winter book forum 2018, part 2: what do people actually get out of college?

orgtheory.net

This Winter, we are discussing Bryan Caplan’s The Case Against Education. The main issue: We invest a ton in education and it seems to do good. But is that because schooling acts as a filter or because schooling gives your concrete skills or better ways of thinking? If education is mostly a filter (the signalling model), we should probably cut back on education a lot.

In this post, I’ll discuss the types of evidence that Caplan reviews. His book is empirical in that the strength of the argument relies on what other researchers have found. A short blog post does not do justice to this work. For example, he asks – how much do people learn in college? How much do people use specific skills (like algebra) in the workplace? Is there any evidence that learning is transferable – that people acquire “critical thinking?” Each of these topics commands…

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Angus Deaton: Epidemiology, randomised trials, and the search for what works in economic development

What Are The World’s Oldest Borders?

The Moclans Teach Ed How To Play Latchcomb | Season 1 Ep. 12

Hans Rosling in memoriam

Applied Abstractions

Hans Rosling died from cancer this morning.

Not much to say, really. Or, maybe, so much to say. I met him in Oslo once, I had seen his video and suggested him for the annual “big” conference for movers and shakers in Oslo. He came and wowed everyone. Simple as that.

Here is another one (this one in Swedish) where he just shuts down a rather snooty and ill prepared newsshow host by saying, essentially, “this is not a matter of opinion, this is a matter of statistics and facts. I am right and you are wrong.”

What a man.

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Steven Pinker on the decline of violence

Applied Abstractions

Steven Pinker, just out with a new book (The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined), gives a talk outlining how rates of violence are falling in the world, and the causes of this. Excellent, highly recommended, and available for free in high resolution:

Progress is actually progress. Hans Rosling would agree.

Update March 30, 2012: I really should clean up my notes and add to this post, but this review by Peter Singer sums it all up nicely, so I won’t bother. But it is worth a read, 800 pages and all.

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Survival of Monarchies: England Part III

European Royal History

The Glorious Revolution of 1688 was when Parliament became supreme and limited the power of the Crown. Although the Glorious Revolution did limit the powers of the monarch it would take a few hundred years until the monarchy became the constitutional and symbolized figurehead monarchy we see today. It has been this gradual limiting of the powers of the crown that has allowed the British monarchy to survive, and thrive, to this very day.

The Revolution resolved the struggle between Crown and Parliament and it also helped settle the religious struggles within the country. Basically at its heart it was a revolution that deposed King James II-VII of England and Scotland. In 1679 Parliament wanted to exclude James from the succession due to his Catholicism. To be Catholic in a Protestant England at that time was troublesome even if you were the king. During his reign James did not do…

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Survival of Monarchies: England, Part II

European Royal History

James VI, King of Scots came to the English throne in 1603 and he had been on the Scottish throne since 1567, a few months after his birth. As stated last week, often a strong monarch was able to gain control of Parliament and even rule without them. However, was the problems James had with Parliament due to him being a weak monarch or was the showdown between Crown and Parliament inevitable? My personal theory is that the two would eventually come into conflict. Society is always in a flux of growth and change and as has happened in all monarchies eventually the people rise up and desire a say in government.

For centuries the Crown held the majority of power and although the Tudor monarchs only used the Parliament to stamp its approval on what the king or queen desires, usually it had to do with raising taxes, Parliament…

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Pinker’s well-filled slate

Applied Abstractions

41-lxeaqn7l-_sx248_bo1204203200_Steve Pinker‘s The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature is a wonderful book, not only for its wide reach and deep discussion, but also for the lively and opinionated language. Like The Economist, Pinker writes objectively with a view – though he clearly has an a opinion, well thought out and researched, in the nature-vs-nurture debate, he is careful to examine evidence and give the other side its due. Not that there is much.

Articulated, polemic and with more than a whiff of exasperated sarcasm, Steven Pinker attacks three misconceptions in modern culture: The Blank Slate, the idea that nurture, not nature, is the main shaping force behind human behavior; The Noble Savage, that the badness of the modern condition comes from the modern conditions – and things were somehow better before we got modern technology and transportation; and the Ghost in the Machine

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Posner on the left as feminism’s best home

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