Friday, January 05, 2007

The Importance of Economics

By the way: anyone who doubts the significance of the Economics Department's action, and the courage of the individual professors in signing the statement, need only look at the Davidson post below to get a sense of the atmosphere that continues to exist in some quarters of the campus. It would have been much easier for the Ec professors to remain silent and allow the Group of 88 to monopolize the campus climate.

Throughout this case, we've consistently seen people who should know better doing the wrong thing. Yesterday, it was refreshing to see a group of professors step up and do the right thing--just because it was the right thing to do.


Anonymous said...

Notably absent in Davidson's statement is any of the welcoming comments from the economics department or the danger of stereotyping anybody.

Anonymous said...

from a non-lawyer/retired professor: As I stated previously, Professors Davidson and Curtis should unequivocally endorse the statement issued by the economists.

Anonymous said...

One wonders why the POLITICAL SCIENCE dept. hasn't done the right thing. Where is the chair of the political science dept. in all this? And what of the GERST program? Why haven't they written a public statement?

altview said...

I welcome the statement from Professor Weintraub and the other economics faculty. They are weighty and influential members of the Duke faculty. They will find little discomfort in expressing their thoughts, however, as what they have written is about the same as what most Duke faculty are saying privately.

Anonymous said...

I will disgress from my normal legal talks, please forgive me all you academics, but this has been brewing in my mind since I was an undergrad history major.

I find the economics department's statement to be refreshing in so many ways.

It should probably not come as a suprise, because economics as an area of endeavor is an academic discipline that reflects absolute certainty. Whether you agree with the politics of the student or not, the student's grade is based entirely in a quantifiable formula. He or she either gets the answer right, or not. The final grade is based on mathematics and application of theory, not on the personal feelings of the professor.

And this is an important ingredient in this entire mess. The faculty that I have seen in print, and who signed the Group of 88 statement, appear to hail from departments where favoritism is an ever-present factor in the determination of a final grade. Women's Studies, Political Science, English, etc. These are all humanities, and the professor's determination in grading comes down to a subjective call. Anyone who thinks that a professor in humanities does not grade based on whether the students in his or her class agrees with that professor's political ideals lives in unreality. There are sterling exceptions to this rule (I had one in Kelly Devries for instance), but I have not seen many at Duke.

Thus, we have another facet in this case, one of many. Yes, injustice is at play, but on the flip side we are also seeing the results of the end of true academic freedom in American universities as a group, and Duke University in particular.

And this is an important area to discuss, because its implications are serious. How many students who take Feminist Studies at Duke would dare write an essay on the underlying fallacy of a work exposing exploitation of females as a group in modern America, for instance? Does that student really want an "F?" Or is the easier road to simply parrot the professor's position, to write what one has heard in class, and to reaffirm the professor's set weltenschauung? Do you think that the student who took the easier road will receive an "F?" I think not.

Yet the modern American university system, particularly in the Ivy League and Ivy caliber environment, has created a system that rewards intellectual cowardice, and towing the "progressive" line in the humanities. Thus, if your history professor refers to Ho Chi Minh as "Uncle Ho," he's family to you as well. Nevermind you think the guy was a murderous tinpot who tortured his own people and murdered those who dissented with his positions. This position, and the support for that position, will never be stated in written form by you as a student. You don't want to be sanctioned for failing to tow the prof's political line.

It is high time the layers of hypocritical self-justification and bluster disguising this stink was stripped from the American university system. It's time true academic freedom and creative thought returned to a system that needs it, and rewards it.

And the Economics Department at Duke University appears to be blazing that trail. Kudos for their courage.


Anonymous said...

Maryland Esquire:

I enjoy reading your perceptive posts (legal and non-legal)

Anonymous said...

At this point the pro Lax players statements are now almost, dare I say, "PC". Everyone can point to the ethics charges, the Meehan issue, the DAs open letter, Nifong non public oath taking, etc.

It would have been more courageous to have come forward before the ethics charges were filed against Nifong.

But better late than never. I see this all as not wanting to be the last rat on the ship.

Anonymous said...

Re: esquire's comments. Reminds me of my own pathetic experience with the liberal arts faculty at UT Austin. After acing every single economics, pre-med, and "objective" graded class for four years, I had to fufill a history requirement to graduate. My african -american history prof taught from "the bottom" up (e.g. american history from the experience of slaves, indians, women etc.

For a whole semester, there was no mention of George Washington, T Jefferson, etc. My first essay based exam, I get a C.

I complain, hey I'm a 4.0 guy, aced every engish class (notwithstanding this post, I can write), and I knew the material. My TA says, "sorry, hope you do better next time."

I figured my only shot was to write my next exam while channeling Cynthia McKinney: hate all whities, they are bad, they are oppressive, let's party its Kwanzza, bla. bla.

Of course , I got A's thereafter.

Anonymous said...

Professor Davidson,
I have just read your column in the News&Observer.
Allow me to pass along to you a piece of advice my father gave me many, many times:
"Keep your mouth shut and people think you're a fool; open it and people know you're a fool"
Do you realize the damage you, the Group of 88 and Mr. Broadhead have done and are doing to Duke University ?
It is truly stunning !

GPrestonian said...

To those who say that the Economics faculty letter is 'too little, too late', I would point to Davidson's Op-Ed today. It's still the 'right time' for more faculty to come forward. The 88 aren't giving up, are they? Curious that Davidson's opus came out a day after the Econ letter.

Bill Anderson will be interested in this one:

On another note, and perhaps off-topic for this entry but certainly not for the Hoax, this was on the Dallas Morning News website today:

Inmate freed after DNA test

50 years for sexual assault, guy served 7, started the post-conviction DNA process 5 years ago, tests exonerated him 1 year ago, just released this week after 2nd round of testing also cleared him. Damn.

