Monday, March 29, 2004

It seems that my theme for the week (continuing from last week) and possibly over this entire election cycle is quickly becoming liberal bias, particularly in the media. (Who knows, maybe there's a book, or at least a senior thesis in this.) In this post, I want to speak a little to that bias as a whole, based largely on my observations of it in academia

The overwhelming majority of my professors at Yale are liberals. Some are unabashedly so, and wear their bias as a badge of honor. There are also those entirely oblivious of their own views. I'll set these groups aside, as they create an obvious change in their classroom environments.

The interesting ones are those who recognize their personal beliefs and try to avoid them in teaching. The reason I find it interesting is that they never seem to succeed. On the whole, the aim is honorable, but impossible--bias always leaks out. There are obvious examples, such as when a professor places himself in a hypothetical and always plays the Democrat. But again, I want to ignore these cases and focus on those that have more clear repercussions for politics and the media.

I'm talking here about the way a professor approaches a lecture, based on the way he approaches his study. Presumably, professors have spent significantly more time researching and analyzing his area of expertise than any of their students. Because of this, I am amazed by how often a professor will admit to a student of opposing ideology "wow, I never thought of looking at it from that perspective." Perhaps even more surprising is how often he will follow that up with some reason to dismiss the new idea.

Similarly, a professor will often start a discussion with a statement like "admittedly, process A has the intuitive benefit of X, so let's move on to analysis of the more questionable result, Y." I'll sit there, my brain screaming "wait, X is neither intuitive nor necessarily a benefit!" Usually I'll see one or two faces around the room displaying the same objection, but usually we aren't given the chance to actually object.

My conclusion from this is the same that I've drawn time and again about the media: these professors are not trying to spin their classes intentionally, but when you look at information from a given perspective, you're going to have limited set of possible conclusions. Don't get me wrong--everyone behaves this way; it's human nature for both liberals and conservatives.

So what's the problem? The total liberal domination of the media and academia. As individuals, each professor, each reporter is doing his best to be objective and help his students/readers to gain a broad understanding of the pertinent information, and to allow them to draw their own, intelligent conclusions. As a whole, however, when the information set is controlled by people of a common mindset, only specific points of view will be emphasized--alternate views will be mentioned, but mostly in passing, not gaining fair and full representation. In the current environment, this means that students and media followers will rarely see the conservative perspective at full strength, and a liberal bias will inevitably result.

Please use the forum to comment on this; I'd like as much input as possible.

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