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How to reduce the racial gap in reading scores

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According to this study, the problem is worse in progressive cities.

Progressive cities, on average, have achievement gaps in math and reading that are 15 and 13 percentage points higher than in conservative cities, respectively

Pointer from Stephen Green, who sees it as an argument for cities to start to vote Republican.

The study compared test scores in the 12 most progressive cities (according to an independent measure) and the 12 most conservative cities. They report the results in tables. I saw a red flag in that they focused on the achievement gap, rather than black achievement scores per se.

From a Null Hypothesis, perspective, one way to reduce the racial gap is to start with dumber white students. Then when differences in schooling have no effect, you wind up with a smaller racial gap.

Using their tables, I got that for reading, the median score in the conservative cities for blacks was 24.5, and in the progressive cities it was 20.5. The median score in the conservative cities for whites was 61.5 and in progressive cities it was 69. Since much of the difference in the gap seems to come from lower test scores for whites, I am inclined to go with the Null Hypothesis interpretation.

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11 hours ago
Princeton, NJ or NYC
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Thatcherism's death

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Thatcherism is dead. Boris Johnson’s love of big infrastructure projects conflicts with her preference for markets and caution about spending public money. His pulling out of the single market contrasts with her hailing it as “a fantastic prospect for our industry and commerce.” His increase in bus subsidies conflicts with her antipathy to public transport. (She never actually said that any man on a bus after the age of 30 should consider himself a failure, but the fact that it is so widely believed that she did so reveals something about her). And, of course, whereas Thatcher chose free market ideology over the wishes of northern (now post-) industrial towns, Johnson is making the opposite choice.

John Harris has quoted a senior minister as saying that “some very prominent strands of Conservative thinking were now in retreat” and that “some of the things we’ve celebrated have led us astray”. Those things are Thatcherite ones.

It’s not just the political climate that is anti-Thatcherite, however. So too is much of the intellectual climate. Thatcher regularly invoked Hayek and Friedman as intellectual influences. Not only does Johnson have no such equivalents, but perhaps the two most prominent economics Nobelists today – Paul Krugman and Joe Stiglitz – are hostile to Thatcherism. And Banerjee and Duflo’s latest book, Good Economics for Hard Times, is a flat rejection of her naïve faith in free markets, with its message that economies are sticky and slow to respond to shocks. Lp20y

All this reflects the fact that the facts are now anti-Thatcherite. She hoped that deregulation, privatization, lower top taxes and the smashing of trades unions would lead to not just to an economic renaissance but also to a revival of what Dierdre McCloskey calls bourgeois virtues. But they haven’t. In fact, productivity growth was much slower in the Thatcherite era than it was during the post-war years. As I’ve said, there are many ways in which neoliberalism caused the productivity slowdown.

Nor have we seen a flourishing of bourgeois virtues. Thatcher hoped to create a society of men like her father, but left us one with men like her son. The assertion of “management’s right to manage” has led not to a healthier economy but merely to more expropriation. An under-appreciated sign of her legacy can be found on daytime TV. Programmes such as Homes Under the Hammer, Bargain Hunt and Antiques Road Trip show that the British public prefer to make money from rising house prices and selling tat rather than from graft, innovation and entrepreneurship*.

You might object here that one legacy of Thatcherism lives on - inequality. True. But of course, inequality and its defenders long pre-dated Thatcher. In many ways, what most distinguished Thatcherism is now gone. 

Herein, though, lies a wonderful paradox. It is not the Conservative party that has suffered most from the death of Thatcherism. It has successfully reinvented itself, helped in part by not suffering the handicap of having principles or feeling the need to think deeply.

Instead, perhaps the biggest casualty have been centrists. The collapse of Change UK, or whatever they called themselves, means that their parliamentary presence now matches their intellectual heft. My biggest beef with them – and indeed with the Labour right – has been their total lack of any worthwhile economic ideas.

There is, I suspect, a reason for this. Centrists were keen to accept “economic realities” when these were Thatcherite ones of fiscal “credibility”, tolerance of the wealth and power of the 1%, and faith that the capitalist economy could grow nicely with only little state help. Now that the realities are anti-Thatcherite – that inequality does real damage and that capitalism is stagnant – they are as helpless as a whale left on a beach after the tide has gone out.

