pageok
pageok
pageok
Churchill and Sock-Puppetry:

The Churchill report is much worth reading -- it's long, but quite interesting and strikes me as quite persuasive (though I should stress that I haven't checked the sources myself).

Here's an interesting item that I haven't seen much discussed: Churchill is found guilty of passing off others' work as his own (plagiarism), but also of passing off his own work as others'. The latter is faulted as a general departure from "established standards regarding author names on publications" (p. 89); but it's also more specifically, and more seriously, faulted because Churchill then used the work published under another's name "as apparently independent authority for claims that he makes in his own later scholarship" (p. 89). This "permits the author to create the false appearance that his claims are supported by other scholars when, in fact, he is the only source for such claims" (p. 90). Here's an example, from pp. 23-24 (some paragraph breaks and emphasis added):

Footnotes 63 and 64 of his "Perversions of Justice," in Struggle for the Land (1993 edition), contain basically three sources to support the claims regarding the General Allotment Act of 1887. All appear to the reader to be reputable, independent third-party sources.

First, Professor Churchill cites directly to the originally enacted version of the General Allotment Act of 1887 .... [But n]ot only is his statement unsupported by his source, but also more significantly, he did not follow the referencing convention that a lawyer or historian citing a lengthy statute for a particular detail normally would follow, which is to pinpoint the precise section number of the multi-section statute that supported his claim. As one will see throughout this report, this general reference to an apparent independent source in its entirety constitutes an unconventional referencing style frequently employed by Professor Churchill to create the appearance of independent support for his claims, while simultaneously discouraging or, at least, making far more difficult, any effort by other researchers to check his claims by failing to pinpoint the precise location of his claimed support in an otherwise lengthy work. Standing alone, this referencing failure might constitute some level of sloppiness, but certainly would not constitute research misconduct.

When it is combined with a pattern of other misconduct reflected in this and other allegations, however, the Committee is left with a firm impression, by a preponderance of the evidence, that it constituted part of a deliberate research stratagem to create the appearance of independent verifiable support for claims that could not be supported through existing primary and secondary sources. To put it most simply, it was part of a pattern and consistent research stratagem to cloak extreme, unsupportable, propaganda-like claims of fact that support Professor Churchill's legal and political claims with the aura of authentic scholarly research by referencing apparently (but not actually) supportive independent third-party sources. The next problem discussed with these two footnotes makes this stratagem far clearer.

The other two apparently independent third-party sources cited in footnotes 63 and 64 are essays published in the same volume, The State of Native America, one under the name of a person named Rebecca Robbins and the other under the name of M. Annette Jaimes, the editor of the volume. Since both essays do contain statements of the type that Professor Churchill claims, that might have put an end to the matter of research misconduct regarding this allegation, except for the fact that in response to the separate allegation that he had plagiarized the Robbins essay in another later published piece, Professor Churchill said in Submission E that he had in fact ghostwritten both the Robbins and the Jaimes essays, in full.... [This] constitutes a serious problem of research misconduct. The initial support for the disputed statement involved three independent sources. As already noted, the Act does not expressly provide what Professor Churchill claims and therefore can provide no support for his claims whatsoever. The two other apparently independent third-party sources, the Robbins and Jaimes essays, turn out not to be independent sources at all but, rather, to have been ghostwritten in their entirety by Professor Churchill. This action provided him with apparent independent sources that he could and did in fact cite to support otherwise insupportable claims of legal and historical fact. In short, when one carefully dissects the Churchill claim quoted in the original allegation, the three apparently independent third-party sources dissolve into one source (the Act) that clearly does not expressly support his claim, and two other sources (the Robbins and Jaimes chapters) that he wrote himself.

Although Professor Churchill purported to offer his claims as supported by research, based on independent sources, it turns out that the claims not only cannot be supported but that he has misrepresented the independent nature of his sources employed to buttress the unsupportable details of his conclusions....

Ex-Fed (mail) (www):
I'm not excusing it in the least, but it's not quite the same as traditional sock puppetry. Is there any indication that, even if he ghost-wrote it, the putative authors did no review of it whatsoever and performed no independent consideration of whether the claims made in the essays were valid?

