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Hans Hoppe is in trouble.
February 12, 2005 3:33 PM   Subscribe

Hans Hoppe is in trouble. Why? In one of his lectures at UNLV, the world-renowned economist stated that homosexuals plan less for the future than heterosexuals. According to Hoppe, homosexuals tend not to have children, so they have little stake in the world beyond their own time. Other poor future planners include the very young (no concept of the future) and the very old (their time is almost up). A student filed a compaint against Hoppe for his "anti-gay" remarks, and UNLV wants to issue a letter of reprimand and force Hoppe to give up his next pay increase. So should an economics professor be forced to consider his students feelings prior to presenting economic theories? As Hoppe fights back, the libertarian community voices its support.
posted by b_thinky (88 comments total)

 
Hmm... Actualy, he didn't say that they did plan less for the future, but rather his theory would indicate that they did not. Does he know the diffrence? If so, then I don't see the problem. Hoppe should go collect data or something. If he dosn't know the diffrence, he should probably be fired.

Otoh, does he have a right to say it? Probably...
posted by delmoi at 3:38 PM on February 12, 2005


As one of his former students, I have to say Hoppe is the best professor I ever had. He puts theories into the most basic of terms, which is what got him in trouble here. I've heard him make the lecture in question at least three times, and was never offended. If you're a student on a college campus, you should be able to ignore ideas with which you don't agree. Shame on whatever whiner is causing trouble for one of the lone bright spots at a bleak university.
posted by b_thinky at 3:39 PM on February 12, 2005 [1 favorite]


actually, people don't act according to economic theory.
posted by quonsar at 3:41 PM on February 12, 2005


Hoppe points out that it is a broad generalization, and it honestly doesn't sound like he meant it maliciously.

I hate stuff like this. It'll be on talk radio and the conservative blogs for MONTHS, you watch.
posted by BoringPostcards at 3:43 PM on February 12, 2005


why didn't he just say the childless tend to plan less, rather than specifying homosexual but determining the cause as their being less likely to have children? .
posted by mdn at 3:43 PM on February 12, 2005


bullocks.

my work is blocking mp3's, but I say the prof can profess away. that student has exercised his right to protest, but the university should afford Hoppe his own rights not to self-edit ad nauseum over silly shit like this. It will only degrade the quality of the education.
posted by Busithoth at 3:44 PM on February 12, 2005


he should probably be fired.

No. This would be a gross violation of his tenure. The entire purpose of tenure is to allow you to go out on a limb and examine controversial issues without fear of this type of retribution.

Of course, sometimes when you go out on a limb, you fall out of the tree.
posted by casu marzu at 3:44 PM on February 12, 2005


So there's correlation. People without children tend not to prepare for the future. Homosexuals tend not to have children. Neither statement is cringeworthy on its own.

But then he goes and draws these conclusions into statements like:

They also tend to live riskier lifestyles than heterosexuals, Hoppe said. He said there is a belief among some economists that one of the 20th century's most influential economists, John Maynard Keynes, was influenced in his beliefs by his homosexuality. Keynes espoused a "spend it now" philosophy to keep an economy strong, much as President Bush did after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Oh yeah. Keynes's fiscal policy was dictated by his queerness. I can understand why people are getting mad at this. Doesn't mean that he shouldnt be allowed to profess it, though.
posted by painquale at 3:46 PM on February 12, 2005


I keep waiting for an opportunity when I can screw over a random invididual who has failed to kowtow before our Almighty Standards of Political Correctness. Everyone's doing it!
posted by Krrrlson at 3:50 PM on February 12, 2005


I would like to buy Hans a clue. Can I charge that on my Keynesian SpendItNow Queercard(tm)?
posted by AlexReynolds at 3:53 PM on February 12, 2005


The funny thing is, Hoppe will make much more controversial comments later in the semester (if he doesn't scale it back this time, and knowing him I expect exactly the opposite).

In one lecture, he cites a survey of IQs as they relate to races. If that student is still in the class, s/he won't be happy.

Painquale: one could make the argument that homosexuals lead riskier lifestyles. Statistically, homosexuals are more likely to contract AIDS, not to mention the fact that their lifestyle is discriminated against. As Hoppe says, this is not a universal law, but generally speaking it is true. And if you're an economist who believes every decision is made by economic law, then you see where he's coming from.
posted by b_thinky at 3:54 PM on February 12, 2005


If you're a student on a college campus, you should be able to ignore ideas with which you don't agree.

I couldn't disagree more. If you do this you might as well drop out and shout at a wall and just listen to your own echo.
posted by srboisvert at 3:56 PM on February 12, 2005


People say things that are crackpotty and offensive all the time. This may or may not be crackpotty, but I can see where people were offended. If there is data to support him, fine. I mean, on the one hand, yeah, I can believe it. On the other hand, plenty of queer folks have massive 401(k) plans and huge legal spiderwebs to take care of their partners after oen of them dies. That's what it's called a "generalization" and as a former college student who didn't like a few professors, these kids need to suck it up a little. The big bad world isn't sanitized for your comfort either. These kids should discuss it, and make a public discussion of it, but I don't believe in punishing the academic involved.
posted by Medieval Maven at 3:59 PM on February 12, 2005


Well, you don't have to ignore them, but you should discuss them in the classrom, not file a fucking complaint.
posted by smackfu at 4:01 PM on February 12, 2005


Well, here we go. Any relationships made between homosexuals and anything even remotely considered negative is gay bashing. If there is no empirical evidence of this, ok, slap the guy on the wrist (not the limp one please) and make him apologize. But fire the guy? .

I do question that line about Keynes though. I don't recall him citing his homosexuality as a basis for his economic theories but then again, I didn't read much Keynes, his lifestyle was too risky for my tastes.

posted by j.p. Hung at 4:06 PM on February 12, 2005


I too wish students would stand up and call the professor an asshole to his face, like they're supposed to, instead of doing it behind hisback.

