8 More Academic Scandals
These first 2 articles were popular:
So, I am turning this into a series, I guess.
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#1: Ken Griffin Donates 300 Million to Harvard
This was big news last week, as covered by Harvard Magazine:
KENNETH C. GRIFFIN ’89, founder and chief executive officer of Citadel LLC, the multibillion-dollar hedge-fund and financial-services company, has donated $300 million to Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. In recognition, GSAS has been renamed the Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
On Substack the donation was covered byfrom an "Effective Altruism" perspective:
Even if you reject the effective altruism framework and are especially concerned with higher education, there are colleges on the brink of collapse across the county, colleges that lack endowments the size of a small country’s GDP. Furthermore, the students at Harvard, if they aren’t already a part of the elite, will be when they graduate. Students coming from families making less than $85,000 a year already do not have to pay any tuition. Whatever tiny benefits Ken’s gift might produce are accruing to those who need them the least. Would it not be better to help support community colleges, trade schools, or even state universities that might actually be resource constrained or that serve students that are more in need?
According to them, if Ken Griffin had spent this $300 million on malaria nets, he could have saved 60,000 lives.
Here is a Karlstack article about effective altruism.😎
Yale sociology professor Philip Gorski says that $300 million for the naming rights to Harvard’s graduate school is extremely cheap.
This is a common sentiment.
One major reason Harvard sold their graduate school for “just” 300 million is that Ken Griffin had already given $150 million to Harvard in 2014, plus other miscellaneous donations, so his running total is more like $500 million.
A second reason is that the $300 million doesn’t come with any strings attached, as donations usually do. /r/Harvard explains:
The loudest voice opposed to the donation is professor Theda Skocpol, who only has tenure because she sued Harvard to get tenure.
I am absolutely disgusted at the sale of the GSAS name to a multi billionaire who works in US politics today to undermine the foundations of liberal civil society, including free speech, and to eviscerate the essential trans partisan features of fully representative US democracy. This is a shocking and unnecessary sell out by Harvard and FAS leaders who, at the same time, claim to be worried about Harvard College’s acceptance of slavery in the 1700s.
— Theda Skocpol, political scientist professor at Harvard
This quote drew strong reactions from the peanut gallery:
Many had strong opinions about the donation:
Will be weird to have the graduate school - which focuses on producing PhDs in the arts and sciences - named after a hedge fund manager … prefer to think of harvard as an endowment that offers classes and does research on the side.
— Maya Sen, political scientist professor at Harvard
Harvard got $300 million that it will invest tax-free, Ken Griffin paid $180 million, taxpayers paid $120 million (estate tax charitable deduction; I'm simplifying by ignoring NPV and other taxes). Worth it?
— Economist Wojtek Kopczuk
The fact that Griffin is presumably "fiscally conservative but socially liberal" provides some vague way of reconciling this with his support for Ron DeSantis, but really if you're any kind of Republican in 2023 this sort of giving is indefensibly stupid.
— Ross Douthat, columnist at the New York Times
Truly baffling that anyone could survey the American landscape for the best place to give $300 million and come up with... Harvard (estimated endowment $53.2 billion)
— Conor Friedersdorf staff writer at The Atlantic
People seem to be mad that Ken Griffin 'bought' influence at Harvard with his $300 million gift (which would be more accurately characterized as Griffin took a tax write-off). Are we pretending Harvard somehow used to be pure and now isn't? Just tax the endowment already
I think it’s kind of disgusting to want your name on something in recognition of your donation. Just donate the money, you vain douche, and if the school suggests renaming tell them you think that’s gross.
— Religion professor Alan Levinovitz
[The donation is] probably driven by vanity and a desire to see his name on a major Harvard institution … I cannot imagine having $300 million to give to a charity and deciding that Harvard University was the scrappy institution in need of more money.
It would be great if they topped up my stipend.
— Lorenzo J.F. McClellan, Harvard Ph.D. candidate in History
Harvard not only continues to launder the reputation of the Sacklers (family responsible for the opioid crisis) Now- Just weeks after yet another school shooting they just announced they are taking $300 Million from billionaire Ken Griffin a major investor in the gun industry.
— David Hogg, undergraduate student at Harvard
Harvard Economics professor Gregory Mankiw added that Harvard “should not judge the political views of its donors,” and that he was “very grateful for Mr. Griffin’s generosity.”
#2: Criminology Professor "Abruptly Leaves" Florida State University
#3: Canadian Econ Professor Costs Taxpayers $200 Million
Jean-Yves Duclos obtained his econ PhD in 1992 from LSE and then spent the next 20+ years as an econ professor at Laval University, a public university in Quebec City, where he racked up an impressive 8144 citations and 3 Econometrica publications.
Duclos left econ academia in 2015 to become a Liberal Member of Parliament, and was promoted to health minister in 2021.
