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I am an undergraduate student in the hard sciences, and am thinking of pursuing a research career after graduation. I am also quite politically involved on the left, and have political articles published online. I am critical of many governments (including my own) and corporations, and of many of the applications of technology in fields I am interested in.

My politics are very important to me, and I could not give them up. That said, I often worry about how they could be detrimental to my career, especially before I'm already established. I worry, for instance, that grad school admissions would Google my name and find my views and affiliations, and that this would negatively impact my chances to get in. How realistic is this fear?

  • 3
    Peter Deusberg managed to have a good research career despite denying that HIV caused AIDS because he did good work on cancer. If he can pull that off your political work shouldn't be a problem provided it doesn't interfere with your research. I should point out that he had tenure long before he said anything about AIDS. – user137 Nov 9 '14 at 9:12
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    It's quite possible that your politics might even work in your favor. Sometimes it seems to me like right-wing people complain bitterly that academia is populated by left-wingers, and vice versa. – S. Kolassa - Reinstate Monica Nov 9 '14 at 20:43
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    On the left? You'll be fine. – Cape Code Nov 9 '14 at 20:53
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    @CapeCode I doubt it. Far left politics don't jive well with private entities who sponsor chairs and research. Moreover, what advantage does a leftist have in a field where leftists predominate? It won't favourably distinguish him, as it won't distinguish him at all. – Hal Nov 9 '14 at 22:11
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    @user137 the fact that he already had tenure makes all the difference, so I don't think it's relevant, though still interesting. – o0'. Nov 9 '14 at 22:30
24

I will direct my answer at an American academic career in the sciences.

You certainly have a right to make your political opinions known. Unfortunately the internet makes it possible (indeed, trivial) to search through every public remark someone has ever made, and this means that everyone can be held to a higher level of scrutiny in this regard than in the past. As others have said, there are situations in which remarks people have made have had a negative impact on their academic career. Most academics believe that "academic freedom" should ensure immunity from retribution for a range of such political remarks...but certainly not all of them.

In fact, it is not entirely clear what constitutes a political remark as opposed to something else. For instance, one of Steven Salaita's tweets was

Israel: transforming 'antisemitism' from something horrible to something honorable since 1948.

This is taken from this article in which he explains the context. The additional context he provides convinced me to view it is as a truly political remark that should come under the protections of "free speech" and "academic freedom". However, without that context....in that it contains the claim that antisemitism is honorable, it looks pretty bad. If my colleague had posted this and asked me to defend his right to keep it there, I would on the contrary ask him to take it down.

Here are some thoughts on how to be politically active in a way which is not to the detriment of one's academic career:

  • Don't post on twitter.

Really, "don't post on twitter" seems close to being universally good advice. [Added: David Z disagrees. I can see that if you want to post academic/scientific content only then the twitter effect would be at least non-negative. I cannot agree that twitter has had a significant effect in disseminating work in my field, especially in comparison to so many other electronic media. But maybe it is different for others.] But the combination of telling the whole world and strict character limits make it anathema to academic discourse or even, I would advise, to discourse by academics. In general, young people need to use social media carefully: political articles are different, but one's off-hand political, social and religious comments are best not shown to the entire world.

  • Make sure that your political remarks can only be construed as political.

This is the moral from the above example. Political remarks advocate policy, support or criticize governments, or support or criticize political figures on political matters. Salaita's tweet (intentionally, and even rather cleverly) plays on the distinction between criticizing the Iraeli government and criticizing Jewish people. But don't play with that. Don't criticize or denigrate any ethnic group. When you want to criticize a group of people aligned around a certain practice, make sure you are criticizing the practice, not the people as people. For instance, if you are pro-life, don't (publicly) paint women who get abortions as immoral or unclean: that's not a political statement. Don't (publicly) criticize conservative politicians who are against gay rights by saying that they must either have terrible sex lives, be latently gay or both.

  • Try to have a clear separation between your political activities and your academic ones.

