Day: January 28, 2013

Do You Need a Pro-Cancer Oncologist? Bias and Human Rights Scholarship

It’s a question faced by scientists daily: if you found that X wasn’t associated with Y, would you report it?  What if you found that treatment X was harmful to Y, would you report your findings? For example, let’s say you are an oncologist and you just concluded, based on years of research, that smoking wasn’t associated with cancer  – would you report your findings?  What if you were employed by the cancer drug’s maker or dealing with cancer personally, would you report your findings about treatment X then? Is it unethical to leave the results unpublished?

Questions of personal biases and valid science permeate all facets of science; of course, we as social scientists face these questions all the time in our research.  Do personal biases get in the way of our science?  Is there any way around our personal biases?

I’m a firm believer that the process of science allows us to eliminate many of the potential biases that we carry around with us.  As Jay Ulfelder just pointed out in a blog post on Dart Throwing Chimp with respect to democracy research in comparative politics,  the scientific process isn’t easy – there are often strong personal and professional reasons that lead people to stray from the scientific process (to me, sequestering results would imply straying from the scientific process).  But, I would contend, the scientific process allows us to overcome many of our personal and professional biases.  This is especially relevant, of course, to human rights research.  As Jake Wobig just wrote,

“a person does not start studying human rights unless they want to identify ways to change the world for the better.  However, wanting something to be so does not make it so, and we scholars do not do anyone any favors by describing the world incorrectly.” 

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What Western Analysts Got Wrong About the Israeli Election

flag-israel-XLThis is a guest post by Brent Sasley. Sasley is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Texas at Arlington. He blogs at Mideast Matrix and Open Zion. Follow him on Twitter.

The Israeli election results are far messier than anyone had hoped, leading to furious debates about who got what right about the Israeli electorate. This seems to be especially true among Western analysts and media that aren’t close Israel watchers but do comment on Israeli politics.

And it is messy. On the face of it, the religious (Shas, United Torah Judaism, Jewish Home) and rightwing (Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu, and National Union) bloc did drop from 65 seats to 61 (a joint Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu list, Shas, United Torah Judaism, and Jewish Home).

Yet United Torah Judaism increased from 5 to 7 mandates, while Jewish Home went from 3 to 12 seats. At the same time, the “soft” or center right also dropped: Kadima went from 28 seats in the previous Knesset to 2 today, while a new party, Yesh Atid, appeared with 19.

And the center-left and left did better at the same time: Labor picked up 2 seats (13 to 15) while Meretz doubled its representation from 3 to 6 seats. The Arab parties stayed the same at 11 mandates.

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Monday Morning Linkage

North Korea

Afghanistan

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