Discrimination Hurts Real People

February 17th, 2011 by Jonathan Haidt

Many critics of my thesis about “tribal moral communities” claim either that 1) there is no actual discrimination against conservatives (because their underrepresentation reflects only self-selection) or 2) discrimination against conservatives is justified, because conservatives are dumb, closed minded, or anti-science. Many of these arguments hinge on claims about group differences, such as the regression coefficient relating politics and IQ, or the degree to which distributions overlap on traits such as openness to experience. But as Ravi Iyer put it in a recent post: on this blog:

These are not just data points, but actual human beings.  One human being discriminated against is one human being we could serve better, even if the vast majority of under-representation is due to self-selection.

Ravi exemplifies the compassion and open-mindedness of liberalism at its best. (In fact, his name was the 4th hit in my Google search for “liberal social psychologist”). In an effort to appeal to compassion from others, I have gathered here selections from the dozens of emails I’ve received in the weeks since my talk was publicized. My talk included the phrase “Closeted Conservatives.”  I made no effort to solicit such reports, and I have received no emails from conservatives who deny that they have faced difficulties because of their political identity. I have edited these reports only to shorten them. I obtained permission from all of the writers to post their words anonymously. All are graduate students or faculty in the social sciences, mostly in social psychology.


As a closet conservative minority I read the transcript of your talk with great interest and gratitude…  Everything you describe fits my experience perfectly.  As a well liked minority, I experience what you describe even more intensely.  My career is beginning to take off, and I find myself needing to hold my tongue more than ever.  I am travelling and publishing, started my Ph.D. at an elite university… but I find myself hiding my intellectual views and values every single day…. Like everyone else you have heard from I prefer anonymity for my own survival.


I can’t begin to tell you how difficult it was for me in graduate school, because I am not a liberal Democrat. As one example, following Bush’s defeat of Kerry, one of my professors would email me every time a soldier’s death in Iraq made the headlines; he would call me out, publicly blaming me for not supporting Kerry in the election.

I was a reasonably successful graduate student, but the political ecology became too uncomfortable for me. Instead of seeking the professorship that I once worked toward, I am now leaving academia for a job in industry. Universities boast about actively seeking to ever-increase the numbers of under-represented minorities in their ranks. Although, as a fiscal conservative, I have found my minority political beliefs abjectly unwelcome. While articles in my college alumni magazine celebrate the wonderful diversity and universal acceptation present on campus, they fail to mention the one exception: those whose political beliefs are not in lock-step with theirs.

I hope that a community of scientists would welcome a debate of ideas. Isn’t that how we learn and move forward our respective fields? Since when are academics so afraid of a dissenting opinion? If the political climate inside the graduate school is only comfortable to liberal Democrats, then only liberal Democrats will remain. This is not only in Berkeley and Madison, this is in many of our universities…  Hopefully, looking forward, your efforts will make room for someone whose views are in the minority to remain an academic and not leave for more accepting pastures.


I am a conservative social psychologist. I would describe myself as socially moderately liberal but very fiscally conservative. My research focuses on the malleability of stereotyping and prejudice.  I can also attest to the “hostile environment” when one is a conservative amongst the many liberal social psychologists.  While in graduate school, I was one of two conservatives within the whole psychology department.  Thus, that is when I quickly learned to avoid political discussions and to keep my opinions to myself.  For instance, I once had a professor yell at me and refuse to speak to me for two days all because I was respectfully critical of a political speech that he loved.  For this reason, I have actually counseled some of my past undergraduate students about how to better deal with being a conservative in academia!

I have often tried to respectfully disagree or debate with some of my very liberal social colleagues without much success.  I’ve often been told that as a social psychologist I should “know better” or that they are “disappointed” in me for holding an opinion that differed from theirs. The whole situation is one that continuously frustrates me as I strongly believe that the ability to avoid emotional moral reasoning is one of the biggest principles towards critical thinking.  That point, however, seems to be ignored time and time again.  Still, I refuse to quit.  After all, I would hope that the abundant research on stereotypes, prejudice, and intergroup relations would help social psychologists carefully evaluate their own stereotypes and biases that they hold against conservatives.


