The Trust Is Gone: What Ideological Orthodoxy Costs Political Science

The Trust Is Gone: What Ideological Orthodoxy Costs Political Science

by James E. Campbell, University of Buffalo, SUNY

Like many of America’s knowledge institutions both within and outside of academia, political science is overwhelmingly liberal in its political perspective. This stands in sharp contrast to the polarization of views found in both the public and among elites. The cost of this ideological orthodoxy is substantial, but generally ignored. The lack of ideological diversity affects every aspect of political science, from those who enter and stay as students and faculty to what is researched, published and taught. The consequences of ideological homogeneity can be easily deduced from several well established theories of the sociology of knowledge and motivated reasoning combined with overwhelming data documenting the dominance of a left-wing ideological perspective among political scientists. A host of crippling consequences follow: self-satisfied arrogance and denial on the left, resentment and paranoia on the right, ideologically-skewed and sloppy research and teaching, and an erosion of trust, respect, and support for all institutions claiming to purvey the truth about political and social issues. In short, the orthodoxy problem poses a grave threat to the fundamental intellectual integrity of the discipline as it does to other knowledge institutions from science to journalism.

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