The old jibe against the Labour right had some truth – that they were capitalism’s second XI. And why would anybody want a second XI when the first XI have made themselves fit for selection?

* This worked for me: most of my wealth has come from tax-free capital gains on housing.

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3 days ago
"She never actually said that any man on a bus after the age of 30 should consider himself a failure, but the fact that it is so widely believed that she did so reveals something about her" That is a terrible standard.
Princeton, NJ or NYC
2 days ago
Yeah, that is a bit below the belt. Just repeating this faleshood and calling it revealing perpetuates the belief derived, apparently, from fiction.
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Because they can

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I never took the Stanford Marshmallow test but presume that I am patient.  The current issue of The Economist notes that transportation in Los Angeles ought to involve more buses and less rail transit -- and also congestion pricing on the freeways. Finally. Tom Rubin sent me this ppt presentation. Do look at slide 22. Do look at the whole thing.  It is hard to fathom the bizarreness but the
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10 days ago
"It is hard to fathom the bizarreness of the situation but the graphic helps. While $20-$25 billion have been spent on rail transit in LA county since the mid-1980s, transit use is down -- while the area's population is up by over 1 million (many of them low-income immigrants). It boggles and it would be hard to engineer a worse outcome but our social engineers are at work."
Princeton, NJ or NYC
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UVM and Middlebury Can Reduce Their Greenhouse Gas Emissions Tomorrow

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According to a story in the Times of London, students at Oxford were occupying a quad and refusing to leave until the college divested $10 million of its endowment invested in fossil fuel. The bursar Andrew Parker wrote “I am not able to arrange any divestment at short notice. But I can arrange for the gas central heating in college to be switched off with immediate effect. Please let me know if you support this proposal.”

When a protest organizer suggested he was being provocative, Parker wrote: “You are right that I am being provocative but I am provoking some clear thinking, I hope. It is all too easy to request others to do things that carry no personal cost to yourself. The question is whether you and others are prepared to make personal sacrifices to achieve the goals of environmental improvement (which I support as a goal).”

So far no takers.

At UVM students are also demanding immediate divestiture from fossil fuel investments. But UVM has an alternative which Oxford doesn’t because UVM is located in Vermont and is served by VGS (formerly Vermont Gas System). VGS is the first utility in the country to have a tariffed offer for Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) – a non-fossil-fuel alternative to the natural gas which comes from wells.

Renewable natural gas is made by capturing naturally occurring methane emitted from decomposing waste materials at dairies, landfills, and wastewater treatment plants. This methane is a powerful greenhouse gas if released to the environment. The net effect of using RNG can be to reduce greenhouse gas emissions below the level which would have occurred even if the university turned off its furnaces entirely since it replaces the current practice of releasing methane from food and waste into the environment.

A customer of VGS can simply call the utility and order any blend up to 100% RNG. Since RNG is chemically identical to fossil natural gas, no new equipment is needed, furnaces work normally, and RNG can be ordered by VGS and delivered to customers through their existing hookups. Note that the infrastructure which delivers this RNG is infrastructure students don’t want to invest in; but this shouldn’t bother UVM students in this case since that infrastructure is already installed to their campus. There is no obstacle to UVM using nothing but renewables for heat and hot water tomorrow (literally tomorrow) except that RNG costs more than fossil gas. Climate protestors are asking that Vermonters pay more to heat their homes and drive their cars. Shouldn’t protesting students be willing to do their share?

Middlebury College is working with a farm nearby to take delivery of RNG through a new pipeline being built by VGS from the farm to the campus. Is this pipeline the kind of infrastructure its students and founder Bill McKibben, who is a professor there, don’t want the college to invest in? The RNG will be available beyond Middlebury through VGS pipelines; the very pipelines helped delay and made more expensive. Currently, BTW, those pipelines serve Middlebury with fossil natural gas, which is much cleaner than the dirty #6 oil the college used to burn. But, if Middlebury doesn’t want to continue burning fossil fuel while it waits for the pipe from the farm, all they have to do is call VGS and order RNG for delivery tomorrow. Not sure what they’re waiting for.

