Facts Don’t Matter: Academic Research Undergoes The Ultimate Integrity Meltdown

Heather MacDonald, whose Congressional testimony Ethics Alarms noted here, writes in the Wall Street Journal,

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is a peer-reviewed journal that claims to publish “only the highest quality scientific research.” Now, the authors of a 2019 PNAS article are disowning their research simply because I cited it.

Psychologists Joseph Cesario of Michigan State and David Johnson of the University of Maryland analyzed 917 fatal police shootings of civilians from 2015 to test whether the race of the officer or the civilian predicted fatal police shootings. Neither did. Once “race specific rates of violent crime” are taken into account, the authors found, there are no disparities among those fatally shot by the police. These findings accord with decades of research showing that civilian behavior is the greatest influence on police behavior.

In September 2019, I cited the article’s finding in congressional testimony. I also referred to it in a City Journal article, in which I noted that two Princeton political scientists, Dean Knox and Jonathan Mummolo, had challenged the study design. Messrs. Cesario and Johnson stood by their findings. Even under the study design proposed by Messrs. Knox and Mummolo, they wrote, there is again “no significant evidence of anti-black disparity in the likelihood of being fatally shot by the police.”

My June 3 Journal op-ed quoted the PNAS article’s conclusion verbatim. It set off a firestorm at Michigan State. The university’s Graduate Employees Union pressured the MSU press office to apologize for the “harm it caused” by mentioning my article in a newsletter. The union targeted physicist Steve Hsu, who had approved funding for Mr. Cesario’s research. MSU sacked Mr. Hsu from his administrative position. PNAS editorialized that Messrs. Cesario and Johnson had “poorly framed” their article—the one that got through the journal’s three levels of editorial and peer review.

Mr. Cesario told this page that Mr. Hsu’s dismissal could narrow the “kinds of topics people can talk about, or what kinds of conclusions people can come to.” Now he and Mr. Johnson have themselves jeopardized the possibility of politically neutral scholarship. On Monday they retracted their paper. They say they stand behind its conclusion and statistical approach but complain about its “misuse,” specifically mentioning my op-eds.

The authors don’t say how I misused their work.

In a move redolent of Soviet-style retroactive censorship, Michigan State University deleted its press release promoting the study, which had said in part, Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/25/2020: Dumb And Dumber

Good morning, I guess.

It is clear, if it wasn’t already, that everything hinges on whether the American public is as stupid and inattentive as those seeking to manipulate it think it is.

1. Mobs? What mobs? I just listed to CNN’s health expert, Dr. Gupta, list the reasons there has been a surge in Wuhan virus cases. Notably absent from his list were the mass, no social distancing demonstrations/protests/riots that began two weeks ago as a prominent part of the George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck. These, as you may recall, were largely supported by the health experts (though I don’t have a record of Gupta being among them) as they apparently decided that Black Lives Matter matters more than all the black lives that would be put in danger by ignoring the safety measures we shut down the country to install.

I also have yet to read a single news story about the new cases of the virus that highlights the completely predictable effect of the mobs, which are still roaming, as a factor in the so-called “surge,” though I can’t check everything.

Is the news media really certain that if they don’t report this connection, it will never occur to most of the public? I’m already reading accusations that opening up the states is “racist” because of the evidence that African-Americans have contracted the virus and died from it at a higher rate than the rest of the public. By that logic, encouraging the mobs of George Floyd protesters was also racist.

To re-phrase Wilford Brimley from his great scene in “Absence of Malice”: “American Public, are you that dumb?” So far, it seems so. Continue reading

How Bad Is The Madness? This Bad… [Corrected!]

Trust me, that’s appropriate for this post. So is this:

What’s the connection? Well, as part of the effort to declare virtually all Western  culture racist to justify tearing it down, Black Lives Matter activist Fiona Onasanya, a former member of the UK parliament, argues that Rice Krispies are racist because the three elves who are the spokeselves for the Kelloggues cereal are all white. Moreover, she argues, “Coco Pops and Rice Krispies have the same compòsition (except for the fact CP’s are brown and chocolate flavoured)… so I was wondering why Rice Krispies have three white boys representing the brand and Coco Pops have a monkey?”

And you thought banning “Eskimo Pie” was loony.

Her first contention is mind-meltingly stupid, but also ominous. I have no doubt that the extreme and essentially racist logic of the George Floyd Freakout will eventually reach this point if it hasn’t already. Any group, even as small as three (or two?) that doesn’t include a black member, or at least, in this case, an “elf of color,” is prescriptively based on discrimination and thus racist.  We are seeing evidence of this trend taking root in such weird developments as “Jake from State Farm” suddenly changing color. Soon the Three Stooges will have to be colorized to show a black Stooge, and it will have to be Moe, since he’s in charge. It can’t be Larry, who’s submissive, or Curly, who’s an idiot. No, it has to be Moe, and the sight of him abusing the white Stooges will suddenly make the old comedy shorts popular again.

I’m kidding, but just barely. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/22/2020: Let’s Stop Moping Around! Get Up! Get Out! Attack The Day! [Now With Leonard Bernstein!]

 

Update: I decided we needed a less pokey version, so now we have Leonard Bernstein’s, and the whole thing. THAT should cheer you up…

Boy, am I sick of everyone telling me how depressed they are.

1. Translation: “I’m an idiot.”  Now Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is saying  that the city will close the so-called “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.” It turned out to be exactly what anyone with any sense predicted it would be, with three shootings so far and a rape, along with a leader ( war lord?) who had the gall to complain when the Seattle EMTs didn’t immediately respond when shots rang out. The mayor  had said that the anarchist outpost would lead to a “summer of love,” marking her as a Sixties-romanticizing dolt, but now she says she was obviously joking-–yes, the Joke Excuse. She never said it was “in jest” before the completely predictable violence broke out.

I apologize for not highlighting her as an Incompetent Elected Official of the Month, but she was competing with Bill De Blasio.

2. Fearmongering. It should be apparent by now that the news media does not want the country to re-open, does not want the economy to begin recovering before the election, and is pushing its anti-reopening goal through fearmongering, in part by focusing on isolated cases of individuals getting hit by the Wuhan virus particularly hard.

This morning HLN kept repeating a long feature about a thirtyish Broadway star who has been disabled by the virus for 80 days, and another man not in a high-risk group who has been suffering for 100 days. The Times and the Washington Post are full of apocalyptic reports about the number of cases rising. Another news outlet said, “The U.S. reported more than 33,000 new coronavirus cases on Saturday – the highest total since May 1 – while the surge of infections in several states is outpacing growth in coronavirus testing.”  ARRRGH! We;re DOOOMED!

One commentator called this “needless” frightening the public. Wrong. It is  needed because it is a part of the ongoing effort to defeat President Trump.

The Centers for Disease Control predicted that cases would increase as the country reopened, not that it has much credibility at this point. Remember? The lock down was never intended to stop the spread of the disease, but to slow it down,  flatten the curve, stock up on supplies, fix the CDC’s testing botch, and find treatments. That was mostly accomplished. The nation cannot continue to let the economy deteriorate: depressions kill people too.

Meanwhile, the death rate is declining even as the number of cases spike, and there’s a reason for that. In all outbreaks, a disease claims the most vulnerable first. This is known as Farr’s Law, named after William Farr,  a British epidemiologist and early statistician  who recognized the importance of death statistics and identifying causation. Not only has the current epidemic claimed many of the most vulnerable in the U.S., thanks in great part to the catastrophic decision of states like New York to send infected seniors to nursing homes, millions of Americans have antibodies.

The combination means that even if there are lots of new cases going forward, the death toll is likely to be far less severe than it has been. Do not hold your breath waiting for the media to explain this.

Just for fun,  check and see how many news organizations have mentioned Farr’s Law. Continue reading

The Question That Must Be Asked In Any Fair And Responsible Analysis Of The George Floyd Tragedy…

…and yet nobody seems to be asking it.

That question is “How do we know George Floyd is dead because he was black?”