The OP says that he has political articles published online. Sounds fine to me. I would think at least three times about incorporating these articles into your science classes. As a general rule, I feel free to discuss politics and religion in my (mathematics) courses because I feel these should not be taboo topics among human beings, but I always characterize them as digressions from the class, I never push a position, and in fact I try not to enunciate my own stance or position in a classroom environment. If someone wants to hear how I really feel about Islam or the midterm elections, they can talk to me after class.

This "clear separation" should work just as well in the sciences as it does in math. Academics in certain other fields might have more trouble with this: e.g. women's studies.

  • Hiring committees doing significant digging into candidates' extra-academic life is the exception rather than the rule.

The OP specifically mentions graduate admissions and googling. I have done lots of graduate admissions and I cannot specifically remember ever having googled an applicant (and I often google their letter writers or their home institution). For faculty and such: sure, sometimes I get curious, but I don't feel like such googling is part of the faculty search process. If I found some political activity about a faculty candidate through the job search, it would have to be extremely significant or specifically problematic in some way for me to bring it up to my colleagues at all. To give two examples of googling academics: I have learned for instance that someone had been a union organizer and someone else was a leader of a campus pro-life organization and had run for political office. If these people applied for jobs I would keep this information to myself.

  • On average, it is a little safer to be on the left than on the right.

The majority of American academics that I know are not very politically active but are considerably left of the center of American politics. This applies to me. If I learned that a potential job candidate was very active in Tea Party politics, I would take a moment to steel myself not to let this affect my decision. If I learned that a potential job candidate had been active in Obama's campaign, I would think "Well, that will make for a fun story sometime." I have colleagues whose political views are very different from my own, including one whom I respect the most, because of his great personal integrity and selflessness. But I still have to think and act a little more carefully around this colleague because of this; often I cut off a "humorous remark" just before it leaves my mouth because I remember that he will not be amused, and I don't want to make him uncomfortable.

I put this point last because it is purely contingent on "local phenomena", but I think it would be naive to expect exactly the same academic reception for political activism on the two sides of the spectrum. On the other hand, at some state universities the local politics can be very different from the politics of the university and the faculty. This is really beyond the scope of my answer, so I'll just say: surely it is best if state employees who run the university system know as little about a faculty member's political activity as possible, at least until tenure.

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    I think presenting "don't post on Twitter" as universally good advice is quite shortsighted. Twitter is very effective as a medium for dissemination of research results to the public and to other scientists, as well as other types of communication. – David Z Nov 10 '14 at 14:55
  • @David Z: Fair enough. I've modified my answer. – Pete L. Clark Nov 10 '14 at 16:33
  • Btw: When I follow the link to the article I get a website saying "Unfortunately, our website is currently unavailable in most European countries. We are engaged on the issue and committed to looking at options that support our full range of digital offerings to the EU market. We continue to identify technical compliance solutions that will provide all readers with our award-winning journalism." – Dirk Aug 16 '18 at 12:12
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The recent case of Steven Salaita (who was offered a tenured position at the University of Illinois and then had the offer pulled after there were complaints about some of his political remarks on twitter) shows that being politically outspoken can have an effect on one's academic career in the United States. Although Salaita doesn't work in the physical or life sciences, I think the same thing could very easily have happened to (for example) a chemist who had made the same statements.

Unlike most professionals working for large corporations, faculty are public figures. If an employee of a large corporation makes political statements, it's very clear that these don't represent the views of the corporation and it isn't likely to cause a significant problem to the employer (although individuals within the organization might well object to the statements and respond in ways that might be unfair.) When a faculty member makes political statements the press is likely to pick these statements up and amplify them and the administration of a university is more likely to be concerned about the effect of these statements on the reputation of the university. For example, your political statements might cause a wealthy donor to stop a planned donation to the university. This is especially true when the university is a public university that depends on the state and federal governments for financial support.

A growing problem in the sciences is that even making non-political statements about scientific issues (evolution, natural resources, global climate change, etc.) can result in politically motivated attacks against a researcher. If your research interests happen to be in one of these areas and you're also politically active, you're even more likely to become the target of such an attack.

