Said and Done | In the Media | Summer 2015


A section of Said and Done
Summer 2015 edition

The MIT gang | Paul Krugman
Paul Krugman, PhD ’77, writes about the meteoric rise of MIT-trained economists on the global stage since the economic crash of 2008. “The economic analysis some of us learned at MIT way back when has worked very, very well for the past seven years.”
Column at the New York Times

Black and light | Marcia Bartusiak
The Economist reviews Black Hole: How an Idea Abandoned by Newtonians, Hated by Einstein and Gambled on by Hawking Became Loved, by Marcia Bartusiak, MIT professor of science writing. “Ms. Bartusiak weaves scientific concepts to create a portrait of the scientific institution itself, showing how its norms and personalities served to shape the path taken by the idea. That continues today.”
Review at The Economist

Have your cake and eat it too | Daron Acemoglu
In an article on the relationship between economic growth and a given nation's political model, research by MIT economist Daron Acemoglu is cited to show that “in non-democracies, well-connected firms use political power to shut out competition.”
Story at the Economist

Science on stage | Alan Lightman
For a decade, Catalyst Collaborative at MIT (CC@MIT) has convened scientists and theater artists searching for common ground and, partnering with MIT and nearby Central Square Theater, has brought those conversations to life for the wider community.

Fareed Zakaria champions a “STEM Plus” education
In this Washington Post op-ed, Zakaria argues for a balanced STEM-Humanities educational system, citing research by MIT economist David Autor.
Story | Related: The Power of the Humanities at MIT

It’s not just about bad choices | Esther Duflo
Nicholas Kristof considers the complicated factors that produce and reinforce policy. He paraphrases JPAL co-director Esther Duflo, who wonders whether “America’s ideology of mobility...may empower some poor people but leave others feeling like failures, brimming with self-doubt that makes bad choices all the more likely.”
New York Timesz


The humble linguist | Ken Hale
This article on language learning highlight’s the late MIT professor of linguitics Ken Hale, “renowned among colleagues for picking up languages seemingly instantly. It is said, perhaps apocryphally, that he learned Finnish on a flight to Helsinki.”
Story at The Economist

Economists refute Trump boast to bring jobs back from China
Disputing job growth claims made by GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump, MIT economist David Autor tells the AP, "No matter who becomes president, I cannot foresee a scenario where 5 million additional manufacturing jobs ... reappear in the U.S. in the decades ahead.”
Story at the New York Times

Economists identify China impact on US factory jobs | David Autor
“The ‘aha’ moment,” MIT economist David Autor said, “was when we traced through the industries in which China had surging exports to the local addresses of their US competitors and saw the powerful correspondence between where China had surged and where US manufacturing employment had collapsed.”
Story  | Related story at The Guardian

The long, strange journey of ‘Zoombinis’ | Scot Osterweil
This USA Today article on the history of the beloved PC game “Zoombinis” spotlights game co-developer and current MIT Education Arcade director Osterweil. The goal was never to be curricular," Osterweil said. "It was never to say, 'These are things kids must learn and we know we must teach them in this sequence.' We really were thinking about it as an entertainment game.”
Story at USA Today

More health insurance has many benefits, but doesn’t save money | Amy Finkelstein
A New York Times article on the rising cost of health care, despite broader access and preventative treatments, cites research by MIT economist Amy Finkelstein. Her work, the author writes, “found that the lottery entrants who were given Medicaid spent more on health care than those who remained uninsured.”
Story at The New York Times

Ten years of photographing strangers on the T | B.D. Cohen
B.D. Colen, who teaches documentary photography and science journalism at MIT, discusses his new exhibit, the state of street photography, and what it means to be alone together.
Story at Boston Magazine

Russian Crackdown? | Loren Graham
Lauren Graham, Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology, and Society, reflects on the recent Russian crackdown on foreign influences, which has forced out a number of research nonprofits.
Story at Inside Higher Ed

