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Elizabeth Warren’s charmed academic life

Elizabeth Warren’s charmed academic life

Michael Patrick Leahy rolls out the second in his series of four posts on the investigation — or meaningful lack thereof — into allegations of “scientific misconduct” and misleading use of data contained in a scathing review of Warren’s book,  As We Forgive Our Debtors: Bankruptcy and Consumer Credit in America, by then Rutgers law professor Philip Shuchman.

Leahy looks into investigations conducted by The University of Texas, and concludes that the investigations were inadequate, University of Texas Whitewash of Elizabeth Warren Scientific Misconduct Charge Entangles UVA, UC Presidents:

The lack of serious scrutiny of Ms. Warren’s academic research has continued for the subsequent two decades. Questions about Ms. Warren’s empirical studies have not been fully explored, and specific policies she has promoted–in particular those that led in 2010 to the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act and its onerous Consumer Financial Protection Bureau–have been imposed upon the public.

Breitbart News is not alleging that Sullivan, Warren, and Westbrook engaged in scientific misconduct. We are, however, presenting evidence that suggests the 1991 investigation conducted by the University of Texas into the allegations brought by Philip Shuchman in his scathing sixty page review of the book Sullivan, Warren, and Westbrook co-authored in 1989 was neither thorough nor exculpatory.

The story of Warren’s tendency to take limited data sets and jump to questionable politicized conclusions is not as easy to tell as her false claim to Cherokee heritage.

The data story has been told by law professor Todd Zywicki and writer Meghan McArdle (also here), but it does not fit easily in a newspaper headline or a soundbite.

Read Leahy’s post, and you will come to the conclusion that Warren’s rising academic stardom was protected much in the way her tenuous claim to Cherokee heritage never was questioned by Harvard and Penn law schools even when used for federal reporting.


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This is also an indictment against academia. Doctorates are for people who believe and spout the right crap. During my recent experience in a graduate program at a third level school, one professor told me he had seen Masters projects which were better than some thesis and some dissertations. The difference between a Masters project and thesis was in the formatting, and the number of signatures required. My conclusion after a semester in a doctorate program in the College of Education at a Big Ten university was that the professors were more interested in my footnotes, and how the footnotes were formatted, than in the content of my paper or any ideas I might have. Elizabeth Warren is a poster child for much of what is wrong in the academic scene.

Being interested in Mathematics Education, I approached a Professor whose expertise was developing readers. My approach was that both literacy and math require taking real information, coding it into marks on the paper, manipulating those marks, and formulating a “real” solution*. Since she was interested in the child’s cultural background, we had little to discuss.

*In math, a solution to a problem might be 4 buses, in literature it might be a poem or short story.

    Frank Scarn in reply to Milwaukee. | June 25, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    This is also an indictment against academia. Doctorates are for people who believe and spout the right crap.

    Dead on, but your comment would not be applicable to studies in the hard sciences. There, ya, like, gotta produce and like show stuff, youknowhatimean.

    PhDs in education, anything that ends in “Studies” (black, gay, womens/womyns, ethnic, religion, et alia), political “science,” well, you get where I’m going, are pure unvarnished nonsense. Administrators at any college who allow or authorize that any resources be given over to these “disciplines” should be hung.

    And more often than not, the “holders” of these so-called doctorates insist that you address them as “Doctor.” No way is that ever gonna happen.

      persecutor in reply to Frank Scarn. | June 25, 2012 at 4:56 pm

      Hard sciences immune? I have only two words for you that disprove that theory: “Global Warming”

      Milwaukee in reply to Frank Scarn. | June 25, 2012 at 5:38 pm

      Well, I was in a Mathematics program. Does that count as “hard science”? Every year, for several years, the Masters Exam Committee for Analysis had screaming meetings. The screaming happened while the exams were being written, and some more while deciding who did, and who didn’t pass. They didn’t have nice hard guidelines for what constituted passing work.

      The hard sciences are not immune to politics on the graduate committees. Perhaps the lines aren’t drawn there along politically correct or incorrect orientations, but politics happens as well.

