Re: Mattress

1

She's been carrying a 50 pound mattress around for two years but she won't file a criminal charge because the process would be "too draining". We are absolutely sure this one is bona fide, are we?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 8:54 AM
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She has a faculty advisor and is getting some kind of credit for calling him a rapist even after the University's process did not find him culpable? The University wouldn't grant him a waiver to study abroad?

Wow.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 9:14 AM
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There is no aspect of this story which is not fucked up.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 9:16 AM
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What a perfect storm of awful. Suspicious pattern of complaints, found not responsible, would be seriously harmed by being kicked out, and the special zing of "my senior thesis is mattress."


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 9:26 AM
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1. Her actions are clearly designed to harass or at least make him uncomfortable.
2. The University has had some kind of adjudicatory process where they did not rule in her favor.

It would seem that they have an affirmative duty to stop her, not give her credit.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 9:29 AM
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But this is precisely the problem that results from a bad system. Where exactly is the system that can investigate and prosecute rape, or protect the victim? Universities aren't set up to do it right (even if Columbia now permits people to have lawyers) since not only do they not have the kind of sophisticated policies or infrastructure that's needed but they have a huge incentive to brush things under the rug. And we all know just how shitty the actual legal system is. So what happens is terrible work-arounds (and I would argue that this is just about the worst of all worlds) because there is nothing actually approximating real justice.

I have been part of a couple of amateur "accountability" processes around sexual assault, and they're awful. They're awful because the people who do them don't have the time, experience or theoretical framework to do them properly, and because there's no force available except shunning/shaming to make them work. They're awful, and yet people do them because the other choice is "la la maybe a few people will know that this dude is a rapist but in general the woman will be horribly miserable and leave town while the dude will continue undisturbed".

This individual case - and Mr. German Feminist sounds pretty awful if the quotes chosen are at all representative - is terrible and wrenching, and it's obviously of deep concern to the Columbia community in general. But it's getting called out for being so very, very awful when perfectly ordinary rape cases, like all the girls I've known who have been raped by friends or partners at college, don't get called out as awful, because the women just muscle on through the awfulness and suffer in silence.

Okay, yes, it's awful. Well, until there's some substantial systemic change, it's going to be an awful process for someone.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 9:56 AM
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and Mr. German Feminist sounds pretty awful if the quotes chosen are at all representative

That was what hit me on reading it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 9:58 AM
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There is no aspect of this story which is not fucked up.

Including this: "But one fundamental goal of the process remains the same, says Suzanne B. Goldberg, a special adviser to the university's president on sexual assault prevention and response. Unlike criminal trials, she explained, university hearings are designed to be educational experiences."

Say what?


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 9:58 AM
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Columbia has a law school, right? This is the moot court's big day.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 10:02 AM
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I don't disagree with anything you say, frowner, but it's getting called out because "mattress/carry that weight" became a national conversation.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 10:03 AM
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Under what circumstances can you intentionally attempt to make another student uncomfortable and get some kind of college credit for that?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 10:07 AM
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"the University's process did not find him culpable"

Yeah, but they didn't find him innocent either. They just didn't actually decide anything in any of the cases.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 10:08 AM
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And they did find him culpable in one case, but then the victim graduated and left and he got it overturned on appeal.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 10:09 AM
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8: Experiencing a criminal trial will probably inadvertently teach you that the system is totally fucked; however, university hearings are designed specifically to impart the lesson that the system is totally fucked.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 10:09 AM
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I don't have a strong sense of the specifics of this case, but as a general rule, any man who's been accused of sexual assault by three different women, I have lost all sympathy for complaints that he's been badly treated by the process. With full knowledge of exactly what happened in the adjudicatory process, I might think it had been unfair to him in some regard, but I can't get to caring much.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 10:19 AM
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12:

I never said anything about innocence. Even court proceedings don't attempt to find someone innocent.

They found that there was not enough evidence that he raped her.