But I'm very interested in whether or not there are economists who honestly believe that Keynes advocated "spend it now" because he was gay. It seems about as reasonable as saying that Bush's deficit policy is assinine because he takes it up the ass.
posted by Ptrin at 4:06 PM on February 12, 2005


I couldn't disagree more. If you do this you might as well drop out...

I think what he means is that as a student, you shouldn't be trying cut out different opinions or opposing speech. If you disagree, you should be strengthening the counter-arguments, not filing complaints. But on the other hand, if it's a lecture series not a seminar, you may feel like misinformation is generally being spread, and one way to cause the opposing side to be heard is to make an official statement of some sort.
posted by mdn at 4:09 PM on February 12, 2005


For the folks saying he should be fined/fired/censured/censored: did you say the samething about Ward Churchill?

Check yourself for consistency and all that.
posted by kavasa at 4:11 PM on February 12, 2005


On the other hand, plenty of queer folks have massive 401(k) plans and huge legal spiderwebs to take care of their partners after oen of them dies.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:59 PM EST on February 12


There is that. My partner and I finally got our act together last year, after being together for 15 years, because we knew Georgia was about to pass this anti-civil union amendment to our constitution.* In that respect, we did a HECK of a lot of planning for the future, and we're still not as certain of our future as a hetero couple who're allowed to say "I do."

*What we have is not a civil union, it's about twenty separate documents and contracts that we HOPE will stand up in court- but everyone down here is still waiting for the first judge to rule on exactly what constitutes "the privileges of marriage" and whether our arrangements give us too many of those privileges.
posted by BoringPostcards at 4:11 PM on February 12, 2005


PS- This still doesn't think I mean he should be reprimanded for making a generalization.
posted by BoringPostcards at 4:13 PM on February 12, 2005


one could make the argument that homosexuals lead riskier lifestyles. Statistically, homosexuals are more likely to contract AIDS, not to mention the fact that their lifestyle is discriminated against.

There's a difference between (1) saying that homosexuals tend to live riskier lives because they may partake in some activities that are more dangerous than those that heterosexuals partake in, and (2) saying that they map this riskiness onto all the rest of their behaviors and decisions, including their fiscal policies. The first claim is probably true, but the latter claim... I just don't see it, nor do I see any evidence for it. Even supposing that Keynes led a sexually risky lifestyle (I have no idea if he did or not), why should we think that this riskiness can be carried over to his economics? To say that his sexuality and his economic theory both spring from a riskiness tendency is nothing but unsupported and idle specualtion.
posted by painquale at 4:17 PM on February 12, 2005


you don't have to ignore them, but you should discuss them in the classrom, not file a fucking complaint.

Well, this is the platonic ideal, isn't it?

You're right, and I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that this student's response to situation is emblematic of a growing segment of the student body on campuses everywhere. Many students seem to view themselves as consumers of education rather than students. I can't tell you how many of them express the attitude that "I'm paying for this class [read: my parents are paying for this class]; therefore I should get a good grade regardless of how much work I put in." It's probably a short step from that passive view of education to the idea that, "hey, my education is defective, time to sue the manfacturer", which is basically what this student is doing. These students don't want to be challenged (even though by challenging the professor, you might prove him wrong); they paid their admission, now they want to be able sit through a vapid, inoffensive lectures. Just like watching a movie, only you get a degree at the end.

Of course, there are a lot of complicit parties in the creation of this type of attitude amongst students, not the least of which are corporations and the Universities themselves. But the attitude evinced by filing the complaint is still appalling.

one way to cause the opposing side to be heard is to make an official statement of some sort.

There are lots of ways to do this. This is what spaeking up in class, campus newspapers, and just standing up on a soapbox in the middle of the campus quad are for. It is not what complaints to the dean are for.
posted by casu marzu at 4:18 PM on February 12, 2005


True there are anecdotal examples of gay couples carefully planning their financial future, but are there any statistics on that? It seems like without the incentives of official government-recognized marriage it wouldn't surprise me if on average homosexuals plan less than heterosexuals about their future. I'm not sure why Hoppe's statement is necessarily bigoted or even really anti-gay.
posted by gyc at 4:19 PM on February 12, 2005


It doesn't seem to disparage homosexuals to say that a lack of children is related in some way to a lack of fiscal planning, although I'm not sure the causal relationship(s) is/are sufficiently defined to qualify as scholarship rather than simplistic conjecture; at least some homosexual couples (I don't know what amount proportionally off-hand) do have children, though, and presumably care for them with as much or as little financial acumen as would heterosexual couples.

Making any kind of statement about how complicated and specifically sexual habits (e.g. use of condoms, choice of partners, etc.) may affect other diversely determined choices, such as financial planning, however, seems to be asking for trouble unless there is a good corpus of germane study.
posted by clockzero at 4:23 PM on February 12, 2005


People who say things that annoy us should be reprimanded and demoted?

And gay rights activists wonder why the anti-gay Right complains about gays "taking away our rights".

In this case, the Right is right.

I'm all for gay rights, I'm all for gay marriage, but not when gays decide freedom of speech only applies to them.

I regularly tell Right-wing members of my family that they shouldn't intrude of gays' lives. How am I supposed to answer when gays try to repress opinions they don't like? Thanks, gays, for making the gay rights struggle harder. Thanks a fucking lot.

Gays are playing into the Right's hands on this -- why doesn't the Human Right Campaign see that?
posted by orthogonality at 4:24 PM on February 12, 2005


Keynes, was influenced in his beliefs by his homosexuality. Keynes espoused a "spend it now" philosophy to keep an economy strong, much as President Bush did after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

So what you're saying is Bush is gay? Wow, that really softens up my image of him...
posted by drpynchon at 4:25 PM on February 12, 2005


Statistically, homosexuals are more likely to contract AIDS
posted by b_thinky at 3:54 PM PST on February 12


I think you mean HIV. And I think you're mistaken.
UNAIDS estimates that 5% to 10% of all HIV cases worldwide are due to transmission of the infection between men.

