Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Evening roundup

  • Brad Taylor provides data on death rates associated with use of different drugs and the frequency that such deaths are reported. Big surprise: methadone has more deaths per user than does heroin. Most overreported relative to deaths? Cannabis: 0.07 deaths per 10,000 users; 92 press reports. Most underreported? Methadone: 94.5 deaths per 10,000 users; 10 press reports.

  • Ben Barton says there's no correlation, or perhaps a slight positive correlation, between research quality and teaching quality, at least in law schools.

  • Too many students are going to college.
    Bryan Caplan: There are two ways to read this question. One is: "Who gets a good financial and/or personal return from college?" My answer: people in the top 25 percent of academic ability who also have the work ethic to actually finish college. The other way to read this is: "For whom is college attendance socially beneficial?" My answer: no more than 5 percent of high-school graduates, because college is mostly what economists call a "signaling game." Most college courses teach few useful job skills; their main function is to signal to employers that students are smart, hard-working, and conformist. The upshot: Going to college is a lot like standing up at a concert to see better. Selfishly speaking, it works, but from a social point of view, we shouldn't encourage it.

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