Liberal bias is hurting academic research, prof warns

A University of North Texas professor is warning fellow academics that a lack of conservative scholars is undermining the accuracy and integrity of scientific research.

In the new issue of The American Sociologist, UNT professor George Yancy published the piece titled “Yes Academic Bias is a Problem and We Need to Address it,” as a response to a professor who previously dismissed political bias among academics as a “myth.”

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As previously reported by Campus Reform, a 2018 study surveying 469 sociology professors found that only four percent of scholars in the field are conservative or libertarian, while 83 percent identify as either liberal or radical.

According to Yancy, this overwhelming ideological discrepancy among faculty may cause the American public to lose trust in science.

“One of the most important assumptions of the scientific method is that scholars are disinterested in the results of the work,” writes Yancy, indirectly referring to the so-called scholar-activists who conduct research aligned with their social justice aims. 

“Given the reality that academics are much more politically progressive and irreligious than the general population, one should be concerned about the potential of liberal and secular bias” in academic research, warns Yancy. 

“We have to question whether scholars are as dispassionate about the results as they claim to be,” he adds. “Those like myself are also concerned about academic bias simply because such bias can lead to bad science.”

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Likewise, he argues that the lack of conservatives in academia is warping scientific literature in favor of liberal solutions, saying “it disturbs me that science cannot reach its full potential when the results are preordained by political and social concerns.”

“There is a cost to this type of bias not always taken into consideration,” he notes. “When ideas in academia are dismissed, instead of debated, non-academics begin to lose their trust in our educational institutions.”

“Because of the particular political skew in academia, it is not surprising that political conservatives have dramatically lost faith in higher education over the past few years,” the scholar adds. 

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Yancy’s essay was published in the recent issue of The American Sociologist, a Springer publication. Yancy also authored the 2011 book Compromising Scholarship, which documents what he learned after asking professors across the United States if they’d be less likely to hire new professors if they were religiously or politically conservative. 

From that research, Yancy found that political and religious conservatives “are at a distinct disadvantage” in academia and that, to a lesser extent, they also face a negative bias in the college hiring market.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen