Blogs > Liberty and Power > Summers, Hoppe & All That!

Feb 8, 2005 6:06 am

Summers, Hoppe & All That!

L&P bloggers who have been following the Lawrence Summers flap over women in Science may find Steven Pinker's views of interest.

In the light of the more recent case of Hans Hoppe's comments on homosexuals discussed here, I am reminded of a comment I used to make over the years in some of my classes, especially in a course I taught on Socio-gEnetiXs and History.

There is some data indicating that men, for whatever reason, sleep on the average, about an hour less per night than women. If that is so, I suggested, then in terms of waking hours, over a life span, men actually live about as long a conscious time as do women. Even if one wanted to count"dream time," this tends to occur in a short period just after going to sleep, and just before waking, so that the amount of sleeping flex time in between is not very relevant.

That observation seemed to make a number of female students quite angry; as if I had somehow challenged the natural superiority of women. God forbid, anyone do that! Thankfully, I was never reported to either the Inquisition or the Thought Police!

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William Marina - 2/8/2005

I recall a lecture by the economist (his name escapes me right now) who was Erhard's advisor in the 1950s, who mentioned that in 1944 he was reported as insufficiently Nazi by a student and sent to a retention camp (shades of Guantanamo).
While there, a count off was made for some to go serve in a Death Camp.
As a Christian and a Prussian, he refused, and the Sargeant allowed him to wander off as a self-created, non-person in the camp. After about two weeks of that, he jumped aboard a garbage truck and was allowed to leave the place as if he didn't exist. He returned to teaching, as if nothing had happened.
Talk about luck.
His name was suppose to be on a list of people to serve in the new regime at the time of the attempt on Hitler's life. The typist left it off by mistake.
All of the others were killed by the Nazis.

Max Swing - 2/8/2005

I am a bit confused, because I have never witnessed something like that in the Germany's academic circles. It would take at least dozen of students to make such a claim rose that kind of attention.
There are always some dissidents who like to improve their grades with claims like that, but the results are mostly not in favor of the students.

A total difference comes up, when it regards state High Schools, because there the parents can easily push a case with their dominance over state-schools (being potential voters for the next election of states-men).

So, perhaps Germans are a bit more rational, patient and facts-observing than US University staffs. On the other side, perhaps Germans are plainly more democratic ;)

Bill Woolsey - 2/8/2005

I once was describing claims that there
was substantial market activity in the
old Soviet Union. Western reporters
would note piles of unattractive shoes
in the store, but some claimed that by
asking the clerk, perfectly good shoes
could be found. But one would have to
pay extra. Extra ruble notes or maybe
even a bottle of vodka. Where did the clerk
get the shoes? From the shoe factory--
purchased with wads of ruble notes, bars
of gold, or cases of vodka. Where did
the shoe factory get the leather....

And of course, everyone is reporting to
the planning authorities that they couldn't
supply the output planned for their unit because
the didn't get the inputs. True in a sense,
with much of it running through the parellel black

Anyway, I had a student complain. Apparently,
his mother was Russian and I was supposedly
slurring all Russians by claiming they are
drunkards--all of those cases of vodka.

More recently, I had a written comment on
my student evaluations where someone claimed
that I discriminated against him because of
his political views. He claims I lowered his
grade! Of course, I don't keep track of odd
political statements students make. As I grade
73rd exam in the pile, I'm not thinking, Smith,
he was the guy who said......let me see how
harshly I can grade his test.

Of course, the closest things to opinions
that I would grade involve economic policy.
My guess is that the student alleging discrimination
has prejudices regarding economic policy of which
I heartily approve. Something like 80% to 90% of
my students self-describe as conservative Republicans.

I wonder if the cause of this episode was that
foolish tangent....

Rational ignorance as a cause of political failure.
(Lots of theoretical stuff.)

Example, most Bush voters believed that Saddam
Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and worked
with Al Quaeda. They are ignorant--rationally ignorant.

Student commment--Hussein did work
with terrorists. My response--but not with Al Quaeda,
anti-Israel groups like Hamas. His response--Hamas
bombed the U.S. in Beruit, I know because my poly-sci
prof., who is an expert on terrorism said so. I respond,
that isn't correct. It wasn't Hamas. Go check with
Col Feurtado again.

Of course, there was no question about Bush, Al Quaeda,
or the Iraq war on any test I gave.

I don't know that it was that student who felt that I
hated him and graded him down because of that

That he would confuse Hezbollah and Hamas wasn't
too shocking. Hey, its rational ignorance!

But then, he might have been one of those students
who would be puzzled as to why I might give little credit
for an essay regarding how an increase in demand impacts
equilibrium price and quantity that begins with the statement that an increase in demand leads to a
decrease in supply. And there are even those essays
that would say that the law of demand is that people
demand the things they want. Or that firms will supply
what people demand.

Not that I remember what that student devoted to Bush
wrote on any essay or how he did in the course.

I have student evaluations in past years that claim that
I am a communist. (I do state that a command economy
is the common sense approach to economic activity. Less
alert students might miss when I go on to point to examples that suggest that command economies fail to
provide for material presperity and that one of the key
puzzles in economics is how a spontaneous order could
possibly work better than having an global plan and organization.)

The notion that administrators would take one students
word regarding remarks in one class and use them to
punish a professor is horrifying.