As a student at ________University (in the UK) I read with interest an article about your latest research relating to bias among academics. I completely agree, and I share the sentiments expressed by your students who are ‘in the closet’. I am one of them. In England, where cuts to Higher Education are framed by those on the left as being ideologically driven, the currency of liberal rhetoric is becoming increasingly valued. Those who support measures to increase student fees, typically those of the right such as me (I am a fiscal conservative but a social liberal), cannot confidently or even legitimately speak up. I remember one former professor, who is a member of the Conservative Party in the UK, told me that students and colleagues have such an ill-conceived idea of centre-right politics that he might as well be a member of the SS since anything which isn’t left-wing is so poorly regarded by the majority. It is my opinion that the dominance of left-wing opinion drowns out those with an alternative view, and institutions which should be fostering intellectual debates about the future of our country are in fact creating an intellectual vacuum. It is interesting that your findings, in my opinion at least, are not confined to a single country but can be found in higher education institutions across the Pond. I think it is a shame: we are less enriched because of it.


I’ve got a Ph.D. in Experimental Psych – emphasis in Social. But I don’t do much in Social psychology any more. I’m sure the reasons are multiple and varied – but I believe one of them is the lack of comfort I feel around my social psych colleagues. I’m an evangelical Christian. I don’t know if “conservative” is the best label or not, perhaps libertarian would be better. I’m certainly liberal in many ways as well. But as I reflect on where my sense of discomfort comes from I would probably most directly finger the implied belief that I perceive most of my colleagues hold – and that is a belief in the inability that a person of faith could be a real scientist, ostensibly because they would not be able to “tolerate” that truth, so to speak. This notion that there is an inherent conflict between a Christian worldview and a pursuit for truth is so pronounced that it makes it very hard to even bother with trying to combat it.


I’m currently a Ph.D. student in a department of sociology…  I’m actually quite liberal on both social and fiscal issues.  Prior to enrolling in the sociology Ph.D. program I served as a police officer in a large city.  But, after only a few weeks in graduate school, I began to hide this fact from others and never spoke about it openly.  Colleagues were looking at me and interacting with me differently than other students.  I finally realized that I was being “labeled” a conservative before people had even spoken to me.  It was astonishing: even being LABELED conservative, regardless of whether I actually was conservative or not, had become detrimental to my experience in the department.  I presume this label was applied to me since many police officers are very conservative.  However, I had become the victim of the very type of negative labeling that these academics would pride themselves on trying to fight…


I am a conservative, and like the students you mentioned, I felt very frustrated during my time in grad school. All of the faculty members were liberal, and they constantly made political jokes and comments, assuming that we all shared their ideology… I had originally wanted to do my dissertation on an ideological topic, but my advisor kind of steered me away from that. …

This specific issue affected me so much during my graduate school years, that it actually steered me away from research, and I took a teaching position at a local community college after graduation. Of course, I now see the same exact situation at my community college. It seems that “everyone” (including my department head and dean) is very socially liberal, and the other faculty constantly make fun of conservatives and bad-mouth them, assuming that I am a liberal–like everyone else! I do feel that even at the community college level, I must keep my views to myself or risk being discriminated against.

I do think (in fact I KNOW) that conservatives can bring an important alternative voice to the science of psychology. I have seen many instances of bias in the research that is being done, and in the interpretation of specific findings (although researchers can be blind to this phenomenon because of their ideology!) I do believe that in order to further social psychology as a science, this alternative and critical voice that is missing must eventually be heard. I wanted to write you to let you know that by speaking up, you are providing a voice for individuals like me (who have felt excluded for a very long time)!


Whatever the reason for the underrepresentation of conservatives in social psychology, and in the social sciences more generally, the near-total absence of conservatives has allowed a tribal moral community to develop in many fields. Those who don’t share the same sacred values must either hide, leave, or live stigmatized lives with stunted career prospects. These are real people. We should do what we can to break up the moral force field and welcome them in.

Posted in academia, conservatives, empathy, fairness, incivility, liberals and conservatives, partisanship25 Comments »

25 Responses to “Discrimination Hurts Real People”

  1. usinkorea says:

    I believe the reason there are far fewer conservative people in most of the humanities disciplines is the law of The Path of Least Resistance:

    When you find your point of view consistently and persistently opposed by prof after prof after prof in a department, it is natural to aim your academic career elsewhere.

    In effect, the lack of ideological diversity in the humanities perpetuates itself by weeding out perspective members early in the academic process.

    How many young, early-20s students relish the thought of spending 7 or 8 long years fighting “the system” when they realize their own world view is so consistently opposed by the people teaching them?

