"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.