What Universities Were Never For

A notion currently as fashionable as it is pernicious is the idea that free speech protections should only ever be legal protections. As long as the government respects our free speech rights, we citizens can and should feel free to use whatever legitimate private means of silencing speech we disagree with are available to us.…

Academic Cults and Chomsky

Norbert Hornstein doesn’t like Gary Marcus’ recent piece on Noam Chomsky in The New Yorker, and it’s interesting why. From the comments (in this comment Hornstein is responding directly to a comment left by Marcus): To be evenhanded (at least in the New Yorker) it is essential to uncover character flaws of various types (extremely…

Pro Elegance – a vote of confidence

Noah has a blog entry called The End of Elegance. In it, he’s hoping that “elegance” will go away as a desideratum of Linguistic theory. Or, maybe not go away, but be relegated to lesser importance. Or … actually, it’s a little hard to tell exactly what he means – which is always the case…

How Student Loans Should Work

As someone with a certain modest amount of student loan debt and a lot of experience teaching undergrads, not to mention being someone who is deeply worried about the national and state-level debts, I’m sympathetic to calls for reform of the federal student loan program. Like this one, for example. Basic argument – that loans…

TOWM QOTD

The places where human needs are best met are not those in which aggrieved majorities swoop in and suddenly confiscate 3/4 of the assets of successful capitalists. They are places that don’t do that. Will Wilkinson, doing a nice takedown of Brian Leiter’s defense of Marxism over at BigThink.

Supply and Demand in the Fake World

I tried to leave a comment on Marc Bosquet‘s blog How the University Works but got a string of errors. Kind of like the string of errors in the analogy of his I was writing to complain about. Since my blog (also running on WordPress) can handle comments just fine, I guess I’ll leave it…

Grading without a Curve

This is bound to twist up the knickers of national greatness conservatives. West Potomac High School is dropping the F grade. And replacing it with “I” – as in “incomplete.” I’m half for it. My ideal education system operates something like this, actually. There would be only one grade – “Pass” – and it would…

Beyond Rigorous and Loose

To rework a classic Star Trek joke:* QUESTION: On which episode of EconTalk does Russ Roberts speculate that mathematical models in Economics serve primarily to flatter Economists’ vanity that they are doing “real science?” ANSWER: All of them. And the most recent one is no exception. Scroll down to “18:02″ in the transcript to read…

Lingusitic Funny Money

As any hip economist will tell you, Economics isn’t really about following the money. In fact it’s about a particular method of thinking about rational and efficient allocation of scarce resources. Where there’s no scarcity, there’s no Economics. Since money stands in for “utility in general,” then sure, Economics will usually be talking about money…