SOCIOLOGY AS POLITICALLY ACCEPTABLE LIES
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
The writers realize that the title of this paper is shocking and needs some immediate clarification so that the reader does not dismiss the paper as frivolous or politically motivated from a conservative viewpoint. First of all, the writers are not conservative but rather of the left in the tradition of Martin Luther King, Jr. (sans the naivete of King as regards the intransigence of racism in America). Furthermore, the writers are to the left of multicultural liberal sociology because they take racism as integral to American politics, society, values, and thought, rather than just as a serious social problem. This political statement has to be made up front because most sociologists being liberal always have their radar on looking either for conservatives masquerading as sociologists or for politically incorrect thinkers.
Also worth mentioning is that the main author has training in the sciences (and is now the chairperson for the field committee of the Torrey Botanical Society, the oldest botanical society in the western hemisphere) and in history (author of a book on historical tours of the mid-Atlantic states and of a theory of American political cycles). Unlike the vast majority of sociologists, he has extensive training in disciplines other than sociology.
Sources of the Lies: American Liberalism and New Leftism
The history of sociology is the history of American liberal political thought. Sociology serves liberal political goals and believes this is a good thing. Sociology tries to provide the social "scientific" back-up for whatever is considered the liberal position(s) of the time. (Sociologists are certainly not unique in this tendency to distort the truth. In fact, most people lie to themselves and each other.)
There are two main sources of sociological lies. The first is that sociologists are liberals. Now, ordinarily there would be nothing wrong with being a liberal. The only trouble is that we are talking about American liberalism. And American liberalism works within the confines of a racist society. Because of this racism, the United States is a very divided country with a great deal of inequality. This leads to some very nasty political events, such as the time America destroyed over 620,000 of its men in a civil war. It also leads to some nasty politics and political positions. The conservatives in America are indeed very conservative, keeping America the last puritanical country among the advanced industrial societies. The trouble with this type of very conservative conservatism is that American liberalism takes so many of its own positions as mere counter positions to the conservatives. Locked in fierce political battle, ground cannot be given to the enemy. Using a boxing analogy, liberals are counter-punchers. The problem with counter-punching, however, is that it does not allow for much freedom of movement to develop one's own positive strategy. One is always being defensive. Similarly, American liberals have taken some pretty terrible positions just to block the conservatives. The one that has hurt liberals the most is their position on crime, in which, to block the conservatives, the public believes (with good reason) they have been too easy on the criminals. Good liberals will deny this, but the vast majority of Americans seem to feel that liberalism has become so intransigent that the very label of liberal is seen as a negative one. Ever since we began to study sociology as undergraduates almost thirty years ago, the social scientists have tried to tell the public not to worry so much about the crime rate and have tried to explain the increases away. That may be useful politically for the moment, but it delays the realization that the United States is failing to function effectively compared to other advanced industrial societies.
Sociology has many reasons to lie and this mostly stems from their lie about the nature of race in America. Sociology, being unable to admit the full importance of racism as not just a social problem or a dilemma, has to distort the knowledge acquired by other disciplines, so there are no blatant examples of contradiction between micro and macro theories -- the little lies must fit with the big lies. In fact, American liberals in general, and sociologists in particular, lie about so many areas that one has to ask not what they are lying about, but what they are not lying about. Liberal sociologists construct lies of commission where sociologists selectively pick liberal topics and take liberal positions on these topics. And there are lies of omissions, where sociologists refuse to discuss many topics, not suited to the promotion of liberal views.
Most of the recruits for sociology are from liberal backgrounds and many of them get into sociology because they "want to help people" or have a desire to "change and improve society." When a group of politically motivated people come together they then reinforce each other. They agree on the liberal approach and support each other in their attempts to use sociology for politically liberal causes.
