Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Elite Vs The Elite

A quick McArdle, even though posting in haste usually means repenting in leisure.

"Academia" has a problem. It is hopelessly bigoted against fundamentalists. (Conflict of interest note: Megan McArdle is married to an "ex-fundamentalist" and one assumes her parents-in-law are/were fundamentalists.) 

How do we know this? An elite college turned up its noses at a PhD candidate from a fundamentalist college. Thus is all of "academia" condemned!
What happened on that committee is bigotry, plain and simple. And it's not just a problem for conservative Christians, and people seen as conservative Christians. It’s a problem for academia. 
But can a creationist really become an academic, you may want to ask. Note that the student was a candidate for the linguistics department, where your views on evolution probably have minimal effect on your work. I’ve seen some folks argue that biblical literalism is also inimical to linguistics if people take the Tower of Babel as an accurate description of language evolution. Fair enough. But the evaluators have no idea whether this candidate is a biblical literalist. It is possible to attend such schools without being a young earth creationist, and possible to change your mind during your time there, or after you graduate. Effectively, some on the committee argued that this girl had a strike against her not even because she is a conservative Christian, but because her parents (most likely) are. 
Are graduates of those schools more likely to be young earth creationists who think that secular academics which conflict with their reading of the Bible are bunk? Yes. But the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue. (Lee Jussim has done a lot of work showing that stereotypes are often quite accurate.) The problem with stereotypes is that people use them instead of other, better information. Women are, on average, less likely to be interested in science, technology, engineering and math. That wouldn’t make it a good policy for a STEM program to discard the applications of all women, on the grounds that most women don’t want to be engineers. 
To be sure, they did pass her application on to the second round -- but what are the odds that the attitudes of the first-round reviewers did not infect the decisions that were made later?
Your education background is just like your race and sex--they should never be a factor in admittance to elite graduate programs. And the fact that McArdle benefited from the practice of elite favoritism towards elite programs means nothing. Sure, she went from P.S. Whatever to an elite private school when her father became more wealthy. And that prep school, not her lackluster grades, got her into Penn, where Penn, not her lackluster college grades, got her into an MBA program.

But Penn should have taken her even if she was home schooled and had lackluster grades! And the University of Chicago's elite MBA program should take any Liberty  U or Our Lady of the Sorrows graduate! Those elite colleges are so elite it's just bigotry!
This is exactly the sort of bigotry against conservatives and the religious that I have been assured doesn’t happen, when in the past I have written about liberal bias in academia. Well, maybe it isn't spoken out loud every time, or it is communicated in a more subtle code. As with other forms of bigotry, what is most troubling is not the conversation, but the depressing certainty that so many similar conversations didn’t even happen, because everyone in the room understood what to do without needing to discuss it.
They're all thinking about you and talking about you behind your back! Paranoia isn't just for ranchers and the militiamen, you know. Everyone looks down on conservatives and laughs at them! It's true, as my anecdote proves!

McArdle warns liberals that because of liberal bigotry, liberals don't hear contrasting views and their arguments will be weak. Because of liberal bigotry, conservatives are becoming increasingly bitter, since liberals won't talk to them, and will refuse to pay taxes that support universities.
In the long run, no one is served by an academy that becomes the exclusive province of half the political spectrum. Unfortunately, the bigger the skew, the harder it is for people inside to even recognize the problem, much less agree to fix it.
And in the short run, McArdle's elite status is being damaged by her connection to the Koch brothers.
In fact, the conversation I'm alluding to concerned a young woman who was home-schooled before attending a small Christian college, which the reviewers of her application dismissed as a place of “right-wing religious fundamentalists” that was “supported by the Koch brothers.”  
 Full disclosure: My husband works for Reason magazine, which has received some funding from one of the Koch brothers, and before we were married, he had a one-year fellowship with the Charles Koch Foundation.
Everything is the liberals' fault because they are bigoted against conservatives. The conservatives who want to get paid to demean elite education while spending their youth striving for an elite education, or take advantage of elite status while decrying elite status, are their innocent victims.


Katy Williams said...

ArgleBargle: "All Liberals are in favor of inclusiveness, amIright? They say Society should include gays, dark-skinned folk, diverse political ideas, different religions even! So why don't Liberals favor including bigoted racist morons in their wonderful Society, Huh? GOTCHA!"

Downpuppy said...

Translating the original story back through all the nonsense, it basically comes down to faculty trying to decide if a prospective student was ready to learn or already knew the TRUTH.

Kind of their function, no?

Susan of Texas said...

Katy, it's so funny the way they say it's bigoted to reject bigotry.

Downpuppy, I left a couple of comments on two McArdle posts because they were clearly demonstrating how their bias made them incapable of making a coherent argument. They ignored facts they didn't like, substituting facts they did like instead.

McArdle said that abortions rise with the availability of birth control. Someone linked to a study that showed she was wrong. A reader (SgtFraggleRock) said that the study was wrong and he had a study to prove it. That study was about contraceptive use in Spain, which legalized birth control in 1993 and 1st trimester abortion in 2010. He and a few others high-fived themselves and mocked the stupid liberals for being wrong.

That guy is probably not stupid. (Some of McArdle's readers are but a lot are not.) He can't think, however, because he can't look at data and make a logical argument in support of his viewpoint. He and others must make up bullshit reasons to ignore the data and bullshit arguments to avoid analyzing the data.

Eh, you already know this stuff but it's clarifying to type it out.

Gretchen said...

Rod Dreher was very, very concerned about this anti-Christian bias also. We must circle the wagons, beause they're coming for all of us!

