Ethics Alarms On The New York Times’ “Most Important Debates” Of 2021, Part 2

Part I set some kind of Ethics Alarms record for reader disinterest, which I much admit, I don’t understand. These are all topics we have covered in some detail here over the last year, and the analysis of them by the alleged “newspaper of record’s” experts is, to say the least, perverse and revealing…yet the post’s first installment inspired just a single comment. Well, the Times’ take on the remaining issues are arguably worse. I find it fascinating, anyway. Here’s the rest of the highlights…

Can we save the planet?

It is embarrassing for a supposedly respectable news organization to frame an issue in such a hysterical and intentionally fear-mongering manner, which assumes one side of a debate is correct without reflection of nuance. The Times’ author on this topic, Farhad Manjoo, is a tech reporter, not an expert on climatology, so he has been given a platform to opine on something he doesn’t understand sufficiently to discuss reliably. On the topic of climate change, this is, sadly, typical. His article contains the kind of sentence midway through that would normally make me stop reading because of the bias, spin, hyperbole and mendacity: “During the Trump years — as the United States tore up international climate deals and flood and fire consumed swaths of the globe — unrestrained alarm about the climate became the most cleareyed of takes.”

There were no “climate deals,” just unenforceable virtue-signaling and posturing like the Paris Accords; the link between present day “flood and fire” and climate change is speculative at best, and unrestrained alarm is never “cleareyed,’ especially when those alarmed, like Manjoo, couldn’t read a climate model if Mr. Rogers was there explaining it. Then, after telling us that the Trump years were a prelude to doom, he says that since 2014, things are looking up. Much of what he calls “bending the needle” occurred under Trump.

Should the Philip Roth biography have been pulled?

This one is so easy and obvious that the fact that the Times thinks it deserves special attention is itself a tell. The answer is “Of course not!,” as an Ethics Alarms post explained. An absolutely competent biography was pulled by its publisher, W.W. Norton, never to be in print again, because its author, who had written other acclaimed biographies, was in the process of being “cancelled” for allegations of sexual misconduct toward women. I wrote,

“…[P]ublisher W.W. Norton sent a memo to its staff announcing that it will permanently take Blake Bailey’s biography of Philip Roth out of print, as a result of allegations that Bailey sexually assaulted multiple women and also behaved inappropriately toward his students when he was an eighth grade English teacher.

If that sentence makes sense to you, The Big Stupid has you by the brain stem.

It apparently makes sense to the Times, although its review of the matter doesn’t answer its own question. Why not? This is also obvious: as journalists, the idea that what a writer writes should be judged by what a writer’s personal life has involved is anathema, but the Times’ readers are so woke that the paper would dare not say so. Integrity! Continue reading

Eureka! Here’s One Way To Guarantee Diversity In College Admissions: Eliminate Objective Standards

Oh, it can’t be you! It’s always the test.

A group of students, advocacy groups and a primarily black and Hispanic California school district filed suit against the University of California last week,  alleging that  the SAT and ACT college admission tests discriminate  against black and Hispanic students and demanding that the school stop using standardized test scores in its admissions process.

The theory that the tests are biased against poor and mainly black and Hispanic students concludes that the system illegally discriminates against applicants on the basis of their race, wealth or disabilities, thus denying them equal protection under the California Constitution. This battle has been fought before, of course. There was a time, decades ago, when foes of standardized testing could point to test questions referring to yachting and Western philosophers, baking in a bias that handicapped students fromracial and ethnic  sub-cultures in America. Those prejudicial questions have been purged, but the long-time disparity between the test scores of white and Asian applicants on one side and black and Hispanic students on the other continues. Continue reading

Labor Day Weekend Kick-Off Ethics Warm-Up: The “I’m Baaaack!” Edition

Excellent work in the Open Forum, everybody.

Thank-you.

As it happened, there would have been no way I could have written a post yesterday, except after I arrived home following a 6 hour drive from New Jersey following my three-hour seminar. At the point, however, my IQ had fallen below Joe Biden levels, so it would have been unethical for me to opine or analyze anything. I’m slightly better now, at the Kamala Harris level and rising, so I’m going to get right back on the metaphorical horse.

I hate missing a day like that, mostly because it puts me behind in covering the ethics news, but also because I view Ethics Alarms as a commitment to the loyal readers who come here.

1. Well this is good news…The College Board is dropping its proposed “adversity score” from the SAT. The ill-considered device, which Ethics Alarms metaphorically spat at here, would have assigned a score based on the socioeconomic background of each student, artificially raising his or her score based on socioeconomic circumstances.

Of course, this was an unusually transparent ploy to facilitate race-based college admissions .As I wrote in May,

This is a cynical and dishonest device to give cover to colleges and universities as they try to base their admissions on race and ethnicity while avoiding legal prohibitions on discrimination based on race and ethnicity. That is all it is, and exactly what it is.

2. And MORE good news! A new Rasmussen Reports survey shows that most voters believe the average journalist is liberal, and few are conservative. Moreover, a majority believe it is appropriate for politicians to criticize reporters and hold them to the same scrutiny as those they cover.

Of course  it is. For more than three years, we have been hearing that President Trump’s condemnations of the news media and specific news organizations and journalists represent a threat to the freedom of the press and democracy. For those same three years, the Ethics Alarms position has been that while the President’s rhetoric and tone is often irresponsible, the threat to democracy is being created by a mainstream media journalistic establishment that is no longer interested in being fair or objective, not by criticism of this dangerous trend.

The survey analysis found that 61% of likely U.S. voters believe reporters at major news organizations are public figures who deserve critical scrutiny of their conduct and biases.  Only 61%? 19% directly disagree with that contention. How  can they disagree? What would give journalist the unique right to be immune from criticism of bias, competence, and abuse of power? Elected officials are not immune, nor are scholars, artists, lawyers or judges. Continue reading

The SAT’s Racial Prejudice By The Numbers

Bribing administrators  and having people take tests for your kids is one way to cheat in college admissions. Another way is to have the College Board cheat for you.

I should have written about this days ago, I know. I haven’t been feeling well, though, and this story literally makes me sick.

The SATs are adding a so-called “adversity score” that will artificially raise the test scores of some students beyond what they actually deserve on a level playing field competition. This is, we are told, “to help colleges and universities account for the various educational and socioeconomic factors that may negatively impact students’ scores.”

Let me translate: this is a cynical and dishonest device to give cover to colleges and universities as they try to base their admissions on race and ethnicity while avoiding legal prohibitions on discrimination based on race and ethnicity.  That is all it is, and exactly what it is. Continue reading

The SAT Cheating Scandal

Over at Curmudgeon Central, Rick Jones appropriately eviscerates the Educational Testing Service for its role—the role being negligent facilitator–in an unfolding scandal involving students cheating on their SATs by having surrogates take their tests. 20 people have been arrested thus far as either the fake test-taker of the fraudulent scholar paying for said test-taker, and Rick’s guess that there must be a hundred times the ETS’s estimate of 150 incidents of cheating on the SATs  is extremely conservative. The problem is that the SATs are taken under incredibly lax  security, and Rick reveals something I never would have suspected: if someone is caught cheating after the SAT service investigates, he or she is given a refund and allowed to take the test again—and no college is ever notified! Rick writes…

“…in a just universe, the cretinous yahoos at the CB/ETS who decided on this policy would lose their jobs, have “unethical moron” branded into their foreheads, and be publicly pilloried. Preferably literally.” Continue reading