So now she gets to harass another student and get credit for it? Lets us another example. Jackie from UVa. Lets assume that she made up her allegations. Should the fraternity brothers get to walk around naming her and get college credit?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 10:19 AM
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16: it is creative!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 10:22 AM
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I mean, most senior art projects are really dumb. (I don't know art, but I know what I like!) This one sounds dumb too. But yes, I would think it was okay for a frat boy to use the experience of being falsely accused as the basis for some sort of work for credit, as long as it involved some good framing and discussion and analysis and whatnot.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 10:30 AM
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Also, appealing until the other side gives up because they move away is not the same as a finding in your favor. I don't know anything about sexual assault cases, but certainly one hear's all the time about academic misconduct where the guilty person manages to appeal a he/she said/he/she said cheating case until things get dropped. I have no sympathy with this guy.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 10:30 AM
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With full knowledge of exactly what happened in the adjudicatory process, I might think it had been unfair to him in some regard, but I can't get to caring much.

Sure. I get that. I am certain that we lack a ton of information that would sway our opinion one way or another.

Yet, don't we hope that a system is fair to even those that we don't like? It is easy to be fair to likable people.

I am just astounded that she gets credit for trying to make like difficult for him.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 10:31 AM
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I see I've been mostly pwned by Messily.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 10:32 AM
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Why shouldn't she get credit? It's pretty clearly been a very important work that has been very powerful and moved the national discourse. I wish I could say the same for my senior thesis.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 10:33 AM
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Hopefully she also has to write a paper and explain theory and situatedness and whatnot. All the art stuff.

I think it's rude, but unless carrying the mattress is literally the only component of the project, I don't think it's ridiculous that she would get credit for it.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 10:34 AM
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"I think it's rude"

(and I think it's fine to be rude in this situation. Squeaky wheels etc.)


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 10:36 AM
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I don't know the process in this case, but the article indicates that some hearing found him culpable and then he appealed. One appeal on the face of the article. This does not sound like a long dragged out process.

Moreover, it doesn't indicate what the initial hearing was. In Va, you could have an ex parte protective order hearing and the standard is low.

But, hey, why not give her credit for harassing him bc the guy is unlikeable? Maybe the Muslim student accused of affiliating with a terrorist organization could be harassed by a Christian group.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 10:36 AM
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Obv, the article is interested in stirring up debate. The devil is in the details. As emessily says, depends on what she is getting credit for. I haven't looked beyond the article, so I don't know the facts.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 10:39 AM
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It's not that he's unlikeable -- I haven't met the guy, and could be he's charming. It's that by the time three separate women have accused him of sexually assaulting them, even if a tribunal has decided none of them can prove it, I figure he's probably a rapist, and I don't care much if someone makes him miserable for it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 10:42 AM
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He could sue her for harassment, couldn't he? Or would that be too draining for him? Maybe he doesn't want to be accused in court of having done something to provoke this.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 10:48 AM
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IIRC more than three separate women accused John Proctor of being an acolyte of Satan.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 10:50 AM
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27:
I would want to unpack the details of the three separate incidents, but I would agree that someone who grabs a girl's breasts at a party is more likely to be willing to rape, but I wouldn't assign much probative value to it.

So should the UVa fraternity guys be able to post a sign with Jackie's face and real name with the label "liar" or "False accuser"?

It seems like a school has some affirmative duty to make the school safe from a certain level of harassment.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 10:51 AM
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I say LB has it right.

Because I'm a feminist. (Although well aware of how those words will strike some people.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 10:54 AM
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I'm not claiming 'three separate accusers' is an infallible rule regardless of the subject matter. Maybe they're all bullshitting. But it's a good enough rule of thumb that I'm not moved by the hardship to him that no one's stopping one of his accusers from continuing to make a fuss about it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 10:56 AM
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It seems like a school has some affirmative duty to make the school safe from a certain level of harassment.

That seems kind of ironic.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 10:59 AM
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Here's what her parents had to say about the process .


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 11:01 AM
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It sounds to me like Columbia's strategy for this and probably other cases is to have just enough process to look like they have a process while they wait for everyone involved to graduate. Institutions play a long game with their reputations.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 11:07 AM
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When I was a student, I had the same university president as these kids, and nothing like this ever happened to me or my senior art project.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 11:07 AM
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no one's stopping one of his accusers from continuing to make a fuss about it

The article seems to indicate that they are assisting with it.

33/34: The process needs to be fair for all. Both people should be entitled to a fair process. Advocating for one does not preclude advocating for the other.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 11:10 AM
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Perhaps one of you philosophy people can tell me the best way to think about this question I have whenever this comes up. Is it worse to be unjustly accused/convicted of rape or unjustly disbelieved/have your rapist acquitted?


