Yes, Asian Americans also face discrimination in the US

Hate crimes against Asians and Asian Americans have been getting some news lately.  Not as much news as they ought to be, especially if you don’t follow any Asian American people on social media.

Our university, like many in the country right now, is only hiring for positions that increase the diversity of the faculty.  Unlike many universities that are only responding superficially to the Black Lives Matter movement, ours is taking a broader view and not just hiring people who do various versions of “African American Studies” or whatever else I’ve been seeing on job ads.  (Research suggests that doing a big cluster hire AND taking into account diversity as a structural whole will likely be more successful in retention and improved climate than the places that hire one black person to teach all diversity studies classes and then forget about diversity as soon as BLM is out of the news cycle.)

Our percent of Asian American graduate students and of Asian American faculty are much smaller than the percent of the population (at the undergraduate level we’re closer to matching).  As a large R1 public state school, we are supposed to look like our constituents and we don’t.

When we get “diversity points”* for students and faculty, in general, international students count as “international” regardless of their race or ethnicity and only domestic students (citizens, permanent residents, and those who could be included in DACA) count as diverse, meaning they qualify for university-level scholarships only available to increase diversity in our graduate student body.  Because our numbers are low for Asian Americans, our university gives us “diversity points” for recruiting and enrolling Asian Americans, but we are supposed to try to keep international within a certain percent so that we have international exposure but aren’t entirely international.  For this hire focused on increasing diversity, those guidelines have been relaxed (I assume because immigrant faculty are assumed to become US Citizens) and Black and Hispanic international faculty are considered to be increasing diversity for this targeted hire.

So we had two international candidates and the third candidate was Asian American.

The worst thing about discrimination against Asian Americans is that so many people believe that it doesn’t exist.  They look at numbers of Asian Americans at Berkeley or Harvard and argue that quotas should go in the opposite direction– that Asian Americans should be limited rather than encouraged.  That we should discriminate against them rather have affirmative actions for them.  They are expected to be “higher quality” if a place hires them over a White applicant– if equal, people believe the White person should be hired.  This is a kind of discrimination that plenty of people who believe they are Woke have– they deny that Asian Americans face discrimination and they put them in the “model minority” box.  One of my grad school professors told me that the hardest candidate for him to place (because of discrimination) was any Asian American male.  And indeed, it’s a bit jarring realizing how few Asian Americans we have in graduate school in my field outside of California.

Worse, not only do they treat all Asian Americans as the same (ignoring that Asia is an entire continent and that Asian Americans have widely varied histories depending on when, where, and why their families settled here and what their families experienced once here).  But they treat all Asians IN America as the same.

So when I noted that we only get maybe one Asian American graduate student every couple of years and that’s a known problem and we’re actually doing better with Hispanic and Black students since our last major intervention… several of my colleagues shook their heads.  We get TONS of Asian students from South Korea and China(!)  (!!!!!) they argued.  And I couldn’t even.  But instead I gently argued that no, Asians from Asia and Asian Americans have not had the same life experiences and are treated differently by admissions.  I did not mention that before that last admissions intervention, our graduate admissions officer referred to Asian Americans as “Oriental” (which is not a slur when referring to carpets but most definitely is when referring to PEOPLE) and worse, color coded them yellow (zie also coded Native Americans as red– I am not making this up).  I mean, is there any question about why we have so few Asian Americans in our graduate programs?

This is not to say that international faculty aren’t discriminated against or that Black and Hispanic faculty aren’t discriminated against.  They obviously are.  But the most insidious thing about discrimination against Asian Americans is the general belief that it doesn’t exist or that if it does exist it’s ok because: “model minority.”

In any case, we decided all three candidates were acceptable.  We’re making offers in order of the quality of their work and how well they fit gaps in our curriculum.  But that was after a lot of discussion about the intention of the cluster hire (the university had provided guidance that they found all three candidates equally acceptable in terms of increasing diversity, but some of my colleagues wanted to argue about that even though we currently have no Asian Americans in our department**).

*diversity points is an amorphous concept– basically we get audited every few years and if we are too white/non-Hispanic, we get dinged, and we get dinged the more off from the state averages we are for each major group.  Being dinged generally means having to write up a plan to fix the problem; I was in charge of one of the committees when we were doing really badly almost a decade ago as a newly minted associate professor.  Also there are scholarships from the university that only underrepresented minorities are eligible for.  At our uni, Asian-Americans are underrepresented at the graduate level.

