Sunday assorted links


1. The benefits of diversity. A good and important post.

"...political discrimination is a reality in social psychology.

If you're already telling yourself, 'Discrimination can't be a serious problem if people are so quick to admit their own failings,' you have entered Monty Python territory."

I'm not sure respondents would agree that they were admitting "their own failings".

Why does the [Society for Personality and Social Psychology] exist?
Discrimination might be a feature, not a bug.

Also odd that all survey respondents fit neatly into just 3 categories Liberal/Moderate/Conservative. ( "85 percent of these respondents declared themselves liberal, 9 percent moderate, and only 6 percent conservative")

I left a good and important reply to #1, see the original site for more details.

See my post there; it is even better and more important.

"3. Predictions from Kevin Drum."

Well he was smart to put most of his predictions off until 2030. There's a much greater chance to avoid embarrassingly wrong predictions if you put them far enough in the future.

He learned from Hassett and Glassman's Dow 36,000!

if the DJIA exists in its evolving form, it should hit 36,000 around 2022. I took a tip from kurzweil and just took a log graph and extrapolated out.

The man has multiple myeloma. I'll wager he'd be pleased to be around in 2030 to be embarrassed, but it's not likely.

Even at that time horizon I'd be happy to bet against most of those predictions, if he'd write them in more objectively testable formulations.

5. Loeb Library to do comprehensive coverage of the early literature of India, a major undertaking.

Wow, that is an incredibly ambitious publishing project. Wow.

And that is a great picture of Sheldon Pollock - very professorial, almost rabbinical.

@#5 - often a foreign country does a better job of archiving another countries history than the subject country itself. Examples: foreigners archiving Greece's ancient treasures (yes, including the Elgin Marbles, which IMO are probably better preserved in London than pollution ridden Athens), and Stanford University and the Ivy League schools with Soviet dissident stuff.

I don't suppose that Social Psychology is any worse than Climate Science. The universities really are becoming corrupt.

Do you understand how science works?

What has science got to do with social psychology or climate "science"?

As we know from the University of East Anglia e-mail hack, climate science consists largely of making sure no one publishes anything that looks like dissent. While the UN's process is largely the work of ideologically committed work experience interns.

That is not science.

"Do you understand how science works?" Only to the extent of having pursued it for decades. And you?

I'd say he knows exactly how science works.

"Why are the literary and reviewing worlds so male?"

What I noticed when I got started in opinion journalism a quarter of a century ago was that while those of us trying to grab the world by the lapels and tell it what we think about things were men, and much larger percentage of the salaried editors choosing which men would get $100 for his oped were women.

1. The benefits of diversity. A good and important post.

The flaw in this is failure to identify the goals of the institution and of the players. They are not always the same and they are rarely what they say on the box. So:

2. Ideological diversity has a more scientific benefits than mere demographic diversity: .... b) the benefits of viewpoint diversity are most pronounced when organizations are pursuing open-ended exploratory goals (e.g., scientific discovery) as opposed to exploitative goals (e.g., applying well-established routines to well-defined problems; Cannella, Park & Hu, 2008).

The idea of a university presupposes that the teachers are committed to open-ended exploratory goals. No one who has spent any time in any modern university can be so foolish. That is not what most Arts and Humanities subjects are about. The teachers pay lip service to this goal but that is not what they really intended to do.

Their purpose is recruitment. Indoctrination. Not education. Thus excluding alternative view points is central to their main purpose. It is just part of Gramsci's long march through the institutions.

And they are very successful in their goals:

Furthermore, the trend toward political homogeneity seems to be continuing: whereas 10% of faculty respondents self-identified as conservative, only 2% of graduate students and postdocs did so.

I am sure if you told them about that 2% they would be unhappy. And the only thing that could make them happy would be a list of those students' names.