Sociology started out as a branch of "moral" philosophy. The earliest sociologists were men of the cloth, ministers, reverends, and priests. According to Hinkle and Hinkle (1954:3-4) the early sociologists came from rural and religious backgrounds and were primarily concerned with ethical issues. Sociology was also a descendant of the general intellectual movement committed to betterment of urban social conditions. Indeed, in all of its phases, the authors note that the Social Science Movement that brought about the founding of the American Sociological Society in 1905 was concerned with science and social reform. Despite all the talk about making sociology a science, this was not seen as a contradiction to, but rather as a means to, social reform. The emphasis on the "moral" has never really left sociology, and indeed sociologists can truly best be understood as preachers. Like the preacher, the sociologist considers that he or she is speaking the truth, not of religion but of the revealed word of liberal sociology. Sociology had then, as it still has today, a faith in progressive social change and a belief in social reformism. Sociologists always see themselves as liberal spokespersons. In this sense, sociologists have never really pretended to be objective politically, bur rather see themselves primarily as good liberals. When the definition of liberalism changes, the definition of the content of sociology also changes correspondingly.
Like the minister, the sociologist sees him/herself as being paid for imparting the truth to others. This leads to the occupational hazard of intellectual arrogance -- that, indeed, one has the truth. Sociologists are very comfortable with their world and feel that only the conservative motives of their opponents prevent others from accepting the truth of sociology.
As Gouldner (1973:144) remarks about Lipset's proof that sociologists have always been liberal, "As ever, he is a master at driving home the uncontroversial point." Our statement above is not meant to contrast liberalism to conservatism, but rather American liberalism to a non-racist liberalism. As persons of the left, we do not mind people having political opinions. We agree that value free sociology is a myth. In fact, it is good that sociologists have values and a good sense of ethics. The problem is that their ethics are steeped in American liberalism, which is a racist liberalism.
American liberalism is the liberalism of a country that is more racist than sociologists ever imagined. American liberalism has always worked within that system to bring about gradual change. However, after nearly 400 years of American history, liberals are still faced with a racist country. The most virulent forms of racism have been overcome, but the United States remains a racist country.
The second source of lies within sociology is that the traditional economic liberalism of America has been replaced by a New Left version of racial liberalism accompanied by politically correct censorship and acceptance of multiculturalism separatism as an ideal for the entire society. (By the way, as much as the New Left separatists want to establish the formula, multicultural separatism does not equal tolerance and a live-and-let-live attitude.)
New Leftism has brought substantial politicization to sociology. Speaking of the new left radicals, Gouldner (1973:chapter 2) talks about the sociologist as partisan. Gouldner (1973:28) writes that "there has been a substantial change in the occupational culture of sociologists in the last decade or so." He says that sociologists have become so politicized that many sociologists now insist that the sociologist has to identify with all outsiders. More specifically, this idea rose in the study of deviance where sociologists like Howard Becker said that the sociologists have to identify with the deviant as opposed to the dominant society. This is New Leftism taken to the extreme. Sociologists should identify with the truth regardless of what is politically popular at the time. Sticking to the truth as an ideal never fails one because you neither identify with the underdog nor the top dog, but with the truth itself. And frankly, the truth is almost always controversial, and will make one an outsider in any current social context.
Perhaps the biggest lie current today in American sociology is that the multicultural sociologists are persons of the political left. The current politically correct sociologists have abandoned the old economic issue continuum for one based on race and ethnicity. Anyone who disagrees with the "left" positions of the multiculturalists is considered racist. The problem with this is that multiculturalism is actually a version of separatist thought in the tradition of Martin Delany, Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey, and Malcolm X. (See Cooney and Santana Cooney 1997.) Declaring that anyone not agreeing with multicultural separatism is a racist pushes even people like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Vernon Johns into the racist camp. This is obviously ludicrous, but politically acceptable to the majority of sociologists, which brings us back to the importance of understanding sociology as acceptable political lies. After all, any sociologist challenging the current political orthodoxy is threatened not only with the label of racist, but more importantly with the loss of promotion or even their academic position.
We are going to identify the lies of sociology beginning with those dealing with the natural sciences, then turn to the social sciences and, finally, to the humanities. We will end with a focus on sociology itself.
Sociologists: Anti-Scientific and Anti-Evolutionary Thinkers
Sociologists know very little natural science. Most of them can not truly explain even how evolution works. We have read many a sociological passage describing evolution that reveals the sociologists' complete lack of scientific sophistication.
