Category Archives: Academia

Dialogue and Demand

Why is a call for conversation or dialogue met so often with indifference or hostility? That I am thinking about this question might feel peculiar to Swarthmore, but I could just as readily be addressing Johns Hopkins (the scene of … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Swarthmore | 5 Comments

College of Theseus

Most of us know to be skeptical about the public statements of a person paid to defend a particular organization or corporation. For the same reason, we tend to look askance on a pundit or expert who will derive some … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, I'm Annoyed | 4 Comments

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 | 1 Comment

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