Category Archives: Educational Freedom

Academics Write Rubbish Nobody Reads

And most experience a twinge of excitement when, months later, they open a letter informing them that their article has been accepted for publication, and will, therefore, be read by…

… an average of 10 people.

Yes, you read that correctly. The numbers reported by recent studies are pretty bleak:

– 82 percent of articles published in the humanities are not even cited once.

– Of those articles that are cited, only 20 percent have actually been read.

– Half of academic papers are never read by anyone other than their authors, peer reviewers, and journal editors.

So what’s the reason for this madness? Why does the world continue to be subjected to just under 2 million academic journal articles each year?

Well, the main reason is money and job security.

Stanford Students Reject Western Civilization By A 6-To-1 Margin

At least they had a vote.

An effort by a group of Stanford University students to restore a Western civilization class requirement has been decisively rejected by the student body, with voting results released Monday showing it mustering less than 15 percent support.

The ballot initiative was promoted by members of the school’s conservative-leaning Stanford Review. If passed, it would have called for Stanford to require that all freshmen complete a two-quarter course covering “the politics, history, philosophy, and culture of the Western world.” Stanford once possessed a similar requirement, but eliminated it after a student campaign in the 1980s that denounced it as fostering racism, sexism, and other perfidious -isms.

Supporters managed to collect 370 signatures on their petition, enough to include it as a ballot measure for Stanford’s spring student government election.

Haidt interview on the lack of political diversity in Universities

I was invited by the president of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology to give a talk on the future of Social Psychology. As I was finishing writing The Righteous Mind, I was getting more and more concerned about how moral communities bind themselves together in ways that block open-minded thinking. I began to see the social sciences as tribal moral communities, becoming ever more committed to social justice, and ever less hospitable to dissenting views. I wanted to know if there was any political diversity in social psychology. So I asked for a show of hands. I knew it would be very lopsided. But I had no idea how much so. Roughly 80% of the thousand or so in the room self-identified as “liberal or left of center,” 2% (I counted exactly 20 hands) identified as “centrist or moderate,” 1% (12 hands) identified as libertarian, and, rounding to the nearest integer, zero percent (3 hands) identified as “conservative.”

American higher education is a house divided

Snow’s “two cultures” thesis continues to hold sway in the academy. George Will: “Higher education is increasingly a house divided. In the sciences and even the humanities, actual scholars maintain the high standards of their noble calling. But in the humanities, especially, and elsewhere, faux scholars representing specious disciplines exploit academia as a jobs program for otherwise unemployable propagandists hostile to freedom of expression.”