Economist Bryan Caplan on Why You Shouldn’t be a Feminist

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Mike talks with Bryan Caplan, Professor of Economics at George Mason University, prolific author, and blogger at Bet on It. He’s the author of multiple books and essay collections – five of which we’ve previously discussed on the show. Today, they talk about Professor Caplan’s latest collection, Don’t Be A Feminist: Essays on Genuine Justice.

Topics Mike & Bryan cover include:

– what it means to be a feminist
– underrepresentation of women in top political & business roles
– pay differentials between men and women
– sexism, objectification, and sexual violence
– if unequal treatment is necessarily unfair treatment
– diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training
– if the ‘non-woke’ market is being underserved

Bryan Caplan on Twitter

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4 thoughts on “Economist Bryan Caplan on Why You Shouldn’t be a Feminist”

  1. This was an atrocious interview. To allow Caplan a completely unchallenged platform to spout his misogynistic and racist BS is at best irresponsible. At one point, he compares black men to Nazi war criminals and claims that they are just naturally more violent, with almost no pushback from Mike. Mike is either incredibly spineless, or secretly agrees with these abhorrent views. Caplan’s view do not deserve the level of legitimacy suggested by this interview.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I wouldn’t characterize Caplan as either misogynistic or racist, and I don’t believe he said that Black men are naturally more violent, but that they commit more crimes relative to their percentage of the population. I certainly disagree with Bryan Caplan on a number of points, and on those points I attempted to push back. In the end, I think reasonable people can disagree with Caplan – I disagree with him on plenty of things – but I don’t at all accept that his arguments are either illegitimate or motivated by any bias against Black people or women. – Mike

      1. I’m incredibly concerned that you are either unaware that his talking points are dog whistles or don’t care. His implicit reasoning for why black men are convicted of proportionally more violent crimes (he also wholly neglects the impact of the over-policing of black neighborhoods on this statistic) is that they are more violent – since he dismisses any other argument. That is, without a doubt, racist.

        His statistical analysis, in general, is laughable, especially since he seems to assume that statistics are somehow unbiased representations of truth – when anyone experienced with statistical analysis knows that is ridiculous. In addition to the biases that can be present in the collection of statistics, the numbers have to be interpreted by biased individuals. And, in cases like Caplan’s, the numbers are misrepresented and misused for furthering racist and misogynistic ideas.

        His caricature and related critiques of feminism are also laughable and clearly born out of misogynistic assumptions. Many critiques can be made of the various forms of feminist thought that exist in the United States (and 2nd wave feminism, in particular, has been critiqued heavily by Womanist thinkers for its racist tendencies). However, Caplan’s critiques have no merit because they fail to engage with even the most rudimentary elements of feminist thought.

        1. Sorry for the delay in replying – we don’t get many comments on the website and so I tend not to check very often. I think you’re right that there’s more to a higher crime rate for Black men than we discussed on the episode, and in previous shows I’ve gotten into overpolicing of Black communities. Had our discussion focused solely – or even predominately – on crime, I would have devoted more time to analyzing and critiquing his comments. I agree with you that there’s a lot going on here, but my sense is that Caplan doesn’t dismiss arguments and that he’d be happy to engage with other views, as has always been my experience with him. He is certainly confident in his own rightness, but I’ve always found him to be open-minded.

          I don’t think his statistical analysis is laughable, though I agree that statistics can hide quite a lot and are rarely the clear view of “reality” that some may take them to be. But while racists and misogynists use statistics to advance their execrable views, I don’t believe either of those labels rightly applies to Bryan Caplan.

          My conversation with Bryan Caplan most definitely would have been better were I well-versed in contemporary feminist thought, which neither I nor Caplan are.

          Thanks again for taking the time to post your clearly thoughtful and well-informed critique. I’d love to give listeners a competing perspective, so if you have any suggestions for feminist authors who you think might be interesting guests on the show, let me know!

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