Links Summer Solstice

I assume those of a pagan persuasion will be out celebrating….

Solstice at Stonehenge Telegraph

The Real Science Gap Miller McCune (hat tip reader Kendall)

A Best Friend? You Must Be Kidding New York Times. This appears in the “Fashion & Style” section. Gonzalo Lira notes, “The NY Times is reporting how great it is that school administrators are forbidding children from having best friends, deeming it “exclusive”. I’m not kidding—I wish I were.” I hope Vinny will weigh in on this one.

UN Africa corruption case buried Washington Pos.t UN Staffer writes, “I see it all as part of the larger failures by many institutions to take fraud seriously. TWO YEARS without a head of investigations? (Where’s the US on this one, you might ask?)”

BP was told of oil safety fault ‘weeks before blast‘ BBC

BP estimates spill up to 100,000 bpd in document Reuters

The Agony of the Liberals Ross Douthat, New York Times. Read this only if you want to raise your blood pressure.

The Stealth Attack on America’s Best-Loved Program Robert Knutter, New Deal 2.0 (hat tip reader bill). You must read this to find out who really saved Social Security during the Clinton Administration.

Rahm Emanuel expected to quit White House Telegraph (hat tip reader Marshall). We can only hope…

China Moves. Or Not. Tim Duy. There is some very disparate reporting going on right now. The Journal, as Duy pointed out, said that the PBoC set the dollar-RMB parity rate at the same level as Friday. 6.8275. The Financial Times weighs in with, “Renminbi unchanged despite policy shift.” Bloomberg, by contrast, is wildly cheerleading the fact that the currency has moved in intra-day trading to 6.803. Given that the RMB is allowed to move .5% a day v. the dollar, this is still within the permitted band, and thus inconclusive. I am sure the Chinese authorities are delighted at the reception in the market and media around the world, however.

As China Aids Labor, Unrest Is Still Rising New York Times. Cynically, I wonder whether the authorities are allowing labor protests to proceed at foreign employers and discouraging them at Chinese ones.

Dealers Pushed Aside by Private Collectors as Art Prices Surge Bloomberg (hat tip reader Buzz Potamkin)

Sleight of hand is not the best reform Clive Crook, Financial Times

A (timely) bank crisis management critique FT Alphaville. Today’s must read.

Antidote du jour:

Picture 64

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  1. Debra

    Thanks for the article “The Real Science Gap”.
    A few comments… The article does NOT mention what areas the young white males (….) are going into INSTEAD of science. Finance maybe ? Just guessing.
    I think that the United State’s university is STILL perceived by the rest of the world as THE place to get a graduate/undergraduate education, but that if the state of affairs highlighted in this article continues, that will change.
    Predatory capitalism with spending LESS and LESS money on salaries has taken over the university system, it would appear…
    I have a liberal arts diploma. English Lit.
    The attitudes towards English Lit are probably even more abysmal than the attitudes towards science at this point… “What’s it GOOD for ?” ho hum.
    Educational monoculture) is one factor.
    Somebody I talked to a while ago said that there is nothing like pushing your way through a crowd of traders when you need a… clock repairman, for example.
    I still feel that the devaluing of the humanities is in part responsible for… devaluing science.
    Because devaluing the humanities tells your young people that… your HISTORY is not important. Your.. LITERATURE is not important.
    That history and literature, instead of being a living, vital part of your culture, are frills.
    And once you’ve started thinking like that, well, it’s only a question of time before other areas of specialization will get the axe too.
    Anything that… does not make money in an instant. While granting prestige, of course.

    1. Glenn Stehle

      Debra said: “The attitudes towards English Lit are probably even more abysmal than the attitudes towards science at this point… ‘What’s it GOOD for ?’ ho hum.”

      When I was in engineering school—-back in the dark ages—-the slide-rule set derisively referred to degree plans like English Lit as being in the “basket weaving” or “sandal making” fields.

      There are a number of reasons why engineers held English Lit in such disdain. But when the Modern Language Association took the dive into French post-structuralism, that is into the denial of objective reality, it brought a lot of this derision upon itself.

      If the MLA had confined its critique to scientism—-perhaps the quintessential example of scientism being the field of economics—-it would have avoided much of this criticism.

      “Scientism,” as Jacques Barzun explains, “is the fallacy of believing that the method of science must be used on all forms of experience and, given time will settle every issue.” “Again and again,” Barzun continues, “the bright thought has occurred, ‘If we can only define our terms, if we can only find the basic unit, if we can spot the right indicators, we can then measure and reason flawlessly, we shall have created one more science. And nearly as often the shout has been heard: ‘Eureka! We are scientists,’ the new science being some portion of the desired Science of Man—-history, sociology, psychology, archaeology, linguistics, and other more or less short-lived ologies.”

