• Uncategorized

    Kling on Open Minds

    Arnold Kling writes:

    Suppose we look at writing on issues where people tend to hold strong opinions that fit with their ideology. Such writing can

    (a) attempt to open the minds of people on the opposite side as the author

    (b) attempt to open minds of people on the same side as the author

    (c) attempt to close minds of people on the same side as the author

    So, think about it. Wouldn’t you classify most op-eds and blog posts as (c)? Isn’t that sort of pathetic?

    If you think that the purpose of most political advocacy is to demonstrate group affiliation, this is not so surprising. If you do anything else, you risk signalling the weakness of your group affiliation.

  • UVA

    McDonnell reappoints Dragas

    Governor McDonnell reappointed Rector Dragas, much to my surprise. I am not sure why. Perhaps he simply wished to avoid scrutiny of his appointments, and the status quo, however disagreeable to many people, seemed less controversial than appointing a new Rector. It is worth noting that he has replaced a number of other board members.

  • Uncategorized

    Positive Sum Status?

    Here is Katja Grace on fragmented status.

    Maybe I feel good because I win at board games often, but you don’t feel bad if you don’t – you just quit playing board games and hang out with people who care about politics instead, because you have a good mind for that.

    This is a popular retort to the fear that seeking status is zero sum, so any status I get comes at the cost of someone else’s status. I think it’s very weak.

    That people split into different pools and think theirs is better than others suggests (though does not prove) that the net value of status is more than zero. Disproportionately many people think they are above average, so as long as status translates to happiness in the right kind of way, disproportionately many people are happy.

    The interesting question though – and the one that the above argument is intended to answer – is whether my gaining more status always takes away from your status. Here it’s less clear that the separation of people into different ponds makes much difference:

    The post is good throughout. I actually think the self-assessment issue is more interesting. As Grace also says, “status is about what other people think your status is.” Otherwise, what would be the point? Maybe people all do think themselves to be above average, but they really do care about their relative ranking in the eyes of other people, who will not be so biased. So they will act in ways that reflect a concern for their purely relative ranking in the eyes of others despite their apparent ability to promote themselves in personal assessments. In other words, probably not many positive sum status bargains are possible, and people are primarily concerned with zero sum adjustments to their status.

  • UVA

    Sullivan Reinstated

    It’s not very surprising to see that President Sullivan was reinstated last Tuesday. The only question remaining seems to be whether Rector Helen Dragas will keep her job on the Board of Visitors. Her statement after reinstating Sullivan seems to pretty clearly telegraph her desire to stay on the board, but it looks like she would have to be reappointed by Gov. Bob McDonnell when her term expires on July 1. There doesn’t seem to be any reason for McDonnell to reappoint such a universally reviled board member, less so when she appears to be a major Democratic campaign contributor. Perhaps she has cut a deal, but I would guess everyone is just waiting for her term to expire at this point.

  • Uncategorized

    What is Happening at UVA?

    I am just getting up to speed. On June 10, 2012, the Board of Visitors (the corporate board of the University of Virginia) announced the forced resignation of UVA’s President Teresa Sullivan, two years into her tenure as president. The decision has surprised and upset the university community, and events appear to be on a fast track toward the “reinstatement” of President Sullivan and the exit of Rector Helen Dragas from the BOV.

    The UVA Alumni Association is maintaining a timeline of major statements by various university stakeholders. These can be read here and here.

    Below is my own timeline of major developments as I understand them. I may update this as I learn new information and further developments occur.