The academic 'marketplace of ideas' is dead

In 2019, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences ("PNAS"), a peer-reviewed journal, published a study from two psychologists showing that American police were not shooting blacks as disparate rates compared to other races.  In the most recent issue of PNAS, the psychologists withdrew the study — not because it was wrong, but because they objected that conservatives were using the study to challenge the Black Lives Matter narrative.

The psychologists, Joseph Cesario of Michigan State and David Johnson of the University of Maryland, studied 917 instances, from 2015 through 2019, in which police fatally shot civilians.  They were trying to determine whether race could be a factor in predicting shootings.  They found that it could not.

Heather Mac Donald cited the article when she appeared before Congress in September 2019 and wrote about it in a City Journal article.  Regarding that article, it's essential to know that Mac Donald noted that two Princeton political scientists challenged the study, but that both Cesario and Johnson stood by their original findings.

The fact that Mac Donald used peer-reviewed data to show that American police are not systematically massacring blacks upset academia so much that Michigan State demoted physicist Steve Hsu, who had approved funding for the research.  (Michigan State, by the way, is home to Christina Wyman, the associate professor who wrote an opinion piece about racism that is so stupid, to paraphrase Billy Madison, that we are now dumber for having read it.)

The blow to Hsu's career for daring to approve money for studying objective facts apparently terrified Cesario and Johnson.  They've therefore taken the bizarre step of recanting their study, not because it's inaccurate, but because, once the facts were made public, people put them to a use offensive to leftists.  In another paper in PNAS, the two psychologists spend several hundred weasel words explaining their craven, anti-intellectual decision, all of which boils down to the fact that they wish Mac Donald hadn't taken their data, melded it with other accurate data, and reached a conclusion that the Marxists dislike.  This is their "short version":

We were careless when describing the inferences that could be made from our data. This led to the misuse of our article to support the position that the probability of being shot by police did not differ between Black and White Americans (MacDonald, 2019). To be clear, our work does not speak to this issue and should not be used to support such statements. We accordingly issued a correction to rectify this statement (Johnson & Cesario, 2020).

Although our data and statistical approach were valid to estimate the question we actually tested (the race of civilians fatally shot by police), given continued misuse of the article (e.g., MacDonald, 2020) we felt the right decision was to retract the article rather than publish further corrections. We take full responsibility for not being careful enough with the inferences made in our original article, as this directly led to the misunderstanding of our research.

Ultimately, what concerns the men is that the report stopped short of calculating the probability that a black person, as opposed to a white person, would be shot.  Instead, they showed only that, as between police officers and those shot, race was not a factor.  They strongly imply that Mac Donald in turn misused their study to say that black people weren't really being shot at all.

As Mac Donald explains, though, that implication is false:

To the contrary, I have, like them, stressed that racial disparities in policing reflect differences in violent crime rates. The only thing wrong with their article, and my citation of it, is that its conclusion is unacceptable in our current political climate.

Academia in America is a joke.  The leftist infection began with easily manipulatable liberal arts programs and their myriad "studies" (e.g., "gender studies," "queer studies," "African-American studies"), and has now infected every area of higher education, including the once objective field of STEM studies (science, technology, engineering, mathematics).  Just the other day, a woman who describes herself as a teacher asserted that "the idea of 2 + 2 equaling 4 is cultural and because of western imperialism / colonization[.]"  Tell that to my fingers when I count on them.

When one looks at the Marxist insanity plaguing America today, there is a Ground Zero: America's colleges and universities.  Whether it's about race, sex, economics, or pure America-hatred, it all started in those institutions.  It is long past time to pull every single federal taxpayer dollar out of these places of indoctrination, whether in the form of grants, loans, or whatever other imaginative way the Democrats have figured out to pass taxpayer money to academies that churn out legions of mindless Marxists who disseminate their ignorance into our K–12 schools, media outlets, Hollywood, and corporations.