      “The motives behind scientism are culturally significant,” Barzun goes on to explain. “They have been mixed, as usual: genuine curiosity in search of truth; the rage for certainty and for unity; and the snobbish desire to earn the label of scientist when that became a high social and intellectual rank.”

      “But these efforts,” Barzun concludes, “even though vain, have not been without harm, to the inventors and to the world at large. The ‘findings’ have inspired policies affecting daily life that were enforced with the same absolute assurance as earlier ones based on religion.”

      But the MLA did not limit its critique to scientism. Instead, it attacked the physical and biological (medical) sciences as well, which opened up the door and abetted the anti-science that was later to come from the political right. The most prominent examples of these right-wing attacks have been those on the science regarding the harmful effects of tobacco usage and those on the science of manmade global warming.

      American philosopher John Searle argued in 1990 that “The spread of ‘poststructuralist’ literary theory is perhaps the best known example of a silly but noncatastrophic phenomenon.” Similarly, physicist Alan Sokal in 1997 criticized “the postmodernist/poststructuralist gibberish that is now hegemonic in some sectors of the American academy.”

      But are the effects of this silliness and gibberish as benign as Searls and Sokal predicted? Maybe not, now that corporate America is deploying it in its propaganda wars.

      1. Glenn Stehle

        And what a tremendous loss it is that the MLA chose to model itself after the French post-structuralists and set itself up as an authority on science.

        If it would have followed the lead of the Frankfurt School instead, perhaps it could have made the same worthwhile and much needed criticisms that French post-structuralism does, but without having such a deleterious effect on American society.

        Jurgen Habermas, one of the most prominent post-war adherents of the Frankfurt School, shows that although the objectivist approach may be superior to other modes of knowing for purposes of exercising technical control over nature, it utterly fails to address other human purposes such as the great philosophical questions of how to live, what values to pursue, what meaning to give to life, how to achieve a just and free society, and how to be a fully realized and free human being.

        But the MLA wanted to destroy scientific objectivism root and branch, which cast literature in a very different role than it had traditionally played. As Barzun opines, “the workers in the realm of intuition, the gifted finessers—-artists, moralists, philosophers, historians, political theorists, and theologians [and I would add economists to this category]—-were often diverted from their proper task, while others were looking on them with disdain as dabblers in the suburbs of Truth.”

        1. Debra

          Thanks for the Barzun quote, and the Habermas stuff, Glenn.
          I already read the Barzun quote.
          I know nothing about the MLA, other than what a former French professor has told me on occasion about the silliness going on in language teaching at this time in the U.S. (Not just in language teaching either, it seems.) It sounds like a classic case of my “more of a good thing” paradigm…
          But… that is way after MY stint with structuralism, and my departure from the U.S.
          Yves said I was disconnected. That is true. I am speaking English to you, but I have lived outside of American society for thirty years now. With only infrequent trips back to the mother country.
          I live in France the way.. Jacques Barzun lives in Texas, except that I’m a lot younger than he is, and much less knowledgeable, certainly.
          It sounds to me like you heard the word “structuralism” and it rang a bell in your head. Maybe… I’m not using the word the way you think I am…
          Incidentally, I don’t agree with all of Barzun’s takes in his book, even though I greatly admire his ability as an historian of ideas and as a GENERALIZER.
          I believe that there is a certain coherence/logic in the scientific approach to creating OBJECT, and that the generalization of this approach to domains outside of what we call hard science was inevitable and far predates the French post structuralists anyway.
          It accompanies… ANALYTIC thought, and analytic thought has been around for a long time now, not set to disappear any time in the near future.
          Generalization and analytic thought are perhaps in dialectical tension. (I never remember exactly what dialectical means and I am NOT a philosopher.)
          I think… the way William Shakespeare thinks. (sorry if that sounds grandiose…)
          Through word images. (Lots of literary people think that way too…)
          I told Jim the other day that one of the major problems that has arisen with scientism is the belief that we will be able to EXPLAIN our whole world.
          The… glose phenomenon, if you will.
          That talking ABOUT something (like what I’m doing here… lol) can replace language that DOES, and that acts. “poiesis”.
          And you have to admit that we have been talking ABOUT for a hell of a lot longer than French post structuralism.
          Barthes is a great writer, you know.
          Anyway, the structuralism I refer to is.. De Saussure, the grandaddy of them all, he was Swiss. Beneveniste, Jakobsen. Old stuff. And linguistics.
          And Glenn ? I studied English lit in a small liberal arts college from, among others, teachers who came out of the University of Chicago during, not the dark ages, but the golden age. Of the caliber of Jacques Barzun, as a matter of fact. What I learned about LIFE in English lit, NO MONEY WILL BUY.
          Your dark ages don’t go as far back as mine, apparently.
          You missed my discussion with somebody on a previous thread.
          Scientism has a religious structure. It is a RELIGIOUS belief IN science.
          The important words in Barzun are “all” “every”. The idea of explaining “everything”.
          It looks to me as though… scientism has brought us full swing IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION from the medieval position (in theory at least…) and belief system in GOD, as the source and warrant of all knowledge.
          It looks to me as though this position… is as totalizing, and totalitarian, in its way as the medieval one. With the notable difference, as I stated previously, that the monotheistic God is presumed ALL SUBJECT, NOT OBJECT. (Yahve, “I am who I am”.) Whereas science… well, it looks pretty much like.. all object to me.
          Any totalizing position like that, Glenn, is SURE to provoke a hostile reaction, sooner or later.
          And, in my book, the Christian fundamentalists are reacting precisely against this position, even though they may not know it. It is extremely logical for them to react this way AGAINST scientism. THEIR belief system is diametrically opposed to it.
          Last time I checked… the medical “sciences” STILL were dealing with LIVING MEN. Not with.. stars, or rocks, or whatever.
          The culture USED to refer to medecine as an ART, Glenn. NOT a science.
          Now…. you feel like telling me that medecine is a SCIENCE ?
          What are your grounds for that ? WITHOUT invoking.. scientism ??
          I think the issue is maybe a little more complicated than it looks.

