Maybe Sandy Hook led to some real change

There’s a fairly common recent pattern on public opinion about gun control.  Mass shooting leads to spike in support for more gun control followed by reversion to the mean.  In this posting, Gallup returns to the particular question– do we need new laws or to enforce existing ones– first asked after Sandy Hook, and it looks like there’s actually some lasting change:

graph 1graph 1

Not exactly an overwhelming majority for new laws (of course, if you ask about specific new laws like universal background checks, is huge majorities), but modestly encouraging to see that on this abstract level of thinking about the issue, there’s been real and lasting change in our age of mass shooting massacres.


Quick hits (part II)

1) I’m not sure how I feel about the term “predatory” journals.  The prey seem quite willing– as this article points out.  But I still don’t get the point of publishing in journals that won’t actually fool anybody actually in academia.  Oh, wait, apparently it does.  Ugh.

Call it a classic case of supply meeting demand.

Universities, colleges, even community colleges insist that faculty publish scholarly research, and the more papers the better. Academics and the schools they teach at rely on these publications to bolster their reputations, and with an oversupply of Ph.D.’s vying for jobs, careers hang in the balance.

Competition is fierce to get published in leading journals. But what about the overworked professors at less prestigious schools and community colleges, without big grants and state-of-the-art labs? How do they get ahead?

As it turns out, many of their articles are appearing in “journals” that will publish almost anything, for fees that can range into the hundreds of dollars per paper. These publications often are called predatory journals, on the assumption that well-meaning academics are duped into working with them — tricked by flattering emails from the journals inviting them to submit a paper or fooled by a name that sounded like a journal they knew.

But it’s increasingly clear that many academics know exactly what they’re getting into, which explains why these journals have proliferated despite wide criticism. The relationship is less predator and prey, some experts say, than a new and ugly symbiosis…

Participating in such dubious enterprises carries few risks. Dr. Pyne, who did a study of his colleagues’ publications, reports that faculty members at his school who got promoted last year had at least four papers in questionable journals. All but one academic in 10 who won a School of Business and Economics award had published papers in these journals. One had 10 such articles.

Academics get rewarded with promotions when they stuff their résumés with articles like these, Dr. Pyne concluded. There are few or no adverse consequences — in fact, the rewards for publishing in predatory journals were greater than for publishing in legitimate ones.

Dr. Pyne does not know what role those studies played in the promotions. But, he said, “I can say that such publications do not seem to hurt promotion prospects.”

2) 538 on the indisputable rise in mass shootings.  I can’t help but think some of this is social contagion.  Abetted, of course, by the fact that it is so absurdly easy to get a gun in the U.S.

3) Republican politicians alternate reality in which corporate tax cuts are popular.

4) This twitter thread from David Frum on sexual harassment is great.

5) The social science evidence that Donald Trump is full of it on voter fraud.  Exactly zero surprise.  On the one hand, worth demonstrating.  On the other, almost anything else would be a better use of time for scholars.  We don’t have scientists demonstrating that the atmosphere is mostly nitrogen.

6) Robert Draper on the struggles of the post-Obama Democratic party.

7) Great take on Roy Moore in the National Review:

The allegations against Roy Moore are disgusting — and if you find yourself reluctant to say so because of your politics, then you’re pretty gross, too…

Now, I’ve had far too many people shouting, “Guilty until proven innocent!” at me over my comments on this issue, as if they’re too dumb to know that the second half of that phrase is “in a court of law.” Not to blow your mind here, but I’m actually not a court of law, and I’m allowed to believe whatever I want — and personally, I believe that Roy Moore was a predator with a penchant for teenage girls. No, not because I’m some p***y-hat-wearing snowflake (as eloquent as that argument is) but because of logic. As my colleague David French notes, there are a lot of reasons to believe these allegations: There are multiple accusers. These women didn’t come to the press seeking attention, they simply answered the questions when the press came to them. They have witnesses corroborating their stories. Finally, the woman with the most serious allegations, Leigh Corfman, voted for Donald Trump in 2016 — making the political-hit-job storyline laughable at best.

8) The link between domestic violence and mass shootings.

9) A Vox video on how Southern socialites, quite successfully, rewrote Civil War history.  I appreciate that my Duke history professor, Robert Durden, despite being an older Southern Gentleman if there ever was one, taught me much better than this.

10) Robin Wright on what the recent NYC attack tells us about ISIS:

The lesson from the New York attack is that the military campaign against isis—the numbers killed or the territory lost—should not be the only measure of success, Hassan Hassan, a co-author of the best-selling “ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror,” told me. “isis has received blows on many levels. Ideologically, it’s weaker than it was in 2014. Financially, it’s not as rich as it was in 2014. And it’s not as deadly as in 2014, despite its ability to kill and maim and attack,” he said. “It’s lost the space to operate and breathe and think and plan and train and indoctrinate millions of people.”…

Yet, largely through its propaganda machine, isis has evolved since 2014, from a state focussed on ruling in Iraq and Syria, into a full-fledged jihadi organization “with the ability to project power and images globally,” Hassan told me. “It’s evolved from a corner grocery store to an international chain.”…

isis was never going to defeat its enemies on the battlefield, Bruce Hoffman, a political scientist at Georgetown University and the author of the book “Inside Terrorism,” told me. “It has a long-term strategy of attrition—creating polarization and divisions in society and getting liberal states to embrace illegal tactics,” he said. “That’s what isis is all about now—how it survives. It defaults to a lower level that still plays into the terrorist narrative and maintains relevance.”

As Hoffman told me, “Terrorism is here to stay—at one level or another—for the foreseeable future.” The fact that the attack was carried out in New York, which has “iconic stature for terrorist groups,” also counters some of the recent isis losses, he said. Yet in the sixteen years since 9/11, terrorism is notably smaller in scale, less deadly, and less impactful in the United States. And all the isispropaganda in the world won’t change that.

11) Can labor unions stop the far right?  Apparently so in Germany.

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