  2. Neil Levy says:

    How many of these people are “Tom Johnson”? For those who don’t know the affair, for many months the atheist blogosphere was preoccupied with poor Tom, who was reported that atheist scientists were routinely dismissive and rude to Christians. Unfortunately Tom Johnson was a fabrication. He provided apparent evidence of bona fides, but when outed he confessed he had made up the incidents. Lesson: don’t trust reports on the internet, especially when there is a strong motivation to make up the reports.

  3. None identified themselves as Tom Johnson. Only one identified as a Christian. One of them I’ve met. Several of them described details of their research in social psychology.

  4. Neil says:

    I’m not concerned that any of them was Tom Johnson himself. The point is that it is easy to manufacture stories, and I thought we had learned from the Tom Johnson saga not to take them too seriously without external corroboration. Corroboration, that is, of the stories, not of the identities. Though Tom Johnson was a pseudonym, TJ was who he said he was: a grad student. It was the stories he manufactured, not the identity (as he later admitted). More generally, anecdotes are not action guiding, since there are plenty of them. Philosophy has a real gender problem: for reasons that are hard to explain, the representation of women in philosophy is lower than in mathematics, chemistry and economics (only engineering, computer science and physics are worse). Why? Well, anecdotally it is because the profession is not liberal *enough*. So the anecdotes on this website suggest:

    Anecdotes are powerful, but for all the wrong reasons: because we are narrative creatures, because they have features that make them especially salient, and so on. But what we need is data.

  5. Chris says:

    I’m someone of neo-conservative leanings in a PhD program. That makes me the only person in my department (of 60 people) who wasn’t cheering for Obama in 2008.

    I think the reason for the political slant of academia is essentially this: Academics are all fundamentally afraid of one thing: looking stupid. It is easier to avoid looking stupid if you are non-judgmental and permissive — especially with regard to people from other cultures about which you know little. This cultural relativism then erodes any overly emphatic celebration of classical American values — either the person pronouncing them is likely to step onto turf he doesn’t know well, or he is unwilling to offend people from other cultures. Since most universities are highly multinational these days, the safest path for an academic is therefore to be a liberal of a permissive and cosmopolitan type.

    Which is to say, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan was pretty close to the truth when he observed: “Political society wants things simple. Political scientists know them to be complex… One could argue that, in part, the leftist impulse is so conspicuous among the educated and well-to-do precisely because they are exposed to more information and are accordingly forced to choose between living with the strains of complexity, or lapsing into simplicity.”

    I think this also explains why the little right-leaning sentiment that does get expressed is very careful to emphasize its social liberalism or libertarianism.

  6. Lee Jussim says:

    This is from Susan Fiske’s 1991 Applied Psych APA Award, that appeared in American Psychologist (these mini-biographies are written by the recipient, though they have to be written in the third person):

    “It dawned on Fiske that values guide people’s choices of terminology,
    research topics, methods, interpretations, and publications. She
    decided it was important to have some researchers with alternative
    values, and that such would-be agitators had to be just as
    methodologically tough as the mainstream researchers or
    they would be ignored.”

    When will it similarly dawn on the rest of social psychology?

    And, I repeat Jon’s question here, because **not a single person
    critical of his view has yet answered it:**

    For those who continue to assert that there is no discrimination, and no evidence of discrimination, I ask you: What would it take to convince you? What kind of evidence would change your mind?
    (This can be found at: http://people.virginia.edu/~jdh6n/postpartisan.html)

    Scientific beliefs differ from religious or moral beliefs in that scientific beliefs can be falsified. A belief that cannot be falsified is not scientific, it is closer to religion or ideology.

    If your belief is that “There is no discrimination against conservatives and conservative ideas in social psychology and related fields” and if you are not convinced by the overwhelming data presented on this site and on Jon’s other site, please articulate for the rest of us:

    What could falsify your belief that that social psychology is an entirely politically neutral and balanced field, one in which researchers’ ideological beliefs have no influence whatsoever on what topics are pursued, funded and published, how existing research is interpreted, or on who enters our field? (and please do not forget to tell us why you so strongly disagree with Fiske).

  7. nsriram says:

    A factual claim made by person T (Transgressor) is construed negatively by person E (Evaluator) because it violates E’s sacred values.

