by Tyler Cowen
on August 7, 2013 at 1:03 pm
1. Sensitivity training for Geoffrey Miller.
2. Stimulus for the Spanish postal service.
3. Vietnamese bubbles in leech prices for the Chinese.
4. Can people in fact appreciate better art?
5. Does it matter when foreigners are watching?
6. I am now doing some occasional blogging for LinkedIn, on labor market issues, my first post is here.
What Miller said was stupid (grades and test scores are perfectly good indicators of success independent of weight), but my god there are a lot of thought-police with nothing better to do on campuses.
So much for the non-signaling theories of education…
Not to mention, aside from a psychology tenure tracker not having the first clue about willpower, what is with his quasi-primal nutrition theories? I particularly find his assignment of a mentor quite humorous.
> What Miller said was stupid (grades and test scores are perfectly good indicators of success independent of weight)
Certainly, but he didn’t say ‘instead of judging based on grades and test scores, I will judge solely on how thin grad students are’.
I am not aware of any research demonstrating that weight or BMI etc has no predictive ability in this context.
#1: Amazing, beyond parody.
A real punishment would be he had to wear a fat suit for a month. But since it is academia they have to do the circle jerk.
You could see this one coming from a mile off. Miller is the academic version of Roissy.
E.g., one of his previous tweets was: if you don’t know what a “blue-pill beta” is, you probably are one.
but even Roissy isn’t arrogant enough to tweet his stuff under his real name. better not know, though doesn’t change much.
This was funnier when I thought you meant something other than “a guy like roissy who is also an academic”
“The Mating Mind” was better than anything Roissy ever wrote.
” “obesity” is a word that may create stigma”
And why is that, I wonder? I thought it was simply a medical condition, generally brought on by one’s own behaviour?
Or not. Or are you camping a pile of results correlating obesity to willpower 😉
Might we suggest to our intrepid psychology quack the book:
“Kessler delves into the psychology and neuroscience of our junk-food cravings, seeking an explanation to the conundrum of the person whose “will-power” is strong on many fronts, but who finds it hard to resist unhealthy foods (I class myself among those people). He concludes that we’re extremely susceptible to reward-conditioning when the reward consists of foods that combine fat, sugar and salt, ”
Turns out, after 12 seconds of Google work, evolutionary gastrology has dick to do with modern academic dissertations…
Why do you equate behavior with willpower?
‘Being good at labor market search has never been more important.’
Spoken like a true master of the art of delivering whatever it is the person writing the check wants to hear.
And to think, he would have gotten away with advancing the Koch agenda of talking about the Spanish post office and Leeches were it not for you!
“obesity stigma expert”
There is no great stagnation? The culture that is America? Where will the new jobs come from?
Where do I go to join the others who think “obesity stigma” is a good thing? It didn’t used to matter, but under Obamacare I’m going to be paying for these fatties’ poor health decisions. So now, I want to get rid of them. Put them in camps and make them run for an hour a day! Feed them nothing but carrots and cabbage until they aren’t fat anymore! I want roadblocks and scales at the exit of every state fair and Krispy Kreme!
Actually just saw on the elevator news screen that childhood obesity has been declining recently for the first time in decades among 2 to 4 year olds. Sorry, no link immediately available.
It takes a lot of time and a lot of cultural pressure, but perhaps as with smoking it’s finally getting into the mix that it’s wrong to feed your kids crap and not exercise them. Smoking was considered normal, and then it eventually became demonized over a pretty long period. Obesity is perhaps in that process.
I’ve always said toddlers are shore for willpower.
Yes, demonization is good. With Obamacare, your health is my business. Get moving, you fattie! No more sugary drinks for you, fattie! Quit stealing from me, you fattie!
“just saw on the elevator news screen ”
Yeah, soon we’ll have our pseudoscience pumped straight into our eyeballs.
Yes, that’s the purpose of Obama’s BRAIN Initiative. NSA in our brains, for our security, of course.
> Actually just saw on the elevator news screen that childhood obesity has been declining recently for the first time in decades among 2 to 4 year olds.
Declined, in a single narrow age group after slicing by SES, which is another way of saying ‘it increased in dozens of other categories’.
