Wednesday Highlights

Good morning. 0 (F) this morning … expecting -10 or less tomorrow. Cool, eh? (heh)

  1. Regulation.
  2. Mr Krugman talks more on climate. Oops.
  3. High in the Coptic government. Some more here from Japan.
  4. A book noted.
  5. How to jump to a really bad example to (not?) demonstrate a point. The question is asked, in sports, does firing the coach help win championships. If it didn’t why do they keep doing it over and over and over?
  6. Speaking of sports, a good example.
  7. More sports talk here.
  8. Liberals sounding like “right wingers”.
  9. How that budget neutrality works, by moving it to kill state budgets … oh, and your budget too.
  10. All the hypocrisy that’s fit to print.
  11. You can choose your ideology … or not. Perhaps by choose he meant change.
  12. Of Cairo and Chicago.

42 responses to “Wednesday Highlights

  1. I agree with your criticism that you can’t choose your ideology, but the complaint that there are few conservatives in academia is ridiculous. Where’s your evidence that they are being discriminated against rather than simply choosing not to go into academics?

    Conservatives have made a habit out of mocking the very ideas underlying academia, from denying scientific theories like evolution to ridiculing “ivory tower” professors. You yourself deny the utility of statistical sampling (“cricket races”) so how would you go into, for example, the social sciences?

    That conservatives are underrepresented among academics should be seen as an argument against conservatism, not against academia.

  2. Mr Krugman talks more on climate. Oops.

    Again seems to miss the point. An extreme weather event can be talked about as either a cause or an illustration. Or look at it another way, if your kid’s house gets robbed, you may tell her this is a reminder that she should lock her doors. She rolls her eyes at you and tells you she did lock her doors and there you go again blaming her. You’re both right in that she is taking your criticism as blaming her for the robbery, you’re not intending to assign blame for that particular robbery but want to lower the chances of future robberies.

    I’m reading Krugman as talking about the current wheat issue as an illustration of the kinds of problems climate change may bring. You’re trying to refute that any one incident is due to climate change. In fact even if dramatic weather events may have been trending downwards it still doesn’t matter. The fact remains that if warming causes more incidents that look like what happened to Russian wheat this year, that will be problems for us to deal with. Now maybe the fact is we aren’t having warming, maybe warming doesn’t cause incidents like that, etc. That’s all a different argument.

  3. How to jump to a really bad example to (not?) demonstrate a point. The question is asked, in sports, does firing the coach help win championships. If it didn’t why do they keep doing it over and over and over?

    I don’t know if its true but I’ve been told half the thermostates in office buildings are connected to nothing. If people can move a knob a degree or two higher or lower, they complain less to management about the heat/air conditioning. We like the illusion we are in control so we tend to over estimate how powerful the ‘knob’ we can turn really is. Look at how much commentary there is over the previous election protests in Iran and the current protests in Egypt whose premise seems to be that Obama can alter the course of history by a subtle phrasing of language .

    This is why I’m skeptical of criticism of teacher tenure. I’m highly skeptical that most teachers taken alone have much impact on educational outcomes but they are an easy ‘knob’ to turn too when you want better results.

  4. Liberals sounding like “right wingers”.

    Interesting….maybe that’s why Republicans are acting like their plan from less than ten years ago was imported from Das Kaptial.

    Let me just add, once again, that fair balance here should be there actually is no insurance mandate that has ever been enacted in any law or even proposed.

  5. Boonton,

    You’re trying to refute that any one incident is due to climate change.

    No. That’s what you want me to refute (and how you are even now “shutting down” the conversation). Note I had written that the global frequency and intensity of storms (in which case large tropical depressions like typhoons and hurricanes) have not increased over time. This is in direct contradiction of the prediction … which as people like to point that global warming is here now to a measurable extent so should the increase in storm events be seen. Yet, It. Is. Not. Seen. We’re not talking about singular storms, we’re talking about, to quote Mr Kruguman, ” What you’re looking for is a pattern. And that pattern is obvious.” No no, Mr Krugman, what you’re looking for is a pattern and that pattern is missing.

  6. JA,
    OK. Soooo, you’re a conservative and interested in sociology and you also have an interest, say, in other people related skills. Given that 98% of sociologists are liberal … you have a choice between Madison avenue or sales and academics where you will be a pariah. Odd that conservatives might be underrepresented. Why would you be a pariah, btw? Because liberal’s vaunted openness is an effing self serving lie which they nevertheless believe.

  7. Boonton,

    Let me just add, once again, that fair balance here should be there actually is no insurance mandate that has ever been enacted in any law or even proposed.

    Well, then the un-Constitutional nature of the mandate being tossed out will have zero effect on the law. So, you can stop defending it then.

  8. Boonton
    And all the “close” switches on domestic elevators do nothing. I’m convinced (experimentally) that the “close” switch in the Marriot in Cebu (in the Philippines) was active, because when pressed the doors immediately began closing.

    However, the sports analogy used was that was that turnover of coaches and personnel doesn’t fix anything, which is obviously untrue.

    No one can use firing as a chief tool to turn an organization around, nor to lead any organization to a championship.

    Bullcrap. That’s just false. Just look at the Parcells hirings (which of course took place just prior to firing some other guys).

