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Conservatives need not apply? < "stupid people are generally conservative ">
Charleston.net ^ | Wednesday, February 11, 2004 | Editors

Posted on 02/11/2004 9:35:38 AM PST by Helms

Story last updated at 6:42 a.m. Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Conservatives need not apply?

Robert Brandon, chair of the Duke University Philosophy Department, gives this explanation of why faculties at U.S. universities usually lean to the political left: "We try to hire the best, smartest people available. If, as John Stuart Mill said, stupid people are generally conservative, then there are lots of conservatives we will never hire." Professor Brandon, expounding on the 21st century implications of that 19th century British philosopher's observation: "Mill's analysis may go some way towards explaining the power of the Republican party in our society and the relative scarcity of Republicans in academia. Players in the NBA tend to be taller than average. There is a good reason for this. Members of academia tend to be a bit smarter than average. There is a good reason for this too."

That scholarly perspective was reported in Tuesday's Duke Chronicle, the "independent daily" at the school. So were these statistics from a Duke Conservative Union study that cross-referenced the university's faculty list with North Carolina voter registration records: Of the faculty members and deans included in the survey, 128 are registered Democrats, 8 are registered Republicans and 28 are unaffiliated.

In political terms, that's a landslide.

In intellectual terms, Professor Brandon's smug thesis raises another question: If he's so bright, how could he be dim enough not only to believe such an absurd notion, but to hail it publicly?

Meanwhile, academics, like the rest of us, can be outstanding, mediocre or lousy at their jobs regardless of their political persuasions. Professors also aren't the only ones who advance interesting -- occasionally even persuasive -- theories on why conservatives are so rarely found on our nation's university faculties.

But no political party or ideology has a monopoly on intelligence -- or virtue. And that's a higher-education lesson to remember during this election year.


TOPICS: Front Page News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: academia; bias; college; education; university
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Duke :: Philosophy :: Faculty :: Robert N Brandon

   Professor Robert N Brandon

   Department Chair

   
Areas:  Philosophy of Science
 Philosophy of Biology
 Logic
   
Office:  209 West Duke Bldg
Phone:  +1·919·660·3067, +1 919-660-3050
Fax:  +1 919-660-3060
E-mail:  rbrandon@duke.edu

Robert N. Brandon (Ph.D. 1979, Harvard) joined the Duke Faculty in fall of 1979. He holds a joint appointment in Philosophy and Biology . He has published articles in Philosophy of Science, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Biology and Philosophy, PSA 1980 and PSA 1982, some of which have subsequently been anthologized. He has co-edited (with Richard Burian) Genes, Organisms, Populations: Controversies over the Units of Selection (Bradford Books, MIT Press, 1984), and his book, Adaptation and Environment was published by Princeton University Press in 1990. His most recent book Concepts and Methods in Evolutionary Biology (Cambridge) was published in 1996. During the spring of 1984 he had a visiting appointment at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh. Brandon is a member of Duke's Center for the Philosophy of Biology.


1 posted on 02/11/2004 9:35:39 AM PST by Helms
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To: Helms
If he's so bright, how could he be dim enough not only to believe such an absurd notion, but to hail it publicly?

Furthermore, how could he forget all those buttons on his shirt in that picture.....

2 posted on 02/11/2004 9:38:41 AM PST by sirshackleton
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To: Helms
I've been hearing variations of this canard for over 10 years, that academics and journalists are liberal because they're "smarter" than everyone else. To me it only proves their own elitist biases -- assuming that anyone who disagrees with you is stupid is one of the most foolish mistakes you can make.
3 posted on 02/11/2004 9:39:17 AM PST by kevkrom (YEEEEEAAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHH! <splat> -- a prairie dog coming off a speed high)
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To: Helms
Hiring the "brightest" people? No, I think you hire the biggest bloated blowhards. They can verbally tapdance to their tune but they are without moral fiber.
4 posted on 02/11/2004 9:39:33 AM PST by sarasota
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To: Helms
Members of academia tend to be a bit smarter than average.

Not in my experience.

5 posted on 02/11/2004 9:41:34 AM PST by facedown (Armed in the Heartland)
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To: Helms
As our local (Baltimore) radio talkshow host, Ron Smith, says:

"That argument is so ridiculous only an intellectual would believe it!"

6 posted on 02/11/2004 9:41:41 AM PST by Tallguy (This year's guest-nominee for the Democratic Party is...Sen. John Kerry <cue the Tonight Show theme>)
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To: Helms
Those who can't do, teach! That about sums it up.
7 posted on 02/11/2004 9:42:21 AM PST by Rivothead
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To: Helms
John Stuart Mill, letter to the Conservative MP, Sir John Pakington (March, 1866)

I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it.

Link

8 posted on 02/11/2004 9:42:31 AM PST by NativeNewYorker ( Freepin' Jew Boy)
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To: Helms
He has a point; conservatives work hard, build businesses, hire people and invent useful things while liberal professors and politicians tax the hard-working conservatives to their undershorts and the conservatives just keep getting up every morning and working that much harder.
9 posted on 02/11/2004 9:43:26 AM PST by Old Professer
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To: Helms
Kind of flies in the face of "Conservatives think, Liberals feel", doesn't it?
10 posted on 02/11/2004 9:43:31 AM PST by HEY4QDEMS
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To: Helms
Robert Brandon, chair of the Duke University Philosophy Department, gives this explanation of why faculties at U.S. universities usually lean to the political left: "We try to hire the best, smartest people available.

