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Probe Launched Into Harvard Professor Following Karlstack Investigation
The wheels of justice grind slowly, but grind exceedingly fine.
5 months ago I published this explosive leaked document:
I then naively expected a swift crackdown by Harvard on this obvious fraud in their department of government, but nothing materialized.
So I stuck with it, and wrote 7 follow-up articles:
Following these articles, the Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) threatened to sue me. They sent me a cease and desist letter.
I told their lawyer to eat shit:
Fast forward one month, and I am happy to report that the MPSA are now doing what I told them to do all along: rather than suing me, they are formally investigating themselves.
This was confirmed in a Reddit AMA yesterday:
During this AMA, one of the redditors asked him about this prediction market:
This is what Enos had to say about the market:
His response completely ignores all the flaws in his own research — completely ignores any mention of his fraudulent data, the only thing that matters! — and instead focuses on calling me a “deranged” and “unhinged” “conspiracy theorist”.
I am happy to see that the Redditor who asked the original question picked up on this:
The juicy tidbit in this Enos response is that he admits “someone wrote in a formal query to the journal editors, which I am in the process of replying to."
While Enos tries to coolly pass this off as “received an inquiry from the journal,” I have received independent confirmation that what this really means is a formal investigation has begun! Step one of the investigation is to get a statement from Enos. He must formally answer the allegations.
Throughout this entire 6-month long Karlstack investigation, that was always the goal: to spark a new investigation.
“I have already learned something in preparing the reply,” Enos says on Reddit. Haha. Here comes the awkward justifications. What a tool. He is now trying to play off his fake results.
The caveat with this newly launched investigation is that it is rather narrow in scope; there are about a dozen sketchy things in his paper, and this newly launched investigation is constrained to just *one* of those sketchy things — the fact that the registered voters who did not voting his dataset are greater than in the official election data. Andrew Gelman (the GOAT 🐐) called this particular data quirk “mathematically impossible:”
Of these 1,132,646 observations (roughly 20% less than official numbers) [in one dataset], only 669,115 have variable value 1 on the vote2004 variable, and the remainder have value 0, i.e., 463,531 registered voters did not vote according to the Enos (2016) replication dataset, which is 104,260 more non-voters than the official figure. While the attrition of 20% of observations can be attributed to the author's stated inability to geocode a number of addresses and/or compute a probability of voter's race given their last name, even assuming all 283,455 registered voters discarded on those grounds had voted, leaving the author with a particularly unlucky draw of registered voters (which is statistically implausible), it would have been mathematically impossible for the maximum number of non-voters in a subsample, however peculiar, to exceed the official number of non-voters for the entire sample.
This seems like a big deal. The way these anonymous authors put it, Enos is characterizing 463,531 people as being registered voters by not voting, and this contradicts the official data from 2004. This could be a data coding mistake on Enos's part: perhaps a large proportion of these 463,531 had some missing records, and Enos could've done a crude missing-data-exclusion procedure causing it to look like they didn't vote, but actually they just have missing data. For example, what if he only included people who voted on every item on the ballot. I have no idea. In any case, assuming the numbers in the anonymous article are correct, this seems like a big mistake--also, it's a good advertisement for why a replication policy is a big idea!
— Andrew Gelman, a professor of statistics and political science at Columbia University.
So, I am relatively optimistic that if anything in this paper would prove to be the smoking gun indicating fabricated data, this would be it. My worry, though, is that by limiting themselves to such a narrow investigation rather than explicitly giving themselves broad authority to follow the threads of this investigation wherever they may lead, the investigators give themselves a built-in excuse to turn a blind eye to broader data shenanigans.
I further worry that Ryan Enos will only answer the MPSA in private communication rather than addressing these accusations in public. Everyone in the entire PoliSci profession has known about this data fabrication scandal for months, and still Enos has refused to address it. He owes the profession answers, he owes his colleagues and peers answers, he owes his students answers, and he owes Harvard answers. It will be lame if MPSA suppresses all the details of his response. They might say something like, “he told us his excuse in private and we believed him. We don’t owe it to the public to divulge the details of an internal investigation. Case closed.”
No use worrying about those scenarios for now, though.
For now this is a rare moment to soak in a battle won. The wheels of justice grind slowly, but grind exceedingly fine. Now that MPSA has formally launched an investigation into Enos, don’t be surprised if Harvard follows suit. The walls are starting to close in.
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