Making the Grade

One of the hallmarks of modern liberal/progressives is their bias in favor of equality of results. That is why they worry so much about “gaps” in performance and insist on using awkward modifiers like “underprivileged,” “disadvantaged” or “underserved” when describing anybody not doing as well as others. This quest for equality is reflected in grades. To a statistically significant degree, Democratic professors give out fewer high and low marks. In other words, they equalize results.

If this is the information you had about the class, how would that change your choices and decisions? It depends on your ability and the amount of effort you planned to expend. If you were smart and planned to work hard, you would be better off with the Republican, since you would have a better chance of getting an "A". On the other hand, if you were stupid and lazy you should go with the Democrat. This assumes you could make the choice in advance.

What if you were just thrust into the class? How could knowing this information change your behavior? Under the Democrat regime, you have a smaller scope for success or failure. Doing little or not much will get you a "B". Being a little bit better will bring you to a plateau. After that, additional effort or talent doesn't do much for you. "Pretty good" is good enough; excellence brings no reward.

The Republican way is more challenging. You can go higher and lower. If you are smart and hardworking, you can produce excellence. If you are the Homer Simpson type, however, your result will be lower.

Of course, you can read way too much into this data and the details would be questionable. It would be important to know the distribution of SAT scores. This data is from an elite university, so the median is probably high. We also don't know the distributions. There may be more individuals in the categories. The chart is misleading since it doesn't consider this.

Anyway, don't read too much into the precise details, but look at the general direction and trends.

I am a strong believer in equal opportunity and fairness, which means that I oppose equality of results. Inequality of results in our diverse country need not be very painful. Diversity means inequality. In a free society, it is impossible that the same people will be best at everything. All of us will be winners in some things, losers in others and finish in the middle of most. It is more satisfying to have the chance to do well than be relegated to the mediocre. Who would play a game that always ended with no winners?

I side with Roosevelt on this:

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

In other words, mediocrity of equality of results sux.

Posted by Christine & John at January 10, 2012 8:18 PM
Comments
Comment #334317

Gee C&J I guess I am more surprised to hear their are repub professors, after listening to conservatives I thought they were all socialist elitist filling the minds of our youths with communism and ….;)

Posted by: j2t2 at January 10, 2012 10:51 PM
Comment #334319


I always wondered why the conservative professors gave me A’s. Now I know. Those damned liberal professors ruined my life.

Posted by: jlw at January 10, 2012 11:47 PM
Comment #334320

Here’s my hypothesis: Democratic Professors are more likely to teach courses in the humanities whereas Republican Professors are more likely to teach courses in the Mathematics/Natural Sciences. (This is an observation from the original paper.)

In a humanities course is easy to do “pretty good” and much harder to do “very well” or “very poorly”. Usually, a humanities course grade is based on essays or papers that are written and submitted and scoring is mostly subjective. If one simply regurgitates what the professor has been lecturing about, one is almost assured a B. Usually, one needs to present an idea or two that are new and original (and support those ideas with plenty of references and citations) in order to earn an A. Presenting a new idea is risky because it is very easy to simply make a fool of oneself, which means many students go with the first path and earn a B.

In a mathematics or natural science course, the grade is usually based on an exam involving quantitative questions and scoring is entirely objective. Because students have a wide range of abilities, there are a wide range of grades when everything is said and done.

Posted by: Warped Reality at January 11, 2012 12:32 AM
Comment #334323

j2t2

I thought the same thing. There was probably a smaller number that maybe skewed the statistics.

jlw

If you were among the smarter and harder working students, you may have a point.

Warped

Good point, which leads to a different question. Why are the liberals not doing the hard sciences?

Liberals are also probably more likely to be teaching bogus subjects like gender or ethnic studies, where ideology trumps rigor, but these are just speculations.


Posted by: C&J at January 11, 2012 4:00 AM
Comment #334325

C&J, I was thinking another conservative myth bites the dust.

Posted by: j2t2 at January 11, 2012 9:51 AM
Comment #334328
Why are the liberals not doing the hard sciences?

76.3% of Professors were registered Democrats according to the paper; so I’m confident that there are plenty of liberals in the hard sciences. The more relevant question is “why are the conservatives not doing the humanities”?

iberals are also probably more likely to be teaching bogus subjects like gender or ethnic studies, where ideology trumps rigor, but these are just speculations.

That could be true.

Posted by: Warped Reality at January 11, 2012 11:38 AM
Comment #334337

Warped

Maybe if we got rid of the bogus subjects, liberals and conservatives would come to similar numbers.

