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The author Miles Kimball
Miles Kimball
Miles Kimball is Professor of Economics and Survey Research at the University of Michigan. Politically, Miles is an independent who grew up in an apolitical family. He holds many strong opinions—open to revision in response to cogent arguments—that do not line up neatly with either the Republican or Democratic Party.

Miles Kimball

OED: A Brief History of Singular ‘They’

Singular they has become the pronoun of choice to replace he and she in cases where the gender of the antecedent – the word the pronoun refers to – is unknown, irrelevant, or nonbinary, or where gender needs to be concealed. It’s the word we use for sentences like Everyone loves his mother. But that’s nothing new. The Oxford English Dictionary traces singular they back to 1375, where it appears in the medieval romance William and the Werewolf....

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Celebrate Failure

For learning, celebrating failure is a superpower. It opens the door to asking the stupid question that wasn’t stupid at all, paves the way to trying something out to get practice and course correct, and blazes a trail for deeper insight. Show me someone who fails a lot because they take risks, and I’ll show you someone who is learning a lot. Show...

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Christina Pazzanese on Michael Sandel

For tickets to Monday’s Faneuil Forum with Professor Michael Sandel, click here. Stories of learning, teaching, and turning points, in the Experience series. Michael Sandel joined the Government Department in 1980 to teach political theory largely on the strength of a dissertation that boldly critiqued the ideas of John Rawls, then a towering figure both at Harvard and in the field. Since then he has grown to be among the most influential political philosophers of his era, and one of...

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Handling Immigration in a Way that Addresses Legitimate Concerns

Many people oppose immigration for either racist reasons or looking down on non-citizens in a way that is just as bad as racism. One way to suss out whether this is true in a given case is to call their bluff when they say (as they often do) that they are opposed to illegal immigration. OK, fine. Let’s be against illegal immigration, but let’s dramatically increase legal immigration. And, as I’ve often said on Twitter, if I get to choose the realized quantity of legal immigration that is a...

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Yuval Noah Harari: Why Fiction Trumps Truth

Many people believe that truth conveys power. If some leaders, religions or ideologies misrepresent reality, they will eventually lose to more clearsighted rivals. Hence sticking with the truth is the best strategy for gaining power. Unfortunately, this is just a comforting myth. In fact, truth and power have a far more complicated relationship, because in human society, power means two very different things.On the one hand, power means having the ability to manipulate objective realities: to...

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Christina Pazzanese on Amartya Sen

Life stories from Drew Faust, Howard Gardner, Annette Gordon-Reed, Martin Karplus, Toshiko Mori, Steven Pinker, E.O. Wilson, Paul Farmer, and many more, in the Experience series. Coming from a long line of Hindu intellectuals and teachers, Amartya Sen enjoyed advantages and freedoms that few others did in a deeply-stratified India of the 1930s, during the waning days of the British empire. Teaching was in his blood, and from an early age, Sen was struck by the stark economic inequities...

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