    If T emphatically states that “the evidence of the strength of the linkage between carbon dioxide levels and global temperature rises (the magnitude of temperature sensitivity) does not warrant the importance accorded to global warming” E makes the automatic inference that T is a “climate change denier”, “on par with evolution deniers”, “conservative” and “anti-environmental”. In fact none of these conclusions are warranted because T is socially liberal, favors environmental conservation, and strongly believes in evolutionary theory. However, T is deeply skeptical of specific quantitative claims made by proponents of global warming. E’s reaction closes the door to evidence-based discussion. In a group that is majority E, the Ts are necessarily stigmatized.

    The global warming example can be reworked for other domains. Certain descriptive facts or hypotheses are not entertained seriously because they are violations of values held sacred by the community. The Ts are perceived and treated as moral offenders.

    It seems to be that this debate is much broader than an under-representation of social conservatives within a field. The key issue seems to be the paucity of dispassionate research/discussion about stigmatized topics/claims, independent of the presumed political ideology or religious beliefs of the researchers.

  8. Jason Russell says:

    RE: “as Ravi Iyer put it in a recent post: on this blog:

    These are not just data points, but actual human beings. One human being discriminated against is one human being we could serve better, even if the vast majority of under-representation is due to self-selection.

    Ravi exemplifies the compassion and open-mindedness of liberalism at its best.”

    Professor Haidt, to me, exemplifies intellectual honesty, critical thinking, and the “open-mindedness of liberalism at is best.” He leads the crusade of yourmorals.org and civilpolitcs.org as much by example as by his research and his publications. So I want to be perfectly clear that this comment in no way is meant as a criticism of him or of his work. Rather, this comment is intended as a critique of the presumption of the open mindedness of liberalism. It seems to me that that presumption, along with the presumptions of tolerance and inclusiveness are foregone conclusions that are accepted as fact. I’m not so sure that’s true.

    How does a morality that calls itself open minded commit the discrimination illustrated in this blog entry and the criticisms against non-liberals in many of the responses to Professor Haidt’s Post Partisan presentation (as he illustrates here: http://people.virginia.edu/~jdh6n/postpartisan.html )?

    One might argue that the discrimination and criticisms are general symptoms of Tribal Moral Communities and not a phenomenon of any particular morality or political philosophy, but I submit that that’s an oversimplification that glosses over the heart of the matter.

    It is my personal opinion that Moral Foundations are much more than just the building blocks of our moral systems. I believe that they are also 1) the filters through which we perceive the world, 2) the building blocks of the cognitive processes we use to interpret that which we perceive, and 3) the building blocks of the logical arguments we use to explain and defend our beliefs and perceptions.

    There are essentially only two tools in the moral, perceptual, and cognitive toolbox of liberalism. The liberal sense of right and wrong, perception of the world, interpretation of the world, and representation of that world are all based virtually exclusively on harm/care and fairness/reciprocity.

    From the perspective of the moral, perceptual, and cognitive construct of liberalism the other three moral foundations are like square pegs in a world of round holes. They don’t fit. There’s no place for them. Further, there’s no place for any beliefs or opinions based on them. They are essentially rejected by liberalism.

    The reverse is not true for conservatism. Conservatism does not reject the foundations of liberalism, it embraces them, but then it also recognizes equally embraces the value of the other three and to incorporate all of them into a comprehensive world view. The conservative says to liberalism, essentially, “Yes, harm/care and fairness/reciprocity are indeed important, but the flourishing of human existence requires more than just those things, it requires ‘every tool in the toolbox.’ There must be balance among all five foundations.” The graphs Professor Haidt displays in his TED talk illustrate this.

    Since the other three foundations are outside of the liberal construct, virtually the only option available for liberals to interpret them is to reject them as nonsensical or just flat out wrong. And further, from the perspective of the liberal construct it also follows that the only reasons a person might actually believe in or otherwise rely on the other three foundations is because that person is either blinded by some sort of misguided faith, mentally weak such that he or she can be lead like a sheep by a magnetic personality, not intelligent enough to think independently, or some combination of all three.

    These themes are reflected in many of the responses to Professor Haidt’s Post Partisan presentation. On his web page where he’s posted observations and links related to his presentation, Professor Haidt says “Many comments basically say: “There’s no discrimination against conservatives, and those stupid, narrow-minded creationists could never be scientists anyway.”

    It is my observation that criticisms like these are typical of the pattern of liberal reaction to non-liberal ideas in the larger world beyond the field of academic social psychology. I realize that the majority of negative comments to Professor Haidt’s presentation came from outside that field, and that the reaction from within the field was virtually all positive, or at least was in the form of respectful constructive criticism. But still, the negative aspects of the reaction were, to me, a metaphor for the typical liberal reaction to many non-liberal ideas and the individuals who offer them in the larger world outside of academic social psychology. I couldn’t help thinking, “Welcome to the world of conservatism, Professor Haidt.”