We (I at least) are just speculating, but I am willing to bet that less than 5%, probably less than 1% of the professors who teach ethnic or gender studies as well as those socially influenced literature classes are Republicans.

Posted by: C&J at January 11, 2012 3:31 PM
Comment #334341

j2t2

See Warped’s comment. Evidently 76.3% of Professors were registered Democrats according to the paper. Only 5.3% were Republicans. The rest were the various others.

The academic environment is hard on conservatives. We face significant discrimination. I wonder why liberals don’t worry about this “gap” or under-representation?

Conservatives are underrepresented more than any minority group we can think of.

Posted by: C&J at January 11, 2012 3:43 PM
Comment #334344
Maybe if we got rid of the bogus subjects, liberals and conservatives would come to similar numbers.

We (I at least) are just speculating, but I am willing to bet that less than 5%, probably less than 1% of the professors who teach ethnic or gender studies as well as those socially influenced literature classes are Republicans.

I agree.

BTW, given the clues in the paper (sparsely populated county; but the 3rd parties that are mentioned are from New York), I’m willing to bet that Cornell University is the school that was studied.

Also, I have an anecdote to support my hypothesis. I know a particular philosophy professor at my University who teaches both quantitative courses in logic as well as a course about racism and Asian Americans. In the logic course, grading was pretty straight forward and students performed in accordance to their abilities. In the Asian American course, I got the feeling that the grades were not distributed that broadly.

Posted by: Warped Reality at January 11, 2012 4:31 PM
Comment #334347

First of all, can we ask why there are more A’s and F’s?

If we’re really talking about a well-balanced class, where the average student has a chance to learn, but the subject matter is challenging enough that the class doesn’t become basket-weaving 101, then you will likely see a Normal distribution on your grades, with students rarely flunking absolutely, but also rarely getting the highest marks.

We could then hypothesize that a greater deviation from that reflects some kind of imbalance or bias in the study work.

Also, let’s get one thing straight: an overwhelming percentage of professors are Democrats, probably owing to a consistent, persistent anti-science bias by the right wing. You can claim discrimination, but I think the bigger problem is that being a fair-minded academic has fallen out of favor for the GOP, and children in GOP families are discouraged from seeking out such programs.

There are many possible reasons for the results shown, and most of them amount to Republicans playing the victim card about something that’s really a result of their own culture.

Also, let me note this: high grades do not necessarily indicate high intellect.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 11, 2012 4:36 PM
Comment #334348

Also, let me note this: high grades do not necessarily indicate high intellect.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 11, 2012

Are you making excuses for obama? It does explain a lot.

Posted by: Royal Flush at January 11, 2012 4:52 PM
Comment #334349

I really don’t see the constructive purpose in essays and scholarship like this. They seem to be there to confirm something Republicans believed about themselves long before any evidence was at their hands to do so. Such “just so” academic exercises seem to serve subjective needs for high self-esteem, rather than illuminate something real and objective that’s fit for real study.

Maybe it’s time you realize that most liberal professors, which is to say, most professors, period, are neither in the business of failing students, nor making sure a few brilliant ones shine, whether that leaves others in the dust or not. Their job is to make sure most of the students learn, and get their money’s worth, and pass on to more advanced classes prepared to handle the subject matter. The law of the jungle is for stupid animals who can’t learn or develop over many generations into viable survivors without it. It’s not a wise way to run human institutions.

Teaching is more complicated than grades, and if some understood that, then we wouldn’t be working at this standardized test dead end. The world is more complicated than multiple choice tests can be written for.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 11, 2012 4:55 PM
Comment #334352

Royal Flush-
The observant reader will note that it was you who mentioned Obama first. As for my comment, it was recognition of a reality that a high grade can be the product of kissing the professor’s ass, of grinding hard work and study (which I will not disparage), as well as natural talent.

As for President Obama? Funny how a man with better grades than ninety percent of other students gets accused of getting them through affirmative action. Funny how a man who becomes beloved for his eloquent and articulate speaking skills gets bashed as if he’s propped up by a teleprompter. Funny how a man who built his campaign on middle of the road, inclusive messages, who reached out to both sides, gets tarred as a radical, and even a bigot. The man goes out of his way to salvage the mess on Wall Street and Detroit, yet he gets labelled as a socialist.

