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12/30/2007

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Jack

Walker: I can see the allure of Rand to a 16 year old who likes their heroes as clearly defined as in the Western movies of the same era, but I found the fantasies of Isaac Asimov more interesting better written. Did you tire, after a while, of all the heroes being decked out in "crisp white shirts or blouses?" Did you figure out, later, why her prose would tend to cause English profs to upchuck? Anyway the message must have stuck with you, as I note your post is peppered with warnings of emotionalism vs her brand of ""objectivism".

Great too that you're beginning to develop some insight into the asymmetric vote splitting tactics of today's political battles for power.

I wondered if you found the Bush admin's staunch positions on abortion and stem cell research sufficient cover for their wholesale rejection of classical conservative policies? Here I'm concerned that "Atlas" may well shrug under the weight of keeping up the payments on $9 trillion. Did Milton or the other Chicago cats teach DEBT?

"The Republican positions on gay marriage or abortion should not taint people's opinions on taxes or free trade. But they often do."

........... indeed. Just about any tactic to avoid dealing with the tough questions, eh? Jack

David

Dear Judge Posner,

Could you write a blog on your recent experiences in Israel? I understand that your trip generated quite a lot of media coverage (which really says a lot when talking about Israel!), especially the your debate with Aharon Barak before an audience of 1,000 that audibly crowned you the victor.

Best regards,
David

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James

The left-right split on campus appears to be correlated with faculty salaries, e.g., humanities professors make much less than business professors at most schools.

a Duoist

The left-right divide in academia--as everywhere in a free society--reflects two competing yet complementary psychologies in every human: improvability and fallibility, better known as Optimism and Pessimism.

These two psychologies are, in turn, manifestations of human primal instincts, best noticed by the two separate functions of the front teeth and the back teeth in every human skull.

When evolutionary psychology and political psychology are better developed as sub-disciplines, it will become clear that all moral codes, all theologies, all economic theories, and all political systems are biological.

Richard Mason

Posner: In contrast, business, medicine and other health sciences, and engineering are much less liberal, and the natural sciences somewhat less so, but they are still more liberal than the nation as a whole; only 32 percent of the business professors voted for Bush--though 52 percent of the health-sciences professors did.

Please note that in the Gross-Simmons study, "health sciences" do not include medicine. Gross and Simmons say they sampled only professors who teach undergraduates, and therefore "health sciences ... in our sample means mostly professors of nursing."

It seems to me that professors of nursing, who typically have master's degrees, have followed a more practical or vocational path than other academics. The fact that nurses didn't go into medicine suggests they may have lacked the temperament for long years of schooling, consistent with being "less academic" (in this case, more Bush-supporting).

Or, it might have been economic rather than temperamental reasons that led them into nursing rather than medical school. Gross and Simmons found that, "the most distinguishing characteristic of academic Bush voters is that they come from lower social class backgrounds on average than do non-Bush voters."

George

Aren't professors in social sciences and the humanities predominantly liberal because it is in there self-interest to be so? Interventionist government polices need intellectuals, including university professors, to study social problems, propose government solutions, monitor these solutions, and perform the process all over again when when the government program does not work. University positions are added to conduct such study, professors receive grant money,serve as government consultants, and move back and forth from academia to government as part of the academic-governmental complex. A conservative, who says government solutions do not work as well as market solutions, has a role in academia and government that stops after he states this position.

Bill Harshaw

Seems to me you need to apply some historical perspective to your postulated causes. (I was also in college 59-63 and agree, except for support for civil rights, the profs weren't terribly liberal.) So, has the proportion of Jews on college faculties, particularly the elites, risen dramatically in the last 50 years? Has the gap in compensation, etc. between the world of commerce and the world of thought widened over 50 years? Do think tanks pay better than universities or do they carry a prestige greater than that of a university? Or, to specify more tightly, did universities swing left in 1970, or 1980, or 1990? And did these trends correlate?

You suggest a ratchet effect, whereby once a department swings left, it would stay left. The causes you ascribe would, however, apply the same to a right-leaning department. Issues of conformity and discrimination in selection should perhaps have kept Harvard as conservative as John Harvard wanted it to be.

Finally I note that Senator Joseph McCarthy certainly did not agree with you (and me) that universities were middle of the road in the 1950's.

Jack

Ha! George, I'd love to hear your theory on the self-serving? relationship of medical professionals, insurance companies and military suppliers!