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    Corporate careers can be badly impaired by politics as well: consider, for example, the case of Brendan Eich. – jakebeal Nov 9 '14 at 18:08
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    @jakebeal; a key point here is that Eich was a high level executive, not a typical professional employee like a programmer, database administrator, or whatever. Within the academic world, faculty have positions that are more publicly visible than people with similar technical skills working in industry. Anyone who rises to that level of public visibility in any organization has to be careful about their political statements. In Eich's case, just as in Salaita's it was the public attention to his political comments that cost him his job. – Brian Borchers Nov 9 '14 at 18:15
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    @BrianBorchers: Eich was, in fact, a programmer. He was one of the original Netscape developers, who worked his way up the ladder until he reached the top. In fact, before the whole political mess went down, he was best known as "the guy who created JavaScript." – Mason Wheeler Nov 9 '14 at 22:00
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    Eich had worked as a programmer in the past, but at the time his comments got him in trouble, he was in the very high profile position of CEO of Mozilla. If he were still just working as a programmer for Mozilla I doubt that his contribution to supporters of prop 8 would have caused such a controversy. – Brian Borchers Nov 9 '14 at 23:05
  • I don't disagree with the answer, but I think the example of Salaita is interesting. Yes, the political speech drew attention to him and probably was ultimately the initial reason his offer was withdrawn, but those objecting to his appointment had reasonable arguments: in particular, his general lack of credentials in the subject he was appointed in. For someone in a similar situation with excellent credentials, it's less likely the movement to withdraw credentials would have gained traction (and, if nothing else, another position somewhere else would've been easily found.) – Joe Nov 10 '14 at 15:45
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It will very much depend on the country you intend to work in.

In Britain, academia has long been a home for radical thought: for example, the foundation of University College London in the early 19th Century was an open act of defiance against the establishment at the time.

It's far from universally true, but academia does strive to reward merit for merit's sake; so people will strive to assess you on the basis of your research. Having said that, recruitment decisions are made by us humans, with all our foibles, prejudices and weaknesses.

There are political movements that get associated with large-scale crimes against humanity, including mass murder: Khmer Rouge, Stalinism, Fascism. If you were involved with those, that would indeed be likely to be devastating to a career in academia.

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    I would say that academia has long been a home for radical thought in most Western countries, at least (I only say Western out of ignorance of academia in other parts of the world, not to state that it's not also the case elsewhere.) Having said that, this could either work to the advantage or disadvantage of an outspoken person with strong political views. If you make your views known loudly and they contradict those of the people in authority (or perhaps major donors) at a given institution, it could negatively impact your job chances there. – reirab Nov 10 '14 at 0:16
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I agree with the answers so far, but let me elaborate on one sentence that could be a little worrisome:

I am critical of many governments (including my own) and corporations, and of many of the applications of technology in fields I am interested in.

Criticizing governments and corporations is one thing, but criticizing specific applications of technology could come across as far more insulting to anyone personally involved in those applications (whether through their own research or as a consultant to corporations or government agencies). It won't endear you to your colleagues if you denounce their work, particularly on moral grounds. This is not to say you shouldn't do it if you feel strongly, but you should try very hard to be as reasonable and fair as possible, and in any case you should recognize that you may be cutting off certain options. For example, if you loudly announce that people with DARPA grants are immoral because they are serving the military-industrial complex, then you shouldn't expect anyone with a DARPA grant to hire you as their postdoc, even if you would be supported by a different (and less objectionable) grant.

I don't think this is the sort of thing that's likely to derail your entire career, but it's safest to keep the list of people you personally offend as short as you can.

2

Academia (in the Western countries that I know of) is the realm of political correctness. In this regard, as long as you don't deviate too much from the spectrum of opinions it defines in your region, the risk is small. In your case, if your opinions are just the regular college-student, mainstream leftism a la 'corporations are evil', you will be just fine.

In addition, your opinions will most likely evolve and get more nuanced by the time you'll be looking for an academic position.

This being said, if I were implicated in the hiring process and your opinions included denial, or gross exaggeration of scientific facts, or were based on crackpot science (say you were a 'climatoskeptic', or vociferously anti-GMO or anti-nuclear energy, or you think vaccines are a corporate conspiracy that will give your child autism) I would wonder about your scientific sanity. But people with these opinions get hired nonetheless.

