Arnold Kling  

Do Facts Matter?

Tetlock and Taboo... Macro Econoblog...

In the recent Larry Summers flap, his chief antagonist was Nancy Hopkins, an MIT biologist. A reader forwarded me a link to a paper by Patricia Hausman and James H. Steiger on an earlier Hopkins controversy.

the 1999 publication of A Study on the Status of Women Faculty in Science at MIT was a watershed event. According to the report, female scientists at the Institute had suffered “pervasive” discrimination. After it was leaked to the news media, the report became frontpage news —and a frequently cited model for combating sex discrimination. Some, however, have questioned the report’s claims, and we find their skepticism is well founded. A careful reading of the report and its media coverage leads to the inescapable conclusion that something is just not right with this story.

The paper looks at empirical evidence on scholarly output of male and female biology professors at MIT. This evidence could be viewed as showing that males had earned their advantageous positions by publishing more frequently.

For Discussion. Is this an issue where people are open to empirical persuasion?

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COMMENTS (5 to date)

I posted before, but it seems to have been lost in the ether.... Long story short, you asked:

Is this an issue where people are open to empirical persuasion?

My answer: What makes you think there really are issues like that? Do people really respond to logic when it comes to tax policy? Trade policy? Education policy? Environmental laws? Abortion? Gay marriage?

Some people are persuadable. Most aren't. Whatever supports their inherent biases will be believed unless and until there is overwhelming logical and anecdotal evidence followed by public acceptance by most the most charismatic fellow opponents of the theory.

Like when Clinton embraced welfare reform and got some lefties to go along with him after decades of reflexive opposition.

jaimito writes:

Yes. People are not stupid. Most women aknowledge that there are objective indexes by which they are not discriminated, but the idea is that to publish you need lab space, assistants, sponsors, budgets, time to work (while having to care for a man and children), and so on. And that in the access to the building blocks of work performance, they are in disadvantage. Moreover, women say sexist society makes it more difficult for them and they need to spend more time in simple routine tasks, such as shopping, make up, hairdressing. It is not that they are inferior, but the world is built for men to succeed. How I do know? I am married to a poylische woman who complains day and night, and forces me to pay her special primetime consideration (such remembering her birthday) just for the fact of her being a woman. In other words, women demand extra attention and special advantages, because they are women, except when they are xantippean harpies.

Randy writes:

Some people are and some people aren't. Those that are, are probably already successful. Those that aren't, will continue to look for others to blame.

Dave Schuler writes:

Not that anyone would actually do this, of course, and completely hypothetically but if you could get what you want by mau-mauing rather than actually doing or creating anything (which you may or may not have the ability to do, who knows?), isn't it prudent to mau-mau?

jaimito writes:

They have conditioned you to give in when they mau-mau. It doesnt work the other way, they are indifferent to your mau mauing.

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