    It is my belief that the behaviors of Tribal Moral Communities are not sufficient to fully explain this pattern. I believe this pattern is inherent to the moral, perceptual, and cognitive construct of liberalism, which recognizes only two fifths of the full spectrum of human behavior.

    Liberal self identification of open mindedness is not the same as actual open mindedness. If the denigration of non-liberal viewpoints as originating from blind faith, mental weakness, or deficient intelligence is not entirely attributable to the actions of a Tribal Moral Community, but instead is at least partially the result of a two-foundation morality that has no place for square-peg ideas in its round-hole world (as I submit it is) then how is that moral, perceptual, and cognitive construct even close to open minded?

    Could it be that the presumption of liberalism as open minded and tolerant is misguided? Could it be that what is seen as tolerance of alternative life styles, openness to new ideas and experiences, and enlightened embracement of change, are not what they appear, or are claimed, to be? Is it possible that those phrases are instead rationalizations (by the rider on the back of the liberal elephant) for the abdication of the moral compass points provided by the other three foundations and for the unfettered behaviors that result from that abdication? And if the answers to any of these questions is yes, or even maybe, then wouldn’t it be better science, or at least prudent, to characterize liberalism with expressions that convey a more accurate message, or presumption, about the two-foundation morality?

    Professor Haidt suggests that all five moral foundations are the products of evolution. For example, in “When Morality Opposes Justice: Conservatives Have Moral Intuitions that Liberals may not Recognize,” he refers to a study he and C. Joseph conducted in which they “concluded that there are five psychological systems, each with its own evolutionary history, that give rise to moral intuitions across cultures,” after which he goes on to describe the five moral foundations.

    Later in that same paper, Professor Haidt and Jesse Graham observe: “Looking at the entire range of human societies, the statistically normal human society is built upon all five foundations. It is modern liberalism (not the continent of all other cultures) which requires a special explanation.”

    If it is true that all five moral foundations are the product of evolution, and especially if it is true that the five-foundation morality is the norm and the two-foundation morality is the divergence from the norm, then wouldn’t some obvious questions for the study of moral foundations be “Why do some people not only abandon, but actively denounce three of the five foundations?” and “By what mechanism does that occur?” Or, as Haidt and Grahm ask, again in “When Morality Opposes Justice,” “Why is it that in a minority of human cultures the moral domain has shrunk? How did it come to pass that in much of Europe, and in some parts of the United States, moral concerns have been restricted to issues related to harm/welfare/care and justice/rights/fairness?”

    And by the way, as long as I’m questioning presumptions, I’ll also state for the record that I question the presumption that conservatism is characterized by opposition to change and acceptance of inequality. I am conservative (as if you haven’t figured that out already) and I know for a fact that my own personal moral system is based on no such things. Rather, it is more correct to characterize my moral system as promoting that which the long history of human social interaction has proved to DO the most FOR the most; Namely, a balance of all five moral foundations. As a conservative I do not stand *against* change and accept inequality. I stand *for* the conceptions of liberty, equality, and justice that stem from the full spectrum of human behavior. If I do stand against anything, it is the subversion of those concepts. And further, if given the opportunity, I honestly believe that most conservatives would agree.

    And finally, if these things are true then it seems to me that another question which should be investigated by the scientists at yourmorals.org and civilpolitics.org is, with apologies for twisting the title of one of Professor Haidt’s articles, is “What Makes People Vote Democratic?”

  9. […] the hostility held toward political conservatives in the field of social psychology. Haidt recently blogged on the topic, reminding us that there are real people suffering from this type of […]

  10. Jon Haidt says:

    A very brief reply to Jason Russell:
    Jason: I think members of any group will get “tribal” and closed minded when their sacred values are threatened. If you look at partisan American liberals and conservatives, then you will see two groups that are, I believe, equally closed minded. But what if look at each side as it sees itself? If we imagine liberals behaving in an ideal way, and conservatives behaving in an ideal way. Both sides have many strengths, both pursue overlapping but distinct sets of virtues. In this thought experiment, i think the virtues of open-mindedness, a willingness to try out new ideas and new ways, a willingness to welcome independent thinkers, even those whose ideas contradict your own, would be a virtue more ardently pursued by liberals. Especially if we look back at the history of liberalism, all the way back to John Stuart Mill. (It may not be as apparent if you focus on the “new left” that arose in the 1960s, and that is part of my argument about how the 1960s radicalized a generation of social psychologists).
    If you agree with me about the history of liberalism vis a vis conservatism as a much-needed check on liberalism, then I think it implies that liberals are more open to the charge of hypocrisy when they behave in a tribal, closed-minded way.

