Category Archives: Academia

Save the Children

Jonathan Haidt is consistently unimpressive. Responding in this Chronicle piece about Jeffrey Adam Sachs’ great essay for the Niskanen Center, Haidt concedes that the speech-related episodes that he and his pals get so agitated about are confined to a relative … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Politics, Swarthmore | Comments Off on Save the Children

The Kid With the Hammer

A certain kind of application of social science and social science methods continues to be a really basic limit to our shared ability in modern societies to grapple with and potentially resolve serious problems. For more than a century, a … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Oh Not Again He's Going to Tell Us It's a Complex System, Politics | 3 Comments

A New Year

This is not the first time I’ve gone quiet on this blog simply because I was busy. Fall 2017 was in many ways the busiest semester I’ve ever had at Swarthmore: I taught two courses, I chaired my department, I … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Blogging, Politics, Swarthmore | 12 Comments

On Harvard and Admission

Longer comment tomorrow, if I have time; and maybe also on the debate over the essay “The Case of Colonialism”. But in the interim, a quick thought on Harvard not admitting a promising student. ————————- Considering that Harvard is in … Continue reading

Posted in Academia | 1 Comment

On Confederate Counterfactuals

For some years, I’ve taught a course on counterfactual history. Unlike many scholarly historians, I find counterfactual history useful for a variety of reasons. For one, I accept the argument that a number of its proponents have made that all … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Production of History | 25 Comments

A Matter of Perspective

If you were going to strip away the layered sociocultural histories that surround opinions like “colleges are bad for America” or “bring back coal jobs”, you would have some baseline economic truth that you’d think would reorder those opinions. a) … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Politics | 5 Comments

Helpful Hints for Skeptics

I suppose I knew in some way that there were people whose primary self-identification was “skeptic”, and even that there were people who saw themselves as part of the “skeptic community”. But it’s been interesting to encounter the kinds of … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Generalist's Work, Oath for Experts | 5 Comments

Some Work Is Hard

Dear friends, have you ever felt after reading an academic article that annoyed you, hearing a scholarly talk that seemed like nonsense to you, enduring a grant proposal that seemed like a waste of money to you, that you’d like … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Oath for Experts | 26 Comments

We Have Been Here Before

“Controversial speakers on campus” is one of those stories that generates a kind of perpetual discovery of just-now-imminent threat. That sort of discourse tends to drive historians nuts, because we look back and see that people have been saying something … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Politics | 5 Comments

Home to Roost

Formal argument in the classic style has real limits. Sometimes when we try to rule some sentiment or response in an argument or dialogue as “out of bounds” by classing it as a logical fallacy or as some other form … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Generalist's Work, Oh Not Again He's Going to Tell Us It's a Complex System, Politics | 12 Comments