Category Archive 'Myths'

11 Apr 2018

“Free Speech” at Yale

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Woodbridge Hall, home of the Yale Administration.

How leftist exactly is Peter Salovey’s Yale Administration? So leftist that its representatives will strong-arm Yale students to prevent them from counter-demonstrating when a leftist pseudo-labor organization (i.e., a “union” of graduate students) stages a “strike” in order to shakedown the university.

Current undergraduate Esteban Elizondo describes “free speech at Yale” today in the Washington Examiner.

In April 2017, the Yale College Republicans and I organized a counter-protest against graduate students’ symbolic “hunger strike” for unionization. Our counter-protest was a barbecue right next to the grad students, but either a mistake was made or someone regretted sanctioning our event, because a few hours after the event was approved, I received an email from Holloway asking for me to call him. That is when he delivered his admonition to me.

During the barbecue, participants were actively forbidden by Director of Administrative Affairs Pilar Montalvo from engaging with the graduate student union, lest we be shut down. Montalvo’s office had a view of the protests, and when we disobeyed, she stormed out onto the plaza wildly, reiterating her threats. I later learned that it was Montalvo, who works in the Office of the President, who contacted multiple deans at Yale to pressure me to cancel the barbecue.

Regardless of who is ultimately right, it is important that campuses encourage controversial discourse. It is through these conversations that we seek out truth, and intellectual controversy should be an essential part of any university. Yale shamefully attempted to stifle a peaceful counter-protest at multiple levels and forbade two ideologically different groups from engaging with each other.

The larger message Yale intended to send us was clear: Certain discourse is forbidden on campus. Yale simply maintains the facade of free speech to pacify students and the press while intentionally fostering a campus with little ideological debate. Yale professors usually prefer classes without rigorous debate, and I noticed that, controlling for quality, students generally received higher marks when they conformed to the professor’s opinion.

RTWT

15 Feb 2018

It Ain’t What You Don’t Know, It’s What You Know That’s Not So

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Hendrik Gerritsz Pot, Floraes Mallewagen (Flora’s wagon of fools), c.1640.

Anne Goldgar explains that the cautionary story of the great 17th century Dutch Tulip Bubble is mostly wrong.

Why have these myths persisted? We can blame a few authors and the fact they were bestsellers. In 1637, after the crash, the Dutch tradition of satirical songs kicked in, and pamphlets were sold making fun of traders. These were picked up by writers later in the 17th century, and then by a late 18th-century German writer of a history of inventions, which had huge success and was translated into English. This book was in turn plundered by Charles Mackay, whose Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds of 1841 has had huge and undeserved success. Much of what Mackay says about tulip mania comes straight from the satirical songs of 1637 – and it is repeated endlessly on financial websites, in blogs, on Twitter, and in popular finance books like A Random Walk down Wall Street. But what we are hearing are the fears of 17th-century people about a 17th-century situation.

It was not actually the case that newcomers to the market caused the crash, or that foolishness and greed overtook those who traded in tulips. But this, and the possible social and cultural changes stemming from massive shifts in the distribution of wealth, were fears then and are fears now. Tulip mania gets brought up again and again, as a warning to investors not to be stupid, or to stay away from what some might call a good thing.

RTWT


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