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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Why Americans don't trust higher ed: It's the lying and the whining

Only 36 percent of Americans expressed "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of trust in higher education in a 2023 Gallup survey, down from 57 percent in 2015.

It's not just conservatives who mistrust academia, writes Michael R. Strain in National Review. "Universities are bleeding support among Americans who identify as Democrats and independents" too.

"It would behoove the champions of knowledge and research and expertise and truth at our nation’s elite universities to be a little less entitled and whiny, and a little more introspective about why everyone seems to like them less than they used to," writes Josh Barro.

It's the dishonesty, writes Barro. "Lying is endemic."

Social activism is "dressed up as research, which need not be of good quality so long as it has the right ideological goals," he writes. Postmodern research . . . aims at “my truth” instead of truth."

"The social justice messaging . . . is often insincere,"he adds. "Their public accountings of the reasons for their internal actions are often implausible."

In addition, "they lie about the role that race plays in their admissions and hiring practices."

Harvard uses race as a factor in admissions to produce a class that is less Asian and more black and Hispanic, he writes. They lie about it. In the affirmative action litigation, Harvard "denied that they were discriminating." Then the university "played word games — similar to the 'what even is plagiarism?' bit deployed by (Claudine) Gay’s defenders — arguing somehow that race could be used as a positive factor for admission without ever being a negative one, a mathematical impossibility when awarding a fixed number of admission slots."

It erodes trust, writes Barro.

Academics and students must run the "conformity gauntlet" at universities, writes Greg Lukianoff, co-author of the forthcoming The Canceling of the American Mind.

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