Michael Murakami, seminar of '01
Harvard University '01, BA
Univ. of Calif., Berkeley '08, Ph.D.

Shterna Friedman '04
Barnard College '03
Iowa Writers' Workshop MFA '06


A question from the audience during the Critical Review Foundation Conference on Political Ignorance and Dogmatism, Boston, August 31, 2008.

The final panel at the Critical Review Foundation Conference on Political Ignorance and Dogmatism: L-R, Jeffrey Friedman, Tom Hoffman, Russ Muirhead, and Mark Pennington (not shown: Ilya Somin).


  • Critical Review now has a Facebook page--make us your "friend"!

  • On June 30-July 2, 2012, ten outstanding students and scholars from around the world participated in a seminar on Challenges to Classical Liberalism in San Antonio. Kate Bermingham, who will be attending graduate school in political theory, was a student of 1999-2000 seminar alumnus Prof. Samuel DeCanio when he taught at Georgetown. Sam Bowman, who will be attending graduate school in comparative politics, is the head of the Adam Smith Institute in London. Zeljka Buturovic is a recent recipient of a psychology Ph.D. from Columbia University. Zachary Caceres, a recent NYU graduate, is considering a career in political theory. Gary Merrett, who also attended the 2009 and 2011 seminars, is considering grad school in political psychology. Kyle O'Donnell is a Ph.D. student in economics at George Mason University. Chris Opperman is a senior in the Social Studies program at Harvard. Jake Roundtree, who also attended the 2011 seminar, will be applying to political theory graduate programs this fall. Rajiv Shah is studying legal theory at the University of Cambridge. Joshua Temin will be a first-year graduate student in economics at the University of Pennsylvania. We are looking forward to great things from all ten of them, and several are already plotting out radical-ignorance research agendas. See "photos" at left for pictures of the seminar.

  • In March 2012, Wladimir Kraus (seminar of 2011 and coauthor of Engineering the Financial Crisis) successfully defended his dissertation in economics at the Univeristy of Aix-en-Provence. Hail Dr. Kraus! In the fall he will be starting work on a Ph.D. in political science at the University of Michigan.

  • Kai Jaeger (seminar of 2009), a graduate student in comparative politics at Duke University, has published his first academic paper, "Why Did Thailand's Middle Class Turn against a Democratically Elected Government? The Information-Gap Hypothesis," in the journal Democratization. Kai explains populist "red" and anti-populist "yellow" movements in Thailand by means of the different groups' access to information about former populist Prime Minister Thaksin.

  • Clark Durant (seminar of 2011) and Michael Weintraub (seminar of 2011) published "Altruism, Righteousness, and Myopia" in Critical Review vol. 23, no. 3.

  • Simon Kaye (seminar of 2011) and Paul Gunn (seminar of 2011) have just received their Ph.D.s in political science from the University of London, where they studied under Mark Pennington (seminar of 1996). They are now on the academic job market.

  • François Godard (seminar of 2011) published "Enchanting Social Democracy: The Resilience of a Belief System" in Critical Review vol. 23, no. 4.

  • Wladimir Kraus (seminar of 2011), coauthor with Jeffrey Friedman of Engineering the Financial Crisis, was a discussant at the "Complements to Basel" conference held in London in March 2012, organized by the London School of Economics; he gave a talk on "The Causes of the Crisis" at a Seminar for Heads of Financial Stability Divisions at Central Banks, sponsored by the Bank of England; on March 14 he spoke on "Bank Regulation and the Crisis of 2008" at the LSE; and on March 30 he spoke about the crisis at the Université Paul Cézanne.

