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Phi Beta Cons:
The National Review has started a new blog on conservatism and higher education, Phi Beta Cons. Thanks to Instapundit for the link.
Commenterlein (mail):
I just spent ten minutes reading the posts at that blog, and I am dumber for it. I honestly thought and hoped that the onslaught of know-nothing conservative ideologues misinterpreting the Larry Summers affair had finally did down, but that blog ensures lots more of the same.

Why doesn't National Review have any kind of minimum knowledge or competence requirements for its pundits? Would it really be asking too much to populate such a blog with people who know at least a little something about the topic they pontificate about?

Let me conclude with a beautiful line from a gentleman called John J. Miller who is posting over there:

"And by the way, don't most professors get their summers off?".

Right.
3.13.2006 8:33pm
M.A. (mail):
The problem with National Review Online has always been that it started up at a time when the parent magazine wasn't paying much attention to it, and was therefore staffed with -- and built up by -- people who weren't very good. Jonah Goldberg is a lightweight and Kathryn Lopez is, and I say this with all due respect, dumber than a box of rocks (consider her spelling mistakes, her crush on Mitt Romney, her inability to understand basic facts even after someone else in The Corner explains them to her). Even after the website became popular, it reflected the low wattage of the talent that built it up.
3.13.2006 9:39pm
Polybius:
Goldberg may be many things, but a lightweight he is not.
3.13.2006 10:40pm
Kovarsky (mail):
I have a question.

Is there any good statistical data on the political orientation of academics. I know it's easier to conduct this sort of thing to test whether the media is really "liberal," but there's more objectively verifiable data.

More specifically, have studies concluded that there's some sort of selection bias, and if so, to what degree; and what sort of causal relationship exists between education and degree of conservative/liberal identification? Does it change over time? Is there any way to control for age? I would be very appreciative if somebody could point me to a more data-driven study.
3.13.2006 11:06pm
millerhighlife (mail):
M.A.:
I believe the preferred nomenclature is "dumber than a bag of hammers."
3.13.2006 11:08pm
Lowell R. (mail):
Kovarsky,

Daniel Klein has done some work on this. See here.
3.13.2006 11:45pm
Public_Defender:
They's been going for two days and already they have a Nazi analogy. Carol Iannone compares critics of Larry Summers to the Nazis.

I agree that Summers' critics were frequently unfair, but they weren't going to hunt him down, murder his family, murder anyone who spoke well of him, and murder everyone of his ethnic or religious group.

Unfortunately, it looks like the blog will be just one more example of the culture of victimhood that has taken hold in some parts of the conservative movement. The post is more reminiscent of Al Sharpton than Ronald Reagan.
3.14.2006 10:10am
Jacob T. Levy (mail):
Sigh. Within the first half-hous of the blog's existence:

"And by the way, don't most professors get their summers off?"

Conservative commentary about the academy can either be very sophisticated and important critique by those who know what they're talking about, or... not. This is not.
3.14.2006 10:12am
Ken Arromdee (mail):
I agree that Summers' critics were frequently unfair, but they weren't going to hunt him down, murder his family, murder anyone who spoke well of him, and murder everyone of his ethnic or religious group.


If you want to know how things happened in Nazi Germany, you get a clue from this. If people are afraid to speak out on this, in our fortunate circumstances, imagine speaking out against a terror state.


The comparison of "our fortunate circumstances" to "a terror state" clearly indicates that Carol is aware that the Nazis used violence and Harvard doesn't, and recognizes it as a difference between the two cases, so I think this criticism is baseless. She is obviously trying to point out that the two examples are similar in some respects (punishment for expressing the wrong views) even though they are dissimilar in others (severity of the punishment).
3.14.2006 11:27am
byomtov (mail):
Public Defender,

Carol Iannone did not compare Summers' critics to Nazis. She criticized those who, in her opinion, should have defended Summers but - her opinion again - did not do so out of fear.

Granted, the Nazi analogy is worse than silly, (and much of the blog is utterly ludicrous) but let's at least read clearly.
3.14.2006 11:29am
Public_Defender:
Did Carol Iannone say the critics were morally identical to the Nazis? No, she didn't. But did she compare Summers' critics to the Nazis? Yes, she did. ("If you want to know how things happened in Nazi Germany, you get a clue from this.")

She was arguing that the "culture of fear" (sounds like a Catherine MacKinnon argument) created by Summers' critics resembled the "culture of fear" the Nazis created.

(As a side note, was it really fear that kept his potential critics silent? Or was it that Summers almost instantly apologized and renounced what he said? If I had been one of the researchers Iannone was praising, I would have been mad at Summers for the apology, and not all that inclined to jump to his defense.)

The best you can say about the argument is that it was sloppy. At worst, it sounds like a parody of Al Sharpton or Catherine MacKinnon mixed with a little Tom Delay.
3.14.2006 12:11pm
Public_Defender:
Correction

The second to last paragraph should begin:
As a side note, was it really fear that kept his potential critics supporters silent?
3.14.2006 1:20pm
Ken Arromdee (mail):
She was arguing that the "culture of fear" (sounds like a Catherine MacKinnon argument) created by Summers' critics resembled the "culture of fear" the Nazis created.

Yes, she did. So what? You admit that she's not equating Summers' critics to the Nazis. She's obviously not claiming that Harvard is killing anyone and explicitly contrasted the two situations using language that shows she knows this very well. So what exactly is wrong with the statement? The two situations do share *some* resemblance--people are afraid to speak out because of fear that pressure from a group can lead to personal consequences--and that was her point.
3.14.2006 2:55pm
Public_Defender:
The two situations do share *some* resemblance-
Yeah, and you could say that Bush's warrantless wiretapping bears *some* resemblance to Nazi monitoring of German citizens. But the difference in the degree of evil is so great as to make the comparison silly.

As Professor Levy wrote, there are plenty of thoughtful ways to criticize the academy. Why waste our time (and their credibility) with hysterical rants?
3.14.2006 3:44pm