I thought his claim that college faculty need to stop discriminating against conservatives was bogus. As it turns out, somebody actually looked up the sociological research he cited, and found that he misrepresented it. They even contacted the authors of the work to get their opinion, and they thought he got their work all wrong.
Nicholas Kristof fundamentally misread and misrepresented the research that he cited, a study by sociologists Neil Gross and Solon Simmons. Because Kristof provided references and links to the paper he cited,, we can read for ourselves what conclusions the study’s authors drew from their survey of American university professors from a range of types of institutions, 2-year colleges, liberal arts colleges, religious institutions, and elite doctoral-granting universities alike.
Kristof linked to an older, unpublished version of the paper, one peer-reviewed study from the paper is readily available to anyone with a JStor account (like NY Public Library users, including presumably Kristof) and large sections of the book that Neil Gross published with Harvard University Press out of this data, Why are Professors Liberal and Why do Conservatives Care, are available online. The study authors could have been contacted for a quote. Kristof consulted none of these sources, relying instead on his shoddy reading of a complex, rich and important study. He missed their main point.
I said that college faculty tend to be more conservative than is assumed, and that the only way you can claim they’re all radical is if you’ve fallaciously inverted the meaning of the words “radical” and “conservative”. Good to see I was right.
The study authors are more sanguine, noting that the image of uniform liberalism among university professors beliefs is wrong, saying that especially in elite doctoral granting institutions, “That there is more heterogeneity of political opinion among the professoriate” than previous studies found. Almost half, 46.6% classify themselves as moderate. There are more conservatives on campus, 19.2% (again about 1-in-5), than the scary Marxist numbers Kristof quotes out of context.
If you think college faculty need to hire more Tea Party wackos and Glenn-Beck-style conspiracy theorists, you’re not asking for diversity — you’re asking for lunacy.