Libertarian Walter Block
(who is all wrong on immigration
) is the subject of a fuss at Baltimore`s Loyola University.
An apology has been issued by Baltimore Loyola`s Economics Department but they don`t exacly say what they`re apologizing for
Apology from Economics Department: Remarks by lecturer not representative of department`s viewsTo the Loyola Community:The officials and members of the Adam Smith Society and the Economics faculty wish to apologize for the insensitive and incorrect remarks made Thursday, November 6 by invited speaker Professor Walter Block of Loyola University New Orleans.Professor Block`s response to a question about the differences between average earnings of African-Americans and whites in America, which maintained that the disparity could be explained by differences in average productivity, was offensive, and we are sincerely sorry for it.It is important to note that the remark was offensive not just because it was racially insensitive, but because it was erroneous and indicated poor-quality scholarship. There is ample scholarly evidence that, after adjusting for productivity-related characteristics (e.g., years of schooling, work experience, union and industry status, etc.) a considerable wage gap remains. This gap is likely explained by employment discrimination. For a fuller discussion of this issue, see J. Gwartney and R. Stroup, Microeconomics, 12th Edition (2009), pp. 292-4.Professor Block`s remarks also included offensive comments regarding the source of wage disparities between men and women. We are deeply sorry for these remarks and the harm they have caused.In short, economists are well aware of the existing gender and racial injustice in America and are conducting much useful research to help overcome it. Furthermore, we are united as a department in refusing to tolerate or sympathize with gender or racial prejudice in any form.We appreciate the thoughtful questions and responses we`ve received from members of the Loyola community, particularly its students, and we look forward to continued dialogue on topics of great importance such as this one.
But they don`t say what he said! A story in the Baltimore Sun
explains what the problem is. Block is an economist, and was asked the following economics questions: why do African-Americans earn less than whites? Why do women earn less than men?
And he told them. In a November 12 story called Those delicate Jesuit sensibilities
, Laura Vozzella writes
But on the phone with me, Block filled in the hot-button blank: "Sociobiology."He said he`d told the audience that differences in IQ might account for why blacks and women earn about 30 percent less than their white, male counterparts.Yikes! What in the name of Larry Summers was he thinking?Block said there`s research to back up that theory, noting the controversial book The Bell Curve. He offered a little consolation for women, saying they aggregate in the middle of the IQ scale, while men are the outliers. That`s why, he said, men dominate the ranks of both prisoners and Nobel laureates. "Nobel Prize winners in hard sciences," he added, "not the wussy stuff like poetry."Block said no one pulled him aside after the lecture to express dismay. He said he`d gotten applause. But days later, a student forwarded the e-mailed apology from President Linnane.[Email Fr. Linnane]"We are a Jesuit institution, and as such, a respect for diversity is one of our defining values," it said.Said Block: "They respect diversity but not diversity of opinion."
So is it ever safe for an academic to answer this question honestly? You could ask James Watson,
or Andrew Fraser
, or Richard Herrnstein
. The answer seems to be "no."