There is absolutely no evidence  that George Floyd is dead because he was black, and no evidence that former officer Chauvin had his knee on his neck until Floyd died because Floyd was black. This has been presumed, and no politicians or national leaders, and certainly no mainstream media reporters,  have had the integrity or courage to require more than that mandated presumption before accepting the narrative. No evidence of racism among the officers involved has been found, and you know people have been looking.  The proposition that any time a black citizen is abused by the police it is per se racism, that is, presumed racism, is logically and ethically absurd, and people should have the courage to say so. Yesterday a Trump administration official opined that all things being equal, Floyd would have probably met the same fate if he were white. That’s not an unreasonable opinion, and it shouldn’t be unspeakable, but to the extent the news media covered it al all, it was reported as an oddity, as if he had claimed that Fish People were walking among us.

Of course, virtually nobody on the left wants to consider the possibility that Floyd is dead because he had a contentious confrontation with a bad cop who was a human ticking time bomb. If Floyd had been white, there would have been no protests or riots, although the injustice and the misconduct would have been exactly the same. Especially convenient for activists, and too hard to resist,  was the symbolic nature of a white cop having his knee on the neck of a black man: the perfect metaphor for white supremacy. That it may have had nothing to do with white supremacy and everything to do with an angry cop deciding to teach a perp a lesson (as he may have done many times before) can’t even be considered. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/1/2020: Gee, What A Nice, Ethical Beginning To June!

Well, the George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck is a welcome change from the Wuhan Virus Ethics Train Wreck, right?

Right? No?

1. Perhaps the major positive development from the  rioting? The news media’s complete, undeniable unmasking as a failed, corrupt, anti-American, anti-democracy institution. If you didn’t see Don Lemon’s epic example of how not to be a professional journalist, let me point you to this EA post from the weekend. But there was much more…

  • The horrible Gina Bellefante, whose ethical deficits have been highlighted here previously, was given space in the New York Times to write this, pivoting from George Floyd to once again rehashing the Cooper vs Cooper Central Park fiasco:

Ms. Cooper didn’t understand the possible consequences of her actions — that calling the police to settle an argument between a white woman and a black man in 2020 could result in his injury or death. This would imply that the news of the recent past has managed to completely elude her — from the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., to Eric Garner’s in Staten Island, to Ahmaud Arbery’s in Georgia.

Michael Brown, who was shot by an officer he was charging after trying to grab the officer’s gun. Eric Garner, the 375 pound man resisting arrest who died after being gang-tacked by police. Ahmaud Arbery, whose death didn’t involve police at all. How do these episodes indicate that “that calling the police to settle an argument between a white woman and a black man in 2020 could result in his injury or death”? They don’t.

  • Competing with epic jerk Chris Palmer, Leigh Tauss, an editor for the progressive news outlet “Indy Week” in North Carolina, tweeted out her support for the protesters/ rioters, saying “the crowd is extremely peaceful and groups and many are wearing masks and trying to keep distance.” A few hours later, when the peaceful crowd attacked her office, she wrote, “I went into the hallway. I heard someone l enter the office and what sounded like smashing inside. We are a small newspaper with a handful of desktops. I’m now hiding in the basement.” The next day, she whined, “I’m devastated. We are a progressive newspaper. Last night I was inside when the first brick was thrown.”

“We are a progressive newspaper!” How can they attack us when we are the good people?

  • As the blog Victory Girls correctly observes, all the news media reports pressed the presumption of racism on the part of Officer Chauvin and the other three police. The evidence of this is that they are white, and Floyd was black. In fact, that proves nothing. What would have been the result if Floyd were white? What if Chauvin had been black? The episode presents a prima facie case of police brutality. The presumption of racism is included in news reports because that’s what the news media wants the public to believe. From the post:

But will the media at least consider that perhaps the problem is that the United States is a huge nation with more than 300 million people, leading to a larger number of interactions with police, not that police are disproportionately targeting African Americans? Probably not. The outrage mobs don’t want to hear that 45 percent shot by police are white men, 23 percent black men, and 16 percent Hispanic men, with 54 percent armed at the time of the encounter. The outrage mobs are more worried about exploiting the anger to foment unrest, which the media will then call on the very same government accused of abuses against its citizens to fix.