Article says he's the 11th Dallas County man in 5 years to be exonerated & released due to DNA testing. Damn.

A few phrases noted that night sound familiar to us:

'the case against him was flimsy to start with'

'police recovered no physical evidence'

'the victim of the attack was the lone witness'

'the woman's account was wildly inconsistent'

'police were not swayed by a polygraph test'

'a relatively new and more sensitive testing method was then used'

I'm not so sure that this guy agrees that we should just let justice run its course...

Anonymous said...

To 11:41--that's the point about the DNA. it is impossible that the assult ocurred and left no DNA. In fact,by definition the assuautl transferred DNA if it happened. Therefore, the only reasons you would not find it would be sampling error or cleaning. We know it was not cleaning (yuck!!)and samplign was immediate and comprehensive, gathering up her whole sexual history. The liklehood of only cleaning away the defendants DNA and the sampling only finding everybody else's is so small as likely to be a lower number that the number of atoms in the solar system.

So, from the time the DNA tests came back the defendants were cleared. Everything else is nonsense.

Anonymous said...

I fully agree with you Casey. I would additionally like to ask where the Group of 88 was when the following events occurred:

1. 2002-Basketball player Casey Sanders is arrested for beating up his girlfriend (Sanders is black).

2. 2001-Basketball player Chris Duhon is cited for underage drinking in Chapel Hill.

3. 2003- Basketball player JJ Redick is caught in a room where marajuana is being smoked.

4. 2005-Basketball player Patrick Davidson is kicked off the team for cocaine use. Oh, and by the way, Patrick Davidson was the roommate of a guy named JJ Redick you may have heard of.

5. 2006-The Men's basketball team throws a party with strippers.

Anonymous said...

In my freshman year in college (an Ivy League School), I took a general US history survey course. This course was taught by a junior labor historian who also focused on the experiences of Indians, slaves, and woman. Even the course's "survey text book" openly admitted that the focused on the experiences of women, minorities, workers, etc.

The first book assigned was about the Indians. The second book assigned was titled "The Black Majority." The author of the book? Peter Wood

Anonymous said...

Nifong knew what the DNA results meant, thats why he hid them.

Anonymous said...

Please, 11:57, those things don't count. Don't you know those people are Black? They're VICTIMS of an unjust society, and therefore not responsible for any of their own life choices. C'mon, get with the program!

bill anderson said...


I definitely am interested in it, and likely am going to incorporate that article in a piece I am writing.

As for econonomics, I think that the Maryland Esquire makes some good points. In economics, we use a set of logical tools that require consistency and an adherence to logical standards. People on the left (and some on the right, too) tend to get enraged when we say certain things about the limits of certain policies and the like, as they want to believe that we can wave our hands and create Wonderland.

Because people of all sorts of political and ideological persuasions read this page, I try not to deal in things outside of the case. It does not surprise me to see the econ department weighing in, as I know how economists generally think, and the absence of DNA evidence is something that would weigh more heavily with an economist than a Karla Holloway or someone else from the Gang of 88, who has no sense of reality, anyway.

Anonymous said...

Just 9 months too late...ironically like the stock market...wait till you see what's winning and then buy!

bill anderson said...

I just read the article from the Dallas paper. However, I get the sense that in the end, at least a prosecutor wanted to do the right thing.

In the Duke case, we are dealing with lies, and very transparent lies at that. Furthermore, there was no rape at all, and Nifong knows it, and he also knows there was nothing else done to Crystal.

GPrestonian said...

12:31pm Bill Anderson:

Bill, all good points - there apparently was an actual crime in the Dallas case.

BTW, that DA just took office Jan 1. First Dem DA in Dallas since 1986, first black Dallas DA ever (& no prosecutorial experience, btw). So it wasn't his case, and was a win-win for him to do what he did. But, if the paper is right - results came back 1 day, the guy's released the next, the new DA definitely did well.

Perhaps more revealing would be finding out what the previous DA did to move the appeal along. Given that this story relates a pretty short journey as these things go ('only' 5 years), the DA may not have obstructed the process of allowing post-conviction DNA testing. I know that Texas changed their laws a few years ago to make it (somewhat) easier for DNA testing to be done on appeal, but it's still an excrutiatingly long process.

Chicago said...

I would really love to see any copies of the e-mails originally sent to Davidson. My guess is that they were in no way threateneing as she describes. Once again, here is a professor making claims with out substance and her tenure in her mind makes it all ok. These folks need to join the real world.

Anonymous said...

For those of you who did not read the story out of Dallas cited in an earlier comment, below are the last four paragraphs. Wouldn't it be nice if Nifong's behavior mirrored newly-elected DA Watkins'?

From the Dallas morning News:

"A relatively new and more sensitive testing method was then ordered. Those findings came back Wednesday and showed conclusively that Mr. Gossett's DNA was not linked to the rape.

With that information, District Attorney Craig Watkins moved quickly to have a hearing for Mr. Gossett.

Thursday morning, Mr. Watkins, who took office as district attorney on Monday, was in the courtroom with Mr. Gossett, shaking his hand and pledging to do everything possible to get his record wiped clean and help him get compensation for the seven years he spent in jail or prison.

"We're going to be tough when we need to be tough and fair when we need to be fair," said Mr. Watkins. "It was the right thing to do to go down there and say, 'We're sorry.' "

WFAA-TV reporter Bob Greene contri

bill anderson said...

I have had some nice exchanges with the Duke econ department chair. I'm just so damned proud of econ!

Anonymous said...

I e-mailes Davidson KC's and Liestoppers' disections of her op-ed.