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 11:10 AM
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38: Which one is on a trolley?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 11:12 AM
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38: the basic principle on which the justice system is supposed to work is that it is better for ten guilty people to go free than for one innocent person to be falsely convicted.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 11:14 AM
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37: But the fair process you are talking about would effectively require proof beyond a reasonable doubt (or some relatively high standard) for rape and the inverse of that high standard to effectively "prove" somebody was guilty of making a false accusation of rape. That doesn't seems fair. Let the same standard apply to rape as to making a false accusation of rape.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 11:14 AM
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40: But not 11.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 11:14 AM
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Will, I don't know Columbia's system at all well, but most everywhere I've taught, the question of whether a student does or doesn't get credit for course work is a) left to the faculty* rather than the administration to decide and b) a matter of academic freedom.

* Usually a subcommittee of the senate.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 11:18 AM
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The parent article in 34 is depressing.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 11:19 AM
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According to the article, he's declined to make a formal complaint.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 11:19 AM
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But the fair process you are talking about would effectively require proof beyond a reasonable doubt (or some relatively high standard) for rape and the inverse of that high standard to effectively "prove" somebody was guilty of making a false accusation of rape. That doesn't seems fair. Let the same standard apply to rape as to making a false accusation of rape.

No it wouldn't. Im not sure why you believe that. I am certainly not advocating changing the standard of proof.

If someone is not found responsible for rape in some University proceeding, I am not advocating that people get to publicly harass and shame her for making a false accusation and that the University support that by giving them college credit.

The University should support all of the students from being safe from rape and harassment.



Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 11:20 AM
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39: From a strictly practical point of view, maybe it's best to steer the trolly car towards the woman, since the mattress she's carrying will absorb the impact.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 11:21 AM
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Is it worse to be unjustly accused/convicted of rape or unjustly disbelieved/have your rapist acquitted?

As a general matter, it is worse to be unjustly disbelieved than to be unjustly accused, but worse to be unjustly convicted than to have your rapist acquitted.

In descending order of worseness:
-unjustly convicted
-unjustly disbelieved
-unjustly accused
-have your rapist acquitted

Obviously contextual factors could alter this general ordering in any particular case.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 11:24 AM
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46: How is the university supposed to protect him from harassment if what she is doing is in no way culpable?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 11:26 AM
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It also doesn't seem like her project involves any contact with him, or names him publicly. The school paper seems to have been the first to name him, and now he's chosen to talk to the NYT. My impression when the story was first reported was that she was really trying to shame Columbia.

But I haven't followed the case. I've just done a few searches.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 11:28 AM
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49:

Are you arguing that forcing someone to refrain from harassing someone is a punishment?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 11:28 AM
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Is it worse to be unjustly accused/convicted of rape or unjustly disbelieved/have your rapist acquitted?

Yes.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 11:30 AM
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51: I argue that defining her conduct as harassment would require something more than content-neutral regulation of speech.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 11:33 AM
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53 -- The idea that allocation of college credit should be on a content neutral basis is kind of interesting.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 11:36 AM
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50 is my understanding, too.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 11:40 AM
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54 - It's an art class, who cares.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 11:40 AM
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We should all care about art. But leaving aside the fact that credit in the art department is completely beyond my keen, I think think the alleged rapist is that much less harassed if she is doing the same things without credit as she is doing with credit. And I don't see how stopping somebody from making as much noise as possible to attain what they perceive as justice can be seen as anything but a punishment.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 11:48 AM
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57:

I have been operating under the assumption that her actions involved identifying him. I do not have a problem with carrying a mattress or shaming the process or Columbia. For me, it changes once you are identifying him.

Thus, UVa fraternity groups could use placards discussing false accusations, but once they use Jackie's name, I would expect UVa to attempt to prevent that.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 11:57 AM
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I don't know if she has named him publicly herself, but she certainly stirred up enough of noise that others named him and that it was foreseeable they would do so. He would not have been named without her actions. I don't see how you could have prevented him from being named without making her stop talking.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 12:05 PM
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I don't see any point in commenting on what UVa would or would not do unless something actually happens there. Incidentally, Rolling Stone has asked the Columbia Journalism Review to audit their UVa story.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 12:10 PM
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Naming and shaming is a big tool of activism. It's not the most procedurally fair or sophisticated tool, and it's abusable, but it's a decent tool to have available when more refined tools are biased against justice. (Even as I agree with people here saying that the art project doesn't amount to naming and shaming. Just making a point on the principle.)


