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This Princeton Economics Professor Doesn't Know Basic Math
affirmative action and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race
Spawned the #1 thread on EJMR this week. Rather than elucidate on the math mistake myself, I will elevate the voices of these outraged nerds.
The funniest part, to me, is that she uses this summation symbol in her papers, obviously without really knowing how it works:
One reason I chose to signal boost this blunder is that I know for a fact that hundreds of mathematics professors subscribe to Karlstack and they would get a kick out of it. Economists are a joke to them, this must be hilarious.
Another, more petty and vindictive, reason is because Dr. Boustan signed the petition against my former supervisor.
This petition was covered by Fox News in this article:
So, this is personal for me.
Anyone who signed that petition is not only my personal enemy, but the enemy of free speech, the enemy of the spirit of the academy, and the enemy of western civilization. Here are the names of all 400+ economists who signed that petition. My advice is to download this file and check it whenever you want to hire or interview any economics professor — many of the signatories were PhD students at the time, a couple of years ago, so they are on the Job Market this cycle. Blacklist them. Don’t give them citations, don’t give them jobs. These are woke Bolsheviks and should be spat upon, repeatedly.
I know journalists are supposed to stay cold and detached and impersonal. Welcome to a new era of guerilla journalism, where Bolsheviks are spat upon rather than elevated.
This particular innumerate woke Bolshevik is also an affirmative action hire; Boustan was tenured at Princeton econ department a few years ago with only 3 “A” publications at the time. Suffice is to say that if she were a Chinese male, there is a 0.000% chance that she would have been tenured at Princeton with 3 A publications.
It should be noted that she looks like Bellatrix LeStrange from Harry Potter movies:
It should further be noted that Dr. Boustan is one of the most influential immigration experts in the world, and will probably work in a Democrat White House at some point in the future. Here she is running flame for Biden’s immigration plan:
To be clear: Biden’s immigration plan is, and was always, quiet literally, to intentionally flood the country with millions of illegal immigrants. This open border policy has resulted in 750 migrant dead migrants so far this 2022 fiscal year — a tragic new record — and Boustan was out there shilling that it didn’t go far enough.
For the record: this spike in border crossings following Biden’s “election victory” wasn’t an “unforeseen consequence that nobody could have seen coming.” This massive flood of illegal immigrants was the plan the whole time. We were there. We remember. That *was* the plan. You knew it, I knew it, Leah Boustan knew it. And yet she chose to lie and downplay this RADICAL open-borders immigration policy as “too conservative” so that it could pushed forward.
If you support mass immigration like Leah Boustan does, odds are high that you also support open borders, since, at a high enough influx of mass immigration, the difference between “mass immigration” or “open borders” just becomes semantics. If you support open borders, by definition you support a borderless world… otherwise known as a one-world-government, or a new world order.
I will end on this note. Leah Boustan sits on the Board of Editors at the American Economic Review (AER). Recently, the AER published a 100% fraudulent economic history paper.
Since she can’t do math, I assume she is on the AER board solely to advise on economic history, her area of specialty. Was she the editor for this fraudulent paper? I don’t know. When I wrote that article 3 months ago, exposing Chen & Cao’s fraud, I repeatedly reached out to the AER, and they repeatedly ignored me.
If Boustan has any integrity, she will push the rest of the AER editorial board to retract this fraudulent AER paper. Or at least open an investigation, JFC, don’t just ignore this problem and hope it goes away. This is about having integrity. I hope the entire AER editorial team is reading this right now: the whole world knows you have a fraudulent paper sitting in your journal, I know it, you know it, the econ profession knows it. Your approach towards this fraud so far has been to ignore it, and to ignore me. Disgraceful. I can’t believe the AER needs me to lecture them on ethics. Perhaps they can take a page out of the Journal of Finance’s book, and act like professionals rather than like the mafia.
JF > > > > AER
The Last Word
As is tradition in my articles, whenever I write about someone or some organization, I reach out to them and offer them the last word. To Dr. Boustan’s credit she answered my email.
Question: Are there any specific or general statements you would like to make [about the EJMR thread]? I would be happy to include them. No comment is also fine, of course.
Answer: I have been quite open on Twitter and in conversations with people in real life that I have a limited math background, so a story on this topic does not seem like breaking news.
