Gotta hand it to the folks at Free Exchange on Campus. They know how to get their point across:
Everybody certainly now knows that “truthiness” is a fundamental tenet of politics. How else would we be able to separate out who knows the truth in their gut and those who want to over-think everything? But still, there are those who continue to press for evidence to support public policy positions. Luckily, there is an answer.
Here is the problem: academics, scientists, think tank fellows, and other trouble-makers are always talking about their “methods” (I think there is even something they call the “scientific method”) and their “criteria” for conducting studies–you know the ones: testing hypotheses, double-blind studies, repeatability, objectivity, etc. But what does that get us? Just more studies, more questions, more complexity–and really, is that useful? Of course it isn’t. What we need is some research that helps us prove what we already believe. Because who can argue with research, right?
I’m not talking about the kind of research with all those standards that get in the way of getting results. I’m talking about starting with a conclusion you want to support, doing a few “scientificy-looking” studies and then writing a report–a report based on what we call “researchiness.”
Here is what I am talking about. Say you want to show that professors are a bunch of bleeding-heart liberals who are obsessed with controlling the minds of all those innocent freshman entering college each year. What better way than to randomly go through a few course catalogs, find the types of courses that you ideologically disagree with, and then write a report as if those courses represent the whole of higher education? So much easier than actually looking at all 4,000-plus institutions and all of the courses offered–that would just take too long. And besides we already know most colleges are one-step away from a gulag.
Or maybe you are trying to show that these crazy liberals are too concerned with seeing education as a means of creating more opportunities for all students. Sure they call it “diversity,” but we all know what that really means–keeping
the rich and privilegedthose who deserve to go to college down! Let’s not get bogged down in any economic analysis of access to college or who benefits most from college. Again, too much data collection–not to mention math! Besides, Google can do all that work for you just by counting the number of times the word diversity shows up on a college website. It is just so much easier when you know what you want to say before you start.
And of course the best part of researchiness is that you can refer to other researchiness reports as evidence of your own findings.
So, it seems unfair that there is this new report out The “Faculty Bias” Studies: Science or Propaganda (PDF) that is trying to hold a set of recent researchiness studies to scientific standards. C’mon. These are not supposed to be actual research studies. They aren’t looking to discover anything. They are trying to prove what they already know!
So, you can just go tell this Dr. John Lee to take his “social science criteria” and his “findings” and go back to wherever he came from (my bet is some university!). These pseudo-scientists already know what they know and there are just trying to put together some
baseless claimsevidence to support for their predetermined positions.
But if you insist on actual research standards and are too afraid to stand up for what everyone should just know in their gut (supported by researchiness, of course), then I guess you can read the silly report (PDF).
I wonder if these people have flicked through the prospectus of Bob Jones? Now *there’s* bias…