My colleague at the Pope Center Duke Cheston has written a good post discussing a column by Nicholas Kristof. Kristof, one of the more amiable of the New York Times writers (compared with venomous critters like Paul Krugman) writes about a new book by University of Virginia psychology professor Jonathan Haidt, who did some interesting research into the differences in thinking between liberals and conservatives.
To me, the most important point in the column was that while conservatives (and even more so, libertarians) understand the liberal mind pretty well, liberals, especially those we’d describe as “hard-left,” don’t much understand conservatives and libertarians. I’m glad that Professor Haidt has come to that realization. It has implications for higher education. The tenor of many college courses is that leftist notions about the world and its problems are true and need not be questioned. Dissent from that position isn’t worth analyzing; it’s sufficient to ridicule it and impugn the supposed motives of the dissenters. That leads to a huge intellectual inequality between left-wing students and right-wing students.
Referring back to Charlotte Allen’s essay, however, you’ll never see any concern over that kind of inequality. There are no campus programs designed to help leftist kids “catch up” so they will understand conservatives as well as conservatives understand them.