Anonymous said...


don't forget Shelden Williams (former Basketball player at Duke and All-American) accused on rape prior to attending Duke (he had already committed)

From a Charlotte Observer article (now purged):

The headlines were huge. The implications were bad. Newspaper accounts out of Columbus, Ohio, in January 2002 reported a 19-year-old woman's accusations against five players from the visiting Midwest City (Okla.) High basketball team. According to the official police report, the accusation was rape.Williams was among the accused. Big headline."

I have no idea what happened in this case but my point is:

Did the group of 88 encourage others to protest? Did they have any signing statements?

To claim their reaction in the Lax case is just a broader statement is insulting. Other athletes have been caught underage drinking and engaging in other similar type behaviors

Finally, Shelden Williams enrolling with little fanfare from the facutly at Duke helps to temper the idea that "if they athletes were AA" the police or students body etc would act differently (Shelden Williams is AA).

Anonymous said...

Think how many "pot bangers" were duke students. Sad that students at a respected U. would be so quick to judge, and actually help lynch the lax team.

Anonymous said...

Evans is, I believe, an econ grad.
The 'timing' appears to be due more to the reinstatement of the 3 and the now public 'grade retaliation' issues...econ departments are always looking for students.

As for econ faculties being 'conservative' (politically I assume) as was stated in earlier threads - it's really not the case. You are more likely to find moderates or libertarians in the departments than you are to find a social and econ conservative.

Regardless it's nice to know that one of the departments rid themselves of the 'collegiality' bind that is dreaded. (read up on KC's tenure process if you want to see some really sick extremes - the 'he did not say hi when he passed - once').

Anonymous said...

A letter sent to the editor of the N&O:

Professor Davidson’s column, In the aftermath of a social disaster, justifying the signing by 88 Duke Faculty members of the “Listening” ad published in the Duke Chronicle shortly after the alleged lacrosse assault of a sex worker is riddled with factual errors, and is shoddy attempt to revise the actual events in the weeks that followed news of the allegations against the three students. The 88's rush to judgement fomented racial, class, and gender conflict.

The N&O should have vetted this work of ‘revisionist fiction’ before allowing it to be published. Among the many, many factual errors, the most obvious is that the ad was signed and published before the names of any of the indicted students were even know. This alone refutes Davidson’s assertion that, “The insults, at that time, were rampant. It was as if defending David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann necessitated reverting to pernicious stereotypes about African-Americans, especially poor black women.” In fact, during this period, where candlelight vigils and pot banging were commonplace, no one was supporting the lacrosse players, much less insulting poor black women.

Professor Davidson has foisted a fiction on the N&O and its readers, one that deserves space provide for rebuttal.

Anonymous said...

Think how many "pot bangers" were duke students. Sad that students at a respected U. would be so quick to judge,

I really doubt they were real university students. Most likely, they were Duke AA/women's "studies" majors.

CF said...

In a field where the laughable Krugman is considered a leading light, I do not share some of the other posters' regard for the precision of the field. Still, they seem to be the best of the Duke faculty but for Coleman.

mark said...

It is suprising that lack of true science based Prof's from the G88 grp.

I see a lot of "Feeling" based studies in that G88 grp.

Maybe they are better at logically looking at a situation and not looking at a situation until the event finishes.

I had a very good boss tell me to never judge a test until you finished.

Anonymous said...


You are extactly right about Shelden. I forgot about him. Shelden's only quote to date about the incident was that the girl came up to the players room and "things got out of hand."

Let me re-write that for you so it sinks in. Shelden said "Things got out of hand." As a result, Shelden was kicked off of his high school team and unable to play in the McDonald's All American game.

Guess what, he still enrolled at Duke as a freshman and no one wrote any Chronicle ads about that or banged on pots.

Anonymous said...

The silence of the POLITICAL SCIENCE dept. is deafening.

Anonymous said...


A suggestion: Why not write
an op-ed to rebut the revisionist babble in Davidson piece?

Perhaps a joint effort with Liestoppers? Between your disection of the factual errors and Liestoppers heart-wrenching treatment of davidson's bizzare philosophical bent it would make on hell of a one-two punch.

N&O should accomodade space for a rebuttle to an un-vetted hack job by Davidson.

Anonymous said...

Evans is, I believe, an econ grad.
The 'timing' appears to be due more to the reinstatement of the 3 and the now public 'grade retaliation' issues...econ departments are always looking for students.

1:37 - I think you overestimate the extent to which faculty care about the administration's POV, except with regard to their own tenure status. And even then, the best thing to do with regard to improving tenure chances is always to keep your head down, publish, and not take a stand on anything politically controversial, ever. The best strategy for any professor who cares solely and cynically about his or her own career--even at this point in the case--is to say nothing, which is not what these professors did.

I'd also consider the possibility that many of them probably thought commenting publicly on the case was inappropriate, but now that the Group of 88 come under greater scrutiny (I'm hearing more about them now than when they signed the stupid thing) it's just too infuriating to have them be synonymous with "Duke faculty" as far as the outside world is concerned, and that is the more likely impetus for the statement. Otherwise, you're presupposing levels of organization, clarity of purpose and cohesion that in four years at my beloved Duke I never witnessed between the faculty and the administration. And even more unbelievable, all of this would have had to have happened since Brodhead called for Nifong to step down, which would be a university record in terms of bureaucratic speed and efficiency.

And I do not think the Econ department is hurting for students. Duke doesn't offer a finance or business degree at the undergraduate level, so pretty much anyone who wants to work in finance or consulting after graduation (which would be half the campus) takes econ.

Trinity '99

Anonymous said...

It is easy to jump on the Freedom Bus now that the heavy lifting has been done by KC, Bill A JIC and the rest of the blogs and bloggers. Where were they in the Spring and Summer? To late

theman said...