Actor, Comedian Aziz Ansari seeks help from MIT professor on book | Natasha Dow Schull
Ansari contacted professor Natasha Dow Schull after reading her book, Addiction by Design, which looks at gambling and why people increasingly are drawn to the bells and whistles of slot machines instead of the poker table.
Story at the Boston Globe

World Leaders React to Nuclear Deal | Jim Walsh
In this article on the ground-breaking nuclear treaty with Iran, MIT Security Studies Program research associate Jim Walsh explains that while some will oppose the deal, he’s optimistic that it will become law.
Story at Newsweek

The riff: robot skills honed on Minecraft | David Autor
According to MIT economist David Autor, computers are still far from being able to use creativity, intuition, persuasion and imaginative problem-solving. But the momentum is clear: virtual playground today, our workplaces sometime in the future.
Story at Financial Times

Boston Magazine interview with Marcus Thompson
Recently, MIT announced that it had bestowed the title of Institute Professor, its highest faculty honor, to three longtime professors. The announcement represents the first time MIT has named new Institute Professors in seven years, demonstrating just how exclusive this group is.
Story at Boston Magazine

Book by MIT historian Craig Wilder catalyzes research seminar series at Columbia
Columbia’s effort originated last year, after Columbia President Lee Bollinger read about Craig Steven Wilder’s book “Ebony & Ivy: Race, Slavery and the Troubled History of America’s Universities," which documents the extent to which the nation’s oldest colleges perpetuated, maintained, and benefited from the slave economy.
Story at the New York Times | Story at Columbia University

Grammy-winning artist invokes MIT historian's book | Craig Steven Wilder
In a new musical work, Grammy-winning artist Esperanza Spalding invokes Wilder's Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery and the Troubled History of America's Universities.
Story at The New York Times | About Ebony and Ivy


Big Mac test shows job market is not distributing wealth
If the job market — that most critical institution of capitalist societies, the principal vehicle to distribute the nation’s wealth among its people — cannot keep hardworking people out of poverty and spread prosperity more broadly, how will it be done? Article quotes MIT economist David Autor.
Story at the New York Times

MIT Music produces "one of the most innovative recordings of the year"
The Boston Globe reports on the “Infinite Winds” recording. Featuring the MIT Wind & Festival Jazz ensembles, it is the first MIT music production to appear on a major jazz label. 
Story | Listen + About | Review


The power of hope is real | Esther Duflo, Abhijit Banerjee
Nicholas Kristof, at the New York Times, reports on a study co-authored by MIT economists Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee on poverty alleviation and the role of hope. “Poverty causes stress and depression and lack of hope,” Duflo says, “and stress and depression and lack of hope, in turn, cause poverty.”
Commentary at The New York Times

MIT researchers are fighting extreme poverty with science
The Boston Globe spotlights recent research into alleviating the worst of global poverty, co-authored by JPAL directors Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo. “What is remarkable when we see the data” is that people are able to go from a hopeless situation to “doing something productive,” Duflo said. “The ingenuity was there, somewhere, but buried under despair.”
Story at The Boston Globe


Abigail Jacobson contributes to PBS documentary
1913: Seeds of Conflict introduces a less-known perspective on the early years of the Jewish-Arab conflict in late Ottoman Palestine. Jacobson I was involved in different stages of this production, and was also among the historians who were interviewed for the film.
About the film

Income inequality is costing the US on social issues | Heidi Williams
This New York Times article on the possible public health ramifications of rising inequality cites research by MIT economist Heidi Williams that finds a connection between infant mortality and “excess inequality.”
Article at The New York Times

Education really does reduce inequality | David Autor
This article cites MIT economist David Autor, whose research indicates that an increase in wages for the top 1% between 1980 and 2005, if divided among the bottom 99%, would provide each household about $7,000 in additional income.
Article at the Wall Street Journal

The second great migration | John Tirman
MIT political scientist John Tirman illuminates the similarities between the Great Migration of African Americans from the rural south and the contemporary migration patterns of Latinos and Mexicans.
Story at WBUR Cognoscenti

