Wednesday, February 22, 2006

More Summers

This post from Kieran Healy at Crooked Timber makes--nay, merely suggests--a wee mistake in passing--or en passant as those of us who think French sounds cool but don't know how to speak it might say.

Healy writes:

"I wonder whether it’ll be possible to preempt the spin that this was all because of his silly remarks about women in science, and ergo Summers was forced out by intolerant liberals. Probably not—even though, you know, Summers is in fact a liberal and you may remember him serving in the Clinton administration."


1. His remarks about women in science weren't silly. They may have been false...but they weren't silly. In fact, for all we know, they might be true. Which (ignoring a few details) makes them un-silly.

2. It doesn't matter that this wasn't all about Mathgate. What matters is that some of this is about Mathgate.

3. It doesn't really matter that Summers is a liberal. In fact, it makes it worse that he was a liberal. That is, it might be evidence that even liberals aren't left enough for academia. (Actually, there's other evidence for that, too...)


4. Serving in the Clinton administration is not going to establish your liberal bona fides in academia. In my experience, a good bit of academia--the bit we're thinking about here--leans pretty damn far left of Clinton. Mention Clinton around these parts and you're more likely to be rewarded with a tirade about the evils of welfare reform than with a paean to the Big Dog.

Um...guess those problems aren't exactly wee after all...

Anyway, in the 3rd or 4th comment to Healy's post there's a link to an explanation of the Russian/money/ethics stuff that Rilkefan referred to below.


Blogger rilkefan said...

Yglesias drones on with actual informedness.

Again, I think this was about the thing Mathgate arose from.

Maybe it was silly of Summers to speak truth (or whatever) of that sort in semi-public in an off-hand, here's what I think about stuff you care about deeply and maybe professionally and I'm an economist way.

I thought it was silly of Healy to so characterize the issue, but oh well.

3:45 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

These "people" with their "facts"...

4:17 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Dang. I hate what might properly be called "racialism" and by extension "sexialism," as in inherent differences between theses and thems.

Because the differences between individuals of the same group are far greater than the average difference between groups. You could look it up.

Individuals is where it's at.

Still, average differences do emerge in scientific inquiries. PC Lysenkoism will not make them disappear. I imagine that if "advocates" could manage to stop arguing against "underrepresentation" of certain groups in this field of endeavor or that, and the powers that be could take the time to see past time-saving (law of averages) generalizations to see individuals as individuals, we might get somewhere.

Or maybe we already have, in our invisible hand economy. I imagine the clever entrepreneur could and does hire those of disfavored groups for less than market value, thereby increasing his own profit.

I mean, even the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition permit a female to walk around in clothes rather than naked if she contributes to the bottom line.

Anything else would be uncivilized.

4:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really don't know what the hell to think of the Summers thing. but I was wondering what you guys think of this:

Do you find him persuasive?

12:20 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Sounds reasonable, but if he were of the same philosophical bent as his faculty constituency, it wouldn't matter if he lied about diddling the help under oath in a sexual harassment suit or even driving his girlfriend off a bridge and not telling anybody about it until the next day.

10:21 PM  

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