    2. pressburger

      I’ve been told by numerous Chinese post-grad colleagues in the sciences that no one comes for the education. They admit they only come for the money. Your tax dollars by the way.

    3. Doug Terpstra

      “The most prominent examples of these right-wing attacks have been those on the science regarding the harmful effects of tobacco usage and those on the science of manmade global warming.”

      As I recall, the rabid David Horowitz, former 60’s lefty turned Neocon anti-Marxist, was an icon of that movement. Described as a “paranoiac with a budget”, his foaming at the mouth attacks on liberal academia are a regressive throwback to McCarthyism, obnoxious and hysterical but very effective at muzzling and censoring liberal arts curricula and objective media.

      Well-funded by sources including Zionist group JihadWatch, Horowitz set up the Orwellian ‘Students for Academic Freedom’ in 2003 “…[which on some campuses]…launched an all-out assault on liberal professors, using classic McCarthyite tactics…[with] “anonymously posted [leaflets] on the doors of ten faculty members” at the College, [quoting antiquated CA state code]:

      “No teacher… shall advocate or teach communism with the intent to indoctrinate, inculcate in the mind of any pupil a preference for communism.” Such “advocacy,” the statute says, means teaching “for the purpose of undermining patriotism for, and the belief in, the government of the United States and of this state.”

      In Horowitz’ world “Cornell West is a black airhead” and “political animal”; “Palestinians are Nazis. Every one of their elected officials are terrorists.”; “women’s studies departments’ goals are to make students into radical feminists” and “[the department] doesn’t actually care about women,” because of genital mutilation occurring in Islamic cultures;” and repeating former Harvard President Larry Summers’ claims that women had lesser scientific abilities than women: “Women possibly have a lower aptitude for math and science than men. And that’s a gender difference. Women have a lower aptitude in mathematics than men, and that is a scientific fact,” etc.

      1. i on the ball patriot

        Good post Doug, and if you want more proof of this same methodology of the chilling of Free Speech, and another example of a regressive throw back to McCarthyism, then see this latest fascist supreme court decision.

        I am usually a pretty optimistic guy but this is totally fucking depressing …


        “Today the Supreme Court took our country back to the mid 20th century — a time when people were criminally prosecuted and professionally persecuted for pure political advocacy and association (or suspected association) with the Communist Party. In a 6-3 opinion, in Holder v Humanitarian Law Project (HLP), the court upheld prohibitions on providing “material support” to foreign organizations designated as terrorist groups by the State Department, without due process — even when that “support” is innocently rendered in the form of advice on peaceful conflict resolution and other human rights advocacy.”

        More here …

        Fuck Nazi Obama — piece of human shit — and fuck his fascist bitch Kagan!!!!!!

        Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

      2. Glenn Stehle

        Doug Terpstra,

        I thought this quote from your first link was priceless:

        “Fred Gardner, a contemporary of Horowitz’s during his Ramparts days, described his [Horowitz’s] political transition from the left to the right in 1991:

        …And sure it’s demoralizing to learn that the party that supposedly stands for equality is run by opportunists and actually stands for privilege. But that wouldn’t lead a real radical to endorse the all-out pursuit of privilege. It should lead you to call for a movement that’s serious about establishing equality.”

  2. alex

    re: The Real Science Gap

    Nice to know that someone gets it and is actually writing about it. While the article is focused mostly on academia (grad students, post-docs and profs) the same thing applies to STEM (scientific, technical, engineering and mathematical) personnel in general – there is no shortage. If there aren’t more working researchers, engineers, etc. in the US it’s due to a lack of demand, not a lack of supply. All the objective data bear this out, for example only about half of all Ph.D.’s are employed in jobs that require a Ph.D.

    Unfortunately (and ironically, given that these are supposed to be scientific people) mere objective data are drowned out by an endless chorus of how we have such a shortage of STEM personnel. This supply-side myth serves the interests of several groups:

    1. Tenured professors, who benefit from an endless supply of grad students.

    2. Academia in general, including the K-12 crowd, who use the “shortage” to insist that more funding is needed to maintain our “national competitiveness”.

    3. The tech industry, which uses the “shortage” to justify things like the H-1B program on the one hand and offshoring on the other.

    Several factors also make it hard to combat the self-serving myth of a shortage:

    a. Who’s opposed to better education? But that doesn’t justify the logical error that just because better education is always desirable the supposedly poor state of American education is threatening our “national competitiveness”.

    b. Anyone opposed to the enormous number of foreign grad students, H-1B’s, etc. is cast as a xenophobe.

    c. People want to believe the myths that there are all these wonderful careers available if only students would put their noses to the grindstone, and that American industry would blossom again if only we fixed our educational system. The whole “put in the effort and the rewards await you” shtick is very appealing.

  3. But What Do I Know?

    Good catch on the China labor article, Yves. I was thinking the same thing–that the strikes and wage increases always seem to come at foreign (Japanese) factories. Even the reporting on NPR made me feel that this was being encouraged by the authorities–perhaps to make the Chinese products more competitive. Personally, I never understood why a foreign company would build a manufacturing facility in China because its technology and know-how were just going to be confiscated in the long run, and ultimately the Chinese were going to drive them out of business with selective labor actions–but I guess they teach you to ignore that line of thought in B-school. . .

  4. attempter

    I saw that evil NYT education piece yesterday. By now few things still make me want to reach through the screen and throttle somebody, but that did.

    Any humanist educator knows that what children naturally want to do as far as their play and friendships, as long as it’s not hurting one another, is what they should do.

    So the thug “educators” in this article are proclaiming their malevolent, hateful intent toward their hapless charges. I sure hope any parent who sees his own kid’s school in there makes a pre-emptive strike, telling that scum in no uncertain terms to “leave my kid’s friendships alone.” Or better yet get the kids as far away from such self-proclaimed child molestors as possible.

    We know exactly what’s going on here. It’s part of corporate education in general. The goal is anti-human. It’s to indoctrinate the people as children, permanently damaging their ability to form social relationships, so that as much as possible each faces the corporate death machine alone, as an isolated, atomized individual. That renders him more likely to slave as a helpless, pliable, servile corporate cog his whole life.

    Yves has featured articles about how the MSM tries to help effect this atomization among adults. Here we see one of many examples of how it’s done through corporate child abuse by traitor educators at the level of the corporatized school.

    Here again it’s the same pattern – gradually developing under previous presidents, radically stepped up by Bush (NCLB), and Obama now seeks to accelerate and intensify the Bush paradigm.

    Since that was so nasty, here’s an counterstrike, a fictive graduation speech by Herman Daly.

    I only just found that steady-state economy website this morning, but it looks interesting. The names I recognize are good ones.

  5. jdmckay

    re: The Real Science Gap

    Overall gist is indeed troubling… highlights much of what I harp about here frequently. That article, however, misses & misrepresents much and fails to connect the dots to paint the larger picture.
    They say:

    America’s schools, it turns out, consistently produce large numbers of world-class science and math students,(…)

    Misleading: the volume of graduates is *down*. The broadness of spectrum (disciplines) is *down*. And the focus of curriculum, for decades determined by pushing the envelope across important disciplines to further the science, instead is massively directed by reliance on Corp. “endowments” which are given w/fine print demanding University’s do the research these guys want.