Now, there are cases where your political opinions, if made public, would close doors, but it's typically cases where said opinions would prevent you from wanting the job in the first place. Say you were supportive of an 'animal welfare' activists group that 'released' lab animals wasting years of hard work and money, you'd be unlikely to get hired in a biology lab.

1

If you consider Political Science to be a scientific career, I can cite an example in which political involvement would have been detrimental.

A political scientist named Richard Fenno wrote a book called Homestyle in which he observed Congressmen in their home districts. At the time, research was mostly done in Washington. To accomplish this, Fenno had to contact several Congressmen on both sides of the aisle and ask permission to follow them around in their home districts. He would have access to some of their most intimate moments with their family, constituents, supporters, etc. so they need to trust that you aren't out to smear them.

Congressmen might have been less likely to accept his request if he had been politically active (which he was not). A Republican might fear that he might be trying to dig up dirt on them, or vice versa. So contrary to popular belief, being a political scientist is not a good idea if your goal is the advancement of a particular ideology, but I digress.

A takeaway from this for non political scientists is that people might be less willing to work with you if they believe you have a highly partisan agenda.

  • Yes, and I for one won't submit to the prejudices of the STEM folks – jonescb Nov 12 '14 at 23:09
0

A recent scandal at a Swiss university shows clearly, that political involvement can even be detrimental to a career in natural sciences.

As the whole story I'm going to tell is highly political (and I actually try to remain on a neutral position), I add a large number of sources to the end, unfortunately most in German as the whole incident occured in the German speaking part of Switzerland. I personally do not name the institutions or people involved, the articles, however, do so.

Switzerland has several state universities which are, in theory, under the administration of a deanery independant from the government. However, a recent scandal at one of these universities questions the extent of this independency.

Background: The new primary school syllabus contains material from a scientifically highly questionable ideology. Two professors, heads of medical and biological faculties, with the support of professors from other natural sciences' faculties strongly opposed this referring to recent scientific research.

One of the leading professors of this opposition was soon after charged for academic misconduct and forced to retire from his position (resp. fired, not sure anymore), alone, all accusations turned out to be false. Quickly after the media had discovered this, the university blamed that professor's strongest supporter to have made up the whole charade and fired her for this with no evidence at all. Beside of it being highly questionable why she, as such a strong supporter of the first one's standpoint, should now suddenly be the one plotting to end his career, courts soon found her guiltless in all charges (and, in return, her claims for compensation are now pending).

Public pressure forced the dean to retire after the whole story became public. However, the person evidence points to as the main plotter remains unspoilt as she has certain immunities in connection with her position.

There have been similar stories in the recent years which I do not unfold here now.

The following articles, unfortunately all German, illustrate the evolution of the whole scandal. It casts a really poor light on the current state of academic freedom at least in Switzerland.

http://www.weltwoche.ch/die-weltwoche/themenschwerpunkte/fall-moergeli.html

http://www.nzz.ch/zuerich/moergeli-affaere-condrau-flurin-uni-zuerich-medizinhistorisches-institut-1.18381044

http://www.nzz.ch/zuerich/affaere-moergeli-1.18325659

http://www.tagesanzeiger.ch/dossiers/schweiz/dossier2.html?dossier_id=1640

  • Mörgeli, via his doctoral students, committed multiple cases of plagiarism by translation. – Cape Code Nov 10 '14 at 12:29
  • "Plagiarism" would require the failure to state the source which, to my knowledge, hasn't been the case in any of the questioned theseis. Furthermore I was personally offered to attain my PhD in religious science in similar ways (translation of Erasmus' de libero arbitrio). Why has nobody charged the head of that faculty though the method is known to the deanery? – Patric Hartmann Nov 10 '14 at 13:13
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    I surely agree that Swiss professors should be evaluated with more scrutiny. They get away with a lot of stuff that would get them sacked in America. – Cape Code Nov 10 '14 at 13:16
0

Let's look at the current political climate in academia:

Over the years, I have watched a growing intolerance at universities in this country – not intolerance along racial or ethnic or gender lines – there, we have made laudable progress. Rather, a kind of intellectual intolerance, a political one-sidedness, that is the antithesis of what universities should stand for. It manifests itself in many ways: in the intellectual monocultures that have taken over certain disciplines; in the demands to disinvite speakers and outlaw groups whose views we find offensive; in constant calls for the university itself to take political stands. We decry certain news outlets as echo chambers, while we fail to notice the echo chamber we’ve built around ourselves.

source


More than nine in 10 UK universities are restrictive of free speech, according to a new report that raises concerns over the issue of censorship on campuses.