**the department that shares a building with us has an Asian American professor of Japanese descent and an international professor from China.  A couple of my colleagues regularly mix them up with each other even though they are *nothing* alike in any way other than both having black hair.  They don’t even dress similarly (one is more business and the other business casual).

Link Love

I spent all of Thursday and Friday on zoom, from 9-5:30 each day with no breaks other than quick runs to the restroom often not during breaks.  So Saturday this introvert spent playing spelling games on the switch.  Which I should not play video games because now that’s all I want to do and DH had to gently drag it out of my lands last night in order to get me off the couch.  Anyhow, that’s why this is Sunday link love.  There’s not many links because during the week I kept seeing them and thinking I would remember them and of course I didn’t and by the time today rolled around all the twitter feeds had long-since moved on.  There’s important things happening out there but I can’t remember what they are.  I need to do less service.  Also I need to get off this grant proposal where the PI is completely disorganized and the senior white male Co-PI doesn’t believe in the existence of the very commonly used term that the granting agency is interested in and goes of on 20 min lectures without allowing interruption on how all social scientists believe X, when in fact, not even most sociologists believe X, just him and all of his indoctrinated students and former students.  The PI is going to be sad and she’s going to spend a lot of time trying to convince me to stay since I’m the only person on the team with any organizational skills apparently and she’s been trying to convince me to join a group on a tangentially related topic that sounds like a book club that meets 2x/week and also a support group for stuck at associate people.  Except I’m not really *stuck* at associate, I just did not *want* to go up for full even though I should have done it 3 years ago (I’m going up this year because none of the reasons I was putting it off for turned out to help because my department head decided to reward the person in my department who she believes is incapable of service and a lazy teacher because this person has slightly more citations on google scholar, which is a function of hir having been out longer even though zie got tenure later, and having most of hir papers coauthored with a big name in the field even if they’re at second-tier journals, thus breaking a long-standing tradition of rewarding the good citizen, whether research active or not, who has been in the department longest).  Anyway, I should get these two meager links posted.  FML.

You can play the original oregon trail on stata!  (But not the dying of dysentery version– this is a precursor).   I also added a few of these ado files to my stata.  I’m contemplating whether or not it is worth capture ssc install to some of my .do files so my RAs get a surprise at the end of a program.

Here’s a post on the topic of disability simulations that we were talking about the other week.  I did not google for it– I came across it organically!  Here’s a quote that better puts into words what I’d been thinking:

The difference will be because, without any of the coping skills and techniques people with disabilities create and master throughout their lives, the best you will be able to manage will be to emulate the experience of being the single most hapless, incompetent individual with that particular disability on the face of the planet.

which then has the possibility of limiting what kinds of jobs we think disabled people can do and decreases a focus on accommodations.

 

Spoiled rich white boys: Sophomore English hasn’t changed in 60 years

I was shocked when we got DC1’s reading list for this quarter.  They are reading:  Into the Wild, Dead Poet’s Society, and the book that I had partly moved DC1 into Honors from Pre-AP to AVOID:  A Separate Peace.

In other words, they are reading books from the 1960s that were outdated then about spoiled rich white boys who create their own problems and a somewhat newer book that is just like them.  Just like we did in Freshmen and Sophomore English so many years ago.

So we emailed hir English teacher to ask for the list of the rest of the books for the semester.  She said that first quarter was about the theme of “Coming of Age” so they had chosen books to fit that theme.  Here are the remaining “books”:

Fiction Choice (students choose from books that meet very loose requirements)
Nonfiction Choice
Serial (the podcast)
Antigone
12 Angry Men
Dystopia Choice

… and this is almost exactly like our Sophomore English class back in the early 90s.  Lots of books that don’t even have any women *in* them, much less as protagonists.  One Greek play where the woman in question comes to a tragic end through Destiny (we read Antigone in middle school, but Oedopus Rex has some soon-to-die women in it… I assume in the South they can’t handle the subject matter like they can in the midwest), and a thing about a young minority in jail for allegedly killing a woman (for us it was Native Son and the woman was white, for DC1 I guess it will be a Muslim man allegedly killing an Asian woman).  We also had a unit on depressing (white) Russian (men) and I guess it isn’t Gregor Samsa’s fault he woke up as a giant cockroach, but it sure as heck was the Crime and Punishment dude’s fault he decided to kill that pawn broker and then to just go on and on and on about it.

Readers, I complained about my sophomore year’s sausage fest.  I complained hard.  And one of the English teachers listened and asked for suggestions of classics that weren’t all men.  And they changed things up a bit.  I know they added Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Thurston, though I don’t remember if they made other changes.  We didn’t get to benefit, but classes after us did.

DC1 is going to have to deal with a year in which 50% of the population doesn’t even show up in the books with a speaking role (TWO are set at boy’s prep boarding schoools!!!  TWO!)  But we also have a DC2.  So here’s what we responded:

Thank you for getting back to us.

Women and minorities also come of age.  Our high school back in the mid-1990s swapped out one of these standard rich white boys come of age books for Zora Neale Thurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God after complaints about lack of gender and race diversity.  We didn’t get to benefit from that change, but students after us did.  Today, of course, we have so many more excellent choices such as The Hate U Give or any number of books about the Hispanic-American coming of age experience (some of which we had thought were on the reading list for this class in the past, but we must have been mistaken).  Hopefully in time there will also be books about the Asian-American and Native American coming of age experience.  The #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement has so many suggestions complete with lesson plans that we didn’t have 25 years ago.

Please share this perspective with the other Honors English teachers.  We are hoping that by the time our [second child] gets to high school [they] will no longer have to believe that the only coming of age experience worthy of being taught in sophomore English is that of the already privileged.  Several of these books don’t have any female or minority characters at all.  It seems crazy that the only woman that sophomore honors students are studying is a woman from a Greek tragedy who meets a messy end.  And the only (religious) minority person being studied is someone in jail for murder.  Hopefully these are not people that female and minority teens are expected to identify with!  Women are over 50% of the population and the US and [our state] are rich in diversity.  Most kids aren’t wealthy.  Shouldn’t our English classes signal that everyone is worthy, not just white males?

(Also, as much as we love the Princess Bride… it doesn’t actually pass the Bechdel test.  A thought exercise:  How many of the movies shown in sophomore English do?)

That last line is because we had to give permission for a list of movies to be shown in class.  Most of them were movie versions of the above novels, but there were a couple in there that weren’t.

But seriously– in today’s world I want to see more of the teenage years of the Sotomayors and Ginsbergs and far less of the Kavanaughs and Trumps.  We’ve had enough of caring about their petty problems and not enough of showing the real problems that other teens and young adults face and what it takes to triumph in a society that’s set up against you (rather than what it takes to fail in a society that stacks the deck on your behalf).  Though perhaps contrasting those two types of coming of age novels makes the difference all too obvious.

Living in the South, I’m sure that part of the reason for these continued white sausage fests is that they’re afraid of tea-party complaints should they try to add any color.  They need to know that whitewashing also leads to parent concerns.  Even if it just means swapping out Into the Wild with The Joy Luck Club (which is taught in Sophomore Pre-AP this year), our teens deserve better.

I’m still really mad.  AND I have to actually buy copies of these @#$ing books.  My work friend offered to loan me A Separate Peace because pre-AP has to read it too, so I think I’m fine there (her son annotated the book for class, but DC1 can annotate with post-it notes instead of writing on the paper itself).

While I was writing this, DC1 walked in and complained that hir English teacher wants them to make presentations using worst practices– bright colors and animations that distract from the presentation itself.  *sigh*  I told hir to think of it as a chance to get all those bad practices out of hir system.

What was your high school English reading selection like in terms of diversity?  If you have kids, what are they being assigned?

On the new era of Fragrance: A tiny rant

Several of the men in my department have started smelling increasingly floral.  Like there’s a miasma of chemical fragrance wafting like a cloud around them.  My nose starts to drip when they come near.

On the plane the woman in front of me sprayed a bunch of perfume on herself before getting off.  I dripped and sneezed and dripped.

DC2 had skin trouble with the handsoap we usually buy, so DH replaced our bathroom handsoap with liquid ivory, because he got ivory and dove mixed up (dove is dermatologist recommended– they’re both old brands with white bottles and similar packaging).  I stopped being able to go near his face for half a day after he shaved, or my nose would drip and my eyes would start to water.

