02 December 2008

What I'm Reading

Mark Bauerlein's The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don't Trust Anyone Under 30). The main thesis of the book is that the promised efflorescence of learning and education with the onset of the digital age has not happened. Bauerlein argues that the evidence does not support the widespread consensus that computers, digital media, wifi, wikis, etc. in the classrooms aid education. Indeed, he argues that, if anything, these tools have limited our intellectual horizons by enabling--and even encouraging--students to spend more and more time on social networking, which tends to contract rather than expand our attentions. Who has time to read and digest all the wonderful information available on the web if we're updating our Facebook page 27 times per day?

I recently finished reading, on a recommendation from a friend, John R. Lott Jr.'s Freedomnomics: Why the Free Market Works and Other Half-Baked Theories Don't. Lott is the author of the infamous More Guns, Less Crime. The cacophonously named Freedomnomics is intended as a response to the wildly popular--and quite entertaining--Freakonomics, by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, which Lott argues does not fully understand why and how markets work.

I am also re-reading parts of Mark Blaug's Economic Theory in Retrospect, 5th ed. Having just completed teaching a course on the history of economic thought, I found the insights in this book even more impressive than I did the first time I read it.

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