Racial Bias in U.S. Soccer Culture?

Is there an implicit racial bias in Major League Soccer and other U.S. leagues? A piercing SB Nation story this week grappled with the implications of a recent study‘s disturbing findings “that black players are 14 percent more likely to be called for cautions than their non-black counterparts.” The study by Paste magazine also found that …

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Pro Bono Analytics Is Growing Social

Pro Bono Analytics is a program by INFORMS (the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences, for the acronym-averse), “the largest society in the world for professionals in the field of operations research (O.R.), management science, and analytics”. PBA “connects our members and other analytics professionals with nonprofit organizations working in underserved and developing communities”. …

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Will and Power

The claim that one has a fixed budget of will power or self-discipline (“ego depletion“) may be yet another non-replicating “result” of shoddy social science. Note that the ego depletion claim refers to something like a daily budget of will power that can be used up, whereas Jocko is also referring to the development of …

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Shift Commission on Work, Workers, and Technology (New America Foundation and Bloomberg)

I spent yesterday at this event. If you look carefully you can see Tim O’Reilly in one of the photos below. New America and Bloomberg are convening the Shift Commission on Work, Workers, and Technology to bring together a community of leaders from different disciplines — technology, business, policy, civil society, academia, and others — who want to understand …

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Post-Election System 2 Thinking

The post-election situation for many people, including many students on our campus, presents a conundrum: a complex situation which for many feels like, and in some cases has been, a real threat. In his book Thinking, Fast and Slow the Nobel prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman describes two “systems” that the human brain uses in understanding …

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Race to the Farm

I’m headed off to the SAEA meeting later this week, where I’m part of panel. SAEA is the Sustainable Agriculture Education Association. It’s not part of my regular circuit, but I’m looking forward to it. The panel is being sponsored by INFAS, which is part of my regular circuit. INFAS is the Integrated Network for …

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Eat ’em from the Can

What we eat reflects an ethic: a sense of what is right and proper. If beans are not for breakfast—a theme we explored last week—that’s because we (whoever “we” we happen to be at the moment) have adopted some culturally based presumptions about what to eat and when. For a lot of middle-class Americans, breakfast …

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EQ, IQ, and all that

This Quora answer, from a pyschology professor who works on personality psychometrics, illustrates well the difference between rigorous and non-rigorous research in this area. Some years ago a colleague and I tried to replicate Duckworth’s findings on Grit, but to no avail, although IIRC our sample size was roughly as large as hers. In our …

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The Re-Emergence of Contract Buying: A Practice Rooted in Mid-20th Century Racism

Long after the explicit use of racist terms in laws, policies with important racial impacts can linger in past practices that marginalize minority communities. Beryl Satter’s Family Properties: How the Struggle Over Race and Real Estate Transformed Chicago and Urban America, describes a key historical case of mid-century real estate practices that led to entrenched …

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Solidarity Forever

I came across this sentence during my morning reading: “Chimpanzee’s most sophisticated social-cognitive abilities may emerge only in the more natural situations of food competition with conspecifics.” It set me thinking. But first, the obligatory tangent, this time less in the vein of changing the subject and more in line with being helpful to my …

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Elite schools, birthright, and credentials

In mixing together the truly talented with the rich and powerful, elite US universities perform a useful service to both groups. Khan is discussing themes related to his book Privilege: The Making of an Adolescent Elite at St. Paul’s School. See also Credentialism and elite employment , Credentialism and elite performance, and Defining Merit. Bloomberg View: Save …

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War – What is it Good For?

President Obama is about to release his budget for fiscal year 2017. There is every reason to believe that the amount we spend for war will dwarf every other discretionary expenditure. The National Priorities Project “Costs of National Security” website helps paint that picture. But numbers are cold facts that like the winter winds numb …

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John Locke

Newcomers to the Thornapple Blog may not know that January has been “food ethics icons month” ever since 2011. We started out with some very well-known names and by 2013 we were doing rock-star farmers. Last year the theme was population growth. This year I’ve decided to focus on some bona fide philosopher types, people …

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Truly Exceptional

I got a survey this week asking about my experience getting my car serviced at Williams Volkswagen here in Lansing. I’m very happy with the service department at Williams, by the way. I’ve bought three cars from them in the decade I’ve lived in Michigan. But the survey sent by Volkswagen of America kind of …

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Credit and the Public Good, Part 1

(An earlier version of this was published in City Pulse, a local alternative weekly serving Michigan’s Capitol region.) I suspect that few folks reading this don’t have an account at a bank or credit union. I belong to two credit unions. Credit unions differ from traditional private banks in that they are member owned. This …

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John McWhorter: the truth about mismatch

I’m shocked that CNN published Columbia professor John McWhorter’s editorial on Scalia’s mismatch comments. His remarks challenge the mainstream media narrative, and require some thought from the reader. CNN: Those who consider themselves on black people’s side are having a field day dismissing Justice Antonin Scalia as a racist. His sin was suggesting that black …

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Arming Ourselves to Death

Such a fixation our culture has on guns and violence as a response to fear. From Dwight Eisenhower’s famous farewell speech warning against the Military Industrial Complex to the NRA’s no holds barred to make sure everyone has a gun on them at all times, our culture is sick, probably cancerous, and possibly stage 4. …

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Microaggressions, Moral Cultures, and the Culture of Victimhood

Two sociologists theorize the campus culture of victimhood as a transition to a third moral culture, supplanting earlier cultures centered around honor and dignity. Their theory gives a possible explanation for why a well-meaning liberal like Yale Professor Christakis has such difficulty communicating with protestors in the videos above. Christakis is focused on logic, rationality, …

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Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers

Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers, by Tom Wolfe. First appeared in Cosmopolitan magazine, April 1971. (The Sixties lasted well into the Seventies!) Collected, together with Radical Chic, in this Farrar, Straus and Giroux edition (2009). Tom Wolfe understands the human animal like no sociologist around. He tweaks his reader’s every buried thought and prejudice. He sees through …

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Struggles at Yale

I used to eat at Silliman College (one of Yale’s residential colleges) with other physics professors, mainly because it was the closest cafeteria where we could get a free lunch. The free lunches were meant to encourage us to mingle with undergraduates at the college. But I was one of few professors that actually enjoyed …

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GIS. For the rest of us.

  Amanda Tickner, the new map librarian, lead the workshop This week I went to a workshop at the MSU Library titled “Making a choropleth map with graduated symbols,” mainly because the only word I understood in the title was “map.” The workshop was led by Amanda Tickner, the new map librarian and knower of all …

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Meritocracy and DNA

Read Toby Young’s new article The Fall of the Meritocracy. The adoption of civil service and educational placement examinations in England and France in the 19th century was consciously based on the Chinese model (see Les Grandes Ecoles Chinoises). Although imperfect, exams work: we have no better system for filtering talent. But few are willing to acknowledge …

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