Recently in Academia Category
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."
English teachers were once satisfied if they could prevent their pupils from splitting infinitives. Now some also want to stop them from using words like "good," "bad," "fun" and "said."I thought about posting a refutation of this nonsense but haven't have time. Fortunately, Alexandra Petri at the WaPo comes to the rescue.
"We call them dead words," said (or declared) Leilen Shelton, a middle school teacher in Costa Mesa, Calif. She and many others strive to purge pupils' compositions of words deemed vague or dull.
"There are so many more sophisticated, rich words to use," said (or affirmed) Ms. Shelton, whose manual "Banish Boring Words" has sold nearly 80,000 copies since 2009.
Her pupils know better than to use a boring word like "said." As Ms. Shelton put it, " 'Said' doesn't have any emotion. You might use barked. Maybe howled. Demanded. Cackled. I have a list."
Student protests over racial grievances on college campuses gained momentum this past week, but they also generated a backlash among classmates who believe protesters' tactics are creating an atmosphere of intimidation designed to stifle debate.Yup. I wore a uniform on a college campus for four years in the wake of the Vietnam War. The people running the universities today are the kindred spirits of the people who gave me static then. They never did believe in diversity of opinion, despite calling themselves Free Speech Movement and such. A campus purged of all Politically Incorrect elements was always their ideal.
The criticism is bubbling up around the country as protesters have claimed wins in the form of resignations of senior administrators and promises for more resources and better representation for minority groups.
At the University of Missouri, where the protests climaxed two weeks ago with the resignation of the school president, Ian Paris said he was prompted to speak out when classmates told him they disagreed with some of the demands protesters had made but were afraid to speak out.
"If you disagree with anything they're saying, you will instantly be denounced as a bigot and attacked on social media," said Mr. Paris, a 21-year-old senior. "The most jarring part of all this is to see the administration going along with it."
So if you want to be a rebellious youth, the way to do it is to rebel against Political Correctness, not for it.
Still, there is no denying that the opponents have made inroads. The number of people answering "not in favor" to Gallup's poorly worded basic question is the highest it has been since before Furman v. Georgia in 1972, when the Supreme Court's audacious act of judicial activism precipitated a sharp drop in opposition and a sharp jump in support.
On the better-worded, but still less than ideal, question of whether the death penalty is presently imposed too often, about right, or not often enough, the sum of about right and not enough is still 2/3 of the population. That remains a powerful supermajority in favor. Dugan writes:
By many metrics -- the number of states that have banned the death penalty, the number of executions carried out or the actual population of inmates currently on death row -- the death penalty appears to be losing popularity in statehouses and courthouses across the country. But the public at large continues to support the use of the death penalty. A majority continue to assess the punishment as applied fairly, and a plurality wish it were applied more often.The biggest problem is that the other side has all the megaphones. Academia enforces adherence to anti-death-penalty dogma. We saw that when the economists who dared to publish studies showing deterrence were hounded out of the field. In journalism, balanced reporting is the exception, and propaganda pieces on the anti side dominate.
Yet despite all that, the side of justice still has two-thirds. It's both discouraging and heartening at the side time.
John McGinnis has an excellent post over at Library of Law and Liberty (and cross-posted at our new Heterodox Academy), highlighting the rigid liberal orthodoxy of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS). AALS has just sent around the notice of its 2016 annual meeting, highlighting its "Speakers of Note." As Prof. McGinnis points out: "Of the thirteen announced, none is associated predominantly with Republican party, but eleven are associated with the Democratic Party. Many are prominent liberals. None is a conservative or libertarian." McGinnis argues that the conference would profit from including some other perspectives.
In the boldest endorsement of a growing national trend, the University of Tennessee is urging incoming students and teachers to junk references to "he," "she," and "them," in favor of gender-neutral "ze" and "xe."
For the better part of two decades, Columbia University law professor Bernard Harcourt has been on a personal crusade against Broken Windows policing, criticizing both its theoretical underpinnings and its policy applications. A close look at Harcourt's work, however, reveals not only the weaknesses of his arguments but also his lack of attention to other research findings that conflict with his own. His portrayal of Broken Windows policing, it turns out, is fundamentally inaccurate and incomplete. In effect, Harcourt creates and then fights a paper tiger.The misrepresentation of Broken Windows policing as "zero tolerance" policing, encouraging arrests for minor offenses, is an important element of the campaign against it. When you can't win with the truth, you have to make stuff up.
By way of background, Broken Windows is a policing tactic that emphasizes the police management of minor offenses. The authors of the Broken Windows hypothesis--George L. Kelling and the late James Q. Wilson--always maintained that Broken Windows policing should encourage proper discretion on the part of officers. Kelling in particular has discussed the importance of discretion when it comes to maintaining order, as in a recent article in Politico, where he indicates that arrest should be the last option when managing minor offenses.