It seems that a lot of attacks are meant to make Obama seem like something he’s not. Stupid when most who encounter him consider him the smartest man in the room, inarticulate when he’s an eloquent speaker, socialist when he helps rescue capitalism, etc.

Could it be that some won’t win if they can’t create artificial dissatisfaction? If they can’t convince themselves, or others, that Obama is worse than reasonable examination of the evidence would justify?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 11, 2012 5:07 PM
Comment #334354

Stephen

Re “anti-science bias” how would you explain then that the conservatives are more concentrated in the sciences?

Re “Also, let me note this: high grades do not necessarily indicate high intellect.” That is true. They are correlated, however.

Re “As & Fs” We don’t usually have a normal distribution in grades and we probably should not.

My own feeling is closer to what you seem to be saying, that EVERYBODY should be able to get an A. That is the standard. Most people do not because they are not smart enough or too lazy. Of course, maybe the teaching is not up to standard, or maybe the standard is inappropriate.

Excellence is hard. Or should I say that true excellence is hard. Liberals sometimes “award” it to deserving victims.

Re Obama - as far as I know, Obama has refused to release his college transcripts. Am I mistaken? If so, please let me know where we can view them.

We don’t know if Obama got better grades than 90% of his classmates. We did know, BTW, that Bush had higher grades than Kerry.


Posted by: C&J at January 11, 2012 5:20 PM
Comment #334357

Warped

I had a roommate in college who was one of the laziest people I ever met. He father was a rich Pakistani business owner, who told his son that all he needed to do was get a degree in engineering and he would have a job back home. The engineering department required that he maintain better than a 2.o average. This was not easy for him, since engineering classes are hard and he was not inclined to work very hard. His solution?

He has a double major in engineering and African-American studies. He tended to get Ds in his other classes, but he got As in African-American studies. He told me that his professors thought it was more important that he be made aware of the reality of oppression than those old-fashioned things like actually studying. He was good at talking the talk, so he did well. The As averaged with the Ds ensured he kept his GPA above the cutoff.

He was studying civil engineering. I would not want to cross a bridge or live in a building he worked on, but I know he would be good at explaining to his countrymen how oppressive the U.S. had been.

Posted by: C&J at January 11, 2012 5:30 PM
Comment #334361

C&J-
More concentrated? They’re a minority. By definition, Democrats have a higher concentration in the sciences. Somebody’s misreading their evidence.

As for the rest?

You know, it’s funny you have to keep on saying these things, because I don’t recall the last time I actually promoted such views myself. Funny how that works. Am I hiding my true feelings? No, I’m afraid not. You’re just demonstrating your ignorance here of my actual thinking.

My actual thinking is that the teacher’s duty is to the student, but it’s also a duty shared with their responsibility to the class. They have to actually teach enough to advance the knowledge of the students in general. Just as a parent has to raise all their children, not just their favorites, so to do teachers and professors have to teach all their students, not just the few with great potential.

As for Obama? We seem to be following a rather unfortunate theme here of implied academic dishonesty and fraud. That theme is accompanied by a counterpoint of having absolutely no evidence to back even bare suspicions.

All you really have, unfortunately, is borderline racist implications that because Obama was black, or because he didn’t apply himself as fully before, that his grades are somehow dubious, or the effect of affirmative action rther than real achievement on his part. Are these the kinds of unfounded speculations you want to associate yourself with?

The implication seems to be, as things go on, that Liberals aren’t the true intellectuals, that Obama isn’t truly smart enough to graduated Magna Cum Laude and a achieve the Presidency of the Harvard Law Review, that all these qualifications that liberal professors, scientists and others hold are the product of systematic fraud and political bias.

Is that what you’re saying? That’s what it seems like you’re saying.

Are you wondering, at this point, why people get offended? Don’t. You should be able to put two and two together, and figure out that insulting people’s intelligence is at least somewhat offensive.

I think the President is as smart as they say he is. I think he’s as good of a speaker as he seems to be. I think Republicans need to encourage intellectualism and stop punishing the people who try to take the party in new direction, if they want intelligent people to lead their party. They can’t cut down all of our smart guys to make up for their lack of them.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 11, 2012 6:14 PM
Comment #334363
The academic environment is hard on conservatives.

I’ll bet. ;)

We face significant discrimination.

Really, from who? the students you teach?

I wonder why liberals don’t worry about this “gap” or under-representation?

I would venture the guess that it is because the discrimination you refer to is mostly in one’s mind. Conservatives have the freedom to become a professor much like anyone else. If they choose not to do so, do you advocate forcing them into these positions?

