by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
N.C. State political scientist Andrew Taylor uses a Martin Center column to call for intellectual diversity wthin his profession.
Political science is the study of homo politicus, what Plato considered the most quintessential of human behaviors. Over the centuries, it has generated a library of observations, theories, and findings about the way we think and act. The work has forged a broad consensus in many of the discipline’s realms of inquiry.
Yet, although academic political scientists consider themselves experts who have built robust models validated by all sorts of empirical studies, they seem to believe the kinds of misinformed and prejudicial attitudes and anti-social and harmful behavior they attribute to just about everyone else have somehow evaded them.
That is odd. The last time I checked, political science professors were human beings. They are surely not immune from theories of human behavior they hold and have validated under scientific conditions. …
… If fleeting experiences or subtle alterations in the presentation of information affect an individual’s attitudes and behavior, then imagine how impactful an academic semester can be for a student.
Theories of bias and persuasion in political science, therefore, point to significant prejudice against and manipulation of minority ideological groups in the discipline. This is obviously troubling. The words and deeds of political science professors have consequences. Academics decide what to teach their impressionable students and have discretion over how they grade them. Political scientists’ positions as editors, editorial board members, and reviewers permit them to determine what research and scholarship get published.