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Zombie Ideas

March 31, 2014

Paul Krugman’s column in today’s NYTimes, “Jobs and Skills and Zombies”, describes the “skills gap” as a zombie idea,

…one of those things that everyone important knows must be true, because everyone they know says it’s true. It’s a prime example of a zombie idea — an idea that should have been killed by evidence, but refuses to die.

As I noted in a comment I left, there are other zombie ideas that deserve to “be killed by evidence”. Here’s what I wrote:

Here’s what’s really appalling: this zombie idea is used to support the need for the Common Core and the standardized tests that accompany them. Because of the alleged “skills gap” students are being given tests that are unrealistically difficult to pass and the results of these tests are used to support another zombie idea: American schools are failing! And who makes out well because of these zombie ideas? The oligarchs who use it to justify low wages and use it to privatize public schools.

Here’s what’s happening: if the evidence is disagreeable it gets contradicted by the voices of those Krugman calls “important people” and the repetition of the message from these “important people” becomes conventional wisdom that is very difficult to refute.

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