Anyone want to bet that this decline will quickly vanish as if it never was? Bueller? Bueller?
#1. Miller should have owned up to the statement as simply a momentary lapse, not to be taken literally, instead of the b.s. about a “research project”. That may be part of th reason his discipline was so severe.
That all said, where to begin:
1. Why did it take the university two months (and still not finished) to mete out his punishment over a single tweet? Is the PC policing department at NM that busy?
2. It’s not clear what specific policy he violated in any of the three policy/ethics manuals.
3. Everyone has stepped on it before. Who hasn’t said something they later regretted?
4. Why wasn’t his apology the end of it? It’s not like he specifically targeted any one persor or small group with his fat comment.
5. There should be an appeals process in place for Miller.
6. Is NM applying their policy (and punishment) consistently? What happened to other staff/faculty members who did something similar, how were they treated?
7. Is this a pattern of behavior or a one-off? If a one-off, it should be a first-time warning (like a cop warning you for speeding if your first time pulled over) and how about calling in some character witnesses to defend him? Shouldn’t the chair of his department got to bat for him instead of punishing him? Doesn’t the HR department handle punishments?
Moral of the story. Be careful what you write.
1. Because (numerous examples including Penn State/JoePa, etc.) they don’t actually care until it goes viral, but when it does it’s a CYA shitstorm.
2. Doesn’t matter, See 1.
3. Doesn’t matter, See 1.
4. Doesn’t matter, See 1.
You get the idea.
1. I always thought the US were the land of free speech?
Free to speak (no prior restraint by government), but not free to avoid any and all consequences of said speech.
That is censorship not free speech.
Are you kidding me? Miller is 100% free to say whatever he wants, and UNM is 100% free to give him the option to 1) do whatever they tell him to, or 2) seek employment elsewhere.
Can you walk into your boss’s office and call him/her a profane name, then cite “free speech” when you’re fired? Of course not.
There is still due process, don’t forget.
And, yes, you can use profanity to your boss if you do it the right way or if he uses it first (you can stand your ground).
Since UNM is a public university, the school has drastically fewer options to censure him about his speech.
My private employer can fire me for saying “Vote For Bush” or “Green Energy Credits Now.” Public employers have less latitude.
It’d be nice if his colleagues just laughed at him for the irony of having to apologize to fat kids for questioning their willpower because of his “impulsive” tweet. (“My sincere apoplogies to all for that idiotic, impulsive, and badly judged tweet.”) But the point is not for academia to display any self-awareness whatsoever. In fact, it was his lifting of the komono that was his biggest mistake. Academia must never let it be know that they are primarily concerned with appearances, and thus must come down hard on anyone who appears to reveal that appearance, the appearance of propriety being the most sacred appearance. Since he has books, I see a move in his future. I’d be surprised if his tweet wasn’t pounced upon and publicized by a ‘professional colleague.’ If ‘we’ were really concerned about offending fat kids, we probably wouldn’t make such a huge viral campaign of sending screen shots of his deleted tweet everywhere. If ‘we’ were really concerned about PhD completion ‘we’ might do something about the non-existent advisement, or maybe come up with something in place of non-existent predictive entry criteria. And by ‘we’ I mean other jackholes. Google “grad school nightmares” and you are likely to get tons of anecdotes about psychology departments. This guy ain’t your major malfunction you den of jackals.
Ha… Free speech? Academics say they are for free speech …. Except when someone, god forbid, might be offended
I don’t think Miller was reprimanded simply because he insulted fat people or made some joke about fat people.
His tweet suggested that a psych grad school applicant’s chances for admissions to the University of New Mexico might be adversely affected by the applicant’s weight. At the least it suggested that whatever input into admissions decisions he has, he would lower a candidate’s prospects based on weight alone. It seems unlikely that Miller made the comment out of the blue. He was likely compelled to make the comment by a prospective grad student visiting the school, or visiting for interviews, or by looking up one of the applicants online.
It’s understandable that the department or university might not want to reject candidates simply based on weight, and doesn’t want one of its employees to do so either or give the impression that he does.
Except that they do…according to link.
They do what?
Discriminate on weight: Obese candidates who did face-to-face interviews had lower relative acceptance rates than those who did not.
