’s comment — which is what you quoted — it doesn’t seem like the argument is that they are overpaid, and certainly not that they are overpaid wrt other PhDs, but that they have an above average income — counting all incomes — which, if they get tenure, is guaranteed for life with good benefits, including good pensions. So on that end your defense seems even less useful as a counter.

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