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Regression to the mean

By Michael J. Smith on Thursday July 3, 2008 08:23 PM

Ahhh, the magic of peer review:

The ’60s Begin to Fade as Liberal Professors Retire

Baby boomers, hired in large numbers during a huge expansion in higher education that continued into the ’70s, are being replaced by younger professors who [are] less ideologically polarized and more politically moderate.

Here's some good news for Dick Dawkins:
At Stanford a divided anthropology department reunited last year after a bitter split in 1998 broke it into two entities, one focusing on culture, the other on biology.
Going on:
[A] new study of the social and political views of American professors [found that] “Self-described liberals are most common within the ranks of those professors aged 50-64, who were teenagers or young adults in the 1960s,” they wrote, making up just under 50 percent. At the same time, the youngest group, ages 26 to 35, contains the highest percentage of moderates, some 60 percent, and the lowest percentage of liberals, just under a third.

When it comes to those who consider themselves “liberal activists,” 17.2 percent of the 50-64 age group take up the banner compared with only 1.3 percent of professors 35 and younger.

“These findings with regard to age provide further support for the idea that, in recent years, the trend has been toward increasing moderatism,” the study says.

"Moderatism!" There's a conceptual breakthrough for you! What, one wonders, are the tenets of moderatism? Presumably "the truth lies somewhere in between" must figure prominently. You know: a male chauvinist thinks that women are inferior to men. A feminist thinks that women are the equals of men. A moderatist(*) thinks the truth lies somewhere in between.
The authors are not talking about a political realignment. Democrats continue to overwhelmingly outnumber Republicans among faculty, young and old.
It's certainly easy enough to be a Democrat and a moderatist. In fact, it's difficult to be a Democrat and anything else.

But here's the really good news:

... moderation can be found at both ends of the political spectrum [e.g.] A seminar on great books at Princeton jointly taught by two philosophers, the left-wing Cornel West and the right-wing Robert P. George.
O the lion lies down with the lamb! But which is which? And who is dinner?

Comments (4)

Al Schumann:

These neologisms are inspiring. Perhaps the Times could start calling its writers "fatuitists" and adopt "fatuitism" as their corporate philosophy.


only conflict meets clearly in the middle
all else meets and stalls
in the moderate muddle

contradiction of opposites
no reconciliation...division not unity

red not expert

As a euphemism for compliant, moderate in this perversion is an achievement of the investment in ideas by American conservatism. Since there is no corresponding investment in ideas to lend continuity to the human rights movements that rose up against the excesses of liberalism, it is no surprise that a lost generation has emerged in academia.

The immoderate behavior of the conservative-liberal alliance can be traced directly to this investment, which has overwhelmed all community safeguards worldwide since the Reagan years. The sole exception to this intellectual cleansing is the world indigenous movement, which, due to its location outside the spectrum metaphor, has the capacity and motivation to see things differently.

Since the perspectives of Native America and the Fourth World are the only authentic views left standing, perhaps we would do well to abandon the metaphor.

Ideology doesn't have agency, ideologues do.

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