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View Diary: My E-mail to Harvard (33 comments)

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  •  Fascinating to read here the last day or so... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FG, kalmoth, WearyIdealist

    Multiple diaries decrying know-nothing Lamar Smith for trying to interfere with federal science grants (for which he has at least marginal oversight responsiibility). Academic freedom, good!! Must defend!

    Multiple diaries encouraging know-little people to spam a dean with demands that he in some undefined way "address" a 2009 dissertation or -- what, discipline? scold? denounce? fire? -- tenured faculty members who signed off on it. All in an effort to (in the words of another diary) "prevent it from happening again." Academic freedom, bad!! Must attack!

    Ah, well. Probably just some hobgoblin getting to my little mind.

    •  Please expound on your point a bit more... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jakedog42, yella dawg, Creosote


      What's your academic background and the principle point you are trying to make?

      I'd like to understand more where you are coming from.

      Nothing worth noting at the moment.

      by Bonsai66 on Wed May 08, 2013 at 08:44:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sounds (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bonsai66, yella dawg

        like a Harvard grad trying to defend his degree.

      •  Are you familiar with the controversy (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Be Skeptical, kalmoth

        over Lamar Smith's draft "High Quality Research Act" and his attack on NSF, or do I need to explain that first?  

        •  Not at all. (0+ / 0-)

          I'm familiar with it.  

          What I'm asking you is this:  Please be clear and direct with your points, as well as your verbiage. Your conversational style implies prior knowledge, (for everyone who reads this at least), and does not convey your premise clearly.

          You may understand your understated premise, but we do not.

          Be clear and concise VR.

          Communication is the point here.  Not incoherently spewing words at one another.

          Nothing worth noting at the moment.

          by Bonsai66 on Wed May 08, 2013 at 09:26:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  OK, good. I was off looking for the links (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Be Skeptical, sgoldinger

            just in case, so here's the background for my comment:
            House GOP Seeks Power to Block Edit Release of Scientific Findings and
            Lamar Smith adores Stalin, along with your own diary and this one: How did Jason Richwine Get a PhD from Harvard?

            Here's what I find contradictory, and of course, there may be an entirely different set of kossacks involved, so I'm not accusing any individual of hypocrisy, just noting what I see as an inconsistency of approach.

            (1) The pushback to Smith's benighted attack on certain kinds of federally funded research is, essentially, that experts in a discipline are better suited than untrained congressional committees to judge the quality, novelty, value, etc. of a research proposal or product.

            (2) The pushback to the acceptance of the Richwine dissertation (again, not, not, not to its policy use) is that readers of Daily Kos are better suited than the tenured faculty on the committee -- who, one presumes, actually read the dissertation and orally examined the author -- to judge its quality, novelty, value, etc. (No doubt some of them, maybe including you, would be equally capable in the setting, but not most of them opining on the topic today, in my view.)

            (3) In the Smith case, kossacks are urged to oppose the draft bill as an attack on the virtues of peer review and academic freedom that underlie the advancement of science. In the Richwine case, kossacks are urged to contact the dean to ... again, I'm not sure exactly what, but certainly to express displeasure over the professional judgment of tenured faculty. If one just wanted to express disagreement with the dissertation, the appropriate targets would be the faculty members themselves and, of course, Richwine. Some desired action by the dean must be implied, and that action obviously isn't meant to be positive for the faculty members.

            •  In fairness, (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Be Skeptical, Villanova Rhodes

              I do see your point, and I can appreciate the apparent contradiction.  But in my opinion, both these positions (wanting to defend NSF from political oversight; wanting universities to be self-policing) are actually quite consistent with each other.  I also think you have identified the essential point quite well -- the best arbiters of good scholarship are those experts in the field.  Not congress, not a reader on dKos.

              But asking the University to make sure, that strikes me as a very reasonable position.

              "There's a lot you can do with a hypnotized chicken." -7.50; -6.21

              by sgoldinger on Wed May 08, 2013 at 11:03:01 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  The university already did (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ltsply2, Be Skeptical

                I have yet to encounter a single person here with expertise in the field who has read the actual dissertation.  I know from my own dissertation that is never trust a journalists summary.