And how much scrutiny would the academic or legal worlds bear on the issue of ghost-writing? If I write an opinion for a judge of a certain age in my capacity as a law clerk, and the judge signs it without really rigorously reviewing it, is it wrong for me to cite it later? OK, that one is a little different -- but what if I help a professor as a research assistant?
5.16.2006 5:49pm
Richard Bellamy (mail):

The other two apparently independent third-party sources cited in footnotes 63 and 64 are essays published in the same volume, The State of Native America, one under the name of a person named Rebecca Robbins and the other under the name of M. Annette Jaimes, the editor of the volume.


Leaving aside the later self-plagiarism, isn't there something unethical about this (on the part of Jaimes, if not Churchill)? I, as an unrelated individual, could have also read this book, and then cited Robbins and Jaimes as independent sources for a fact, believing that the fact had more credence, since two unrelated people stated it. Even if the "fact" were true (or, at least, arguable), allowing a book to publish the same argument by one person under two names seems ethically questionable.
5.16.2006 5:59pm
MCO:
Curiouser and curiouser .... do Robbins and Jaimes admit that the articles were ghost-written? I would have thought that would have been a no-no as well. I had been aware that one of the dirty little not-so-secrets of academic publishing was for one professor to write an article and then allow five of his/her professor buddies to sign on as co-authors, in return for being able to sign on to one of each of their articles later on. That way you get publishing credit for 6 articles, while only doing the heavy lifting on one.

But I hadn't heard of one academic doing the work for another without getting any credit.
5.16.2006 6:01pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
"Through legal counsel, both Rebecca Robbins and M. Annette Jaimes declined to speak with this Committee and, therefore, the Committee has no reason to doubt Professor Churchill’s claims, suspected by Professor LaVelle, that he personally authored both the Robbins and the Jaimes papers in their entirety and it so finds by a preponderance of the evidence." (Report, p. 24.)
5.16.2006 6:08pm
Federal Dog:
"I, as an unrelated individual, could have also read this book, and then cited Robbins and Jaimes as independent sources for a fact, believing that the fact had more credence, since two unrelated people stated it. Even if the "fact" were true (or, at least, arguable), allowing a book to publish the same argument by one person under two names seems ethically questionable."


You are quite right, and that is very much part of what the committee condemns in its report. He was basically generating false "facts" under several different names, then citing to those other names to lend the false facts equally false "scholarly support."
5.16.2006 6:10pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

You are quite right, and that is very much part of what the committee condemns in its report. He was basically generating false "facts" under several different names, then citing to those other names to lend the false facts equally false "scholarly support."
My wife had the misfortune to take a "Women's Studies" class some years ago (part of the General Education requirement, satisfying the Deranged Polemic category), and she noticed that a lot of the assigned reading that wasn't 15 year old photocopied articles from Newsweek and Time, was A cites B, who cites C, who cites A, who cites B. In short, a relatively tiny community of polemicists citing each other in the hopes of creating a collection of work that looked like a large body of impressively researched knowledge. Admittedly, what's the alternative? Scholarship? Not at a university.
5.16.2006 6:30pm
Mike G (mail):
So four out of five did NOT think that the above was a firing offense?
5.16.2006 6:34pm
Shangui (mail):
In short, a relatively tiny community of polemicists citing each other in the hopes of creating a collection of work that looked like a large body of impressively researched knowledge. Admittedly, what's the alternative? Scholarship? Not at a university.

Mr. Cramer,

This is definitely the case in some very small subfields and it sounds like the class your wife took was both awful and taught by an incompetent instructor. But then why go the extra step and say, "Admittedly, what's the alternative? Scholarship? Not at a university"? As I'm sure your realize, there's a tremendous amount of quality research done on innumerable topics at hundreds of universities in this country in both the sciences and the humanities. Your wife's bad experience (which you bring up quite frequently in your attacks on academia) is unfortunate but hardly proves your point. Do I assume that you are a member of the white power movement just because you live in Idaho? Of course not. This single anecdote really doesn't hold up as evidence that there is no decent scholarship being done at universities. You are obviously smart enough to realize this, so why do you say such things?
5.16.2006 6:42pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

As I'm sure your realize, there's a tremendous amount of quality research done on innumerable topics at hundreds of universities in this country in both the sciences and the humanities.
There is also a lot of fraud going on, and a lot of "scholarship" that is so politically driven that it produces garbage history (for example, the claim that laws specifically prohibiting homosexual conduct did not exist in American law until the 20th century).