Where did these people come from, don't they know that something happened in that house that night. Mr. Nifong is just trying to clean up Durham and find out what happened that night to this poor girl.

Michael said...

It's obviously not easy to jump on the freedom bus. For whatever reason, we have the Econ professors and that's it. At least publically.

And then we have the Davidson piece. I personally don't get why they can't just come out and apologize.

Regarding the lawsuit: I'm waiting to see what other professors say about the grade retaliation incident. I imagine a lot of professors don't want their reputations and records tainted by the actions of Prof Curtis.

Sparky said...

To Trinity 99:

Thanks for informing people that Duke doesn’t choose to teach truly useful things like business.

Don’t you find it amazing that, in this day and age, a school like Duke would not offer useful things like accounting, marketing, finance, and management but, instead chooses to offer (and promote) useless garbage like black & women’s studies, as well as all the other “garbage” that is supposed to pass for “education”?

This just shows that schools like Duke don’t rally care about preparing students for their latter careers in the real world – unless they major in engineering or sciences.

Maybe these schools could simply do away with garbage departments and reallocate those resources to something useful; something that will help their students (aka customers) throughout their careers.

Perhaps they could change the designation of BA to BBS. That would translate Bachelor of Arts to Bachelor of Bull Shit. It would seem appropriate.

Anonymous said...

I saw a comment recently that Brodhead was involved in a similar incident at Yale where someone was railroaded because he was a "white male." Can this be substantiated, or does it belong in the trash bin?

Anonymous said...

I may be mistaken, but I believe it concerned an alleged 'railroading' of a former professor who was suspected of murdering a Yale student whose murder has never been solved.

Anonymous said...

A rather comical dump on Brodhead by Prof. Gustafson – using Bordhead’s own words in relation to the to the rape hoax and the grade lawsuit.

Byung Soo said...

Being familiar with many of the names that appear on the economics letter, I will personally vouch for their ethical backbone. While it took them a lot of time to put forth an official statement, I knew as early as May that some professors in the department had reservations about the direction of local sentiments. Economists, in general, however, are not the interfering type. I am not surprised that it took them a long time to decide that they had seen enough.

The Davidson op-ed does indeed prove that the economics statement is not too late. It just tears me up inside knowing that idiots like her are professors at my alma mater. I sent the following letter to the editor in response to the op-ed:

Cathy Davison, much like Mike Nifong has done, proves herself to be dishonest through statements made in her own defense. Rampant revisionism and sneaky attempts at distraction abound in her latest opus.

1. "…the lacrosse players were elevated to the status of martyrs, innocent victims of reverse racism."

This was not the case when the case first broke. While people a small minority may have held the players up to be paragons of virtue, the overwhelming consensus at the time was that they were a bunch of "hooligans" who had hurled racist epithets. The mainstream media, national and local, were quick to assume the players were guilty because it was a perfect story in many ways. Only now are the accused being widely granted the well-deserved status of martyrdom.

2. "[We] were alarmed at this distressing side-effect of the lacrosse incident and signed the ad."

Anyone who has read the original text of the "We Are Listening" statement should be distressed by the boldfaced nature of this very public prevarication. Sure, the ad did in fact express concern about the side-effects of the incident, but it did so by including anonymous quotes that implied the players' guilt. This leads me to perhaps the most dishonest statement of them all:

3. "I...was and [continue] to be adamant about the necessity for fair and impartial legal proceedings for David, Collin, and Reade..."

One wonders why a person adamant about the necessity for "fair" legal proceedings would sign an inflammatory ad that implicitly conceded the players' guilt and remain silent all this time as evidence of prosecutorial misconduct mounted.

4. "The ad we signed explicitly was not addressed to the police investigation or the rape allegations."

This is either evidence of intellectual dishonesty at its worst or just plain lack of intelligence. There is such a thing as context. For example, to include a quote about a woman claiming to be "grabbed" and "propositioned", a quote about the response being different because lacrosse is an "upscale" sport, and a quote accusing Duke of not responding to "what has happened" is akin to finger-painting the image of rich white men raping a black woman. For Davidson to intentionally draw a vague but suggestive picture for maximum effect and then at this juncture pretend that the ad was something more like a collection of precise, surgical strikes to racism that did not cause significant collateral damage to the assumption of innocence is an insult to our collective intelligence.

5. "And we live in a situation where a group of white athletes at a prominent university can get drunk and call out for a stripper the way they would a pizza."

Let us not forget that the lacrosse players did not force the strippers to do anything. They did not force the accuser to be dishonorably discharged from the Navy. They did not force her to strip for money. She made that choice herself. No one forced to have children either. For what it's worth, it's just as easy for black athletes at a Catholic university to get drunk and call out for a stripper. In 2004, basketball players at St. John's had sex with a stripper, who afterwards claimed to have been raped. Video evidence proved that the woman was angry at not being paid $1000 for sex as previously promised and had issued the threat of rape allegations in an attempt to exert a measure of revenge.

6. "On the other hand, most of my e-mail comes from right-wing "blog hooligans." These hateful, ranting and sometimes even threatening folks don't care about Duke or the lacrosse players. Their aim is to make academics and liberals look ridiculous and uncaring."

Baghdad Bob would be proud of this straw man. Yes, there have been extremists on both sides of the issue hoping to make a name, but they are minor players at best. The single most prominent "right-wing blog hooligan" has been Professor KC Johnson, a distinguished scholar of legal history who began blogging in response to the rush to judgment exhibited by the "We Are Listening" statement. Professor Johnson has been a life-long Democrat. If Professor Davidson and her 87 colleagues look ridiculous and uncaring, they have no one to blame but themselves.

7. "If it turns out that Mike Nifong has no evidence (as he insisted he did back in the spring)..."

