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

July 19, 2011

Caricatures of BYU Law Professors

These are both charming and often amusing.

Posted by Brian Leiter on July 19, 2011 in Legal Humor, Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

May 20, 2011

Weather forecast for Judgment Day

Good to know.

ADDENDUM:  Useful pre-Rapture tips.

Posted by Brian Leiter on May 20, 2011 in Legal Humor | Permalink | TrackBack

April 18, 2011

Lawyers behaving badly...

...and a federal judge has some fun with them.

Posted by Brian Leiter on April 18, 2011 in Legal Humor, Legal Profession | Permalink | TrackBack

April 04, 2011

Douglas Laycock on Randy Barnett

This was funny:

Randy Barnett is a smart guy, but his argument [against the constitutionality of the individual mandate in the health law] strikes most constitutional lawyers as ridiculous.  The justices of the Supreme Court will fully bear the responsibility, and I don’t think they mean to revert to understandings of the Commerce Clause from well before the New Deal.

Posted by Brian Leiter on April 4, 2011 in Faculty News, Legal Humor | Permalink | TrackBack

April 01, 2011

Best April Fool's Joke: "Yale Ludicrous School"

Mike Dorf (Cornell) is the winner.

UPDATE:  But Larry Solum (Illinois) is surely a close runner-up for this gem.

Posted by Brian Leiter on April 1, 2011 in Legal Humor | Permalink | TrackBack

US News to Adopt Leiter Methodology for Ranking Law Schools

So here's a surprising development:  as long time readers know, I've been a longstanding critic of the U.S. News ranking charade, even having posted (and re-posted) an open letter to Bob Morse about the now notorious defects with their methodology.   Earlier this week, I received the following surprising e-mail from Mr. Morse, which read in pertinent part:

After considerable soul-searching, I've come to the conclusion that we have no good response to the concerns you have raised and that the current rankings really are a fraud on the consumers of legal education.  I do apologize to you, and to the countless students who have been misled by this misinformation over the years. 

That was, needless to say, a remarkable admission.  After further back-and-forth, we have agreed, in principle, that U.S. News will start employing non-manipulable and meaningful measures of faculty and student quality, as well as employment success, similar to those I have used for many years.   I hope to be able to announce the details of the new methodology by August at the latest.

Happy April Fool's Day!

Posted by Brian Leiter on April 1, 2011 in Legal Humor | Permalink | TrackBack

March 18, 2011

"National Jurist": I am one of 23 Law Profs "to take before you die"

Ascertained via a robust scientific method.  No Bainbridge or Kerr, who are also leading authories in their areas, as well as bloggers?  Curious indeed.

UPDATE:  Reader Jason Walta may have solved the mystery:  "I think the only discernible guiding principle for inclusion on the list was 'Here Is A Person You'll Recognize From the Internet!'"  That certainly might explain some of the the inclusions, but doesn't explain the omissions of the folks noted above.  I guess we'll just never get to the bottom of this.

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 18, 2011 in Legal Humor, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

March 10, 2011

U.S. News Rankings Fraud (or Joke?) Watch

It's hard to believe they did this, but they didU.S. News got 105 lawyers throughout the entire United States to rank the law schools they like to recruit from, and then posted it as a "ranking."  Yes, 105, that's it.  No information on where these 105 went to school, or where they work.  Maybe it is just meant as a joke, that could be.  Or maybe it's meant to burnish the image, by contrast, of the main fraud on the consumers of legal education for which U.S. News is known, and which is due out next week.

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 10, 2011 in Legal Humor, Rankings | Permalink | TrackBack

January 21, 2011

Breaking News: Right-Wing Crazies Do *Not* Like Liberal Ideas (from law schools or anywhere else)

Who would have guessed?

(For the record, I'm sure I think Mr. Olson is as "crazy" as he really believes liberal social politices have been "catastrophic" for society.  Hyperbole loves company!)

Posted by Brian Leiter on January 21, 2011 in Legal Humor, Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack