Bryan Caplan  

"Summers!" "Superintendant Chalmers!"

Waiting for Atlas... Bryan gets a Blurb...

Economics has hit the big time: The Larry Summers scandal has inspired the best Simpsons episode of the season! Principal Skinner puts his foot in his mouth by talking about the gender gap in mathematical ability, and hilarity ensues. Arguably the best line - and certainly inspired by Summers himself - Skinner explains how he's going to respond to criticism:

Chalmers: Skinner! You've got to deal with these kooks!

Skinner: Don't worry, I have a plan: Pretend I agree with them.

This strategy works about as well for Skinner as it did for Summers... But unlike Larry, Seymour will have his job back next week. Ouch.

Oh Larry, why couldn't you have gone out in a blaze of glorious defiance? As Chalmers says at the end of the episode, "Well, in for a penny, in for a pound." When the mob is ready to burn you at the stake, it is time to revel in heresy.

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The author at De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum in a related article titled Skatistas entendem economia writes:
    Excelente analogia feita por Dan Klein, agora na George Mason University. Claudio p.s. veja aqui como os economistas inspiraram um episódio de "Os Simpsons".... [Tracked on May 1, 2006 5:37 PM]
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Fabio Rojas writes:

"Skinner: Don't worry, I have a plan: Pretend I agree with them."

That's funny - If you read the accounts closely, you realize this was not the problem. Conflicts around Summers usually started when he said what he really thought and then back tracked.

For example, just to name a few fights: he came out against affirmative action, slammed diversity, made comments about women & science, slammed the entire social sciences (except econ, of course), said the Law School had weak tenuring standards and slammed his deans on numerous occasions. I am not even getting to his justified opinions on the curriculum and the financial structure of Harvard.

If he had just pretended to agree with folks a bit more, he probably would have never these problems (excecpt the Scheffler thing, which broke the camel's back - that was a real scandal). The obvious lesson I take from all of this is that you should not fight every single battle. If you're a leader, shut your mouth and save your energy for the fights that matter.


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