As health minister, he carries lots of clout, obviously, and if you throw that clout around enough… at some point that becomes influence peddling, fraud, corruption or conspiracy. In our case, Duclos used his clout to snag his home district of Quebec City a $200 million contract with Mitsubishi Chemical Group to produce vaccines. The scandalous part is that the $200 million then… just kind of… vanished into thin air, as tends to happen with nepotistic Liberal pork projects. Nobody knows where the money went and Justin Trudeau’s Cabinet is refusing to say anything. No factory built, no vaccines produced, no tangible output of any kind.
It’s funny to see Econ professors in the real world.
“We spent all those monies,” said the Mitsubishi executive.
“Who owns the intellectual property?” asked the Canadian official.
“[Mitsubishi] owns it,” replied the Mitsubishi executive.
#4: University of Texas Finance Professor Sues His Deans
It is not every day that you sue your deans and departments chair, but associate professor of finance at UT Austin Richard Lowery did just that in February 2023:
The lawsuit alleges that Dr. Lowery wrote a myriad of “anti-woke” articles, op-eds, and tweets, so his deans and department chair retaliated against him and threatened him with sanctions in an attempt to chill his speech. Now, Lowery is asking the court to bar his deans and chair from threatening his speech, reducing his pay, labeling his criticism as violent, or “asking any police agency to surveil Lowery’s speech.”
Does his lawsuit have any merit? I have no clue. It will have to play out. It’s interesting, though.
#5: Stanford POTUS Fends For His Life
The POTUS of Stanford University has been under investigation since 2022 for allegedly photoshopping images in at least 5 of his papers.
The newest update is from last week:
Genentech, where Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne once served as chief scientific officer … disclosed previously unreported research misconduct in Tessier-Lavigne’s laboratory … five independent executives and senior scientists at Genentech who were involved with the research or its subsequent review at the time have claimed the irreproducibility was due to fabrication.
Ha. We have been tracking this case. As I wrote in Four of the Latest Academic Scandals several months ago, “What usually happens in these types of cases is that if you have 5 papers under investigation for something as blatant as photoshopping your results, the rest of your papers become under investigation, and those are usually fraudulent as well. It’s usually a house of cards.” That is now exactly what is playing out.
To be continued.
#6: Memorial University POTUS Resigns in Shame
The POTUS of Memorial University in Newfoundland lost her job last week over false claims of Indigenous identity, first revealed when CBC led an investigation into her Indigenous status and ancestry.
She joins a growing list of prominent Canadian academics in recent years who have been caught “pulling an Elizabeth Warren”.
In 2022 Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, a law professor at the University of British Columbia, "retired" amid doubts she was Indigenous. UBC declined to say if she retired, or was fired. The Globe and Mail says she was removed "because of the compelling evidence that she isn't who she says she is.”
In 2022 Carrie Bourassa resigned as a professor at the University of Saskatchewan after doubts were raised about her claims of being Metis.
In today’s episode, Memorial’s POTUS was caught claiming membership of a Nova Scotia tribe that she wasn’t actually part of.
Her defence upon being caught was to waffle over the semantic difference between “being an Indigenous person” vs. “being a settler with Indigenous heritage”. “It is a distinction I have been careful to make, because it is an important distinction,” she wrote. Okay.
She was fired last week, 1 month after the CBC investigation came out.
She amplified her Indigenous family connection and traded on her genealogy to further her career and to assume an identity that was not hers to claim.
She was fired WITHOUT cause, meaning that after being hired in 2020 with a base pay of $450,000, less than 3 years later she is now walking away with 675K severance plus 270K administrative leave… just under a million dollars to GTFO.
#7: Duplicate Data at the University of Chicago
#8: Fed Economists Caught Faking Climate Research
David Barker, a former economist for the Federal Reserve, just published this explosive op-ed in the WSJ:
This article thoroughly debunks 2 papers about climate change written by economists at the Fed.
In the September issue of Econ Journal Watch, I discredited a paper from the Richmond Fed claiming that warming reduces economic growth in the U.S. I showed that the paper had serious problems with its statistical reasoning and robustness. My analysis concluded that the data used in the paper showed no meaningful relationship between temperatures and growth.
More recently I published a critique of a study from the Federal Reserve Board claiming that a year of above-normal temperatures in countries around the world makes economic contraction more likely. The original study used sophisticated statistical techniques but failed to report that its primary finding was statistically insignificant. My request to the study’s author for computer code to reproduce the paper’s results went unanswered.
“The only thing to learn from the Fed’s research is that climate propaganda is spreading fast, and when it comes to climate, academic economists are no more deserving of trust than are other supposed scientists and experts. The Fed’s time would be better spent on more urgent matters, like improving its botched regulation of the banking system.”
Rather than concerning itself with inflation and employment, the Fed is obsessed with DEI and climate change, and now thanks to David Barker we know that at least some of the Fed’s climate research is biased garbage.