Category Archives: Research and Scholarship

Ethics Quiz: The Good Hoax?

A scholarly journal called “Sex Roles” published what t thought were the results of  a two-year study involving “thematic analysis of table dialogue” to uncover the mystery of why heterosexual men like to eat at Hooters. A journal of feminist geography, whatever that is, featured research om “human reactions to rape culture and queer performativity” at dog parks in Portland, Oregon. Another paper was deemed worthy of publication in a journal of feminist social work:  titled “Our Struggle Is My Struggle,” it merged current feminist cant into passages lifted from Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.”

Last week, the three authors of these and many other hoax papers  revealed in an article for the online journal Areo explaining that their fakery was part of a project to expose the lack of integrity in academia. “Scholarship based less upon finding truth and more upon attending to social grievances has become firmly established, if not fully dominant, within these fields,” they wrote. James A. Lindsay, Helen Pluckrose and Peter Boghossian  (above) said that they wrote 20 fake scholarly papers and had several accepted and published in journals. The embarrassed publications rushed to retract the fake scholarship…

…while many scholars praised the hoaxers. for casting a harsh and revealing light on the “peer-reviewed research” scam.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz Of The Day:

Was the hoax project ethical?

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Comment Of The Day: “Racist Political Correctness, Casting Ethics, Double Standards, And The Rock”

Yes, this comment has little to do with ethics, but it’s so interesting as a supplement to the main post that it deserves greater circulation.

Here is Pennagain’s fascinating Comment of the Day on the weekend’s post, Racist Political Correctness, Casting Ethics, Double Standards, And The Rock:

I knew there were at least two versions of the song, “The Ballad of John Henry,” but I’ve so far found dozens more online, most of them having umpteen verses, and a work-song rhythm – the most basic of which my 7-year-old self stomped in that driving stop-rhythm around the classroom (chanting?), with that hammer-driving oomph! at the end of each line, to lyrics like “gonna die with the hammer in mah han’, Lord, Lord”.

For what it’s worth, a “real” John Henry is pretty well authenticated in at least one version of the story, ending fatally at the C&O’s Big Bend Tunnel in Talcott, West Virginia.

From KPBS’ “The African-American Railroad Experience”, built on Theodore Kornweibel’s photographic history: The entire southern railroad network built during the slavery era was built almost exclusively by slaves. Some of the railroads owned slaves, other hired or rented from slave owners [later from contracted freedmen or convict work-gangs]. And. . . women as well as men were actually involved in the hard, dangerous, brutal work. … several of the song versions finish with John Henry telling his wife to pick up the hammer and continue the job.

Negative evidence of Henry’s race would be that none of the many, many verses of the songs (recorded by 38 singers besides Ives) nor folk references – negro dialect aside (arguably stretched to “Suthun,”) – refer to that figure as being other than black. And as a black man, and a real, live “Everyman” working-man’s hero, he is proudly and fiercely claimed by South Carolina, Alabama, Virginia, Georgia, Kentucky . . . and Jamaica. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/15/18: Overthrowing The Government, Replacing Umpires, and Fooling Some Of The People Who Never Did Their Science And Math Assignments [UPDATED!]

Good morning…

1. Baseball Ethics: Again, Robocalls, please! Last night, Game #2 of the American League Championship Series between the 2017 World Champion Houston Astros and some team from Boston again showed why Major League Baseball must install automated ball and strike calls and automatic video review if the game is going to have any integrity at all. Regarding the latter, there was a play in which a Houston batter’s swing and miss for strike three was erroneously called a foul ball by the home plate umpire, and the replay claerly showed that the bat had missed any contact by inches. Nonetheless, the batter got another chance. He struck out (“no harm, no foul” literally) a second time, but that was just moral luck. If he had hit a home run, altering the game’s outcome, the system would have been changed with lightning speed: Ye Olde Barn Door Fallacy.

Regarding the constant missed call and strike calls that risk changing the outcome in every game, the previous game in the serious contained a classic example. In a close contest with the two runners on base and a 3-2 count, Red Sox batter Andrew Benintendi was called out on a pitch about six inches outside the strike zone. Instead of the inning continuing with the bases loaded and the AL season RBI leader, J.D. Martinez, coming to the plate, the inning was over. Listening to the ex-players like TBS color man Ron Darling babble excuses and rationalizations is almost as infuriating as the obviously wrong calls. “Well, the ball wasn’t too far off the plate” and “That pitch has been called a strike earlier tonight” and “The umpires have a difficult job”: Shut up, Ron. The strike zone is set by the rules; a ball is either a strike or it isn’t, so a call is either correct or it’s botched. Blatantly missed calls were “part of the game” in an earlier era when nothing could be done about them, but that’s not true now. Baseball is supposed to be determined by the skill and performance of the players, not by random, unpredictable mistakes by the bystanding officials. Can you imagine a criminal defendant sent to prison in a trial where the judge repeatedly allowed inadmissible evidence against him because he misinterpreted the law, and the appeals court shrugging and rejecting an appeal with a unanimous opinion that said, “Hey, mistakes happen! It’s part of the system’s tradition and charm!”