Right, I’m sure they and people generally do like the studies indicate.
However, I imagine this is unconscious rather than conscious behavior or explicit policy by the department or university.
Does anyone really think it is conceivably ‘explicit’ policy?
No, but that’s the point. Miller’s tweet suggested that it might be part of at least his conscious decision making.
So, it’s ok to discriminate against fat people, as long as you aren’t self-aware about it.
I mean, hey, it’s probably a great comfort to the rejected obese would-be grad students, to know that the professors who are irrationally rejecting him because of his weight nonetheless have the human decency not to admit it out loud.
More like, it is fine to conform to the unspoken norms of your peers, but never fine to say them out loud.
When you interview a person you don’t like, maybe because they are ugly or fat, you are supposed to say “I don’t think it is a cultural fit.”
Speaking the bald truth is an indication that you have not properly assimilated and must be remediated.
Actually, “image” is probably good enough to fly. In fact, as long as you couched it in terms like “I’d worry about their health under stress” you could almost discuss their weight outright in closed door meetings.
But does this even happen? I call BS on the entire premise here promulgated by everyone.
So…another half-dozen bjs if you’re scoring at home?
No, those are only for special cases when I say something utterly obvious, someone denies it, and then I corroborate it.
“Whenever you interview fat people, you feel bad, because you know you’re not going to hire them.”-James Watson
Nobody loses weight on the euphemism treadmill.
I think it is entirely possible that Miller’s co-workers hate him, and are using his stupid tweet as an excuse to really stick it to him.
ya’ think? also seems unlikely that he sticks around for his “reeducation.” disgraced public officials seem to turn up at universities … where do disgraced academics go? the public sector? In any case, I agree with Andrew’ there’s plenty of signaling here.
Well, sometimes disgraced public officials run for office in New York
You might be right about your theory. I’ve seen it happen before.
I know nothing about Miller – except for that article – but it’s possible he was too head strong and opinionated, and this was the boss’s way to put him in his place. She (boss) might have felt threatened by him or Miller pissed off someone close to the boss.
#2 Tyler, you broke that story two months ago!
Still funny, though!
Make no mistake… Miller had been tweeting links to Greg Cochran’s blog, IQ research consistent with high heritability, was pro immigration restriction based on population differences and the stickiness of these differences across generations, and other stuff that might have made it known he was seeing patterns one isn’t supposed to acknowledge and drawing rational conclusions from them. That tweet was just too direct and provided exactly what I’m sure they were looking for to damage him. It’s a damn shame a 1st rate academic is getting treated this way by such relatively small minded people.
Not to mention it might be useful advice. I am keeping an ad hoc list of such things. I disagree with it’s generalizability. But rather than kicking someone’s ass for attempting to help people decide if the idiosyncracies of academia are right for their personality, why not give them your own list. I never had anyone give me any useful advice in academia on that front, or any other for that matter. For example, Tyler gave the advice that if you like MR then your interests are too diverse to be helpful in getting a PhD. You will never get a prospective advisor to tell you that before you invest sunk costs. So, as a cog in this evil machine, I’m all for flogging anyone, but only as a means of flogging the machine.
Half of people don’t achieve a PhD in 10 years. Shunning people for any reason whatsoever, even for fat shaming, will statistically be doing those people a HUGE favor.
Bringing training to the entire university is an important step, said Sondra Solovay, who is the director of an company that trains higher education clients in harassment and discrimination prevention and who is also a law professor at San Francisco Law School.
I bet it’s important, especially for her business’s bottom line. But I should not be so facetious, because obviously this is a very personal issue for her.
What the fuck.
Re #4, “Can people in fact appreciate better art?”
The first sentence stopped me: “THE father of consumer choice theory, Alfred Marshall, believed that the more of something you have the less of it you want…”
Which is not, of course, what the law of diminishing marginal utility says. It says that the more you have of something, the les highly you *value* additional units of it. Not at all the same thing.
But I’ll read the piece anyway.
Missing from that piece is any discussion of what makes art good.
Does the author actually believe in an aesthetic ideal, in which some things really are more beautiful than others?
If not, isn’t popularity the only real measure of what is better?
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