Many times discrimination is defined as “not being able” to rather than “not wanting to”. This appears to be the latter.


Conservatives are underrepresented more than any minority group we can think of.

Assuming that is so perhaps Mitt can go into the ranks of college professors instead of putting people out of work and companies out of business for the gain of a few wealthy clients, when the election cycle is over. ;)

Posted by: j2t2 at January 11, 2012 7:12 PM
Comment #334364

Stephen

There are a smaller number of conservatives but relatively more of them are concentrated in the sciences. Concentrated means that. If you have 1000 people and 200 are in the sciences versus 100 with 50 in the sciences, which would you say was more concentrated in the sciences? Since there are more liberals in EVERY area, we cannot say they are concentrated everywhere, can we. It violates the idea of concentrated.

Re students, good and bad - There is an honest disagreement. We can treat all equally, which will produce very unequal results, since abilities and habits are different. We can favor the poor students, which will lower the overall performance, since investments in the failing students doesn’t produce the optimal results. Or you can spend on the brightest. You will probably get most success, but create even more inequality.

We all have a different mix. In my experience, liberals tend to emphasize bringing up the bottom. Conservatives tend to emphasize enhancing excellence. Few of us want to do ONLY one or the other, but it is the relative weight.

What I have told you is in no way racist. In fact what you have responded to me is racist. I said nothing about race or even about Obama particularly. I simply said that Obama has not released his grades. We don’t know if he was among the best and brightest. We know the records of others. That is how we know that Bush outscored Kerry. So if you are thinking as a racist, don’t project that on others.

I think Obama is a smart guy. I don’t think he is a good leader. That is different.

Re picking smart leaders - our current leader for the nomination is Mitt Romney. He graduated in the top 5% of his JD/MBA class in Harvard. If we are judging by such things, Mitt certainly makes the grade.

Posted by: C&J at January 11, 2012 7:26 PM
Comment #334365

j2t2


I have spent some time in the academic environment. It is often hostile to conservative ideas. Conservatives must constantly defend their ideas, while liberal ones are often just accepted. I don’t think it is a overt discrimination, but it is natural. When 80% agree on something, it is hard to see other points of view.

I remember on my MA Thesis, I made a tangential comment that it is hard to sell into a market that is already being served by a someone who can provide similar products at a lower cost. One of my reviewers wrote in the margins, “this is based on classical economics”. When I asked about it, he just assumed that there was something wrong with that.

I agree with you that conservatives are more likely to choose business etc. I think it is the mirror of why liberals choose academics. We believe in markets and more often understand how to make them work to our advantage.

The biggest problem I see with liberal domination of some fields is that they tend to make them irrelevant. That is why we saw the creation of think tanks. It became difficult to get useful sociological research from many academic departments.

Posted by: C&J at January 11, 2012 7:37 PM
Comment #334376

“We don’t know if Obama got better grades than 90% of his classmates. We did know, BTW, that Bush had higher grades than Kerry.”

C&J,

Obama graduated from the most competitive law school in the country, magna cum laude. That degree is only awarded to those in the top 10% of their class. The only higher degree is summa cum laude which wasn’t awarded to anyone in his graduating class. For all we know, he might have been in the top 1% of his class.

Posted by: Rich at January 11, 2012 9:28 PM
Comment #334378

C&J-
You have to put one too many twists on things to get your conclusions where you need them to go.

I have made no racist arguments. It’s not racist to point out that an argument has nothing but stereotypes about what kind of man Obama is to support it. It is racist to allege without evidence that he might have been given favoritism because of his race, as it is a political argument made explicitly in the vein of affirmative action arguments designed to paint the target as unworthy of their accredited achievements.

In this case, a Magna Cum Laude honors graduation from Harvard Law. That is no mean achievement, and Affirmative Action doesn’t affect grades. That means, in order for Obama to get this degree without earning it fully, he would have to be helped along by Professors in what is basically an act of academic fraud. Only the substance-supported spectre of such fraud would be sufficient cause to doubt Obama’s achievements on objective grounds. But this is all left as innuendo, unproven and unprovable.

You say, oh, he should release the transcript! Why? Why is Obama not afforded the benefit of the doubt that he earned a degree with honors that in and of themselves indicated that he kept a very high grade average? Why must he prove himself to be smart, capable, competent, if his ****ing degree honors are designed to make that point for him?

Should we question your grades until you deliver your transcript? Should you doubt that I did everything I had to in order to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Telecommunication?

