Professor’s new book examines hypocrisy in American politics

“I couldn’t have written anything close to its quality or substance if not for the all-encompassing liberal arts education I got at St. Olaf,” St. Olaf Visiting Assistant Professor in Political Science Tim Collins ’10 says about his new book, Hypocrisy in American Political Attitudes.

BURR: The Constitution’s a mess
HAMILTON: So it needs amendments!
BURR: It’s full of contradictions
HAMILTON: So is independence!

Non-Stop by Lin-Manuel Miranda (2015)

This excerpt of Hamilton lyrics is not a typical epigraph for a political science book, but then again Hypocrisy in American Political Attitudes: A Defense of Attitudinal Incongruence is not a typical political science book.

“I’ve been told the book is a good representation of my teaching style, which makes sense: It has a lot of weird references, and draws on a cross-section of academic disciplines throughout,” says St. Olaf College Visiting Assistant Professor in Political Science Tim Collins ’10. “I believe it’s the only political science book to reference the Ninja Turtles, the Venture Brothers, quantum mechanics, and the films of the Coen brothers.”

The book examines the scope of hypocritical attitudes in American politics, and claims that they are much, much more prevalent than people assume and are not linked to just one political party.

“In one chapter, I show that the proportion of Americans who have purely logical and non-hypocritical attitudes is almost zero; if people have more than a handful of stances on issues, there’s a very, very high probability that that they’ll have stances that logically contradict other ones,” Collins says.

After Collins graduated from St. Olaf in 2010, he attended graduate school at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His dissertation on contradictory sets of attitudes in politics was a topic that had fascinated him since childhood, and he was thrilled when a publisher approached him to turn it into an academic book.

“It’s the ironies on top of more ironies that helped keep my interest in the topic of attitudinal hypocrisy — I think readers of the book will find that interesting, too. Hypocrisy in general is an attention-grabbing topic, and irony is inherently intriguing and amusing, too.”

The book is available at most major bookstores and the publisher’s website, and Collins also has a copy available for interested parties to borrow.

“I couldn’t have written anything close to its quality or substance if not for the all-encompassing liberal arts education I got at St. Olaf, and the support I got from professors in those formative years or the support I got from those same professors who became my colleagues upon returning to St. Olaf to teach,” Collins says.