Mar 162012

The following chart is taken from America’s Young Adults at 24, a news release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (via Carpe Diem):

According to the 2011 Projections of Education Statistics from the U.S. Department of Education, the total number of Ph.D. degrees granted to women first exceeded those granted to men sometime in 2007-2008. Over the next decade, the number of wo­men Ph.D. recipients is expected to grow 1.75 times faster than the number of men reci­pi­ents until, in 2020, the overall ratio will be roughly 5 to 4.

So, is this good?  If not, what is to be done?


Feb 122012

In an opinion piece for the Washington Post, Charles Murray, author of Coming Apart: The State of White Amer­ica, 1960-2010, identifies five common myths about white people:

  1. Working-class whites are more religious than upper-class whites.
  2. Elite colleges are bastions of white upper-middle-class privilege.
  3. Marriage is breaking down throughout white America.
  4. White working-class men have a strong work ethic.
  5. White Americans are yesterday’s news.

Another article, in the NY Times, quotes Murray as remarking that merely extending his thanks “can cause trouble for people in academia.”  This same article says that on a recent visit to Earlham College (my alma mater) Murray’s talk was twice interrupted by fire alarms.

As asserted in an earlier post on American Exceptionalism, Charles Murray is an important ob­server of con­tem­porary society. He is worth listening to despite fire alarms and regard­less of whether or not one agrees with him.  Here is a preview that he wrote last month of Coming Apart, called Belmont and Fishtown.


Sep 262011

Walter Russell Mead is James Clarke Chace Professor of Foreign Affairs and Hu­man­i­ties at Bard College, and Editor-at-Large of The American Interest.  Mead, the son of an Episcopal priest, was educated at Groton, which he calls “Pundit High”, and Yale, where he still teaches International Security Studies. From 2003 until 2010 Mead was the Henry A. Kissinger Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. His books include Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How it Changed the World (2001), and God and Gold: Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern World (2007).

Mead is also the author of an energetic and well-written blog, Via Meadia, in which he discusses a broad range of foreign and domestic issues. In a recent essay Mead says that his motivation for this blog is “a sense that the world is moving faster than our thought about the world,” a point he also makes in Global Weirding Coming at Us All. Mead describes himself as a Democrat who voted for Obama in 2008. But he often argues against orthodox liberal positions. For instance, he criticizes what he calls “the blue social model” in Beyond the Big City Blues and Why Blue Can’t Save the Inner Cities Part I and Part II. He supports school choice, and he lacerates the green move­ment in such essays as More Green Madness on the Plains. There is a distinctive re­ligious sensibility in his writing, perhaps best illustrated in He Plants His Footsteps on the Sea: Faith Matters.

I find Mead’s blog refreshing, and appreciate his attempt to move beyond the ideological conformity of the aca­demy. His advice to first year college students is given in Back to School.


Mar 252010

Lawrence Lessig earned an MA in philosophy from Cambridge, and a law degree from Yale. He is a founder of Creative Commons. Formerly a professor of law at Stanford, he is currently the director of the Safra Foun­dation Center for Ethics at Harvard. Here is his TEDTalk on Openness. There is an ad before the talk begins, but in this instance you might just think of it as part of the message.

Feb 082010

‘Theodore Dalrymple’ is the pen-name of Dr. Anthony Daniels, retired British doctor, contributing editor for the City Journal, author, and eloquent conservative obser­ver of contem­po­rary culture. Recently, Daniels was invited to give the annual John Kenneth Galbraith Lecture at Memorial University in Newfoundland. The Galbraith Revival is a reflection on that experience.

Other articles to try include: They dance, I take the dog for a walk, What is Poverty?, What the New Atheists Don’t See, False Apology Syndrome, and All Sex, All the Time. There is a directory of Dalrymple’s City Journal work here.


Jun 132009

It seems to me that cap and trade, as it is currently formulated, is probably a bad idea. Here are some of my concerns:

1) The benefit, as measured by the extent of the decrease in global warming, seems to be negli­gible. According to a recent analysis by Chip Knappenberger, reduction of U.S. CO2 emissions to 83% below 2005 levels by 2050 — which is the goal of the Waxman-Markey bill — would only reduce global temperature by 0.05° C. Even in the highly unlikely event that the entire world were to follow suit and reduce CO2 emissions by the same amount, the resulting reduction in global temper­ature by 2050 would still be less than 0.5° C. — see here. This analysis assumes the IPCC mid-range or high-range emis­sions scenarios; for low-range scenarios the temper­ature change would be even less. Knappenberger uses the so-called MAGICC simulator (the Model for the Assess­ment of Green­house-gas Induced Climate Change) which you can down­load in order to run the calculations for yourself.

Continue reading »

Feb 152009

I was saddened last week to read this article, by another Senator, blaming the current economic crisis on the ‘ideology’ of Milton Friedman. I first read Free to Choose and Capitalism and Freedom when I was in my thirties, and I suspect that I was attracted to Milton Friedman as much by his evident humanity and kindness as by the lucidity of his thought.  Over the years, though, his ideas began to make more and more sense.  It may be that early acquaintance with religious hypocrisy had sensitized me to the recognition of poli­tical and economic hypocrisy — and Friedman was certainly tireless in exposing the latter — but there must also have been some other factor, some influence that led me to place a high value on human freedom.

I think people have to decide for themselves whether freedom is important — there are clearly argu­ments to be made against it.  But here is a brief introduction to one of its greatest advocates:

If you want to see more of Milton Friedman, this site contains videos of his famous PBS series.  


Jan 042009

The following chart, taken from, is based upon 2002 data and shows GRE scores for various academic fields of graduate study:

Three things strike me about this chart. First, the total scores for the scientific disciplines are consistently higher than those for the humanities and social sciences; second, philosophy has the highest total score of the non-scientific disciplines; and third, the low ranking of education (and public administration) calls into question the seriousness of our culture — and its sustainability.


Dec 182008

Which of the following most closely reflects your current views on climate change?

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Sep 272008

by Rudyard Kipling

I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wobbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return.