Sociologists are also anti-scientific in that they don't care what natural scientists have established using the scientific method. If it is not useful for American liberalism as currently practiced in sociology, it should be denounced or ignored. Indeed, one can even say that sociologists have a know-nothing attitude toward science. For instance, sociologists use strawmen arguments to polish off quickly the relevance of biology. Consequently, most introductory text books to sociology devote only one page to the nature versus nurture controversy. These text books also continue to refute the 1908 argument of English psychologist William McDougall concerning the importance of instincts. Are sociologists even aware that science has made considerable progress since 1908?
A deeply embedded in sociology about biology is the description of the history of Darwinian thought in America itself. Darwinian thought, wherein humans were regarded as animals just like any of the other animals, was always, and still is, too radical for American society and therefore was dismissed out of hand. Americans were never Social or Liberal Darwinists, but rather Social or Liberal Lamarckians, after the unscientific theories of Lamarck. Lamarck maintained the wrong theory that organisms could adapt to their environments and pass these adaptations down directly to their offspring. For instance, if a giraffe strained to reach higher into the trees to eat the top-most leaves, this stretching would then be passed on to its progeny. Lamarckism may be a wrong theory, but American thinkers accepted it because the conservatives hated Darwinism and the liberals knew Lamarckianism was more attuned to liberal values (because it seemed to back the liberal assumption that improvements in environment would produce improvements in humans).
Sociologists often make fun of the anti-evolutionist conservatives and creationists who want to bring religion back into the schools via their attacks on evolution. And yet, sociologists are themselves anti-evolutionary thinkers. Because, in the history of American social thought, conservatives used biology to back their claims of the superiority of the white race, sociology and other social scientists have declared biology to be a racist discipline, not to be taken seriously by any proper liberal thinker. Sociologists conveniently forget that although there was a conservative Social Lamarckianism, there was also a liberal and radical Social Lamarckianism. So how this makes biology an inherently conservative discipline should be beyond any rational thinker. (Using the same logic, since most current racist thought today is couched in terms of sociology in the form of sociological racism, sociology should be identified as a racist discipline not to be taken seriously by any decent liberal thinker. Obviously this is a ridiculous line of thinking, but apparently not to sociologists.)
The idea of evolution as applied to humans was especially disturbing to liberal social scientists. Indeed, many social thinkers refused to accept the full implications of the evolutionary idea. In other words, they argued that man was fundamentally different from other life forms, refusing to accept the full implications of man as animal. Indeed, a group of American liberals mounted a "social philosophic" attack on evolution. These men, known as the Cambridge metaphysicians, included John Fiske, Chauncey Wright, C. S. Pierce, and William James. These philosophers refused to accept the "deterministic" implications of evolution. Instead, they argued for the compatibility between religious faith and science, and for the inherent value of intuitive and value-oriented thought. This, they said, is what made humans different from the animals.
In sociology, there was a matching attack on evolution with the thought of men who became known as symbolic interactionists. The psychic sociology of Lester Frank Ward (the leading sociological opponent of Social Lamarckianism) helped foster the discipline's focus on social interaction as the key to the development of the human adult. The symbolic interactionists became supreme in this area with the work of such leading sociologists as Charles Horton Cooley and George Herbert Mead. The symbolic interactionists, like the behaviorists and others, made inferences about the human mind almost exclusively from the actions and thoughts of humans. But symbolic interactionists have not kept pace with the new findings about the brain and human development. This branch of sociology needs to adapt its theories to take into account the new science of the mind. (But it is doubtful that they really about these findings.)
Sociologists are always trying to destroy any bridge between the natural and social sciences. In doing this, they also deny man's animal origins. Cutting ourselves off from biology cuts us off from our shared origins with other animals. The more zoologists and anthropologists study animal societies, the more they discover the commonality of humans and other animals. Indeed, societies and social structure existed prior to the very existence of human beings. The history of American social thought, however, has been to try to explain why we are separate and apart and different from the other animals, rather than noting our commonality. Sociologists should be showing the interconnections of humans with animals, instead of highlighting the differences. Rather than seeking to differentiate their discipline from the natural sciences, sociologists should emphasize how social man is connected to natural, biological man.
What sociologists and other social scientists have done is create a second myth of Genesis. Sociologists knew that they could not refute evolution, so they decided to end-run it instead. It was not that evolution was necessarily wrong, but that for humans it was irrelevant. Thereby, sociologists constructed a theory of the second genesis. They argued that, since man developed socially, humans are qualitatively different from animals. Therefore, man and woman are still Adam and Eve. However, the creator is no longer God, but society and culture. The discipline resurrected Adam and Eve by declaring that evolution did not apply to humans. According to these theorists, humans came into the world pristine and are corrupted only by poor child care or by the larger society. This is, of course, an example of sociological determinism as well as a very unscientific idea contradicting the whole thrust of more than a billion years of chemical evolution in animals and plants.
The second genesis theory of human beings has been devastating in several major areas. The first is that it reinforces an anti-scientific attitude towards the natural sciences. The second is that social theory supports a narrow-minded moralism. Many problems that were once viewed as "social problems" are best seen primarily or secondarily as having a biological basis (including drug and alcohol dependence, homosexuality, mental illnesses, suicide, etc.). Ignoring the fact that many human behaviors are the result of chemical imbalances only supports intolerance of humans toward each other, as we moralize about "bad" behavior of the "deviants."
Sociologists may see biology as threatening sociology's space, but the tragedy of the social sciences cutting themselves off from biology is that they have cut themselves off from all the natural sciences. They are currently fighting a rearguard action against the avalanche of scientific studies that show that humans are not tabula rasa, but rather that genetics accounts for perhaps as much as 50% percent of the variation in human personality. For sociologists to continue to ignore the ongoing avalanche of scientific findings simply serves to make the discipline's anti-scientific approach appear ridiculous and out-of-date.
The end result of sociology's anti-scientific approach is that the discipline has little understanding of human nature itself. The sociologists are studying only part of the picture when they insist that biology is not relevant to the social sciences. For instance, social scientists are largely unaware of the new findings that man's brain contains the evolutionary developments of other animals.
The science of ecology involves the sciences of astronomy, geology, biology (botany and zoology), and physical anthropology (which involves studying the movement of humans out of Africa and the creation of different races, ethnic, and linguistic groups as adaptations to the environment). Ecology secondarily also includes sociology, history, and political science. Whether one society or "civilization" is more advanced than another is primarily a reflection of ecological accidents. Human societies are best understood as reflections of the makeup of the various social divisions and conflicts within that society: the more social divisions, the greater the conflict. Those geographical areas terribly split into different ecological units or open to constant invasion by other groups, influenced the creation of nations with great social divisions. These social divisions then were perpetuated in the society, but they did not arise from the society or societies first.
A big fallacy of the social sciences resulting from their ignoring ecological science is seeing history as one of "Western Civilization" and emphasizing a cultural rather than an ecological approach. This bias is seen in most discussion of the origins of Western civilization, including sociological ones. (The current linking of African-Americans to the cultures of ancient Egypt is just as misleading as this same type of linking for Western civilization; see Lefkowitz 1996.)
After the triumph of Progressivism in America, American social scientists rejected all biological theories of evolution as applied to humans. Instead they accepted the free will philosophies of William James, and then the scientifically-wrong theories of Sigmund Freud. Since America as a racist country cannot take whole truths, they have to ingest half-truths. Such is the case with Sigmund Freud. European scholars and thinkers made the right choice and went with Emil Kraepelin who always considered psychiatry a part of medicine and, therefore, the natural sciences.
Cutting social science off from biology has made sociology and the other social sciences hostile to psychiatry and chemistry. Sociology often likes to talk about "the myth of mental illness" (see Scacz 1961, 1987, 1994). There has been a recent revolution in psychiatry wherein the brain as complicated chemistry is finally being explained (Andreas 1991). This has opened up a whole new field of psychopharmacology wherein many psychiatric disorders are now seen as chemical imbalances and are being treated with medication. But sociologists are still fighting a rearguard action against these advances in science, hoping to maintain the supposed near-exclusive role of social forces in explaining human behavior. Unfortunately, this prejudice simply reinforces the prejudice against mentally ill people and plays a role in preventing people with mental problems from openly seeking help.
Anti-Unity of Knowledge
An often repeated myth is that in this age of specialization no one can truly be a Renaissance man. The truth is that the natural sciences have made so much progress and we understand so much more today that we did just twenty or thirty years ago that it is now clear how all the disciplines of knowledge are linked. The progress of knowledge has not divided us further, but rather has linked us together. This, however, is unacceptable to the social sciences, and sociology in particular. Cutting off the social sciences from biology has made sociology and the other social sciences hostile to the natural sciences. The tragedy is that this makes education a splintered endeavor rather than a united one, wherein we see the world through various selfish disciplines and subdisciplines rather than seeing a unified whole.
We mentioned that part of the rejection of biology by sociology stems from boundary definition. Sociology feels it has to fend off other sciences and social sciences from trying to horn-in on their territory. In fact, they often cultivate an ignorance of other disciplines. And, frankly, with this approach to knowledge, most sociologists will remain hopelessly uneducated. They are only educated in their own subdisciplines.
Little Knowledge Of and Just Plain Bad History
Sociologists know very little history and this makes for bad sociology. Furthermore, sociologists are usually engaged in investigations of such micro phenomena that their studies have no historical context or perspective. This creates some very strange, and often misleading, sociological approaches.
Sociology not only distorts its findings for political purposes but also distorts its own history. In American politics, as one politically liberal paradigm replaces an older liberal paradigm, the new liberals accuse the old liberals of actually being covert conservatives. This same process goes on in sociology. For instance, during the cold war period, sociologists, such as the functionalists, were proper political liberals with good liberal credentials. With the coming of the civil rights movement and the anti-Vietnam War movement, liberalism changed. The new-liberal sociologists then complained that their predecessors were actually conservatives in hiding. It would be far closer to the truth to say the older sociologists were now just old liberals who have been surpassed by the new liberals, but that is not enough to win the war for the new liberal paradigm. The older liberals have to be tarred with the conservative label in order to insure that their paradigm is discredited. History has to be rewritten and distorted to help support the newer emergent liberal paradigm.
Similarly, as sociologists began to move toward racial/ethnic separatism under the guise of multiculturalism, they began to denigrate the liberals of the early civil rights movement, followers of Vernon Johns and Martin Luther King, Jr. But this does not change the fact that sociologists are always the liberals of their times.
Using the same logic involved in the sociological condemnation of biology, sociology has developed an extreme prejudice against the consideration of spirituality and religion in American life and thought (see Carter 1993). (Here we are not speaking of the sociology of religion area.) Just because the conservatives have been fond of using religion to justify their actions does not mean that sociologists should dismiss this realm of knowledge out of hand. This is another example of counter-punch logic. This in turn widens the gap between the social sciences and the humanities rather than seeing all the endeavors of humans as united and coherent. Even if one tries to talk to sociologists about this realm by substituting the word spirituality for religion, the average sociologist's eyes still glaze over at any attempt at rational discussion of the matter. The refusal to consider the spiritual realm is just one more example of sociology cutting itself off from whole areas of thought and considering them off limits to serious sociological inquiry.
Poor Sociology: Too Much Narrow Specialization
Sociologists actually know very little since they are so specialized. And this specialization curse has gotten worse because of the growth of many subspecialties. But this does not stop sociologists from using their subdiscipline expertise to generalize about the larger world. For instance, Portes (1984, 1987) uses data about labor markets and Hispanics in Miami to assert the wonderfulness of separate ethnic cultures. But his knowledge base is so limited as to be provide virtually no foundation for talking about macro politics.
And don't forget the narrowness of academia itself and the accompanying problem of all academicians: arrogance. Too many minds are closed among sociologists because they think they have the truth already. No where is this more evident than in the field of race relations, where everyone has an opinion and virtually no one is willing to listen to unorthodox views.
