Assorted Links

  • Reclamations. Essays by University of California students about the harm done by student loans.  Via Boing Boing. Being taught “how to think” (as many college professors claim they do because the details of their class are obviously useless) is fine when it’s a choice. (I support the study of esoteric seemingly-useless stuff — when it’s a choice.) When it’s required (to get a decent job) and very expensive (due to tuition), there’s a problem.
  • The Cobblestone Conservative: How Jane Jacobs saved New York City’s soul.
  • Robin Hanson surveys his students. “[Their] opinions [about “random policy questions”] strongly tend to support the status quo – mostly whatever is, is assumed good.” Same thing at Berkeley. Most of my students, for better or worse, were very conformist. My conclusion, which I imagine Robin agrees with, is that the reasons we give for our beliefs have roughly zero correlation with the actual reasons and shouldn’t be taken seriously (e.g., argued with). Professors who claim to teach their students “how to think” (e.g., lines of argument) are shutting their eyes to what Robin shows is right in front of them: the lack of importance of “thinking” in the determination of belief.
  • Edward Jay Epstein on Michael Milken. Great journalism.

Thanks to Ryan Holiday. If you send me a link that I post I am happy to link to your blog or website.

3 Replies to “Assorted Links”

  1. I need a name for the set of standard causes of belief. This post caused me to google it up – it’s called ethnoepistemology.

    It’s undeniable that science-type reason is only a few percent of ethnoepistemology. The rationalizations generated when you ask students about their opinions are neither for justifying those opinions nor very often for spreading them. I’m not sure what they’re for.

    1. that’s a good point about the rarity of science as the reason for our beliefs. So when science — science that actually worked — came into the world, a new (and to some extent higher-prestige) way of forming beliefs, it was predictable that people would continue to use the old ways of producing belief but claim they were using the new way — for example, Scientology, much of evidence-based medicine, much of the AGW argument.

  2. I’m currently dealing with the change in the online federal student loan servicer website (kept getting errors and such last week when trying to access my information, and now find out that the switch apparently involved losing the autopay I’ve had set up for years and have a past-due amount because it didn’t do the auto-pay last week – meanwhile, the customer service phone number has a message that states that it can’t be reached “right now – try calling back later”), so the Reclamations essays are definitely striking a chord today.

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