This is why virtually nothing of any interest takes place in modern Arts and Humanities faculties. You want good history? Almost by definition you have to look beyond academe or at least you have to read someone who is hated by his colleagues (who are actively trying to get him fired). Social Psychology is, of course, not even this lucky as there is nothing interesting beyond the university walls either. It is largely a fraudulent field.

I suspect that signaling their virtue to other members of the academy is much more important than recruitment or indoctrination. I'm sure these guys understand that 99% of their students are just fulfilling a requirement and are not going to take any "indoctrination" too seriously.

But I think this sort of ideological cleansing is not an optimal long-term strategy. The academic bubble will burst at some point, and when it does at least half the populace will be happy to watch every social science department in the country disappear. I think that's aready happening with newspapers in many cities: most newspapers are slowly going out of business, but conservatives are fine with that after years of being antogonized by editorial boards.

Just my thoughts.

Agreed. The arts-and-sciences (and especially the humanities therein) are an amenity. If they've degenerated into a rancid game of apologetics, we can do without them, and should.

I think they way they signal membership of the club is by throwing out old fashioned ideas like academic integrity and reducing their courses to leftist indoctrination. Any concept of impartial inquiry would show you to be a crank.

But I agree, it is not ideal. They are openly hostile to the society that supports them. They are increasingly unable to do the job they were hired to do - or even to teach their students to read properly. The pathfinders for any society - young intelligent males - are shunning them. The West would be a better place without every single Social Science department. Maybe a small fragment of Oxbridge is worth something. Perhaps not.

I really don't know what to make of (there's something you rarely read on Marginal Revolution!) of Bryan Caplan's article. It seems to me that the further to the right someone is, the more likely they will despise the social sciences. Does that contribute to the paucity of right-wingers?

How many other cases do you apply this logic to? Are there so few Black students in the Ivy Leagues because Blacks hate Harvard? So few women in coal mining because they don't like getting dirty?

There are right wing people in the social sciences. They tend to be driven out.

Huh? They tend to select Economics faculties or to quit academia and seek gold.

Isn't that what I said? Academia is so hostile to them, they are forced out.

The Left is happy to blame the victims of discrimination when they are on the Right. When it is their favored clients, Blacks, women, homosexuals, they utterly reject the argument that "they wouldn't be happy here".

This is what is normally called hypocrisy.

Yes, academics are not typically very easy on people who use ideology rather than reasoning and evidence as a mode of inquiry.

@Nathan hahahahahahaha

Nathan W January 5, 2015 at 9:45 am

Yes, academics are not typically very easy on people who use ideology rather than reasoning and evidence as a mode of inquiry.

You have got that exactly backwards - modern academics will hounded out of work anyone who dares to use reasoning and evidence rather than ideology. Point out women are under-represented at the far end of the IQ spectrum and you're gone. Point out that IQ levels in Africa pose a problem for development and it does not matter if you have a Nobel Prize or not. You're gone.

Even in the 50s no one on the Left was hounded out of a university because of their ideological beliefs. Although a tiny handful chose to work overseas. But that is not true of modern universities.

Personally, I've been an aficionado of the social sciences since I was 13.

And for how long did you consider getting a PhD in one of them?

The better career path than a Ph.D. in the social sciences it to become a tenured law professor. Then you can do whatever kind of research you feel like. And they pay you better.

I've often wondered what might constitute "research" in law. Legal history? Comparative sentencing? International comparisons?

Mainly you examine new or developing areas of law in light of precedent.

@dearieme: But not enough to pick up a journal and learn, apparently.

@sailer: Law isn't generally considered a social science, AFAIK. Anyway, you're not a law professor, either, right?

As someone who has a brother in the Philosophy department of an Ivy University, I can tel you that among his peers anything but relatively dogmatic modern identity politics liberalism is considered a moral failing, one that would disqualify you from consideration in their department. Conservatism is not considered a valid alternate perspective, rather it is considered to be something like racism.

You can remind them they are not engineers, and are readily disposed of.

