(*Explanation of title: I was going to call it “Dog Bites Man,” referring to classic headline for un-newsy, happens-all-the-time story [as opposed to “Man Bites Dog”], but since I have a dog, I don’t like to make references to dogs biting people.)
The New York Times reports today that college professors are more liberal than the average American. Well, the Times realizes that such an assertion does not qualify as news, so it highlights a paper by two sociologists that purports to explain why professors tilt so far left. The reason is apparently professors’ reputation for being liberal, which attracts more liberals into the field. The scholars say that teaching
has acquired such a strong reputation for liberalism and secularism that over the last 35 years few politically or religiously conservative students, but many liberal and secular ones, have formed the aspiration to become professors.
Well, yeah. Didn’t we sort of know that? Unless I’m missing something and/or the Times is doing a disservice to the original article, there is no there there.
What I found actually more interesting was the accompanying chart showing political self-identification for various occupations. Forty-three percent of “Professors” call themselves liberals, closely followed by “Authors and Journalists,” at 37 percent. (Hmm, I am a professor, an author, and a journalist. What does that make me?) You are least likely to find a liberal among “Building managers” and “Graders and sorters” (I confess I don’t know what that is); in both groups the figure is 10 percent. To me the most intriguing job is “Bartenders”: only 5 percent (compared to 9 percent for professors) call themselves conservatives, the smallest number for any job. I would totally want to read a study explaining why that’s the case. It would probably begin with a profound understanding of the concept “It takes all kinds…”