Wednesday, July 11, 2007

America Hates Academia, Poll Says

If you need any proof of how effective the right-wing campaign against academia is, just take a look at this survey from Zogby Interactive, which found that 58% of respondents consider the political bias of professors to be a serious problem (overall, 39% called it a serious problem).

46% said today’s quality of higher education is worse than it was 25 years ago, while 29% said it is better. It was the old folks who lamented the alleged good old days; 47% of those age 18 to 24 said today's education was better.

Of course, measuring public opinion has nothing to do with the reality on college campuses. But it does reflect the impact of two decades of propaganda slamming higher education.

A cautionary note: Zogby Interactive’s polling is suspect. Unlike traditional polling (which Zogby also does), this interactive poll is not a random sample. Instead, people volunteer to receive online polls, and Zogby picks 9400 people deemed “representative” of the entire population to respond. But they’re not randomly selected, and who knows what kind of bias exists among the people who choose to get polled and feel committed enough to respond.

One interesting piece of data in the survey: 91% of conservatives see a serious problem in the bias of professors, but only 3% of liberals do. One wonders, though, how Zogby ended up with 58% overall; either conservatives are overweighed in the survey structure, or people call themselves moderate who lean to the right.

1 comment:

Sherman Dorn said...

I think the IHE article on the poll was on the money.

I'd be hesitant to accept any claims that the perceptions of bias have changed, either as a result of attacks on academe or independently. We just don't have any trend data, and I strongly suspect that academe has been viewed suspiciously by social conservatives for years.