Category Archives: Research and Scholarship

Message To An Unethical Teacher: Children Are Not Your Guinea Pigs



Fire this teacher now.

Karen Keller, a kindergarten teacher at Captain Johnston Blakely Elementary on Bainbridge Island, Washington, think it is her role to use 5 year olds for her own social science experiment. She’s wrong. But then, she’s wrong about so much, and so arrogant about it. If she is allowed to continue her abusive manipulation of her young charges without being stopped, reprimanded, or given a pink slip, the negligent parents of her victims must carry the blame. Every now and then a teacher will go power mad and run amuck—I had one of those. There is no excuse for not acting quickly before someone gets hurt.

Keller has decided that it is her mission in life to combat what some studies show to be lower spatial and math skills development among girls as a group, as compared to boys. Thus she has decided to forbid boys from playing with LEGOS during the “unstructured play period” of 40 minutes that the kindergarten day includes. Keller told a local paper that it drove her crazy  that the girls wanted to play with dolls while boys flocked to the plastic building system, so she decided to take action to erase those gender-based proclivities. “Until girls get it into their system that building is cool, building is ‘what I want to do’ — I want to protect that.”

Want to fire her yet?

How about this statement…

“I always tell the boys, ‘You’re going to have a turn’ — and I’m like, ‘Yeah, when hell freezes over’ in my head,” she said. “I tell them, ‘You’ll have a turn’ because I don’t want them to feel bad.”

Now do you want to fire her? Continue reading


Filed under Childhood and children, Environment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Family, Gender and Sex, Research and Scholarship

The Cost Of Rationalizations

Employee Theft

According to The Global Retail Theft Barometer released this month by Checkpoint Systems,  employees in the U.S. steal from their employers at significantly higher rates than workers in other countries. The direct cost to businesses, as you can see in the diagram above: a staggering 16.6 billion dollars.

Most of this is taken in incremental amounts, by people who would be shocked if you questioned their character. Why is this number is so high? As far as comparing to other countries are concerned, it’s the same factor that anti-gun zealots refuse to acknowledge, and that Bernie Sanders can’t seem to grasp. Our country is not like other countries; we guarantee our citizens more freedom, for one thing, and freedom unavoidably means more freedom to do bad things as well as good.  Our national character is not like other countries. Americans are not like other people.

Good. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Government & Politics, Research and Scholarship, U.S. Society, Workplace

Desperately Seeking A Justification For The Unjustifiable Mizzou Meltdown, And Failing


Yesterday, the Washington Post’s Janelle Moss, an African American issues columnist, presented an aggressive, dishonest and insulting justification for the destructive black student protests at the University of Missouri. In an earlier essay, I described them as an “I’m mad at the world and somebody has to pay for it” tantrum. I’m sticking by that description, despite the ennobling spin being put on it by apologists, many of whom are trying to blunt the damage being done to civil rights advocacy by the events of the last several days.

[N]owhere in this still-young week has there been a better example of the tension between the conservative and liberal views of race and the politics around it than behind the podium where University of Missouri President Timothy M. Wolfe stood and resigned Monday,” she wrote.  This is setting up Wolfe’s speech as a straw man. He was forced to resign, and ordered to do it without making matters worse. He was also protecting himself, and, I believe, was a weak and inept leader. How nice to be able to take a hastily written statement by such a dubious representative of any group and declare it the exemplar of “conservative views on race.”

Moss’s introduction was smoking gun proof that this was an example of an advocate picking out evidence to support what she already was committed to supporting, and atrocious evidence at that.

“The Fix is aware that some Americans are inclined to reject, outright, the idea that some words — those that we choose to express our ideas, what we say at critical moments and that which we do not mention — have deeper, often multi-layered meaning, ” she writes.  I don’t know what she thinks she is saying. “Many Americans” reject the idea that words have meaning? “Multi-layered” meanings? Who? Who believes that? What she is trying to do is to justify her next “proof,” which is junk science.

She consulted two minority social scientists, who have clear biases of their own (but coincidentally aligned with hers)  to psychoanalyze what Wolfe said in resigning, and allowing her to use their self-serving diagnosis (one has a book out about “dog-whistle” racism; the other makes his living writing and teaching about how racist the U.S. is) of a short and quickly composed speech to read not just Wolfe’s thoughts but to attribute them to all “conservatives.” The result is, or should be embarrassing. Continue reading


Filed under Education, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Professions, Race, Research and Scholarship, U.S. Society

Debate Questions No Democrat Will Ever Be Asked (1): “You and President Obama Claim That Climate Change Is Settled Science To The Extent That The United States Should Burden Industry With Expensive And Job Threatening Mandates To Curb It. Explain Your Certitude On This Despite NASA’s Discovery That Antarctica Is Actually Gaining Ice?”


The recent report from NASA regarding increasing levels of ice in Antarctica shows beyond any reasonable doubt that climate science is not “settled.” Any scientist who says so is playing politics,  lying, or both; any politician who says so is not very bright or lying. If the science were settled, NASA, whose leadership has crossed many lines of honesty and objectivity by over-hyping climate change research, would not publish studies whose authors have explain them by saying  things like this, from Jay Zwally, NASA glaciologist and lead author of the study:

…”The good news is that Antarctica is not currently contributing to sea level rise, but is taking 0.23 millimeters per year away But this is also bad news. If the 0.27 millimeters per year of sea level rise attributed to Antarctica in the IPCC report is not really coming from Antarctica, there must be some other contribution to sea level rise that is not accounted for.”

…In noting that it could take only a few decades for the ice melt in Antarctica to outweigh the ice gains: “I don’t think there will be enough snowfall increase to offset these losses.”

…“We’re essentially in agreement with other studies that show an increase in ice discharge. Our main disagreement is for East Antarctica and the interior of West Antarctica; there, we see an ice gain that exceeds the losses in the other areas.”

Does that sound “settled” to you? Continue reading


Filed under Around the World, Business & Commercial, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media, Research and Scholarship, Science & Technology

Comment of the Day: “Who Are You Calling A Nut?” And Other Ethics Issues In The Community College Shooting Aftermath (Continued)”


Ethics Alarms’ eccentric philosopher Michael Ejercito, who excels in asking provocative questions, ends his Comment of the Day regarding the attack on gun ownership with the query, “Why do people use such discredited arguments?”

There’s certainly a lot of discredited arguments in the air. A writer named Michael Pusitan wrote a risible post (inspiring a very funny Animal House referenced take-town by the Instapundit) about getting rid of his guns, ending with this passage:

Last week, I sat in a hotel room and watched the President talk about the latest mass shooting and how they had become routine and the concern that nothing would change. I started to shrug it off and pretend in my mind that there was nothing I could do. But the idea that gun culture doesn’t bear some responsibility for these killings didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t want to be a part of gun culture anymore.

I was never going to use these guns for self-defense, they were safely locked and out of reach. I don’t hunt. I don’t shoot clays. There are no dangerous animals where I live. There are no zombies. I’m not a police officer or soldier. I am not part of a well regulated militia. There’s no reason for me to have them.

So I got rid of them. Firearms are no longer a hobby of mine.

This well-exposes the logical disconnect of virtually all the “WE GOTTA DO SOMETHING!” rants from political exploiters of the recent shootings, where the tragedy is used to insist on measures that will have no effect on preventing the tragedies at issue. Pusitan getting rid of his guns is grandstanding, that’s all. His action won’t save a single life, and if he snapped and decided to go shoot up a church he’d still be able to buy the guns to do it. Meanwhile, the statement “I didn’t want to be a part of gun culture anymore” is pure, distilled ignorance. It’s not the gun culture, you fool, it’s the culture, and unless you want to book a slow boat to China, you’re part of it whether you like it or not, because you live here, and derive the good and the bad from the uniquely vital and productive individual initiative and freedom-based culture that is the United States of America.

(Instapundit’s joke quotes Otter: THESE TIMES CALL FOR A REALLY STUPID, FUTILE GESTURE. And he’s just the guy who can do it.)