Call me cynical but somehow it seems more likely that in a future America they will be disposing of engineers, in a new Yezhovshchina, than vice versa.

Never trust a leader who discourages people from the study of history and philosophy. It may not make you rich, but it helps to reduce the likelihood that we will fail to ask tough questions while learning from history, and routinely prevents us from destroying all that is meaningful about ourselves.

Others would have us treat each other like dogs, forced via various conditionings to fit into some fictitious image of perfection, whether social, physical, or otherwise.

Let's leave heaven for the dogs. Be human. It starts by treating others as such.

Western historians and philosophers fell over themselves to praise Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot or some combination thereof. There is no sane reason to think that the study of history or philosophy makes you any better or worse than anyone else. Or even particularly self-aware.

Which other school of thought is not asking philosophers to shut up and stop asking so many GD tough questions?

I have never heard of a philosopher who stands against Conservatism per se, although they will ask conservatives many difficult questions (they will ask these of anyone, for that matter). Since conservatives don't tend to deal well with tough questions, probably they feel like they are being attacked. But mostly it's because it challenges their tidily packaged world views.

It is because philosophers want to be free to ask questions, and modern liberalism and humanism are very consistent with facing up to tough questions.

Only a tiny sliver of humanity wants to ask tough questions, and progressives are no better.
Your idealized version of progressives always best your straw man versions of conservatives I see.

Nathan is getting at the more mature view that life is about more than widgets and money. You need the engineers to enable us to live, but you need the arts to make life worth living.

That's... not at all what his point was.

Yeah, I kind of saw that after I posted. But I stand by my post even though it's a non sequitur. There's a lot of folks here who think anything not engineering has little value.

"Since conservatives don’t tend to deal well with tough questions, probably they feel like they are being attacked. But mostly it’s because it challenges their tidily packaged world views. "

I think that comment is more ideological than factual.

5. Lots of questionable remarks made in that piece.

Firstly the author talks about the "vastness" of Indian "classical" literature" and contrasts it with the relatively puny size of Greek and Latin literatures. And then he goes on to club all vernacular languages under the ambit of "classical" Indian literature. That's not comparing apples with apples.

Medieval Hindi or Telugu literature is not "classical" for god's sake! There is a reason why Sanskrit is regarded as the primary classical language of India because most of the truly "classical" literature of pre-medieval era (regardless of the region) is authored in that language. There are only two classical languages in India (with an literary antiquity of close to 2000 years if not more) - those are Sanskrit and Tamil. It is good to translate a whole lot of other vernacular literature of later periods. But don't call it "classical". It's a bit like labelling all vernacular literature of Europe from 10th to 18th centuries as "classical". Its plainly wrong labelling.

Also the author needlessly gets political bringing the "Hindu nationalist" groups and their utterances into the picture. Yes, they have made the odd stupid statement. But I believe the government's interest in promoting interest in Sanskrit - a language that has influenced every other tongue spoken today in India or for that matter even South east Asia - is very well meaning. The government is not imposing "Sanskrit" on anybody. All it did was to replace German with Sanskrit as the third language (as was the case before the last Congress government scrapped Sanskrit for German). Kids, I understand, will also have the option of learning a vernacular Indian language instead of Sanskrit if they feel like it.

Thanks! That puts some of my questions into perspective.

1. I have already emailed my SLAC library and promised to pay for this if the relevant departments don't step up.

2. How do you define a classic? For me, one criterion is that there is evidence across languages already - translations and commentaries going back a long way. The Loeb Library originally focused on Greek and Latin texts - a pretty inarguable set. Ancient Chinese texts? No question about commentaries, though I'm not sure how many of them were translated into other languages before 1800. These texts? REALLY interesting...but were they interesting to anyone outside their own language?

If it still exists 2000 years later, I think it is safe to call it a classic. Charles Dickens is also classic.

I thought the Houllebecq interview was great, can't wait for the new book.

I agree. The journalist is really stupid at times, though.