  9. JA,

    You yourself deny the utility of statistical sampling (“cricket races”) so how would you go into, for example, the social sciences?

    I did the same mocking of that when I was moving from liberal through disinterested libertarianism to conservatism. I was a Physicist and had planned on an Academic career … but at the time I was finishing grad. school there was a price bidding race for the falling Eastern bloc people to be moved into positions here, so post-doctoral money was scarcer than usual and those are scarce in the first place. A friend had started working in industrial automation and computer programming was a hobby of mine. What person can really complain when their hobby is their job (the only downside is you need a new hobby).

    That conservatives are underrepresented among academics should be seen as an argument against conservatism, not against academia.

    Or that liberals are selectively blind to the effect of sub-culture in the forming of opinions, in this case the academic sub-culture.

  10. Given that 98% of sociologists are liberal … you have a choice between Madison avenue or sales and academics where you will be a pariah. Odd that conservatives might be underrepresented. Why would you be a pariah, btw?

    Is that really the choice? Liberal sociologists are a dime a dozen but a conservative one is a rare bird, an intelligent one is pretty unique. Think about the humanities. Charles Murray doesn’t want for book deals or speaking fees. Harold Bloom sold quite a bit of his work, yet if you were a left winger who wanted to publish a book arguing that literature departments were too Anglocentric….well you’d be lucky to see a 1,000 book print run and forget about getting interviewed on any high brow shows or getting a three page, 5 column review in The New Republic. There’s an ample market for right wing historians. Incentive wise I’m don’t think it’s at all clear conservatives are shut out of anywhere as opposed to shutting themselves out. For example, free market ideology is pretty standard among economists. Do those of a consevative bent simply perceive economics to be a subject ‘for them’ and sociology to be a subject ‘for liberals’ thereby creating the distortions that we see?

    However, the sports analogy used was that was that turnover of coaches and personnel doesn’t fix anything, which is obviously untrue.

    I agree with that, but then again it might do nothing other than let an owner vent his frustrations and animal desire to ‘act’. Ultimately there’s no substitute for getting deep into the subject and really exploring what is good and what is bad and asking what it is you want to see and what are the complex causes for it beign elusive.

  11. JA,
    I should point out in non-politically connected fields, like biology, maths, chemistry, physics, and other hard sciences (what’s left?) … the political affiliation of the population should be taken with a grain of salt. The people at the top of those fields, which influence in many ways via imitation, the rest of those fields have a really really stunted view of politics. These people are monomaniacal devoted to their particular interest spending practically every waking moment involved in the intricacies of the particular problems they are involved in solving. For the most part their political ideas are naive and not well thought out … because it’s peripheral to their focus in life. So saying that their non-conservative bias is meaningful implies that intelligent people should not be conservative is kinda silly. It’s akin to pointing out that first graders are also liberal so that should be seen as an argument against conservatism.

  12. Scientific paper demonstrating that liberals exhibit more Openness than conservatives. Fact.

    These people are monomaniacal devoted to their particular interest spending practically every waking moment….

    Yeah yeah yeah, you always have an excuse as to why the smartest and most knowledgeable people on any given subject are wrong about even that subject, so obviously you wouldn’t place any value on their beliefs about other subjects.

    Here’s a question, considering your great skepticism of everybody else’s beliefs: why do you trust your own beliefs so much?

    (My answer to that question is that I have purposely spent the last decade trying to correct for any biases I have and any indoctrination which would hinder the quest for true understanding. In other words, I’ve been “Open” or liberal.)

  13. The NY Times article on bias is interesting (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/08/science/08tier.html?_r=1&ref=science) in that it is result of unintentional or shall we say institutional bias. In other words, unlike, say, a University in Mississippi in 1957 there’s no dean of sociology saying he will not hire a conservative sociologist. Sociologists just tend to be liberal so new sociologists assume they should either be liberal or go into something else.

    So this brings up the question of so what? What should be done? It sounds like there’s no systemic discrimination that can be addressed. Ohh I’m sure some conservatives can be treated unfairly but there’s not exactly a ‘right wing barrier’. The solution would seem to be affirmative action, sociology departments purposefully recruiting conservatives so give their research more diversity…..

    But then what does that say about the conservative view towards affirmative action when it comes to other fields and areas?

  14. Scientific paper demonstrating that liberals exhibit more Openness than conservatives. Fact.

    Which I suspect is both true and also besides the point. True in that sociology is premised upon viewing things like culture, belief, tradition as highly contingent. The conservative mindest tends to see them as sacred. Sociology is simply not going to be an appealing subject for the conservative mindset IMO. Nonetheless, sociologists should se the danger of groupthink even in their own profession. This might be why the few conservative sociologists who come along attract so much attention (like Charles Murray). Even if they are wrong they provide a check which even liberal sociologists want to seek out (I wouldn’t be surprised if the readers of The Bell Curve veered liberal and I don’t doubt most of the higher brow commentary about it was from liberals). A case then for intellectual affirmative action?

  15. I agree on the usefulness of conservative sociologists (and there’s a reason I link to and read Half Sigma and Steve Sailer) and your idea of AA for conservatives is interesting. Diversity of intellectually honest ideas is hugely important, perhaps the most important. One problem though is how you differentiate between a Charles Murray, who seems like a pretty intellectually honest and talented conservative, and a Michael Behe, who’s just a religious hack seeking to rationalize his ridiculous prior beliefs.

    Still, I think we’re both agreeing (and disagreeing with Mark) that the main reason conservatives aren’t sociologists is that they are not attracted to that kind of mindset. And it’s similar for the other sciences and even the liberal arts (though they find that mindset unappealing for different reasons.)

  16. JA,
    How far do you think sociology and similar are from advertising or sales? They are “people” skill related fields all.

    And, I guess I’m unclear on what you mean by “Openness.” The paper you cited (so far as I’ve read so far) doesn’t talk about that at all, it notes two stable differences between right and left, (a) attitudes toward inequality and (b) attitudes toward social change. Neither of these have anything at all to do with what I would view as openness.

    Do you remember a year or two ago that the liberal press tried to “sting” the NASCAR crowd by sending a traditionally dressed Muslim to a NASCAR track race with instructions to be somewhat obnoxious and was surprised when he was basically ignored. Do you think someone in NASCAR fan garb would get the same sort of reception at a art gallery opening at MOMA (where I suspect he’d be the only conservative)?

    Look you can pretend a conservative won’t get a lot of difficult treatment (and fail a lot of classes) if they don’t manage to secretly spout the liberal party line in their classes. I’ve read many many testimonies to that effect. I think your pretense that there are no social exclusionary effects along political lines in academia is getting amusing. Recall the claim made in public by that economist to the effect that no academic should be a conservative … what effect might such statements have on conservative (or politically neutral) students or peers?

    Why do you think that Mr Krugman when he says “he’s been looking at climate data” recently is being intellectually honest? As noted in recently in discussions with Boonton, the incidence of storms has not statistically changed in the last decades. If he was honest he’d be noting that, right?

    Yeah yeah yeah, you always have an excuse as to why the smartest and most knowledgeable people on any given subject are wrong about even that subject, so obviously you wouldn’t place any value on their beliefs about other subjects.

    Uhm, Socrates said some years ago that experts in one field often aren’t experts in others even though there is a tendency to assume that their expertise is valid beyond their field. If you have an academic researcher who lives, breaths and spends virtually every waking moment thinking about, say, the Poincare’ conjecture … why do you expect his opinions about politics or social situations to be well informed. Have you ever known someone like that? Moving to popular culture, did you see the film The Social Network about the facebook programmer? You are basically saying that his being a liberal is meaningful in some way. Why would you expect at all his political acumen to be interesting? The point is, you “yeah yeah yeah” in response (what logical fallacy is that). Have you known any people like that, top researchers in a field? Why would you find their political opinion of value? Seriously.

  17. Boonton,
    I’d also note that years ago a religious Christian “god-blogger” whom I had not a little contact with who was a physics grad student on the West coast stopped blogging because, he was (a) blogging under his real name, and (b) if it became known that he was a Christian he felt that tenure and employment would be harder to get. Why do you suppose that might be? Hmmm.

  18. Firing a principal isn’t really like firing a coach of an NFL team, nor any other team, for the simple reason noted in the article I keyed on: There aren’t enough qualified candidates for the job.

    I responded more fully here:
    http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2011/02/08/cant-fire-the-bums-to-make-a-quality-school-principals-division/#comment-115576

  19. . . . if it became known that he was a Christian he felt that tenure and employment would be harder to get. Why do you suppose that might be? Hmmm.

    Because he was unnecessarily paranoid, or he realized that his views, if they were indefensible in science, weren’t going to help matters.

    Why didn’t he just stick to the facts in physics? What does it say that a “god-blog” physicist thinks he doesn’t have the facts to back his case, but claims discrimination instead? Hmmmm?

  20. One problem though is how you differentiate between a Charles Murray, who seems like a pretty intellectually honest and talented conservative, and a Michael Behe, who’s just a religious hack seeking to rationalize his ridiculous prior beliefs

    well first of all there’s nothing wrong with hacks. We all remember the above average professor we had in various subjects, but all those subjects have average and even below average professors too. Conservative AA wouldn’t lower standards for conservatives but, like AA elsewhere, seek to bring more conservatives into the mix. Some of them may be very good sociologists, others may be hacks.

    I think the market already does this. Murry, IMO, is not a great sociologist. His thinking is flawed and sloppy. But he gets a lot of attention (read money) because he’s a conservative spinning a sociology theory with some degree of rigor. Like I said, if you were a liberal sociologist who wrote a book supporting a leftist meme (say the influence of money on politics) that was well researched, tightly logical you’d probably be lucky to get a small academic press run of 1,000 books printed. So much for the benefits of ‘bias’.

    Mark
    Do you remember a year or two ago that the liberal press tried to “sting” the NASCAR crowd by sending a traditionally dressed Muslim to a NASCAR track race with instructions to be somewhat obnoxious and was surprised when he was basically ignored. Do you think someone in NASCAR fan garb would get the same sort of reception at a art gallery opening at MOMA (where I suspect he’d be the only conservative)?

