Jack had a lot to say last week about the Serena Williams incident at the U.S. Open, but since I’m not interested in Serena Williams, the U.S. Open, or sports ethics in general, I have nothing to say. I also have nothing to say about Mark Knight’s editorial cartoon about the incident. Or any of Jack’s other posts about Serena Williams. Nor will I make more than a passing mention of Jack’s tiresome pretense of not understanding why players are kneeling during the Anthem at football games.
Later in the week, Jack touched on some science-related issues, starting on Wednesday, when he wrote about a report put out by something called the Center for WorkLife Law that examines bias in the legal workplace. Jack’s not impressed by the study.
At least the New York Times headline, for once, was accurate., at least the online version: “Lawyers Say They Face Persistent Racial and Gender Bias at Work.” Yup, that’s what the survey showed. What it didn’t show is that there really is such discrimination, how much there is, or how it manifests itself. Here’s part of the executive summary:
Prove-It-Again. Women of color, white women, and men of color reported that they have to go “above and beyond” to get the same recognition and respect as their colleagues.
- Women of color reported PIA bias at a higher level than any other group, 35 percentage points higher than white men.
- White women and men of color also reported high levels of PIA bias, 25 percentage points higher than white men.
- Women of color reported that they are held to higher standards than their colleagues at a level 32 percentage points higher than white men.
This demonstrates, at least within the reliability of the survey, that minorities and women perceive that they are being discriminated against more than white males.
Jack is correct about the general nature of the study. It’s not a statistical smoking gun, it is based on self-reports by employees, and it is based on subjective perceptions. However, Jack slightly mischaracterizes the study when he says it is about perceptions of discrimination. From what I can figure out from the executive summary (the main report is hidden behind an expensive ABA paywall), the perceptions are actually about behavior and actions which can reveal discrimination. This is a subtle distinction, and I can’t really blame Jack for missing it.
A survey about perceptions of discrimination might ask lawyers a direct question like “Are women in your firm more likely to be the target of personal insults by their bosses?” The results would then be reported directly from the responses. E.g. “49% of lawyers report that women in their firms are more likely to be the targets of personal insults by their bosses.”
The survey under discussion uses a different approach. It would ask lawyers a question about specific behavior, such as “Have you been the target of personal insults by your boss?” The answers of men and women could then be compared. E.g. “49% of women report being the targets of personal insults by their bosses, verses 28% of men.” That’s a more powerful conclusion, because it compares women’s reported perceptions of their treatment against men’s own reported perceptions of their own treatment.
The quoted example above falls into the latter category, as do other questions mentioned in the executive summary. Obviously, there’s still room for bias in any survey this subjective, but it’s not as bad as Jack claims.
That’s a useless result. We have seen and read, for example, how various African American activists and celebrities like Charles M. Blow and Ta’ nahisi Coates teach their sons that police are racists, and that they must fear them. As a result, they interpret all interactions with police through this prism. One doesn’t have to be a research ethicist to conclude that this warps their perception.
Oh, geez, I can’t even with this… Does Jack really think black people wouldn’t worry about racist cops if they weren’t being deceived by race-baiting activists and celebrities?
In other science news, on Friday Jack attacked the Milken study on the death toll in Puerto Rico from Hurricane María. I addressed the Milken study in detail in an earlier post.
On Sunday, Jack brought up the Kavanaugh hearing and the accusations of sexual misconduct coming from one of his former high-school classmates. Unsurprisingly, Jack thinks her accusation is unethical.
2. The accusation was over 30 years old, meaning that all aspects of it, including the recollections of the alleged participants, would be inherently untrustworthy. This is why we have statutes of limitations. UNFAIR, and IRRESPONSIBLE.
There is no statute of limitations on Senate hearings for Supreme Court nominees. It’s up to the Senators to weigh the value of her testimony
3. The accusation was, and still is, unsubstantiated by anyone else. UNFAIR, and IRRESPONSIBLE.
This isn’t a civil suit. Substantiating her claims is not really her responsibility.
4. The accusation was made against a distinguished public servant and family man with no documented blemishes on his record or character as an adult, stemming from an alleged incident that occurred, if it occurred, while he was a minor. UNFAIR
Look, it wasn’t an “alleged” incident to her. She knows what she believes happened. So unless we’re sure she’s lying, there’s nothing unethical about saying things she believes to be true.
5. No complaint had been made against Kavanaugh by the accuser at any time in the intervening years, until his nomination by President Trump became a political rallying point for the Left. IRRESPONSIBLE.
I’m really tired of this argument, from Jack and everyone else who makes it. You say she should have complained earlier? Well then, in what forum should she have made her complaint? In 1982 she was a 15-year-old high-school girl attending a party with boys and drinking and no parents, and she may have been drinking herself. From her point of view, admitting any of that to her parents or school authorities or the police would just get her in trouble, making the whole incident even worse.
And once a few years went by, telling her parents or the school wouldn’t do any good, and telling the police after so long probably wouldn’t help either. There’d be no one she could tell that would be able to do anything about it…until the nation’s political engines presented her with an opportunity to get revenge. Kavanaugh’s nomination is the first time in decades she’s been able to tell her story to someone who could make it matter.
On Monday, Jack again touched on the Kavanaugh hearing, and Jack’s outrageous response deserves note:
Apparently the Trump administration has decided to pander to the worst of #MeToo fanaticism. I just heard Kellyanne Conway say “This woman should not be insulted, and not be ignored.”
Yes, she should be. She should be insulted because she has interjected herself into a Supreme Court confirmation based on a distant memory she cannot prove, denigrating a veteran professional based on alleged conduct that he may have engaged in as a minor
I can’t see any way Jack’s response is ethical.