    jon haidt

  11. Jason Russell says:

    I’m not sure what value there is in looking at a group of people, or a morality, as it sees itself. The fact that people see themselves as open minded does not mean they are. A lot of the contestants in the first round of American Idol see themselves as singers, but it’s painfully obvious to the rest of us they never will be, no matter how ardently they pursue it.


    Your suggestion to consider history is curious because history proves liberalism has been ever thus.

    All the way back to Diderot, Voltaire, Rousseau, and Condorcet, et al, the two-foundation morality has claimed an open minded willingness to welcome the ideas of independent thinkers, but in fact, all the while, simultaneously and virtually in the same breath, it has not only rejected the ideas, people, and social structures which rest on the foundations of authority/respect, in group loyalty, and purity/sanctity, but it has also actively tried to dismantle them.

    This goes well beyond simple hypocrisy, it is not the result of the radicalization of the sixties, and it has little if anything to do with tribal reactions to challenges of sacred beliefs. It has been at the core of the two-foundation morality throughout the entire history of its existence of over two hundred years, and is thus arguably one of its fundamental tenets.


    It is not clear to me what you mean when you say “If you agree with me about the history of liberalism vis a vis conservatism as a much-needed check on liberalism.” If your intent is to suggest that conservatism arose as a response to the rise of liberalism, or progressivism, then no I do not agree with you. Not at all.

    Conservatism did not start with William F. Buckley, Russell Kirk, and Barry Goldwater. Yes, they were great conservative intellectuals who stood against the rising tide of progressivism, but they were standing on the shoulders of giants. The intellectual heritage of conservatism goes all the way back to Hamilton, Madison, Jay, and Adams, et al, and the Constitution of the United States and the Founding Principles of this country, and their contemporaries and influences in England; Burke, Trenchard, Gordon, Blackstone, and Hume, whose heritage in turn goes back to the British Revolution and Bill of Rights of 1688 and 1689, which in turn are intellectual descendents of the Magna Carta, in 1215. The intellectual history of the ideas of conservatism is a thread that goes back nearly eight hundred years.

    The intellectual origins and history of conservatism predate those of liberalism. Conservatism could not possibly have arisen as a check on liberalism.

  12. Jon Haidt says:

    i’ve recently read about the French revolution and I do quite agree with you. When liberalism is paired with extreme rationalism, as it often is, it gets frighteningly arrogant, willing to condone violence. I never knew that the French revolutionaries committed genocide in the Vendee region, all in the name of reason and liberty.

    but i do stand by my point about conservatism arising in reaction to the excesses of liberalism. That’s what many conservative historians and sociologists say. Robert Nisbet, and Jerry Muller, both say exactly this, that’s where i learned it. email me and i’ll send you their papers.


  13. […] Here is a post by Jonathan Haidt sharing emails from conservative people who’ve found themselves ostracized in the social sciences. An interesting excerpt: Many critics of my thesis about “tribal moral communities” claim…discrimination against conservatives is justified, because conservatives are dumb, closed minded, or anti-science. […]

  14. joeedh says:

    I’m so grateful real research is being done here. Moral superiority will be the death of us unless we all choose to stop (which means no cultural domineering: e.g. no atheist judicial activism, no christian fundamentalist political activism, no use of rationalism or scientism to dominate others, no federal social engineering, etc).

    I think old-style political labels are becoming superfluous, anyway. I’m a contributor to a very successful collectivist enterprise (an open-source project for 3D film production, called Blender), and this gives me practical experience on why you need all five foundations. It’s widely known in the open source world, for example, that good governance structures (often similar to corporations).

    Many young people like myself lack faith in political labels. I’ve noticed a lot of center-right people have begun using the term “classical liberal”, i.e. something between libertarianism and left-liberalism. But that’s itself an amorphous term. I’ve found myself recently using the awkward phrase “center-right progress-minded person,” but avoiding tribal labels is difficult.

