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David Friedman
Works at Santa Clara University
Attended Harvard University
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David Friedman

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Torture and Revealed Preference
One of the latest episodes in the war against ISIS was a raid by U.S forces that killed a leading figure and captured his wife. According to news stories, the intent was to capture Abu Sayyaf, believed to play a major role in financing ISIS via black market...
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They surely hope to get information out of him. There are many different techniques for getting information; Army field manuals and the FBI will tell you that torture is much less effective than other methods.

I don't see how capturing him is information that they intended to torture him. Somewhere within our opaque, dishonest government is hidden a current practical consensus on whether torture is a good idea, and it must have a lot to do with whether the middle managers think it's plausible that they will be hung out to dry this time around.

Given that the President has actually come out and said that torture is forbidden, it seems hard to believe that a high-profile captive would be tortured directly by Americans, though of course the practice of delegating torture to more openly monstrous governments is not ruled out.
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Liberals and Elizabeth Warren
My previous post mentioned the controversy over Elizabeth Warren's claim to be a native American. The facts, as best I can determine them, are that she put herself on the minority law teacher list in her listing in the faculty directory of the American Asso...
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This blog gets at what I have been saying for quite some time as regards Warren's native American claims. It's not about whether it's true or not, it's about why she would claim it in the first place, and what that says about her.
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Why Good Teachers Get Bad Evaluations
The current Slate Star Codex , my favorite blog, has a link to an account of an interesting piece of research on student evaluations of teachers. It judged the quality of teachers by how well their students did in later courses,  compared the result to stud...
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I read and understood "The Wealth of Nations" by Adam Smith in junior High.  It still helps in understanding some of the damaging social proposals being  foisted on us by executive action these days.
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My June Speaking Trip
I am planning to spend the second half of June traveling, with talks in New Delhi and Bali. New Delhi is about half the world away from California, with the result that you can get there going either east or west. Checking airline schedules, it looks as tho...
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The Rhythm Method and Population Growth Rates
In the process of composing a recent post , I did some rough calculations on the probability of pregnancy from a randomly timed act of unprotected intercourse. It occured to me that the same calculations are relevant to a different question—the effect on po...
In the process of composing a recent post, I did some rough calculations on the probability of pregnancy from a randomly timed act of unprotected intercourse. It occured to me that the same calculations are relevant to a different question—the effect on population growth rates of the Catholic ...
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Now this is excellent economic advice. 
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California Drought—Getting Worse or Getting Better?
News stories about the Governor's actions to deal with the water shortage emphasize how low the snowpack is this year. But while some of the water used in California comes from melting snow, more comes from rain stored in reservoirs, and none of the stories...
News stories about the Governor's actions to deal with the water shortage emphasize how low the snowpack is this year. But while some of the water used in California comes from melting snow, more comes from rain stored in reservoirs, and none of the stories I saw gave figures for either the ...
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Got a picture of a farmer putting drain tile in his fields.  I got a feeling that Canada loves the extra water.
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Ernest Hemingway, FBI Victim, Spy Wannabe, Both or Neither?
I recently came across, via a blog comment, an old New York Times story about Hemingway. The author, A. E. Hotchner, reported that in his final years Hemingway was believed by his friends to be paranoid because he thought the FBI was spying on him—but that ...
I recently came across, via a blog comment, an old New York Times story about Hemingway. The author, A. E. Hotchner, reported that in his final years Hemingway was believed by his friends to be paranoid because he thought the FBI was spying on him—but that the FBI really had been spying on him, ...
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Have him in circles
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David Friedman

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Politicians as People
Politicians are also people, and the question of what sort of people they are is largely separate from the question of what policies they advocate. That struck me recently after I happened to interact casually with two professional politicians, both at a fa...
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I think I can sympathise with this. One of my favourite German politicians (that I know of) is Gregor Gysi:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregor_Gysi

Politically, I think we'd be talking for quite a while before we find any common ground whatsoever... but he's always struck me as a bright, fairly pleasant individual and I could definitely imagine myself talking to him. Whether it's true of him or not (I assume it isn't), he always made a refreshingly honest, straight-forward impression on me. Quite a feat!
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The Trust Problem
In a recent Facebook exchange about Elizabeth Warren's claim to be a native American, someone raised the issue of what news sources one should rely on, comparing Breitbart unfavorably to Mother Jones. In support of that comparison, she cited a web page, New...
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+Jay Maynard I think this might be the first time I've completely agreed with you about anything.  While you're not really speaking directly to my point, the one you make is certainly valid.  Hams (the general public) have had to fight tooth and nail for access to their own spectrum which is definitely related to what I was on about.  Working in the fire industry has made me particularly sensitive to the needs of first responders (and clearly defined set aside spectrum for communication is one of those needs). I believe it is the role of government to set the rules of the game so that we can all work together as well as compete in the marketplace.
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How to Lie While Telling the Truth
I came across the following on Facebook: "I was born a sinner too. My sin is mentioned in the Bible 25 times. I tried to change but I couldn't...  Luckily society learned to accept us left-handed people." (Nicholas Ferroni, educator and  activist) Pretty cl...
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+Ken Barber
I think it's pretty obviously satire if the idea occurs to you and you look at the faq. But my guess is that the average person inclined to think badly of fundamentalists won't look that closely, will take it as confirmation of what he already believes about them.
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Slandering Charles Darwin
In an earlier post , I pointed out claims about Darwin and Galton in the work of a scholar of Islamic law which were wildly false. I have recently come across something similar in  work by a scholar of Romani history writing on the Romani holocaust: Charles...
In an earlier post, I pointed out claims about Darwin and Galton in the work of a scholar of Islamic law which were wildly false. I have recently come across something similar in work by a scholar of Romani history writing on the Romani holocaust: Charles Darwin, also writing in 1871, ...
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David Friedman

commented on a video on YouTube.
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1. I'm pretty sure he's playing a Germanic lyre, not a harp.

2. Hundreds of generations would be something over 4000 years. Beowulf is considerably less than two thousand years old.
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As a Lyre player I am quite happy to have his info use the term Harp. After all, he plays it like a Harp rather than playing it like the 6 string instrument it is.
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Have him in circles
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Work
Occupation
I am an economist who teaches at a law school. I also write books, maintain a blog and web site, argue with people online, cook from very old recipes, do a certain amount of medieval/renaissance woodwork and jewelry, tell medieval stories around a campfire, ... .
Employment
  • Santa Clara University
    Professor of Law, present
Basic Information
Gender
Male
Story
Tagline
I am an academic economist who teaches in a law school and has never taken a course for credit in either field.
Introduction

I'm an academic economist, teach in a law school, have never taken a course for credit in either field.

Interests include poetry, medieval cooking, science fiction and fantasy, computers, and much else.

I also write books.

Bragging rights
Helped rear two of the world's most wonderful children. Both home unschooled.
Education
  • Harvard University
    Chemistry and Physics, 1961 - 1965
  • University of Chicago
    Physics, PhD, 1965 - 1971