The answers to Michael’s question are many: because they don’t know what they are talking about, because they have no good, honest proposals, just bad, dishonest ones, because they are preaching to the choir and not really interested in changing anyone’s mind, because the whole debate is framed by emotion, not facts.

Here is Michael Ejercito‘s Comment of the Day on the post, “Who Are You Calling A Nut?” And Other Ethics Issues In The Community College Shooting Aftermath (Continued)”

A column from George Skelton on this issue, and my response.

It is really quite simple: Guns are designed for killing. The more guns there are, the more people get killed. That’s not just simple logic. It’s simple fact.

The same thing have been argued with regards to alcohol- or black people.

And no other developed nation comes close to us in firearms fatalities. We’re at 10-plus per 100,000 people. One third are homicides, two thirds are suicides.

I wonder if George Skelton even heard that California has legalized assisted suicide. The state thus declared that suicide is a good thing. Continue reading


Filed under Around the World, Comment of the Day, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Research and Scholarship, Rights, U.S. Society

Facebook Grammar, Lincoln Chafee, USA Today, and Confirmation Bias

The smartest supporters of all!

He has the smartest supporters of all!

USA Today once was a mediocre newspaper that had one virtue: it was convenient for travelers, and sadly more useful for following non-locale news development than all but a handful of city publications. Now it isn’t a newspaper at all, but some hybrid monstrosity that is laid out like a website, has articles too short to be complete or helpful, and a product pandering to those with small vocabularies and attention spans that have been destroyed by the internet. But it’s often free, so on my latest (horrible, miserable, disaster-filled) seminar tour around Virginia, I had the pleasure of opening an edition and seeing what immediately struck me as the kind of feature no respectable journalistic enterprise would tolerate.

USA Today political writer Paul Singer thought newsworthy a ridiculous exercise that could only have sprung from a toxic mix of bias and silliness. It’s objective: let’s either prove that Republicans and conservatives are dumber than their Democrat, liberal counterparts, or prove that an accepted way of measuring intelligence is inaccurate for the purpose, because it doesn’t prove that Republicans are morons, and we all know they are. The feature was called “Democrats crush Republicans in grammar; Chafee on top.”

This is yet another self-rebutting exercise, as proven by the headline. Lincoln Chafee is a well-established boob, as they will tell you, if you ask, in his home base of Rhode Island. The man announced his Presidential run citing his primary cause as getting the U.S. to adopt the metric system. This immediately places him in the long and amusing line of wacko candidates, including…

Homer Aubrey Tomlinson, who was a New York City preacher that ran for the presidency under the banner of the Theocratic Party in five elections, from 1952 until his death in 1968. He wanted to replace taxation with tithing and promised to create a new cabinet post: Secretary of Righteousness. Later, Tomlinson declared himself King of the World and staged coronation ceremonies in 101 different countries, in which he appeared wearing a gold-plated crown, an inflatable globe and a folding chair as his throne. And…

California congressman John G. Schmitz, who was the American Independent Party candidate for president in 1972. He was expelled from the John Birch Society for “extremism,” which sort of says it all. Schmitz also endorsed the return of segregated schools, and later announced that he was rooting for a military coup. Mary Kay Letourneau is his daughter. Then there is…

HRM Caesar St. Augustine de Buonaparte, who is running now as The Absolute Dictator Party’s candidate. He says that all the major politicians are “niggers” and so is everyone else “because we all die on our death bed and watch our offspring fight over our money.” He pledges to replace any government employee who does not have an IQ of at least 150.

So if Chafee has the followers with the most facility with the language, what does it tell us about the usefulness of that factor in assessing, well, anything? It tells me that this was an inquiry designed to embarrass Republicans that failed, but USA Today decided to publish it anyway with big color graphics using up about half a page in a paper that typically has only a couple of pages as substance.