Ward Churchill isn't the only example. Michael Bellesiles, for example, only became an issue because the serfs kept raising the question, and eventually, the nobles of the academic world were embarrassed into taking a serious look at it--and only then did Bellesiles "resign," and his Bancroft Prize was revoked. Both Emory University and the Bancroft Prize committee were informed in advance that there were very, very serious integrity problems with Bellesiles's book, and they simply didn't care, because his "scholarship" suited their political needs.
5.16.2006 6:50pm
Gonzo (mail):
Uh, Oh.

Somebody better talk to the guys who write the famous "Restatement" volumes used by lawyers and courts every day.

I've come across several instances, most recently with the Restatement of Property, where the following scenario takes place:


On a particular legal issue, a "proposed" draft of a restatement section takes a new direction or creates a new test of rule, usually with some commentary about how "no court has yet adopted" such a viewpoint.

Next, a published appeals court decision cites to the "proposed" Restatement section in question as persuasive secondary authority for, in fact, reaching that same result on the same rationale!

Finally, the "final" and "adopted" (i.e., official) version of the Restatement in question is adopted and released, only NOW it cites to the published appeals case, above, which of course, was based on and originally cited to a _draft_ of the very restatement section in question! The official restatement's cite to the case as "authority" in such a scenario strikes me as dubious.

The result was that a "novel" idea became "accepted" law by what can only be described as a bootstrapping process.

Just an observation.
5.16.2006 6:54pm
Shangui (mail):
Ward Churchill isn't the only example. Michael Bellesiles, for example, only became an issue because the serfs kept raising the question, and eventually, the nobles of the academic world were embarrassed into taking a serious look at it--and only then did Bellesiles "resign," and his Bancroft Prize was revoked.

Again, a single example. And it's valid as far as what it says about these specific institutions (but it did work out as it should have in the end, at least). Your original implication was that there's no valid scholarship that goes on at universities and I stand by my point that there's no use in blanket attacks that aren't supported by your evidence and that you know are nowhere near as broadly true as you imply. Again, why bother saying such things rather than sticking to the specific cases for which you do have evidence? Again, I can give a list of Aryan Nation-type groups in Idaho, but it would be absurd for me to thus conclude that all residents of Idaho are radical racists.
5.16.2006 6:58pm
Baby M (mail):
This is the same sort of fraud that LATimes columnist Michael Hiltzik engaged in: he created a bunch of Internet pseudonyms and had them comment here and there in support of his blog postings.

Actually, what Churchill did was worse. Hiltzik's "sock puppet" identities posed as cheerleaders for Hiltzik; Churchill's sock puppets pretended to be sources for scholarly research.
5.16.2006 7:06pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Again, a single example.
How many "single examples" do you need before you start to get nervous? More importantly, the Bellesiles fraud was only caught because it had political implications and upset a crowd that was prepared to put some work into shaming the academics. It makes you wonder how much other fraud is going on that, because it doesn't gore the oxen of anyone that much cares, is simply missed. The fraud about tariff policy that Jerome Sternstein uncovered in the mid-1960s wasn't controversial--it was just massive citations to documents that didn't exist, and couldn't exist. It was just sheer dumb luck that Sternstein started to look carefully at the citations.

I don't doubt that there are a lot of serious scholars at work in the academic community. But it is pretty apparent that when frauds as high profile as Bellesiles manage to get by so many "scholars" that standards really aren't very high. He made claims that were pretty amazing--claims that even if you didn't care about gun control, should have caused some raised eyebrows. And it didn't. And when I provided clear evidence of fraud, lots of academics still weren't interested. It wasn't until newspapers started to point out the fraud that academics were interested.
5.16.2006 7:12pm
Christopher Cooke:
The Restatement is open about what it is doing--the draft essentially says "here is what we think the law ought to be" and some court agrees, and the law changes, so later-published supplement to the Restatement cites the courts that have adopted the position in its original draft.

Churchill apparently was not. He writes two other articles, using other authors' names. Then, he cites to those articles as support for an assertion of historical fact.
5.16.2006 7:13pm
Mary Rosh (mail):

I don't see why anyone thinks there's a problem with this kind of ghosting and sock-puppetry.
5.16.2006 7:40pm
frankcross (mail):

How many "single examples" do you need before you start to get nervous?


You need a lot. I could find quite a number of anecdotes of Christian ministers or church affiliates prosecuted for sexual abuse of young girls. But you get that when many thousands of people are in the denominator. Would you be so kind as to list the conspirators who engage in such research fraud?
5.16.2006 7:52pm
Gonzo:
>>>>The Restatement is open about what
>>>>it is doing--the draft essentially
>>>>says "here is what we think the law ought to be"...