Analysis by Spiked magazine, supported by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, suggested campus censorship had increased steadily over the past three years – with a growing number of institutions actively clamping down on ideas, literature and guest speakers that are not in keeping with their own values.

The Free Speech University Rankings (FSUR), drawn from examining the policies and bans of 115 universities and students’ unions, found almost two thirds (63.5 per cent) were “severely” restrictive of free speech, with more than 30 per cent given an “amber” warning.

source


Higher education’s suppression of speech is well-publicized. But in an odder and less well-known twist, campuses are increasingly co-opting the language of free speech and using it to justify censorship. One example: The designated “free speech zones” that exist on roughly 1 in 10 U.S. college campuses, according to a report released last month by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

The very existence of a “free speech zone” suggests that students’ expression is limited elsewhere on campus. And even in the “free” zones, administrators often restrict who can speak, when and for how long.

Dozens of universities have also used the language of free speech to justify trendy “Language Matters” or “Inclusive Language” campaigns. The point of these programs is to condition students to wince away from words and phrases deemed offensive, instead using politically correct substitutes.

source


A related survey question, which has been asked most years since 1967, inquired whether “colleges have the right to ban extreme speakers from campus.”

About 43 percent of freshmen said they agreed. That’s nearly twice as high as the average share saying this in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. It was surpassed only once, just barely, in 2004. But in general, support for banning speakers from campuses has trended upward over time.

Recent incidents suggest students (and sometimes their professors) may have rather expansive views of what constitutes an “extreme speaker.” Among those disinvited or forced to withdraw from campus speaking engagements in the past few years are feminism critic Suzanne Venker, former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde and Narendra Modi, now the Indian prime minister.

source


Harvard revoked offers to at least 10 applicants based up their digital footprint. What is more troubling is that Harvard has lobbied for years against a social media privacy law for applicants that would ban colleges in Massachusetts from being able to request applicants verify their digital accounts and activities which may indicate their political or personal opinions.

Harvard along with other prestigious colleges have a long documented history discriminating against students based on religion and other personal attributes. A recent lawsuit is claiming Harvard for years has discriminated against Asians. The evidence so far demonstrates the troubling ways Harvard uses personal non-academic information to reject applicants.

The bottom line is that if a college applicant visits websites that discuss hot button political issues such as the president, or far left or far right lawmakers, the First Amendment or Second Amendment rights, abortion, affirmative action, gay marriage, immigration, etc. its highly possible they may be denied admission to the most prestigious colleges in the United States. Why? Because an increasing number of college admissions officials are going to great lengths to collect their applicant’s personal political opinions.

source


A Pensacola student who sparked controversy Tuesday by wearing a Confederate uniform to the site of a violent clash between white nationalists and counterprotesters has been kicked out of Pensacola Christian College, according to a North Carolina media outlet.

WXII News 12 reported that Allen Armentrout, who reportedly splits time living in Pensacola and North Carolina, learned Thursday that PCC staff had decided to terminate his enrollment.

[...]

Video from Tuesday showed Armentrout — wearing a Confederate uniform and carrying a Confederate flag — standing and saluting a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee at Charlottesville's Emancipation Park. He was surrounded by a crowd that chanted "terrorist go home." Armentrout stood in a motionless salute until he was peaceably escorted away from the scene by police.

Armentrout later told the News Journal he made the trip to Virginia because the KKK, Neo-Nazis and other groups are destroying the history of his ancestors and he wants to share "the true history" of the American South. He said Neo-Nazis have wrongly "latched on" to Confederate history.

source


A University of Pennsylvania Law School professor has been removed from teaching mandatory first-year courses after making derogatory remarks about the academic performance of black students.