[Note: although I founded a company which delivers natural gas by truck and am still an investor in it, I have no financial interest in what fuel UVM and Middlebury choose to burn. Like bursar Parker, I just want to provoke some clear thinking.]

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16 days ago
Hypocrisy is the most common vice, but there are still some easy opportunities to avoid it. Love the Parker story.
Princeton, NJ or NYC
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Let’s Retire Myths About Individual Behavior and Health

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Carmen Mitchell is currently a fourth-year health policy doctoral student in the Department of Health Management and Systems Sciences at the University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences (SPHIS). She is currently affiliated with The Afya Project, an interdisciplinary research initiative seeking to increase PrEP availability and use among African Americans in Louisville, Kentucky. She completed her Master’s in public health in 2016 at the University of Louisville. She tweets at @carmenrmitchell.

In Christmas Eve tweets, the entrepreneur and presidential candidate Andrew Yang expressed the following:

Yang’s tweets were widely interpreted to mean if more people ate healthier and exercised more, healthcare expenses would be lower and population health outcomes better. Though intuitive to many, healthcare is not this simple.

Let’s start with the relationship between health-related behaviors (like diet and exercise) and spending. Unfortunately, as Dr. Aaron Carroll notes in the New York Times, the research on different types of preventative care — including interventions centered on health behavior —consistently fails to find savings.

Of course, just because there isn’t an immediate payoff from healthy behaviors doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t encourage them. But, in doing so, we should be honest about the benefits: eating well and exercising regularly are good for health and wellbeing.

Even so, they won’t address some of America’s major health problems. Granted, heart disease — which is associated with diet and exercise — remains the top cause of death in the United States.

But suicide and drug overdose — which are not associated with diet and exercise — remain top killers for adults in the U.S. between the ages of 15 and 64. As recently as 2017, homicide was ranked 4th for causes of death among Black men (and #1 overall among Black men under 45), while HIV and complications related to pregnancy are among the top 10 causes of death for Black women between ages 20 and 44. Neither gym memberships nor healthy eating habits would fix any of this.

Furthermore, using financial incentives to promote diet and exercise (as Yang is suggesting) misses the underlying structural factors driving health behaviors. For example, food intake behaviors are influenced by many community and structural factors, including prices, accessibility, social and cultural norms, and habits developed during formative years. Those can’t be fixed by sending people to nutritionists. The same goes for exercise and buying gym memberships.

Calling for better diets and more exercise as solutions, even if they worked, has classist and racist undertones. People who have low-incomes will not have the resources to purchase the food a nutritionist would recommend, and they may not have the time to go to the gym if they are balancing multiple jobs and families. People of color disproportionately face these structural barriers.

This isn’t a fine point. Yang’s suggestions miss a lot of people and a lot of deep problems. A recent report estimated that nearly 44% of the US workforce — 53 million people — work in “low wage” jobs. Most of these workers lack college degrees and are women and/or people of color.

As has been written about extensively, Black Americans are more likely to experience chronic financial instability as a result of racist policies, and the corresponding community problems that arise from it. They are more likely to live in environmentally polluted neighborhoods (think Flint, MI, although this is a phenomenon everywhere), experience incarceration, and have fractured relationships with healthcare services because of completely justifiable medical mistrust, as well as suffer from constant stress of racism and racism-based encounters.

All of these are major drivers of health that cannot be fixed with diet and exercise. They are longstanding American problems that today’s candidates and elected officials, including Yang, rarely address head on.

To those of us who work in health services research, I likely haven’t mentioned anything you don’t know; we are very aware that tackling continuously rising spending and working to address health outcomes will require a significant amount of structural reform outside the health system and beyond the individual.

Despite this, the language of individualism and personal responsibility pervades talking points among public officials. They’re correct that to improve health for all Americans we need to look beyond the health system. But they’re wrong to think we don’t need to look within other complex social, cultural, economic, and political systems.