      The adjective “hard” refers more to the firmness of the answers, than how the doctorates are awarded. For example, “The number of moles of compounds X, Y and Z are needed to generate p moles of molecule Q?”, doesn’t leave room for negotiations. “What were the primary causes for each side, the North and South, in the American Civil War of 1861-1865?” leaves loads of room for individual interpretation, hence History isn’t a “hard” science.

Dude! She produced data that was 1/32 valid, according to her mother.

Plus, her family has high peer reviews…er…cheek bones.

Imagine the irony, if she is elected, of her participating in a Senate hearing. She berates those appearing to testify for making decisions based on too little information or outright lying about the history of their organization. Okay. More Frank-Dodd on the way . . .

The MSM has had a long term policy of Affirmative Action for Liberals and Leftists and the quality of the leadership that this approach produces has hurt our country immeasurably. We’re going down a rat’s hole quite quickly – so many unvetted rats.

Wait, wait, wait. I’m getting the impression that somehow people are suggesting that character counts. That a person who compromises ethics in one area of life might do so in another area. If that theory is remotely accurate, then we should investigate, as thoroughly as possible, the background, behavior, and philosophies of people seeking public office.

Hmmmmmm…if only a group of people existed who could devote their lives to such an endeavor. I bet they could print and sell their findings and make a profit.

TrooperJohnSmith | June 25, 2012 at 4:46 pm

My father once fired an employee of his small company for stealing some janitorial and office supplies. His contention was that someone who’ll steal 40-dollars worth of company supplies as nonchalantly as that, will also steal other things, lie and falsify. Sure enough, when he started checking, Dad found service supplies and equipment, as well as inventory entrusted to this guy, missing.

His point was that integrity applies, regardless the amount or situation. If you’ll steal toilet paper, cleaners and ballpoint pens, you’ll steal anything.

Warren is proof that you either have honesty and integrity, or you do not. Lying is lying! Period. A well-accepted concept in Human Relations is that past actions can predict future behavior.

    I got into an argument with an employee of my restaurant over what constituted stealing. She gave food away to a friend and I caught her. She never admitted that what she did was theft. I rehearsed the meaning about three times with her, yet she said what she did wasn’t theft. She has a PhD now, so it wasn’t a lack of intelligence that hindered her. It was a lack of integrity.

      Henry Hawkins in reply to windbag. | June 25, 2012 at 5:36 pm

      A PhD is less about intelligence than it is about perseverance and finances.

        Ragspierre in reply to Henry Hawkins. | June 25, 2012 at 6:20 pm

        It used to be about the contribution one made to the arts or sciences.

          Henry Hawkins in reply to Ragspierre. | June 25, 2012 at 8:33 pm

          A given doctoral program’s goals end up irrelevant to the attritional natural selecting out of those who simply give up, are forced out due to finances, or to life circumstances like kids and need to make money, etc. The best and brightest of my group did not make it through. I did. Heh.

      Aridog in reply to windbag. | June 26, 2012 at 11:40 am

      Silly #windbag …. she wasn’t stealing, no sirree bupkus, she was “sharing” the wealth! Your wealth. She was valiantly helping you pay up your “fair share” and here you criticize the lass. From each according to their means, to each according to their needs…and all that glorious stuff. You object? Shame. Shame. Shame.

      //sarc off now 🙂

      Aridog in reply to windbag. | June 26, 2012 at 11:41 am

      Silly #windbag …. she wasn’t stealing, no sirree bupkus, she was “sharing” the wealth! Your wealth. She was valiantly helping you pay up your “fair share” and here you criticize the lass. From each according to their means, to each according to their needs…and all that glorious stuff. You object? Shame. Shame. Shame.

      //sarc off now 🙂

Liz Warren is giving fake Native-American a bad name.

    Aridog in reply to Hepcat. | June 26, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Yes she is doing that. It is all about “her” and if she had an iota of knowledge about Native American culture(s) she’d know that is the opposite of their ethic.

