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Monthly Archives: August 2019

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Links to JS articles published elsewhere

Glenn Beck: Why do they hate him so?

In January 2011, Vanity Fair published Tea’d Off, an article by Christopher Hitchens which is an attack on the Tea Party movement and its chief icon, broadcaster Glenn Beck. I have long admired Mr. Hitchens, for his prose, his erudition, his independence, and, not least, his courage now in the face of a dreadful disease. Mr. Hitchens is also one of our most brilliant debaters and polemicists. In short, I’m a fan; but I’m very disappointed by his caricature account of Glenn Beck…more

How Not to React to a Research Paper

Citizens of North Carolina, to the extent that they pay attention to such matters, may be puzzled by the recent storm in a teacup at Duke.

A statistical study co-authored by two Duke economists and a sociologist described data suggesting that black and legacy applicants to Duke are more likely than others to shift majors away from their initial expressed preference for science, engineering or economics to subjects in the humanities or social sciences with a more generous grade distribution…more

Static theories are inadequate to describe real markets

Financial Times OCTOBER 29, 2012 From Emeritus Prof John Staddon.

Sir, As someone who was heckled by Robert May (Comment, October 20) while giving a plenary lecture to a conference on ethology in Oxford more than 30 years ago (I went on too long, as a nervous speaker will often do), I want to add to John Whiteman’s letter about predator-prey equations and market cycles (October 26)…more


Solution is to abolish multinational tax

Financial Times November 22, 2012, John Staddon
Sir, Sol Picciotto and Nicholas Shaxson are quite right that the tax treatment of multinationals gives them an unfair competitive advantage over smaller companies. But there is of course an even better way of solving the problem than restructuring the tax code as they propose…more

Cutting the Too-Big-to-Fail Banking Risk Down to Size

Wall Street Journal  March 13, 2013, JS and various contributors

If size is the problem, size should be the target. The simplest way to deal with the TBTF problem is a progressive tax on total exposure. The largest banks should pay a marginal rate that makes them unprofitable. It would force them to downsize and would raise much-needed cash in a way that should not damage the economy…more

THE BLOOMBERG WAY

The Atlantic January/February issue 2013, John Staddon

In November, James Bennet interviewed Michael Bloomberg. They spoke about the role of government, highlighting such topics as the New York City mayor’s regulation of soda sizes and metzitzah b’peh, an ancient Jewish circumcision practice.

I liked Mayor Bloomberg more after reading James Bennet’s interview, but I still find him annoying…more

‘Gullivering’ American Enterprise and Its Job Creators

Wall Street Journal ,June 25, 2013 John Staddon and another

The core problem seems to be “legislation by delegation.” The Dodd-Frank Act and the Affordable Health Care act are both wish lists of utopian objectives, with no details about how they might realistically be achieved, plus the assumption that they are in fact achievable. An example from Dodd-Frank: “SEC. 714. ABUSIVE SWAPS. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission or the Securities…more 


Science and the senator: missing the point about government waste

About to retire, Oklahoma senator Tom Coburn, M.D., has just released his 107-page 2014 Wastebook, a tabloid-type listing  of over a hundred wasteful government-funded projects. Coburn continues the tradition of the late William Proxmire, the Wisconsin senator who, more modestly, chose just one or two “Golden Fleeces” each year.

Many objects of Coburn’s ire—agencies using paid “administrative leave” to isolate whistle blowers, vast misdirection of food-stamp money, for example—are right on target. But when it comes to science, he misses the point…more

A Most Curious Document

National Association of Scholars, June 23, 2016. John Staddon

Elite schools have struggled for many years to increase their racial and ethnic diversity, to foster ‘inclusion,’ and to eliminate any vestige of prejudice. Surely after decades of effort, universities must be among our least prejudiced, biased and hate-filled institutions?