(just wanted to clarify)
posted by Floydd at 4:27 PM on February 12, 2005


"Academic freedom means nothing if it doesn't protect the right of professors to present scholarly ideas that are relevant to their curricula, even if they are controversial and rub people the wrong way."

That about sums it up for me. There's this weird trend among both the far right and far left of people who think that they should be protected not just from discrimination but from anything that hurts their feelings.

The guy can say what he likes - as long as he's teaching his interpretation of economics, which he was. And I say this as a 33 year old gay guy who's been saving for retirement for years.
posted by Chanther at 4:28 PM on February 12, 2005


If gay folks "have little stake in the world beyond their own time," one wonders why so many seem to go into caring professions like teaching and nursing.

As long as we're passing around non-statistically supported stereotypes, that is. While it's ridiculous to call for the guy's resignation, as a gay guy I grew tired long ago of non-logical, completely unsupported "common-sense"-sounding assertions about me. Especially those that masquerade as rational and come from allegedly smart people.

The guy's being an unscientific jerk on this one. Period.
posted by mediareport at 4:35 PM on February 12, 2005


Statistically, homosexuals are more likely to contract AIDS
posted by b_thinky at 3:54 PM PST on February 12

I think you mean HIV. And I think you're mistaken.
UNAIDS estimates that 5% to 10% of all HIV cases worldwide are due to transmission of the infection between men.

(just wanted to clarify)


Floydd: in your second link, it states that "In the industrialized world an estimated 70% of HIV transmission occurs among men." Furthermore the 5% to 10% statistic depends on the percentage of worldwide polulation that is gay so you haven't necessarily proven b_thinky wrong.
posted by gyc at 4:36 PM on February 12, 2005


Oops I cut out the whole sentence which was "In the industrialized world an estimated 70% of HIV transmission occurs among men who have sex with men." This is really sort of off topic and I don't want to seem like I'm pushing this any further but I just wanted to correct the mistake in my post.
posted by gyc at 4:37 PM on February 12, 2005


Instead of filing a complaint against the guy, someone should have researched whether it's true or not. If it's not, then present it to the guy and tell him to stop saying it.
posted by 23skidoo at 4:39 PM on February 12, 2005


What gyc said. Please don't tease the statistics. It's not nice. Thanks.
posted by casu marzu at 4:42 PM on February 12, 2005


casu maru: I agree with you completely. Thanks for voicing that.
posted by Captaintripps at 4:45 PM on February 12, 2005


Gays are playing into the Right's hands on this -- why doesn't the Human Right Campaign see that?

First, it's the Human Rights Campaign.

Second, I don't need the HRC to clue me in to how this clown is a complete jerk.

Third, if conservatives call for Churchill's firing, then they can STFU about complaints about Hoppe. Tit for tat and all of that.

Fourth, for the record, I don't think he should be fired. I think he should be kept around as an example of how "smart people" with Ph.Ds can say completely stupid things about subjects and people they know nothing about.
posted by AlexReynolds at 4:48 PM on February 12, 2005


actually, people don't act according to economic theory.

Individually, no, but on average, yes. Economic theory aims to create a reasonably accurate model of behavior throughout a large sample population, precisely because individual activity can't be predicted (even by the individuals themselves).

why didn't he just say the childless tend to plan less, rather than specifying homosexual but determining the cause as their being less likely to have children?

Well, the childless may not be childless by choice (fertility issues, lack of opportunity) so they may plan and act as if they will have children someday, even if they never do.

Of course, larger numbers of homosexual couples appear to be successfully planning for -- and having -- children, so that would, I suspect, equalize things out.

Far better to say, then, that people who intend to stay childless are poor future planners when compared to those who intend to have children. And to be fair, that statement may also not be true, even as a generalization. It's simply a theoretical model that economists might apply to a situation in an attempt to explain the results.

This still doesn't think I mean he should be reprimanded for making a generalization.

I feel bad for the guy, considering that the study of economics virtually demands that generalizations be made...
posted by davejay at 4:56 PM on February 12, 2005


Whatever happened to rolling your eyes and groaning? People I like and respect say stupid things from time to time. Why not just raise an objection? It's intellectual suicide to close your ears and pout whenever someone says something you don't like.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 5:03 PM on February 12, 2005


orthoganlity - when you start to capitalize The Gays and saying "thanks a fucking lot" (to The Gays) when there wasn't even a queer-aligned group involved, you have some strange conceptions of reality which need to be worked out.

Let me put it this way, there is one true statement which you can make about The Gays: they are sexually attracted to members of their own gender.

Ok? After that, there is no such thing as The Gays. And even if GLAAD says something, that doesn't mean that they speak for all gay people everywhere. Or even a majority.

So, uh. Please choke on your sarcastic thanking. No one owes you anything.
posted by kavasa at 5:05 PM on February 12, 2005


Floydd - you're probably right. In Africa, in particular, AIDS is a much larger epidemic than here in the states. I do believe that here in America, a homosexual man is statistically more at risk to contract HIV or AIDS than a heterosexual man.

Of course, when you add condom use, monogomous relationships, and drug use to the mix, it probably skews one way or the other. But on average, I believe you're statiscally more likely to contract HIV or AIDS through homosexual sex than heterosexual sex.

But I could be wrong.
posted by b_thinky at 5:22 PM on February 12, 2005


Let me put it this way, there is one true statement which you can make about The Gays: they are sexually attracted to members of their own gender.

Ok? After that, there is no such thing as The Gays. And even if GLAAD says something, that doesn't mean that they speak for all gay people everywhere. Or even a majority.