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 12:26 PM
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Naming and shaming is a big tool of activism. It's not the most procedurally fair or sophisticated tool, and it's abusable, but it's a decent tool to have available when more refined tools are biased against justice.

This is the one and only thing I remember from reading Saul Alinsky. Actually, that, and the fact that Alinsky seemed like kind of a dick* at a personal level.

*This is why I thought the "Obama is an Alinskyite" nonsense was so preposterous. Obama is obviously concerned about how other people view him - he wants to be seen as reasonable and as a good guy - whereas Alinsky clearly didn't give a rat's ass about either.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 12:49 PM
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It's kind of odd in context that the fictional character in American literature who most embodies the idea of principle and justice is a man who spends most of the book trying unsuccessfully to defend a convicted rapist by arguing that the victim is making it all up.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 1:10 PM
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Ajay writes for Breitbart? Actually Brietbart seems to have taken it down.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 1:32 PM
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It's kind of odd in context that the fictional character in American literature who most embodies the idea of principle and justice is a man who spends most of the book trying unsuccessfully to defend a convicted rapist by arguing that the victim is making it all up.

Not so odd in the context that Black men in that time and place were routinely being condemned to judicial or extrajudicial execution for sex that was consensual right up to the point that someone else found out about it and disgrace threatened.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 1:34 PM
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Further to 65: The judge in one of the trials of the Scottsboro boys instructed the jury that any finding of sex between the defendants and the alleged victims should logically lead to a conviction for rape, because no white woman would ever consent to sex with a Black man.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 1:37 PM
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Hard to muster any sympathy is right. I particularly enjoyed this full-of-shit quote from Nungesser:

"Outside of a forced marriage or kidnapping, it just seems very hard to believe that a person would over and over again put themselves in a situation where they could expect this kind of behavior to occur."


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 2:49 PM
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In the piece linked in 34 the woman's parents name the NYT guy. Or is the newspaper specifying the name? A little unclear.


Posted by: Get the Ikea | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 4:12 PM
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The parents didn't name him first. The newspaper explains here why it chose to name him.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 4:56 PM
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67 is exactly the quote that made my eyes roll right out of my head.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 5:10 PM
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Yeah. "I didn't repeatedly assault my girlfriend, whatever she says happened!" could be true. "She was my girlfriend. Isn't there something kind of incoherent about the concept of me having assaulted her, given that we were dating?" which is what he says sounds like to me, is disturbing.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 5:14 PM
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Don't know where my name went there.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 5:14 PM
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I'll take "Things a Rapist Would Say" for $600, Alex.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 5:18 PM
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The poor bastard doesn't know anybody at National Review who will say it for him.


Posted by: Yawnoc | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 5:45 PM
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Could you stop it as an anonymous reviewer, or is she really misrepresenting?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 6:04 PM
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Short answer -- yes, say something. If it's really fraud (I saw the FB description, and while this isn't stuff I'm at all sophisticated in at all, it's sort of analogous to data-mining? Look at some data, come up with a theory that explains the data, and then claim to have come up with the theory before having seen the data but then, wow, the data supported it?) someone should say something, you're the person in the position to do it, and you don't sound immediately worried that she can hurt you for it.

It's sticking your neck out, and if it's risky enough for you, that's a good excuse to stay quiet, but it's the right thing to do (a) if you're right and (b) if the risk is tolerable.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 6:15 PM
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Me again.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 6:16 PM
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Given that she hasn't yet committed to publishing based on fraud, can you publicly blow her cover in a way that doesn't accuse her of wanting to do anything wrong? "So, you did X, and that tipped you off that Y might work... what's your next step? Are you going to do Z (get whatever fresh data would allow her to publish) and then write a paper, or what?" Whether anything along those lines is workable depends on the specifics, but do you think there's any way?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 6:21 PM
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In my line of work, one might let the opponent get all the way out on the limb before chopping it off.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 6:23 PM
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In front of your boss, who I'm guessing is enough of a peer that she can't go forward with misconduct if he knows about it?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 6:28 PM
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If it wouldn't work, it wouldn't work. I was hoping for "Everyone chats about their research at the weekly departmental coffee hour" or something like that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 6:33 PM
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Can you tell your boss and play confused? "I know this, this and this, about the order of events in Professor Evil's research. I don't understand how that can produce anything publishable at all -- if they say X happened before Y, it wouldn't be interesting data, but if they say Y happened before X, they'd be lying. Can you figure out what's going on, because it's bothering me." This puts the ball in your boss's lap, and also covers your ass if you're wrong and there's a good explanation.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 6:44 PM
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The NYT story seems awful from every possible direction. The two things that I find especially appalling are the accused's apparent unwillingness to deny what he did (I have to assume that if he had, the reporter would have printed it) and the university's willingness to grant credit for a project that is essentially a public shaming of someone.

I'm also genuinely perplexed why the victim wouldn't at least initiate a civil suit, even if she didn't want to press criminal charges. It's THAT big a deal, and you're going to put that much effort into your performance art, but not actually use one of the processes open to you that *doesn't* depend on the university?

About the university I have nothing to say, except that the poor Clery family must just constantly feel like it's deja vu all over again.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 6:47 PM
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He denied it in the article -- two of the three accusations cleanly, and the third with the weird language quoted in 67, but that's still a denial.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 6:54 PM
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Go to your boss. Let her or him know that you're going to do the following, explaining that you didn't want to dump this bag of crap in her or his lap, but also that you wanted her or him to know that you're about to go out on a limb, in case researcher decides to pick up a chainsaw. Then go to researcher and say, in your best "I really want to make sure nothing bad happens to your career because of overzealousness or a misunderstanding" voice, what you've said to us: that you have serious concerns about how this played out, and that you're hoping that those concerns are unfounded.

If researcher is a decent person at all, she'll probably be angry but will eventually get over it and perhaps even appreciate that you took a risk to keep her from making a big mistake. If researcher is a complete shithead, she'll ignore your wise counsel and then might try to make your life miserable. Either way, you'll have done your best, and your boss, assuming she or he is more powerful than researcher, should be able to keep your limb from becoming firewood.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 7:01 PM
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Or, if you're really worried about blowback and you're not positioned to withstand researcher's attacks, don't worry about it. I mean, I'm not an ethicist, but it seems like this is all a grey enough area -- as in, you don't really know what researcher plans to do -- that you're not obligated to take big risks in the name of scientific integrity.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 7:03 PM
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LB, and I say this affectionately, only a lawyer could possibly construe 67 as a denial. I cannot imagine any ordinary person would read it that way.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 7:04 PM
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It's enough of a denial that I wouldn't call it dispositive of there not having been a clearer denial that the reporter didn't quote. Yes, it's a creepy thing to have said, but it's not quite "Everything I did, I was entitled to do" it's closer to "She has to be lying about her claims of assault, because assault doesn't happen in relationships."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 7:09 PM
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92.2 seems totally reasonable. I don't know the situation, so you should totally ignore any advice I give. I was just trying to think of a way to thread the needle of keeping your boss out of middle while also dealing with your concerns. But again, without knowing a ton more about the state of play, my advice is more than likely to be worse than useless.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 7:12 PM
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I'm used to people having legitimate disagreements every now and then about multiple comparisons--in our context usually called it the "look-elsewhere effect"--but usually there's enough information there that it's clear what was really done. I'm not quite visualizing how you could present results in a way that allowed you to actually explain where your numbers came from, and yet allowed you to hide the size of the multiple comparison effect. In the cases I can imagine, you could look at their paper and say "I don't really see how you get from here to here, if you take the look-elsewhere effect into account," and it is pretty much the point that any reviewer would jump on and demand to see an explanation.

If it's really the case that somehow the result can be presented in a way that makes it look like there's not a multiple comparison issue when there is, it seems pretty bad.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 7:13 PM
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The name Nungesser has been bothering me all day, first because of its wonderful appropriateness, such that 19th Century novelists just couldn't compete, but also because the rare name is famous as the First World War French ace who died trying to win the Orteig prize just before Lindbergh.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 9:01 PM
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"We didn't get results" is what almost every paper in my field says, but I guess it doesn't get published in others.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 9:29 PM
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I feel that academic fields need to have controls on the multiple comparisons problem that go beyond trusting researchers to depict the hypothesis search space properly. Even when people are acting entirely in good faith, publication bias is still an issue, and the pressure to publish is strong enough that there are likely to be plenty of issues even when researchers are not committing conscious.deliberate fraud.


