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August 31, 2011

Pseudo-Science Watch

A blog we often enjoy making fun of for its charming assortment of wacky and earnest ideologues of the far right is now featuring a political "scientist" selling his snake oil about "liberal bias" in the media, in, it appears, roughly the original formula:  see here and here for earlier discussions.

UPDATE (SEPTEMBER 6):  David Bernstein (George Mason), the legal academy's poster boy for the Dunning-Kruger Effect as well as our favorite mockable earnest ideologue, bizarrely surfaces in the comments of a rather timid commentary on this item to ask, "[W]hat does it mean to be accused of peddling pseudo-science by someone [meaning mild old me] who defends Freudian psychiatry?"  As we know from recent discussion, this is not necessarily a fallacious ad hominem, but it is still a remarkable instance of the phenomenon to which Messrs. Dunning and Kruger have given their name.   Bernstein remains in the dark as we have noted before, about the actual empirical literature on the Freudian theory of the mind, which both confirms some distinctively Freudian hypotheses and disconfirms other ones.   This is not an esoteric literature, and someone who was a scholar and not an ideologue, might have bothered to investigate.  But that someone is not, alas, David Bernstein.   (In response to a reader query, a decent place to start is this literature survey, which is fairly non-technical.)

ANOTHER (SEPTEMBER 10):  In a remarkable display of restraint, Professor Bernstein waited a full 24 hours before posting a "reply"to my September 6 update!   As usual, he conflates my (obviously correct) point about the inefficacy of rational persuasion in political blogging with the value of discursiveness in academic discourse among actual scholars (a telling conflation, needless to say), but we can put that to one side.   Among the new gems on offer:  (1) this putative "expert" on "junk science" thinks there is a "scientific method" (hint:  read any book in philosophy of science in the past 25 years--say Richard Miller's Fact and Method [1987]); (2) he defines the alleged method in such a way that large parts of geology and evolutionary biology and astrophysics would turn out not to be sciences; (3) he is in the dark (what else is new) about the role that speculative hypotheses play in almost all major scientific advances; (4) he appears to believe that clinical evidence is not "scientific" evidence, apparently does not know what consilience and inference to the best explanation are, and apparently doesn't know what role they play in Freud's theory of the mind; and (5) he continues to conflate Freud's theory of the mind with psychoanalysis as a therapy.  If there were any evidence that Bernstein is capable of rational belief revision with respect to subjects about which he is massively ignorant, it might be productive to expound on these points, but since there isn't....

Posted by Brian Leiter on August 31, 2011 in Legal Humor, Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

In Memoriam: Bernard Wolfman

Last week, Bernard Wolfman, the Fessenden Professor of Law Emeritus at Harvard Law School,and  the former dean of the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, passed away.  He was 87.  Wolfman received his law degree from Penn and led that institution from 1970 to 1975.  In 1976, he joined the Harvard faculty where he remained for the balance of his academic career.

Posted by Dan Filler on August 31, 2011 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack

August 30, 2011

In Memoriam: Greg Scott

There was particularly sad news out of Columbia, Missouri last week.  Professor Greg Scott, who was a popular professor of legal writing at the University of Missouri, passed away last week. He collapsed walking into his class and passed away at the hospital.  He was a young 54.

Posted by Dan Filler on August 30, 2011 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack

August 29, 2011

Professor Bainbridge is cranky that the University of Chicago Law Review...

...asked him to referee an article.  While I agree that they should have given him a bigger window of opportunity in which to do it, I find the rest of his crank a bit puzzling.   (Professor Bainbridge needs to drink some more of the fine wines he often recommends!)  It's actually a welcome development that law reviews are increasingly seeking review of scholarly work by experts in the fields involved, and I would have thought peer review of scholarship one of the standard professional obligations a faculty member must discharge periodically.  Professor Bainbridge should 'step up to the plate'!

Posted by Brian Leiter on August 29, 2011 in Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice | Permalink | TrackBack

August 26, 2011

Chicago Alumni, Bigelows, and Law & Philosophy Candidates on the Teaching Market


The Placement Committee at the University of Chicago Law School--myselfDouglas Baird, and Lisa Bernstein--is ready to provide hiring schools with information about our nine alums, as well as our three Bigelows (Andres Sawicki, who is also a Chicago grad, Naomi Schoenbaum, and Julia Simon-Kerr), on the market this year.  Feel free to start with me or Professor Bernstein, as Co-Chairs of this year's Committee.   Where appropriate, we can direct you to other colleagues for more information on the candidates.

We have Chicago grads on the teaching market this year in a rich array of areas:  federal courts, civil procedure, contracts, constitutional law, international law, local government, intellectual property, property, employment discrimination, clinical teaching, criminal law and procedure, communications law, and national security law, among others.  Some of our candidates are clearly "best athlete" candidates that schools without particular curricular priorities ought to see.  We will try to offer candid and informative guidance about the strengths of all our candidates.  

In addition, I am also recommending an outstanding Law & Philosophy candidate, Michael Sevel, currently a VAP at Miami (and previously a post-doc on the law faculty at the EUI in Florence), and who is on the market for the first time this year.  He also teaches and writes in admiralty/maritime law, and teaches torts.  (I have a detailed letter I can provide on Dr. Sevel.)  I also am familiar with several of the other Law & Philosophy candidates on the market this year, and would be happy to give my views on them.

Finally, I am also happy to provide a reference for Justin Schwartz, a lateral candidate with extensive practice experience and a wide range of intellectual and scholarly expertise.

Posted by Brian Leiter on August 26, 2011 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack

August 25, 2011

"The Demarcation Problem in Jurisprudence: A New Case for Skepticism"

Now published on-line from the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies for those interested; print copy to follow.

Posted by Brian Leiter on August 25, 2011 in Jurisprudence | Permalink | TrackBack

August 24, 2011

Retired Pitt Law Professor Sues for Age Discrimination

Seventy three year old University of Pittsburgh law professor William Brown, who retired from Pitt after 30 years in 1998, is now suing the law school for failing to rehire him.  In 2006, he began teaching tax again at Pitt as a visiting professor. When he sought to return to his full-time tenured gig, in 2007 or 2008, he was passed over for a more junior candidate.  

Posted by Dan Filler on August 24, 2011 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack

August 23, 2011

UCLA's Stout Protests Mutli-Million Dollar Milken Gift to Law School

Story here; excerpt:

While many faculty members welcomed the money, one of the University of California, Los Angeles’s top business law professors has said the gift poses deep ethical problems and reputational risks, given Mr. Milken’s run-in with securities regulators two decades ago.

“The creation of a Lowell Milken Institute for Business Law and Policy will damage my personal and professional reputation, as I have devoted my career to arguing for investor protection and honest and ethical behavior in business,” Lynn A. Stout wrote in a letter last month to the president of the University of California and U.C.L.A.’s chancellor.

Ms. Stout, a specialist in corporate governance and moral behavior, said in an interview last week, “I think it’s somewhat distressing that so few people seem to be aware of Lowell and Michael Milken’s business history.”

Stephen Bainbridge (UCLA) is also quoted, and he disagrees.

UPDATE:  More extended commentary from Professor Bainbridge here.

Posted by Brian Leiter on August 23, 2011 in Faculty News, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

August 22, 2011

Why Tolerate Religion?

In Milan!

Posted by Brian Leiter on August 22, 2011 in Jurisprudence | Permalink | TrackBack

August 21, 2011

Ezra Pound Redux

Recent events bring to mind Pound's apt obsevation, "There is no use talking to the ignorant about lies, for they have no criteria."

Posted by Brian Leiter on August 21, 2011 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack