Commenting on complaints by a conservative student group at Duke about the lack of conservatives on the Duke faculty, philosopher of biology Robert Brandon commented in the Chronicle:
"'We try to hire the best, smartest people available,' Brandon said of his philosophy hires. 'If, as John Stuart Mill said, stupid people are generally conservative, then there are lots of conservatives we will never hire. Mill's analysis may go some way towards explaining the power of the Republican party in our society and the relative scarcity of Republicans in academia. Players in the NBA tend to be taller than average. There is a good reason for this. Members of academia tend to be a bit smarter than average. There is a good reason for this too.'"
Perhaps Professor Brandon is a reader of this blog?
UPDATE: Someone from Pittsburgh (whose return e-mail address didn't work!) wrote to observe that from Mill's premise and the premise that academics are smarter than average, nothing at all follows by way of explanation of the small number of conservatives in academia. This, of course, is correct. I posted the Brandon comment purely because I was amused by the resonance with earlier postings on this blog. It is certainly my view that part of the explanation why certain kinds of conservative views are underrepresented in the academy has to do with their intellectual merits, but that conclusion clearly can't be established from the two premises noted above, as the Pitt reader correctly commented.
FURTHER UPDATE: And do see my favorite biologist's remarks on the subject.
AND ANOTHER UPDATE: Instapundit--who might himself be adduced as evidence on behalf of Brandon (but I shall not belabor this tired point)--quotes the lovably contrarian Jim Lindgren (Northwestern Law) reporting data showing, unsurprisingly I would think, that conservative Republicans have the strongest educational credentials of any political persuasion. Why this is supposed to be relevant Instapundit does not explain. If being well-off financially is correlated with (causally connected with?) being Republican; and being well-off financially is correlated with (causally connected with?) having the right educational credentials; then we would have a correlation but not a case of causation. (I assume this is obvious to Lindgren, who is a trained sociologist, if not to Reynolds.) Meanwhile, we have, juxtaposed with the preceding, the academy, with comparable educational attainment, but much different politics. One possibility is that educational attainment doesn't track intellectual ability that well. (Anyone who has served on an appointments committee, and seen stellar Yale and Harvard Law graduates who can't think there way from one end of an argument to the other will not find this surprising.) Another possibility is that there are features of academic lifestyle or employment that push folks to the Left. I strongly suspect it is the former, not the latter.
In any case, as I said long ago, I prefer the simple method of looking at the views and assessing their intellectual merits: e.g., Straussians are underrepresented in serious departments and serious disciplines because their position is intellectually feeble, not because they're discriminated against. Examples like this could be multiplied--even using as examples some folks in the blogosphere (but I won't touch that one!).