    At least Hollywood’s “Iron Eyes Cody,” aka Tony Cody aka Espera Oscar de Corti of Sicilian blood, top and bottom, but claimed Cherokee blood, at least acted on behalf of Native Americans, married a Native American, and adopted several native American children.

stevewhitemd | June 25, 2012 at 8:05 pm

This is just the sort of vetting Prof. Warren needs and needs right now. But it’s not going to be an easy story to tell. We’re going to need a blogger who knows academia and can write clearly for intelligent people who aren’t in academia.

Plus it would help if that blogger had a little honey badger in him/her.

Hmmm…who can we get…

stevewhitemd | June 25, 2012 at 8:11 pm

Seriously, translating this story to the mass market is going to be hard. It’s easy to obscure and obfuscate the data, the writing and the impact. It will be the academic equivalent of “he said / she said”, and the MSM isn’t going to work very hard (if at all) to vet and explain the story.

I think the Cherokee argument is a more straight-forward story to tell: as one other commenter said a couple weeks back, that is about “ethnic fraud”, a great term that conveys in two words the entire essence of what Prof. Warren did — use affirmative action to commit a fraud. That, and the fact that she won’t come clean, is why the story has stuck around.

But fraud in her writing on law and economics? Unless it’s out and out blatant (e.g., plagiarism) it’s going to be buried.

A reminder: Dan Rostenkowski (remember him?) was run out of Congress a generation back — not for all the high-level, multi-billion dollar deals he did, or the many, many ‘friends’ he helped with multi-million dollar contracts, but for stealing postage stamps. That last one his constituents could understand.

So it will be with Prof. Warren. We need a story that average people understand, and one that will get around the shield the MSM has put around her. The Cherokee story is such a story, the economic writing is not. I’d still tell it, but we need a way to lay it out to the public in ways they’ll understand.

Doug Wright | June 25, 2012 at 9:21 pm

What is it about the Dems with their felt need to anoint their chosen ones? OK, Obama likes the Socialist views of Lizzy Warren, that seems to be a given! Yet, does that mean that all her tripe needs to be ingested, that her scat needs to be spread around everywhere? That she gets a free pass to be the next Massachusetts lifetime senator? Kind of looks like that’s the intent, to then also rename that senate seat as the Lizzy Seat.

In Minnesota, another anointed one, albeit at a lower level, for now, Ted Mondale was just made CEO of Minnesota’s Sports Facility Commission, overseeing Minnesota’s fantastic new NFL stadium, at a modest salary of around $157,000 per year, don’t know if that includes expenses and allowances or if that is added on(Silly me, of course those would be extra!).

redstateredux | June 25, 2012 at 11:04 pm

It seems like Lizzie won’t be spinning her way out of trouble this time. The ridicule and lampooning have already taken hold out in cyberspace, see for yourself.

I actually read the book many years ago while in law school, and I did think that her arguments from the anecdotal debtor’s story to the general policy conclusion were a huge, unsupported stretch. In those days pulling a random sample of petitions would have been logistically much more effort. The book reported on cases from the mid-1980’s, as I recall, and with CM/ECF in place just about everywhere now – assembling a representative sample and performing analysis would be much easier.

What I think is more timely as an objection to Warren is her congressional testimony in favor of Obama-care in either late 2009 or early 2010. I recall seeing her on CSPAN, testifying to some exceptionally large percentage (like > 50%) of consumer bankruptcies caused by medical debt. It was a gross distortion of the facts and she made the claim under oath.

I practice in the bankruptcy courts in 3 states and I see that in typical Chapter 7 consumer cases there is some medical debt incidental to most petitions. But it is another thing to claim that medical debts cause a large percentage of bankruptcies. And that is exactly what she testified to. As I heard her testimony I realized she was auditioning for the CFPB job, and it would seem to be a really poor call for Bay State voters to award her the Senate seat as a consolation prize.

The Brown camp is probably all over her Obama-care testimony, but if not, why not?