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May 27, 2005


"Case in point: workers who have completed a degree earn much more than those who dropped out right before completion. Signalling explains this phenomenon. Human capital theory does not."

Brilliant point, if the statistic is true (and it sounds believable). But I also think that dropping out of college right before getting a degree is also a CLASS issue. Someone from an upper middle class family with upper middle class expectations wouldn't do it.

I'm glad you liked my point! I think class is not talked about enough in this country. Those class expectations reinforce economic status.

Well, some people also misperceive the benefit from cheating -- consider the idiots who buy crap papers on the internet, just to fail anyway. When I taught calculus at a college, a fellow calc teacher caught a student cheating on exams... but didn't do anything about it because the kid cheated off the 2nd-worst student in the class, and didn't cheat enough to get the D the 2nd-worst guy got.

Being able to cheat (and lie) effectively is a skill, something many people don't realize until it's too late.

Oh, and moral pain does not require a victim, by the way. I'm Catholic, and I can tell you that there are plenty of "victimless" sins in the Catechism. But even we recognize different levels of culpability.

Hi Half Sigma
Interesting post.
I think the reason why some people cheat and other do not has less to do with their ability to correctly determine the probability of getting caught than the "moral pain" that these people have when they cheat others. In other words, some people are just bad and being smart has nothing to do with it.

Both are factors. Moral pain might be a bigger factor. The authors of The Bell Curve showed that being caught committing crime was negatively correlated with intelligence. Less intelligent people, in addition to not being as good with estimating probablities, also are more likely to overweight immediate gratification (the money you get from stealing) and underweight the future consequences.

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