patlaborWhat to do about the liberal bias in social psychology? Piercarlo Valdesolo argues that neutrality of perspective, and not equality of perspective, should win out.

A look at the cisterns of San Francisco, and a cave in Georgia (the other Georgia) so big it has its own Subway.

Gundam/Voltron is happening!

Martin Robbins is worried about sexism and racism on future Martian colonies.

Snake People are having fewer sexual partners than Generation Xers. Good for them, I say.

Peter Schellhase discusses the conservative vision of Hayao Miyazaki.

Nancy Cook writes about rural planning in the ag sector.

The oil slump has hit the petroleum engineering community hard. My Man in Texas says that this is a mistake, because they’re going to be needed.

Scott Sumner gives us an update on the Sunbelt.

It’s good that you went to college and all, and hey it’s great that you went to an Ivy League school, but maybe you need some vocational training.


Category: Newsroom

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16 Responses to Linkluster Tristo Osemdesiat Päť

  1. kenB says:

    Valdesolo’s objection to increasing the number of conservatives is pretty unconvincing. If you want to see where your political biases are creeping in, your best bet is to ask someone who doesn’t share them. If there are conservatives and/or libertarians among major journal referees, sitting in the audience at conferences, and participating in hallway conversations, and they are numerous enough and secure enough to reveal their different socio-political views, then it’s less likely that liberal assumptions will go unchallenged. Even if there’s disagreement about what counts as biased, the liberal professors would at least have a better sense of where to investigate.

    Valdesolo’s argument against the idea basically rests on the notion that the new conservatives would merely be churning out conservative articles and not actually interacting with liberals at all, which is silly. And regardless of what anti-biasing techniques might be used (the article he linked seemed to not match his confidence in their effectiveness, from my quick scan), it’s virtually impossible for a group of like-minded people to figure out where their biases might be without outside input, even if they have the best of intentions.

    • trumwill says:

      I’m inclined to agree. It’s sort of how I don’t care how hard they try you simply cannot get a newsroom that’s 90% Democratic and expect that not to filter in to their product. There are simply insufficient voices to question basic assumptions that underly narrative. People just aren’t that objective and having dissenting voices is probably the best remedy.

    • Lightening Rod says:

      While I can’t disagree with your criticism of Valdasolo’s argument I’m not convinced the converse really holds either. Would the inclusion of more conservative and libertarian leaning researchers actually create a climate that produces a more neutral, objective consensus? Or would it instead produce something that looks like the field of economics, with alternative “schools” that may share some fundamental understandings but disagree quite sharply beyond those basics?

      I see two problems: The first being that science is a fundamentally liberal endeavor, requiring, among other things, an openness to new ideas. The second being that my first statement is derived from findings in the very field being accused of liberal bias! Are conservative students being pushed away from the field, or are they looking at it and just not finding it interesting? Is the conservative worldview perhaps fundamentally at odds with the entire premise of social psychology, much like a YEC pursuing a career in evolutionary biology?

      A few years back, Jonathan Haidt made quite a splash, becoming something of a darling among many conservatives, primarily because as a liberal he was very complimentary to conservatives. But I would argue — and I can be more specific if you like — that he badly compromised the science to do so. To the point that by the end of the book I was left wondering why he even persisted in calling himself a liberal given how wonderful he seemed to think conservatives were!

      The issue in both fields — social psychology and economics — is that normative and political values are intrinsic to the operating paradigms. A big part of what is studied in SP concerns moral values and much of economics, particularly micro, rests on assumptions of human behavior that often have a moral component as well as influencing prescriptive analysis.

      • trumwill says:

        I think the biggest issue with “More conservatives in social science!” really is “How do we recruit them?” and “How do we prevent decentralized ostracization?

        I’m not sure it’s possible.

        I get what you’re saying about economics, but I believe economics is at least better off by having different schools of thought than it would be if 90% of them favored one direction or the other. At least there are (more, better) avenues to advance a dissenting point of view, and dissenting voices that you know you will run into after publication if not during or before.

  2. Michael Drew says:

    Pretty snarky re: people trying to supplement their training. Why?

    If the right things were happening so as there would be no need for snark or even notice of this kind of move (or what might replace it), what would that be?

    Possibilities:

    1) Everyone gets coding training in the course of K-12 education
    2) Everyone who goes to college gets coding training
    3) Many more people who go to college get coding training
    4) Many more people get coding training in the course of K-12 education, leading to fewer of them going to “college,” but instead pursuing further vocational training to complete a professional-level programming course or just entering the job market
    5) Whatever, I just like to point out how college degrees aren’t leading in a one-to-one way to jobs in the most remunerative careers these days because I like seeing that point made in pixels as much as possible.