For example, in the halls of the state capitol in my home state of Kentucky, one of the states hit hardest by the opioid crisis, it is still quite common to hear public officials point to individuals’ moral failings as the problem’s source and their personal responsibility as the solution. In truth, failure in government oversight and economic distress have both played large roles in the problem. We won’t be able to meaningfully tackle it without addressing those systematic factors, along with promoting evidence-based medical treatment in lieu of shame and punishment.

Individual-centered messaging would be less of a problem if it was just coming from Yang and a small group of like-minded policymakers. Unfortunately, we hear similar messages from many facets of society, including “health and wellness” media and advertising (both for-profit and non-profit), workplaces, doctors and other healthcare professionals, public health institutions and health-focused academic disciplines.

This partially reflects a failure of the health services research disciplines to effectively communicate the truths we’ve learned. What else can we do?

As I have argued previously, incorporating more systems-focused curriculum in graduate training would be a great way to help future health researchers and practitioners move away from individual centered-thinking. We might also promote more opportunities to build translation and communication skills among health professionals; there are currently several AcademyHealth initiatives for this purpose, though we might consider how we can create more accessible learning on campus. (As an example, this week Cornell announced a new undergraduate minor in science communication.)

We could also seek more ways to partner with organizations focused on improving community health in a systematic way. Drivers of Health, a Robert Wood Johnson funded project examining meaningful empirical research on social determinants, is a great example of this.

If we — policymakers and health services researchers alike — are all committed to improving population health, it is imperative that we shift the conversation to the true underlying causes. We have a lot of work to do. Flint Michigan still doesn’t have clean water. Nearly 3 in 10 Americans skip filling a prescription because of costs. So, let’s focus less on gym memberships and more on what really matters.

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21 days ago
"Calling for better diets and more exercise as solutions, even if they worked, has classist and racist undertones. " True, but...those lifestyles are still unhealthy.
Princeton, NJ or NYC
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I'm working on an economic view of political polarization. One aspect of that project is the extent to which many institutions in our society have become politicized. Today's post is one little data point in that larger story. It tells a little story of how to politicize an institution and silence dissenters.

Jerry Coyne reports on the "diversity equity and inclusion statement" required of anyone hired by the University of California, or desiring a raise or promotion. This is a required statement each candidate must write "Demonstrating Interest in and Ability to Advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion." It's not about whether you are "diverse," meaning belonging to a racial, gender, or sexual-preference group the University wishes to hire. It is a statement, as it says, of your active participation in a  political movement.

Jerry's news in this post is that the statements are now being scored numerically, and only the files of those scoring high enough are passed on for scholarly review. Jerry previously posted  here on the case of Abigail Thompson, professor of mathematics at UC Davis, who dared to question diversity statements in a letter to the American Mathematical Society, pointing out that they are political tests
Why is it a political test? Politics are a reflection of how you believe society should be organized. Classical liberals aspire to treat every person as a unique individual, not as a representative of their gender or their ethnic group. The sample rubric dictates that in order to get a high diversity score, a candidate must have actively engaged in promoting different identity groups as part of their professional life.... Requiring candidates to believe that people should be treated differently according to their identity is indeed a political test...The idea of using a political test as a screen for job applicants should send a shiver down our collective spine....
and he covered here the inevitable kerfuffle, which only goes to prove how much it is a political test.

Before the twitter mob goes nuts, the point today is the nature of the diversity statement. I'm not arguing against "diversity" either in its plain English sense, or in its current political meaning as a euphemism for racial and gender quotas. I do, as required by my employer, put quite a bit of thumb on the scale in hiring and appointments.  We'll argue about that some other day. Jerry too, in addition to being an eminent scientist, describes himself as a liberal, and believes in advancing diversity in academia. But not loyalty oaths.

What is it? 

