Showing posts from May, 2019

More college diversity and tolerance

From Amherst College, as noted by the left-leaning journal Commonweal : ‘Despite the sentiment expressed in its introduction, such a document will not serve to encourage discussion, but to stifle it; the goal is not intellectual diversity, but conformity. A professor friend of mine at another college notes ruefully that colleagues who oppose the ideas and language put forth in the Amherst document don’t dare say so publicly. “They’d be ostracized and shamed,” he told me. “You just can’t disagree with this kind of thing.”’

My review of Kirzner,

Competition, Economic Planning, and the Knowledge Problem , has been published at Review of Political Economy , and is available here , for a limited time.

"Chance" is not an explanation of anything

I'm currently reviewing John McWhorter's The Language Hoax for The University Bookman . Here is my commentary on McWhorter's use of "chance" as an explanation for some language feature: McWhorter commits a serious error in assigning the cause of this multitude of bewildering variety in human language. He writes, "In fact, there is a coherent explanation... That explanation is, quite simply, chance" (43). This is nonsense, albeit common nonsense. "Chance" is not an explanation for anything: chance is the word we use for happenings we can't explain. In cases such as the presence of evidential markers in the Tuyuca language, McWhorter is fighting against the Whorfian view that there is always a macro-level, cultural/environmental explanation for the features of a language. And he makes a strong case, throughout the book, that that is not so. But there is certainly some explanation for how they arose: perhaps a long-lived Tuyuca chief was

Yak shaving squared

It occurs to me that pretty much every time I tell the yak shaving story, it is because I have already begun yak shaving, and so telling the story is actually second order yak shaving. 

Powered by New Math Inc.

“ Kerr [praised] the performance of  Andre Iguodala , who made six 3-pointers and had 17 points...” — ESPN And was apparently -1 for 4 from the free throw line. 


In a  biography of Napoleon I'm listening to, the author describes tensions between France and England in terms of the French being "anglophobic" or the English being "francophobic". The words certainly aren't used to mean that the French people feared the English; and the English people, the French. Rather, I think the author intends to turn his nose up to the idea that people of two countries dislike each other enough to go to war. And that might be an opinion worth considering. But why call that animosity a phobia? It just clouds historical thinking with contemporary newspeak.