Self-selecting elitism wouldn't have anything to do with it, would it? Perfesser?

This is a basic question defining a specific population under study. If he can't see the fallasies involved here, he ain't too smart. His PHD thesis is probably garbage for this reason.

11 posted on 02/11/2004 9:45:27 AM PST by Tallguy (This year's guest-nominee for the Democratic Party is...Sen. John Kerry <cue the Tonight Show theme>)
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To: Helms

This isn't going to be a popular opinion here, but in a way he's right.

If Free Republic is any indication of the "conservative", almost no one on this site is capable of performing the intricate mental gymnastics and logical contortionism required to arrive at liberal conclusions.  We, the great unwashed morons in flyover country, just see things as they are.

Owl_Eagle

”Guns Before Butter.”

12 posted on 02/11/2004 9:46:21 AM PST by South Hawthorne (“Before going out drinking, always tape a handcuff key to the inside of your watch band.”)
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To: Helms
Depends on how one defines smarter.
13 posted on 02/11/2004 9:47:09 AM PST by Lost Highway (The things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.)
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To: Helms
The wonderful Brit Hume grapevined that last night. I boggled.

Shouldn't've, though.

Dan
/c8
14 posted on 02/11/2004 9:47:47 AM PST by BibChr ("...behold, they have rejected the word of the LORD, so what wisdom is in them?" [Jer. 8:9])
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To: Helms
...stupid people are generally conservative, then there are lots of conservatives we will never hire.

Prof. Brandon doesn't scruple, however, to cash his Duke paycheck, meagre though it may be. If he investigated further, he would find that his pay comes largely from endowment income. Should he call the Development Office, he would find that donations to that endowment come largely from conservatives that, stupid though they may be, managed to build successful businesses and amass large fortunes.

I invite Prof. Brandon to give a crack at making a fortune himself, if he is so very smart.

15 posted on 02/11/2004 9:49:09 AM PST by Plutarch
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To: Helms
And as the air whistled in and out of his empty head it softly sang" And they called the wind Moriah". instead of pontificating mr.Brandon why dont you just do your job? thanks.
16 posted on 02/11/2004 9:50:18 AM PST by suzyq5558 (The demodemons are ANGRY at the administration? so pray tell what is new?)
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To: Lee'sGhost; TaxRelief; Constitution Day; Phantom Lord; Liz; JoeGar; Chris Talk; irv
Ivy League Pompous University of New Jersey at Durham, NC/ Postmodern Ping

http://www.physics.nyu.edu/faculty/sokal/dawkins.html

Crisis in the Humanities

Notwithstanding the egg all over their faces, and despite their feminist pretensions, these editors are dominant males in the academic establishment. Ross has the boorish, tenured confidence to say things like, "I am glad to be rid of English departments. I hate literature, for one thing, and English departments tend to be full of people who love literature"; and the yahooish complacency to begin a book on 'science studies' with these words: "This book is dedicated to all of the science teachers I never had. It could only have been written without them."

He and his fellow 'cultural studies' and 'science studies' barons are not harmless eccentrics at third-rate state colleges. Many of them have tenured professorships at some of the best universities in the United States.

Men of this kind sit on appointment committees, wielding power over young academics who might secretly aspire to an honest academic career in literary studies or, say, anthropology. I know -- because many of them have told me -- that there are sincere scholars out there who would speak out if they dared, but who are intimidated into silence. To them, Sokal will appear as a hero, and nobody with a sense of humour or a sense of justice will disagree. It helps, by the way, although it is strictly irrelevant, that his own left-wing credentials are impeccable.


17 posted on 02/11/2004 9:51:09 AM PST by Helms (Liberals believe we are Crash Dummies on the hectic highway of the Cosmos)
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To: Helms
I could accept this premise, that the majority of ultra-bright people are liberal, but on the other hand, I think I could come up with data that would allow one to draw the inference that majority of stupid people (a MUCH larger pool) are liberal.

For example, I have the theory that people with an IQ over, say, 135 tend to be liberals. Thats pretty far up the bell curve however. On the other hand, people with IQ's of 90 or less tend to be (vote) liberal.

Check out the demographics of the last Election, see who voted for whom. You can draw your own conclusions.

My Democrat family always likes to say how dumb Republicans are. I bet them that if there were an IQ test at the polls, and only people with an IQ of 95 or above were allowed to vote, that a Democrat would never again win the Presidency. I tell them my reasoning (I WONT get into it here), and they pretty much end up having to agree.

18 posted on 02/11/2004 9:51:22 AM PST by Paradox (Cogito ergo Doom.)
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To: Helms
There's a very simple answer for this. There are many more liberals on college campuses because most of them aren't bright enough to find a job in the private sector. Ergo, they are content to while away their days navel-gazing and asking each other "what is truth?" while the conservatives actually work. Voila.
19 posted on 02/11/2004 9:52:26 AM PST by TheBigB (Anna Kournikova......Swimsuit Issue......http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/1075182/posts)
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To: Helms; Aquinasfan; NYer
Duke? Ph.D. 1979, Harvard ?

Well....that explains it. He probably thinks Nietzsche is a "philosopher" as well...

20 posted on 02/11/2004 9:53:14 AM PST by HowlinglyMind-BendingAbsurdity
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