    I’m not sure what this is intended to prove. People who are ‘out of place’ generate attention, on the other hand we have socialized norms that instruct us not to point out people. Seeing which norm is more powerful is great for gags and some social experiments but doesn’t really say anything more than that. First off if you ever been to MOMA you’d know plenty of people show up there in less than a full suit and tie. Even at a more formal event like an exhibit opening or fundraiser, if George Will showed up in his bow tie do you think they’d lynch him? Are your hypothetical experiments demonstrating ideological bigotry or class bigotry?

    Look you can pretend a conservative won’t get a lot of difficult treatment (and fail a lot of classes) if they don’t manage to secretly spout the liberal party line in their classes. I’ve read many many testimonies to that effect.

    Not really what I’ve seen. Ohhh I’m sure there are ancedotes but quite frankly I don’t see a meme of ‘keep out the conservative’. In fact, I suspect the reason stories like the NYT piece generate anger by other sociologists is that they find it annoying to support a conservative meme of bias against conservatives when they know they’ve done nothing to discriminate against them. In fact, I think quite a few would like an opportunity to argue with a conservative who speaks their langage.

    I’d also note that years ago a religious Christian “god-blogger” whom I had not a little contact with who was a physics grad student on the West coast stopped blogging because, he was (a) blogging under his real name, and (b) if it became known that he was a Christian he felt that tenure and employment would be harder to get….

    And yet the person Obama appointed to head the NIH is quite open about his Christianity, wrote books arguing for his religion and not only got appointed to a top scientific position by a supposedly left wing President but was a guest on the Colbert Report and “liberal media” NPR’s ‘Fresh Air’ show. Now you can argue that Obama, Colbert and NPR aren’t academic scientific bodies…that’s true but clearly they would rely on academic scientists to vet their list…if Francis Collins hadn’t been allowed to advance for his religious views how did he end up with enough education and accomplishment to even be seriouslly considered? (Anyway I thought you claimed that physics and other hard sciences were so devoted to their ‘problem solving’ that their political views were on a par with 1st graders….now you’re telling me that’s not so, they can take enough time away from their intense problem solving to police their peer’s religious bleiefs????)

    You’re really not addressing my point here Mark. I think JA would agree with me that actual cases of discrimination should be stopped and I’m sure they happen. But even if all overt discrimination is stopped, you still have an ‘institutional bias’. The one conservative at a party of 99 liberals will feel out of place even if all the other 99 liberals are perfectly nice to him. There are some who like the attention of being the ‘lone voice’ so won’t mind being the one who draws everyone’s attention by disagreeing with the group’s orthodoxy. But lots of people don’t like being the center of attention and self-censor themselves not because they are facing actual discrimination but because they simply don’t like being alone.

    Your NASCAR example applies. why aren’t more Muslims at NASCAR races? Clearly it’s not because angry fans will mistreat them. Maybe its because even with everyone being polite, it’s still odd to be the one different person in a big crowd. Hence Muslims don’t bother with NASCAR as if there was overt discrimination against them. No doubt if there was an actual case of discrimination (or even an urban legend of one). Knowledge of it would spread like wildfire among Muslims as it reinforces what they think they already know….. Likewise conservatives think they are already suffering massive discrimination in academics hence actual or perceived cases of discrimination spread quickly to become common knowledge among the right….because they are ancedotes that reinforce your perception rather than representing the true nature of reality….

    Basically you have two choices to confront. You can either shut up and take it, on the grounds that people will not disperse themselves perfectly evenly over fields of interests and activities. You’re just going to get more Obama voters at the MOMA oppening, more McCain voters at the NASCAR rally and more liberals in sociology just like there are more African Americans in the NBA than their ‘representation’ in the population. Or you can accept some level of affirmative action. For sociology I think this would be desirable to create better sociologists….for NASCAR races I don’t think it’s very important but that’s essentially what the marketing dept. of NASCAR would be doing if they decided to try to broaden their base by adding promotions and outreaches to black and other minority communities. So which will it be, will the right soften their anti affirmative action stance or drop the carping ’bout ‘bias’? Can’t really have it both ways

  21. Ed,
    I’ll examine your response, but as for my friend who stopped blogging. Uhm, he would have liked to “stick to the facts” his specialty in Physics had no relationship to his faith in any tangible way. What facts are you talking about, he was worried that his activities away from the job would be seen in a negative light and hurt his chance for employment. He didn’t “claim discrimination” at all. He stopped his public activity so there would be no conflict. Let’s see, if a gay man has to hide his outside interests because it would harm his employment chances you’d be all over that. Even if, like my friend, no discrimination was claimed but instead he just hid his differences under a basket so to speak.

    He’d very much like to just keep physics physics. Too bad he didn’t think that was possible.

    Firing a principal isn’t really like firing a coach of an NFL team, nor any other team, for the simple reason noted in the article I keyed on: There aren’t enough qualified candidates for the job.

    Unless I miss my reading of your first badly, your point was that firing doesn’t work and used sports as an analogy. Firing does work however in sports, which makes the analogy kinda poor.