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 10:16 PM
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those wondering about the details of the Columbia case might want to read the original coverage from a student magazine here:

http://bwog.com/2014/01/23/accessible-prompt-and-equitable-an-examination-of-sexual-assault-at-columbia/


Posted by: cu anon | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 10:28 PM
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I was going to reply to science peon. Then people made me get drunk. So now I am confused and unable. If I don't look tomorrow, I got Christmas drunk. Feel free to email me to read this.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 11:09 PM
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I think we'd all be better off if Moby did try to reply to science peon in his current drunken state.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 11:11 PM
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Hear, hear.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-23-14 11:12 PM
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Hey science peon, my two cents is that letting your boss know is the only recourse that isn't way ugly for you if you decide to say anything. I can speak only for my very dysfunctional former department, but if I'd ever challenged a prof about some of their lab's results, all the profs would have basically frozen me out. I could have expected difficulties at oral qualifiers and at my defense - subjective exams would have had a much higher degree of difficulty, and my rec letters surely would have suffered. (If you're a post-doc, fine, harder to damage your career. RA made me assume grad student.) Profs with tenure have to work together for way more years than they have to work with you, which made their loyalties clear to me. Also, as a peon, your concerns can be brushed off more easily, since you're still a trainee, rather than an "expert" if you didn't go through your boss. I would expect your boss to do one of two things: decide the risk of deteriorating relations with a coworker isn't worth it (with the added bonus that some departments have few women profs and don't treat them in logical or fair ways) or to talk to her about it. If your boss is a fool, it might be obvious it was you, but it's hard to imagine none of the faculty could engage her in a discussion of the project in a way that masks your involvement but draws out the issue. If she's pre-tenure, she probably has an assigned faculty mentor that your boss would go through, adding another layer of obfuscation.

Even if you say nothing, if it's an important result, the work will be replicated (or not) by others. If not, it probably doesn't matter other than another wrong thing in the literature. It sucks, but peon-hood sucks.

Your turn, Moby.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 12-24-14 6:43 AM
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Sci p, is there a statistician involved? If yes, are they working for a few projects instead of just the one prof?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-24-14 7:35 AM
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105: I knew Moby's advice would be to hire Moby.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12-24-14 7:44 AM
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I'm mostly stuck on the problems that come with reporting something that hasn't actually been done. The paper will, I assume, have co-authors and that would be who to talk to if you talk to anybody at this point.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-24-14 8:53 AM
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Not an academic, but if you trust your boss and have his trust, it's easier for him to spot a pattern and influence researcher later on, even if he holds his fire on this paper. Like I dunno, suggesting closer collaborations with statisticians ...


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 12-24-14 9:16 AM
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Disregard last line. Editing fail.


Posted by: sp | Link to this comment | 12-24-14 9:22 AM
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Disregard last line. Editing fail.


Posted by: sp | Link to this comment | 12-24-14 9:23 AM
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47: Not sure, it just seems very hard to believe that a person would over and over again put themselves in a situation where they could expect this kind of trolley to hit them.


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 12-24-14 9:29 AM
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Another argument for telling your boss: it may confirm a pattern or suspicions that he already has. You may not be creating a new problem for him so much as forcing his hand on an old problem.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-24-14 9:47 AM
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109: Makes more sense. I usually hear your RA title as staff scientist or research scientist, sorry to assume. Yeah, I think your boss would very much appreciate the heads-up, worded carefully. I think implying you expect action is not going to make him happy. I have lots of half-assed opinions about interdisciplinary work (awesome!) where someone can get snowed by the assumption that they're dealing with an expert in their field who is working with the appropriate ethics and standards (miserable!). Sadly, I think other than friendly discussion with NAS with raised eyebrows and troubled expressions is about the limit of your power ("Huh, that's not how I would handle that data. That's odd.")


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 12-24-14 9:51 AM
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I agree with 114.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-24-14 9:56 AM
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