Thursday, September 10, 2009

Paper Draft Review Session

Earlier this week, I attended a workshop where professors and grad students discuss each others' papers.  The one being discussed was a grad student's work on giving in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.

There was an interesting case of culture shock: A Czech professor could not understand how it is even possible for an illegal to get a high school diploma.  Given the culture and government he was used to, such a thing would be impossible.  He assumed that registering for school would automatically reveal enough information to cause you to be deported.

The paper was full of junk like this:

"Denying illegal aliens instate tuition rates denies most of them access to a higher education and given the increasing undocumented population those laws every year leave around 65,000 undocumented students without the opportunity of getting a higher education."

The professors ripped this apart, rightly so.  This is a pernicious logical fallacy that is, unfortunately, way too common.  A decision not to subsidize something is not the same thing as denying it.  It would be absolutely ridiculous to say that the government is censoring the New York Times because it won't buy me a subscription, but that is the logic this sentence uses.

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