A Vast Wasteland of Conformity

By Thomas Sowell Copyright Creators Syndicate Inc. | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), December 26, 1994 | Go to article overview

A Vast Wasteland of Conformity


Thomas Sowell Copyright Creators Syndicate Inc., St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Though three universities in North Dakota may be the first to offer a complete degree program made up of televised courses, both live television and videotaped lectures are widely available at colleges across the country. One company has a catalogue of college lectures - with endorsements from both conservative Senator Orrin Hatch and liberal Senator Ted Kennedy.

How many courses in the Ivy League or other elite institutions around the country could get endorsements from people on opposite ends of the political spectrum? In the humanities and most of the so-called "social sciences," probably not many.

Too many courses in the these fields are propaganda for "politically correct" fashions, rather than attempts to inform or to develop the student's ability to reach his own conclusions. The political lopsidedness of academia would have to be seen to be believed.

At Stanford University, for example, each of the last three Democratic candidates for president of the United States has received more than 70 percent of the vote. According to a survey by the Stanford Review, an independent student newspaper, Clinton received 76 percent of the votes cast at Stanford in 1992.

Even Democratic presidential candidates who got clobbered in the general elections won big at Stanford. Michael Dukakis received 78 percent of the Stanford vote in 1988 and Mondale 71 percent in 1984. Back in 1980, Jimmy Carter came in first in the voting at Stanford, John Anderson second and Ronald Reagan third.

Today, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans, independents and unregistered individuals put together in Stanford's sociology, economics, psychology and political science departments. Democrats outnumber Republicans 23 to 4 in the law school, 11 to 1 in sociology and 20 to nothing in psychology.

Even at the Hoover Institution - often described in the liberal media as a "right-wing think tank" - the Republicans still do not have a majority. They outnumber Democrats 21 to 11 but there are 15 unregistered and three "other." Few academic departments anywhere are this balanced politically.

Against this background, which is not at all atypical of elite colleges and universities across the country, you can see why a set of televised lectures that can gain the endorsement of Hatch and Kennedy, is remarkable. …

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