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23 More Academic Scandals
This is the 5th installment, in what has become a regular series.
Just by virtue of being plugged into certain circles, every day I seem to run across a new academic scandal. Can't chronicle them all, can't turn a blind eye either. But I can curate them.
Karlstack began as a blog for economists / academics, but the reader base has since been diluted so heavily, and the scope has been so dramatically extended, that I have no clue what the composition is now.
As long as we are doing polls… I am curious… I recently purchased www.chrisbrunet.com, but don’t bother visiting it, as I haven’t set it up yet.
Looking at other writers such as www.leefang.com, a personal domain adds a touch of class.
What's your opinion?
Now, let us turn our attention to the scandals at hand.
Obviously, the biggest scandal this month was SCOTUS overturning affirmative action, but it's been talked about so exhaustively, I chose to ignore it.
Instead, I've chosen to highlight stories underreported by the mainstream media.
This is a brutal EJMR thread, in which an anonymous whistleblower reveals that the Job Market Paper (JMP) of Pierre E. Biscaye, a UC Berkeley agricultural economics PhD candidate, is identical to someone else’s unpublished master's dissertation from 2018.
The thread then devolves into 7+ pages of the smartest, meanest, and most autistic economics professors in the world brutally ending this kid’s JMP, and by extension, career.
For those who don't know how the market for economics PhD’s works, at the tail end of their PhD, the candidate spends an entire year presenting their JMP at various departments, in the hopes that one of those departments will hire them. Now, because of this EJMR thread, this poor kid’s career (okay, he is not a kid, he is really like 30+ years old) is blowing up on the launchpad.
A more apt analogy for Pierre’s JMP tour might actually be a pregnant woman who suffers a miscarriage, and is then forced to carry the lifeless product of her womb to term. Imagine the heartache. That's what Biscaye's life is destined to be, his fate sealed by the damning revelation on EJMR. He is a walking, talking, stillbirth, doomed to spend the next year presenting his stolen (at worst) and/or fatally flawed (at best) JMP at departments that have already read the EJMR thread about it.
I had serious reservations about covering this story at all… by signal-boosting it to thousands of academics/economists who otherwise would not have seen it, I am harming him. Why would I pile on to his misery?
So, initially, I decided to ignore this story completely.
But then on a whim, I checked Pierre’s CV.
It was at this point that I noticed a name of one of his advisors: Max Auffhammer.
Shit got personal.
In 2021, while Pierre Biscaye was working under Dr. Maximilian Auffhammer at UC Berkeley, I was working for Dr. Harald Uhlig at UChicago.
In 2021, Auffhammer led a cancellation mob against Uhlig, creating and circulating a petition, the text of which notes that all signatories “have confirmed their participation via an email to Maximilian Auffhammer.”
If you are an economist you really should download that petition and cross-check your colleagues (and future hires) to see what they really think about free speech — it is chilling to see who the Bolsheviks are, and this letter is as clear a signal as you can possibly get.
3 out of 4 of Pierre’s advisors signed the petition.
It was an insanely dishonest petition — for example, Auffhammer accuses Uhlig of "drawing parallels between the BLM movement and the Ku Klux Klan." Uhlig, in fact, was explicitly using a common form of argument known as "reductio ad absurdum." Auffhammer knew that, he just didn’t care. Auffhammer is a liar.
It’s crazy how poorly this petition aged like milk, with 3 years of hindsight, we can see how truly absurd this whole situation was. Below are the 2 Uhlig’s tweets that got him in trouble; please read these tweets, and ask yourself: would you respect someone calling for the writer to be fired? Would a “true scholar” sign a petititon against these tweets? Would a Bolshevik?
Suuuure. They knew this is non-starter, and tried a sensible Orwell 1984 of saying oh, it just means funding schools (who isn't in favor of that?!?).But no, the so-called 'activists' did not want that. Back to truly 'defunding' thus, according to their website. Sigh. #GeorgeFloyd and his family really didn't deserve being taken advantage of by flat-earthers and creationists. Oh well. Time for sensible adults to enter back into the room and have serious, earnest, respectful conversations about it all: e.g. policy reform proposals by @TheDemocrat and national healing.
The context for these tweets — what made them inflammatory enough for 500+ professors to sign — was that they were tweeted at the apex of the George Floyd riots, when America, and Chicago, was being looted and burned. No economists dared speak up against the riots as they were happening, except for Uhlig, and for this crime of opposing riots, he was viciously canceled by Auffhammer.
After a short investigation, Uhlig was cleared of wrongdoing.
Auffhammer was not happy with this decision.
Auffhammer wanted a scalp.
Auffhammer wanted BLOOD.
Maybe Auffhammer should resign for trying to participate in mobs and trying to create a monoculture in Economics.
Anyways, my point is, Uhlig is a nice guy.
He doesn’t hold grudges.
Me, on the other hand? I'm an unhinged rogue political operative with a moderately influential Substack, and Auffhammer is in my crosshairs.
I'm just returning the favor, Max.
So when your protégé, Biscaye, spectacularly immolates his own career, not only do I chronicle the explosion, but I hoist it up as a neon sign for the world to witness, ensuring it is signal-boosted to thousands of economists — many on hiring committees; all they have to do is read the EJMR thread for themselves, and form their own opinion on this JMP. If the truth of the matter is that Biscaye’s JMP is a career-destroying, radioactive turd, then so be it. The man is 30 and should be accountable for his JMP.
