I’ll copy my comment from bhtv below the fold. Like Glenn Loury (usually one of my favorites), I appreciate Mark’s forebearance. I was very glad he stuck for science and evidence over the construction of political narratives. Glenn’s heart cries over the harm our criminal justice system does, how can he then turn away from a serious examination of how to improve it and the lives of the people it affects? Yes, people have political agendas, but it is not mere pretense of science to look at politicized issues through a reductionist lens. Not even Loury seems to dispute that Kleiman is a liberal, why look his gift-horse in the mouth and turn the question to politics? Adopting a Peter Singer type utilitarian stance and Glenn’s avowed (and I think sincere) priorities, couldn’t we argue that Loury is in fact obligated to spend a lot more time shouting from the roof tops that we need to find out whether a “magic bullet” has in fact been discovered, or disprove it so we can start investigating other avenues? Loury says in effect “Yeah, yeah, yeah, viewers of bhtv have heard about your book already, you can stop talking about it”. To that I say, hell no! The problems discussed have not been fixed, H.O.P.E type programs still receive very limited funding, and the political push to change that is still weak. It’s similar logic (via an economist) that says you should keep donating to the charity you think does the most good because you haven’t done enough to solve the problem yet.
A commenter at my blog (with assist from co-blogger Dain) directed me to this. Even though Loury is one of my favorite bheads, I am so far greatly disappointed in his contribution. Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised given his edition of Cato Unbound, but he seems to want to avoid discussing a policy issue, rambling and even interrupting Kleiman. Yes, there is a big political question around the prohibition of drugs (unlike Kleiman, whom I respect, I am completely opposed to it). But there are still better and worse ways to deal with actual (not just victimless) crime.
Glenn wonders why we’re so different from other countries, even ethnically diverse ones. Maybe we aren’t, see Julius Uzoaba.
I remember Kleiman discussing popular opinion regarding capital punishment. I looked in the GSS and found that he’s wrong about educated people opposing it.
The nurse family partnership was promoted in the original edition of “When Brute Force Fails”. I received the paperback edition, in which Kleiman notes that his initial hopes for the program have not been borne out by subsequent studies.
I was disappointed in how broad and non-committal Crime and Human Nature was. They basically set out to list every possible factor influencing an individual’s decision to commit crime, along with giving some literature review. They certainly did not evince the “certitude” that Loury speaks of, and of course I agree with Kleiman that certitude isn’t necessary. Economists should be familiar with “expected value”!
For bhtv viewers that came here for the quote on nurse-home visitation, here it is from the introduction: “Note to the paperback edition: The discussion of nurse home vistitation on page 127 was written before the publication of a study showing no decrease in crime among the boys in the Elmira study by their twentieth birthdays. In light of that finding, the optimism expressed about nurse home visitation as a crime-control measure needs to be reined in; since males commit the vast bulk of crime, a program that does not reduce crime among males has sharply limited value in crime control, whatever its other benefits. See John Eckenrode, Mary Campa, Dennis W. Luckey, Charles R. Henderson, Jr., Robert Cole, Harriet Kitzman, Elizabeth Anderson, Kimberly Sidora-Arcoleo, Jane Powers, and David Olds, Long-term Effects of Prenatal and Infancy Nurse Home Visitation on the Life Course of Youths: 19-Year Follow-up of a Randomized Trial, Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2010; 164(1):9-15.”