Then the grocery store stopped carrying his unscented head and shoulders, and they increased the fragrance in the suave he used to buy before he started trying to attack his dandruff.

We spent quite a bit of time at the grocery store today sniffing various shampoos.  He did find a mint scented one that didn’t cause any allergic reaction for me, but in the end everyone decided that DC2 and DH and I would all use the unscented Burt’s Bees baby shampoo that I switched to a while back.   (I started having dandruff and scalp itchiness problems with regular shampoo and decided to buy a bunch of different expensive unscented baby shampoos from Target– Burt’s Bees has been great.  I won’t say it gives me much in the way of volume or body etc, but my scalp feels fine, I have little dandruff, and … I only need to wash my hair about once per week now, which is crazy.)

I was so happy during the last decade or so when scents were out.  The bath and body works era before then was hellish– if I got around too many people or the wrong people I would get a drippy nose and a headache.  I frequently ran out of tylenol allergy sinus.

But now it seems like fragrances are back in, and they’re in EVERYTHING.  Even products we’ve used for years have started upping their scent.

I hate it.

Thank goodness for Zyrtec.  But I will be happy when this fad goes away.

Feel free to commiserate, fellow allergy sufferers!

AIEEE ROACH in my closet

Pooping on my clothing

AIEEEEEEEE

After DC1 was born we stopped letting the exterminator spray inside.

We’re making an exception now.

Roach poop looks like mouse droppings.

DH convinced me not to burn the house down.

We cleaned all my clothing, moved my shoes out to the patio, washed the walls, vacuumed in depth, put out roach traps, called the exterminator and he sprayed the attic, the garage, the patio, my closet, and our bathroom.

He found no other evidence of roaches, and DH only found the one roach (it was big though! and on one of my dresses!) and said that if we see any more he would bring scarier chemicals.

Also I’m allergic to roaches according to my post DC2 allergy test and am getting a lot fewer hives now.  This is the first chance I’ve had to test that allergy.  Thank goodness.  Oh man I hate them so much.  (Though to be fair I’m also allergic to dust and getting everything clean helps with that too.)

My friend says at least it wasn’t bedbugs.

RBOC

  • One of DC2’s extracurricular activities got bought by a creepy 20-something mega-Christian.  We didn’t find out until one of their events in which the new owner started by talking about how Jesus was more important than [extracurricular activity] and how they incorporate Jesus in every class and then we were asked to pray.  We asked DC2 and zie confirmed that zie had been asked to pray in class.  The place’s website has also been modernized since we signed DC2 up and talks about Jesus on a little text thing that comes and goes.  I was already pretty pissed off at this place because of the unannounced mommy participation day.  And it was fairly obvious from the older kids’ that this studio really isn’t focused on [extra-curricular activity] at all– I have been to so many of these events in my life and this one was easily the worst.  As soon as we got back home from said event we withdrew DC2 and looked for a studio that focuses on [extracurricular activity].  I really hate stealth proselytizing.  (I am also not a fan of [extracurricular activity] but DC2 is, so what can you do?)
  • The kids’ piano teacher also starts recitals with some musings about Christian religion, particularly the Christmas recital, but for some reason that doesn’t bother us as much.  It could be that since she was DC1’s music teacher when zie was at a religious school we were forewarned, but we think it’s more that she makes it clear that she’s talking about her personal faith and she doesn’t make everybody pray.  (The quote on the program this time was Isiah, “The people who walk in darkness shall see a great light,” and she talked about how every morning there is a sunrise and it seems like we’re living in dark times, but there will be light again, and the Christmas season reminds us of that… which I dunno, seems pretty accurate and not something that the person in the previous bullet is even aware of.) It is a Christmas recital, but non-Christians also play non-Christmas music (both of the holiday and non-holiday varieties).  So it seems more inclusive.
  • Some academic self-proclaimed feminists sound really transphobic on their twitter accounts these days.  I strongly suspect that this “problem” they talk about of people forcing kids to change their gender is not really a thing, but acting like it is probably does actual harm.  I don’t see how the existence of trans women who are attracted to women hurts other lesbians in any way. (And definitely not in any way that wouldn’t disappear if the patriarchy were dismantled!) These “feminists” seem to think that being trans is an act or a lie or something that people are tricking other people into doing. I will admit that I do not “get” gender identity at all– with respect to me, I only see gender as a way that the rest of the world categorizes and interacts with me, not the way I see myself (except as is reflected by the rest of the world). It is really easy for me to take the path of least resistance. Sure I’d rather be a guy just because the patriarchy means that guys have it easier, but being a trans guy, and being a trans guy who is attracted to my husband, that seems really hard. But I also understand that many people do have strong gender identities, and that gender identity doesn’t always match up with the sex they were assigned at birth and those people don’t need people like [insert “feminist” tweeter here] telling them that they’re being duped by society and hurting other LGB people… as if someone can be convinced by society to become trans in this culture. Really? Trans people are real people who are fully dimensional and have life stories and opinions and thoughts and histories and feelings just like everybody else. Excluding them, telling them they’re wrong… that is not what feminism should be about. That’s a pretty piss-poor feminism.
  • Speaking of the above bullet– I think it is easier to imagine people complexly (to paraphrase John Green) if you know a lot of different people and read/watch a lot of media in which people tell their stories and fictional people are drawn complexly.  Deirdre McCloskey was the first trans person that I ever really listened to on the topic (there were some trans folks at my high school, but they weren’t really in my social circle, though they may have been in #2’s)– I’d spent two semesters reading and loving her work published under the Donald name (economic history) and had heard stories about how horribly she’d been treated by her family from other professors whose own advisors had been involved in the march to get her out of the mental institution her relatives had committed her to (in IL you only needed 2 people to commit you!).  Then she gave a talk about being a woman in economics, “notes from a novice” and answered any and all questions we had (my question was, “should we cite your pre-transition work as Donald or Deirdre?”– she said Deirdre and that she hoped to get it all changed).  Deirdre McCloskey is a trans lesbian and a truly wonderful person.  Well loved and known to be a fantastic mentor.  She’s not harming anybody.  I also love the contrast of Claire in Questionable Content compared to Carla on Dumbing of Age.  (Claire is neurotic and wonderful and so much with the terrible puns, while Carla is kind of a jerk, but a jerk who generally does the right thing.  Completely different people.)  The trans students I’ve had in class have been, to my knowledge, trans men or trans gender neutral.  I don’t know much about their lives other than the standard student stuff because they’re also just people trying to learn statistics and economics like everybody else.  But they’re the reason I’ve spent so much time on the phone with legislative aides pleading and arguing about various bathroom bills over the past several years.  Bathroom bills are a genuine threat to people’s lives.  Not this fake garbage that creates some kind of LGBTQ hierarchy.  That’s BS.
  • Ok, maybe I do know a little bit more about my students than their statistics knowledge:  I recently learned a valuable lesson from one: never impulse buy flying squirrels on a road trip in an overcrowded car, even if they’re for sale at an open market you stop at.  One of my colleagues and I agree that they should sell the story to National Lampoon as a Christmas family road trip.
  • You can create new regency romance titles by switching out “Squirrel” with “Earl” in Squirrel Girl volume titles.  “Earl, You Really Got Me Now”
  • … thank you, Mint, I guess, for sending me an email the other week telling me I’d lost $30K in the previous week’s stock market crash.  I’m not sure how to feel about that.  Good, I guess?  I mean, that’s a lot of money.  (I didn’t check to see if that was actually accurate– sometimes Mint double counts one or more of my retirement accounts.)
  • I’m seeing a lot of New Years posts with people talking about how they’re going to ignore the news in 2019.  I hope that you all don’t do that– I know I’ve been feeling a lot of political fatigue especially since the last election, but we can’t give up now.  I don’t have time right now to do a super long pep-talk, but we have to keep pushing forward with activism.  We have to keep fighting.  Children’s lives are at stake… the environment, women’s rights, minority rights… so many things.  Rest and relax, but don’t stop moving forward.

Gun-Humping Theater

My MIL (who works in a public elementary school) called to tell us about the training they’re receiving in her school district about what to do when there’s an armed gunman inside the school.

