Cognitive Dissonance on Conservatism

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

Since they don’t really want to encounter any, academics keep striking out when they attempt to figure out conservatives. Berkeley’s George Lakoff is the latest scholar to miss the boat, and the dock is getting crowded.

“Conservatives don’t dislike science or expertise inherently, Lakoff says—but for them, these are not the chief source of authority,” Chris Mooney, who interviewed the professor, writes in the July/August 2011 issue of The American Prospect. “Instead, conservatives have a moral system based on a ‘strict father’ model of the family, which is then exported to various other realms of society—the market, the government.”

Lakoff is a “congnitive linguist.” “Liberals, to Lakoff, are just different,” Mooney writes. “Science, social science, and research in general support an Enlightenment ethic—finding the best facts so as to improve the world and society and thus advance liberals’ own moral system, which is based on a caring and ‘nurturant’ parent-run family.”

Wait until you see what Lakoff views as a liberal weakness. “Here also arises a chief liberal weakness, probably amplified by an academic training: constantly trying to use factual and reasoned arguments to make the world better and being amazed to find that even though these arguments are sound, well researched, and supported, they are disregarded or even actively attacked,” Mooney writes.

Lakoff’s ratings show that his students don’t find him very “nurturing.” Here are a few of them:

  • “Went in with high interest, now completely disenchanted,” one reviewer wrote. “Has huge ego, doesn’t know how to teach. Calls on anyone raising hand, but instead of addressing question, will go on to talk about whatever he likes (often based on some keyword), sometimes even interrupting student to do so. Doesn’t accept other points of view”; and
  • “He’s self-important in the extreme: an ego to match his girth; dismissive of students who question his bias” ; and
  • “So unprofessional (eats, answers phone in class), class is all ‘discussion’ he skirts tough questions, v. boring, vague, lots of political ranting btw he and his acolytes.”

Lakoff’s favorable ratings are not much better:

  • “Big ego…but so what”; and
  • “I admit, he is very stubborn, but the GSI’s grade your papers anyways, so if you have opposite views its fine.” And, from 2007
  • “If this is what a left intellectual looks like then we will have George W forEVER — George is boring, circular, self-important, & can NOT hear ANY view beyond his own liberalism LITE.”


Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.

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