Category Archives: Research and Scholarship
Me? I’m thankful that I’ve had the Warm-Up to fall back on when I’m too busy trying to sleep off this ^$$@!#^& endless chest cold, so I can at least keep a little bit current on Ethics Alarms. Today, the hell with it! Mind over matter, exhaustion be damned, I’m going to work, shop, make delayed client calls and research until I drop, literally. Time to stop being a weenie. Then tomorrow I can be thankful that I’m still alive.
1. Do not let the Clinton defenders off the hook. For me, this is head exploding: the New York Times is crediting an A&E series about “The Clinton Affair” with suddenly, remarkably, making it possible to see that Paula Jones, as well as Katherine Willey and Juanita Broaddrick, were not just “right wing conspiracy”- primed bimbos weaponized to bring down Bill Clinton. Ah! Now, through the sudden clarity provided by the #MeToo movement, the Times and the rest of the mainstream media feels that the truth, so impenetrable all those years ago, has been revealed! Jones was credible! Willey and Broaddrick were (and are) credible! What a shock! Who knew?
Excuse me if I barf. I knew, and, I submit, so did the New York Times et al,, including my hypocritical feminist lawyer friends at the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, where I worked during the Clinton years. “I believe Anita Hill!” boasted the button worn by the association’s first female President. “Really?” I asked her? Then why didn’t you believe Paula Jones? Clinton has had a history of sexual harassment and predator allegations; Clarence Thomas hasn’t.” Her answer was, to paraphrase, “Humina humina humina…’ She had no answer. She knew she had sided with a powerful man against a powerless woman for purely political reasons, and credibility and justice had nothing to do with the calculation. So did the New York Times. All of the defenses of Clinton were rationalizations—all of them, every one. I argued, and I taught at the time, that the Lewinsky affair was classic workplace harassment where the disparity of power made true consent impossible, even as such feminists as Gloria Steinem denied it, because, you see, Bill supported abortion rights. Of course he did. I’ll bet those rights served him well at one or more junctures in his rise.
Now, though, the realization of what Clinton was really doing has come into focus, as if it wasn’t deliberately blurred by the same forces now proclaiming it. In her essay for Vanity Fair earlier this year, Monica wrote that #MeToo had given her a “new lens” for seeing her own story, writing “Now, at 44, I’m beginning (just beginning) to consider the implications of the power differentials that were so vast between a president and a White House intern.”
Well, you’re slow, Monica, but at least you have an excuse. The New York Times is simply covering up a lie. It has no new lens: it was just pretending, along with the Democratic Party and most of the news media, that it didn’t know what was obvious to anyone with a neutral perspective. Bill Clinton was a serial harasser and sexual predator. He used his power in office to abuse women, and then to cover up his misconduct. Hillary Clinton was his accomplice, for her own gain. The President lied under oath in the Jones suit, a genuine, proven, “high crime.” It was not personal conduct, but professional, official, workplace misconduct, by well-accepted standards in the employment law field. That other Presidents, notably Kennedy, hasalso been sexual predators was not an valid excuse or a defense. The Democratic Party’s alleged feminism and dedication to women’s rights has been pure hypocrisy and cynical misrepresentation as long as the Clintons were embraced as allies and icons, a situation which existed right up through the 2016 election.
How dare the Times pretend all of this was unfathomable before 2018? Are Times readers really this corrupt and gullible? I know I especially resent it, because everything the paper says is suddenly, amazingly “in focus” was clear to me 20 years ago, and I got the same sneering condescension from my left-corrupted friends then that I get from them now, though on different topics. I’m thankful for the Clinton Ethics Train Wreck, because it started me writing about ethics on-line. But I am not letting these liars and hypocrites off the hook. Neither should you. Continue reading
I can’t tell you how much I hate operating at quarter-steam like this. I have an ethics seminar to get through in two days, so I’m trying to be responsible. Luckily I have to deal with this about once every three years or so.
