Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Loyola University Students Boycotting Walter Block Classes

Walter Block
By Robert Wenzel

Dr. Walter Block, a libertarian and professor of economics at Loyola University New Orleans, reports that it has come to his attention that many Loyola students will not enroll in his classes, will boycott his public lectures and will have nothing to do with him, because they think he favors slavery and is a racist and a sexist.

In a column at LewRockwell.com, in rebuttal, he explains his views on racism, sexism and slavery.

I believe emphasis should be put here on Dr. Block's views as a libertarian. I know him personally well enough that I can vouch for the fact that he is a 100% supporter of the libertarian non-aggression principle, This means he would never physically force anyone to do anything against their will unless they tried to physically interfere fear with his person or property, regardless of their race, religion, commie views, whatever.

I also know that, like me, he loves to debate and he is more than willing to hear out the other side in debate.

Students are losing out on a great opportunity to sharpen their debating skills if they boycott Dr. Block's classes even if they disagree with all his views.

As for the specifics of his views, The New York Times clearly distorted Dr. Block's comments on slavery and ignored his long written history of being opposed to slavery. An appeals court ruled in Dr. Block's favor specifically on these grounds in a case that Dr. Block has brought against the Times.

Dr. Block stands on sound economic ground when he argues that "the male-female wage gap stems not from discrimination, but from unequal on-the-job productivity levels, stemming, mainly, from disparate shares of time spent on household tasks and child-rearing." Many, many free market economists hold this view.

And it certainly sounds reasonable to me that as Dr. Block states, "not all women always tell the truth" thus, where women charge sexual assault, evidence must be examined to determine whether the claim can be corroborated, and the idea that "women must be believed" without corroborating evidence is nonsense.

As far as Dr. Block's claim that "orientals, on average, have the highest IQs, whites come next and then blacks," this may or may not always be the case. I haven't studied the literature on the matter.

Maybe orientals just study a lot and have better study habits from an early age.

Recently, I took this picture on BART.


I have never come across a black person reading to a child on BART, with orientals I have seen it a couple of times.

But then there is the problem of the concept of IQ itself. I am really not sure what it measures other than a mental ability to know what will be the third shape after two shapes are given and other such questions which seem to be pretty goofy to me. And I write this even though I have a very good ability to answer screwball riddles (Ask David Gordon, who starts every phone conversation with me with an irritating riddle and tells me that I am better at solving them than "some other libertarians" he talks to frequently. He says they have "difficulties.")

And, I have met many people who probably have high IQs, who are incredibly dumb on topics they should be able to grasp fully. I can think of a number of economists, for example, who can go deep with correct thinking on economic topics but then fall off a cliff at some point---and, further, have no creative ability at all.

And what about idiot-savants?

As I have said before, Hayek has talked about two different kinds of minds. I suspect there is a spectrum of minds that are strong and weak on all kinds of topics.

Bettina Bien Greaves once told me that Albert Einstein's cousin, the very sound free-market economist Norbert Einstein, reported that Albert was completely baffled by the income tax and could never figure out how to calculate his own taxes. Now taxes can be complicated, but not that complicated. What the hell was Albert's problem?

So I don't think there is much to Dr. Block's waving of the IQ flag. Even if there are differences in IQs with different races, what does this tell us? It's probably not an accident that the Goldies of the world are black men and know a lot of mental tricks that most white guys could never pull off.

But aside from the specifics of Dr. Block's views, it is a particularly limited student mind that refuses to contemplate or consider thinking that is different from what a student already thinks he knows.

College should be a period of open thinking and consideration of all types of views.

The students boycotting Dr. Block will never do anything impressive on the intellectual front. They will be moved by the intellectual fads of the day. They will be anti-plastic straw today, and who knows, maybe pro-butt tattoos tomorrow. They are in an important way insignificant. The student that takes Dr, Block's class to challenge him or learn from him is taking the first step toward deep thought, independent thought and maybe original thought. This will be the type of person that may make an intellectual contribution down the road.

Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of

15 comments:

  1. He is also Jewish, right? Maybe someone should tell these boycotters that they are anti-Semite and Holocaust deniers.

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    1. That's... actually pretty clever.

