"Science Doesn’t Work the Way You Might Think: Not even for Einstein"

I had forgotten--or I never knew--even before the eclipse test of the anomaly in Mercury's orbit, Big Al knew he was right.

With that, Einstein knew. He told one friend that on seeing Mercury drop out of his equations that he felt his heart stumble, and another that he was “beside himself with joy.” There was no need to wait for the eclipse—which is why he once said that if the British expedition had come back with the “wrong” numbers “I would feel sorry for the dear Lord. The theory is correct.”

Three on what, for a minute, was the big story and why they all miss an important point

Jonah Goldberg: "Campus Commotions Show We’re Raising Fragile Kids".

Noah Rothman: "A Plague of Racial Hoaxes on Campus".

Andrew Stuttaford: "Yale & Missouri: Power Play".

While these pieces capture part of the story of what's going on, they don't capture the main part. Permit me to identify it. It's something I'll call the Jackpot. The Jackpot is tied for the best experience a human can have. (The other tied for best experience was identified by Winston Churchill: "Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.")

The Jackpot starts with a belief or an idea that an individual is absolutely, completely sure is both vital and true. The vitality and truth can be established by experience, education, tradition, instinct--it doesn't matter. (Examples: war is bad, poverty is bad, the first amendment doesn't cover "hate speech".) Second, the holder of said belief or idea must also believe that somehow, for some reason, there are a large number of people who don't share the belief or idea. Why? The holder thinks they're ignorant or evil--it doesn't matter. So the holder writes, yells, marches in support of the belief or idea and experiences the inexpressible thrill of being simultaneously correct and important and brave. This is the basic Jackpot.

The Jackpot is greatly enhanced if the holder's narrow self-interest also benefits from holding the belief or idea. And the ultimate enhancement of the Jackpot--the Jackpot of Jackpots, if you will--occurs if the holder imagines that the belief or idea puts him in some (small) danger of physical harm.

In my  lifetime a shining example of the Jackpot was the college-student protests against the Vietnam War. While many no doubt had pure convictions, the protests also reflected narrow self-interest. If the war ended, many of the protesters wouldn't have to risk being shot in rice paddies thousands of mile from home. Even in the short run, occupations of buildings and such meant they didn't have to go to class, and by many accounts, the protests made live rock-and-roll, drugs, and sex more readily available.  And for the hint of danger we have no less an authority than Stephen Stills: "That America is still the home of the brave oh yes it is / And you got to be brave children / How many is it that they shot down already? / Something like seventeen of us."

The details of how the events at the University of Missouri and at Yale last week, and similar events at places still to come, fit the Jackpot are left as an exercise for the reader.

"On the relationship between school suspensions, race, single-motherhood, and more"

Long, interesting post with numbers and statistics. Bottom line:

I am deeply skeptical of the notion that racial discrimination explains much of the differences in outcomes here, particularly when we observe such vast differences in strong predictors like single-motherhood and see similar patterns with other racial-ethnic groups (even when it works against whites, as in the case of “asians”).  Now it may be that single-motherhood is operating mostly as a proxy for other differences, but there is some evidence that it is more than that (or see here for more info).  Regardless, it seems unreasonable to leap to the assumption that differences in outcomes are the fault of racism on the part of teachers, administrators, and the like when we have good evidence that the outcomes can be mostlyexplained with readily available observables like this (even more so when it’s quite widely known that there are substantial statistical differences in behaviors between groups today).