February 2015

Helen Keller on optimism

The test of all beliefs is their practical effect in life. It be true that optimism compels the world forward, and pessimism retards it, them it is dangerous to propagate a pessimistic philosophy. One who believes that the pain in the world outweighs the joy, and expresses that unhappy conviction, only adds to the pain. […]

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Dissecting property rights

Think about property rights. Take this computer, for example. I’m assuming it’s yours. You own this computer. It would be wrong for someone to take it from you without your consent. You have the right to do whatever you want with it—destroy it, even. Now think about your car. You own that car. It’s yours […]

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Doubting science

In the U.S., climate change somehow has become a litmus test that identifies you as belonging to one or the other of these two antagonistic tribes. When we argue about it, Kahan says, we’re actually arguing about who we are, what our crowd is. We’re thinking, People like us believe this. People like that do […]

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Me on net neutrality

If you’re like most people, you’re hearing a lot about net neutrality but know almost nothing about it. It has something to do with the internet. President Obama likes it. Republicans don’t seem to get it, but they don’t like that Obama likes it. That was me a few weeks ago. Then I read up […]

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What is a p-value?

I took statistics in the twelfth grade. I didn’t do well, but that because I wasn’t trying. I do remember learning about p-values, though, and using them do hypothesis testing. Then in college, I took business statistics. We learned all about p-values and used them in class probably every day. Two years later, I took […]

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Brian Williams’ shame

Christian Christensen with a superb, critical analysis of just what we get wrong by lending Brian Williams’ apology any ear—namely, that we make a bigger deal of his fake story and half-hearted apology than the true tragedy of a war that Williams and his colleagues cheer led from the beginning. Given that Williams works for […]

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A note on “net neutrality”

I don’t know much about the ongoing net neutrality debate (which I gather is to end when the FCC passes new rules this month), but it appears to me that a major reason behind the FCC’s push for “net neutrality” is a general complaint that internet service providers (ISPs), which often face little competition in […]

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Jeb Bush speaks truth on immigration

“It just seems to me that maybe if you open up our doors in a fair way and unleashed the spirit of peoples’ hard work, Detroit could become in really short order, one of the great American cities again. Now it would look different, it wouldn’t be Polish…But it would be just as powerful, just as […]

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Democracy is no intrinsic good

Democracy is not an intrinsic good, after all; if it were, democratic institutions could not have produced the Nazis. Rather, a functioning democracy comes only as the late issue of a decently morally competent and stable culture.-David Bentley Hart

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College and the job market

Can a poor job market cause rising college attendance? Of course. Especially when financial aid is easy to find. If someone can’t find a job but can easily finance an education that improves their value in the job market, they’ll be more likely (on the margin) to go back to school and put off their job […]

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