For example, on Twitter in November 2019, I wrote that "They tell you the best training for economics PhD programs is real analysis, but I say it’s high school or college debate team"They tell you the best training for economics PhD programs is real analysis, but I say it’s high school or college debate teamEsther Duflo about the “in your face” seminar culture in economics: "It is not intentionally sexist, but it’s become sexist" https://t.co/krB4Qju5SN @Telegraph https://t.co/saekeJzdDRRobert Dur @DurRobertThey tell you the best training for economics PhD programs is real analysis, but I say it’s high school or college debate teamEsther Duflo about the “in your face” seminar culture in economics: "It is not intentionally sexist, but it’s become sexist" https://t.co/krB4Qju5SN @Telegraph https://t.co/saekeJzdDRRobert Dur @DurRobert
The context of this tweet was about the culture of econ seminars, so I was partially joking around that learning debate skills is useful for success in the profession. But, in another way, I was totally serious. I think that debate is a good preparation for developing the logical skills needed to build academic arguments, as I articulated here:To me, debate did not teach rhetoric but rather logic. But it depends on the type of debate, I did policy debate, and there are many variants. I also learned public speaking
In a later tweet, I elaborated that I myself never took real analysis -- this is not a part of my background that I am hiding.I never took real analysis but got straight As in 1st year grad micro, I personally don’t think it is needed at all! But it now seems like a requirement for all admissions committees so I advise everyone to do it
In fact, the last math classes that I took were multivariate calculus and linear algebra when I was 18 years old. I am soon turning 44, so that was 26 years ago (but, of course, this is probably the extent of the math I can do - so bear with me)!
I have also emphasized how important my writing background has been to the career I have now. I have talked about my time editing the college newspaper as one of the most important aspects of training for the career I have now -- for example here but also in other places.
Question : Did Harvard have qualifying exams for econ PhD students when you attended in the early 2000's? If so, did you pass the micro and metrics exams?
Answer: Yes, we had comprehensive exams at Harvard when I was a first year student in 2001.
Your readers might be surprised to hear that I actually received a grade in the A range on the micro exam, so I placed in the top half of the class. For example, I shared this experience here on Twitter a while back:I never took real analysis but got straight As in 1st year grad micro, I personally don’t think it is needed at all! But it now seems like a requirement for all admissions committees so I advise everyone to do it
Many of my fellow students had more math preparation than I did. Some already had MA degrees. So, how could I do well on the exam, given my limited preparation in math?
Two things helped, I would say.
First, I had a wonderful study group with three other students and I believe that we all received 'gains from trade' by participating in the group. I was an Econ major in college. The three other members of my study group were a math major, a physics major, and a chemistry major. We worked on our problem sets together. In many cases, I would get started on the problem that others were stuck on. I would have good insights into how to set up the answer, but then I would run into some math that I needed help with. The other people in my group then helped with solving the math, and taught me a lot along the way (probably many things that I since forget).
Second, I am very organized at studying and test taking. So, I was able to categorize in my mind the different types of problems and pull from my 'rolodex' the types of solutions one would need, given the type of problem. This skill has helped me in advising, for example, because I can easily make connections between the problem that a student is working on and related papers in the field that might serve as a useful template for that student.
Question: Do you regret signing the Uhlig petition?
Answer: I did not see how it was relevant. Could you explain why you are asking about it?
Question: I consider signatories of that petition to be enemies of free speech, thus in my article I argue that it is morally justified to single them out and mock their math skills.
Answer: Oh OK. I guess we don't see eye-to-eye on this. I think it's fine for people to wonder about my math skills whether or not I signed the petition, and so I don't see the petition as relevant. Thanks for clarifying.
Question: From what I can tell from your twitter feed, you advocate strongly for open borders and mass immigration. Do you also advocate for a one world government?
Answer: On your question about open borders -- It is surprising to me that you are planning to write a piece about my views but that you don't want to read my book or listen to the many podcasts that Ran and I have given about the book. I would urge you to do the research on this yourself and see if my views accord with the stereotypes that you lay out here.
For example, I would draw your attention to p. 13 on Streets of Gold, which says "Even to those who are convinced that immigration is good for America, more immigration isn't always better. It would be facile to say that US policy should maximize the number of immigrants."
You can find many similar quotations from me -- maybe at the event that I did at the American Enterprise Institute, for example?
I appreciate the opportunity to engage with you on this topic. Because you have called my attention to the thread, and because I think it is important to engage with everyone in the profession who has questions for me, I will post my responses to your questions on the EJMR thread as well.