  • On August 27-30, 2011, ten scholars ranging from recent Ph.D.s to advanced college undergraduates came to San Antonio from far-flung destinations in the United States, Britain, Germany, and Italy to participate in the twelfth "Challenges to Classical Liberalism" seminar. These intensive, 1000-pages-of-reading-in-advance events have been held since 1995 whenever a critical mass of extremely talented future scholars, usually with a background in Austrian-school economics, has materialized. Among the alumni of the seminars whose research agendas have been materially affected by their participation are Profs. Sam DeCanio (Yale), Tom Hoffman (Spring Hill College), Mark Pennington (University of London), Ilya Somin (George Mason), and Nick Weller (USC).

    The 2011 group promises to contribute many more names to that illustrious list. Photos of the seminar are posted on this site--click on Photos icon to your left.

  • Mark Pennington (seminar of '96) has been named Professor of Political Economy at King's College, University of London. Congratulations to Mark!

  • Dain Fitzgerald interviews Mark Pennington (seminar of '96) on his recent article in Critical Review on deliberative democracy. Listen here.

  • Richard Cornuelle, the first president of the Critical Review Foundation, has died. For a picture of Dick and a statement about him from Jeffrey Friedman, please click on "Photos" over in the left margin of this page.

  • Mark Pennington's third book, Robust Political Economy, was published last month by Edward Elgar (in paperback!). It combines the political-ignorance perspective with public-choice theory. Mark argues that we should not assume, as political theorists usually do, that political decision makers either know how to achieve the public good or care about achieving it. Mark attended the seminar of 1996 and now teaches at the University of London.

  • Kai Jaeger, an alumnus of the 2009 seminar, has been accepted by the Duke University Ph.D. program. Kai will be the first seminar alumnus to enter the subfield of comparative politics. Kai already has a paper with a leading comparative politics journal at the second revise & resubmit stage (meaning it is about to be accepted). Kai explains the political turmoil in Thailand, which revolves around former Prime Minister Thaksin--a Berlusconi-like figure who is trying to retake power undemocratically. Kai argues that peasants in the countryside, who tend to support Thaksin, were not exposed to media coverage of his corrupt dealings and his anti-monarchical statements. Meanwhile Bangkok residents, who generally oppose Thaksin, had access to these media reports.
  • In December 2010, the University of Pennsylvania Press republished our special issue on the financial crisis in book form, under the title of What Caused the Financial Crisis. It can be ordered here. In October 2011, Penn will publish Engineering the Financial Crisis, by Jeffrey Friedman and Wladimir Kraus. Friedman and Kraus contend that the Basel I accords, as implemented in the United States in 2001, were the fundamental cause of the financial crisis.

  • Dain Fitzgerald interviews Chris Wisniewski (seminar of '99) on his recent article in Critical Review on Cultural Studies. Listen here.
  • Dain Fitzgerald interviews Slavisa Tasic (seminar of '09) on his recent article in Critical Review on the overconfidence of regulators. Listen here.

  • Mateusz Machaj has successfully defended his dissertation, entitled "Property Rights in Socialism and Capitalism: A Comparative Analysis," at the University of Wroclaw, where he has assumed the position of assistant professor of economics and management. He attended the 2009 summer seminar and coauthored one of the key articles in our special financial-crisis issue. His article on Hayek is forthcoming in 2013.
  • Sam DeCanio (seminar of 1998) has accepted the position of Assistant Professor of Political Science at Yale University, where he joins John Bullock (seminar of 1999) on the tenure track.

  • On August 31, 2008, at the conclusion of the American Political Science Association convention in Boston, the Critical Review Foundation held its first-ever scholarly conference, at which Profs. John Bullock (CR seminar of 1999), Sam DeCanio (’98), Tom Hoffman (’95) Mike Murakami (‘01), Mark Pennington (’96), Ilya Somin (’97), and Nick Weller (’03) explored the implications of public ignorance with eminent scholars from the United States and Canada. The dialogue continued for six hours and, as many commented afterwards, nobody left early who didn’t need to catch a plane!

    Click on Photos in the left margin to see some pictures of the event. A videotape of the entire event is posted under Audio & Video to your left, and a transcript of the conference was published in Critical Review vol. 20, no. 4..

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