So true.
posted by dash_slot- at 5:22 PM on February 12, 2005


um, Orthogonal...
nowhere in that article did I find mention of the sexual orientation of the complainant.
So, it could just as likely be the case (population wise, it's more likely) that the complainant is NOT a homosexual.
Straights can be offended by homophobic remarks just as much as homosexuals can. (I'm straight.)

The Reverend Fred Phelps and his viscious, horrible followers offend the hell out of me, but he's got the right to voice his narrow, bigoted ideas in public. One could hope that he'd have the (Christian) decency not to (I'm thinking of his picketing the funerals of AIDS/HIV victims in particular), but he's got every right...

Hans Hoppe has every right, too.
And in this case, it doesn't sound like he's being particularly homophobic.
posted by Al_Truist at 5:23 PM on February 12, 2005


Speaking as a queer, I have far more important things to be annoyed about than this. So, put in my vote for not caring a whole heck of a lot. Also please bear that in mind when making irritating generalizations about The Gays.
posted by kyrademon at 5:27 PM on February 12, 2005


Thing is, the disiplinary enquiry found that Hoppe could not substantiate his conjectures with any published research, his own or others. They also found that it wasn't the first time he had made similar claims, and that is why he was discilined. His conduct violated established academc norms, such as preenting opinion as fact, without qualification.

I started out reading this feeling academics have freedom of speech, as we all do. I conclude thinking he was a cowboy who should have been more professional (link goes to an image of the pdf on his own site, pasted into word as I have no way of extracting text from a PDF)
posted by dash_slot- at 6:05 PM on February 12, 2005


"homosexuals plan less for the future than heterosexuals"--Does this mean Bush is "queer'?
posted by notreally at 7:00 PM on February 12, 2005


kavasa so much wants to be righteously indignant, he can't read: "orthoganlity - when you start to capitalize The Gays..."

First, it's spelled "orthogonality".

Second, not only did I not capitalize "The Gays", I never even wrote the phrase "the gays". "Gays" itself is only capitalized once, when it fucking begins a fucking sentence.

I did capitalize "Right", and in "Right wing"; perhaps you confused the two groups?

Here, read what I wrote again.

I don't mind being attacked for what I do write, but it's laughable to attack me for what you incorrectly thought I wrote.

If you're at all intellectually honest -- you are, right? -- I know I'll see an apology in this space.


Al_Truist can read, and correctly points out that the complainant isn't necessarily gay, and might be a heterosexual looking to be offended.

Good point, and you're right, I did assume the complainant was gay. But my issue isn't with a gay whiner here or there -- there are whiners in every subculture, and it would be astounding if gays were free of them.

My issue is more with the organizations like the Human Rights Campaign that claim to be leaders in the gay community, not standing up for the Human Right of Free Speech when they don't like what's being said. This is not only wrong, it's also tactically unwise, given that opponents of gay rights on the (Christian) Right often complain that they "lose rights" when gays rights are recognized.

Normally, that contention would be laughable, but in the case of Ake Green, lonely penguins, or annoying but legal anti-gay Christian protest at Pride Day, foolish people, gay or not, give ammunition to the Right by suppressing free speech.

posted by orthogonality at 7:46 PM on February 12, 2005


I'm gay and that's still BS. Quit whining, he is probably right.
posted by karlshea at 7:48 PM on February 12, 2005


"homosexuals plan less for the future than heterosexuals"--Does this mean Bush is "queer'? - EXCELLENT conclusion, notreally.
posted by threehundredandsixty at 7:59 PM on February 12, 2005


So what you're saying is Bush is gay?
Does this mean Bush is "queer'?

Yes
posted by srboisvert at 8:30 PM on February 12, 2005


Hoppe could not substantiate his conjectures with any published research, his own or others

End of story. The guy needs to examine his moronic anti-gay biases, but if tenure means anything, dammit, it's not a firing offense.

[Ditto for Ward Churchill, btw, but you won't seem many right-leaning bloggers make the comparison...]
posted by mediareport at 10:05 PM on February 12, 2005


Statistically, homosexuals are more likely to contract AIDS

Unless they're women. In which case they're much less likely to contract AIDS.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:16 PM on February 12, 2005


The very old are risk-averse? I would have thought otherwise, that the older a person is the more risk-averse they become, an effect compounded by the fact that more activities (eg, ice-skating) pose a greater risk.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 11:34 PM on February 12, 2005


"The guy's being an unscientific jerk on this one. Period."

Yep. I like, respect, and am reasonably knowledgable about economic theory (for a layperson), but the huge weakness of economics and economicists is the tendency to "just so" stories. People with children tend to plan more for their futures than do people without children. That makes sense and I'm sure it's empirically proven. Beyond that? Be careful. Especially if you start generalizing about sub-populations. And doubly especially if your generalization about a sub-population serves to reinforce stereotypes that reflect bigotry. The "homosexuals as hedonistic short-sighted narcissicists" claim is an old bigotry.

That said, I'm sick of hyper-sensitive students protesting every little thing they find offensive that a professor says in lecture.

"Unless they're women. In which case they're much less likely to contract AIDS."

Hahaha. God, how I love this little inconvenient fact. Inconvenient for those who, consciously or unconsciously, generalize about homosexuality such that it validates certain implicit moral critiques. People prone to generalizing about the "risky" lifestyle of gays seem to never integrate this fact into their worldview. Which is revealing, I think.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:49 PM on February 12, 2005


but the huge weakness of economics and economicists is the tendency to "just so" stories.

That's actually true in this case. I don't remember him citing any studies or surveys to prove this, but on its face, the argument at least makes some sense. Who knows whether or not it's true. As a broad generalization, I personally still buy it.

As a professor, Hoppe does a great job of breaking examples down into the most basic of scenarios. In the same lecture, he speaks of testing the time sensitivity of kids. Give a kid a dollar, and tell him you'll double it every day he doesn't spend it. The kid has no concept of 100% per day interest. Guess how long it takes for him to bolt to the nearest 7-11 to buy a Big Gulp?

People prone to generalizing about the "risky" lifestyle of gays seem to never integrate this fact into their worldview. Which is revealing, I think.

Revealing of what? That most people refer to gay women as "lesbians" and not "homosexuals"? I think the fact that lesbians are at relatively low risk for AIDS is nearly universally accepted. Besides, to your average red-stater like me, lesbians are freakin hot (unless said lesbian is like my neighbor lady who has the same haircut as me and could probably kick my ass)!
posted by b_thinky at 12:12 AM on February 13, 2005


Also worth noting: there are about twice as many gay men as lesbians. So "homosexuals are, as a population, at higher risk for HIV" is still true.
posted by Tlogmer at 12:33 AM on February 13, 2005



So, it could just as likely be the case (population wise, it's more likely) that the complainant is NOT a homosexual.


No, in this case, the complainant (Michael Knight), IS gay. Look at the statement he spewed out to the reporter:
When the door closes and the lecture began, he needs to make sure he is remaining as politically correct as possible.

That's not most gay people, that's not most anyone. If anyone needs suspension or discipline, it is Mr. Knight for failing to understand the basic concepts of social science and of free academic inquiry.
posted by calwatch at 1:36 AM on February 13, 2005


I find talking cars are less likely to plan for the future .
posted by sgt.serenity at 1:58 AM on February 13, 2005


Looks like casu marzu had it right above.

Knight said that as a graduating senior seeking a degree in economics, he had needed to take the course and had to pay to hear such unsubstantiated opinions.

I graduated from UNLV and can tell you: that diploma is worth slightly more than toilet paper. The university is FUBAR and exists only to funnel kids into jobs on the strip where they'll smile and survive off tips.

What does that mean? Be PC. Don't conform, and you're out. Can you believe the school nickname is actually the Rebels?

The funniest story about Hoppe is he works for a government institution when he basically advocates anarchy. When I asked him about this in class, he said he and his mentor, Ludwig von Mises were hired in the 80s and thought the university was going to become a haven for libertarian economic. Within a couple years, a new administration took over and more or less put Hoppe on ice. Once he got tenure, he says he's just there to raise hell while he works on his books and contributes to the Mises institute, Lew Rockwell, etc.

He won't let this die.
posted by b_thinky at 2:03 AM on February 13, 2005


Michael Knight (the oversensitive person offended by Hoppe's remarks): "He was stereotyping homosexuals -- we don't have any family values; we don't know how to manage our money; we basically just blow all our money immediately -- that was my take on it,"

Well, that's not at all what Hoppe said. Hoppe was speaking about the planning horizon -- nothing about family values or money managing abilities.

Henry Schuck: "I don't think it's possible to check your beliefs at the door, but to represent those as your beliefs is critical," he said. "I view what is said in the classroom as factual stuff, so to come out of there with things that aren't factual, it's a disservice to students."

Oh man, if things were only that easy, Henry. If you want to hear only the facts and nothing but the facts, then maybe you should've majored in maths or physics or something equally solid. If you want to hear only proven facts, then you really shouldn't study economics.
Hoppe is right on the money when he says that giving lectures would be impossible if you have to qualify every statement with "this is a proven fact" "this is my personal opinion" "this is a largely accepted view" etc.
posted by sour cream at 2:06 AM on February 13, 2005


Hahaha. God, how I love this little inconvenient fact. Inconvenient for those who, consciously or unconsciously, generalize about homosexuality...

Yeah, they don't find it that inconvenient though. When you remind them about the stats for women, they don't go, oh, gosh, huh, well, uh... instead they just go, oh, well women don't count. Those people think of gayness as "where penises get put", and what the cute little girls want to do on the side is no harm to anyone. (I really wonder how things would stand for cheney & keyes if they had gay sons...)

Also worth noting: there are about twice as many gay men as lesbians.'

wow, is that true? I'd never heard that before.

Guess how long it takes for him to bolt to the nearest 7-11 to buy a Big Gulp?

depends on the kid. I hoarded my christmas candy through to easter...

Looks like casu marzu had it right above.

well, it's definitely sad that the kid had such an idiotic attitude toward education, and it is worrying that that is becoming a common expectation. At the same time, I don't think that fully relieves Hoppe of his responsibility for not just making up seemingly likely generalizations and presenting them as fact.

If you want to hear only proven facts, then you really shouldn't study economics.

economics is in weird territory, because it likes to think of itself as a more reliable 'science' than the social sciences, but gets laughed out of the room when it peeks in the door of the hard sciences.

Hoppe is right on the money when he says that giving lectures would be impossible if you have to qualify every statement with "this is a proven fact" "this is my personal opinion" "this is a largely accepted view" etc.

I doubt it would be impossible at all. If you really couldn't distinguish between things you had statistics for and things you pulled out of your ass, the least you could do would be to tell your students at the start that many of your examples are directly from your ass.

I mean, you're attempting to reflect the world as it actually is in general; this means that the generalizations will necessarily not match every individual, but that they will (or ought) to match the statistics of the group. If there aren't stats on this, then clarify that it's an illustration or a guess. If there are stats, then state that it's a claim based on the stats (obviously anyone capable of critical thinking will be aware that the result does not confirm the causal hypothesis, but that's another story). I don't see why that's too much to ask from a professor.
posted by mdn at 6:41 AM on February 13, 2005


But on average, I believe you're statiscally more likely to contract HIV or AIDS through homosexual sex than heterosexual sex.

But I could be wrong.


Its this kind of detailed and concise thinking that really helps the issue. Thanks for making a blind, generalized statement about gay sex sans any detailed survey or statistical results.