2. Run, Fauxahontas, Run!  Fake Native American Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) announced that she finally did have her DNA tested. No cheapie home test for this aspiring Cherokee: she had the DNA test performed  by Carlos D. Bustamante, a Stanford University professor (and Democrat) and expert in the field who won a 2010 MacArthur fellowship for his work on tracking population migration via DNA analysis.  He concluded that “the vast majority” of Warren’s ancestry is European, but he added that “the results strongly support the existence of an “unadmixed Native American ancestor,” and calculated that Warren’s pure Native American ancestor appears in her family tree “in the range of 6-10 generations ago.” That’s a big range: six generations would make her 1/32nd American Indian, but ten generations would make her 1/1024th Native American. Nothing in the test proves she has the Cherokee ancestry she claims.

UPDATE: Apparently the Globe reporters and editors are among the math-challenged. Mid-day, it issued a second correction:

“Due to a math error, a story about Elizabeth Warren misstated the ancestry percentage of a potential 6th to 10th generation relative. The generational range based on the ancestor that the report identified suggests she’s between 1/64th and 1/1,024th Native American,” the Globe explained.

This means Warren is somewhere between 0.09 and 1.5 percent Native American, not between .19 and 3.1 percent as originally claimed.

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/4/18: On Baseball, Mocking Ford, Apologies, and “Tax Schemes”

Good Morning!

[BOY its been hard keeping up on ethics blogging between air travel, a balky laptop, seminars, the new firm and, most of all, ushering the Red Sox to a World Championship. Yesterday was classic: I had multiple posts composed in my head, and literally was never able to find time to work on them. I’m sorry. I’ll figure it out…]

1 Baseball ethics: The exciting Cubs-Rockies Wild Card elimination game was set up by the Colorado 12-0 win over the Washington Nationals on the final day of the season. Thus the Rockies ended the season in a tie with the Dodgers on top of the NL West, requiring one of the two tie-breaking games on Monday. These were ratings bonanzas for baseball and the networks showing them, leading to conspiracy theories regarding that last Rockies victory.  Max Scherzer, arguably the best pitcher in the league, was supposed to start the game fr Washington, and if he had, its safe to say that the Rockies would not have won 12-0, if at all. Reportedly he wanted to start the game, but the Nationals decided late to start the immortal Eric Fedde. Were they trying to give the game to the Rockies? Did orders come down from MLB to tank?

The theory makes no sense, because the suits and networks are always rooting for the big media centers and their teams to make it to the World Series. The Dodgers, Red Sox, Yankees and Cubs mean big ratings, and the Rockies posed a threat to the Dodgers and ended up eliminating the Cubs. Nonetheless, a team like the Nats, out of the race, running out the string, should have the professional integrity to go all out to win when a game is important to its opponent.

2. I’m not going to demand an apology, but they still owe me an apology. The Hill is reporting that…

Congressional investigators have confirmed that a top FBI official met with Democratic Party lawyers to talk about allegations of Donald Trump-Russia collusion weeks before the 2016 election, and before the bureau secured a search warrant targeting Trump’s campaign.

Former FBI general counsel James Baker met during the 2016 season with at least one attorney from Perkins Coie, the Democratic National Committee’s private law firm.

That’s the firm used by the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign to secretly pay research firm Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence operative, to compile a dossier of uncorroborated raw intelligence alleging Trump and Moscow were colluding to hijack the presidential election.

The dossier, though mostly unverified, was then used by the FBI as the main evidence seeking a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant targeting the Trump campaign in the final days of the campaign.

This is not exactly surprising, but it ticks me off for personal reasons. Several left-leaning commenters here who I respected and gave a lot of attention, abandoned Ethics Alarms in high dudgeon because I continued to question the growing evidence that the entire Russian collusion investigation was rigged, partisan, illegal, and an effort to bring down an elected President using a corrupt and politicized FBI and Justice Department. Here was one exit speech, and from a friend:

“But I can’t allow my own tiny voice to be associated with this nonsense any longer. Being the “left” voice is one thing; being way out on the fringe is quite another, and I don’t think it’s me that has moved. I see far too many shades in our times now of McCarthyism (not Gene), George Wallace-ism, and autocracy. I’m deeply concerned about the continued health and well-being of our democratic institutions. I suspect Rod Rosenstein will soon have no recourse but to resign, and I’m doing something similar. I don’t want to be party to this hysterical of a dialogue (in my humble opinion).”

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Stipulated, We Can’t Trust Polls, But This One Is A Harvard Poll, So…Well We Can’t Trust Harvard, Either, But Still It’s An Interesting Poll…

We can see one reason why we can’t trust polls from these two headlines:

The Hill: “More Americans oppose Kavanaugh nomination amid partisan rancor.”