During an interview last fall, professor Amy Wax said that black students at Penn Law never graduated in the top quarter of their class. "Here is a very inconvenient fact Glenn, I don't think I've ever seen a black student graduate in the top quarter of the class and rarely, rarely in the top half," Wax told Brown University professor Glenn Loury in a video of the interview that recently gained attention.

source


Shepherd is a graduate student and teaching assistant. Her sin was to show a first-year communications class a video snippet from TV Ontario of two professors debating grammar.

[...]

All of which is to say that when Shepherd ran her five-minute TVO clip featuring pronoun traditionalist Jordan Peterson debating another professor, she unleashed a storm.

[...]

The teaching assistant was hauled before a three-person panel made up of her supervisor and boss, Nathan Rambukkana, another professor named Herbert Pimlott, and Adria Joel, Laurier’s acting manager of gendered violence prevention and support.

The trio interrogated her for more than 40 minutes.

Shepherd had the wit to record the proceedings. It makes for depressing listening.

source


Finkelstein was not denied tenure because of any shortcomings in scholarship or teaching. Noam Chomsky had earlier described Finkelstein's book Beyond Chutzpuh as "a very careful scholarly book" and "the best compendium that now exists of human rights violations in Israel" (Goodman, "Chomsky Accuses"). The late Raul Hilberg, widely recognized as the founder of Holocaust studies, said of Finkelstein, "his place in the whole history of writing history is assured," and praised his "acuity of vision and analytical power." (Goodman, "It Takes").

There can be little doubt that Finkelstein was fired because of his criticisms of Israel's human rights violations against the Palestinian people, and for his fact-based criticisms of the Israel lobby. Raul Hilberg warned at the time, "I have a sinking feeling about the damage this will do to academic freedom" (Grossman). Even the DePaul administration tacitly conceded that his firing was politically motivated when it acknowledged Finkelstein as a "prolific scholar and outstanding teacher'' in a later legal settlement (Finkelstein, "Joint Statement").

source


etc. etc. etc.

Although this problem has existed for decades, expressing an opinion that is "politically incorrect" has never been as dangerous within an academic context as it is today. Also, the range of speech that qualifies as "politically correct" is becoming ever more narrow. Especially (but not only) for people on the right of the political spectrum, expressing any political opinion whatsoever has become simply too risky. Many people received a grading penalty, were kicked out of college, lost their jobs, failed to obtain tenure or were otherwise punished by expressing opinions too controversial for the current political climate. And often this involved opinions expressed on social media or other non-academic contexts.

As a consequence, 54% of students report self-censoring in the classroom at some point since the beginning of college, according to a survey by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. A similar survey by Hamilton college's student newspaper also looked into the political affiliations of respondents and demonstrated a striking difference between responses from conservatives and liberals. No less than 84% of conservatives indicated that “the political climate on campus prevents them from saying what they believe”, whereas only 21% of liberals reported self-censorship.

Why Liberals & Conservatives experience censorship so differently :

The idea of a balanced argument at my undergraduate university [in the US] was ‘neoliberal’ versus ‘radically liberal’. We spoke of the importance of diversity, but political diversity was never considered. I thirsted for a deeper understanding of why half of Americans could hold opinions that were only met with dismissive ridicule or barely acknowledged. What I wanted was a wide exposure to different ideas and arguments, whether or not I agreed with them.

In the US, if someone disagrees with you politically, they disengage from you and refuse to get to know you on a personal level. So I have often kept quiet among my peers, only revealing my true thoughts to those who have ‘come out’ to me in the same way that Madeleine describes. This has been compounded by the fact that my undergraduate degree was in gender studies, a famously radically liberal discipline. I am proud that I do not conform to the stereotype of a gender studies student.

I wish to remain anonymous not because I am ashamed of my views, but because I want to be an academic and fear assumptions might be made about my politics. Academia is so liberal that, though I am politically neutral or centrist, others might regard me as being conservative and not want to hire me. Nevertheless, I look forward to working towards a future where academics have intellectual freedom in the form of open discussion, not anonymous letters.

source


So if you're a Liberal and your political views are sufficiently aligned with those of the academic establishment, you may not have anything to worry about. For everyone else, however, it is best to keep your opinions for yourself and not advertise them in any way if you want to pursue an academic career.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – ff524 Jun 11 at 14:31
-2

Likely, very detrimental.