Well, that's not at all what Hoppe said. Hoppe was speaking about the planning horizon -- nothing about family values or money managing abilities.

Or, AIDS, so it seems, but that seems to be the automatic interpretation for some when "risky" behavior is mentioned.

This whole situation sounds to me like a storm in a teacup. Just more of the same infighting and politics of academic life. To turn it into some sort of crusade for freedom of speech seems a little bit hysterical, as much as to turn it into some sort of crusade for gay rights. A student made a complaint against a minor academic at a minor college. Nothing will come of it, and in a weeks time none of us will even remember.

I do have to say this, though: The gay community needs to defend itself every which way it can against the onslaught of the right-wing, especially in America, where every negative statement about homosexuality becomes instantly politicized and repeated ad infinitum by pundits for years. Every time an some academic wants to grab some publicity by making some controversial statement on homosexuality it costs us in civil liberties. As we can see from the above comments, which demonstrate high levels of ignorance on the subject of HIV and AIDS and the gay community, many of the Libertarians aren't exactly going to help out, either.
posted by axon at 6:47 AM on February 13, 2005


Forty years ago, I took a class required for my economics degree at San Francisco State College. The instructor was a sixty-ish male who had taught the class for decades. On the first day, he looked out over the classroom and said something like, "Women shouldn't study economics." There were two women in that class--me and one other female econ major. Our eyes met for an instant and then we both huddled down in our chairs. It never occurred to me (or her, evidently) to protest, to go to the chair of the department, or to complain to the administration. Women just didn't do that. I got a C and graduated cum laude.

I am a lesbian. I think Professor Hoppe is full of hot air when it comes to who saves and who spends in the USA. There are no good statistics about American lesbians and gay men and money, just samples and guesses. If homophobia vanished, we might be more inclined to answer pollsters' questions about our personal lives.

We need to encourage free speech and discussion on campus, as well as in daily life. Hans Hoppe and Ward Churchill both must be required to defend their ideas.
posted by Carol Anne at 6:52 AM on February 13, 2005


We need to encourage free speech and discussion on campus, as well as in daily life. Hans Hoppe and Ward Churchill both must be required to defend their ideas.

Bingo! We have a winner.

I don't believe either Churchill or Hoppe should be fired. I do however, reserve my right to shred their ideas, and consider them both assholes and say so. Repressing ideas we don't like (from any direction) does nobody any good.
posted by jonmc at 8:41 AM on February 13, 2005


economics is in weird territory, because it likes to think of itself as a more reliable 'science' than the social sciences, but gets laughed out of the room when it peeks in the door of the hard sciences.

Isn't this a false dichotomy?
posted by raysmj at 8:45 AM on February 13, 2005


Also worth noting: there are about twice as many gay men as lesbians.

LOL. What the fuck? Can we have a cite for that, please, professor?

So "homosexuals are, as a population, at higher risk for HIV" is still true.

Er, no. Not for the reason you give, anyway.
posted by mediareport at 8:50 AM on February 13, 2005


Also worth noting: there are about twice as many gay men as lesbians.

*turns to porn collection*

You lied to me!
posted by jonmc at 9:10 AM on February 13, 2005


granted, calwatch but that information was not in any of the linked articles presented in b_thinky's post.
I think my point still stands against orthogonality's contention that "the gay community" is playing into the hands of the Right (and further that you don't have to be homosexual to be offended by homophobia).
I've heard similar reasons given by people who say they're for the rights of homosexuals when they say that they think that "the gays" are pushing too hard for gay marriage: "the gays" are just going to generate a backlash by pushing too fast for change.
posted by Al_Truist at 9:13 AM on February 13, 2005


Isn't this a false dichotomy?

I didn't mean that it had to choose one or the other; I was trying to clarify that it's weird territory because people don't quite know how 'scientific' it's trying to be. If you make general claims without clarifying that you're just throwing out empty hypotheses to make a point, people will probably expect them to be statistically valid. I dunno, I guess psychology runs into this problem, too (which makes sense since economics is often not unlike 'national psychology'...)
posted by mdn at 9:26 AM on February 13, 2005


there are no good statistics about american lesbians and gay men and money, just samples and guesses.

I find this astounding given the proliferation of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender studies programs in American universities. The best way to refute Hoppe's argument isn't to lodge a complaint with the dean but to conduct serious research into the subject. Seems to me a rich field for some intrepid graduate student.
posted by stargell at 9:49 AM on February 13, 2005


I find this astounding given the proliferation of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender studies programs in American universities.

Well, the sampling issues run a bit deeper than you might think, stargell. Getting honest numbers about any social practice is tough (just look at ridiculously inflated self-reports of church attendance, for example), but add the methodological difficulties in simply defining "gay person" or "lesbian," not to mention identifying a representative sample population that's not taken from the subscription list of an upscale gay celebrity/fashion magazine, among other problems, and you have a very tough time getting useful data about the queer population.
posted by mediareport at 9:59 AM on February 13, 2005


I find this astounding given the proliferation of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender studies programs in American universities. The best way to refute Hoppe's argument isn't to lodge a complaint with the dean but to conduct serious research into the subject. Seems to me a rich field for some intrepid graduate student.

Couldn't agree more, stargell, though the trouble one is faced with there, especially at universities that get public funding, is that some complaint will be lodged by a conservative group that homosexuality is being endorsed/encouraged/facilitated/etc. by such research. So as to where the money comes from to fund such intrepid graduate students, I don't know.

On the main topic: I'm gay. And I think the kid who filed this complaint is incredibly misguided. Hoppe may be wrong in his views about homosexual planning horizons, but he's right that if the kid had a problem with what he was saying in class, he should have raised his hand and challenged Hoppe — in precisely the same way he challenged those views ex post facto for the newspaper reporter. Instead, he resorted to the tried-and-true solution for everything these days: he filed a complaint.

