Seven studies using experimental and naturalistic methods reveal that upper-class individuals behave more unethically than lower-class individuals. In studies 1 and 2, upper-class individuals were more likely to break the law while driving, relative to lower-class individuals. In follow-up laboratory studies, upper-class individuals were more likely to exhibit unethical decision-making tendencies (study 3), take valued goods from others (study 4), lie in a negotiation (study 5), cheat to increase their chances of winning a prize (study 6), and endorse unethical behavior at work (study 7) than were lower-class individuals. Mediator and moderator data demonstrated that upper-class individuals’ unethical tendencies are accounted for, in part, by their more favorable attitudes toward greed
Put aside theology for a moment. Just intellectually, there are many peculiarities here. According to Santorum, environmentalists and leftists believe in serving the earth, while proper Christians “should have dominion over it, and should be good stewards of it.” The distinction Santorum is working here is between a very narrow definition of service as idol-worship (in which the earth becomes our fetish), and stewardship as responsible husbandry. He means, in effect: “Secularists have made a false idol of the earth, whereas God is the only true object of worship.” (And note that he can make this point only by taking the cherished Christian term “service” and casting secular dirt on it.) There may indeed be radical outliers in contemporary ecology for whom the survival of man is subservient to the survival of the world. But for most people anxious about the fate of the environment, service and stewardship would seem to go together. Note, too, that all this talk about making man the objective sounds quite like the supposed heresy of rational humanism. If you took away the theological context of Santorum’s screed, you would have a program for secular politics: Since we are here to serve man, then we should start getting busy with projects of political salvation, like universal health care, environmental protection, the alleviation of poverty, and so on.
William Gaddis, in the closing pages of his colossal 1955 novel “The Recognitions,” inserts a brief scene that manages to be at once rancorously funny, brazenly self-referential, and spookily prescient about the critical fate that lay in store for his work. A book reviewer and a poet meet in a tailor’s shop; both are sitting pantsless while they wait for their respective garments to be adjusted. The poet notices an unusually thick book under the critic’s arm and asks him if he’s reading it. No, says the critic, he’s not reading it, “just reviewing it.
Thoreau may have discovered a species of bream, perfected the technology of manufacturing pencils, and anticipated modern techniques of cranberry farming, but his most lasting discoveries were about the interactions of different systems: how one growth of forest trees succeeds the previous one, how the lake affects the shore or the riverbanks…
In December, the New York Times’ Catherine Rampell asked Harvard, Yale and Princeton for data on the professions their graduates were entering. As of 2011, finance remained the most popular career for Harvard graduates, sucking up 17 percent of those who went from college to a full-time job. At Yale, 14 percent of the 2010 graduating class, and at Princeton, 35.9 percent, were headed into finance.
Nobody in high school looks into the future and thinks, ‘I am so excited about finance,’, but by the end of college, things change:
You’re encouraged to take classes in subjects like English literature and history and political science, all of which are fine and interesting, but none of which leave you with marketable skills. After a few years of study, you suddenly find it’s late in your junior year, or early in your senior year, and you have no skills pointing to the obvious next step.
What Wall Street figured out is that colleges are producing a large number of very smart, completely confused graduates. Kids who have ample mental horsepower, incredible work ethics and no idea what to do next. So the finance industry takes advantage of that confusion, attracting students who never intended to work in finance but don’t have any better ideas about where to go.
This happens to people who manage to stick it out one more round in academia, as science graduate students. You finish up and realize that after 5-8 years earning the right to be called Dr., your skills designing and executing your own research projects are actually in demand nowhere outside of academia. You can go take a moderately paying job as a human robot executing someone else’s research ideas, or you can go get paid a ton of money as a McKinsey consultant.
Santorum’s defense of the Crusades came in Spartanburg, S.C., reports Andy Barr of Politico….
Referring to the “American left,” Santorum observed: “They hate Western civilization at the core. That’s the problem.” Sanoturm also suggested that American involvement in the Middle East is part of our “core American values.” “What I’m talking about is onward American soldiers,” Santorum continued. “What we’re talking about are core American values. ‘All men are created equal’ — that’s a Christian value, but it’s an American value.”
Sitting on a rickety homemade bookshelf in my living room are the fifty volumes of my Great-Grandfather’s Harvard Classics. Once a teenaged political refugee from the Russian revolutionary turmoil of 1905 and later an accomplished bacteriologist with Merck, my Great-Grandfather exemplified Harvard President Charles Eliot’s middle class, American ”twentieth century idea of a cultivated man,” the kind of person for whom Eliot’s “five foot shelf of books” was intended. A respected Mr. among professional scientific peers of Drs., my Great-Grandfather was fiercely committed to self-education. I never met him, but I imagine that my Great-Grandfather would have subscribed to Eliot’s notion of civilizational progress, progress that is the result of “man observing, recording, inventing, and imagining.” The Harvard Classics were selected to be a survey of how this process has played out over the millennia.
Eliot’s words, “observing, recording, inventing, and imagining,” describe several thousand years of human intellectual activity by invoking the process of science. This is appropriate because Eliot, and my Great-Grandfather, were living when the modern scientific view of the world was well on its way to world domination, becoming a new belief system with as much cultural heft as the major religions, and one whose conquest occurred even more rapidly than the spectacular rise from obscurity of Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam over the last two thousand years. The modern scientific angle on the world has not displaced religious views, just as Islam became a global player without displacing Christianity. But science has become as influential as any of its social competitors, with its chronicle of our earth’s history, of the creation of volcanic islands and the erosion of canyons, its story of the solar system with its central principle of gravitation that explains the shapes of the planets as well as their orbits around a central furnace of nuclear fusion, its tale of colliding atoms and molecules that make up the material world, and perhaps the most disturbing account of all, of our deep genetic history that connects without discontinuity into a pre-human, evolutionary past in which our modern DNA has been painfully sculpted by the brutal work of natural selection.
The one volume among the entire Harvard Classics that most prophetically anticipates the coming cultural influence of scientific thought is Darwin’s The Voyage of the Beagle. But too often the Voyage has been given second billing among collections of Great Books. Adam Kirsch, in an insightful essay on the Harvard Classics, gently chides Eliot for the excessive enthusiasm that led him to devote two of the fifty volumes to Darwin; Kirsch suggests that a modern edition of the Classics should “doubtless” keep On the Origin of Species and ditch the Voyage for James Watson’s Double Helix. Harold Bloom, whose selection of non-fiction for his Western Canon is unforgivably erratic and unprincipled, recommends Matthew Arnold’s essays and John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty and Autobiography, but nothing by Darwin. There is a common (and, let’s face it, usually correct) idea that great scientific writing is valuable for its intellectual importance, but of marginal literary value. Darwin’s <em>Origin</em> is often included in collections of great books by default, because it is one of the very few important primary scientific documents that can be read without specialized training. But the Origin is an argument for a specific scientific theory, while the <em>Voyage</em> is a much more general foreshadowing of science’s cultural force in the modern world. If you are going to read one book by Darwin before you die, or one Great Book on any of the sciences, it must be <em>The Voyage of the Beagle</em>, because this book is a genuinely great work of literature, a compelling account of a then-embryonic vision of the world that has now come into its own in modern society, told in an expressive and beautiful language which is exactly suited to its subject.
Robert Walser, on riding a tram in Berlin 100 years ago:
People do, after all, tend to get somewhat bored on such trips, which often require twenty or thirty minutes or even more, and what do you do to provide yourself with some modicum of entertainment? You look straight ahead. To show by one’s gaze and gestures that one is finding things a bit tedious fills a person with a quite peculiar pleasure. Now you return to studying the face of the conductor on duty, and now you content yourself once more with merely, vacantly staring straight ahead. Isn’t that nice? One thing and then another? I must confess: I have achieved a certain technical mastery in the art of staring straight ahead.
Well, I almost think that if I’d gotten the Nobel Prize when The Recognitions was published I wouldn’t have been terribly surprised. I mean that’s the grand intoxication of youth, or what’s a heaven for. And so the book’s reception was a sobering experience, quite a humbling one. When finally help did come along, recognition as you say, a Rockefeller Foundation grant, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the National Endowment for the Arts, they came in difficult times and allowed and encouraged me to keep on with the second book and start the third. Without them, I wonder if I might not just have dropped the whole damned business, though God knows what else I might have done, too late even to be any of the things I never wanted to be.
It’s been a roller coaster week: I’ve decided my job search has pretty much failed for this year. Our grant proposal, which will support my work and to which I made a major contribution, was funded, one year after submission, and just as I was thinking it’s “too late even to be any of the things I never wanted to be.”