Politics and Academia
By Arnold Kling
The issue of why academics lean left has received considerable notice. I am not sure of the answer, but one thing I do not buy is the notion that people become professors out of an unusually strong desire for public service. I write,
Overall, I think it is difficult for George Lakoff to make the case that as a tenured professor at Berkeley he is making a public-spirited sacrifice. I might be more open to the argument if he were teaching at a community college or at an inner-city high school. ..
If you find two people of approximately equal intellectual talent, one inside academia and one outside of it, it does not necessarily follow that the non-academic is one who sold out for a higher salary. The academic might have had better luck or more patience for playing the ego game. The non-academic may not have wanted to take part in the fads that were sweeping a field at a particular time…
When I was in graduate school, the great fad sweeping economics was “rational expectations,” which I considered to be a decent enough philosophical idea that was turned into an excuse for pointless mathematical masturbation.
For Discussion. In the end, did rational expectations modeling get pursued far past the point of diminishing returns?
Also for discussion. Are academics sacrificing relative to their opportunity cost?