Ask yourself this. Suppose you become a scientist, and you are considering citing a paper authored by someone you know stridently espouses ultra-conservative views, entirely antithetical to your own. If you could cite another paper instead of hers, all things being equal, would you? Would it cause you to hesitate citing her paper? Would you think to yourself, 'Ugh, I hate this guy, I wish someone else had published similar research?'

In my opinion, this is common sense. However, there's also a bevy of evidence that publishing research contra, for example, feminist theory, will harm the publisher's career. Consider the following quotations from the Florida State Law Journal.

Perhaps the most physically and personally intimidating behavior was directed at Suzanne Steinmetz, who had first brought the issue to the public’s attention.43 Steinmetz appeared on such shows as the Today Show and Phil Donahue. 44 Her work was reported in various newspapers and magazines, including a full-page story in Time magazine.45 Yet, while Steinmetz’s work received some support, the public attack, the public attack against Steinmetz and her family evidenced the public's overwhelming rejection of her work. Verbal threats were launched against her and her children - at home and in public. Threatening phone calls were made to Steinmetz and the sponsors of her speaking engagements in order to prevent Steinmetz from further publicizing her work. On one occasion, a bomb threat was called into an ACLU meeting at which Steinmetz was scheduled to speak. Professionally, Steinmetz was also threatened. In an attempt to prevent her from receiving tenure, every female faculty member at the University of Delaware was lobbied by individuals calling on behalf of the women's rights movement... Other social scientists committed to the study of husband abuse and family violence were similarly mistreated.Such tactics seem to have proven effective. Both researchers who were involved in the early projects and even those who might have become involved admit that they now choose to give the topic of battered men "wide berth".

Further consider the following list of feminist methods of suppressing research, as published in the Journal of Criminal Policy

  • Method 1. Suppress Evidence
  • Method 2. Avoid Obtaining Data Inconsistent with the Patriarchal Dominance Theory
  • Method 3. Cite Only Studies That Show Male Perpetration
  • Method 4. Conclude That Results Support Feminist Beliefs When They Do Not
  • Method 5. Create "Evidence" by Citation
  • Method 6. Obstruct Publication of Articles and Obstruct Funding of Research That Might Contradict the Idea that Male Dominance Is the Cause of PV
  • Method 7. Harass, Threaten, and Penalize Researchers Who Produce Evidence That Contradicts Feminist Beliefs.

Moreover, just the other day I learned that a pharmaceutical corporation decided funding an endowed chair at the U of T was no longer a "priority" when the U of T decided to award the chair to David Healey, author of the book Pharmagedon.

Of course politics will affect your academic career.

  • Regarding your first message: Yes, often they don't have alternatives. But often isn't always. The question is, is it often enough? I'm not arguing that it will break his career, just that it could adversely affect it. If they sometimes have a choice, and some don't like his politics, all things being equal, they might cite someone else. Personally, I think it's foolish to presume everyone has mastered impartiality. – Hal Nov 9 '14 at 23:46
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    Regarding your second message: Hard science isn't immune to politics. We can safely say that, at the very least, one's politics can influences some private donors. I gave the pharmaceutical case as one example corroborating that. – Hal Nov 9 '14 at 23:50
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    But most importantly, it's common sense. — Ah. So it's false. Got it. – JeffE Nov 10 '14 at 5:51
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    Of course I don't, but that's not what you're arguing. You're claiming that scientists ignore other scientists' research because of their politics, and supporting that claim by calling it "common sense". If you have actual evidence, I'd love to hear it, but "It's common sense" is just bluster. – JeffE Nov 10 '14 at 5:59
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    Honestly, the unsupported supposition to start the post greatly takes away from disturbing yet supported examples showing that having public political stances can be damaging to a career. Also, some if it is just a digression and is not the question of the post: specifically that NOT being political, yet being involved in a controversial or politically "hot-button" topic, can still expose one to serious consequences. As such, it brings across the impression that the subject was shoe-horned in because one wanted to mention it, even if it wasn't an answer to the OP's question. – BrianH Nov 10 '14 at 20:46

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