How to solve the ER problem
This New York Times article, on how Seattle has reduced the use of ERs (for non-emergency issues) by engaging patients, cites findings by MIT economist Amy Finkelstein on Oregon's Medicaid expansion.
Story at the New York Times

Language and birdsong may use the same brain structures | Shigeru Miyagawa
BBC News explores the idea first proposed by MIT linguist Shigeru Miyagawa: that human language is a product of the same brain structures and genes that produce birds’ songs.
Story at BBC News

Could animals develop a language that resembles human language?
MIT linguist Shigeru Miyagawa believes that the roots of human language can be found throughout the animal kingdom. Noam Chomsky believes differently. Listen to or download the podcast on the left side of this Nature podcast page.
Nature Podcast

Has American business lost its mojo? | Daron Acemoglu
This New York Times op-ed quotes MIT economist Daron Acemoglu, who argues that contermporary American politics have become a major hinderance to economic growth. “It’s becoming more and more difficult,” he writes, “to run a successful business in the United States without doing lobbying, campaign contributions and other deals with politicians.”
Commentary at The New York Times

How do you annotate in your class?
This article on digital humanities tools highlights Annotation Studio, an MIT Hyperstudio project.
Story at The Chronicle of Higher Education

When students become the teachers | Diana Walsh
Commentary by SHASS trustee and Visiting Committee member Diana Walsh on role of students in shaping the political agenda for climate change.
Commentary at Huffington Post

Survey offers rare window into Chinese political culture | Yiqing Xu
A report on a unique political survey of the Chinese citizenry produced by MIT Political Science PhD Yiqing Xu and Harvard’s Jennifer Pan.
Story at The New York Times

The jihadi threat to international order | Richard Nielsen
In an article on the ongoing conflict with ISIS, MIT political scientist Nielsen is cited for his analysis that “the Islamic State is different because its ideology puts it at odds with the norms and rules of Westphalian sovereignty.”
Story at The Washington Post

On the state of the American dream
This U.S. News article on inequality and middle-class stagnation quotes MIT economist Robert Solow, who says “evidence of the importance of the digital revolution is everywhere except in the productivity numbers.”
Story at US News

Obama ties legacy to Iran nuclear deal | Jim Walsh
“I think they have put themselves in pretty good shape to go to that community and defend the deal,” MIT's Jim Walsh explains at CNN. “They ended up with a lot more than most of us were expecting.”
Story at CNN

The future of loneliness | Sherry Turkle
MIT anthropologist Sherry Turkle, talks to The Guardian about community in the digital age: “At the screen, you have a chance to write yourself into the person you want to be and to imagine others as you wish them to be, constructing them for your purposes. It’s a seductive but dangerous habit of mind.”
Story at The Guardian

Not even Paul Krugman is a real Keynesian
Article on the influence of Keynes on MIT economics PhD Paul Krugman, as well as former MIT SHASS economics faculty member Duncan Foley and his research partner, former CIS faculty member Lance Taylor. The article highlights the special role the Institute played in developing their theories.
Story at The Boston Globe

Interview with Richard Samuels
“After decades of accepting U.S. supremacy in Asia as the foundation of its foreign and security policies, finding the right distance between the U.S. and China is the most important strategic choice facing Japan today…. My research in Berlin — based upon field work in Japan — will explore the shifting dynamics of East Asian security.”
Interview at the Einstein Foundation

Is crowdfunded science the future? | David Kaiser
With recent government budget cuts to science research, some believe that crowdsourced funding is the future of scientific inquiry. Others aren’t convinced. “Crowdfunding won’t replace conventional means of funding,” argues MIT science historian David Kaiser.
Story at Slate

Explaining Einstein through dance | David Kaiser
MIT science historian David Kaiser combines art and science to celebrate the centenary of Einstein’s theory of relativity at the Cambridge Science Festival with “A Shout Across Time.”
Story at The Boston Globe

