PC and Availability Bias
By Bryan Caplan
I agree with Arnold that Harvard did Larry Summers wrong. In fact, whenever I hear an anecdote about PC run amok, I normally take the side of the whoever gave offense. Nevertheless, I still think the PC threat to higher education is greatly overblown. The anti-PC movement is founded on availability bias – our tendency to overreact to a handful of vivid anecdotes. While PC is a witch hunt, it is happily a witch hunt that only burns a handful of witches per year.
Yes, that’s small consolation to the Larry Summerses of the world. But the odds that an outspoken student or professor who challenges PC verities will be targeted for persecution are extremely small. The serious witch hunt in the modern U.S. is not on campus, but in the workplace – the witch hunt against discrimination and sexual harassment. Every day in American workplaces, millions of people look over their shoulders before they speak to avoid accusations of discrimination and harassment. I’m no fan of PC, but at least college students can still shoot their mouths off without worrying about lawsuits.