Recently in Academia Category
James Taranto at the WSJ and Jonah Bennett at the Daily Caller report on how easy it was to "troll" journalists with a fake story merely by providing a supposed connection between Donald Trump and white supremacists. Bennett quotes one of the hoaxers:
This is why it is so important to have a diversity of viewpoints in both journalism and academia and why it is so dangerous and harmful that both of these professions have a badly skewed distribution. Claims need to scrutinized whichever side of the aisle they serve, and we would have more thorough and complete scrutiny if we had a better balance of viewpoints.
"Basically, I interspersed various nuggets of truth and exaggerated a lot of things, and sometimes outright lied -- in the interest of making a journalist believe that online Trump supporters are largely a group of meme-jihadis who use a cartoon frog to push Nazi propaganda. Because this was funny to me," Swift told TheDCNF.
"The idea that every major Trump supporter online is secretly a neo-Nazi, for one. I mean, it's just not true. But it's the kind of thing that a journalist will readily believe."
Capital punishment has generated an incredible amount of public debate. Is the practice constitutional? Does it deter crime? Is it humane? Supporters and opponents of capital punishment disagree on all of these issues and many more. There is perhaps only one thing that unites these two camps: the belief that the death penalty is society's most severe punishment.
In this Article, I argue that this belief is mistaken. Capital punishment is not at the top of the punishment hierarchy. In fact, it is no punishment at all. My argument builds from a basic conception of punishment endorsed by the Supreme Court: for something to qualify as a punishment, it must be bad, in some way, for the person who is punished. By drawing upon the philosophical literature regarding death, I show that this is not the case. Contrary to our intuitions, the death penalty is not bad, in any way, for a condemned criminal.
This conclusion should not be understood to suggest that death is never bad. In most circumstances, death is bad. There are, however, situations in which it is not, and capital punishment, as employed in the United States penal system, is one such situation. By showing that capital punishment is not bad for the condemned criminal, I provide a strong constitutional objection to the practice.
Gads, why hasn't the ACLU thought of this? Capital punishment is unconstitutional because being put to death is "no punishment at all"!!!
[P]olice called to the scene discovered William Bennett's body, but [defendants] Roberts and Bowman had moved Cynthia Bennett, then 55, behind a fence and she lay unconscious for 45 minutes before she was spotted. Howard David Reines, a trauma surgeon at Inova Fairfax Hospital, testified in 2011 that Cynthia Bennett suffered cuts and broken bones in her face and around her eyes, one ear was partially torn off, she had a severe injury to her pelvic area and she lost more than five quarts of blood through the wound in her lower body before doctors could halt the bleeding. "In 30 years, I don't think I've ever quite seen anything like it," he said.
Several years ago, the American Journal of Political Science published what became an oft-cited study showing a correlation between conservative political ideology and authoritarian/psychotic tendencies. It now turns out that the authors had their codings for liberals and conservatives "exactly reversed," to quote their language. In other words, it's the liberals who are (per the study) more likely to be authoritarian nuts.
For those of us accused of being conservative, authoritarian headcases, this was the laugh of the day.
The full story is here.
...engages in "community organizing around housing access, social movements for trans justice and prison abolition, and queer anarchist anti-war activism." Naturally, he is also the faculty adviser to GMU Students Against Israeli Apartheid."
Adler lays out well why the controversy is ridiculous, and I recommend his discussion. I was particularly struck by this statement:
Faculty from unaffiliated departments, such as art history, "cultural studies," and others (notably excluding economics, mathematics, and the physical sciences), began a campaign in the Faculty Senate to pass a resolution urging the university administration and the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia to delay acceptance of the gifts.Why this striking difference by department? It tends to confirm what I have long suspected. There is a negative correlation between the extent to which a field of study is tied to objective reality and subject to experimental verification or falsification (i.e., real science, whether physical or social) and the degree of loony leftism in the faculty. Lefty loons are attracted to subjects where they can't be objectively proved wrong. It's easier to spread B.S. in such subjects. (And no, I don't mean Bachelor of Science).
Erik Wemple, media blogger for the WaPo, reports:
Melissa Click, an assistant professor of communication at the University of Missouri, has been charged with third-degree assault by the city of Columbia prosecutor's office, an assistant at that office confirmed today to the Erik Wemple Blog. The arrest comes months after Click was captured on video asking for "some muscle" to counter a student journalist at a November protest at the university. She also pushed the student journalist's camera.