Susan of Texas said...

Rod makes a living talking about Christianity in public settings, not meeting under threat of death in an underground cave. But how can you justify nursing grudges and your growing paranoia without believing that everyone's out to get you?

Cole said...

"Are graduates of those schools more likely to be young earth creationists who think that secular academics which conflict with their reading of the Bible are bunk? Yes. But the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue. (Lee Jussim has done a lot of work showing that stereotypes are often quite accurate.) The problem with stereotypes is that people use them instead of other, better information. Women are, on average, less likely to be interested in science, technology, engineering and math. That wouldn’t make it a good policy for a STEM program to discard the applications of all women, on the grounds that most women don’t want to be engineers." That's right, McArdle, but that's not what's going on in this anecdote. It WOULD be smart policy to deny a woman entrance to a PhD program in Chemistry (for example), if that woman came from an organization devoted to the destruction of science, technology, engineering and math; with a degree in Applied Magic; and who chose to associate with and support publicly people claiming to ride broomsticks during the full moon.

This woman, McArdle, is supposed to be educated? Is this false equivalency and child-like "reasoning" genuine, or is she a propagandist working to manipulate the public and reinforce ignorance?

We see this bizarre comparison of apples and oranges every friggin day from these idiots, unfortunately.

Do they really not see that choosing to be ignorant is not the same as being born a woman, and that the first is acceptable to discriminate against in a candidate position that is so relevant to one's beliefs, while the second is not?

I swear they are like children, but with the power to drag us all into oblivion.

fish said...

I am interested in hearing her expand on this "stereotypes are often quite accurate" argument. What other stereotypes does she consider to be correct? White intellectual superiority? Cheapness of Jews? Blacks got rhythm?
That small assertion reveals the ugly rotten core of her belief system.

Susan of Texas said...

McArdle did say that she just doesn't know whether or not African-Americans are genetically inferior to White Americans when discussing The Bell Curve.

Susan of Texas said...

Cole, she is a propagandist, but she is also an elitist and will do anything to believe that she and her heroes--Ayn Rand, Wall Street, and the East Coast elite--are genetically superior.

Anonymous said...

A little bit off topic, but McArdle is talking about a death spiral yet again.


Susan of Texas said...


How many years can she keep this up? Five? Ten?

Well, conservatives are still being paid to say that Social Security can't survive, so evidently they can keep it up forever.

Smut Clyde said...

Imagine my surprise to find McArdle demanding positive discrimination for rightwing PhD applicants, and the treatment of their purchased-online qualifications as if these were equivalent to a real graduation. How many times did she cite Haidt?

evidently they can keep it up forever.

Susan of Texas said...

She's always citing Haidt. His data seems to be okay (not that I would know otherwise) but McArdle doesn't understand it of course.

She is also supporting any regulation that can get her into a self-driven car as soon as possible. The possibility of eliminating tipping is intoxicating her.

Susan of Texas said...

Sooooo much white identity politics. Conservatives must be represented even if they can't measure up to current standards! Those standards must be changed to admit more people who misinterpret data due to ideological bias! Hire the incompetent-otherwise both sides are not served!

Anonymous said...

I worked for almost 30 years in the Graduate Admissions office of a large public university, although I was only a worker-bee. Also, I'm sort of a lapsed Unitarian non-believer. I read the Inside Higher Education article McArdle referred to, and was appalled about the how the applicant is discussed. Because she was home-schooled and had attended a small, unknown to some, religious college, some committee members make the unwarranted (in my opinion) assumption the applicant was a right-wing religious fundamentalist nutcase. Other committee members didn't feel that way. Whether she's a right-wing religious nutcase or not, I don't know, but neither does anybody on the committee. If there was any discussion about the applicant's ability to do well in the program, we don't hear about it.

Anyway, the article says the applicant was passed on to the next round, but in the end was not offered admission. We don't know how competitive the application process is in this department. Do they typically offer admission to 10% of the applicants or 90%?

I'm not saying that the applicant was the victim of liberal elitism, or anything else. She could very well have been treated fairly, but the appearance of fairness--that's another matter.

As a final note, I'm also appalled that the committee would say stuff like this knowing full well that somebody studying the admission process was listening. I would have bet good money that professors were more savvy than that, but I would have bet wrong. This would be true whether the school is private or public.


Susan of Texas said...

I find it hard to believe that the committee would mock a candidate while someone was listening. And why would they bring up the Koches, when they fund dozens of universities, from Hillsdale to Harvard? Maybe it did happen but any liberal professional would say that they did wrong, not use that behavior in wide-spread practice.

I wonder what happened to the young woman. The right would love to hear from her or help her press a lawsuit.

Batocchio said...

Gah. McArdle makes such bad arguments.

Regarding Haidt, I've read a fair amount of his work, and he's mostly decent when he sticks to strictly descriptive work on values, and I've heard The Happiness Hypothesis is fairly good. However, when it comes to comparing values or political analysis, he frequently makes arguments that are problematic or poorly reasoned, and seems ignorant of (or glosses over) important political history. He also commonly lectures liberals sanctimoniously. (In a thread last year, I linked one of several Haidt pieces where he took Sarah Palin seriously and scolded liberals for not doing the same.) PZ Myers has a relevant piece on Haidt and the academia thing:

Social psychologist John Jost covers similar ground to Haidt, but does so much better, I'd say. Relatedly, here's one of Jost's critiques of Haidt:

Anonymous said...

She wants self-driving cars so she doesn't have to put a car mirror on her car again. You remember how impossible that was for her.