  15. joeedh says:

    Hrm. I must’ve accidentally deleted part of the second paragraph. My point was we have to avoid Tragedy Of the Commons issues. Anyway.

  16. Menth says:

    It’s extremely ignorant to make crass generalizations about entire groups. Only old white men do that.

  17. Lily says:

    The weeding out begins well in advance of graduate school.

    Entering one of the top colleges in the US, I intended on pursuing a career in academia (social psychology). To do so, I had to take the psych intro course during my freshman year. Only one such course was available, taught by one professor. His first lecture consisted primarily of comparing pictures of a prominent Republican politician to pictures of chimpanzees, in a sad attempt to endear himself to the students. It worked – everyone in the lecture hall laughed and applauded. Nothing of substance was discussed. (I audited the next few lectures to give the prof a second and third chance, but little changed.) Even though I didn’t approve of that particular politician (I’m a libertarian at any rate), I decided that tuition was too dear to be spent on a course like that. I ended up graduating near the top of my class in another field… and I’m sure that my story is only one of many.

  18. […] I was reading a set of responses to an old, 2011 posting by Jonathan Haidt on his blog, when I came across this […]

  19. Tristan says:

    I am a chemistry graduate student with libertarian political views, and I have experienced this discrimination as well. My liberal colleagues and professors are quite vocal about their political views, and their hatred of all things not left wing. I frequently receive e-mails on my official university account from various unions and social justice warriors demanding money and votes. The university dean occasionally sends out campus-wide e-mails announcing that our university must “stand in solidarity” in the name of racial and sex-based affirmative action. Now that California has passed their “consent is verbal yes” law, our university (NOT in CA) security sends out “crime bulletins” every time a student accuses another student of taking sexual advantage (conviction in the court of public opinion), and they always include in these e-mails a declaration that “Only a verbal ‘yes’ is consent.”

    I used to (politely and respectfully) debate with these people when they would spout their political views in professional situations, but this led to some of the members of my laboratory attacking my professional capabilities and my work with exceptional hatred. One of my particularly politically left-wing office-mates got so vicious that he started stealing my lab equipment and trashing my experiments. I had to switch offices to limit my exposure to him and keep his temper under control.

    Fortunately, my adviser seems to sympathize with my situation. I think he’s a closeted libertarian or conservative too. My father is a professor in film school, and he also has to keep his views closeted in the face of his vocally left-wing colleagues.

    Really, it’s not just social psychology. Academia in general is horribly discriminatory towards those who are not Democrats.

  20. Steven Rubeor says:

    I went to UNH, Durham, NH in 1979. Poli. Sci. major. A friend told me that Prof. x had proven that the Republican party was dying and would soon no longer exist. Wishful thinking on his part, obviously.

    I had been at university a month and realized right away I was in a very liberal environment, thus, I kept my views to myself. Having lived abroad as a boy, I knew that every minority is tolerant and wonderful as long as they are a minority, however as soon as they become dominant they inevitably become insufferable. Thus it is with liberals.

    When I graduated in 1984 it was noticeably worse. The old liberal professors were retiring and being replaced with radical leftists. The irony of their simplistic and cartoonish portrayal of whites in general and conservatives in particular was astounding, given their self professed tolerance and self believed superiority.

    Every conservative I have ever known who went to college has the same story. Every liberal I have ever known who went to college is usually oblivious, often dismissive, and sometimes outright offensive, Neil Levy.

  21. Mark P. Yablon says:

    How does this play out in the legal academy in regard to student admissions? I understand more than 92% of law professors who responded to surveys said they supported the president and self-identified as Democrats.

  22. George Nixon Shuler says:

    Haidt’s theory may be looked upon perhaps differently now in the Age of Trump. At present we have a Presidential candidate who is unbound by facts supported by some persons inclined to violence. This candidate rails against “political correctness” while advocating for his own form of it and threatening violence against deviants, just as the right-wing in religion and academia does the same. Somehow I doubt universities with endowed chairs funded by corporate America and various recipients of inherited wealth exercise a great deal of demonization of the hand which feeds them. I daresay the Marxist is the College of Business is in greater danger of not making tenure than the Bush Republican in the Department of Psychology. Much as Haidt tends to serve primarily as an apologist for the far right’s self-concept of their own victimization, perhaps at best his work suggests it’s time to “build that wall!” in Trump’s grandiloquent phrase, only build it between Red and Blue America. Let there be, unlike in 1861, a mutual agreement to partition the nation. Let there be like in the 1847 partition of India and Pakistan, a steady stream of refugees heading either way – The National Review could establish a beachhead at Louisville and perhaps the Austin musicians repatriated to Blue America could be provided a slightly dilapidated studio in Santa Monica. After the wall is cemented, I guarantee you the refugee stream going Red-to-blue, mostly teenagers, will exceed those going Blue-to-red about a million to one.