The university not only requires the statements, but gives
these statements precedence in the hiring process, so that if your statement doesn’t exceed a minimum numerical cutoff for promoting diversity, increasing it in your past, and promulgating it in the future should you be hired, your candidacy is terminated 
My friends (anonymous!) in the UC system report that the criteria are clear and the word is out: Don't try to be clever.  Don't quote Martin Luther King, on judgement by content of character rather than color of skin.  Don't write vibrant essays on the importance of ideological, political or religious diversity.  Don't quote federal anti-discrimination law, the 14th Amendment, and the UC's own statements of non-discrimination in hiring. Don't write about class diversity, diverse experiences of immigrants, such as people born under communism in Eastern Europe or the amazingly diverse experience of the colleague you just hired who came from a small village in China. Don't write about the importance of freedom of speech, or  anti-communist loyalty oaths in the 1950s. Are you thinking of writing about your hilbilly elegy background, your time in the military, your support for gun rights and Trump, and how this background and viewpoint would enrich a faculty and staff that likely has absolutely zero people like you? Don't bother. We all know what "diversity" means. And, heaven forbid, don't express distaste for the project. The staff are on to all these tricks,  and each of these specifically will earn you a downgrade. For an example of what not to do, see UCLA Professor Stephen Bainbridge's (UCLA law) posted diversity statement. Let's see if he gets that raise.

Jerry links to the UC Rubric to assess candidate contributions to diversity equity and inclusion. It's lovely that they are so secure they don't think they have to hide this sort of thing.

Knowledge Score 1-2:
doesn't discuss gender or ethnicity/race.
Only specific kinds of diversity need apply.
Discusses diversity in vague terms, such as "diversity is important for science."... Little demonstrated understanding of demographic data related to diversity in higher education or in their discipline.
 It's clear they want a recitation of statistics. I suggest you do not start as Bainbridge does,
“A study of various university faculties showed that at Cornell the ratio of liberal to conservative faculty members was 166 to 6, at Stanford it was 151 to 17, at UCLA it was 141 to 9, and at the University of Colorado it was 116 to 5.”[4] 
Continuing with score 1-2
.may state that it's better not to have outreach or affinity groups aimed at underrepresented individuals because it keeps them separate from everyone else, or will make them feel less valued.
A valid worry, which we may not even investigate. I might not mention Justice Thomas' view of affirmative action, born of personal experience, that it stigmatizes people like himself. True or false, but no longer open to inquiry.

Score 4-5:
 Discusses diversity, equity, and inclusion as core values that every faculty member should actively contribute to advancing. 
Clear knowledge of, experience with, and interest in dimensions of diversity that result from different identities, such as ethnic, socioeconomic, racial, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and cultural differences
Notice the absence of political, ideological, religious, national.

Track record score 1-2:
Participated in no specific activities, or only one or two limited activities 
Only mentions activities that are already the expectation of faculty... (for example, "I always invite and welcome students from all backgrounds to participate in my research lab, and in fact have mentored several women." ... 
..the only activities were oriented toward informing oneself (for example, attended a workshop at a conference).
score 4-5
Describes multiple activities in depth...Activities may span research, teaching and service, and could include applying their research skills or expertise to investigating diversity, equity and inclusion.
Got that? Your research must now come up with the right answer too. (My emphasis)
...e.g.,  a current graduate student may have volunteered for an extended period of time for an organization or group that seeks to increase the representation of underrepresented groups in science.
Prove you are already a member of our political club.

Your plans score 1-2:
...States that would be happy to "help out" but seems to expect the University or department to invite or assign them to activities.
score 3:
Plans or ideas lacking in detail or clear purpose (for example, if "outreach" is proposed, who is the specific target, what is the type of engagement, and what are the expected outcomes? What are the specific roles and responsibilities of the faculty member? 
score 4-5:
Clear and detailed ideas for what existing programs they would get involved with 
You can't ask for a clearer statement that a candidate will join some groups and not others, and support the existing bureaucracy.
and what new ideas they have for advancing equity and inclusion at Berkeley and within their field, through their research, teaching, and/or service. 
Again, now your scientific research must come up with the right answer, and you must promulgate it in the classroom.
Intends to be a strong advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion within the department/school/college and also their field...References activities already taking place at Berkeley and in the field, and how additional or new activities would advance equity and inclusion.
(my emphasis) You can't get a job unless you support our club and our jobs.