Living with Contradictions: Materialism and Idealization
Sociologists are not marxist enough. Here we mean marxism in the larger sense as an emphasis on materialism and economics, not his specific theory of capitalism. We can also include biology here -- the study of the nature of man as more of a materialist being than an ideational one. Befitting American liberalism, liberal sociology has always been somewhat anti-Marxist. This is reflected in American sociology's unmarxian overemphasis of the importance of values and ideas relative to social structure.
The white liberal interpretation of race relations has always been a modified and weakened Marxism. Liberals love their dilemmas which allow them to have their cake and eat it too. Liberal thought is sympathetic to the plight of blacks in this country. But like the Marxists, they also want to be empathetic to working class whites who do suffer exploitation under the system of capitalism. Also like the Marxists, they have never been able to really criticize the real racism of working class whites. They always follow the Marxist line that working class racism is due to false consciousness and manipulation by the capitalist dominated media. But, of course, since they are not real Marxists they can avoid the suspicion of any substantial radicalism, which is surely the safest position for liberals. This dual empathy allows them to be sympathetic with both blacks and racist white workers at the same time, thereby failing to examine the full impact of racism in American society.
There should be a rule in the social sciences that prohibits postulating culture, ideas or values as being the primary cause of anything (except possibly other ideas and values). Ideas should be permanently banished to the role of secondary causes only. This rule would probably do more than any other rule to rid the disciplines of its lies.
Sociologists can be both materialistic and idealistic. Since so many sociologists are convinced of the primary importance of ideas and values, they often sponsor appeals for multicultural understanding. What they fail to realize is that the money spent on appeals for tolerance only does a minimum amount of good. The United States government could spend billions of dollars annually preaching to its citizens to "understand one another," but it would be to little avail against prejudice. Prejudice is mostly created by the structure of racism itself, by the inequalities and the consequent destructive behaviors associated with poverty and discrimination. In fact, it is conceivable, at least theoretically, that the United States could produce a racist society without prejudice.
It is going to take billions, if not trillions, of dollars to change the racist structure of the United States and this means some dramatic shifts in the distribution of scarce economic resources. Even though whites can take small steps toward accepting blacks as neighbors, friends, and family members, they still would vote for conservative policies designed to sustain the racist structures of the United States. Of course, a non-traditionally prejudiced racist structure will always produce some rationalizations to maintain its racist structures, but these rationalizations would be of a relatively benign nature compared to the old rationalizations involving biology.
Poor Sociology: An Unwritten Multicultural Macro Sociology
There is a secret, unwritten macro sociology today known under the rubric of multiculturalism. This is not a well-defined concept. Indeed, it is so appealing because it is undefined. The disturbing part of multiculturalism is the belief that the various multi cultures in America are equal to (and indeed morally superior to) American culture itself. This is such a disturbing concept, that the sociologists are careful not to state fully its nature or its possible consequences. It only appears in bits and pieces in such publications as the A.S.A. Footnotes. Frankly, they are afraid (and with good reason) of the possible political repercussions if they fully stated their multicultural separatist position. (Liberalism has a bad enough reputation without pushing the electorate over the edge with a full-blown liberal support of separatism.)
It does not seem to bother sociologists that, since most of their studies are so narrowly defined with such narrow data bases, they do not have any scholarly basis on which to build their secret sociology. Nor do they know enough about the other social sciences to be qualified to build such a macro multicultural model of American society and politics.
Sociologists as Censors
Talking about liberalism becoming the new establishment, Gouldner (1973:55) notes "As the ideology of an establishment, such official liberalism has things to protect. It has reasons to lie. It has all the social mechanisms available to any establishment by which it can reward those who tell the right lies, and punish and suppress those who tell the wrong truths. In its meaner moments, it is an intellectual Mafia."