If? IF?! Unless she has been living under a rock for the last few months, Professor Davidson would be aware that the director of the private DNA lab that did the Y-chromosome testing admitted under oath that he and Nifong intentionally withheld exculpatory evidence from the defense. If she had been as concerned as she claims to be in the op-ed and followed the case closely, she would have realized that the defense has been fighting for several months to get its hands on this evidence. It took a new judge for the defense to finally get to the bottom of Nifong's latest legal malfeasance. If she had been as concerned as she claims to be, she would have realized that the open discovery files released by Nifong reveal that all forensic evidence corroborates the lacrosse players' story; she would have realized that the only thing left is the statement of the accuser, which has changed too many times to count. Nifong's "evidence" is much like WMDs in Iraq; a fantasy exploited by the authorities to justify senseless violation of civil rights.

8. "Will future rape victims dare to step forward after such a spectacle? Will African-Americans with legitimate grievances be willing to demand justice in the wake of this public debacle? On every level, this has been a social disaster."

This, to me, is the saddest aspect of the stance taken by The 88. By enabling the false accuser and Mike Nifong, The 88 have contributed to the social disaster. One of the fundamental issues facing rape victims is that they are unsure if their case will be judged on its merits or based on existing social perception of previous rape accusers. The best thing that The 99 could have done for future rape victims would have been to stress the independence of judgments on individual rapes. Saying, as Karla Holloway, another member of The 88 has done, that "white innocence implies black guilt" and "men's innocence means women's guilt" does great injustice to actual victims of rape and racism by putting their fates in the same basket as that of the false accusers under the headings of race and gender. Moreover, as Jason Whitlock of the Kansas City Star noted, siding with the truth and not pre-existing agenda in this case would have greatly enhanced the credibility of victims' advocates when, not if, the weight of their influence is needed to protect a real victim.

To me, that is the real tragedy of this sordid affair: well-meaning extremists doing damage to the very causes they fervently support. If Professor Davidson and her colleagues learn anything from this case, I hope that they learn that there are no shortcuts to true social justice and gender equality. The "perfect case" is not always perfect, and when what initially seems to be a "perfect case" inevitably falls apart, the real victims will be left picking up the pieces of the latest self-serving ideological skirmish. So, next time, for the love all that is good, just the facts, ma'am.

Byung Soo Lee
Duke '03

Anonymous said...


Just google “yale murder Brodhead” without those quote marks and you’ll get lots.

Brodhead canned the guy publicly even though he was only a “person of interest” in the investigation – basically ruining his career.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, 3:29.
Checked out the Van de Velde story. It seems that Brodhead has the ethics of a skunk - or most politicians. He makes a great role model for his students.

Michael said...

re: Byung Soo

Nice and measured response. Please post the URL if it gets posted as I'd like to read the responses to it.

Steven Horwitz said...

Sparky at 3:36 bemoans the lack of "practical, real-world" majors at Duke. That is an unfortunate lament.

There's no doubt the 88 created quite the mess here, but it does no good for observers of the case to condemn both the professoriate as a whole and those in the liberal arts (which includes my discipline of Economics) in particular. Studying the liberal arts, including the various "Studies" programs, Philosophy, English, etc CAN provide very real skills for the rest of one's life, if they are centered around writing, speaking, and critical thinking.

We have plenty of evidence to suggest that the latter, if not the first, is lacking among the 88, but that doesn't mean such things are lacking in the liberal arts in general, especially at other schools.

As earlier comments on this blog have noted, not all four-year colleges have the equivalent of the group of 88. Teaching-oriented schools tend to be less likely to have them because those of us who teach at such places have to face our students every day in much more close quarters than the typical low teaching load, high class size of larger PhD institutions.

To generalize from the 88 about the state of a liberal arts education or the professoriate in general is to be guilty of the same group-think mentality as the 88 are.

justice58 said...

What do economic profs know about the law? nothin. Where do they get off condemning Nifong and supporting Broadhead. these profs can speak out all they want, but these guys will be in jail after a Durham jury hears the case. they might as well kis their mamas goodby now.

CF said...

I was right along with you, Byung Soo Lee until we got to this"Nifong's "evidence" is much like WMDs in Iraq; a fantasy exploited by the authorities to justify senseless violation of civil rights."

Well, who said that Duke produces independent, crticial thinkers.

In any event I take it that gratuitous comment was made to establish your bona fides as a good guy worth listening to in Durham.

james conrad said...

oh dear, kc johnson is a right wing hooligan? man o man ooooooooooo mannnnnnnnnnnn.i still maintain a big part of the mess academia finds itself in is directly related to TENURE. lifetime appointments that allow people to be simple and get away with it. give prof's a 5 year contract with a review process.

bill anderson said...

To Byung Soo Lee:

Excellent points, eachof them. None of us could have said it better. I hope you can publish this somewhere!

pantapon rose said...

I still can't get over that op-ed piece you linked below, the lack of shame, the outright falsehoods, the revisionist history; how foolish to trust this person to teach others.

Byung Soo said...

I will not pretend that I understand the errors I made (since you wisely chose not to create a distraction by delving into it detail), but I readily admit that I hastily made that particular statement because I guessed that a person like Davidson would most be insulted by being compared to the current administration. If she were a right-winger, I would have probably compared her actions to some bad things Clinton is alleged to have done, just to needle her a little.

I'll concede my non-expertise regarding WMDs here so that it does not further distract those better educated than myself on that issue from discussing the principle subject of this blog.

Anonymous said...