The Office of Diversity and Equity website offers additional written guidance.  Choice quotes:
Teaching..Using new pedagogies and classroom strategies to advance equity and inclusion. 
Research:..Research focused on underserved communities.
 Service/professional activities: Participation in workshops and activities that help build multicultural competencies and create inclusive climates....Supporting student organizations that serve underrepresented groups....Participation with professional or scientific associations or meetings that aim to increase diversity or address the needs of underrepresented students, staff, or faculty. Serving on university or college committees related to equity and inclusion...
It's not just thought police, it's belong and actively participate in  the club police!

How does it work? 

Coyne links to an informative internal report on the effect of the diversity pledge on life sciences recruiting, the "Initiative to Advance Faculty Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Life Science at UC Berkeley Year End Summary Report: 2018-2019:" by Dr. Rebecca Heald and Dr. Mary Wildermuth:
...participating departments agreed to incorporate interventions in all future faculty recruitments. This change has been more difficult in some departments and has met resistance by a small number of senior faculty members. ...What cannot be emphasized enough is the value of the Initiative in bringing together faculty and staff across departments who share a common passion and set of goals. The Initiative established a group of allies across campus who are valuable resources for support and encouragement, and above all are committed to changing the status quo. With support from the campus leadership, the Life Sciences are now at a cultural and procedural tipping point in advancing faculty diversity, equity and inclusion.
So, the point is as much about internal political battles as it is about hiring "diverse" faculty. Squashing the "resistance" by the "small number" of "senior" faculty members actually willing to risk their necks by speaking out about this. "Bringing together" the faculty -- and staff! -- who "share a common passion and set of goals." Forming a "group of allies." Achieving a "cultural and procedural tipping point."

I'm interested here in the politicization of our institutions. It is interesting that not everyone is on board this project, even in the UC system. There are still Jerry Coynes and Abigail Thompsons at major universities. Much of the project is to force political conformity and silence their dissent within the institution.

The story:
The Berkeley campus committed five FTE for a broad search in the Life Sciences....A total of 993 applications were received, of which 893 met basic qualifications. The LSI Committee conducted a first review and evaluated candidates based solely on contributions to diversity, equity and inclusion. Only candidates that met a high standard in this area were advanced for further review, narrowing the pool down to 214 for serious consideration. The remaining applications were then opened to review by the departmental ad-hoc search committees for short-list consideration.
My emphasis. Jerry on this:
 having a cutoff for diversity from the outset indicates that it was actually the most important criterion for a search to proceed further. No matter how good your scholarship, if you didn’t pass the diversity cutoff (a score of 11 in the second search), you were toast. 
The report goes on
...Five finalists were ultimately proposed.... Ultimately, the “cluster search” was one of the most successful interventions of the initiative. It will result in an increase in faculty committed to advancing faculty diversity, equity and inclusion on the campus.
My emphasis again. The game is no longer to advance candidates who are themselves "diverse." The game is to stock the faculty with people of a certified ideological stripe, who are committed to advancing this cause. Tom Sowell need not apply. In case the litmus test is not perfectly clear:
in the first review, the Committee evaluated redacted statements on contributions to diversity, equity and inclusion. Limiting the first review to contributions in DE&I is itself a dramatic change of emphasis in the typical evaluation process which generally focuses on primarily on research accomplishments....
...emphasizing diversity, equity and inclusion in the first review is now an agreed practice in these departments. 
The report documents the effects of this selection:
But wait a minute. If the point is to hire African Americans, Hispanics (UC: you're supposed to say Latinx now) and women, why not just ask people what they are and hire them? Indeed the diversity statements were redacted to exclude names precisely so people didn't have that basis to pick more "diverse" candidates.
Without presumptions regarding a candidate’s gender, national origin or ethnicity, reviewers evaluated candidates solely on their statements on accomplishments, depth of understanding, and future plans. 
about "diversity."  Well, because racial and gender quotas are illegal, of course.

