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George Mason University

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George Mason himself.

George Mason University is a distinguished (and sometimes merely distinguishable) public university in Virginia known for its various public outreach and research programs. One of their most well-known programs is their Center for History and New Media, which provides resources for history teachers and hosts the History News Network, a forum for commentary by historians from a number of universities on historical scholarship and current events.

Unfortunately, it's also a hotbed of crankery and prime supplier of experts for hire. Most of its crank hires are employed in global warming denial, libertarian wingnuttery, and the occasional creationism.

Global warming denial[edit]

  • Patrick Michaels, "distinguished senior fellow in public policy," also bankrolled by the Cato Institute.
  • S. Fred Singer, physicist, left GMU in 2000. Another occasional Cato hack.
  • Edward Wegman, statistician and author of the discredited and plagiarized Wegman Report, cleared after a foot-dragging "investigation" by GMU that violated the university's own policies on timeliness of such inquiries.

Intelligent design[edit]

  • Caroline Crocker, fired from GMU in 2005 for teaching intelligent design and featured in the film Expelled.
  • Sal Cordova, another IDiot. Holds the honor of being Entry #81 on the Encyclopedia of American Loons.

Liberal Economics[edit]

Their public policy and economics departments employ a number of professors well-known for libertarian-leaning views, spread across the spectrum of small-government philosophy, ranging from absolutely brilliant (despite general Austrian School leanings) all the way on down to full-on crazy (again, with some climate denial mixed in for good measure). They're all part of the Mercatus Center,[1] which is funded by Koch Industries. As sketchy as that may be, also eschewing that it has basically become the new de-facto Fortress of Solitude for the Austrian School of Economics, GMU's business and economic departments are highly respected and held in exceptionally high regard. Lately, they seem to be embracing more and more aspects of neoclassical and behavioral economics, but analysing the market through a lens of mathematical logic instead of pure methodology or hard science such as mathematical and statistical empiricism. This normative model has proven to be quite popular with economists worldwide, as well as the overall educational quality. Worldwide, the economics department at George Mason University is ranked at number forty-six, which is marginally ahead of other more traditionally prestigious universities such as the College of William & Mary, the University of Virginia, Georgetown University, Boston College, Notre Dame, Middlebury College, and St. Andrews. In the United States, it ranks at number forty, right behind Brown, with the schools higher on the list really just being your usual suspects: Harvard, Princeton, Yale & other ivies, Northwestern, Stanford, MIT, Berkley, and, of course, the University of Chicago [2].

Persons associated with GMU, past and present include:

  • James M. Buchanan, Nobel-winning economist known for developing public choice theory. Also the guy who basically provided the Kochs with both ideological ammunition and grand strategy, according to historian Nancy MacLean’sWikipedia 2017 book Democracy in Chains (which other historians have criticized for playing rather fast and loose with the facts)
  • Vernon Smith, Nobel-winning economist and libertarian known for developing experimental economics. Also shagged up with the Cato Institute.
  • Wendy Gramm, chair of Mercatus, wife of former Senator Phil Gramm; known for her role in the Enron scandal.
  • Peter Boettke, prominent Austrian school economist.
  • Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok, economists who run the Marginal Revolution blog. By comparison, a moderate duo who try to eschew denialism and anti-science crankery.
  • Arnold Kling and Bryan "Keynes = militant unions" Caplan, the proprietors of EconLog along with David Henderson (a notable climate denier, though not employed by GMU).
  • Walter E. Williams, African-American economist infamously known for filling in for the scat-muncher on his radio show and promoting the Southern Lost Cause.[3][4]


Why so many hacks and quacks? GMU gets boatloads of funding from ultra-rich libertarian and conservative donors, including the Koch brothers, Richard Mellon Scaife, and ExxonMobil. Charles Koch also sits on the boards of the Mercatus Center and the "Institute for Humane Studies."[5][6][7] We need to stress the comedy one more time — this is from a campus that is also desperately trying (like almost every single university in the country) to increase its taxpayer-funded endowment.[8]

External links[edit]


  1. http://mercatus.org/
  2. http://www.shanghairanking.com/SubjectEcoBus2012.html
  3. DiLorenzo, Thomas (2003). "Foreword". The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War. Foreword by Walter Williams. New York, New York: Three Rivers Press. p. xii-xiii. ISBN 0-7615-2646-3. Retrieved December 7, 2014. 
  4. Williams, Walter (March 22, 2005). "DiLorenzo Is Right About Lincoln". LewRockwell.com. Retrieved April 7, 2007. 
  5. Koch and George Mason University, DeSmog Blog
  6. Mercatus Center Board of Directors
  7. George Mason University, ExxonSecrets
  8. George Mason president delivers new vision, The Washington Post