To Byung Soo

Great writing. I was thinking some of the same things but you expressed them very well and comprehensively. I went back and read the Group of 88 statement again and Davidson is just lying. It says very little about the reaction to the alleged incident and alot about the alleged incident. To the extent that statements were perceived of as racist, they were statements defending the team or refusing to condemn the team--white innocence equals black guilt. The whole idea that the statement referred to reactions to an incidenet and an appeal to due process (which is more of what Brodhead said) is not true. As you know, at the time, and this is painful to remember,Nifong was being criticized by not moving more rapidly.

mark said...

>>What do economic profs know about the law? nothin. Where do they get off condemning Nifong and supporting Broadhead. these profs can speak out all they want, but these guys will be in jail after a Durham jury hears the case. they might as well kis their mamas goodby now. <<

A Durham High School graduate I assume.....

This will never get to trial. NIlfong will be held accountable for his actions and a different appointed DA will drop the charges.

wayne fontes said...

Is there a conservative liberal arts college anywhere in the US? I often see the comment that the hard left academics are entrenched at every prestigous college in the country. Has any college which isn't primarily religous conservative.

Anonymous said...

Why haven't the other two charges been dropped. Why are those that have the power, who know Liefong is a corrupt lier allowing him to continue this farce and drag this drama out to protect his own skin. These boys should be cleared now not when Liefong sees fit.

Anonymous said...

I saw a comment recently that Brodhead was involved in a similar incident at Yale where someone was railroaded because he was a "white male." Can this be substantiated, or does it belong in the trash bin?

It was a similar incident. Brodhead's role is not clear.

Anonymous said...


my son's at HSC

Josh said...

Don’t you find it amazing that, in this day and age, a school like Duke would not offer useful things like accounting, marketing, finance, and management but, instead chooses to offer (and promote) useless garbage like black & women’s studies, as well as all the other “garbage” that is supposed to pass for “education”?

This is exactly the drivel that keeps this blog from being a perfect discourse on the topic at hand. Blanketing Women's studies or AA studies as "garbage" is just the ammunition that people are using labeling this blog as being full of "blogger hooligans." There is a good reason why Duke does not have an Accounting department where students can get an accounting degree and become an accountant. I'm sure plenty of Duke grads become accountants but they didn't go to Duke to get a preprofessional degree.

Anonymous said...

Dan Abrams of MSNBC just commented on the Duke case on "Tucker". Abrams has been one of the early skeptics of the DA and the merits of the charges.

Anonymous said...

I can attest to why Duke does not have an undergraduate business degree. As an undergrad, I stayed at the home of the then Dean of the Business School when school let out to support my own athletic endeavors for Duke. Duke did not want to accede to the accreditation requirements required for an undegraduate business degree, believing that requirements made it impossible for students to take a sufficient number of liberal arts courses that enhanced their critical thinking abilities and their ability to write, think and compute (too bad Duke's English Department, engaged as they were in post modern structuralist dreck, did not teach writing well for many years). Rightly or wrongly, this was a principled stance for Duke to take - and note at the same time they really pushed to enhance the quality and excellence of the Fuqua MBA, believing that (again, a principled approach) that is where resources would be better applied. I think this is turned out well for Duke, and note, many of these strategic decisions were made at the time by Chancellor Ken Pye, who while unpopular in some quarters at the time, proved to have really helped Duke gain its focus to become a top rank school (Pye went on to become the President of SMU, rescuing the place after their football scandal and is now deceased - but a great and honorable man he was). And let's be honest about this - Duke econ majors get hired all of the time by the nation's most prestigious business and financial institutions - Duke students don't suffer from a lack of an undergraduate business school in any real sense.

By the way, I do not think that "Women's Studies" or African American Studies are "garbage". There is great value in learning critical thinking in pursuing subjects such as these. But these departments are so often filled with doctrinaire ideologues that are more concerned that students identify and ascribe to their politics than engage in rigorous critical thinking. A generalization? Yes, but one that is all too accurate. So from that perspective most rational employers and serious graduate programs (except those the race or gender racket), while not looking at prospects who majored in these subjects as having taken "garbage", clearly out to be skeptical of what type of person they are getting. In particular, I find students that come from these programs to think way too conclusorily, and are simply not trained to digest facts in a rigorous way and let those facts drive one to the right conclusions. A tough, but eminently fair, criticism.

Anonymous said...

Who are you kidding JOSH, with all that nonsense, about not getting an accounting degree at Duke. Those liberal programs are worthless, mostly minors, with a lot of worthless profs, teaching those courses.

Sparky said...

Hey Josh:

I’m a proud “hooligan”.

Here’s present the core curriculum of the school I graduated from 30 yrs ago. Do these uber-liberal liberal arts dumps even have any sort of core, or are they a place where “one finds their true inner spirit and meaning of life”? – aka garbage.

1st yr
1100 Basic Macroeconomics
1200 Basic Microeconomics
1108 Math Methods in Business 1
1109 Math Methods in Business 2
1100 English Composition/ Rhetoric
2300 Information Systems
1000 Close Read and Critical Writing

2nd yr
2140 Statistics I
2222 Principles of Financial Accounting
2223 Principles of Managerial Accounting
2665 Business Communication
2234 Legal Framework of Business
1100 Philosophical Ethics
2142 Statistical Decision Making

3rd yr
3438 Operations and Production Mgmt
3443 Ethics in Business
3221 Financial Management
3223 Principles of Management
Intermediate Financial Accounting I
3442 Individual & Business Entity Taxation
3435 Intermediate Financial Accounting II

4th yr
Upper Level Management
Upper Level Finance Elective
Preprofessionalism & Research Seminar
Assurance & Auditing
Advanced Assurance & Auditing
Commercial Transactions

Trust me Josh, this stuff comes in real handy in the business world. You know; that part of the American economy that keeps all the money flowing so colleges can charge ludicrous tuition and finance such “garbage” as womens’ studies, etc. Courses like “Feminist Perspective on Modern Marxist Theory” or some such other gobblygook are just that; gobblygook. Any kid who takes such courses is being prepared for nothing other than to become a radical leftist.