    It’s just a cheaper way for corp(s) to get their research.

    What authors fail to say (connecting dots): this is a consequence of current (last couple decades, especially since 2k) “capitalism”, which has not only failed to put investment $$ into this stuff, but has instead directed those $$… en masse, to all the WS fraud so often catalogued here on NC.

    More then anything, it’s a failure of values As a nation, we lie (or have come to believe lies propagated through political system schilling for current sick “capitalistic” system) about what’s important… what we (and world) need to meet demands of the future just to survive.

    This is what happens when financial sector becomes 40% of economy, primary driver of investment, and addicted to it’s own “bottom line” to the exclusion of well being of society as a whole. IMO, this gap is biggest problem we face.

    1. alex

      “Misleading: the volume of graduates is *down*.”

      What level of graduates? BS, MS, PhD? In what fields? I’m sympathetic to your arguments but you need more detail.

      Also, why is it down? In the early 00’s there was a big panic about declining computer science undergrad enrollment. The panic came mainly from academics (who like anyone else always want more business) and to some extent from industry (which was worried about there being less glut in the labor market). But the bottom line was students weren’t majoring in CS because they saw how bad the job market was. The tech boom was over and what jobs were left were being rapidly offshored. The problem with America’s high school seniors is that they’re not as dumb as they look – they don’t always buy academic/industry lies about the wonderful career that awaits them in field X.

      Also, is the fact that the number of graduates is down necessarily a bad thing? There’s long been a glut of Ph.D.’s in many STEM fields. No matter how noble the calling, it’s a waste of student’s time and government money to produce a lot more graduates than can find jobs.

      “And the focus of curriculum, for decades determined by pushing the envelope across important disciplines to further the science, instead is massively directed by reliance on Corp. “endowments” which are given w/fine print demanding University’s do the research these guys want.”

      That is a problem. Basic research must be government funded as no business can justify the investment. The corporate grants come with too many strings attached.

    2. pressburger

      Most science grads end up in industry or the military, since their original project funding and therefore research focus as grad students came from those sources.

      The article however focuses exclusively on advancement within the university system.

      1. Valissa

        I thought that was odd too, as I know lots of people with advanced degrees who are not in academia… and have no desire to be! Also many scientists in academia make money on the side by consulting to industry, and scientists in industry often teach evening course at local colleges.

        The defense industry, pharma, biotech, telecommuncations industry and computer industry all hire lots of PhDs (and folks with masters too). I have worked in most of those industries at one time or another and almost all the PhDs I worked with (with my BS Math & computer background I typically played a support role to such) much preferred working outside of academia, for $$ and other reasons, esp. if they could get into a company’s research lab dept. or applied research group… and there are more of those around than most people are aware of, even in today’s job market.

  6. Glenn Stehle

    Re: The Real Science Gap—-“For a variety of reasons, however, many Ph.D.s find the transition from academe to private business hard to accomplish.”

    This raises the specter of another reality that the anti-government fanatics are in denial about, which is, as this article points out, that almost all research in the US is funded by the federal government.

    Poignant anecdotal evidence of this emerged when Tony Hayward appeared before a congressional hearing last week:

    Inslee: We asked British Petroleum what it spent on research and development regarding safer offshore drilling technologies. You gave us the number; it was about $10 million a year. That represents .0033 percent, .0033 percent of British Petroleum revenues. That doesn’t sound like an adequate prioritization. How does it compare to your compensation?

    Hayward: In what respect? What is the question?

    Inslee: British Petroleum is investing about $10 million a year in safer drilling technology. How does that $10 million a year compare to your compensation last year, for instance?

    Hayward: My compensation last year was $6 million.

    Inslee: Forbes reports it at 33, there must be some misunderstanding. Is that appropriate? Stock options don’t count?

    Inslee’s questioning begins here at minute 01:51:50

    There is really no rocket science here. A society elicits the kind of behavior it wants with a system or rewards and punishments. Even the most primitive of societies have figured this out. David Sloan Wilson in Darwin’s Cathedral: Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society cites a study of the Chewong, a tribe that inhabits the rain forests of the Malay peninsula (Howell 1984). “Benefits are not meted out according to a narrow calculus of genealogical relatedness or likelihood of return gain,” Sloan Wilson explains. “Instead, the group is united by a system of beliefs and practices that is essentially moral in tone. There is right conduct and there is wrong conduct and the latter invites punishment, not only by animals and their spirits by also by disapproving Chewong.”