Continue reading

And Championing Racial Double Standards Can Be Expensive As Well As Wrong: Ask Oberlin

Oberlin College deliberately set out to  destroy a local bakery for insisting that laws apply to black college students.  Now, in the case of Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College, a jury has awarded 11 million dollars in damages to the bakery owners, and punitive damages might up the award to over 30 million.

Good. Very good. Spectacularly good.

Ethics Alarms first wrote about this awful story here. A precis:

On November 9, 2016—probably not coincidentally the day after Donald Trump was elected, throwing ultra-liberal schools like Oberlin into a ludicrously extended period of irrational fear and loathing—Jonathan Aladin, Endia Lawrence and Cecelia Whettstone were caught stealing bottles of wine from Gibson’s Bakery, a small family-owned establishment with a contract with Oberlin . As they have been duly trained by our culture, the students played the race card, initially claiming the shop had racially profiled them, and that their only misdeed was presenting  fake IDs. When that wasn’t working, the three admitted their guilt and also signed statements that the store was innocent of any race-related bias. It also appears that the students punched and kicked the shopkeeper. … (Here is the police incident report.) 

The day after the arrests, hundreds of students protested outside the bakery, and Oberlin’s student senate published a resolution saying Gibson’s had “a history of racial profiling and discriminatory treatment.” The Oberlin police conducted an investigation into the arrests and found “a complete lack of evidence of racism.” Over a five-year period, the bakery had pursued charges against 40 shoplifters, and only six were African-American.

…The owner met with then-Oberlin President Marvin Krislov and Tita Reed, assistant to the president, and they  pressured him to drop criminal charges against the three students and any future student-thieves who were first time offenders. When he did not agree, the complaint alleges, the school made good on its threat and dropped its decade’s long contract with the bakery. …  Meredith Raimondo, vice president and dean of students, joined students and members of the school faculty in campus demonstrations against the bakery, distributing a flyer that accused Gibson’s Bakery of being a “RACIST establishment with a LONG ACCOUNT of RACIAL PROFILING and DISCRIMINATION.”  A boycott of the business was organized, and according to the complaint, facilitated by the school. College tour guides reportedly informed prospective students that Gibson’s is racist. …

The Ethics Alarms post listed the probable factors at work: Continue reading

Labor Day Ethics Leftovers, 9/4/18: Big Lies, Big Jerks, Big Mistakes [UPDATED]

 

Good morning!

1. So, so predictable. Yesterday was fun: I assumed that the post about the undeniable pettiness, incivility and hypocrisy at Senator McCain’s funeral service in D.C. would prompt multiple exclamations of “But…but…Trump deserves it!”, “He’s worse!” and “What about what Trump does?” I was not disappointed. Each one of these desperate efforts to avoid facing the issue discussed and admit reality is signature significance for having crippling flaws in one’s ethics analysis abilities, gaping holes in one’s basic understanding of right and wrong, and a victim of stupidity-inducing bias. Nothing in the post excused or referenced the President’s own conduct in any way.

2. Baseball ethics. No, it is not unethical for pitchers to carry crib sheets. During the top of the eighth inning in Saturday night’s Phillies game against the Cubs in Philadelphia, third base umpire Joe West noticed the Phillies  pitcher looking at a card he had pulled from his pocket, and confiscated it. The card contained scouting reports on how to pitch a Cubs batter. The advanced analytics baseball teams now use to devise how to position fielders and pitch to batters are too detailed for the typical player to commit to memory. Lots of them carry little cheat sheets, sometimes in their hats. Although lots of old school players and tradition-loving fans hate the development, it’s here, and there are no rules against it.

Never mind: Joe West, who is one of the more arrogant and autocratic umpires, felt that the piece of paper constituted a “foreign substance” under the rules, and thus surmised that it was prohibited by the provision designed to stop pitchers from making the ball do tricks by surreptitiously applying K-Y Jelly or slippery elm. Yup, ol’ Joe thought the pitcher, Austin Davis, was  going to use the card to doctor the baseball. Good thinking, Joe! MLB quickly set him straight the next day, announcing that West, as he often is, for he is an awful umpire,  was mistaken.