                Touch all that arises with a spirit of compassion

                by Mindful Nature on Thu May 09, 2013 at 12:02:52 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Read him and wept (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Mindful Nature

                  IQ and Immigration Policy

                  Those with university library privileges can get a copy on interlibrary loan from Harvard or the Kennedy School of Government.

                  Start with this summary, from Richwine himself.

                  The statistical construct known as IQ can reliably estimate general mental ability, or intelligence. The average IQ of immigrants in the United States is substantially lower than that of the white native [sic] population, and the difference is likely to persist over several generations. The consequences are a lack of socioeconomic assimilation among low-IQ immigrant groups, more underclass behavior, less social trust, and an increase in the proportion of unskilled workers in the American labor market. Selecting high-IQ immigrants would ameliorate these problems in the U.S., while at the same time benefiting smart potential immigrants who lack educational access in their home countries.
                  This is the same dreck used to try to keep my grandparents out of the US, back when it was claimed that Jews were of lower IQ than WASPs, on no better evidence. (My father and brother have Ph. D.s in pure mathematics. I joined the Peace Corps and learned Korean instead. Now I write textbooks.)

                  Also Chinese and other Asians. Also every country of Europe outside England, especially Catholics from Italy, Spain, Ireland, and southern Germany. (Note: not the UK. The same racism applied to Scottish, Irish, and Welsh immigrants at various times.)

                  See also Richwine, Jason, author, at OCLC WorldCat. Especially

                  National Review: A POPULATION PORTRAIT - Who illegal immigrants are, and what they bring with them

                  I haven't found an electronic version of this article from 2010.

                  American Enterprise Institute: THE CONGEALING POT - Today's immigrants are different from waves past.

                  They're not just like the Irish—or the Italians or the Poles, for that matter. The large influx of Hispanic immigrants after 1965 represents a unique assimilation challenge for the United States. Many optimistic observers have assumed—incorrectly, it turns out—that Hispanic immigrants will follow the same economic trajectory European immigrants did in the early part of the last century.

                  Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

                  by Mokurai on Thu May 09, 2013 at 02:05:32 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  That and your comment below at least (0+ / 0-)

                provide the basis for a realistic request for action to the Kennedy School, unlike the suggestions for "how dare you" emails and demands that the dean make sure this "never happens again." If I were to pursue this, I would have the paper critiqued by someone who knows the pros and cons of the measures he used -- which strike me as a little bizarre on a quick skim -- and present a reasoned case rather than an "off with their heads" campaign that any self-respecting university would be proud to spurn. (That characterization applies more to the other diary calling for emails than the current one, which is at least thoughtful, if IMO unfocused.)

                In general, I still believe the answer to bad speech is more speech, and the answer to crappy science is better science. In this case, it's such a political embarrassment to his employer that it may be a net positive in the grand scheme of things.

                Sorry I didn't get back to this earlier -- don't mean to flog a dead thread, but I appreciate your responses and didn't want to ignore.

    •  So there's a place for eugenics in science? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bonsai66, exterris

      that's really what you're arguing.  Realize this was political science not real science but it doesn't change your argument.  A PhD is supposed to represent something other than manipulation of statistics in furtherance of racism.

      •  Nothing I've said relates in the remotest (6+ / 0-)

        way to the content of the dissertation. So, no, that's not "really what I'm arguing."

        I find the policy position espoused execrable and as a general rule I find people on all sides of the policy question misunderstand and misrepresent the psychological and psychometric research on the constructs of "intelligence" and "race."

        However, I have not read the dissertation yet (though I've just downloaded it to do so). Have you?

        I have read the diaries suggeting expressions of outrage to a dean (481 words above, if Word's count is right) with no clear statement as to what that dean should do. Discipline the faculty? Forbid particular lines of research? Personally intervene in graduate research to ensure that it doesn't come up with something "scandalous" or offensive?

