Keeping up with the FITs, No. 8
September 10, 2021
Noah Smith gets a lot of Devil’s Advocate points in this interview with Larry Summers. Larry scores a clear Open Mind point with this response:
Anyone with a serious view should be prepared to say what events would call their view into question. If the economy enjoys rapid growth over 2021 and 2022, totaling say 10, and it is not generally agreed by the end of 2022 that we have an inflation problem, I will have misjudged the inflation process. If over the next year the economy is importantly constrained on the demand side without a spike in interest rates I will have misjudged the determinants of aggregate demand.
Another Noah Smith essay discusses research on the sewer that is politics on social media.
society has always had about the same number of shouty jerks. But with the rise of social media, we have moved our society’s political discussions from spaces in which the shouty jerks were at least somewhat marginalized and contained to spaces that preferentially amplify their voices.
I strongly recommend both pieces.
Concerning education, Bari Weiss has Suzy Weiss give data on the surge in home schooling.
the homeschooling trend cuts across geographic, political, and racial lines: Black, Latino and Asian families are even likelier than white ones to educate their children at home.
Bari Weiss also allows Peter Boghossian to explain his recent decision to resign from Portland State University.
In March 2018, a tenured professor disrupted a public discussion I was holding with author Christina Hoff Sommers and evolutionary biologists Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying. In June 2018, someone triggered the fire alarm during my conversation with popular cultural critic Carl Benjamin. In October 2018, an activist pulled out the speaker wires to interrupt a panel with former Google engineer James Damore. The university did nothing to stop or address this behavior. No one was punished or disciplined.
University administrators show their values by deciding what behavior gets you punished and what behavior you can get away with. As Keith E. Whittington puts it,
they have a responsibility to actually live up to their constitutional and contractual responsibilities and refrain from sanctioning the faculty member for saying something that someone finds controversial. They should insist that harassment and threats directed against members of the faculty will not be tolerated. Professors should at least be confident that when the mobs arrive, pitchforks in hand, that university leaders will not flinch and give in to the demands of the mob.
On Yascha Mounk’s Persuasion Community, Jonathan Rauch argues for paying people to take the vaccine.
Do it generously, in a way that shows serious social appreciation and respect. Do it universally, including people who already got themselves vaccinated because it was the right thing to do. And do it smartly, incentivizing people to recruit friends and family to the cause.