The fact that West couldn’t figure that out himself, and that he is the longest tenured MLB ump, tells you why we will have robo-umps calling strikes within five years or less.

3. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! Today’s nauseating example of mainstream media’s refusal to report and comment on the news objectively comes from the New York Times—Surprise!—which writes sympathetically about the Democratic Party’s dilemma as it tried to derail the Supreme Court nomination of Bret Kavanaugh. There’s no filibuster any more! Multiple Democrats tell the Times how unfair this is. Guess whose name is completely absent from the article? Why, former Senate majority leader Harry Reid, who resorted to the so-called nuclear option to pass Barack Obama’s judicial nominations over Republican opposition. “They are making a mockery of the process, and that is because the No. 1 goal …. is to stack the bench with ideologues, because they know they cannot achieve their goals through the elected branches,” said the Republican leadership at the…no, wait, that quote is from Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the current Democratic leader. He doesn’t mention that his predecessor is the reason the system is “broken.” At least the Times, in one brief sentence , acknowledge that “Democrats” eliminated the filibuster for federal judges below SCOTUS level. They do not make it clear that this shattered a long-standing Senate tradition, and that it made the GOP follow-up of killing the device for Supreme Court nominations both politically feasible and inevitable.

The Times also does not remind readers that its editorial board applauded Reid’s move at the time. Continue reading

Boy, Am I Glad Oberlin Rejected My Application, Or “Bakers’ Lives Matter”

I really wanted to go to Oberlin. Loved the campus, loved the atmosphere and the curriculum. It turned me down flat—the interviewer was actually hostile— so I ended up having to settle for my second choice.

Boy, am I glad I don’t have to try to defend Oberlin today.

Gibson’s Bakery, a small family-owned bakery with  a contract with Oberlin, is suing the Ohio college, alleging that school officials facilitated a boycott after three black Oberlin students were arrested at the bakery for shop-lifting some wine. The complaint is here.

On November 9, 2016—probably not coincidentally the day after Donald Trump was elected, throwing ultra-liberal schools like Oberlin into a ludicrously extended period of irrational fear and loathing—Jonathan Aladin, Endia Lawrence and Cecelia Whettstone were caught stealing bottles of wine. As they have been duly trained by our culture, the students played the race card, initially claiming the shop had racially profiled them, and that their only misdeed was presenting  fake IDs. When that wasn’t working, the three admitted their guilt and also signed statements that the store was innocent of any race-related bias. It also appears that the students punched and kicked the shopkeeper. What a fine job our institutions of higher learning are doing civilizing the rising generation! (Here is the police incident report.) 

The day after the arrests, hundreds of students protested outside the bakery, and Oberlin’s student senate published a resolution saying Gibson’s had “a history of racial profiling and discriminatory treatment.” The Oberlin police conducted an investigation into the arrests and found “a complete lack of evidence of racism.” Over a five-year period, the bakery had pursued charges against 40 shoplifters, and only six were African-American.

Never mind.  The owner met with then-Oberlin President Marvin Krislov and Tita Reed, assistant to the president, and they  pressured him to drop criminal charges against the three students and any future student-thieves who were first time offenders. When he did not agree, the complaint alleges, the school made good on its threat and dropped its decade’s long contract with the bakery. Then, the complaints says,  Meredith Raimondo, vice president and dean of students, joined students and members of the school faculty in campus demonstrations against the bakery, distributing a flyer that accused Gibson’s Bakery of being a “RACIST establishment with a LONG ACCOUNT of RACIAL PROFILING and DISCRIMINATION.”  A boycott of the business was organized, and according to the complaint, facilitated by the school. College tour guides reportedly inform prospective students that Gibson’s is racist. How is it racist? Well, it doesn’t let black students shoplift, and  black students told reporters that when they enter the store, they feel as though they’re being watched. Continue reading