I have this same spiritual/moral struggle every time one of my articles ends, or hamstrings, a career… It weighs heavy on me.
For example the professor in Singapore who was fired:
Or Chad Topaz being sent into exile:
Or Eric Stewert being fired from Florida State:
Or Avi Eisenberg being arrested by the FBI:
I tell myself that they bring it on themselves… This is how I sleep at night.
I emailed Pierre for comment, offering him the final word.
This is his response.
I must admit, the pronouns in his bio make me feel better about this decision to publicize the EJMR thread:
Do you find this response to be compelling?
The job market will decide.
It's always brutally efficient.
I put this story at #2 because it is also about Berkeley. Crazy video:
Tenured professor at King’s College quits…. and then immediately blogs about it on Substack. Everybody loves a good quitting story.
The English university has internally become a citizen service center, where academic staff must invest more and more time in administrative tasks on behalf of performance criteria, leading to a lack of time for actual student support, teaching or research. This includes administrative responsibilities for tasks traditionally assigned to administrative staff, such as the digital recording of grades, the processing of student sick notes for exams, the learning and processing of expense reimbursement software, etc. The university professor is turned into an office worker - including constant performance reviews and committee meetings with new "leadership" initiatives.
These incentives, both from the university's and the students' perspective, have generally led to a reduction of course quality and a grade inflation of very good grades. Those who still fail (or plagiarize) can repeat the essay or exam until the result fits in practice. It is therefore not surprising that "The Times" reported in 2018 that none of the approximately 33,000 undergraduate students at eleven English universities have failed their final exams, and that the failure rate in 32 other universities was just 0.09 percent.
It is therefore important to note that German employers should not automatically assume that a first-class Master's degree from a prestigious English university is the best option when selecting their employees.
Debunking a dubious new anthropology paper
On, this is a deep dive by a grad student, eviscerating a bad paper:
The Cancel-Culture Troll with a Neo-Nazi Past: Speaking of Aporia… This was a big week for them. They announced Noah Carl as one of their new editors:
One of their other editors is Bo Winegard.
The reason I bring up these 2 Aporia editors is that they were both targets of a troll named Oliver Smith, and this week, City Journal (the house journal of the Manhattan Institute), published a scathing profile of Oliver Smith. Both Winegard and Carl are discussed in the article. This article caused a big splash on contrarian twitter.
This article exposes a reallllly weird guy who has been harassing people online for years, he “spends 10,000s of hours harassing people who publish actual science” using “100s or even 1000s of internet aliases”. He has actually succeeded in harming many academic careers with this trolling, which is why the Manhattan Institute finally took a stand.
In addition to attacking Bo and Carl, his current (June-July) attack targets are:
Richard Hanania (political commenter)
Edward Dutton (intelligence researcher)
Emily Willoughby (intelligence researcher)
Erik Ahrens/Gegenuni (his company)
Monitoring Bias (Twitter HBD account)
Quillette (center right magazine)
Anatoly Karlin (Russian HBD blogger)
Scandza Forum (Nordic nationalist movement)
Noah Carl (intelligence researcher)
Tim Noakes (don't know him)
Abd ul-Rahman Lomax (a long time target of Oliver D. Smith)
Bronze Age Pervert (Twitter HBD account, and author)
He does stuff like doxx them, harass them, email their employers, or attack their Wikipedia pages. Here he is attacking Richard Hanania’s Wikipedia page, lol:
This is a long read from Quillette — the preview says a 51 min read — so I didn’t actually read it, lol, but it seems like a crazy story, and the author of this article is on Substack and is solid. I just didn’t care enought to invest 51 minutes, sorry.
"The $22.8 million earned by Amy Gutmann in 2021 represents the largest known amount of compensation ever to have been paid by a college or university to its chief executive within a single year,"
What is going on in Pennsylvania?
Matsoukas, a professor of chemical engineering, allegedly performed acts in and around the parking lot and restrooms, that included indecent exposure, masturbation, and sexual contact with a dog.
Seriously, what is going on in Pennsylvania???
40% of Brown students are gay. Because of course they are.
A similar poll conducted at the school just over 10 years ago found that 14% of the student body identified as being part of the LGBTQ+ community.
“Imagine the outcry if a position were advertised exclusively for males, and rightly so. And yet here we are. Deafening silence. This is blatant discrimination against junior males. All the old white males on Twitter supporting this must be happy with themselves. It makes me sick.”
A pharmacy researcher who left the University of Pennsylvania sometime last year has been found guilty of research misconduct in multiple federal grant applications and five published papers, four of which have already been retracted.
This graph speaks for itself.
This is another long article. The shocking — or not shocking, depending on how jaded you are — thing here is the action of Sam Peltzman, a UChicago econ prof.
A whistleblower had strong evidence of fraud and made an explicit request:
I am requesting you investigate if these models are correct and if so, at very least issue a correction.
In response, Peltzman flat-out refused to investigate:
The JLE does not have the resources to investigate concerns about data procedure used by authors.
“A cancer researcher who was terminated from one postdoc position and resigned another faked data in multiple papers and grant applications, according to the U.S. Office of Research Integrity.”