  22. Boonton,
    What about, as I link today (I think) the casual discussions in the hallway snarkily and nastily commenting on conservatives and their beliefs. Do you think that is off-putting or a barrier to a person who has person skills and interests and moves them into business related fields that use the same skill sets? You haven’t addressed the sub-cultural aspects that reinforce alignment with the crowd and push out those who don’t conform. That’s not the same as discrimination.

    Mr Schraub, the blogger at “The Debate Link” and I tried a book exchange where I read one or two books of his choice and he read some of my selections. He was in school and kinda gave my book short shrift, but one of the books he had me read was Covering about how culture enforces and forces people to align their behavior and dress along lines to get employment in fields that conceal their true feelings and identities. You might consider that looking liberal is a required camouflage to be accepted in many fields in academia. My response to the book, btw, was that it missed the larger picture of “badging”, which is the other side of covering. In that the covering required is also “badging”, i.e., taking on dress and behavior patterns (which the author was feeling forced to do) is a sign of alignment and has a substantial number of reasons of why this practice is followed.

    The NASCAR muslim didn’t generate expected attention. Recall the “gay patriot” posts discussed in which he recounts that the vitriol he gets from liberals is quite astounding. You liberals, it seems, aren’t open to the idea of a gay conservative. In fact he regularly gets hate mail and comments.

  23. Mark,

    I don’t blog under my real name in large part because I work for defense contractors and I fear that being an out atheist could be detrimental to my career. Would you argue that this proves that defense contractors discriminate against atheists? How is that different from your example?

  24. What about, as I link today (I think) the casual discussions in the hallway snarkily and nastily commenting on conservatives and their beliefs. Do you think that is off-putting or a barrier to a person who has person skills and interests and moves them into business related fields that use the same skill sets?

    Yes. Is it active discrimination? No. Don’t you think Univ. of Chicago economists like to make snarky comments when a major Obama initiative in the air? Or even when a Keynesian economist is in the news (i.e. the hated Krugman)? Does this mean the Dean should call ‘em all into the office and rake them over the coals for making a ‘hostile environment’?

    The snarky comments are a function of people of like minds collecting into a group. Since people enjoy freedom of association it is probably more likely that this is a function of patterns rather than active segregation. As a result conservatives have no claim to victimization simply because they may feel uncomfortable in a sociology department (just as your hypothetical Muslim might have felt uncomfortable at the NASCAR race, but he couldn’t claim anyone mistreated him). My call for affirmative action for conservatives isn’t because conservatives deserve it but because it would be the best thing for the field of sociology to avoid group think. Now in cases of specific individual discrimination the remedy should be specific to that case. If you have a physics prof. denied tenure because he believes in God the school should compensate him and discipline those who discriminated.

    JA
    Scientific paper demonstrating that liberals exhibit more Openness than conservatives. Fact.

    Let’s go to the Kuhn’s (sp?) theory of scientific revolutions and paradigms. I didn’t actually read him but about him so I make no excuse for botching his theory. The cycle begins with:

    1. A paradign
    2. Fleshing it out, scientists apply the paradigm to various issues. Often it works, other times it doesn’t, these are anomies.

    2.1 There are two possibilities to explain them, first the paradigm works to explain them it’s just the how hasn’t been figured out yet. Second, they represent an area where the paradigm is wrong or missing something essential.

    3. Early on in the life cycle anomies build up with the working assumption that they are just ‘hard problems’ that haven’t been fully gotten to yet. As time goes by, there are fewer ‘easy problems’ still there and the left over anomies remain and start adding up. Scientific talent addresses them by solving them within the paradigm but many are left over and they start to stand out more and more.

    4. It becomes less believable as more and more minds try and fail to solve the remaining issues under the paradigm that the problem is simply one of ‘not figuring it out yet’. The idea that something is wrong with a paradigm builds. News ones are presented and resisted and then a breakthrough which brings you back to #1

    A ‘open mind’ may or may not be an asset here. If you’re in #1 or #2 areas, an open mind can be too premature to upset the apple cart. The closed mind, by insisting that the orthodoxy is right, gets more accomplished by showing how the paradigm applies to more and more cases. The closed mind becomes a liability at the end, insisting on keeping an orthodoxy that is clearly not working.

    The overlap here with political ideology is pretty loose, though. You can have a ‘open minded’ conservative whose aim is to overturn everything and replace it with all new ideas (think of Newt Gingrich). You can have a ‘conservative liberal’ whose inclinations are to protect and build off of older liberal ideas (think of those who correctly objected to Bush’s scheme to turn Social Security into a 401k system).

    So now let’s consider a simple model. Suppose politically at one time ‘closed minds’ dominate the left wing party and at the same time a scientific field is in phase 1-2 of its paradign. The science may be appear to be dominated by left wingers. Suppose, though, that things change and politically the left wing party comes into power with ‘open minds’. You may now have a disconnect if the science is still in its ‘close minded’ phase. You may start to see more and more right wingers start filtering into the science because now there’s a shared emotional bond….a beloved orthodoxy that needs to be defended from the nasty attacks of the open minders. This is in contrast to the dominant emotion of the political party….fresh young ideas that need to be pushed over the rotting corpse of the old, heavy, worn out orthodoxy.