1. Baseball rejects consequentialism! New York Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom won the National League Cy Young Award after leading the majors in earned run average, meaning that he gave up fewer runs per 9 innings of any pitcher. Indeed, deGrom’s major-league-leading 1.70 ERA was two-thirds of a run lower than the next closest NL hurler, Philadelphia‘s Aaron Nola (2.37), and the second best by any starter this century. Despite his own excellence, his team, the disappointing New York Mets, lost most of his starts, and deGrom only had a 10-9 record for the season. Traditionally the Cy Young honor, meant to designate the best pitcher in each league, has gone to the pitcher who won the most games while not disgracing himself in other categories. With the advent of statistical analysis, however, it has even dawned on the most meat-headed sportswriters that all a pitcher can do is prevent the other team from scoring, and if his team can’t score behind him, it says nothing about his ability at all.
In other words, doing “good” must be judged by what an individual does, not what happens that is beyond his control as he does it or after. Continue reading
I still can’t sleep.
This is the second Comment of the Day on this October 18 post, a surprise one for Pennagain, since I didn’t even flag it at the time. Again, I’m sorry. I don’t know what was up in October; it also ended with the worst traffic here of any week for more than two years. Obviously, it was a protest over my dilatory posting of the fine work by my commenters.
This one is a triple COTD, made up of three by Penn, who properly raised the specter of Samantha Erdly in the context of hoax research. Erdley is the Rolling Stone journalist who inflicted the “Jackie” tale of an imaginary gang rape at the University of Virginia, an earlier assault of truth and due process by the “believe all women” crowd. (Ethics Alarms covered the episode in a series of posts.). I just re-read Pennagain’s comments, made in a discussion with Alizia Tyler, who earns an assist. Excellent observations, and a valuable assist in making sure this journalistic outrage is never slipped down the memory hole, as so many would love it to be.
Here is Pennagain’s Comment of the Day on Ethics Quiz: The Good Hoax?:
As far as hoax articles appearing in either reputable journals or popular publications (rarely the same thing), if I weren’t an atheist, I would damn them all to hell. What I have in mind as an example that should need no further elucidation here is the piece knowingly published by Rolling Stone that included the false rape stories and statistics responsible for poisoning much of a culture, not to mention its politics….
“In November 2016, a federal court jury found Samantha Erdely was liable for defamation with actual malice” and that “Erdely and Rolling Stone failed to engage in “basic, even routine journalistic practice”
Her background reveals a start in college, when her colleague Stephen Glass ‘threw a righteous fit’ after she and a another student “concocted a funny and obviously made-up travel story” for the school magazine.” [Glass, you may not know, later became nationally notorious for inventing false stories published as factual journalism in the highly respected The New Republic, seriously harming its reputation.] Erdely was obviously already toxic before she left school. If you’re curious, her Wikipedia bio contains descriptions of six other major rape stories she invented out of whole cloth and used to smear real people and institutions, articles that in at least two cases went up for major journalism awards. As a self-appointed expert in rape and bullying, her work went into GQ, The New Yorker, Mother Jones, Glamour, Men’s Health, Philadelphia, among other lesser magazines. She was believed. The more she got away with, the greater the lies she invented … until, after twenty wonderful years of conning millions of people, she got over-confident and lazy, and plagiarized a previous article of her own. Until someone finally noticed that the Rolling Stone piece bore too many similarities to another one to be coincidental.
For twenty years, from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, Seattle to Florida, she built a reputation for being the go-to journalist on the subject of rape. No one doubted her. Witnesses later spoke out using her writing as statistical evidence — women (and so many men who had been falsely accused) and feminists in particular — had absorbed every precious word – even against the evidence of their own knowledge and experience in the times and places Erdely was writing about.
A month ago, September 21, 2018, Rolling Stone was also found “liable for defamation.” It was noted in the case against Erdely that the magazine hadn’t been doing too well before they glommed onto that gem of Samantha, aka “Jackie,” the fictional rapee.
Last week’s headline: WaPo Reporter Is Tired of Being Reminded He Fell for Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s Hate Hoax So Badly He Called for Burning Down UVA Frat Houses
I now amend my description of the poisonous piece: It is a “hate hoax.”
