Disclaimer: Political Bias Is About Science
Liberal biases in psychology are bad for the science. But liberals are not bad.
Posted July 2, 2014
My upcoming series focuses on liberal biases as a distorting force in the science of social psychology. This is NOT because:
- Liberals are generally more immoral, incompetent, or biased than anyone else. They are no worse than anyone else in this regard.
- Liberals generally have more biased or distorted views of science than do conservatives. They don’t.
My series focuses on liberal biases, rather than conservative biases, because there are so few nonliberals in social psychology that there is, essentially, very little opportunity for right-wing biases to taint the field’s science. Why are there so few conservatives in social psychology? That is a complex question, one which I will address in this series. However, one strong contender is the hostility to nonliberals and to ideas that liberals see as threatening to their core values (e.g., egalitarianism) that is far too common in my field (e.g., Inbar & Lammers, 2012; Jussim, 2012a,b). You can see some of my personal experiences in this regard laid bare in my prior blog entries:
So, the point is not that “liberals are bad.” History has vindicated some of liberals’ major accomplishments over the years, especially in the areas of equality before the law (e.g., civil rights legislation) and safety net protections that most of us take for granted (e.g., Social Security).
The point is, however, that biased and distorted conclusions do social psychology a disservice. It does the public whom our science is supposed to serve a disservice. It does our students a disservice. Science cannot be in the business of promoting conclusions that are demonstrably wrong or demonstrably severely distorted. To be sure, a certain amount of disagreement is
completely reasonable and appropriate in science. We do not all agree on what data are relevant to some issue, and, sometimes, we do not even agree on what the data means. Presumably, the resolution to such scientific disagreements is more and better research and more and better data. HOWEVER, morals are mostly irrational, and our politics are steeped in our morals (Haidt, 2012). As such moral and politcally-based beliefs are often completely impervious to data. As I shall show in the upcoming series:
- Social psychology has maintained certain demonstrably false beliefs and claims for many decades
- When social psychology errs, it does so in ways that consistently support liberal worldviews.
- All of which raises a question about how many common conclusions in the field are either wrong as per the data, or overstated and distorted in a left-wing direction.
This raises the issue of whether these unchangeable beliefs are primarily scientific or primarily something else. My blog series will address these issues. My goal is constructive – to improve the quality of social psychological science.
I hope you keep this in mind, if you read the upcoming series of entries. I respectfully request that you respond to the scientific issues at stake, and not simply beat up on liberals. Beating up on liberals is not my point.
Haidt, J. (2012). The Righteous Mind: Why good people are divided by religion and politics. Pantheon Books: New York.
Inbar, Y., & Lammers, J. (2012). Political diversity in social and personality psychology. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 7, 496–503.
Jussim, L. (2012b). Liberal privilege in academic psychology and the social sciences: Commentary on Inbar & Lammers (2012). Perspectives on Psychological Science, 7(5), 504–507.
Jussim, L. (2012a). Social perception and social reality: Why accuracy dominates bias and self-fulfilling prophecy. New York: Oxford University Press.