What she told me is deeply, deeply disturbing and destabilizing.  Just look at what this link is called:

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/armed-school-safety-guardian-training-polk-county-florida/

(this link isn’t about the place she lives or her school system, but it’s very similar to their program, and it was the best example I could find.)

IT’S A GOOD THING THEY GET SO MUCH TRAINING BEFORE RUNNING AROUND ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS WITH GUNS.
Imagine being a kid in a Florida school and knowing there is a white man (at least in her school it’s a white dude) in your school whose actual job is to shoot people. MIL got trained on where to stash her kids in her classroom so that the fewest of them would die, and what color piece of paper she should slide under the classroom door to let someone know that her kids were dying. She’s having a really hard time with this, AS SHE SHOULD.

Also she works in special ed and her kids are totally incapable of following the drill procedures (which can’t be done from a wheelchair). It is the WORST. It is TERRIFYING. It is crazy-making.

Seeing the inside of the training the adults get is INSANE. There is no way for people to do these procedures:
in case of active shooter, don’t call 911. Put this guy’s cell number in your phone and call him.
….yeah.

She has different places to put her (multiply-disabled) kids depending on what kind of gun the shooter has. WHAT KIND OF GUN!

She works with disabled elementary school students. And the message she got was to be fkcng terrified the whole time she’s at work, and also she needs to identify what kind of gun is shooting at her kids as she piles furniture in front of her door.
*rage*
Also she feels crazy… Because it is DESIGNED to make her feel crazy.

Her co-workers are like “It’s great, we’ll be so safe, this one guy will take care of us.”
(…unless he’s in the bathroom or something.)
The world is scary but we’ll be safe because we have GOOD GUYS WITH GUNS

GUYS WHOSE JOB IS TO SHOOT PEOPLE INSIDE AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
There’s no way That’ll go wrong.
There’s no way their EXTENSIVE training (see link above) would let them make a mistake and open fire on, say, a Sikh parent in a turban picking up his kid at a crowded school.
Yeah it’ll be fine
arrrrrrrrgh
She’s so upset and she can’t tell if she’s crazy or not.
I told her, NOT.

She said she’s the only one upset by it. It’s really really bad. Everyone else on the staff thinks the school’s designated shooter guy is just the greatest position to have.

She’s angry that the government is taking money from public schools to fund these positions (which don’t even get paid that much, considering their job is to shoot guns in an elementary school).

This attack of rage has been brought to you by our trashfire of a country, by the letter T, and by a high level of humidity. Down with humidity, down with pants. Smash the patriarchy. Can’t happen soon enough.

Grumpeteers, who’s got some rageterror to share?

How to talk about how awesome your work is without sounding like a jerk (in an academic paper)

Being a woman, and a woman not at a top 10 institution, in a field in which there is little to no double-blind reviewing, I have to walk a very fine line when promoting what is novel and new about my work compared to previous work.  This is especially hard because I do really innovative work that ends up getting cited a lot and taught in classes but faces a huge amount of push-back from the people who don’t think that way.  (When I put it like that, maybe I’m not the best person for giving advice given my lack of top general interest journal publications.)

Anyway, don’t say that you’re the first person to do something unless you’re an asshole at a top school.  They are always wrong.  They have always not done enough literature review.  But that doesn’t kill them whereas it is the death knell for the rest of us.  Don’t do it.  (I review a lot of papers and see this dichotomy in action– asshole reviewers are so pleased to bring their work to the attention of the famous white dudes, but are insulted that junior scholars should not know their important paper published 30+ years ago.)

When you’re an asshole at a top school, a good strategy is to do an extremely light literature that only cites top general interest journals.  That makes it look like your paper is new and innovative.  And people believe it is because your work doesn’t get sent out to the other people (women, junior scholars, people not at top 10 schools) who have worked on the same question because the editor doesn’t know they worked on it and you didn’t cite them, so how is the editor supposed to know.  Yes I am still really bitter about this.

When you’re not that asshole, you have to do a really complete literature review because if you don’t cite someone, the reviewers take offense and think you haven’t done a thorough lit review.  You can get away with not citing things that aren’t in your field (but I cite people outside anyway because they do work I think economists should know about– this is part of why my way of thinking about things is so innovative– innovation in economics is what another field discovered 30-50 years ago…).  You can get away with not citing things that got published in second tier field journals or lower, but if it was in a top field journal, it needs to be in your list of works cited.

