Academic Response to Academic Protest

, Darren Linvill, Ph.D., Leave a comment

I read your recent response to my article, The Bias Fallacy, with interest.  I am familiar with the work of Accuracy in Academia, as well as the other groups you mention in your response, and I appreciate the role you play as a critic.  Your response to my article raised some points worthy of further research and discussion.
I was disappointed, however, that your piece failed to address any of the three core arguments I was attempting to make in my article.  These were:

1. The data used by critics of the politicization of higher education is often cherry picked and does not meet the standard of evidence needed to support many of their claims.

Given the funding that some of the organizations you mention in your article have and the length of time they have been making consistent claims, I have been surprised that more rigorous research has not been undertaken.  The NAS’s recent report on the teaching of history in Texas was a step in the right direction.  If we take them at their word, they explored a data set (class reading lists) in a detailed manner.  Like previous studies by the NAS it made very broad claims that the data did not support but some of their more moderate assertions were compelling.  Ideally, I would like to see organizations such as NAS undertake to have studies such as this put through the peer review process rather than only publishing them online.

2. Critics of the politicization of higher education have failed to empirically connect such politicization to any student outcome.

Critics want to motivate change but have yet to empirically show that such change would lead to better learning outcomes.  The NAS report I was referring to in my article outlined a variety of ways it is claimed that higher education has deteriorated in recent years, but left it to the reader to assume that any correlation between this deterioration and the politicization of academia is causal in nature.

3. Bias in the classroom (perceived or real) can be partially addressed through the teaching of argumentation and communication skills.

More specifically, I argued that these skills can and should be practiced in the civics classrooms and that civics education should be a part of standard undergraduate general education.  This assertion supports arguments repeatedly made by several of the organizations you listed in your article.

I hope that your future work will endeavor to address these points.


Darren L. Linvill, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies,
Clemson University