Maybe the complainant would argue that he felt stifled from launching a debate in the classroom, because of a generalized climate of homophobia. I don't think that would necessarily be an invalid argument. However, I do think he had a responsibility to argue if he felt that Hoppe was talking out of his ass.

I may disagree with everything Hoppe has to say, and I find his sanctimoniousness in his own defense somewhat disgusting, but I unequivocally believe in his right (indeed, his duty as an academic) to say things like this and to encourage debate by being a gadfly — especially on a college campus, of all places.

But then I'm probably one of the few gays who believes that the Swedish pastor who said that gays are a "cancer" on society had the absolute right to say what he said without being hauled into a Swedish courtroom to defend his views and to answer to a complaint filed by gay rights groups.

If the kid who filed the complaint thinks that the purprose of paying for an education is to get your warm fuzzy feelings validated, he has a really skewed idea of what a college education is about (although, from other things I've read recently, his view of what his money should be paying for is not at all an isolated one).

The other thing is that this kind of episode encourages the David Horowitzes of the public arena to get ever louder in their protests that conservative/libertarian/you name it views are systematically silenced in American academia. And after reading something like this, however uninformative the newspaper articles really are about the full context, I'd almost be more inclined to reluctantly agree with Horowitz.
posted by blucevalo at 10:25 AM on February 13, 2005


Also worth noting: there are about twice as many gay men as lesbians. So "homosexuals are, as a population, at higher risk for HIV" is still true.

As others have pointed out, this conclusion doesn't necessarily follow at all.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:04 PM on February 13, 2005


The guy needs to just not lecture on something he doesn't understand perhaps.

I agree with the others above who have said that being childless doesnt equate to less future planning. Then even straight people who dont plan to have children would then have poor future planning? Bah.

I have big plans, and I'm not having kids, damnit.
posted by taursir at 12:55 PM on February 13, 2005


As someone pointed out, there aren't reliable statistics on this. But what statistics there are point to there being, yes, about twice as many gay men as lesbians. This isn't a controversial view, and it's pretty widely supported.
posted by Tlogmer at 1:37 PM on February 13, 2005


mdn: Psychology is as much a social science as econ or sociology or poli sci or anthropology. I'd say that the only difference with psychology (econ can be about individual decisions too) is that clinical psychology has been given some legitimacy with the public for being medicalized. But then there is such a thing as social psychology, which on the surface level looks a great deal like sociology or cultural anthropology. It mixes well with political science, as does cognitive psychology.

Oh well. I could go off on how econ pioneered the use of stats within the social sciences. But that's all too much to get into here. It sounds to me like this guy was just shooting off ideas, but that's a reflection on himself, and I wouldn't think it would be fair to see it as a reflection of the entire field of economics.

You could just as easily argue that epidemiology would get laughed out of the room, given how it borrows so many ideals from the social sciences (which also contribute much to our understanding of how diseases spread) and is pretty sticky. But the ends and problems of such fields are just different, and not necessarily inferior.
posted by raysmj at 1:38 PM on February 13, 2005


Tlogmer:
so widely supported that you simply repeated your assertion, instead of finding a single link (let alone a reputable one)?

OK, then. You may be right, but like the benighted professor, you have people looking at you and thinking: is he just making this up?
posted by dash_slot- at 1:57 PM on February 13, 2005


But what statistics there are point to there being, yes, about twice as many gay men as lesbians. This isn't a controversial view, and it's pretty widely supported.

Bullshit. On the chance you're not just being a complete troll, I challenge you to point me to just one example of a statistical survey that demonstrates the "non-controversial" view that there are twice as many gay men as lesbians.

Just one will do.
posted by mediareport at 1:58 PM on February 13, 2005


But then I'm probably one of the few gays who believes that the Swedish pastor who said that gays are a "cancer" on society had the absolute right to say what he said without being hauled into a Swedish courtroom to defend his views and to answer to a complaint filed by gay rights groups.

I doubt you're one of the few. It's the sensible, sane point of view. Why should gays be any less swensible and sane than anyone else.
posted by jonmc at 2:01 PM on February 13, 2005


Apparently, Tlogmer is (at least somewhat) correct about there being more gays than lesbians.
posted by kickingtheground at 3:55 PM on February 13, 2005


I doubt you're one of the few. It's the sensible, sane point of view. Why should gays be any less swensible and sane than anyone else.

Yes, you're right, jonmc. I exaggerated to make a rhetorical point. Although in the case I mentioned, the gay folks holding rallies in support of the pastor and freedom of speech seemed to be in the minority.
posted by blucevalo at 4:03 PM on February 13, 2005


Maybe sensible people are in short supply in every demographic, blucevalo. We're all very quick to shout "freedom of speech," when it's a blowhard/fanatic/moron from our own subgroup getting attacked. It takes true balls to defend the principle across the board. Good for you ,man.
posted by jonmc at 4:06 PM on February 13, 2005


ktg: nicely found, and very public spirited of you. I'll not undermine it more than to point out the conclusion:
The studies have varying degrees of reliability. And they clearly measured very different things-behavior, attraction, identity, openness. But they seem to converge on a finding that there about twice as many gay men as lesbians, no matter what measures are used.
I appreciate you finding that, it is surely worth someone trying to get harder data, as it were...
posted by dash_slot- at 4:49 PM on February 13, 2005


kickingtheground : Thanks. dash_slot- : You're right, I should have provided a source. Had kind of a busy weekend.
posted by Tlogmer at 5:44 PM on February 13, 2005


Yes, thanks, ktg; I wasn't aware of those results. As usual with these sorts of measures, though, the data doesn't support the conclusion (certainly not the conclusion dash_slot quotes). Let's look at the studies cited and see if there's really a preponderance of evidence in favor of the two-to-one claim. First the ones in support:

1. Kinsey's research (whose methodolgy has been questioned many times by later researchers; here's a good summary)
2. a 1990 Nature study
3. a 1993 Harvard study
4. Murray's glance at self-reported "unmarried partnerships" in 1990 Census data
5. a 1994 NORC study

But remember, the Harvard study actually offered conflicting data:

In 1993, a team at the Harvard School of Public Health reported that 6.2 percent of men and 3.6 percent of women reported a same-sex partner in the pervious five years. (Interestingly 8.7 percent of the men and 11.1 percent of the women reported feeling some same-sex attraction but not engaging in homosexual behavior.)

