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Arnold Kling has a Ph.D. in economics from MIT; founded, one of the very first commercial websites, in 1994; separated from Homefair in January 2000 after it was sold to Homestore; is author of Under the Radar: Starting Your Internet Business without Venture Capital, and is an essayist. Send comments to us at

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February 17, 2004

The Academic Echo Chamber

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Posted by Arnold

The Dean Deflation has led to some discussion of the Internet as an echo chamber. I think that an echo chamber was involved, but it was not necessarily the Internet. In this essay, I discuss the academic echo chamber.

If your temperament favors freedom without responsibility, then there are certain occupations that are a good fit. Academic life is one of them, as I pointed out in Real World 101. A professor has very little of what most of us would consider responsibility. Teaching, which is the most responsible activity that a professor must perform, is considered a minor part of the academic's life. Almost all professors seek to lower these modest responsibilities even further by seeking reduced teaching loads.

I have nothing against Freedom Without Responsibility as a lifestyle choice. It's great work if you can get it.

What I object to is translating it into a political ideology. It scales badly. Very badly.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: politics


1. Brad Hutchings on February 17, 2004 06:11 PM writes...

I responded to this on my blog with an example of a small-l libertarian econ profressor I knew while a grad student at UC Irvine studying to have my career outshored a decade later:


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