Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Edward Glick and the Imaginary Quote

Edward Bernard Glick has a tirade against liberal academia in an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post this week (it originally appeared on American Thinker last month) this includes a very interesting quote. And by "interesting," I mean, "made up."

According to Glick, "Duke University is a case in point. The chairman of one of its major departments was once asked in a radio interview if his department hired Republicans. He answered: 'No. We don't hire Republicans because they are stupid and we are not. Why should we knowingly hire stupid professors?'"

There's only one small problem with this quote. It's entirely fictionalized.

As the blogger Evil Bender pointed out, Glick gives no source and no quote like this exists anywhere.

It appears that Glick was paraphrasing (albeit with quotation marks and the wrong source) a famous quote that Robert Brandon, chair of the Duke philosophy department, gave to the Duke Chronicle in 2004.

In the interview, Brandon noted: "I don't know the political affiliation of all of my colleagues in philosophy, nor do I care. Our last hire was in the history of modern philosophy. We hired an expert in Kant and Newton. Politics never came up in the interview."

Unfortuntely, Brandon added his speculation on the reason why more liberals worked in academia: "We try to hire the best, smartest people available. If, as John Stuart Mill said, stupid people are generally conservative, then there are lots of conservatives we will never hire. Mill's analysis may go some way towards explaining the power of the Republican party in our society and the relative scarcity of Republicans in academia. Players in the NBA tend to be taller than average. There is a good reason for this. Members of academia tend to be a bit smarter than average. There is a good reason for this too."

Brandon explained a few days later that he was trying to tell a joke and noted, "Typically, we know nothing about the candidates' politics until after they are hired."

As I explain in my new book, Patriotic Correctness: Academic Freedom and Its Enemies, the reason for liberal dominance in academia is not because conservatives are stupid, but because liberals are stupid: in general, far more liberals than conservatives are willing to spend years pursuing a Ph.D. in order to desperately search for a job that, if they're lucky, pays far less than most other professional positions. You'd have to be an idiot to seek out this miserable excuse for a career, and it turns out that liberals are usually those idiots.

Of course, some people might point out that a prominent conservative professor who makes up quotes because he can't be bothered to find the real words is, in fact, stupid. But there are many smart conservatives who do pay attention to basic professional standards. However, these smart people on the right are far more likely to go into business, law, medicine, or politics than the tough, low-paid road of academia.


Michael Gustafson said...

Hola - looks like quite a few people are asking questions about that quote! I wrote a letter to the editors of both American Thinker and The Jerusalem Post yesterday (Letter to the Editors) and received a reply (Imperfect Recall?) that was...well, lacking. I also asked a few faculty members (the Chair of the Psychology Department, which was the title specifically mentioned in the article, as well as Professor Brandon) and both pretty much outright denied having said the "quoted" remark, much less on NPR as Professor Glick stated in his response...

DukeEgr93 said...

Just wanted to say congrats for the mention in Inside Higher Ed and also thanks for the shout out to my blog in the commentary. 'course, looks like Evil Bender had us scooped by three weeks :)