    The result is you’re going to see lumpy distributions when taking two different fields (politics and physics say) and looking at their demographics as opposed to a smooth distribution of, say, 40% conservative 40% liberal 20% in between in every field. The lumpy distribution, though, is not caused by discrimination but by the emotions caused by the field’s state in the cycle.

    Another way of looking it this may be that 1-2 is the ‘serious’ phase of the cycle while 3-4 is the ‘party’ phase. People who are party animals will feel pulled towards fields that are in the ‘party phase’ AND the political party where the ‘party phase’ is dominant. There will be some who buck the trend, though. So if a ‘serious’ person enters a field that’s veering towards party phase, he may be meet with some cold shoulders…even actual discrimination.

  25. The NASCAR muslim didn’t generate expected attention. Recall the “gay patriot” posts discussed in which he recounts that the vitriol he gets from liberals is quite astounding. You liberals, it seems, aren’t open to the idea of a gay conservative. In fact he regularly gets hate mail and comments

    I think this is oversteeping the issue a bit. Liberals have a legitimate beef with ‘gay patriot’, IMO, in that he is too coy about reconciling the clear anti-gay stance the right takes while asserting he is gay. I’d imagine a Jew who openly aligned himself with the PLO would face similiar vitriol from other Jews.

    I think that liberals for the most part would feel comfortable arguing with someone who wasn’t gay but had anti-gay views (say Joe Carter from the old EO) but are annoyed by gay patriot because he seems to pretending the right isn’t anti-gay. This would contrast with, say, Andrew Sullivan who openly says he likes free markets but thinks the right is wrong to be anti-gay. I think if gay patriot was clearly breaking with the right on gay matters but asserting they were right everywhere else (say abortion, economics, etc.), he would be less grating to liberals.

  26. Boonton:

    I think you’re overthinking it. Scientists are people who carefully examine the evidence and try out new ideas. Conservatives are people who defend tradition. Speaking in generalities, a conservative may be right by accident, even quite often since more novel hypotheses are likely wrong than right, but it takes a liberal to do the honest inquiry that leads to new scientific knowledge. Since science already has a built-in self-correcting mechanism (experimentation, review, etc.) the conservative serves no useful purpose but functions only as a drag on progress.

    Take climate change. The conservatives could (i.e. there’s a greater than 0 probability) be right about it, but it wouldn’t be because they’re good scientists, it would be an accident — in other words they would have arrived at the right conclusions for the wrong reasons.

  27. But sometimes scientists aren’t trying out an old idea. They are working to reinforce an old idea. Scientists who are premature in ‘trying out new ideas’ run the danger of veering into cranks. Physics, for example, is highly resistant to the idea that relativity is wrong and while some anomies are collecting, most of physics is still applying relativity to problems rather than collecting problems with relativity. The time, then, is simply not ripe right now to take out relativity.*

    the conservative serves no useful purpose but functions only as a drag on progress.

    I would say that he raises the bar on progress by making progress ‘do its homework’ and prove its case.

    Take climate change. The conservatives could (i.e. there’s a greater than 0 probability) be right about it, but it wouldn’t be because they’re good scientists, it would be an accident — in other words they would have arrived at the right conclusions for the wrong reasons.

    Let’s note that Conservatives came to Charles Murray’s defense by asserting he was just doing valid science. Likewise people like Mark feel their fetish for nuclear power is all about the science and nothing else. Conservatives don’t like the idea of climate change because it’s not in their financial or ideological interest so better to opt for denial. Liberals didn’t like Murray’s ideas because it conflicted with their ideology. While I think Murray’s science was flawed and there is a very good scientific argument against his hypothesis, the fact remains that not all the liberal opposition to him was of the form “I’m open minded but I don’t think the science supports you Mr. Murray”….some of it was indeed of the form “Facts be dammed, he’s wrong!”. Human nature is statistically spread pretty evenly over the population of humans.

    *Yes I know you don’t ‘take out’ relativity in the sense that, say Tunisians toppled their dictator. Just as relativity left Newton mostly valid, I’m sure the thing that takes it would will leave most of relativity valid

  28. JA,
    And for you a conservative scientist it seems is a chimera. You *really* *really* need to read Personal Knowledge by Polayni so you can bring your notions of scientists and the scientific process into something more in line with reality.

    I don’t blog under my real name in large part because I work for defense contractors and I fear that being an out atheist could be detrimental to my career. Would you argue that this proves that defense contractors discriminate against atheists? How is that different from your example?

    And you find this an factor which makes you more or less likely to work there?

    Boonton,
    “fetish for nuclear power” … hmm. What alternative do you think there is out there that can supply the 50 to 100 Tera-watts that will be required in the next two generations. Tides? Solar? Geothermal? What? What!

    I think this is oversteeping the issue a bit. Liberals have a legitimate beef with ‘gay patriot’, IMO, in that he is too coy about reconciling the clear anti-gay stance the right takes while asserting he is gay. I’d imagine a Jew who openly aligned himself with the PLO would face similiar vitriol from other Jews.

    Uhm, having a “legitimate beef” (should!) not come with death threats and obsenity laced hate mail and comment, especially from the “openness” crowd.