BTW I've been waiting decades for "private industry" to bring our medical costs down 50% so as to be at least somewhat in line those of the "socialist" nations where medical bankruptcy is unknown and their currencies have nearly doubled by comparison the our own in less than a decade.

黃慧傑

疫情通報

怪物中國社會在變,人類被人獸牛狗雜種怪物交叉傳染到變異狂犬病和瘋牛病病毒,變異退化,

病毒就象愛滋病模式傳染,具有傳染性和遺傳性。

繁殖到第三代牛狗特徵顯露可怕,大都象侏儒,或者骨胳亂長、腦殘等等變異導致的殘疾,

淺顯區別在分泌牛、狗氣味、長尖狗牙、性交精液呈臭魷魚氣味等等變異症狀。

人類被怪物中國共狗雜種政權勢力和 腦電波雷達設置太多不安定的因素及困擾,例如:邪教法輪功練習者、美國9.11慘案等等案例。(雷達腦電波跟腦電圖波型生成反應相同原理,共狗叫意念發生器,說是秘密武器、或神經武器。)

被外在發生的表面事物所吸引,

導致人類時代滅絕!


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黃慧傑.龍香(姬昌)

黃慧傑

疫情通報

怪物中國社會在變,人類被人獸牛狗雜種怪物交叉傳染到變異狂犬病和瘋牛病病毒,變異退化,

病毒就象愛滋病模式傳染,具有傳染性和遺傳性。

繁殖到第三代牛狗特徵顯露可怕,大都象侏儒,或者骨胳亂長、腦殘等等變異導致的殘疾,

淺顯區別在分泌牛、狗氣味、長尖狗牙、性交精液呈臭魷魚氣味等等變異症狀。

人類被怪物中國共狗雜種政權勢力和 腦電波雷達設置太多不安定的因素及困擾,例如:邪教法輪功練習者、美國9.11慘案等等案例。(雷達腦電波跟腦電圖波型生成反應相同原理,共狗叫意念發生器,說是秘密武器、或神經武器。)

被外在發生的表面事物所吸引,

導致人類時代滅絕!


http://www.blogtw.com/blog.php?user=hlx1971
http://mypaper.pchome.com.tw/news/fjzzhhj71/
http://hk.myblog.yahoo.com/fjzzhhj
http://tw.myblog.yahoo.com/fjzzhhj71220
http://hk.myblog.yahoo.com/fjzzhhj71220
http://tw.myblog.yahoo.com/kingkong-jack
http://blog.pixnet.net/fjzzhhj71220
http://fjzzhhj71.blog.youthwant.com.tw/


黃慧傑.龍香(姬昌)

neilehat

I find this all quite amusing. Considering the fact that those in the higher echelons of education ought to be versed in the "Evil" Liberal arts of the Trivium, That is, grammar, rhetoric and logic. Since the beginning of time, the Universities, or their equivalent, have always been under rhetorical attack by the political powers that be, simply to muzzle them. Nothing works better than maintaining or taking power than to muzzle the culture's intelligentsia. Hence, the battles for academic freedom in times past (is what we're seeing today simply a continuation of that battle?).

As a simple example from history, wasn't it some teacher from Athens that was condemned, tried, sentenced and executed for heresy and the corruption of the youth by a jury of his "peers" during the Golden Age of Ancient Greece?

Perhaps, I shouldn't have mentioned this. It shows my "Evil" liberal education and background. Just remember, the ability to think critically and creatively, is the greatest defense man has against Despotism. Be it from the Right or the Left.

Erik

Have you considered the possibility that it may simply be that a "conservative" worldview (I use the term loosely) is more difficult to maintain when one has achieved a very high level of education? The contrast between "technical" and "non-techincal" fields (as you call them) on such issues as religiosity is, in my view, highly instructive. A microbiologist is not equipped by his formal education to engage in the literary, philosophical, historical and sociological analyses which usually cause individuals to embrace agnosticism and/or atheism. By contast, it is very difficult, when one is trained in the liberal arts, to take the arguments of Abrahamic religion seriously. Interestingly, astrophyscists (or so I understand) are rarely religious, despite being in a "technical" field. This may result from the particular insights they gain into what one could loosely call metaphysics, which render teleology of the Abrahamic sort (amongst other things) entirely absurd.