Most sociologists would say that the conservatives are lying to themselves and distorting social science to suit their ends. This is true. But what this paper points out is that sociologists do the same thing. Now how is this distortion done? Recently, it was pointed out that if the F.B.I. crime laboratory personnel believe a suspect is guilty of a crime they will often set up their testing in such a way that the results confirm the guilt of that suspect. Moreover, the lab personnel actually believe this is proper because it is in the best interests of the larger society. They have a political conscience that tells them it is permissible and good to help the truth along, so to speak. Sociologists are very similar to all other people in this regard. They believe that articles by conservatives or articles that help conservatives and conservative causes should be suppressed. During the recent extreme polarization of American politics, this tendency to censorship has dramatically worsened and has been dubbed "politically correct" censorship. Most sociologists dismiss this argument as politically motivated by conservatives and therefore not to be taken seriously. Many liberals actually tell their audience that it is good to be "politically correct" for this is fighting racism and other ills in our society. But, arguing from a position actually to the left of most current-day sociologists, this paper maintains that "politically correct" reasoning is a distortion of social science.
Sociologists fudge the truth in service to what they regard as the larger liberal purposes of the social sciences. In the days of the Black Panthers, Collier & Horowitz (1989:37) noted that the political myth of panther George Jackson that a radical lawyer helped to construct "exemplified the radical willingness to tinker with the facts to serve a greater truth." Obviously, sociologists share this willingness to bend the truth. Partisan sociology believes in censorship. They believe that "wrong" opinions or politically "misleading" research should be suppressed. They believe they have the moral high ground and are defending and protecting the underdog by making sure that opposing views to their truth are stopped. For instance, Becker (cited in Gouldner 1973:55) says that "officials must lie because things are seldom as they ought to be." And Becker should also say that sociologists lie for the same reasons.
James Coleman (1988) spoke about censorship in sociology when he accepted a Sociology of Education award in 1988. His research truthfully found a rise in white flight because of busing. Instead of sociologists accepting this, they chose to start a public hate campaign against the renegade. Coleman (1988:8) asked: "How can the discipline . . . so structure itself that it does not erect norms against research that challenges the conventional wisdom?" We doubt that sociology has done anything positive to accept Coleman's challenge, but instead has sunk even further into politically correct multicultural politics.
Academicians are non-Marxists when it comes to ideas. They believe that you cannot permit any dissenting ideas to be published because this would undermine the commitment to their particular approach at any given time. Sociologists do not fully believe that ideas are secondary to the self-interests of people. Rather they fight over every scientific finding to insure it is consistent with their political approach. Academicians do not see themselves as just another self-interested group. They see themselves as "objective." Of course, they are not. It would be much better for them to abandon their current approach to reality and allow science to really be science. But they cannot do this. They insist on pretending that they are objective. They are constantly politicizing science in the name of sociological (or currently, multicultural goals), all the while pretending that they are not doing this. The end result is the corruption of science in the name of politics.
Solution/Conclusion: How to Be Political Without Lying
Present day multi-cultural academics are like fundamentalist religious preachers. Fundamentalists insist that the facts of the Bible have to be dogmatically followed otherwise this would upset the belief in the overall importance of religion, undermining the very belief in God. Politically correct academicians insist on the same thing, but within the realm of sociology. Much like their radical chic predecessors, they insist that all studies have to be in compliance with the overall goal of what they see as the correct interpretation of liberalism currently expressed as multi-culturalism. They will ban or censor all studies they believe fail to agree with multi-culturalism.
It does not occur to them that there are approaches to life where facts can be independent of overall commitments to the higher goals of life. There are religions, like that of the Dalai Lama, that know that the overall beliefs of religion cannot be harmed by discoveries in the natural and social sciences. Multi-culturalists insist that all facts be in congruence with their philosophy, rather than the desired goals being independent of the truth or falsity of scientific discoveries.
Why can't there be a different sociology? Why can't there be a sociology that can support the goals of a non-racist liberalism, but not insist that every finding provide further evidence to debate the arguments of conservatives and be in agreement with past counter arguments used against conservatives? The liberal goals don't have to change, but sociology has to adapt to new scientific findings. With such an approach, as sciences discover more about the nature of human beings and their societies, sociology will be free to adjust their own theories without feeling they are betraying liberal principles.
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1967 Sociological Theory: Its Nature and Growth. New York: Random House.
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