In closing, the report notes
Finalists were asked to describe their efforts to promote equity and inclusion, as well as ideas for advancing equity and inclusion at Berkeley, as part of their job talk....Only candidates who demonstrated, through their knowledge, past contributions, and/or future plans for advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion, potential to meet Berkeley standards were advanced as finalists and ultimately proposed candidates
Jerry comments
I find this process chilling in its commitment to a specific form of social engineering. While I favor affirmative action (many readers here don’t), I think it should be enacted not through eliminating candidates because of insufficient diversity statements, but through departmental initiatives to identify and hire good minority candidates.  You might respond that, well, this is one kind of such initiative. But these hires involve initiatives meant to assure that every person hired is committed to diversity in precise accord with the ranking system...., it enforces not just diversity, which I favor, but ideology, which I don’t. Further, only race and gender were involved here as aspects of “diversity”—not things like class, political viewpoint, background independent of race and sex, and so on.
Nobody should ever be automatically eliminated because their “diversity score” is below 11. If you do that, you will eliminate all those who are good scholars but don’t have a track record in promoting racial and gender diversity, even though they may have been involved in other valued social activities that don’t affect diversity (I’ve mentioned writing about your field for the public and giving talks to high school students to educate and interest them in your field).
This is a good point. Suppose you spent all your copious free time as a scientist activating for climate change, working as a drug addiction counselor, teaching in prisons, or saving endangered species. None of that counts. Of course if you spent your time as a Mormon missionary, activating for second amendment rights, or working for the Federalist society, we know that doesn't count!
... the Berkeley Diversity Mavens have won. By hiring large numbers of deans and administrators whose job is to promote initiatives like the above, colleges like Berkeley have guaranteed that this kind of process will only get more onerous and more invidious. After all, those people have to keep ratcheting up the process to keep their jobs going.  In reality, their goal should be to ultimately make their own jobs obsolete.
An important economic insight. By and large this sort of thing seems to be the result of the diversity equity and inclusion staff, not faculty, who mostly are too busy. The modern university is more and more of the staff by the staff and for the staff.

If faculty and trustees do not like this, or what the admissions office is doing, rise up and take charge. If alumni do not like this, stop giving them money, as I have.

In other news, Yale eliminates art history 1. From Reason magazine,
"the class might make some students uncomfortable due to the "overwhelming" whiteness, maleness, and straightness of the artists who comprise the Western canon..."
"In its final iteration, the course will "consider art in relation to questions of gender, class and race and discuss its involvement with Western capitalism," according to the latest syllabus. Art's relationship to climate change will also be a "key theme." "
The Yale Daily News  adds
The decision to get rid of this survey art history course resembles the English Department’s move to “decolonize” its degree requirements in 2017. At the time, the department made a sequence titled “Major English Poets” optional for majors.
A correspondent (anonymous!) comments, "Next, they'll eliminate their calculus, probability, and statistics courses because of the overwhelming whiteness and maleness of the inventors." True. How can one teach thermodynamics (basically, the physics of steam engines) without a through examination of James' Watt's privilege, and the huge effect of steam engines, the coal mines they drained, the coal they burned, on "western capitalism" and climate change? Well, obviously, someone still takes physics seriously, such as the ability to calculate just how hot the liquid sodium in a solar power plat can be before the whole thing melts. Art history, sadly, not.

Roger Kimball in the Wall Street Journal adds
It is also yet another sign that Yale has succumbed to a life-draining decadence. A decadent institution isn’t necessarily impoverished or licentious. Rather, it is desiccated because it has lost the life-giving pith of its purpose. ...the animating élan has evaporated. A decadent institution is one that has repudiated itself. 
This is (to me) a new meaning of "decadent" and a word I have been looking for. A lot of America is "decadent" these days.
The political philosopher James Burnham once observed that “suicide is probably more frequent than murder as the end phase of a civilization.” As Yale has been demonstrating for some years now, elite institutions are eager to take the lead.
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19 days ago
I'm not sure how this can be defensible at a public university.
Los Angeles, CA
21 days ago
He's right. This trend is out of hand. Are you or have you ever been associated with a "colorblind" philosophy of judging and recruiting professionals?
Princeton, NJ or NYC
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