Columnist Will cited flawed AEI study on "liberal" college professors


In his November 28 nationally syndicated Washington Post column, George F. Will cited a dubious 2002 American Enterprise Institute (AEI) study of college professors' voter registrations to support his argument that liberals "dominate" American academia. Will failed to note that the study PDF, conducted by the conservative think tank's magazine, The American Enterprise, surveyed professors selectively chosen from the social science disciplines.

As Media Matters for America has noted, former CBS News political director Martin Plissner detailed the AEI study's flaws in an article for The American Prospect; most notably, he showed that those conducting the study selectively chose the academic disciplines they examined. The study therefore included a disproportionate number of professors from history and women's studies departments, while virtually ignoring other departments where professors may trend more conservative, such as engineering, business, law, and medicine.

Will, however, wrote only the following in his November 28 column about the supposed preponderance of "liberals" on American college campuses:

But we essentially knew this even before the American Enterprise magazine reported in 2002 on examinations of voting records in various college communities. Some findings about professors registered with the two major parties or with liberal or conservative minor parties:

Cornell: 166 liberals, 6 conservatives.

Stanford: 151 liberals, 17 conservatives.

Colorado: 116 liberals, 5 conservatives.

UCLA: 141 liberals, 9 conservatives.

Posted In
Education, Intellectual Freedom
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