The Physicists' War | David Kaiser
Seventy years after the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by nuclear weapons, Kaiser investigates the legacy of 'the physicists' war'.
Commentary at Nature

A nimble mind | Olivier Blanchard
The Economist profiles former MIT economist Olivier Blanchard, chief economist at the International Monetary Fund.
Story at The Economist

Are rising home prices leading to greater inequality?
Home prices across the country are rising, and MIT graduate student Matthew Rognlie believes that may be a key contributing factor to widening inequality.
Story at the Wall Street Journal

Is urban land-use policy the most important redistribution policy?
This article highlights MIT PhD student Matt Rognlie’s analysis of Thomas Piketty's Capital, focusing on the idea that “the most important redistribution policy may now be urban land-use policy.”
Story at Bloomberg

Is Labor’s share of income declining?
In the Wall Street Journal, questions about the analysis of former MIT economics faculty Thomas Piketty are explored, including those raised by current MIT economics graduate student Matthew Rognlie.
Story at the Wall Street Journal


An ethical paradox in film | Eugenia Brinkema
Images of people shot or dying in natural disasters are now ubiquitous; what does it mean to watch them?
Story at The  Age

Lost jobs? Deficits? Not so fast | David Autor
In an article on the benefits and dangers of free trade agreements, research by MIT economist David Autor reveals that “imports from China (not party to any free trade agreement with the United States) are responsible for 21% of the plunge in American manufacturing.”
Story at The Guardian

MIT Professor Noam Chomsky on Tavis Smiley show
The world-renowned linguistics professor appeared recently on Tavis Smiley's television show.
Story at PBS

A new view on TV | Benjamin Olken
At the Wall Street Journal, MIT economist Benjamin Olken’s research into television consumption is cited in an article that interrogates the ubiquitous entertainment technology’s social and developmental impact.
Story at WSJ

Plainridge Park launches state’s casino era Wednesday | Natasha Dow Schull
An article on the legalization of gambling in Massachusetts at the Boston Globe cites analysis by STS Associate Professor Natasha Dow Schull, who “argues slot machines are designed to be addictive, said giving patrons free play is an important marketing strategy.”

Lunch with the FT: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
The Financial Times talks to outgoing Nigerian finance minister and MIT economics PhD Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

Opera maverick Beth Morrison mounts new shows with Gardner | Keeril Makan
The Boston Globe spotlights new productions by Beth Morrison at the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum, including a semi-staged concert version of “Persona,” a new opera by composer and MIT faculty Keeril Makan.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visits MIT
During a roundtable discussion on innovation, Abe discussed Japanese efforts to build an innovation ecosystem in the city of Okinawa. Abe also noted that MIT political scientist Richard Samuels had been very effective in “deepening relations between Japan and United States.”
Story at MIT News


Medicaid vs. cash for the poor | Amy Finkelstein
In a Wall Street Journal op/ed, Chris Jacobs draws on research by MIT economist Amy Finkelstein in wondering whether the expansion of Medicaid is less effective, and efficient, than simple cash transfers.
Wall Street Journal

Does technology ruin the expat experience? | Sherry Turkle
In this article on global communication and the expatriate experience, MIT professor Sherry Turkle notes the importance of solitude: “Solitude is where you find yourself so that you can reach out to other people and form real attachments.”
Wall Street Journal

Fed Whisperer | Stanley Fischer
This article at Bloomberg Business spotlights former MIT faculty member Stanley Fischer, current Federal Reserve vice chairman.
Story at Bloomberg

How do we get more people to have good lives? | David Autor
In this NY Times op/ed, Thomas B. Edsall considers how best to improve educational and life outcomes for children today, and draws upon research by MIT economist David Autor.
New York Times

This startup gives poor people a year's income, no strings attached
GiveDirectly, a startup which offers no-strings-attached money to poor families, is inspired by the work of JPAL Director Esther Duflo.
Story at The Huffington Post



Said and Done digest
Summer 2015 edition