    What are the fruits of America’s quasi-religious faith in free markets?


    “….. Dealers Pushed Aside by Private Collectors as Art Prices Surge….”

    It’s about time…. However, it has little to do with price and everything to do with reliability. There are few collectors today that will allow dealers to influence their purchasing decisions and choices. I will not participate in the purchase or sale of an art property if a dealer is involved, that includes the auction houses as well. Much of what what we’re seeing exchanged in the public domain today, is hyped up garbage.

    Best regards,


  8. Doug Terpstra

    I’m not pagan, only perhaps an involuntary heathen at times. So I won’t be dancing naked around a pentagonal bonfire this year, but I do sincerely hope to celebrate the winter solstice of 2012, the Mayan passage to a new Earth :-)

  9. purple

    People talk about education as if we have a captive labor markets, as we did 40 years ago. Women don’t have to be teachers now, they have other opportunities. So wages are going to have to go up if you want to end the critical shortage of quality workers.

    Geniuses like Bill Gates and the NYT editorial board can’t quite grasped this yet.

    1. D. Warbucks

      Actually, wages will have to come down since we want to be sure not to educate students very well.

  10. Red Pill

    I am one of those “research assistant professors” discussed the the Real Science Gap article. I would say the situation is accurately described. I have a BS and Ph.D. in math-intense engineering disciplines and apply this education for research on neurological diseases. I love the work and the people I work with, but I only make about $45,000 a year. I was going to get a nice pay raise but there was a university pay freeze due a cut back of state funding. I am fortunate in that my wife is also a professional, so we can still have what most would consider a modest middle class lifestyle. I have advised people that if you do not actually love science, I would spend the effort on another career.

    As an aside, I got interested in the housing bubble in late 2005 (we decided to rent :) ) and studied as a hobby some economics and some of the financial modeling. It is terrible pseudo-science. Faulty assumptions underlying the models and failure to adjust theories in light of contradicting evidence. I would be embarrassed to be an economist right now.

    1. alex

      “I love the work and the people I work with, but I only make about $45,000 a year.”

      As I’m sure you know, but just to clarify for people unfamiliar with the field, in industry you’d probably get a starting salary like that, or a little better, with only a BS and no experience. Of course that’s assuming one can get a job these days, which is a big assumption. However, the pay differentials were the same when people actually could get jobs.

      “I am fortunate in that my wife is also a professional, so we can still have what most would consider a modest middle class lifestyle. I have advised people that if you do not actually love science, I would spend the effort on another career.”

      That is fortunate, and it’s also fortunate that presumably your wife is supportive of this. To the other readers: how many people can’t afford this? Sure $45k is above the poverty level, but what about the opportunity cost? How long can someone with that level of education justify working for the love of it? What happens when someone decides they want a family?

      “As an aside, I got interested in the housing bubble in late 2005 (we decided to rent :) ) and studied as a hobby some economics and some of the financial modeling. It is terrible pseudo-science. Faulty assumptions underlying the models and failure to adjust theories in light of contradicting evidence. I would be embarrassed to be an economist right now.”

      Take a look at Australian academic economist Steve Keen’s stuff. Look back through his blog for some of his more technical posts on modeling the monetary system:

      He rips into mainstream economics for the reasons you cite. His “Debunking Economics” book is excellent too.

      1. D. Warbucks

        “What happens when someone decides they want a family?”

        Then they have no business being scientists. Scientists must take vows of poverty, chastity, and to sleep only 2 hours a night.

        1. alex

          In that case they should go back to wearing academic robes too – it fits in with the whole image.

          1. prostratedragon

            And with not being able to afford much heating, which is the origin of academic dress.

      2. Michael

        “Sure $45k is above the poverty level, but what about the opportunity cost?”

        Perhaps there’s more to life than how much money one has hanging around their neck? That’s all it seems to be for some people, after a certain level.

        1. alex

          $45k is hardly a level above which only conspicuous consumption can be had.

          Generally people don’t study math or the sciences because they want to get rich, but it’s also nice to be able to justify the many years of education and the use of your skills by being able to earn at least a better middle class income than that.

          Around here an entry level public school teacher with only a bachelor’s can make that. What about accountants or lawyers, should we ask them to work for the love of it? How about medical doctors? Getting a Ph.D. and the now requisite post-doc years takes about the same amount of time as getting an M.D. and residency. While some people complain about excessive pay for physicians, should we ask them to work for $45k because of the gratification of healing people?