The puzzle is why these progressives are so intent on denying that such depolicing is occurring and that it is affecting public safety.The fact that spin from an ideologically driven organization like the Brennan Center has gotten as much credence as it has in the press is a symptom of a major problem in American society. There is a gross imbalance in the number and funding of nonprofit organizations interested in crime issues. The Manhattan Institute (where MacDonald works) and CJLF are outnumbered and outspent by the Brennan Center, the Marshall Project, the Urban Institute, the Pew organizations, the Death Penalty Information Center, and on and on. [Hint: If an organization is named for one of the two most pro-criminal Supreme Court Justices in American history, it is not a neutral source of information.] The capacity of these organizations to pump out reports that seem to support the leftist agenda but do not hold up to examination exceeds the capacity of organizations of contrary viewpoints to make and publicize the examinations.
The answer lies in the enduring commitment of antipolice progressives to the "root causes" theory of crime. The Brennan Center study closes by hypothesizing that lower incomes, higher poverty rates, falling populations and high unemployment are driving the rising murder rates in Baltimore, Detroit, Milwaukee, New Orleans and St. Louis. But those aspects of urban life haven't dramatically worsened over the past year and a half. What has changed is the climate for law enforcement.
In addition, both the press and academia are populated by people whose spectrum of viewpoints is shifted at least one sigma left of the American median, if not two. Assertions that fit with the general set of assumptions of the left simply do not get as much scrutiny as those that run contrary to those assumptions.
This combination of factors produces a dangerous situation where spin goes insufficiently challenged. If such spin leads to wrong policies in matters of life and death, the potential consequences are grave indeed.
Whether punishment promotes or deters future criminal activity by the convicted offender is a key public policy concern. Longer prison sentences further isolate offenders from the legitimate labor force and may promote the formation of criminal networks in prison. On the other hand, greater initial punishment may have a deterrence effect on the individual being punished, sometimes called "specific deterrence," through learning or the rehabilitative effect of prison.
We test the effect of prison sentence length on recidivism by exploiting a unique quasi-experimental design from adult sentences within a courthouse in Seattle, Washington. Offenders who plead guilty are randomly assigned to a sentencing judge, which leads to random differences in prison sentence length depending on the sentencing judge's proclivities. We find that one-month extra prison sentence reduces the rate of recidivism by about one percentage point, with possibly larger effects for those with limited criminal histories. However, the reduction in recidivism comes almost entirely in the first year of release, which we interpret as consistent with prison's rehabilitative role.
That's one item, but the argument that prison reduces crime is far more robust than that.
The Black Student Union at Lebanon Valley College has made a number of demands of the college, and one is prompting considerable backlash. The students want the college to rename Lynch Memorial Hall, PennLive reported. The building is named for Clyde A. Lynch (right), an alumnus who was president of the college from 1932 to 1950, and who died in office. He is credited with helping to keep the college functioning and growing during the Depression, no easy task for a small college without a large endowment. Students who are pushing for the name change say that the name "Lynch" has racist associations because of lynching.
Mr. Obama gets the maximum Four Pinocchios (reserved for "whoppers") for his December 1 statement in Paris, "I say this every time we've got one of these mass shootings: This just doesn't happen in other countries." Wow.
The President's other, more nuanced statements about the relative frequency of such incidents get the milder Two Pinocchio rating ("significant omissions and/or exaggerations"). To check the facts, Ms. Lee consults experts Adam Lankford and John Lott and gets very different answers.
Astute readers might notice how Lankford and Lott both compared the United States to grouped European countries, but their conclusions are vastly different. Lott says the rate is about the same, while Lankford says the rate is five times higher in the United States. How is this possible? The researchers are looking at different sets of years and different sets of countries. (Lott looked at Europe as a whole; Lankford at the European Union.) Lott uses a broader measure of mass shootings than Lankford does. Lankford looks at the number of shooters; Lott uses fatalities and shooting incidents. This is an example of how the data and definition can be adjusted to show different findings about mass shootings, even using a per capita rate.Lots and lots of choices have to be made in setting up a study, many seemingly benign in themselves. If a person wants to reach a particular result, it is easy as pie to run the numbers 16 different ways, pick the way that best supports your agenda, and throw the others in the trash.
This is why the viewpoint one-sidedness of American academia and the well-funded nonprofits is so very dangerous. The truth comes out much more clearly when there are people on both sides doing these kinds of studies, but academic conservatives are an endangered species, and those who do "come out" are targeted by neo-McCarthyists determined to achieve ideological purity.
Be very, very skeptical about what "studies show" and "experts say."