Not exactly, at least not originally. The Restatement, originally, was just that a "Restatement" in easily accessed form, of the rules of law in a particular area.

Again, I would have been perfectly happy if the Restatement in its final "official" release cited the published appeals case ALONG with a parenthetical indicating that the court in question was "relying upon a draft version of this section."

Therefore, instead of implicitly suggesting that the Restatement was merely "restating" what a judicial officer or officers had come up with, it would have been clear to the reader, without any need to go pull the case in question, that the case was itself relying on the earlier draft.
5.16.2006 7:57pm
JohnAnnArbor:
It would be interesting to take 100 random scholarly papers in each of a number of different fields and "run down" all the sources, to see how many had problems. It would either confirm the academy's contention that fraud is rare, expose widespread fraud, or point out that some scholarly pursuits have fraud problems while others do better at avoiding it.
5.16.2006 8:16pm
Mike99:
I haven't read the report, only what has been posted on this blog. But I cannot understand how Churchill's actions can be defended and how he did not lose his job. If a PhD candidate did the same thing, what would be the consequences? What if a pharmacuetical company provided the FDA with similar "research" to support getting a drug to the market?
5.16.2006 8:35pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
On the matter of how much fraud there is in academic research.

Cramer is right, a lot of publications don’t get thoroughly checked because checking is a very time consuming process and in many cases few people care whether it’s right or not. But at least in the scientific fields important things do get checked, and checked very thoroughly. Remember cold fusion circa 1989? The original authors (Pons and Fleischmann) initially published by press conference giving few important details that would allow other researchers to duplicate their experiments. They said the publications would come later. But others went ahead anyway, and some replicated while others did not. People getting negative results would get threatening letters from Pons’ lawyer. Interesting how they tried to use the legal system to muzzle peer review. But eventually cold fusion withered away as no reputable researcher get “fusion in a jar.” Even today a few hangers on continue to portray P&F as victims of the scientific establishment and insist cold fusion is real.

We don’t need a lot of instances of fraud to discredit a field or institution. We can do it with a representative finite sample. But that’s not an easy task. Then there is the 80/10 guideline. Very roughly, about 10% of the people in a given field do 80% of the significant work. So fraud among a small group in a very special field could indicate a general level of unreliability. All that being said, Cramer’s statement is still on the extreme side. although I do appreciate the spirit behind it.

BTW I’m very suspicious of anything with the word “studies” in the title. Anyone know of a good exception?
5.16.2006 8:53pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I agree with the comment about the Restatement. Most of us attorneys out there who cite to it are invariably in a hurry and figure, the Restatement says it, so it must be established law, and not what the drafters wanted the law to be. If we wanted that, we would go to law reviews - but on the opposite side, if you see a law review cited, you can often ridicule it as academic wishful thinking, whereas the Restatement is supposed to be (and most of us believe it to be) what the law actually is. So we are typically much, much, more willing to accept a Restatement than a law review as being persuasive.

So, this sort of circular citing there is worrisome.
5.16.2006 9:29pm
Barry Dauphin (mail) (www):
Instead of thinking of "socks", I'd suggest "boots". Old Ward is giving new meaning to the phrase, lifting oneself up by your bootstraps.
5.16.2006 9:36pm
Shangui (mail):
BTW I’m very suspicious of anything with the word “studies” in the title. Anyone know of a good exception?

The various area studies (e.g. Asian Studies, East Asian Studies) are pretty ideologically neutral. Many of the other fields (e.g. Gender Studies) do tend to have a strong and specific ideological component.
5.16.2006 10:01pm
Peter Wimsey:
BTW I’m very suspicious of anything with the word “studies” in the title. Anyone know of a good exception?

The various area studies (e.g. Asian Studies, East Asian Studies) are pretty ideologically neutral. Many of the other fields (e.g. Gender Studies) do tend to have a strong and specific ideological component.



I think that "studies" courses where the topic of the "study" is an existing population subgroup often tend to do at least some cheerleading for the particular group. "Studies" courses where the subject of the study is a region (West European Studies), a period (Renaissance Studies), a language (Germanic Studies), or another abstract field tend not to have such a bias.
5.16.2006 10:17pm
The Original TS (mail):
So, this sort of circular citing there is worrisome.