    Not everyone grows up wanting a career in the (field may actually be too narrow a term here – in this basic skill domain) that dominates opportunities or is growing fastest in her era. Also, sometimes growth rates are so dynamic that it;s not clear in one’s youth what is the dominant field in one’s working prime. People want various things out of work-life, especially looking forward from youth. Those first (and second, and third) sets of goals don’t always work out, so people do come back around to what’s available. Furthermore, fields like coding, tech, etc. are ones that are daunting to enter for those who don’t show and early aptitude and locate a real interest in them. I have known many people who, once the social context of high school, where the math nerds are not so distinct from the theater kids from etc., have found that they had an aptitude for math, coding languages, etc., that they never knew they did for essentially social reasons relating to the way we group students in schools.

    What’s to snark at in this? This is the essence of people trying to make the most out of their lives. What is it that happened to people (I imagine in their youth) whose instinct is to snark about or cluck at people who had the audacity to pursue a goal a little ways off the beaten path, and are now circling back to engage with more directly practical skill development. Why should we care so much when it happens in life?

    Long live the dreamers.

    • Michael Drew says:

      …after the social context of high school (and for that matter, of college in some cases) is left in the past, at which point the social groups are less distinct, I meant.

    • trumwill says:

      Oh, that’s pretty much a Team Practicality (or “Team Screw Your Dreams”) posture, not that different from comments about how petroleum engineering grads “should have majored in something practical!” I think it’s great that they’re getting the useful skills and that they have an avenue to do so. I actually initially flagged the link for something for myself to consider if I need a jump-start to get back into the real world.

      • Michael Drew says:

        It’s not that I think you or anyone thinks they shouldn’t be doing it. Everyone presumably agrees it’s a pretty viable route if you have the aptitude. So good for them, presumably everyone agrees.

        My issue is having an attitude (of superiority, told-you-so, disapproval, whatever) about the timing, when it comes after a different set of endeavors, as if now seeking to acquire these skills shows that previous decisions about what to pursue were missteps.

        Self-development of this kind is a positive at any point in life; why make it more complicated than that? Good for them. And glad they had a go at what they wanted out of life coming out of school-age, as well.

        • trumwill says:

          Well, that’s to a degree where I’m coming from. I’m not against self-development. I’m thinking if you spent tens of thousands of dollars on a degree and then needed something else to get a job, either that kind of moneymeans little to you (in which case, Class Resentment!) or it’s a curious course. (A third option is a generous scholarship, in which case why didn’t you put that scholarship towards something else?!)

          I grant this is one of those ways that my view of the world tends towards the narrow.

  3. Oscar Gordon says:

    I like the rural planning article. Nice to a wider view than just “you grow the food, you buy the food, and don’t think about the rest”.

    • Michael Cain says:

      The problem isn’t so much places like Pottawattamie County, which is part of the Omaha metropolitan area. It’s Wayne County, Iowa where my grandparents lived, where the population peaked in 1900, is down to 6,400, and is still shrinking. 150 miles from anywhere of any size.

  4. Brandon Berg says:

    I’m fairly skeptical of the claims that they have students getting jobs at Facebook and Google. I interviewed at both those companies about three years ago, and in addition to the usual interview questions, which most people with four-year degrees can’t answer competently, they basically asked me to reinvent some massively scalable distributed computing techniques on the fly. I did what I think was a pretty solid job there, and still didn’t get offers from either.

    I don’t know. Maybe they’ve lowered their standards since then. But I’m really having trouble imagining someone getting through one of those interviews with a total of twelve weeks in coding instruction.

    • Oscar Gordon says:

      Unless they are not applying for a job that requires a great deal of coding. I could see non-development positions that still put a premium on basic coding skills when said position will be interacting with developers to create content.

      • Michael Cain says:

        Based on my own experiences over the decades, my own preferences would be: (1) If there has to be a coding boot camp, make it Excel and VBA; judging by what I saw, and the academic literature on the subject, much of the decision-making in business is done using spreadsheets with horrible errors in them. (2) More useful, I think, would be something about moderate-to-large systems; I always had more trouble because the non-coders didn’t understand that the problem was hard because this system had to communicate properly with 20 other systems.

    • Oscar Gordon says:

      Indirect skills are pretty valuable. My experience and training as a Navy gas turbine mechanic gave me a leg up over other candidates at Boeing because I can talk to & relate with the machinists better than a recent grad with no such background. I spent a lot of time in the factory at Boeing for that very reason.

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