Jacob Vigdor

Jacob L. Vigdor is an assistant professor of public-policy studies and economics at Duke University.

Recent Articles

Quarterback Draw

Rush Limbaugh's resignation from ESPN last week has generated plenty of debate over whether the right-wing radio personality was spouting racist garbage -- or courageously speaking the truth -- when he said Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was overrated because McNabb is black. Limbaugh said that McNabb's stellar reputation is less a result of on-field performance than of liberal media bias. "I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL," Limbaugh said during the Sept. 28 edition of ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown . "I think the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well." But if Limbaugh had done any research on the subject, he would have learned that the media's desire to see black quarterbacks succeed is not rooted in "a little social concern," but rather in good old-fashioned attention to the bottom line. Last year, along with fellow Duke University economists Peter Arcidiacono and Eric Aldrich, I published an analysis of Neilsen...

College Try

As college-admissions committees across the country begin sorting through this year's applicant pool, imagine for a moment what might take place at a specialized postsecondary institution such as a dart-throwing academy. This type of institution would clearly wish to accept only those applicants showing the highest potential as professional dart players. It would therefore be reasonable to expect such schools to use a dart-throwing "exam" as an admissions criterion. Now suppose that the dart-throwing academy employed the following method of assessing ability: Each applicant arrives at a dart-throwing center early on a Saturday morning, pays a $25 fee and, after a three-hour wait, throws exactly one dart at the dartboard. Those who place their darts closest to the center of the board are considered superior applicants. Of course, because there is a certain amount of chance involved in where the dart lands, this method will imperfectly assess ability. Some very good dart players will...