Heh. There's one case where Kozinski manages to cite himself. IIRC, there was a concurrence in a Supreme Court case that quoted one of Kozinski's dissents. Kozinski used the quote and then cited the concurrence [citations omitted, of course.] Being Kozinski, it was actually pretty amusing. Maybe Eugene recalls the case I'm referring to.
5.16.2006 11:49pm
Asian Guy (mail):
(Germanic Studies): no bias
(Asian Studies): bias

Wow. I am offended.
5.17.2006 2:49am
Oris (mail) (www):
The Original TS:

I found a handful of Supreme Court citations to Kozinski dissents. Of the five cases below, Kozinski has cited three. The only citation I found to 1 is the same case on remand. I found no Kozinski citations to 2 or 3. Kozinski has cited each 4 and 5 in a few cases other than the remands. (I apologize for the lack of proper page citation, but the free version of Lexis doesn't have West pagination.) If you're correct about it being a concurrence, this may narrow the field further. 515 U.S. 506 has a concurrence by Rehnquist which cites Kozinski. Blackmun's concurrence in 508 U.S. 223 is about four lines long and does not cite Kozinski.

1. 538 U.S. 715 cites:
It "takes time to organize hearings: there are only so many courtrooms and presiding officials; the city has to contact the towing officer and arrange for his appearance; the city may have to find a substitute to cover that officer's responsibilities while he attends the hearing." 307 F.3d at 1149 (Kozinski, J., dissenting).


2. 538 U.S. 216, on page 27, footnote 7, cites:
[5B]In his dissent from the en banc opinion, Judge Kozinski wrote: "It is no doubt true that the IOLTA program serves a salutary purpose, one worthy of our support. As a citizen and former member of the bar, I applaud the state's effort to provide legal services for the poor and disadvantaged." 271 F.3d 835, 867 (CA9 2001).

3. 535 U.S. 302, page 83 cites:
The Court ignores this "practical equivalence" between respondent's deprivation and the deprivation resulting from a leasehold. In so doing, the Court allows the government to "do by regulation what it cannot do through eminent domain — i.e., take private property without paying for it." 228 F.3d 998, 999 (CA9 2000) (Kozinski, J., dissenting from denial of rehearing en banc).

4. 515 U.S. 506 cites:
In affirming the Court of Appeals, the Court concludes that "it is fair to say that we cannot [*41] hold for respondent today while still adhering to the reasoning and the holding of [Sinclair v. United States, 279 U.S. 263, 73 L. Ed. 692, 49 S. Ct. 268 (1929)]." Ante, at 519-520. Before today, every Court of Appeals that has considered the issue, except for the Ninth Circuit, has held that the question of materiality is one of law. See 28 F.3d at 955 (Kozinski, J., dissenting)

5. 508 U.S. 223 cites:
On the contrary, "far more than [in] the ordinary case" under § 924(c)(1), [*29] in which the gun merely facilitates the offense by providing a means of protection or intimidation, here "the gun . . . was an integral part of the transaction." United States v. Phelps, 895 F.2d 1281, 1283 (CA9 1990) (Kozinski, J., dissenting from denial of rehearing en banc).

I found two unpublished opinions that cite to 508 U.S. 223, either of which could be our guy:
1. Bilodeaux v. Fitzpatrick, 2000 U.S. App. LEXIS 9619; or
2. U.S. v. Nickelson, 1999 U.S. App. LEXIS 20650.

This is what I do for fun when the program I'm actually supposed to be working on crashes. *sigh*

(If anyone bothers to figure out whether I'm right, please do let me know.)
5.17.2006 10:37am
Rick Randall:

Asian Guy (mail):
(Germanic Studies): no bias
(Asian Studies): bias

Wow. I am offended.
5.17.2006 1:49am



You are? Why?

"Asian Studies" is (in every case where I have seen it) a study of people, specifically, Asian people, and I have ALWAYS seen it applied to people of Asian descent in European descended societies like the US. I haven't reviewed an Asian study course for bias, but I agree with the general statement that sub-population "studies" courses are overwhelmingly biased, and when the sub-population is other than Caucasian Christian European descended males, the bias is generally in favor of teh "studied" group.

"Germanic studies" is (in my experience) never a study of people, especially sub-populations. It is ALWAYS a study of Germanic Languages, and is generally pretty free of bias, just as "Asian Language studies", or "Romance language studies", or "Slavic language studies" courses are.

Apples and Oranges, my friend.

Rick
5.18.2006 10:12am