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I was wrong

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 7.58.15 PM

A few years ago I noted a report of a new journal with a title that, to my amusement, seemed to reflect a Rat-Pack-era sensibility.

I wrote:

Coase and Wang’s new journal might be great, but I bet it won’t be called “Man and the Economy.”

But, as the image above shows, I was wrong.

17 Comments

  1. Dale Lehman says:

    I am of two minds here. I don’t want to start a debate about political correctness (in fact, I am so sick of it I sometimes feel the appeal of Trump), but I can’t help feeling a visceral reaction to the repeated use of “man” rather than “human” or some other gender neutral or gender-inclusive term. This is particularly noticeable given the heavily male-oriented economics profession (in terms of graduate students, teaching professionals, editors of journals, etc.). In fact, the description for the journal states:

    “Working with students of economies across disciplines and all over the world, and bringing diversity and competition into the marketplace for economics ideas, Man and the Economy can help to make it happen.”

    Somehow the title of the journal does not make me optimistic about it bringing diversity. Please don’t start a tirade about the historic and generic use of the term “man” or one about political correctness gone overboard – I plead guilty to those charges. I just couldn’t help but point out the obvious.

  2. Bob says:

    At least we got a feminist glaciology framework for global environmental change research: http://m.phg.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/01/08/0309132515623368.long

  3. Phil says:

    It’s amusing going back and reading that comment string. There’s a lot of this:

    Andrew: This seems odd, that they would deliberately thumb their noses at the idea of a gender-neutral term.
    Commenter #1: It is ridiculous that you are so angry about this.
    Andrew: I’m not angry. I’m just saying it seems a bit odd.
    Commenter #2: You shouldn’t be so upset, and you certainly shouldn’t go around slandering people like this.
    Andrew: I’m not upset, and I’m not slandering anyone. I’m just saying it seems odd.
    Commenter #3: Why do you have to go out of your way to find things to complain about? This isn’t worth getting angry about.
    Andrew: I’m not angry, it just seems a bit odd…

  4. Paul Alper says:

    Some people are sensitive on other textual issues. Just the other day on March 2, 2016, Andrew posted this

    http://statmodeling.stat.columbia.edu/2016/03/02/29154/

    in which he confounded “CHURCH attendance” with religious behavior, consequently managing to ignore faiths other than the Christian one. The prominent question near the bottom,

    “Do you attend church regularly?”

    which has a “sd 8%,” effectively assumes Jews, Hindus and Muslims don’t enter into the American discourse. To my mind, this is far more egregious than the use of “Man” in place of the awkward term, “Humankind.”

    • Phil says:

      Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists add up to less than 3.5% of the U.S. population. Other religions add less than another 2 percentage points.

      One can certainly argue that people can “behave religiously” without going to church, and I think that would be a very valid criticism. But for purposes of quantifying religious behavior in the U.S., you really can pretty much ignore Jews, Hindus, and Muslims. And that is even more true if you are comparing “the middle part of America” to “the South.”

      • Andrew says:

        Phil:

        The people who go to religious services but not to “church” will make a difference in some states. But I’m pretty sure the surveys ask the question in general terms so that Jews, Muslims, etc., would be included. I think Paul’s objecting not to the statistical analysis but to my use of the term “church” as shorthand. I’ve gone back and forth on this. In formal writing I will try to use the exact term, so I think (but am not sure) that in Red State Blue State we used “religious attendance” to describe the behavior. “Church attendance” is a convenient shorthand, but I can see how some people could find this shorthand annoying, in the same way that others are irritated by the use of “he” to mean “he or she.”

        • Paul Alper says:

          Equating “church attendance” with “religious activity” is far worse than having “Man” stand for all of human kind. This is especially true today as the nativists insist on excluding various ethnic groups from our shores and from our culture. In effect, we are dealing with another example of an inappropriate surrogate criterion.

          • Phil says:

            I don’t get this comparison.

            If church attendance isn’t a good measure of “religious behavior”, then there’s no reason to bring Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, etc. into it at all.

            If it is a good metric for religious behavior, then it’s good enough to discuss whether people in the middle of the country “behave religiously” more than people in the South, because just about everyone in those areas identifies as either Christian or non-religious (and when I say “almost everyone” I mean at least 95% of the people). It it works great for Christians but not at all for other religions it would still be OK for answering the question.

            If it’s not a good metric of religious behavior then that’s because it is not adequate for characterizing the people who identify as Christian. If it works great for Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists but not for Christians then it can’t be used for answering the question.

            I originally wrote, at the top, that I don’t get your comparison “at all” but I scratched the “at all” because I do see it a little bit. For instance, I could see someone objecting to writing about a generic neurosurgeon or astronaut and using “he” (or, for that matter, using “she” for a generic nurse) because although these are highly male- and female-dominated fields it maybe isn’t good to imply that they are single-sex. I probably wouldn’t complain if someone used the language this way, but if someone else complained I would understand where they’re coming from.

            But I think matters are different if you’re trying to answer a statistical question. If someone wants to know how many hours of training it takes on average to become an astronaut, but somehow all they have is a dataset of male astronauts, I think they can go ahead and use that. Yes, there are female astronauts, but not enough yet (I think) to change the results very much. Similarly, if you have a dataset that tells you something about the “religious behavior” of Christians in the South, I think that’s all you need.

      • Elin says:

        Actually the whole distinction between attending organized services and private religious or spiritual practice is another important dimension that should be considered. By no means are they the same thing or would they mean the same thing politically or socially. For example, you are not going to get social (network) support from private spiritual practice (maybe different if by this you mean attend yoga class or something).

        The GSS asks “How often do you attend religious services?” https://gssdataexplorer.norc.org/projects/1592/variables/294/vshow

        Search of their variable index for religion gives 119 results not including that one.

  5. Rahul says:

    I think Andrew suffers from a natural proclivity to being misunderstood. This sort of exchange is kinda typical on here.

    • Andrew says:

      Rahul:

      Intonation is difficult to convey in typed speech. I’m sure Tyler Cowen, for example, is misunderstood on his own blog too, you just don’t see it because he typically doesn’t respond to comments (which is fine, that’s his style).

  6. D.O. says:

    Someone should establish a journal on mathematical physics and call it Principia. I guess, if someone with a comparable sense of humor, but with a different political position founded a journal on about the same subject as “Man and the Economy” it would be like “It’s the economy, stupid”

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