    I’d recommend the Polyani to you as well for it is, I’d offer, a better look at scientific progress than Kuhn’s explanation.

    Regarding discrimination

    Yes. Is it active discrimination? No

    Mr Schraub would argue it is. However, I’m making a weaker point in that such a culture is a strong discouragement from students and others to move into to the field against such barriers.

  29. And you find this an factor which makes you more or less likely to work there?

    Can you ever just answer a question?

  30. Indeed but why wouldn’t this type of ‘discrimination’ apply to blacks, gays and other minorities too then? Or women as well (not always a minority). You’ve argued yourself into advocating affirmative action, or you’ve argued that discrimination based not on overt actions but on human nature for the like minded to clump together is a natural ‘market process’ that should be tolerated. In that case stop carping about 2% of academic sociologists being conservatives.

  31. Polayni so you can bring your notions of scientists and the scientific process into something more in line with reality.

    I’d be interested to know specifically what your disagreement is with my simple model that uses Kuhn….in terms of Polayni’s quote…there’s not much that can be done with it. What would you make of a quote from a Muslim American who said he felt afraid to go to a NASCAR race without hiding his religion? Maybe his fear is legitimate, maybe its overblown…but you have your example of a ‘hidden camera’ that found no such problem and we have the real life case of a theistic biologist getting fawning attention in the liberal media and appointment to one of the highest possible positions by a Democratic President. (let’s leave aside the notion here that atheist = liberal and theist = conservative)

  32. JA,

    I don’t blog under my real name in large part because I work for defense contractors and I fear that being an out atheist could be detrimental to my career. Would you argue that this proves that defense contractors discriminate against atheists? How is that different from your example?

    No. Unlike Mr Schraub I don’t think that’s discrimination. However, I think it is a disincentive to work there or in that field. So … the question for the field(s) like sociology (and I’d imagine lots of others) is whether they think the status quo is just fine or not. And if not, then perhaps they might consider ways to counter that.

    I had thought my response (mostly to Boonton) over the book “Covering” covered that.

    BTW, Mr Schraub thinks Aff/Action is the answer and has for some time now. I tend to think that Aff/Action (like in race/gender) situation will just make things worse.

  33. Boonton,
    I’m not “carping” about 2% or less of the sociologists who are conservatives as a problem. I’m mocking liberals for their pretense of openness and this is just one more example of how its just fiction.

    On Kuhn vs Polanyi … I’m just noting that Polanyi’s descriptions of scientific paradigm/theory change is better. That might be because Mr Polanyi was a leading scientist (chemist) before he went into philosophy of science unlike Mr Kuhn.

  34. Boonton,
    Oh, I looked at it again. There are specific differences that (my understanding of) the Polyani model of science and change differ from your Kuhn based explanation. I’ll try to expound when I have a moment.

  35. I’m not “carping” about 2% or less of the sociologists who are conservatives as a problem. I’m mocking liberals for their pretense of openness and this is just one more example of how its just fiction.

    Actually its not. It sounds like the problem isn’t liberal sociologists being mean to conservative ones, it’s that conservatives simply don’t want to become sociologists. If that’s the case then what’s an ‘open’ liberal sociologist to do? Never express their liberalism? Keep their positions secret for fear that a conservative collegue may feel uncomfortable? Whose really the one not being open here?

    There are specific differences that (my understanding of) the Polyani model of science and change differ from your Kuhn based explanation. I’ll try to expound when I have a moment

    That will be interesting but will it not remain that case than in a science there will be times when ‘openness’ is needed and other times when ‘closedness’ is? The paradign model is clear about that, the beginning of the cycle concentrates on ‘fleshing out’ the new orthodoxy and applying it to problems. The latter stage works on building the case to adopt a revised or replacement orthodoxy.

  36. Boonton,

    It sounds like the problem isn’t liberal sociologists being mean to conservative ones, it’s that conservatives simply don’t want to become sociologists.

    No. That’s not the core cause of the matter. It’s fighting this battle on a daily basis that does it:

    I was one of those token libertarians in my psychology program, and I admit, it was rough. I almost fell out of my seat listening to some of my professor’s ideas about politics and society. I still hear some of this biased liberalism when I go to Continuing Education classes, so I usually do them online now so it won’t bother me as much. I do speak up now whenever I go to one of these events but it is tiring to have to do that over and over. I can only imagine how the (rare) current crop of conservative or libertarian psychology grad students feel. My advice to those students: Don’t let them run you out of the field. Stand your ground and try to make it to the other side of the PhD and get your ideas out there. Or just do what Haidt did, become a subversive. You just might change a few minds.

    The paradign model is clear about that, the beginning of the cycle concentrates on ‘fleshing out’ the new orthodoxy and applying it to problems. The latter stage works on building the case to adopt a revised or replacement orthodoxy.

    And that is what I take issue with. It’s not what occurs. Look at String theory today.

  37. Uhm, having a “legitimate beef” (should!) not come with death threats and obsenity laced hate mail and comment, especially from the “openness” crowd.

    Ummm no it shouldn’t. However I recall you blamed liberals for ‘violence’ in the 2008 election based on some half remembered news report you thought you heard of a McCain campaign office getting its windows smashed. I likewise remember the glee the right had when it was alleged that a white McCain volunteer got mugged by a black man at an ATM who carved the letter ‘B’ into her cheek….until it came out the whole thing was a hoax and she was charged with making a false police report.