  23. Harland says:

    George Nixon Shuler’s may be looked upon perhaps differently now in the Age of Clinton. The only persons “inclined to violence” were those Democrats who were attacking the opposition with crowbars. The previous comment only serves to harden the impact of Cultural Marxism on America, as the breakup of the USA was always one of its chief goals. Is there any wonder that Academia despises opposition as much as it does? Five years later, universities have only been purified further and dissent is rarer than ever.

  24. Jacques says:

    This is an old post, but I’d thought I’d share my views as well.

    I am currently an undergraduate International Relations student at a South African university. In a month I write my last test, so I’m practically finished with my course. Before I continue I will briefly state my political leanings. I’ve done the Political Compass (for what it’s worth) each year since I began my studies and I’ve continuously been an absolute centrist, with each year going a little bit left or right, and up or down. Despite this supposed centrism, I strongly associate my ideals with American neo-conservatism, of the likes of Senator Marco Rubio and political commentator Douglas Murray: multicultural yet not naively compassionate, strong conservative values, support for an open market, yet having it subjected to national concerns. For a year or so I was more in the modern (classical) libertarian camp. But I don’t share the American love for the flag and pledge of allegiance (I would oppose a similar initiative if our president wanted to institute it here). This is a tad bit too statist for me.

    I can say with certainty that, with some minor changes, conservatives here are strongly discouraged. This is never completely overt, luckily Yet there would be frequent discussion in the class about Trump’s misdeeds (I don’t support him, but he is the modern face of global conservatism), a focus on colonialism, neo-colonialism, pan-Africanism and general anti-Eurocentrism. This is mixed with a general disdain for Israel and America, and a love for Russia, China and Iran. A few weeks ago we were even given a far left newspaper article on Trump’s wall to analyse, with each group presenting a case for why Trump’s wall initiative is absurd – all of them treating it as racist, expensive and environmentally degrading, and none of them saying anything positive about it. I’m neutral on the issue myself, but I’m well aware of the potential benefits at least, or more nuanced ways it can be built, such as with fences, surveillance, etc. When we are referred to sources, be they websites, videos or journals, they are always on a strong liberal side, not once encountering anything resembling a more conservative take. It doesn’t help that most of the students are also extremely liberal: in group assignments, or in class discussions, I see them using opinions by Noam Chomsky, and other borderline conspiratorial sources.

    The last semester one of our more liberal lecturers was a self-proclaimed “African feminist” who was very vocal on feminist issues, patriarchy, and all that, and who is even a vocal supporter of a radically racist political party (the Economic Freedom Fighters) who support taking white owned land without compensation, nationalising everything and furthering strong black economic empowerment. This was enriched with a whole section of work by her on the so called “Transnational Capitalist Class” (TCC). If I didn’t hear about this at a university, I would have laughed it off as a conspiracy theory in the same breath of respectability as the reptilian, 9/11 insider, and the moon landing hoax conspiracies. For my assignments and tests under this lecturer, I became acutely aware of the fact that to do well I would have to argue as if I’m a feminist, anti-European, liberal student. The lecturer did not give any confidence that she would take a conservative-critical answer as correct. And I was right: when I argued against my own beliefs both my test and assignment were 80%, something that rarely happens.

    A year ago we were lectured by a brilliant lecturer, but one which was personally involved in Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign. At least she admitted her bias and I felt comfortable there.

    All in all, to prevent myself from writing indefinitely, I can sum it up like this: It could be far worse, but there is a definite agenda against conservative ideals. It is not just an American/European phenomenon.

  25. Sean Stromsten says:

    My experience as an outspoken libertarian psychology grad student in the 90s was not so bad. I got some horrified reactions, and some people rejected me outright, but most didn’t. Since then, the vocal minority of zealots has grown confident of its power, much of the once-silent majority has been cowed into participation in the persecution, and dissidents who used to fear being disliked now fear being jobless.
    It’s sad, but I literally would not send my son to (e.g.) Harvard, at this point, because it’s controlled by people who reject basic enlightenment values.

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