They only reason it seems “facts” have a leftwing bent is because all the people discussing the issues academically are leftwing. In the social sciences, most of the discussions are among avowed Marxists who have the privilege of academic hegemony and use strong-arm tactics to limit discussion within a frame they are comfortable with. This closing of the mind affects intellectual curiosity and teaching, effectively making universities havens of propaganda instead of actual places of experimentation, discovery, and learning.
Only the economists interviewed routinely expressed the conviction that their political convictions were irrelevant to their professional advancement and to the standards of research quality. (The authors seem surprised that right-of-center economists spoke highly of Paul Krugman’s scholarship, if not his New York Times columns.) Economics is also the only field Shields and Dunn studied where professors’ partisan affiliations mirror the general public’s. Marxists are more common in the social sciences and humanities than conservatives.
The modern academy pays lip service to diversity. Yet as a “stigmatized minority,” the authors note, right-of-center professors feel pressure to hide their identities, in many cases consciously emulating gays in similarly hostile environments. “I am the equivalent of someone who was gay in Mississippi in 1950,” a prominent full professor told Shields and Dunn. He’s still hiding because he hopes for honors that depend on maintaining his colleagues’ good will. “If I came out, that would finish me,” he said.
More often, conservatives follow Rossman’s strategy, hiding their views until they’re safely tenured. “Nearly one-third of professors in the six disciplines we investigated tended to conceal their politics prior to tenure,” write Shields and Dunn. The number rises to nearly half when you exclude economics.
The pattern has also worsened in recent decades. Among those over 65, only 7 percent hid their politics before tenure, compared to 46 percent of those under 45. Without the young economists, that number would look even more extreme.
In their op-ed, Shields and Dunn downplay the common pre-tenure deception as “a temporary hardship.” But the dishonesty corrodes the mission of the university. For instance, a political scientist at a research university told the authors that he wouldn’t assign works by Friedrich Hayek in his political economy class before he was tenured. His fears of political ostracism thereby deprived students of exposure to an influential 20th-century thinker.
Right-of-center scholars also learn not to ask research questions that might suggest the wrong political views. A historian told the authors he’d decided not to write his dissertation on the history of supply-side economics, because he feared the mere choice of the topic might reveal his deviance. So a significant movement in American political and intellectual history went unexamined.