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November 29, 2003

Shulevitz on Human Accomplishment

Judith Shulevitz reviews Human Accomplishment. Shulevitz seems to find amusement in Murray's confirmation of his list at "face value," that it does tend to correlate well with that we'd have expected. The thing I liked about Murray's list and method is that people might argue qualitatively that for instance the German contribution to the arts and sciences took off after 1750. But a contrarian might quibble and bring up obscurities and cherry-pick all the great German thinkers and artists before 1750 to make their argument appear as strong. A quantitative analysis allows us to comb the methodology and is more immune (though not totally so) to the tendency to cherry pick to buttress your thesis. Cant and rhetoric get swamped by data. Of course that makes the jobs of pundits & reviewers like Shulevitz a bit harder....

Update: Murray has an article in The New York Times.

Posted by razib at 10:20 PM