Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Economics Cannot Find Racism; Just Move Along

One of my favorite paper presentations ever was by Daniel Parent, who is a good enough reason in himself for pending Labor Economists to apply to HEC. He was trying to present data on income inequalities in the Financial Services industry and was forced to note—all right, I asked—that they didn’t have the data to determine if there was a racial difference in earnings because there wasn’t enough data on high-earning Blacks in the sample to be “statistically significant.” Since the sample used IRS data, among other sources, the answer was clear.

Now (via Tyler Cowen), I see that “not statistically significant” is not just for Financial Services Executives; the WSJ’s markets blog notes:

On average, Republican professors gave black students grades that were .2 of a grade point lower than their Democratic colleagues, or about two-thirds of the distance between a B and a B-minus.

(Among eleven black professors in the sample, there were no Republicans, and the Democrats appeared to grade white and black students as their white-Democratic peers did. But there were too few black professors to make that finding statistically significant.)

Again, the finding may not be statistically significant, but the sample, er, complection is.

Their data set is available here.

UPDATE: Thoreau riffs on the subject and finds a link to the paper.

Not riding the luge, just working with guns on campus

UPDATE III: The Daniel Kaufmann of the Kaufmann Governance Institute lays out the details:

This misses another huge challenge altogether, totally absent in the reporting by the New York Times and other main outlets: Amy Bishop had walked into the Faculty meeting, and sat quietly for a long while during its proceedings, with a fully loaded gun…

It is as if such ease of access to guns, and ability to carry them undetected (or detected?), even by high powered scientist professors in university campus, is simply taken for granted nowadays in the U.S.

UPDATE II: Everything old is new again. (h/t Greg Mitchell)

Three of these people are, according to current reports, dead.

Details to follow elsewhere from the Guardian:

A biology professor has been charged with murder after a shooting spree at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, left three dead and three wounded.

Amy Bishop, 42, was charged yesterday with one count of capital murder, which means she could face the death penalty if convicted. Three of Bishop’s fellow biology professors were killed and three other university employees were wounded.

University spokesman Ray Garner said the three killed were Gopi K Podila, the chairman of the Department of Biological Sciences, and two other faculty members, Maria Ragland Davis and Adriel Johnson….

AH student Andrew Cole was in Bishop’s anatomy class yesterday morning and said she seemed perfectly normal.

“She’s understanding, and was concerned about students,” he said. “I would have never thought it was her.”

Bishop, a neurobiologist who studied at Harvard University, was taken in handcuffs to the county jail last night and could be heard saying: “It didn’t happen. There’s no way… They are still alive.”

Police said they were also interviewing a man as “a person of interest”.

Three others were wounded in the gunfire. They were identified as department members Joseph Leahy and Stephanie Monticello, both in a critical condition in intensive care, and Luis Cruz-Vera.

Sammie Lee Davis, whose wife was killed in the shooting, gave a phone interview to the Associated Press in which he said he was told his wife was at a meeting to discuss the tenure of another faculty member who got angry and started shooting. He said his wife had mentioned the suspect before, describing the woman as “not being able to deal with reality” and “not as good as she thought she was”.

Giving new meaning to “publish or perish.” Or, as 2slugbaits noted in comments:

Huntsville always struck me as one of those towns that has a split personality. A high end BMW on one side of the garage alongside an old Ford F-150 pickup truck with a gun rack and a Confederate flag design on the back window….A town that was essentially founded by a Nazi scientist who is praised by deeply religious Pentecostals as a great man without a past worth mentioning. Huntsville seems to have a strange effect on people. I have a lot of friends who have moved there and after a few years they are barely recognizable….It’s a peculiar blending of a transient and rootless culture that was grafted onto a deep Old South culture. That must be how you end up with guys who are PhD rocket scientists during the week and then on Sunday they believe Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs in 4004 BC. If you’re an unstable Harvard educated scientist, Huntsville is probably not a good career choice.