Similarly, much as traditional forms of religious faith rely on a simplistic and reductive view of metaphysics and human history, so too does "conservatism" often rely on simplistic notions regarding human nature, "right and wrong", and the role of government. In general, conservatism seems most prevalent in the most insular portions of society: rural areas in general, and in the U.S., the South. It seems co-extensive with a substantial ignorance of the outside world, ignorance which is difficult to maintain while obtaining advanced degrees in the humanities.


As an aside, I don't think "fiscal" or "economic" conservatism are helpful terms. Such people are liberals, in the classical sense of the word, following in the footsteps of Adam Smith, J.S. Mill, Isaiah Berlin and F. A. Von Hayek. They may, at one time, have appeared conservative in comparison to other "progressive" forces like socialism or communism which sought to up-end the existing economic order, but the economic "conservatism" of such types is usually a reasoned position based on a cost-benefit analysis, not the result of a Burkean temperament.

corwin


Decades ago(a little more than two when I was young,I decided to see if the less intellecyually challenging the maajor,the higher conceentration o Democrats.I constructed a test asking sstudents-at Michigan,wiscconsin,Indiana and ND various questions.I also asked them to rank majors in terms of difficulty;then I threw out their own.Unsurprisingly,math/physics were considered the toughest.Education or sociology the easiest.(I think chemistry was third,then business.)a couple of pertinent points,I asked students for their SAT scores.The perceived difficulty of the major was nearly identical to the SAT ranking.At most,there was a one digit place difference.And the least intellectually(perceived) majors were solidly Democratic.
This lead to a friend waggishly-I've always wante to use that term-saying,"he was a social science major.And a Democrat.But I repeat myself.
Look,this isn't meant to mean you can't be first rate in a humanities major.But you certainly don't have to be to attain a degree.And the hum's departments are becoming sinecures for PC incompetence at some places.As an economics based forum,I wonder if it doesn't devalue a degree.Once,a bachelor's in anything from say,Michigan- asideGO BLUE-meant ssomething.I doubt it does now.But do people disagree with my observations?
And two things.One:all were state schools and Two;We only included white students,because we didn't want to hear of cultural bias depressing the SAT's of blacks when compiling the numbers

Maurits

Posner's key line in dividing conservatives from liberals regards their view of the role of government. Subsequently, his analysis is based upon the perceived role of government from different professions/disciplines.

That doesn't seem particularly relevant in this context.

A pro market attitude is consistent with being against drug laws (ask Milton Friedman), pro choice, in favour of gay marriage, in favour of gun control, against theocracy etc with these latter, liberal, views perhaps more important for determining one's political assesment of oneself (especially for non-economists).

Therefore, many people that Posner would call a conservative, may call themselves liberal.

Moreover, recent conservative administrations (papa/baby Bush) weren't more anti state or pro market than liberal administrations (Clinton) making it even less relevant for a conservative (as regards state/market) but a liberal (otherwise) to call himself "CONSERVATIVE".

Chris

Judge Posner writes that a brilliant law professor could expect to make more money as a private practitioner. That might true for some who work at a law firm that allows them to write briefs to the Courts of Appeal, but there are many who couldn't even make partner at a top law firm.

I have had the good fortune to work for two decades at a top law firm in the Midwest with many individuals who were (or at least considered themselves) brilliant. Top-ten schools, Supreme Court clerks, that sort of thing. Some were equipped for the rigors of private practice, many were not. Their brilliance when pondering theory did not translate to brilliance in quickly answering client questions, winning strategic encounters with opposing counsel, ability to overcome ridiculous pressure or the social intelligence to woo a potential client.

I don't know whether this has anything to do with the blog post.

Anonymous

I see a lot of speculation and stereotyping in this post. Why ignore the elephant in the room: individuals who are skilled at critical thinking are naturally skeptics, and they naturally challenge the status quo. Those who challenge the status quo are likely, these days, to be left of center. It is thus no surprise that acedemia trends to the left, and that academics on the "right" tend to be less "doctrinaire" in their conservative thinking and more "libertarian."

Anonymous

I read almost every word of the comments that preceded this post, and I failed to see a significant reason why I think more college proffessors are considered liberal. As a history and political science major, I have come to realize that most if not all of my proffessors are deeply committed to ensuring that students become better people, not ideologes. They are committed to making this country a better place by supplying it with better citizens.

If they are trying to teach us anything it is to think for ourselves, and analyse all sides of every issue. If using reason, critical thinking, and having a healthy sense of skeptisism tempered by a passion to affect change is partisan; than yes, colleges are trying to corrupt our youth by turning them into raging socialists.

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