        What do you suggest the dean do? What do you think the diarist is suggesting?

        •  Now we get to the point of the matter. (0+ / 0-)

          Pardon me for interjecting here.  

          The more objective the subject matter being examined, the more rigorous the peer review, wouldn't you agree?

          What you're probably objecting to here is the "chilling" effect that political considerations would have upon science.  I understand that even if you can't express that point clearly.

          However, my point is this: Political Science is not science.  It's an artificial amalgam of many different disciplines that is actually more about human behaviour than anything else.  

          If your worried about academic freedom then express it as such. Stop pretending it is anything else and defend it wholeheartedly.  

          Your veiled attempt at defending bad science under the veil of academic freedom is disingenuous.

          Nothing worth noting at the moment.

          by Bonsai66 on Wed May 08, 2013 at 09:55:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  If I may reply... (8+ / 0-)

          I do not believe that rewarding Ivy-league doctorates falls under the umbrella of academic freedom.

          If a student wanted to write a dissertation in biology defending creationism as scientific fact, we can rest assured that 99.9% of the time, no responsible mentor or academic committee would go along with that, and the student would not receive a doctorate.  But let's imagine that the student hand-picks a committee of people he knows will be either sympathetic or complacent, or wish to somehow discredit the institution.  This does not automatically validate the content of that dissertation as worthy of a doctorate in science, and it would clearly call into question whether those faculty should retain the right to grant THE UNIVERSITY'S official endorsement to the student's work.

          I am a professor, and I have to be periodically re-evaluated for my suitability to chair or participate in graduate committees.  We are expected to publish, etc.  The university has a clear responsibility to monitor the "products" that it produces -- graduates bearing their name as alma mater and research bearing their name as the affiliation.

          Academic freedom is not synonymous with a lack of standards or criteria.  It is meant to protect the freedom to investigate issues without external pressure or censorship, even if the research is unpopular.  In the present case, the only valid recourse is to have other experts read the thesis and determine whether it was actually valid scholarly work.  This can be done, just like peer review for grants or papers.  If the vast consensus of the field is that this was a hand-picked committee that violated their implicit agreement with the university to maintain the standards of their field, their actions are not clearly protected under academic freedom.  It's fraud, and the Ph.D. would not be considered valid.  

          By way of analogy, scientists who are discovered faking data have occasionally had their Ph.D.'s rescinded, even from years ago.  That happens because the school can no longer trust that their process was faithfully followed.  That can happen with a committee process as well.

          "There's a lot you can do with a hypnotized chicken." -7.50; -6.21

          by sgoldinger on Wed May 08, 2013 at 09:56:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The department chair usually needs to sign off (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Villanova Rhodes

            on the composition of the dissertation committee members.  Then a university research review committee may need to approve it as well.  

            If the research used falsified data or was otherwise fraudulent, then the awarding of the degree can still be rescinded.  Otherwise, not much.

            •  And your point is? (0+ / 0-)

              It's apparent that you love the sound of your own authoritative voice.

              JC!  Have they not taught you to make your point clearly in whatever academic program that you slogged your way through?

              Nothing worth noting at the moment.

              by Bonsai66 on Wed May 08, 2013 at 10:36:45 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Download? (0+ / 0-)

          Oh, I see. I found it this time.

          I am indebted to the American Enterprise Institute for its generous support, without which this dissertation would not have been completed.
          Ah, if only.

          Richwine considers the most disastrous early work on supposed IQ, Brigham's attempted proof that Jews were of lower intelligence by giving "bagels off the boat" at immigration with little English IQ tests in English. Nowadays it is understood that Jews score higher on IQ tests than other European groups (although cause and effect have not been unraveled. Are Jews really smarter, or do they just study harder or have other cultural advantages?). He agrees that Brigham's fraud was disastrous, and correctly explains why, although he seems to pretend that it was only a mistake.