Apparently not. Duke University, one among many, is worried about bias and hate and recently produced a report to prove it: Report of the Duke University Task Force on Bias and Hate Issues (April 30, 2016)…more

Team Player: Professor Shiller and Finance as Panacea

How big should finance be? How productive is the financial industry?

Psychology Today  March 6, 2017, John Staddon

This is a new review of a relatively old book by a famous economist.  The book seems never to have been critically reviewed, despite the eminence of its author.  But as the financial industry looks forward to some kind of de-regulation, the issues covered here are returning to the front page.

Shiller, Robert J. (2012). Finance and the Good Society. Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition. More

Unlucky strike: Private Health: The Science, Law and Politics of Smoking

Video John Staddon Cato Institute March 11, 2015

Duke Professor’s 1991 Warning about Campus Chaos is Oddly Prophetic

Intellectual Takeout, Annie Holmquist April 27, 2017

If one was to judge solely from headlines, it would appear that the only activities occurring on university campuses these days are riots and outrage. As professor Jonathan Haidt notes, it’s as if the university is possessed of a “tribal mind” which views “the demonization of inconvenient research and researchers” as its chief end…more

Taking Ta-Nehisi Coates Seriously

Ta-Nehisi Coates has become one of the most prominent intellectuals in America. But his case for reparations is flawed.

Intellectual Takeout  John Staddon October 26, 2017.
In June 2014, Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote a feature in the Atlantic arguing that the terrible history of blacks in the United States justified reparations. Many consider this a radical proposition. Yet critical reaction was mild.

Kevin Williamson, writing in National Review, disagreed with Coates’ proposal but was impressed with the “beautifully written monograph,” describing the prose as “intelligent and sometimes moving.” In his muted critique, Williamson gives little weight to the faulty logic and fundamental injustice of Coates’ proposal…more

How Is Science Judged? How Useful Is Peer Review?

James Martin Center,  John Staddon Jan 31, 2018

The British journal Nature, home in 1953 to Watson and Crick’s important DNA paper, was by 1966 rather in the doldrums, with a backlog of submitted manuscripts and losing ground to the general-science leader, the U.S. journal Science…more

Peer Review: the Publication Game and “the Natural Selection of Bad Science”

James Martin Center,  John Staddon February 2, 2018

Professor Brian Wansink is head of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University. The lab has had problems, some described in an article called “Spoiled Science” in the Chronicle of Higher Education early in 2017:…more

The Persistence of Memory and #MeToo

Intellectual Takeout, John Staddon February 8, 2018

The recent revelations about Harvey Weinstein have precipitated hundreds of allegations of sexual abuse. Many of the complainants are now adults, even middle-aged. But most of the alleged events took place when the victims were young – teenagers or even children. One of Weinstein’s accusers recounted events that occurred some twenty years previously; another accused Weinstein of raping her in 1992…more

Science and Its Discontents: Too Few Jobs—or Too Many Scientists?

James Martin Center, John Staddon February 28, 2018

The United States is producing more research scientists than academia can handle,” so begins a July 2016 article by respected New York Times science reporter Gina Kolata. It turns out that new PhDs in science have a hard time getting a job like their mentor’s: tenured faculty in a research university. Fifty years ago, in my own area of experimental psychology, things were very different. Postgraduates, after four years of college, were able to get their PhDs in four or five years. They usually got a tenure-track job at a reasonable university right after graduating….more

Duke Divinity School’s Race to the Bottom

Comment on The Irreproducibility Crisis: The State of Science

 

Racism Is Everywhere…Is It, Really? Suppressing debate is a non-solution

This blog is about how lack of empathy can lead to charges of racism; and how the perception that racism is pervasive can lead to demands for remedies worse than the disease they are supposed to cure.

A Chronicle of Higher Education article, written by Marcia Chatelain, an African-American curricular activist and associate professor of history at Georgetown University, claims that racism is found almost everywhere, that limiting academic speech is a necessary part of a cure and “That college campuses are complicit in encouraging and emboldening budding white nationalists.”…more