The Duke rape hoax has only further exposed this rot in academia.

Cedarford said...

Maryland Esquire is right, I think, and said what I think many intuitively thought. For the bulk of economics, students are "right" if they do the math and apply the theories correctly and the proofs and experiments are well-constructed.

There are certain departments that still reside in "Humanities" that I think should be broken out and considered more of a true science than a subjective art in the "Humanities" area where allowable thought and grading is at the discretion of, in the subjective hands of instructors. And I had a few wild-assed Lefties in Grad school of the Marxist school who I fretted not one bit about grade retaliation because grades were entirely on based entirely in a quantifiable formula, recognizing how to apply theory, and ability to describe events in context of analysis articulately.

Not worrying if one has to denounce white economies, extoll black capitalists over Indian ones, or laud only female entrepreneurs to get a good grade...And economics, since wars are fought and people killed in the millions on economic theory...has long since learned that the whackjobs of whatever camp the theory and science makes them champions of are best left to flail away at one another and rip apart or challenge one another's theories and proofs as part of the fun...and not let it affect grades or be a total bar to hiring. Each school proudly touts their pet capitalists, libertarians, Marxists, commutarians, gold bugs - etc.

Political science is trending that way. Now heavy on model analysis, verification of theory by actual testing and analysis of results.

Architecture has been long-recognized that way.

Other disciplines, like psychology, could be that way. But psychology has foundered between respectability and a mix of truth and crap - on instructors and practitioner's ideology and refusal to empirically test theories like "recovered memory".


Sparky - Thanks for informing people that Duke doesn’t choose to teach truly useful things like business.

Don’t you find it amazing that, in this day and age, a school like Duke would not offer useful things like accounting, marketing, finance, and management but, instead chooses to offer (and promote) useless garbage like black & women’s studies, as well as all the other “garbage” that is supposed to pass for “education”?

This just shows that schools like Duke don’t rally care about preparing students for their latter careers in the real world

Sparky, you don't know a thing about Duke if you write that. Duke has a School of Business.

The problem is that at most Universities, students have to satisfy a core of Humanities, mandatory classes in some diversity crap Departments to force mainstream students in with the minority studies folks to "broaden their education". And seek easy electives.

Some in engineering, business, health care& sciences, pre-law, the sciences absolutely detest having to take subjective classes in humanities. Particularly from left-wing whack jobs accusing them of being souless "technical types", greedy capitalist wannabes, or whitemale oppressors.

Others like the courses because they are easy A's and B's worth eating the shit shoveled at them and the occasional need to grovel to the instructors ideology.

Others, like me, were blissfully ignorant and liberal in our callow youth and it was no imposition at all to be fed Maya Angelou was on a par with Shakespeare and dutifully regurgitate it back on cue, with vigor. It was great. Another "A", 3 hours of class & 2 hours of study a week, 3 more credits knocked off for graduation!

Sparky said...

Umm 7:33:

Duke has a Graduate business school – no undergraduate program.

Lots of universities opened grad business school after they saw the money and prestige that places like Harvard and Wharton were getting from their MBA programs in the 60s and 70s (and the contributions that those MBA’s would then make to the school).

Don’t ever forget the education is an industry. As such they want to expand their market and maximize income.

Kilgore said...

Josh - While I wouldn't label women's studies as "garbage" I would say that the ideas they teach are directly visible in the lax incident and the gang of 88's response. They indirectly teach that a person's "believability" is related to their past "oppression" and their "victim" status. The more one has been victimized the more that person has ethos and "believability." This is why Crystal, a black (oppressed) female (oppressed), single mother (oppressed), rape victim (oppressed) is given the ultimate in trust and the white "privileged" bright and successful lacrosse players are assumed guilty. Evidence is secondary.

I didn't believe it myself and so I bought a women's studies 101 book and read it. I was amazed. It portrayed women as victims and told just one side of a complex story. It portrayed men and especially white males as privileged and oppressors. It set up a dynamic of distrust and resentment which seems calculated to drive a wedge between loving men and women. I am still flabbergasted by what I read. In a word it is hateful and self-serving. I am all for the oddest and nuttiest theories being discussed on college campuses. That is a good thing. What I can't stand is for nutty theories to be claimed and then any counter labelled as misogyny and discussion being stifled. This is what we see with women's studies. PC in caps.

Anonymous said...

Sparky -

As someone who worked in finance and has a public policy degree, i can tell you from experience that accounting and finance are vocations, not academic disciplines. They're a matter of rote memory and basic problem solving, and accounting at Duke is no different from accounting at your average local community college. It requires no abstract thinking whatsoever, and it makes no sense to sit a room with students and faculty who are, for the most part--group of 88 excepted--above average in every way, and not take advantage of that environment to take courses that actually require abstract, complex thinking. You're not going to get that opportunity at lesser institutions and you're not to be surrounded entirely by peers who are almost universally intelligent overachievers capable of pushing you competitively.

I don't think Duke needs to offer business courses because to be perfectly blunt, the humanities grads at Duke who end up at Goldman Sachs do perfectly well with six-week training courses that teach them the basics of financial modeling. It's not rocket science. Spending a $40K/year education at a top tier school memorizing GAAP accounting rules by rote is a waste of a good educational opportunities. You can learn the same thing on your own or at a technical school. You cannot, however, debate the intricacies of foreign policy with a former member of the national security council or discuss quantum theory with pioneers in the field at any random school in the country.

I'm not saying technical application is irrelevant, but given the options, taking basic business courses at Duke is a waste, given the opportunities. (Incidentally, Harvard and Yale don't offer undergrad business degrees, either. I don't see their alumni suffering for it.)