          But this time is different, says Richwine. Hispanics are of lower IQ than other Europeans, and do not rise in the second or third generation. Which is partly true, if we are talking about test scores and not native intelligence, for reasons that Richwine pooh-poohs.

          Which of course explains why Spain had the largest empire in the world for centuries, and was dominant in trade, navigation, and military might, until its economic and religious policies undid it, its colonies rebelled, and other empires (English, Dutch, French) supplanted it.

          No, the objection to Hispanics is not that they are stupid, but that they are poor, oppressed, and a laughingstock to the high and mighty. Every country that ever led some aspect of European civilization or science has had its place under the bootheel, ridiculed by conquerors and other oppressors before their high point, or after, or both.

          • Greece under Macedonian and Roman rule, and later Turkish rule
          • Rome/Italy after being sacked by barbarians, and later under French, German, and Spanish rule or domination
          • Bohemia (the Czech and Slovak lands) under Austrian rule
          • the Netherlands under Spanish rule
          • Spain under Arab/Berber rule, and later Napoleon
          • Ireland (See How the Irish Saved Civilization) and Scotland (the Scottish Enlightenment) under English rule
          • Denmark, Norway, Sweden under each other's rule and Germany
          • France under Nazi rule
          • Poland (Copernicus! Chopin!) under Prussian, Lithuanian, Austrian, Russian, and later Soviet rule
          • Germany under Bohemian and Spanish emperors and later Napoleon, East Germany under the Soviets, and Prussia now back in Poland

          I have a bridge for Richwine. No, that's wrong. He and the AEI have a bridge to sell to Republican racists. You may have heard of it: The Bridge to the Nineteenth Century.

          As this chapter has hopefully [sic] demonstrated, the study of IQ is now a mature science with a well established empirical foundation. [LOL]…I account for test bias against immigrants using several different datasets, a variety of techniques to evaluate test validity, statistical controls for education where necessary, and second generation data to look for test score convergence.
          Nope. For example, the children of undocumented immigrants, that is, the second generation of greatest concern, are denied many educational opportunities available to children of those with the proper papers. Undocumented children are at even greater disadvantages, and are lumped in with the second generation because we do not in fact have accurate statistical data for them and their parents. I can go on in this vein.
          Finally, as I emphasize throughout the text, nothing in this study suggests that immigrants should be treated on the basis of their group membership…Unlike Brigham's A Study of American Intelligence, there is no racial or ethnic policy agenda here.
          So, then, about that bridge…

          This dissertation fulfills some of the requirements for a Ph. D., such as being able to search through and organize the relevant literature, and presenting the results of an analysis in a coherent manner. But if I were a Harvard professor, I would not accept the dissertation proposal, and I would fail the analysis, because of its misuse of statistics to argue what cannot be proven, mostly because it is false.

          The most important fact I learned at Yale was how much of the literature on almost anything outside of math and science is simply an argument using cherry-picked data or no data at all in support of what the author believed that turns out not to be so. Philosophy and theology are of course the very worst, but Market Fundamentalist Economics and Political "Science" are not far behind, both in general falsity and in pernicious consequences.

          Even in science, "proving" what you only suppose you know is more common than it should be, as witness Cold Fusion, and there are a few instances in math as well, such as the historical refusal to recognize new kinds of number (negative, irrational, complex, transfinite, non-standard, and more) and non-Euclidean geometry, with supposed proofs of impossibility too often linked to vitriolic hatred.

          Richwine is a racist. AEI, National Review, and Heritage (especially under Jim DeMint) are apologists for racism, bigotry, misogyny, and Mammonism. Usually they try to Dog Whistle it, but they are becoming more and more overt as the Republican Party of the Southern Strategy sinks into ever-more vicious screaming denial on the way to demographic and hence electoral irrelevance. The model of the Federalists during and after the Jefferson Administration suggests that they can hold out in some states for another decade or so before vanishing completely, and that they will continue to get louder, nastier, and crazier the whole time.

          I see that I have the material for several diaries here. I'll think about it.

          Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

          by Mokurai on Thu May 09, 2013 at 03:37:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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