3. "At some point, we will reach a tipping point and medicine will be revolutionized. I'm guessing it starts around 2025 and really takes off over the ensuing decade or two." Does Drum appreciate the irony: a prediction about the future of an industry, medicine, that is obsessed with predictions of the future. There hasn't been much innovation in treatment since penicillin. Sure, lots of innovation in diagnostics, but few in treatment. Why is that? Profits and human nature. Profits because diagnostics is where the profits are. Human nature because people want to know their future, even when it's not good. Today, much research (gene mapping) is centered on predicting the likelihood of a person getting this or that disease or malady. Of course, knowing it won't cure it. Someday, maybe around 2025, people will catch on to the fraud that makes up much of medicine. But I predict it won't make a difference, as human nature is more concerned with knowing the future (diagnostics), not doing something about it (treatment).

Bit of hyperbole on the penicillin claim? That was 1928. Comparing 1929-1931 to 2011 here are the average increases in life expectancy for white males of different ages (so we're not just talking about safer child birth):

0: 17y
10: 12y
20: 11y
30: 10.5y
40: 9.5y
50: 8y
60: 6.75y
70: 5y
80: 3y

I wear disposable contact lenses and have allergy-related asthma. Other than the 30 seconds in the morning/evening it takes to put my lenses in/out I might as well have perfect vision. I use an Advair inhaler that pretty much entirely corrects my asthma issues (albeit at a cost of $300/year in copays). So, not only has my life expectancy improved, but my quality of life has well, since neither of these would have been available in 1928.

Actually, a lot of people do not want to know their future. It won't turn out the way you expect anyways. But don't let that stop you from a little planning to get in the direction of some places you might like to go if the chance(s) were to present themselves.

"There hasn’t been much innovation in treatment since penicillin."

I am sorry but that is nonsense.

Look at heart disease for starters. Bypasses, stints etc. let people who a generation ago would have died in their 50s live normal live spans.

Laser and micro surgery have made operations that would put one into the hospital for days with months of recuperation into out patient proceedings and quick recovery.

Metal implants help bones heal faster and better, not to mention total replacements of hips and knees which let people live normal lives with vastly reduced pain.

Well, Republicans COULD deal with the regulatory burden on businesses and consumers by attacking restrictive zoning laws, parking mandates, occupational licensing, abortion provider restrictions, requirements that automobiles be sold through dealerships, and turning clean energy mandates into subsidies. But that would imply that they were serious about economic growth and smaller government.

Hehe, not that I disagree in the slightest, but the idea of a thriving abortion industry driving economic growth is...strangely amusing.

Has Tyler ever done a "there is no great stagnation: abortion" post?

attacking restrictive zoning laws, parking mandates, occupational licensing, abortion provider restrictions

Why would anyone attack 'abortion provider restrictions'? Abortion is a grotesque crime and complaining about 'regulatory burdens' regarding it is obscene. I take it you donated to Kermit Gosnell's legal defense fund.

#4...It's hard for me to imagine someone using Huysmans to understand any current issue as anything other than satire or comedy. He's too eccentric a character to be emblematic of anything. It's as if someone began a talk saying "In order to understand our current social predicaments, we must obviously begin with Baron Corvo." It takes a lot of restraint from laughter just to answer "How so?"

Among other things, the existence of diverse variants of early Indian literature, combined with its spiritual relevance, is strong evidence that spiritual freedom had been respected by political authority over long thousands of years. Compare this to the level of variation in stories of spiritual significance in European traditions. But it seems that we may have come around.

Conservatives, unlike intolerant "thought police" Liberals, understand the benefits of diverse opinions. Maybe this is why the pro-Censorship Left wants to silence Conservatives--including such mainstream people as Condoleeza Rice--on college campuses.

Thanks for the Houellbecq interview. Like interesting Amazon reviews, that one definitely sold at leasty one copy...

Posts like this bregithn up my day. Thanks for taking the time.

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