No. We’ve done nothing to raise such doubts, and they shouldn’t be cast upon us without any proof. It is a matter of legal precedent that people can get away with saying worse things about public figures than otherwise, so people say things freely about Obama that private citizens could sue them for defamation for spreading around.

There’s no doubt Harvard handed him this degree, and according to them, he did what he had to to earn the honors bestowed upon him. Without further evidence, I don’t think this should even be up for debate, much less having Republicans call his educational bonafides into question.

And really, could they be more crass about it? Affirmative action? Without any evidence that he earned his honors illegitimately, this is a purely prejudicial attack whose central conclusions are that the President relied upon exploitation of the system in order to get his magnificent degree, his prestigious honors, rather than his intelligence and skill.

This attack, to convince other people that Obama’s achievements are worthy of contempt and distrust, relies upon people’s perceptions that black people in America are afforded chances unfairly. It plays upon racial resentments and tensions to defame Obama’s achievement, cast contempt on it. The very act of asking for Obama’s transcript is, whether motivated by racism or not, a concession to a racism-driven argument meant to drag down the prestige of what Obama did.

If you truly regard his achievements as the equal of his peers, you should not ask for his transcript, anymore than you would ask for their transcript to confirm their worthiness for their degree. There are plenty of disagreements you have with him that don’t have this evil taint attached to them, so why stick with this one? Why even bring it up?

As for your numbers? The problem is, in absolute terms, your relative proportions are worthless. We still have objectively greater numbers on both sides. Perhaps because we don’t go around knocking people for being academics, scientists, or whatever. We haven’t spent the last twenty years badmouthing scientists, promoting fringe theories, or trying to put creationism in the curriculum. (all of which might have served to take people who would otherwise remain Republicans and drive them out of the party with their disgust)

I would say that this is a symptom of a larger problem for Republicans, that they are essentially out of equilibrium with the rest of the culture. They have to have their own everything, their own schools, their own churches, their own science, their own economic theories. Rather than being a coalition of people influenced by certain theories, but still open to others under examination, the Republicans have become beholding to a rather particular, and rather rigid set of political, economic, and pseudoscientific dogmas, which they dare not dispute if they want to remain a Republican in good standing.

I’m the last person to say that people should fully conform. I think there is a great deal of value to marching to your own drummer. However, sometimes a little synchrony with others yields rewards. I mean, that’s why we evolved that way, I believe. As a person who is on the Autism Disorder spectrum, I’ve had a lifelong course in the ups and downs of being a person who believes things stubbornly, who remains distant from interactions with others. I’ve learned the hard way what the value of the synchrony and social networking people do is, the value of listening to other people’s ideas and examining their beliefs.

The irony to me is that Republicans are inflicting on themselves a mindset I have spent my whole life laboring to overcome. Understand that when I talk about the limits of systems that rely on hyperindividualism.

I understand Republicans mean well when they throw themselves on the mercies of such systems, but my life has given me an education and a perspective on the value of seeing society and government both through individual and collective lenses at the same time.

Take what you say about education. I have a unique position. I was given special attention both for my abilities, and my disabilities. I needed both. Developing my abilities helped me compensate. My worst period came when I was thrown into a sink or swim environment, without any training as to how to compensate for my shortcomings.

You never know what’s in somebody. Sometimes it’s putting people to the test that brings things out. Sometimes its cultivating their skills. People are complicated. You think its a waste to try and bring people up, I think it’s a waste to leave the potential of so many people untapped.

I think it doesn’t take much of anything to realize the potential of those who are already gifted, either by the accident of birth into a wealthy or prestigious family, or by some extraordinary capacity that they’re born with. A person like that has to be more unlucky, more of a screw-up not to succeed.

You didn’t need to tell a person like me to learn something. I wanted to do it, it made me happy to do it. I will succeed, sooner or later. Unhappily my financial circumstances have made it more later than I ever thought. But I remain committed to succeeding.

Obama’s stimulus measures helped me and those like me quite a bit. We’re going to be able to do things we might not have otherwise been able to do because of what he did. The potential was there, but it was going to be wasted because the money wasn’t.

The people you need to be concerned about are the middle class and poor people who are going to be trapped by the economy and by a society with its priorities all wrong into a system that discourages their achievement, their striving for excellence.