          1. pressburger

            Yes, scientists do have this sour-grapes approach to money as a consolation. You would too if nearly everyone around you with half your IQ, dedication, sacrifices and training was prospering while you weren’t.

      3. Red Pill

        I have read Steve Keen’s book and I thought it was good. However, that was a relatively early find in my interest in economics and his portrayal of dominant economics was so harsh I thought he might be creating straw men. He wasn’t.

        He does do modeling using a nonlinear dynamical perspective, which I think is closer to the mark. However, economics is different than classical physics topics. The planets don’t change their behavior when a model is widely accepted regarding their motion.:)

        Models in economics are very corrosive in that leaders tend to blame the model and shirk responsibility.

        We don’t need models; we need wisdom.

        1. alex

          “his portrayal of dominant economics was so harsh I thought he might be creating straw men. He wasn’t.”

          You get this month’s award for damning dry humor.

          “He does do modeling using a nonlinear dynamical perspective, which I think is closer to the mark. However, economics is different than classical physics topics. The planets don’t change their behavior when a model is widely accepted regarding their motion.:)”

          At least he’s trying not to overlook the (long known to be) erroneous assumptions. My take on economic models is that they’re food for thought. They’ll never be as accurate as models used in physics or engineering, but that doesn’t make them useless. The important thing is to remember that your models are very limited. As for policy ultimately it should be based as much as possible on historical/empirical evidence. A good model always helps your understanding but to the extent you don’t have one, pure “dumb” empiricism is what you need. The ancient Romans may not have had scientific engineering, but they managed to build some pretty impressive structures anyway.

    2. D. Warbucks

      It really doesn’t matter if it’s the worst sort of pseduo-science as long as the innumerate masses can’t understand it.

    3. paper mac

      I would love to work as an RA after my PhD, but there’s not usually anyone hiring at this level in my country and field (postdocs are cheaper, grad students cheaper still). I love science, and if I could get paid $45k/yr to work at the bench I would, although the lack of job security would bother me. I could always drift around in Postdoc Hell overseas or in the US for 5+ years, but I know postdocs with 2-3 first author Nature/Science publications that can’t find faculty positions now- and there’s no guarantee there’s going to be more funding later. It’s amazing to me that this happens in biological fields, people who should understand the consequences of something reproducing itself exponentially in a system with limited resources. It’s actually a little insane that society has invested, I would guess, over $300 000 in my education, from my undergrad, MSc, and now my PhD- and now there’s little work for me to do in my own country. I’m thinking of going the startup route to pursue some ideas of mine which are mostly unrelated to my training..

      Anyhow, congrats on the job, hope things go well.

  11. pressburger

    The current system of funding science in the U.S. is a kind of technology transfer to China and India at the U.S.’s own expense. Chinese scientists come to the U.S. at what are to them fantastic salaries, receive cutting-edge training, and then go back to China or India where family and tenure-track jobs await. They just hope American policy-makers never wake up.

    1. alex

      “They just hope American policy-makers never wake up.”

      They never went to sleep, it’s just that they don’t care.

      It’s interesting that this one item in Yves’ links has gotten so much attention. Talk about striking a nerve. People who are familiar with the STEM fields are well aware of this problem, but I suspect the average person is oblivious. How many blog posters does a cheer leading dolt like Tom Friedman or Bill Gates drown out? Tell the average American though their tax dollars are being used to subsidize the education of our economic competitors or drive down American wages and they’d be incensed.

      1. NOTaREALmerican

        Re: Tell the average American though their tax dollars are being used to subsidize the education of our economic competitors or drive down American wages and they’d be incensed.

        The biggest problem with the “education” argument IS the “average American”. Neither the intellectuals nor the “average Americans” can admit that average Americans even exist. Everybody is above average and needs a college education to work in a above average job.

        Good luck with that fantasy.

  12. anon

    for the programmers:

    the compiler knowledge A/D provides efficient / static feed to the recursively shorted dc bus. the compiler learning D/A randomly rebuilds the wave across dynamic, parallel, effectively open-ended circuits. the D/A is absolutely isolated. the A/D appears to have a direct connection, but that is mythology. the A/D and D/A are symbiotic. you might take another look at quantum statistics for ignition.

  13. dearieme

    “I think that the United State’s university is STILL perceived by the rest of the world as THE place to get a graduate/undergraduate education”: I’d be surprised if any part of the world qualified to judge ever had a high opinion of US undergraduate education. It’s the graduate schools in your research universities that command admiration.

  14. bob goodwin

    “Read this only if you want to raise your blood pressure.”