Uh-oh; there go those sticky methodological problems again. We also don't know the sample sizes of some of these, or how the samples were chosen, but let's leave that aside. ktg's link notes there are also two "anomalous" studies that don't fit the pattern:

6. a 1993 Louis Harris study
7. a 1993 Yankelovich survey.

So, of the whopping 7 studies we're given, 3 don't fit the alleged pattern. And yet the author of the summary feels comfortable stating "they seem to converge on a finding that there about twice as many gay men as lesbians, no matter what measures are used."

"Seem to converge"? Really? "Seems" to me this is about as inconclusive as inconclusive gets.
posted by mediareport at 8:47 PM on February 13, 2005


But remember, the Harvard study actually offered conflicting data:

In 1993, a team at the Harvard School of Public Health reported that 6.2 percent of men and 3.6 percent of women reported a same-sex partner in the pervious five years. (Interestingly 8.7 percent of the men and 11.1 percent of the women reported feeling some same-sex attraction but not engaging in homosexual behavior.)
I'm not quite seeing how that's conflicting data, in any meaningful sense. The second piece of data only conflicts with the first if we take it as given that an equal proportion of men and women with homoerotic attractions will also engage in homosexual behaviour. I'm not at all confident in that assumption, and, without it, the Harvard study simply suggests that women are somewhat likely than men to have homosexual desires but significantly likely to act on theml.

Of the two anomalous studies, one was merely a marketing study, and the other actually roughly agreed with the 'more gays than lesbians' hypothesis on both the 1-year and 5-year scales.
posted by kickingtheground at 9:39 PM on February 13, 2005


mediareport: I agree with you. I could have formatted the quote like this - The studies have varying degrees of reliability. And they clearly measured very different things-behavior, attraction, identity, openness. But they "seem to converge" on a finding that there about twice as many gay men as lesbians, no matter what measures are used.
posted by dash_slot- at 12:38 PM on February 14, 2005


if we take it as given that an equal proportion of men and women with homoerotic attractions will also engage in homosexual behaviour

So you're going with the definition of "gay" and "lesbian" that uses behavior only, rather than reports of same-sex attraction? Others do that as well, but I've always found it to be the wrong choice. Again, the methodological issues are much more complex than that survey of surveys indicates. These things are notoriously tough to quantify, and so the level of certainty in this thread and that article are still ridiculously high.
posted by mediareport at 12:59 PM on February 14, 2005


Anyone who can confidently claim that gay men outnumber lesbians has clearly never been to a gay pride march.

Would Hoppe be willing to make the same generalization concerning economic planning about African American men? Probably not. Despite Will & Grace and Queer Eye, gay men are a politically expedient target for bigotry in a way many other subcultures are not.
posted by divrsional at 1:46 PM on February 14, 2005


Of the two anomalous studies, one was merely a marketing study,

You know, I have to comment on this as well. kickingtheground is right to note that Yankelovich offered "merely a marketing study;" in fact, Yankelovich is one of the groups whose use of upscale marketing lists and WEALTHY GAY MARKET!! spin led to facile, harmful generalizations about how rich queer people are compared to the rest of the population.

My point, though, is that the other surveys kickingtheground is so quick to hold up (and, again, I thank her/him for alerting me to those) almost certainly have very similar sampling issues. Just how, in the late 80's, did the Harvard, Nature and NORC studies choose their samples? Were their methods more likely to get useful responses from men than women? That's certainly something we've seen in the past in many, many social sciences. It's even possible to posit specific reasons why, in a society that for years treated them as more invisible than gay men, lesbian couples would be less likely to report themselves as "unmarried partners" to the Census Bureau. A healthy dose of skepticism is called for here; these really are tough issues to clarify.

Also, in case anyone is still willing to give a lot of credence to Kinsey's numbers, be sure to spend time on page 2 of the 1998 Journal of Sex Research article I posted. Kinsey's lack of sampling expertise -- and stubborn refusal to consider the value of random samples -- makes his data *very* questionable:

Noting that Kinsey had begun his research when the use of random sampling in surveys was just beginning, the three statisticians concluded that he could not have been expected to use this sophisticated new methodology...They also took issue with Kinsey's so-called 100% samples in which interviewers attempted to obtain interviews with every member of any group they approached. As Cochran et al. noted, this created a cluster sample because each interview was not obtained independently, thereby reducing the benefit of the large number of cases...In the face of this criticism, Kinsey, who did not react well even to mild criticism, continued to argue that randomly selected individuals would not agree to answer questions about their sex lives and that, therefore, respondents had to be recruited.

Conceding that he might have a point, Cochran et al. proposed a small pilot random sample. Kinsey would have none of this. Asserting that random sampling applied only when one was short of data, Kinsey refused to check his data with a small probability sample. Lack of data was not a problem for him, he noted, so he did not need random sampling. Explanations for Kinsey's resistance range from intellectual arrogance to his sexual-liberation agenda (Jones, 1997; Pomeroy, 1972). Most likely he did not understand probability sampling and viewed it as a substitute for data.


Kinsey's numbers are almost certainly way off. And without detailed information about the sampling methodology of the other surveys -- done at a time, remember, when there were no really good ways to collect a representative sample of queer people -- the value of their conclusions is just as suspect.
posted by mediareport at 8:55 PM on February 14, 2005


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