I don’t believe our nation’s people any less than the equal of any people on the face of this planet. What keeps our nation down is a misbegotten belief in our own stupidity and the social value of maintaining ignorance and anti-intellectual, anti-scientific beliefs. If we had a less of an inferiority complex, if we indulged our prejudice against being educated less, if we took more pride in our country, in our strength as an exporter, in the prosperity of our workers and the strength of our nation’s ability to to achieve things, rather than simultaneous mourning our inferiority to the previous generations and squandering the valuable legacy they gave us, we could do something.

I am not at all a believer that everything has to come from the top, or that people shouldn’t be asked to do all they can do to become self-reliant. At the same time, I don’t believe in leaving my country’s fortunes to chance. I believe we have to work separately AND together towards giving our nation and ourselves a better future. To see things purely in terms of the individual or purely in terms of the group is to look at things through an lens of illusion. We are both at the same time, and both natures of humanity must be reckoned with, if we are to govern our nation properly.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 11, 2012 10:18 PM
Comment #334389
I have spent some time in the academic environment. It is often hostile to conservative ideas.

Could this rigorous peer review of ideas be hostile because of the poorer quality of the ideas C&J?

Conservatives must constantly defend their ideas, while liberal ones are often just accepted. I don’t think it is a overt discrimination, but it is natural. When 80% agree on something, it is hard to see other points of view.

Conservatives should constantly have to defend their ideas C&J. In fact they should constantly have to revise their ideas, IMHO, when found wanting. Because conservatism cannot compete in the marketplace of ideas doesn’t mean they are discriminated against does it?

That is why we saw the creation of think tanks. It became difficult to get useful sociological research from many academic departments.

This explains the problem IMHO, C&J. Think tanks for the most part are paid by wealthy donors to justify preconceived notions, to rationalize ideologies under the pretense of research. Propaganda mills not subject to the scrutiny of peer review. An attempt to compete in the marketplace of ideas with faulty and revised history and ideas. The place where conservative professors, unable to compete at the university level, live off the welfare of the wealthy perhaps?

Posted by: j2t2 at January 12, 2012 9:43 AM
Comment #334415

Stephen

“It is racist to allege without evidence that he might have been given favoritism because of his race,” that would be true. BUT I never alleged that. The fact that you inferred it from a simple discussion of grading procedures indicates a racist mindset.

IMO – we have sufficiently large pool of qualified applicants from various groups that we no longer need affirmation action at all.

BTW – this is the FIRST time I have mentioned affirmative action at all. You have been arguing with yourself about this. Nobody attacked it.

Re releasing the transcripts – because that is what politicians running for the presidency do. Bush did. Kerry did. Lots of things are out there. Same reason they release income tax records. Presumably, he would be proud of all those good grades in those hard subjects.

“As for your numbers? The problem is, in absolute terms, your relative proportions are worthless.” In any sort of statistical study, you need to know both.

Obviously, if there are greater numbers in general, it will produce greater absolute numbers in many things, but this is not useful.

Think about this. If you have population of 100,000 and 14 people are killed in car accidents. How worried would you be driving? If you are very worried, you are in trouble, since that is the rate in the U.S. Now consider if we are talking about 14 accidents but in a population of only 100. Does this change your perspective?

“What keeps our nation down” actually we are doing pretty well, compared to any other nation on earth or in the history of the earth, at least.

“I don’t believe in leaving my country’s fortunes to chance.” Neither do I. this is why I like to rely on market mechanisms, where we can take advantage of the knowledge, judgment, expertise and imagination of a large number of people.

The irony is that the market is a method of collective decision making. It is, in fact, the most effective.

Posted by: C&J at January 12, 2012 7:31 PM
Comment #334416

j2t2

Peer review is something that makes sense in sciences. I am talking about the world of opinions and ideas.

I have always hated communism. I recall during the 1970s & 1980s arguing that communism was oppressive and unstable. These ideas were treated with some hostility. They were considered a little extreme. I was told that the Soviet Union was here to stay and that the Soviets had brought stability and a some prosperity to Russia and Eastern Europe.

One of my professors was a guy called Wroclaw Soroka. He had the advantage of being Polish and having lived with communism. He hated it. Other professors treated him with a kind of indulgence. One even told me that he couldn’t argue with Soroka, but that we had to understand that his idea were a bit old fashioned. Turned out old Wroclaw was right.

After the collapse of that system, we saw how bad it had been.

I was talking to a group of young people yesterday. They were asking questions based on what they learned in political science classes. I told them that they had to keep those theories in mind on tests and papers, but in real life things didn’t happen like that.

Posted by: C&J at January 12, 2012 7:40 PM
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