- Trinity '99

Anonymous said...

To 9:45 PM:


Anonymous said...


I am still flabbergasted by what I read. In a word it is hateful and self-serving. I am all for the oddest and nuttiest theories being discussed on college campuses. That is a good thing. What I can't stand is for nutty theories to be claimed and then any counter labelled as misogyny and discussion being stifled. This is what we see with women's studies. PC in caps.

Clearly you are just a tool of the white, patriarchial oppressors. Are you wearing your condom?

Anonymous said...

to 9:45:

Are you saying that left-wing indoctrination at pseudo-science departments is not waste of money? You can have that for free (just follow NAACP, ACLU, NYT or Al Jazeera).

Kilgore said...

11:58 said:
"Clearly you are just a tool of the white, patriarchial oppressors. Are you wearing your condom?"

Yes, I Kilgore Trout, am a vilified, objectified white male who has been unsuccessfully attempting to market a diversity course to women's studies programs across the country titled "Loving white males as much as you love everyone else." I can't seem to sell it. ;>)

Bastion of Bastiat said...

An anonymous comment was posted asking why the Political Science Department Chair has made no public statement. I suggest that the anonymous commentator go to

This was done about three weeks prior to current blog post "The Importance of Economics."

Munger, the chair of the Duke Political Science Department, is surely no leftist. While I cannot tell from his Munger 4NC gov blog site, I am sure Mike Munger is a Libertarian, or at least a classical liberal. With a libertarian for a dept. chair, I am sure the Poly Sci Dept. at Duke has faculty members all over the ideological spectrum.

While not a signer of the Economics Dept. statement, Munger, whose Ph.D. is in Economics, is also has an appointment in the Economics Department.

As to the rest of the Political Science Department at Duke, I would wager that the department is ideologically extremely diverse, making the dept. head position there something of a "cat herder" position.

Munger's website is

and he has another blog:

Having known Munger professionally, and known him to be quite honorable fellow and not shy of controvery, I was sure he had said something somewhere, at least in hyperspace. As to why he didn't sign the Econ. Dept. statement, you would have to ask him. My bet is that it has something to do with where is the geography of the Duke campus.

bastion of bastiat said...

cf said:
"In a field where the laughable Krugman is considered a leading light, I do not share some of the other posters' regard for the precision of the field. Still, they seem to be the best of the Duke faculty but for Coleman."

Krugman is not considered a leading light by economists. He had done excellent work on international trade some years back, but his rantings for the NYT column have produced a backlash against him.

As an economics prof I should point out that there is still plenty of room for ideologically graded exams and papers in economics.

Anonymous said...

"As to the rest of the Political Science Department at Duke, I would wager that the department is ideologically extremely diverse...."

maybe from Liberal Democrat to Socialist, to Marxist. Is that the diversity you were speaking of?

bastion of bastiat said...

In response to my suggestion that the Political Science Department is probably rather ideologically diverse: "As to the rest of the Political Science Department at Duke, I would wager that the department is ideologically extremely diverse...."

Anonymous responded:
"maybe from Liberal Democrat to Socialist, to Marxist. Is that the diversity you were speaking of?"

NO! When I call the Duke Political Science Dept. ideologically diverse, I mean all the way from libertarians, such as Munger, to more traditional conservatives, to centrist Southern Democrats, to Pelosi-type socialists to Maoist Marxists. My "wager" was based on my doubts that a purely leftist department would ever allow Mike Munger to stay as dept. head. So I went to the Duke Poli Sci website and looked at what their faculty was up to.

I suggest you do the same: its web site is:

As I mentioned, Munger is a libertarian who looks for minimalist government, low taxes, roll backs on regulation, but also wants to cut back laws on substance abuse. From what I have read of John Aldrich's work (I cite some of his work heavily in a paper I am currently doing), I would think that he is probably right to centrist--his work is very politive and I have seen little ideological bias, but certainly his work is far from the so-called progressive left. Geoffrey Brennan was on my dissertation committee where he was writing against deficit financing advocated by Keynesians of the day as he saw that their work lead to increased government spending and a hiding of the real costs of over-reaching government--he wrote that with James Buchanan, who tilts strongly to what we now call the right, but Buchanan would correctly point out as a position of classical liberals. Weaver, is on leave at the Bush White House serving with the National Security Council--but he also served in an anti-proliferation capacity with the Clinton White House in 1993 or so. Those are only a few. Look through what the Duke Political Science Department is doing and much of it is the science of politics, and not Marxist political ideology. Some Marxism, and leftist "progressiveism" no doubt exists, but it seems to be more balanced there than many political science departments.

I have, at meetings, come across Duke Ph.D. students in both economics and political science and have found both groups to be rather balanced.

If the Duke LAX scandel (scandel that it is still being prosecuted) has taught us anything, it is that we should not judge people based on stereotypes, whether of wealthy white boys or black sex workers, and should instead look to the facts, and when the facts are counter to what we had thought, to change what we think. Don't judge the Political Science Department at Duke by the humanities folks at Duke or Political Science Departments elsewhere.

Someone mentioned the GERST program at Duke ( This is hardly a leftist program.

Anonymous said...

Sparky, are you Cliff Brandt?

You sound a hell of a lot like him.

Anonymous said...

Ok, the guy who is no longer there is the nominal representative of the political theory that attracted 62M voters in the last presidential election.

That is incrediblly diverse.

Anonymous said...

The letter from the Econ. Dept. is a start for parents of prospective students in the hard sciences. However, you still have Dukes' whacky Comp 101 instructors and Eng. Lit. "Theorists" to deal with. I for one demand more institutional, personal and intellectual integrity than that.

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