At Cambridge University, more than 80% of the more than 1,500 employees voted in favor of a motion to replace a university policy requiring ‘respect’ for beliefs.
This puts us on the trail that social science and humanities (SSH) scholars in the United States, Canada, and Britain also have a stronger free speech orientation than many conservatives or moderate observers assume .
Under some assumptions
Most academics in the United States, Britain and Canada do not support firing politically incorrect scholars, according to a new report from the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology (CSPI).
The National Association of Academics database of cancellations records 65 campaigns against academics in 2020, a sharp increase from the 12-13 reported during 2018 and 2019. How much support is there for such actions among academics?
To find out, academics and PhD students were asked about four hypothetical scenarios . These included an academic whose work found that ‘greater ethnic diversity leads to greater social tension and worse social outcomes’, a second where the researcher claimed that’ the British Empire did more good than harm ‘, a third in which’ children do better when they have two biological parents than single or adoptive parents’, and a fourth where ‘a higher proportion of women and ethnic minorities in organizations is correlated with lower performance’.
Finally, subjects were asked whether a staff member who favored less immigration should be encouraged to find another job.
The results of 706 American SSH scholars are shown in the first table. These data show that in most cases, only 7-8 percent of academics supported the cancellation. Only in the case of the performance question was there a higher proportion, but even here it only reached 18 percent. The British and Canadian finds were nearly identical .
More broadly, when asked whether they prioritize social justice or academic freedom, 56 percent of SSH’s American academics answered academic freedom and only 28 percent said social justice, and the rest were unsure. The Canadian results were similar. Yet among doctoral students surveyed in a primarily American sample, 40 percent supported social justice versus 34 percent for academic freedom .
Consequently, while most academics do not support the culture of cancellation, many do not oppose it either.