URLs du Jour

2021-02-16

  • Arnold Kling is writing a series on "Academic Corruption". Part one is about government money.

    In 1975, I heard second-hand about an informal session where Robert Solow spoke with a group of MIT economics grad students. One of the students, apparently feeling guilty about his fellowship from the National Science Foundation, asked, “Why does society pay me to go to graduate school in economics, given all the benefit that I get from having the degree?” Solow, known for his caustic wit, shot back, “Society doesn’t know what the hell it’s doing.”

    Government money has played a role in the decline of quality in academia. Programs like the GI bill and student loan programs have swelled the ranks of college students. Programs like the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities have dumped huge amounts of money into higher education. The net effect has been harmful.

    Very contrarian, and probably correct. (Ignoring for the time being that my professional life would have had to take a totally different path if not for society not knowing what the hell it was doing.)


  • Scott Alexander writes Contra Weyl On Technocracy. This initial part is pretty observant:

    I am not defending technocracy.

    Nobody ever defends technocracy. It's like "elitism" or "statism". There is no Statist Party. Nobody holds rallies demanding more statism. There is no Citizens for Statism Facebook page with thousands of likes and followers. Yet for some reason libertarians don't win every single national election. Strange, isn't it?

    Maybe it’s one of those Russell conjugations - "I am firm, you are obstinate". I support rule of law, you're a statist. I want checks and balances on mob rule, you're an elitist. I like evidence-based policy, you're a technocrat.

    As someone who slings the "statist" slur around a lot… I should probably stop slinging the "statist" slur around quite so much.


  • At her substack, Bari Weiss actually reaches out to talk to a recent blacklistee: Gina Carano and Crowd-Sourced McCarthyism.

    Things have gotten so ridiculous so quickly — Bon Appetit is currently going back and editing insufficiently sensitive recipes in what they call (I kid you not) an “archive repair effort” — that my baseline assumption is that 99 percent of cancellations are unwarranted. In other words, people are losing their jobs and their reputations not for violating genuine taboos but for simple mistakes, minor sins or absolute nonsense. 

    It’s impossible to overstate the bystander effect of these public humiliations. Normal people are functioning like we live under a new kind of McCarthyism — and for good reason. Our McCarthyism is crowd-sourced, but not necessarily less vicious or ruinous.  

    All of which is why, when I saw late last week that an actor named Gina Carano had been fired from a role on a Star Wars show because she doesn’t have the kind of politics required to avoid the modern Hollywood blacklist, I leapt to her defense.

    While Gina posted/retrweeted some silly stuff, Bari's convinced (by, again, actually talking to her) that she's no antisemite. Bari also notes the obvious double standards for career destruction, with numerous examples.


  • We talked about this yesterday, but Twitchy publicizes a Twitter thread from James Lindsay: Here are more ways that white supremacy culture shows up in math classrooms. He jumps all over the one I also excerpted:

    It's a thread, with Lindsay excavating even more nonsense from the "Equitable Math" hucksters. Read as much as you can stomach.


  • In a Corner post (Useful Idiots for the Woke Craze) Charles C. W. Cooke takes on this tweet:

    Oh really?

    In practice, “wokeness” involves a lot of extremely destructive habits that deserve widespread resistance. It involves the hunting down of anyone who disagrees with axioms that a handful of self-appointed arbiters decided were inviolable just yesterday; it involves the on-the-fly invention of malleable standards that are, by design, unequally applied; it involves the rank infantilization of everyone who is not both white and male; it involves the picking and choosing of who counts as “real” representatives of the very groups its adherents believe they are helping — based, of course, on their ideological leanings; and, eventually, it demands the wholesale destruction of classical liberal ideas within our institutions. If “wokeness” really did mean “being decent to people who are not like you,” the vast majority of the people who have recently been victimized by it would have been left alone in the first instance, and there would be no meaningful opposition to the creed that put the target on their backs.

    That is just about a perfect paragraph.


Last Modified 2021-05-10 2:30 PM EST