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Affirmative action for rightwingers?

Greg Mankiw, a Harvard economics professor, looks at extreme findings by Larry Summers and others concerning the extraordinary suppression of conservatives in the Academia. The numbers are scary and I am sure that you don't have to see them to believe me.

Be sure that the real situation is even worse because some people describe themselves as "conservatives" only relatively to the far left environment where they live: the word "conservative" doesn't mean the same thing as it does in the general society.

The main question is, of course, whether it is a good idea to try to introduce affirmative action to support right-of-center scholars. Mankiw predicts that the leftists are more likely to endorse any kind of affirmative action, including this one, than the rightwingers.

As far as I am concerned, he is right. Any kind of discrimination, positive discrimination, irrational discrimination, complex discrimination, or another discrimination is a wrong thing. The problem with the Academia is not a lack of discrimination but a huge excess of it.

I am sure that if the academic officials and others were both honest as well as competent, no affirmative action would be needed or desirable.

The situation in reality is very different. The Academia is full of individuals and groups of people who shouldn't be there, who are not qualified, and who are being hired for ideological reasons. This is the primary wrong thing that should be fixed.

There are whole departments where people are quite generally incompetent and almost never reach the scholarly qualities of their colleagues in standard departments. All these departments of gender studies, African studies, and similar overspecialized and redundant constructs are artificially constructed to create a false impression of balance in questions where balance cannot exist because of facts of biology. These departments have become the key driving forces for politicization of the Academia. I think that responsible university officials should try to shrink these departments as much as they can but no one is actually doing so.

The perverse political opinions of the people in these departments are often imported to other departments, too. The infection rate is very high.

Meanwhile, wrong people are being absorbed to many standard departments, too. At all levels, ideological bias is huge. Members of racial and other groups that are likely to be extremely leftist are being hired more often than members of other groups. In the case of natural sciences, many women decide to go to science mainly because of their feminist ideological beliefs. Because there are not many responsible colleagues who would make it impossible, the percentage of feminist women in science also grows out of proportion, pushing the average further to the left.

Quite generally, the fields that are most brutally affected by the leftist political bias are the same fields where mechanisms to create this bias may be easily detected. In social sciences, politically correct myths about all kinds of pacifism, egalitarianism, and other -isms are considered to be a plus for people to be hired even though these myths have clearly nothing to do with the scholarly merit.

Entertainingly enough, the healthiest field are health sciences where Bush actually narrowly defeated Kerry in 2004. What is my explanation? In health sciences, hiring an incompetent individual for ideological or other reasons can have the same result: it can end human lives. And that is perhaps higher a price than what the people want to pay. On the other hand, people are ready to sacrifice quality of Earth sciences or even biological sciences - and, of course, social sciences - because of ideological goals.

In the most politicized fields of natural sciences, the situation is analogous. In climate science, incompetent individuals are constantly being hired and rewarded for their political attitudes rather than their skills and achievements. I can enumerate dozens of corrupt officials who are doing these things and dozens of wrong decisions where such tendencies dominated.

Once again: the scholarly world doesn't need more politicization and discrimination of various groups. It needs less of it and more meritocracy instead. The bad current situation is not a result of a missing special policy or regulation but a result of concrete bad decisions and acts done by very concrete, corrupt, irresponsible scholars and officials.

And that's the memo.

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