The stunt was the brainchild of some Marketing flack at Grammarly, a writing app that thought it might increase the number of people who ever heard of it from five to nineteen. According to a Grammarly release, using the app on the websites of presidential candidates’ Facebook pages showed that Democratic commenters made an average of 4.2 mistakes per 100 words compared to 8.7 mistakes for supporters of Republican candidates. The Democratic supporters also showed a larger vocabulary, using on average 300 unique words per 1,000 words, while Republicans used only 245. Here was the methodology:

We began by taking a large sample of Facebook comments containing at least fifteen words from each candidate’s official page between April, 2015 and August, 2015. Next, we created a set of guidelines to help limit (as much as possible) the subjectivity of categorizing the comments as positive or negative. Since the point of the study was to analyze the writing of each candidate’s supporters, we considered only obviously positive or neutral comments. Obviously negative or critical comments, as well as ambiguous or borderline negative comments, were disqualified.

We then randomly selected at least 180 of these positive and neutral comments (~6,000 words) to analyze for each candidate. Using Grammarly, we identified the errors in the comments, which were then verified and tallied by a team of live proofreaders. For the purposes of this study, we counted only black-and-white mistakes such as misspellings, wrong and missing punctuation, misused or missing words, and subject-verb disagreement. We ignored stylistic variations such as the use of common slang words, serial comma usage, and the use of numerals instead of spelled-out numbers.

Finally, we calculated the average number of mistakes per one hundred words by dividing the total word count of the comments by the total number of mistakes for each candidate.

There are many problems with this, of course, the primary one being “Who cares?,” followed by “How do you know that the same commenters aren’t writing on the walls of multiple candidates?” “Isn’t this another classist, pro-coastal, elitist exercise?” “Since when is Facebook spelling and grammar an accepted measure of anything?” “How about finding out how many supporters of each candidate read USA Today, or worse, trust it?”

Now there’s an intelligence test.

Why would people waste their time writing on campaign Facebook pages, when almost none of the candidates actually look at them? How do we know the smartest Democratic supporters waste their time on Facebook, while only the dumbest Republican supporters use is? But never mind all the problems with the methodology: Grammarly is a lousy app and doesn’t work. Continue reading


Filed under Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Facebook, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Research and Scholarship, Science & Technology, U.S. Society

“Who Are You Calling A Nut?” And Other Ethics Issues In The Community College Shooting Aftermath (Parts I-VI)

mr__peanut_s_cane_gun_I. A good friend, who is a nice man so I chose not to upset him by explaining why he sounds like an idiot, announced on Facebook that he wasn’t reading any more “gun nut” posts. Hmmmm. I wonder what he thinks a “gun nut” is? Is a gun nut a teacher who punishes a student for pointing his finger like a gun, or who prevents a deaf child from signing his name, Gunner? Or is it someone who believes that the Second Amendment, which wasn’t second by accident, should be followed? Is it someone who keeps saying that laws need to be passed that will stop shootings like the one in Oregon, but who either has no realistic proposals to suggest or who suggest measures that wouldn’t have affected that shooting at all? Isn’t it nutty to engage in magical thinking? I think so.

II. I also think it’s nutty, not to mention hypocritical, to decry the lack of “civil debate” regarding gun policy and then call anyone who doesn’t want guns melted down by government order “nuts.”  Actually it’s worse than that: pundits, politicians and anti-gun advocates are increasingly equating  opposition to gun regulations advanced using false arguments, dubious logic, ad hominem attacks and deceitful statistics with insanity and intractable evil. Frankly, I resent it. I’m not opposed to sensible gun regulations, but my job is to oppose false arguments, dubious logic, ad hominem attacks and deceitful statistics, as well as to make sure that they don’t succeed lest “the ends justify the means” become a social norm.

III. Speaking of hypocritical, Mike Huckabee and others have been quite properly criticized (by me, for example) by claiming that since the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage is “wrong,” it shouldn’t be followed. Yet the most vociferous defenders of that SCOTUS decision simultaneously advocate anti-gun measures that are forbidden by the Court’s decisions interpreting the Second Amendment….because, you see, “it’s wrong.” Continue reading


Filed under Etiquette and manners, Facebook, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Research and Scholarship, U.S. Society