Now, if you’re a white male asshole at a top school, you can make your career out of proving another top economist’s top general interest paper was wrong.  Or, if it’s a female top economist, all you really have to do is harshly question it.  If you’re female and you do this, it can destroy your budding career unless you coauthor with a senior top male economist or two who will take the credit and shift the blame to the bad paper author.

All of that aside… and back to the topic that inspired this post.

If you are a woman/non-famous person, how do you make it clear that your paper is doing new stuff without insulting your potential reviewers?  The answer, my friend, is data limitations.  Or, if it is much older work, new technology.  They *couldn’t* answer the question you’re answering because their dataset wasn’t good enough.  No fault of theirs.  You have something new to add because of your great luck or your hard work.  This probably explains why I am forever amassing new datasets instead of writing papers with the sets I already have.  (That and I’m a dilettante).

So, is this good advice?  I don’t know.  My career looks like a glass ceiling– I am very good at publishing at top field journals, but have yet to hit a top general interest journal.  Some of this is because other than my job market paper I didn’t send my work to top field journals until after tenure, but some of it is that I still don’t know how to play the game perfectly and my reputation is not such that I get the benefit of the doubt.  I still get desk rejects with useless comments for papers that end up getting accepted with minor revisions at similar journals.  There’s a lot of crap shooting going on.

(Disclaimer:  #notalleconomists are assholes, #notalltopeconomists are assholes.  Some are really nice and are generous with their citations and work and try to write the best papers they can because they care about economics and policy.  Others care a lot about playing the publication game.  I’m sure it’s similar in many lines of work.)

Ask the readers: How do I get more patience (at work)?

#1 asks:

How do I become more patient?  I can think of good reasons to be more patient (e.g., “this is just their policy for their business, it’s not personal against you, you know.” and “this isn’t that big of a deal, you can let it go” and “fuming doesn’t help anything and being calm might get better results” and even “bless their hearts, they can’t help being stupid, poor things”) but NONE OF THEM WORK.

I am all out of patience for [BS] and I’d like to buy some more, please.  How?

#2:  I don’t think you should do illicit drugs.  And you’ve tried CBT, so probably not that.  And having kids is probably also a non-starter.  Have you considered distracting yourself with novels?

#1:  It’s kind of hard to do when my boss is in the same office with me

#2:  I guess you have to distract yourself with other work then.

 

Facts and Opinions are not the same thing: Part 2

Part one from five years ago at the private school where they do not teach untruths about the civil war but still do not understand the difference between objective statements and opinions.

As promised, DC1 ended the semester being tested on the idea that the cause of the civil war was not reaaaaalllly slavery, but state rights.

I read out the reasons for the civil war given by the southerners who withdrew from the union.  They are PRETTY CLEAR that it was about slavery.  On top of that, South Carolina was pretty pissed off about NY getting to keep its state right of not allowing people to be property in its borders so that Southerners couldn’t take slaves with them to do business in NY.

Then DC1 said, “people have a lot of different opinions”.

And that led to a really lengthy discussion about what is an opinion and what is an untrue statement of fact.  DH and I threw around a lot of terms like “subjective” and “objective”.  Also “hypothesis”.  We talked about climate change.

It drives me nuts that people label incorrect statements as “opinions” and don’t seem to understand the difference between objective truths (which are true no matter what we believe, but sadly cannot always be tested) and subjective opinions.  (“Can an opinion ever be wrong?” DC1 asked. “Sure,” I said, “Saying ‘Eggnog is the best drink in the world’ is an example of a wrong opinion.”)  And this is codified in the South through the K-12 system and reinforced by Fox News.  It is in the airwaves.  I hate it.  And I don’t want to have to add it to my stats class, but maybe I should.

Last year I asked my grad students if we should spend some time on what is “fake news” and they all said no, they understood.  This year they’re not as sure.  Last year “fake news” really was fake– spewed out by what we now know were Russian bots.  This year Republicans have labeled reputable news organizations as “fake news” so it’s more confusing.  On top of that, even formerly reputable news organizations like WSJ have been taken over by ideologues so there’s a lot of crud coming out.  (NYTimes has always had a contingent of crud, and NPR started to kind of suck a couple of years ago.)

How do you all deal with the difference?