Glenn Loury
The Glenn Show
Rajiv Sethi – Self-Censorship on Campus

Rajiv Sethi – Self-Censorship on Campus


No transcript...

My guest this week is Rajiv Sethi, professor of economics at Barnard and Columbia. We’ve collaborated on papers and pedagogical projects, we’ve criticized each other’s work, and we’ve remained remained friends for decades now. In this conversation, we run the gamut, from Israel-Palestine to free speech to some fairly technical economics talk to, what else, my memoir, Late Admissions: Confessions of a Black Conservative.

The Gaza War has brought the issue of campus speech back to the fore. Some students and faculty fear that saying the wrong thing about the conflict will put them on the wrong end of censorious mob, and the public positions taken by many university administrations aren’t helping. But Rajiv goes back to my essay, “Self-Censorship in Public Discourse,” to explain why administrative neutrality is a necessary but insufficient condition to solve the self-censorship problem on campus. Rajiv wrote a very nice blurb for my forthcoming memoir, and we discuss how game theory informs the book’s content and structure. We then delve into Rajiv’s fascinating work on police use-of-force and the predictive value of markets. The pioneering economist Bob Solow recently died. He was my dissertation advisor back in the 1970s at MIT, and he mentored a staggering number of other influential economists. Rajiv spent some time tracing his influence over the profession. And finally, I ask Rajiv whether he takes pride in the accomplishments of his fellow Indian-Americans, and his answer is surprising!

It’s always a pleasure to reconnect with Rajiv. I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did.

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0:00 The conversations that aren’t happening on college campuses

4:16 Staying informed about Israel-Palestine

9:22 Glenn: Don’t subject me to a loyalty test

12:14 Rajiv: High-minded principles alone won’t solve the self-censorship problem

18:11 “The Naked Emperor Equilibrium”

21:52 The game theoretical aspect of Glenn’s memoir

25:35 An homage to Thomas Schelling

27:31 Rajiv’s work on police use-of-force, then and now

30:36 The predictive value of political betting markets

42:44 Robert Solow’s intellectual family tree

46:16 The lopsided distribution of elite economists

49:08 Rajiv: Big econ departments should take more chances on candidates

51:52 The mind-boggling geographical variation in police killings

56:09 Why Rajiv doesn’t take pride in other Indian-Americans’ success

Recorded January 26, 2024

Links and Readings

Noam Dworman’s TGS appearance

Noam Dworman’s podcast, Live from the Table

Norman Finkelstein and Eli Lake on Live from the Table

Benny Morris’s book, One State, Two States: Resolving the Israel/Palestine Crisis

Rashid Khalidi on Live from the Table

Benny Morris on Live from the Table

Tara Henley’s Lean Out

Ilan Pappé’s book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine

Glenn’s essay, “Self-Censorship in Public Discourse: A Theory of ‘Political Correctness’ and Related Phenomena

Glenn’s conversation with Omer Bartov

Glenn’s conversation with Norman Finkelstein

Norman Finkelstein’s book, I’ll Burn That Bridge When I Get to It!: Heretical Thoughts on Identity Politics, Cancel Culture, and Academic Freedom

Glenn’s conversation with John Mearsheimer

John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy

University of Chicago’s 1967 Kalven Committee Report

University of Chicago’s 2014 “Chicago Principles” on freedom of expression

Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann’s book, The Spiral of Silence: Public Opinion—Our Second Skin

Timur Kuran’s book, Private Truths, Public Lies: The Social Consequences of Preference Falsification

Thomas Schelling’s book, The Strategy of Conflict

Rajiv and Brendan O’Flaherty’s book, Shadows of Doubt: Stereotypes, Crime, and Pursuit of Justice

Rajiv and Brendan O’Flaherty’s article, “Stereotypes, Crime, and Policing”

Gunnar Myrdal’s book, An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy

Rajiv’s Substack, Imperfect Information

Rajiv’s Substack post, “Economic Growth and the Growth of Economics: Reflections on Robert Solow”

Ralph Ellison’s essay 1970 essay, “What America Would Be Like without Blacks”

Glenn Loury
The Glenn Show
Race, inequality, and economics in the US and throughout the world from Glenn Loury, Professor of Economics at Brown University and Paulson Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute