Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Left Has Corrupted and Weaponized Academic Research - Noel S. Williams




by Noel S. Williams

Eventually, a bunch of concocted poppycock masquerading as authentic research pollutes the public square, where pandering politicians and liberal media patsies loiter.

Liberals try to compensate for the weakness of their ideas by craftily manipulating the narrative of the debate. They are supported by liberal academicians who manipulate their research methodologies to predispose results that are amenable to their liberal sensitivities. We should be wary because the lack of intellectual diversity undermines the quality of scholarly work, and dulls the vibrancy of thought in the public forum.

Cunningly crafted studies under the guise of objective research are reviewed, then cited, by peers prudently protecting their own careers. Eventually, a bunch of concocted poppycock masquerading as authentic research pollutes the public square, where pandering politicians and liberal media patsies loiter. They are eager to peddle leftist orthodoxy in a marketplace of counterfeit ideas. 

One such patsy was a questioner at a GOP presidential debate in the last cycle who gleefully inquired about gender pay disparities. Her question presumed that the pay gap was 23%, even though that figure is based on raw data which merely reflects the median earnings for all men and women. Actually, when data are adjusted for job position, hours worked, unpaid absences, chosen major, industry, safety, work/life balance, and availability to travel, the gap is negligible. Though you won’t find it atop a Google search results list, a Department of Labor study (CONSAD) supports this. In essence, the gap, or at least the extent of it, is a myth. Nevertheless, the smug moderator coerced the debaters to accept the premise lest they be accused of a war on women--a spurious phrase that resonates in the alternate reality of liberal research since they have seized the language of the debate.

It shows that if one is deceitfully clever that it’s easy to inject voodoo statistics into the public debate. Indeed, dubious research is everywhere, particularly in the form of publication bias which crafts a methodology to produce positive results. This insidious bias generally supports the researcher’s ideological predisposition, and is music to the ears of the liberal intelligentsia who are keen to acquiesce to their concocted conclusions. Conversely, if their hypothesis isn’t proved then it is deemed less interesting; indeed, studies with null results often don’t see the light of day. In the U.S., behavioral research studies skew extremely positive. Often motivated by the “publish or perish” syndrome, null results are given short shrift, skewing social science literature towards leftist tautologies.

The National Institute of Health is an example of a reputable organization that succumbs to positive bias. They created a position for a chief officer for scientific-workforce diversity. The incumbent feels compelled to get evidence of racial bias in research grant awards, saying, “We can move forward with a premise that the diversity of scientists themselves is important. But it behooves us as scientists to get the evidence that the diversity of scientists makes a difference to the output.” I have a suspicion she will uncover this evidence long before even contemplating the insidious consequences of intellectual bias -- her career depends upon it. 

Given that some estimates are that there are 14 liberal social psychologists in academia for one who tends conservative, we can see how this furtive bias ferments in liberal groupthink. If the peer review panels that deem a study publishable reflect the general composition of academia, then they’d need 15 members for there to be at least one, hopefully very persuasive, conservative. Not a chance -- peer review panels rarely comprise more than a few members. 

Dismissively and defensively, some have justified the preponderance of liberals in social sciences by postulating that conservatives either aren’t attracted or well suited to the field. Apparently, the very nature of social psychology, for example, attracts liberals because their studies favor liberal social activism rather than conservative tendencies. This is disingenuous: one survey found that 79 percent of social psychologists admitted they would be less likely to support hiring a conservative colleague than a liberal scholar with equivalent qualifications. 

Irrespective of the rationalizations, it’s rare for social scientists to vigorously pursue knowledge that may contradict their leftist worldview. Consider the experiences of one of the most renowned social scientists of recent decades: Robert Putnam, author of “Bowling Alone,” the seminal work delineating the decline of civic engagement in America. At great professional peril he dared to jump off the bandwagon bias. 

Putnam conducted a huge study of 30,000 people in America and found that “[T]he greater the diversity in a community, the fewer people vote and the less they volunteer, the less they give to charity and work on community projects. In the most diverse communities, neighbors trust one another about half as much as they do in the most homogenous settings.” The study, the largest ever on civic engagement in America, found that virtually all measures of civic health are lower in more diverse settings.
 
His data were exhaustive and foolproof; nevertheless, peers scrutinized his methods well beyond the skepticism they show to results which conform to liberal orthodoxy. Even Putnam was uncomfortable with his findings: under intense pressure from his colleagues he tried to disprove his results.

Eventually he succumbed to his meticulous data and published, but his intellectual dissonance illuminates the inherent bias in academia. As Alan Wolfe, director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College, said “There are plenty of social scientists who never produce research results at odds with their own worldview… the problem too often is people are never uncomfortable about their findings." 

Liberals are comfortable in their “safe zones” where inconvenient facts are subdued. For example, mortality rates for less educated middle-aged whites are increasing at much faster rates than for minorities. You’ll hear plenty of discussion about a women’s right to choose, but nary a hint of the war on the unborn. Nor will the failings on the war on poverty be exposed, even though poverty rates are higher than they should be given the resources diverted to that front. After spending huge sums -- or investing, as liberals like to cloak it -- why does public school performance still flounder, and the student achievement gap persist? These are vexing issues that deserve a town crier in the public square. 

Don’t expect many outcries about the breakdown of the traditional family unit, and its concomitant societal problems. That’s simply too detrimental to their comfortable liberalism. Even when the late Senator Patrick Moynihan raised the specter of unstable families, poor schools and bad neighborhoods decades ago, he was castigated by liberal attack dogs for leaving the liberal reservation.

Social scientists conjure research that replenishes a worldview replete with mischievous narratives and riddled with leftist indoctrination. Practitioners are disproportionately assisting liberals by applying misguided methodologies that are conducive to the positive publication paradigm. This emboldens liberal patsies to hijack the debate under the pretense of respectable research. Coddled by contrived conclusions, they’d rather be obsequious than objective. That’s their polluted and stagnant safe zone, not a vibrant public square. No wonder their candidates keep losing elections.

Noel S. Williams

Source: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2017/09/the_left_has_corrupted_and_weaponized_academic_research_.html

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