Over the past several months, French academics have been facing a grave situation. The Sarkozy Government has proposed a reform of the universities that would put more power into the hands of the president of their university, and weaken the role of peer review. This reform will significantly affect the degree of autonomy of faculty teaching in universities. It is feared that university presidents will depend on their local protégés (who are often selected on political, instead of academic criteria) to make a number of important decisions that will affect the lives of faculty. Universalistic mechanisms had been put in place at the national level to prevent local favoritism and particularism. This system is now threatened from within. [click to continue…]

The self of self

by John Holbo on June 25, 2009

Whether or not Theory jargon incapacitates humanities folks, communication with regular folks-wise, I think it might provide a leg-up when it comes to understanding Republican governor infidelity pressers. Here’s Mark Sanford: “And the biggest self of self is indeed self.” True, untrue, or neither? Discuss. Defend your answer on the grounds that it is necessary for the progress of World-Spirit.

Here’s the context:

But I’m here because if you were to look at God’s laws, in every instance it is designed to protect people from themselves. I think that that is the bottom line of God’s law. It is not a moral, rigid list of do’s and don’ts just for the heck of do’s and don’ts, it is indeed to protect us from ourselves. And the biggest self of self is indeed self. If sin is in fact grounded in this notion of what is it that I want, as opposed to somebody else.

What do you make of this?

Lit-crit and the scientific method

by Henry on June 25, 2009

Following Michael’s pointer, I read William Deresiewicz’s “piece”:http://www.thenation.com/doc/20090608/deresiewicz with some interest – while I’m as happy as the next person to read good take-downs of dodgy ev-psych arguments, I found some of the claims a little … sweeping. Take, for example, the suggestion that:

Having colonized the social sciences–where it has begun to displace the view, predominant throughout the twentieth century, that the mind is a highly malleable product of culture–[Darwinian evolutionary thinking] has now set its sights on the humanities, the last area of resistance.

I’m sure that ev-psych types would _like_ this to be true1, but as a card-carrying social scientist, I have yet to be informed of the successful colonization of sociology, political science, economics and anthropology by explanations based on Darwinian theory. Nor, for that matter, did I know that economists _ever_ believed the mind to be a highly malleable product of culture.
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Yet another in my series of articles on economic theories, empirical hypotheses and policy programs that have been refuted, or undermined, by the Global Financial Crisis. This one, on Real Business Cycle Theory, is a bit econowonkish, but I’m putting it up here because
(a) I hope some econowonks among the readers might find errors and correct me*
(b) Judging by some other recent commentary, RBC still has some interest.

* As indeed, they have. My suggestion of a link between calibration and the GMM has been roundly refuted both here and at my blog. I can only say, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Thanks for the very useful comments on this point, and on RBC more generally.
Also, Lee Ohanian has pointed out that I misattribute to him and Cole the treatment of WPA workers as unemployed.

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