Wednesday, 23 December 2015

We shouldn't be surprised when right-wing politicians stop funding left-wing academics


The Japanese government isn't all that keen on social science and humanities - preferring what it calls socially useful subjects:

A recent survey of Japanese university presidents found that 26 of 60 national universities with social science and humanities programmes intend to close those departments during the 2016 academic year or after. The closures are a direct response to an extraordinary request from the Japanese government that the universities take “active steps to abolish [social science and humanities departments] or to convert them to serve areas that better meet society’s needs.”

Now I'm not here to defend what the Japanese government has done but rather to ask why, given the nature of these courses, we have got to the place where a national government can deem them less able to meet society's needs. All that sociology, social psychology, political science, literature and history is to be sidelined - I'm guessing for science and engineering, business and languages.

This comes on the back of the decision by the US Congress to pull funding for social sciences from the National Science Foundation:

First, in April the House passed a reauthorization of the National Science Foundation — the America Competes Act (H.R. 1806) — that cuts funding to the social sciences by 45 percent, even as it increases funding to the NSF overall.

The question here is again - why? It's easy for the establishment of social science academia to cry political foul - after all these are political decisions made on partisan grounds - but what they fail to appreciate is just how utterly loathed and detested much of their output is outside their narrow milieu. Frankly you can't expect the political right to support a set of academic disciplines that make it their business to argue that all conservatives are thick or that neoliberalism, capitalism or free markets are at the heart of all society's problems. The reason for this problem is simple - and I would support 'defunding' UK universities on this basis: the academic disciplines concerned are completely dominated by a left-wing, anti-conservative agenda.

While the authors’ political motivations for publishing the paper were obvious, it was the lax attitude on behalf of peer reviewers – Jussim suggested – that was at the heart of the problems within social psychology. The field had become a community in which political values and moral aims were shared, leading to an asymmetry in which studies that reinforced left-wing narratives had come to be disproportionately represented in the literature.

This example isn't a one off - the literature in sociology, political science, regional studies, and psychology is entirely dominated by a set of left-wing ideological certainties. And researchers cannot - if they want to get published, secure funding or advance an academic career - step beyond this narrowly defined world. It's easier to be a Stalinist communist in most social sciences than a moderate conservative. Until this imbalance - this sustained bias - is addressed, I see absolutely no reason why a conservative would want to support funding social science 'research'. What is remarkable is that Conservatives and conservative-led governments have continued to fund academics who both despise those conservatives and have the means to promote an anti-conservative ideology through their academic discipline.

If social science faculties want to protect themselves better, they should look to their own central failing - an almost complete capture by the ideological left. Until this happens the value of the disciplines within those faculties will continue to decline in the eyes of everyone but those immersed in that part of academia or else entirely wedded to illiberal, anti-democratic and oppressive left-wing ideologies.

UPDATE: Another article setting out the egregious bias and misrepresentation in social psychology concluded:

I think reform is urgently needed because I think there’s a significant risk that the field will be defunded within the next few years. I urge social psychologists to take this risk seriously. In the US, we have a funding monoculture that is largely dependent on a couple of US government agencies. If most of our findings are false, I think policymakers will question why taxpayers should fund our work. There is also strong evidence (PDF) that the field discriminates against non-leftists and conservatives — this alone may prove disastrous for us, especially since the field has taken no action to prevent such discrimination.


1 comment:

Activist said...

You're only saying this because you haven't checked your privilege.