A libertarian inclined blog for teachers and learners of all ages. Comments, emails and links to other educational stuff welcome.

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Next entry: Those who can do - those who can't get sent up rotten by Armstrong and Miller
Previous entry: Boris Johnson on maths and personal debt
Saturday December 08 2007

David Friedman is trying to find out about colleges for his daughter.  In particular, he wants to know how heretical opinions are treated.  Here‘s one way he sets about doing that.  He talks to fellow economists:

image

It is almost impossible to be a good economist and accept traditional conservative arguments against free trade - because those arguments depend on not understanding economic ideas worked out nearly two hundred years ago. It is almost impossible to be a good economist and accept common left wing rhetoric about “people not profits” or the equivalent - because a good economist knows that the argument on the other side isn’t about profits as an end in themselves but about profits as part of a signaling system that results in benefits for people. A left wing economist might think that system works poorly and can be improved by proper government intervention - but he knows that the standard rhetoric misrepresents the position it argues against.

One consequence is that a good economist is almost certain to find himself in conflict with the left wing orthodoxy that dominates the sort of top liberal arts colleges we have been looking at - just as he would be almost certain to find himself in conflict with the right wing orthodoxy that (I presume) dominates some Christian fundamentalist schools. So talking to economists at a school gives me some feel for how that school’s culture treats heretical views.

Read the rest of that posting, because it is very interesting.  David Friedman has one of the most attractive minds anywhere on the planet that I am personally acquainted with.

And see also what Friedman says about unschooling.  I haven’t read that yet, but will Real Soon Now, and will surely be writing about it here.