Archive for August, 2008

A college degree ain’t what it use to be – Part II

August 24, 2008

Charles Murray agrees with me and explains it much better than I here.  His column is full of examples where the feedback loops in higher education have drifted away from reality to a world where there is no wrong.

Speed of Light

August 7, 2008

So, the General Theory of Relativity tells us that the speed of light is what it is.  Does it tell us why?

Education: The Answer is in the Feedback Loop

August 7, 2008

When something is broke, the reason why can always be traced back to a problem in the feedback loop, at least that’s my theory.

There are a lot of studies out there that pin the troubles with education on this, that or the other factors.  But, the real problems are in the feedback loops. 

Recently, my brother and I discussed a study (i.e. statistical model) that showed that individual academic results could be best “explained” by household factors such as level of education as parents, number of books in the house, etc.  I put “explained” in quotes because statistical models don’t really explain anything, but that’s another discussion.

My brother and I were raised in the same house yet had different academic outcomes.  We pondered how our story fit with the previously mentioned study.  Having lived through that story, I know the answer.  My brother and I took the feedback we received from the education process (parent expectations, grade performance, teacher feedback) differently.  One of us decided early on what he wanted to do in life and viewed formal education as a distraction to achieving that goal.  The other responded much better to the feedback and altered performance based on that feedback (e.g. studied more, seeked out help from others).

Now, we’re both doing roughly the same in terms of economic output and I’d say have roughly the same potential for future economic production, so that might bring up the question why education is important at all?  I have the answer for that too.  If the one of us who didn’t have much need for education had taken it seriously, my bets would’ve been on him for having a much greater future economic potential.

Another interesting column from Jonah

August 7, 2008

Here’s another interesting column from Jonah Goldberg, this time on the evils of communism.  These are interesting “whats”.  These are good real world example of what happened under communism.  To continue his “interesting question” thread, why do such evils occur under communism or fascism or other forms of totalitarian leadership?  Because it can?

Addendum:  How timely.  This article provides a great example of how bad things can happen in totalitarian regimes.  Josefina Bravo, quoted in the article says it perfectly, “That’s the problem we have: All the powers are concentrated in the president.”

Interesting Questions

August 7, 2008

Jonah Golberg says the interesting question isn’t, “Why is there poverty?”  Rather, the interesting questions are “Why is there wealth?” and “Why is there prosperity here but not there?”