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    2. That was my first thought, fight fire with fire

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  2. IQ is nothing more than learned experience. Chinese, Jewish, Indian, European culture sets a high score by studying. Some ,errrmm other cultures didn't get much of chance to develop that culture. See Stephen Jay Gould's Mismeasure of Man

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    1. The history of civilization and culture shows that in order to develop knowledge and culture, there has to be production surpluses, divsion of labor and specialization, which allow easy accumulation of capital, wealth and thus LEISURE. Some communities don't enjoy these as much as others, especially communities whose livelihood depends on daily and constant toil, like coastal fishing communities, hunter-gatherers, islanders, etc. This is NOT evidence of low IQ - you're absolutely right in your skepticism of IQ and what is supposed to measure. Backwardness is mostly the consequence of isolationism or lack of capital, not of a lack of intelligence.

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    2. @Heath

      A few thoughts:

      1.) I don't believe that it's prima fascie absurd to assert that there may be a non-random correlation between physiological characteristics (e.g. "IQ" and melanin levels.)

      2.) However, proving the existence of these correlations is an entirely different matter. There's no method for isolating genetic/physiological variables from cultural, as we can't subject individuals to lab experiments that reliably control for culture. IQ studies like those cited in The Bell Curve all suffer from this fatal flaw.

      3.) IF somehow such correlations could be established, that information would perhaps have some usefulness. For example, it could help explain an observed achievement gap between aggregations of individuals based on certain characteristics.

      4.) However, the usefulness for policy-making would be extremely limited. In the case of IQ, it would only serve as a useful heuristic in certain extreme situations. One could far more accurately estimate an individual's IQ by having them take a 12-minute Wonderlic test than you could by observing their skin color.

      5.) Moreover, even if you grant that IQ is more important than or equivalent to other characteristics (like motivation, creativity, kindness, etc.) political policy rarely amounts to an either/or dichotomy. Take immigration policy. This is not a binary choice between admitting A and B. Rather, there are 4 options: admit A, admit B, admit both, or admit neither. Much of the IQ discussion with respect to immigration seems to tacitly assume that lowering the average IQ in a population would be bad. But this is totally unwarranted. Even individuals below the average are likely to make positive economic and social contributions. A society with a million 90 IQ people is likely to be far more wealthy than two 150 IQ geniuses stuck on a desert island.

      6.) But the last 3 points are all hypothetical. In reality, this type of research is mostly only cited by people who want to justify their pre-existing race fetishes.

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    3. Evan, with respect to the last part of your #5, yes, this is a well-established economic principle, namely, comparative advantage. Even Keynesians recognize this.

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    4. @The NAPster

      I agree, and what I guess I was really trying to say is that, even if it could be demonstrated that some particular "race" were in some dimension systematically "inferior" to another race, it doesn't follow at all that the superior race should collectively boycott the inferior one.

      I feel like many people erroneously assert that associating with inferior people would somehow "dilute" or spoil the average intelligence/culture/whatever and that this would cause net harm. (Granted the existence of political democracy may lend SOME plausibility to fears of lowering the average, though it's difficult to imagine a scenario where this would offset the benefits of a larger population.)

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    5. Is it IQ or time preference? What if less immediate time preference results in higher IQ instead of the other way around? (putting aside some sort of clear disability of course) Learning things, being independent, and so on requires working towards a non-immediate goal.

      You can't be a dummy and survive on your own outside of some limited areas of this planet. So specialization isn't what brings high IQ. If it does anything it lowers it because a person's abilities are so very channeled. If it's leisure time why aren't people on welfare smart?

      It may be none of those things. Rather time preference. People who demand immediate satisfaction will not develop their mental faculties because it's not going to yield immediate results. It doesn't matter how much time or wealth they have.

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    6. This all really falls under the term conditioned divisiveness! The advancement of the Idiocracy, particularly in general academic circles is becoming rampant!

      What happened to the critical ability to discern?

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    7. "Backwardness is mostly the consequence of isolationism or lack of capital, not of a lack of intelligence."

      Right....That's why African continent is such an economic superpower and somehow only the Chinese and Europeans can do anything useful.

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  3. "Goldies of the world"

    What's a goldie?

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  4. Listen to Tom Woods episode 1256 with Walter. Walter not only helps his students publish academic articles in refereed journals, he has done this in a number of situations where he disagreed with their views (he cites two Marxist students who made their case strongly and he gave them As). How many academics do this? Those students who boycott Walter's classes are missing out on a golden opportunity to expand their thinking.

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  5. This one got my hackles up. I wrote about it here. http://kurtnimmo.blog/2018/10/09/first-they-came-for-the-libertarians/

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  6. Dr. Block’s economics classes at Loyola New Orleans were inspiring and thought provoking...and way better than any econ classes across the street at Tulane. Really sad to hear that the SJWs are getting misguided and riled up about Dr. Block like he’s Trump, we need to educate them ASAP!

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