    This makes me a bit skeptical of gay patriot on two fronts:

    1. He really is getting the amount of death threats he claims or implies. Has he, say, filed police reports for each one? Why not?

    2. His coyness about reconciling the right and being gay makes me wonder if his is more of an agent provakatour or troll….providing the right with cover on the charge of being anti-gay (“gee look, one of our own agrees about gay sin the military and he happens to be gay!!!!”) as well as being grating enough to liberals to try to draw some of them to go too far in attacking him. When I used to listen to talk radio, the ‘fake convert’ was a popular character who appears in the list of callers.

    Keep in mind this is based on a limited impression, I haven’t really read him on a regular basis.

  38. Boonton,
    Go ask him. It’s actually a group blog.

  39. No. That’s not the core cause of the matter. It’s fighting this battle on a daily basis that does it:

    Hmmm, notice something about your quote. The writer complains he was a ‘token libertarian’ in a psychology program. OK. He ‘fell out of his seat’ hearing some of his professors ideas. He is so tired of ‘falling of his seat’ that he leans towards taking online courses so he keeps the odds of ever having to hear conflicting views to an absolute min. OK OK….but you notice he doesn’t say he was mistreated. He didn’t like that his professor had different views than he. So what? Did the professor like that one of his students had a different view than he did?

    Just imagine you saw that professor write something about how he almost fell out of his seat hearing one of his students ideas about libertarian politics! Imagine hearing the professor contemplate leaving the business school he teaches at and getting a job at a school centered more on the humanities where the student body is more reliably libera. Why you’d say that professor was horribly biased, so closed to ideas he disagrees with….. But it’s ok for the libertarian student to ‘almost fall out of his seat’ when people express opinions that he doesn’t agree with. Whose really being closed here? What is the professor to do? Never express his opinions? Not have opinions? That’s openness?

    Again you’re saying here the libertarian guy feels uncomfortable in a room full of liberals. I don’t disagree but that’s because its human nature to like being with people who are like us and that nature has consquences. That uncomfortable feeling is not necessarily there because the liberals are ‘closed’ to the libertarian. In fact, the carping about ‘fighting the same battles’ sounds like the problem was that the liberals were open to him….happy to debate him that it became exhausting having the same discussion over and over again with different liberals….but then what does he do? Retreat to online courses and such…. As a result the room gets more liberal so the next libertarian or conservative feels even more uncomfortable thereby feeding the cycle.

  40. Regulation.

    This perhaps illustrates why the debate about regulation never seems to get anywhere. Regulation, unlike taxes, is pretty heterogenous. A 20% tax rate is twice a 10% tax rate but 100 pages of regulations may or may not be twice as bad as 50….it might even be better.

    For example, just pretend Congress passed a law requiring hair cutters to take 10 hours of training and pass a simple twenty question test. This would appear to be an increase in regulation and from the Fed. perspective it would. However from the economic perspective it would be massive deregulation. Dozens of states that required weeks of classes and onerous tests would suddenly have those regulations wiped out to be replaced by a relatively easy ten hour class and test. Sure maybe a few states have easier or no requirements and they would see higher regulatory burden but on average you’d be cutting regulation. From a national perspective lobbying to increase that regulation is more costly and more noticeable in the press thereby adding a burden to special interest groups.

    So here is why the debate about regulation is a debate where no one disagrees but it never goes anywhere. Everyone agrees there’s hundreds of stupid regulations that should be reformed. Everyone agrees the other guys proposals are the ones that make the problem worse, theirs make it better. Everyone debates but no one actually disagrees and it never goes anywhere.

  41. Boonton,
    I’m unclear on what you’re saying. It had seemed to me that the point of the linked piece was that often regulation (even by small business) is has a protectionist angle, that it is used to keep out competition. One of the things some economists note keeping down the economy in third world countries is the large regulatory burden that is required to start a small business.

    And after all, is this

    It would be nice if groups that claim to support economic freedom would devote more energy to fighting these kinds of restrictions and less to opposing, say, a price on carbon.

    something with which you disagree?

    So here is why the debate about regulation is a debate where no one disagrees but it never goes anywhere. Everyone agrees there’s hundreds of stupid regulations that should be reformed. Everyone agrees the other guys proposals are the ones that make the problem worse, theirs make it better. Everyone debates but no one actually disagrees and it never goes anywhere.

    That’s because nobody is daring enough the (admittedly Gordian) solution of getting rid of all the regulation and starting fresh. Of course if you tried that you’d worsen unemployment as you’d have millions of unemployed (and unemployable) bureaucrats out of their mostly useless jobs.

  42. The hypothetical wasn’t to disagree with the link so much as to illustrate the problem with talking about regulation. It’s easy to talk about an overall level of taxes or spending but not regulation. One page of regulation can be worse than ten thousand depending on what it says.

    As for getting rid of all regulation, you’re not being very conservative there. How long ago was it that babies in China were dropping dead because formula companies were stretching their supplies by mixing (plastic powder?) into their milk?

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