AOL: “Nearly two-thirds of voters believe Kavanaugh should be confirmed if the FBI finds no corroboration of the charges.”

We can’t trust polls because they are made to be spun.

The Harvard Center for American Political Studies /Harris Poll online survey of 1,330 registered voters was conducted September 29 to 30. The partisan breakdown is 37 percent Democrat, 32 percent Republican, 29 percent independent and 2 percent other. The full poll isn’t out yet, but here are some results, with my comments.

  • 37 percent of registered voters want their Senators to give Kavanaugh’s nomination the thumbs up, while 44 percent want their Senators to vote against him. But 18 percent of respondents are undecided.

And, apparently, a lot of those surveyed didn’t watch the hearings, don’t know that Dr. Ford’s accusations are unsubstantiated, and almost certainly haven’t read the report of the Committees expert prosecutor, who found them dubious based on her testimony. Thanks, Biased Mainstream Media! But the truth will out…

  • 44%  of men per cent want their senators to vote in favor and another 44% wanting them to vote against Kavanaugh. Among female voters, 44% want Senators to vote against confirming Kavanaugh, while 31% want him confirmed. 24% remain undecided.

Yes, more women are unfair and biased on this nomination. But who wouldn’t want to install a cultural norm where your gender was regarded as automatically unimpeachable, no matter who you accused. with or without evidence?

  • 45%  of independents currently “don’t back their Senators confirming Kavanaugh,” compared to 28% who want him confirmed.

That’s how The Hill puts it, which is why you can’t trust second hand descriptions of polls, either. “Don’t back their Senators confirming Kavanaugh” now, or ever? Continue reading

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The Facts Are In: Surprise! Serena Williams And Her Defenders Were Dead Wrong In Every Respect

It is rare that a public controversy that breaks down ideological lines actually has a resolution. The uproar over the sexist “double standards” a tennis umpire supposedly used against Serena Williams as she lost the U.S. Open championship (fair and square) to Naomi Osaka is just such a rarity. Although it should have been obvious on its face (Yes, it’s legal jargon, but I love it) that Serena was grandstanding to distract from her loss and posing as a gender rights crusader when she was really being an entitled celebrity jackass, social justice warriors fell all over themselves rationalizing her outburst, with columns titled, “Right message, wrong timing” at best,  and demands that the umpire and the U.S. Open owe Williams an apology for enforcing the rules at worst.

There’s no longer any valid  justification for debate. Williams was wrong; her defenders were biased, and it is they, not match umpire Carlos Ramos, who are obligated to apologize.

The New York Times isn’t always spinning for the Left. In a thorough article yesterday, it revealed that when the rampaging tennis diva protested to Brian Earley, the tournament referee, “There are men out here who do a lot worse than me, but because I’m a woman you are going to take this away from me? That is not right,” she was perpetrating a falsehood.

The Times actually looked at the data, something that should have been available to the public immediately after the Williams tantrum, but let’s be grateful for responsible journalism even when it’s suspiciously late. The conclusion: Serena’s accusation notwithstanding, “men appear to be fined proportionally more often than women for a variety of offenses.”

Here’s the Times chart:

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/14/18: A Newly Christened Ethics Train Wreck!

Good Morn…ARRRGH!!!

1. As predicted…The wounded Ethics Alarms commenter who sued me for defamation is appealing the Massachusetts judge’s ruling granting my motion to dismiss for failure to state a cause of action. His main objective, I assume, is just to waste as much of my time and money as possible. Apparently he either has posted or will post the entire transcript of the hearing and a recording of the proceedings on his website.

2. It’s official! The Bret Kavanaugh confirmation is officially and ethics train wreck. It was already a national embarrassment. Putting it over the top and on the metaphorical rails was the truly nauseating smear attempted by Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Cal). Here is her statement:

“I have received information from an individual concerning the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. That individual strongly requested confidentiality, declined to come forward or press the matter further, and I have honored that decision. I have, however, referred the matter to federal investigative authorities.”

This is pure innuendo with no content whatsoever, and thus dirty politics, indeed McCarthyite politics. But wait! There’s more! From the Intercept:

It purportedly describes an incident that was relayed to someone affiliated with Stanford University, who authored the letter and sent it to Rep. Anna Eshoo, a Democrat who represents the area. Different sources provided different accounts of the contents of the letter, and some of the sources said they themselves had heard different versions, but the one consistent theme was that it describes an incident involving Kavanaugh and a woman while they were in high school.

I’m sorry if heads are exploding, but I’m especially concerned about those who will try to rationalize what Feinstein, and the Democrats, are doing in their desperation to defeat the nomination of a completely qualified Supreme Court candidate. A second, third or fourth-hand hearsay account from an anonymous source alleging  some kind of possibly sexual misconduct (by 2018 #MeToo rules, I’m sure) was passed along to Feinstein, who announced that she was referring it to the Justice Department, and the alleged conduct of an undefined nature occurred when Kavanaugh was a high school student. Continue reading

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