Image: Flickr.

In 2019, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences ("PNAS"), a peer-reviewed journal, published a study from two psychologists showing that American police were not shooting blacks as disparate rates compared to other races.  In the most recent issue of PNAS, the psychologists withdrew the study — not because it was wrong, but because they objected that conservatives were using the study to challenge the Black Lives Matter narrative.

The psychologists, Joseph Cesario of Michigan State and David Johnson of the University of Maryland, studied 917 instances, from 2015 through 2019, in which police fatally shot civilians.  They were trying to determine whether race could be a factor in predicting shootings.  They found that it could not.

Heather Mac Donald cited the article when she appeared before Congress in September 2019 and wrote about it in a City Journal article.  Regarding that article, it's essential to know that Mac Donald noted that two Princeton political scientists challenged the study, but that both Cesario and Johnson stood by their original findings.

The fact that Mac Donald used peer-reviewed data to show that American police are not systematically massacring blacks upset academia so much that Michigan State demoted physicist Steve Hsu, who had approved funding for the research.  (Michigan State, by the way, is home to Christina Wyman, the associate professor who wrote an opinion piece about racism that is so stupid, to paraphrase Billy Madison, that we are now dumber for having read it.)

The blow to Hsu's career for daring to approve money for studying objective facts apparently terrified Cesario and Johnson.  They've therefore taken the bizarre step of recanting their study, not because it's inaccurate, but because, once the facts were made public, people put them to a use offensive to leftists.  In another paper in PNAS, the two psychologists spend several hundred weasel words explaining their craven, anti-intellectual decision, all of which boils down to the fact that they wish Mac Donald hadn't taken their data, melded it with other accurate data, and reached a conclusion that the Marxists dislike.  This is their "short version":

We were careless when describing the inferences that could be made from our data. This led to the misuse of our article to support the position that the probability of being shot by police did not differ between Black and White Americans (MacDonald, 2019). To be clear, our work does not speak to this issue and should not be used to support such statements. We accordingly issued a correction to rectify this statement (Johnson & Cesario, 2020).

Although our data and statistical approach were valid to estimate the question we actually tested (the race of civilians fatally shot by police), given continued misuse of the article (e.g., MacDonald, 2020) we felt the right decision was to retract the article rather than publish further corrections. We take full responsibility for not being careful enough with the inferences made in our original article, as this directly led to the misunderstanding of our research.

Ultimately, what concerns the men is that the report stopped short of calculating the probability that a black person, as opposed to a white person, would be shot.  Instead, they showed only that, as between police officers and those shot, race was not a factor.  They strongly imply that Mac Donald in turn misused their study to say that black people weren't really being shot at all.

As Mac Donald explains, though, that implication is false:

To the contrary, I have, like them, stressed that racial disparities in policing reflect differences in violent crime rates. The only thing wrong with their article, and my citation of it, is that its conclusion is unacceptable in our current political climate.

Academia in America is a joke.  The leftist infection began with easily manipulatable liberal arts programs and their myriad "studies" (e.g., "gender studies," "queer studies," "African-American studies"), and has now infected every area of higher education, including the once objective field of STEM studies (science, technology, engineering, mathematics).  Just the other day, a woman who describes herself as a teacher asserted that "the idea of 2 + 2 equaling 4 is cultural and because of western imperialism / colonization[.]"  Tell that to my fingers when I count on them.

When one looks at the Marxist insanity plaguing America today, there is a Ground Zero: America's colleges and universities.  Whether it's about race, sex, economics, or pure America-hatred, it all started in those institutions.  It is long past time to pull every single federal taxpayer dollar out of these places of indoctrination, whether in the form of grants, loans, or whatever other imaginative way the Democrats have figured out to pass taxpayer money to academies that churn out legions of mindless Marxists who disseminate their ignorance into our K–12 schools, media outlets, Hollywood, and corporations.

Image: Flickr.