No, Alizia, poisons do not, in general, lead to death. They lead to minor discomfort in some, and major permanent damage in others; some knock you on your ass right away, and some creep insidiously into your brain over months or years. The public remembers things they read and hear. They (I won’t say “we” because I became skeptical reader at the age of 12 after a defamatory article was published in a local newspaper concerning a friend of my family concerning something that happened while I was present and knew to be a lie. I had been visiting one of their children, a classmate, at the time the incident took place, or rather, didn’t take place. My testimony was taken down, along with his, not discounted, but the editor of the paper would not print a retraction because, he said, “we don’t want to confuse our readers; they expect the truth, and that is what we give them.” Our parents wanted that in writing; naturally, he refused.
I am convinced that what is presented in a plausible manner from an authoritative source (which could be the 10 o’clock news or a magazine with a reputation for having its journalistic thumb on the pulse of young America) is frequently taken in without the auditor, viewer or reader later recalling the source. If they didn’t question it in the first place, they not only don’t question it later, but, when challenged, they will deny or dismiss any correction out of sheer embarrassment, egotism, mental laziness or, in the case under discussion, because they want to believe it.
As has been pointed out in Ethics Alarms before, the left, on the whole, has taken the anomalous position of being at once both victim and dictator. Thus, the concept of a Rape Culture is heaven for them: they are, collectively, the injured parties … and the ones who injure, including any who are capable of doing injury, are now at their mercy — via 30-year-old wisps of memory, anonymous join-the-conga-line #MeToo-ers, a casual touch on the shoulder, or a dirty-dirty word in their ears. They feed on lies more than on facts – the truths are painful, but the lies are more … emotional, memorable, dramatic, arousing . . . . They need to feed the addiction even when they know it is poison…
The fact in this matter is that Erdely, falsely or idiotically or crazily or not, believed she was doing something fine and high-minded “for women,” and to alert a deaf public (and via that route influence authorities) that there was “a rape problem” that needed to be addressed. In her mind, the ruining of a single man (or a whole college fraternity) was insignificant in terms of getting her message “out there.”
In other words, her cover (if you will) was in presenting these gross exaggerations as hoaxes. I may have taken you in the wrong direction by quoting the court decisions concerning malicious intent. The articles undoubtedly did “malicious” damage. So where am I? What Erdely believed (and apparently still does) has been shown to be shared by much of the public touched by it — including a proportion of men who don’t understand they are simply seeing themselves as heroic exceptions, or else thinking they are disguising themselves to live in the midst of an Amazonian tribe that wants to cut their balls off (that was an irrelevant side-bar, sorry, I do that a lot, letting off steam). Here’s what happens when someone with a cause and a vague concept of how bad the situation is gets hold of what she thinks are solid statistics, intended as a righteous hoax: https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2014/12/06/msnbc_panelist_we_live_in_a_culture_that_hates_women.html
I rest my case.
It’s 2:04 am…3:04, really but Daylight Savings Time has fallen…and I can’t sleep. I decided that it must be a guilty conscience for falling so far behind in posting Comments of the Day, so here is one of the more recent ones, Ryan Harkins on the question of whether deliberately fooling academic journals to show how vulnerable they are to bogus research is ethically defensible. Another COTD will be along on the same post, but this one is by Ryan, on Ethics Quiz: The Good Hoax?:
Other professionals read the articles, and surveys of results are typical to show that there is a body of evidence supporting a particular conclusion. If a bunch of bunk is being passed off as good science, that feeds into further papers and can eventually influence public policy. This is especially true in softer sciences, where results are much murkier than than in the hard sciences, but even the hard sciences suffer from the problem.
The question is, how do you show that there is a problem in the peer review process, and that articles are being discarded because they don’t toe a party line, and articles are being accepted not on their merits but because they do toe the party line? You can’t write a good paper and show bias by having it rejected, because the rejection is supposed to be proof that the paper is bad. But you can deliberately write a bad paper, and if it is accepted, you can call foul because you can show you deliberately put together a bunch of garbage.
Is this ethical? I think it would certainly be ethical if the system were intentionally built so that some people were tasked with creating bogus papers to keep peer-reviewers on their toes. It is sort of like secret shoppers in the service industry. But we don’t currently have this built into the system. Is playing vigilante in this effort unethical, then? Continue reading