    This article did not upset me, but then again I am not a liberal. I thought it was a thoughtful piece. Can you explain which parts of this are upsetting to liberals?

    Is the problem that he did not take Obama enough to task for be a corporatist rather than a liberal?

    1. tkarn

      What bothered me about the article was the consistent mischaracterization of Obama’s accomplishments as liberal, and the way he ignores what may be most upsetting to progressives, which is the continuation of the banana republic civil rights and economic policies of Bush. The sad fact is that Eisenhower, with his warning about the military/industrial complex, or even Nixon, who proposed a guaranteed minimum income, would be considered too far left to be “grown-ups”.

    2. Valissa

      Speaking as an ex-liberal (now a political UNbeliever) I would say this paragraph would upset many liberals & progressives:

      This is the same Barack Obama, after all, who shepherded universal health care, the dream of liberals since the days of Harry Truman (if not Thomas Paine), through several near-death experiences and finally into law. It’s the same Obama who staked the fate of the American economy on a $787 billion exercise in Keynesian pump-priming. It’s the same Obama who has done more to advance liberal priorities than any president since Lyndon Johnson.

      What universal health care is he talking about? First of all it’s not universal. All the liberals I know either completely hated the health care bill or grudgingly supported it… not one considered that bill to reflect their own definitions of liberal or progressive. They considered it corporatist or center-right.

      Also on the financial bailout… again I don’t know many liberals that supported that. Most liberals haven’t the faintest clue who Keynes is and most liberals intinctively did want want to support the banksters.

      And “Obama who has done more to advance liberal priorities”… oh really??? ROTFLMAO… yeah that’s a good one… do you actually believe that line Bob Goodwin? You think that’s thoughtful?

      I think liberalism is having an identity crisis, and has been having one for years but now with Obama is forcing that… the Democratic party has been in bed with big money and corporations since Jimmy Carter (Bill Clinton was just more obvious about it) because that is a cultural trend as a whole and not limited to the Republican party… only liberals want to pretend that ain’t so. The definition of liberalism has changed over the years and it will be interesting to see conceptions of what it means to be liberal change once there is more reality about dealing with power and money.

    3. Andrew Bissell

      I would imagine the observation that the desirability of stimulus spending is unfalsifiable (since, no matter the outcome that obtains, there is always an alternative universe in which the government engaged in “enough” of it) also ruffled feathers.

      1. Anonymous Jones

        I would imagine why you think that. You must have a lot of experience with that feeling when people note that your strong beliefs are also unfalsifiable.

        1. Andrew Bissell

          You could just go with the Pee-Wee Herman version, “I know you are, but what am I?”

  15. Bernard

    just now we are seeing the results of the last 40 years of “supply side economics/free market capitalism” which our dear friend and PR spokesman ST. Ronald of Hollywood so glibly sold to the dithering idiots called Americans.
    the idiots bought St. Ronnie’s spiel lock, stock and barrel. the investment netted the Savvy Businessmen behind it the way to control the Government from the Outside.and they Eventually bought the politicians and picked a representative Supreme Court with ideologues that furthered the legal side to the take over of the “Independent” and somewhat competent Government.

    now the rot has permeated the entire structure of Government. as evidenced by the lack of any Government capacity to respond to Incompetents or Businesses that destroy more than they create. for the public you see, they contend.

    the inability to respond has served not only to prove the Republican attack on a functioning Government, but also create the very creature that is so incapable now of responding when it possibly could. unlike Katrina where Bush chose to let the City of New ORleans drown because of poor blacks, the BP oil spill will eventually allow the oil to coat wherever a hurricane happens to land, only partly due to the vast amounts of oil in the Gulf. and Just in time for hurricane season.

    so we have incompetence by government, private business and the lack of any accountability to allow some kind of effective response, by any of the parties involved. the men who chose to destroy and take over the Government, the Serious People, have succeeded in destroying the object of their aims or at least inflicting serious damage to one small part of America.

    not like they can run and hide forever, but they will enjoy their day in the sun, of course, as all thieves do. but sooner or later…..

    education was a means to bettering our nation until it was discovered as a tool by some to advance their aims which didn’t necessarily mean good for the country as a whole. why educate slaves, or let them know they are being turned into slaves with education. which is why the jobs go to the visiting students who bring the learning outside of American society. and why California is closing in on Mississippi when it comes to spending on education.

    who needs an educated American when i can get illegals,move to Mexico, or China and make money off the uneducated foreigner.

    cost effective eh! why spend money on education at all. the idiots in America haven’t seen money spent on education as a priority. who need society, anyway.

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