The Politics of Academic Scientists: Democrats Vastly Outnumber Republicans
A news item in Science1 entitled “Academia as a ‘One Party’ System” will probably attract the attention of conservative talk show hosts:
Universities in the United States are very keen on fostering “diversity” as long as it’s not ideological diversity, according to the National Association of Scholars (NAS), a conservative group of academics. Last year NAS surveyed members of scholarly societies in six fields in the social sciences, asking which political party they identified with. About 30% of the 5486 people polled responded; of these, 80% were Democrats. Economist Daniel B. Klein of Santa Clara University in California and Charlotta Stern of the Institute for Social Research in Stockholm, Sweden, conclude that because the prevalence of Democrats was even higher among younger academics, it appears that “lopsidedness has become more extreme over the past decades, and … unless we believe that current professors occasionally mature into Republicans, it will become even more extreme in the future.”
“The ‘one-party campus’ is a problem irrespective of what one’s own views happen to be,” the authors warn. (Klein says Stern is a liberal and he himself is a libertarian.) They suggest that measures could be taken–such as “proportional voting on curriculum and hiring decisions”–to enable political minority voices to be heard.
The ratios of Democrats to Republicans varied from 3 to 1 in Economics to 30 to 1 in Anthropology, with Political Science, History, Philosophy and Sociology scaling in between.2 Surprising as it may seem (sarcasm intended), it appears that Republicans are an endangered species on college campuses.
This announcement motivated us to check the National Association of Scholars website to see if there were similar statistics for science faculty, and sure enough, there were. Klein and Andrew Western have a working paper from their survey of Stanford and Berkeley.3 The Democratic-Republican (D:R) ratios for the hard sciences track those for the social sciences: Biology 21:0 (Berkeley) and 29:2 (Stanford); Chemistry 32:4 (Berkeley) and 10:5 (Stanford); Mathematics 23:6 (Berkeley) and 12:3 (Stanford); Neurology/Neurobiology 55:4 (Berkeley) and 13:2 (Stanford); Physics 28:2 (Berkeley) and 14:3 (Stanford).
Though not as pronounced, the trend held up in the Engineering departments: Civil Engineering 14:4 (Berkeley) and 10:3 (Stanford); Electrical Engineering 22:7 (Berkeley) and 18:6 (Stanford).
There was not a single subject area where Republican faculty members had representation even close to parity with Democrats. Several had zero or one Republican, like Anthropology (12:0 Berkeley and 6:0 Stanford), Psychology (28:1 Berkeley and 24:0 Stanford), Sociology (17:0 Berkeley and 10:0 Stanford), English (29:1 Berkeley and 22:1 Stanford), French/Italian (12:0 Berkeley and 1:0 Stanford), History (31:1 Berkeley and 22:0 Stanford), Linguistics (7:1 Berkeley and 6:0 Stanford), Music (13:1 Berkeley and 4:0 Stanford), Philosophy (9:1 Berkeley and 10:1 Stanford), Journalism (4:0 Berkeley). Even Religious Studies was dominated by Democrats (2:1 Berkeley and 7:0 Stanford).
The overall ratio of Democrats to Republicans for the Hard Sciences and Math categories at these two prestigious universities was 237:31, nearly eight to one. For the Social Sciences categories, it was 177:13, almost 14 to one. For the Humanities, it was 175:8, almost 22 to one. The overall score in all 23 departments was 720 Democrats and 81 Republicans, nearly nine to one. The authors make their conclusions clear and forceful:
A ratio of even 2 to 1 is deadly to the minority. A ratio of 5 to 1 means marginalization. Someone of a minority viewpoint is dependent frequently on the cooperation of her departmental colleagues for many small considerations. Lopsidedness means that dissenters are avoided or expelled, and that any who survive are very unlikely to be vocal critics of the dominant viewpoints.
These facts are inherently important. Academia is a major part of the political culture; it profoundly influences how tens of millions of Americans will understand social affairs and, indeed, their own personal selfhood. The next step, then, is full awareness. All interested parties—students, parents, taxpayers, and the faculty themselves—should become aware of the facts.
1Random Samples, “Academia As a ‘One-Party’ System,” Science, Volume 306, Number 5702, Issue of 03 December 2004.
2“Surveys on Political Diversity in American Higher Education,” National Association of Scholars.
3Daniel B. Klein and Andrew Western, “No. 54: How Many Democrats per Republican at UC-Berkeley and Stanford? Voter Registration Data Across 23 Academic Departments,” Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics. See also the Students for Academic Freedom website.
Here is our long-sought data to corroborate what we declared was intuitively obvious back on 09/22/2003: the Darwin Party is virtually synonymous with the Democratic Party. In academia, many of them are liberals, secularists and socialists. So connect the dots. Who are the ones writing all those Darwinian just-so stories in the science journals? Are they the neutral, objective, unbiased scientists in lab coats? Do they represent a cross-section of American political spectrum, such that it could be claimed the evidence supports evolution to any unbiased observer? Do these professors reflect a cross-section of American culture, values, and ideals? No. They are the same ones protesting the war against terrorism, voting for same-sex marriage, standing silent as courts trump the will of the people, and loathing the military.
Since Republicans are more likely to hold conservative family values, attend church, believe in God and oppose abortion, this should make the light finally go on about the connection between Darwinism and secular liberalism, and make educated people question whether Darwinian evolution is strictly a scientific issue. It’s alarming to note also the rise in anti-Semitism on college campuses. Palestinian terrorists are routinely given a pass as “freedom fighters” while Israeli actions in their own defense are painted in the vilest terms. Notice also how the liberal academics tend to see the U.N. as the solution to all problems, and castigate the Republican administration for not taking action on global warming (which, we all know, is caused by evolved aliens—see 12/27/2003 editorial). Are these mere coincidences? Does it appear that certain political and scientific views have a common ancestor? Do you begin to suspect that, on some issues, political ideologues are co-opting the sacred cow of “science” to rationalize their political ideology and world view? Is it not for good reason we label the evolution propagandists the Darwin Party? We’d like to hear Ken and Eugenie explain away these statistics.
Whatever the cause, and whatever it means, the political situation on American campuses is severely broken and needs “affirmative action” in the best sense of the term. How ironic that the party that parades its values of inclusiveness, diversity and tolerance should have such a radically one-sided political slant in the very institution that is supposed to represent the open marketplace of ideas. These statistics should alarm Democrats as well as Republicans. They should alarm parents who consider sending their impressionable high school grads to learn under these professors. Would they expect their sons and daughters to learn good political science at the Democratic National Convention? Imagine Congress with ratios like these, and the laws one side could pass to perpetuate its dominance and suppress dissent. No one should stand for this kind of inequity in academia. We suspect that if parity is ever achieved, the Darwin Party will lose its hubris and be forced to get off the sofa (see 12/22/2003 commentary) and do real science. If that happens, and Republican PhD biologists and anthropologists with “God bless America” bumper stickers get a hearing, Darwinists will be forced to defend their position in open debate about the evidence rather than taking evolution for granted and ignoring their critics. When that happens, Darwinism is doomed.